Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Curfew in Esszone extended to Dec 29

From the Daily Express (Dec 14): Curfew in Esszone extended to Dec 29

The curfew order in waters off seven districts in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone), which ended Tuesday, will be extended until Dec 29, said Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Abdul Rashid Harun.
He said the curfew, from 6pm until 6am daily, involves waters off Tawau, Semporna, Kunak, Lahad Datu, Kinabatangan, Sandakan and Beluran districts.   

"With the enforcement of the curfew order, residents in the affected areas are required to be indoors during the time stated," he said, Tuesday.   

Abdul Rashid said the curfew order was extended to ensure the waters in the Esszone were not encroached upon by armed gunmen who could threaten the safety of international researchers and tourists visiting the resort islands in the area.   

He said based on information received, the group from southern Philippines which carried out kidnapping for ransom and the Abu Sayyaf militant group were still trying to sneak into the Esszone waters to commit other cross-border crime.   

Besides ensuring the safety and wellbeing of Sabah residents, he said the curfew order would also facilitate monitoring and enforcement over movements and give a safe feeling to chalet operators and fishermen through the presence of security forces.   

He said all district police chiefs in the curfew areas have also been given authority to issue permit to those applying for fishing activities and sailing in dangerous routes.


Militants on the move with captives

From The Star Online (Dec 14): Militants on the move with captives

The Abu Sayyaf militants who are keeping five Malaysians captive in the southern Philippine island of Jolo appear to be on the move constantly despite intensified military operations against them.

Jolo-based anti-kidnapping activist Prof Octavio Dinampo said the five were currently being held within the mountainous forests of Talipao municipality on the island.

“The area is strategic for the gunmen as they can easily move to the nearby municipa­lities of Indanan and Patikul,” he said.

Octavio said the gunmen appeared determined to hold on to their captives despite having to evade soldiers and risk serious casualties.
The five tugboat crewmen were abducted on July 18 in waters off Dent Haven in what is believed to be the first ever kidnapping in broad daylight.

They are Abd Rahim Summas, 62, Tayudin Anjut, 45, Fandy Bakran, 26, Mohd Zumadil Rahim, 23, all from Tawau and Mohd Ridzuan Ismail, 32, from Pahang.

Octavio said among the key Abu Sayyaf casualties during the current offensive was Radulan Sahiron who was reportedly injured in a firefight. His fate remains unknown.

He said the intensified military offensives against the gunmen that were initially focused in mountainous jungles and villages on the island now moved closer to the main town of Jolo.

“Gunshots and explosions were heard some 1km from Jolo town on Saturday,” he said.

It was reported that three soldiers and 10 Abu Sayyaf gunmen were killed during a mi­­litary offensive over the weekend in Jolo island.

Troops engaged around 150 Abu Sayyaf members led by top leader Radullan Sahiron and sub leaders Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, Yasser Igasan and Mujer Yadah in Patikul.

Some 21 soldiers and six Abu Sayyaf gunmen were also injured in the two-hour firefight.


Opinion: Making history, PMA Class of 1983

Opinion piece by Ramon Farolan in the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 12): Making history, PMA Class of 1983

In 2015, Gen. Hernando Iriberri, Class 1983, was appointed AFP chief of staff by President Benigno Aquino III. Iriberri was followed by his classmate Lt. Gen. Glorioso Miranda, who served as acting chief for two months. When President Duterte assumed office last June 30, he chose Gen. Ricardo Visaya, also of Class 1983, to head the AFP.

Last Wednesday, President Duterte installed another “Matikas” class member, Gen. Eduardo M. Año, as the new AFP chief of staff, succeeding Gen. Ricardo Visaya who retired from the military service.

For the first time in the history of the AFP, four members of the same PMA class have been appointed to serve in the AFP’s highest position.


That is not all.
The entire Armed Forces of the Philippines is under the control of members of Class 1983. The Philippine Army is now headed by Lt. Gen. Glorioso Miranda, who moved from AFP vice chief of staff (his position under General Visaya), to commanding general, Philippine Army. The Philippine Air Force is led by Lt. Gen. Edgar Fallorina while the Philippine Navy is under Flag Officer in Command Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado. The Philippine Marine Corps is commanded by Maj. Gen. Andre Costales.

Every single individual I have mentioned here with the exception of the two presidents, belongs to Class 1983. For good measure, let me add that the Philippine Coast Guard which is a bureau under the Department of Transportation, is headed by Vice Admiral William Melad. Retired Maj. Gen. Alexander Balutan is the general manager of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office under the Office of the President. Both are also members of the class.

Numbering close to 200, the Class of 1983 is one of the largest to graduate from the Philippine Military Academy. The class valedictorian was PNP Chief Supt. Ervin Gumban, while the first captain, or baron, was Clemente Enrique Jr., who retired early from the service.

Never has one PMA class held so many key positions in the government.

Just a few personal notes on the AFP change of command ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo.

President Duterte, the commander in chief, arrived in a small vehicle that reminded me of the papal vehicle used in a Washington, DC visit. He emerged from his car in a barong with the usual sleeves slightly rolled up. Underneath the barong were suspenders similar to those worn by some members of his security force. At his age, a belt is no guarantee against the force of gravity. In such a situation, prudence dictates the use of suspenders.

There were four presidents on stage: Erap Estrada and Gloria Arroyo were seated next to each other on one end, while Fidel Ramos was at the other end, with President Duterte in the middle. Someone asked, “What do Erap and GMA have in common?” Both were billeted at the presidential suite of the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) in Quezon City for similar reasons. Both continue to hold public office with Erap as Manila mayor, and GMA as Pampanga representative. Incidentally, the presidential suite recently underwent slight renovations in anticipation of the next occupant. Before you jump to any hasty conclusions, let me say that the suite is available for the use of other VIPs, subject to the approval of the defense secretary. The VMMC is one of the units under the jurisdiction of the defense department.

The President was extra-brief in his acknowledgments before speaking. I have often mentioned that many of our officials spend too much time acknowledging the presence of so many individuals in a gathering. The practice appears to be part of our culture. We do not wish to offend by failing to publicly recognize some people. Perhaps we should take our cue from the President. The phrase “distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen” should suffice to cover all but the most important in the audience.

It is only fitting that Gen. Eduardo Año has assumed the post of AFP chief of staff. As head of the Philippine Army, he devoted time and effort to instill in his officers and men a reverence for the memory of its founding fathers, Generals Artemio Ricarte and Antonio Luna. They were the first and second commanders of the Filipino army during the revolution against Spain, and the war that followed against the United States. Año was aware of the importance of keeping alive the mental image of our heroes and their love for the motherland. He has his share of critics, but I know him to be a professional soldier who will remain true to his oath of office and serve his country well.

After spending a number of cold, wintry days in Moscow laying the groundwork for the forthcoming presidential visit next year, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana was guest of honor at several ceremonies involving the three major services of the Armed Forces.

At Villamor Air Base, Pasay City, along with Korean Ambassador Kim Jae-shin, he presided over the turnover of two additional FA-50 fighter jets from Seoul. We now have four of the 12 that were purchased sometime last year. The remaining eight are scheduled for delivery by September of next year. What we have are merely the platforms. The weapons systems are still to be delivered before the aircraft can be considered fully operational.

At Pier 13, Port of Manila, Lorenzana along with another Ambassador Kim, this one a Korean-American who happens to be the new US ambassador to Manila, witnessed the turnover of the third Coast Guard cutter to the Philippine Navy. Almost 50 years old, the vessel was christened the BRP “Andres Bonifacio” in honor of the founder and Supremo of the Katipunan, the secret society that led the revolt against Spain. Her voyage from Alameda, California, to the Philippines was under the command of Capt. Brendo J. Casaclan. Incidentally, Navy chief Vice Admiral Ronnie Mercado is the youngest member of PMA Class 1983.

Secretary Lorenzana also presided over the change of command ceremonies involving the leadership of the Philippine Army. At the Fort Bonifacio parade grounds, Gen. Eduardo Año relinquished command of the 85,000-strong army to Lt. Gen. Glorioso Miranda.


2 NDF peace consultants decry military surveillance

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 13): 2 NDF peace consultants decry military surveillance

Two Western Visayas consultants in the peace negotiations between the government and communist rebels have decried alleged surveillance operations by suspected government agents.

Ma. Concepcion Araneta-Bocala and Ruben Saluta, consultants of the National Democratic Front (NDF), said they were followed by two motorcycle-riding men from Quezon City on their way to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 on Sunday.

The two were going to the airport for their flight to Iloilo when they noticed the men following their vehicle.

Saluta said he noticed that the motorcycle maintained a distance of two vehicles from the one they were riding and made no attempt to overtake them. The men also followed them whenever they changed directions.

“We tried to go into side streets but they were still behind us. They only stopped following us when we were already near the airport,” Bocala told the Inquirer at the sidelines of a consultation on the peace talks in this city on Monday.

Having spent decades in the underground, the two consultants said they immediately recognized a surveillance operation.

Bocala, 65, was arrested in August last year in a rented house in Iloilo City. She was allegedly the head of the Communist Party of the Philippines on Panay Island at the time of her arrest.

Saluta, 69, a native of Aklan province, was arrested in Caloocan City in March 2015. He has been tagged by the military as a leader of the New People’s Army in Panay.

They were among the 19 detainees who were conditionally released in August for the resumption of the talks.

Bocala said they could not find any reason for the alleged surveillance other than “harassment” as she raised concern over the safety and security of the peace consultants.

She pointed out that since their release on bail in August, they have been very visible attending two rounds of peace talks in Oslo, Norway, and in rallies, symposiums and other activities related to the peace negotiations.

“They know where were we live and where we go and the activities we have been part of,” she said.

Bocala and Saluta said the surveillance operation violated the Joint Agreement on Safety and
Immunity Guarantees (Jasig) which was affirmed by both parties during the first round of talks in August.

“The Jasig (among others) prohibits surveillance and arrest of those involved in the peace negotiations from both panels,” Bocala said.

The NDFP consultants said they were talking to their lawyers and will report the incident to their government counterparts.

In the public consultation organized by the peace advocates belonging to the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform and held at La Isabelita Hall at the Jaro Cathedral compound, Bocala and Saluta presented the NDF’s draft on the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms.


Duterte dares Maute

From The Stamdard (Dec 12): Duterte dares Maute

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte refused to order the military to stop its operations against the Maute group and dared the local jihadist group to push through with its plan to attack Marawi City in Lanao City and raze it to the ground.

“I am the government. Do not impose conditions on me. I’m the one who’ll make orders,” Duterte said during the awarding of the Ten Outstanding Filipinos in Malacañang, only hours before he presided over a meeting of the National Security Council.

“Do not make demands. These Maute must stop and withdraw from Marawi which they threatened to raze to the ground,” Duterte said.

“Come on down and raze it. Let’s see. I’ll go there myself just to see how you will proceed with your plans,” he taunted the Maute group which has lost dozens of men in ongoing military operations.

PRESIDENTIAL EAR. President Rodrigo Duterte listens to National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. as the latter discusses the agenda of the National Security Council at Malacañang Monday. The Council is the principal advisory body on the proper coordination and integration of plans and policies affecting national security.

Duterte also revealed that the Maute group was using a former Moro ambassador to lawyer for them with the offer that “they will stop terrorist operations if the military stops operations.”

“I said, ‘No. You do not make any condition.’ I am the government. Why should I stop?”

An NSC member confirmed Duterte’s claim that the Maute group was planning to attack Marawi City and said it was one of the key issues discussed during the NSC meeting.

“The report on the Maute group is that they are demanding a stop of operations against them or they will burn Marawi,” the Cabinet official said.

But the official said the President ordered continued operations against the Maute group, which has sworn allegiance to the terrorist group Daesh and the local Abu Sayyaf group which is also being pursued by the military in Sulu.

The Abu Sayyaf were forced to release two Indonesian hostages as government forces continued to press on their positions in Sulu, Major Felimon Tan Jr., spokesman of the Western Mindanao Command, said.

Tan identified the Indons as Mohammad Nazer and Robin Peter, the last two remaining from the original seven crew men of T/B Charles 00 taken on June 22, 2016 in the waters of Simisa, Sulu.

“They were released by the ASG captors to Moro National Liberation Front commander Tahir Sali in Indanan town after being pressured by non-stop military operations and pressure by the MNLF,” Tan said.

The Indons were turned over before lunch by the MNLF to Sulu vice governor and acting Governor Nurunnisa Tan.

After that they were brought to Camp Bautista in Barangay Bus-Bus in Jolo town. “Their turnover to Indonesian authorities is now being arranged,” Tan said.

Meanwhile, the military said at least 10 terrorists were killed and six wounded when elements of the 35th Infantry Battalion encountered Sunday some 150 terrorists led by Radullan Sahiron, Yasser Igasan, Hatib Hajan, and Mujer Yadah in Bud Taming, Barangay Kabbontakkas in Patikul.
Earlier, the military reported three killed soldiers and 21 wounded.


Editorial: What exactly are you fighting for?

Editorial posted to the Business Mirror (Dec 12): What exactly are you fighting for?

Forgive these questions, but we can’t help but ask them of this country’s so-called revolutionaries in the New People’s Army (NPA). Recent “revolutionary” activities of the NPA, the latest in a very long list of questionable, if not outright, atrocious acts, make us wonder what kind of guerrilla war they are really doing. So we ask, whose side, which people (in its acronym) and what kind of ideology are they really fighting for? And when do rebels become just plain bandits and criminals?

During the recent inauguration of a new power plant in Bukidnon, President Duterte asked NPA rebels not to damage energy and communication facilities in the country if companies refuse to pay their so-called revolutionary tax.

In a story published in this paper last week (“Cease-fire not working for banana plantations in Mindanao”), banana growers in Mindanao complained about the extortion activities being conducted by NPA rebels against them and other agricultural plantations, bus companies, private contractors, quarrying operators, public-market stallholders and small entrepreneurs, seemingly taking advantage of the government’s unilateral cease-fire.

“The amounts range from as low as P5,000 to as high as P5 million a month. If we pay, we will lose our shirts and would be forced to close shop; if we refuse to pay, our lives and that of our family members will be in danger,” said a businessman in Toril, a district in Davao City.
The hardest-hit are banana plantations, with one banana company having to close its plantation in Surigao del Sur a few months ago after losing more than P20 million to the NPA’s burning of their equipment and packing plants since the start of its operation in 2010. The firm’s decision expectedly resulted in worsening of joblessness in the area.

Dole-Stanfilco had also shut down its plantation and packing plants in Surigao del Sur after the NPA torched container trucks early this year, because the company refused to pay revolutionary taxes.

We are sure its leaders have an elaborate explanation about their notorious activities, but let’s face it, as much as they want to divert it to other issues, this has everything to do with money. It’s plain extortion, which the NPA has gotten very good at over the years.

Their extortion activities have hurt the economy and have made investors and businessmen wary of operating outside the country’s urban centers because of the risk of insurgent attacks. Ironically, these are the poorest areas that need the most investment and development.

Could it be that the NPA wants to keep these areas poor so they could keep blaming and fighting the government, in order to justify their continued relevance and existence?

Surely, the NPA can’t hope to win any kind of sympathy or solidarity to their cause by burning farm equipment, buses, power lines and cell sites. And surely, the NPA can’t hope to get any respect for their armed struggle if they launch offensives and hit businesses, both big and small, that ordinary workers depend on for their livelihood and everyday existence.

Such extortion activities certainly put the name of their revolutionary movement in a bad light. If these are all what its “revolution” is about, then the NPA rebels are no different from thugs, gangsters, terrorists and anarchists.

By the way, where do their so-called revolutionary taxes go anyway? Does even a portion of the money they get from politicians and businessmen go to, say, financing livelihood projects or the construction of water wells, schools, hospitals  or any kind of project to help the poor masses they are supposed to be fighting for? Because if it just lines the pockets of their cadres, then, again, it is plain and simple extortion, a protection racket—“pay us and you won’t have any unfortunate accidents.”

The NPA keeps blaming the government for stalled peace talks, but, like the late rap artist Francis Magalona said in his iconic song “Kaleidoscope World”, you can’t talk peace and have a gun.


Duterte: Insurgents can’t impose conditions on gov’t

From the Manila Bulletin (Dec 13): Duterte: Insurgents can’t impose conditions on gov’t

President Duterte stood his ground Monday and rejected demands made by Muslim and communist rebel groups.
While Duterte is bent on ending the decades-old insurgencies in the country, rebel groups can neither threaten nor impose conditions on the government.
Speaking at a dinner hosted for members of The Wallace Business Forum in Malacañang, the Chief Executive spoke of a threat made by the Maute group in Mindanao.
“Today, we took consideration of the Maute rebellion going on in Lanao. And they said that they are willing to pull out,” said Duterte.
However, according to the President, the rebel group said this with a demand that government forces stop their offensive operations or they will go down and burn Marawi City.
“And I said, ‘Go ahead, do it.’ We need to do a lot of constructions in this country. There are a lot of materials there and we will be glad to rebuild and rehabilitate every structure that you destroy. As long it’s confined in the areas of Lanao, I don’t really care,” he stated.
“No, I will not stop the operation. As a matter of fact, we will go ahead and – that’s stupidity,” he continued.
Aside from the Maute group, Duterte also cited the National Democratic Front’s (NDF) request for him to release more political prisoners as part of confidence-building measures in the ongoing peace talks.

War on terror pushed

From The Standard (Dec 13): War on terror pushed

Singaporean leads I.S. expansion bid—Du30

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday ordered security forces to decimate “the forces of evil” in Mindanao, including the Abu Sayyaf and the Maute group, amid reports that a Singaporean has taken the lead in efforts to spread the influence of the terrorist Islamic State (ISIS) in Mindanao and Southeast Asia.

“There will be no letup, whether they are foreign terrorists or not,” National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon said, referring to the new phase in Duterte’s war on terrorism.

The renewed push against terrorists comes amid reports that 13 foreigners, including Syrians, Indonesians, and Malaysians, are in various parts of Mindanao training local militants in bomb making and urban terrorism techniques.

At the airport before flying to Cambodia and Singapore, Duterte said a Singaporean has taken over efforts to build up the ISIS presence in Sulu and in Southeast Asia.

ANOTHER LIST. President Rodrigo Duterte, during a keynote address Monday before the Outstanding Filipinos 2016 awards ceremony at Malacañang, shows yet another list of government and police officials allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade in the Philippines.

“In Sulu now, there is a group… led by a Singaporean,” Duterte said.

“Countering terrorism, violent extremism and radicalization will be the key areas of discussion as well as the war on illegal drugs,” Duterte said of his upcoming meeting with Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Duterte had earlier warned that the international terrorist organization ISIS has made inroads in the country, connecting with the local Maute group.

The Abu Sayyaf is also seeking recognition from ISIS, which is seeking to build a wilayat or province in Southeast Asia, as it comes under heavy attack in the Middle East.

At least 14 battalions have already been deployed in known terrorist havens in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, as parts of efforts to neutralize them.

The Army’s 35th Infantry Battalion clashed with 150 fully armed Abu Sayyaf fighters led by Radullan Sahiron in Sitio Dyundangan, Buhanginan village in Patikul, Sulu, killing 10 bandits while suffering four casualties on Saturday.

The Maute group, which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, lost 63 fighters when government forces attacked Butig town in Lanao del Sur last week.

Esperon said anti-terrorism efforts have been ongoing, but the massive campaign launched recently aims to finish the terrorists off.

Security was raised in Singapore last August amid reports that terrorists wre targeting one of Asia’s top financial centers.

Lee had called for increased vigilance amid the looming specter of terrorism “which can tear our society apart.”

Sources told the Manila Standard that when the Philippines assumes the chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations next year, Manila will propose two documents to the 10-nation bloc, incuding a “Manila Declaration to Combat the Rise of Radicalization and Violent Extremism.”

Police on Tuesday said all four arrested suspects in the failed US Embassy bomb attack are ISIS supporters.

“All four suspects are members of the Sarangani-based Ansar al-Khilafah in the Philippines (AKP) which had earlier pledged allegiance to ISIS and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,” said Manila Police District (MPD) director Senior Supt. Joel Coronel.

Citing a report submitted by Manila Police District (MPD) director Senior Supt. Joel Coronel, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada on Monday identified the fourth suspect arrested as Elmer Romero, 36, alias Jamal, who admitted to being a conspirator in the bomb plot.

Coronel said intelligence units from the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police (PNP) helped with Romero’s capture and debunked reports that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation took part in the operation.

With Romero’s arrest, Coronel said they are hunting down two more possible suspects, one of whom he said has already left Metro Manila.

Sarangani officials, meanwhile, have raised an additional bounty of P1 million for the arrest of the leader of a local armed group that had pledged support to ISIS.

Kiamba, Sarangani Mayor Raul Martinez said Tuesday the reward money is aimed at enhancing the manhunt operations against Mohamad Jaafar Maguid alias Tokboy, founder of the Ansar al-Khilafah Philippines group.

The group, which is operating in parts of South Cotabato, Sarangani and Sultan Kudarat provinces, has been blamed for a number of terrorist attacks in the area over the last few years.

Authorities tagged Maguid’s group as behind the planting of an improvised bomb late Saturday night at a Christmas display in front of the Kiamba municipal hall.

“We’ve had enough of him already. I hope that the reward money will expedite his arrest,” the mayor told reporters.

Martinez said he personally raised the P1 million bounty through donors in Kiamba and the neighboring municipalities of Maasim and Matium.

He said it will be given to anyone who would be able to provide information that will lead to Maguid’s arrest.

The reward money is on top of the standing P200,000 bounty for Maguid that was earlier set by the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said Tuesday that nearly 7,000 people have been displaced for more than a month following armed clashes between government security forces and armed groups in Basilan province.

“These families left their homes and sources of livelihood after the hostilities started in November. The residents of six villages in the conflict-affected municipalities of Al-Barka and Tuburan chose to stay with relatives or in evacuation centers for fear of being caught in the crossfire. The ICRC’s distribution is in response to their basic needs for food,” said Nezar Tamine, deputy head of the ICRC sub-delegation in Mindanao.

To support their needs, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) provided food rations and hygiene items for the affected families in Al-Barka and Tuburan, with the support of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Basilan chapter.

Also recently, the ICRC arranged for 12 emergency health kits to be delivered to hospitals and rural health units in Sulu and Basilan provinces to support the medical needs of the affected civilians. These kits also contain dressing materials to treat the weapon-wounded.


Duterte to go hard vs Maute terror group

From Tempo (Dec 14): Duterte to go hard vs Maute terror group

President Duterte is unperturbed regarding the threat of the Maute Group to burn down Marawi City if the demands of the bandit group are not met.

During a dinner hosted for members of The Wallace Business Forum in Malacañang, Duterte initially sounded optimistic in learning that the group was ready to pull out of their offensive attacks but wanted government forces to back off from running after the outlaws, something which the president was not agreeable to.

“And I said, ‘Go ahead, do it.’ We need to do a lot of constructions in this country. There are a lot of materials there and we will be glad to rebuild and rehabilitate every structure that you destroy. As long it’s confined in the areas of Lanao, I don’t really care,” stated Duterte. “No, I will not stop the operation. As a matter of fact, we will go ahead and – that’s stupidity.”
Aside from the Maute group, Duterte also cited the National Democratic Front’s (NDF) request for him to release more political prisoners as part of confidence-building measures in the on-going peace talks.

“I said to Secretary (Jesus) Dureza and (Silvestro) Bello, ‘look guys you tell the communist that I have as a matter of fact conceded too many too soon. All of the leaders are out and the only reason why I agreed that they should be out is because you have to do the talking in another country and that is in Oslo’,” said Duterte.

Duterte even threatened to end talks with the communist group if they keep on demanding the release of more prisoners.

“You don’t make so much demands that are really too… and we have to (also consider) the views of the military and the police.”


Philippines rejects NPA rebels' condition for ceasefire

From the Sun Star-Manila (Dec 13): Philippines rejects NPA rebels' condition for ceasefire

CAGAYAN DE ORO. In this file photo, some NPA guerilla fighters carry their firearms in one of the hinterland villages in Agusan del Sur. (Erwin M. Mascariñas)

The Philippine defense chief rejected on Tuesday, December 13, a demand by communist guerrillas for government troops to withdraw from rebel-influenced communities in the countryside for the insurgents to extend a months-long ceasefire.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said troops would continue to be deployed in all rural areas where they have to suppress lawlessness and added the New People’s Army rebels cannot claim any part of the country as their territory.
“They always say we are encroaching on their area. What areas are they talking about?” Lorenzana said.
“The President says you don't have any area,” he said, addressing the Maoist guerrillas.
“This is the Republic of the Philippines.”
The Communist Party of the Philippines warned Duterte last week the rebels may be forced to end their ceasefire and resume fighting if he doesn’t suspend the government’s counterinsurgency program and withdraw troops from rebel-influenced areas.
If Duterte fulfills the demands by January and releases what the rebels call “political detainees” through an amnesty, the rebel party said it can guarantee the ceasefire’s extension.
Duterte has separately declared an indefinite ceasefire, and the truce declarations by both sides have helped foster peace talks brokered by Norway.
New People’s Army rebels, however, will be forced to engage troops if the President presses the military's deployment of troops in what the rebels claim as “guerrilla zones” in the countryside, the outlawed party said in a statement.
While no fighting has erupted since both sides declared separate ceasefires in August, the Maoist guerrillas have complained troops continued to be deployed in rebel areas to carry out surveillance and other counterinsurgency operations in what they say are violations of the government's own truce.
Lorenzana said he favored proposals for separate ceasefires declared by the government and for the rebels to be strengthened into a signed joint truce with mutually agreed terms that he hopes could restrict rebel crimes being continuously committed, including extortion.
Duterte said he would no longer support the release of more rebels after he worked to free several rebel leaders, adding he would maintain his position even at the risk of the peace talks being terminated by the guerrillas.
The rebels, he said, has asked him to free 130 detainees. “I conceded too much too soon,” Duterte told troops Sunday at a military camp. “I'll lose my cards. I always release.” “I said, ‘That's my limit. Now it's up to you if you'll terminate it ... I've freed all your leaders,’” Duterte said.
Battle setbacks, surrenders and infighting have weakened the rebel group, which is blacklisted as a terrorist organization by the United States.
A confidential Philippine Government assessment obtained by The Associated Press said the guerrillas declined to 3,800 fighters with more than 4,500 firearms in the first half of the year, with about 700 of the country's 42,000 villages affected by the insurgency.


AFP: Abu Sayyaf still holding 23 hostages

From the Sun Star-Manila (Dec 13): AFP: Abu Sayyaf still holding 23 hostages 

THE Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) is still holding 23 hostages – 18 foreigners and five Filipinos – a military official said Tuesday.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said among the foreign hostages were Japanese national Toshio Ito and Dutch national Ewold Horn.
He said Ito, who reportedly works as a cook for the rebel group, was abducted while treasure hunting in Pangutaran Island, Sulu on July 16, 2010.
Horn, on the other hand, was captured along with European bird watcher Lorenzo Vinciguerra in Panglima Sugala, Tawi-tawi in February of 2012.
Padilla has assured continuous intensified military operations in the areas of Sulu and Basilan to rescue the hostages safely.
On Monday, the ASG released two Indonesian nationals identified as Mohammad Nazir and Robin Piter, who were among the crewmen of T/B Charles 00 abducted in the waters along Simisa Island in Sulu on June 22.


Israeli shipbuilder offers this warship to Philippine Navy

From Update.Ph (Dec 13): Israeli shipbuilder offers this warship to Philippine Navy

Israel Shipyards, one of the largest shipbuilding and repair facilities in the eastern Mediterranean, has reportedly offered its Sa’ar S-72 to Philippines. A computer generated image (CGI) of the said vessel was uploaded in Max Defense social networking page.

According to Max Defense, a variant of Sa’ar S-72, not the corvette-class, was offered to fulfill the Philippine Navy’s needs in its Multi-Purpose Patrol Vessel project.

Max Defense added that the proposal by Israel Shipyards was submitted personally to President Rodrigo Duterte and National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana “several weeks ago.”

“Its weapons and radar fit were reportedly based on the specs provided by the PN, but has the option to be improved and uparmed depending on the PN’s decision,” Max Defense said.

Max Defense also noted that President Duterte recently followed up on the offers made by Israeli firms, “wherein he verbally approved for implementation and would like to see them delivered as soon as possible.”

Philippine Navy Multi-Purpose Patrol Vessel project, according to Max Defense’s blog, was created to replace the Littoral Patrol Interdiction Craft (LPIC) project in Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Program Horizon 2 Phase which will be starting 2018 until 2022.

Quantity of Philippine Navy Multi-Purpose Patrol Vessels will be around 6 to 9.

Max Defense Philippines, is being managed by Max Montero, an Australia-based defense analyst and a former naval reservist officer in the Philippine Navy. A social networking page and site are being maintained at Facebook.com/Maxdefense and MaxDefense.blogspot.com, respectively.

Exclusive @ MaxDefense: This is the computer generated image (CGI) of the Sa'ar S-72, shared exclusively to MaxDefense. The variant being offered to the Philippine Navy is not the corvette version, but is to fulfil a requirement for Multipurpose Patrol Vessels, as previously discussed in our latest blog last month. This CGI was said to taken directly from the offer made by Israel Shipyards submitted personally to Pres. Rodrigo Duterte and Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana several weeks ago.
Its weapons and radar fit were reportedly based on the specs provided by the PN, but has the option to be improved and uparmed depending on the PN's decision.
According to our latest information, Pres. Duterte this week personally made a follow-up of all the Israeli offers presented to him last August, wherein he verbally approved for implementation and would like to see them delivered as soon as possible.


Reds: Oplan Bayanihan displaces 35,000 civilians, kills 36 in last 6 mos

Posted to the often pro-Communist Party of the Philippines online publication The Davao Today (Dec 12): Reds: Oplan Bayanihan displaces 35,000 civilians, kills 36 in last 6 mos

Surigao NPA

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines in Southern Mindanao said on Sunday that the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ counter-insurgency program dubbed as “Oplan Bayanihan” has displaced 35,000 and killed 36 civilians across the country since Pres. Rodrigo Duterte came into office.

This as the communist group claimed that it documented cases of physical violence and assault against the people perpetrated by the military in the towns of Kibawe, Bukidnon; Compostela, Mawab and Pantukan, Compostela Valley, and in Loreto, Agusan del Sur.

Extra-judicial killings were also noted in  Arakan and Magpet in North Cotabato and harassment of Lumad in Talaingod, Davao del Norte, Kitao-tao, Bukidnon and Loreto, Agusan del Sur.

For Rubi Del Mundo, spokesperson of NDFP-SMR, ending the US-designed Oplan Bayanihan would be a necessary step “to uphold human rights and at the same time promote just peace.”

Del Mundo said the AFP’s so-called peace and development outreach program (PDOP) only instils “fear, intimidation and terror in Lumad and peasant communities in the region” of which they condemned both the AFP and PNP for the continued implementation of Oplan Bayanihan.

Oplan Bayanihan, according to Del Mundo, has been used by the military troops to go after civilian leaders of peasant organizations and activists.  The NDF, however, warned that “NPA will not stand idly by while the rights and welfare of the Filipino masses are being trampled upon.”

“While the reactionary armed forces carry on victimizing the people, the NPA in Southern Mindanao is using this most opportune time to explain to the masses the importance of their support to the peace negotiations. NPA units with the help of mass organization and organs of political power conduct peace forums in communities within NDF territories and enjoin the masses to put forward their agenda for socio-economic relief,” Del Mundo said in a statement.

But the appointment of the AFP’s new chief of staff Philippine Army commanding general Eduardo Año was viewed by the communist group and the Left in general as “critical.”

Año was credited for the arrest of Communist Party of the Philippines chairman Benito Tiamzon in 2014 and the killing of NPA’s commander Leonardo Pitao alias “Kumander Parago” in 2015. He was also involved in the disappearance of Jonas Burgos during his stint at ISG under the then Gloria Macapagal Arroyo administration.

With Año’s rise in the AFP hierarchy, the communist group demanded the President “to immediately terminate Oplan Bayanihan that deputizes the AFP, PNP and paramilitaries to perpetrate systematic violation on human rights.”

“In the same vein, the unconditional release of all political prisoners must speedily be undertaken to ensure that the third round of the negotiations in January 2017 will continue on positive ground,” the NDF said.


Philippines Humanitarian Bulletin Issue 11 | November-December 2016

From Relief Web (Dec 13): Philippines Humanitarian Bulletin Issue 11 | November-December 2016

For a complete copy of the bulletin go the following URL:


• The Indigenous community continue to undergo protracted displacement in Mindanao, where they lack access to basic social services.
• Skills training in Zamboanga City support peacebuilding efforts and help families displaced by the 2013 conflict.
• Typhoon Haima affected regions have shifted from emergency response to recovery, with housing, infrastructure and agricultural damage being one of the major concerns.


Typhoon Haima
# of displaced persons* 2,376,723
# of damaged or destroyed houses* 271,164
# of affected farmers** 41,298
(Source: *DSWD as of 14 November
**FAO as of 4 November)

Butig Displacement
# of IDPs 15,000
(Source: ARMM-HEART as of 12 December)

Zamboanga Crisis
# of IDPs in transitional sites 11,000
(Source: Zamboanga City Social Welfare and Development Office as of 28 November)

Indigenous Peoples (IP) Displacement in Mindanao

In eastern Mindanao, the conflict between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) —the military arm of the Community Party of the Philippines —has subsided since the announcement of an agreed ceasefire in August 2016. This has allowed the return of 830 displaced persons affected by conflict in the municipality of Malimono, Surigao del Norte province.

About 3,000 IPs displaced for a year in Tandag City, Surigao del Sur province, have also returned to their homes in the municipality of LIanga after an agreement was reached to pull out military from the area.

The Manobo, Mamanua and Teduray are indigenous tribes that live in the provinces of Maguidanao, Bukidnon, Agusan, Surigao del Norte, Davao del Norte and Surigao del Sur.

These areas are frequently subject to conflict, particularly among NPA and AFP, causing them to fear the shrinking of their ancestral domain and cultural identity. Over the years, they have migrated into forested hinterlands and mountainous areas far from urban and fast developing centres, where they lack access to basic social services, schools, health and other socioeconomic development. While the ceasefire has given them hope and enabled them to peacefully return to their homes, protection of these communities and their cultural ways of life remains important.

Update on displaced Manobos and Kapalongs in Davao City

Datu Ginam Andel is one of the leaders of about 700 Manobos from the municipality of Talaingod in Bukidnon province. They have encamped in Haran Mission House of United Church of Christ in the Philippines in Davao City for more than a year. He is still worried about the safety and security of his community. While a majority of internally displaced persons (IDPs) have returned to places near their homes, a paramilitary group called Alamara have prevented them from returning home, according to Datu Ginam. The AFP pulled out its troops in September, a pre-requisite demanded by the tribe, but he says the paramilitary group is demanding payment before they allow the rest of the IPs to return.

“We hope to return peacefully in December as we count on the peace agreement, as well as the pull out and disarmament of the paramilitary groups.” He says the mountainous areas where the tribes live have attracted large mining and logging companies that have made life difficult since 1994. Frequent skirmishes have also been reported between NPA and the private militia of these companies causing repeated displacement. The Haran camp in Davao City continues to host about 200 families from the Kapalong IP community who fear returning to their homes. Various local government agencies, civil society organizations, faith-based groups and other private organizations are providing immediate food assistance, and the children go to local schools near the camp. The camp leaders have agreed to be accompanied by government agency representatives, including the Philippine National Police, Department of Social Welfare and Development and Department of Interior and Local Government, when they return home in December.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

Año's challenge: How to lead PH military under Duterte?

From Rappler (Dec 13): Año's challenge: How to lead PH military under Duterte?

Amid fears of creeping martial law, Armed Forces chief Eduardo Año could be the best person to protect democracy – or be its worst enemy

NEW AFP CHIEF. General Eduardo Año of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Matikas Class of 1983.

NEW AFP CHIEF. General Eduardo Año of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Matikas Class of 1983.

It was straight to the war room right after President Rodrigo Duterte led the change of command ceremony to install new Armed Forces chief General Eduardo Año on December 7.

The commander-in-chief told the military that he wanted to sustain the campaign against terrorism, particularly the Abu Sayyaf Group that is notorious globally for kidnapping foreign tourists, according to sources present at the command conference.

He was adamant that soldiers support his administration's peace talks with rebel organizations and make sure that ceasefires are not broken. The President also reiterated, of course, his call for the institution to support police operations against illegal drugs.

The 55-year-old Año leads the military as Duterte, who seeks to recalibrate ties with China and the US, shifts its focus back to counter-terrorism and away from the defense of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) that has been its rallying cry in the past administration. Newly acquired warships will now run after kidnappers in the Sulu seas and will no longer join US patrols of the disputed waters.

Año's plate is full. But what could potentially define his short term of 10 months is not his success or failure in these areas, but how he is going to lead the military as Duterte's heavy-handed methods are igniting memories of Martial Law.

WAR ROOM. President Rodrigo Duterte sits in a command conference attended by the commanding generals of all key posts in the military. Malacañang photo

WAR ROOM. President Rodrigo Duterte sits in a command conference attended by the commanding generals of all key posts in the military. Malacañang photo
Marcos burial and fears of creeping martial law

Duterte's order to bury the late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani is the clincher for many, sparking protests nationwide and putting many among his allies – including the Philippine Left – in a tight spot.

Duterte's cries against supposed ouster plots are suspect, too, vis-a-vis statements from his own security officers who dismiss the capability of mentioned personalities to destabilize the state. Is the President creating an environment that could help him justify extreme measures?

Section 18, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution empowers the President, as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, to order the troops to suppress rebellion, suspend the writ of habeas corpus, and place the country under martial law.

Here is where Año's role comes in, because no commander-in-chief – should he be toying with the idea – would dare declare martial law without the military's full support.

Military: No easy explanation

Año – a veteran combat and intelligence officer – stands to be the best protector of democracy or its worst enemy.

Año commands 120,000-strong troops nationwide, an institution that has the organization, assets, mobility, and skills that a dictator can use or a people can rely on to immobilize an abusive ruler.

Yet, the Philippine military defies easy explanation. In the 1970s, it provided the backbone for a ruthless dictatorship that jailed and killed thousands of dissenters. In 1986, it withdrew support from its commander-in-chief and led a civilian-backed revolt that culminated in the EDSA People Power Revolution.

Dissatisified with succeeding governments, mutinous soldiers launched at least 7 coups which all failed. But ordered to crush the communists, the military under Arroyo, for example, wiped out pro-rebel villages and was linked to the extrajudicial killing of suspected guerrillas.

The most recent proof of how it can efficiently implement orders without asking questions is the secret burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani on November 18, 2016.

Tool for democracy or dictatorship?

Año is a powerful tool whom a dictator – if ever Duterte becomes one – could have. His spying skills should worry Duterte's critics. He's smart, he's methodical, he's beyond impulsive. He takes credit for the arrest of the once elusive Communist Party of the Philippines leader Benito Tiamzon, the fall of New People's Army (NPA) commander Leonardo Pitao alias Kumander Parago, and the arrest of retired Major Jovito Palparan.

Today, Año's class at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) – the Matikas Class of 1983 – controls the entire institution.

His mistahs (PMA classmates) command all the major services – acting Army chief Lieutenant General Glorioso Miranda, Navy chief Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado, and Air Force chief Lieutenant General Edgar Fallorina.

The PMA Class of 1983 graduated in the same year when former senator Ninoy Aquino was assassinated. As young lieutenants, they were witness to the massive protests against Marcos, the corruption in and out of the barracks, and the upheaval that eventually led to his ouster in February 1986.

'Protector of the people and the state'

INDEPENDENT MILITARY? President Rodrigo Duterte vows he will never tinker with promotions in the military. Malacañang photo

Duterte is wise to shower the military with attention, jumping from one camp to another to attend to their needs. He pinned medals on wounded soldiers, funded hospital upgrades, and raised their salaries. He's bringing Año to his foreign trips.

Upon his assumption, Rappler asked the new AFP chief for his message to Duterte's critics who fear a creeping martial law.

Año recited the military's role stated in the 1987 Constitution. "Kami bilang (We, as the) armed forces, meron naman kaming mandato (we have a mandate). 'Yan ay nasa batas (It is in the law). We are the protector of the people and protector of the state," Año said.

"Sa ngayon naman ang mga usaping martial law ay puro usap-usapan lamang. Wala naman talaga tayong basehan para sabihing ganoon (At this point, talk about the declaration of martial law is just loose talk. We really do not have any basis to say that it's going to be the case)," Año added.

Will Año allow the declaration of martial law? He smiled, showing discomfort with the question. "That is a question that I am not competent to answer," he said.

Martial Law is a dark past of the Philippine military. The organization has instituted reforms to protect itself from returning to it. And Año stands guard, at least for the next 10 months – a very long time under Duterte.


Armed men torch passenger bus in South Cotabato

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 14): Armed men torch passenger bus in South Cotabato

Armed men claiming to be New Peoples’ Army (NPA) guerillas torched Tuesday night another unit of Yellow Bus Lines (YBL) in Sto. Nino, South Cotabato, police said.

Supt. Franklin Alvero, South Cotabato police director, said the bus with body number 7225 was from Isulan, Sultan Kudarat and bound for Gen. Santos City, was attacked at about 6:30 p.m.

Alvero said the fully air conditioned bus has 17 passengers, plus driver and bus conductor.

Two of the suspects boarded in Isulan terminal while four others boarded at Sto Nino terminal, he said.

About five minutes after it left the Sto Nino bus terminal, the suspects declared they were NPAs and directed the driver to divert toward a dirt road leading to the public cemetery in Barangay Poblacion.

The site was less than a kilometer from Sto Nino town hall and police station.

In front of the cemetery, more armed men emerged from nowhere. The gunmen then ordered all passengers while other gunmen doused gasoline around the bus. As soon as all the passengers have alighted, they put on the vehicle in flames.

It was the fourth YBL bus torch since Nov. 13 allegedly by gunmen claiming to be communist rebels. Two YBL units have been set on fire in Tupi, South Cotabato on Nov. 13 and last night.

Another YBL bus was also burned by suspected NPAs in Kiamba, Sarangani and Barangay Kanapulo, Magsaysay, Davao del Sur.

Gunmen also tried but failed to set on fire on Nov. 27 a Husky in Barangay Bukay Pait, Tantangan, South Cotabato.

Alvero said all the arson incidents have the same modus operandi with the suspects posing as passengers, declare they were NPAs, direct drivers to divert and set the unit on fire.

Other bus firms plying South Cotabato, the Mindanao Star and Rural Bus Lines, have not been attacked by any armed group from Nov. 13 to Dec. 13.

Alvero could not say what really motivated the suspects to attack buses and heavy construction equipment in the province and nearby areas. Extortion and business rivalry were among the motives being looked into by arson probers.


DND chief says China made massive improvements in metallurgy standards in their firearms

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 14): DND chief says China made massive improvements in metallurgy standards in their firearms

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said it is very likely that the Chinese have made massive improvements in the metallurgy standards of their firearms in the past 20 years.

He made this statement after being asked on whether guns made by China will be up to the standards of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

"As far as we are concerned, (their) metallurgy has already improved since 20 years ago because of their constant experiments and research," the DND chief stated.

He is expected to meet with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jinhua and the Chinese Defense attache this coming Monday to discuss what weapons China is offering to the Philippines and its terms.

Lorenzana also said he sees no problem for Filipino troops in handling Chinese firearms especially if it etched with Chinese characters.

"(Firearms are) mechanical. One doesn't need to read the guide to operate it. All you have to do it operate it manually. That will not be a problem," Lorenzana added.

And in regards to quality, the DND chief said they will know it once they see the weapons first hand.


Lorenzana to meet with ranking Chinese officials to discuss firearms deal

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 13): Lorenzana to meet with ranking Chinese officials to discuss firearms deal

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he is scheduled to meet with ranking Chinese officials on Monday (Dec. 19) to discuss the People's Republic of China's willingness to provide firearms to the country.

These officials are Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jinhua and the Chinese Defense attache.

Lorenzana said the meeting is to determine what type of firearms China is willing to provide to the country

"If it's already available, we will look into it and see if we need it," he added.

The DND chief also said he sees no problem for Filipino troops in handling Chinese firearms especially if it etched with Chinese characters.

"(Firearms are) mechanical. One doesn't need to read the guide to operate it. All you have to do is operate it manually. That will not be a problem," Lorenzana added.

With regards to quality, the DND chief said they will know it once they see the weapons first hand.


Abu Sayyaf releases 2 more Indonesian captives

From Rappler (Dec 12): Abu Sayyaf releases 2 more Indonesian captives

The military says the captives were released because of its 'sustained manhunt operations' that pressured the terrorists to 'immediately negotiate

FREE. Two Indonesian hostages are freed by the Abu Sayyaf. Photo from Philippine Military

FREE. Two Indonesian hostages are freed by the Abu Sayyaf. Photo from Philippine Military

Two more Indonesian captives were released by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) on Monday, December 12, according to the military. 

They are the last 2 remaining captives to be freed from the original 7 crew members of tugboat Charles.The group was kidnapped in June 2016 off the waters of Sulu.
The 2 released were identified as Mohammad Nazer, 62, and Robin Peter, 32.
The military said the Abu Sayyaf Group was pressured to release them because of its intensified operations in Sulu, one of the archipelagic provinces in the southernmost part of the country. (READ: Millions of ransom dollars paid to free Indonesian hostages)
"Our combat operations pressured the Abu Sayyaf Group to immediately negotiate. The military are on a sustained manhunt operation against the ASG. They have already felt the pressure of these relentless operations. We have gained so much knowledge about them and it's just a matter of time that the force of the law will be meted upon them," said Joint Task Force Sulu commander Colonel Jesus Mananquil.
GOING HOME. The freed Indonesians are put on a military chopper and flown from Sulu. Photo from Philippine Military
GOING HOME. The freed Indonesians are put on a military chopper and flown from Sulu. Photo from Philippine Military
They were released to Moro National Liberation Front commander Tahir Sali in Indanan, Sulu and then turned over to Sulu Vice Governor Nurunnisa Tan before they were handed over to Mananquil at the military headquarters in Jolo.

Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) spokesperson Major Filemon Tan said they are undergoing medical check up as of this posting, before their transport to Zamboanga City.

Duterte: The communists will die for me

From Rappler (Dec 13): Duterte: The communists will die for me

President Rodrigo Duterte also suggests that members of the New People's Army consider him as their 'idol'

'LEFTIST' PRESIDENT. President Rodrigo Duterte is confident he still has the support of communists. Photo by Ace Morandante/PPD

'LEFTIST' PRESIDENT. President Rodrigo Duterte is confident he still has the support of communists. Photo by Ace Morandante/PPD

Though Leftist groups have joined protest rallies on extrajudicial killings and the hero's burial for dictator Ferdinand Marcos, President Rodrigo Duterte expressed confidence that they would "die" for him if he's faced with an ouster threat.

"The Reds would never demand my ouster. They will die for me, believe me," Duterte said at a Peter Wallace Business Forum in Malacañang on Monday, December 12.
Duterte believes that among the protesters, only those from the Liberal Party – associated with the color yellow – really want him out of power, an allegation that the former ruling party has repeatedly denied.
"Let me tell you frankly, in every demonstration, it’s the Yellow who’s shouting for my ouster. But you will never hear it from the communists because I am the president belonging to the Left actually," said Duterte, who has long claimed to be the first "Socialist president."
This association with the Left, said Duterte, is why he was able to convince them to resume peace talks with the government.
He said the Left would only oppose the Marcos burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, which he had allowed. (READ: Luneta protesters to Duterte: End alliance with Marcos family)
"They will never go for the ouster. Look at their posters. They would just condemn the burial of Marcos. But that was really their line, their favorite lines actually because Marcos was their enemy," said Duterte.
He even suggested that he is the "idol" of the New People's Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
"And you can go to the mountains and ask the regular armed NPA. And ask them, ‘Who is your idol?’ So, let me disabuse your mind about this," said Duterte.
Expecting bilateral ceasefire
His statement about Leftists comes as he pressures the military and communist rebels to ink a joint ceasefire deal.
The President has promised to release more political detainees if both sides finalize the agreement, saying he had conceded too much, too soon to the other side.
The Duterte administration helped facilitate release of top communist leaders as part of confidence-building for the ongoing peace talks, among them, Benito and Wilma Tiamzon.
The military and NPA are upholding unilateral ceasefire declarations.
In his speech, the President also mentioned Leftists in his Cabinet, led by Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr, an NPA member before becoming Duterte's chief of staff in Davao City, and eventually his campaign manager in the 2016 elections.
As part of his alliance with the Left, Duterte approved the latter's recommendations in the Cabinet, namely Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, and Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano.

China offers Philippines weapons for drug war

From Rappler (Dec 13): China offers Philippines weapons for drug war

Ambassador Zhao Jianhua confirms China is ready to supply the Philippines with weapons. 'We're exploring the possibilities of providing arms, light arms,' Zhao tells reporters.

DUTERTE AND JIANHUA. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (L) talks with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua during the 115th Police Service Anniversary at the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in Manila on August 17, 2016. File photo by Noel Celis / AFP

DUTERTE AND JIANHUA. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (L) talks with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua during the 115th Police Service Anniversary at the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in Manila on August 17, 2016. File photo by Noel Celis / AFP

China is ready to give the Philippines weapons to help President Rodrigo Duterte wage his controversial war on drugs which has claimed over 5,000 lives, the Chinese ambassador to Manila said.

Beijing has previously said it supports Duterte's bloody crime war, which has been slammed by the United Nations and human rights watchdogs over alleged extrajudicial killings. (IN NUMBERS: The Philippines' 'war on drugs')

Beijing and Manila have experienced a rapprochement since Duterte's election in May, despite their conflicting territorial claims to the South China Sea.

Ambassador Zhao Jianhua, in remarks late Monday, December 12, confirmed China was ready to supply the Philippines with weapons.

"We're exploring the possibilities of providing arms, light arms," Zhao told reporters.
"Arms for fighting against terrorism, (for the) anti-drug campaign."

The ambassador said talks were still in the initial stages, adding there was no agreement on price or the specific type of weapons, though they would most likely be rifles.

Duterte, 71, won elections in a landslide on a pledge to kill tens of thousands of criminals to fight narco-politics in the Philippines. Since he took office the crackdown has claimed over 5,000 lives.

The firebrand leader has also distanced the Philippines from longtime ally Washington, announcing his country's "separation" from the United States on a visit to the Chinese capital in October.

The Chinese ambassador noted bilateral relations were "good" and were "going to be better" still, "because your president paid a very fruitful and historic state visit to China".

Duterte has also hit out at US President Barack Obama and the State Department for criticism of his drug war.

However, according to Manila, incoming US leader Donald Trump has taken a different tact from Obama, apparently praising the crackdown when he spoke to Duterte by phone this month.

On Sunday, Duterte said China was ready to supply the Philippines with arms under generous terms. "It is a grant payable in 25 years so it is practically giving," Duterte said in a speech.

He recently cancelled an order of about 27,000 assault rifles from the US after media reports that human rights concerns over his crime war would affect the delivery of the weapons.