Wednesday, December 14, 2016

MILF: Philippines -- Armed clashes in Basilan displace nearly 7,000 people

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Dec 14): Philippines: Armed clashes in Basilan displace nearly 7,000 people 

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, southern Philippines. 

“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 on December 7 and 9 for the affected families in Al-Barka and Tuburan, with the support of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Basilan chapter.

Each family received 25 kilograms of rice, 2 litres of oil, 1 kilogram of sugar, ½ kilogram of salt, 12 tins of sardines, 1 liter of soy sauce, and a hygiene kit containing shampoo, bath and laundry soaps, toothbrushes and toothpaste. In July, the ICRC through the PRC provided essential household items and hygiene kits to 17,000 displaced people in Tipo-Tipo, Al-Barka and Ungkaya Pukan municipalities.

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.

Together with the PRC Zamboanga City chapter, 113 health workers from six rural health units of Basilan were trained on first aid and basic life support from August to October to boost the capacity and readiness of health workers and the community to help save lives during armed fighting and other emergencies.

As part of its mandate to raise awareness of and respect for international humanitarian law, the ICRC continues to remind all parties to the conflict about the need to protect civilians and those who are not or no longer participating in the hostilities.

The ICRC is a neutral, impartial, and independent humanitarian organization whose mandate is to protect and assist people affected by armed conflict and other situations of violence. It has had an established presence in the Philippines for more than 70 years and a permanent presence in Mindanao since 1982.

Duterte Says Philippines Will Accept China Arms Deal

From The Diplomat (Dec 13): Duterte Says Philippines Will Accept China Arms Deal

Announcement comes weeks after controversy erupted over rifle agreement with Washington.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has said that his country will accept firearms being pushed by China weeks after controversy erupted over a rifle agreement with the United States.

Since coming to office in June, Duterte has been pursuing what his aides term a more independent foreign policy, which, thus far, has meant more distance from the United States, the Philippines’ traditional ally, and warmer ties with China and Russia (See: “The Limits of Duterte’s China-US Rebalance“). Though he is just the latest in a succession of Philippine presidents trying to balance ties between major powers, the initial ferocity of his anti-American rhetoric and the speed at which he has tried to advance ties with Beijing have been striking (See: “Why the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte Hates America“).

On Sunday, during a visit to the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Northern Luzon Command at Camp Aquino in Tarlac City, Duterte signaled that the Philippines would be finalizing a firearms deal with China that would boost bilateral security ties.

“China is pressing me that the firearms are ready. I will accept them. They rushed these for us,” Duterte said.

Further underscoring the pressure from the Chinese side, Duterte said the rifles were ready and that Beijing wanted them shipped immediately, making it “obvious that China wants to give this to us.”

The terms that China had offered, Duterte said, was a grant payable in 25 years, which he characterized as “really practically giving.” He also did not fail to emphasize the fact that with China willing to give the arms to the Philippines on such favorable terms, there was no need for Manila to look elsewhere.

“So it’s really very easy for us,” he said. “We do not need to ask for these from other [countries] because they [China] are willing to give it,” he said.

Though he did not identify these “other countries,” controversy had erupted last month over the Philippines’ purchase of 26,000 assault rifles from the United States. Duterte initially said in early November that he had ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to cancel the order and that Manila could get the arms from somewhere else if the United States applied pressure on human rights in the wake of his controversial war on drugs. But shortly after the U.S. presidential election, PNP chief Dela Rosa told a news conference that Duterte had told him to continue the deal, apparently because there would be a new president in Washington.

In terms of next steps, Duterte said that he would send Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to finalize the deal with China, though he was vague about exactly how things would proceed in relation to the Philippine Department of National Defense (DND). Lorenzana became the first Philippine defense chief to visit Russia since diplomatic ties were established in 1976 and had said that Manila would conduct a study to see whether a separate agreement for sniper rifles could be forged with Moscow.

On Monday, local media outlets reported that Raymundo Elefante, the DND undersecretary for finance, munitions, installations, and material, had confirmed that Beijing made the offer but said the types of the firearms are still to be determined.

China’s Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua also told reporters late Monday that though both sides were “exploring the possibilities” for providing what he termed “light arms” for counterterrorism and counternarcotics, talks were still at the initial stage and there was no agreement on price or the specific type of weapons.

Lanao execs nix plan to arm residents vs Maute

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 15): Lanao execs nix plan to arm residents vs Maute

Soldiers inspect a foxhole used by snipers of the Maute terror group when they took over Butig town in Lanao del Sur province. —RICHEL V. UMEL

Soldiers inspect a foxhole used by snipers of the Maute terror group when they took over Butig town in Lanao del Sur province. —RICHEL V. UMEL

Members of the Maute terror group have threatened to burn Marawi City amid pressure from military operations, but officials of Lanao del Sur province have rejected proposal to arm residents to defend themselves from attacks.

Lanao del Sur Gov. Soraya Alonto-Adiong, Vice Gov. Mamintal Adiong Jr., Butig Mayor Dimnatang Pansar and Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra all turned down the proposal, which first came up during a meeting with residents and officials in Butig.

On Nov. 24, armed men belonging to the Maute group, led by brothers Abdullah and Omar Maute, stormed Butig and took over an old town hall, a mosque and a madrassa (Islamic school). It took the military six days to regain control of Butig, which saw 61 rebels dead and at least 35 soldiers wounded.

Reports said 2,500 families, or over 12,000 people, fled their homes during the fighting.

Governor Adiong said arming residents to fight the Maute group would only promote the formation of militias, which would most likely result in cases of human rights violations.

Instead, Adiong urged communities to cooperate with law enforcers and exercise vigilance.

“We need the cooperation of every individual, group, and organization for us to fight this growing concern,” Adiong said during the international human right’s day celebration at the provincial capitol last week.

But even after Butig Mayor Pansar shot down the proposal, residents in other towns of Lanao del Sur continued to endorse it, following the terror group’s threat to burn Marawi, the provincial capital, if military operations continue.

Gandamra said several groups in his city wanted the government to allow civilians to arm themselves after hearing the threat, but he rejected these proposals.

“We should strengthen partnerships with law enforcement agencies instead,” he said. “Everyone should uphold peace and promote protection of basic human rights.”

Vice Governor Adiong said the government should require the registration of all madaris (Islamic schools) in the province to ensure that young Maranaos “get the right Islamic education.”

“This is not to say that madaris are producing extremists, because we do not know where these people (extremists) are coming from,” he said.

He said the proposed registration with the Department of Education would ensure that students get the right lessons and participate in extracurricular activities required under the Refined Elementary Madrasah Curriculum (REMC).

He said the REMC had been developed, reviewed refined and evaluated by DepEd in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) from 2010 to 2011.

Earlier, the ARMM’s Humanitarian Emergency Action Response Team (ARMM-Heart), assisted evacuees from Butig and nearby Lumbayanague town.

The residents were forced to flee their communities after some houses were burned by Maute gang members while other structures caught fire when these were hit by shelling from government troops and the rebels.

The ARMM government had promised to help the Lanao del Sur government and the affected towns in rebuilding.

ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman earlier said the regional government has asked the military to station soldiers in Butig to prevent the return of gang members and to reassure residents that they would protect them.

4 hurt in roadside explosion targeting convoy in Marawi City

From ABS-CBN (Dec 14): 4 hurt in roadside explosion targeting convoy in Marawi City

An improvised explosive device exploded by a roadside in Marawi City just as a military convoy was passing through late afternoon on Wednesday.

Four civilians and one soldier were wounded.

The explosion happened mere meters away from where a convoy of the Presidential Security Group was ambushed last November 29.

At about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, a 10-vehicle military convoy was shuttling members of the 1st Scout Ranger Battalion to the headquarters of the 103rd Infantry Brigade in Marawi, when the bomb exploded. The incident occurred at Barangay Rorogagus, hitting the two lead vehicles.

A Sergeant Gaon of the 65th Infantry Battalion, which was escorting the convoy, was hit by glass particles from the broken windshield. He is currently being treated for minor injuries.

Local police said that Samer Adato Gulam, a 20-year-old tricycle driver, is in critical condition.
Fathma Nawira Daluma, a 39-year-old public school teacher, suffered injuries. Two children, one 8 years old and another 11, were also wounded.

The bomb’s components are being analyzed by experts. The site of the blast is less than 500 meters from where the ambush on the PSG occurred.

The 1st Scout Rangers is the latest battalion deployed by the Armed Forces to join military operations fighting the Maute group, which has pledged allegiance to and chosen to bear the name of the Islamic State (Dawla Islamiya).

Intense military strikes have gone on since November 25.

The ambush on the PSG convoy occurred within this period, with the 103rd Brigade pinning the blame on the Maute group, which they said has been randomly targeting military convoys in an attempt to divert attention from the ongoing firefight.

Granting of holiday leaves of troops prerogative of unit commanders -- Lorenzana

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 15): Granting of holiday leaves of troops prerogative of unit commanders -- Lorenzana

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the granting of Christmas and New Year's leave to troops in the field is the prerogative of the unit commanders.

He made this statement when asked on whether military units will be given time off to celebrate the Yuletide Season with their families and loved ones.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines has 125,000 troops deployed in various ground, air, and naval units nationwide.

"That is dependent on the decision of the unit commanders, they will decide on whether some troops will be allowed to go home on Christmas Day or the New Year. They will be given leeway to implement their system," Lorenzana said in Filipino.

"We wll not interfere on the granting of leaves during the holidays,"he added.

The Christmas holidays are considered the most sacred and beloved of all Filipino festivities with entire families or clans using the occasions to gather together for reunions.

Dela Rosa implements major revamp of top PNP posts

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 15): Dela Rosa implements major revamp of top PNP posts

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald “Bato” M. Dela Rosa has implemented a major revamp in the ranks of the top PNP posts.

The movement in the position of the third-level police officers was prompted by the positions vacated by the retirement of top PNP officials.

Dela Rosa designated Police Deputy Director General Ramon C. Apolinario as the Deputy Chief PNP for Operations vice retired Police Director Benjamin Magalong.

Former PNP Director for Personnel Police Director Fernando H. Mendez, Jr. was also designated in the position of Acting Chief of Directorial Staff effective on Thursday.

Dela Rosa also named other senior police officials to new posts in the PNP Directorial Staff, Regional Offices and National Support Units (NSUs).

They are Chief Supt. Ramon O. Purugganan as Acting Director for Personnel and Records Management (DPRM), Chief Supt. Edwin C. Roque as Acting Director for Plans (DPL), Senior Supt. Glenn G. Dumlao as Acting Director of the Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG); and Senior Supt. Manolo N. Ozaeta as Acting Director of the Legal Service.

Likewise, included in the major revamp are Chief Supt. Sheldon Jacaban as Acting Deputy Director of the Director for Intelligence (DI), Senior Supt. Renato C. Angara as Acting Deputy Regional Director for Administration (ADRDA) of the Police Regional Office 2 (PRO 2), Senior Supt. Jose A. Briones, Jr. as ADRDA of PRO 12, Senior Supt. Froilan F. Quidilla as ADRDA of PRO MIMAROPA (Mindoro-Marinduque-Romblon-Palawan), and Chief Supt. Frankling Moises R. Mabanag as ADRDA of PRO 7.

Military ops against ASG to continue during Yuletide Season

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 15): Military ops against ASG to continue during Yuletide Season

Military efforts to neutralize the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and safely recover the 23 remaining hostages in their clutches will continue this Yuletide Season.

Western Mindanao Command (WMC) spokesperson Major Filemon Tan said the WMC and its allied units will continue to bring pressure to the ASG.

"The WMC and units under it will continue to operate this holiday season," he said.

Military offensives against the bandit group started July 1.

And while granting of holiday leaves are not prohibited, Tan said the decision will be enforced by the WMC unit commanders.

"Guidance was given that troops will be allowed to go on leave as long as it will not hamper planned operations," he said.

As of this posting, ASG kidnap victims include one Dutch, five Malaysians, one Korean, four Indonesians, six Vietnamese and five Filipinos.

Earlier, Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the granting of Christmas and New Year's leave of troops in the field is the prerogative of the unit commanders.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has 125,000 troops deployed in various ground, air, and naval units nationwide.

"That is dependent on the decision of the unit commanders, they will decide on whether some troops will be allowed to go home on Christmas Day or the New Year. They will be given leeway to implement their system," Lorenzana said in Filipino.

"We will not interfere on the granting of leaves during the holidays," he added.

The Christmas holidays are considered the most sacred and beloved of all Filipino festivities with entire families or clans using the occasions to gather together for reunions.

CPP: Manifest the people’s indignation over Duterte’s unfulfilled peace vows

Propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Dec 14): Manifest the people’s indignation over Duterte’s unfulfilled peace vows

Communist Party of the Philippines
The Filipino people rebuke GRP President Rodrigo Duterte for his unfulfilled peace vows. They denounce his failure to release political prisoners, a promise he has made twice. They denounce, as well, his deployment of combat troops in rural communities despite having ordered a ceasefire, resulting in rampant military abuses against the peasant masses.

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) calls on the Filipino people to manifest their indignation over the Duterte regime’s failure to fulfill its peace vows. The Party calls for peace rallies nationwide on December 26 to demonstrate the Filipino people’s unity for a just and lasting peace to coincide with the celebration of the Party’s 48th anniversary.

A national assembly will be held in a guerrilla zone somewhere in Davao City. Simultaneous mass demonstrations will be held across the country inside and around guerrilla zones and revolutionary areas.

The Party urges all sectors of society desirous of a just and lasting peace to join and support these demonstrations. Organize peace marches and caravans to press the Duterte regime to fulfill its peace vows and comply with agreements, particularly, the demand to free all political prisoners and to terminate or suspend Oplan Bayanihan operations. Representatives of the Duterte regime are urged to attend these demonstrations in order to hear for themselves the people’s outcries for peace.

These demonstrations will also serve as an opportunity to consolidate the ranks of the Filipino people and rally them behind the call to wage struggles and resistance as means to attain their demands for a just and lasting peace.

Over the past few months, the Party, the NDFP and all revolutionary forces have repeatedly displayed patience in engaging the Duterte regime in peace negotiations, especially in the face of delays and unfulfilled promises and false statements, even amid treacherous armed and intelligence operations being conducted by the GRP’s armed forces.

In the spirit of building amity with the Duterte regime, the revolutionary forces have exercised flexibility amid the GRP’s failure to satisfy the original expectation of releasing 430 plus political detainees before October 26 through a presidential amnesty proclamation.

In the interest of preserving the reciprocal ceasefire declarations, the New People’s Army has bent over backwards and carried out evasion maneuvers in the face of treacherous AFP offensive and hostile operations and military abuses by Duterte’s armed troops within the sphere of NPA guerrilla zones and bases.

Duterte has capriciously changed his mind and has declared that no political prisoner will be released until a bilateral ceasefire agreement is signed. Displaying flexibility once more, the NDFP has offered to discuss and sign such a bilateral ceasefire agreement provided that it will take effect upon release of all political prisoners.

The NPA ceasefire has so far lasted 110 days. Historically, this is the longest yet, showing the extent of the revolutionary forces’ willingness to boost efforts to forge cooperative relations with Duterte who once declared himself a Leftist and socialist.

Indeed, besides the release of NDFP consultants and the very positive outcome of the first round of talks, the revolutionary forces were encouraged by his patriotic proclamations, particularly, the policy statements declaring an independent foreign policy and threats to end US military presence and joint military exercises and to abrogate the bases agreement (EDCA).

The Filipino people and their revolutionary forces, however, are also fully conscious of Duterte’s anti-people and undemocratic policies. The starkest among these is the growing number of extrajudicial killings instigated by Duterte and perpetrated by police forces and by an apparent network of death squads.

Besides ordering the AFP to continue with its Oplan Bayanihan operations in the countryside, he also ordered the military to give the erstwhile dictator Ferdinand Marcos a hero’s burial in a display of utter contempt for the Filipino people who suffered gravely under martial law.

The people’s desire for change boosted by Duterte’s promises remain largely unsatisfied. He has also perpetuated the neoliberal economic policies (low wages and flexible employment, social cutbacks, privatization of public services and others) of the past regimes which has caused widespread misery to the Filipino people.

The revolutionary forces are also aware of Duterte’s steps back since November. He has reaffirmed “friendship and alliance” with the US and has agreed to let the US military conduct more than 257 military exercises in the Philippines by next year. Clearly, Duterte has chosen to tone down and backtrack his earlier anti-US rhetoric to secure the support of the US-beholden AFP.

In the face of Duterte’s unfulfilled peace vows, his closing ranks with the US and the AFP, and continuing military operations and war of suppression in the countryside, the unilateral ceasefire declaration issued by the CPP has become increasingly untenable to maintain.

The CPP has already clearly stated that an extension of its ceasefire declaration can only be secured if the Duterte regime fulfills its vows to release political prisoners and orders the withdrawal of its troops from the guerrilla zones and bases.

At the same time, the CPP supports efforts of the NDFP Negotiating Panel to forge a bilateral ceasefire agreement with the GRP with clear provisions protecting civilian communities from so-called civil-military operations which shall take effect upon the promised release of all political prisoners.

The revolutionary forces can further go the extra mile and await the realization of such steps until the third round of peace talks on January.

CPP/NDF-SMR: Condemn the fascist armed assault against landless tillers

National Democratic Front propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Dec 13): Condemn the fascist armed assault against landless tillers

Rubi Del Mundo
NDFP-Southern Mindanao Region
The National Democratic Front in Southern Mindanao is one with the Filipino people in strongly condemning the armed attack against poor landless tillers who were waging a rightful struggle against its landlord-bourgeois comprador in Tagum City.

At around 7:30 in the morning yesterday December 12, hired armed thugs of the Lorenzo-owned Lapanday Foods Corporation directly fired upon farmers in a premeditated attack that resulted in the serious wounding of seven farmers, including a 16-year old, who, along with a thousand other peasants and their supporters, have been encamped in the area.

We are outraged by the fact that barely two days after the commemoration of the International Human Rights Day, the mercenary armed goons of a feudal lord have again victimized hapless civilians.

On December 9, the peasants were accompanied by more than a thousand from different support groups to reclaim an agricultural area consisting of 145 hectares which were made a milking cow for banana export business. Immediately, company guards fired more than 30 warning shots to intimidate the civilians. Every day since, the peasants were subjected to different forms of harassment by the company guards, including deliberately aerially spraying on them and their food supply with poisonous chemicals. Heavily armed guards also accompanied workers to harvest bananas in the five hectares owned by the farmers.

For close to two decades, the Lorenzos has exercised full feudal and semi-feudal control of the sprawling 1,500-hectare productive lands under what the farmers rightly criticize as “onerous, deceptive, exploitative and oppressive agri-venture agreements (AVAs).” Landed gentry like the Lorenzos use this blanket authority to brazenly exercise brute force to intimidate the farmers and push them away of their land and livelihood. The peasants have had enough and are now waging a struggle to seize control of their lands through rightful occupation.

We call on all revolutionary forces to extend assistance and all forms of support to the peasants who are presently encamping at Madaum, Tagum City. We must mobilize thousands to support the call for ownership of land to all the tillers, not only in Tagum City but elsewhere in the region.

At present, the same feudal exploitation in the form of landgrabbing confronts around 1,500 peasant families in the school reservation of Cotabato Foundation College of Science and Technology in Arakan, North Cotabato. We enjoin all affected peasant families and their support groups to stand united in militant struggle for genuine land reform.

We urge GRP Pres. Duterte, especially the office of the Department of Agrarian Reform, to conduct an impartial investigation and ensure that the Lorenzos and other perpetrators of the attack are made accountable to the crime. It will show commitment on the part of the GRP to positively respond to the demands of the peasants at this juncture when socio-economic reforms are about to be discussed in the peace negotiations.

CPP/NDF-Rizal: Pres. Duterte is ill-advised in appointing General Eduardo Ano as AFP Chief of Staff

National Democratic Front propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Dec 12): Pres. Duterte is ill-advised in appointing General Eduardo Ano as AFP Chief of Staff

Arman “Ka Arms” Guerrero
NDFP-Rizal Province

Pres. Duterte is ill-advised in appointing General Eduardo Año as AFP Chief of Staff, a known human rights violator, promoter of extra-judicial killing and a rabid fanatic of known “Butcher” General Jovito Palparan  and a drug protector. He must instead be prosecuted for his crimes against the people.

General Eduardo Año hails from San Mateo, Rizal. He comes from a family of a lower middle class origin but now belongs to the wealthy and most affluent families of San Mateo, Rizal.  He acquired his wealth from the unlimited funds he pocketed from the AFP as intelligence officer, first as head of the 16th Intelligence Unit-Intelligence Service Group (ISU-ISG-PA), then as head of Intelligence Security Group (ISG-PA), head of Intelligence Service of the AFP (ISAFP) and head of 10th Infantry Division. He used his intelligence office to protect drug lords utilizing the offices of Military Inteligence Group (MIG-ISAFP).  The arrest of Military Intelligence Group Region 4 (MIG-4-ISAFP-AFP) Commanding Officer Marine Lt. Col. Ferdinand Macelino by PDEA Agents in Sta. Cruz, Manila while in possession of  76,697.7 grams of shabu worth over P380-million will confirm this. To evade arrest, Col. Marcelino showed a mission order signed and verbally confirmed by then Army Chief Gen. Eduardo Año.

Previous terstimonies of military personnel under Gen. Eduardo Año also prove that he is one of the crooked AFP Generals who involves in illegal activities to fatten their bourse. In 1998, Philippine Army Captain Reynaldo Panaguiton Cruz III, an intelligence officer under then Major Eduardo Año of 16th ISU-ISG-PA, tried but failed to infiltrate the NPA unit operating in Rizal Province. He was apprehended and eventually tried for his crimes against the people by the People’s Democratic Government led by CPP-NPA-NDFP. While in custody, Capt. Reynaldo Cruz, narrated to his captors all information regarding 16th ISU-ISG-PA. He testified how General Año stole from the AFP coffers and pocketed the intelligence funds and involved himself in illegal activities including protecting drug lords in the guise of intelligence projects to enrich himself. From then on, General Año and his family becomes richer and richer until they become one the most affluent families in San Mateo, Rizal up to the present.  He’s not different from the past head honchos of AFP.  He is an epitome of an AFP officer who uses his position in the AFP to enrich himself with his family living comfortably in mansion while his men, the ordinary foot soldiers, are languishing in poverty and living in squatters areas.

Gen. Año built his career as AFP officer by rabidly following the extra-judicial methods and style of “Butcher” Gen. Jovito Palparan in dealing with perceived enemies of the reactionary state. He is also a diehard implementor of anti-people counter-insurgency plan Oplan Bantay Laya I&II under the much hated GM Arroyo Regime and Oplan Bayanihan of  BS Aquino Regimes which the AFP wants to continue under the present Duterte Regime. Whenever and wherever he is deployed, human rights violations and extra judicial killings surges. When he was assigned in Rizal Province in 1996 as head of 16th ISU-ISG-PA, his unit was responsible for illegal arrest and detention of farmers and Dumagat tribesmen in the province of Rizal. When he became the head of ISG-PA, he was involved in the April 2007 abduction and enforced disappearance of farmer-activist Jonas Burgos, son of the late world press freedom icon Jose Burgos Jr. When he became the 201st Brigade-PA Commander in Quezon Province, he was involved in the harrassment of farmers and ordinary civilians in South Quezon and the 2012 massacre of suspected NPA rebels in San Narciso , Quezon.  When he was assigned as 10th ID-PA commander, Año was behind the Paquibato “massacre” in June 2015, where three lumad civilians were killed and a 12-year-old was wounded.

Gen. Año’s assumption as AFP chief of staff is a clear signal that human rights violations, abductions and extra-judicial killings will continue unabated.  Dead bodies will pile up and numbers of missing/abducted persons will rise. AFP’s drug protection racket will continue under Gen.  Año’s order. Marine Lt. Col. Marcelino, a known protégé and bagman on illegal drug protection of Gen. Año will go scot-free. Drug lords will also remain free under military protection while small time drug pushers and users will be bearing the brunt of Duterte’s war against drugs.

Pres. Duterte must immediately recall Gen. Año’s appointment as AFP chief of staff.  He must instead prosecute Gen. Año’s for his crime against the people and his drug involvement.  The Duterte Regime must uphold, protect and defend the fundamental human rights of Filipinos, especially the marginalized and oppressed. If not, the Filipino people will!

The revolutionary movement in Rizal province will support the people’s opposition to  any anti-people policies of the Duterte government. The Duterte Regime must heed the voice of the workers, farmers, urban poor, the marginalzed sectors and other democratic forces  for change. Pres. Duterte must ensure that indeed, change has come under his presidency. If not, the Duterte regime will go down to the dustbin of history as not different from the previous regimes before him, from Marcos Dictatorship to BS Aquino Regime– one that is scorned and much hated by the Filipino People!

President Duterte convenes National Security Council

From Update.Ph (Dec 13): President Duterte convenes National Security Council

Presdient Rodrigo Duterte has convened the National Security Council (NSC) December 12 at the Aguinaldo State Dining Room in Malacañang. The said meeting is the second under the Duterte administration.

Seen attending the National Security Council meeting were Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay, Jr., Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, Armed Force of the Philippines Chief-of-Staff Eduardo Año, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza, and other high ranking government officials.
Among the agenda of the meeting included a discussion on the security situation of the country, the ongoing peace talks with the communist groups and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and updates on the administration’s campaign against illegal drugs among others.

The NSC’s function is to advise the President with respect to the integration of domestic, foreign, and military policies relating to the national security. It is also said that it serves as the President’s principal arm for coordinating these policies among various government departments and agencies in matters involving the national security.

Battle-hardened Marine Battalion given Hero’s Welcome after decade in Mindanao

From Update.Ph (Dec 14): Battle-hardened Marine Battalion given Hero’s Welcome after decade in Mindanao

PTV photo

A Hero’s Welcome for Philippine Marines’ Marine Battalion Landing Team (MBLT) 7 was rendered at Sangley Point in Cavite. The said MBLT has been deployed to Mindanao for 1 decade to fight terrorism.

Prior to the said MBLT’s arrival, Marine Battalion Landing Team (MBLT) 2 was deployed to Sultan Kudarat province. MBLT 7 operated in Sultan Kudarat.
Capt. Victor Donque, Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) spokesperson, said the 2nd Marine Battalion undergone intensified training on both lectures and practical exercises on administrative matters, military tactics, simulated military planning, live-fire maneuvers, marksmanship and rigid physical fitness activities.

He added the unit also participated in the recently concluded Philippine and US Amphibious Landing Exercise.

Prior re-training, Donque said the 2nd Marine Battalion has earned numerous victories against lawless elements and terrorists in the southern part of the Philippines.

CPP blasts Duterte, calls for show of force

From Rappler (Dec 14): CPP blasts Duterte, calls for show of force

The CPP says it will hold a national assembly in a guerrilla zone in Davao City on December 26

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) on Wednesday, December 14, once again rebuked President Rodrigo Duterte for his failure to release more political prisoners, as it called on supporters to show indignation through peace rallies on December 26, the party’s 48th anniversary.

In a statement, the CPP said it is going to hold a national assembly in a guerrilla zone in Duterte’s home city of Davao, alongside mass demonstrations nationwide on December 26.
“The Communist Party of the Philippines calls on the Filipino people to manifest their indignation over the Duterte regime's failure to fulfill its peace vows,” the party said. “The Party calls for peace rallies nationwide on December 26 to demonstrate the Filipino people's unity for a just and lasting peace to coincide with the celebration of the Party’s 48th anniversary.”
The statement came days after the President said he was not going to budge any further in his position against releasing more political prisoners, as what the communist-led National Democratic Front (NDF) is demanding.
The Duterte administration and the NDF are in the middle of a peace process that has been delayed over their failure to agree on the status of the more than 400 alleged guerrillas still detained in Philippine jails nationwide. (READ: NDF presses general amnesty for political prisoners)
The NDF is demanding the release of at least 130 more political prisoners this year, something the President has shot down. He had previously released at least 20 of them, all consultants of the NDF in the peace talks.
He said complying with the wishes of the NDF this time around would give the government little room to maneuver in the peace negotiations.
But the CPP reminded Duterte that he had promised the rebels the release of all political prisoners. It was a promise he "made twice,” the party added.
The rebels said they have bent over backwards in the peace process in the face of these failed promises. They said they’re finding it more “untenable” to maintain the unilateral ceasefire that they had declared at the resumption of the peace negotiations in August.
“In the face of Duterte's unfulfilled peace vows, his closing ranks with the US and the AFP, and continuing military operations and war of suppression in the countryside, the unilateral ceasefire declaration issued by the CPP has become increasingly untenable to maintain,” the CPP said.
The guerrillas backed Duterte in the last presidential campaign. In exchange, the President appointed at least 3 leftist leaders in his Cabinet.
He's confident in their support to the extent that only a few days ago, he declared that the rebels will die for him.

US ready to confront Beijing on South China Sea: admiral

From InterAksyon (Dec 14): US ready to confront Beijing on South China Sea: admiral

The United States is ready to confront China should it continue its overreaching maritime claims in the South China Sea, the head of the US Pacific fleet said on Wednesday, comments that threaten to escalate tensions between the two global rivals.

China claims most of the resource-rich South China Sea through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. Neighbors Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.

The United States has called on China to respect the findings of the arbitration court in The Hague earlier this year which invalidated its vast territorial claims in the strategic waterway.

But Beijing continues to act in an "aggressive" manner, to which the United States stands ready to respond, Admiral Harry Harris, head of the US Pacific Command, said in a speech in Sydney.

"We will not allow a shared domain to be closed down unilaterally no matter how many bases are built on artificial features in the South China Sea," he said. "We will cooperate when we can but we will be ready to confront when we must."

The comments threaten to stoke tensions between the United States and China, already heightened by President-elect Donald Trump's decision to accept a telephone call from Taiwan's president on Dec. 2 that prompted a diplomatic protest from Beijing.

Asked about Harris's remarks, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the situation in the South China Sea was currently stable, thanks to the hard work of China and others in the region.

"We hope the United States can abide by its promises on not taking sides on the sovereignty dispute in the South China Sea, respect the efforts of countries in the region to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea region and do more to promote peace and stability there," he told a daily news briefing.

The United States estimates Beijing has added more than 3,200 acres (1,300 hectares) of land on seven features in the South China Sea over the past three years, building runways, ports, aircraft hangars and communications equipment.

In response, the United States has conducted a series of freedom-of-navigation operations in the South China Sea, the latest of which came in October.

The patrols have angered Beijing, with a senior Chinese official in July warning the practice may end in "disaster".

Harris said it was a decision for the Australian government whether the US ally should undertake its own freedom-of-navigation operations, but said the United States would continue with the practice.

"The US fought its first war following our independence to ensure freedom of navigation," said Harris. "This is an enduring principle and one of the reasons our forces stand ready to fight tonight."

Ex-militiaman reportedly slain by communist rebels

From the Mindanao Times (Dec 14): Ex-militiaman reportedly slain by communist rebels  

THE MAN who was found dead in Poblacion Toril around 6:30 a.m. on Sunday was identified as a former militiaman allegedly killed by New People’s Army rebels at Purok 4, Sitio Magsaysay, Barangay Catigan in Toril District.
Based on the investigation of SPO1 Danilo Alngog of Toril Police Precinct, Joven Owis, assigned to the 72nd Infantry Battalion, personally identified the victim as Arnes John Belle Tayu, 24, resident of Barangay Sibulan, Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur.
Owis told police that around 8 a.m. of Dec. 10, Tayu was at helping Dencio Andian ground coffee when 12 armed men and two women arrived and grabbed the victim. Tayu’s hands were tied before he was brought to Sitio Cabarisan of same barangay.
Owis also revealed that in 2009, the victim’s father, identified as Ben Tayu, was also killed by the NPA. The victim reportedly killed a certain Judy Landas, an alleged member of the NPA, last August 2014 to avenge his father’s death.
Landas’ wife did not pursue the case. Further investigation revealed that the victim earlier surrendered to the police Oplan Tokhang in Barangay Atan-awe in Toril District.

North Cotabato PNP, Army hunting down suspect in murder of ARMM police officer

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 14): North Cotabato PNP, Army hunting down suspect in murder of ARMM police officer

PIKIT, North Cotabato -- Police here have launched manhunt against gunmen who ambushed and killed a police officer along the national highway here Wednesday morning, police said.

Backed by elements of the 7th Infantry Battalion, members of Pikit municipal police office, are searching for a multi-carry vehicle that the suspects used in killing PO3 Suy Talipasan at about 10 a.m. in the highway in Barangay Batulawan, Pikit, North Cotabato.

Chief Inspector Donald Cabigas, Pikit town police chief, said Talipasan who was assigned at police regional office in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) was driving his Nissan pick-up vehicle when three men on board a passenger vehicle (Suzuki multicab) without license place opened fire using M-16 and M-14 assault rifles.

Talipasan, a resident of Fort Pikit in Barangay POblacion, was killed on the spot due to multiple gunshot wounds.

The slain cop was to report to his station in Parang, Maguindanao when the ambush happened.

Anwar Akmad, a tricycle driver, was seriously injured when the police officer's car went wayward after the shooting and rammed on his pedicab.

Mustapha Sanduyugan, a civilian who was waiting for a ride at the road side, was hit by stray bullets.

Cabigas said investigation continues on the possible involvement of Talipasan in illegal drugs but stressed probe is focused on the victim's conflict with another Muslim family. He did not elaborate.

Cabigas said town investigators are still waiting for statement from the family of Cabigas.

Pikit has been rocked by grenade attacks the past week with the local PNP recording at least four grenade throwing incident.

Before today's ambush on Talipasan, two persons were injured when an unidentified man tossed a hand grenade inside the town's public market.

Army foils attempts by BIFF to over-run Army, police camps in Maguindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 14): Army foils attempts by BIFF to over-run Army, police camps in Maguindanao

Military forces foiled attempts by outlawed Moro gunmen to over-run an Army and police detachments in Datu Salibo, Maguindanao on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, a military official said.

Colonel Warlito Limet, commander of 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion, could not say how many were killed on the side of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

"We can only surmise that they suffered heavy casualty, we have not recovered dead bodies," he said.

At 7:45 Tuesday night, about 50 heavily armed BIFF, led by commander Abo Sayden, harassed the police detachment of Datu Salibo municipal police office but quickly retreated as the Army came to the cops' rescue by firing mortars towards the BIFF location.

As the gunmen were leaving toward the marshy area, they fired at the transformer of Maguindanao Electric Cooperative (Magelco) sending a large portion of Datu Salibo without light.

There were sporadic exchange of mortars between the bandits and the Army until about 4 a.m., Limet said.

At the break of dawn, the BIFF also tried to over run a nearby military detachment in Barangay Sambolawan, also in Datu Salibo.

But prepared soldiers pushed the attackers away.

No casualty on the government side, Limet said.

Earlier, the BIFF blamed the MILF for the death of a sub-commander last week. Its spokesperson, Abu Misry Mama, said soldiers attacked the house of Commander Ismael Tamarin which led to his death.

But Limet said there was no military operation in Datu Salibo last week or early this week. Army offensive was only launched Tuesday night when the BIFF harassed a police detachment.

"Commander Tamarin could have been killed by an armed group he was in conflict with," Limet told reporters.

A few number of civilians have fled to nearby village for fear of getting involved in the clashes.

Limet also assured commuters using the Isulan, Sultan Kudarat to Cotabato City highway that road security have been in place.

Elements of 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion of 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade have been placed on alert since last week of November to ensure safety of civilians during the holidays.

DND still interested in Russian sniper rifles

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 14): DND still interested in Russian sniper rifles

While the People's Republic of China has expressed its willingness to provide the country's military units with firearms with generous payment terms, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said they will still look at sniper rifles being offered by Russia.

This is based on the orders by President Rodrigo Duterte, he said.

"The President told us to look into the sniper rifles being produced by Russia as these are good. Although we are still to see anything yet, they (Russians) will show us some models for testing to (determine whether these are suitable for our needs)," Lorenzana said in Filipino.

Earlier, DND undersecretary for finance, munition, materiel Raymund DV Elefante said the country is open to acquire weapons of all kinds from Russia but said these are dependent on the nation's capabilities to handle these equipment.

Capabilities refer to the funding and manpower capable of handling these weapons.

"It depends. As long (as) we have capabilities (i.e funds and manpower) but this is still a long-term (plan)," he added.

Elefante made this statement when asked if the Philippines is interested in acquiring attack helicopters, diesel electric submarines and fighter jets from Russia aside from small arms like the AK-47 automatic rifle and longe-range sniper rifles.

Duterte earlier ordered the DND to look into Russia as possible sources of armaments and other weaponry needed by the Filipino military.

Military confirms presence of foreign terrorists in Mindanao

From the Philippine Star (Dec 14): Military confirms presence of foreign terrorists in Mindanao

The Abu Sayyaf in western Mindanao and the Maute in the central part of the southern island are among the local groups known for coddling foreign terrorists.

The military confirmed Wednesday the presence of foreign terrorists being coddled by local militant groups in Mindanao.
The Abu Sayyaf in western Mindanao and the Maute in the central part of the southern island are among the local groups known for coddling foreign terrorists.
Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., spokesman of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), said their information is a product of continuous intelligence operations that came from a series of military offensives.
However, Tan declined to give an exact number of foreign-based militant elements citing that any disclosure might affect their ongoing operations.
“We cannot say the number due to operational condition but there are,” Tan said.
President Rodrigo Duterte recently warned that presence of foreign terrorists is inevitable as there are local hosts coddling them in Mindanao.
Tan said that ground forces are aware of the challenges they are confronting and assured the public that they are addressing the threat before it gets out of control.
He said that the Islamic State-inspired faction of Maute was flushed out from its control of Butig town in Lanao del Sur.
Tan said operations are ongoing in Sulu against the Abu Sayyaf to free at least 23 remaining hostages, including 18 foreigners and five locals.
Among the foreign captives are a Dutch, a German, a Korean, five Malaysians, four Indonesians and six Vietnamese.
Tan said the youngest Filipino captive is Ricson Romoc, 9, who was abducted along with his parents from Payao, Zamboanga Sibugay last August. His parents were freed separately after payment of ransom.
The Westmincom spokesman added that operations are also being conducted in Basilan to rid the province of the Abu Sayyaf.
Reports stated that the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan has taken in three foreign-based militants.
“The security operation efforts continued and were not ceasing. It doesn’t mean when there is encounter we stop. The encounter is just the result of the shaping of intelligence and civil-military operations,” Tan said.

Manila fetes bomb spotters

From The Standard (Dec 12): Manila fetes bomb spotters

Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada on Monday honored three government employees who discovered the improvised bomb planted near the United States Embassy, as well as the street vendor who identified one of the suspects arrested in the foiled terrorist attack and the policemen who diffused the bomb.

Estrada gave Eli Balabagan, a street sweeper employed by the Department of Public Works and Highways P100,000, and Wenifreda Francisco and Maria Dolores Ostolano of the city’s Department of Public Services P50,00 each.  All three also received plaques of appreciation.

Josie Camacho, the street vendor, also received P50,000 in cash and a plaque. She provided police with an eyewitness description of one of the suspects.

Estrada also honored SPO4 Emmanuel Fallaria, officer-in-charge of the Manila Police District-Explosive Ordnance Division, and Chief Insp. Jay Dimaandal, chief of the Special Operations Unit, for responding at the scene, quickly disarming the explosive device and saving innocent lives. They also received P50,000.

Police said the IED, had it detonated, could have maimed or killed several people within a 100-meter radius. It consisted of an 81mm mortar round, cellphone battery and SIM card, a blasting cap and a nine-volt battery, like the one used in the September 2 bombing of Davao City that killed 15 people.

“Just a few days ago, we marked the 153rd birth anniversary of our hero, Gat Andres Bonifacio. Today, we are honoring a new breed of heroes here in the city of Gat Andres’ birth,” Estrada said in a ceremony at the Manila City Hall.

Estrada then introduced Balabagan, Francisco, Ostolano, and Camacho as “the new heroes of the city of Manila.”

“I’m sure that even Gat Andres Bonifacio is proud of their heroism for our beloved city,” the mayor added.

Balabagan, while sweeping the center island of Roxas Boulevard, found the suspicious package inside a garbage can. To her horror, she realized it was an improvised explosive device like what she had seen numerous times in the movies.

Balabagan, Francisco, and Ostolano further exposed themselves to danger by staying at the scene and directing pedestrians and motorists away from the explosive until police arrived.

“It was her quick observation, and just as quick reaction, that allowed personnel of MPD to move immediately and neutralize the threat of a bomb explosion in the middle of Roxas Boulevard, a bomb that could have injured and killed many innocent civilians and motorists, and caused significant damage to properties within the immediate vicinity,” Estrada said of Balabagan.

As for Camacho whom he described as “matang-lawin” (eagle eyed), the mayor said her keen observation and description of the man who left the bomb on the street led to the arrest of one of the three suspects, Jiaher Cali Guinar, in Caloocan City.

Estrada also praised the MPD officers who worked to diffuse the bomb, the investigators who tracked down the leads, and those who arrested the three suspects.

“Once again, you have all done excellent work and made the Manila Police District worthy of the title, ‘Manila’s Finest’,” he said.

Estrada also commended MPD director Senior Supt. Joel Coronel “for his exemplary leadership of the MPD.”

Manila police subsequently arrested two suspects in Bagong Silang, Caloocan City, and Bulacan, Bulacan, and another one in Barangay Matimbo, Malolos.

Both were said to be connected to the Ansar al-Khilafah in the Philippines and to the Maute Group, which MPD said have pledged allegiance to Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

 Muhammad Umao-As, the third suspect in the planting of a bomb near the United States Embassy . Manny Palmero
 A third suspect was also arrested, an X-ray technician in a hospital in Malolos, who allegedly surveilled the vicinity of Rizal Park, where their group initially planted the IED. The fourth suspect was recently nabbed by police intelligence operatives in Subic, Zambales, as reported by PNP National Capital Regional Police Office Director Oscar Albayalde.

Coronel on Monday confirmed the identity of the fourth suspect as Elmer Romero, alias Jamal, 36 years old. He was arrested on Wednesday night in possession of a .45 cal. gun and a fragmentation hand grenade.

Coronel said because of the case build-up, and information given by the other three suspects, police managed to arrest Romero.  Two more suspects are being hunted, he added, declining to identify the suspects and their locations.

The group who bombed the Davao market earlier is probably the same group that planted a bomb at the US Emabssy. “The bomb signature is the same,” Coronel disclosed during an ambush interview in the Manila City Hall.

Romero also admitted to being involved in planning the bombing in the US Embassy, Coronel said, acting as a lookout and transporting the bomb from their safe house to the Roxas Boulevard area.

Coronel said the MPD is now on full alert because of the bomb threat.

“We have increased our police visibility and deployment, especially in Divisoria and Binondo areas,” Coronel said.

3rd round of peace talks resumes in Rome

From the Sun Star-Davao (Dec 13): 3rd round of peace talks resumes in Rome


DAVAO. Office of the Presidential Adviser on the peace process panel member lawyer Angela Librado said Tuesday, December 13, during the press conference at Ateneo de Davao University that by far, there are 21 political prisoners who have received clearances from concerned offices, 18 of whom are qualified for pardon. (Christian Mark Lim) 
DESPITE conflicting positions on the Marcos burial, the release of political detainees and the ceasefire, among several issues, the peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) will push through as planned.
The third round of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) and the NDF is scheduled on January 18 to 25 in Rome and government panelists said everything is all set for the next phase.
 "Yes, as mentioned by Atty. Antonio Arellano and Atty. Rene Sarmiento, consultations are being made," lawyer Angela Librado-Trinidad said Tuesday, December 13.
 Trinidad said the third round of discussion will evolve on the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (Caser), political and constitutional reforms and end of hostilities.
 Although some matters will be part of the discussion, these are the substantive agenda that will be tackled during the peace talks.
 The government, Trinidad said, has enlisted the recommendations and suggestions of several experts and professors of the University of the Philippines (UP), adding that they are currently helping the panel to substantiate the parts. Last December 10, the panel has its set of meeting.
Sarmiento, meanwhile, said they have also conducted a stakeholders consultation where government, academe, and non-government organization (NGOs) were invited including the indigenous people (IPs).
 It was a consultation on the agreement on political and constitutional reforms. "Why the consultation with stakeholders because we believe in the Columbia final agreement that citizen participation is a must in the peace settlement," Sarmiento said.
 Arellano recalled that during the first round of talks in August, both parties made an agreement to resume talks of peace as it was an opportunity to look for solutions to the decades-long insurgency problem.
 While on the second round, the panels agreed on what issues to be tackled and what solution should be sought as well as coming up with common outlines.
 "After that, we did a lot of work of flexing out these issues and I think we've done a lot of good work," Arellano said.
 He added that they will meet again with his committee Thursday, December 15, to finalize the draft document on the end of hostilities and disposition of forces.
  "We're almost through with the document we will just fine tune it," he said.

14 of 22 suspects in Davao night market explosion indicted

From the Sun Star-Davao (Dec 13): 14 of 22 suspects in Davao night market explosion indicted

THE investigating panel found a probable cause to indict the respondents 14 suspects tagged in the bloody Davao night market blast were formally charged before the Davao City Prosecutor’s Office (CPO) for Multiple Murder and Multiple Attempted Murder and Violation of the Human Security Act.

In the 16-page resolution released Monday containing the result of discussions and preliminary investigation, Prosecutor Jay Karel Sanchez said that out of the 22 accused, 14 of them were recommended for trial, while the rest were acquitted for lack of evidence.

The indicted respondents were identified as Abubakar Zulkifli, TJ Tagadaya Macabalang, Wendel Facturan, Musali Mustapha, Datu Masla Sema, Abu Hadid Dilangalen, Jessy Vincent Original, Zack Haron Lopez, Pendatum Coy Mahurom, one alias Cocoy, Abu Calid, Abu Solaiman, Jackson Usi, and Ausa Mamasapano.

 They were charged with Multiple Murder and Multiple Attempted Murder after the bomb explosion has resulted to 15 death and 69 others injured.

 Also, CPO charged them for commission of Terrorism under Section 3(f) of the Republic Act 9372, otherwise known as the "Human Security Act of 2007" involving Destruction under Article 324 of the Revised Penal Code.

Sanchez noted this is the first time they will be indicting individuals under the Human Security Act because before, in the previous similar incident, they only indict the suspect under the revised penal code but now, their office opted to indict them for two cases.

 “This is quite new for our office,” she said.

Among those acquitted are Mohammad Chenikandiyil, Joab Balicas, alias Abrar, Abu Shuhada, Daniel Abu Utman and Jing Pagayao for lack of probable cause.

In the resolution, it states they are members of Ansarol Khilafa Philippines, an organization similar to ISIS, which operates in the country together with the Maute Group.

The panel assigned to the case were Armand Tirol, Jose Paolo Evangelista, and the resolution was approved by the City Prosecutor Nestor Ledesma.

To date, six of the 14 who were indicted are now in jail. Three are in the capital region while the other three are under the custody of Davao City Police Office.

They are TJ Tagadaya Macabalang, Wendel Apostol Facturan, Musali Mustapha, Zack Haron Villanueva Lopez, Jackson Mangulamas Usi, and Ausan Abdullah Mamasapano.

 The seventh arrested, Mohammad Chenikandiyil, was among those acquitted of charges.

Macabalang, Facturan and Mustapha were arrested by a composite team from 6th ID PA and Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao for illegal possession of unlicensed firearms and explosives. Recovered during the arrest were four cellphones, one of which, upon examination, shows a video and audio footage taken during the Roxas Night Market bombing on September 2

Misuari fully backs Duterte’s push for federalism, says it is key to Mindanao progress

From InterAksyon (Dec 14): Misuari fully backs Duterte’s push for federalism, says it is key to Mindanao progress

Moro National Liberation Front Chairman Nur Misuari is pictured at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport before his departure for Saudi Arabia, Dec. 14, 2016. (Richie Lopa/InterAksyon)

Moro National Liberation Front Chairman Nur Misuari on Wednesday voiced confidence that progress will be achieved in Mindanao under the federal system of government which the Duterte administration in pushing for.

Misuari said he fully supports the initiative of President Rodrigo Duterte but it must be a genuine form of federalism.

"President Duterte wanted us to have federalism, I said it is okay for me because that is midway between colonialism and independence," Misuari said in a chance interview at the departure hall of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport terminal 1 before leaving for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, together with his wife Tarhata and 16 other members of his delegation on board Saudia flight SV863 at 3 p.m. on Wednesday .

"We settled for that but it must be a genuine form of federalism.  I don't like federalism that will reflect all the division of all people. What I want is to have one Mindanao, one Visayas and there could have two or three Luzons because they have coalitions."

Misuari said he is optimistic that progress will be achieved in Mindanao once the federal system of government pushes through.

"Hundred percent there will be progress. As a matter of fact, we control between east and west (of Mindanao)," he said, adding that fellow Mindanaoans are fed up being colonized.

"As the United Nations is saying, colonialism is the biggest cause of war in every part of the world,"Misuari added.

The country, under the federal system, will create 11 federal states, while keeping a presidential form of government and increasing the number of elected senators from the present 24 to 81.

There will be four states under Luzon  -- Northern Luzon, Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, Bicol and another four in Visayas -- Eastern Visayas, Central Visayas, Western Visayas, and Minparom, covering Mindoro Oriental and Mindoro Occidental, Palawan and the Kalayaan Islands, Romblon, Marinduque while three in Mindanao -- Northern Mindanao, which may be subdivided into Northwestern and Northeastern Mindanao; Southern Mindanao, Bangsamoro.

The National Capital Region will be the capital of the Federal Republic of the Philippines, just like Washington D.C. in the United States.

One of the proponents of federalism,, former senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr., explained that the system is necessary to allow government resources to be distributed equitably to each province in the country.

"It is a system of sharing power," he said.

Pimentel is the founding chairman of Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), the political party of President Rodrigo Duterte who is strongly pushing for a federal system of government.

Under the proposal, the president and the vice president will be elected for a six-year term of office without reelection, unlike the present system where they are voted separately, while senators will no longer be elected nationwide.

There will be 66 senators for the 11 federal states and Metro Manila will also have six senators, and 9 more to represent overseas Filipinos. In all, there will be 81 senators under the federal system.

Federalism, according to Pimentel, will accomplish two major things --  cause the speedy development of the entire country by unleashing the forces of competitiveness among states; and second, dissipate the cause of rebellion in the country, particularly in Mindanao.

By federalizing the Republic, the States will concretely address the needs of their component sectors more readily, he added.

Dryad Expands VSM service to Sulu Sea

Posted to MarineLink (Dec 13): Dryad Expands VSM service to Sulu Sea 

With vessels and crew having become a recent target by the militant jihadist group Abu Sayyaf in the Sulu Sea, it has now become an area of high risk for mariners.
Dryad is therefore expanding their popular Vessel Safety Monitoring (VSM) service to the Sulu Sea. Managed from our 24-hour Operations Centre by experienced mariners and intelligence analysts, this service continuously tracks clients’ vessels and delivers the most up to date intelligence picture to Masters and shore teams on the latest emerging threats in the area.

To minimise disruption to planned routes, dynamic routing advice will also be offered to Masters so that they can avoid the current location of assailants if deemed necessary to ensure the safety of the vessel.

Use Vessel Safety Monitoring to:

 * Find an alternative solution to armed guards
 * Track your vessels 24/7 by expert mariners and analysts
 * Receive dynamic routing advice around emergent threats
 * Minimise disruption to your operations and contractual agreements

Gard Alert: Piracy in Asia – crew abductions

Posted to Hellenic Shipping News (Dec 14): Gard Alert: Piracy in Asia – crew abductions

in Marine Insurance P&I Club News 14/12/2016
The piracy reporting center ReCAAP ISC continues to warn about the many crew abductions currently taking place in the Sulu-Celebes Sea area – between Sabah, Malaysia and the Southern Philippines.

The Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia Information Sharing Center (ReCAAP ISC) has now published its November 2016 Report on Piracy and Armed Robbery in Asia. The good news is that ReCAAP sees a 60 per cent decrease in the overall number of incidents compared to the same period in 2015. Notably continued improvement has been observed in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore (SOMS) with no incident reported in the SOMS since April 2016. Also, no incidents involving hijacking of tankers for theft of oil cargo were reported in November 2016. The not so good news is the continued occurrence of incidents involving the abduction of crew from ships while underway in the Sulu-Celebes Sea and eastern Sabah region.

In November 2016, one successful and four attempted abductions of crew were reported in the Sulu-Celebes Sea area and since March 2016, the corresponding numbers are nine and four respectively.
The report also makes particular note that, while previously only smaller slow-moving vessels such as tug boats and fishing vessels were targeted, the perpetrators are now also targeting vessels of larger tonnage. The report also highlights the incident alert issued on 21 November 2016, urging all ships to re-route from the area if possible.


Members and clients with vessels operating in Southeast Asia, and in waters off eastern Sabah and southern Philippines in particular, are advised to closely monitor the situation via ReCAAP ISC’s website ( and by staying in close contact with regional authorities and their local agents. A risk assessment should be conducted and the relevant preventive measures adopted, taking reference from the BMP4 as well as the Regional Guide to Counter Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships in Asia.

The following measures should be considered by vessels operating in the vicinity of, or transiting, the Sulu-Celebes Sea area:
  • re-route/avoid the area if possible;
  • continuously monitor the advisories issued on NAVTEX;
  • activate the vessel’s Automatic Identification System (AIS);
  • enhance vigilance and increase security watch rotations while transiting the area;
  • use CCTV cameras to cover vulnerable areas of the vessel (if available);
  • secure or lift external ladders to prevent external access;
  • firmly secure all doors and hatches providing access to the accommodation and machinery spaces and ensure that all emergency
  • escape routes from manned compartments that have been secured can be opened from within;
  • sound the alarm if unknown people are sighted onboard the vessel or suspicious boats in the vicinity;
  • avoid confrontation with any perpetrators; and
  • report immediately to the following regional authority centers:
Operation Centre in the Philippine Coast Guard District Southwestern Mindanao for monitoring and immediate responses in in all instances
(Sat phones: +63 929686 4129/+63 916626 0689, VHF: Channel 16 with call-sign “ENVY”, Email:

Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) when transiting close to eastern Sabah.
(Tel: +60 89863181/016, Fax: +60 89863182,VHF: Channel 16 with call-sign “ESSCOM”, Email:

Additional information about piracy, robbery and illegal violence at sea is also available on Gard’s website ( under the general topic “Trading area risks”.

Source: Gard (

Abu Sayyaf frees 2 Indonesians, 1 Filipino

From The Gulf Today (Dec 14): Abu Sayyaf frees 2 Indonesians, 1 Filipino

The Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf terror group released three hostages - two Indonesian crewmen of a tugboat and a Filipino businesswoman - due to the strong pressure arising from what the military claimed was the intensified “search and destroy operation” launched against them by government forces.

Major Filemon Tan, the spokesman of the military’s Western Mindanao Command, identified the two freed Indonesian hostages as Mohammad Nazer, 62, and Robin Peter, 32, who were already turned over to the Indonesian embassy in Manila.

Tan said Nazer and Peter were the last two of the seven crewmen abducted by the Abu Sayyaf from an Indonesian tugboat while sailing off the Sulu Sea on June 22.

He disclosed the extremists turned over the two Indonesian hostages to the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in the town of Patikul, Sulu on Monday but admitted he was not aware that a ransom has been paid.

However, Tan pointed out their release resulted from the intensified campaign launched by government forces against the Abu Sayyaf on orders of President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte.

In a related development, an official of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) reported that a group identified with the Abu Sayyaf freed Filipino businesswoman Clarita Belisario who was kidnapped while tending to her gasoline station in the town of Linamon, Lanao del Sur in September.

Jam Dimaporo revealed that Belisario was released after her family paid $3,400 to the abductors representing the fee for her “board and lodging” while in captivity, a euphemism for ransom.

With the release of the two Indonesians, meanwhile, Tan said the Abu Sayyaf are still holding a total of 23 foreign hostages, composed of six Vietnamese sailors, five Malaysians, four Indonesians, one Dutch, one German and one Korean.

The Abu Sayyaf has gained notoriety through a spate of kidnap-for-ransom cases that were often marred by the beheading of their foreign and Filipino hostages.

Among their latest foreign hostages beheaded this year were two Canadian nationals for their reported failure to pay the huge ransom demanded for their release.

The two Canadians were abducted along with a Norwegian national and their Filipina companion while on a holiday on a posh island resort in Mindanao in late October 2015.