Friday, September 15, 2017

WATCH | Senate finance panel OKs DND budget but Trillanes wants P500M from ‘Double Barrel’ for AFP intel

From InterAksyon (Sep 14): WATCH | Senate finance panel OKs DND budget but Trillanes wants P500M from ‘Double Barrel’ for AFP intel

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV/REUTERS FILE PHOTO
The Senate finance committee approved the more than P195-billion proposed 2018 budget for the Department of National Defense but Senator Antonio Trillanes IV wants P500 million from the police anti-drug “Oplan Double Barrel” realigned to augment the military’s intelligence funds.

This was after senators who deliberated the DND budget noted that the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ intelligence fund had been increased by only P220 million next year, for a total of P1.58 billion.

Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said they had asked for a P280-million increase in the AFP’s intelligence fund but the Department of Budget and Management did not grant the full amount they sought.

A number of senators, including Trillanes and Panfilo Lacson, who sponsored the DND budget, noted that this might not be enough given the threats posed by terrorism, as in the Marawi crisis, and larger issues of national security including the West Philippine Sea.

Trillanes said he would introduce an amendment to realign the P500 million intended as the intelligence component of Double Barrel to the AFP when the budget is debated in plenary.

Senator Risa Hontiveros said she would support the realignment and suggested that part of the fund can be used for military modernization and reform.

Trillanes acknowledged he would have to discuss the proposed realignment with his colleagues but was confident they would agree.

While stressing they are not asking for the realignment, Lorenzana said they would welcome any additional funds since they need to acquire more equipment to improve intelligence gathering against terrorists and insurgents.

He added that they could work with the P1.5 billion granted by the DBM.


Joma says Duterte building 'fascist dictatorship'

From ABS-CBN (Sep 15): Joma says Duterte building 'fascist dictatorship'
Communist leader Jose Maria Sison on Friday slammed President Rodrigo Duterte, describing him as the "worst kind of president" who is on his way to declaring a "fascist dictatorship."

Sison, founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines, said Duterte controls all branches of government and has drafted a "killing budget" that allocates only P1,000 for the Commission of Human Rights and millions of pesos to law enforcement in the campaign against illegal drugs.

READ: House votes for only P1,000-budget for CHR

"I think I have a lot of criticisms to make of previous presidents, but this is the worst kind of president," Sison told ANC's Early Edition.

"I would say that Duterte is very well on the way to proclaiming a fascist dictatorship. He’s preparing for martial law and to impose a fascist dictatorship in the Philippines," he said.

Duterte's control of the Supreme Court, he said, is manifested by the "quick acquittal of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as a way of paying for the support" the former president gave the incumbent.

The leftist leader also slammed the "glorification" of the late dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, whose remains were laid to rest at the Libingan ng mga Bayani with the high court's nod.

"That Supreme Court has already given a blank check for proclaiming martial law nationwide," Sison said.

"But the attack of Duterte on [Chief Justice] Sereno is meant to complete, to tighten complete control over the Supreme Court," he added, referring to the impeachment complain filed against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.


Sison also denounced the Lower House's move to allocate only P1,000 to the CHR, which supports his statement that Duterte is heading towards dictatorship.

"The way the budget is made, it’s a killing budget, a budget for killing people, and a budget for expressing contempt for human rights."

"Reducing budget of the CHR to just P1,000 and then giving ‘tokhang’ this scheme of mass murder, 900 million plus other funds of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and a huge intelligence fund of Duterte—this is a budget for fascist dictatorship and for killing more people," he said.

Sison claimed P50,000 is the "going price" for each head of drug users and street-level peddlers, while P100,000 is for each suspected communist rebel.

"They’re preparing for massacres in the Philippines," he said.

"We are looking forward to despotic regime of widespread death and destruction. That is already well demonstrated in the destruction of Marawi," he added.

Duterte earlier said he has decided to abandon peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), saying the fighting between government and communist rebels could go on for “another 50 years.”

Military to build permanent structures at PH Rise in 2 yrs

From the Manila Times (Sep 16): Military to build permanent structures at PH Rise in 2 yrs

The Navy will build permanent structures in Benham Rise in the next two years to establish its naval presence in the northeastern underwater territory also called the Philippine Rise, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Friday.

Three months ago, divers from the Philippine Navy planted the country’s flag in the underwater plateau seven meters below the water surface, off the coasts that stretch from Cagayan to Bicol. The area was declared by the United Nations in 2012 as part of the Philippine continental shelf.

“My estimate is that…if we have the fund and we get the correct technology, maybe in two years’ time we’ll be able to start [building]permanent structures. We want to have a platform where helicopters could land and we want a place for our ships to go near there and dock, on top of deploying marine biologists and other scientists,” Lorenzana told reporters in a news conference at the presidential palace.

Lorenzana, however, clarified that the establishment of a naval presence in nearby areas will take precedence over the permanent structures that have yet to be allocated any funds.

“Our plan [for]now is to establish a naval presence in Casiguran, considering that there is an airport there that is seldom used. The other one is in Polilio, which has been used by the Americans as an airstrip during World War 2. There’s another one at the tip of Cagayan. So, we’ll have three jump off points for our patrols,” Lorenzana told reporters.

The defense chief stressed that the imperative for the Philippine military is to protect Benham Rise around its whole stretch of 13 million hectares, as huge as Luzon, and is home to the blue fin tuna, the most expensive tuna in the world.

“Fishermen from other countries have been poaching there for a long time…from Taiwan, South Korea, China. Even Japan comes to Benham Rise. And we would like to protect what belongs to us. That’s our plan,” Lorenzana said.

“We have to protect our resources,” Lorenzana added.

The Benham Rise was designated as a “protected food supply exclusive zone” by the Philippine government in May 2017. The government banned mining and oil exploration in the plateau as a protected area. In the same month, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order No. 25 renaming the region to Philippine Rise.

MILF: Editorial - Agreements are binding

Editorial posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Sep 16): Editorial - Agreements are binding

No matter what happens the MILF will abide by and stick to agreements signed with government – and we will consistently invoke them. This is not only to protect and preserve the gains of the peace process but also to ensure that we are standing on solid moral grounds. By this, we will surely not regret later. As one high MILF leader once said: “It is better to secure a centavo already in the pocket than to hunt for a peso still in the wilderness.”

In particular, the MILF will always hold on to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB). And we continue to respect and abide by them. These agreements, which were signed with third party facilitation, clearly defined our relations with the government and how the various provisions thereof are going to be implemented by the parties.

Similarly, we urge the government to do the same, because failure to do so is a breach of contract. The first casualty would be the loss of trust and confidence on the government. Increase frustrations among the Bangsamoro people will also ensue.

Building trust is very difficult to develop and achieve. It is a long process. Words, or more precisely rhetoric, are not enough to secure it. Honest actions or programs, or more accurately, compliance, must back it up. But losing it is not as difficult. One clear act of deceit or doubletalk is enough to loosen or shatter it.

The delivery of the BBL is a unilateral responsibility of government. It is a commitment contained in the FAB, CAB, two executive orders signed by then President Benigno Aquino III, and later by Executive Order No. 08 signed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. The Peace and Development Roadmap adopted by the GPH and MILF peace panels in Kuala Lumpur on March 21, this year, also indicated the pathways the BBL has to move through. Its enactment has also been the promises of President Duterte, the last of which was made during the meeting between MILF leaders led by Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and President Duterte and several high ranking cabinet members in Malacañang Palace last September 4.

But recent development of the BBL is not encouraging. The government is not pushing it in Congress. It might even be side-lined to give way to shift of system of government from unitary to federal. Or it may not come at all during the term of President Duterte because constitutional change, which will surely face fierce resistance from those who are enjoying and benefitting from the highly centralized status quo, is hard to realize. It is not for easy picking.

However, to this day, we still look forward to President Duterte making true his promise that he will make the BBL as a template for federalism in this country. We are sure these are not empty promises but are meant to be fulfilled.

Even more stunning, however, was his statement during the presentation of the BBL in Malacañang Palace last July 17. He loudly proclaimed that “within the context of the Republic of the Philippines, there shall be a Bangsamoro country.” And everybody cheered for it.

However, the use of the term “country” is very hard to fathom. If one has to exaggerate, the meaning would be more than the grant of autonomy. But whatever it is, it is still in the safe side. The controlling mechanism is the premise, “within the context of the Republic of the Philippines.”

MILF: MILF PIP Chair Iqbal remain optimistic on the positive outcome of BBL despite the filing of other versions in congress

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Sep 16): MILF PIP Chair Iqbal remain optimistic on the positive outcome of BBL despite the filing of other versions in congress

In photo- MILF PIP Chair Mohagher Iqbal

Chairman Mohagher Iqbal of MILF Peace Implementing Panel remain optimistic on the positive outcome of the new draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) despite the filing of three (3) versions in the House of Representatives (HoR).
Iqbal reiterated his observations on the ongoing peace process amidst negative perceptions from various sectors of the Bangsamoro Homeland in an interview by Luwaran this morning (September 14).

It is to be noted that the new BBL is still pending in congress while waiting for sponsorship.

On the other hand, Rep. Bai Sandra S. Sema also filed June 30, 2016, a separate version HB no. 00092-" An Act Providing for the Basic Law for the Bangsamoro and Abolishing the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, repealing for the purpose R.A. 9054.

Recently, former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo filed another version HB no. 6121, also known as " Basic Act on BANGSAMORO AUTONOMOUS REGION " (BABAR) last August 13, 2017.

On the other hand, Rep. Mohammad Khalid Q. Dimaporo of Lanao Del Norter filed HB no. 06263, " AN ACT TO STRENGTHEN AND EXPAND THE ORGANIC FOR THE AUTONOMOUS REGION IN MUSLIM MINDANAO ".

When asked for comment, Chair Iqbal stressed that, " We are in a democratic country and everybody is entitled to their opinion.

On the part of the MILF being the forbearer of the Bangsamoro aspiration we will continue to assert. We have been in the struggle for more than 40 years now fighting for our right to self - determination. We are now engaging the government thru peaceful means considering that we have our peace agreement with them.

“We have done our part in good faith and it is now their turn to show the same by passing the Bangsamoro Basic Law and leaving the constitutional issues if there are any to the Supreme Court who are mandated by law to determine the constitutionality of certain provisions that maybe enacted by Congress", Iqbal pointed out.

" If only the government is serious in correcting the historical injustices as what the President had promised during his campaign, everything will be smooth and easy. I still believe that the president with his political will, the BBL Law will be passed in shaa Allah (If Allah wills)", Iqbal lamented.

As of press time, President Rodrigo Duterte, HoR Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Senate President Koko Pimentel, members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) led by MILF 1st Vice Chairman and Con-Current BTC Chair Ghazali Jaafar, and other MILF officials are meeting in Malacañang on how to ensure the BBL and pass by congress.

DWDD: HONORED | Awardees during 1st Mechanized Division – 11th Activation Celebration

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Sep 15): HONORED  |  Awardees during 1st Mechanized Division – 11th Activation Celebration


CAMP O’DONNELL, Capas, Tarlac (DWDD) – Five soldiers who participated in the operation to retake Marawi City from the Daesh-inspired Maute terrorists were honored last Tuesday, September 12, 2017 by their mother unit, the Mechanized Infantry Division, during its 11th activation celebration held at in this military camp in Capas town.

2nd Lt. Francis Alvison Serrano, Sgt. Rogelio Abuan, Staff Sgts. Joeric Ureta and Edward Hipol, and Cpl. Joel Martin were given merit awards in ceremonies led by retired Armed Forces chief of staff, Efren Abu. 1MechInfDiv/MCAG

DWDD: KALASAG NG BAYAN | Mechanized Infantry Division 11th Activation Anniversary

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Sep 15): KALASAG NG BAYAN  |  Mechanized Infantry Division 11th Activation Anniversary


CAMP O’DONNELL, Capas, Tarlac (DWDD) – The month of September is a significant for the Mechanized Infantry Division, Philippine Army. It was in the year of 2006, the Light Armor Division was activated on 11 September, but now known as the Mechanized Infantry Division. Eleven (11) years have passed, since the division celebrates its 1st Anniversary.

It is pride that the Mechanized Infantry Division, Philippine Army celebrates its 11th Activation Anniversary with the leadership of Maj. Gen. Edgar F Gonzales AFP, Division Commander. In a month long series of activities with this year’s anniversary theme “Kalasag ng Bayan, Kaagapay sa Kaunlaran.”

As part of the pre-anniversary activities the Mech Div conduct a series of activities to make the occasion meaningful and memorable. Will also showcases the capability demonstration of our latest armored vehicle assets, distribution of Certificate of Lot Award (CeLA) to the Officers and Enlisted Personnel of Mech Div pursuant to Presidential Proclamation NO 1144, s. 2015 and awarding and paid tribute to our soldiers involved in Marawi Siege.

Gen. Efren L Abu (Ret) former Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and former Commander of Light Armor Brigade was the guest of honor and speaker. Secretary Delfin N Lorenzana of the Department of National Defense, AFP officers, Media and other civilian guest are also present during the 11th Activation Anniversary of the Mechanized Infantry Division on 12 September 2017. 1MechInfDiv/MCAG


DWDD: TEMPEST WIND | Phl-US Counter-Terrorism Crisis Response Drill

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Sep 15): TEMPEST WIND  |  Phl-US Counter-Terrorism Crisis Response Drill


CAMP GEN EMILIO AGUINALDO, Quezon City (DWDD) – The Philippines and the United States governments will participate in a bilateral, inter-agency counter-terrorism drill dubbed “Tempest Wind,” which is scheduled to take place next week in the Philippines and Hawaii.

The PH-US Counterterrorism Crisis Response Drill Set was approved by the Mutual Defense Board and Security Engagement Board (MDB-SEB) of both countries in November 2016.

“Tempest Wind” is a whole-of-government activity that will include government agencies involved in crisis management, counter-terrorism, and security operations from both countries.

The drill is designed to provide realistic scenarios on terrorism that will necessitate both high-level engagements and responses on a tactical level.

The Philippine government looks forward to joining “Tempest Wind” with the end in view of learning from the activity and sharing best practices with its counterpart.

This drill will strengthen the Philippine-American bilateral partnership and enhance both governments’ inter-operability in crisis situations, especially those involving terrorism. DND PAS/MCAG

DWDD: LAGING HANDA | 38th National Reservist Week

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Sep 15): LAGING HANDA  |  38th National Reservist Week

CAMP GEN EMILIO AGUINALDO, Quezon City (DWDD) – Join us in celebrating the 38th National Reservist Week with the theme: “Laang Kawal: Laging handa sa pagtugon sa pangangailangan at kusang loob na naglilingkod para sa kaunlaran ng Bayan”

 See you tomorrow at 0800H at the General Headquarters Grandstand, Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City. MCAG

Former Gabriela partylist rep named DSWD usec

From Malaya Business Insight (Sep 15): Former Gabriela partylist rep named DSWD usec

MALACANANG yesterday announced the appointment of former Gabriela partylist Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan as undersecretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), along with two retired alumni of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA).

President Duterte on September 13 signed the appointments papers of Ilagan as DSWD undersecretary, retired police Chief Supt. Aaron Aquino as new director general of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), and retired Maj. Gen. Romeo Gan as deputy administrator of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA).

Ilagan, who was born and raised in Davao, is an alumnus of the Ateneo de Davao College where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree, and of the University of the Philippines Manila where she earned her master’s degree in Public Administration.

She started a career in education at the Ateneo de Davao, where she remained a consultant of the university’s mass communications department and parttime instructor, before she ran and won as councilor of Davao City. She is a founding member of Gabriela and was one of the Gabriela partylist representatives during the 14th Congress.

After her term in 2016, she was initially designated by Duterte to be part of the government panel negotiating with the communist rebels. Talks with the communist group, however, had been suspended.

Aquino formally received the post of PDEA chief Tuesday from Isidro Lapeña who was appointed Commissioner of the Bureau of Customs (BoC). The turnover ceremony was held at the PDEA Gymnasium in Quezon City.
He is a member of the PMA Class 1985 and held various positions in the police including head of the Police Regional Offices 3, 4, 10 and 11.

He also served as a member of the Presidential Security Group during the terms of Presidents Corazon Aquino and Fidel Ramos.

Gan, a member of the PMA 1983 class, is a former commander of the 2nd Infantry “Jungle Fighter” Division of the Philippine Army, and former commander of Civil Relations Service of the Armed Forces. He also served as commander of the Army’s 6th infantry (Kampilan) Division, in Maguindanao.

RP, US set for bilateral counter-terrorism drill

From the Daily Tribune (Sep 16): RP, US set for bilateral counter-terrorism drill

The governments of the Philippines and the United States will embark on a bilateral, interagency counter-terrorism drill in mid-September, announced the US Embassy in Manila yesterday.

The Tempest Wind is intended to test and improve the ability of both nations to rapidly plan, coordinate, and conduct counter-terrorism operations.

According to the embassy, the whole-of-government drill will be augmented by additional military assessments, national level engagement, and subject matter expert exchanges.

The events, which will take place in the Philippines and Hawaii, are designed to create a realistic environment to exercise counter-terrorism strategy, including senior decision-making and tactical responses, while deepening the bilateral partnership.

In addition to important information exchanges, the embassy said “Tempest Wind is recognized as a way to test force readiness and exercise interoperability.”

“These assessments will help to focus future bilateral training efforts to enhance the crisis response capabilities of both nations,” its statement reads.

The Mutual Defense Board and Security Engagement Board approved Tempest Wind in November 2016, highlighting the enduring commitment of both countries to the U.S.-Philippine alliance.

The United States, a long-standing ally of the Philippines, continues to provide support and assistance to Philippine counter-terrorism efforts and work jointly to address shared threats to the peace and security of both countries.

Early September, Ambassador Sung Kim announced an assistance of P730 million for emergency relief and recovery assistance to communities affected by the ongoing conflict in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur and its surrounding areas.

“The United States is deeply committed to this relationship and remains ready to support our friend and ally as we face the challenges and opportunities,” Ambassador Kim said. “We all look forward to the end of the crisis, and the end of the fighting and suffering. We have been and will continue to support the Philippine government’s efforts to deal with the crisis.”

Last July, the Washington also provided access to potable water by distributing 12,000 water containers and nearly 100,000 chlorine tablets to 12,000 families staying in evacuation sites in Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, and Iligan City.

Military spokesman Padilla, others promoted

From the Business Mirror (Sep 16): Military spokesman Padilla, others promoted

Restituto Padilla

Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla (foreground) speaks during a Malacanang press briefing on the war in Marawi and Pres. Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of martial law in Mindanao on May 29, 2017. Also pictured are (far left) Asec. Ana Marie-Banaag and Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella. — KJ ROSALES/PHILIPPINE STAR

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte on Thursday signed the nomination of Brig. Gen. Restituto F. Padilla to the rank of Maj. Gen./Rear Adm., along with 20 others to the ranks of Lieutenant General and Brigadier General, to be submitted to the Commission on Appointments for approval.

“I wish to inform you that, per your letter-endorsement and in accordance with the recommendation of the Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines and Chairman, Armed of the Philippines Board of Generals, pursuant to the provisions of Article VII, Section 16 of the Constitution and existing laws, the nomination of the twenty-one (21) General/Flag and Senior Officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to their ranks of LIEUTENANT GENERAL, MAJOR GENERAL/REAR ADMIRAL, and BRIGADIER GENERAL/COMMODORE will be submitted to the Commission on Appointments for confirmation,” Mr. Duterte’s Sept. 14 letter to his Defense Secretary, Delfin N. Lorenzana, reads.

Along with Mr. Padilla were 20 others who are nominated for the ranks of lieutenant and brigadier general.

Nominated to the rank of Lt. Gen. is Maj. Gen. Emmanuel B. Salamat O-9334 AFP.
To the rank of Maj. Gen./Rear Adm. are:

Brig. Gen. Rolando Joselito D. Bautista O 9303 AFP
• Brig. Gen. Alvin A. Parreno O-9566 AFP (Parreño)
• Commodore Rommel Jude G. Ong O-9732 AFP
• Brig. Gen. Nicolas C. Parilla O-9771 AFP
• Commodore Giovanni Carlo J. Bacardo O-9693 AFP
• Brig. Gen. Isidro L. Purisima O-9335 AFP
• Brig. Gen. Macairog S. Alberto O-9568 AFP

To the rank of Brig.Gen./Commodore:

• Capt. Alberto B. Carlos O-10205 PN (GSC)
• Col. Joselito B. Ramos O-9876 PAF (MNSA)
• Col. Eric C. Vinoya O-9754 PA (GSC)
• Capt. Noel M. De Vera O-9815 PN (MNSA)
• Col. Bernie S. Langub O-10209 PA (GSC)
• Capt. Sean Anthony U. Villa O-9814 PN (GSC)
• Col. Ferdinand M. Cartujano O-9857 PAF (GSC)
• Col. Augusto D. Dela Pena O-10053 PAF (MNSA) (Peña)
• Col. Nilda L. Nesperos O-123881 NC (GSC)
• Col. Tyne T. Banas O-9804 PA (GSC) (Bañas)
• Col. Franco Nemesio M. Gacal O-9844 PA (GSC)
• Col. Vicente O. Bacarro O-9864 PA (GSC)


Councilor, 2 others killed

From the Visayan Daily Star (Sep 16): Councilor, 2 others killed

A councilor of Salvador Benedicto town and his live-in partner were killed, even as she begged for his life, by unidentified armed men in Barangay Lopez Jaena, Murcia town, Negros Occidental, 9:30 a.m. yesterday.

Also killed was Bacordo's alleged bodyguard who is a job order employee of the Salvador Benedicto municipal government.

Senior Inspector Ronald Santillan, Murcia police officer-in-charge , identified the victims as Salvador Benedicto Councilor Eden Bacordo, 39, his alleged live-in-partner Lea May Saldua, 39, and Arnold Larida.

Bacordo had built a makeshift house with his live-in-partner in Barangay Lopez Jaena, Murcia, that they visited from time to time, he added.

The house is accessible through a narrow road where Bacordo was walking at 9:30 a.m. yesterday, when he was fired at. Although injured, he was able run back to the house, Santillan said.

At their makeshift house, Saldua reportedly tried to shield him from the attackers and begged for his life.

However, the attackers also fired at her and Larida, and finished Bacordo off, Santillan said.

They all sustained multiple gunshot wounds, he added.

The attack was perpetrated by four armed men with M-16 armalite and M-1 Garand rifles, and light weapons, while two others served as lookouts, Santillan said.

Thirty-four empty shells of M-16 and M-1 Garand rifles were found at the scene of the crime, he added.

Bacordo was among the 11 suspects charged for murder, in connection with the death of Charlie Boli-Boli, a leader of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade, on July 8 in Brgy. Bago, Salvador Benedicto town.

Before his death, Bacordo submitted his counter-affidavits before the Negros Occidental Provincial Prosecutor's Office, to the charges against him, a DAILY STAR source said.

But the killing of Boli-Boli was claimed by the NPA Roselyn Pelle Command in a statement to the local media.

Willy Bacordo said in a radio interview yesterday that his cousin Eden told him that he had no participation whatsoever in the murder case, and he has many witnesses to back up his claims.

Santillan said they will look into the murder of Boli-Boli and the relationship of Saldua to Bacordo as among the possible motives in the killing of the three victims.

Bacordo is the son of former rebel leader Vicente “Oti” Bacordo, who is now the barangay captain of Bagong Silang in Salvador Benedicto.

Larida and Bacordo are residents of Barangay Bagong Silang, and Saldua of Barangay Bago, both in Salvador Benedicto.

Armed men attack solar farm in Cadiz

From the Visayan Daily Star (Sep 16): Armed men attack solar farm in Cadiz

Suspected New People's Army rebels armed with hand grenades and high powered weapons, as well as grenade launchers, fired at and damaged 90 solar panels of the biggest solar farm in Southeast Asia located in Cadiz City, Negros Occidental, at about 10:20 p.m. Thursday, Mayor Patrick Escalante said yesterday.

Escalante placed the damage to the 90 solar panels at P2.250 million, which he said was minimal.

The armed men fired from outside the perimeter fence and no one was hurt, he said.

The close to P10 billion Helios Solar Energy Corp. solar farm in Barangay Tinampa-an, Cadiz City, was developed through a partnership between Gregorio Araneta Inc. and Soleq, one of Southeast Asia's largest solar independent power producers, whose mother company is Equis.

The 132.5 megawatt solar generation facility with 427,392 solar panels located in a 176-hectare area, was inaugurated in March this year.

NPA rebels are suspected to have perpetrated the crime as part of their extortion activities, the mayor said.

They reportedly tried to extort money from the firm, he said.

A police report said an unidentified group of 17 armed men speaking Hiligaynon and Cebuano were seen headed for the crime scene by witnesses.

The report said about 109 pieces of live ammunition were fired from high powered weapons, including M-16 armalite rifles,M79/M203 grenade launchers, and two firing pins of handgrenades were recovered.

Damaged were 90 solar panels and one CCTV camera at post No. 43, the report said.

The mayor said the Army and police were meeting yesterday afternoon to beef up security in what is one of the largest investments in the province.

Action needs to be taken to assure investors of security, he added.

Air Force pushing for acquisition of Air Defense System

From Update Philippines (Sep 14): Air Force pushing for acquisition of Air Defense System

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) is pushing forward with their Ground Based Air Defense System (GBADS) project proposal, MaxDefense Philippines said.

MaxDefense said the GBADS acquisition project will be pushed under the Second Horizon of Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program (RAFPMP) established by Republic Act No. 10349.

It added that among the possible project bidders are Israeli Rafael Advanced Defense Systems with its Surface-to-air Python and Derby (SPYDER) Medium Range; German Diehl Defence with IRIS-T Surface-Launched; Korean LIGNex1 with KM surface-to-air missile (SAM); Norwegian Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace with NASAMS developed with Raytheon; and European MBDA with Land Ceptor.

The Department of National Defense (DND) previously said that under the next phase of military modernization “we will pursue the development and enhancement of our territorial defense capability by acquiring major defense assets such as, but not limited to, radars, fighter aircraft, frigates, patrol boats, attack and utility helicopters, missile systems, and unmanned aerial systems.”

The Second Horizon will run from 2018 to 2022. It will be followed by Third Horizon which will start 2023 and will end in 2028.

Coast Guard looking into getting 5 Airbus helicopters, 2 AW139 helicopters

From Update Philippines (Sep 14): Coast Guard looking into getting 5 Airbus helicopters, 2 AW139 helicopters

According to a senior Coast Guard officer, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is looking into getting five (5) Airbus Helicopters H145 and two (2) Leonardo (AgustaWestland) AW139, Pinoy Aviators said in its official social networking page.

The acquisition will be through the maritime disaster response helicopters acquisition project approved by National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Investment Coordination Committee (ICC)-Cabinet Committee last month.

The approval of NEDA Board chaired by President Rodrigo Duterte is still needed before the said project could be finally implemented.

The project has a budget of PHP5.887 billion for seven helicopters which will include training of pilots and technical crew; purchase of mission equipment, maintenance tools and spare parts; construction of hangars; and project management.

The project aims to strengthen and expand the PCG’s capability to respond to maritime incidents during natural calamities.

PH navy buys 3 more Multi-Purpose Attack Crafts

From Update Philippines (Sep 15): PH navy buys 3 more Multi-Purpose Attack Crafts

The Department of National Defense (DND) has launched the procurement of three (3) more Multi-Purpose Attack Crafts (MPAC) for the Philippine Navy. These will be the 10th, 11th, and 12th MPACs of the Philippine Navy.

The procurement project has an approved budget for contract (ABC) of PHP270,000,000.00 through the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Act Trust Fund 2017.

Pre-Bid Conference was scheduled today, September 15. Deadline for submission of bids and opening of bids will be on September 29.

The Philippine Navy activated in May 2017 the three latest MPACs (488, 489, and 491) which are Mark IIIs. These MPACs were built by a joint venture between Filipino shipbuilder Propmech Corporation and Taiwanese builder Lung Teh Shipbuilding Corporation in Propmech’s Subic facility.

Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems will be arming these recently activated MPACs with missile and other weapon systems. Delivery of these systems is expected in December this year.

Army battalion commander tests NPA rifles: Lahat nagloloko, maliban sa AK-47

From Update Philippines (Sep 15): Army battalion commander tests NPA rifles: Lahat nagloloko, maliban sa AK-47

Philippine Army 33rd Infantry (Makabayan) Battalion commander Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cabunoc tested four types of rifles seized from NPA.

The video of said testing was posted by Lieutenant Colonel Cabunoc in his social networking account September 15.

Among the tested seized rifles are the M1 Carbine, Kalashnikov AK-47, M1 Garand, and M16 rifle.

All rifles tested were able to hit targets, however, it was the AK-47 that did not encounter a glitch.

“Lahat nagloloko, maliban sa AK-47,” Cabunoc said after the testing.

“Sa lahat ng rifle na aking ginamit, panay luma lahat, ginawa noong 1940s-1060s, napatunayan natin na ‘yung pinaka astig sa pangmatagalan na gamit sa bundok walang linis-linis, ang panalo ay AK-47, reliable,” Lieutenant Colonel Cabunoc said.

Trump on visiting PH in November: ‘We’re going to see’

From Update Philippines (Sep 15): Trump on visiting PH in November: ‘We’re going to see’

United States President Donald Trump said he is embarking into a 10-day travel to Asian countries in November. Among the definite countries he will visit are South Korea, China, and Japan.

He also said that his trip would “possibly” include Vietnam for the 29th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting on November 11 and 12.

However, when asked if his travel will include the Philippines for the 31st ASEAN Summit and related summits on November 13 and 14, Trump said he was invited but did not gave a definite answer.

“He (President Rodrigo Duterte) invited us, we’re going to see,” he told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Washington, D.C. on September 14.

“Japan, South Korea, possibly Vietnam with a conference,” he said.

DND seeks to replenish funds on Marawi clash

From Update Philippines (Sep 15): DND seeks to replenish funds on Marawi clash

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is hoping they could replenish the funds expended on the ongoing operations to clear Marawi City of remnants of the Maute Group.

Lorenzana said that as of Thursday, his department has already spent PHP3.5 billion for ammunition, bombs, fuel, food, and medicines used by the services in the armed conflict.

The amount, he said, also includes benefits given to wounded troops and the next-of- kin of those killed in the fighting.

The defense chief noted that the PHP3.5 billion came from their current funds as they have not sought funding for the ongoing conflict in Marawi City, which began last May 23 following an attempt to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader, Isnilon Hapilon, and his cohorts.

“We did not ask for any additional budget. We just used our current funds to advance towards the end of the year. But somewhere along the way, we will have to ask the government, Malacañang, to replenish that, so as not to affect the operations of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines),” he said.

P1.6B allocated for Pag-asa Island beaching ramp, runway, facilities

From Update Philippines (Sep 16): P1.6B allocated for Pag-asa Island beaching ramp, runway, facilities

National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said contracts for the upgrade and repair of facilities in Pag-asa Island were already signed two months ago. He said PHP1.6 billion was allocated.

“Hopefully, they have already started because the contracts have been finalized, I think two months ago. And the funds are already available. But it will be done in stages,” Secretary Lorenzana said during the Mindanao Hour Press Briefing on September 15.

He said the first stage is to construct a beaching ramp for ships to dock “so that we can bring in construction materials and heavy equipment.”

After that is finished, after that, they will bring in the construction materials. Then they will repair the runway,” he added.

“They will repair first the runway before — make it useable on all weather. It would be cemented,” he added. “And then later on, they will extend for another 500 meters to make it viable for bigger aircraft.”

He said works are expected to be completed in 18 months. “We have allocated P1.6 billion there for the repair of Pag-asa,” he said.

“We should have started early this year, when the water still, medyo calm. Kalma pa ‘yung tubig,” he said. “Now, rough weather starts July. So it is now doubtful if the contractor can still go there with their ships ano. So medyo tuma-timing sila ngayon kung anong magandang panahon para magdala ng mga equipment.”

US, PH conducting interagency counterterrorism drill

From Update Philippines (Sep 16): US, PH conducting interagency counterterrorism drill

The United States and Philippine governments will be holding a bilateral interagency counterterrorism drill this month. The said drill was named Tempest Wind.

This will test and improve the ability of both nations to rapidly plan, coordinate, and conduct counterterrorism operations, the US Embassy in Manila said.

“The whole-of-government drill will be augmented by additional military assessments, national level engagement, and subject matter expert exchange,” it added. “These events will take place in the Philippines and Hawaii and are designed to create a realistic environment to exercise counterterrorism strategy, including senior decision-making and tactical responses, while deepening the bilateral partnership.”

Tempest Wind will also test force readiness and exercise interoperability.

“These assessments will help to focus future bilateral training efforts to enhance the crisis response capabilities of both nations,” the US Embassy said.

“The Mutual Defense Board and Security Engagement Board approved Tempest Wind in November 2016, highlighting the enduring commitment of both countries to the US-Philippine alliance,” it added.

2 marines killed as Marawi clashes intensify

From Rappler (Sep 15): 2 marines killed as Marawi clashes intensify

Authorities also resume the retrieval of decomposed bodies in Marawi   

Two more marines were killed as clashes with local terrorist groups in Marawi City intensified, the military said on Friday, September 15.

The military said in a news briefing it has launched its "final push" against the combined forces of the Maute Group and a faction of the Abu Sayyaf Group led by Isnilon Hapilon, the supposed emir of Islamic State (ISIS) in Southeast Asia. (READ: Troops penetrate Maute defensive position in Marawi)

The military has been pounding the battle area with air strikes throughout the week.

The marines were killed earlier in the week in a close quarter battle while trying to clear a building near Bayabao Bridge, an enemy defensive position that recently fell into government hands.

Colonel Romeo Brawner said their bodies were retrieved on Wednesday, raising the death toll among government forces to 149. At least 4 were killed since the final push, including Army Scout Rangers Captain Rommel Sandoval.

Over a thousand soldiers were reported injured but the military said about 600 have returned to the battle area.

The military also reported retrieving 3 decomposed bodies from areas previously controlled by the Maute fighters.

One of the bodies is believed to be the remains of a cop killed in the first week of the war but the military said this is still being verified through DNA tests.

Up to 668 terrorists are believed to be killed.

The final push came as troops said they have penetrated the final defensive position of the enemies.

The military said some fighters inside have also sent the military surrender feelers, which could lead to an earlier end of the war. (READ: Possible surrender by Maute recruits could end war sooner)

The military and local government officials are discussing the rehabilitation of Marawi. Local spokesman Zia Alonto Adiong asked the national government to earmark funds for Marawi rehabilitation in the 2018 budget.

Councilor, 2 others killed in Negros Occidental

From Rappler (Sep 15): Councilor, 2 others killed in Negros Occidental

Councilor Eden Bacordo, his partner Leah Mae Sadoa, and bodyguard Arnold Larida die in the attack

A councilor and two others were shot and killed in Barangay Lopez Jaena, Murcia town on Friday, September 15.

Councilor Eden Bacordo, his partner Leah Mae Sadoa, and bodyguard Arnold Larida died in the attack.

An initial police investigation said the councilor was walking in a sugarcane plantation when he was waylaid by 6 unidentiifed gunmen. Bacordo, however, who was hit on the shoulder, was able to run.

Senior Inspector Ronald Santillan, town police chief, said the councilor then went to the nipa hut, where the other two victims were, when he was cornered by the pursuing suspects.

The assailants then fired at the victims, who died on the spot. The unidentified men then fled on foot.

Police recovered 34 fired bullets of the M16 and garand long firearms variety, as well as two clips and 3 pieces of live ammunition from a garand long firearm from the crime scene.

Santillan said they are still investigating the incident, though they are looking at revenge and love triangle as the motive of the killing.

He said the councilor and bodyguard were tagged in the recent killing of a commander of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade in the municipality of Salvador Benedicto.

Makabayan bloc leaves House majority

From MindaNews (Sep 14): Makabayan bloc leaves House majority

The seven party list representatives of the Makabayan Bloc on Thursday broke away from the majority coalition in the House of Representatives in protest over what they called “a fascist, pro-imperialist and anti-people regime” of President Rodrigo Duterte.

In a statement, the Makabayan Bloc cited Duterte’s “neoliberal economic policies, disdain for human rights especially in his war on drugs, anti-crime and counterinsurgency campaigns, his rehabilitation of the former dictator Marcos, and his propensity for strongman rule” as its reasons for leaving the coalition.

It noted that it joined the majority because Duterte promised change but remained critical of his policies.

The statement said the bloc was encouraged by the President’s pronouncements on resuming the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, releasing political prisoners, pursuing an independent foreign policy, addressing the roots of the Moro rebellion, among others.

“His unprecedented decision to appoint leftists and activists to crucial cabinet posts – Judy Taguiwalo at the DSWD, Gina Lopez at the DENR, Liza Maza at the NAPC, and Rafael Mariano at the DAR – provided openings for pursuing such reforms,” it added.

The Commission on Appointments had rejected the appointments of Taguiwalo, Lopez and Mariano.

Duterte had terminated talks with the NDFP and declared martial law in Mindanao after the Marawi siege erupted on May 23.

“With Marawi being bombed to the ground and its resulting humanitarian crisis, the Moro peace process is spiraling downward. Under these circumstances, martial law threatens to turn Mindanao into an even more violent land of strife and lost promises,” the statement said.

The administration has charted a so-called road map for peace in Mindanao targeting to have the Bangsamoro Basic Law passed by December this year and ratified in a plebiscite in May next year. However, the bill is not among those certified as urgent by Malacanang.

“Pres. Duterte has turned back on his promise to ‘separate’ from the US, even as he has allowed China to continue occupying the West Philippine Sea. His ‘independent foreign policy’ has turned out to be a farce. He is now as dependent as ever on the US for national security and has practically abandoned our valid and internationally recognized claims of sovereignty and territory in the West Philippine Sea in exchange for China’s promises of aid and investments,” the statement said.

“Worst of all, his ‘war on drugs’ has turned into a campaign of mass murder of the poor, for which he shows no signs of turning back,” it added.

Duterte’s war on drugs has claimed the lives of thousands of suspects many of whom were said to be victims of extrajudicial killings.

The Makabayan Bloc further said that Duterte and his allies are “embarking on efforts to undermine the very institutions that serve as a check on his Executive powers,” referring to the P1,000 budget for the Commission on Human Rights approved by the House, attacks against the Ombudsman, and the impeachment complaint against Supreme Court Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno.

“Now that he is pushing for an insidious revision of the Constitution, now that he has revived his threat to declare martial law nationwide and impose a revolutionary government, we resolve to intensify efforts to defeat the emergence of a new dictatorship,” it added.

The Makabayan Bloc includes Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro (Act Teachers), Emmi de Jesus and Arlene Brosas (Gabriela Women’s Party), Carlos Isagani Zarate (Bayan Muna), Ariel Casilao (Anakpawis), Sarah Elago (Kabataan).

MILF, MNLF to help in campaign vs illegal drugs

From MindaNews (Sep 15): MILF, MNLF to help in campaign vs illegal drugs

Commanders from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Moro National Liberation Front have vowed to to help in the government’s campaign against illegal drugs, a police official said.

Senior Supt. Jonathan Tangonan, officer-in-charge of the Cotabato Police Provincial Office, said the commanders manifested their support in a covenant signed after a “special meeting” Thursday with the local police and the municipal government of Matalam, North Cotabato.

Tangonan said Mayor Gigi Valdevieso-Catamco called for the meeting which was also attended by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Region 12 and the provincial police office.

Tangonan said the commanders admitted during the meeting that they have relatives who are using and selling drugs.

“These commanders said the illegal drug trade has disturbed their communities for so long. Sometimes this caused rido or family feuds among them,” said Tangonan in an interview over Catholic-run DXND.

Police records showed Matalam town is considered a “hot spot” of illegal drugs.

The same records showed that two Moro communities in Matalam poblacion serve as “dropping points” for shabu coming from Pikit and Kabacan towns in North Cotabato and Pagalungan and Pagagawan in Maguindanao.

Duterte plans to impose nationwide martial law, warns CPP

From MindaNews (Sep 15): Duterte plans to impose nationwide martial law, warns CPP

President Duterte gives pep talk to soldiers wounded in Marawi City at the Army hospital in Camp Evangelista in Cagayan de Oro City on 11 June 2017. MindaNews file photo by H. MARCOS C. MORDENO

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/15 September) — A plan by President Rodrigo Duterte to declare a nationwide martial law is in the works, the Communist Party of the Philippines said.

In a statement Thursday, the CPP said Duterte was becoming “increasingly desperate amid broad rising calls for his ouster” and “seeks to prop himself up as a fascist dictator in his despair to cling to power.”

Duterte earlier said he would be forced to impose martial law nationwide if the Left stage massive protests that might turn unruly.

However, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Friday allayed fears of another nationwide martial law saying it was a “remote possibility”.

But the CPP said the president “deserves the strongest condemnation for threatening to make full use of the military and police to carry out armed repression against mass demonstrations by conjuring a scenario of ‘rebels taking to the streets’ and ‘fighting on the streets’.”

”Having imposed martial law in Mindanao, Duterte believes he can get away with nationwide martial law. The Filipino people are determined to prove him wrong. Under the slogan ‘Never again to martial law!’, various forces are bound to rapidly come together against the Duterte regime as it carries out increasingly tyrannical measures,” the underground group said.

The president declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23, the same day the Islamic State-inspired Maute group started a siege in Marawi City which has entered its fourth month.

The CPP accused Duterte of establishing himself as a dictator “by silencing the political opposition,” among other moves.

It noted that his allies in Congress have “railroaded” the National ID system, canceled the scheduled barangay elections to enable him to “supplant tens of thousands of village officials with his loyalists” and “acted swiftly to impeach the chief justice as an overt threat to make the Supreme Court and judiciary bow to Malacañang’s whims.”

The CPP said “Duterte is presently carrying out a mind-conditioning campaign to justify his plan to impose martial law.”

“Through mostly foul means, he has silenced critical opinion in mass media. He employs his horde of paid trolls to flood social media with Duterte adulation and to vilify the Left and political opposition,” it said.

“He uses government money to build his Kilusang Pagbabago propaganda machinery and Masa Masid (now renamed Community Mobilization Project, comparable to the Alsa Masa movement in Davao City) spy network. The police and military control the flow of information. In the guise of stopping ‘fake news,’ the regime is set to clamp down on media freedom and the right to free expression,” it added.

The CPP said Duterte and his security officials will try to “suppress the protest actions and prevent these from swelling into large demonstrations.”

“In the face of his desperation, it is not remote that Duterte and his dirty tricks department will resort to creating bloody trouble in the streets to serve as pretext for the declaration of martial law,” it warned.

The CPP statement on Thursday was the strongest so far against Duterte after the president declared on July 21 that he was abandoning peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front.

He also ordered the arrest of NDF peace consultants who were freed on bail so they could give inputs during the talks.

“No more talk. Let us fight. I’ll save enough money for the arms, I’ll buy the new ones, the precision guided missiles,” he said.

Duterte made the declaration shortly after New People’s Army rebels ambushed a convoy of the Presidential Security Group along the Davao-Bukidnon highway.

A day before Duterte’s announcement, the CPP said the declaration of martial law in Mindanao has made the talks unnecessary.

“It is a strongman’s act of bad faith aimed at bullying the NDFP to bow to his terms of surrender,” it said.

“Having failed to inveigle the NDFP to capitulate in the peace negotiations, he is offering so-called local peace talks in the vain attempt to entice revolutionary forces with deceptive offers,” the CPP said in the statement Thursday.

Presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio has said she will pursue localized talks with the NPA.

The NPA, armed wing of the CPP, has been waging an armed struggle since 1969.

Ferdinand E. Marcos was the first president to place the entire country under martial law, from Sept. 21, 1972 until his ouster via a civilian-backed military mutiny in February 1986.

Marcos abolished Congress and ruled by decree, in effect, arrogating unto himself the powers of the executive, legislature and judiciary.

In 1978, he held the first elections to the Batasang Pambansa, a legislature dominated by his allies and to which he could appoint any member at will.

Troops continue to advance into ISIS-held areas in Marawi

From the Mindanao Examiner (Sep 15): Troops continue to advance into ISIS-held areas in Marawi

Security forces fighting local ISIS militants in the war-ravaged city of Marawi in southern Philippines continue to advance in the main battle area and troops search house-to-house scouring for booby traps and improvised explosives that had killed already scores of soldiers.

Security officials said militants have planted explosives in houses and buildings and structures they occupied and making it extremely difficult for troops to accomplish their mission – to kill the enemies, rescue civilian hostages and liberate Marawi, the capital town of Lanao del Sur.

Troops have occupied dozens of buildings and mosques previously under the control of ISIS fighters who dug up tunnels and rat holes that served as their escape routes and protection from military air strikes.

The military claimed it has killed at least 650 militants since the start of the battle, but it did not give evidence to back up its claims, except the figures were all based on raw intelligence reports and unnamed civilians and other sources. But the fighting had so far killed over a hundred soldiers and left more than or nearly 2,000 troops wounded.

President Rodrigo Duterte has been frequently visiting troops on the front line and inspected mosques damaged or destroyed by the fighting. And pinned medals to wounded soldiers in hospitals and visited the funeral of fallen soldiers.

Australia, worried over the fighting in Marawi, has pledged to send soldiers to help train local forces battling militants and this is on top of spy planes it deployed in the troubled region. Japan also sent food aid to war refugees.

The United States also deployed the Gray Eagle Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to Mindanao for additional surveillance in support of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) counterterrorism efforts. Compared to current surveillance platforms used in the region, the Gray Eagle has a longer flight duration which will enable a larger area of reconnaissance and surveillance.

Over the past three years, the U.S. has provided the Philippines with assistance valued at over Php15 billion, to establish better command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities for the AFP. Recent deliveries include a Raven tactical UAS and two Cessna-208B surveillance aircraft, as well as various munitions and weapons to support urgent defense and counter-terrorism needs.

Rebels reject Duterte cease-fire demand

From the Mindanao Examiner (Sep 15): Rebels reject Duterte cease-fire demand

New People's Army rebels. (NDFP Photo)
New People’s Army rebels. (NDFP Photo)

Communist rebels have flatly rejected demands by President Rodrigo Duterte for them to sign a cease-fire accord, saying, it is tantamount to surrendering to the Philippine government.

The President also threatened to mount an all-out offensive against the New People’s Army – and to wage fifty more years of counterrevolutionary war – as soon as the crisis in Marawi City is over. Security forces continue to battle local ISIS militants in Marawi and fierce fighting is now on its 5th month and killed and wounded thousands of people, and displaced over 200,000 civilians.

“Duterte’s demand for an NPA ceasefire while the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) conduct all-out war as precondition for peace talks is a demand to surrender. This is an unacceptable. Duterte has lost all moral ground to make such a demand,” the Communist Party of the Philippines said.

Rebel leaders have accused Duterte of reneging on a promise to free some 500 political prisoners and grant them amnesty.

The NPA declared a unilateral ceasefire in August last year – that lasted nearly 160 days – as a response to Duterte’s commitment to free the prisoners, mostly NPA and CPP leaders and members languishing in jails across the country.

“Duterte, however, wasted the goodwill of the NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines, CPP’s political wing) when it failed to fulfil its commitment and took advantage of the NPA ceasefire to deploy his soldiers and conduct military offensives,” CPP said and branded Duterte as a tyrannical ruler. “In the face of Duterte’s tyrannical rule and triple war, the people clamor for the NPA to mount more and more tactical offensives. Victories of the people’s army inspire resistance amid widespread killings and the climate of fear imposed by the Duterte regime.”

It said the NPA has launched tactical offensives “to bring to account the Duterte regime and its soldiers and police for thousands upon thousands of “Oplan Tokhang” killings, the successive killing of peasants, national minorities and youths, military occupation of civilian communities, aerial bombings and shelling, the near-genocidal war against the Maranaos of Marawi, arbitrary arrests and detention and so on.”

CPP said as proven in the past peace talks, the negotiations with the Philippine government can proceed and make progress even while fighting continues in the country between the two groups. It said revolutionary forces remain open to negotiations as a means to attain a just and lasting peace even as it wages people’s war, conduct tactical offensives and confront the US-Duterte regime’s Oplan Kapayapaan all-out war.

But it was quick to say that “the negotiations, however, cannot be fruitful while Duterte remains obsessed with Oplan Kapayapaan and demanding NPA capitulation. The Filipino people and their revolutionary forces have waged close to fifty years of people’s war. They do not tire. They are determined as ever to wage revolution because they seek to end the unbearable sufferings of workers and peasants under the oppressive and exploitative system. He has roused the anger of the Filipino people and caused his increasing isolation. The revolutionary movement will surely outlast the US-Duterte regime,” CPP said.

Rebels vowed to continue attacks on military targets after government peace negotiators failed miserably to convince the separatist group to sign a ceasefire accord and pursue talks aimed at ending the decades-old insurgency in the country.

President Rodrigo Duterte trashed peace negotiations with communist leaders and abandoned efforts by his peace negotiators to convince rebels to stop attacks on government and military targets.

80 former NPA rebels get financial assistance

From the Sun Star-Davao (Sep 15): 80 former NPA rebels get financial assistance

EIGHTY former New People's Army (NPA) rebels in Davao City availed of financial assistance through the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (Clip).
Davao City Social Services and Development Office (CSSDO) head Maria Luisa Bermudo, in an interview on Thursday, September 14, said the city, in cooperation with various agencies led by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), was able to extend financial assistance to former rebels through the Clip program.
 She said under the program, rebels receive P50,000 for livelihood assistance and P15,000 for immediate financial assistance.
"Clip program started in 2011. It is a program for the former rebels which include social welfare, livelihood, health," Bermudo said.
Clip aims to facilitate the mainstreaming of former NPA rebels as productive citizens in their communities.
Based on joint circular issued by the DILG and Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (Oppap), qualified beneficiaries of Clip are those regular member of NPA who surfaced 2011 onwards and have expressed the "desire to abandon armed violence and become productive members of the society" including their partners/spouses (whether legitimate or illegitimate), parents or siblings if applicable.
Also qualified are those who did not receive full assistance under the Social Integration Program based on Oppap's Special List of former rebels that surfaced in 2007 to 2009. She added that the Task Force Davao and the police conduct initial assessment and investigation to those who surrendered and their office, the CSSDO, conducts further validation.

Hopes pinned on Bangsamoro law as extremists continue to recruit in PH

From ABS-CBN (Sep 14): Hopes pinned on Bangsamoro law as extremists continue to recruit in PH

Dr. Pek Koon Heng, who teaches courses on International Relations and International Political Economy in Southeast and East Asia in the American University, raises alarm bell over extremist recruitment in the southern Philippines. Arlene Burgos, ABS-CBN News

MINNEAPOLIS - As extremists' recruitment in southern Philippines continues, the government may find a useful alliance with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) if it clinches a law ensuring a new autonomous Bangsamoro region, an expert said.

Long-standing links between terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and Muslim separatists in the southern Philippines, possibly including MILF, is complicating an already troubled region, said Dr. Pek Koon Heng, assistant professor at the School of International Service at the American University.

Heng, briefing foreign journalists September 11 in Washington, said the Philippine government could steer the MILF away from terrorist links, and instead secure its commitment to a new Bangsamoro law.

"There are social links between JI and [separatists]... JI had training camps in Mindanao. JI has these long [standing] ties with MILF, and although the MILF eradicates this when they pushed for the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro…[President Rodrigo] Duterte has to work on the comprehensive Bangsamoro agreement," Heng said.

She added, "He's (Duterte) got to really see through the Bangsamoro Basic Law. He’s gonna act on that, then there will be commitment for the MILF to fight for what they've gained through the peace process with Manila. Without that... the presence of ISIL [Islamic State] will still be there."

A Pentagon official said Islamic State or ISIS recruitment for fighters in the Philippines continues. Another said separately that the US is very concerned by ISIS' presence in the Philippines, and that this presence is being driven by local conditions.

Duterte has said a new Bangsamoro law is a priority. Yet proposed measures have yet to move in Congress, both houses of which are dominated by Duterte’s allies.

Draft measures for the creation of the Bangsamoro region have been dogged by inconsistencies with the 1987 Constitution and the current unitary system of government, making the push for the new region one with constitutional repercussions.

"We also see recruitment going on within southeast Asia," Heng said. She said these activities in the southern Philippines have seen southeast Asian extremist fighters going there. These fighters have also traveled to southern Thailand, and to Rakhine in Myanmar. This has been worrying Malaysia and Indonesia, Heng said.

(Editor's note: The author is participating in the East-West Center's Senior Journalists' Program ongoing in the United States.)

Duterte presents BBL ‘game plan’ to MILF

From ABS-CBN (Sep 14): Duterte presents BBL ‘game plan’ to MILF

President Duterte greets Moro Islamic Libertaion Front (MILF) Peace Implementing Panel Chair Mohaqher Iqbal during a meeting at the Malacañan Palace on Thursday. Albert Alcain, Malacanang Photo

President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday presented a “game plan” to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on how to ensure that the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will pass Congress, after the Moro rebel group expressed dissatisfaction over recent developments on realizing its peace accord with the government.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said Duterte met with MILF officials and members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, the MILF-led group which drafted the BBL in Malacañang.

Dureza said that in the meeting, the President reiterated his promise to the MILF that the BBL will pass Congress and will have a “smooth implementation.”

“There was a discussion on both sides, and the President reiterated his commitment using his own language: ‘I will continue to husband the approval of the BBL until it’s implementation,’” Dureza told reporters in a chance interview.

“All the other details of course I cannot disclose, but it was a warm meeting where the President expressed a game plan that is still being worked out by the Office of the President, in coordination with leadership of Congress, on how to see to it that the BBL will see its implementation.”

According to Dureza, the President’s “game plan” seeks to ensure that the BBL will not suffer what happened to the bill during the time of former President Benigno Aquino III, where it failed to hurdle Congress amid questions on the constitutionality of some of its provisions.

Dureza said Duterte and the MILF will again meet to discuss more details about the President’s plan.

“The President wants to be sure the BBL that will be discussed in Congress will really be assured of passage and implementation. There are still many things that will have to be attended to. It’s not that simple,” he said.

Aside from the MILF officials, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III were present during the meeting.

The high-level meeting took place after the MILF expressed dismay that the BBL has not been sponsored by any lawmaker in Congress.

Also adding to the group’s frustration was the sprouting of several Bangsamoro law versions in Congress, one of which was proposed by former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

MILF officials are hoping that the BBL will be passed under Duterte, which they say will help correct historical injustices committed against the Moros.

The MILF also believes that the passage of the BBL and the creation of a more independent Bangsamoro entity will stem the rise of Islamist extremists in Mindanao.

Analysts and supporters of the Bangsamoro cause have said the siege laid by Islamist State-inspired terrorists on Marawi City in a bid to establish an ISIS province in the country, should give the government and Congress more reason to pass the BBL.

Meanwhile, Duterte graced the 24th anniversary of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), where he lauded its efforts in achieving long and lasting peace in the country.

“Your perseverance has convinced us that regardless of our diversity and differences, all Filipinos will stand together as one towards attaining our aspirations of peace and prosperity,” he said in his speech.

“To our various partners in the peace process, the government extends and continues to extend to you the hand of friendship and peace.I have high hopes that we will continue to build our gains to find common support and to work together despite setbacks and disagreements.”