Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Communist rebels call for protests before ASEAN summit

From Anadolu Agency (Nov 11): Communist rebels call for protests before ASEAN summit

Rebels slam US-Philippine ‘master-puppet relationship’ which will be strengthened by President Donald Trump’s visit

Communist rebels call for protests before ASEAN summit

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) on Monday urged Filipinos to stage massive protests in cities and ordered its revolutionary forces to launch tactical offensives against government troops in the countryside ahead of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and related meetings next week in Manila.

“The CPP calls on the people of Asia and the world to unite and intensify their resistance against inter-imperialist collusion and rivalries through ASEAN, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (forum) and other imperialist instrumentalities which subject the toiling people to worsening forms of oppression and exploitation,” said a statement released on Philippine Revolution Web Central, the CPP’s official website.

The leaders of ASEAN’s 10 member states Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam along with dialogue partner-countries Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia and the United States will convene Nov. 10-14 to discuss a number of issues, including the South China Sea conflict and regional economic development.

The CPP also blasted Washington, which it said “seeks to further break down economic barriers to favor U.S. monopoly capitalists”.

It also cited threats by the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump to launch a war against Pyongyang as a move to justify U.S. efforts to build up its military presence and strengthen its foothold in South Korea and around the South China Sea.

The communist rebels also slammed Trump’s visit to the Philippines, which will “cement the master-puppet relationship” of Washington and Manila under President Rodrigo Duterte’s regime.

“He (Trump) will surely be pleased by the Duterte regime’s vigorous push for further economic liberalization, particularly with its rush to further open the economy to full foreign control by trimming down the “negative list” of areas of the economy reserved to Filipinos,” said the statement.

The CPP cited the U.S. military’s presence, intervention and control of the Armed Forces of the Philippines as the Duterte administration’s subservience to U.S. imperialism.

When Duterte won the presidency in 2016, he launched new peace initiatives with the communists in a bid to end decades-long conflict, but the peace negotiations have faced challenges due to truce violations --- a string of communist rebel attacks, including the ambush of a convoy of the Presidential Security Group in July.

There had been over 40 rounds of peace negotiations under the country’s past five presidents which have failed for various reasons.

The party in July ordered its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), to carry out counteractions and offensives across the country when martial law imposed on the islands of Mindanao was proposed to be extended following clashes in the southern Philippine city of Marawi.

The NPA has been waging an insurgency since 1969 that has left tens of thousands of people dead.

NPA siblings yield in Sultan Kudarat

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 7): NPA siblings yield in Sultan Kudarat

Two more communist rebels have surrendered to military authorities, raising the number of surrenderees to 62 in Sultan Kudarat, the Army said Tuesday.

Lt. Colonel Harold Cabunoc, Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion commanding officer, said exhaustion and extreme hunger forced the two New Peoples’ Army (NPA) siblings to lay down arms and rejoin the mainstream society.

Jonathan Kasa, 21, and his brother Jerry, 19, joined their father Zip, in fighting government forces as NPA rebels since May 2015.

The Kasas belong to the Dulangan Manobo tribe in the hinterland village of Kabulanan here. They were members of Platoon Cloud Phone of NPA Guerilla Front 73 operating in Sultan Kudarat province, particularly in the hinterlands of Sen. Ninoy Aquino and Bagumbayan towns.

Cabunoc said the Kasas joined the rebel movement as they were fighting for their rights over a vast expanse of forested area that they claimed as their ancestral land.

"The communist movement promised to return our traditional hunting grounds. We were excited to fight for our land when they handed over high powered weapons to us," Jonathan told Army officials during the surrender rites Monday.

After two years of evading the government forces, the siblings realized their struggle was going nowhere.

"I found out that we have become wanted persons. The NPA recruiters had also failed to deliver their promises to our community," Jerry said in vernacular.

Learning about the government's offer of livelihood opportunities and other social benefits, they decided to escape with their issued M-16 rifles.

Cabunoc presented the brother-surrenderees to Bagumbayan Mayor Jonalette De Pedro who vowed to assist the “lumad” communities in resolving their problems.

"I have always supported the indigenous people by delivering social services to their communities," De Pedro said.

Since May this year, a total of 62 communist rebels belonging to IP communities have surrendered. Some of them have been given livelihood projects under the Comprehensive Local Integration Program of Sultan Kudarat.


Army braces for NPA retaliatory attacks in NoCot

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 7): Army braces for NPA retaliatory attacks in NoCot

The Army’s 39th Infantry Battalion is bracing for retaliatory offensive from communist New Peoples’ Army in North Cotabato after the military overran a rebel training camp in a remote village here, an Army official said Tuesday.

Lt. Colonel Harold Argamoza, 39th IB chief, said the Army is winning the war in the countrysides due to peoples’ support to government forces.

He added the Army is prepared for retaliatory attacks from the rebels. He cited the case at Sitio Mahayag, Barangay Bulatukan, Makilala, where soldiers and rebels clashed after residents reported the massing of Red fighters in the area on Sunday night.

Argamoza said a team of soldiers went to the village to verify and validate the information but as they approached sitio Mahayag, they were ambushed by about 40 armed men that triggered an hour-long firefight.

The fighting ceased when the rebels fled deep into the forest, located at the foot of Mt. Apo, the country’s highest peak.

After clearing operations, the soldiers found a rebel training camp that can accommodate at least 50 people.

“There were recruitment activities, there was training happening in the camp at the time of the clash,” Argamoza told reporters.

He could not say though whether the rebels who belong to NPA Guerilla Front 51 suffered casualties, as there were no slain or wounded insurgents captured.

Soldiers recovered two rifles, ammunition, training kits and bags left by the fleeing rebels.

Argamoza lauded the support extended by the local residents who became victims of extortion by communist rebels and also suffered the pain of leaving homes every time the fighting erupted.


Be vigilant, Lorenzana tells ASEAN security teams

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 7): Be vigilant, Lorenzana tells ASEAN security teams

National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana urged military and police units tasked to secure the leaders and delegations attending next week's Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit to be vigilant at all times.

"We cannot be very complacent. We should be aware, we should be on guard. Kung pwede lang talagang strikto yung palakad natin sa security so that walang mangyari (We need to be strict in implementing tight security measures to prevent any untoward incident)," Lorenzana said on the sidelines of the Department of National Defense's 78th founding anniversary ceremony Monday.

He said no security threat has been detected so far.

An estimated 60,000 personnel from 21 agencies and their equipment will be deployed to various ASEAN meeting venues in Metro Manila, Bulacan and Pampanga to secure the week-long event.

Lorenzana added that should anything untoward happen during the ASEAN Summit, there would be a massive backlash against the Philippines.

"So, it is very important that we should secure the heads of state while (they are) here. Kasi kung may mangyari sa kanila dyan, may bukol sa atin yan e (If something happens to them, we will be liable). It will backfire on us," the defense chief added.


More reserve forces needed: Lorenzana

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 7): More reserve forces needed: Lorenzana

With military reserve forces playing a valuable role in the five-month battle to liberate Marawi City from the Maute Group terrorists, it is high time to increase the number of these units, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Monday.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) activated the reserve soldiers to augment regular units involved in the Marawi campaign, Lorenzana said on the sidelines of the celebration of the Department of National Defense's 78th founding anniversary.

"They served as the overall security in Iligan City, performing such tasks as manning checkpoints and forming visible presence in public places," he said.

These actions, he said, show the importance of reservists in nation-building.

"Thus, to increase their number, we have crafted a bill to revive the Reserve Officers Training Corps, making it a mandatory program for Grades 11 and 12," the defense chief said.

"I urge everyone to please help the department in lobbying for the immediate passage of this bill because our AFP needs a stronger and bigger reserve force. We will also request our reservists’ assistance in rehabilitating war-torn Marawi City," he added.


Beaching ramp in Pag-asa Island to be completed by 2018

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 7): Beaching ramp in Pag-asa Island to be completed by 2018

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana expects the beaching ramp in Pag-asa Island to be completed by early 2018.

He added that completion of the project was delayed by monsoon rains.

“The monsoon rains have hampered the construction of the beaching ramp, which is a vital structure that would allow our navy LST (landing ship, tank) ships to dock, and bring in heavy equipment and construction materials. No construction can proceed without a good beaching ramp," Lorenzana said.

Only when the beaching ramp is finished could the Philippines start repairing, paving and extending the Rancudo Airfield, the DND chief stressed.

Construction of the above-mentioned facility is intermittent due to the inclement weather in the area.

"Then and only then will we be able to start repairing, paving and extending our runway, and build additional facilities for our troops.

Also, once the beaching ramp is done, the Department of Agriculture will build a fishing port for our fishermen," Lorenzana added.

During his visit to Pag-asa Island last April 21, the DND chief said the government would allocate PHP1.3 billion for the improvement of Rancudo Airfield in Pagasa Island and construction of ports and beaching ramps in the locality.

Runway improvements include the concreting of the entire Rancudo Airfield thus making it accessible in all types of weather.

Other improvements for slated for Pag-asa Island include the construction of desalination plant, more solar panels and generator sets for power purposes and establishment of Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources marine research and shelter center.


Palace relies on ‘good faith’ China won’t use dredging vessel in WPS

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 7): Palace relies on ‘good faith’ China won’t use dredging vessel in WPS

MalacaƱang on Tuesday said the Philippines would have to rely on good faith that China would not use its largest dredging vessel to build on disputed islands in the West Philippine Sea.

In a Palace briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte recognizes the principle of good faith in international relations.

“China has told the President, they do not intend to reclaim Scarborough and we leave it at that. We need to rely on good faith because otherwise there would be no predictability in international relations,” he said.

His comments were issued amid concerns that China may use its newly-launched Tian Kun Hao, dubbed by its designer as a “magic island-maker,” to create artificial islands in the South China Sea.

The giant dredger, which measures 140 meters long and 28 meters wide, is reported to be capable of dredging up to 6,000 cubic meters an hour and can dig as deep as 35 meters under the sea floor.

It is the most powerful vessel of its type in Asia.

Last March, Duterte announced that China gave its word not to build on the disputed Scarborough Shoal (Panatag Shoal) in the West Philippine Sea.

The President said the assurance was made out of deference to the warming relationship between the Philippines and China.

Meanwhile, Roque said that the Philippines is not only relying on China’s assurance, but also on the fact that the Philippines had secured a decision from a tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA).

“We’re not just trusting. We have a decision. And the last time I checked, that decision remains unchanged,” Roque said.

The Hague Tribunal found out that China’s claims of historic rights within the nine-dash line, which Beijing uses to demarcate its claims in the South China Sea, were without legal foundation.

The panel also concluded that Beijing’s activities within the Philippines’ two-hundred-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ), such as illegal fishing and environmentally ruinous artificial island construction, infringed on Manila’s sovereign rights.

China has disputed the tribunal’s findings.

But while supporters of the Hague decision were urging Duterte to enforce the decision, the President chose to pursue peaceful means to resolve the issue in order to avoid confrontation with China, vowing however to raise it at the right time.

Duterte had also taken steps to mend ties with China, resulting in deeper and expanding relations with the superpower.

Roque pointed out that “it has been beneficial to our national interest to pursue cordial and very friendly relations with China” without relinquishing our claims to the disputed islands.

“I think, we are seeing new heights in terms of Philippine-Chinese relations and it has resulted in very tangible results particularly economic investments,” Roque said.


Duterte releases P500-M for treatment, rehab of wounded soldiers

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 7): Duterte releases P500-M for treatment, rehab of wounded soldiers

President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said he had ordered the release of PHP500 million for the treatment and rehabilitation of soldiers injured or disabled in the war to liberate Marawi City.

The President made the announcement at the Bonifacio Naval Station Officers’ Clubhouse Social Hall, at Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City during the launching of the Department of Agriculture’s Karne, Isda Supply Suporta sa Masa at Ekonomiya (Kiss Me) project.

Soldiers wounded during the five-month conflict were in attendance along with military top brass and other members of the Armed Forces.

“Alam mo, sinabi ko na sa inyo, mahal ko ang sundalo ko, mahal ko ang pulis ko. And for you guys, kagaya ninyo na medyo matindi ang tama, I have released PHP500 million,” Duterte said.

He said the fund would be sourced from the settlement of unpaid obligations of big companies to the government.

Just recently, flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) settled almost PHP6 billion in unpaid navigational fees to the government.

Duterte said the fund would be used exclusively for the therapy, rehabilitation and medicines needed by personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) who were wounded not just in the five-month conflict, but also those who are wounded or rendered disabled in the other theaters of war throughout the country.

“I just released PHP500 million, para lang ‘yan sa tinamaan. Exclusively para lang ‘yan sa sugatan, requirements ninyo sa prosthetics or whatever. ‘Yan ang asahan ninyo,” he said.

“I’m sure you’ll be all right. Okay ang buhay ninyo, wala kayong problema. Edukasyon ng anak ninyo, ‘yung medisina. But one thing is sure, hindi kayo pababayaan ng gobyerno,” Duterte said.

The President also vowed to provide a housing project near camps or urban cities for wounded soldiers undergoing therapy to give them better access to medical facilities.

“Ang sinabi ko, at this time when you are supposed to go into a therapy or treatment, I would like you to have a housing project or village nearby. Lahat ‘yung mga sundalo na ganun ang sitwasyon ninyo, pati ‘yung wounded recuperating, ‘yung parang convalescence I have ordered a village somewhere near Metro Manila para easy access lang,” he said.

“I want to build a village near here so that you’ll have the best therapy, training and access to the hospital and medyo mas malapit. It will be maybe, just give me until March, matatapos 'yang village ninyo including the site,” Duterte said.

Meanwhile, the Commander-in-Chief said the government would provide disabled military personnel necessary competencies, like computer training, for them to be able to remain in the service or build new lives.

“But for those who are really, pardon the word, tutal tanggapin na lang niyo, it’s reality, disabled, mayroon kayong buhay na sarili. Wala kayong problema sa edukasyon. I said, aming problema na ‘yan. Ang iyo, there’s another struggle. Struggle first to overcome what you are experiencing now at nandiyan kami,” he said.

“You might want to go to a computer training or whatever. And if you can be accommodated in the AFP again for a job that does not require moving around, I’d be glad to fund the program,” Duterte said.