Friday, April 27, 2018

Boracay situation generally peaceful: AFP Centcom

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 27): Boracay situation generally peaceful: AFP Centcom

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Central Command (Centcom) based in Cebu City said famed Boracay Island's security situation on the first official day of its closure to tourism activities Thursday (April 26) was "generally peaceful."

Centcom commander Lt. Gen. Paul Atal said there is no need to deploy additional military forces to Boracay as there are enough security forces in the resort island.

"The role of Centcom forces is to support the PNP (Philippine National Police) in its law enforcement function and keeping the peace and order in the island (especially) in implementing the guidelines of the closure," Atal said.

"The PNP has the lead role in the overall security responsibility in Boracay during its closure supported by the AFP. There is no need to deploy (additional) AFP forces in the island since there is enough boots on the ground. However, Centcom can easily shift forces in Boracay as the need arises or if the threat is imminent," he added.

Law enforcers, particularly the PNP and AFP, were directed to ensure strict implementation of the closure and to maintain peace and order.

The local government of Malay was likewise directed to ensure that no tourist enters the island, while residents and establishment owners were urged “to act within the bounds of the law and comply with the directives.”

The island of Boracay has been temporarily closed for six months to make way for its rehabilitation.

More communist terrorists surrender due to intensified Army ops

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 27): More communist terrorists surrender due to intensified Army ops

The military's ongoing intensified operations against communist terrorists and other threat groups have so far resulted in the surrender of 6,709 individuals since the cancellation of peace talks last year.

"Since the cancellation of the peace talks last year 6,709 armed communist-terrorists and sympathizers have already surrendered and 288 assorted firearms were also seized," Philippine Army Spokesperson Lt. Col. Louie Villanueva said Thursday.

The campaign against the Abu Sayyaf Group, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and Maute Group terrorists, have resulted in the capture and surrender of 96 terror personalities, he added.

Villanueva said the extension of martial law in Mindanao has contributed to the success of the military's operations. Martial law was declared on May 23, 2017 following heavy attacks of Maute Group terrorists in Marawi City.

"These victories can also be attributed to the response and cooperation of the community as well as the local leaders imbibed with the idea that security is a shared and everybody’s responsibility," Villanueva added.

Congress, in a special joint session in July, granted the extension of martial law until Dec. 31, 2017 at President Rodrigo R. Duterte's request.

The Senate and House of Representatives, convening in a joint session early December, granted Duterte's request for the extension of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of writ of habeas corpus for a period of one year from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2018.

Cops arrest 2 alleged ISIS sympathizers in Laguna

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 27): Cops arrest 2 alleged ISIS sympathizers in Laguna

Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director General Oscar Albayalde on Friday announced the arrest of two alleged sympathizers of the extremist group ISIS in Laguna province.

In a press conference, Albayalde identified the suspects as Jimuel Velasco Dizon, alias Amir; and Eddie Boy Alejo Bermejo alias Abdullah, both of whom are Balik Islam converts and former members of the Rajah Sulayman Group (RSG).

They were arrested in separate operations in Cabuyao and Sta. Rosa City, Laguna and were identified as members of the Suyuful Khilafa Fil Luzon.

Albayalde said no definite plan for an attack was recovered from the suspects who yielded four handguns, ammunition, grenades , a laptop, and an ISIS flag.

"(W)ala tayong nakuhang plano, although they are already a subject of our surveillance ever since. Ang intelligence built up is because medyo ito ay identified as members of local threat groups who have pledged allegiance to ISIS, kaya (We did not recover a plan. They have been the subject of surveillance ever since. The intelligence built up because they were identified as members of local threat groups who have pledged allegiance to ISIS. That is why) they were all subjected for our case buildup and surveillance operations," the police chief said.

Two search warrants, signed by San Pablo City Judge Agripino Morga, were served on the two men on Block 31, Lot 114 Joshua St., Phase 5, Mabuhay Subdivision, Barangay Mamatid, Cabuyao City, Laguna and on Block 17, Lot 18, Celina Homes 5 Subdivision, Barangay Tagapo, Sta. Rosa City, also in Laguna early Thursday.

"This is an indication that our law enforcers and our AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and intelligence operatives are doing their job. This is part of our target hardening measures, part of our proactive measures to prevent terror attacks, particularly here in Metro Manila," Albayalde said.

Police Regional Office 4-A (Calabarzon) Director Guillermo Eleazar said follow-up operations are being undertaken.

The two suspects will be charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

PRRD tells Vietnam he hasn't abandoned PCA’s ruling on WPS: Palace

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 27): PRRD tells Vietnam he hasn't abandoned PCA’s ruling on WPS: Palace

Malacañang on Friday said President Rodrigo R. Duterte has clarified he has not abandoned the arbitral tribunal’s ruling in favor of the Philippines’ protest against China’s nine-dash line that covers nearly the whole of the disputed West Philippine Sea (WPS).

In a press briefing in Singapore, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte made the clarification with Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc during their bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the 32nd ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting in Singapore.

“It (WPS) was definitely discussed. I guess the President just wanted to make very clear that we are not abandoning, ignoring or setting aside the arbitral’s ruling which is in our favor,” Roque told the media.

Roque said Duterte told the Vietnam leader that he will deal with the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)’s verdict “at the right time”.

“It was the first time I personally heard the President mentioned the arbitral ruling with a head of state,” Roque said.

“So I hope the President’s critics will stop saying that he has abandoned, reneged, and ignored the arbitral ruling. He considers it a binding decision in favor of the Philippines,” he added.

Roque, meanwhile, said he is not sure whether Duterte would discuss the PCA’s ruling during the ASEAN Leader’s Meeting.

Contrary to media reports, Roque said the Vietnamese leader also expressed admiration to the Philippines’ stand on the disputed WPS.

He said it was the Vietnamese leader who brought up the PCA’s ruling which China’s rejected, prompting Duterte to temporarily set it aside to give way peaceful and friendly negotiations.

During the bilateral meeting, Roque said the Vietnamese Prime Minister assured Duterte that Vietnam will sell high quality rice at a lower price to the Philippines.

PN multilateral capability to be boosted by 'Komodo' drills

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 27): PN multilateral capability to be boosted by 'Komodo' drills

The Philippine Navy’s (PN) ability to operate at the multilateral level is expected to be boosted by its participation in the Indonesian Navy's "Multilateral Naval Exercise Komodo" that will take place on May 4-9.

"The PN’s participation in this undertaking is expected to advance its maritime operational capability to multilateral level, thereby increasing readiness and interoperability and enabling the nation’s premiere maritime force to be more effective and efficient in the conduct of its mandated task," Navy spokesperson Capt. Lued Lincuna said Friday.

The PN deployed the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (FF-15), one of the three ex-Hamilton class cutters in service, and about 300 naval personnel to participate in the "Komodo".

The same vessel participated in the "Komodo" naval drills back in 2014. It departed Pier 13, Manila South Harbor Friday morning and is expected to arrive at the Port of Lembar, Indonesia by May 4.

Exercise "Komodo" 2018 is the third multilateral naval exercise that will be hosted by the Indonesian Navy.

It aims to enhance the relationship and cooperation among participating navies in building common understanding about humanitarian assistance disaster response operations and will also focus on maritime interdiction operation.

Lincuna said an estimated 30 regional and non-regional navies from different countries will join this naval exercise.

It will be executed ashore, as sea and air assets, and special operations teams from participating navies will conduct combined maneuvers to address various contingencies at sea.

Exercises ashore include workshops, sports program, cultural performances, maritime exhibitions, engineering civic action projects, and medical and civic action projects.

The final day will see a field training exercise and a sail pass.

Lincuna said this multilateral naval exercise is a platform on how the PN and other navies in the region can cooperate and work together to address shared maritime security priorities through the development of combined naval tactics, techniques and procedures.

Terrorist tag on Negros activists angers rebels

From Panay News (Apr 27): Terrorist tag on Negros activists angers rebels

Calling local activists as terrorists is a campaign that aims to “sow terror among human rights defenders,” said the Apolinario Gatmaitan Command of the New People’s Army (NPA).

The NPA issued the statement as photos and names of activists based in Negros Island were posted in the southern Negros Occidental town of Moises Padilla.

The posters tagged the local progressive group leaders as terrorists.

According to the NPA, the local government of Moises Padilla, the Philippine Army’s 303rd Infantry Battalion (IB) and the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office were behind the posters.

NPA spokesman Ka JB Regalado said the posters, which were placed in public places, served as “hit lists.”

Included in the posters were Bayan-Negros chairman Christian Tuayon, Karapatan-Negros secretary-general Clarizza Singson-Dagatan, Paghida-et sa Kauswagan Development Group-Negros member Ben Ramos, Negros Island Health Integrated Program member Sarah Alvarez, and League of Filipino Students former secretary-general Julius Dagatan.

Regalado also accused Brigadier General Eliezer Losañes, commander of the 303rd IB, and Moises Padilla mayor Magdaleno Peña of plotting against the local progressive leaders.

Regalado said Losañes and Peña want to silence the campaign against human rights violations allegedly perpetrated by the armed goons.

Panay News has yet to reach Losañes and Peña as of this writing.

P5-M offered for arrest of Palawan NPA leader

Posted to the Philippine Canadian Inquirer (Apr 27): P5-M offered for arrest of Palawan NPA leader

A PHP5-million reward has been offered for the arrest of the top leader of the communist-terrorist New People’s Army (NPA) in Palawan province.

The reward was put up for the arrest of Vincent Lozada Libuna, alias Ka Allan Libuna, Ka Allan Lozada, and Ka Peter, said Lt. Col. Darwin de Luna, the commanding officer of the Marine Battalion Landing Team 4 and the Joint Task Group South on Friday morning.

De Luna made the announcement during a “pulong-pulong” (community meeting) they had with the Pala’wan indigenous peoples in Sitio Guimpo in Barangay Samariñana, Brooke’s Point last Wednesday.

“The amount is from the office of President Rodrigo Duterte. If there’s anyone who can bring Ka Allan to us, dead or alive, there is a PHP5 million reward,” he said.

Libuna has been linked to the December 7, 2017 murder of rebel returnee Jun-Jun Gatosan Lacaran in Sitio Cabangaan, Samariñana.

Investigation into Lacaran’s death reportedly pointed to Ka Allan as the one who ordered his slaying.

“Let us cooperate with authorities. If you see anyone acting suspiciously who entered your places, let us know. Let your authorities know for them to help keep the peace and order situation,” de Luna said.

He said that during the community meeting, held to rally residents to fight communism, some six Pala’wan IPs related how NPA rebels recruited them.

They said they were first recruited to the “Militia ng Bayan” to become assets and lookouts against the police and military, and as errand runners whenever NPA rebels need food and other supplies in the mountains of southern Palawan.

One of the assets is an 18-year-old Pala’wan who has been made to monitor if NPA enemies are on their way.

“This is how they are recruited first — layer by layer before they are trained to become fighters,” de Luna said.

The community meeting was held under the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Community Support Program.

Four Reds fall

From Tempo (Apr 27): Four Reds fall

The military reported on Wednesday the capture of two suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) following an encounter in Malapatan, Sarangani.

Brigadier Gen. Robert Ancan, head of the 1102nd Infantry Brigade, identified the captured rebels as Bactira Masalon and Sarah Balabang.

Meanwhile, police arrested two more suspected NPA rebels in Alabel, Sarangani. Alabel police chief Benjie Ancheta identified the suspects as Ailen Walan, 35, and Jenetor Go, 27.

The two were arrested while supposedly extorting P20,000 from a local businessman whose identity was withheld by authorities for safety purposes.

Duterte to set foot on PH Rise to declare ‘nobody owns this place but us’

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Apr 27): Duterte to set foot on PH Rise to declare ‘nobody owns this place but us’

SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH A diver explores the seabed of Benham Rise believed to be rich in marine resources and underwater minerals. —INQUIRER PHOTO

President Rodrigo Duterte is set to visit the Philippine Rise, formerly known as Benham Rise, next week.

“Next week I’m going set sail on, I’m [going] to the Benham Rise and I will make a statement there that nobody but nobody owns this place [but the Philippines], including the continental shelf, the underground landmass that extends under the sea,” Duterte said in a speech at the 102nd Annual Communication of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of the Free and Accepted Mason in the Philippines on Thursday night in Davao City.

He even joked that if the continental shelf would extend to the United States, it would also be part of the Philippines.

“If it extends to San Francisco Bay, San Francisco Bay is a property of the Republic of the Philippines,” he said, eliciting laughter from the crowd.

 The President said he will take drastic action to defend the Philippine Rise.

“I said, I will go to war and I will go to war,” he said.

Duterte has ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to conduct a regular patrol in Philippines following his order to the troops to chase away any foreign vessel fishing or conducting research in the resource-rich continental shelf.

READ: Duterte orders AFP to guard PH Rise

The chief executive had earlier warned foreign countries to get the Philippine government’s permission in conducting any activity in the Philippine Rise or risk war with the country. /muf/ac

READ: Duterte: Get permission to explore PH Rise or risk war with PH

Two ISIS sympathizers arrested by police, military forces in Laguna

From the Manila Bulletin (Apr 27): Two ISIS sympathizers arrested by police, military forces in Laguna

Two suspected sympathizers of the terror group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) were arrested recently by joint police and military forces in Laguna province, the Philippine National Police (PNP) bared yesterday, amid growing concerns that the group is trying to establish a base in the country to strengthen its forces in Southeast Asia.

Jimuel Velasco Dizon alias Amir and Eddie Boy Alejo Bermejo alias Abdullah, both of legal age, were apprehended in a joint operation led by operatives of the PNP’s Crime Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), together with the PNP’s Counter-Terrorism Division-Intelligence Group (PNP-CTD-IG), and the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Intelligence Services (ISAFP).

The two are suspected “Balik Islam” members and remnants of the Suyuful Khilafa Fil Luzon who were supposed to fight as a reinforcement for the local and foreign terror groups that wrought havoc during the siege in Marawi City last year. However, authorities said they failed to do so because of the presence of government troops.

In addition, the Suyuful Khilafa Fil Luzon is reportedly one of the more than 20 armed groups in the country who are trying to consolidate as one force after the Marawi siege under the name “ISIS Philippines.” The groups are reportedly trying to establish a base in the Philippines as a stronghold of the ISIS group in Southeast Asia.

According to a police report, the operating officers served two separate search warrants against the two suspects in their respective residences in Barangay Mamatid, Cabuyao City and Barangay Tagapo, Santa Rosa both in Laguna around 4:30 a.m. yesterday.

The report said search warrant Nos. L395 and L396 were issued by the San Pablo City Regional Trial Court Branch 29 and 32, dated April 23, 2018 for violation of the Republic Act10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act.

The operating officers confiscated from the suspects two black ISIS flags, two fragmentation hand grenades, two improvised explosive devices (IEDs), three caliber 45 pistols, a caliber 38 revolver, various ammunition and a laptop.

Relatedly, PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde has earlier said no additional terror groups have entered the country.

“I have yet to talk to the AFP but I think there are no additional terror groups that have penetrated our borders. Hopefully, the remaining terror groups in the country will be arrested by our force in the coming days,” he said.

Authorities refused to disclose further details as they said follow-up operations have been conducted to apprehend other members of the Suyuful Khilafa Fil Luzon.

House bloc assails Moro activist’s detention, torture by US Homeland security​

From the often pro-Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) online publication the Davao Today (Apr 27): House bloc assails Moro activist’s detention, torture by US Homeland security​

The House of Representatives Makabayan opposition bloc has filed a resolution which seeks to condemn and probe the detention and torture of Filipino Moro activist Jerome Succor Aba by the United States Homeland Security and Customs Border and Protection last week.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate on Thursday decried how activists remain under attack in the Philippines and in the US.

Zarate cited the detention and expulsion of Australian missionary nun Patricia Fox, as well as peasant activists being killed and critics being harassed.

“This just goes to show the striking fascist similarities between the Trump and the Duterte administrations. People all over the world should condemn this deplorable acts,” the Davao-based solon said.

“What is the US and Philippine governments so afraid of? Are they so paranoid and scared that the whole world would know the horrid human rights situation in their countries? They should stop harassing activists,” he added.

House Resolution 1826 was filed by Zarate, ACT-Teachers Reps. Antonio Tinio and France Castro, Gabriela Reps. Emmi de Jesus and Arlene Brosas, Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao and Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago last Wednesday.

Last April 17, Aba, chair of Suara Bangsamoro, was briefly held by Immigration agents at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on his scheduled flight to US. He was invited by the Human Rights Office of the Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church to be a resource speaker at the 2028 Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington, DC.

While he was held, he was asked if he would be participating in rallies in the US. He was also subjected to separate random security checks.

Upon arrival at the San Francisco International Airport, Aba was escorted by two officers and was brought to the Homeland Security office where he was left alone in an empty room, his belongings and phone confiscated.

Aba was interrogated for 12 hours by different officers and was even denied food, sleep and access to a lawyer. He was forced to admit that he was a “terrorist and communist” despite his truthful answers.

At one point, Aba was made to strip naked in front of a large industrial fan inside an air-conditioned room. After this, he was forced to sign a blank waiver attesting that he was treated humanely by the officers. He was later deported back to the Philippines.

“The harrowing experience of Jerome Succor Aba, including his torture from the hands US Immigration agents, is highly condemnable and a grave violation of human rights,” the militant lawmakers wrote in the resolution.

“The said acts are not only an affront to the rights of an innocent Filipino citizen who was validly invited and granted travel documents for his US engagement but, a serious affront as well to the Philippines, for which the government should rightly protest,” they added.

Bulatlat: Filipino Moro activist arrested, interrogated, tortured ala Guantanamo

From the pro-Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) online propaganda publication Bulatlat (Apr 26): Filipino Moro activist arrested, interrogated, tortured ala Guantanamo

jerome aba

Jerome Aba recalls his ordeal at the hands of US Homeland Security, for the first time in front of Philippine media. He shares details of the interrogation, harassment, threats and torture …. he becomes teary only when he recalls how he feels when he returned to Manila and saw the familiar faces of progressive partylist representatives meeting him at the NAIA. (Photo by M. Salamat / Bulatlat)

At one point during his interrogation, he was made to strip naked and face his armed interrogators in a room chilled by air conditioning and an industrial fan.


MANILA – Jerome Aladdin Succor Aba, 25, vice chairperson of Sandugo – Movement of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self-Determination – flew to the United States on April 17 for meetings with Filipino communities and human rights advocates. He would have stayed for these activities for a few weeks. But even as he holds a 10-year multiple entry US visa, the US Customs Border and Protection agents said he had “a technical glitch” on his visa.

Based on Aba’s ordeal at the hands of immigration agents in the Philippines and the US, the so-called glitch in his visa was likely caused by the US-led “war on terror,” the blue print of the Philippine military’s counterinsurgency war, aerial bombings, and extra-judicial killings. The killings and harassments of people due to this war in the Philippines have been keeping human rights advocates and Moro leaders like Aba busy. But the Philippine government, having aligned itself with the US in waging this war on terror, has been vilifying legal and progressive activists such as Aba as “terrorist.” The US war on terror is a borderless war aiming to maintain US hegemony. It prepositions US troops and equipment and uses the troops of “allies” such as the governments of its former colonies like the Philippines.

Aba believes his involvement in human rights work in the Philippines is the main reason he was deported. But not before he was detained, interrogated, threatened and tortured first in a US international airport.

“With the Trump administration thriving on misinformation and falsehoods, there is no place for me shedding light on the US’ hand in the destruction of Marawi and the ongoing ‘war on terror’against my Moro and Lumad brothers in Mindanao. This US ‘war on terror’ led to the killings of civilians, forced evacuation due to aerial bombings in communities, and has reinforced Islamophobia,” Aba wrote in his statement after arriving back in the Philippines.

Various groups are now urging the Philippine government to lodge protests with the US regarding the detention, harassment and torture, and violation of Aba’s other rights including his right to a legal counsel while being interrogated. What Aba suffered in the US may hint of similar restrictions in movement, association and speech of other freedom-loving Filipinos and citizens.

Even as Aba was being held against his will, questioned and threatened by armed US personnel, the US Embassy in Manila was announcing the start of activities for the 34th Balikatan war exercises.

The US government and military have been training Philippine armed forces and the police, sharing information and boosting what it calls as their interoperability.

Yearly, “US and PH military demonstrate in Balikatan exercises the cooperation and interoperability between the U.S. and Philippines, consistent with the Mutual Defense Treaty and Visiting Forces Agreement,” the US Embassy in Manila said on Aril 19.

“To improve their ability to coordinate a multilateral response to crisis, the two militaries will continue their commitment to train and share information,” the US Embassy also said.

What happened to Aba also followed the recent training provided by the US Homeland Security Investigations to Philippine police officers.

The US Homeland Security Investigations and instructors of Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) “led rigorous sessions” on entry and defensive tactics, investigative techniques, interviews and interrogations, evidence collection, surveillance, and undercover operations. The participants in the training were officers of the newly-formed Philippine Transnational Criminal Investigative Unit (TCIU).

It is instructive that Jerome Aba was twice held up by the Philippine immigration personnel at the NAIA before he was allowed to board the plane on April 17.

Believe it or not, even this shawl is viewed with suspicion by agents of the US Homeland Security — Jerome Aba. (Photo by M. Salamat / Bulatlat)

A struggle against the US-led war on terror in Ph and US
From the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila to the San Francisco International Airport in California, Aba was questioned about the purpose and activities of his US visit. “Will you be joining rallies there?” Aba was asked several times in Manila.

He arrived in San Francisco and before long, he faced US interrogators who already had compiled a thick stack of documents about him.

From Aba’s recollection of what transpired, the US Homeland Security and Customs Border and Protection agents treated him as a “terrorist,” forcing him to admit it in over 24 hours of interrogation under different agents in different rooms inside the San Francisco International Airport.

“Aba got a taste of some of the US military’s interrogation and torture technics reportedly being used in Guantanamo,” Cristina Palabay, secretary general of human rights group Karapatan, said at the first press conference where Aba shared what happened to him.

Aba recalled that he was taken out of the passengers’ line to the immigration and handcuffed. The US Homeland Security or Customs Border and Protection agents deprived him of his computer, cellphone, and luggage. They forced open his computer and cellphone and searched through his luggage. To his protestations and demands for a legal counsel, he was repeatedly told he has no rights. He was told the Universal declaration of rights did not cover him where he was. Five burly men would escort him when he needed to go to the men’s room.

It was approximately after around 24 hours into his detention and interrogation that Aba was first asked about what food he eats. Despite stressing he’s a Moro and he doesn’t eat pork, he was given a ham sandwich. “The tools of repression by the state can look so mundane,” he would write a few days later in his social media account.

At one point during his interrogation, he was made to strip naked and face his armed interrogators in a room chilled by air conditioning and an industrial fan.

Twice, he recalled being left alone in what looked like a deserted office, with a gun left lying around, at first, and the next time, a grenade and a cellphone. Aba purposely did not touch the weapons. “What did they hope to see me do? Kill myself? Start shooting at them?” he asked the media.

One of the interrogators called Lopez appeared to Aba as so riled up and paranoid that his hands would often reach for his gun if Aba moved a little while under questioning.

Aba noted that his behavior — ignoring the weapons left lying around, insisting he has rights — only seemed to infuriate the interrogators who kept accusing him, and forcing him to admit, that he is a “terrorist” or in league with “terrorists.”

As supposed proof, his interrogators presented Aba with a stack of papers about him. They showed his pictures with alleged “terrorists.” The US interrogators labeled the Moro Islamic Liberation Front peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal and former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo as “terrorists.” Aba replied that these two were not terrorists but are in fact working for peace.

Silencing truth

Various groups condemned the terrorist tagging and inhumane treatment of Aba.

“The US and PH governments want to terrorize dissent and keep the desecration of the country under wraps,” said Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago. Bayan Muna filed a resolution in Congress seeking investigation and justice.

Aba has a lot to say to his countrymen and friends of the Filipino people in the US about the Duterte government’s killings and the role of the US-instigated war on terror. He said the brazen attacks on the people and their rights are being executed to protect the interests of big US corporations.

Amid the Philippine government’s intensified militarization of Mindanao, it opened vast lands of Mindanao, including the territories of the Bangsamoro and ancestral domains of the indigenous people, to exploitation and plunder by companies such as Dole, Unifrutti, and Del Monte, Aba said.

Aba expressed gratitude for “the untiring protest actions” mounted by friends and organizations from all over the USA- from Portland to New York City.

“Your quick response to my situation, such as the rally at San Francisco Airport and call barrage, has helped tremendously in my release from the cruel clutches of the CBP and Homeland Security,” Aba said.

In the face of increased military responses to people’s resistance, Aba urged the public to help spread “the truth the US government wants to hide from the American people and the whole world.”

Amid Martial Law in Mindanao, Aba said a million hectares are being encroached on and operated by foreign mining businesses and 500,000 hectares by plantations. Also, a million hectares are reserved for the expansion of oil palm plantations by 2020. In Marawi where the US and the Philippines maintain military facilities, the current rehabilitation plan being discussed includes expanding the military reservation.

The US is also expanding its military bases in the Philippines. On April 17, the same day Aba was being detained in the US as an alleged “terrorist,” US Ambassador Sung Y. Kim and Defense Sec. Delfin N. Lorenzana were holding a groundbreaking ceremony for the first major project under the “Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA)” in Cesar Basa Air Base, Pampanga. Four others are in the pipeline.

“We will not sit on the sidelines and witness our people suffer from worsening environmental destruction, displacement, poverty, and grave human rights abuses,” Aba concluded in a public statement.