Thursday, September 3, 2020

NDF/CPP: CPP urges international blacklisting of Chinese plunderers of South China Sea

Posted to the National Democratic Front Philippines (NDFP) Facebook Pager (Sep 2, 2020): CPP urges international blacklisting of Chinese plunderers of South China Sea

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) calls on the international community to step up diplomatic and economic efforts to pressure the Chinese government to comply with its international obligations and sanction its officials for trampling on outstanding agreements and instruments and compel it to respect the sovereignty of other nations.

The Party urges the international community to expand on the initiatives last week by the US government to blacklist Chinese firms and individuals involved in land reclamation and construction of at least seven military facilities in the South China Sea, particularly those within the Philippine exclusive economic zone (EEZ). These have been determined illegal by the 2016 judgment of the Permanent Arbitration Court in line with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas.

These companies include the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), the CCC Dredging Group, China Shipbuilding Group, the CCCC’s China Harbor Engineering Company (CHEC), the China Electronics Technology Group Corporation and other subsidiary companies. The CCCC is the successor organization of the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) which was determined by the World Bank in 2009 to have engaged in fraudulent practices in the Philippines and was consequently sanctioned. These companies are mainly state-owned or are in collusion with the Chinese government.

The widespread destruction of coral reefs and marine life in the Philippine EEZ in the course of their land reclamation and construction constitute a grave violation of Philippine sovereignty. In addition, Chinese fishing companies continue to wantonly engage in harvesting substantial amounts of sea turtles and giant clams, aside from large quantities of fish catch, denying vast marine resources to Filipino fishermen.

Many of these companies are also engaged in various other projects i under Duterte’s Build, Build, Build infrastructure program. It was revealed recently that the CCC has five memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the CCCC for projects in Manila, Davao, Cebu and Clark. The CCCC is also involved in the Sangley Point International Airport project, in a joint venture with MacroAsia Corp. owned by Duterte crony Lucio Tan. Duterte ordered the fast-tracking of the Sangley Point project last year. Top Duterte crony Dennis Uy, meanwhile, is engaged with the CHEC for a $1.2 billion reclamation project.

The Filipino people must unite and demand that these companies be made to pay for their gross violations of Philippine sovereignty. They must demand the Philippine government to deny these companies from engaging in economic activities in the country. Any and all existing contracts with these companies must be immediately scrapped and investigated. At the same time, the Party urges solidarity within the international community, specifically between the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and other neighboring countries whose sovereignties are likewise being impinged upon by China’s efforts to dominate the South China Sea.
Condemn Duterte’s continuing national treachery

By causing grave damage to the Philippine marine environment, China should be sued by the Philippine government before the international courts for transgression of Philippine sovereign rights and be required to withdraw and pay compensation for environmental damage and unpaid rent of its military bases. The computed compensation is far more than what Duterte has actually gotten from China’s promise of high-interest loans of $24 billion for overpriced infrastructure projects done by Chinese contractors and workers.

For four years now, the Duterte regime has failed to use the 2016 favorable judgment under UNCLOS to the advantage of the country, refusing to bring it up within the ASEAN, the UN or in the international community at large. Instead, in exchange for China’s favors, Duterte has allowed China to continue building up its military power in the West Philippine Sea and preventing Filipino fishermen from fishing in their own sea.

It is downright treacherous and a display of absolute lack of national dignity for the Duterte regime to continue dealing with Chinese companies which have been proven to have violated Philippine sovereign rights. Duterte’s claim that the country urgently needs the capital that these blacklisted Chinese companies will bring in is utterly false, because in fact, the country’s resources which these Chinese companies have destroyed and plundered and accumulated is far greater.

In the course of peace negotiations between the GRP and NDFP up to 2017, the NDFP Negotiating Panel and its Chief Political Consultant repeatedly expressed to the GRP Negotiating Panel and Duterte himself that by all necessary and appropriate means the sovereign and maritime rights of the Philippines over the exclusive economic zone and extended continental shelf in the West Philippine Sea must be asserted, exercised and defended in accordance with the final 2016 judgment of the Permanent Arbitration Court and United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas.

The revolutionary forces and the Filipino people have the utmost interest in upholding the sovereign rights of the Filipino people over EEZ and ECS of the West Sea and in demanding that the people avail of the rich marine resources conservatively estimated at around USD 1 trillion and the even richer oil and gas resources estimated at $26 trillion in the EEZ.

Duterte, however, ignored the possibility and opportunity of using these funds for economic and social development through a common program of land reform and national industrialization and for expansion of social services in health, education, housing and public cultural facilities. Such a program was put forward by the NDFP as the basis for a just peace.

Instead, Duterte offered China a lopsided “joint ownership” and “joint exploration” deal which would have given China virtual control of these resources even when a better deal could be negotiated with Norway or other technology-leaders in undersea exploration and development.

Duterte’s refusal to heed the people’s demand to uphold national sovereignty by continuing to favor and cooperate with these plunderous Chinese companies in exchange for political support and personal financial gains is equivalent to collusion with a foreign power. His regime of national treachery must not be allowed to rule any longer.

The CPP condemns Duterte in the plainest terms as utterly corrupt, stupid and arrogant. But beyond his personal characteristics, he is an incorrigible traitor, tyrant, plunderer, murder maniac and swindler whose greed for power and personal wealth knows no limit for violating the rights and interests of the Filipino people. Only by overthrowing this monster and his gang of cronies, bureaucratic sycophants and military servants can the people hope to obtain justice, freedom and a better life.

CPP/NDF-Panay: On ceaseless military operations in Central Panay

Propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Sep 2, 2020): On ceaseless military operations in Central Panay

SEPTEMBER 01, 2020

The 12th infantry battalion is sowing terror in communities of Janiuay, Iloilo in Central Panay with their ceaseless military operations that started last August 5. 

According to a report from the NPA-Jose Percival Estocada Jr. Command, the criminals have carried out rights violations in communities. 

The criminal battalion have detained, interrogated, and forced two farmers to guide them in a military operation on the first week of August. 

One of the farmers was beaten while his hands were restrained behind his back and was stripped naked. 

They also falsely accused five more farmers to be members of NPA and threatened to kill them. They also ransacked four houses, stomped through farms and destroyed crops.

The terrorism of the 12th infantry battalion in Central Panay must be probed by independent human rights organizations. Duterte’s military must stop their incursions of peaceful and Covid-free communities.

CPP/News:Fascist onslaught in Zambales paves way for renewed plunder

Propaganda news story posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Sep 2, 2020): Fascist onslaught in Zambales paves way for renewed plunder

SEPTEMBER 01, 2020

In August 21, around 190 Aeta families flocked to Barangay Aglao in San Marcelino, Zambales to seek refuge in the barangay’s covered court. Majority of the approximately 660 refugees are children. Terror drove the Aetas from their community in neighboring Barangay Buhawen, after four combat helicopters rained bombs in Sitio Lumibao .

At least nine residents fleeing the bombings were illegally detained by operating troops on the charge that they were members of the New People’s Army. Four of the victims are minors. Residents Witi Ramos, Jepoy Ramos and Nalin Ramos, who opted to stay behind, were accosted and tortured. In an act of subhuman cruelty, soldiers forced Nalin Ramos to eat their feces.

The Aeta’s farms and hunting grounds were destroyed, and their farm animals butchered and eaten by the soldiers.

The Aeta minorities said that they were terrified by the thunderous shaking of the earth because of the bombings. But what worries them more is the threat of renewed operations by big mining corporations in Buhawen and the rest of Zambales Mountain Range, which forms part of the Aetas’ ancestral land.

Even prior to the August 21 bombings, soldiers of the Philippine Army’s 7th ID, the Philippine Air Force’ Special Operations Wing and the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force have launched prolonged attacks in the province. Military operations which have been ongoing since March 2019 reach as far north towards Palauig, Iba and Masinloc, and also cover towns in neighboring Tarlac and Pampanga.

These pave the way for the return of four large-scale mining companies whose operations were previously suspended because of their severe damages to the environment. Mining activities of BenguetCorp Nickel Mine, Zambales Diversified Metals Corp, LNL Archipelagic Mining and Eramen Minerals were suspended in February 2017 by the then environment secretary Gina Lopez . Last July, however, former military chief Roy Cimatu who now heads the agency allowed these companies to resume operations. Meanwhile, no less than 28 more large-scale mines are currently operating in various parts of Zambales.

With suspensions lifted, BenguetCorp is set to revive its operations in Barangay Buhawen, despite the irreversible environmental damage it has caused when it operated an open-pit mine in the village. The company runs another nickel mining in Sta. Cruz, near the borders of Pangasinan.

Apart from destructive mining companies, Aeta ancestral lands and peasant farms in Zambales are also arrogated by the private energy companies, the National Greening Program, infrastructure projects, private cattle ranches and real estate businesses.

CPP/NPA-North Central Mindanao: 1st and 2nd Lieutenant, killed during AFP’s FMO

Propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Sep 2, 2020): 1st and 2nd Lieutenant, killed during AFP’s FMO

SEPTEMBER 02, 2020

The Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) high officials were killed when the New People’s Army counter-attacked the enemy’s focused military operation (FMO). At least 10 troops of the AFP were killed-in-action while several more were wounded during the AFP’s military operation since July 28 up to present.

August 2, a military encounter took place between the Red fighters and troops of the 26th IB in Sitio Traktor, Brgy. Mahagsay, Binicalan, San Luis, Agusan del Sur. A soldier was killed-in-action.

August 7, the NPA attacked the AFP’s operating troops in Sityo Kalasungay, Brgy. San Vicente, Esperanza, Agusan del Sur.

August 8, amilitary encounter between the NPA and AFP took place in Sitio Ulayanon, Brgy. Calabugao, Impasug-ong when operatives of the NPA spotted the enemy forces.

August 14, another military encounter took place between the AFP and troops of the 58th IB in Sitio, Brgy. Bal-ason, Gingoog City. It was confirmed that a certain 2nd Lieutenant while many others were wounded. Simultaneously, Ka Cyrill, a Red fighter, heroically offered his life during the said encounter.

August 18, the NPA attacked the enemy forces in Sityo Traktor. A soldier was killed-in-action.

August 19, around 1:00 PM, the NPA attacked the operating enemy forces in Sityo Talabaw, Brgy. Binicalan. At 4 PM, another attack was launched by the NPA against the same unit of the AFP. It was confirmed that two soldiers were killed-in-action while not less than one was wounded. After the said incident, the AFP bombed the area with four rocket and several .50mm bullets.

August 26, AM, the NPA attacked the company-size enemy forces operating in SitioKalasungay. At the afternoon, another series of military action was launched by the NPA. It was confirmed that 1st Lt. Ayun-ayonwas killed-in-action while not less than two soldiers were wounded.

CPP/CIO: Continue struggle for justice for the Lianga massacre

Propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Sep 2, 2020): Continue struggle for justice for the Lianga massacre

SEPTEMBER 02, 2020

Yesterday marked the 5th year of the Lianga Massacre of 2015. Revolutionary forces across the country join the rest of the Filipino people in recalling the brutal murder of Emerito Samarca, Executive Director of the ALCADEV community school, and Lumad leaders Dionel Campos and Datu Bello Sinzo. They were among those who led the community in the defense of their ancestral land and in efforts to raise their community’s social, economic and cultural life.

Far from punishing the perpetrators, the AFP and the Duterte regime even awarded the killers with funding, publicity and more guns. It even had the gall to misrepresent the group, known as the Magahat-Bagani paramilitary group in the region, as “NPA surenderees” and award them with government funds. One of its leaders, a certain Marcos Bocales, who misrepresent himself as a “datu,” is nothing but a hardcore Lumad killer. He figures prominently in the regime’s anti-Lumad, anti-people propaganda blitz.

Moreover, the fascist criminals continue to impose terror on the Lumad communities, threatening people to abandon their school and organizations, or face the “consequence.” In recent months, Lianga villages have suffered aerial bombings, alongside heightened military presence to intimidate the people and suppress their resistance against the planned entry of mining companies. For years, Lianga and the rest of the Andap Valley have long been coveted by the plunderers because of its rich deposits of gold and other valuable minerals.

The Party commends the people of Lianga for bravely fighting the fascist onslaught by the AFP against their communities. The resistance of the people of Lianga serves as inspiration for the peasant and minority masses around country resisting state terrorism, defending their civil and democratic rights, protecting the environment, defending their ancestral land and pushing for their demand for free distribution of land to the tillers of the land.

Together with the rest of the Filipino people, we hear the cries of the people of Lianga, seeking justice and demanding punishment for the criminal perpetrators of the Lianga massacre.

The case of the Lianga massacre has been duly heard before the people’s courts. The guilt of the perpetrators and masterminds of the crime have all been determined by the duly-constituted people’s courts. As the arm of the people’s organs of political power, the New People’s Army has been tasked to carry out the decision of the people’s courts.

CPP/NPA-North Central Mindanao: 1st ug 2nd Lieutenant, patay atol sa FMO sa AFP

Propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Sep 2, 2020): 1st ug 2nd Lieutenant, patay atol sa FMO sa AFP


SEPTEMBER 02, 2020

Patay ang duha ka dagkong opisyal sa Armed Forces of the Philippines sa dihang gi-atake sa mga operatiba sa Bagong Hukbong Bayan ang nag-operasyong kasundaluhan nga nagpahigayon sa ilang focused military operation(FMO). Dili moubos sa 10 ka sundalo ang patay samtang ubay-ubay usab ang samaron sa operasyong militar sa AFP sukad Hulyo 28 hangtud sa kasamtangan.

Agosto 2, adunay nahitabong engkwentro tali sa BHB ug sa tropa sa 26th IB sa Sityo Traktor, Brgy. Mahagsay, Binicalan, San Luis, Agusan del Sur. Usa ang patay sa AFP.

Agosto 7, gi-atake sa BHB ang nag-operasyon nga tropa sa AFP sa Sityo Kalasungay, Brgy. San Vicente, Esperanza, Agusan del Sur.

Agosto 8, adunay nahitabong engkwentro tali sa BHB ug AFP sa Sitio Ulayanon, Brgy. Calabugao, Impasug-ong sa dihang nakita sa mga operatiba sa BHB ang nag-operasyon nga kaaway.

Agosto 14, aduna usay engkwentro tali sa BHB ug tropa sa 58th IB sa Sityo Mangilit, Brgy. Bal-ason, Gingoog City. Nakumpirmang patay ang usa ka 2nd Lieutenant samtang aduna usay laing samaron. Maisugon usab nga gihalad ni Kaubang Cyrill, usa ka Pulang manggugubat, ang iyang kinabuhi atol sa maong sangka.

Agosto 18, gi-atake sa BHB ang pwersa sa kaaway sa Sityo Traktor. Usa ang patay sa sundalo.

Agosto 19, sa may ala-una sa hapon, gi-atake sa tropa sa BHB ang nag-operasyon nga sundalo sa Sityo Talabaw, Brgy. Binicalan. Pagka-alas-4 sa hapon, subling giatake sa BHB ang parehong yunit sa AFP. Nakumpirma nga duha ang patay ug dili momenos sa usa ang samaron sa han-ay sa kasundaluhan. Paghuman sa maong sangka, nagbuhi og upat ka bala sa rocket ug .50mm ang kaaway.

Agosto 26, sa buntag, giatake sa BHB ang usa ka kumpanya nga kaaway nga nag-operasyon sa Sitio Kalasungay. Pagka-hapon, laing hugna na usab sa aksyong militar ang gilunsad sa BHB batok sa kasundaluhan. Nakumpirma nga patay si 1st Lt. Ayun-ayon samtang dili moubos sa duha ang samaron.

CPP/NPA-Southeast Negros: Amid focused military operations, series of PADEPA and BPC instructors’ trainings triumphantly carried out

Propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Sep 2, 2020): Amid focused military operations, series of PADEPA and BPC instructors’ trainings triumphantly carried out


SEPTEMBER 02, 2020

The hinterlands of the 3rd District of Negros Oriental, where the mountain slopes are often times steep covered in thick forests with occasional scree and boulder fields, in which the masses of settlers in the thousands reside subsisting on their diversified agricultural produce, have been this year’s site of the Joint AFP 11th IB – PNP 705th RMF’s ruthless, continuous focused military operations.

Sowing terror among the masses and perpetrating heinous crimes, the fascist mercenary troops wreak havoc on the settler communities with their wanton cruelty and disregard for human rights. Numerous so called counter-guerrilla deep operations, launched in rapid succession, have been executed in the mountainous settlements ever since Southeast Negros was zeroed in as priority target area of Negros RTF-ELCAC.

Despite the enemy’s routine large scale combat operations, Party cadres in the Front and Section Committees, in close coordination with the Party branches in the people’s army and in the localities, succeeded in holding 4 batches of PADEPA-IT and 1 batch of BPC Instructors’ Trainings, with 46 PADEPA-IT graduates who now function as core of instructors setting up the national democratic school in their respective party units and mass organizations. 55 graduated from the 5 batches of BPC, aside from additional 15 graduating BPC-IT.

One batch of BPC participated by 15 new Party members was conducted while an enemy operation was ongoing in a nearby village. The combined efforts of the members of the self-defense corps of the mass organizations and the local militia unit helped facilitate for its uninterrupted completion.

In the actual implementation of the trainings, especially in terms of methods employed, the instructors made use of a number of teaching devices, adjustments to methods of instruction, along with procedures of shortening session duration and explaining theories in ways that parallel the comprehension of the settler masses, given their various levels of limitation in literacy, without deviating from the framework set forth by PAKED.

The physical venues and instruction materials tightly corresponded with the prevailing circumstances that dominated the particular situations, notably with regards to access to electricity, security, enemy activity and movement and other considerations. At times the trainings were held in the bushes, the jungles, other times in shanties, at one time in a concrete house.

The people’s militia played a vital role in providing security, ensuring smooth logistical flow of personnel and supplies, and keeping an eye on the enemy. Materials consisted of the red fighter’s waterproof nylon cloth, chalk, and a laptop for visual aids and presentations.

Daily sessions were shortened in accordance with the schedule of the trainees, starting at 9 am, ending at 4pm. Both the PADEPA and BPC ITs were completed in 3 to 4 days, respectively, complete with lecture, workshop, and practicum.

Graduates were tasked to immediately apply what they learned by holding their own educational discussions, such as MKLRP (4th Edition), SMC 3-in-1, ARAK, BPC, in their own party units and mass organizations. One particular local party branch, thru their fresh graduates of core instructors, was able to deliver the MKLRP to more than 100 members of the local PKM, MAKIBAKA, and KM chapters under their jurisdiction.

In light of these, the leading Party Committees in Southeast Negros seek to continue strengthen the painstaking endeavor of intensive education work in tandem with other crucial tasks with the end in view of actively contributing for the attainment of the overall goal of advancing to the advanced sub-stage from the current middle phase of the strategic defensive stage of our People’s War and stepping on the doorstep of strategic stalemate. ###

CPP/NPA-Negros Island: MCC-NPA firmly salutes Ka Epi and all revolutionary martyrs

Propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Sep 3, 2020): MCC-NPA firmly salutes Ka Epi and all revolutionary martyrs

SEPTEMBER 04, 2020

Every revolution is nurtured by the blood of martyrs. The National Democratic Revolution of the new type led by the Communist Party of the Philippines is no exception to this. Those who have been martyred in the process of waging revolution are immortal martyrs. Their deaths inspire the living and live forever by illuminating the path to liberation.

Along with other revolutionary martyrs, the memory of Mitchel Fat, commonly known as Ka Epi, is enshrined in the great heart of the exploited and oppressed masses in Negros. Ka Epi was martyred last August 31 in Kilometer 109, Brgy. Dancalan, Ilog, Negros Occidental.

There is no better way to honor the life and struggle of our revolutionary martyrs than to continue with much vigor our national democratic struggle to put an end to the semi-feudal and semi-colonial system in the Philippines. The demise of our fallen comrades won’t extinguish the fire in us. Instead, this serves as the signal fire that will spark the flames of revolution.

The reactionary state forces believe that they can end a revolution by killing the revolutionary. Every reactionary regime have attempted to stop the great revolutionary movement by unleashing terror against the people. However, history has time & again proven that they will be digging their own graves through such desperate acts. Duterte’s fascist campaign against the people cannot stop the growing revolutionary movement in the island against his tyranny and dictatorial ambitions.

We are fueled by the saga of dedication, courage, bravery and sacrifice of our countless immortal martyrs of revolution. As Chairman Mao Zedong said, “the road is torturous, the future is bright”. Our victory in this fight is certain!

Pulang pagsaludo!

Mabuhay ang mga martir sang rebolusyon!

CPP/NDF-Negros: NDFP-Negros vehemently opposes “Marcos Day”

Propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Sep 3, 2020): NDFP-Negros vehemently opposes “Marcos Day”

SEPTEMBER 03, 2020

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP)-Negros vehemently opposes the move of the Lower House to declare September 11 as “President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos Day”

We have said this before and we will never get tired of saying it again, Marcos is not a hero and he doesn’t deserve to be remembered and honoured.

We believe that this is another orchestration by the Duterte administration to kiss the heel of the late dictator. As if burying the late dictator in Libingan ng mga Bayani isn’t an enough insult to the numerous victims of human rights violations, Duterte wants to rewrite history and cover up the late tyrant’s crimes against the people. The proposed bill goes against the very essence of Republic Act 10368 also known as the Human Rights Victims and Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 which recognizes the atrocities done by the late dictator and the massive plunder they have committed during the Martial Law period. Worst, he continues to copy straight out of the dictator’s playbook by terrorizing the people especially those who decisively fight.

The critical conditions perpetuated by the state’s terror and fascism compel more and more people to tread the path of resistance. As the storm clouds of outright dictatorship are brewing, it is imperative that we solidify our ranks in order to thwart the Duterte regime’s campaign of suppression. We will continue to resonate our call for justice for victims of extra-judicial killings, illegal arrests and other gross human rights violations.

Our decisive, collective and militant action will remind Duterte, Marcos and all other dictators’ that their place is in the trash bin of history.

The NDFP Negros calls on fellow Filipinos, especially Negrenses, to gather all our strength and courage to boldly and resolutely fight the looming dictatorship and fascist rule. ###

CPP/News: Soldiers to Samar peasants: Surrender or starve

Propaganda news story posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Sep 3, 2020): Soldiers to Samar peasants: Surrender or starve

SEPTEMBER 03, 2020

Soldiers from the 8th ID are prohibiting peasants from harvesting their crops in at least two Samar towns to coerce them to “surrender” to the military. At least 39 peasant families in San Jose de Buan, Western Samar, were told to surrender as NPA members or else starve as they will not be permitted to tend to their farms and harvest rice. Residents of San Jose de Buan have been subjected to unabated attacks and surrender campaigns since May.

In Barangay San Nicolas, soldiers also prevented farmers to harvest rice estimated to yield about 2,800 sacks. If they fail to harvest their crops, they will not have enough food supply until the next harvesting season. Out of fear, 60 families have fled their communities.

The 8th ID is headed by Maj. Gen. Pio Diñoso III.

CPP/News: AFP murders own agent, maliciously accuses NPA of crime

Propaganda news story posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Sep 3, 2020): AFP murders own agent, maliciously accuses NPA of crime

SEPTEMBER 03, 2020

Elements of the 8th ID killed one of its own intelligence agents, Freddie Mabanan in Barangay Salvacion, San Jose de Buan last August 19. The soldiers attempted to shift the blame to the NPA to cover up the crime but Mabanan was able to identify his handlers in the 8th ID as the perpetrators just before he expired.

The New People’s Army (NPA)-Western Samar said in a statement that even the likes of Mabanan, who had already “surrendered” to the military and forced to take part in counterinsurgency work, are not spared from the Duterte regime’s undeclared martial law.

Since May, the 8th ID has been conducting combat operations in San Jose de Buan, Western Samar. Hundreds of peasants have been forced to evacuate their communities. The NPA-Western Samar was able to record at least 88 canons fired upon the hinterlands of the said town.

NPA lauds member killed in Ilog

From the Visayan Daily Star  (Sep 4, 2020): NPA lauds member killed in Ilog

The Mt. Cansermon Command of the New People’s Army hailed Mitchel Fat, alias Epi, who was recently killed in a combined operation of the police and Army soldiers in Ilog, Negros Occidental, as a revolutionary martyr.

Rebel spokesman Ka Dionesio Magbuelas, in a press statement, said that the death of Ka Epi and other revolutionary martyrs will spark the flames of revolution.

“There is no better way to honor the life and struggle of our revolutionary martyrs than to continue with much vigor our national democratic struggle to put an end to the semi-feudal and semi-colonial system in the Philippines,” Magbuelas said in a statement.

Fat was tagged by the Philippine Army as a squad leader of the Sandatahang Yunit Pampropaganda Platoon, Central Negros Front 2, of the Komiteng Rehiyonal-Negros/Cebu/Bohol/Siquijor.

He was also linked to the killing of four members of the Regional Mobile Force Battalion 7 in Brgy. Mabato, Ayungon, Negros Oriental last year.Magbuelas said that killing a revolutionary martyr will not end the revolutionary movement.

NPA leader, 17 others sued for crimes against humanity

From the Mindanao Times (Sep 4, 2020): NPA leader, 17 others sued for crimes against humanity (BY RHODA GRACE SARON)

AN ALLEGED communist guerrilla and 17 others operating in Region 10 were sued for various atrocities on civilians and damage to properties.(left to right)Lt. Col. Franklin Fabic, Commanding Officer, 88IB; Atty Rommel Alonto, OIC Provincial Prosecutor of Bukidnon; Atty. Merlyn Uy, Regional Prosecutor; and Colonel Ferdinand T Barandon, 403rd Brigade Commander present the information on the cases filed against the NPAs during the press conference at Mykarellis Grill, Mastersons Avenue, Cagayan de Oro City. This after the filing of cases against members of Communist rebels in Bukidnon at a local court in the city.

Through Bukidnon’s Provincial State Prosecutor Rommel Alonto, the group sued the local NPA cadres for violation of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) or R.A. 9851 also known as Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide and other crimes against humanity.

The private complainants filed cases against Dionisio Micabalo alias Muling, secretary of the NPA’s North Central Mindanao Regional Committee (NCMRC) at the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Cagayan de Oro on Wednesday morning.

The other suspects were identified as Lorna Micabalo, Juvilito Pontillas, Almer Calacar, Alias Ka Yaya, Vicente Pontillas Jr., Vicente Pontillas Sr.,Warwen del Rosario, Virgilio Canoy, Reynaldo Libres, Bernie Hentapa, Richard Libres, Dahulo Ortez, Lorena Micabalo, Rosalie Omandam, Jonald Saludar, Emie Santa Ana Y Menenter and Alias Arabu.

Micabalo and 17 others were accused of burning a sugarcane plantation owned by Jonathan Salas in Barangay New Eden, Pangantucan, Bukidnon after he failed to give in to the NPA’s extortion demands.

The attack happened at 7:15 a.m. on Dec. 12, 2015.

“Accused, conspired, confederated mutually by helping one another unlawfully and deliberately burned down the sugarcane plantation in Sitio Mapait, New Eden, Pangantucan, Bukidnon,” part of the complaint read.

Alonto said that during the armed conflict between the government and the New People’s Army, civilians who are not part of the conflict and their properties are protected by the IHL.

Under RA 9851, the law prohibits “attacks against the civilian population or individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities.” It is also stated that it is unlawful to attack civilian properties which are undefended and which are not military objectives.

Col. Ferdinand T. Barandon, 403rd Infantry Brigade commander, who assisted the complainants, said that the military will help civilians by “identifying the suspects with the aid of witnesses and to assist in the case build-up in coordination with the PNP to ensure that justice will be served.”

Meanwhile, Maj. General Andres C. Centino, commander of the 4th Infantry Division, said that the filing of cases against Micabalo and his cohorts is a step closer to bringing the perpetrators to justice for. “We will not stop until justice is served against these NPA bandits,” he said.

If found guilty, the suspects may be sentenced to 20 years imprisonment and a fine ranging from P100,000 to P500,000.

TF Davao starts enforcing the security plan for night market

From the Mindanao Times (Sep 4, 2020): TF Davao starts enforcing the security plan for night market (BY RHODA GRACE SARON)

IN PREPARATION for the reopening of the Roxas Night Market on Sept. 12, the Task Force Davao deployed civil-military operations personnel for house-to-house community dialogue.

The troops also distributed 100 leaflets and posted 150 anti-terrorism posters on residential and commercial buildings. Furthermore, they conducted orientation seminars for vendors, trisikad drivers, and pushcart boys in the market.

Col. Consolito Yecla, the commander of Task Force Davao, said the communities must be actively involved in the securing the night market.

Yecla said other target-hardening measures to be implemented include a facial recognition area with health-protective barriers and private inspection cubicles for individuals wearing hijabs, burkas and robes.

“This is to prevent the entry of terrorists while respecting the culture and religious belief of individuals,” he said. “The hijab and abaya have been used to hide suicide vests in previous suicide attacks in Sulu. ”

The Task Force Davao and the Davao City Police Office are now preparing the security plan for the Roxas Night Market amid the threat of terrorism and COVID-19.

“With the support of the Davaoeños and their visitors, the task force believes that we can prevent the terroristic act that transpired four years ago in the Roxas Night Market,” he said.

“Our preparation for the reopening of Roxas Night Market focuses on ensuring the security of the market against terrorists while observing safety protocols under the new normal,” he added.

The facial recognition area, he said, is similar to what they have been using at the three entry points in Davao City. They are currently coordinating with the officials of barangays covering the Roxas Night Market for orientation seminars and house-to-house engagements with the community.

The trisikad drivers and vendors will serve as additional “eyes and ears” of the law enforcers and barangay police auxiliary.

Also, unlike in the previous security preparations, the task force will use the anti-terrorism campaign, “May Nakita? Dapat Magsalita!” which was launched only in July this year.

They will also implement previous security measures, such as the no backpack policy, no non-transparent water containers, no wearing of jacket within 50 meters from the inspection areas, strict control of vehicles, especially motorcycles, no drone policy, and others.

In coordination with DCPO, they will be again conducting regular panelling of the area prior to every market opening utilizing our K9 unit.

In the re-opening of the Roxas Night Market, TF Davao is once again asking the support of Davaoeños by being vigilant and proactive. The should volunteer themselves for inspection, report suspicious persons, remind everyone of the anti-terror policies of the city, and participate in the defense system of the city.

“Securing Roxas Night Market is a challenge during this time of COVID-19 pandemic,” Yecla said. “However, we can again make Roxas Night Market safe and a great place to try local street foods and buy cheap items with the support of Davaoeños practicing the culture of security.”

Bucor defers release of US serviceman

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 4, 2020): Bucor defers release of US serviceman (By Benjamin Pulta)

The Bureau of Corrections (Bucor) has put on hold the release of American serviceman Joseph Scott Pemberton following a motion for reconsideration filed before the court questioning an order granting his liberty.

In a statement, Bucor said it "respects the court processes and will wait for the resolution of the filed motion for reconsideration".

While the normal release process is on hold, it said Pemberton remains under the custody of Bucor at its extension facility in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

The Olongapo City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 74 has earlier ordered the early release of Pemberton, saying he had served the minimum of his sentence for the death of transgender Filipino Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude six years ago.

In an order dated Sept. 1, Olongapo RTC Presiding Judge Roline M. Ginez-Jabalde directed the Bucor to release Pemberton from detention “unless he is being held for some other lawful cause or causes".

The court said Pemberton served 2,142 days including the 405 days served during his preventive imprisonment. He was also credited with good conduct and time allowance (GCTA) of 1,548 days for a total of 3,690 days served.

"Accused Pemberton has a total accumulated time served with entitled of GCTA of 10 years, one month and 10 days which is more than the 10-year maximum penalty imposed by this court and affirmed by the Court of Appeals (CA)," the court said.

Pemberton is now entitled to be released for he had already served the 10-year maximum of his penalty, the court added.

The Olongapo RTC also noted an acknowledgment receipt in full of judgment award signed by Marilou Laude Mahait as representative of the heirs of Jennifer Laude stating she received, through lawyer Rowena Garcia, PHP4.65 million in a check from the Pembertons on Aug. 25, 2020.

"Though the payment of civil liability by the accused to the heirs of Jeffrey Laude is separate from his criminal liability, it is worth to note that he had already made a full payment of the damages awarded by this court in the decision dated November 18, 2015 as amended by the Court of Appeals in its April 3, 2017 decision," the court said.

The amount is broken down as follows: PHP4.32 million for loss of earning capacity, PHP155,000 in actual damages, PHP75,000 award in civil indemnity, PHP75,000 representing moral damages, and PHP30,000 representing the award of exemplary damages.

In a motion for reconsideration filed on Wednesday, the victim's heirs asked the court not to allow Pemberton's early release and insisted that the serviceman "failed to show proof of good conduct".

Japan's WWII surrender commemorated virtually

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 3, 2020): Japan's WWII surrender commemorated virtually (By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora)

VIRTUAL CEREMONY. (clockwise) US Ambassador to Manila Sung Kim, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., and Japanese Ambassador to Manila Koji Haneda attend the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Japanese surrender on Thursday (Sept. 3, 2020). Manila Mayor Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso also participated in the virtual ceremony. (Photo by US Embassy in Manila)

Manila and Washington on Thursday commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Japanese surrender, which marked the end of World War II.

The virtual ceremony included US Ambassador to Manila Sung Kim, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Manila Mayor Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso, and Japanese Ambassador to Manila Koji Haneda.

Seventy-five years ago on September 3, General Tomoyuki Yamashita signed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender in the presence of US Lieutenant-Generals Arthur Percival and Jonathan Wainwright at the American Residence in Baguio.

The signing of the document marked the end to one of the darkest and bloodiest periods in history. It also ushered in a post-war era where partners such as the Philippines and US could rebuild and recover.

"This opportunity, coupled with the indomitable spirit of Americans, Filipinos, and others around the globe enabled an unprecedented era of development and collaboration. To that end, the shared sacrifice of Americans and Filipinos in World War II led directly to our formal alliance, established in 1948, which has grown into a lasting partnership that goes well beyond mutual defense," Kim said in a speech.

While the world is facing a different set of challenges today, the envoy said Manila and Washington's long-standing ties since the war remains robust.

"In the global battle against Covid-19, our long-standing partnership is enabling the strong US-Philippines cooperation on display today. Together, we are tackling the public health, economic, and education challenges created by the virus," he said. "And as we reflect on our shared history, I am deeply grateful to those who came before us to lay the unshakeable foundation for our deep friendship and partnership.”

Kim hailed all soldiers who served on the battlefield in 1945, as well as the scientists and public health workers combating the pandemic at present, reflecting what he dubbed as the two nations' "evolving" relations.

"Time and time again, history has demonstrated that the United States, Philippines, and Japan are strongest when we work together as friends, partners, and allies," he said.

"Let me conclude with a message to the Filipino and American veterans who sacrificed so much during World War II. Today would not be possible without your incredible acts of bravery and courage. Thank you for your service and sacrifice. You have left an indelible mark on history that will not be forgotten," he ended.

In his remarks, Locsin hailed America's role in bringing the World War II to a conclusion as well as the "protection" it gave Manila so that the latter could focus on reconstruction and progress.

He also noted that Washington's global presence guarantees that the World War II "would truly be the War to End All World Wars even while running the risk that the next world war would be The One that Ended it All".

"This still holds true today, despite the carnage in tragedy-haunted places. In that global peace free from foreign aggression and tyranny, for the most part we and most of the world made good use of the future," he said.

"That future of peace and freedom is our present; and we guard it fiercely and without compromise; so that we and those who come after us shall ever live with the fullest reality and the most certain promise of peace and harmony without end," he added.

DOJ, CHR ink data sharing pact on EJK, rights violations probe

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 4, 2020): DOJ, CHR ink data sharing pact on EJK, rights violations probe (By Benjamin Pulta)

The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) have entered a data-sharing agreement to further strengthen the mandate of Administrative Order No. 35 (AO 35) which created an inter-agency committee on extrajudicial killings (EJKs), enforced disappearances, torture, and other grave violations of the right to life, liberty and security of persons.

In a statement on Thursday, the DOJ said Undersecretary Markk Perete and CHR Commissioner Leah Tanodra-Armamento signed the agreement in a virtual ceremony on September 2, which is aimed at facilitating the investigation and case build-up that lead to prosecution in cases within AO 35’s mandate.

The data-sharing agreement includes sharing of investigation reports in AO 35 cases, promotion of closer cooperation evidence gathering and prosecution, security measures, and privacy policies governing data sharing with consideration of the interests of victims and complainants.

“The present data sharing Agreement is necessary considering that we have now the Data Privacy Act. The DSA clearly defines our respective roles, at the same time acknowledges and respects the internal rules of our institutions in the role of data sharing. The provisions of this DSA, that we are about to sign today, will further strengthen the cooperation between our institutions to serve the ends of justice and protect human rights,” Tanodra-Armamento said.

Meanwhile, Perete said the agreement will strengthen cooperation between the two government agencies.

“This data-sharing agreement with the Commission on Human Rights is an important means for us not only to strengthen the avenues of mutual cooperation between us. More importantly, it will broaden our capacity to gather and receive information crucial in the investigation and prosecution of cases in our docket… We commit not only to protect the data you will share with us; more importantly, we undertake to use them well against those who undermine and violate the rights that inhere in us as humans,” Perete said.
Composite teams of prosecutors and law enforcement officers (Special Investigation Teams) were formed upon the directive of DOJ Secretary and IAC chair Menardo Guevarra to investigate the killings of activists Randall Echanis and Zara Alvarez.

The agreement will facilitate DOJ and CHR collaboration in bringing perpetrators to justice.

AO 35 serves as the state's mechanism dedicated to resolving cases of political violence such as EJKs, enforced disappearances, and torture, among other similar grave human rights violations.

The signing of the data-sharing agreement resulted from a series of discussions between the two institutions, with support from the European Union and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation through their Governance in Justice Human Rights Project and the Ateneo Human Rights Center, along with other efforts to strengthen the AO 35 as a State mechanism for addressing grave human rights violations.

BRP Jose Rizal to sail back to PH this weekend

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 4, 2020): BRP Jose Rizal to sail back to PH this weekend
(By Priam Nepomuceno)

BRP Jose Rizal. (Philippine Navy photo)

After their successful participation in the "Rim of the Pacific" (RIMPAC) naval exercises, the contingent of the missile-frigate BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) is expected to start their voyage home to the Philippines this weekend.

"Tentatively, they will be leaving this weekend after their refueling and reprovisioning," PN public affairs office chief Lt. Commander Maria Christina Roxas said in a message to the Philippine News Agency on Friday.

She added that BRP Jose Rizal and the 125-strong contingent aboard her, Naval Task Group 80.5, is expected to be in the country by the third week of September.

"We are (now) coordinating with the SBMA (Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority) if FF-150 (and the Navy personnel aboard her) needs to undergo (the) 14-day quarantine (now being conducted to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19)) upon their arrival," Roxas said.

When asked if the ship will also make another fueling and reprovisioning stop in Guam like the one they made during their voyage to Hawaii, Roxas said there is a good possibility as BRP Jose Rizal's present position, once the voyage home starts, will again pass the island.

Earlier, PN chief Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo congratulated the NTG 80.5 for "completing all given serials of the exercise which demonstrates her (FF-150's) capability to handle various operational requirements" without any derangements on the frigate’s weapons, communications, electronics, and information system hull, machinery, and electrical systems.

Bacordo added that the PN contingent took advantage of RIMPAC 2020 to train as a team and put the ship at pace with possible real-world scenarios.

The two-week RIMPAC exercise also served as the "shakedown cruise" of BRP Jose Rizal which was officially commissioned on July 10 at Alava Wharf, Subic Bay, Zambales.

It departed on July 29 and arrived at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on August 15 after a fueling stop in Guam last August 2.

DA exec joins Army advisory board

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 4, 2020): DA exec joins Army advisory board (By Priam Nepomuceno)

NEW ARMY ADVISER. Army commander, Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana (right), administers the oath of office to DA Undersecretary Zamzamin Ampatuan (left) as a new member of the PA's Multi-Sector Advisory Board (MSAB) in Fort Bonifacio on Thursday (Sept. 3, 2020). Ampatuan hopes that his experiences as a Muslim will contribute to the endeavors of the board’s support toward the Army’s mission especially in advocating peace. (Photo courtesy of the Army Chief Public Affairs Office)

A ranking Department of Agriculture (DA) official took on Thursday his oath as the new member of the Philippine Army's (PA) Multi-Sector Advisory Board (MSAB).

Zamzamin Ampatuan, DA Undersecretary for Regulations and 'Build Build Build Agri', had his oath administered by PA commander Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana in a short ceremony at the PA headquarters in Fort Bonifacio.

Ampatuan, an advocate of the peace and development of Muslim communities, said he intends to serve in PA MSAB's Research and Education Committee.

He hopes that his experiences as a follower of Islam contribute to the endeavors of the board’s support toward the Army’s mission especially in advocating peace.

Ampatuan, in his speech, recalled that as a 10-year-old boy, he saw how the PA pursued peace in their region by partnering with the civil society and different agencies.

Regarding soldiers as among his role models, Ampatuan volunteered and headed various organizations including the Muslim Student Council of Notre Dame University, and served as the Undersecretary and Executive Director of the Office of Muslim Affairs.

“I would like to express to you my commitment; I will always be a willing partner of the Philippine Army,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sobejana said the PA's transformation is a goal shared with governance and policy experts, the people needed in attaining the Army's breakthrough goals.

"They are the people we rely on for criticisms and opinions in wide-ranging matters affecting the Army,” he added.

Sobejana said as people of one nation, bridging the gap is the key to realizing the PA's vision.

"In the pursuit of lasting peace and sustainable development, know that we are neither above nor below you, but we are always beside you in this journey,” he added.

Philippine appeals block release of US Marine in killing

Associated Press item posted to the Star Tribune (Sep 3, 2020): Philippine appeals block release of US Marine in killing (By JIM GOMEZ Associated Press)

U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton, arrived at court in 2015 before his conviction of homicide for killing Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude in Olongapo city, Zambales province, northwest of Manila, Philippines. AARON FAVILA – ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE

A U.S. Marine convicted in the 2014 killing of a transgender Filipino woman will remain behind bars while her family and the government appeal a Philippine court order allowing his early release for good behavior, an official said Thursday.

The Regional Trial Court in Olongapo city northwest of Manila on Tuesday ordered Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton released early from his six to 10 year sentence for the killing of Jennifer Laude, prompting the woman's family to protest and appeal.

The court order has rekindled perceptions that American military personnel who run afoul of Philippine laws can get special treatment under the allies’ Visiting Forces Agreement, which provides the legal framework for the temporary visits of U.S. forces in the country for large-scale combat exercises.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, who used to serve as one of the Laude family’s lawyers, said government officials cannot work on Pemberton’s release until the court has ruled on the appeal of the Laude family. Roque said the government is preparing a separate appeal of its own.

“Our compatriot cannot be treated like an animal then the punishment will just be a tap on the wrist,” Roque said at a regular news conference Thursday.

On Wednesday, Roque said that Pemberton's “light penalty" showed that "Americans continue to have the status of conquering colonials in our country.”

A group of protesters rallied outside the Department of Justice in Manila on Thursday, displaying placards that showed Pemberton's mugshot. Another placard read: “Trans lives matter.”

Pemberton, an anti-tank missile operator from New Bedford, Massachusetts, was one of thousands of American and Philippine military personnel who participated in joint exercises in the country in 2014.

He and a group of other Marines were on leave after the exercises and met Laude and her friends at a bar in Olongapo, a city known for its nightlife outside Subic Bay, a former U.S. Navy base.

Laude was later found dead, her head slumped in a toilet bowl in a motel room, where witnesses said she and Pemberton had checked in. A witness told investigators that Pemberton said he choked Laude after discovering she was transgender.

In December 2015, a judge convicted Pemberton of homicide, not the more serious charge of murder that prosecutors sought. The Olongapo court judge said at the time that she downgraded the charge because factors such as cruelty and treachery had not been proven.

Pemberton has been serving his sentence in a compound jointly guarded by Philippine and American security personnel at the main military camp in metropolitan Manila. The place of detention was agreed to under the terms of the Visiting Forces Agreement, although Laude’s family had demanded that he be held in an ordinary jail.

Pemberton’s lawyer, Rowena Garcia Flores, said his detention was shortened by authorities under a Philippine law that allows the reduction of prison terms for good conduct. A lawyer for the Laude family, Virginia Suarez, said the law cannot apply to Pemberton, who has been detained alone in a military camp and given other special privileges under the VFA.

The case has led to calls from some in the Philippines to end the U.S. military presence in the country, a former American colony that is a major non-NATO ally with which Washington also has a mutual defense treaty.

AFP assures COA that it will run after erring contractors

From the Manila Bulletin (Sep 2, 2020): AFP assures COA that it will run after erring contractors (By Ben Rosario)

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has assured the Commission on Audit (COA) that it will go after inefficient contractors and demand payment of liquidated damages for delayed completion of any of the 28 projects under the AFP Modernization Program with a cost of P5.72 billion but remained unfinished within the specific contract time.

The assurance was made by AFP officials after COA presented in an exit conference its findings on the military projects.

COA reported in the recently released 2019 Annual Audit Report for AFP that aside from the 28 projects that were not finished on time, 15 more with a budget of P3.972 billion were suspended while the contract for another, costing P246 million, was terminated.

Auditors said the delayed completion of various projects could be traced to the failure of the AFP “to conduct detailed engineering investigations, surveys and designs prior to bidding and award of contract.”

They reminded the AFP brass of the Revised Implementing Rules and Regulation of RA 9184 that provides that no bidding and award of contract for infrastructure projects must be made unless the detailed engineering investigations, surveys and designs for the project have sufficiently been submitted and approved.

“The primary consideration of the government in entering to a contract is the timely completion of the projects so that the intended benefits may be achieved,” COA said.

In the audit observation, state auditors asked the AFP General Headquarters to require the contractors and suppliers to “fast- track the completion of the projects.”

They also recommended the initiation of necessary remedies provided under the Government Procurement Act such as the imposition of liquidated damages for late deliveries and completion of projects.

COA also asked for the disqualification and blacklisting of erring contractors.

Reacting to the COA report, the AFP said the liquidated damages will certainly be imposed for late completion of projects.

In the same COA report, auditors noted the low utilization of funding for repairs, maintenance and construction.

“Out of the P77,113,475.80 rebates earned by GHC, AFPHSC and PSG from the contract with Petron Corporation for the supply and delivery of DND-wide petroleum requirements from CY 2015 to CY 2019, only P41,336,232.84 or 53.60 percent worth of equipment/projects were delivered/completed,” COA said.

AFP chief wants separate procurement system for military

From ABS-CBN (Sep 2, 2020):AFP chief wants separate procurement system for military (By Katrina Domingo)

Soldiers unload firearms Manila bought from Washington at Camp Aguinaldo, July 17, 2019. Handout/file

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Gen. Gilbert Gapay on Wednesday urged lawmakers to create a new separate defense procurement act to solve the slow roll-out of the military's modernization program.

Unlike other agencies, the military needs to buy "secret weapons" that cannot simply be published on the government's procurement website, Gapay told the Commission on Appointments.

"We want a separate defense procurement act so it would be faster than [RA] 9184" or the Government Procurement Reform Act," he said, when asked how he plans to solve the years-long delay in the implementation of the AFP's modernization program.

"These are secrets of the trade... If we publish these on PhilGEPS (Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System), burn down na agad secret weapons natin, our defense capability," he said.

Complaints from losing bidders also slow down the AFP's procurement process, the military's top general said.

"'Yung procurement namin parang election din 'yan: Walang gustong umamin na natalo sila," he said.

(Our procurement is similar to the elections because nobody wants to admit defeat.)

"Then it will be a legal battle na so that project will be put on hold at pag nag-failure of bid, reset, back to square one," he said.

The amount of projects that were not implemented has reached P5.72 billion, while suspended procurements are pegged at P3.9 billion, he said.

The AFP needs a new procurement system "so in the process we would not lose so much money and resources due to failure of biddings and other problems in the procurement pipeline," he said.

AFP chief asserts PH not ‘abandoning’ claims in South China Sea

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Sep 2, 2020): AFP chief asserts PH not ‘abandoning’ claims in South China Sea (By: Christia Marie Ramos)


Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Gilbert Gapay during a confirmation hearing by a panel of the Commission on Appointments on Wednesday, September 2, 2020. (Alex NuevaEspaña/Senate PRIB)

The government’s “soft approach” in dealing with issues concerning the South China Sea does not mean the Philippines is “abandoning” its territorial claims in the area, the country’s top military official said.

Facing a panel of the Commission on Appointment (CA) on Wednesday, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Gen. Gilbert Gapay said the country continues to uphold its claim in the highly-contested waterway.

“While we are strictly adhering to diplomatic, peaceful, and rules-based approach in dealing with issues in the South China Sea, this soft approach does mean we are abandoning our claim in that area,” Gapay told lawmakers.

“We still uphold them,” he added.

The country’s military presence in the area proves that it is upholding its sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea, according to the AFP chief.

“[It’s] testimony that we are upholding sovereignty and we are asserting ownership, sovereignty in that territory,” he said.

Gapay said the Philippine military continues to deploy its naval forces in the South China Sea, particularly in the country’s territorial waters.

“We have forces deployed there and they are patrolling our territorial waters frequently and regularly,” he said.

Earlier, China urged the Philippines to stop its “illegal provocations” as it accused Manila of supposedly violating Beijing’s security and sovereignty for dispatching military aircraft near the Spratly Islands.

READ: China insists ‘Spratlys ours,’ asserts Sino fishers’ ‘rights’

But Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. has already said the Philippines will not cease patrol operations near Spratlys.

Military activity in SCS

China has long been pushing for its expansive claims in the South China Sea, refusing to recognize the 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) which ruled in favor of the Philippines and invalidated Beijing’s ambitious nine-dash line feature.

China’s reclamation activities and militarization in the heavily contested waterway have also raised concerns about the peace and stability in the area.

According to Gapay, the AFP has satellite footage proving the existence of China’s military facilities in the disputed region.

“There’s a runway there, we have also monitored some military aircraft landing there, warships docking there. There is indeed military activity in the area,” he said.

Gapay added that the government continues to address China’s aggression in a diplomatic manner.

The Philippine military is also in constant coordination with its Southeast Asian counterparts “through a multilateral action in protesting this aggressiveness of China in the area,” according to AFP chief.

“We have been following this diplomatic track but we are backing this up by maintaining naval presence in the area, particularly in our territorial waters,” he added.

Armed Forces of the Philippines website back online after unexplained outage

From Rappler (Sep 3, 2020): Armed Forces of the Philippines website back online after unexplained outage

(UPDATED) The website appears to be back online as of 3:30 pm

Following reports that internet users were unable to access the websites of media networks ABS-CBN and GMA on Thursday, September 3, it appears the primary website of the Armed Forces of the Philippines was also made temporarily inaccessible due to as yet unknown reasons.

The website failed to load across Thursday morning and afternoon, September 3. Visitors' browsers would thus time out in the process.

The error message, "ERR_CONNECTION_TIMED_OUT," or "ERR_ADDRESS_UNREACHABLE" also appeared when failing to access the site on Google Chrome.

Website uptime and downtime monitoring service UpTrends failed to show any uptime across the globe as of 1:20 pm.

The site remained inaccessible even after trying to switch regions using a virtual private network (VPN) connection to the US and the United Kingdom.

The websites for the Deparment of National Defense and the Philippine Army, meanwhile, remained online.

As of 3:30 pm, the AFP website appears to have stabilized and is loading again. No explanation has yet been given for the outage.

Rappler has reached out to the AFP and will update this story when updates are available.

Philippine Court Orders Release of US Marine Convicted in Transgender Woman’s Killing

From BenarNews (Sep 2, 2020): Philippine Court Orders Release of US Marine Convicted in Transgender Woman’s Killing (By Jojo Rinoza and Jeoffrey Maitem)

Marilou Laude, the sister of slain Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude, shows a photo of now convicted killer Joseph Scott Pemberton, after appearing in court in Olongapo City, Philippines, Dec. 19, 2014.  Jay Rey/BenarNews

A Philippine court has ordered the early release of an American Marine convicted in the 2014 killing of a transgender woman, with the latest ruling stoking anti-U.S. sentiment among some groups here, as the case did six years ago.

Former U.S. Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the homicide of Jennifer Laude, but was ordered released after only six years due to good behavior, a regional court in the northern Philippines ruled on Tuesday.

The killing, which took place when Pemberton was in the Southeast Asian country for military exercises, also led to a diplomatic row between longtime allies the Philippines and the United States over which of the two should have custody of the serviceman.

“He is now entitled to be released,” Judge Roline Ginez-Jabalde wrote in her order, which was released to the public on Wednesday. “The Director General, Bureau of Corrections is directed to release the accused from detention unless he is being held for other lawful cause or causes.”

She further said that Pemberton had also paid the Laude family the full amount of 4.6 million Philippine pesos (U.S. $96,000) in damages.

The Philippine military said it would comply with the court order. As of Wednesday night (local time), it wasn’t known if Pemberton had been freed. He was being held in a compound guarded by Philippine and American security personnel at a Philippine military camp in metropolitan Manila, the Associated Press reported.

The U.S. embassy on Wednesday declined to comment on the early release of the former marine.

In 2014, Pemberton, who was then 19 years old, was in the Philippines as part of a U.S. contingent conducting military exercises.

He met Laude at a nightclub in Olongapo city, in Central Luzon. The two went to a motel where she later was found dead with her head pushed into a toilet, according to court records. Pemberton was seen leaving the hotel.

‘US continues to trump Philippine sovereignty’

The court’s decision Tuesday to release Pemberton angered Philippine nationalist and leftist groups. It was also roundly condemned by Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, who commented on the ruling in his position as a lawyer who represented Laude’s family.

The court order undermined sovereignty in the Philippines, a former American colony, and put U.S. interests front and center, critics said.

Roque said the early release decision proved that despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s “independent foreign policy,” the U.S. still had “the status of conquering colonials in our country.”

“As former private prosecutor for the Laude family, I deplore the short period of imprisonment meted [out to] Pemberton who killed a Filipino in the most gruesome manner,” he said in a statement. Laude’s death “personifies the death of Philippine sovereignty.”

In 2014-2015, the arrest and trial of Pemberton led to a diplomatic tussle. In December 2014, when the Philippines requested that it take custody of Pemberton, the U.S. Embassy in Manila argued that the Marine should be in American custody. The embassy cited, a bilateral military pact, the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), as giving Washington the right to have him in its custody.

Pemberton was kept in U.S. custody at a Philippine military base in Quezon City, near Manila, but prosecuted and convicted by a regional court in Olongapo. Since his conviction, Pemberton has been incarcerated in a jail at the military base.

Now, the early release of Pemberton is a “travesty of justice” and “the most recent vivid example of the lopsidedness” of a military defense deal that favors the U.S., said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of the nationalist human rights group Karapatan.

“This action will go down in the annals of the Philippines’ history as among the most notorious proof that the U.S. continues to trump Philippine sovereignty to this day,” Palabay told BenarNews.

The military pact with the U.S. unduly protects American military personnel, the Communist Party of the Philippines said in a statement.

“The special privilege afforded to Pemberton underscores the unjustness of the Visiting Forces Agreement, which gives American military personnel extraordinary legal status while in the country, and by default shields them from legal action, in cases where they commit criminal violations,” the party said in a statement published by FightBack!News.

In January, the Philippine president threatened to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement with Washington but put that plan on hold in June.

Since assuming office as President in 2016, Duterte has sought to distance himself from the U.S. and instead strengthen ties with Washington’s rivals, China and Russia.

5 suspected leftist rebels, marine soldier killed in Philippine clash

From Xinhua (Sep 3, 2020): 5 suspected leftist rebels, marine soldier killed in Philippine clash

Five suspected leftist rebels and a government soldier were killed in fierce fighting in Palawan province of the Philippines on Thursday, a military official said.

Brigadier General Nestor Herico, commander of the 3rd Marine Brigade, said
a 10-minute clash erupted shortly before 6:00 a.m. local time in a village in Palawan province when marine soldiers encountered eight New People's Army (NPA) rebels while conducting reconnaissance security operations in the area.

Herico said government troops were sent to the village after villagers tipped off the presence of the rebels in the area. Some of the rebels killed were women cadres, he added.

He said troops recovered firearms, laptops, mobile phones, and documents in the clash site.

The NPA has been fighting the government since 1969. They concentrate their attacks in rural areas and small-scale skirmishes with the military.

The NPA strength is estimated at 3,500, a number significantly lower than its peak strength of around 25,000 in the 1980s.

On and off talks to end the decades-old insurgency that killed thousands stalled again last year. Enditem

Duterte: Religion has nothing to do with terrorism

From the Manila Bulletin (Sep 3, 2020): Duterte: Religion has nothing to do with terrorism (By Genalyn Kabiling)

Religion has nothing to do with terrorism, President Duterte said Wednesday in calling for stronger global effort to counter such security threat even during the coronavirus pandemic.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his remarks as he joins several world leaders, representatives from the United Nations (UN) and international organizations during the Aqaba Process Virtual Meeting on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Response hosted by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan via video conference at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on September 2, 2020.

At the online meeting of the Jordan-led Aqaba Process, the President said Islam and other faiths promote love and peace, not hate and violence.

“Even as we are navigating ourselves out of this pandemic, the Philippines continues to confront security threats. Indeed, COVID-19 has not quarantined terrorists,” Duterte said.

“But let me clear about this: Religion has nothing to do with terrorism. All faiths – Islam included – teach us to love not hate; to build peace not destroy; and, to celebrate our common humanity and not trample on it with senseless and ruthless violence,” he said.

Recognizing the lingering security threats, the President has called on world nations to ensure there is “no room for the barbarity of terrorists and extremists forces.” He said they must be “stronger” and “not let up” in the fight against the scourge of terrorism.

Citing the country’s situation, Duterte said Abu Sayyaf Group, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and the New People’s Army have exploited the health crisis and continued their nefarious activities.

“We will not allow COVID-19 to bring our people to their knees,” Duterte said during the international meeting organized by King Abdullah II of Jordan on security challenges emerging in light of the pandemic.

Duterte made the pitch for intensified anti-terrorism efforts after two deadly bombings hit Jolo, Sulu, a suspected stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf, on August 24. At least 15 people, including soldiers, were killed and dozens wounded when two blasts ripped through the main town of Jolo.

It was considered the biggest attack in Sulu since January 2019 when two bombs exploded at the Jolo cathedral that killed 20 people and injured dozens more.

Book review: ‘The Battle of Marawi’

Posted to the Philippine Daily News (Sep 3, 2020): Book review: ‘The Battle of Marawi’ (By: Ma. Ceres P. Doyo)

Marawi City now lies in ruins, a no man’s land. Grief, terror, and anger remain in the hearts of those who experienced the 2017 battle up close. More so for the soldiers who stared death in the face and cradled comrades felled by gunfire.

Those of us who were not physically there shared in the pain even as colleagues in journalism stalked danger and shucked fear to get to the heart of the story.

Hot off the press is Criselda Yabes’ latest opus “The Battle of Marawi” (Pawikan Press, 2020). This is Yabes’ 10th book. Though Manila-based, Yabes is no stranger to the landscape of the south.

A story must be told before the embers turn cold. The book is the result of Yabes’ hundreds of post-battle interviews with government forces as well as individuals whose lives had a bearing on the bloody events that transpired from May to October of 2017 in the lakeside city of Marawi in Lanao del Sur. Here, a battle raged between government forces and the IS-inspired Maute group (led by Maute brothers Omarkhayam and Abdullah) that wanted to turn Marawi into an IS-ruled Islamic city.

Yabes’ story is a blend of investigative and literary journalism. Fast-paced, it reads like a suspense thriller, the pages bursting with artillery and sniper fire and bombs from the air, dripping with blood from mangled heads and severed limbs, and filled with the cries of the wounded and the dying. Cinematic, with lots of dialogue, faces, names. Courage is the Filipino soldier’s name.

Reader, be aware that the story is told mainly from the vantage point of government fighters on the ground and air who, take note, had been trained for jungle counterinsurgency but not for urban warfare. And there lies the crux of the matter.

But be that as it may, through the eyes of these soldiers who fought day after day for five months, one could slowly see, as they did, the nature of the enemy. A deadly force to reckon with, equipped with a battle plan, inspired by a foreign religious ideology that promised heavenly paradise for jihadi fighters. For context, read the author’s prologue and epilogue.

The book is divided into chapters under three main parts: The Race to the Lake (June to July), Trident (August to September), and the Final Days which ends in October. But the story begins earlier when the commander of the Philippine Army’s 1st Division called seven officers for a meeting. The moment they had been waiting for had come. Isnilon Hapilon, top renegade of the Abu Sayyaf faction, was nearing the military’s crosshairs. Or so they thought.

The book provides a map of Marawi and the site of fierce firefights as well as the Marawi military chain of command. Officers and foot soldiers are identified in the story by their call signs — Azalea, Firefox, Raptor, Braveheart, Six-Eight, etc. One answers to the call sign Padre Pio.

One has to go above the sea of military jargon and then dive into the battle scenes, hear the crackle of gunfire, and feel the eerie silences. The first three chapters are jolting but soon one gets into the thick of it, the military maneuvers, the strategies and tactics, the call signs. The what, when, where, how, why. House to house, floor to floor, hole to hole, building to building. The school campus, the bridges, the mosque. The casualties.

I teared up for the foot soldier who saved lives but lost his. I crumbled at the deaths by friendly fire, my heart jumped with every bomb dropped and gasped at split-second decisions that were made.

“There are young boys with guns. They are marching toward us. Sir, do we shoot the kids?”

“We have no choice. They will come for us.”

The Final Days chapter is the push toward the misty Lanao Lake that spelled the death of Omarkhayam Maute (Abdullah was presumed to have been killed early on), “the last stand in 1010,” and the release of hostages. Oh, while in the Raven’s Plight chapter, read between the lines.

Yabes’ count: 188 soldiers, 900 rebels and civilians dead.

Yabes writes: “As in the past, the battle was again an example of reacting to a visible threat that caught them by surprise, rather than preventing and nipping it in the bud.”

Order your copy via “The Battle of Marawi” Facebook page.

Military’s Wesmincom chief disputes reports Abu Sayyaf sub-leader already fled Sulu

From ABS-CBN (Sep 1, 2020): Military’s Wesmincom chief disputes reports Abu Sayyaf sub-leader already fled Sulu

The commander of the Western Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines on Tuesday disputed reports that Abu Sayyaf Group sub-leader Mundi Sawadjaan, who is suspected to be involved in the Aug. 24 twin blasts in Jolo. Sulu, has already left the island province.

Maj. Gen. Corleto Vinluan said Sawadjaan is still in Sulu’s Patikul town where troops continue to track him.

Jolo bombers nasa Sulu pa, heightened alert itinaas sa NCR: Banac

"That's not true. He is still really in Sulu as of this (time)… He is still in Patikul. Our troops are running after him," Vinluan told reporters in a phone interview when asked about claims that Sawadjaan, along with two other suspects, are already either in Zamboanga City or somewhere in Central Mindanao.

Vinluan believes the reports are meant to divert the military's attention.

"The group of Mundi is already having a hard time. So, they are going to find a way to diver our attention. They'll come up with report that they are already in Central Mindanao or Zamboanga," Vinluan said.

Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco said Monday that Zamboanga region is facing a security threat from Sawadjaan and his 2 conspirators.

Zamboanga authorities have set up checkpoints and will put up photos of Sawadjaan and his cohorts, Climaco added.

Zamboanga region faces bomb threat from Sulu attackers: mayor
Jolo bombers possibly now in Central Mindanao, police say

Government troops and the group of Sawadjaan clashed in Barangay Kabbon Takkas in Patikul on Saturday, leaving two Abu Sayyaf members and a soldier dead, and seven other soldiers injured.

According to Vinluan, another clash against Sawadjaan and his group is still possible.

"Our troops are still there. They'll just encounter the group again (if they catch up on them)," he said.

A military official earlier said Sawadjaan was the brains behind the recent Jolo blasts that killed at least 15 people and wounded over 70 others, and another double bombing at a cathedral there last year, where more than 20 died. 

Indonesian couple behind Jolo cathedral bombing: PNP

The latest attack in Jolo came about a week after the arrest of Abu Sayyaf leader Abduljihad Susukan, who is accused of kidnapping and beheading several foreigners.

Commentary: Between Tragedy and Strategy in the Philippines

Commentary posted to the Royal United Services Institute (Sep 1, 2020): Between Tragedy and Strategy in the Philippines (By Joshua Bernard B Espeña)

The Philippines’ policy of avoiding any confrontation with China is not working. It is time for a rethink of the country’s posture and alliance with the US.

BANNER IMAGE: Philippine President Rodrigo R. Duterte in Malacañan Palace in Manila. Courtesy of the public domain.

BANNER IMAGE: Philippine President Rodrigo R. Duterte in Malacañan Palace in Manila. Courtesy of the public domain.

In his fifth State of the Nation address on 27 July 2020, President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte shared his thoughts on the South China Sea dispute. As expected, Duterte repeatedly stated his position that the return of US bases would invite war. However, he also remarked that sending the Philippine Marine Corps from the Palawan coast to the disputed Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal would be useless against China’s military might.

Duterte has admitted he is unable to advance and protect the strategic interests of his country in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), the maritime areas on the western part of the Philippine archipelago from the Luzon Sea and the waters around, within, and adjacent to the Kalayaan Island group in the Spratly Islands and the Scarborough Shoal. However, he admitted that other presidents would have done it, but that is not, apparently, a task for him.

Yet, his cabinet differs in opinion from him. Philippine Foreign Affairs secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr recently said in an interview, that it will invoke the US–Philippines 1951 Mutual Defence Treaty if China attacks the Philippine navy in the WPS. Locsin affirmed the statement given by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last year – that Washington will assist Manila if Beijing attacks. Moreover, Manila’s Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana stated his approval of US support for a rules-based order in the region.

The 2017–22 National Security Policy (NSP) of the Philippines regards the WPS as the country’s foremost security issue. Furthermore, it claims that Chinese aggression in that region is driven by ‘food and energy source demands and renewed stirrings of nationalism’. To address this, the NSP argued that Manila needs a strong and credible force and a network of allies and like-minded partners.

Duterte defends himself against his critics by claiming that unless they are ready for war, the diplomatic option is still a good option. But from a strategic point of view, his supposed ‘good option’ is increasingly being seen as a bad one. For Duterte's appeasement to China has lost its shine. Chinese investments – the supposed reward for his moderation – have failed to alleviate Manila's developmental problems. At the same time, many Filipinos complain about the competition for local jobs, in the face of an influx of Chinese labourers, many involved in offshore gaming operations.

The Philippines is yet to fully leverage its legal victory in the July 2016 Arbitral Ruling against China’s sovereignty claims in the South China Sea. Instead of capitalising on what was a historic ruling – on which even US diplomats now rely in making their case against China – Duterte has set aside the ruling and claimed that enforcing it would trigger a war with China that the Philippines cannot win.

In this context, Duterte has pretended that the US–Philippines alliance is not a factor for his country’s defence concept and should be replaced instead with his ambiguous 'independent foreign policy’.

But this view, which draws upon traditional Philippine distrust of the US – exemplified by the Senate of the Philippines rejecting the extension of the 1947 Military Bases Agreement in 1991 – is increasingly being questioned. For, as Mico Galang, a Filipino defense analyst, notes, while the alliance with the US is clearly burdened by history, and is unfavourable and imperfect, the Philippines does not have much choice as a small power.

Renato De Castro has observed that the tendency to move away from the US protective umbrella has not been followed or matched by efforts to beef up national defence capabilities. Congress has consistently failed to allocate the 5% of the annual state budget to defence, as it was expected to do.

To save face, Congress soon invited the Americans back through the 1997 Visiting Forces Agreement. But the defence gap is there, and it is being filled by China.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) under Duterte have enjoyed continued modernisation. However, their political direction remains anomalous, given the president’s contempt for the US alliance and his lack of enduring commitment to defence. Several modernisation projects were recently halted to realign state resources against coronavirus.

Polls show Filipinos are more likely to trust the US than China. A sound strategy is needed to meet this electoral preference. But the National Security Policy is continually neglected, and the problem of China is ignored.

But a consensus is growing in Manila that China will not be appeased by diplomacy. Nor are US freedom of navigation operations alone able to deter China or act as a substitute for the AFP. A serious contribution from the Philippines is therefore required to accompany the US and share the burden.

A sound strategic posture would be to integrate the AFP’s newest assets with greater geopolitical thought. Investments in coastal missile defence and additional offshore patrol boats and the reassertion of an air defence identification zone which denies Chinese territorial claims in the region can have no meaning unless these are integrated with a broader strategic objective – to uphold a rules-based order where the sovereignty of the Philippines is protected. In that regard, nurturing the alliance with the US is not a sign of dependence but a show of resolve to work with others for a shared vision.

Winston Churchill famously said, ‘Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts’. Courage in this context requires strategic thought. And ineffectual leaders will not succeed in appeasing adversaries.

[Joshua Bernard B Espeña is a defence analyst in the Office for Strategic Studies and Strategy Management of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). All views are entirely his own and do not reflect the official position of his office and the AFP.]