Sunday, December 12, 2021

On HR Day, KMU and Bayan Davao slam Anti-Terror Law

 Posted to the Davao Today (Dec 11, 2021): On HR Day, KMU and Bayan Davao slam Anti-Terror Law (By KATH M. CORTEZ)

Progressive groups commemorate International Human Rights Day with a rally warning that more bloodshed may happen now that the Anti-Terror Law has been upheld by the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court on Thursday December 9 upheld the constitutionality of the controversial law but struck down two sections: Section 4 on the definition of terrorism and Section 25 which defined functions of the Anti-Terrorism Council.

37 petitions were filed before the Supreme Court last year, including those from the progressives, petitioning for the repeal of the said law for stifling democratic and constitutional rights.

The Davao chapters of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) and Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) said that with the Supreme Court decision, the law will legitimize the government’s crackdown on groups and persons critical of the Duterte administration by tagging them as terrorists.

“This law violates the people’s exercise of their rights and to stand for their legitimate concerns. This law only makes legal and official what the state has been doing to attack our basic rights, and that is a very worrisome situation,” said Rodney Baslot, spokesperson of BAYAN-Southern Mindanao.

In Southern Mindanao, the human rights group Karapatan recorded 56 deaths of human rights defenders from the start of the Duterte administration from July 2016 to August 2021. The region also tallied 30 political detainees in the same period.

“We expect the attacks to intensify because even without the implementation of the (Anti-Terror) Law, the government’s attack on the people have been worse. We see it in how the people in Davao are being conditioned to see the presence of the military and police who are powerful against the people,” Baslot added.

KMU said the attacks on labor rights will intensify as had happened to unions affiliated with them in the past. This includes the harassment and red-tagging of the Sumifru plantation union members Nagkahiusang Mamumo sa Suyapa Farm-National Federation of Labor Unions-KMU (Namasufa-Naflu-KMU) in Davao de Oro.

Two members of Namasufa were killed during the height of their strike in 2018 as they demanded for collective bargaining and reinstatement of workers retrenched after they joined the strike.

KMU said that 87 members of Namasufa were also were forced by authorities to “surrender” as members of the Communist Party, an operation implemented by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

PJ Dizon, KMU Southern Mindanao spokesperson, said these operations have been rampant all over the region and the country. “But the ones they tag as communists are members of KMU which is a legitimate organization. This is the danger when you become a union member but the state calls you a terrorist,” he explained.

Petitioners warned that the law still allows proscription of persons and groups as terrorists.

Dizon said this crackdown will put pressure on workers and unions without addressing legitimate labor rights and concerns.

The Anti-Terror Law was passed last year in June and signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte in July.

During that same period, two sets of red-tagging posters were spread all over Davao City, targeting progressives including Dizon, UCCP Bishop Hamuel Tequis, Doctor Jean Lindo and other sectoral leaders as “terrorists” and “berdugo” (killer).

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), counsel of BAYAN, and other groups, said they will continue to take “legal and political actions” to challenge the Anti-Terrorism Law.

NUPL President Attorney Edre Olalia said that the “law’s enablers and enforcers law’s enablers and law enforcers can nevertheless still spin, repackage and relabel advocacy and dissent as terrorism.”

“Expression, including protected expression, will still be chilled into silence, while legitimate activities of development organizations and human rights defenders are still in danger of being falsely considered as material support for terrorists,” Olalia said.

NUPL said the Anti-Terrorism Council still retains powers to freeze bank accounts and assets, conduct surveillance, and proscribe persons and groups as terrorists.

Baslot and Dizon said despite these threats, they will continue to amplify legitimate issues of the public especially on the pandemic and make the government accountable for its failures to address people’s concerns.

Mitsubishi shipbuilder conducts sea trial of PCG multi-role response vessel in Japan

From Palawan News (Dec 12, 2021): Mitsubishi shipbuilder conducts sea trial of PCG multi-role response vessel in Japan

MRRV-9701 on sea trial in Japan. (Photo courtesy of

The Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. has performed the first-ever sea trial in Japan of MRRV-9701 or the first 97-meter multi-role response vessel (MRRV) of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

The PCG stated in a post on Wednesday that MRRV-9701 will be one of the largest vessels in its fleet once delivered. This vessel, which is modeled after the Japan Coast Guard’s (JCG) Kunigami-class vessel, is expected to boost the PCG’s maritime security and safety capabilities.

The 97-meter MRRV has a maximum speed of at least 24 knots and a range of at least 4,000 nautical miles. It can undertake continuous marine patrols in the country’s maritime territories, including the West Philippine Sea and the Philippine Rise.(Video courtesy of binmei.pj)

In addition, MRRV-9701 will significantly boost the capabilities of the PCG in conducting maritime search and rescue, maritime law enforcement, as well as humanitarian assistance, and disaster response operations, it said.

Elite SAF unit commander transferred to NOCPPO

From the Visayan Daily Star (Dec 11, 2021): Elite SAF unit commander transferred to NOCPPO (By GILBERT P. BAYORAN)

PLt. Col. John Mocyat*

The expertise of PLt. Col. John Mocyat as commander of the elite Special Action Force commando unit is expected to be shared to the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office mobile force company unit.

Mocyat, formerly commander of the Special Action Battalion 6 of the elite PNP SAF, was installed yesterday as the new commanding officer of the 2nd Provincial Mobile Force Company of NOCPPO.

He replaced PLt. Col. Nazer Canja, who was also installed yesterday by NOCPPO provincial director Col. Romy Palgue as the new deputy provincial police director for Operations.

Canja is now the third highest official of NOCPPO.

Palgue expressed utmost confidence to both police officials on their newly assigned positions.

Indonesian militant given life sentence in 2005 attack

Posted to the Mindanao Examiner (Dec 12, 2021): Indonesian militant given life sentence in 2005 attack (By Niniek Karmini)

AN INDONESIAN court sentenced an Islamic militant who eluded capture for 16 years to life in prison after finding him guilty of making bombs used in a 2005 market attack that killed 22 people.

Upik Lawanga, known as “professor,” is a key member of the Jemaah Islamiyah militant network, which the U.S. has designated a terrorist group. It is widely blamed for attacks including the 2002 bombings on the Indonesian resort island of Bali that killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists, as well as attacks in the Philippines.

The East Jakarta District Court found Lawanga, 43, guilty of involvement in the May 28, 2005, attack at Tentena market in Poso district which killed 22 people and injured 91 others, mostly Christians. Muslim-Christian conflicts in Poso in Central Sulawesi province killed at least 1,000 people from 1998 to 2002.

Lawanga was also accused of building bombs used in a 2004 passenger minibus attack that killed six people and a 2006 attack using a flashlight bomb that killed a Christian woman.

"What the defendant has done was a crime against humanity that left deep wounds, trauma and sorrow for the families of the victims," said Presiding Judge Sutikna, who goes by a single name.

Lawanga said he would appeal the decision. He argued in court that he helped make the bombs but did not carry out the attacks, saying he did not know how they would be used. He said he was only obeying orders from other senior members of the group to assemble bombs to avenge Christians for the massacre of Muslims at an Islamic boarding school during sectarian conflict in May 2000.

He said his motive was the deaths of relatives and friends in the Muslim-Christian conflict and the burning of mosques and his brother's house.

Other militants testified that Lawanga was nicknamed the "professor" because of his ability to build bombs and firearms. They described him as an important figure because of his expertise.

Lawanga said he joined Jemaah Islamiyah in Poso in 2002 and learned how to assemble bombs from Azahari bin Husin, a Malaysian bomb-making mastermind who was killed in a police raid in Indonesia in 2005.

Lawanga left Poso after the 2005 attacks and lived with his wife and children in Lampung as a duck farmer.

The trial began early September and was held remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Lawanga, whose real name is Taufiq Bulaga, became one of the country's most wanted militants after being named as a suspect in the Tentena market attack. He was arrested last year in the same southern town on Sumatra Island where Zulkarnaen, believed to be the military leader of the Jemaah Islamiyah network, was arrested by counterterrorism police a week later. Zulkarnaen had been on the police wanted list for 18 years.

Police, who learned of their hideout after interrogating several militants arrested earlier, found a bunker at Lawanga's house with handmade guns and explosive materials.

The two were tried separately at the same court.

An Indonesian court banned Jemaah Islamiyah in 2008, and a sustained crackdown by security forces with support from the U.S. and Australia helped weaken the militant network.

Militant attacks on foreigners in Indonesia have largely been replaced in recent years by smaller, less deadly strikes targeting the government, mainly police and security forces, inspired by Islamic State group tactics abroad.

Indonesia's police counterterrorism unit, known as Densus 88, has arrested more than 500 suspected Jemaah Islamiyah members in the past two years, including a member of the Indonesia Ulema Council, the country's highest Islamic body, who was arrested last month. Authorities estimate the group has more than 6,000 members. (

Go backs return of NTF-ELCAC fund for dev’t of conflict-hit areas

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 12, 2021): Go backs return of NTF-ELCAC fund for dev’t of conflict-hit areas

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go (File photo)

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go said he supports sufficient budget for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), saying the task force’s role towards long-lasting peace and development must be sustained and pursued further.

Go, a member of the bicameral conference committee for the 2022 General Appropriations bill, urged fellow lawmakers to ensure that the NTF-ELCAC will have the necessary resources to continue its development assistance programs in conflict-affected areas.

“Being one of the members ng bicam ay isinulong ko na maibalik o madagdagan ang pondo ng NTF-ELCAC dahil naging successful naman ito. (of bicam, I pushed to reinstate or increase the NTF-ELCAC budget because it is successful). Not only to fight insurgency but (to bring) development doon mismo sa baba (down to the affected areas),” Go said in a recent media interview after visiting a fire-hit area in Manila.

Under the Senate’s final version of the proposed 2022 budget, it increased the NTF-ELCAC’s budget to PHP10.8 billion after it initially cut by PHP24 billion.

Senate finance committee chairman Senator Sonny Angara said PHP10 billion is for the NTF-ELCAC’s Barangay Development Program (BDP).

Go said there is a need to enable the task force to continue to discharge its mandate and implement its programs and projects effectively.

He added that there is also a need to push a whole-of-government approach to ending the insurgency that is fueled by decades of government neglect, social injustice, and poverty.

“Iyung mga napapabayaang hindi napapansin na barangay, doon nagkakaroon ng insurgency. Kasi ang pakiramdam ng mga barangay na ‘to, they were neglected, walang pumapansin sa kanila [kaya] napapasok ng Left. So, bigyan natin ng insentibo ang mga ito (In the neglected barangays, there is an insurgency because they felt they are neglected, no one pays attention so the Left entered. Let’s give them incentives),” Go said.

Go noted the NTF-ELCAC’s many successes in bringing development closer to the people as he stressed the importance of reintegrating former rebels into the society by providing them means to make a living and overcome poverty.

“Pare-parehas naman tayong Pilipino. Ibig sabihin, bigyan natin ng pagkakataon na magbagong buhay ‘yung sinong gustong magbagong buhay (We are all Filipinos. Let’s give a chance to those who want to return to the fold of the law),” he said.

He emphasized the urgent need to end decades of armed conflict, saying Filipinos should not kill each other.

In 2018, President Duterte signed Executive Order No. 70 which institutionalized a whole-of-nation approach to attaining inclusive and sustainable peace.

The order also directed the adoption of a National Peace Framework to ensure the harmonized and synchronized delivery of services in conflict-affected and vulnerable areas as well as provided for the creation of the NTF-ELCAC.

Under the BDP, communities cleared of New People's Army influence and presence will be receiving five core programs worth PHP20 million per barangay which include farm-to-market roads, school buildings, water and sanitation systems, livelihood programs, and health stations.