Saturday, October 15, 2016

94 Sayyaf men neutralized during Rody’s first 100 days

From the Philippine Star (Oct 16): 94 Sayyaf men neutralized during Rody’s first 100 days

AFP chief Gen. Ricardo Visaya, in a report to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, said 56 of the 94 bandits were killed in 579 military operations that also resulted in the capture of 17 others and the surrender of 21. Three of them were Basilan and Sulu-based Abu Sayyaf leaders identified as Nelson Muktadil, Braun Muktadil and Mohammad Said. File photo

A total of 94 Abu Sayyaf members have been neutralized during the military’s massive and focused anti-terror drive in Basilan and Sulu within the first 100 days in office of President Duterte, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) reported yesterday.

AFP chief Gen. Ricardo Visaya, in a report to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, said 56 of the 94 bandits were killed in 579 military operations that also resulted in the capture of 17 others and the surrender of 21. Three of them were Basilan and Sulu-based Abu Sayyaf leaders identified as Nelson Muktadil, Braun Muktadil and Mohammad Said.

“Three other leaders (of the bandits) were also killed but were not identified as their bodies were dragged away by their fleeing comrades. They were nonetheless reported by reliable informants to have been buried in known locations under customary Muslim practice and traditions,” Visaya said.

The military also launched 44 combat operations against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and other foreign and local terrorist groups in Central Mindanao as well as the Maute group based in Lanao.

The anti-terror drive, Visaya said, also resulted in the neutralization of 50 personalities of the two homegrown terror groups and seizure of a large cache of high powered firearms, ammunition and bomb-making materials.

Visaya further reported that within the first 100 days of Duterte, government forces were able to solve the Davao City night market bombing with the arrest of the suspects – TJ Magaya Macalabang, Wendel Apostol Facturan and Musali Mustapha – on Oct. 4.

This was 32 days after the carnage that left 15 innocent civilians dead and 70 others wounded.
Musali’s father, Teng Mustafa, was also collared in a combined military and police court-sanctioned raid in Cotabato City for illegal possession of firearms and explosive materials.

The three, tagged as members of the Maute group, apparently launched the bombing to divert the attention of the military that had been hitting hard the Abu Sayyaf bandits in Sulu and Basilan.
In the same period the AFP also reported that the ceasefire declared by both the government and the communists in line with the resumption of peace negotiations was holding.

“Armed confrontation between the AFP and the NPA (New People’s Army) finally ceased after the President restored the declaration of ceasefire on Aug. 21. The unilateral ceasefire declaration effectively reimposed the suspension of military operations (SOMO),” Visaya said.

Visaya said the AFP’s anti-illegal drug campaign, through interagency efforts, also enhanced the efficiency and effectiveness of the steps taken by the military leadership to end the proliferation of illegal drugs in the country.

Cleaning its own backyard first, the AFP’s Task Groups Jacob, Midas, Joshua and Salamander conducted random drug tests on 19,163 uniformed and civilian personnel, 44 of whom tested positive for drug use.

Disciplinary actions were taken against these drug violators in the service.

Visaya also reported that ground troops were in full support of Oplan Tokhang of the Philippine National Police (PNP), an effort that resulted in the arrest of 191 suspected drug users and pushers, the surrender of 689 others and the killing of eight drug offenders in 169 anti-illegal drug operations.

The AFP, however, lost three soldiers in the drug war that also left five enlisted personnel wounded during a joint anti-narcotics operation against the group of Moks Masgal, a drug supplier, based in Barangay Nabalawag, Midsayap, North Cotabato last Aug. 14.

AFP modernization

While the Duterte administration has yet to have a concrete plan to modernize the AFP, the military establishment has received its third Del Pilar class frigate from the United States.

The new high-endurance cutter named BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF17) was a decommissioned US Coast Guard vessel. The ship is due to arrive in the country by December.

The AFP is also awaiting the arrival of the second brand-new strategic sealift vessel, christened BRP Davao del Sur, following its launch last month in Indonesia. The first SSV is now in the service of the Philippine Navy.

Airmen from the Philippine Air Force (PAF) likewise flew home over the weekend its fifth newly refurbished C-130 Hercules cargo plane that the previous government acquired from the US.

The Army, on the other hand, received additional 32 engineering equipment from various sources last Aug. 30.

All these recent military acquisitions of big-ticket items were still part of the previous government’s modernization program to bolster the Philippine military’s territorial and external defense amid the South China Sea dispute with China.

Duterte, meanwhile, has no plans to pursue the military’s modernization program for territorial and external defense of the previous government, declaring that the military should first focus its efforts on addressing internal security threats.

MILF: KPI, SWC hold Peace Forum

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Oct 14): KPI, SWC hold Peace Forum

MAGUINDANAO -- The Kalilintad Peacebuilding Institute (KPI) in partnership with Social Welfare Committee (SWC) conducted one-day peace forum with the theme “Understanding of the Bangsamoro Peace Process and the Prospects of Federalism” at Eastern Kutawato Islamic Institute, Buluan, Maguindanao on October 12, 2016. 

“Women play a big role in the peace process and in the aspect of governance and it is high time that we get involved in transforming our homeland into a peaceful and thriving human abode”, said women representative Ustadza Muqadtimah Kalipapa.

“The path to Allah is too long to walk to. But in this path, we are walking like turtles where our objective is to gain the pleasure of Allah by obeying all His commandments. If we die while doing our responsibilities, the next generation would continue our struggle in seeking genuine peace and justice for our people”, emphasized a Muslim Youth Brotherhood Provincial Da’wah Chairman.

Prof. Esmael  A. Abdula ,Executive Director KPI and a member of the Steering Committee of Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) gave updates on the GPH- MILF Peace Process.

“The MILF and the GPH have appointed their Peace Implementing Panels tasked to facilitate the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB)”, he said.

He also said that the Duterte Administration wants to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) before a change of form of government from presidential to federal form of Government to end the decades of conflict ion Mindanao.

“The Bangsamoro people demand the immediate passage of the BBL as the reflection of their identity as people with distinct culture, tradition and way of life as Muslims before shifting to a federal form of government”, Abdula emphasized.

Resource speaker Nasser Pulindao said, “Federalism is the priority of the Duterte Administration,   but the position of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is to implement first the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB) and  pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL)”.

Pulindao explained also about the asymmetrical relationship between the Bangsamoro Government and the central government as contained in the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamaoro (FAB) and the CAB.

He said that congress plans to work on the passage of the BBL while enacting a law that would amend the constitution and shift to federalism.

“Many countries in the world that are federated succeeded in their governance and developed their economies”, Pulindao stressed.

Other speakers were Abdulaziz B. Talib Admin Staff of Eastern Kutawato Islamic Institute, Sheikh Esmail Dalinan, Abusama Abad, Junior High Department Head of Datu Ibrahim Paglas Memorial College and Mahdi Salendad Al Haj , Dean of Eastern Kutawato Islamic Institute-Buluan, Maguindanao.

There were about 400 participants comprising the academe, members of Muslim Youth Brotherhood (MYB), women and religious sector, members of United Youth Action Group (UYAG) and some local political leaders attended the peace forum.

MILF: Editorial -- Duterte-Sultan Bolkiah meeting

Editorial posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (Oct 16): Editorial -- Duterte-Sultan Bolkiah meeting

Promoting close ties and cooperation with immediate neighbors is a sound foreign policy. Its should be pursued and sustained in both its long and short term considerations. There is nothing to lose but more to gain.

Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia are our closest neighbors. All three states also belong to the great Malay race. More importantly, the three states are deeply involved in the resolution of the conflict in Mindanao.  Of course, their participation are upon the invitations of the MILF and the Philippine government.

We expect -- and hope -- that President Rodrigo Duterte should take the occasion to thank the Brunei sultan for their contribution to the peace process in Mindanao.  Brunei is a member of the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team (IMT) that monitors the ceasefire between the MILF and the government, as well as in the Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB) that oversees the decommissioning of MILF weapons and combatants and put them (weapons) beyond use. 

 In these contexts, we appreciate very much the decision of President Duterte to visit Brunei to meet with Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah. The Philippines will reap many good things from this close ties. Although Brunei is a small state of less than half a million population, but it is extremely wealthy.  It can invest anywhere in the Philippines especially in Davao City, the hometown of the President.

 Our only regret is that the chairperson of the Lower House Committee on BIMP-EAGA (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines-East Asia Growth Areas) is not assigned to a Moro legislator. It could have been better if a Muslim lawmaker got the chairmanship for several reasons. One is that Moro provinces deserved immediate intervention in terms of development, because they are the most depressed areas in the country. Even the halal industry is not lodged with the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) but to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). Who knows what is halal more than a Muslim?

The word halal, in Arabic, means permitted or lawful. Halal foods are foods that are allowed under Islamic dietary guidelines. According to these guidelines that were gathered from the Qu'ran, Muslim followers cannot consume the following foods: Pork or pork by products, animals that were dead prior to slaughtering, animals not slaughtered properly or not slaughtered in the name of Allah, blood and blood by products, alcohol, carnivorous animals, birds of prey, and land animals without external ears.

Von voyage Mr. President!

CPP: Political prisoners release urgently needed to boost patriotic alliance amid anti-Duterte Amboy counter-offensives

Propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Oct 13): Political prisoners release urgently needed to boost patriotic alliance amid anti-Duterte Amboy counter-offensives

Communist Party of the Philippines
October 13, 2016

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) awaits the swift positive action of GRP President Duterte to effect soon the en masse release of the remaining 434 political prisoners who long have been suffering unjust imprisonment.

The release of the remaining political prisoners will complete the process which started with the release of 19 peace consultants of the NDFP last August. It will further boost the Duterte regime’s efforts to forge an alliance with the patriotic forces which is vital to its political consolidation amid the political pro-US counter-offensive by General Ramos and his ilk of Amboys.

As an avowed Leftist, GRP President Duterte is surely sympathetic to the plight of the political prisoners who mostly are patriotic activists from the ranks of peasants, workers, indigenous peoples, students, women, urban poor, government employees and other democratic sectors. People’s organizations, especially those from which the political prisoners come from, must amplify the demand for their release.

They were imprisoned because they stood up and struggled against the US puppet regimes of Aquino and Arroyo. Their political beliefs are congruent with the Duterte regime’s promotion of an independent foreign policy.

The release of all remaining political prisoners is primarily a question of justice. In violation of the Hernandez political offense doctrine, political prisoners are being charged with unbailable criminal offenses such as murder and illegal possession of firearms and explosives in order to prolong their

If carried out, the release of political prisoners will show the GRP’s commitment to comply with its obligations under the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), thereby raising further the confidence of the NDFP in negotiating and forging agreements with it.

It is well within the prerogative of GRP President Duterte to declare a general amnesty to cause the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners in order to quickly end their suffering. He can breakdown all legal obstacles to effect their prompt release. If he does so, he would also be fulfilling the promise he made last May to the representatives of the NDFP.

As a man of honor, the GRP President Duterte is expected to carry out this democratic act over the next week or two, as agreed upon during the first round of peace talks last August 21-26.

The release of political prisoners, in turn, will pave the way for the signing of a bilateral ceasefire agreement. Inversely, failure to fulfill the immediate release of the remaining political prisoners by the end of October will prevent the forging of a bilateral ceasefire agreement.

The concurrent indefinite ceasefire declarations separately issued by the GRP and CPP-NPA last August have held over the past 50 days. However, the absence of a bilateral ceasefire agreement and the continuing hostile counter-insurgency operations of the AFP might force the hand of CPP and NPA to cut short its earlier declaration of an indefinite ceasefire in order to enable the NPA to more effectively defend itself and the people’s rights and interests.

The Filipino people would like to see the initial efforts of the Duterte regime to promote peace negotiations to gain further track by effecting the release of all remaining political prisoners before the end of the month, working with the NDFP to define the parameters of a ceasefire agreement and accelerating efforts to forge a patriotic alliance between the ruling anti-US Duterte regime and the national democratic forces.

Amid the heightened political counter-offensive of the US imperialists and its local agents and puppets to oppose, undermine and counter the Duterte regime’s assertion of an independent foreign policy, the Duterte regime urgently needs to work with the national democratic forces to build a patriotic alliance with deep and wide support among the broad masses.

The revolutionary forces are also keenly interested in forging a patriotic alliance with the Duterte regime as this can serve the aspirations of the Filipino people to achieve national sovereignty and end foreign intervention in order for the country to plan out and tread an independent path of mass-oriented development and progress.

National minorities push for rights, welfare in peace talks

From the pro-CPP/NDF online propaganda publication Bulatlat (Oct 16): National minorities push for rights, welfare in peace talks

“We are glad that the ongoing peace talks is not exclusive to Christians but tackles the issues of the Filipino people, including us, national minorities.”

Amirah Lidasan of Suara Bangsamoro underscores the importance of participating in the peace talks in pushing for the national minorities' right to self-determination. (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea / Bulatlat)

Amirah Lidasan of Suara Bangsamoro underscores the importance of participating in the peace talks in pushing for the national minorities’ right to self-determination. (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea / Bulatlat)

Refusing to be on the sidelines, national minorities have engaged both peace panels to heed their urgent demands.

In a forum, Oct. 14, Amirah Lidasan of Suara Bangsamoro said Moro and indigenous peoples have submitted their respective agenda to the peace panels of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

Kennedy Bangibang, NDFP peace consultant for Cordillera and National Minority affairs, said the national minorities’ agenda are embodied in the NDFP’s drafts on socioeconomic reforms and political and Constitutional reforms, the next substantive agenda items in the peace talks between the government and the NDFP.

Bangibang is one of the NDFP consultants released on bail. He participated in the first and second rounds of GRP-NDFP formal talks held in Oslo, Norway.

Bangibang, an Igorot himself, said the NDFP recognizes the national minorities’ right to self-determination and their right to ancestral domain.

“Our resources are being plundered. We are driven away from our lands. Our livelihoods are being destroyed. We are deprived of services. And the foreign powers, the national government and the ruling elite bastardize our culture,” Bangibang said.

Bangibang said the national oppression and discrimination being experienced by national minorities must end.

“We are glad that the ongoing peace talks is not exclusive to Christians but tackles the issues of the Filipino people, including us, national minorities,” Lidasan said.


Kennedy Bangibang, peace consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), calls on fellow national minorities to remain vigilant and continue asserting their rights. (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea / Bulatlat)

Kennedy Bangibang, peace consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), calls on fellow national minorities to remain vigilant and continue asserting their rights. (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea / Bulatlat)

While the resumption of formal talks is a positive development, Bangibang maintained that the GRP has yet to fulfill its commitment to release all political prisoners in accordance with past agreements.

Bangibang added that NDFP consultants like him who have been released on bail are still facing “fabricated” criminal charges.

“Political killings and arrests have not stopped. Many Lumad are still unable to return to their homes,” Bangibang said.

Amid the ceasefire declaration, Bangibang said, they received reports of military offensives from different regions. Just this week, two Lumad have been killed in Compostela Valley.

Bangibang called on fellow national minorities to continue organizing and mobilizing for their rights and welfare.

“History has taught us that in our unity, we can achieve victory,” Bangibang said.

Meanwhile, Lidasan said the Bangsamoro people look forward to President Rodrigo Duterte’s promise of “inclusive peace policy” in relation to the Bangsamoro conflict. She welcomed Duterte’s declaration of pursuing talks with the Moro National Liberation Front and Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Lidasan said that previous peace agreements failed because the government has always mistaken autonomy for right to self-determination. What is ironic, Lidasan pointed out, is that the organic law creating the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has tied the Bangsamoro people to the decision-making of the national government.

Lidasan said it’s high time that the Bangsamoro people get involved in the peace talks. “We, who have been victims of war, must actively work for peace.”

Abu Sayyaf bandit falls

From the Sun Star-Zamboanga (Oct 15): Abu Sayyaf bandit falls

JOINT police and military operatives have arrested an Abu Sayyaf bandit involved 15 years ago in the kidnapping and killing of plantation workers in Basilan province, an official said Saturday, October 15.

Zamboanga Sibugay police director Romulo Cleve Taboso identified the arrested bandit as Marajol Taulani alias Joel Gonzaga, who is also the number five high value target (HVT) drug personality in Zamboanga Sibugay.

Taboso said Taulani was arrested in a law enforcement operation through the service of warrant of arrest around 4 p.m. Friday in the village of Poblacion, Imelda, Zamboanga Sibugay.

Taboso said Taulani has standing warrant of arrest for seven-count kidnapping and serious illegal detention issued by a court of Isabela City, Basilan.

He said the arrested suspect was involved in the kidnapping of 15 workers of the Golden Harvest Plantation in village Tairan, Lantawan, Basilan on June 11, 2001.

The Abu Sayyaf bandits killed five of the 15 plantation workers while the remaining 10 were either freed or rescued by pursuing military forces.

Taboso said the arresting team recovered from Taulani’s possession five heat-sealed plastic sachets of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu.

He said the suspect was detained for proper documentation and dispositive action.

Goldberg: We will continue support for Mindanao

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Oct 15): Goldberg: We will continue support for Mindanao

 US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip S. Goldberg (left) and Vice President Ma. Leonor “Leni” Robredo (second from right). PHOTO BY USAID SURGE

US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip S. Goldberg (left) and Vice President Ma. Leonor “Leni” Robredo (second from right). PHOTO BY USAID SURGE

Appearing with Vice President Leni Robredo at a forum on strengthening health programs in Muslim areas in Mindanao, US Ambassador Philip Goldberg said that from 2012 to 2016, “USAID (United States Agency for International Development) has contributed more than P3 billion in Mindanao and ARMM, with P500 million specifically allocated for health activities.”

Goldberg, who has been the target of personal attacks by President Duterte, said the US government had long supported economic growth in Mindanao and “would continue to do so, in partnership with the Philippine government.”

“Currently, we have a comprehensive program that supports efforts to improve peace and stability in focused areas in Central Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago,” he said.
At a colloquium organized by the Zuellig Family Foundation in cooperation with USAID at the Heritage Hotel, Robredo stressed the importance of good governance in helping the people of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) rise above their station, noting that the region was among the most impoverished in the country as a result of strife and lack of development.

Robredo and Goldberg made no mention of Mr. Duterte’s threat to break the long-standing security alliance with the US, including ending US military and technical assistance in Mindanao.

Robredo and Goldberg congratulated Zuellig on the culmination of its “health change model” in the ARMM that sought to transform how local leaders respond to the health needs of their constituents.

SC Justice Carpio fears losing Panatag if Duterte concedes to China

From Rappler (Oct 15): SC Justice Carpio fears losing Panatag if Duterte concedes to China

(UPDATED) SC Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio says President Rodrigo Duterte can be impeached if he 'concedes sovereignty' over Panatag Shoal

IMPROVING TIES. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (left) talks with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua (right) during the 115th Police Service Anniversary at the PNP headquarters in Manila on August 17, 2016. Photo by Noel Celis/AFP

IMPROVING TIES. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (left) talks with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua (right) during the 115th Police Service Anniversary at the PNP headquarters in Manila on August 17, 2016. Photo by Noel Celis/AFP

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio on Saturday, October 15, said the Philippines can lose the disputed Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal) if President Rodrigo Duterte concedes sovereignty over it in exchange for China's incentives.

"If Duterte concedes sovereignty, it is a culpable violation of the Constitution, a ground for impeachment," Carpio said.
"But the more important repercussion is, once Duterte concedes sovereignty, we can never recover it because China will never give it back," he added.
This is because even if the Philippine Supreme Court voids a possible concession by Duterte, "China will not be bound by the ruling of the Philippine Supreme Court."
He said that "only an international court can void the concession," provided that China "voluntarily submits" to the court’s jurisdiction. "And China will never submit to the jurisdiction of an international court on sovereignty issues," he added.
Carpio also explained he is "worried" that in exchange for "allowing Filipino fishermen to fish on Scarborough Shoal and for all the infrastructure loans and grants from the Chinese", Duterte might "recognize China's sovereignty over the shoal."
Sovereignty over Panatag
Duterte is making a state visit to China from October 18 to 21.
The President plans to focus on trade and investments, as both Manila and Beijing will downplay the Philippines' historic legal victory against China over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Carpio said Duterte "thinks the Philippines has no sovereignty" over Panatag Shoal because the ruling "is silent on who has sovereignty over the shoal."
What the tribunal said is that both Filipino and Chinese fishermen both have "traditional fishing rights" within the 12-nautical mile territorial sea of Panatag Shoal. This means the disputed area is a traditional fishing ground.
Carpio pointed out that the Philippines "never raised the sovereignty issue" because the tribunal "has no jurisdiction over sovereignty issues, only maritime issues."
"The tribunal could not have ruled on the sovereignty issue," the Supreme Court justice said.
Carpio said that based on Republic Act 9522 (also known as the Baselines Law), the Philippines "exercises sovereignty and jurisdiction" over Panatag Shoal, also known as Bajo de Masinloc.

Joint gov't, MILF anti-drug operation leads to arrest of 13

From Rappler (Oct 15): Joint gov't, MILF anti-drug operation leads to arrest of 13

The men are believed to be followers of Samad Masgal alias Commander Madrox, leader of an armed group involved in the drug trade in North Cotabato   

JOINT OPERATION. Authorities present firearms recovered during a joint anti-drug operation by the government and the MILF. All photos from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
JOINT OPERATION. Authorities present firearms recovered during a joint anti-drug operation by the government and the MILF. All photos from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process

At least 13 men believed to be members of an armed group involved in the drug trade in North Cotabato were arrested in a joint anti-drug operation conducted by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) from October 5 to 11.

Those arrested were "henchmen" of Samad Masgal alias Commander Madrox, according to a press statement from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) released Saturday, October 15.

In August, at least 4 of his followers also died during a similar operation by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the MILF.

Those arrested this October were turned over recently by the AFP 602nd Infantry Brigade as well as elements of the MILF Central Mindanao Front to the Philippine National Police in the provincial police office of Cotabato, as witnessed by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Soccsksargen.

The 13 who have outstanding warrants of arrest are as follows:
  • Ali Masgal Buat
  • Guiamalodin Kalay Palakad
  • Guiama Milikano y Masgal
  • Mandag Mamalinta y Mamao
  • Nandi Pagao y Sinangkad
  • Taokie Habip Lumilis
  • Kenny Gumbila Dima
  • Ronnie Ferrer Catulogn
  • Morem Masgal Milicano
  • Omar Masgal Angking
  • Sari Alim Lumilis
  • Mantoa Amal Gombila
  • Tiyabong Mamalinta
Commander Madrox, meanwhile, remains at large.

"[T]he fight against illegal drugs transcends all affiliations and it even unites people with diverse backgrounds," said PDEA Soccsksargen Regional Director Lyndon Aspacio.

"We are very delighted that the coming together of the PNP, the AFP, and the addition of the MILF among our allies against illegal drugs is becoming a reality," he said in Filipino.
ARRESTED. The operation led to the arrest of 13 men believed to be followers of Samad Masgal alias Commander Madrox

ARRESTED. The operation led to the arrest of 13 men believed to be followers of Samad Masgal alias Commander Madrox

The joint operation was conducted in the areas of Nabalawag, Kapinpilan, and Kadingilan in Midsayap, North Cotabato.

The joint Government of the Philippines (GPH)-MILF Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) as well as the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG) coordinated with authorities for the joint operation "since it was conducted in areas with strong MILF presence."

During the operation, authorities recovered the following:
  • two grenade launchers
  • two M16 rifles
  • an M14 rifle
  • a homemade shotgun
  • a .30-caliber Garan rifle
  • a homemade .50-caliber sniper rifle
  • one rocket propelled grenade launcher ammunition
  • two fragmention grenades alongside a handful of short firearms
  • a number of shabu-containing heat-sealed sachet packs
  • other drug paraphernalia
In July, the CCCH and AHJAC signed an agreement of cooperation and coordination concerning the campaign against illegal drugs in MILF-controlled areas.

Among others, the agreement covers:
  • information exchange/sharing which includes, but is not limited to the submission of the MILF of a list of drug personalities identified in its area, subject to validation of the law enforcement agencies
  • allowing the MILF to conduct an information drive on the ill-effects of illegal drugs in the MILF affected areas as part of its demand reduction activities

Joint MILF-Army operation nets 13 members of Cotabato drug gang - OPAPP

From InterAksyon (Oct 15): Joint MILF-Army operation nets 13 members of Cotabato drug gang - OPAPP

The alleged members of the "Madrox group," a gang that plies the drug trade in Cotabato province, captured during a joint law enforcement operation by the Army and MILF. (photo courtesy of OPAPP)

A weeklong joint law enforcement operation by the Army and Moro Islamic Liberation Front led to the capture of 13 alleged members of an armed group engaged in the drug trade in Cotabato province, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process said Saturday.

The group, led by Samad Masgal, alias “Commander Madrox,” was the target of a similar joint operation in August that ended with four gang members and three soldiers dead.

The October 5 to 11 operation saw government and MILF forces scouring Nabalawag, Kapinpilan, and Kadingilan in Midsayap town, leading to the capture of Ali Masgal Buat, Guiamalodin Kalay Palakad, Guiama Milikano y Masgal, Mandag Mamalinta y Mamao, Nandi Pagao y Sinangkad, Taokie Habip Lumilis, Kenny Gumbila Dima, Ronnie Ferrer Catulong, Morem Masgal Milicano, Omar Masgal Angking, Sari Alim Lumilis, Mantoa Amal Gombila and Tiyabong Mamalinta.

Commander Madrox, however, remains at large.

Also seized in the operation were two grenade launchers, two M16 rifles, an M14 rifle, a homemade shotgun, a .30-caliber Garand rifle, a homemade .50-caliber sniper rifle, one rocket-propelled grenade and two fragmentation grenades, a number of handguns and several sachets of methamphetamine, or “shabu.”

The suspects were turned over to the Cotabato police Friday, the OPAPP said.

The OPAPP quoted Gordon Sayfulah, commander of the MILF’s Central Mindanao Front, as saying the joint operation “has resulted into better and peaceful lives for our stakeholders as well as stronger confidence between (government) and MILF forces.”

Military camps as drug rehab facility

From the Mindanao Times (Oct 15): Military camps as drug rehab facility

THE NUMBER of drug dependents who surrendered continues to balloon with more and more of them requiring professional intervention. Government agencies like the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Department of Health are working on rehabilitation but where exactly to put these drug victims is a pressing concern.
One of those who offered to open their facility as a rehabilitation center is the Philippine Army, allowing their camps to house those needing care.
Col. Benjamin L. Hao, Army spokesperson said that this is going to be an additional responsibility for military officers but it is their way of showing their support to the anti-illegal drug campaign of the Duterte administration.
Hao said it is still within their mission of “Serving the people and securing the land”
“We make our camps available because we have a huge space. However, we would like to work on the design and plans of the rehabilitation center because this is within the camp and this requires security,” Hao said.
He said building a rehabilitation center would not be a problem except that “maybe those who want to be rehabilitated might be intimidated inside the camp.”
“The only challenge is if there is a military activity that involves stricter measures in the camp. That’s the only adjustment that we have to prepare,” he said.
He admits that they are not experts on this and therefore would need the support of partners such as medical professionals and the civil society, Hao said that this is a special project that is worthy of support and they are willing to go the extra mile to help the campaign of the President in the next six years.
Security inside camp
“Mag iingat talaga yung mga pumapasok sa loob kung gagawa nang kalokohan. Mahuhuli sila nang sundalo,’ Hao said. (Those who are in the rehab centers should be careful and not to anything crazy or they will be arrested by the soldiers.)
The center should also exert effort to ensure that security in the camp will work to their advantage.
“The security outside the perimeter of the center and everything inside the camp is the responsibility of the camp commander,” Hao said.
“They have to follow because once they are inside the camp they have to follow the rules. If they go out of the camp, it’s going to be the facilitator’s responsibility,” he added.
Eight offered army camps
The military has offered eight out of 13 camps that may be used for rehabilitation centers. These are Camp Melchor F. Dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela which has an area of 484.2178 hectares ; Camp Capinpin in Tanay , Rizal (60.1970 hectares ); Camp Alfredo Santos in Calauag ,Quezon (40 hectares) ; Camp Kibaritan in Kalilangan in Bukidnon (42.265 hectares ) ; Camp Lucero in Carmen ,North Cotabato (181.6522 hectares )and Camp Paulino Santos in Alamada ,North Cotabato (171.0937 hectares ).
The two army camps in Fort Magsaysay in Palayan City, Nueva City (45.837 hectares) ; and Camp Peralta in Jamindan ,Capiz (33.020 hectares) are also open for the rehab center.
First Military rehab center
Col. Cristobal Zaragosa, the commander of 401st Infantry Brigade, said that there rehabilitation center inside the camp is already in operation with 18 drug patients confined.
Zaragosa said their camp in Agusan Del Sur has become the pioneering military host of a drug rehabilitation center supporting the anti-illegal drug campaign of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte.
They opened the Residential Treatment and Rehabilitation Center (RTRC), a two-hectare facility inside its camp in partnership with the provincial government of Agusan Del Sur.
“Malaki yung camp located 330 hectares hinterland and the rehab center is only two hectares. There is a perimeter fence and it is isolated and about 300 meters down from the headquarters of the military,” he said.
He said patients inside are those who have voluntary surrendered to the local officials. “Then they are assessed by the province (medical officer). They will determine if the drug dependent requires rehabilitation. If the drug dependent is a minor, a parent’s consent is required, Zaragosa said.
The center is a collaboration with the local government and they want this to be the showcase so that other rehab centers in military camps will have a benchmark when they start building their own facility.
He even said they have also provided their vacant building for the structure.
The RTRC can accommodate 60 patients at a time. It is managed and administered by the provincial government of Agusan Del Sur.
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo represented Pres. Duterte in the inauguration at Camp Datu Lipus Makapandong in Barangay Awa, Prosperidad, and the capital town of the province last September 26. (photos courtesy by 401st Infantry Brigade)

Army denies behind murder of lumad leader

From the Mindanao Times (Oct 15): Army denies behind murder of lumad leader

THE MILITARY has denied the allegations that they are behind the killing of a lumad youth leader in Mabini, Compostela Valley.
The Karapatan in Southern Mindanao Region has accused soldiers of the army’s 46th Infantry Battalion under 1001st Infantry Brigade as behind the killing of Joselito “Anoy” Pasaporte, a leader of Panalipdan Youth organization.
Col. Macairog Alberto, the brigade commander, said militant is always making up baseless accusation.
“They are always accusing the military,” Alberto said. “We leave it to the police to investigate and determine who did it.”
Alberto said they also found out that Pasaporte was in the police drug watch list, making it to the sixth spot in the list of the Mabini Municipal Police Station.
Initial police investigation revealed that Pasaporte was walking on his way home to Barangay Tagnanan in Mabini after watching a cockfight at Mabini Gallera in Barangay Lapinigan when unidentified assailants shot him from behind around 5:20 p.m. on Thursday.
The victim sustained five gunshot wounds on the different parts of his body resulting to his death. The suspects then fled away to unknown direction.
Panalipdan is a progressive environmentalist group.
The Mabini Municipal police station is conducting investigation to pinpoint the perpetrators.
Pasaporte death came just three days after the murder of another militant lumad leader.
Jimmy Saypan, 58, the secretary general of the Compostela Valley Farmer Association (CFA), was also shot by unidentified assailants on Monday.
Saypan was declared dead by his attending physician at the Davao Regional Hospital in Tagum City at 2:25 p.m. the next day.
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas secretary general Antonio Flores also accused soldiers, under the army’s 66th Infantry Battalion, in the murder.
But Capt. Rhyan Batchar, spokesperson of the 10th Infantry Division, slammed the accusation.
Instead, Batchar asked Flores to instead cooperate with the ongoing police investigation by providing information and evidence to support his allegations.
The death of Pasaporte and Saypan were raised by militant leaders during the Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya held on Thursday.
Kerlan Fanagel, chair of Pasaka Confederation of Lumad Organizations, denounced the attacks as violation of the unilateral ceasefire agreement declared by government.

Sayyafs ambush government militias in Basilan

From the Mindanao Examiner (Oct 15): Sayyafs ambush government militias in Basilan

Abu Sayyaf militants on Saturday ambushed a group of pro-government militiamen in the restive province of Basilan in the Muslim autonomous region and killing one of them, officials said.

Officials said the attack occurred in the village called Limbo Candis in Sumisip town. The militias were travelling on a truck together with armed civilians when militants attacked them and sparking a brief firefight.

No other details were made available by the military and police on the attack, but this occurred just a day after security forces captured an Abu Sayyaf militant tagged in the brutal slaying of 15 coconut farmers in Basilan.

Superintendent Rogelio Alabata, a regional police spokesman, said Marajol Taulani, alias Joel Gonzaga, was tracked down in the town of Imelda in Zamboanga Sibugay province.

He said security forces also seized five packets of suspected meth from Taulani, who is facing a string of criminal charges in Basilan, just several nautical miles south of Zamboanga.

Alabata said the militant is currently being interrogated, but details of the investigation were not made public because of the ongoing operation against the terrorist group tied to the Islamic State.

PAMANA products take center stage at government expo

From the Philippine Information Agency (Oct 15): PAMANA products take center stage at government expo

Artisan and farm-to-market products from communities in the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) program were the focal point of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) booth during the recently concluded 2016 Kabisig Government Trade and Expo, providing needed exposure to local businesses in conflict-affected and poverty-ridden communities.

“The purpose of the Kabisig Government Expo and Trade Fair is actually to inform the public of so many government agencies that are not known,” Kabisig Mindanao Foundation Chairperson Daniel Guillen said, adding that the expo acts as a one-stop information exhibit featuring government agencies and their profiles, service facilities, programs, projects and accomplishments, as well as products and services.

Products featured by the OPAPP included Maguindanao native delicacies and water lily handicrafts; Yakan weaving and handicrafts such as table runners, coin purse and malong; traditional Tausug textile product called Pis; accessories made of Pili shells; bayong bags made from Karagumoy plant; Agsam and Abaca handicrafts; and processed pineapple delicacies.

They were produced by PAMANA beneficiaries in the areas of Sorsogon, Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Sur, Camarines Norte, Butuan City, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi.

PAMANA is the national government’s program that extends development interventions to isolated, hard-to-reach and conflict-affected communities, ensuring that they are not left behind. It is the people’s peace and development program that empower communities through community-driven projects that address people’s needs and, at the same time, promote peace.

With the theme Pamahalaan at Mamamayan: Kapit-bisig sa Kaunlaran, the government expo, which ran from 10 to 12 October at SM Manila, provided an opportunity for the government to promote public awareness and participation in national development. “We encouraged everyone to participate because it is an event to inform the people of the projects of the government,” Guillen added.

In a message sent by the Office of the President, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte noted that “this kind of activity would inspire our leaders in government to do [their] best in restoring the faith of our countrymen in our institutions and in bringing back trust in our public servants.”

“I also ask every Filipino to participate in nation-building by supporting our advocacies and initiatives. Let us all be positive as we rise to the challenge of national renewal and embody excellence, dedication, accountability, and integrity in all our pursuits,” the President continued.

PAMANA public service caravan makes stop in Masbate

In partnership with the municipality of Cawayan and various government agencies, the peace process agency through its PAMANA program conducted a public service caravan in order to bring closer government services to communities in the 3rd district of Masbate.

Frontline public services that were made available for free to the public included application for police clearance by the Department of Interior and Local Government; processing of birth certificates by the National Statistics Office (NSO); tax declaration payments by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR); medical checkup and dental services by the Department of Health; and conditional cash transfer program by the Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD) among others.

The provincial government of Masbate as well as the Cawayan local government also offered other services including the processing of identification cards for senior citizens and deworming and vaccination of carabaos. Other government agencies such as the DOH and the Department of Agriculture also provided additional provisions and supplies such as medicines, rice, seedlings, fertilizers, and pregnancy kits.

The annual caravan, dubbed this year as “Peace Ta sa Komunidad” coincided with the recently concluded celebration of the 2016 National Peace Consciousness Month.

Beneficiaries of the caravan were residents of Masbate barangays Taberna, Lague-Lague, Pulot, Cabayugan, Mactan, San Vicente, Pena Island, Guinluthangan, San Jose and Mambucay. Similar activities were also conducted in the last few weeks in Lapinig, Northern Samar; Jabonga, Agusan del Norte; Tipo-Tipo, Basilan; and the regions of South Cotabato and Lanao del Sur.

The highlight of the caravan was the ceremonial turnover of the completed nine-million pesos PAMANA Phase 1 Project to rehabilitate the provincial road connecting barangays Mactan and Malbug.

OPAPP Director for Peace Accords Completion Unit Susan Mercaida also updated Masbate residents and other peace partners present during the caravan on the six-point peace and development agenda of the Duterte administration, as well as other PAMANA implementation schedules still in the pipeline.

Other government instrumentalities present during the caravan include: the Provincial Agriculture Office; the Municipal Social and Welfare Development; the Provincial and Municipal Health Offices; the Philippine National Police; the Armed Forces of the Philippines 9th Infantry Battalion; the Municipal Assessor’s Office; Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office; the Provincial Planning and Development Office; the Provincial and Municipal Engineering Offices; the Department of Environment and Natural Resources; the Department of Public Works and Highways; the Philippine Dental Association; the Office of the Municipal Administrator, and the Office of the Governor. (OPAPP)

U.S. military delivers counterterrorism equipment to the Philippine Marine Special Operations Group

From the Philippine Information Agency (Oct 15): U.S. military delivers counterterrorism equipment to the Philippine Marine Special Operations Group

Representatives from the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines’ Joint U.S. Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG) delivered 24 pallets of new military equipment to the Philippine Marine Special Operations Group (MARSOG) at Clark Air Base on October 8.

The equipment, for use in counterterrorism and fast boat operations, included tactical Harris radios, ballistic helmets, and diving gear, among other items.  The military equipment was transferred under a U.S. grant program aimed at assisting security forces conducting counterterrorism operations.  This equipment will help enhance the communications, situational awareness and protection of Philippine security forces actively engaged in counterterrorism operations in the southern Philippines.  The Philippine Marines will also receive radio training as a part of the U.S. grant program.

In addition to MARSOG, the Philippine Coast Guard and the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force also received six pallets of the new communications equipment from the U.S. government. (US Embassy Manila)

Correcting Moro history crucial to success of Bangsamoro peace process

From the Philippine Information Agency (Oct 15): Correcting Moro history crucial to success of Bangsamoro peace process

Both academicians and youth leaders agree that correcting the historical narrative of the Bangsamoro in the Philippines is crucial in fostering a better understanding among the Filipino people and in helping forward a resolution to the decades-old rebellion in the Philippine south.

National Ulama Council of the Philippines (NUCP) Secretary General and Moro professor Alih Aiyub said it is crucial that the new generation understands the underlying factors of the Mindanao conflict which largely stems from the political and economic struggle of the Bangsamoro. He also highlighted the importance of having “well-informed constituencies” in order to generate wide public support on the Bangsamoro peace process.

“It is very important for the public and most especially for the youth to understand the correct narrative of the Moro history to deconstruct deep-seated biases and prejudices,” said Aiyub during a peace forum recently held at the Western Mindanao State University. He also urged hundreds of students gathered in the forum to “actively engaged in the peace process” since they will be consulted in the drafting of a new enabling law.

The Philippine government and the Moro rebel movements have signed at least three major peace accords: the GPH-Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) 1976 Tripoli Agreement and the subsequent 1996 Final Peace Agreement; and the GPH- Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB). Dissimilar to the failed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which focused on the government’s peace accord with the MILF, the new law being envisioned will serve as the legal mechanism to fully implement all signed Bangsamoro accords.

Inclusivity will be the new cornerstone of the new law as it is being positioned to address the various concerns of other stakeholders such as the indigenous peoples, the traditional political leaders, and the sultanates among others.

The Moro struggle for political and economic self-determination began centuries ago prior to the existence of the Philippine republic, when colonial powers dismissed their already established systems of independent governance which had vibrant diplomatic and economic ties among its Asian neighbors.

“We see the youth as multipliers to increase understanding and peace building,” commented Aiyub, explaining that having a better comprehension of the root causes of the Mindanao conflict will help foster understanding “towards the eradication of existing prejudices and biases that have been causing roadblocks to the peace process”.

For her part, Western Mindanao State University Center for Peace and Development Director Dr. Marcie Carpizo highlighted the necessity to conduct healthy, informative dialogue and exchange of ideas on the peace process. “Peace fora such as this will help in the conscientization of young minds; so that when they disseminate information in their communities, they can provide the correct narrative of the real history of the Bangsamoro.”

“The youth will be taking over. We want a better future. Now, if we’re not going to prepare them with the correct information, what will be the outcome? What we want is a real transformation, and change the situation, especially of those in conflict-prone areas in Mindanao,” Carpizo pointed out.

One of the university’s graduating students Seagal Asjali, meanwhile, advised his fellow students to not be drowned in the vast sea of information with the advent of the social media. “It is also very important to promote critical thinking among the youth. In this way, they know what information is helpful and what is not.”

Asjali, who is also serving as the vice chairperson of the university’s Youth Peace Mediators Club, maintained that the new generation should not be mere observers in the peace process in Mindanao, but active players in peace building efforts. “We will inherent the challenges in Mindanao. It is just necessary for us to have proper information on the Bangsamoro peace process.” (OPAPP)

PH affirms the multilateral treaty process towards the rule of law cites UNCLOS

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 15): PH affirms the multilateral treaty process towards the rule of law cites UNCLOS

The Philippines described the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) as a “distinct achievement” of the international community, the “key to ensuring global and regional peace in the just and sustainable use of the world’s oceans and its resources.”

Ambassador Lourdes Yparraguirre, Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the UN, reported to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) that her statement before the Sixth Committee (Legal) of the UN General Assembly reiterated the Philippines’ respect for the July 12 award of the arbitral tribunal under UNCLOS on the South China Sea arbitration, which clarified the maritime entitlements of the relevant parties and addressed, inter alia, claims of historic rights, the criteria for islands and rocks, the issue of fishing rights, and the protection of the marine environment.

According to her, the award is “a leading example of a legal outcome resulting from the multilateral treaty process, and is now a significant part of the corpus of jurisprudence in international law.”

The UN debate focused on Member States’ national experience and best practices on their implementation of multilateral treaties, many of which are deposited with the UN Secretary-General, including UNCLOS.

“When we enter into multilateral treaties, we renew our faith in the rule of law to govern our proper conduct with respect to each other,” Ambassador Yparraguirre noted, adding that, “The Philippines’ participation in these multilateral treaties attests to our long-held belief… that the rule of law can prevent war and attain peace and security, ensure human dignity, contribute to a better life for all in larger freedom, and create justice.”

The Philippines is a party to hundreds of multilateral treaties, ranging from the law on diplomatic and consular relations, international trade law, human rights law, international criminal law including the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the protection of the environment, and the peaceful settlement of disputes.

No change in US-PHL relations whoever wins in upcoming US presidential polls - Goldberg

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 15): No change in US-PHL relations whoever wins in upcoming US presidential polls - Goldberg

United States Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg on Friday assured that whoever emerged as the winner in the coming US presidential elections in November, it will not change US relations with the Philippines.

Goldberg told reporters covering the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) during his farewell lunch that the US-Philippine alliance is strong regardless of whoever between Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democrats' Hillary Clinton will win in the presidential race.

"I think our commitment to the Philippines is clear. We have been good allies, we will remain good allies," he pointed out.

"I think that whatever government is in, the United States will value the Philippines as an ally and friend. We have 3.5 million Filipino-Americans and a rich tradition and history, and as allies and friends I don't think the changes of administration in the US affects that," he added.

The outgoing ambassador clarified that alleged threats against President Rodrigo Duterte from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is not true and has no basis.

"But we are friends of the Philippines, we are allies of the Philippines, and we respect the democracy in the Philippines, so I don't know what that's all about, quite frankly. But I'll leave it at that. There is no foundation," he emphasized.

The Washington’s top diplomat to Manila cited the great friendship of his country and the Philippines over the past 70 years that produced remarkable results.

He said that over the last three years in the Philippines as Ambassador, “many of the important features of our alliance, the great friendship between our people and our country and it was a nice moment to review those moments.”

He recalled that during typhoon Yolanda, they were able “to carry out with our colleagues, our friends from the AFP my colleagues from the US, the military, it reminds me how close our relationship is.”

“We reviewed many of the cooperative programs that we have in the assistance area things that have been increased over the last few years, foreign military funding, maritime security initiatives which provided USD 42 million last year to the Philippines to improve its ability to sea and operate in its maritime space, the USD 66 million for foreign military funding , the millennium challenge cooperation which finished 226 km road in Samar which hopefully will help spur the economic development,” he stressed.

DND-GA looking for PHP19.2-M worth of 7.62-mm. M13 links, match bullets

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 15): DND-GA looking for PHP19.2-M worth of 7.62-mm. M13 links, match bullets

The Department of National Defense-Government Arsenal (DND-GA), located in Limay, Bataan, is allocating PHP19.2 million for the acquisition of 7.62-mm. M13 links and match bullets.

Winning bidders are required to deliver the items within 180 days. A pre-bid conference is scheduled at 11 a.m. on Oct. 19, at the Government Arsenal Metro Manila Liaison Office in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

The 7.62-mm. M13 links are belted ammunition used primarily for light machine guns in the arsenal of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Military units alerted for impact of Typhoon Karen

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 15): Military units alerted for impact of Typhoon Karen

All units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have been put on alert as part of the mitigation efforts for Typhoon Karen.

This was disclosed by National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) executive director Ricardo Jalad in Saturday's update.

He added that all military units in regions that will be affected by 'Karen' have been ordered to pre-position equipment for disaster rescue and recovery operations.

Jalad said NDRRMC Operations Center in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City has been placed on "blue alert" to constantly monitor the tropical storm's progress and impact.

According to the severe weather bulletin issued by PAGASA at 11 a.m. Saturday, 'Karen' has passed north of Catanduanes and is already moving towards the Aurora-Quezon area, with maximum sustained winds of up to 130 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 180 kph.

The state weather bureau forecast 'Karen' to move west-northwest at 17 kph. By Sunday morning, it is expected at the vicinity of Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija and by Monday morning, at 455 km. west-northwest of Iba, Zambales, outside the Philippine Area of Responsibility.

Australian Navy visits Cebu for naval exercise

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Oct 14): Australian Navy visits Cebu for naval exercise

two Australian Royal class patrol boats dock at the Naval Forces Central port (CDN PHOTO/JUNJIE MENDOZA).

Two Australian Royal class patrol boats dock at the Naval Forces Central port (CDN PHOTO/JUNJIE MENDOZA).

TWO patrol boats of the Royal Australian Navy arrived at the Naval Forces Central (Navforcen) port in Barangay Lo-oc, Lapu-Lapu City on Thursday as part of Exercise Lumbas 2016.

The two Armidale-class patrol boats, HMAS Glenelg (ACPB 96) and HMAS Larrakia (ACPB 84) will be in Cebu until October 21 for the naval exercise.

The patrol boats will be used as floating assets for different trainings, which the two navy groups will jointly undertake.

The annual exercise between the Philippine Navy and Royal Australian Navy that started in 1998 in the Philippines. It aims to strengthen relationship, inter-operability and enhance mutual cooperation between the two countries.

Training activities include Subject Matter Expert Exchanges, Table Top Exercise, Field Training Exercise (Force Integration and Maritime Security Operations), ceremonial and sports activities.

Lt. Bennet Christian Nuevarez, spokesperson of Navforcen, said the exercise will benefit them because of the more advanced training of their foreign counterpart.

Nuevarez said that other government agencies such as the Maritime Police, Bureau of Customs and Philippine Coast Guard, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, Bureau of Quarantine, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Provincial Risk Reduction and Management Council and Cebu Port Authority whose functions involved in the maritime operations to deter human trafficking, entry of illegal drugs and some contrabands, will also participate.

One of the highlights of this year’s exercise is the visit, board and seizure exercise which was conducted yesterday in the seawaters of Camotes Island.

Captain Antonio Palces, the deputy commander of Navforcen, is the exercise director of this year’s Exercise Lumbas, with Commander John Brown as his Australian counterpart. Exercise Lumbas 2016 will be conducted at Navforcen’s jurisdiction