Friday, October 21, 2016

TRADOC deploys 3 platoons for HADR missions in Tarlac

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 20): TRADOC deploys 3 platoons for HADR missions in Tarlac

Tarlac-based Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) announced that it has deployed three platoons for possible humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) missions to disaster-prone communities in the province ahead of Typhoon "Lawin's" arrival Wednesday night.

This was disclosed by TRADOC spokesperson Capt. Alberto Caber in a statement Thursday.

The platoons were deployed in coordination with the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (RDRRMO) and were equipped with basic mission essential tools and equipment.

“In times like this, we collaborate with the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, LGUs (local government units), NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and other civilian stakeholders in the conduct of search and rescue operations in the affected communities. We want them rescued safely," TRADOC commander Brig. Gen. Herminigildo Aquino said.

Tarlac has been placed under Signal Number 2 by the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.

Former rebels in Davao Region receive cash assistance from government

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 20): Former rebels in Davao Region receive cash assistance from government

A total of 31 former members of the communists New People’s Army (NPA) from various areas in Davao region received cash assistance from the government in a turn over ceremony in Nabunturan town, Compostela Valley on Wednesday.

Captain Rhyan Batchar, chief information officer of 10th Infantry (Agila) Division said each of the former rebels received PHP15,000 cash and compensation from the firearms they surrendered to the Philippine Army.

The distribution of cash assistance was led by Compostela Valley Governor Jayvee Tyron Uy and supported by the Department of Interior and Local Government in the region (DILG-11) and the army’s 1001st brigade.

A total of PHP465,000 worth of checks were received by the 31 former rebels who came from the provinces of Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental and Davao del Sur.

Among those who surrendered were minors profiled by the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) of Compostela Valley, the army’s 1001st brigade. The minors will also receive educational assistance from the government, the army said.

The former rebels were also encouraged to come up with their business plan as attachment to the livelihood assistance worth PHP 50,000 that will be handed to them in the next round of distribution together with the firearms remuneration.

The amount will come from the DILG’s Comprehensive Local Integration Program or CLIP.
Col. Macairog S. Alberto, Commander of 1001st brigade lauded the local government unit of Compostela Valley and the government agencies for the support they provided to the former rebels.

Alberto also assured the former rebels of the government’s continued support with the hope that they would be able to rebuild their lives as they join the mainstream society.

“As a support to Peace Process, we encourage our lost brothers to return to the comfort of their families, enjoy the spirit of Christmas with their loved ones and take advantage of government programs significantly the CLIP for an opportunity to live a peaceful and prosperous life,” Alberto added.

Army deploys 2 squads to Aurora, Nueva Ecija for humanitarian assistance, disaster relief missions

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 20): Army deploys 2 squads to Aurora, Nueva Ecija for humanitarian assistance, disaster relief missions

The 56th Infantry “Tatag” Battalion, Philippine Army based in Barangay Calabuanan here on Thursday deployed one to two squads for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) missions to disaster-prone communities in this province and three towns in Nueva Ecija.

Lt. Col. Louie DS. Villanueva said the squads were deployed, in coordination with the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO), Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Offices (MDRRMOs) and also with the barangay officials.

Part of the army’s HADR missions are in the towns of Baler, San Luis, Maria Aurora, Dipaculao, Dingalan, Dinalungan, Casiguran, Dilasag in Aurora and the municipalities of Bongabon, Laur and Gabaldon in Nueva Ecija.

"We are in post operation right now, we assist in repacking and in the distribution of relief goods in the affected communities,” Villanueva said.

Meanwhile, Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) chief Amado Elson A. Egargue said some 54,928 persons or 12,754 families affected by typhoon Lawin in this province wherein 18,640 persons or 5,323 families remain inside evacuation centers while 674 persons or 281 families are outside evacuation centers.

"Our office is still gathering other data, assessment is on going,” Egargue added.

2 PAG members killed, 3 soldiers hurt in Maguindanao clash

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 21): 2 PAG members killed, 3 soldiers hurt in Maguindanao clash

Government forces killed two lawless elements belonging to a Private Armed Group (PAG) and arrested another in an operation conducted Thursday in Gen. Salipada Pendatun town in Maguindanao, the Army here said.

Assorted high powered guns, including a powerful cal. 50 barret sniper's rifle, were confiscated.
Lt. Colonel Ricky Bunayog, 33rd Infantry Battalion commander, a brief firefight in Barangay Makaines, led to the arrest of Ryan Mayogantong Bansil, Jr, son of private armed group leader of Mayogantong Bansil Sr who managed to escape.

His group was linked to robbery, carnapping, cattle rustling and extortion.

Bunayog said his unit has provided back-up force to elements of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Three soldiers were injured in the firefight that left two followers of Bansil killed.

Bunayog said Sgt, Aurelio Ferrer, Cpl. Marcial Duri and PFC Denemar Albani, all of 33rd IB, were slightly injured when Bansil's men fired a rifle grenade.

Government forces seized cal. 50 barret rifle, a Garand rifle, an M-16 Armalite rifle, two grenade launchers, three rifle grenades, about 100 ammunition for various caliber.

Armed with search warrants issued by Judge Melenio Guerrero of RTC-12 in Tacurong City against Bansil, police and military forces swooped on the village of Makaines at about 8 a.m. but they were met with bullets from the gang members, triggering a firefight.

Mayogantong is now undergoing interrogation at CIDG office in Cotabato City.

Following the escape of Bansil Sr, the military is seeking the help of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in neutralizing the gang leader.

Abu Sayyaf bandit dies in shootout with Basilan policemen

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 21): Abu Sayyaf bandit dies in shootout with Basilan policemen

The police have killed a suspected member of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in a clash Friday in Lantawan, Basilan province.

Insp. Alfadda Osalli, Lantawan police chief, identified the slain suspected ASG member as Said Ummal alias Said Usman, a resident of Barangay Bulan-Bulan, Lantawan.

Osalli said Ummal was killed in a shootout Friday in Barangay Bulan-Bulan, Lantawan, which ensued during a law enforcement operation through the service of warrant of arrest.

Osalli disclosed that the slain ASG member has standing warrants of arrest for two counts of murder issued by a court in Isabela City, Basilan.

He said Ummal was also involved in the ambush of a police vehicle on October 2 in Barangay Bulan-Bulan, Lantawan that injured PO1 Anwar Batah.

The policemen were returning to the headquarters after they conducted house visit on drug surrenderers when they were waylaid.

OPAPP: Shift to federal form of gov't to correct historical wrongs

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 21): OPAPP: Shift to federal form of gov't to correct historical wrongs

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) said the shift from the current unitary system to a federal form of government will greatly contribute to the correction of the past wrongdoings committed against the Bangsamoro, Cordillera, and several indigenous communities in the country.

This was stressed in OPAPP Secretary Jesus G. Dureza's speech, delivered Wednesday by senior consultant Jose Lorena, at the the Global Autonomy, Governance, and Federalism Forum 2016.

The speech underscored the role of a federal republic as "just and lasting redress for the powerless, dispossessed, and disenfranchised brought by forceful submission of foreign powers and majority culture."

The said forum was initiated by the Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) and the Konrad Adenauer Stieftung (KAS) Philippines, two pioneer organizations that have always shown full support for the peace process.

“Federalism destroys the seeds of injustices that cultivated hostilities and violence by directly addressing people’s needs at a grassroots level,” said Lorena, who also served as undersecretary of the OPAPP in the last administration.

The latter also emphasized that having a centralized government would push different regional groups to compete with each other for dominance, leaving certain sectors marginalized.

He cited the struggles of the Bangsamoro and Cordillera people for self-determination which were deeply rooted in forceful submission to a dominant group imposing to them the majority’s cultural, economic and political policies.

“Federalism liberates us from these woes we currently experience and the tyranny of a particular class, group, or sector,” Lorena continued. “In the long-term, federalism can institutionalize permanent peace and sustainable development in our country.”

For his part, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chairman Al-Jah Murad Ebrahim said the creation of the Bangsamoro government under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) seeks to correct the historical injustices against the Bangsamoro.

Aside from correcting previous wrongdoings, Murad also shared OPAPP’s current vision that the proposed Bangsamoro entity could be a pilot case study in the current efforts leading to nationwide shift towards a federal system of government.

“If one reads carefully through the pages of the CAB (Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro), then, one cannot but reach the conclusion that powers between Central and the Bangsamoro Governments are meaningfully shared and delegated properly -- a future which is very prominent, it already established federal governments,” Murad said.

The creation of the Bangsamoro government is in step with the proposed constitutional reforms towards federalism.

These formed part of the Bangsamoro roadmap under the six-point peace and development agenda of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

“The implementation of the CAB, particularly its political track which means the passage of the restored Bangsamoro Basic Law, must precede the shift from unitary to federal form of government,” Murad stressed.

DSWD assists wounded, detained rallyists; supports call for investigation

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 21): DSWD assists wounded, detained rallyists; supports call for investigation

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said on Thursday it is assisting the wounded and injured victims of the violent dispersal of rallyists near the United States Embassy in Manila on Wednesday.

The demonstrators, including students and members of indigenous groups, were then protesting the presence of American troops in the country.

In a dialogue held at the University of the Philippines- Diliman Campus in Quezon City on Thursday, attended by indigenous peoples (IPs) as well as supporters from other groups, DSWD Assistant Secretary Maria Lourdes Turalde-Jarabe told them that DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo personally visited the wounded victims in the hospitals.

“Secretary Taguiwalo also went to the Manila Police District (MPD)… And I want to share to you that those detained yesterday were already released,” Turalde-Jarabe said.

She added that the conditions of policemen allegedly hurt in the dispersal were also checked by the DSWD Chief herself.

“At gusto kong ipaabot na kailangan talaga na imbestigahan ang nangyaring ito… At makikita, sa unang pagtingin pa lang, na hindi patas ang nangyari… Mas marami ang nasugatan po at nasaktan mula sa hanay ng Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya at mga taga-suporta nila (There is really a need for investigation on this matter… And we can see at first glance that unfairness occurred),” she said.

She also told the Lakbayani and supporters that since the Mamamasapano incident, Secretary Taguiwalo and other officials of the department had led in providing assistance to the Lumads.

“Dahil ayaw na ho naming mangyari na bala ang ibinibigay samantalang ang hinihingi ay bigas,” she added, citing that such help was given to the Lumads in Regions 10, 11 and 12 to prove that assistance can be given without resorting to violence to those affected by El Nino.

She repeated the commitment of the agency to continuously bring the needed assistance to the vulnerable IPs and other minorities for the purpose of survival.

“Ang serbisyo na kaya naming ibigay ay hindi po namin ipagkakait…Kami po ay tutulong sa mga kapatid na nangangailangan ng serbisyo at suporta at pangangatawanan po namin na sa pangungunana nito ay walang korupsyon, sisikapin po namin na ang serbisyo ay talagang mapunta sa ating mga kababayan at ito po ang aming gagawin sa mga susunod na araw hanggang sa matapos ang anim na taon namin sa departamento,” she said.

In a related statement, Secretary Taguiwalo said that in her desire to hear the version also of the policemen claiming that they have sustained injuries, she cited her observation that none of them were hurt enough to need to be taken to the hospital.

“They said that the videos of the skirmish that are now circulating speak for themselves and show what really happened, I agreed,” she said.

In speeches during the dialogue and in placards, representatives of Sandugo, a national alliance of Moro and IPs, said they also condemned Senior Supt. Marcelino Pedrozo, deputy director for Operations of the Manila Police District (MPD) who allegedly ordered the dispersal.

They unanimously cited that Pedrozo ordered the police to fight as they feared of how they would be looked upon by the US Embassy if they had done nothing.

According to the testimonies of the rally participants, the violent act was done before other speakers finished airing their grievances in condemning the US, asking for ending of militarization of their rural communities.

In the midst of it all also, DSWD said they will support the declaration of the Philippine National Police that it will conduct an internal investigation to get to the bottom of the violence that transpired.

“It is most unfortunate that such incidents of violence continue to take place despite the existence of the rules of engagement that police officers should follow and implement. These rules are meant to protect civilians during mass actions and democratic protests as well as police officers as well,” the DSWD Chief said.

Secretary Taguiwalo further said respect must come from both sides of the divide — protestors and police forces, but it cannot be denied that the balance of power during protests and dispersal is definitely tipped in favor of the police because they are trained for physical confrontations and armed.

”Because of this, our police and other armed forces must always exercise restraint and circumspection during protests. They must not forget that their role is to serve and protect the citizenry first and foremost,” she added.

Meanwhile, in the press briefing that followed the dialogue, Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Elago said that she has filed a resolution urging the House of Representatives to condemn the violent dispersal of the groups led by minorities.

In House Resolution No. 486, Elago also called on the House Committee on Human Rights to conduct a probe and summon to Congress those involved in the violent dispersal of the rallyists.

OPAPP scores violent dispersal of IPs in US Embassy

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 21): OPAPP scores violent dispersal of IPs in US Embassy

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) strongly condemned the brutal dispersal of Indigenous People (IP) and their supporters who gathered in front of the US Embassy in Manila Wednesday.

"We are shocked and appalled with the violent manner the protesters were dispersed at the rally of IPs and their supporters in front of the US Embassy Wednesday afternoon," it added in a statement Friday.

No amount of justification can cover up for the harsh and bloody breakup of the rally, it stressed.

"We will not condone these unjustifiable acts and we expect expeditious actions," the OPAPP further said.

"We put to task the ground commander of the police who failed to employ maximum restraint and pursue peaceful tact in dealing with the protesters," the agency added.

Navy to transport 250 tons of relief goods for 'Lawin' victims

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 21): Navy to transport 250 tons of relief goods for 'Lawin' victims

The Philippine Navy (PN) is only waiting for the weather to clear before deploying its ships to transport 250 tons of relief goods to "Lawin" battered provinces in Northern and Central Luzon.

This was confirmed by PN spokesperson Capt. Lued Lincuna in a message to the PNA Friday when asked what initiatives the navy is undertaking to help people displaced by the howler.

"Our ships are waiting for favorable sea conditions before moving out to deliver approximately 250 tons of relief goods (now pre-positioned in Sangley Point) to 'Lawin'-battered areas," he said.

Typhoon "Lawin" arrived late Wednesday and devastated Regions I, II, III, CALABARZON, and Cordillera Administrative Region.

As this develops, the PN spokesperson said that they have BRP Bacolod City (LC-550) on stand-by off Sangley Point, Cavite.

Once weather clears, Lincuna said the ship will immediately leave for Batanes with 10 tons of relief goods and disaster relief personnel.

Bello says release of political detainees, prisoners to improve peace negotiations

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 21): Bello says release of political detainees, prisoners to improve peace negotiations

Philippine Government chief negotiator and Labor chief Silvestre Bello III said the release of political detainees and prisoners will improve the trust between the two parties to agree on a joint and permanent ceasefire.

But he clarified that the issue on the amnesty for detained rebels is separate from discussions on the declaration of a bilateral ceasefire and that the release is not a precondition to move forward the peace negotiations with the communist insurgents.

“We don't tie up the release with the ceasefire because there is a commitment from the president that he will release the political detainees and prisoners so we will do our best to obtain those releases,” Bello stressed.

“[The] ceasefire is a separate issue although [the] releases can be taken as a confidence building measure which would motivate the other party to finally not only go into signing but upgrading the level of ceasefire from unilateral, indefinite to joint and permanent ceasefire,” he added.

Bello also cleared that the releases of the political prisoners will continue even before the joint permanent ceasefire is signed and that a process is being followed for the amnesty.

"If possible, from the commitment of our president, we’ll have the political detainees and prisoners released at the same time but we have to understand that the nature of their situation is not the same),” the labor secretary explained.

Bello also maintained that the commitment of the president and the efforts to obtain the releases is to show to the National Democratic Front that there is sincerity in addressing their concern about the remaining 400 imprisoned communist rebels.

The GRP chief negotiator said that the signing of a joint and permanent ceasefire between the government and the insurgents is expected to happen by the end of November or the first week of December.

“[Both parties] agreed that we will consider and hopefully agree on the signing of a joint, permanent ceasefire within the period of 60 days from the time of August 27, so you count it from there, it should be October 26 [in which] we will be signing [the] joint, permanent ceasefire,” Bello said.

“[The problem is] Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza will be with the President in Japan, so will I, and I don’t want to miss [the] historic signing. We are the ones who should sign so we asked for a resetting of the signing either towards the end of November or first week of December,”he added.

In the 30-year history of the peace negotiations between the GRP and the NDF, the talks have been disrupted for at least 15 times mainly due to two issues: the release of detained NDF consultants; and the declaration of ceasefire. Both issues were addressed by the Duterte government before the formal resumption of peace talks last August 22-28 in Oslo.

The first in the last five years, the talks last August yielded positive results with the reaffirmation of all previously signed agreements between the GRP and the NDF including the Hague Joint Declaration in 1992; the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) in 1996; and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) in 1998.

Last Sept. 22, GRP-NDF peace panel members met anew in Manila to discuss the possibility of a bilateral ceasefire agreement between the two parties and the revitalization of their monitoring mechanism for human rights and international humanitarian law.

No rush for us to interpret Pres. Duterte’s remarks on separating from US – Palace

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 21): No rush for us to interpret Pres. Duterte’s remarks on separating from US – Palace

MalacaƱang said Friday there is no rush for them to interpret President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement announcing separation from the United States “both in military but economics also”.

”We still have to wait for guidelines. There is no rush for us to interpret the speech of the President,” Presidential Communications Office (PCO) Assistant Secretary for Operations and Special Concerns Marie Banaag said in a press briefing.

Banaag said they have to wait for the concerned government agencies, including the Department of National Defense (DND) and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), to release official documents about the President’s statement.

”We would not like to interpret the pronouncement of the President so that once it is on paper, it’s clear what the President really is wanting us to have with regards to our relationship with the US,” Banaag said.

President Duterte announced his separation from the Philippines’ old ally, the US, before Chinese leaders and business leaders during Thursday’s Philippines-China Trade and Investment Forum at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

”The reason why I decided to shift gear is because I do not see any reason why I should stick with America who invaded us after the Spaniards for 400 years, stayed there for 50 years and since then, nothing has happened,” President Duterte explained.

”And in this shifting of political and cultural thing, America has lost it. I mean, I realigned myself in your ideological flow and maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world: China, Philippines and Russia,” he added.

Duterte said he would rather borrow money from China, which he said is sincere, and other countries, such as Japan and South Korea, and even Russia.

If China would find in his heart to help us in our needs, then we will remember you for all time,” President Duterte said.

Banaag urged the public not to make any speculation about the Chief Executive’s pronouncement.

”Once the paper is in, I don’t think it would be needed for us to make speculations. Since we have no paper to base our speculation, there is no need to worry or react to what the President has said,” the PCO official said.

President Duterte is set to return from his four-day state visit in Beijing on Friday night.

Korean-flagged ship, crew taken by ASG bandits off Tawi-Tawi

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 21): Korean-flagged ship, crew taken by ASG bandits off Tawi-Tawi

Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi units are now tracking down a Korean flagged-ship believed to be boarded and taken away by suspected Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits off Bongao, Thursday.

Western Mindanao Command spokesperson Major Filemon Tan said an estimated 10 bandits attacked the M/V Dong Bang Giant, skippered by Capt. Park Chul Hong, as it was passing the waters of Bongao at around 2:45pm.

Tan said the ASG members were aboard a speed boat and headed by one Jul Hassan.

Both the ship and its crew were taken away in a still undisclosed destination.

Reports disclosed that the perpetrators are alleged followers of Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Idang Susukan based in Sulu.

"Validation and intelligence monitoring are currently being conducted by the military in coordination with local chief executives and the locals to track down the perpetrators and safely rescue the victims," Tan said.

PHL air force readies 6 aircraft for 'Lawin' relief missions

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 21): PHL air force readies 6 aircraft for 'Lawin' relief missions

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) has committed six airplanes and helicopters to help in the ongoing relief efforts for victims of Typhoon Lawin, its spokesperson, Col. Antonio Francisco said Friday.

The airplanes committed for 'Lawin' relief missions include an Airbus Military C-295 medium transport, which has been sent to transport goods to Tuguegarao, Cagayan and conduct aerial surveillance on typhoon-devastated areas, and two W-3A Sokols with rescue teams deployed to Isabela to assist in the ongoing humanitarian mission there, Francisco said.

He further said that they are readying three Lockheed C-130 Hercules cargo planes at the Benito Ebuen Air Base in Mactan, Cebu to join the relief missions, along with two more Sokol combat utility helicopters in Clark Air Base, Pampanga.

PNP assures support to cops injured in US Embassy rally dispersal

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 21): PNP assures support to cops injured in US Embassy rally dispersal

The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Friday expressed its support to the policemen who were injured during the dispersal of a rally held in front of the United States Embassy in Roxas Blvd., Ermita, Manila on Wednesday.

The rally of cause-oriented and indigenous peoples groups that ended in a violent dispersal injured 32 policemen from the Manila Police District (MPD) and 20 rallyists.

The incident also caused the administrative relief of nine MPD officials and "restrictive custody" for some 40 policemen assigned in the rally site.

"We are here to assure all of you that you have our full support. For those who are injured, medical assistance will be provided. Legal assistance will also be provided if needed," National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Director Chief Supt. Oscar Albayalde said during his visit to the MPD Headquarters in UN Avenue, Manila on Friday.

"We do not agree with any lapses should there be any. However, we also would like to make sure that those who performed their job will be properly acknowledged," Albayalde added.

All those relieved from post and all who are under restrictive custody, he said, "we implemented this to pave way for the investigation."

Likewise, Albayalde also expressed his gratitude for the presence of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), National Police Commission (Napolcom), Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and the Internal Affairs Service (IAS) for the ongoing investigation.

The CIDG is now conducting an investigation into the incident to determine the "lapses" which may have been committed during the violent dispersal as well as the liability of those involved.

"I am sure that the truth will prevail. Whatever actions done, we take responsibility for it. We value the life of every Filipino and we assure the public that in the performance of our duty, we give the highest regard for it," Albayalde said.

US wants to keep 'very good relationship' with PHL

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 21): US wants to keep 'very good relationship' with PHL

Inspite of President Rodrigo Duterte's pronouncement that he wants to separate from the US both in military and economic aspects, the US wants to continue its friendship with the Philippines and are “committed to this relationship.”

“From our point of view we are not suing for divorce,” outgoing US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg on Friday said in a chance interview.

“We want to continue this relationship, we’re committed to this relationship, and we’re committed to the alliance between the two countries, that’s what we want,” he pointed out.

However, he said his government is asking for clarification on the recent statement made by President Rodrigo R. Duterte during his visit to China that he wants “economic separation” from the US.

Well, I think we need clarifications about what the President [Duterte] has said while he was in China, quite frankly, I don’t know what he means by separation, I don’t know what he means by economic separation either, our two economies, like the world economy are very much linked,” he stressed.

“I don’t know what the process is, I don’t know what the goal and objective is, all I know is what I hear and not what I see, because what I see is that we’re still working very much, we are the Philippine colleagues and in fact have very good relationship,” he added.

The Chief US envoy to the Philippines noted that they are “going through a period of uncertainty that we need to figure out.”

President Duterte announced his “separation” from the United States both in military and economic aspects before Chinese and government officials.

“I announce my separation from the United States, both in military but economics also,” Duterte was quoted as saying during his message at the Philippines-China Trade and Investment Forum.

Militant groups commemorate Peasant Day and World Food Day

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 20): Militant groups commemorate Peasant Day and World Food Day

Around 100 people marched around the streets of Dumaguete City and ended up at the Rizal Boulevard Thursday afternoon for a brief rally to commemorate Peasant Day as well as World Food Day ahead of its regular celebration on October 21.

Candido Ebarle, secretary general of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan local chapter told reporters in an interview that they, however, are calling the celebration World Foodless Day instead, referring to the current plight of the poor farmers.

Ebarle explained the protest march-rally was also held to condemn the violent dispersal by police forces of a rally that was held at the United States Embassy in Manila on Wednesday, where policemen and protesters were injured.

“We are strongly condemning the dispersal that was an aggression and a repressive form to disband the 'Lumads' and the 'Moros' at the said rally in Manila," Ebarle added.

It started out as a peaceful protest rally with negotiations between the militants and the police and it was only towards the end of the program when the last speaker was getting ready to deliver his message that a certain Pedroza had allegedly ordered the police to disband the group of “Moro”, Ebarle pointed out.

Ebarle was referring to Sr. Supt. Marcelino Pedrozo, who, along with eight other police officers to include the driver of the police van that plowed into the protesters, were relieved from their posts immediately.

In that incident, a police van was caught on video ramming into the protesters, while water cannons were also trained at them as tension broke out during the rally, and it is very obvious it was the government forces that had started the violent confrontation, Ebarle added.

“This is a form of repression and aggression that clearly shows the Metro Manila Police District is not giving protection to the Filipino rallyists but instead to the US Embassy,” the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan leader stressed.

Meanwhile, Ebarle clarified that they are not opposed to the Philippines breaking ties with the Unites States, but that the Independent Foreign Policy they are pushing for is one that is equitable and fair and with a purpose.

The Bayan leader announced that as regards the new administration under President Rodrigo Duterte, they have high hopes in his leadership but again “we will not turn a blind eye and a deaf ear” on policies that would disenfranchise the poor and marginalized sectors in the community.

The first 100 days of the Duterte administration have shown certain accomplishments but the President needs the support of the people for a progressive administration.

Present during the march-rally were members from the provincial formation of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Kahugpongan Alang sa Mga Gagmayng Mag-uuma sa Oriental Negros, Pamalakaya Guihulngan, National Federation of Sugar Farm Workers, and women’s peasant organizations Gabriela and Amihan.

They come from towns and cities as far as Guihulngan, Manjuyod, Bais, Sta. Catalina, Siaton and Bayawan in Negros Oriental, and carried with them placards, and other printed materials that expressed their individual concerns.

Ebarle said they were able to obtain a mayor’s permit for today’s march rally but originally it would have been on Friday but this had to be moved a day ahead because of the Buglasan Festival of Festivals on that day.

President Duterte, Xi agree to pursue bilateral talks to settle WPS dispute

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 20): President Duterte, Xi agree to pursue bilateral talks to settle WPS dispute

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin announced on Thursday that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping have agreed that the two countries will return to track of dialogue and consultation to settle dispute in the West Philippine Sea or South China Sea.

”The two sides agreed that they will come back to what they have agreed five years ago that is to pursue bilateral dialogue and consultation in seeking proper settlement of the South China Sea issue,” the Chinese foreign official said in a press conference in Beijing.

”This in itself signifies a new stage of maritime cooperation between the two countries. China is ready for discussions with our friends in the Philippines on maritime cooperation and cooperation in many other areas,” he added.

Liu said the details will be further discussed by the responsible authorities of both countries after the ongoing state visit of President Duterte in China.

”Both sides agreed that the South China Sea issue is not the sum total of the bilateral relations between the two countries,” he said.

The Chinese foreign official said the two heads of state did not tackle the Scarborough Shoal or Huangyan Island but “they did talk about the cooperation in fishery.”

”They agreed that the two countries will strengthen fishery cooperation in the South China Sea and also cooperation in terms of fishery products, industries,” Liu said.

”China will support the Philippines in developing aqua-culture, fishery products processing so as to help deliver a better life for the fishermen of the Philippines,” he added.

Liu said the two sides will have a more exchange of views on the fishery cooperation and China will make proper arrangements.

”In one word, in this visit bilateral relations have fully recovered and two countries will return to track of dialogue and consultation to address maritime issues,” he said.