Thursday, February 28, 2013

Villager takes NPA’s AK-47

A villager from Surigao del Sur already fed up with the abuses of the New People's Army (NPA) took away an AK-47 rifle from the insurgent group and turned over the firearm to the military.
1Lt. Joe Patrick Martinez, commanding officer of the 42nd CMO Company, 4th Infantry Division (4ID), said the villager carted one AK-47 (Norinco brand with defaced serial number), two magazines, and 80 rounds 7.62 mm ammunitions from the members Platoon 2 of Guerilla Front 16 of North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee who were then conducting extortion activities at a community in Barangay Aurora, Tagana-an, Surigao del Norte last February 20.
Martinez said the villager told them that while the NPAs were having a short rest after their extortion activities, he saw one of the insurgents put down his weapon, an AK-47 rifle.
When the insurgents took a nap, he then grabbed the opportunity to sneak and take away the firearm.
The villager then went straight to the 30th Infantry Battalion of the 4ID  based in Barangay Placer, Surigao del Norte, and informed the military about the presence of the insurgents in their community, at the same time, surrender the rifle.
Martinez said the villager claimed that the abuses committed by the NPAs prompted him to steal the rifle from them.
“The money and food that they demand from us is just enough for our family,” lamented the villager.
Elena L. Aben | Manila Bulletin | February 27, 2013 | Article Link

MDSU 1 safely removes funnel of USS Guardian

Sailors from Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 1 and U.S. Navy contracted salvage crew members from the M/V Jascon 25 safely remove the exhaust funnel structure from the mine countermeasures ship USS Guardian (MCM 5).


SULU SEA (Feb. 25, 2013) Sailors from Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 1 and U.S. Navy contracted salvage crew members from the M/V Jascon 25 safely remove the exhaust funnel structure from the mine countermeasures ship USS Guardian (MCM 5). Guardian ran aground on the Tubbataha Reef Jan. 17. The funnel's removal was a milestone in the dismantling process of the Guardian. 

The U.S. Navy and contracted salvage teams are safely dismantling and removing the ship from Tubbataha Reef. 

The U.S. Navy continues to work in close cooperation with the Philippine authorities to safely dismantle Guardian from the reef while minimizing environmental effects.

Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Anderson | U.S. Navy | February 25, 2013 | Article Link

2 NPAs killed in Cagayan clash

MANILA, Philippines - Two suspected communist rebels were killed during an encounter with government troops in Cagayan, police said on Wednesday.
Police Inspector Ceasar Orlanes, information officer of the Cagayan Provincial Police Office, said the firefight between soldiers and members of the New People's Army took place on Tuesday at around 1:30 p.m. in Barangay Lakambini, Tuao.
Ornales said authorities have yet to identify the casualties.
He said policemen were dispatched to the village after they received information on the presence of at least eight heavily-armed men in the area.
The firefight lasted for almost an hour after which the rebels retreated from the area.
Authorities recovered from the site an M-14 carbine rifle, an M-16 assault rifle and a caliber 45 pistol.
 | The Philippine Star | February 27, 2013 | Article Link

Communist Rebel tagged in Bukidnon attack falls

A SUSPECTED member of the New People’s Army (NPA) who was reportedly among those who attacked two pineapple plantations in Bukidnon last week was arrested on Tuesday.
Police Regional Office (PRO)-Northern Mindanao spokesman Police Superintendent Ronnie Francis M. Cariaga identified the alleged NPA member as Valeriano Anonsaon Jr., alias “Junior.”
Cariaga said Anonsaon, who was nabbed in Barangay Sil-ipon in Libona town, Bukidnon, has a pending arrest warrant for attempted homicide issued by Judge Lourdes Eltanal-Ignacio of the 1st Municipal Trial Court of Bukidnon.
Last February 19, NPA rebels simultaneously attacked the plantations and offices of Del Monte Philippines in Camp Phillips and Dole in Impasug-ong.
A few hours after the attack, at least two suspected NPA rebels were arrested in a manhunt operation in Barangay Kihare, Manolo Fortich, Cariaga added.
“Local police of Libona received information from a confidential informant that Valeriano was last spotted in Barangay Sil-ipon where he stayed with his wife’s uncle and was recuperating from the injuries he suffered in an encounter with Army personnel last February 23,” Cariaga said in an emailed statement.
During investigation, Anonsaon told authorities that three more rebels were injured and three others were killed during the encounter.
Cariaga said the management of Del Monte is now coordinating with the local police in the filing of arson cases against the suspected rebels.
“PRO-10 assures the public that it will continue to pursue its mandate of going after these rebels who were responsible in the series of atrocities in Bukidnon. Police personnel have now identified other suspects based on cartographic sketches,” he said.
One security guard was killed while two other guards and one civilian were injured in the February 19 attack in Del Monte.
Sun Star Cagayan de Oro | February 28, 2013 | Article Link

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Rebels raid village, seize arms cache

KIDAPAWAN CITY - Some 60-armed members of the New Peoples’ Army (NPA) raided a Moro community in a town in Makilala, North Cotabato, and carted away 16 firearms, at 3:15 p.m. last Saturday, an Army official said.
Lt. Manuel Gatus, commander of the Charlie Company of the 57th Infantry Battalion, said the rebels arrived on foot at Sitio Lacobe in Barangay Malabuan in Makilala town and pretended they were soldiers from the 38th Infantry Battalion allegedly tasked to get the villagers' firearms for inspection.
"The villagers, mostly members of a Maguindanaon tribe, were told to gather at the village center for a meeting and while this was on going, some of the rebels forcibly entered the houses and confiscated whatever firearms they could recover from the place," Gatus said.
Gatus said the rebels confiscated eight home-made Uzi pistols, five home-made Ingram pistols, two 38 caliber revolvers, and an M-79 grenade launcher.
The guns, said Gatus, are owned by the Baclid family and their relatives, many of whom are elements of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu).
The raid, the military official stressed, happened two weeks after the decades-old land conflict between the Baclid family and the Ilonggo settlers in the village was finally resolved through years of negotiations and interventions from the government, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), in particular.
The rebels are reportedly against the conflict resolution saying it was “unfair” and “unjust” on the part of the settlers.
Records from DAR showed a wide area of the land in conflict was given to the Baclid family.
The Baclids have long claimed sitio Lacobe as part of their ancestral land.
"In the 70s, during the wars in Mindanao, the Baclids were driven away from their lands. But in the 90s, when everything has returned to normalcy, they returned to their homes. They were surprised, however, to see Ilonggos tilling their lands," said Gatus, citing as basis the account of the Baclids.
The Ilonggos, however, claimed they bought the lands from landowners and other residents of the place. They showed as proof their land titles.
Gatus said that as soon as they confirmed reports the rebels raided the place and carted the villagers’ firearms they immediately sent teams to run after the NPAs whom they believed have set up bases along the boundary of Makilala and Tulunan towns in North Cotabato and in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat.
Malu CadeliƱa Manar | Sun Star Davao | February 27, 2013 | Article Link

Rebel leader behind Army camp attack nabbed

THE leader of the New People's Army (NPA) group, which attacked an Army detachment in northern Negros more than two years ago, was arrested in Calatrava town last Saturday.
Arrested by elements of the 62nd Infantry Battalion (62IB) and the Philippine National Police (PNP)-Special Action Force was a certain Joel Danioso alias Ewen, commanding officer of the Yunit Milista (YM) of Barangay Malatas, Calatrava town.
Danioso was arrested in Sitio Minatipik, Barangay Winaswasan, Calatrava by virtue of a warrant of arrest for the crime of robbery with homicide and physical injuries issued by presiding judge Katherine Go of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 59 in San Carlos City.
Danioso, a resident of Sitio Minatipik, Barangay Winaswasan, Calatrava, Negros Occidental, 34, led the raid of Polopangyan detachment in Barangay Bug-ang, Toboso Negros Occidental on August 28, 2010.
He was brought to Calatrava PNP after the arrest and further brought to Toboso PNP for detention.
"We will continue to help the PNP in implementing arrest warrants issued by courts. We are serious in enforcing our laws. Let the rule of law apply to these people who are menace to the society," said 62IB commander Efren Morados.
3rd Infantry Division Commander MGen Jose Mabanta Jr said, "This is a continuous law enforcement operation as part of your Army's commitment in protecting the communities, government and private establishments so that the people will live in a more secure and peaceful environment."
Teresa Ellera | Sun Star Bacolod | February 26, 2013 | Article Link

Monday, February 25, 2013

Philippine gov't dispatches humanitarian ship to ferry back Filipinos in Lahad Datu

MANILA, Feb. 24 (PNA) -- A ship on a humanitarian mission will be dispatched Sunday evening to fetch and ferry back the women and other civilians among the 180-member group who are holed out in Lahad Datu, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement.

The Philippine Navy ship, with hull number AT296, will sail from Bongao, Tawi-Tawi to the village of Tanduo in Lahad Datu.

The DFA said the ship is being prepositioned offshore Lahad Datu while talks with the group are underway.

There are reportedly some 180 individuals in the group, including some 30 armed escorts.
Onboard the ship are Filipino-Muslim leaders as well as social workers and medical personnel.

"We sent the ship to Lahad Datu on a humanitarian mission. We are deeply concerned about the presence of five women and other civilians in the group, and we urge them to board the ship without delay and return home," said DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario.

"As we have stated in countless occasions previously, we call on the entire group to go back to their homes and families, even at the same time, we are addressing the core issues they have raised. Please do so for your own safety," he stressed.

The standoff began when more than 100 Filipinos led by Muda Azzimudie Kiram, the brother of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, entered Lahad Datu in Sabah on Feb. 9.

The group said they have claims over Sabah, citing numerous historical accounts and rental receipts from the Malaysian government.

In an earlier report, it said that the Malaysian government has set the deadline until today (Feb. 24) for the group to leave the island. 
Lilibeth G. Ison | Philippine News Agency | February 24, 2013 | Article Link

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Legislating prosperity

An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had recently failed an entire class. That class had insisted that communism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer. 

The professor then said, "OK, we will have an experiment in this class on communism".. All grades will be averaged and everyone will receive the same grade so no one will fail and no one will receive an A.... (substituting grades for dollars - something closer to home and more readily understood by all).

After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little. 

The second test average was a D! No one was happy. 

When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.

As the tests proceeded, the scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else. 

To their great surprise, ALL FAILED and the professor told them that communism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed. 

Could not be any simpler than that. (Please pass this on) These are possibly the 5 best sentences you'll ever read and all applicable to this experiment:

1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.

2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.

3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.

4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it!

5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.

Original author unknown

Friday, February 22, 2013

No more second frigates for Philippine Navy - DND official

MANILA, Feb. 22 (PNA) -- A ranking Department of National Defense (DND) official has said the option to acquire second-hand frigates to boost the numbers and capabilities of the Philippine Navy (PN) has been waived.

Fernando Manalo, DND undersecretary for finance, munitions,installation and materiel, said this because evaluation studies found out that acquiring these vessels will be more costly in the long run.

"The PN found out that it will be more expensive to maintain second hand vessel(s) than buying a new one," he added.

With this conclusion, the Italian-made "Maestrale" frigates, are no longer in the running for possible acquisition by the Philippines.

"Its no longer being evaluated," Manalo stressed.

The "Maestrale" was earlier touted by the DND as the next ships to be acquired for the PN due to its credible missile and anti-submarine capabilities.

With this development, Manalo said the Philippines is now looking for new build naval ships with the same configuration.

The DND earlier said that five countries have expressed their intention to sell the Philippines modern frigates and offshore patrol vessels which will help the country protect its vast maritime territories.

These offers came from the United States, Israel, Croatia, South Korea and Australia.
All vessels being offered by these nations are brand new.

Manalo added that offers of the above-mentioned countries started coming during the last quarter of 2012.

The DND official attributed the sudden influx of would-be-suppliers to the fact the Philippine is now seriously upgrading its military forces.

The Philippines is in the market for two modern and powerful frigates in order to enhance its maritime domain awareness and protection capabilities.

Priam F. Nepomuceno | Philippine News Agency | February 22, 2013 | Article Link

DND chief hopes Sabah row will be settled peacefully

MANILA, Feb. 22 (PNA) -- Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin is hoping the stand-off between Filipino Muslims and Malaysian forces in Lahad Datu, Eastern Sabah will end peacefully.

Gazmin said on Friday that he and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Gen. Emmanuel T. Bautista have been in constant talks with their Malaysian counterparts so that the issue will conclude as soon as possible without bloodshed.

"Both us and our counterparts agreed that this issue must be resolved peacefully," Gazmin stressed.

As negotiations are ongoing, the DND chief stated that efforts are now underway to ensure that no additional Filipino Muslims will arrive at the disputed territory that could further complicate the situation.

The Philippine Navy (PN) on Thursday announced that it has beefed up its patrol operations off the Sulu Sea in wake of the ongoing stand-off between the Filipino Muslim followers of Sultan Jamalul Kiram and Malaysian forces in Sabah.

"The PN thru Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM) in Zamboanga City has been supporting the efforts of Western Mindanao Command in ensuring that security will be enforced and that issues will be resolved peacefully," PN spokesperson Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic said.

Under NFWM, Naval Task Force 62 is ready to conduct maritime patrol operations with Malaysian authorities.

Six PN ships and one Islander aircraft are now on stand-by for this duty to stabilize and secure the situation.

"As an archipelagic state, the PN plays a crucial role in maritime operation such as defense, interdiction, patrolling and law enforcement. Guarding more than 36,000 kilometers of vast territorial waters, the PN intensify its naval operation in the country's backdoor - Sulu Sea," Fabic stressed. 

Philippine News Agency | February 22, 2013 | Article Link

Salvage works for USS Guardian ongoing - PCG

MANILA, Feb. 22 (PNA) -- Helped by improving weather conditions, salvage crews are working aboard the grounded USS Guardian (MCM-5), the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said Friday.

Lt. Cmdr. Armand Balilo, Coast Guard spokesperson, said crewmen aboard the pipelay ship Jascon 25 have stabilized their position near the stricken minesweeper.

He salvage works were being pushed as the weather off Tubbataha Reef, where the USS Guardian has been stuck since Jan. 17, had improved compared to Thursday's.

On Wednesday and Thursday, big waves, poor visibility and bad weather conditions threatened the safety of the salvage crews. 

Philippine News Agency | February 22, 2013 | Article Link

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Troops exhume NPA mass purge victim

GOVERNMENT forces exhumed the skeletal remains of a New People’s Army (NPA) rebel believed to be a victim of a mass purge implemented by the Communist Party of the Philippines within the rebels’ rank several years back.

Major Angelo Guzman, Ninth Infantry Division spokesman, on Thursday, said that combined elements of the 49th Infantry Battalion and the local police recovered the remains of Juanito Hirang in Sitio Santol, Barangay Old Camp in Capalonga, Camarines Norte.

Lt. Col. Micheael Buhat, Ninth Infantry Battalion commander, said that the information was tipped off to them by the victim’s former comrade, who was then with the underground movement when Hirang was executed on July 9, 2004.

“It has been bothering his conscience for years that is why he reported it to the Army in order for the victim to have a decent burial,” Buhat said.

Hirang’s skeletal remains was turned over to his family in the municipality of Jose Panganiban.

Last year, some 30 skeletal remains of people also believed to be victims of the communist’s mass purging were also unearthed from a common grave in Bondoc Peninsula of Quezon province.

In 2006, dozens of bodies, also believed to be that of the Maoist rebels, were also exhumed in Inopacan, Leyte province.

The purging operations was reportedly implemented by the communist party starting in the mid 1980s through the so-called Plan Missing Link, which was meant to cleanse the underground movement of alleged military spies, or deep penetration agents.

In Mindanao, the rebels called the purging as operation zombie. A rebel caught spying, or suspected as an undercover agent is considered a zombie, or a walking dead.

Reports said that before a zombie was executed, he or she underwent first a mock trial. If the evidence was weak, he or she was detained and tortured to squeeze out information that would later be used as basis for his or her execution.

The purging took the lives of hundreds of suspected spies, which later caused a schism in the movement that also led to the murder of some communist leaders.
William B. Depasupil | The Manila Times | February 21, 2013 | Article Link

Philippines, Japan to hold dialogue on maritime security

The Philippines and Japan will hold the Second Dialogue on Maritime and Oceanic Affairs today amid maritime territorial tensions with neighboring China, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Thursday.

According to the Foreign Affairs agency, the two sides will “discuss various areas of cooperation in maritime safety, maritime security, anti-piracy measures, fisheries and marine scientific research” during the dialogue, which will be held at the department’s main office in Pasay City.

The Philippine delegation will be headed by Gilberto Asuque, assistant secretary for the Office of Special and Ocean Concerns, and Henry Bensurto, special assistant for the Office of the Undersecretary for Policy.

Other representatives will also come from the Foreign Affairs department, Department of National Defense, Philippine Coast Guard, Maritime Industry Authority, National Mapping and Resource Information Authority and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

The Japanese delegation, meanwhile, will be led by Kenji Kanasugi, deputy director general for Southwest and Southeast Asian Affairs of Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

It will also be composed of experts from the Japanese ministry of Foreign Affairs, secretariat of the Headquarters for Ocean Policy of the Cabinet Secretariat, the ministry of Defense and the Japanese Coast Guard.

The meeting comes at a time when both Manila and Tokyo are in separate territorial disputes over resource-rich islands in the waters they share with Beijing.

Japan and China have claims on the islands in the East China Sea called Senkakus by the Japanese and referred to as Diaoyus by the Chinese.

The Philippines is also in competing claims with China over the islands, islets, shoals, reefs and rock formations in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), a region believed to hold vast reserves of oil and minerals.

The first dialogue on maritime cooperation between the Philippines and Japan was held in Tokyo on September 9, 2011.

Bernice Camille V. Bauzon | The Manila Times | February 21, 2013 | Article Link

DND to buy P979-M coast watch system

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of National Defense (DND) will acquire coast watch system equipment worth P979 million to secure the government's energy projects.
In a bid bulletin, DND said the project would involve the supply and delivery of coast watch requirements, boats, firearms and ammunition, oil takedown equipment, and night vision devices.
DND Undersecretary Eduardo Batac, chairman of the DND Special Bids and Awards Committee, said the project is divided into five lots or projects.
Lot 1 involves the purchase of coast watch system requirements worth P877 million to enhance maritime domain awareness and security of energy service contract areas.
The second lot entails the procurement of two rigid hull inflatable boats worth P63.16 million. The supply and delivery of firearms, accessories and ammunition worth P21.81 million constitute lot 3.
Lot 4, meanwhile, involves the supply and delivery of P10.58-million worth of gas and oil platform takedown equipment and gears.
The supply and delivery of night vision devices worth P6.39 million constitute lot 5. All the packages will be accompanied with integrated logistics support.
DND Undersecretary Fernando Manalo said the project would also involve radars and sensors, which will form part of a command and control communications system.
He declined to say where the devices would be installed, citing security reasons.
Earlier government statements, however, said service contract zones are located in, among other areas, Cagayan, Central Luzon, Northwest Palawan, Mindoro Cuyo, East Palawan, Cotabato and Sulu Sea.
The natural gas projects in Palawan are located in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), the subject of a tense territorial dispute in the region.
The Philippines is claiming several islets, shoals, reefs and sandbars in the West Philippine Sea. China claims the entire area while Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims.
DND said the acquisition would be conducted through open competitive bidding. The bidding would be done in two stages.
The deadline for the submission of bids for some equipment under Lot 1 and Lots 2 to 5 will be on March 11 at 9 a.m.
For the other components of Lot 1, the deadline for the submission of offers is on April 24 also at 9 a.m.
Interested firms may purchase bid documents worth P75,000 from the DND Bids and Awards Committee Secretariat.
A pre-bid conference for the project will be held on Feb. 27 to allow the prospective bidders to raise their questions and concerns.
 | The Philippine Star | February 21, 2013 | Article Link

Philippine Navy deploys ships to patrol Sulu seas

MANILA – The Philippine Navy has deployed 6 ships to prevent the possible escalation of the standoff between Malaysian forces and hundreds of followers of the Sultan of Sulu, who are laying claim to Sabah.

But Navy spokesman Lt. Comm. Gregory Fabic clarified on Thursday that the Navy ships are only conducting patrol within the seas of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

“Instructions [given to us] is to support the Western Mindanao Command and ensure that everything is stable in that area,” he told ANC’s “Top Story”.

Fabic said they were not given instructions to dock in Sabah but assured that the Navy “is there to make the situation stable.”

Fabic also said no instructions were given in relation to the evacuation of the Crown Prince of the Sultanate of Sulu and his men.

“We are hoping that this will be resolved peacefully. If they are retreating, we are not there to help them because we need instructions if they can be picked up,” he said.

Fabic noted that should conflict erupt between Malaysian forces and the followers of the Sultan of Sulu, their hands would be tied.

“If there are conflicts, we cannot help them. We will [only go there] if it’s resolved peacefully and are given instruction to repatriate them,” he said.

The Sultan of Sulu and his men were given by the Malaysian government until Friday to leave Lahad Datu town in Sabah.

But they insist on staying despite the ultimatum.

Abrahim Idjirani, spokesman of the sultanate and brother-in-law of Sultan Jamalul Kiram, said President Aquino should talk to the Malaysian government to ensure that the rights of the Filipinos in Sabah are protected.

There are reports saying that Malaysian security forces have blocked off the Filipinos' access to food and other supplies.

President Aquino, meanwhile, said he's already looking into the Sabah issue and he wants the matter resolved peacefully, noting that the Philippines and Malaysia have a good relationship.

The President has also ordered the Justice Department to study the validity of the claim of the Sultanate of Sulu. 

Jon Carlos Rodriguez | | February 21, 2013 | Article Link

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sulu sultanate denies sabotaging peace efforts

MANILA – A spokesperson for the Sultanate of Sulu on Wednesday denied accusations that the royal family and its followers are out to sabotage the peace efforts of the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Mindanao.

Abraham Idjirani, spokesperson of the sultanate, said the followers of Sultan Jamalaul Kiram III who have been holed up in Lahad Datu in the Malaysia's Sabah have history on their side in claiming the land.

"We completely deny that. That is unfounded, baseless. I think the president should not listen to anybody na nagsabi ng ganyan," Idjirani told radio dzMM.

"Ang Sabah issue ay iba sa MILF peace talks. Ang MILF peace talks ay internal problem. Ang Sabah issue, geopolitics ang involved dito."

Idjirani was reacting to the sources cited by The Philippine Star who said Sultan Jamalul Kiram III is not acting on his own in highlighting his family's claim over Sabah.

Among those being eyed by administration officials as instigators of Kiram are Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chieftain Nur Misuari, former national security adviser Norberto Gonzales and even the President’s uncle, former Tarlac congressman Jose "Peping" Cojuangco and his wife Margarita, who is running for senator under the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).

Hundreds of supporters of the sultan trooped to the Malaysian territory last week, apparently as a result of the peace agreement between the Philippine government and separatist group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The Bangsamoro framework agreement aims at creating an autonomous state seen as a solution to the decades-long conflict in the region.

The sultanate, however, felt alienated by the peace agreement.

"Our government relegated the issue into the backburner. Sa palagay namin, with regard to the issue of Sabah, parang wala ng interes ang national government," Idjirani said.

While denying involvement in the standoff, MNLF's Misuari expressed his support for the sultanate's followers, saying the land is rightfully owned by the sultanate and that their claim has historical justification.

The MNLF chieftain also claimed that Malaysia is brokering the peace deal between the government and the MILF in order to prevent the Sabah issue from being discussed anew.

5,300 ringgit rent

The Sabah territory was once controlled by the Sultanate of Sulu. It was given as a gift by the Sultanate of Brunei for Sulu's role in quelling a rebellion.

In 1878, the Sulu sultanate leased Sabah to the British North Borneo Company, which then transferred the territory to Malaysia in 1963.

The Philippine government in 1962, then under President Diosdado Macapagal, was given the legal authority by the sultanate to handle negotiations on the claims.

From then on Kuala Lumpur pays an annual rent of 5,300 ringgit ($1,600) to the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu.

Idjirani, however, said the right given to the Philippine government to negotiate on its behalf was revoked in 1989 by Sultan Jamalul Kiram III.

"In view of the fact that the sultanate of Sulu [revoked] the special power of authority, wala ng karapatan ang gobyerno ng Pilipinas na i-pursue ang Sabah claim," he said.

Idjirani said the sultanate will not give up its claim. He said Sabah belongs to the sultanate, and by extension, to the Philippines.

"Ang Sabah ay atin. Sa katotohanan, bago mamatay ang kanilang tatay na si late Sultan Punjungan Kiram, na 32nd sultan of Sulu, ang habilin sa mga anak ay 'Sabah is not for sale. 

Sabah is the patrimony of the Filipino people,'" Idjirani said.

"Ang naapektuhan dito ay 'di lang pamilya ng Kiram kundi mga constituency ng sultanate sa Sulu archipelago dahil sa paniniwala nila ang Sabah ay pag-aangkin ng sultanate ng sulua at ng Pilipinas."

No violence

Idjirani said the armed followers have also been ordered not to instigate violence.
"Hindi ko ibig sabihin na the Muslim will not fight against Muslim, but in line with the preaching of Islam, ganoon ang mangyayari," he said.

"Pero kung gagawin nila na lulusubin ang kuta o community na kinaroroonan ng ating mga kapatid, the issue of Sabah will come out, at malalaman ng buong mundo kung sino ang may-ari at sinong 'di nagmamay-ari ng disputed territory."

Idjirani said Sultan Jamalul Kiram III yesterday sent a letter to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak requesting that the Malaysian government hold talks with the group in Sabah.
"Gusto rin nilang ma-resolve ang issue peacefully. Ngunit ang sabi ni Raja Muda Abimuddin Kiram, kailangan ditto (Sabah) mapag-usapan," Idjirani said, referring to the sultan's brother who led the group to Sabah.

"Ang sabi ni Raja Muda Abimuddin Kiram, 'let us talk, negotiate, para malaman natin ang parameters kung saan tayo mag-meet in between.'

Dharel Placido | | February 20, 2013 | Article Link

China twits Philippines' 'historical, legal errors'

BEIJING, China (UPDATED) -  The Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that China had rejected the Philippines' request to submit the two countries' territorial disputes in the South China Sea to international arbitration.

The ministry's spokesman Hong Lei said China's ambassador to the Philippines, Ma Keqing, met on Tuesday with officials from the Philippines' Foreign Ministry to reject the request.
Hong stressed that China has consistently advocated resolving territorial disputes bilaterally, a stance he said was supported by the ASEAN countries.

"The Philippines' actions not only violated this consensus, they also make numerous historical and legal errors, including false criticism of China. China absolutely cannot accept it," Hong told a regular news conference in Beijing.

"We hope the Philippine side can scrupulously abide by its promises, not take actions to expand and complicate the situation, and positively respond to proposals made by China on setting up a negotiation system to discuss maritime disputes, and restarting work of building a mutual-trust mechanism," he added.

China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and Taiwan all claim territory in the South China Sea.

China's claim is the largest, forming a vast U-shape over most of the sea's 1.7 million square km (648,000 square miles), including the Spratly and Paracel archipelagos.

China has insisted on handling the disputes on a one-on-one basis rather than multilaterally, a strategy some critics have described as "divide and conquer."

DFA: Arbitration to proceed

In response to China's move, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said: “China’s action will not interfere with the process of Arbitration initiated by the Philippines on 22 January 2013. The Arbitration will proceed under Annex VII of [United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea] and the 5-member arbitration panel will be formed with or without China.”
“The Philippines remains committed to Arbitration which is a friendly, peaceful and durable form of dispute settlement that should be welcomed by all,” the DFA said.

DFA also said the soon-to-be-formed tribunal will check the domestic laws of China, which should be in conformity with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario earlier said UNCLOS, which defines the rights and responsibilities of nations in their use of the world's oceans, will be the great “equalizer.”

Article 9 of Annex 7 provides that: “If one of the parties to the dispute does not appear before the arbitral tribunal or fails to defend its case, the other party may request the tribunal to continue the proceedings and to make its award. Absence of a party or failure of a party to defend its case shall not constitute a bar to the proceedings. Before making its award, the arbitral tribunal must satisfy itself not only that it has jurisdiction over the dispute but also that the claim is well founded in fact and law.”

Reuters / | February 20, 2013 | Article Link

Monday, February 18, 2013

US Ready To Disassemble Warship Stranded At Reef

With the Jascon 25 pipelay crane vessel now at the Tubbataha reef, a spokesman of the United States Navy (USN) said yesterday salvage personnel will begin disassembling and removing the stricken Guardian minesweeper as soon as possible.
Lt. Frederick Martin, the USN Combined Task Unit (CTU) Guardian public affairs officer, gave the Manila Bulletin a summary of their salvage plan.
He stressed though that "individual steps, such as when to begin disassembling portions of the Guardian, are decisions made by the on-scene salvage experts based on weather and conditions at the site."
According to the USN officer, "Jascon 25, a dynamic positioning crane, has arrived in the area. This crane does not need to anchor, so it is expected to be able to operate where the other crane, Smit Borneo, could not. It also has a higher lifting capacity, needed to remove some sections of Guardian."
"Once the Jascon completes the Philippine Customs process and aligns and tests its dynamic positioning system, weather permitting, Smit salvage personnel will begin disassembling and removing the Guardian with the crane," he said.
In an email to the Manila Bulletin, Martin also provided a rough outline of the current salvage plan, but made it clear that "it will probably change as it is executed."
"It  is important to understand that the plan is constantly changing and being refined as the operation continues. The salvage of USS Guardian is extremely complex, and is affected by a wide variety of factors, including weather and the continued structural degradation of Guardian itself," Martin explained.
Marine salvage is a dynamic operation and operational plans will need to be adjusted as circumstances change," he added.
When the dismantling of the Guardian begins, Martin said topside equipment will be removed first, followed by masts, funnel and other accessible equipment and portions of the ship.
"Throughout the process, protection of the environment and mitigation of environmental risk will be a significant consideration, alongside safety of personnel," he said.
"Next, once loose material has been removed, we expect to begin removing the ship's superstructure - the part of the ship above the main deck.  Sections will be cut free and lifted with the Jascon crane, again with consideration of protecting the marine environment," Martin said.
Once the superstructure is removed, heavy machinery and equipment will be removed from inside the ship.
The USN spokesman said they have already removed the fuel and most of the other hazardous materials from the ship, and will monitor the removal of this equipment to ensure any remaining material is appropriately contained.
"Once the hull is mostly empty, we expect to begin to cut it into sections that can be secured and lifted.  Our current estimate is that we will remove the hull in three sections.  The bow and stern will be removed as intact pieces; however, the middle section will need to be removed in a piecemeal fashion as the structure lacks the strength to lift intact," he said.
The ship will be disassembled using a combination of hydraulic and pneumatic saws, grinders, cutters, and other equipment.
As equipment and sections of the ship are removed, they will be transferred to a barge or deck of the crane for further work.
The spokesman said, however, that they have not yet determined the final disposition of Guardian.
"Again, this entire plan is provisional, and based on what we know of the current conditions.  As we conduct the operation, we may find we need to alter the plan, possibly significantly.  We are working to remove the Guardian safely, while minimizing risk to the environment, and as quickly as those other considerations allow," said Martin.
He also reiterated that the salvage plan continues to emphasize safety and protection of the environment.
"Throughout the operation the salvage experts will alter procedures as necessary to protect personnel and the Tubbataha Reef ecosystem," stated USN spokesman.
Elena L. Aben | Manila Bulletin | February 18, 2013 | Article Link

Maguindanao Massacre Suspect Wounded, Captured After Clash With Troops

KIDAPAWAN CITY, Cotabato — A suspect in the “Maguindanao Massacre” was wounded and captured when his group clashed with government troops in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Saturday, local authorities said.
The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) based in Maguindanao said reported Sunday that one gunman was killed in an encounter and that one of those wounded was a certain Tammy Talimbong, a suspect in the Maguindanao Massacre case.
An Army official identified as Captain Louie Male of the 45th Infantry Battalion was also wounded during the clash.
Male was leading a team in patrolling the highway in Manungkaling district in Mamasapano town when they encountered Talimbong’s group.
The soldiers were sent to the area to guard the residents from a group of armed men reported to police.
When authorities had Talimbong’s identity checked, they found out the suspect was a former member of the so-called Ampatuan militia and is among those wanted in the Maguindanao massacre in 2009 in which 58 people, mostly journalists, were killed.
Talimbong was placed in the custody of CIDG, reports said.
Malu Cadelina Manar | Manila Bulletin | February 17, 2013 | Article Link

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Dismantling of US Navy ship to start on Monday

MANILA, Philippines—The American minesweeper USS Guardian, which is stuck on the Tubbataha Reef in Palawan, will be “chopped up” beginning Monday, a Philippine Coast Guard official said Saturday.
PCG Palawan District commander Commodore Enrico Evangelista said the crane ship MT Jascon 25 was due to arrive in the area at 11 p.m. Saturday and that salvaging operations for the USS Guardian would begin on Monday.
“For the past one month, we prepared the USS Guardian for removal and the best scheme to remove (it) is through cutting,” Evangelista said in an interview. “We have already removed the things that can be removed so now [the entire ship] is ready for removal. We will begin cutting (on Monday).”
Evangelista said they had already removed “50-caliber machine guns, small guns and ammunition but no missiles.”
The United States earlier hired the services of the salvaging ships MT Trabajador 1 of Malayan Towage and Salvaging Corp. and the Vos Apollo of a Malaysian company based in Singapore. The US Navy’s USNS Salvor and the PCG’s BRP Romblon are also at the site.
Evangelita said the chopped up parts of the ship would be taken to Vos Apollo and transferred to a barge from Subic Bay.
“This is a warship of the US Navy so they will determine where it will be disposed. I still don’t know what they intend to do with it. The ship may have a design that is a trade secret,” he said.
He added that the Philippine government no longer needed these ship parts for its investigation into the grounding incident.
In Baguio City, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya  ruled out the possibility of sending the crew of the USS Guardian to jail for running aground on the Tubbataha Reef.
“It becomes tricky on that respect,” Abaya told reporters when asked if the US Navy servicemen could be imprisoned for destroying the corals at the Tubbataha Reef as provided in RA 10067, the law that established the Tubbataha Reef National Park.
Abaya said it was accepted in the general practice of international laws that “men of war, foreign naval vessels enjoy immunity, especially if it is in the line of duty.”
“So that has been practiced (worldwide), so it would be difficult on that part,” Abaya said on the sidelines of the Philippine Military Academy  Homecoming in Fort del Pilar. Abaya is a member of PMA Class ’88.
Nonetheless, Abaya said the US Navy would still be sanctioned for the damage its minesweeper caused to the reef that has been declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations.
The USS Guardian, which ran aground on January 17, destroyed some 4,000 square meters of corals. But Abaya said the overall damage to the reef had yet to be “assessed” because the ship was still stuck there.
The only way to have an “accurate picture” of the damage is if the ship has been removed, he said.
Abaya expressed hope that the salvaging of USS Guardian would be finished by March, depending on the weather in the area as the personal safety of the crew should also be considered.
Abaya noted that the US government has been “very cooperative and they have immediately apologized… The least they can do is cooperate, become transparent, and share with the people what’s going on.”
Abaya said there was some speculation about how the ship ran aground.
“Some say they probably enjoyed too much of an R&R in Subic. They said there was an error in digital charts. Some say they were doing a different thing there, on their own. This is all speculation so it would be irresponsible on my part to even assume,” Abaya said. 


Air Force obtains last batch of 8 new W-3 Sokol helicopter

MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) - With the arrival of two helicopters in Manial early this morning, the Philippine Air Force has received all the eight brand new W-3A Sokol helicopters purchased from Poland, the military said.

The Philippines spent P2.8 billion ($70 million) for the acquisition of the helicopters.

Air Force spokesman Miguel Ernesto Okol said, "With the complement of the eight (Sokols), these will greatly improve our search and rescue capability."

Okol said the senior leadership, including Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Air Force chief Lauro Catalino dela Cruz, decided last year to utilize the Sokol aircraft for search and rescue missions because they are twin-engine and have more modern avionics.

The Polish firm delivered the four Sokols in February last year while two others were flown in to the country nine months later. All the six previously-delivered Sokol helicopters are now being used by the Air Force.

The PZL W-3 Sokol helicopter is a medium-size, twin-engine and multipurpose model made by Polish helicopter manufacturer PZL-swidnik.

The Philippine Star | February 17, 2013

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