Your Armed Forces of the Philippines is celebrating it’s 82nd year anniversary of Protecting the People and Securing the State.
“This is not an armed conflict, this is not a campaign on anything. I hope that the NPA would understand that what they did was not good, very wrong.
…If they were the victims of any natural disaster, the government would have done the same thing to them – which is, provide them with what they need during a time of calamity.”
CATARMAN, Northern Samar — New People’s Army (NPA) terrorists ambushed soldiers assisting and providing relief to victims of tropical storm “Urduja” in Northern Samar, wounding two soldiers and sending typhoon-affected residents in panic.
Soldiers from the 20th Infantry Battalion (2OIB) were conducting Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response Operations typhoon victims in Barangay Hinagonoyan, Catubig town, when the about 50 terrorists opened fire at them.
The 20IB condemned the atrocity, which they said was a clear violation of the International Humanitarian Law.
The attack and ensuing firefight caused panic and fear among the already distressed townsfolk, the Army said.
To give back to others; is one of the principles of the Rotary Club of Camp Aguinaldo. This afternoon December 18, Rotary Club of Camp Aguinaldo in partnership with 7th Civil Relations Group, CRSAFP, Angel ng Masa and DWDD 1134 kHz AM – Armed Forces Radio gave away christmas gifts to 50 students of Camp Aguinaldo Elementary School, CGEA, Quezon City. Let the spirit of giving be alive this Christmas and everyday. Merry Christmas!
With concerns raised over possible military abuses, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) vowed to uphold human rights as martial law is extended for a year in Mindanao.
Chief of Staff, AFP Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero said the military’s Human Rights Office will actively monitor the activities of AFP troops, and violators will be held accountable.
He gave assurance that human rights complaints would be entertained and acted upon.
“We have our mechanism to check on the discipline and misconduct of our soldiers to make sure that they are accountable and they are answerable for their misdeeds,” – Gen. Guerrero.
Soldiers from the 4th Infantry Battalion going around homes in the hinterlands of Mansalay and Roxas towns in Oriental Mindoro singing Christmas carols and giving away noche buena gift packages to families and relatives of NPA guerrillas.Photo taken December 2014
By Charissa Luci Atienza and Hannah Torregoza
Congress, in a joint session, approved on Wednesday President Duterte’s request to extend the martial law and suspend the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao from January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018.
A total of 240 Congress members voted in favor of the martial law extension, while 27 rejected it. The Senate voted 14-4, while House of Representatives voted 226-23 to approve martial law extension.
Before Congress acted on the request, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea justified why President Duterte is seeking to extend martial law in Mindanao.
“Despite the liberation of Marawi City, and the eerie silence in the main battlefield, a state of actual rebellion subsists in Mindanao, perpetrated not only by remnants of the Daesh-inspired DIWM (Da’watulIslamiyahWaliyatulMasriq), but also by other local and foreign terrorist groups, including the New People’s Army, and ready to explode anew at any given time,” Medialdea told the joint session.
“Public safety requires a further extension of martial law and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao, in order to quell this rebellion completely,” he pointed out.
The Malacañang official clarified that they are not seeking “unlimited” martial law, but “unlimited” peace and stability in the strife-torn region.
“We do not ask for unlimited martial law, what we are seeking is unlimited peace,” Medialdea said.
Before the nominal voting, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III and House Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas made a motion to further extend President Duterte’s martial law proclamation.
President Dutertefirst placed the entire Mindanao under martial law for 60 days when he signed Proclamation No. 216 on May 23, 2017, after the Maute terrorist group lay siege on Marawi City.
Before the 60-day period lapsed, the President sought its extension until December 31, 2017 – a request granted by Congress after 261 members favored it.
“Martial law may be a severe means of achieving peace but desperate times like these call for desperate measures,”Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said after voting in favor of President Duterte’srequest.
“The perpetual state of war in Mindanao has stunted economic growth, perpetrated poverty, and visited terrible tragedies upon our countrymen who live there. This heartbreaking state of affairs has gone on for far too long, Mindanaoans deserve the chance to live in peace,”Gatchalian said.
Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito said it is also evident that most law-abiding citizens in Mindanao favor martial law.
“War lords and private armies cannot move and lord it over the way they used to. Thousands of loose firearms problem need to be addressed to establish atmosphere conducive to business and tourism,” Ejercito said.
Nationwide martial law feared
But Liberal Party senators and congressmen and the seven-man Makabayan bloc of the House of Representatives vehemently opposed the new extension of martial law, saying it is “unconstitutional.”
Senator Francis Pangilinan, who was among the 28 interpellators, said the approval of the extension of the martial law is “contrary to the Constitution” and is considered as the Congress members’ “abdication of their sacred duty to act as checks and balances of the government.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon insisted that the extension of martial law until next year “does not find basis under the Constitution.”
He emphasized that under the Constitution, the Congress can extend the proclamation of martial law only when there’s actual rebellion, which he said requires actual public uprising and taking arms to overthrow the government.
“There is no state of rebellion. These are only threats at this point. Actual armed conflict is basic foundation for the continued imposition of martial law,” he said.
Responding to Drilon’s query, Deputy Executive Secretary MeynardoGuevarra explained that the President’s request is not based on assessment of existing threat, but on the basis of a continuing actual rebellion in Mindanao.
But Albay Rep. EdcelLagman said there is no factual basis for extending martial law.
“An extension of the period of martial law in Mindanao even for one day, much more for one full year, has no factual anchorage and constitutional basis,” he said in explaining his “No” vote for the martial law extension.
Buhayparty-list Rep. LitoAtienza also questioned the basis for granting the President’s request to extend the martial law.
“Where do you get the authority even to request for an extension? If the basis for proclamation is no longer Marawi, then it must start at 60 days again,” he said.
“Ang pananaw ko po at iniikutan nyo ang probisyon ng Konstitusyon, how can the extension be longer than the original? Do you request an extension or another proclamation?” he asked.
In his interpellation, Drilon raised concern over the inclusion of the National People’s Army (NPA) in the reasons for extending the martial law.
“The NPA conflict has been there for the last four decades nationwide but suddenly in the extension, the NPA is cited,” he noted.
“Is this now a prelude to declaring martial law nationwide?” he asked.
Bayan Munapartylist Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said the extension of martial law would only further strengthen the Communist Party of the Philippine-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA). “Martial law is the number one recruiter of the NPA,” he said.
While Drilon expressed apprehension over the martial law extension, Kusug-Tausug party-list Rep. Shernee Tan pushed anew for the nationwide declaration of martial law, citing the presence of NPAs in Luzon and Visayas.
“I reiterate my stand that martial law should be extended not just in Mindanao but also in Luzon and in Visayas if it serves to the best interest of our nation,” Tan said.
But National Security Adviser HermogenesEsperon Jr. and Defense SecretaryDelfinLorenzana both said that they don’t see martial law being imposed in Luzon and Visayas in the foreseeable future.
“Depende lagi sa situation. Pupunta ba sa Visayas o sa Luzon? (As always it depends on the situation. Will martial law come to Visayas and Luzon?) As of now, no,”Esperon told reporters in a chance interview just minutes after lawmakers gave its nod to the Palace request.
“But I’d like to express confidence also that it will not go to Visayas and Luzon,”Esperon said.
Lorenzana said there is no need to extend the martial law in Luzon and Visayas, citing the activities of NPA in both regions were “mininimal.”
“I think the reason the NPA in Mindanao are included is because of the intensity…kasi po malakas ‘yung…45 percent of the NPA in the whole Philippines are in Mindanao. And they are creating havoc, especially in eastern Mindanao,” Lorenzana said.
“In Visayas and Luzon,maliit lang po ‘yung activities ng CPP-NPA diyan, kaya I don’t think that there is a need toinclude Visayas and Luzon in the martial law,” he said.
He justified the continued extension of martial law, explaining that “the rebellion has not stopped, but just moved to another place.”
He even reported to the plenary that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has spent P4 billion for the implementation of martial law since President Duterte imposed it last May 23. He even sought for the reimbursement of their “operation” expenses so that they could replenish their stocks.
Akbayan partylist Rep. Tom Villarin feared that the act of Congress would lead to no-elections scenario in Mindanao. During the interpellation, Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero also expressed such concern, explaining that under the Omnibus Election Code, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) may suspend the elections if there is rebellion or terrorism.
But Deputy Executive Secretary Guevarra said the suspension of the barangay elections and the upcoming local elections in Mindanao “is under the purview of the Comelec as an independent constitutional body.”
Before Congress approved the extension, the Comelec said that if martial law is extended in Mindanao, it is likely to hold another public consultation to determine if there is a need to postpone the May 14, 2018 Barangay and SangguniangKabataan polls in the region.
“Independently, we will conduct another hearing as we had conducted in Davao the last time to see what the situation is on the ground, if we should suspend the holding of the election because of the state of lawlessness or rebellion,” Comelec Commissioner LuieGuia said in a press briefing Wednesday.
But Lorenzana assured that martial law will not be used to suspend the upcoming polls in Mindanao. (With reports from Vanne P. Terrazola, Mario B. Casayuran, Ellson A. Quismorio, and Leslie Ann G. Aquino)
MANILA, Philippines — As expected, the administration-dominated Senate and House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved yesterday President Duterte’s request to extend martial law in Mindanao by one year.
As contained in Joint Resolution No. 13, martial rule is extended from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2018. This is the second extension of the President’s martial law declaration in May, with the first ending at the end of this month.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Senate President Aquilino Pimentel lll presided over the joint session. Majority leaders Vicente Sotto lll of the Senate and Rodolfo Fariñas of the House presented the motion to lengthen the imposition of martial law.
At the start of session, administration officials led by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea defended the President’s extension request.
Medialdea said the “Chief Executive and commander of all armed forces” was asking for an extension “despite great strides achieved by government forces in suppressing lawless violence and rebellion in Mindanao.”
He said that while the Mautes and other terrorist groups have been “substantially neutralized and the main battle area in Marawi City has been liberated, terrorist threats remain.”
“Remnants of these groups continue to rebuild through recruitment and training and fund-raising. They are consolidating their forces,” Medialdea said.
He added that the Islamic State (IS)-inspired Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters “continues to commit acts of violence, while the Abu Sayyaf remains a serious security concern.”
Medialdea pointed out that the New People’s Army (NPA) took advantage of the situation in Mindanao by stepping up its recruitment, training and offensive activities.
“In sum, the factual basis for martial law as affirmed by Congress and the Supreme Court continues to exist. There is still a state of rebellion ready to explode anew at any time,” he said.
“Public safety requires the extension of martial law. We do not ask for an unlimited martial law. What we are seeking is unlimited peace,” he stressed.
Medialdea, assisted by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and other defense, security, intelligence and Cabinet officials, answered questions from senators and House members and addressed their concerns.
Their debates focused on the factual and constitutional bases for Duterte’s martial law extension request.
Questioning the President’s plea, Sen. Franklin Drilon called attention to the declaration made by Duterte in October that Marawi City “has been liberated from terrorist influence.”
Following the declaration, he said the military announced the termination of combat activities in the city.
The Senate minority leader asserted that there is “no actual rebellion or public uprising against the government,” conditions set by the Constitution for declaring or prolonging martial law.
He said the grounds cited by Duterte and Medialdea for extending martial law are “mere threats” that the administration and state forces could handle without martial law.
Drilon elicited an admission from Lorenzana that the situation in Marawi has not “substantially changed” since the President and the military declared the liberation of the city and the end of hostilities.
Lorenzana, however, was quick to clarify that since then, terrorist threats have spread to neighboring areas, an assertion that military officials supported.
Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra called attention to the Supreme Court decision affirming the President’s martial law declaration in May.
He said the tribunal noted pockets of terrorist activities in Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, Cotabato and other parts of Mindanao, not just in Marawi City.
“All these suggest that rebellion has spilled over to other areas. The termination of conflict in Marawi is not conclusive evidence that the rebellion has ended,” he said.
Before the joint session ended, and after the votes were counted, Sotto asked for a second round of voting so that Sens. Francis Escudero and Cynthia Villar could manifest their yes votes for martial law extension.
But Drilon opposed Sotto’s motion and inquired: “If we allow that, when would the voting end?”
Sotto said he would not insist, since he has already mentioned anyway that his two colleagues were for extending martial rule.
Lawmakers in the highland Cordillera region allied with the administration have expressed support for the extension of martial law in Mindanao.
“It is the clamor of (the people) of Mindanao and I have to stand by them,” Abra Rep. Joseph Sto. Niño Bernos said, adding that Mindanaoans perfectly know “what is best for them.”
Kalinga Rep. Allen Jesse Mangaoang, concurrently the caretaker congressman for Mountain Province, vowed to vote in favor of the extension after getting apprised through the House hearing on Tuesday about the real score in the south.
Mangaoang explained that his vote was prompted by how all Mindanaoan congressmen endorsed the extension 100 percent.
A majority of Visayan bloc members are in favor of extending martial law in Mindanao, its convenor Negros Occidental 3rd District Rep. Alfredo Benitez has said.
Abang Lingkod party-list Rep. Stephen Paduano of Negros Occidental also disclosed that almost all Mindanaoan lawmakers support the extension for one year and they have to support their position.
“We in the Visayas don’t have the moral authority to question the will of Mindanaoans,” said Paduano, who used to be the national commander of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade, a breakaway faction of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), which entered into peace talks with the government.
Negros Occidental 2nd District Rep. Rafael Leo Cueva said the government, through the military, needs more time to reduce the threat of the IS group to make a comeback, which can also fast-track the development of Marawi.
Compostela Valley Gov. Jayvee Tyron Uy yesterday welcomed the move to extend martial law in his region for another year in an effort to further strengthen the fight against terrorists.
“We welcome the extension… We feel safer and better. We think it is for the best interest of our people, especially long-term,” Uy, whose jurisdiction is largely a mining area and considered a hotbed of NPA rebels, told The STAR.
Uy, however, was quick to point out that they based their support for martial law extension mainly on the lower crime rate in his area.
“Besides, there was no report of any military abuses in my area of responsibility since martial law was declared last May,” he said, adding that with martial law in place, the military and the police have also been more visible.
The Philippine Councilors League of the Philippines also expressed strong support for extension.
The PCL endorsed to the President its all-out support for the recommendation of the Department of National Defense and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on the martial law extension regardless of its duration.
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading Malacañang’s proposed Joint Resolution 18, which seeks to increase the basic pay of military and other uniformed personnel (MUP).
Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles, appropriations committee chairman, said yesterday the lowest-paid MUP, like a private in the armed forces or an Officer 1 in the police, would receive an increase of more than 100 percent.
Those with higher ranks would get an average adjustment of 58.7 percent.
The term “military and other uniformed personnel” refers to officers and men of the armed forces, the national police, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Bureau of Fire Protection, Philippine Public Safety College, Philippine Coast Guard, and National Mapping and Resource Information Authority.
These adjustments would cost taxpayers P64.24 billion a year, he added.