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U.S. TROOPS TO HAVE 'PERSISTENT, INTERMITTENT' PRESENCE IN PHL[RELATED: Duterte urged by ex-presidents to exercise restraint on West Phl Sea row]


JULY 28 -EDCA, which was signed by the Philippines and the US on April 28, 2014, allows American troops to pre-position defense assets in Philippine bases. File photo
 As the United States and the Philippines move forward with the implementation of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, US Ambassador Philip Goldberg said that American troops' activities will be "persistent but kind of intermittent." The Philippines had earlier identified five military bases where US troops and supplied can be stationed under the EDCA. which the Supreme Court has ruled with finality as constitutional on Tuesday. In an interview on ANC's "Headstart" on Thursday morning, Goldberg said that the US troops will preposition supplies for humanitarian assistance and bring in rotational forces and equipment in all of the five military bases. "It won't be permanent," Goldberg said, adding that US aircraft will also be stationed in the bases at some point. Goldberg stressed that the EDCA is not aimed at China despite the dispute over the South China Sea. "People should understand that EDCA, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, should not be seen in light of the South China Sea dispute but rather in terms of our mutual security relationship," the US envoy said. READ MORE...RELATED, Duterte urged by ex-presidents to exercise restraint on West Phl Sea row...

ALSO: Digong cracks jokes to lighten NSC meet mood


JULY 29 -GRAVE MATTERS, COMIC FLAIR To lighten up the five-hour National Security Council meeting on Wednesday, President Duterte used his famous comic flair, at one time spicing up the serious discussion with a reference to “the beautiful Vice President,” Leni Robredo, seated beside him. OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT
It may have been a long and serious meeting that mixed former leaders with unresolved issues between them, but President Duterte had a not-so-secret weapon up his sleeve to brighten up the room: his comic flair.
Known for his casual style and preference for the informal, Mr. Duterte steered the more than five-hour National Security Council meeting on Wednesday with jokes and ad libs, lightening up the atmosphere even as discussions dealt with some of the country’s gravest problems, said Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II. Similar to the playful mien he showed during his first State of the Nation Address on Monday, the President unleashed antics that kept the meeting vibrant even in the presence of former officials who are no longer in speaking terms: former Presidents Benigno Aquino III and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, now a Pampanga representative. Exchanging jokes “It was nice. [Those present] were very friendly. We were laughing. We exchanged jokes. But chiefly, it was President Duterte who made the jokes,” Aguirre told reporters on Thursday. Asked what some of the jokes were, the justice secretary, who was sworn to secrecy about Wednesday night’s proceedings, shared one. Beautiful Vice President “His joke was that our Vice President is beautiful,” said Aguirre, in reference to Vice President Leni Robredo. READ MORE...

ALSO Analysis: China emerges more muscular after ASEAN meetings


JULY 28 -FILE - In this July 26, 2016, file photo, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi, left, stands with Philippines Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay Jr. after they pose for a photo during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Vientiane, Laos. Despite the Philippines taking on China in a territorial dispute in the South China Sea and winning big, other Southeast Asian nations with similar disputes who attended this week's meetings are apparently backing down from Beijing. AP/Sakchai Lalit
VIENTIANE, Laos — Daring to take on China in a territorial dispute in the South China Sea, the Philippines went to an international tribunal for justice, and won big. But it turned out to be a pyrrhic victory. Beijing came back with such ferocity and manipulative diplomacy that other Southeast Asian countries that have similar disputes with it are apparently backing down.
One by one, their positions became clear at meetings this week of Asia-Pacific and Southeast Asian nations, a gathering that was supposed to unanimously call out China for a host of actions in the resource-rich South China Sea — building artificial islands and military airstrips, sending warships, staging live-firing exercises and shooing away fishermen from other countries. And so, the four-day conclave in Vientiane, the Laotian capital, ended Tuesday with China's muscles bulging more than ever, and the vaunted unity of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations in disarray. "Neither China nor ASEAN emerged from the Vientiane meetings with honor," said Ian Storey, a senior fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, a Singapore-based think tank. "It's a sad state of affairs when expectations of ASEAN being able to do anything to lower tensions in the South China Sea are zero, and instead the focus is on whether it can get its act together." READ MORE...

ALSO: After Wednesday's ambush - Rody gives NPA ultimatum
[RELATED: ‘No truce if Reds pursue kill-spree’]
[RELATED(2):
ON CEASEFIRE: Joma to Duterte, Be patient, don't expect quick surrender from CPP-NPA]


JULY 30-Duterte warned he would lift the ceasefire if the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) ignored his call for the rebels to match the suspension of offensives. Philstar.com/AJ Bolando
President Duterte has given communist rebels until today to explain their midweek attack in Davao del Norte amid a unilateral ceasefire observed by government forces. Presidential adviser on the peace process Jesus Dureza said the President imposed the deadline on the communist rebels during his visit to the headquarters of the Army’s 60th Infantry Battalion in Asuncion, Davao del Norte yesterday. Duterte warned he would lift the ceasefire if the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) ignored his call for the rebels to match the suspension of offensives. “I have dealt with you in good faith. Tell me if you are not ready to deal in the same manner. I am asking you: are you ready to declare a ceasefire or not? It’s 5 p.m.,” he said yesterday. “I will wait for the declaration at 5 p.m. (Saturday). I better get a word from you or I will lift the (ceasefire) order.” Duterte said he would not withdraw any soldier or policeman in the region as a precondition for the peace talks to proceed. In his talk with the troops, Duterte said he is ready to put his life on the line for peace. “So shoot me,” Duterte told the rebels. “I will face you (rebels) someday. I have no problem,” Duterte said. “I went out of my way just to express to you our need for peace. For as long as there is war here, there will be poverty… You thought our government cannot do it, try me,” he warned. Duterte stressed he declared the ceasefire in good faith, hoping the communist rebels would do the same in order to proceed with the peace negotiations. “I have dealt with everybody in good faith. I never lied. It’s not part of my mandate to say lies. So I decided to declare ceasefire with the CPP-NDF. I initiated it,” he said. READ MORE... ‘No truce if Reds pursue kill-spree’...
RELATED(2) ON CEASEFIRE: Joma tells Duterte - Be patient, don't expect a quick surrender from the CPP-NPA...

ALSO: Sison slams 'volatile' Duterte for scrapping ceasefire
[RELATED: Peace talks between the gov’t and communist rebels will proceed despite ceasefire lifting - Dureza]


JULY 30 -President Rodrigo Duterte and Communist leader Jose Ma. Sison. Composite Image Communist leader Jose Ma. Sison on Saturday slammed President Rodrigo Duterte’s as “volatile” for revoking a government ceasefire before leftist rebels could reciprocate the truce. Duterte announced the lifting of the ceasefire at 7 p.m., two hours after his deadline for the New People’s Army (NPA) expired. Sison said rebel fighters were planning to declare a ceasefire by 8 p.m., but it was unclear whether this would push through. “Masyado namang volatile ang Presidente na bagong halal,” an incensed Sison told ANC by phone from the Utrecht, where he is on self-exile. “Hindi pwedeng nag-uultimatum. Ang pinag-uusapan dito oras lang, araw. Kung lumamapas ng buwan, pwedeng may uminit ang ulo,” said the founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Duterte’s decision, Sison said, showed a “lack of prudence in something as sensitive and delicate as peace negotiations between two armed fighting sides.” “Mahirap makipagkasundo sa ganyang mga bigla-biglaan,” he said. Despite recent developments, Sison said the resumption of formal peace talks in Oslo, Norway would push through as scheduled on August 20. Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza issued a similar statement to ABS-CBN News. “Let's wait and see. READ MORE...RELATED, Peace talks between the gov’t and communist rebels will proceed despite ceasefire lifting...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

US troops to have 'persistent, intermittent' presence in Philippines


EDCA, which was signed by the Philippines and the US on April 28, 2014, allows American troops to pre-position defense assets in Philippine bases. File photo

MANILA, AUGUST 1, 2016 (PHILSTAR) By Patricia Lourdes Viray Updated July 28, 2016 - 11:29am - As the United States and the Philippines move forward with the implementation of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, US Ambassador Philip Goldberg said that American troops' activities will be "persistent but kind of intermittent."

The Philippines had earlier identified five military bases where US troops and supplied can be stationed under the EDCA. which the Supreme Court has ruled with finality as constitutional on Tuesday.

In an interview on ANC's "Headstart" on Thursday morning, Goldberg said that the US troops will preposition supplies for humanitarian assistance and bring in rotational forces and equipment in all of the five military bases.

"It won't be permanent," Goldberg said, adding that US aircraft will also be stationed in the bases at some point.

Goldberg stressed that the EDCA is not aimed at China despite the dispute over the South China Sea.

"People should understand that EDCA, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, should not be seen in light of the South China Sea dispute but rather in terms of our mutual security relationship," the US envoy said.

READ MORE...

The US envoy noted that the sea dispute should be resolved in a diplomatic and legal fashion following the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the Philippines's case against China.

Last week, Goldberg and the US Congressional delegation visited the Antonio Bautista air base in Palawan to inspect the site for future construction of military facilities.

"We have military construction funds which have not been yet appropriated which was why the Congressional delegation was here looking at some of the sites because they're responsible for appropriation of that money and they were impressed with the agreement," Goldberg said, referring to the EDCA.

Goldberg added that the US is also supporting the country's law enforcement community and its fight against illegal drugs.

In his meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte at Malacañan on Wednesday, Kerry discussed Washington's support for law enforcement activities. The US has committed $32 million to support the new administration's law enforcement efforts.

RELATED: Duterte, Kerry discuss climate change, sea row during meeting

Kerry in Manila: Protect human rights while keeping society safe


PHILSTAR

Duterte urged by ex-presidents to exercise restraint on West Phl Sea row By Alexis Romero (philstar.com) | Updated July 28, 2016 - 9:59pm 8 32 googleplus0 0


President Rodrigo Duterte leads the first meeting of the National Security Council at Malacañang on Wednesday, July 27, 2016. Joining the meeting are the four former presidents Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada and Benigno Aquino III. PPD

LUCENA CITY — Former presidents have advised the Duterte administration to exercise restraint on the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) row following the issuance of an international arbitral court ruling that voided China’s expansive territorial claim.

President Rodrigo Duterte said he would take the advice of his predecessors and be cautious in handling the issue to avoid placing the lives of soldiers at risk.

“President (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) said caution. President (Joseph) Estrada said restraint. President (Benigno) Aquino (III) advised the same,” he told soldiers and policemen in Camp Guillermo Nakar here.

“During my watch, we will take it a bit slowly… Your life is not something I can just throw away.”

READ MORE...

Duterte, the four former presidents and other members of the National Security Council (NSC) met last Wednesday to tackle a host of issues including the West Philippine Sea maritime dispute.

RELATED: Duterte, Aquino, Arroyo, Estrada, Ramos meet over Hague ruling

During the meeting, Duterte also thanked Aquino for initiating the case against China.

“He (Aquino) won for us the case. I told him ‘thank you very much for giving us the ace card,’” the president said.

Duterte stressed the need to maintain the territorial integrity of the Philippines despite his administration’s readiness to talk to China about the dispute. He said former President Fidel Ramos has agreed to act as special envoy of the Philippines to the Chinese government.

“Let Ramos navigate... maybe (there will be) final talks and we will face them and that’s the time we will be frank on each other,” Duterte added.

“This is our position. This is what we have, we will not go out of it. We will talk,” he added.

RELATED: Palace: Talks with China to be anchored on Hague ruling

In 2013, the Philippines challenged the legality of China’s territorial claim, calling it excessive and exaggerated. China claims almost 90 percent of the South China Sea but this is being contested by the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan.

RELATED: The verdict: Philippines wins arbitration case vs China

Early this month, the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that China’s claim has no legal basis. China, however, has refused to recognize what it described as an “illegal” ruling.

Malacañan described last Wednesday’s NSC meeting as “an extraordinary show of good will and unity to discuss defense and security issues facing the nation.”

“The tone was respectful and consultative,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said.

READ: US pledges $32M to Philippine law enforcement


INQUIRER

Digong cracks jokes to lighten NSC meet mood By: Tarra Quismundo @TarraINQ Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:37 AM July 29th, 2016


GRAVE MATTERS, COMIC FLAIR To lighten up the five-hour National Security Council meeting on Wednesday, President Duterte used his famous comic flair, at one time spicing up the serious discussion with a reference to “the beautiful Vice President,” Leni Robredo, seated beside him. OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT


It may have been a long and serious meeting that mixed former leaders with unresolved issues between them, but President Duterte had a not-so-secret weapon up his sleeve to brighten up the room: his comic flair.

Known for his casual style and preference for the informal, Mr. Duterte steered the more than five-hour National Security Council meeting on Wednesday with jokes and ad libs, lightening up the atmosphere even as discussions dealt with some of the country’s gravest problems, said Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II.

Similar to the playful mien he showed during his first State of the Nation Address on Monday, the President unleashed antics that kept the meeting vibrant even in the presence of former officials who are no longer in speaking terms: former Presidents Benigno Aquino III and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, now a Pampanga representative.

Exchanging jokes

“It was nice. [Those present] were very friendly. We were laughing. We exchanged jokes. But chiefly, it was President Duterte who made the jokes,” Aguirre told reporters on Thursday.

Asked what some of the jokes were, the justice secretary, who was sworn to secrecy about Wednesday night’s proceedings, shared one.

Beautiful Vice President

“His joke was that our Vice President is beautiful,” said Aguirre, in reference to Vice President Leni Robredo.

READ MORE...

It had taken a while for Mr. Duterte to meet with Robredo after their respective electoral victories in May. Things warmed up between the two when they first met at the military’s change of command ceremonies on July 1, when a seemingly smitten Mr. Duterte even offered hanky-holding Robredo his coco water.

Six days later, Mr. Duterte called Robredo in a nationally broadcast PTV 4 interview and offered her the housing portfolio.

No greeting

Asked about the dynamics between Aquino and Arroyo, Aguirre said: “They didn’t say anything awkward [to each other]. They just didn’t greet each other.”

Footage of the encounter showed the cold relationship between Aquino and Arroyo. The latter was released recently after the Supreme Court dismissed plunder charges filed against her during the former’s term. Throughout his six years in Malacañang, Aquino often attributed the country’s problems to Arroyo.

No sitting order

Aguirre said there was protocol observed in the way the four leaders were seated from across Mr. Duterte, but it was clear they were not positioned according to their terms in office, as Arroyo was seated two places away from Aquino, with former Presidents Fidel Ramos and Joseph Estrada between them.

Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, who was seated to Arroyo’s left, said he “did not notice” the dynamics between Arroyo and Aquino.

“The atmosphere was serious, but then the President had his way of lightening the atmosphere,” Pimentel said.

Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto, among those invited to the meeting, said Mr. Duterte shifted from serious to comical during the meeting.

“He can be focused one moment and funny the next. It is both educational and entertaining. This guy’s thought process is good. He knows when to summarize points and where to shepherd the discussion,” Recto said, complimenting the President.

Recto said that as much as Mr. Duterte gave “great inputs,” he was also the source of “in-house entertainment.

“To break the monotony of long meetings, [Wednesday’s] was almost five hours long, he has this comedian’s gift of timing on when to crack jokes,” he said.


PHILSTAR

Analysis: China emerges more muscular after ASEAN meetings By Vijay Joshi (Associated Press) | Updated July 28, 2016 - 8:20am 1 299 googleplus0 0


FILE - In this July 26, 2016, file photo, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi, left, stands with Philippines Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay Jr. after they pose for a photo during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Vientiane, Laos. Despite the Philippines taking on China in a territorial dispute in the South China Sea and winning big, other Southeast Asian nations with similar disputes who attended this week's meetings are apparently backing down from Beijing. AP/Sakchai Lalit

VIENTIANE, Laos — Daring to take on China in a territorial dispute in the South China Sea, the Philippines went to an international tribunal for justice, and won big. But it turned out to be a pyrrhic victory.

Beijing came back with such ferocity and manipulative diplomacy that other Southeast Asian countries that have similar disputes with it are apparently backing down.

One by one, their positions became clear at meetings this week of Asia-Pacific and Southeast Asian nations, a gathering that was supposed to unanimously call out China for a host of actions in the resource-rich South China Sea — building artificial islands and military airstrips, sending warships, staging live-firing exercises and shooing away fishermen from other countries.

And so, the four-day conclave in Vientiane, the Laotian capital, ended Tuesday with China's muscles bulging more than ever, and the vaunted unity of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations in disarray.

"Neither China nor ASEAN emerged from the Vientiane meetings with honor," said Ian Storey, a senior fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, a Singapore-based think tank. "It's a sad state of affairs when expectations of ASEAN being able to do anything to lower tensions in the South China Sea are zero, and instead the focus is on whether it can get its act together."

READ MORE...

Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. sought to put a positive spin on the developments.

"Whether or not you will say that this is a triumph of China or a triumph of the Philippines, or a defeat of China or a defeat of the Philippines, the fact is clear," he told reporters in Manila on Wednesday. "This is a victory for ASEAN for upholding the very principles of international law and ... more importantly, pursuing our negotiations in the dispute in a peaceful manner."

"Be that as it may, the actual resolution of this dispute between China and the Philippines is a matter between China and the Philippines," he said, reflecting a position that suits China perfectly.

The first coup de grace China dealt was at an ASEAN foreign ministers' meeting, where it successfully prevented a joint communique from mentioning the July 12 ruling by the Hague-based arbitration panel in favor of the Philippines. While the communique did express concerns about the tensions in the South China Sea, it did so without naming China.

A millstone around the neck of ASEAN — Southeast Asia's main grouping — is that it can issue statements only when there is consensus among all 10 members. China leveraged that by ensuring that Cambodia and Laos would not provide that consensus. Both countries receive massive aid from China, which recently announced a $600 million package to Cambodia.

"As an association, ASEAN loses power and relevance when it punts on the most important regional issues," said John Ciorciari, a Southeast Asia expert at the University of Michigan. "Yet ASEAN operates by consensus, and when push comes to shove, national interests tend to trump regional solidarity."

"Aid has won China some close friends in Southeast Asia, and Cambodia in particular has been quite willing to cast vetoes on communique language inimical to Chinese interests," he said.

China does not accept the arbitration panel's ruling, and says all disputes should be settled bilaterally through negotiations. It did not participate in the panel's hearings, and insists that almost all of the South China Sea, which is ringed by claimants China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan, belongs to it historically.

It also accuses outside parties — the United States, Japan and Australia — of needling ASEAN countries and raising tensions. After ASEAN's failure to rebuke China, those three countries issued a joint statement in Vientiane saying they strongly oppose "any coercive unilateral actions that could alter the status quo and increase tensions."

China lashed out at them on Wednesday, with Foreign Minister Wang Yi saying in a statement that the three countries were "fanning the flames" of regional tension.

"Now it is the time to test whether you are peacekeepers or troublemakers," he said.

Diplomats who attended the Laos meetings said it was interesting to see that claimant countries appeared less enthusiastic than others in wanting to rebuke China. Even the Philippines was not too forceful in asking for strong language in the joint ASEAN statement. It repeatedly pointed out that the ruling by the arbitration panel was the result of its "unilateral" lawsuit, implying that ASEAN should not get involved.

Malaysia's foreign minister didn't even show up for the meetings. At a later meeting of ASEAN and Asia-Pacific nations, Brunei took pains to praise China's leadership, according to diplomats who attended the meeting.

And on Tuesday, Vietnam's deputy foreign minister, Le Hoai Trung, told The Associated Press that his country prefers bilateral dialogue with China, which Beijing wants.

IN TIGHT SPOT

The Philippines is in a tight spot because even though it went to the tribunal and won, that was under the previous government of Benigno Aquino III. President Rodrigo Duterte, Aquino's successor, has made friendly overtures to Beijing and is leaning toward bilateral negotiations.

But the bottom line is that the tribunal's decision, although legally binding, is non-enforceable. The arbitration panel didn't take a position on who owns the disputed territories, which include reefs and rocky outcroppings in the vast sea. It concluded only that many of them are legally rocks, even if they've been built into islands, and therefore do not include the international rights to develop the surrounding waters.

Now it is up to China to decide what concessions it wants to make, and how much pressure the smaller countries can take.

"At this point, it (the ruling) is not a magic stick ... it's not a solution to everything, but rather it needs to be combined with other measures," said Tran Viet Thai, deputy director of the Institute of Strategic Studies, a Vietnamese government think tank.

NO SIGNS OF SLOWING DOWN

China is showing no signs of slowing down its efforts to exert control over the South China Sea.

State-run companies are joining forces to offer luxury cruises in the waters. Three companies dealing in shipping, tourism and construction will contribute to running as many as eight cruise liners by June 2017 to service a region through which an estimated $5 trillion in global trade passes each year. They're also building four docks, which will be able to handle 2 million passengers a year.

One of China's main cellphone carriers, China Telecommunications Corp., has extended 4G service to several disputed South China Sea islands. Its competitor China Mobile Communications Corp. already offers similar services.

Along with creating new islands by piling sand on top of coral reefs, China has built airstrips, harbors and lighthouses that is says will benefit fishermen and ship owners who transit the strategic waterway.

Clearly, China is not giving up the sea — tribunal or no tribunal — yet the ruling will continue to hang over it like a dagger.

"It's impossible for (the ruling) to be irrelevant," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters in Manila, where he made a stop after the Laos meetings.

But "we are not trying to create a confrontation. We are trying to create a solution," he said.

___

Vijay Joshi is the AP's Southeast Asia news director. He has covered the region for 18 years.

___

Associated Press writer Jim Gomez in Manila, Philippines, contributed to this report.


PHILSTAR

After Wed ambush Rody gives NPA ultimatum By Christina Mendez and Edith Regalado (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 30, 2016 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


Duterte warned he would lift the ceasefire if the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) ignored his call for the rebels to match the suspension of offensives. Philstar.com/AJ Bolando

MANILA, Philippines - President Duterte has given communist rebels until today to explain their midweek attack in Davao del Norte amid a unilateral ceasefire observed by government forces.

Presidential adviser on the peace process Jesus Dureza said the President imposed the deadline on the communist rebels during his visit to the headquarters of the Army’s 60th Infantry Battalion in Asuncion, Davao del Norte yesterday.

Duterte warned he would lift the ceasefire if the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) ignored his call for the rebels to match the suspension of offensives.

“I have dealt with you in good faith. Tell me if you are not ready to deal in the same manner. I am asking you: are you ready to declare a ceasefire or not? It’s 5 p.m.,” he said yesterday. “I will wait for the declaration at 5 p.m. (Saturday). I better get a word from you or I will lift the (ceasefire) order.”

Duterte said he would not withdraw any soldier or policeman in the region as a precondition for the peace talks to proceed.

In his talk with the troops, Duterte said he is ready to put his life on the line for peace.

“So shoot me,” Duterte told the rebels. “I will face you (rebels) someday. I have no problem,” Duterte said.

“I went out of my way just to express to you our need for peace. For as long as there is war here, there will be poverty… You thought our government cannot do it, try me,” he warned.

Duterte stressed he declared the ceasefire in good faith, hoping the communist rebels would do the same in order to proceed with the peace negotiations.

“I have dealt with everybody in good faith. I never lied. It’s not part of my mandate to say lies. So I decided to declare ceasefire with the CPP-NDF. I initiated it,” he said.

READ MORE...

“Many days ago, the response of the communists is like a defensive position. Not stand-down. That is not a good response. They don’t need to study it. All they have to do is count the body bags – those who were killed from their ranks, and then the government’s. I was expecting that they would also reciprocate my imploring for peace through the ceasefire on their side. Now, I cannot understand if they are really... for peace or they are trying to embarrass me,” he said.

“So I have to issue this statement: I am not fighting you but if you are not sincere in this process … we fight for another generation, it’s okay. I can do nothing for you.”

Dureza, for his part, added the 24-hour deadline at 5 p.m. was already an extension given by the President last Thursday, a day after NPA rebels ambushed a group of Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU), killing a militiaman in Davao del Norte.

Dureza said the deadline was extended since it would take time for the leadership of the CPP-NPA-NDF to assess the situation and make the report.

“We should continue working for the peace process but the NPA should explain why it happened,” Dureza said.

“We will give them the benefit of the doubt until after the assessment of the situation had been made,” he added.

‘Twisted story’

Aris Francisco, spokesman for the NPA in Southern Mindanao, said the communist guerrillas admit responsibility for last Wednesday’s ambush but claimed the military came out with a twisted story on the incident.

Francisco said the military made it appear the rebels did not respect the ceasefire.

He claimed the militiamen were not on their way back to camp when the ambush took place but were actually on a mission against NPA rebels in the area.

He said that the militiamen were members of the Alamara group that operates against communist rebels.

Government peace panel chairman Silvestre Bello III said the peace talks may be compromised unless communist rebels reciprocate the government’s ceasefire offer.

Bello said it would be best for the CPP-NPA-NDF to unconditionally reciprocate the unilateral ceasefire order of President Duterte.

“I strongly reiterate the call of President Duterte to the CPP/NPA/NDF to reciprocate government’s ceasefire declaration in order to immediately stop violence on the ground, protect our communities from conflict and provide an enabling environment for the resumption of formal peace negotiations,” he said.

Bello made the statement as he confronted NDF panel member Fidel Agcaoili regarding last Wednesday’s ambush by NPA rebels in Davao del Norte.

“It is disheartening that the NPA failed to respect the unilateral ceasefire declared by President Duterte last Monday during the SONA. Barely two days after this ceasefire declaration, the NPA ambushed yesterday government forces, killing one CAFGU member and wounding four others in Davao del Norte,” Bello said.

Bello had a talk with Agcaoili who told him that as far as he knows, the NPA is on active defense mode since July 26 as announced by Ka Oris, the rebel spokesman in the region.

Agcaoili promised Bello that he would look into the matter.

Agcaoili reportedly told Bello that the NDF is committed to resume the peace negotiations to address the roots of the armed conflict and work towards a just and lasting peace.

The NDF is representing the CPP and the NPA in the peace negotiations with the government.

“It is best that the government’s ceasefire is reciprocated unconditionally by the NDF to build trust and confidence in the peace process and, more importantly, bring peace in our communities for the good of the people,” Bello said.

‘Window’

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said Duterte has given the rebels “a window of opportunity” by proving its sincerity to go to the negotiating table.

He refused to give a timeline but stressed that it would be best for the communist rebels to reciprocate the government’s efforts toward achieving peace in the country.

Abella added the release of political prisoners is not a pre-condition to the talks but part of the negotiations itself.

Both sides are undertaking preparations for the restart of formal talks on Aug. 20-27 in Oslo, Norway.

“If things work out as planned (then the government troops might pull out from the NPA-infested areas),” Abella said, adding Duterte is assuming the communist leaders in the Netherlands were in control of the movement’s fighters in the Philippines.

The President, although upset over last Wednesday’s attack, is giving the rebels time to respond, Abella said.

Duterte on Thursday threatened to lift the unilateral ceasefire he declared unless the communist rebels explain last Wednesday’s ambush.

Duterte said he called a militant lawmaker and Bello to demand an explanation from the CPP on the incident in Davao del Norte.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), for its part, hailed Duterte for asking the communist rebels for an explanation regarding the ambush.

“That was a welcome move from the commander-in-chief whose order for the AFP is to march onwards to the path to peace,” military public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said.

“By his stern demand for an explanation, President Duterte did not only send strong signals that he is sincere to end the years of strife by being the first to extend the hand of peace; he also underscored that those who truly desire peace must also manifest in unmistakable acts their adherence to that quest,” Arevalo added.

Peace advocates, however, slammed the communists for the ambush.

“What is the NPA trying to prove? Are they telling us that they can attack government soldiers at will and get away with it? Or are they telling us that they reject President Duterte’s declaration of a unilateral ceasefire?” said Ernesto Alcanzare of the group Yes for Peace-Bayanihan para sa Kapayapaan, Kaunlaran at Kasaganahan.

Domingo Alidon, president of the Department of Education National Employees Union and member of the Inter-Agency Technical Working Group of Yes for Peace, and Mama Lalanto al Haj, adviser of Yes for Peace and a member of the board of directors of the Philippine Postal Corp., have also expressed sentiments on the incident.

“Whose rights are the NPA really fighting for? The Filipino people’s rights or their right to bear arms against a duly elected government?” Alidon asked. – Giovanni Nilles, Jose Rodel Clapano, Jaime Laude, Ramon Efren Lazaro

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RELATED FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

‘No truce if Reds pursue kill-spree’ posted July 29, 2016 at 12:01 am by John Paolo Bencito


President Rodrigo Duterte

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday warned communist rebels that he would call off a unilateral ceasefire unless they explained why they ambushed a group of militiamen in Kapalong, Davao del Norte, less than a week after his first State of the Nation Address.

“If you do not honor and you kill a single soldier, a single cop or a soldier of the republic, let’s forget these ceasefire. We will fight,” said Duterte, who used his Sona to declare a truce with the communists.

“Just before I came out, there were Cafgu (Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit) that were ambushed. I called up one of their congressmen [aligned with the communists]… are you in to this truce or are we not? Give me an answer tonight because if not, I will remove the unilateral ceasefire. We will return to fighting,” Duterte told troops at his visit to Camp Nakar in Lucena, Quezon province.

“I am demanding an explanation from the Communist Party of the Philippines, and just like us, if we have men that need to get punished, we punish our men. I expect the same, and I demand an answer [and] whoever is liable must be put [disciplined].”

A Cafgu member and four others were wounded during an ambush early Wednesday morning in Barangay Gupitan, Kapalong, Davao del Norte, Capt. Rhyan Batchar, chief information officer of the 10th Infantry Division, said.

He did not identify the militiaman nor the four others wounded in the attack.

“This is a clear disregard by the NPAs [New People’s Army] to the declaration of a unilateral ceasefire by President Duterte,” Batchar said.

In line with the declaration of a unilateral ceasefire, many Cafgu members were ordered to pull out from their positions in the mountains and were asked to return to their bases.

The NPA, however, ambushed the militiamen before they could return to base, Batchar said.

UNILATREAL CEASEFIRE DECLARED AT SONA

In his Sona Monday, Duterte declared a unilateral ceasefire with the communist rebels, calling for an “end to the violence on the ground” and an environment conducive to the resumption of peace talks.

He also urged the communist leaders to “end these decades of ambuscades and bloody skirmishes.”

The Communist Party of the Philippines—National Democratic Front had earlier welcomed the President’s announcement for ceasefire, and vowed to reciprocate the actions.

Both sides are scheduled to return to the negotiating table in Oslo, Norway, on Aug. 20.

A source, who asked not to be named on Wednesday night confirmed that the President has ordered the military not to jeopardize the implementation of the unilateral ceasefire that he declared with the communist rebels, which took effect July 25.

The military said, however, that it would retaliate against any attacks on soldiers of communities.

“Commanders must clearly understand the strategic implications of any actions so as not to jeopardize the implementation of the [ceasefire] and more importantly, the realization of the President’s intent for a lasting agreement with the CPP,” part of the documents obtained by the Manila Standard from a source, read.

“In cases of actual NPA violent attacks, the AFP shall treat the incidents as law enforcement operations in coordination with the PNP and immediate use of military force to repel and defeat the attack is authorized,” the instructions from AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Ricardo Visaya read.

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RELATED FROM GMA NEWS NETWORK

CPP-NPA-NDF CEASEFIRE Joma tells Duterte: Be patient, don't expect a quick surrender from the CPP-NPA Published July 30, 2016 1:45am


SISON

President Rodrigo Duterte should give the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) time to study the details and effects of implementing a ceasefire, CPP co-founder Jose Maria Sison said on Friday.

"President Duterte should be patient and not expect quick surrenders from highly principled and experienced revolutionaries who have a growing mass base against the rotten ruling system of big compradors and landlords," Sison said in a statement.

He said the CPP and the National Democratic Front - Philippines (NDFP) should be given time to study the government's ceasefire order.

"It took at least three days for the Duterte government to make clear what is the content of its unilateral ceasefire order, the CPP and NDFP should be given enough time to study the implications and consequences of the GRP ceasefire order and what will soon be the unilateral ceasefire order," he added.

Duterte's declaration of a unilateral ceasefire with the CPP-NPA-NDF was part of his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 25.

However, the New People's Army, CPP's armed wing, ambushed government militiamen in Davao del Norte on July 28, killing one and wounding four others.

NPA AMBUSH IN DAVAO DEL NORTE


New People’s Army. — A militiaman was killed while four others were wounded in an ambush by the communist rebels in Kapalong, Davao del Norte on Wednesday, the military said. Col. Ricardo Nepomuceno, commander of the 1003rd Brigade, said a team of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) was passing by Sitio Kamunoan in Barangay (village) Gupitan when waylaid by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels on Wednesday morning. Nepomuceno said the CAFGU members were returning to their camp in Sitio Patil, also in Barangay Gupitan, after hearing about President Duterte’s declaration of unilateral ceasefire. Duterte on Monday suspended all operations against the NPA.  INQUIRER FILE PHOTO DAVAO CITY

The President was dismayed by the attack, and had asked the communist group for an explanation.

"I decided to declare the ceasefire with the NDF-CPP-NPA. Nauna ako. And the many days ago, ang reply ng komunista parang defensive position. Hindi naman stand down. You know, that is not a good response," Duterte said when he visited the wake of the slain militiaman in Asuncion, Davao del Norte.

"Alam naman nila ang sitwasyon. Hindi nila kailangan mag-aral pa. All they have to do is to count the body bags na namatay sa kanila pati sa gobyerno. I was expecting that they will also reciprocate my implorings for peace with a ceasefire on their side. At least iyon sana ang sagot nila," he added.

Sison, however, did not see things the president's way. “President Duterte merely made an announcement of a unilateral ceasefire 'effectively immediately' in his SONA on July 25," the CPP leader said.

READ MORE...

"But it would only be on July 26 that the SOMO (Suspension of Military Operations) of the AFP would be issued, with no clarity about many things, like no end yet of the ongoing AFP national … campaigns against the NPA and also the occupation of Lumad communities, schools, health clinics and barangay halls.

“Only on July 27 did the PNP issue a SOPO (Suspension of Police Operations), which among other things, provided for the continuance of 'legal offensives' (i.e. the trumping of false charges of common crimes against people suspected of being connected to the NPA)," said Sison, adding that these violate the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL,) and the Hernandez political offense doctrine.

Also on Friday, Duterte announced that financial assistance of P100,000 for the wounded, and P250,000 for those in killed in action will be given to the victims of the NPA ambush in Davao del Norte.

"Eh di sana napakain mo na ang walang kain dito. This is the cost. Hindi naman kayo nagbabayad ng buwis. Kayo nga ang humihingi lahat dito. Huwag tayong magbolahan," he said.

"Ako hindi ako galit. But there's a cadaver there. Alam mo sa totoo, ang ideology ang dapat bumababa, it's not the physical person," Duterte added. — Bernadette A. Parco, GMA News


PHILSTAR

Sison slams 'volatile' Duterte for scrapping ceasefire ABS-CBN News Posted Jul 30 2016  PM


President Rodrigo Duterte and Communist leader Jose Ma. Sison. Composite Image

MANILA - Communist leader Jose Ma. Sison on Saturday slammed President Rodrigo Duterte’s as “volatile” for revoking a government ceasefire before leftist rebels could reciprocate the truce. Duterte announced the lifting of the ceasefire at 7 p.m., two hours after his deadline for the New People’s Army (NPA) expired. Sison said rebel fighters were planning to declare a ceasefire by 8 p.m., but it was unclear whether this would push through.

 “Masyado namang volatile ang Presidente na bagong halal,” an incensed Sison told ANC by phone from the Utrecht, where he is on self-exile. “Hindi pwedeng nag-uultimatum. Ang pinag-uusapan dito oras lang, araw. Kung lumamapas ng buwan, pwedeng may uminit ang ulo,” said the founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Duterte’s decision, Sison said, showed a “lack of prudence in something as sensitive and delicate as peace negotiations between two armed fighting sides.”

“Mahirap makipagkasundo sa ganyang mga bigla-biglaan,” he said. Despite recent developments, Sison said the resumption of formal peace talks in Oslo, Norway would push through as scheduled on August 20. Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza issued a similar statement to ABS-CBN News. “Let's wait and see.

READ MORE...

But so far, as of the moment, there is no supervening factor that will affect the upcoming talks in Oslo on August 20.” Duterte had sought to bring the rebels back to the negotiating table in an effort to end one of the world’s longest-running Maoist insurgencies that has claimed 30,000 lives since the 1960s.

Duterte issued the ultimatum after a government militia man was killed and four others were wounded in what the military said was an ambush by the NPA in the southern province of Compostela Valley last Wednesday.

The rebels owned up to the attack, but said they were thwarting an Army offensive. The NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), is believed to have fewer than 4,000 gunmen at present, down from a peak of 26,000 in the 1980s, according to the military.

But it retains support among the poor in rural areas, and its forces regularly kill police or troops while extorting money from local businesses and politicians. -- with reports from Agence France-Presse

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RELATED FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

Peace talks between the gov’t and communist rebels will proceed despite ceasefire lifting by Elena L. Aben July 30, 2016 Share4 Tweet1 Share1 Email0 Share19


Jesus Dureza (c/ viralhungry.com) (mb.com.ph)

Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza said that the resumption of peace talks between the government and communist rebels will proceed as planned even if the ceasefire is lifted.

Formal negotiations between the government panel and the Communist Party of the Philippines / New People’s Army / National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF) is set to begin this month (August) in Oslo, Norway.

“Who is saying it is not pushing through? We have scheduled it August 20 up to August 27. So we are pushing through with this as originally scheduled,” Dureza said in an interview over state-run Radyo ng Bayan.

This, as he stressed that “it will not in any way affect the peacetalks” should President Rodrigo Duterte lift the unilateral ceasefire that he declared during his first State of the Nation Address (SONA).

On Friday, the President gave the CPP-NPA up to 5:00 p.m. of July 30 to reciprocate and explain why there was an infraction of the unilateral ceasefire which he initiated.

Duterte gave the ultimatum following the NPA attack in Davao Del Norte that left one government militiaman dead and four others wounded.

“Alam naman natin even when we agreed to resume peace negotiations we have tabled as an agenda item the discussion on the interim ceasefire. At the time, we did not even consider that unilateral ceasefire will be called by the President in the SONA,” according to Dureza.

“So it is not a factor at all in the planned negotiations,” he further said, adding that: “As a matter of fact, dun natin ma-fine tune ang ating ceasefire arrangement dahil when you come up with a bilateral negotiated ceasefire, the mechanisms of the other collateral arrangements will be discussed across the table during that time.”

In the same interview, Dureza dismissed claims by the left that the military is on the move to sabotage the peace process.

“I have not found any indication at all that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is sabotaging the peace talks,” Dureza said, adding that the military have issued statements fully supporting the President in his declarations in the government’s effort to assume peace negotiations, including the call for a unilateral ceasefire.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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