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Archive for May 28th, 2007

RP-Australia finalize defense pact, ‘ready for signing’

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By Joel Guinto

Last updated 08:11pm (Mla time) 05/28/2007

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines and Australia have finalized their first ever defense cooperation agreement, that will pave the way for joint training between the two countries’ military forces.

The Status of Visiting Forces Agreement (SOVFA) is “ready for signing,” according to a statement from the Department of National Defense (DND). The department did not say exactly when the agreement would be signed.

The DND said the SOVFA would provide a “comprehensive legal framework” for cooperation between the Australian Defense Forces (ADF) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in combating “common threats.”

“This agreement contains key elements such as the basis of visits, entry and departure conditions, how training and exercises are to be conducted, carriage of arms, security and criminal jurisdiction, importation and exportation regulations and environmental protection,” the DND statement said.

“The SOVFA offers opportunities and benefits to the AFP in terms of education, capacity-building, humanitarian assistance, and disaster response,” the statement added.

The SOVFA will be submitted to the Philippine Senate for concurrence, as prescribed in the Constitution, the DND said, adding that the pact was “fair, balanced, reciprocal, and promotes our national interests.”

The Philippines is negotiating similar military pacts with neighbor countries including Singapore, Brunei, and Malaysia.

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Written by joelguinto

Mon+00:002007-05-28T13:32:12+00:00+00:0005b+00:00Mon, 28 May 2007 13:32:12 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm05

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Sison says he’s CPP chief no more, wants terror tag lifted

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By Joel Guinto
Last updated 05:29pm (Mla time) 05/28/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison has asked the Council of the European Union to remove him from its list of foreign terrorists, saying he was no longer the leader of the party and its armed wing after 20 years in exile.

Through his lawyer, Jan Fermon, the Netherlands-based Sison made the request to the council in a letter dated May 23.

Sison was responding to an Aril 23 letter by the EU council, which allegedly renewed allegations that he was a terrorist.

“I am surprised why the Council writes to me a letter recycling blatantly false allegations, which have been extensively discussed and answered in the aforesaid court,” Sison said in a short note that accompanied Fermon’s letter.

“I believe that the Council and member-states of the European Union are absurd for making it appear that I am a terrorist and for construing that social benefits from the Dutch government for my essential human needs [living allowance, housing, health insurance, civil liability insurance and old age pension] are financing for terrorism,” he said.

The Council of the European Union placed Sison on its list of foreign terrorists in 2002, after the United States placed him in a similar list earlier that year. Sison has appealed the listing before the European Court of First Instance.

The EU listing has resulted in the freezing of Sison’s joint account with his wife and the suspension of his “social living allowance” and other social benefits.

Fermon said in his letter that Sison was requesting the council to “not include or retain” his client on its terror list, and to “declare itself incompetent” to decide whether Sison should be on the list.

Sison’s lawyer said he could not be the leader of the CPP, and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), since he has been “separated” as its leader for a “continuous period of 29 years” following his arrest in 1977, during the Marcos dictatorship, and subsequent exile in 1988 during the Aquino presidency.

“Jose Maria Sison cannot be the leader or the head of the CPP because it is materially impossible to direct a political party in his situation of exile for more than 20 years,” Fermon said.

“Jose Maria Sison denies that he is in charge of the NPA or that the NPA is linked to him,” he added.

The lawyer also scored the council for “misrepresenting” Sison as an “advocate of violence,” saying this was a “flagrant contradiction” to his client’s role in peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the CPP’s political arm, the National Democratic Front (NDF), for which Sison has served as chief political consultant.

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Written by joelguinto

Mon+00:002007-05-28T09:58:11+00:00+00:0005b+00:00Mon, 28 May 2007 09:58:11 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am05

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3 soldiers, 1 NPA rebel slain in Masbate clash

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By Joel Guinto, Bobby Labalan, Southern Luzon Bureau
Last updated 12:31pm (Mla time) 05/28/2007

SORSOGON CITY, Philippines — Three government soldiers were killed in a fierce gun battle Sunday morning, the military said Monday.

A suspected member of the New People’s Army (NPA) was also killed in the four-hour firefight that began at about 8 a.m. and ended at 12 noon at Barangay (village) Docol, Baleno in Masbate province, said Lieutenant Colonel Claudio Yucot, commanding officer of the Army’s 9th Infantry Battalion.

The rebels, numbering about 60, were heavily armed, said Yucot.

Earlier on Monday, Lieutenant Colonel Rhoderick Parayno of the Armed Forces Southern Luzon Command, said three other soldiers had been wounded.

Parayno withheld the names of the fatalities until their families have been notified but identified the wounded as Privates First Class Xzeal De Ocampo, Gerry De la Cruz, and Ian Solano.

A landmine, several “molotov” or improvised bombs, and firing wires were seized from the rebels, who withdrew towards the northwest, after Army reinforcements arrived, Parayno said.

Security forces have a self-imposed 2010 deadline to finish off the NPA, the 7,100-strong armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) that has been waging a guerilla campaign from the countryside for nearly 40 years.

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Written by joelguinto

Mon+00:002007-05-28T08:43:12+00:00+00:0005b+00:00Mon, 28 May 2007 08:43:12 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am05

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