Monday, October 8, 2012

Negros Oriental Candidates for 2013 Elections

The race for the position of governor of Negros Oriental in the May 13, 2013 mid-term elections will see a four-cornered fight with contenders that include the incumbent provincial chief executive, a former national secretary, an incumbent lady House Representative and a businessman who is running as an independent candidate.

They are incumbent Governor Roel Ragay Degamo (PDP-LABAN), incumbent Rep. Jocelyn Sy Limkaichong of the 1st district (Liberal Party), Margarito Bustaliño Teves (NPC) who was Finance Secretary during the administration of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and Samuel Torres Balbuena, an independent candidate who for the umpteenth time has kept contesting the governorship in previous elections.

The four had filed their COCs on separate occasions during the recent filing period from October 1 to October 5 at the provincial office of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Meanwhile, records at the provincial Comelec office also show that three candidates who have filed their COCs will be contesting the position of vice governor. They are incumbent Vice Governor Apolinario Arnaiz, Jr. (NPC), Edward Mark Lopez Macias (LP), and Henry Alegria Sojor (PDP-LABAN).

Candidates for House Representative are the following:

For the 1st district - Lowell Anfone Andaya (Independent), Manuel Mariño Iway (LP), former Rep. Jerome Villegas Paras (NPC) and Danilo Casipong Roble (Independent);

For the 2nd district - Raul Silorio Aniñon (Independent), incumbent Rep. George Planto Arnaiz (NPC) and Karen Fabugais Villanueva (LP), who is currently the mayor of Bais City, Negros Oriental;

For the 3rd district - Marcelo Galicano Adanza (LP), a former Board Member and Zamboanguita mayor, and incumbent Rep. Henry Pryde Alipit Teves (NPC).

The candidates for member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan who filed their respective COCs are as follows:

1st district: Amor Anfone Baldado (NP), Napoleon Neri Camero (NP), Rouie David Dayucos delos Santos (Independent), Liland Zoila Bustamante Estacion (LP), Jessica Jane Villanueva Koppin (LP), Georgita Fabugais Martinez (LP), Joselito John Marie Villegas Paras (NP);

2nd district: Ely Cabio Cabanag (LP), Elan Narciso Cadayday (LP), Joinny Donato Cahilog (Independent), Rommel Logronio Erames (NPC), Mariant Escaño-Villegas (NPC), Erwin Michael Lopez Macias (NPC), Agustin Miguel Araneta Perdices (LP), Orlando Veloso Remollo (LP), Melliemoore Maicom Saycon (NPC), Miguel Angel Diaz Teves (PDP LABAN), Arturo Valencia Umbac (PDP LABAN), Fritzie Daryl Lumjod Zanoria (PDP LABAN);

And for the 3rd district - Telesforo Yasay Diao, Jr. (LP), Edmund Ferraren Dy (NPC), Peve Obañana Ligan (NPC), Clayborne Clyde Lim Lim (LP), Edita Maria Aranda Vera (PDP LABAN), Erwin Bernus Vergara (PDP LABAN), Dexter Bendijo Villamor (NPC), and Teopisto Ray Lajato Yap III (LP).

Philippines to Build 9,000 Classrooms Worth 16 Billion Pesos

The Department of Education (DepEd) on Monday signed two contracts worth P16.28 billion for the construction of at least 9,000 classrooms under the Aquino administration's public-private partnership program.

The Deped awarded the contract to design, build and maintain 2,157 classrooms in Region 1 to BF Corp. and Riverbanks Development -- companies owned by former Metro Manila Development Chairman Bayani Fernando.

Meanwhile, Citicore Investment Holdings and Megawide Construction Corp. was awarded the contracts for a total of 7,144 classrooms in Regions III and IV for P12.83 billion.

The contract packages are under the Deped's Public Private Partnership for School Infrastructure Project (PSIP) - I program.

During the signing ceremony at the Deped main office in Pasig City, Education Secretary Armin Luistro said he expected the turnover of projects before the start of opening of classes in June next year.

Destroyer of Forests in Nueva Ecija

A composite team of police, military and environment personnel recovered some 8,000 board feet of illegally sawn lumber in an isolated area in Sitio Batug, Barangay Rio Chico here on Saturday.

Samuel Danganan, officer of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) for Nueva Ecija–South, said the 301 pieces of lumber were discovered on a vacant lot at around 1:30 p.m. by combined elements of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), General Tinio police, the Philippine Army's 702nd brigade and the 56th infantry battalion and the Provincial Public Safety Company (PPSC).

Danganan said the government has re-intensified its drive against illegal logging activities in accordance with Executive Order No. 23 which was issued by President Aquino in February 2011.

He said the confiscated illegal lumber were brought to the provincial environment and natural resources office in Palayan City for proper disposition.

National Food Authority (NFA) Caraga

The National Food Authority (NFA) Caraga has earmarked P18.8 million fund in addition to P12 million it earlier allocated to two NFA provincial offices for corn procurement.

"This has brought to P30.8-M the allocated funds for corn procurement of the two Caraga provinces, NFA-Agusan del Norte and NFA-Agusan del Sur," NFA regional director Gil Pepito Paqueo said.

The fund, dubbed as Cereal Procurement Fund or CPF, was for the purchase of corn in the towns of Las Nieves in Agusan del Norte and river towns of Agusan del Sur which are all corn producing areas.

Paqueo told the corn farmers that an initial amount of P5-M was now sent to the NFA provinces of Agusan del Norte and Agusan del Sur, respectively for the purpose.

Senior Citizens Park

The Cebu City Government has formally opened the Senior Citizens Park that sits on a 2,500-square meter property across the City Hall's executive building on M.C. Briones St., this city.

Cebu City Administrator Atty. Jose Marie Poblete said the park will be used for events, programs and activities for senior citizens.

"What we are offering now is an open space for them," he said.

But he made it clear that the park is not limited to the elderly.

Like other open spaces in the city, Poblete said, the City's Parks and Playgrounds Commission will manage the Senior Citizens Park.

The commission, he said, will soon come up with guidelines on the use of the facility.

He said they still have to install benches and decorative lampposts in the area.

Poblete said the city didn't use funds from its coffers to establish the park, since the project was developed through a private-public-partnership.

"Except for manpower, we're proud to say that the city didn't spend for the project since many people helped," he said.

The establishment of the park, which used to occupy an old warehouse, cost P663,649. Its construction started last July.

Deadline of Registration for New Filipino Voters

An official of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) called on new voters to register before the Oct.31 deadline for the 2013 midterm elections.

Cebu Provincial Comelec Supervisor Lionel Marco Castillano said they expect big crowds two days before the end of the registration on Oct. 31.

The registration of voters resumed on Saturday, right after the last day of filing of the certificates of candidacy (COCs)last Oct. 5.

Castillano said Consolacion's Comelec office recorded on Saturday one of the highest numbers of registrants in the province reaching at least 230 on that day alone.

He asked those who want to register to do so as early as possible to avoid the rush and the crowd.

Under Comelec Resolution 9149, those who are at least 18 years old are allowed to register as voters.

He or she must also be a resident for at least one year in the place where he or she intends to vote or at least six months immediately preceding the day of the election.

To register,applicants should bring any valid identification(ID)such as employee's, postal, school, driver's license, and senior citizen's.

Other IDs accepted by the poll body include the SSS/GSIS, Integrated Bar of the Philippines, NBI/PNP clearance, license issued by the Professional Regulatory Commission,passport, and birth certificate.

Meanwhile, Mandaue City Comelec Officer Anna Fleur Gujilde said the number of registered voters of Mandaue is still low compared to the number of registered voters in 2010.

In May 2010, there were 182,813 registered voters in the city. Last October 2010, there were 176,464 voters. But as of June 2012, only 177,903 voters were registered.

Gujilde said reasons for the low number of voters include the transfer of a voter to another town or city, death,the elimination of double registrants and the failure to vote twice.

Scholarships in Cebu, Philippines

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 7 said the government will send 450 scholars from Central Visayas to study degree courses at the Cebu Normal University (CNU) in Cebu City under the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer MCCT) program.

Aileen Lariba and Brigieda Tampus-Goron of DSWD's Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino program (4Ps) said the MCCT is a combined effort of the DSWD, CNU, Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Lariba and Goron said the budget for each scholar is P60,000 per year, or P30,000 per semester, and this will cover the entire degree course.

They said CHED will release P3,500 a month directly to the scholar to serve as allowance, while the rest of the amount will go directly to the school.

"The CNU has big role in this program because the state university facilitated for the dormitory of the student-grantees. CNU also ensures that the student-grantees can cope with the standard, hence, they have special sessions and studies," Goron said.

Only children of 4Ps beneficiaries will qualify for the scholarship program.

They must be at least 14 years old and will have to come from Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental or Siquijor .

Under the regular 4Ps, a family can qualify for the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), with a maximum benefits of P1,400, if they live in poverty and if they have a maximum of three children below 14 years old.

Lariba said the labor department will help the families of the scholars find jobs.

The DSWD is also implementing the MCCT for the Families in Need of Special Protection to provide and strengthen the safety, protection and development of children in difficult circumstances.

It is a modified approach designed to maximize the reach of the CCT to help families and children overcome their difficult situation and bring them into the regular CCT, while generating appropriate resources and services in the community.

The objectives are to return street children to their permanent homes, to send them to school or to the Alternative Learning System, and to mainstream families with children in need of special protection for normal psycho-social functioning through this expanded 4Ps.

Biggest Muslim religious organization

By Edwin O.Fernandez

The leader of the biggest Muslim religious organization in the country welcomed the "framework agreement" that will eventually become the mother agreement that will address the Bangsamoro problem.

Ustadz Jaafar Ali, leader of Darul Ifta (House of Opinion) and founding chair of the National Ulama (Islamic preachers) Council of the Philippines (NUCP), said the preliminary agreement was already a "done deal."

"We are now guaranteed that Bangsamoro people can freely exercise their right to self determination," Ali said a day after President Aquino announced that the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have forged the peace deal.

"It may take some time, but at least we are now certain that the government recognizes our peoples' dream of self governance," he added.

On the inclusion of the city to the areas to be covered by the new political entity that will replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Ali said the people will have their voices heard in a plebiscite to be called for that purpose.

"While many wanted Cotabato City to form part of the NPE, a plebiscite will give them the opportunity to concretize and make their voices heard," he added.

Cotabato City Vice Mayor Muslimin Sema, chair of the MNLF which, in 1996, forged a peace agreement with the past administration, also welcomed the framework agreement.

"We hope there could be some integration so all the Bangsamoro people will benefit in the dividends of the peace agreement," he said.

Sema, who is seeking the mayoralty of Cotabato in next year's balloting, said many Cotabatenios favored the inclusion of the city to NPE, since it has been hosting the autonomous regional government since 1990.

He admitted though that there are also those who opposed to join the autonomous set up because of its failure to address the root cause of the problem.

Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo said the president's announcement about the preliminary accord came as good news to most people of the archdiocese.

Quevedo had been publicly supporting the peace process, especially the issue of self-determination of Bangsamoro people.

Filipino Street Children

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 7 will coordinate with local government units (LGUs) in giving permanent homes to street children and reunite them with their families under the Modified Conditional Cash Trasfer (MCCT) program.

Aileen Lariba and Brigieda Tampus-Garon of DSWD 7 said MCCT is designed for families in need of special protection (FNSP).

Lariba and Garon said the government wants street children and children of families in difficult circumstances to go back to school or to attend special training modes.

They cited observations by the Philippine National Police (PNP) that street children are vulnerable to abuses and may become criminals in the future.

The DSWD also aims to help homeless families that are not covered by the CCT, families with children who are disabled, families of child laborers, and families displaced by demolition and natural disasters.

Lariba and Goron said that because this expanded program is good only for six months, the conditions are: weekly attendance to the family development sessions (FDS) for the first two months, twice a month attendance to family counseling sessions (FCS) for the next two months, and once a month attendance to both FDS and FCS for the next two months.

The other conditions are for target children to attend an alternative mode of learning or a formal school and visit health centers.

They must also be living in a permanent home after six months of social preparation.

Once the target families become eligible for the program, they will receive P300 a month per child for education grant for a maximum of three children and P500 a month per household for health grant, or a maximum of P1,400 a month.

Lariba said the problem of street children is everybody's business, including LGUs, civil society, the church and the families of the street children.

Lumber Seized in Sibagat, Agusan del Sur

Police on Monday intercepted an Elf cargo truck loaded with 90 pieces of dipterocarp in Purok-1, Barangay Ampayon here and were also able to arrest the owner.

Sibagat police chased the truck after it refused to stop and be checked at Tabon-Tabon joint DENR-LGU-PNP checkpoint in Sibagat, Agusan del Sur.

The apprehended truck owner was identified by Sibagat police as Rogelio Seno Radaza, 72, a resident of Purok-2A, Barangay Bading here. The driver of the truck was able to escape.

Radaza and the truck with its load were brought to Sibagat Municipal Police Station.

Comprehensive Energy Efficiency and Conservation Bill

The Department of Energy (DOE) is pushing for the passage of the Comprehensive Energy Efficiency and Conservation Bill as they recognize the need to strengthen the policy and framework that will institutionalize efficient use of energy and conservation in the country.

DOE Undersecretary for Energy Efficiency Loreta Ayson said a study on this proposal has been completed with the help of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) and the stakeholders' inputs in partnership with the Development Academy of the Philippines.

The contributions served as basis in crafting the bill.

DOF-Visayas Director Antonio Labios said the distribution of millions of energy-efficient compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) by districts to eradicate incandescent bulbs is also part of the energy efficiency and conservation program of the government.

If approved into law, Ayson said, this can help the power consumers in lowering their power consumption, thus decreasing their electricity bill even if the rates go up.

Ayson also recognized the complaint of the workers especially from the Trade Union Congress Party-List that the high cost of electricity has wiped out the small increase in the minimum wage the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) allowed last year.

Ayson said the bill has been endorsed to the House committee on energy, which is headed by Rep. Henedina Razon-Abad and Rep. Maria Evita Arago and by Sen. Teofisto Guingona lll in the Senate.

Ayson said while an Enercon Law is not yet in place, the challenge to government is how to expand the engagement of the private sector, such as the industrial and commercial enterprises.

She said that for 29 years, the DOE, through the Don Emilio Abello Energy Efficiency Awards, has encouraged the private sector to participate in its initiatives, by giving recognition to firms that have achieved significant reduction in their energy consumption through energy conservation technologies and measures.

She said that last year, 59 industrial and commercial establishments, 33 energy managers and two power generating plants received honors for their significant contribution to the government's energy efficiency and conservation initiatives.

Quality education to meet global challenges

By Danny O. Calleja

Members of the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC)have just completed a program that will strengthen their capabilities to provide quality education to meet the global challenges of the present times, an education official announced here Monday.

"We have just completed the first session of the Executive Course in Education Management and Leadership (ECEML)," according to Dr. Fay Lea Patria Lauraya, Bicol University (BU) president and chairperson of the Bicol chapter of PASUC.

Lauraya said 85 presidents of state universities and colleges (SCUs) from all over the country attended the event with a theme:"Thinking Globally, Acting Locally: The Context of Educational Management and Leadership."

"The leaders must be trained anew to (provide) competitive education not only in the Philippines but in the world,"Lauraya said.

"Quality education is a must in building a quality nation. And being one of the major provider of education, there is a need to provide SUC presidents with new insights and ideas as administrators of education to match the changing conditions in our country and the whole world," Lauraya stressed.

She said that in 2015 SCUs should prepare for the holding of the ASEAN Community 2015 with the goal: One Vision, One Identity and One Community.

"Under the ASEAN Community 2015, trans-global competition will impose tougher demands on the competencies of our professionals," Lauraya explained.

Lauraya stressed that "although the World Economic Forum has upgraded our global competitiveness from 75 to 65,there is still the need for the government to implement further improvements in education."

"There is a need for deeper and wider reforms in education," she stressed.

The first session of the ECEML was conducted by the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) in partnership with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the PASUC.

The executive course, specifically designed for presidents of all SUCs in the country, aims to equip the school heads with relevant and practice-based competencies that are essential in managing and leading their respective SUCs.

The entire ECEML will run until December and will culminate with a visit to a foreign country to observe best modern practices in higher education institutions and to possibly establish partnerships for future collaborations.

The course is a major component of the executive development program for SUCs (EDPS) jointly implemented by DAP and CHED and developed specifically for SUC senior executives and officials.

BU, the leading state-run higher educational institution in Bicol which hosted the event,showcased its best practices on educational management and leadership.

It shared its success stories along public-private partnerships in curriculum development, ISO management review, fiscal and administrative decentralization and salary standardization for non-teaching personnel.

The program is pursuant to the Public Higher Education Roadmap (PHER) 2011-2016 which aim "to enhance the capability of managers of public higher education institutions to implement reforms and program initiatives."

Solution to Salinity Caused by Tsunami

A Japanese corporation has tapped Bicol University to develop cocopeat as a solution to the salinity problem left by the 2011 tsunami in Japan's rice fields.

BU last Aug.9 sealed a partnership with the Original Coco Corp.(OCC), a private Japanese firm for the research engagement that will also involve the Bicol University Development Foundation,Inc.(BUDFI) and Coco Technologies Corporation (COCOTECH), the Philippines' leading bioengineering company and coco coir manufacturer.

BU president Dr.Fay Lea Patria Lauraya on Monday said that under a memorandum of agreement(MOA) she signed with OCC president Kazuyuki Asanuma, the university has committed to provide facilities and researchers for the formulation of project proposals and experimental designs to the Japanese corporation.

OCC,on the other hand,will provide the university with technical information and data, as well as funds necessary for the research, Lauraya said.

Should results of the research turn out successful, the corporation will have the technology patented in both Japan and the Philippines, she added.

Joining the partnership are CocoTech headed by its president, Dr. Justino R. Arboleda who has committed to provide the needed cocopeat for the undertaking, at no cost, together with all technical information on the product; and BUDFI, represented by its chairman, Dr. Emiliano Aberin who shall manage the funds for the entire undertaking.

The duration of the BU research has been set for one year, unless a need to extend it is foreseen or an earlier termination is found necessary, at which case either may be entered into upon mutual agreement among the involved parties.

Swiss Artists to Perform in the Philippines

Tuburan Institute, Inc. (TBI) the Steiner Waldorf inspired school in Blissful Village, Sitio Sagrada Familia, Brgy. Indangan, Davao 
City is proudly presenting ArteNova Institut Eurythmy Youth Ensemble's eurythmy performance, "Transitions" to be held on 
Friday, October 12, 2012 at the Davao Convention and Trade Center, F. Torres St., Davao City. On that day, Davaoeños will 
have the opportunity to witness this expressive art movement twice 1) Matinee at 3:00 in the afternoon (P100/ticket) and, 2) 
Gala at 7:00 in the evening (P200/ticket and P400/ticket). 

Moniela dela Cruz, a volunteer of TBI describes eurythmy as a beautiful or harmonious rhythm. "It's a form of dance, speech, 
song, creative expression and body language combined," she says. For the first time, Davaoenos can enjoy this performance of 
eurythmy with acrobatics, jazz, tango, and other styles. Katherine E. Estember, Head Teacher of TB says it's not every day that 
ArteNova Institut Eurythmy Youth Ensemble from Switzerland is going on a Philippine tour and passing by Davao following 
their recent debut at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland.

Joining the excitement are schools, entrepreneurs, government workers, non-government organizations and people's 
organizations engaged in green businesses, environment advocacies, children, conflict-mediation and concerned with total 
human development. The University of the Immaculate Conception (UIC), the Davao Doctor's College (DDC), the Ateneo de 
Davao University (ADDU), the University of the Southeastern Philippines (USEP), South Point School Davao (SPSD), Tender 
Years Early Childhood Center (TYECC), and the Philippine Women's College – Davao (PWCD) are all sending their faculty, 
staff, and students majoring in Education, Psychology, Sociology, Occupational Therapy, Liberal Arts, Physical Education, and 
so on, to learn and experience about eurythmy also known as "soul gymnastics." "This is a once in a lifetime experience for 
Education Majors!"  explains Dr. Lyndon Devero, OSA Director of the PWC – Davao.

Eurythmy is widely used pedagogically in more than 1,000 Steiner Waldorf schools in over 65 countries to draw out students' 
creativity. Athena Masilungan, mother, early childhood teacher, and dancer says, "In my experience with children, I've found 
that eurythmy helps them be attuned with their bodies and find connections and oneness with everything around them. I've seen 
them develop stronger physical bodies, better coordination and a deeper connection to nature." The result for adults is the same 
according to Hindy Weber Tantoco – mother, wife, teacher, fashion designer, owner of Holy Carabao Holistic Farms. "I find 
most use for it in healing, cleansing, and strengthening. The curative aspect of eurythmy is what speaks to me more because of 
my needs," she says. Joy Romualdez Kawpeng, mother, wife, teacher, classical pianist, and music educator will be joining the 
Swiss artists in Davao City and says, "Eurythmy is nothing short of magic for me. But it's not for free. Like a skill we've taught 
ourselves to learn – as an athlete, artist, or musician – we have to put in effort to see results." 

The three women are part of the first Eurythmy Basics Training Group in Manila that has been training with Tanja Baumgarter, 
the star of "Transitions." Ms. Baumgarter is a mother of three children who got her training from the Zuccoli Eurythmy 
School in Dornach. She is the founder of Eurythmy Massage that works on the living forces of the body and has been doing 
extensive eurythmy research on plants and water. She now travels abroad to give practical trainings in eurythmy. For this 
year's celebration of 100 years of eurythmy, Ms. Baumgarter is going on a Philippine Tour with ArteNova Institut. Davaoenos 
interested to watch  Transitions can contact these numbers 09228938370 (sun), 09177174668 (globe), and 09081535326 
(smart) for tickets. 

All proceeds of Transitions will help Tuburan Institute, Inc. get off the ground as it embarks on its first school year developing 
balanced willing, thinking, and feeling. Inspired by the international Steiner Waldorf movement spanning more than 1,000 
schools in over 65 countries two (2) college educators, founded Tuburan Institute, Inc. in June 2011. Its doors opened to the 
first students last June 13, 2012. Each year one more level will be added until Class 12 on a proposed 10-hectare campus with 
children coming from families with different cultures and socio-economic backgrounds. 

ArteNova Institut Eurythmy Youth Ensemble Comes to Philippines

Maya Flaminda J. Vandenbroeck and Katherine E. Estember, former college teachers and teacher trainers, quit their jobs last year to start Tuburan Institute, Inc. (TBI) the first Steiner Waldorf inspired school in Blissful Village, Sitio Sagrada Familia, Brgy. Indangan, Davao City. Their vision is to grow a movement of community-based schools accessible to all Mindanaoans especially those who would not be able to afford it. 

To help them get Tuburan Institute, Inc school off the ground, ArteNova Institut Eurythmy Youth Ensemble from Basil, Switzerland is coming to Davao City this Oct. 12, 2012 for a eurythmy fundraising performance dubbed "Transitions" at the Davao Convention and Trade Center, F. Torres St., Davao City. On that day, Davaoeños will have the opportunity to witness this expressive art movement (a.k.a "soul gymnastics) twice 1) Matinee at 3:00 in the afternoon (P100/ticket) and, 2) Gala at 7:00 in the evening (P200/ticket and P400/ticket).

All of you interested to watch Transitions can contact Maya Vandenbroeck through 09228938370 (sun), 09177174668 (globe), and 09081535326 (smart) for tickets. 

Peace Agreement Between Philippine Government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)

By Lilybeth G. Ison

The formal signing of the framework peace agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for the attainment of lasting peace in Mindanao is set on Oct. 15 in Malacanang.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles, in a press conference on Sunday, said the context of the framework agreement was agreed upon by both parties during the peace negotiation in Kuala Lumpur.

The Philippine government and the MILF "already agreed in Kuala Lumpur on the text for the framework agreement. This will be signed next week, tentatively set on Oct. 15 in Malacanang," she said.

Deles said the signing will be done by both heads of the peace panel -- Marvic Leonen for the Philippine government and Mohagher Iqbal for the MILF. It will be witnessed by President Benigno S. Aquino III, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, and the Malaysian facilitator.

"The framework agreement is in general principles and broad strokes. There will still be annexes that will have to be negotiated that will be part of the comprehensive final peace agreement," she noted.

"We will need to make sure that this time, it is implemented as worded," she added.

President Aquino, in his speech announcing the forging of the framework agreement in Malacanang on Sunday afternoon, said:

"We have counted two generations since conflict began in Mindanao, a cycle of violence that has claimed the lives of more than a hundred thousand Filipinos. Many solutions have been proposed and tried. We have had peace agreements in the past, but still our hopes for the region remained unfulfilled. The ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) is a failed experiment. Many of the people continue to feel alienated by the system, and those who feel that there is no way out will continue to articulate their grievances through the barrel of a gun."

He said the framework agreement "seeks to correct these problems. It defines our parameters and our objectives, while upholding the integrity and sovereignty of our nation."

The agreement also creates a new political entity -- the Bangsamoro -- which symbolizes and honors "the struggles of our forebears in Mindanao, and celebrates the history and character of that part of our nation," he added.

Deles said the main track of the agreement is the creation of the new political entity through legislation.

"The first challenge is for the Transition Commission to draft the law and to work with both Houses of Congress so that it will be passed," she said.

With regards to territorial issue, Deles said "the same core territory as the current ARMM plus a few areas contiguous to the area that had previously voted to be part of the autonomous region."

These are the six municipalities in Lanao del Norte and barangays in six municipalities in North Cotabato that had voted in 2001 to be part of the autonomous region.

Mindanao Businessmen Welcome Peace

Leaders of the business community and civil society in Mindanao on Sunday expressed their support behind the forging of a draft framework peace agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), predicting that peace would inevitably impact not only on the business climate but also the quality of life of all the people in Mindanao.

Bronx Hebrona, regional governor for Southwestern Mindanao of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), said Mindanao traders were optimistic that the forging of a GPH-MILF framework agreement in Malaysia would eventually lead to a permanent peace agreement.

"It is very heartening that prospects for a final peace agreement are getting brighter. An agreement finally looks closer at hand. I am very confident that the MILF and the GPH will earnestly and sincerely rise above the current realities and challenges to finally attain lasting peace in Mindanao," Hebrona said.

"The peace dividend that will ensue will undoubtedly positively impact not only the business climate but eventually the quality of life of all Mindanaons," Hebrona said.

"We, in the business sector in Mindanao, trust that our brothers in the MILF and the administration of PNoy will pursue peace relentlessly until a final agreement is signed."

PCCI vice president for Mindanao Ricardo Juliano echoed Hebrona's observation, saying that a successful peace agreement would benefit "not only Mindanao but the entire country as well."

"We are fully supporting the peace process," Juliano said. "We have high hopes for this administration."

Mindanao civil society leaders, on the other hand, commended those responsible for ushering a "favorable" atmosphere that led to the forging of a framework agreement.

"The signing of a GPH-MILF peace accord is an act of humility and should usher in graciousness and agreements among people on the ground," said EJ Matela, executive director of the Mindanao Land Foundation, Inc. (MinLand), a non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Kidapawan City.

"Thoughts of real peace, justice and prosperity thus become more real and attainable," Matela added. "Our prayers and thanks to our leaders and all the people who are working hard to make this magnanimous act possible." Matela is a Minland Foundation past director for post conflict and rural services.

Aveen Acuna-Gulo, an official of the Cotabato-based Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) that is handling an European Union-funded project for Indigenous Peoples in the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), said the time was ripe for the signing of a peace agreement between the government and the MILF.

"I see that there has been no environment such as this current one that favors a signing; everything is positive," said Acuna-Gulo.

"To keep my support attuned to my current work, let me say that 'I am confident that the issues affecting the Indigenous Peoples in the ARMM are very much in the radar screens of both panels, and there has to be a first step -- which is the signing of a peace agreement," Acuna-Gulo said. "The work of empowering the Indigenous Peoples in the ARMM continues."

Earlier, President Benigno Aquino III announced the forging of the framework agreement that "paves the way for a final, enduring peace in Mindanao."

Armed Forces of the Philippines Welcomes Mindanao Peace

By Priam F. Nepomuceno

The Armed Forces of the Philippines welcomed on Sunday the decision of the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to ink a framework peace agreement to end the decades of conflict in Mindanao and spur economic development in the region.

"The AFP welcomes this significant milestone in our pursuit of a just and lasting peace for our nation as the peace talks bring to a conclusion and a framework for peace is already at hand," AFP spokesperson Col. Arnulfo M. Burgos Jr. said.

He added that the military is fully committed to the primacy of the peace process as it continues to support all the peace programs and endeavors of the government.

"All operations and activities being undertaken by the AFP in the implementation of Internal Peace and Security Program 'Bayanihan' are consistent with the goals of the government's peace framework and with our people's aspiration to finally end the armed violence between government forces and the MILF. We look forward to the sealing of the final peace agreement very soon, which will eventually bring renewed peace in Mindanao. We remain optimistic that with the forging of the peace agreement, the AFP would be able to gradually shift from internal security operations to territorial defense," Burgos said.

President Benigno S. Aquino III announced in Malacanang on Sunday the forging of a framework agreement between the Philippine government and the MILF to attain lasting peace in Mindanao.

"We have counted two generations since conflict began in Mindanao, a cycle of violence that has claimed the lives of more than a hundred thousand Filipinos. Many solutions have been proposed and tried. We have had peace agreements in the past, but still our hopes for the region remained unfulfilled," President Aquino said.

"The ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) is a failed experiment. Many of the people continue to feel alienated by the system, and those who feel that there is no way out will continue to articulate their grievances through the barrel of a gun. We cannot change this without structural reform. This is the context that informed our negotiations throughout the peace process. And now, we have forged an agreement that seeks to correct these problems. It defines our parameters and our objectives, while upholding the integrity and sovereignty of our nation," he stressed.

Peace in Mindanao

By Ben Cal

An enduring peace in Mindanao is seen at last with the forging of a framework of peace agreement between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) set to be signed next week following the successful 32nd exploratory peace talks between the GPH and MILF in Kuala Lumpur Saturday.

This was after 15 long years of tough negotiations, marked by a series of bloody fights between government forces and Muslim rebels, including the 2000 all-out war that collapsed the peace process, followed by the 2008 heavy fighting when the controversial Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

Despite the barriers, the government and the MILF continued their backdoor negotiations to revive the peace process in both instances.

In the late 1970s, the MILF peeled off from Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) due to organizational differences.

Fighting in southern Philippines continued without let-up until 1996 when the government then under the administration of President Fidel V. Ramos signed a peace accord on Sept. 2, 1996.

However, the MILF continued its defiance. The Ramos administration initiated a dialogue with the MILF in 1997 but there was little time to forge a peace agreement as Ramos' six-year term ended on June 30, 1998.

Then President Joseph Estrada took over the helm of government.

During Estrada's time the MILF continued to attack government forces in various parts of Mindanao, forcing Estrada to declare an all-out war against the MILF in the summer of 2000.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) dealt a heavy blow to the MILF rebels by capturing all their 49 camps, including Camp Abubakar, the MILF's main enclave.

Negotiations were at a standstill.

However, the MILF continued to be a force to reckon with. When Estrada was booted out from power during the so-called 2001 EDSA people power revolt, then Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo assumed the presidency.

The Arroyo government pursued peace negotiations with the MILF.

Its aim was to end the armed conflict, address the social, cultural and economic inequities, and arrive at a viable political arrangement that will reconcile the ideals of the Moro self-government, good governance, and national sovereignty.

But in 2008 heavy fighting again erupted in Mindanao following the non-signing of the controversial MOA-AD, which was declared as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

After nine years of off-and-on negotiations between the Arroyo government and the MILF, no peace agreement was reached.

In 2010, President Benigno S. Aquino III restarted peace negotiations with the MILF to achieve a negotiated political settlement to resolve the armed conflict.

The peace negotiations with the MILF were guided by the flexibilities of the Constitution; the lessons learned and experience of the past administration; the ability of the government to deliver viable political, economic, and social commitments in a peace agreement; and the principles of transparency and inclusivity.

Exploratory talks under the Aquino administration.

It was during the 32 GPH-MILF exploratory talks that the two sides agreed to forge a framework of agreement as a roadmap to a genuine and lasting peace in Mindanao.

However, the other exploratory talks were important as ever as part of the peace-building confidence. The highlights are as follow:

In September 2012 the GPH-MILF held their 31stExploratory Talks

• The Panels reached substantive gains in the negotiations.

• Worked towards the crafting of a framework agreement.

• The respective Technical Working Groups (TWGs) continued their discussions, reached consensus on many issues and submitted preliminary reports which were duly noted by the Panels.

August 2012, GPH-MILF 30th Exploratory Talks

• The Parties organized their respective Technical Working Groups (TWGs) on Power-Sharing and Wealth-Sharing. Both TWGs discussed and reached consensus on some issues on power sharing and revenue generation and wealth sharing arrangements.

• The Parties note the progress in the discussion on aframework agreement.

• The Parties condemned the senseless attacks of the so-called Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (BIFF-BIFM), as well as the violent acts of lawless elements in several areas in Mindanao.

July 2012 GPH-MILF 29th Exploratory Talks

• Both sides expressed confidence in wrapping updiscussions on mechanisms towards the realization of a new political entity that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as contained in the April 2012 GPH-MILF Decision Points on Principles.

• Continued discussions on power-sharing and other related matters.

May 2012 GPH-MILF 28th Exploratory Talks

• Both sides agreed to go back to their principals and further refine their respective positions on the substantive agenda, which includes wealthsharing, power-sharing, governance, transition roadmap, and normalization for the envisioned new autonomous political entity that will replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

• ARMM provincial governors joined this round of peace talks as observers and consultants. Present were Maguindanao Gov. Esmael "Toto" Mangudadatu, Basilan Gov. Jum Akbar, Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan, Tawi-Tawi Gov. Sadikul Sahali and Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal Adiong. Also NorthCotabato 1st district Rep. Jesus Sacdalan was present as consultant.

April 2012 GPH-MILF 27th Exploratory Talks

• The two Parties signed the GPH-MILF Decision Points on Principles as of April 2012. The document contains the preliminary listing of all points agreed so far, but does not preclude further consensus on other key issues.

• As a document which has been evolved by the Parties in an attempt to check what has already been achieved throughout the history of the talks, it should guide current discussions on the substantive agenda of the negotiations.

March 2012 GPH-MILF 26th Exploratory Talks

• Continued discussions on substantive issues, including power sharing on governance and wealth sharing.

• Approved the request of the Office of the Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to sit as observer in the GPH-MILF peace talks.

• Both Parties signed the Terms of Reference for the consultants who will be part of their respective delegations.

February 2012 GPH-MILF 25th Exploratory Talks

• Acknowledge the need to explore creative approaches that will address the political, legal and other dimensions of the problems.

• Considered reports from the International Monitoring Team (IMT), and renewed the mandate of the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG) for a period of 12 months beginning February 2012.

January 2012 | GPH-MILF 24th Exploratory Talks

• Discussion of substantive issues: concept of governance, listing of reserved powers of the National Government

• Identification of areas of common ground and agreement to consult with principals on outstanding issues

• Consideration to draft roadmaps toward resolution of the Bangsamoro question.

December 2011 GPH-MILF 23rd Exploratory Talks

• Reaffirmation by both Parties of commitment to move the peace process forward; continued discussions on the substantive points in crafting a framework agreement

• Renewal of mandate of the IMT for another year; adoption of the Terms of Reference of its Humanitarian, Rehabilitation and Development Component November 2011

• Informal executive meeting to address pressing issues regarding the negotiations, especially the fighting that erupted in Basilan and Zamboanga in October.

• Agreed on a process that will enable the parties to move forward on the substantive agenda.

• Authorized the International Monitoring Team in coordination with the Joint Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (Joint CCCH) to conduct an investigation of the charges of ceasefire violations in Al Barka and Zamboanga Sibugay.

October 2011

• From January to August 2011, only an armed skirmish between GPH and MILF forces took place; cooperated in addressing other sources of violence such as rido, land-related issues and criminal activities.

• On Oct. 18, a major encounter between the government and MILF forces took place in Al Barka, Basilan. This was immediately followed by two separate ambushes against government security forces in Zamboanga Sibugay and Lanao del Norte. The AFP consequently conducted pursuit operations against the attackers in Payao, Zamboanga Sibugay.

August 2011 GPH-MILF 22nd Exploratory Talks

• President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, as a grand gesture of sincerity in the peace process, met with MILF Chair Murad Ebrahim in Japan on Aug. 4, 2011 prior to the peace talks held this month

• Submission of the government's 3-for-1 proposal to the MILF by the GPH Peace Panel.

April 2011 GPH-MILF 21st Exploratory Talks

• GPH Peace Panel sought clarifications on some points of MILF's Revised Comprehensive Compact

• Introduction of the new Malaysian third partyfacilitator, Tengku Dato AB Ghafar Tengku Mohamed, replacing Malaysian facilitator Datuk Othman bin Abdul Razak, facilitator for the past nine years.

February 2011 GPH-MILF 20th Exploratory Talks

• Resumption of peace negotiations

• MILF submitted their Revised Comprehensive Compact

• Amendment of Terms of Reference and mandate of the International Monitoring Team (IMT) and Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG) or 12 months Peace Adviser: Teresita Quintos Deles (2010-present)

GPH Peace Panel: (2010-present)

Chair: Atty. Marvic Leonen,

Members: Prof Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, Sec. Senen Bacani, Bai Yasmin Busran-Lao, Dr. Hamid Barra, and Mayor Ramon Piang Sr. (alternate member)

MILF Peace Panel: Chair: Mohagher Iqbal

Members: Atty. Michael O.

Mastura, Atty. Maulana M. Alonto,

Atty. Abdullah Camlian, Prof.

Abhoud Syid Linga, and Datu

Antonio Kinoc (alternate member)

Other backgrounds of the peace process:

In 2001 when then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo assumed the presidency, she reversed her predecessor's policy and brought the GRP-MILF peace process back on track.

The two parties agreed on three negotiating agenda: security, rehabilitation, and ancestral domain. President Arroyo invited the Government of Malaysia to become the official third-party facilitator of the GRP-MILF peace talks.

However, on Feb. 11, 2003, a military campaign was launched in the area of MILF Central Command Headquarters at Buliok Complex, Maguindanao.

On June 13, 2003, MILF Chair and founder Hashim Salamat died of a heart attack. Al Haj Murad Ebrahim took over while Mohagher Iqbal became the Chairman of the MILF peace panel.

Other milestones:

- Signing of the Agreement of the General Framework for the Resumption of Peace Talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and MILF

- Signing of the Agreement of Peace between the GRP and the MILF, otherwise known as Tripoli Agreement of 2001

- Series of exploratory talks between the parties were held in 2001

- Signing of the Implementing Guidelines on the Security Aspect of the GRP-MILF Tripoli Agreement of Peace of 2001

- Signing of the Manual of Instructions for Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) and the Local Monitoring Teams (LMT)

- Signing of the "Joint Communique between the GRP and the MILF" for the joint creation of the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG)" which aims at the isolation and interdiction of all criminal syndicates and kidnap-for-ransom groups, including the so-called "lost-commands" operating in Mindanao

- Creation of the International Monitoring Team (IMT), an international peacekeeping team in Mindanao; signing of the Civilian Protection Component (CPC) of the IMT; and agreement on the inclusion of NGOs as the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Mindanao People's Caucus.

- Signing of the "Framework Agreement on the Formation of the International Contact Group (ICG) for the GRP-MILF Peace Process."

- Agreement to set up a Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) in Cotabato City.

Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA -AD)

In December 2004, the peace negotiations transitioned to the third agenda item on ancestral domain.

Under the ancestral domain aspect are four strands: concept, territory, resources, and governance. Negotiations on ancestral domain would complete the requirements in the Tripoli Agreement of 2001 and it will be a critical aspect of discussions for the reaching Final Peace Agreement between the GPH and MILF.

The scheduled signing of the MOA-AD by the parties on Aug. 5 was blocked when the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order on August 4, in response to the injunction filed by a group of Mindanao local government officials questioning the legality of the agreement. On Oct. 14, 2008, the high court declared the MOA-AD unconstitutional.

The decision triggered renewed hostilities between forces of the government and MILF in Central Mindanao.

On June 3, 2010, the Government of the Philippines and the MILF signed a "Declaration of Continuity for Peace Negotiations between GPH and MILF" embodying the parties' commitment to continue engaging with each other in the GPH-MILF Peace Process until they finally conclude and reach a comprehensive compact.

Peace talks under the Estrada administration formally opened in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao on Oct. 25, 1999. However, Estrada declared an "all-out war" policy against the MILF on March 21, 2000. This caused the withdrawal of the MILF from the negotiating table.

After the ravages of war, the MILF sought support from the international community. The Organization of Islamic Conference (OICs) urged the GRP and the MILF to end military hostilities and return to the negotiating table.

- Signing of Joint GRP-MILF Acknowledgment and Agreement to Reaffirm the Pursuit of Peace

- Issuance of a Joint Statement on the Cessation of Hostilities; a Statement for Joint Efforts to Pursue Just, Equitable, Lasting Peace; a Second Joint GRP-MILF Agreement

- Opening of Formal Peace Talks on October 25, 1999. However, Estrada gave the MILF a deadline for the conclusion of peace talks with the government on June 2000.

The GPH-MILF peace negotiations started in 1997 during the administration of President Fidel V. Ramos.

The early part of negotiations was characterized as revolving mainly around security issues, confidence-building measures, and AFP-MILF ceasefire matters.


- Setting up of ceasefire mechanisms for the GPH-MILF peace process, namely the creation of Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) and the Local Monitoring Teams (LMT)

- Signing of the Agreement for General Cessation of Hostilities on July 21, 1997

- Signing of Implementing Administrative Guidelines of the GRPMILF Agreement on the General Cessation of Hostilities on Sept 12, 1997 and the Implementing Operational Guidelines of the GRP-MILF Agreement on the General Cessation of Hostilities on Nov. 14, 1997.

Peace Advisers:

(2001- Oct. 2003) Eduardo Ermita;

(Oct. 2003 -July 2005) Teresita Quintos-Deles;

(July 2005 – 30 Jan. 2006) Rene Sarmiento (OIC);

(Feb. 2006-July 30, 2008) Jesus Dureza;

(2008 – Feb.2009) Hermogenes Esperon, Jr.;

(2009 – 12 Oct. 2009) Avelino I. Razon, Jr.; (Oct. 2010);

Nabil Tan (OIC);

(23 Oct. 2009 – 30 June 2010) Anabelle T. Abaya

Gov't Peace Panel: (2001) Sec. Jesus G. Dureza - Chairman

Members: Vice-Gov Mahid Mutilan, Mayor Muslimin Sema, Dr Emily Marohombsar, Ms Irene Santiago.

(0ct 22, 2003) Sec Silvestre Afable – Chairman

Usec Rodolfo Garcia, Prof Rudy Rodil, Governor Datupax Mangudadatu, Ms Sylvia Okinlay- Paraguya, Mr Saeed Daof

(2003) Sec. Eduardo Ermita – Chairman

Memmbers: Governor Datupax Mangudadatu, Mayor MusliminSema, Dr Emily Marohombsar, Ms Irene Santiago

(2007) Sec. Rodolfo Garcia – Chairman

Members: Sec. Nasser Pangandaman, Prof Rudy Rodil, Ms Sylvia Okinlay-Paraguya

(2008) Amb Rafael Seguis – Chairman

Members: Sec Nasser Pangandaman, Dr Ronald Adamat, AttyAntonio La Viña, Dr Grace Rebollo

Resigned (Panel Members): Mayor Adelbert Antonino, Atty Tomas Cabili

MILF Peace Panel: (2001-2002) Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, Mohagher Iqbal, Atty. Michael O. Mastura, Atty. Musib M. Buat

Peace Adviser: Emmanuel Yan (March 1994 – 2001)

Gov't Peace Panel: Lt. Gen Edgardo Batenga - Chairman (2000)

MILF Peace Panel: Aleem AbdulAzis Mimbantas, Mohagher Iqbal,

Ghazali Jaafar, Omar Hassan, Sammy Al-Mansour(1998-1999)

Peace Adviser: Haydee Yorac (September 1992-Sept. 14 1993), Oscar Santos (Sept. 15, 1993 – February 1994), Emmanuel Yan (March 1994 – 2001)

Gov't Panel Chairman: Gen Fortunato Abat (1996), LtGen Orlando Soriano (1997)

Gov't Panel Members: Rep Anthony Dequina, Dr Emily Marohombsar, Major Gen. Santos Gabison Jr

MILF Peace Panel: GhazalI Jaafar R, Sammy Al-mansour Omar

Hasan, Abdulmanaf MantawiL, Atty. Omar B. Umpar (1997).

Top NPA Leader Captured by Philippine Army

The leadership of New People's Army (NPA) rebels continues to suffer a debacle over the weekend with the capture of another top communist leader, together with his wife in Cebu, the military said Sunday.

This brought to six the number of NPA rebels captured by the military the past three days.

Maj. Gen. Jose Z. Mabanta Jr., commander of 3rd Infantry (Spearhead) Division of the Philippine Army, confirmed to the Philippines News Agency the arrest of Calixto Vistal, a top regional NPA commander in the Visayas, by military operatives in Mandaue, Cebu last Friday.

Jimmyliza Badayos Vistal, wife of Calixto, was also arrested.

Vistal, alias Cocoy, Fred and Isom, was arrested by virtue of an arrest warrant number 2012-21370 for murder issued by Judge Roderick Maxino, Branch 32 Judicial region in Dumaguete City.

His wife, Jimmyliza, alias Jill, Cecile and Mayet, was arrested for illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Both are now detained at the Cebu City police office.

"The long arm of the law has finally fallen upon them," Mabanta said in an e-mail to PNA.

Calixto used to command NPA forces in Leyte and Bohol. But Bohol was declared an insurgency-free province.

Mabanta said "Cocoy certainly would not able to go back to the provinces of Leyte and Bohol. Their presence in Cebu was also not for them with insurgency in these provinces a thing of the past."

"Bohol, Cebu and Leyte provinces have been declared insurgency-free," he said.

Military records show that Vistal, formerly led the NPA forces in Bohol, currently heads the regional armed group in southeastern Negros island while Jimmyliza was the former technical committee head of the same Negros group.

Vistal was involved in several NPA violent actions in Bohol, Leyte and Negros islands, including the raid of two police camps in Bohol in 1999.

He was also involved in the encounter with Special Forces of the Philippine Army in 2000, killing 2nd Lt. Socrates Que and some soldiers.

In 2003 Vistal led in the burning of the heavy equipment of then Mayor Boy Jumamoy of Inabanga, Bohol and a certain Memong, a businessman of same town.

He was also involved in the encounter with security forces in Leyte in 2006 and in Bohol in 2007.

Vistal was also the suspect in the killing of a certain Basilio Casido in Siaton, Negros Oriental recently.

Philippine Weather Update: Another Storm/Typhoon Coming

A tropical storm near Northern Luzon and may enter the country on Monday, the state weather bureau said.

Weather Forecaster Jori Loiz said that as of 4 a.m. Monday, tropical storm with international name 'Prapiroon' was estimated based on satellite and surface data at 1,320 km East of Tuguegarao City (17.8°N, 135.8°E) with maximum winds of 65 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 80 kph.

Loiz said the tropical storm is forecast to move west at 15 kph and is expected to enter the Philippine area of Responsibility (PAR) within today (Monday).

He said the tropical storm once inside the PAR, will named "Nina" – the 14th cyclone to enter the country this year, and this will bring rains over some parts of Luzon.

Based on the models, Loiz said the tropical storm is not expected to make landfall in any part of the country but the agency continues to monitor the situation.

He said it will just move near the landmass of Northern Luzon and forecast to exit the country by Thursday towards Japan.

But Loiz said the cyclone is expected to strengthen into a typhoon in the next few days since it is still hovering over the sea.

He said PAGASA expects two to three cyclones to enter the PAR this month.

In the next 24 hours, Loiz said that the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) is expected to bring light to moderate rains in Palawan and Mindanao.These areas will have occasional light to moderate rains or thunderstorms.

The rest of the country including Metro Manila will be partly cloudy with brief rainshowers due to localized thunderstorms.

PAGASA said moderate to strong winds blowing from the Northeast to North will prevail over the Cordillera Administrative Region, Cagayan Valley, Ilocos Region, Central Luzon and Metro Manila and the coastal waters along these areas will be moderate to rough.

Philippine government welcomes peace with MILF

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday welcomed the announcement of a framework peace agreement between the Philippine government and the country's largest rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

"This agreement is a testament to the commitment of all sides for a peaceful resolution to the conflict in the southern Philippines," the top U.S. envoy said in a written statement.

"The next steps will be to ensure that the framework agreement is fully implemented," she added, urging all parties to work together to "build peace, prosperity and greater opportunities for all the people of the Philippines."

The landmark deal, announced by Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III earlier Sunday, was reached after the latest round of peace talks between the government and the MILF in Kuala Lumpur, capital of Malaysia.

Under the deal expected to be signed on Oct. 15, the rebels shall be accorded a larger share of power and wealth in a new autonomous region by 2016.

The new region, named Bangsamoro, shall have its vested property rights protected, the basic rights of its minorities and indigenous groups recognized and the law enforcement transferred gradually from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to a reformed police.

The new autonomous region would replace the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) set up two decades ago, which Aquino referred to as a "failed experiment."