Tag: afp


Joji was taking the picture while she was asking me what I think about the dispute between China and the Philippines about Spratly Islands

The Philippines and Vietnam are alarmed by China’s increasing military presence in some islands in South China Sea.

This issue has been causing some fear among us, peace building workers, in the region.

Then, according to the Voice of America, the United States “has offered to facilitate territorial disputes between China and its Southeast Asian neighbors.” In fairness, I’d like to think that the US actually meant facilitating a resolution to this dispute. Just like before, the Super Power may be well-meaning as they get involved in this dispute. But based on their historical record in trying to police the world, I’m skeptic about American peacemaking.

Personally, I think the United States should not get involved in the current South China Sea dispute between the five Southeast Asian nations and China.

Here’s how I understand the nature of the conflict: The Spratly and Paracel archipelagos hold major oil and gas reserves. These archipelagos are claimed in whole or in part by Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

In 2002, China and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations signed a pact called The Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. This is a good basis for a multilateral approach to this dispute. Vietnam’s Defense Minister Phung Quang Thanh referred to this document, during a regional meeting in Singapore yesterday, as the framework for a peaceful conversation about this fragile situation.

If the US gets involved, their most probable approach would be towards the equalization of military presence. It’s like Uncle Sam telling Juan dela Cruz, “China’s military presence is in your backyard. Would you like us to protect your backyard from them?”

What was the real reason for the presence of an American aircraft carrier in Philippine waters as the Philippine government struggles with the reality of Chinese military presence in the Spratly Islands? A few days after our President went on board the American aircraft carrier, we hear that our Filipino diplomats in the US are shopping for American military gear! Hmmm…

I know that many of my fellow Filipinos would immediately welcome the support and protection of the Big Brother USA in the face of China’s increasing military presence in South China Sea. I understand the fear of being “bullied” by the Awakened Dragon.

So, I’m facing two risky scenarios: (1) the risk of continuing US military dominance in the Philippines; (2) the risk of a budding military dominance of China in South China Sea.

I’d choose a third risky scenario: the multilateral approach where Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam can have conversation based on The Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. I hope President Benigno Simeon Aquino III will pursue this path which he expressed during his dialogue with Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei. Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. of the Presidential Communications Operations Office said:

…the President also raised the issue on the disputed Spratlys Islands, and expressed hope that multi-lateral dialogue participated in by all the claimants be the main avenue in resolving conflict.

“The principal objective is to maintain peace and stability in the region. This is the stance taken in by the Sultan and other ASEAN countries,” Coloma said.

In the discussion, Coloma said the President referred to “certain challenges” in the contested area. Both the Philippines and Brunei, and other Asean countries, including China, are contesting the Spratlys

“The President told the Sultan that there have been some developments in the area recently, that leads us even more purposive in seeking the objective of full cooperation and dialogue,” he said.

Manila Bulletin, “Aquino boosts ties with Brunei”
By Raymund F. Antonio
June 1, 2011, 6:48pm


I pray that the US would not impose its involvement.

I pray for peace in South China Sea.


News Updates on this Issue:

Philippine Daily Inquirer‘s editorial, June 08, 2011

Manila Bulletin‘s editorial, June 09, 2011

Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Update, June 10, 2011

Manila Bulletin Headline, June 10, 2011

Philippine Daily Inquirer, June 11, 2011



Permanent link to this article: https://waves.ca/2011/06/06/im-praying-for-the-peace-of-south-china-sea/


There seems to be a transformation happening in the AFP.

I say this while fighting my own skepticism and as I determine to be volitionally hopeful. I have no filing system in my heart and mind about these two categories — “Human Rights” and “AFP”. My past experiences with them (many were traumatic) during the Martial Law Regime, when I was a student political activist, make me uncomfortable every time I am around military personnel, and especially when I visit the AFP General Headquarters.

But my faith-conviction as a Christian peace and reconciliation missionary compels me to open my mind and my heart, beyond my psycho-social comfort zone.  I guess this is a part of my psycho-social transformation.

In the past two years a non-government organization called Alternative Law Groups facilitated Community-Based Dialogue Sessions on Human Rights with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).  The goal of the two-year dialogue series thoughout the Philippines was “to contribute to the improvement of Human Rights situation in the Philippines primarily through the enhancement of the relationship between the AFP and the PNP, on one hand, and the local communities and civil society organizations, on the other hand, in the common effort to promote human rights.” The dialogue participants in each session included 10 representatives of the AFP, 10 representatives of the PNP, and 30 representatives from civil society organizations.  The regional officers of the Commission on Human Rights attended the sessions and helped discuss the human rights situation in their respective regions.

The issues raised were the ones we used to write on our placards as we shouted on the streets some 30+ years ago. Now, the same issues are being raised, paid for by the AFP, within the AFP General Headquarters. This is mind-boggling for a person who grew up in the 70s!

Here are the issues raised:

:: Military Harassments — threat to organizing groups; name-tagging on non-government organization workers; harassments during rallies; harassments of support groups; harassments of fact-finding teams, harassments of Indigenous Peoples (IP) communities and Moro communities.

:: Surveillance of HR advocates or activists

:: Military Encampment — operations within the area include indiscriminate bombing and firing; presence of military detachments in civilian areas endangering communities; entry of the military in Ancestral Domain areas

:: Use of military and Police personnel to protect private interests — like corporate interests, mining operations, plantations, politicians’ business interests

:: Lack of Sensitivity and Improper Implementation of Certain Human Rights Laws and Social Legislation

:: Curtailment of the Right to Association and Freedom of Speech

:: Other Issues — like, arbitrary arrest and detention, “Hamletting,” Food blockade, massacre, recruitment of IPs, Redress Mechanisms of AFP and PNP

This First AFP Conference on HR and IHL is described by my friend, Col. Domingo J. Tutaan, Chief of the AFP Human Rights Office (AFP HRO), as a “paradigm shift on how AFP views its mandate of protecting the people and the state… a shift from predominantly militaristic solution to a people-centered security strategy.”  Col. Tutaan and I met on the field — one of the insurgency hot spots in Mindanao — a few weeks ago. He loves to call the new “AFP Strategic Intent” as “WINNING THE PEACE” (that’s how he wrote it, in capital letters).

I feel honored to be invited by Col. Tutaan to this conference. His official designation as Chief of AFP HRO is a Special Staff of the AFP Chief of Staff, functioning under the supervision of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil Military Operations, J7. He will assist the AFP Chief of Staff on matters related to Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.  His specific functions include:

:: planning, implementing, and supervising programs to uphold, protect, and respect HR and adherence to IHL;

:: developing and pursuing advocacy activities and other education and information dissemination programs on HR and IHL;

:: integrating and synthesizing all AFP policies, regulations, and data gathered that have bearing on HR and IHL;

:: receiving complaints of alleged HR violations against AFP members and threat groups and initiating investigation

:: monitoring incidents of alleged HR and IHL violations as reported in open sources and initiating immediate investigation

:: monitoring the litigation of Human Right Violations involving members of the AFP

:: monitoring HR and IHL violations of threat groups and initiate immediate filing of cases/complaints and assisting the victims and/or their families

:: working with the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), other human rights organizations, NGOs, civil society organizations, and public officials for the promotion and protection of HR and abidance to IHL.

I was wondering if these exciting changes are just top-level organizational facade and whether this will be implemented among the rank and file AFP personnel on the field.  Col. Tutaan said:

:: The AFP HRO organization is replicated at the Major Service Headquarters and the Headquarters of all the Unified Commands (such as Eastern Mindanao Command and Western Mindanao Command)

:: Human Rights Desks and Officers are to be established and designated respectively in all tactical units of the AFP–i.e., Philippine Army Divisions, Brigades and Battalions, and its equivalent units in the Philippine Air Force and the Philippine Navy

Well, I promised Col. Tutaan, in front of Bishop Tendero, National Director of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC), that the PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI) and the PCEC Peace and Reconciliation Commission (PARC) will actively watch the implementation of this new initiative of the AFP in institutionalizing Human Rights in its structures, culture, and value system.

As a spiritual segment of Philippine society, the PCEC-PARC will watch and monitor AFP Human Rights dynamics among the top military leadership, while we at PBCI will help watch and monitor, along with other CSOs like Amnesty International, on the field. We are hopeful for this apparent initial implementation of a Security Sector Reform in our country sides.

May God help our people and our land truly experience the genuine adherence and abidance of Human Rights, and genuine implementation of the International Humanitarian Law in this beautiful land.


17.DECEMBER.2010. Tejeros Hall, AFP Commisioned Officers Club House, AFP General Headquarters, Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

Permanent link to this article: https://waves.ca/2010/12/18/afp-institutionalizes-human-rights-in-its-system/


(L-R): Bennette Grace Tenecio, PBCI Director of Support Operations; Regina Mondez, PBCI Church Resourcing Coordinator - Luzon; Dann Pantoja, PBCI President; Matt Tiessen, PBCI Technical Assistant

PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI) was invited to witness the Change of Command Ceremony at the 1003 Infantry Brigade (10th Infantry Division) of the Philippine Army.  It was held last December 6th, 2010 in the Municipality of Sto. Tomas, Province of Davao del Norte. The new Commanding Officer is Col Lysander Suerte. PBCI and Col Suerte got to know each other on the field and in various military-civilian consultations on issues such as Human Rights and Peace Building.

As part of our Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) ministry among our people in this beautiful land, PBCI is getting more involved in seeing the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). Therefore, we are engaging GRP’s Armed Forces of the Philippines in discussing this issue. We hope the NDFP would also allow us to engage with them in this same issue.

Our PBCI Staff have been actively participating in various consultations on Security Sector Reform in the past two years. As an initial national-level culmination of all the field consultations that were happening on the ground, PBCI has been invited to participate in the 1st AFP Conference on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law on December 17, 2010 at the AFP Commissioned Officers Club House, Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City from 8:00 AM to 2:30 PM. The stated goal of the Conference is “to deepen understanding of how to create a culture of human rights in the AFP by gaining insights and receive practical strategies for action from national leaders and institutions and civilian groups.”

Permanent link to this article: https://waves.ca/2010/12/07/interaction-with-the-new-1003-ib-army-commander/