Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Navy missile boat gets battle system upgrade

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 16, 2024): Navy missile boat gets battle system upgrade (By Priam Nepomuceno)



SYSTEMS UPGRADE. Troops manning the Philippine Navy's fast attack interdiction craft BRP Nestor Acero (PG-901) test the vessel's upgraded "battle net" (BNET) system during a sea trial in this July 4, 2024 photo. The ship's Facebook page on Monday (July 15) said the trial tested the connectivity and communication range of the upgraded BNET system, focusing on voice, chat, and video feed relay. (Photo courtesy of BRP Nestor Acero Facebook page)

MANILA – One of the Philippine Navy's most capable surface combatants, fast attack interdiction craft BRP Nestor Acero (PG-901), got more potent as its "battle net" (BNET) system got a significant upgrade from Israeli defense manufacturer Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.

"This upgrade was validated through a comprehensive sea trial near Manila Bay and Cavite City, involving PG-901 and five other ACPGs (Acero Class Patrol Gunboats)," the BRP Nestor Acero said in a Facebook post Monday night.

It added that the sea trial was held on July 4, which tested the connectivity and communication range of the upgraded BNET system, focusing on voice, chat, and video feed relay. No other details on the systems upgrade were provided for security reasons.

"The results exceeded baseline specifications, confirming the upgrade's success. This enhancement significantly boosts the ACPG fleet's operational capabilities, ensuring improved connectivity and real-time communication for modern naval operations," the post read.


The PN now has six Acero-class gunboats in service, with the BRP Nestor Acero as the lead ship.

The first two Acero-class gunboats, the BRP Nestor Acero (PG-901) and BRP Lolinato To-Ong (PG-902), were delivered in September 2022 and commissioned two months later.

The third and fourth FAICs, the BRP Gener Tinangag (PG-903) and BRP Domingo Deluana (PG-905), were delivered in April 2023 and commissioned the following month.

The fifth and sixth were named the BRP Herminigildo Yurong (PG-906) and BRP Laurence Narag (PG-907), respectively, and were commissioned on May 21 this year.

All six Acero-class gunboats were named after Medal of Valor awardees.

The remaining three Acero-class gunboats are expected to be constructed and delivered within the next two years.

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1229039

Army: Talaingod ruling to deter groups luring youth to insurgency

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 16, 2024): Army: Talaingod ruling to deter groups luring youth to insurgency (By Priam Nepomuceno)



MANILA – The government will not hesitate to apply the full force of the law to persons and groups exposing the youth to deceitful and dangerous ideologies, the Philippine Army (PA) spokesperson has said.

The remark was made after the Tagum Regional Trial Court Branch 2, in a July 5 decision, convicted former Bayan Muna representative Satur Ocampo, ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro, and 11 others of child abuse over a case involving 14 minors in Talaingod, Davao del Norte.

"It sends a clear message that individuals who exploit and endanger the lives of IP (Indigenous Peoples) children by exposing them to false and dangerous ideologies will be held accountable under our laws," Army spokesperson Col. Louie Dema-ala said in a statement late Monday.

He added that the PA remains steadfast in its commitment to safeguarding the welfare of all Filipinos, particularly vulnerable groups that are often targeted by deceitful beliefs.

"This landmark decision stems from their orchestration of the (November) 2018 incident in Talaingod, Davao del Norte when they transported 14 minors who are part of indigenous peoples (IP) communities under the guise of a 'rescue mission'," Dema-ala added.

The ruling is proof of the country's functional justice system, he said.


The group was accused of holding 14 students at the Salugpungan Ta'tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center Inc. (STTICLCI) where they supposedly held a solidarity mission.

Also found guilty were Ma. Eugenia Victoria Nolasco, Jesus Madamo, Meriro Poquita, Maricel Andagkit, Marcial Rendon, Marianie Aga, Jenevive Paraba, Nerhaya Talledo, Ma. Concepcion Ibarra, Nerfa Awing and Wingwing Daunsay.

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1229041

PH, Australia armies kick off 'Exercise Carabaroo 2024'

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 16, 2024): PH, Australia armies kick off 'Exercise Carabaroo 2024' (By Priam Nepomuceno)



'EXERCISE CARABAROO'. ⁨The 125-member Philippine Army delegation and their Australian Army counterparts join the opening ceremony of the Philippine-Australia Exercise Carabaroo 2024 in Darwin, Australia on Monday (July 15, 2024). The Philippine Army on Tuesday (July 16) said the drills would test the concept of deployment of a Light Littoral Brigade on Australia's northern coast. (Photo courtesy of the Philippine Army)

MANILA – The Philippine Army (PA) and its Australian Army counterparts on Monday formally kicked off the month-long Exercise Carabaroo 2024 in the latter's northern city of Darwin.

In a statement Tuesday, PA spokesperson Col. Louie Dema-ala said the Australian Army's 1st Brigade hosted this year's edition of the drills.

"It forms part of the broader architecture of Exercise Predator’s Run 2024 which is dubbed the Australian Army's most significant littoral training activity of the year," he added.

The PA deployed a 125-member contingent for the event.


Meanwhile, Army and Marines contingents from the United States, United Kingdom, and Timor Leste are also participating in the exercise which tests the concept of deployment of a Light Littoral Brigade on Australia's northern coast.

Littoral refers to areas near shores or a coastal region.

The PA delegation — led by Governance and Strategy Management Office (GSMO), 5th Infantry Division (GSMO, 5ID) Chief Col. Jesus C. Pagala — is comprised of selected General Staff and personnel of the 5th Infantry Division, Training and Doctrine Command, Army Artillery Regiment, Army Signal Regiment, Army Support Command, Special Forces Regiment (Airborne), First Scout Ranger Regiment, and Combat Engineer Regiment.

The Philippine and Australian governments signed the Status of Visiting Forces Agreement (SOVFA) in May 2007 as the basis for defense cooperation between the two nations.

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1229043

FA-50PH jets to 'dogfight' with Thai 'Gripen' in Pitch Black 2024

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 16, 2024): FA-50PH jets to 'dogfight' with Thai 'Gripen' in Pitch Black 2024 (By Priam Nepomuceno)



PAF spokesperson Ma. Consuelo Castillo (PNA photo by Priam Nepomuceno)

MANILA – Philippine Air Force (PAF) FA-50PH "Fighting Eagle" light jet fighters and their pilots are scheduled to "dogfight" with Royal Thai Air Force's (RTAF) JAS-39 "Gripen" aircraft on Tuesday, as part of the ongoing "Pitch Black" exercises in Darwin, Australia.

"Upcoming today, we are going to have dissimilar aircraft combat tactics with the Thailand Air Force (RTAF) with their Gripen (multi-role fighters)," PAF spokesperson Col. Ma. Consuelo Castillo said in a press briefing at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City Tuesday.

Dissimilar aircraft combat tactics refer to air combat training where two different air platforms oppose each other in a drill.

These activities will boost the air defense capabilities of the PAF fighter pilots.


It is also useful in training for the interception of unidentified or hostile aircraft that might enter Philippine airspace.

Incidentally, the PAF is also looking at acquiring Swedish SAAB-made "Gripen" to beef up the FA-50PH fleet along with Lockheed Martin F-16 jet fighters.

For this year's 'Pitch Black", the PAF deployed four FA-50PHs and a C-130 tactical transport along with 162 personnel for the exercise which will run from July 12 to Aug. 2.

Castillo also said such drills are ongoing as "fighter aircraft operations" with different countries are part of the drills' goals.

Aside from this, "Pitch Black" participants are preparing for "large force deployment" where there will be at least 100 hundred aircraft in the air, she added.

These planes will also conduct "defensive and offensive maneuvers" while taking part in these exercises.

Castillo earlier said this is the first time the PAF has deployed military aircraft to an international exercise.

This year's 'Pitch Black' drills would also involve field training exercises, flight integration training, and training on large force employment.

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1229066

Navy: Effects of PH-China talks on WPS tensions yet to be seen

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 16, 2024): Navy: Effects of PH-China talks on WPS tensions yet to be seen (By Priam Nepomuceno)



PN spokesperson for the WPS Rear Adm. Roy Vincent Trinidad (PNA photo by Priam Nepomuceno)

MANILA – The effects of the Bilateral Consultation Mechanism (BCM) meeting between the Philippines and China have yet to be seen as far as easing tensions in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) is concerned, a ranking Philippine Navy (PN) official said on Tuesday.

"We are monitoring continuously the number of ships in the WPS. Based on the numbers for the past one month, we have seen a decrease. Last week, we (had) 94, the previous week 95, this week 104, so that's only a very slight increase compared to the previous month. If ever this is related to the BCM talks, it remains to be seen," PN spokesperson for the WPS Rear Adm. Roy Vincent Trinidad said in a press briefing at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.

Based on the PN's monitoring from July 9 to 15, the number of Chinese vessels spotted in WPS features include nine China Coast Guard vessels, one People's Liberation Army Navy ship, and 94 maritime militia vessels.

Trinidad also maintained that Manila's actions are always meant to de-escalate tension in the WPS even without the BCM.

"We will continue the RORE (rotation and resupply) missions, we will continue our maritime air surveillance flights. We will continue securing our features and the integrity of the national territory in the WPS. Again, we have never been escalatory in our actions. The Chinese Communist Party's actions in the WPS (have) been escalatory," he added.

Asked whether there are changes in China's behavior due to the BCM, he said this will be known during Manila's next RORE mission.

Manila's last RORE to BRP Sierra Madre (LS-57) was held on June 17, which was disrupted by the China Coast Guard and maritime militia.

A sailor of the PN lost his right thumb while Chinese troops damaged the Philippines' two rigid-hull inflatable boats and looted assorted gear, equipment, supplies, and even firearms.

During the 9th meeting of the BCM on the South China Sea (BCM) in Manila on July 2, Manila and Beijing agreed to continue discussions to find a “mutually acceptable resolution” to WPS issues.

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1229082

PH, US military chiefs tout strong ties, discuss cooperation

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 16, 2024): PH, US military chiefs tout strong ties, discuss cooperation (By Priam Nepomuceno)



US Joint Chiefs of Staff chair Gen. Charles Brown Jr. (left) and AFP chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. (right) (Photo courtesy of AFP)

MANILA – The strong military ties between the Philippines and the United States got a further boost following the visit of US Joint Chiefs of Staff chair Gen. Charles Brown Jr. on Tuesday.

Brown met with Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) officials, led by Chief of Staff Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr., at the military headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

"The meeting underscored their commitment to (the) Philippine-United States' long-standing military alliance. Discussions focused on enhancing bilateral defense cooperation, strengthening joint military exercises, and addressing regional security challenges," AFP public affairs office chief Col. Xerxes Trinidad said in a statement.

The officials discussed future initiatives to bolster defense relations and foster greater interoperability.


"Our alliance with the United States remains a cornerstone of our national security. Through continued collaboration and mutual support, we fortify our defense capabilities and ensure the stability of our region," Brawner said.

The AFP and US Armed Forces also continue to engage in various joint activities, including training exercises, humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations, further solidifying their partnership and readiness to respond to contingencies.

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1229107

PCG prepares vs. rogue vessels via boarding exercise

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 16, 2024): PCG prepares vs. rogue vessels via boarding exercise (By Raymond Carl Dela Cruz)



BOARDING EXERCISE. Personnel of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) held a boarding exercise as part of the ‘Vessel Board, Search, and Seizure (VBSS)‘ course in Port Area, Manila on Monday (July 15, 2024). The PCG said the course also includes a series of lectures on conducting boarding operations on vessels suspected of illegal activities and checking a ship's compliance with maritime regulations. (Photo courtesy of PCG)

MANILA – The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) conducted boarding exercises on Monday as part of the ‘Vessel Board, Search, and Seizure (VBSS)‘ course in Port Area, Manila.

In a statement on Tuesday, course director Lieutenant Commander Mark Jefferson Mangoyob said the course includes a simulation and a series of lectures on conducting boarding operations on vessels suspected of illegal activities.

“By simulating real-life scenarios, they become adept in handling various situations at sea, thereby contributing to the maintenance and promotion of maritime security and safety,” Mangoyob said.

Boarding vessels, he said, are also conducted by PCG personnel to ensure a ship’s compliance with maritime regulations.

“With this, the Command will continue to equip and capacitate its personnel with necessary knowledge and skills to make them competent and qualified frontline service providers,” he said.

From June 24 to 29, the PCG also joined the Regional Marine Pollution Exercise (MARPOLEX) 2024 along with the coast guards of Indonesia and Japan.

During the event, the three coast guards trained in executing swift emergency responses focusing on search and rescue, firefighting, oil spill recovery, equipment retrieval, and damage assessment.

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1229111

First Lady joins PCG Auxiliary

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 16, 2024): First Lady joins PCG Auxiliary (By Raymond Carl Dela Cruz)



NEW COAST GUARDIAN. First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos (center) proudly beams as she joined the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Auxiliary Executive Squadron with the rank of “Auxiliary Vice Admiral” during a ceremony on board the BRP Gabriela Silang in Port Area, Manila on Tuesday (July 16, 2024). With her are Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista (left) and PCG Commandant, Admiral Ronnie Gil Gavan. (Photo courtesy of PCG)

MANILA – First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos has joined the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Auxiliary Executive Squadron with the rank of “Auxiliary Vice Admiral.”

During a ceremony on board the BRP Gabriela Silang in Port Area, Manila on Tuesday, Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista and PCG Commandant, Admiral Ronnie Gil Gavan, led the donning and oath-taking ceremony for the First Lady.

Gavan said the PCG Auxiliary supports the PCG in the performance of its mandates centered on “selfless service and compassion for Filipinos.”

“(The PCG Auxiliary) has always been a steadfast partner of the PCG in its mission of promoting the safety of life and property at sea, preserving the marine environment, conducting maritime search and rescue, and such other activities that enhance maritime community relations. The PCGA has provided invaluable support to our communities in times of need,” he said.

The First Lady, he said, would help strengthen the PCG Auxiliary as her presence would inspire other members of the PCG Auxiliary.

“Recently, the First Lady has participated in the rehabilitation of the Pasig River, which is in tune with the PCG’s efforts to preserve our rivers and seas. Like the PCG, the First Lady embodies the highest ideals of service, dedication, and patriotism, and does so with unmatched grace and sophistication,” he said.

During the event, Araneta-Marcos thanked the PCG for its efforts in ensuring maritime safety and maritime security, as well as upholding the country’s sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea.

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1229125

PH, China hotline on SCS elevated to foreign ministers, leaders’ reps

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 17, 2024): PH, China hotline on SCS elevated to foreign ministers, leaders’ reps (By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora)



THREATENING. Chinese Coast Guard personnel point an axe to Philippine Navy troops on a resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre in the Ayungin Shoal on June 17, 2024. The Philippines and China’s communication mechanism on the South China Sea will soon extend to the two states’ presidential representatives and top diplomats, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday night (July 16). (Photo courtesy of the Armed Forces of the Philippines)

MANILA – The Philippines and China’s communication mechanism on the South China Sea would soon extend to the two states’ presidential representatives and top diplomats, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Tuesday night.

In a text sent to the Philippine News Agency, the DFA confirmed that the recently signed “Arrangement on Improving Philippines-China Maritime Communication Mechanisms” would provide various “channels for communication” between the two nations, specifically on maritime issues.

These avenues include one “through the representatives to be designated” by the Philippine and Chinese presidents.

Another channel is between the DFA and the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including at the secretary (foreign minister) and undersecretary (vice foreign minister) levels or through their designated representatives.

Once the corresponding memorandum of understanding between the two foreign affairs is concluded, the two states will activate a communication mechanism between the Philippine Coast Guard and the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG), the text added.

“The DFA is in discussions with the Chinese side on the guidelines that will govern the implementation of this Arrangement,” it said.

The arrangement was signed last July 2 at the 9th Philippine-China Bilateral Consultation Mechanism meeting, a key dialogue between the two states days following the violent June 17 incident in the Ayungin Shoal involving the CCG.

This improved line of communication builds on the mechanism that the Philippines and China created during the 2023 bilateral meeting between President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and President Xi Jinping.

The previous direct communication mechanism extended to the DFA’s Maritime and Ocean Affairs Office and the Chinese MOFA’s Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs and was to prevent untoward incidents in the West Philippine Sea.

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1229128

Satur, party-list Rep. Castro get up to 6 years for child abuse

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 15, 2024): Satur, party-list Rep. Castro get up to 6 years for child abuse (By Che Palicte)



Demolition of the Salugpungan Ta'Tatanu Igkanugon Learning Center, Inc. in Purok 6, Sitio Cambudlot, Barangay San Miguel Compostela, Davao de Oro, on Jan. 14, 2022 due to various violations. (PNA file photo)

DAVAO CITY – The Tagum City Regional Trial Court Branch 2 has convicted former party-list congressman Satur Ocampo and incumbent Alliance of Concerned Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro of child abuse, a case involving 14 minors in Talaingod, Davao del Norte.

In a decision dated July 5 but only released on Monday, the court sentenced Ocampo, Castro and 11 others to four to six years for violating Republic Act 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.

Also found guilty were Ma. Eugenia Victoria Nolasco, Jesus Madamo, Meriro Poquita, Maricel Andagkit, Marcial Rendon, Marianie Aga, Jenevive Paraba, Nerhaya Talledo, Ma. Concepcion Ibarra, Nerfa Awing and Wingwing Daunsay.


The case stemmed from a November 2018 incident when the group was accused of holding 14 students at the Salugpungan Ta'tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center Inc. (STTICLCI) where they supposedly held a solidarity mission.

“Likewise, the above-mentioned accused are ordered to pay, jointly and severally, each of the minor victims the amount of PHP10,000 as civil indemnity and PHP10,000 as moral damages, plus interest at the rate of 6 percent per annum reckoned from the finality of this Decision until full payment,” the ruling stated.

"Notably, the court opines that the accused had no valid justification nor authority to take the fourteen minor students out of Dulyan campus," the decision added.

Meanwhile, Egar Ugal, Ryen Magpayo, Eller Ordeniza and Jurie Jaime were acquitted for failure of the prosecution to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

In an interview, Ocampo’s fellow former Bayan Muna party-list representative Carlos Zarate said they were surprised with the decision.

“We expected that everyone will be acquitted because this case was just made up by the military and instigated the witnesses on the Nov. 28, 2018 rescue mission,” Zarate said.

Zarate said Castro and Ocampo and the other members were there in response to the reported harassment of indigenous peoples (IP) communities by the paramilitary.

In a joint statement, Castro and Ocampo said the decision wrongfully convicted them and "it was a clear miscarriage of justice."


They will appeal the decision.

The Mindanao Indigenous People Council of Elders and Leaders and Mindanao Indigenous People Youth Organization said the court decision was a victory for the rights of the IPs.

“This legal victory achieved today gives hope that justice can still prevail and IPs' rights are worth fighting for. No matter how long it takes or how difficult it may seem, in the end, justice and truth will prevail,” a joint statement read.

In October 2019, the Department of Education (DepEd)-Davao Region shut down 55 STTICLCI branches, three months after suspending the school management's license to operate for various violations and for alleged links with the communist rebel movement.

Among the key findings of the fact-finding team were STTICLCI students did not have learner's reference numbers, a violation of the requirement of DepEd Order 26 series of 2015; misrepresentation of enrolment data; and data in documents submitted to the DepEd did not match with the records in the learner’s information system.

Datu Lumunsad Sibogan, village chieftain of Sto. NiƱo in Talaingod, said then that they agreed with the decision and that the tribal elders have long known that STTICLCI did not follow the standards set by DepEd.

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1228981

Army recovers 5 high-powered NPA firearms in Surigao Norte

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 16, 2024): Army recovers 5 high-powered NPA firearms in Surigao Norte (By Alexander Lopez)



SEIZED FIREARMS. The five high-powered firearms recovered in an operation of the Philippine Army troops in Barangay Camam-onan, Gigaquit, Surigao del Norte, on July 11, 2024. Three rebels who had previously surrendered led the Army in the recovery of the firearms. (Photo courtesy of 901Bde)

BUTUAN CITY – Soldiers recently recovered five high-powered firearms of the New People’s Army (NPA) in the fringes of Barangay Camam-onan, Gigaquit, Surigao del Norte.

In a statement on Monday, the Philippine Army’s 901st Infantry Brigade (901Bde) said the recovery of the firearms was made possible through the revelations made by three NPA rebels who surrendered on July 6 to troopers of the 30th Infantry Battalion (IB) and the 29IB.

The firearms that were buried in the area, including two M16 rifles, two AK-47 rifles, and an M-14 rifle, were recovered on July 11.

The three rebels, identified only as“Rifle,” “Janine,” and “Maxx,” belonged to the dismantled NPA Sub-Regional Committee (SRC) Northland, which the SRC Westland of the North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee later absorbed.


The three decided to abandon the NPA group due to hardships, lack of food and supplies, crises in leadership, and fear. They handed over a Springfield rifle and a 9mm Ingram machine pistol.

“The surrender and recovery of firearms indicate the significant downfall of the NPA in the region,” said Brig. Gen. Arenio Sadural, commander of 901Bde.

He acknowledged the positive impact of the Army's coordinated operations in Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Norte, and Surigao del Sur to uphold peace and stability.

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1228965

Army: NPA leader's arrest to serve justice to victims of atrocities

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 16, 2024): Army: NPA leader's arrest to serve justice to victims of atrocities (By Sarwell Meniano)



ARRESTED. The mug shot of Terrence Eder, alias Anjo, the former secretary of the New People's Army sub-regional committee emporium of the Eastern Visayas regional party committee after his arrest on July 8, 2024 in Baguio City. The arrest of a high-ranking leader of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Eastern Visayas is justice achieved for victims of the atrocities of the communist terrorist group, the Philippine Army said on Tuesday (July 16). (Photo courtesy of Philippine Army)

TACLOBAN CITY – The arrest of a high-ranking leader of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Eastern Visayas is justice achieved for victims of the atrocities of the communist terrorist group, the Philippine Army said on Tuesday.

Maj. Gen. Camilo Ligayo, commander of the Army’s 8th Infantry Division, said the arrest of Terrence Eder, alias Anjo, and his wife, Annalyn Eder, alias Anya, is a welcome development.

Authorities apprehended the couple in Guisad village in Baguio City on July 8.

The couple has standing warrants of arrest for violating section 4 of Republic Act 11479, or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, and for the crime of arson.

Terrence was the former secretary of the NPA sub-regional committee emporium of the Eastern Visayas regional party committee. Annalyn served as the educational officer and finance officer of the NPA.

They are residents of Barangay 88 in the San Jose district of Tacloban City.

Ligayo said their apprehension demonstrates the government's commitment to holding those who commit serious crimes, especially violations of anti-terrorism laws, accountable.

"The successful operation shows the government's commitment to delivering justice to victims of terrorism. We will not remain idle and will continue to intensify our efforts to apprehend individuals with outstanding violations," Ligayo added.

The military earlier said the remaining NPA members in Eastern Visayas are now “leaderless” and disorganized with the recent deaths, captures, and surrenders of its top leaders in the region.

The NPA in the region is on the verge of collapse as it could not find potential leaders who would direct and make critical decisions for the group, according to the Army.


https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1229038

Firearms, ammo seized from Batangas private armed group

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 16, 2024): Firearms, ammo seized from Batangas private armed group (By Zen Trinidad)



SEIZED ARSENAL. Col. Jacinto Malinao Jr., Batangas Police Provincial Office chief, presents a cache of firearms and ammunition during a media briefing at their Batangas City headquarters on Tuesday (July 16, 2024). The operation in Tanauan City on July 14 also led to arrest of one suspect. (Contributed photo by Robert Maico)

CALAMBA CITY, Laguna – The Batangas police presented to the media on Tuesday a cache of firearms and ammunition belonging to a private armed group seized over the weekend in Barangay Bagbag, Tanauan City.

Batangas Provincial Police Office (BPPO) Director Col. Jacinto Malinao Jr. said the operation on Sunday also led to the arrest of an alias "Jad."

The seized arsenal included five Glock pistols of various serial numbers, 10 pistols of assorted calibers, multiple magazines and ammunition, holsters and ammunition storage containers.

Malinao said the Batangas police's intensified efforts in curbing the proliferation of loose firearms need community collaboration.

“Working together with the community is essential to keep our neighborhood safe. Everyone's help is needed to prevent crime and threats in society,” Malinao told the media at the BPPO headquarters in Batangas City.

“We encourage everyone to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activities to the authorities immediately," he added.

Meanwhile, the suspect and the seized contraband are currently under the custody of the Provincial Intelligence Unit for processing and documentation prior to the filing of charges for violation of Republic Act 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act.

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1229083

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 17, 2024): IP leader: Justice for NPA victims with Ocampo, Castro conviction (By Alexander Lopez)



Datu Rico Maca, Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative of San Miguel, Surigao del Sur. (PNA file photo)

BUTUAN CITY – The conviction of former party-list congressman Satur Ocampo and incumbent Alliance of Concerned Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro is a triumph for all Indigenous Peoples (IPs) in Mindanao, especially the victims of the communist New People’s Army (NPA).

Datu Rico Maca, IP Mandatory Representative (IPMR) of San Miguel, Surigao del Sur, said Tuesday that Ocampo, Castro and other left-leaning organizations orchestrated the establishment of schools in IP villages in Mindanao that served as recruitment grounds for the NPA.

On July 3, the Regional Trial Court Branch 2 in Tagum City convicted Ocampo, Castro and 11 others for violating the provisions of Republic Act 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination Act.

They were sentenced to four to six years.

The case involved the holding and transporting of 14 minors in Talaingod, Davao del Norte in 2018.

“Here in Surigao del Sur, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the NPA established the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development and the Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur or TRIFPSS schools in the towns of Lianga, Marihatag, and San Miguel,” Maca said in an interview.

With the efforts of the tribal leaders, local government units and concerned government agencies, the schools have been shut down, he said.

In San Miguel town alone, Maca said NPA-linked groups managed established TRIFPPS schools with 22 classrooms in the villages of Bitaugan, Bolhoon, Libasod, Siagao and Carromata. All were closed in 2021.

“Just like Ocampo and Castro, former Bayan Muna representative Eufemia Cullamat, a Manobo from our province, together with the Save our School Network, established these CPP-NPA-linked schools here in Surigao del Sur, taught our children with false ideas that paved the way for their recruitment to the communist movement,” Maca alleged.

Unfortunately, he added, most of the recruited youth ended up dead during encounters, while others surrendered or were captured and are facing charges in court.

“These groups of Ocampo, Castro, and Cullamat destroyed the future of our youth. We struggled to close down these schools and succeeded. We only wanted an education for our children that would provide them a good future,” Maca said.

The court’s decision, he said, meant that the country's justice system "is genuinely working."

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1229070

3 gunmen in S. Cotabato die in shootout with police

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 17, 2024): 3 gunmen in S. Cotabato die in shootout with police (By Edwin Fernandez)



Google map of Polomolok town, South Cotabato.

KORONADAL CITY – Three armed men died while a police officer was injured during a shootout in Polomolok, South Cotabato, on Tuesday afternoon.

Major Johnny Rick Medel, Polomolok municipal police chief, identified the fatalities as Ronnie Romano, 51, Harold Pasaquian, 40, and Yok Dajay, 30, all of Antipas, North Cotabato.

“We received reports from civilians about the presence of armed men roaming in their farms, so we immediately responded,” Medel said in a radio interview here on Wednesday.

Medel said one of the gunmen, Nestor Espelon, 56, a farmer from Barangay Palkan, was arrested while four others managed to elude arrest.

Police Chief Master Sgt. Jonathan Boiser of the Polomolok police force was slightly injured.

As the police, backed by Army Special Forces, were approaching the village, the gunmen opened fire, triggering a shootout. Police found two Carbine rifles, an M16 rifle, a .45-caliber pistol, and ammunition.

Medel said the armed men belong to an unidentified private armed group.

Barangay Palkan Chairperson Avelina Rencio said the gunmen were believed to have been hired by one of the families locked in a land dispute in the village.

One of the claimants of about 10 hectares of farm lot was seen allowing gunmen to enter his farm the past three days, which led civilians to alert the police.

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1229146