Friday, February 23, 2018

All lies

From the Mindanao Times (Feb 22): All lies

Army debunks ComVal kidnapping yarn

THE MILITARY yesterday rejected allegations they abducted and held 24 youth and children delegates of a cultural training in Montevista, Compostela Valley.

“All lies, contrary to what really transpired,” said Lt. Col. Balignasay, the newly designated commander of 25th Infantry Battalion, told TIMES.

Balignasay said the participants were just invited and were brought to the 25th IB headquarters for questioning after they received information from a rebel surrenderer about the activity last Saturday.

Capt. Alan Apara, the civil-military operations (CMO) officer of 25th IB, said they only “rescued the 24 children and youth from being caught in a possible crossfire with the terrorist since this unit has an ongoing combat operation in the area.”

Apara said the abduction of the training participants, including instructor Eugene Laurente and his companion Roshelle Mae Selorio, was purely false information.

He said all children were immediately sent home on that same day after the verification.

On the case of Eugene and Roshelle, Apara said both voluntarily went with the troopers to the town police station and were later brought to Camp Kalaw for further verification and interview.

After conducting verification, including medical check-up and certification from the town social welfare and development office, the two were also released and sent home at around 6:30 p.m. on Monday.

The military sources said that on Feb. 16, a day prior to the incident, the 25th IB launched a Focus Military Operation (FMO) in three barangays of Montevista — New Dalaguete, Mayaon and Camatangan — in response to the reported presence of armed groups believed to be members of the Guerilla Front 33 and Pulang Bagani Command 4 who were consolidated in the area.

On the same day, Apara said they received information regarding the activity at the elementary school in New Dalaguete that was attended by several youth and children.

“The unit immediately sent out patrols to verify the information so as to rescue and bring the youth to safety in case of armed confrontation between the terrorists and the government forces happened,” he said.

During the rescue, the unit found something “interesting” with Eugene and Roshelle and their teachings.

“It was relatively incidental that the unit found something subversive in their belongings, especially (on their) cell phones,” the report said.

Through the implementation of Martial Law in Mindanao, the unit exercised its official and legal functions by inviting the instructors for interview to further verify the issues found.


On Monday, Representatives Antonio Tinio and Francisca Castro, both of the militant ACT Teachers, blasted the military for the “abduction” of the 24 youth and children.

“We demand the immediate release of the 24 delegates of Youth Action Anti-Drugs Workshop and their teachers,” Tinio said in a statement. “The 25th IB should be held accountable for the abduction of the minors and their teachers.”

“We condemn the Duterte administration for these harassments in the communities happen by the military especially in Mindanao,” Castro said.

“Instead of helping and supporting these volunteer teachers continue teaching in the far-flung communities in Mindanao, the government has been arresting them on trumped-up charges, harassing the schools, and highly militarizing their communities,” Tinio added. “With the extended declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao, human rights violations such as these against activists, defenders of the ancestral lands of the Lumad communities against mining have heightened with impunity.”

According to the Save Our Schools Network, there have been 44 Lumad schools that have been continuously harassed by the military.

“We also call for an end to the false charges and harassment against our Lumad educators. We also call for the lifting of Martial Law in Mindanao,” Castro said.

ARMY: NPA threat forces 155 families to flee Lunaza town barangay

From the Mindanao Times (Feb 22): ARMY: NPA threat forces 155 families to flee Lunaza town barangay

ALMOST 800 individuals remained in the evacuation center after leaving their houses at 12:20 p.m. on Feb. 21 due to the alleged threats of the New People’s Army in Sitio Ibuan, Barangay Mampi, Lanuza, Surigao del Sur.

Capt. Francisco Garello Jr., the civil-military operations (CMO) officer of 36th Infantry Battalion, said a total of 155 families with 768 individuals sought refuge in a nearby barangay at the gymnasium of Barangay Agsam of the same town.

Reportedly, the evacuation was prompted by the NPA attack on forces of the 36th Infantry (Valor) Battalion in Purok 2, Sitio Ibuan.

Garello said that the communist guerrillas “wantonly fired shots toward the center of the community where there are many civilians.”

Even before the encounter between the NPA and the soldiers, Allan G. Juagpao, Mampi barangay chairman, said that his constituents were already threatened by the NPAs. He also claimed that nine families were told to leave because their sons applied as soldiers.

“They threatened our residents because we really didn’t want to support their plans,” he said of the NPA.

The local government of Lanuza is now assisting the evacuees. The regional disaster command and social services office were sent to distribute food relief packs and hygiene kits.

Lt. Col. Xerxes Trinidad, the commander of 36th IB, said that the attack on the community is “a desperate attempt” to force the residents into supporting thee NPA.

“Your army, particularly the 36IB, will not rest until these CPP-NPA terrorists stop harassing the people,” he added

“Threatening the Lumads is a desperate move of the NPAs,” Brig. Gen. Franco Nemesio Gacal, the commander of 402nd brigade, said. “In coordination with the local government of Lanuza, the Philippine Army will facilitate the safe return of the Lumads to their community.”

NPA rebel, 2 minors surrender

From the Mindanao Times (Feb 22): NPA rebel, 2 minors surrender

A TEAM supply officer and two underage members of the New People’s Army (NPA)s surrendered to the the 67th Infantry Battalion in Sitio Sangab, Barangay Pichon, Caraga in Davao Oriental on Sunday afternoon.

Capt. Ronnel Legarde, the civil-military operations (CMO) officer of 67th IB, identified the two minors to TIMES only as alias Mimi, 15, and alias Lenlen, 17.

Legarde said both were members of Abe Primera of Pulang Bagani Company (PBC) 8, Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SRMC) and resident of Sitio Nagas, Barangay Tumoaong, Tarragona, Davao Oriental.

The supply officer was identified as alias Darwin, a resident of Sitio Bantawon, Barangay Pichon, Caraga.

Based on the interview with the soldiers of 67th IB, Darwin was recruited by alias Jampong/Red in Sitio Bangol, Barangay Tubaon, Tarragona, while the two girls were recruited by Darwin in Sitio Calinawan, Barangay Taocanga, Manay.

“The three surrendered because of hunger, hardship, and fear for their lives and for their families,” Legarde said.

“They realized that they were wasting their lives in fighting for no reason at all,” he added.

According to Legarde, during the pulong-pulong in Sitio Sangab, Barangay Pichon on Feb. 15, 2018, the three heard the program of the government.

In his statement, Lt. Col. Thaddeus Jacob Obligado, commander of 67th IB, said, “I encourage the community to take part for their responsibility in the sustainability of peace and security in their ancestral domain.”

Scout Rangers sent to Sulu

From the Visayan Daily Star (Feb 23): Scout Rangers sent to Sulu

The 5th Scout Ranger Battalion headed by a Negrense, Lt. Col. Marlo Jomalesa, is now in Sulu province, to help neutralize and defeat the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group.

Jomalesa said yesterday that they arrived in Sulu Feb. 5 after almost two months rest and a series of trainings in Zamboanga City, following several months of battle with the ISIS-inspired Maute terrorist group in Marawi.

The 5SRB was immediately deployed in Marawi City, after its activation in June last year, with Jomalesa, of Silay City, Negros Occidental, as the first battalion commander.

Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, AFP Western Mindanao Command chief, said in a statement he issued that he anticipates that the 5SRB “ will do well in defeating the threats in Sulu as you did a great job in leading the fight to liberate Marawi City from the claws of the terrorists”.

The 5SRB is under the supervision of Joint Task Force Sulu headed by Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, a Medal of Valor awardee, who used to be assigned in northern Negros.

Jomalesa was among the recipients of Order of Lapu Lapu, that was conferred on him by President Rodrigo Duterte during the 68th Scout Ranger founding anniversary at Camp Tecson in Bulacan.

Five members of the 5SRB, including a junior officer, were also awarded Gold Cross Medals for gallantry during the series of firefight against the Maute Group last year in Marawi City.

The awardees were First Lt. Jay-arr Quiapo, Sgt. Gerry Gaspar Padayogdog, Sgt. Antonio Bas, Corporal Lisan Aspacio and Corporal Rodrigo Novilla.

Military recovers alleged Sayyaf weapons in Sulu

From the Mindanao Examiner (Feb 22): Military recovers alleged Sayyaf weapons in Sulu

Government troops have recovered eight automatic rifles allegedly owned by the notorious Abu Sayyaf group tied to the Islamic State militants in the southern Philippine province of Sulu.

Soldiers swooped down on a village called Pitogo in Kalingalan Caluang town, a known stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf, and seized the weapons on Thursday. A suspected militant also escaped, but left behind the weapons – four M14 and four M16 rifles.

Security forces were sent to the area after receiving intelligence information on the presence of the militant and weapons at Sitio Kadkad.

Governor Totoh Tan has repeatedly urged and publicly appealed to residents to help authorities in curbing the proliferation of illegal weapons and share information to police and military about lawless elements in the area.

The Abu Sayyaf is still holding over a dozen hostages, mostly seamen kidnapped over the years off Tawi-Tawi, Basilan and Sabah in Malaysia and are hiding them in the forest of Sulu, one of 5 provinces under the Muslim autonomous region.

Duterte offers P50K for every NPA squad leader killed

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 23): Duterte offers P50K for every NPA squad leader killed

President Rodrigo R. Duterte has offered a PHP50,000 reward to anyone who can eliminate a New People’s Army (NPA) squad leader or any official of the terrorist group.

In a speech during his visit for the “Pagpupugay sa mga Bayani” (Salute to the Heroes” at the Camp General Adriano Hernandez here on Thursday, Duterte announced that he will give PHP25,000 for every member of the NPA killed. There will also be corresponding amount for medics and “tax collector”.

The Chief Executive made the “counter-offer” in response to the threat of Jose Ma. Sison, founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the NPA can kill one soldier or police daily.

Sison made the threat early this month to pressure the Philippine government to resume the peace talks with the terrorist group.

“I am addressing myself again to all of you NPAs. You will never even capture a barangay. Stop your dreams, surrender, I will pay you,” he said in his speech at the camp’s gymnasium.

Instead of fighting the government, he urged them to surrender and enroll at the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority as currently there is a shortage of workers.

He said that there is a lot of buildings where construction is “temporarily interrupted” due to lack of workers.

Duterte was in Iloilo on Thursday to visit the wake of Joanna Daniela Demafelis, an Ilonggo migrant worker found dead in a freezer in Kuwait, a year after she was reported missing.

After visiting Demafelis' wake in her hometown in Sara in Iloilo province, the President proceeded to Camp Hernandez where he met with members of the Philippine Army for the launching of the Tienda Para sa mga Bayani and conferment of the “Order of Lapu-Lapu” to soldiers wounded-in-action.

Duterte confers ‘Order of Lapu-Lapu' to 12 wounded soldiers

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 23): Duterte confers ‘Order of Lapu-Lapu' to 12 wounded soldiers

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte conferred the “Order of Lapu-Lapu” to 12 wounded-in-action (WIA) soldiers during the “Pagpupugay sa mga Bayani” (Salute to the Heroes) and talk to the troops during his visit at the Camp General Adriano Hernandez in Dingle, Iloilo on Thursday.

The order, which was conceived by President Duterte in 2017, is given to officials and personnel of the government and private individuals “who were seriously wounded or injured or suffered great loss of property as a direct result of their participation in an activity pursuant to the advocacy of the government,” according to the citations given to eight personnel of the 61st Infantry Battalion and four personnel of the 15th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army.

The awardees from the 61st IB were Sgt. Genefir Gaston, 39, from Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental; Sgt. Neil Lagat, 38, from Lambunao, Sgt. Von Carlo Torres, 30, from Barotac Nuevo; and Pfc Joebert Porras, 26, Calinog, all of Iloilo province; Pfc. Donald Lisbo, 28, Dumarao and Cpl. Remulondo Villa, 36, Mambusao, both from Capiz province; Pfc Ariel EA, 24, Sultan Kudarat and Cpl. Ronald Peligro from Bohol.

Peligro was not able to make it to the awarding because he is still at the V. Luna Medical Center in Quezon City for his eye treatment.

The 61st IB soldiers were injured in separate ambush incidents staged by New People’s Army rebels in Tapaz, Capiz and Janiuay, Iloilo in 2017.

Meantime, those from the 15th IB included Sgt. Raffy Banaglorioso, 36, from Himamaylan, Negros Occidental; S/Sgt. Fredie Raquel, 43, from Cotabato; Cpl Irus Colipapa, 31, Iligan City; and Sgt. Loreto Detoyato from Dumangas, Iloilo.

The troopers were wounded during the Marawi siege last year.

The President gave the soldiers medals and cellular phones.

Five of the awardees each received an egg layer machine (ELM) from the Aboitiz group.

Each kit contains 48 heads of ready-to-lay pullets, galvanized steel cages, feeders, nipple drinkers, water containers and one month feed consumption.

ELM is a backyard farming starter kit that allows the continuous production of eggs in for 16 months. In a day, a kit can produce up to 46 eggs.

Sgt. Detoyato, one of the selected recipients, said he was happy seeing the President in person for the first time.

He also expressed his gratitude as they have received the benefits due them as promised by Duterte.
Detoyato is still undergoing treatment after he was wounded by a sniper shot in Marawi.

Pfc Lisbon was wounded in an ambush staged by the New People’s Army in February 2017 in Tapaz, Capiz.

He hoped that President Duterte will continue to extend support to the military.