Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Suspected NPA rebels raid oil palm plantation in Cotabato, execute chief guard

From GMA News (Oct 22): Suspected NPA rebels raid oil palm plantation in Cotabato, execute chief guard

ARAKAN, Cotabato —Suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels on Monday morning raided an oil palm plantation and seized high-powered firearms in Bgy. Gambudes in Arakan, Cotabato.

At least 10 firearms were confiscated by the rebels from the plantation's security guards.

The incident took place a few hours after members of the 72nd and 73rd fronts of the NPA killed nine soldiers in the towns of Tulunan and Makilala.

Alejandro Canete, the village chief, said suspected NPA rebels swooped down the village and raided the oil palm plantation owned by businessman and former municipal councilor Saturnino Amatac of Matalam town in Cotabato.

Amatac’s oil palm plantation is estimated to be at least 300 hectares.

Canete disclosed that the rebels overpowered the plantation guards led by former Army Sgt. Glenn Arreola.

The rebels then brought Arreola in the village where he was publicly executed.

The 53rd Front of the NPA operating in the said town has not yet issued an official statement owning up to the raid.

NPA taxation a reality, just pay them – says Duterte

From the pro-CPP Davao Today: NPA taxation a reality, just pay them – says Duterte

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte addresses participants of the Davao Trade Expo 2013. (davaotoday.com photo by Medel V. Hernani)

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte addresses participants of the Davao Trade Expo 2013. (davaotoday.com photo by Medel V. Hernani)

City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte had this advice to agri-business players who might be asked for ‘revolutionary taxes’ by the New People’s Army: just pay them.

The mayor raised this point, along with other concerns on peace and order, in his address during the opening day of the Davao Trade Expo 2013 last Thursday at the SMX Convention Center.

“It’s a fundamental question for business: is it good to do business in the mountains? Do we give in to them?” the mayor asked.

He said as mayor of a city in Mindanao dealing with “revolutionary” and “ideological” groups such as the Communist Party of the Philippines and Moro revolutionary groups, the way to deal with them is to talk to them.

“It’s a matter others want to avoid. But it’s a reality that has to be talked openly, since the NPA is more active now in Region 11, notwithstanding the statements from the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines),” Duterte said.

December last year, Duterte drew flak when his pronouncement during a visit at the Communist Party of the Philippines quoted him as saying that he pays revolutionary tax. A youtube video later circulated accusing him of giving P125 million as annual revolutionary taxes.

He clarified that he attended the CPP anniversary at a Typhoon Pablo-affected area where he gave some amount for the typhoon victims; the funds were sourced out from private donors. He said he merely kidded that the funds were the taxes that he would pay to NPAs, but because there was no barangay captain around to receive the donation, he coursed it through local NPA leaders.

In Thursday’s trade expo, Duterte said, “I can talk, but I can’t talk them out of their ideology. You have to realize the Communist Party is entering its 45th year here. You have to admit there’s been historical injustice committed on the people.”

Duterte said the national government should deal with the revolutionary groups by talking peace.

“Crimes I can deal with it. But with the revolutionary (groups), I give it to the (national) government, but here, I advised government not to make arrests of revolutionaries” he said.

As to the NPAs asking taxes he said “I cannot put it to a stop. So factor that in your investments. If you pay the BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue), you prepare also for the NPA.” Some participants giggled and smiled on this remark.

Duterte went on and explained that the NPAs are open to discuss terms.

“You give credit to these revolutionaries, you can exchange words and deal with them,” he said, citing experience that the NPA could be negotiated in the release of captured government soldiers and police.

The mayor added his account when the NPA apologized for the grenade attack in a gym in Paquibato district that injured civilians and paid 5,000 pesos for all the victims.

“When they informed me they will pay 5,000 pesos, I said ‘good’. When I asked where they will get the money, they said they will get it from banana planters,” Duterte quipped.

The mayor also assured investors of safety from crime and from corrupt officials and police in the city.

He also assured efficiency in business applications in local government services, as he emphasized his “72-hour policy that all transactions will be done.”

“If this fails, bring your papers to my office and I will work on it,” the mayor said.

This year’s Davao Trade Expo, organized by the Davao City Chamber of Commerce, focused on the region’s agricultural expansion to boost production and income. The expo promoted “five golden crops” in agriculture namely coconut, coffee, cacao, corn and cassava. The event drew in around 500 participants and 200 exhibits in agri-business products.


Misuari followers benefit from gov't development projects

From the Philippine Star (Oct 21): Misuari followers benefit from gov't development projects

Followers of Nur Misuari in North Cotabato are satisfied with the continuing implementation since 2011 of the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) projects in their communities.

Junalyn Gayak-Sumlay, the former figurehead of the youth sector of the North East State Revolutionary Committee of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), said each of their communities had been awarded by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process with corn shelling machines, solar driers and harvest storage facilities.

Sumlay is one of about 2,000 loyal followers of Misuari now peacefully thriving in their farms in North Cotabato’s Midsayap, Aleosan, Libungan, Pikit, Kabacan and Matalam towns.

The government had already spent P132 million since 2011 for various socio-economic projects in MNLF communities in 22 barangays in North Cotabato.

Sumlay, chairperson of Magungaya, a local cause-oriented group, said one of the most tangible interventions by OPAPP for MNLF communities was the construction of a road traversing farming enclaves in Barangay Ulandang in Midsayap.

“The project has not just benefited former combatants of the MNLF, but other farming communities as well, Sumlay said.

Sumlay said even farmers who belong to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front have also been benefiting from PAMANA projects in Barangay Ulandang.

Followers of Misuari in Central Mindanao’s adjoining North Cotabato, Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat provinces were calmly confined in their enclaves during the three-week siege of Zamboanga City by Ustadz Habier Malik and his men.

OPAPP Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles, who oversees PAMANA projects in the province along with mayors and North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza, said there are still many “development needs” in MNLF communities the government has to address.

Deles said the government is doing its best to address the socio-economic concerns besetting MNLF communities in Central Mindanao to hasten the assimilation into the mainstream of former Moro rebels.


Gov’t to continue dialogue with MNLF not involved in Zamboanga siege—Deles

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Oct 22): Gov’t to continue dialogue with MNLF not involved in Zamboanga siege—Deles
The  government is continuing its dialogue with leaders of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) not involved in the bloody siege  in Zamboanga City in September, presidential adviser on  peace process Secretary Teresita Deles  told  a Senate hearing on Tuesday.

“We understand that we have in fact feelers and we are in dialogue with different leaders  of the  different factions of the  MNLF who would like to continue the process and  are distancing from the action that had been taken in Zamboanga,”  Deles said during the budget  hearing for he office.

“The policy of this government is that we will continue to talk and engage on those who are willing to proceed with peace towards making   the changes that are necessary in the area,”  she  added.

Meanwhile, the  government ‘s  efforts to  forge peace  with  the  communist  rebels  remained  at a standstill after their meeting  last February  bogged down.

“We are at an impasse with the CPP-NPA-NDF group,” government chief negotiator Alex Padilla  told the same hearing.

CPP-NPA-NDF is  Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front.

Without further questions, the Senate sub-committee on finance approved  the proposed budget of the Office of the Presidential Adviser  on Peace Process  for 2014.


Four Capiz rebels choose peace, abandon armed struggle

From the Philippine Information Agency (Oct 21): Four Capiz rebels choose peace, abandon armed struggle

Four members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Capiz have abandoned the armed struggle and chose to live a life in peace after turning over themselves to the government authorities.

Public Affair Office head Maj. Ray Tiongson of the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division disclosed that the government has given financial assistance to the four former rebels to opted to live in peace with their families.

Tiongson said that in a simple ceremony at the Capiz Provincial Capitol, Governor Victor Tanco, Maricel Bantilo of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and Provincial Social Welfare and Development Officer Violeta Silva  turned over the financial assistance to the said former rebels, October 18.

The said former rebels include Celso G Francisco alias Cielo/Celo, Joey O Francisco alias Palos, Jimmy S Jacinto alias Gimo and Rodelio Delia, all residents who received P50,000 livelihood assistance from the government in their desire to start a new life with their families and loved ones.

According to him, 301st Infantry Brigade Commander Arnold Quiapo, whose area covers the whole Island of Panay, stressed that the four rebels have decided to go down because they believe that armed struggle and fighting is not the solution to the issues of insurgency and that there are peaceful means to resolve the issues.

He added that 11 NPA members within the 3ID area of responsibility have abandoned the armed struggle in third quarter of this year; eight of them came from Panay Island.

In July 2013, four high ranking NPA rebels also from Capiz have traded their guns as they  thought about the future of their families, and abandoned the armed struggle in the name of peace.

The former rebels said the armed struggle have only brought sufferings, senseless deaths and miseries to the people, noting that the military, local government units, other government agencies, civil society organizations and other stakeholders are working together in the spirit of Bayanihan, in resolving the issues of insurgency, he said.

On the other hand, 3ID Commander Aurelio Baladad, pointed out that the Internal Peace and Security Plan Bayanihan has been gaining momentum as more rebels in the region have opted to return to the mainstream society, he said.

Baladad, he said, reiterates the call to other NPA rebels to go down and trade their guns in the name of peace, abandon the armed violence and join the mainstream society and the government will assist them to start a new life and give their families and children a better future.


Suspected rebels kill farm's security officer

From the Philippine Star (Oct 22): Suspected rebels kill farm's security officer

Communist rebels stormed on Monday a palm oil plantation in Barangay Gambudes in Arakan town and executed its security officer after disarming him and his followers, police said.

The attack by the New People’s Army (NPA) at a farm on contested lands in Barangay Gambudes came just as another band of NPAs ambushed a team of soldiers and militiamen in nearby Tulunan town, killing eight of them and wounding two others.

The controversial palm oil plantation is jointly owned by a local investor and a partner based in Davao City.

Villagers had complained of abuses by the slain plantation security chief, Glen Ariola, and his men, armed with military-type assault rifles and shoulder-fire grenade launchers.

Ariola was allegedly known for his rudeness in dealing with ordinary farmers complaining of encroachment on private lands by the palm firm oil, partly owned by a businessman who tried, but lost in his bid for the mayoral post of Matalam town in the province during the May 13 local elections.

Police investigators said the NPAs, disguised as Philippine Army soldiers, subdued Ariola and his men without firing a single shot and managed to collect their firearms without any resistance.

Probers quoted witnesses as saying that Ariola was dragged by the rebels in an open field near the barangay center, forced him to kneel and shot him twice in the head with an M-14 rifle, killing him on the spot.

Local farmers and the management of the plantation that employed Ariola are locked in land disputes.

Ariola and his men were implicated more than two months ago  in the murder of a Manobo chieftain, Henry Bunsuran, whose clan is complaining of being driven away from their ancestral lands surrounding the plantation.

The NPAs that raided the farm hurriedly left after executing Ariola and brought with them the assault rifles they collected from company guards.


Soldiers score anew in Northern Samar; NPAs surrender 2 firearms

Posted to the Samar News (Oct 4): Soldiers score anew in Northern Samar; NPAs surrender 2 firearms

October 4, 2013

CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan City, Samar On October 3, 2013 troops of 34th Infantry Battalion under Lt Col Rodrigo Ilustrisimo, encountered ten (10) NPA members at Sitio Canunghan, Brgy Osmeńa, Palapag, Northern Samar.

Before the encounter, concerned civilians reported the presence of around 10 armed NPAs that were planning to stage an ambush against the government forces conducting Bayanihan Team activities in Sitio Canunghan. The troops immediately acted on the report resulting to a firefight with the NPA insurgents with no casualty on the government side.

In a related incident, a certain Jayson Francisco Lucban (aka Bunso and Jay) and Rosemarie Moreno Cadajas (aka LJ, Aira and Ai-Ai), both NPA members, voluntarily surrendered to 20th Infantry Battalion under Lt Col Rey Anthony M Tumaliuan and brought with them two (2) Caliber 45 pistols with two (2) magazines on October 2, 2013.

Under the AFP Guns For Peace Program, each of them will receive P25,000.00 for each pistol surrendered and is entitled to receive P50,000.00 livelihood package and P15,000.00 immediate assistance from the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Peace Process (OPAPP) under its Comprehensive Local Integration program (CLIP).

BGen Jet B. Velarmino AFP, Commander of 8th Infantry Division, in his message said, “The proactive and prompt action of your soldiers in Sitio Canunghan, Brgy Osmeńa, Palapag, Northern Samar is the product of their commitment and resolve to protect peace-loving people and communities against the NPAs and other threat groups. Your Army in Eastern Visayas is relentless in the conduct of focused military operations against any armed and lawless group, we also welcome those who will opt to surrender and lay down their arms and rejoin the mainstream society and avail of the government programs intended for NPA members.”


NPA landmine attacks in North Cotabato condemned

From the Manila Times (Oct 22): NPA landmine attacks in North Cotabato condemned

North Cotabato officials including various sectors in the region have condemned the Monday’s attacks staged by the suspected New People’s Army (NPA) in barangays Caridad and Bituan in Tulunan town of North Cotabato, using an internationally ban “landmine” weapon, that left eight soldiers dead and five others wounded.

Officials of the North Cotabato province led by Governor Emmyloue Taliño-Mendoza issued separate statements after receiving reports of the death of eight soldiers and wounding of five others in the attacks.

“Together with the most peace loving Cotabateños, I condemn in the strongest sense the ambush with the use of landmines,” Gov. Mendoza said.

“This act of atrocity has no place in a civilized society, more so with the use of landmines which has long been prohibited under international covenants. The Provincial Government of Cotabato under its present administration has not failed in its peace initiatives and has long geared its efforts to achieve a lasting peace for the people of the province,” Mendoza added.

“We urge those responsible in these illegal acts to stop them in order to enhance the healthy dynamism of forging a lasting peace,” said Mendoza, who has been helping push the government’s separate peace talks with the CPP-NPA and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Both the CPP-NPA and the MILF have existing enclaves in North Cotabato, but government authorities have been vocal against the communist guerilla’s “wayward” combat strategies and attacks even on private entities involved in road building operations in the province.

Church laymen also joined on Tuesday the condemnation, saying that Monday’s attacks in Tulunan town exemplified the disrespect of New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in global rule on armed engagements.

“It’s like wildfire eroding the sympathy they (NPA) tried to build among countryside folks,” said a North Cotabato-based Catholic official who gave reaction on condition of anonymity.

Local affiliates of popular human rights groups expressed similar emotions, urging the leadership of the Communist Party of the Philippines to refrain the NPA’s “inhuman war tactic” that tended to render the group’s ideology “irrelevant.”


CPP: Rise up against the disastrous Aquino regime

Posted to the CPP Website (Oct 22): Rise up against the disastrous Aquino regime

Communist Party of the Philippines
Over the past several months, several million workers, peasants, fisherfolk, minority peoples, low rank professionals and ordinary employees have fallen victim to one calamity after another, both natural and government-made.

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and all revolutionary forces commiserate with the downtrodden masses whose lives have been devastated or otherwise gravely affected by the successive disasters:
  1. the torrential rains of August 19-20 which inundated large parts of the Cavite and Laguna provinces, as well as the southern and western parts of Metro Manila, displaced hundreds of thousands of families, destroyed crops and private property and caused scores of deaths. A few days earlier, rains brought about by Typhoon Maring flooded parts of Cagayan and other northern Luzon provinces resulting in damage to crops and other sources of people’s livelihood.
  2. the more than one-month long armed siege, aerial and mortar bombing launched by the Aquino regime and its armed forces on September 8 against the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Zamboanga City which displaced hundreds of thousands of people from their communities and sources of livelihood, endangered the lives of civilians, razed homes and resulted in a large-scale humanitarian crisis that remain unresolved close to two months since, where tens of thousands have been forced to live in an evacuation camp and prevented from returning to their lands.
  3. the torrential rains of September 22-23 which flooded large parts of Olongapo City, as well as other towns in Bataan province, triggered landslides and mudflows. Scores were killed and an outbreak of leptospirosis has infected nearly 500 people.
  4. the strong winds brought about by hurricane Santi which swept across Central Luzon last October 12-13 and caused widespread damage to agriculture and fisheries worth at least P3 billion, including massive damage to ricelands in Nueva Ecija, as well as public infrastructures in Aurora, Tarlac, Bulacan and other provinces.
  5. the magnitude 7.2 earthquake which has caused massive damage to public and private infrastructure in Bohol, Cebu and other Visayas provinces, isolated entire towns, caused massive shortages in food and other daily supplies and killing at least 130 people.
Tens of thousands have also been victimized by floods and mudflows in various provinces of the country over the past several months during the rainy season.

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) denounces the Aquino regime for its gross failure to sufficiently prepare for calamities and refusal to carry out efforts to mitigate the effects of natural disasters. Such grave incompetence has resulted in an unnecessarily large number of deaths and damage to property.

After three years in power, the Aquino regime has yet to achieve anything noteworthy in terms of disaster prevention and preparedness. It has yet to embark on any major flood-control infrastructure program in the national capital region, as it is busy renegotiating contracts for maximum kickbacks. Instead, it has allowed its big business friends to build malls and high-rise condominiums which block waterways and fill these with concrete. Experts have long put forward blueprints for flood control of the national capital as well as other cities. All these remain unacted upon.

The Aquino regime has no plan to carry out any massive environmental regeneration program to revive the forests and desilt the rivers, canals and other waterways and lakes as long-term solution to prevent massive floods, landslides and mudflows.

Instead, it continues to attract mining companies by providing tax and investment incentives and allowing them greater freedom to exploit and plunder our natural resources and cause grave damage to the environment.

The Aquino regime’s allocation of P7 billion for disaster preparedness is extremely small relative to the scores and hundreds of billions of pesos allotted for pork barrel spending of its political allies, for foreign debt servicing and the unbudgeted discretionary funds controlled by Aquino, otherwise known as the presidential pork. In the face of the utter lack of preparedness, the reactionary regime under Aquino is always left gaping and unable to effectively confront the disasters.

Worse, Aquino is now justifying his presidential pork barrel by claiming the need for flexibility in disaster response, when in the first place, not enough funds have been allocated for disaster preparedness and prevention. Aquino is deviously using the thin budget slices for calamity spending to conceal the large chunks of corruption-laden pork barrel and discretionary funds.

The reactionary regime’s disaster-preparedness infrastructure is close to nil compared to the massiveness of the recent disasters as well as those bound to hit the Philippines. The Aquino regime’s concept of preparing for disasters is not much more than buying body-bags and stacking up on 2-day rations of groceries. Rescue equipment are sorely lacking. Many of these, including lifeboats, are substandard and are now decommissioned.

The Aquino government lacks the necessary transport system for emergency and post-disaster response. Almost always, Aquino fail to deliver urgently needed supplies such as food, water and temporary shelter to disaster victims. Most recently, a week after the tragic October 14 earthquake, relief supplies have yet to reach several towns of Bohol made inaccessible by damaged bridges and roads.

Aquino and his PR officials, as well as its social welfare department and local government units exhibit extreme contempt of calamity victims when they make the people line-up for hours under the heat of the sun for food and water, reducing them to beggars of government alms. In carrying-out its siege in Zamboanga City, the Aquino regime forcibly evacuated close to 120,000, razed their homes through bombardments and prevented them from returning to their sources of livelihood. The Aquino government failed to provide the people with decent temporary shelter and forced them live under makeshift tents in the middle of a field. Families were provided only with one cooked meal a day, a can of sardines and small amount of uncooked rice. Similarly in Bohol and Cebu, people are provided with no emergency shelter forcing tens of thousands of people who lost their homes in the earthquake to live in the streets.

The Filipino people seek safety from natural calamities and man-made disasters. This is a social guarantee that the broad masses of the people demand of the ruling Aquino government. In exchange for the taxes they pay, the people expect the government to guarantee their safety and welfare. Ultimately, the ruling government is responsible for the preventable calamities and disasters.

It is not perchance that millions of Filipinos become victims of disasters and calamities. The reactionary government has utterly neglected and set aside safety and environmental standards in exchange for bribes and kickbacks. It has undertaken neither short term measures such as erecting the necessary infrastructure for flood control; nor long-term measures for flood prevention.

The broad masses of workers and peasants, fisherfolk and mountain settlers, have more and more become prone to disasters as a result of the anti-people and all-out liberalization program implemented by the Aquino and all other previous regimes.

The Filipino people stand on solid and just ground in demanding the reactionary Aquino government to undertake massive flood-prevention programs including nationwide forest regeneration efforts, banning large-scale and commercial logging for export, mass reforestation, putting a stop to large-scale mining operations, desiltation of all major rivers and lakes in the country, the construction of modern canals and sewerage system and dams for flood-control, in-city relocation programs for urban poor communities, modernization of garbage disposal and collection systems and others.

The Filipino people must further demand the government to extend all-out humanitarian assistance to victims and survivors of natural and man-made disasters. They demand sufficient supplies to address their need for food, water and temporary shelter, until such a time that the victims can resume normal lives. They demand a system of distribution that guarantees their dignity and welfare, ensures the needs of the orphans, the elderly, the handicapped and single parents and rely on the mobilization of people’s organizations where they exists and the setting-up of such organizations where there are none.

In areas under the jurisdiction of the people’s democratic government, the people’s mass organizations and their revolutionary authorities carry-out programs to prepare for natural calamities. They demand a stop to mining, logging and other commercial activities that destroy and despoil the environment and their land.

Where calamities occur, the people’s organizations are among the first responders to undertake rescue and relief operations and carry out rahabilitation and reconstruction. In areas gravely hit by calamities, Red fighters of the NPA can immediately change mode and organize themselves into rescue and relief brigades to help assist the masses. This is in stark contrast to how the reactionary armed forces persist on carrying out “counter-insurgency” operations even in areas devastated by calamities and natural disasters, such as those areas devastated by typhoon Pablo in December 2012. Aid and supplies contributed by private individuals and groups, as well as by foreign aid agencies, non-government organizations and government organizations are coursed through these organizations ensuring that these directly reach the intended recipients. In contrast, aid supplies in the hands of the government often are used as props for PR-gimmicks of officials out to take advantage of the people’s miseries for their political ambitions.

The revolutionary forces fully support the demands of the Filipino people for the reactionary government to undertake large-scale disaster prevention and preparedness. The CPP support the Filipino people in raising protest against the Aquino regime that has proved itself ill-prepared, incapable and inutile. Under the Aquino regime, natural and man-made calamities have become more disastrous than ever.

The CPP calls on the Filipino people to rise up more vigorously than ever against the anti-people Aquino regime. They must protest the scarce supply of emergency supplies and oppose and denounce the scornful and contemptuous system of distribution. The CPP urges the Filipino people, whether or not they have been victims of the massive floods, earthquakes and armed siege of the AFP, to stand up and protest the Aquino regime’s inability to prevent the calamities to becoming disasters and catastrophes.


BRP Ramon Alcaraz now waterborne

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 22): BRP Ramon Alcaraz now waterborne

The Philippine Navy (PN) on Tuesday announced that its second Hamilton-class cutter, the BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16), is now waterborne with just a few minor works being done before commissioning.

"BRP Ramon Alcaraz is already waterborne with some minor works and finalization phases (being done)," Navy spokesperson Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic said.

He expressed confidence that these works will be completed before the first week of November.

"(We) are coordinating with the Presidential Management Staff for the availability of the President. But for sure (the commissioning) will be next month (November)," Fabic stressed.

Earlier reports said that the BRP Ramon Alcaraz will be fitted with two Mark 38 Model 2 25-mm "Bushmasters" autocannon and four to six light machine guns will be fitted during the dry-docking period.

The ship went into dry-dock at the Keppel Shipyard in Batangas last Aug. 16.

It arrived in the Philippines last Aug. 6 after a two month voyage from the United States.

The Filipino frigate is presently armed with a quick-firing 76-mm Oto Melara main gun which has a range of 20 nautical miles.


3rd ID gaining ground in fight vs. insurgents

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 22): 3rd ID gaining ground in fight vs. insurgents

Thanks to the implementation of the military's Internal Peace and Security Plan "Bayanihan", the 3rd Infantry Division, which is operating in the the Western Visayas, says it continues to gain ground in its fight with the New People's Army (NPA) rebels.

The former strategy uses rural development programs in fending off the rebel threat.

In Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental last Oct. 20, another two weapons were turned over by a former rebel to the 11th Infantry Battalion which includes one M-72 light anti-tank weapon (LAW) with munition and one M-1 Carbine rifle with three magazines.

Two weeks ago, a total nine members of the NPA’s Yunit Militia from Moises Padilla Negros Occidental and Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental turned themselves over to the government authorities together with 17 firearms that also included an M-72 LAW, an M-16 rifle, an M-1 carbine rifle with several rounds of ammunition, one live 60mm mortar round and12 rifle grenades.

In July 11, 2013, Army troops encountered more or less 15 NPA rebels at Sitio Cansuhi, Brgy Tacpao, Guihulngan City Negros Oriental where the rebels abandoned their camp leaving behind one caliber .357 pistol, one hand grenade, one improvised explosive device (IED) with detonating cord, five NPA flags, training aids and other war materials.

In Sept. 6, Army troops also figured in an encounter with the NPA rebels at Sitio Hinobaan, Brgy Plagatasanon, Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental where four NPA rebels were captured and an M-14 rifle, explosives, ammunitions and other war materials were also recovered.

Meanwhile, on Oct. 8, a high ranking NPA leader Nilda Bertulano, was arrested by the combined forces of the Army and the PNP in Bais City, Negros Oriental by virtue of arrest warrants for cases of murder and rebellion.

Bertulano alias Frea as identified by the former rebels was the Commanding Officer of the Front Operational Command of Larangang Gerilya 1 (FOC-LG1) that carried out various atrocities of the NPA operating in Central Negros victimizing innocent civilians and destroyed properties in the area.

“Several members of the New People’s Army have already realized that armed struggle has no place in the Visayan society. With our continued efforts in gaining grounds towards achieving peace, we are certain that Negros Oriental will be free from the affectations of the NPA by the end of this year,” 3rd Infantry Division commander Brig. Gen. Aurelio B. Baladad said.

Based on Internal Peace and Security Operations assessment done by 3rd Infantry Division in third quarter of this year, nineteen NPA rebels in their area of operations were neutralized: seven captured, one killed in an encounter and 11 of them have abandoned the armed struggle and joined the mainstream society.

A week ago, four former NPA rebels in Capiz have received financial assistance of P50, 000 each from the government to start a new life as they integrate themselves to the mainstream society.


1 rebel, 2 militiamen killed in Agusan Del Sur clash

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 22): 1 rebel, 2 militiamen killed in Agusan Del Sur clash

A New People's Army (NPA) fighter was killed along with two militiamen following an encounter in Sitio Akday, Barangay Guadalupe, Esperanza town, Agusan Del Sur Monday morning.

Capt. Christian Uy, 4th Infantry Division spokesperson, said Tuesday the clash took place around 8:30 a.m.

He added that troops from the 23rd Cadre Battalion, a sub-unit of the 4th Infantry Division, was conducting security patrols in the area after receiving reports that NPA fighters were infiltrating in the locality.

He added that a 45-minute firefight took place between the combatants.

Uy said that the militiamen were killed while trying to rescue civilians caught in the crossfire.

Killed in the firefight was one NPA fighter affiliated with Guerilla Front 8.

Three other civilians were slightly wounded along with one military personnel.

Pursuit operations are now being conducted by the 26th Infantry Battalion.


Military to focus combat operations in 67 insurgent-influenced areas in E. Visayas for the Oct 28 polls

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 22): Military to focus combat operations in 67 insurgent-influenced areas in E. Visayas for the Oct 28 polls

CATBALOGAN CITY, Samar -- Combat operations that will be conducted by the 8th Infantry Division (8ID) of the Philippine Army (PA) based in this city in connection with pre-election activities are concentrated in 67 villages dubbed as "insurgent-influenced" areas in Eastern Visayas.

Of the 67 barangays, Cpt. Amado C. Gutierrez, chief of the Division Public Affairs Office (DPAO), said that 57 are "influenced" while 10 are "less influenced".

He added three of the villages "influenced" by New People's Army (NPA) are in this city namely Gasdo categorized as "less influenced" and Macatingog and Roxas as influenced.

Adjacent barangays are also included in their efforts for possibility that they are also “NPA-threatened.”

Cpt. Gutierrez explained that "influenced" areas are those with organic structure of NPAs within the barangays. The structure known as militia has the capacity to influence election results by means of threatening barangay folks to vote for their supported candidates or they can even supersede village councils by force.

He also added another indication of an "influenced" area is the presence of mass organizations in the barangay. These organizations serve as “frontline protesters” of the militia against army presence inside the barangay.

However, whether a village is “influenced, less influenced or threatened” Gutierrez assured that in the upcoming elections, they will deploy troops to man every polling center in rural areas under their responsibility in order for them to be able to respond quickly whenever their presence is needed.

To recall, Higasaan village failed to conduct elections on its very date during the May mid-term elections due to reported threats coming from armed groups in the area. A special election was held May 29 this year.


Gunman shoots 2 peace advocates in Zambo City

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 22): Gunman shoots 2 peace advocates in Zambo City

The police are conducting an in-depth investigation in a bid to identify and arrest the gunmen who shot Tuesday two peace advocates, one of whom is also a school official in this city.

Shot and wounded were Atty. Paulino Ersando, the president of Zion Evangelical School, and Evangelical minister, Pastor Pablo Palis.

Both are members of the Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ), a Catholic organization whose objective is the promotion of peace by strengthening good relations among Christians and Muslims, and all other peoples.

They were shot around 9:15 a.m. Tuesday in Barangay Baliwasan, 3.50 kilometers west of this city, according to Chief Insp. Felixberto Martinez, local police’ Criminal Investigation and Detection Management (CIDM) chief.

Martinez said that initial investigation showed the victims went to Barangay Baliwasan purposely to attend a burial.

Martinez said they were aboard a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) driven by Ersando when a lone gunman shot them upon their arrival in the area.

He said the gunman, who was wearing a baseball cap, sunglass, mask and gray long sleeve, fled after the incident.

“We are gathering more information that could lead to the resolution of the incident,” He said.


West Philippine Sea on regional agenda of India, PH bilateral talks

From InterAksyon (Oct 22): West Philippine Sea on regional agenda of India, PH bilateral talks

Because freedom of navigation and maritime security is as important to it as the rest of the Asian countries, India is taking up with Philippine officials the ongoing territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea as bilateral talks opened Monday with the arrival of its external affairs chief.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said Manila's maritime row with Beijing is part of the regional agenda in the closed-door bilateral talks between DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario and Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid. The latter is in town for wide-ranging bilateral talks with Philippine officials, and to grace the Rizal-Nehru lectures seeking to promote a better understanding in both countries of the other's foreign policy, among others.

DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said in an ambush interview Monday, "Usually [they talk about] regional issues, and that [WSP dispute] should be included."

Earlier this month, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had strongly backed the pitch by several countries, notably the Philippines and Japan, in the recent 8th East Asia Summit to resolve the South China Sea issues through a collective consensus.Mr. Singh noted that a stable maritime environment, including freedom of navigation and unimpeded commerce in the South China Sea, is very important "to realize our collective regional aspirations." He urged all concerned to "affirm the principles of maritime security, including the right of passage and unimpeded commerce, in accordance with International law and peaceful settlement of maritime disputes."

China and India share borders and have had a long-running dispute in the Himalayas, which escalated last May following troop movements by China.India claimed Chinese troops had intruded nearly 20 kilometers into Indian-claimed territory.

The three-week standoff that ensued was resolved following talks between local military leaders and a withdrawal of troops from both sides.

In April 2012, China was embroiled in a similar stand-off with the Philippines after its maritime surveillance vessels blocked a Philippine government ship from apprehending a Chinese fishing boat caught poaching in the Panatag Shoal vicinity within the 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone of Manila.

A month-long standoff ensued, and several countries, including the United States and European countries, expressed concern over the rising tension. The tensions abated after both sides agreed to withdraw their ships amid a strong storm in the region.

However, China's ships remained anchored in the area, blocking Filipino fishermen who for decades had been operating there.

Manila was subsequently forced to elevate its case before the UN Arbitral Tribunal, alleging that Beijing's territorial claims are excessive and violate international law.

India's Minister Khurshid arrived in Manila Monday for wide-ranging bilateral talks with the DFA chief.

New Delhi's government is also organizing a two-day seminar from Tuesday to Wednesday, on India's foreign policy and Philippine-Indian relations.

Officials from the Philippine government and the diplomatic corps, representative from the academe and think tanks, business chambers, the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Scholarship Alumni, and university students are attending the seminar.

Khurshid will deliver the inaugural lecture of the “Rizal-Nehru Memorial Lectures” at the DFA on Tuesday.

The Rizal Nehru Lectures is a  joint undertaking of the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), the DFA’s Office of Asian and Pacific Affairs, and the Indian Embassy in the Philippines.


NPA accused of publicly executing palm oil plantation security chief

From InterAksyon (Oct 22): NPA accused of publicly executing palm oil plantation security chief

Communist rebels have been accused of publicly executing the chief security officer of a palm oil plantation in Arakan town, North Cotabato Monday, the same day nine government troops were killed in twin ambushes in the same province.

Authorities said the New People’s Army guerrillas entered the plantation then shot former Army sergeant Glen Ariola in the head before residents.

The rebels reportedly accused Ariola of abuses against poor farmers within the almost 300-hectare plantation owned by a former politician from Matalam town, also in North Cotabato.

The execution of Ariola was carried out soon after rebels set off improvised devices in Tulunan and Makilala towns, killing six Army soldiers and three government militiamen.


Karapatan assails dismissal of murder raps vs soldiers in massacre of mother, 2 sons

From InterAksyon (Oct 22): Karapatan assails dismissal of murder raps vs soldiers in massacre of mother, 2 sons

Human rights group Karapatan on Tuesday assailed the dismissal by a provincial prosecutor of murder charges against soldiers in the October 2012 massacre of a B’laan mother and her two children in Davao del Sur, despite firm testimony by witnesses who heard some of them discuss "finishing off" one of the children.

Juvy Capion, 28, and her sons Jordan, 13, and John Mark, 6 were killed when soldiers strafed a house where they were staying with the father of the family, Dagil, a tribal leader who set up an armed group against the government over an illegal mining issue in their place in Barangay KImlawis, Kiblawan, Davao del Sur.

Dagil, the real target, escaped death by jumping out of the window.

The military had insisted that what took place on October 18, 2012, a “legitimate encounter.”

He and some B’laans were opposing the intrusion of Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) into their ancestral domain.

In a statement reacting to the dismissal of the murder charges against soldiers, Karapatan secretary general Christina Palabay said Prosecutor Artemio Tajon had disregarded statements of several witnesses which pin down the soldiers. She said one witness “even heard the soldiers talk about ‘finishing off’ a child who survived the massacre so no witness remains. Witnesses attested how the military cordoned off the area, having sole control over the crime scene and the lifeless bodies.”

The Office of the Provincial Prosecution in Digos City earlier issued a resolution finding no probable cause against Lt. Col. Alexis Bravo, Lt. Dante Jimenez and 14 other members of the Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion.

Palabay said the  resolution was of a piece with the government's pattern in  “exonerating perpetrators of human rights violations. Impunity reigns."

Palabay said the dismissal "illustrates how lopsided is our justice system in favor of those in power.”