Friday, September 18, 2015

Opinion: Who is exploiting the ‘lumad’?

Opinion piece posted to the Get Real column of Solita-Collas-Monsod in the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Sep 19): Who is exploiting the ‘lumad’?

There seems to be confusion on the number of indigenous peoples (IPs), or lumad, in the Philippines. According to the International Labor Organization, we have anywhere from 15 million to 20 million IPs. It got this number from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, from whom we also get the information that 61 percent (9-12 million) of these people live in Mindanao, with 33 percent in Luzon and 6 percent in the Visayas.

However, the census conducted in 1993 shows a different picture: 6.5 million IPs, 2.1 million of whom are in Mindanao (that’s about 33 percent). This means, if we are to reconcile these two sets of figures, that in the 20 years from then to now, the lumad in Mindanao must have bred like rabbits if their number rose from 2.1 million to 9-12 million. And the IPs in Luzon and the Visayas must have practiced responsible parenthood, or were disease-ridden, as their number rose from 4.4 million in 1993 to only 6-8 million in 20 years.

There is another potential source of confusion: Apparently, the terms “lumad” and “IP” are not synonymous. “Lumad” is used only for those IPs in Mindanao. Thus, all lumad are IPs, but not all IPs are lumad.

The foregoing introduction is important, because we want to know how many are affected by the current lumad crisis. So we must have an idea of how many they are in the first place, don’t you agree?

Who are the protagonists in this controversy? Well, on one side, the way I see it, are the leftist groups—not just left-wing, but hard Left: Bayan Muna, the Makabayan bloc (in Congress), Karapatan. If there is any on this side who is not of the persuasion, please don’t hesitate to correct me. Since they are hard Left, they are pro-NPA (New People’s Army), and anti-military. And obviously, on the other side of this controversy, we have the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

And let me announce that in this instance, I am definitely pro-army. Now the army of today is a whole different kettle of fish than the army of martial law days. The last remnants of the martial law days have either retired or are dead, and today’s army cut its teeth on human rights, on people-centered and whole-of-nation approaches to internal peace and security. It has multisectoral advisory groups that it consults regularly (I have been a member since 2010), not only at the national level, but also at the regional, and even provincial, levels. It has an Army Transformation Roadmap, which it takes very seriously.

And I think most of the Filipino people who have met up with this new army are also on its side. Except the members of the hard Left, who seem to be frozen in time and are still living in the 1970s, and still see any member of the military as the “enemy of the people.” The times, they are a-changing, folks. I am not saying that members of the military are all saints, but they are trying their best, and if they slip up, there are ways to seek redress.

What is the issue in this controversy? The spate of extrajudicial killings of the lumad. Here are the numbers thrown. The Left says that in P-Noy’s term, there have been at least 50 lumad who were killed, by paramilitary forces. Other estimates bring that up to 90. And “massive” evacuation has taken place—at least 3,000 evacuees (or 0.03 percent of the lumad).

And who are the paramilitary forces? Well, they could be the forces organized by major corporations operating in the areas, or private armies, or NPA members, or Cafgu (Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit). It’s anybody’s guess. But since it is the Left that is accusing, only one suspect fills the bill: The army must have trained and armed these paramilitary forces.

The Left builds up its case by talking about the arms and weapons used by these forces which could only be military-supplied because they are so expensive. Good heavens! What about captured weapons? (These, apparently, can be easily checked, because the AFP systems account for every single weapon.) What about the mining and logging companies, which can easily afford expensive weaponry? What about the NPA and the private armies? But no, only the military is to blame.

Our military denies the charges in no uncertain terms. The AFP chief of staff, Gen. Hernando Iriberri, who is from Surigao del Sur, says that the 36th Infantry Battalion has no paramilitary group attached to it. But he is figuratively shouted down.

What is the military version? That it is not the military, but the NPA, that is exploiting the lumad. It has divided the lumad into pro-NPA (remember, the NPA offers alternative livelihoods) and anti-NPA. If the military has killed lumad, it is not because they are lumad, but because they are NPA. How does the military know the lumad are NPA? Simple. If they have guns, they must be NPA.

Iriberri tells me (watch my TV show on Monday night) that the military also has intelligence supplied by rebel returnees (three out every four NPA in the area are lumad) or surrenderees.

And some of the so-called lumad “evacuees” that have made headlines recently were actually brought there and kept there under false pretenses.

The military throws in its own numbers: In the period 1998-2008, the NPA killed 357 lumad. Where did this information come from? The lumad themselves, at a conference held by the lumad datus sometime in 2008.

It looks to me, folks, like the lumad are being taken advantage of, and not by the army. They have an age-old culture, and style of governance. Their datus can certainly hold their own. They can speak for themselves. So why do these leftist groups insist on talking for them?

Eastern Visayas rebels blame lawmaker for Calbayog massacre

From InterAksyon (Sep 19): Eastern Visayas rebels blame lawmaker for Calbayog massacre

CATARMAN, Northern Samar -- Communist rebels in Eastern Visayas have accused a lawmaker for Wednesday’s massacre of five persons, including two children, in a remote village of Calbayog City, Samar.

Fr. Santiago Salas, spokesman of the National Democratic Front in the region, in a statement dated September 17, condemned the carnage in Barangay Victory and blamed Samar Representative Milagrosa Tan.

This reporter tried multiple times to phone Tan for a reaction but she did not answer the calls.

Salas claimed Tan is “behind the dirty tactics of political murders and intimidation in Western Samar. The NPA (New People’s Army) also knows that a squad of assassins from Northern Samar has been added to the private army of the Tan dynasty, thus fuelling its reckless brutality."

Police earlier said Sonny Regulacion y Casaljay, 38, his children Cristina, Angel Mae, 2, and Princess Christine Joy, 5, and a relative, Adela Regulacion y Acebar, 42, died when around seven gunmen, reportedly clad in military fatigues and wearing hoods to conceal their faces, opened fire at a house in Barangay Victory, Calbayog.

Another child, a seven-year old girl, and Sonny's wife, Marlene Natayangga, 40, a barangay kagwad, were wounded in the incident.

Authorities said they were not discounting local politics as a possible motive for the massacre since Sonny was a known leader of Calbayog Mayor Ronald Aquino.

Aquino is a known opponent of Tan and is a close ally of new Interior Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento, who hails from Calbayog.

Salas, in his statement, also blasted Sarmiento for failing to address several unsolved killings in the congressional district he used to represent before being named to head the Department of Interior and Local Government.

Among these were last year’s murders of Calbayog Association of Barangay Chairman president Justiniano Belleza in front of the city’s legislative building and of former Barangay Cabicahan chairman Fernando Ygrubay and a companion in a separate incident.

AFP chief appeals to netizens to see whole picture on lumad killings

From CNN Philippines (Sep 18): AFP chief appeals to netizens to see whole picture on lumad killings

Gen. Hernando Iriberri, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, appealed to netizens not to immediately jump into conclusion that the military is behind the lumad killings in Mindanao.

In an interview during the 9th anniversary of the Eastern Mindanao Command in Davao City Thursday (September 17), Iriberri said that netizens should learn how to discern the truth.

He said that there is no truth to accusations hurled against the military that they are targeting lumads in their insurgency drive.

For days now, the hashtag #stoplumadkillings has been going viral on social media with various personalities using it as a plea to the government to stop the killings of lumads.

The latest incident was on September 1, when three lumads were killed by alleged paramilitary group members in Lianga, Surigao del Sur. The group responsible was identified as the Magahat Bagani Forces.

The military, however, denied that the Magahat are militiamen. They said that Magahat are indigenous warriors that serve as protectors of the community.

The military said that the conflict happened because of the presence of the New People's Army in the area.

Tribal leaders in support for legalizing its warriors

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Sep 19): Tribal leaders in support for legalizing its warriors


DISPLACED “lumad” said they were insulted by the way the dialogue led by North Cotabato 2nd District Rep. Nancy Catamco was conducted at an evacuation center in Davao City last July 22. KARLOS MANLUPIG/INQUIRER MINDANAO

North Cotabato Representative Nancy Catamco’s proposal to legalize the existence of tribal warriors or baganis (also known as bahanis among some tribes) has gained traction among indigenous peoples (IPs), with at least two tribal leaders becoming very vocal in support for it.

Datu Arcadio Aman of the Kilanan Manuvu ancestral domain claim in Arakan town said the baganis have been important part of their efforts to defend their territories and by government recognition, its existence would be legalized.

Aman, who leads at least 136 baganis armed with such weapons as shotguns, said they have been defending their communities from land-grabbers and other vested interests.

 “We have been receiving death threats from non-lumad intruders, who wanted to enter our ancestral domain claim,” he said.

Aman’s ancestral domain claim covers a land area of about 114,000 hectares.

Aman said they banked on a provision of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act, which says that IPs have all the rights—including the defense of their territories—in maintaining their tribal warriors.

Datu Jaime Udo, a lumad datu in Makilala town, admitted that in most cases, the baganis were ill-equipped against intruders and that only their desire to protect their communities was what makes them fight intruders.

“Legally arming the bagani would ensure an effective defense against land grabbers,” he said.

“Arming the baganis did not mean they will start hostilities. Aman said it has always been the baganis, who played major role in the survival of the IPs.

Catamco’s office said based on data gathering, there were at least 1,250 active bagani forces in five North Cotabato towns alone.

Udo said the reality was that tribal communities had always been a target.

He said as of 2006 alone, 439 lumad had already been killed in defense of their ancestral domains in Mindanao.

“Most of the victims were killed by such intruders as illegal loggers, land grabbers,” he said.

Udo said legalizing the baganis would also spare them from suspicion of being rebels.

“Two of my men were killed when soldiers belonging to Army’s 57th Infantry Battalion clashed with heavily armed rebels inside our ancestral domain. He was killed on suspicion of being a rebel,” Udo said, identifying the slain bagani as Joni Antak.

Last week, Catamco said she would seek the government’s full recognition and regulation of indigenous community defense systems, such as the baganis or tribal warriors, to prevent their exploitation by vested interests.

Catamco, who chairs the House committee on the indigenous peoples, issued the statement amid reports that lumad paramilitary groups have been terrorizing IP communities in Mindanao.

READ: 3 dead in paramilitary rampage in Surigao del Sur town

Recently, the baganis were thrown into the limelight anew after reportedly killing three people in Surigao del Sur on Sept. 1.

Catamco said by legalizing the baganis, they could be effectively controlled and regulated by the government, unlike their shadowy status today.

“The process of recognition will weed out those (who) are posing as baganis, when in fact they are mere armed groups organized by non-IP interests groups,” she said.

Catamco said under her proposal, which she would soon be submitting to Congress after consultations with IP communities, only “authentic defense systems of IP communities borne out of their cultural tradition in preserving their way of life as distinct groups of people and their ancestral domain” should be made legal.

“Regulation will set the rules to ensure compliance with existing laws,” she said.

READ: LP solon wants guns for bagani

Catamco clarified that she was not proposing that the baganis be turned into paramilitary groups such as the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu) although they would be allowed to bear firearms.

She said Cafgus are organized to meet local insurgency threat while the bagani system is part of the historical pre-existing defense system of an IP community.

“Whether armed or unarmed, (they) have evolved from their assertion of their distinct identity, defense of their freedoms, independence, territorial integrity and culture,” she said.

Abu Sayyaf blamed for Zamboanga bus blast that killed 1, hurt 31

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Sep 19): Abu Sayyaf blamed for Zamboanga bus blast that killed 1, hurt 31

MILITARY and police bomb experts inspect the blasted bus in Zamboanga City where an 11-year-old girl died and at least  31 others were wounded on Friday.     JULIE ALIPALA/INQUIRER MINDANAO

MILITARY and police bomb experts inspect the blasted bus in Zamboanga City where an 11-year-old girl died and at least 31 others were wounded on Friday. JULIE ALIPALA/INQUIRER MINDANAO

The military has blamed the Abu Sayyaf as behind the bombing incident that killed one person and hurt at least 31 others at a privately owned bus terminal here on Friday.

Extortion was the primary motive, Col. Nixon Fortes, commander of the Task Force Zamboanga, told the Inquirer. He said the group of Abdul Aziz was behind the extortion and bombing.

The still undetermined type of explosive went off aboard a bus as it was loading passengers around 2:30 p.m. on Friday, the police said.

Fatima Alipara, 11, was confirmed dead after being rushed to the Zamboanga City Medical Center (ZCMC), according to Abby Marquez, ZCMC spokesperson.

Alipara was among the three victims initially reported to have been critically wounded in the blast, says Marquez. She was mistaken for a teenager, she added. Twenty-three others were being treated at the ZCMC, Marquez confirmed.

Five others were brought to Brent Hospital and three to the Puericulture Hospital, Supt. Jomarie Albarico, commander of the central police office, said.

Albarico said two other injured victims, including a female college student, were in critical condition.

Chief Insp. Joel Tutuh, spokesperson of the city police office, said a bus of D’Biel Transportation Corp., which was bound for the city’s west coast area, including the villages of Labuan, Ayala and Recodo, was waiting for passengers inside its terminal on Calixto Street when the explosion took place.
TERRORISTS DID THIS   This is all that remains of the D’Biel bus bound for Zamboanga City’s west coast area, after a bomb allegedly planted by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in the middle portion of the bus (see arrow) exploded on Friday.  An 11-year-old girl died, while at least 31 others were injured in the blast that the bus owner said was the result of an extortion attempt by the ASG. (Story in Across the Nation, Page A10.) JULIE ALIPALA/INQUIRER MINDANAO

TERRORISTS DID THIS This is all that remains of the D’Biel bus bound for Zamboanga City’s west coast area, after a bomb allegedly planted by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in the middle portion of the bus (see arrow) exploded on Friday. An 11-year-old girl died, while at least 31 others were injured in the blast that the bus owner said was the result of an extortion attempt by the ASG. (Story in Across the Nation, Page A10.) JULIE ALIPALA/INQUIRER MINDANAO
Among the victims were the five people on board and about 20 others, who were just milling nearby, Albarico said.

“The bomb went off aboard the bus, most probably at the middle portion,” Albarico said in explaining why the range of the explosion was quite broad that it hit those standing several feet away from it.

“The ASG (Abu Sayyaf Group) admitted they perpetrated this crime by sending a text message to the Biel family,” Fortes said.

Abdul Aziz, he said, has been demanding P500,000 from the bus company owner. Police investigators said they now “have strong lead as the suspected bomber was captured clearly in one of the closed-circuit television cameras at the terminal.

The man, who wore a cap, alighted from the bus, made some calls and hurriedly left the site shortly before the blast, they said.

It was the second of such attack against the bus company in recent years, which Albarico said could have stemmed from the failure of the still unidentified suspects to extort money from the Biel family.

In September 2013, three bus passengers were also killed while another one was injured when a bomb exploded aboard a D’Biel bus awaiting passengers at the company’s Labuan depot, some 34 kilometers away from the city’s center.

The bus company has been reportedly the subject of extortion by unidentified men, who warned of bomb attacks if their demands were not met.

In February 2014, two suspected members of an extortion gang were arrested in an entrapment operation conducted by the city police.

The two suspects, Jomar Pillay and Gerwin Luania, had allegedly warned the bus company of bomb attacks unless their demand was met.

The company manager pretended to yield to the demand and agreed to meet the two suspects.

Unknown to them, the police were just waiting for them to show up at the agreed place of meeting.

Muslim rebel group blamed for Philippines bus explosion which killed an 11-year-old girl

From the Australia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) (Sep 19): Muslim rebel group blamed for Philippines bus explosion which killed an 11-year-old girl

An eleven-year-old girl has died and 32 others have been injured in a passenger bus explosion in the southern Philippines city of Zamboanga.
Philippines police said the local terrorist group Abu Sayyaf was responsible for the blast.

Police believe the group was attempting to extort money from the bus company which may have rejected the terrorist group's blackmail attempt.

Investigations show the bus company owners received threats prior to the bombing.

Five men found in possession of alleged bomb-making materials were arrested following the explosion.

Local media reported a homemade bomb was placed under a bus seat and it exploded at a bus terminal near a Zamboanga market.

Authorities offered reward money of $US4,300 for information leading to the suspects.

Police say the Abu Sayyaf is behind kidnap-for-ransom and extortion activities to raise funds, and is believed to be holding nine foreign and local hostages.

The group was recently declared a terrorist group by a Philippines court.

PA denies hit list against Lumad advocates

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 19): PA denies hit list against Lumad advocates

The Philippine Army (PA) on Saturday strongly denied claims that the military has a hit-list against known Lumad advocates.

"The PA denied today (Saturday) with a strong statement the allegations of having an AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) hit list against Lumad advocates," PA spokesperson Col. Benjamin Hao said.

He added the allegation is merely a figment of the accusers’ imagination.

"There is no such thing as hit list in the AFP. Everybody knows that only the New People’s Army is making a hit list," Hao stressed.

"The AFP is the protector of the Filipino people, whatever his or her social, political or economic leaning is," the PA chief further said.

Human rights advocates, legislators and relatives of the late labor leader Crispin Beltran on Friday earlier sought protection from the Supreme Court after a hit list containing the names of 70 activists in Mindanao and leaders of progressive groups surfaced.

Assisted by their counsels from the National Union of People's Lawyers, the members of the various groups and party-list lawmakers filed writs of amparo and habeas data before the High Court in Manila, decrying threats to their "life, liberty and security" with the existence of a hit list.

The petitioners alleged that hit list was attached to a criminal complaint by the AFP and Philippine National Police on charges of kidnapping, serious illegal detention, and human trafficking.

The crimes were allegedly committed against some evacuees from Lumad communities in Davao Del Norte and Bukidnon.

16th Malaysia, Phl Joint Army Training focuses on disaster response, management cooperation

From the Philippine Information Agency (Sep 16): 16th Malaysia, Phl Joint Army Training focuses on disaster response, management cooperation

"The ongoing 16th Land Training Activity of Malaysia and Philippine Armies has focused on intensifying cooperation on disaster response and management as the two neighboring nations continue to experience the detrimental effects of climate change.
Developing a comprehensive disaster response and management strategy is essential in countries frequently hit by calamities. The overarching duties and responsibilities embedded on the bilateral exercise provide an upper hand defending against regional disasters affecting Malaysia and Philippines,” Army Vice Commander Major General Demosthenes Santillan said.

He explained that the ongoing training between the Philippine and Malaysian Army was instrumental in enhancing the troops’ decision-making process on disaster management.

Further, the joint military training would strengthen international agreements aimed at developing and promoting cooperative activities between the two countries.

“The joint exercise cites the milestone we achieve for working hand in hand these past few years. Yearly holding of the same activity has become part of the Army’s tradition. This tradition is a celebration of people and soldiers coming together to commit themselves to duty and service in pursuit of global excellence,” he added.

AFP conducts assessment of CAFGU performance

From the Philippine Information Agency (Sep 17): AFP conducts assessment of CAFGU performance

An assessment on the concept and significant accomplishments of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) as force multipliers of the government troops was conducted by representatives from the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) last Sept. 7 at Camp Gen. Macario Peralta, Jr. in Jamindan town.

The initiative aimed to recognize and evaluate the auxiliary unit’s intelligence support, involvement to peace and order as well as contribution to development in the locality and counter – insurgency efforts in the 3ID’s area of operation.

During the assessment, a program and engagement between the military personnel and invited guests from the local government units, Philippine National Police, civil society as well as non government organizations and academe and business sectors to present the CAFGU concept and operational accomplishments and further analyze its effectiveness in the from the viewpoint of the civilian populace.

Its members were issued and allowed to carry firearms only for defense while serving as a support group of the soldiers at the grassroots level.

3ID commander Maj. Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero said that the joint assessment paved way to also inform the various sectors on the significance of the CAFGU system as a component of territorial defense and public safety.

Civilian guests also freely shared their experiences, observations and opinions about the prevailing CAFGU issues and concerns as prompted by the evaluators from the AFP and Philippine Army headquarters.

PIA Caraga condemns allegations to PA on ALCADEV leader killing

From the Philippine Information Agency (Sep 16): PIA Caraga condemns allegations to PA on ALCADEV leader killing

The Philippine Information Agency (PIA) Caraga through its regional director Abner M. Caga expressed profound condemnation on the accusations against Philippine Army (PA) as allegedly the ones who have the influence and hands on the ruthless killings of Emerito Samarca, executive director, Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural Development (ALCADEV);  Dionel Campos, chair, Malahutayong Pakigbisug alang sa Sumusunod (Mapasu); and Aurello Sinzo, a civilian.

Do not be misled by these intentionally deceptive judgment and accusations thrown against our government’s Army forces regarding the recent killing incident that brought controversial issue. Once and for all, let’s be objective in rallying ourselves on the side of PA whose mission is necessary for the effective prosecution of the perpetrators,” underscored Caga.

He also said that those who transgress moral and civil law must be accountable for of their unlawful acts. “I encourage our partner agencies and all other local government sectors to be one with us during this crucial times to support the Army in probing of the case and eventually bring justice of the matter from the court,” added Caga.

Earlier on Monday, Philippine National Police (PNP) Surigao del Sur provincial director P/SSupt Narciso Verdadero said charges of multiple murder, arson, grave coercions, robbery, and grave threats had been filed with the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office in Lianga against three suspects who were allegedly behind the killings of the victims.

Identified and named in the charge sheets were siblings Bobby and Loloy Tejero, Garito Layno, and 20 John Does believed to be members of “Bagani Forces.”

It was also learned that 4th Infantry Division (4ID) commander MGen. Oscar Lactao has initiated a consultative meeting with the provincial government of Surigao del Sur, religious groups, and lumad leaders on Saturday, September 11 in order to gather direct official statements from these different sectors and yield impartiality on the case.

Civil Military Operations (CMO) Battalion Commander and executive director of the 4th Infantry Division’s advance command post Lt. Col. Rey Pasco likewise put forth in giving credence to the PA in the prompt and sustained efforts to institute and carry on legal proceedings against the culprits.

“PA is constantly performing our functions in accordance with our specified objectives including the protection of our fellow citizens, the attainment of peace in our community, thus, I plead for your continued support in order to put an end on these opposing forces,” Pasco said.

Caraga RPOC chair calls for support to PA, PNP

From the Philippine Information Agency (Sep 18): Caraga RPOC chair calls for support to PA, PNP
The Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) chaired by Butuan city mayor Ferdinand M. Amante, Jr. has issued statement urging a stop on the harsh and carping judgment to the military forces and encouraging support to them, together with the Philippine National Police (PNP), as they activated the ‘Joint Task Force Tejero’, a special operation to go after the suspects of the killings of Emerito Samarca, executive director, Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural Development (ALCADEV) and two others in Surigao del Sur recently.

“In the interest of sustaining peace and development in our communities, the Army forces working in our region extend a great deal, even exasperating all efforts, to ultimately achieve its mission and mandates. Faultfinding to the uniformed men in the government serving for the protection of every citizen is something impermissible,” remarked Amante.

Likewise, Amante said that the Philippine Army is composed of professional people. “They will not do any stupidity and will not blunder into situation that will taint their credibility in any way. They are our protectors. In this present administration, there is no room for foolish moves and gross mistakes attributable to bad judgment,” emphasized Amante.  

PNP Surigao del Sur provincial director P/SSupt Narciso Verdadero on Monday said charges of multiple murder, arson, grave coercions, robbery, and grave threats had already been filed against siblings Bobby and Loloy Tejero, Garito Layno, and 20 John Does at the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office.

The 'Joint Task Force Tejero' is headed by PNP Surigao del Sur provincial director SSupt Narciso Verdadero through the Joint Peace and Security Coordinating Committee (JPSCC) to ensure continuity and inter-operability of operating units within Caraga region.

AFP receives recon kits, outfits from US military

From the Philippine Information Agency  (Sep 18): AFP receives recon kits, outfits from US military

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) received from the U.S. military a new Dismounted Reconnaissance Sets Kits and Outfits (DRSKO) package.

The equipment that we have collaboratively worked with and trained on and provided to the Philippine government is exactly the same equipment that we provide to our own military forces and to our civilian counterparts,” said U.S. Army COL Kenneth Deal of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DITRA) during the turnover ceremony Thursday at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

The DRSKO is a portable collection of Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) protective gear and detection equipment used to support dismounted Reconnaissance, Surveillance and CBRN site assessment missions. This increases the AFP’s capabilities to conduct CBRN site assessments to mitigate risks and gather intelligence on Chemical Agents, Biological Agents or other potential chemical hazards. It was designed to equip a team of 27 CBRN personnel.

The AFP previously completed extensive training in the United States in preparation for receiving this equipment as part of its modernization efforts. 

“Today after six short months, we have this professional CBRN platoon standing before us. We are proud of what they have done as you are proud of what they have done. We think that this is going to be a nucleus to grow a much more robust support structure,” Col. Deal added.

Likewise, the US looks forward to the AFP’s successful adoption of the equipment and corresponding training in order to meet APEC 2015 requirements and furthering the competency of its newly acquired capability into upcoming training exercise like Balikatan.

The turnover was a collective effort of the U.S. Embassy, U.S. Pacific Command, Joint U.S. Military Assistance Group, Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological and DITRA working diligently with our AFP counterparts.

Japan enacts bills easing pacifist constitution's limits on military

From GMA News (Sep 19): Japan enacts bills easing pacifist constitution's limits on military

The upper house of Japan's parliament approved security bills on Saturday clearing the way for a policy shift that could allow troops to fight overseas for the first time since 1945, a milestone for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's agenda of loosening the limits of the pacifist constitution on the military.
Abe says the shift, the biggest change in Japan's defense policy since the creation of its post-war military in 1954, is vital to meet new challenges such as from a rising China.
But the bills have sparked massive protests from ordinary citizens who say they violate the post-World War constitution and threaten to ensnare Japan in U.S.-led conflicts after 70 years of post-war peace.

Cop slain in NPA ambush in Surigao Sur

From the Daily Tribune (Sep 19): Cop slain in NPA ambush in Surigao Sur

A policeman was killed while another one was wounded after New People’s Army (NPA) rebels ambushed the lawmen in Surigao del Sur province yesterday.

Killed was SPO4 Jesus Labastilla, team leader of the Patrol 101 of Cortez municipal police station.
Wounded was PO2 Joy Tiraja.

Reports showed that Labastilla’s group was conducting patrol operations along Purok 5, Barangay Poblacion in Cortez town at around 9 a.m. when they were waylaid.

Insp. Paul Paden, of the Surigao del Sur police, said that Labastilla was with three other policemen when the ambush happened.

Reports showed that more or less 50 heavily-armed NPA rebels staged the attack.

Paden said that the policemen managed to fight back, engaging the communist rebels in a 15-minute firefight.

Pursuit operation was immediately launched against the NPA band.

3 kidnap victims released in Lanao del Norte

From ABS0CBN (Sep 18): 3 kidnap victims released in Lanao del Norte

ILIGAN -- Three victims were released by their kidnappers Wednesday evening in Barangay Panggao, in Munai, Lanao del Norte, police said.

Responding authorities saw the victims - Junievic Solatorio, Antonio Superales and Roderick Superales - along a road in Munai.

The Army said no ransom was given to the kidnappers.

The victims were turned over to their families after a medical check up.

They were kidnapped September 12 at Sitio Sibulan, Barangay Maliwanag in Maigo, Lanao del Norte.

They are tenants in Maigo.

2 cops killed in Surigao ambush

From ABS-CBN (Sep 18): 2 cops killed in Surigao ambush

SURIGAO DEL SUR - Unidentified assailants shot and killed two police officers in an ambush along Cortes, Surigao del Sur Friday morning.

Four policemen from Cortes Municipal Police Station were onboard their patrol car when the gunmen fired at them.

Police Regional Office 13 received a report that two policemen were killed in the incident.

Authorities are now confirming the identity of the slain officers.

Will raps vs MILF rebels over SAF deaths affect peace process?

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Sep 18): Will raps vs MILF rebels over SAF deaths affect peace process?


Mohagher Iqbal. FILE PHOTO
A ranking Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) official on Friday expressed confidence that the filing of criminal charges against some of the rebel group’s members over the January 25 Mamasapano incident will not affect the peace process.

Earlier, President Aquino said those to be indicted for murdering members of the Special Action Force include members of the MILF.

READ: Raps OKd vs 90 MILF, BIFF, others in slay of 35 SAF in Mamasapano
Aside from MILF members, also to be charged were members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and private armed groups.
“It’s internal and a legal process of the Philippine government. I am confident it will not affect the entire negotiation,” Mohagher Iqbal, MILF chief negotiator, said.

Iqbal said any possible consequences of the filing of the charges could also be properly addressed through the ceasefire mechanism.

“Whether it will affect or not the peace process, our ceasefire mechanism can handle such kind of situation,” he told the Inquirer by phone.

READ: Iqbal says no turning back on peace

He said what was important for the MILF was that the “lines of communication with our government counterparts are not closed.”

Early this year, the rebel group has announced that those suspected of involvement in the Mamasapano incident would be sanctioned based on the code of conduct of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces and the Sharia Law.

It did not specify what possible sanctions would be meted or if these had already been carried out.

“If the government has its own internal process, we hope it would also consider our internal process,” Iqbal said.

The Mamasapano incident has become the thorniest issue that continues to threaten the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, which seeks an enlarged area for Moro governance.

It also put the MILF’s sincerity toward the peace process under tight scrutiny, although the rebel group has maintained that its forces on the ground did not fire the first shot and that they were dragged into the fray because of their defense of their territory.

The rebel group also appealed for understanding, saying what happened was a legitimate encounter and that it was normal to lose fighters.

The MILF suffered 17 fatalities during the clash that lasted for about 10 hours and was considered one of the bloodiest battles recorded in Maguindanao in recent years.

China: US warships passing close to artificial islands ‘provocative and risky action’

From Ang Malaya (Sep 18): China: US warships passing close to artificial islands ‘provocative and risky action’

The Chinese government is “seriously concerned” about the remarks of United States officials, during the past US Senate Armed Service Committee hearing on Maritime Security Strategy in the Asia-Pacific. US officials state that US military will continue to conduct patrols in West Philippine Sea and the US Navy should pass close to fake islands created by China in West Philippine Sea. The foreign ministry of China reiterated that Spratly Islands belong to Beijing.

“China, like the US, champions navigation freedom in the South China Sea, but opposes any country’s attempt to challenge China’s territorial sovereignty and security under the pretext of safeguarding navigation freedom,” Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei said in a press conference today. “China urges relevant party to exercise caution in its words and deeds, respect China’s territorial sovereignty and security interests, and refrain from taking any provocative and risky action.”

US Pacific Command (USPACOM) commander Admiral Harry B. Harris, Jr. said during the September 17 US senate hearing, “Pacific Command’s forces will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows, while continuing to strengthen the relationships and rule of law that enabled the peaceful rise of every nation in the region”, this is “to safeguard freedom of the seas, deter conflict, and promote adherence to international law and standards.”

The top American military official in the Pacific noted that “while no country appears to desire military conflict, tactical miscalculations can lead to strategic consequences.”

“The United States does not take sides on issues of sovereignty with respect to these territorial disputes, but we do insist that all maritime claims be derived from naturally-formed land features in accordance with customary international law, as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention,” Admiral Harris said.

US Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Republican Senator John McCain said “the best sign of that commitment (upholding the freedom of the seas) would be to conduct freedom of navigation operations within 12 nautical miles of China’s reclaimed islands in the South China Sea.”

Activist lawmakers, rights advocates seek writs of amparo, habeas data over 'hit list'

From InterAksyon (Sep 18): Activist lawmakers, rights advocates seek writs of amparo, habeas data over 'hit list'

Leaders of the lumad refugees at the UCCP Haran Mission House in Davao City.

Activist lawmakers and human rights advocates have petitioned the Supreme Court for writs of amparo and habeas data over what they called a “hit list” containing the names and pictures of 70 persons, mostly from Mindanao and national leaders of progressive groups, that they say constitute a threat to their “life, liberty and security.”

Among the petitioners is Ofelia Beltran-Ballete, representing the family of the late labor leader and Anakpawis representative Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran, who died in 2008 but is included in the list.

The petition names President Benigno Aquino III, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Lieutenant General Hernando Iriberri, Philippine National Police chief Ricardo Marquez, Army chief Major General Eduardo Año, Eastern Mindanao Command chief Lieutenant General Aurelio Baladad, and other military and police officers.

According to the human rights organization Karapatan, the supposed “hit list” is appended to the criminal complaint for kidnapping, serious illegal detention and trafficking filed against supporters of some 700 lumad who fled and have been sheltering at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines Haran Mission House in Davao City after soldiers and militiamen occupied their villages and schools in Davao del Norte.

The charges are an offshoot of accusations by the military, echoed by North Cotabato Representative Nancy Catamco, that the Haran refugees are not evacuees but “manipulated” and “victims of trafficking.”

The petitioners called the criminal charges “clearly manufactured and meant to distort the truth behind the Manobos’ terrible ordeal and disparage human rights and humanitarian workers who came to their aid.”

They cited UN special rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons Chaloka Beyani, who visited the country in late July, and debunked the claims that the Haran refugees had been manipulated or trafficked. Beyani also rebuked the military for its “gross distortion” of his views when it misrepresented an exit brief he gave for security officials to bolster its claims about the Davao evacuees.

And explaining why inclusion in the list threatened their safety and even lives, the petitioners noted that the organizations to which they belong “have been tagged as ‘communist front organizations’ while their leaders and members have been targets of attack under the government’s counterinsurgency programs. Many of them have experienced various forms of harassment by state forces. Some were killed or abducted.”

“Even the deceased Representative Crispin Beltran was included in the hit list,” the statement quoted Beltran-Balleta as saying. “Ikinulong at tinortyur na nga ng AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) ang tatay ko nung siya ay nabubuhay pa. Hanggang ngayon ba naman, patay na siya, gumagawa pa ng mga kuwento para sampahan siya ng mga gawa-gawang kaso (The AFP jailed and tortured my father when he was still alive. Now that he is long dead, they still want to slap him with trumped-up charges)?”

Aside from Beltran-Balleta, the other petitioners are Representatives Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna and Emmi de Jesus of Gabriela, former representatives Rafael Mariano of Anakpawis and Teddy Casiño of Bayan Muna, Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay, Children’s Rehabilitation Center executive director Jacqueline Ruiz, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines coordinator Sister Mary Francis Añover, and Reverend Irma Balaba of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines.

China 'extremely concerned' by proposed US challenge to claims in South China Sea

From InterAksyon (Sep 18): China 'extremely concerned' by proposed US challenge to claims in South China Sea

Subi Reef is shown in this handout satellite image dated September 3, 2015 and provided by CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/Digital Globe September 14, 2015. REUTERS/Handout via Reuters

China said on Friday it was "extremely concerned" about a suggestion from a top US commander that US ships and aircraft should challenge China's claims in the South China Sea by patrolling close to artificial islands it has built.

China's increasingly assertive action to back up its sovereignty claims in the South China Sea have included land reclamation and the construction of ports and air facilities on several reefs in the Spratly Islands.

The work has rattled China's neighbors, in particular US ally the Philippines, and raised concern in the United States.

China says it has irrefutable sovereignty over the Spratly Islands and no hostile intent.

Admiral Harry Harris, the commander of US forces in the Pacific, told a Senate hearing on Thursday that China's building of three airfields on small islands and their further militarization was of "great concern militarily" and posed a threat to all countries in the region.

Harris said the United States should exercise freedom of navigation and flight "in the South China Sea against those islands that are not islands".
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China was "extremely concerned" about the comments and China opposed "any country challenging China's sovereignty and security in the name of protecting freedom of navigation".

"We demand that the relevant country speak and act cautiously, earnestly respect China's sovereignty and security interests, and not take any risky or provocative acts," Hong said at a daily news briefing.

Chinese President Xi Jinping begins a week-long visit to the United States on Monday.

US concerns about China's pursuit of territorial claims in the South China Sea will be high on President Barack Obama's agenda in their talks next Friday.

China has overlapping claims with Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei in the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year.

On Thursday, the head of the US Senate's military committee criticized the Obama administration for failing to challenge China's island building in the South China Sea by sailing within 12 miles (19.2 km) of them, saying this amounted to de-facto recognition of Chinese claims.

On Tuesday, a US expert said China was carrying out land reclamation in the South China Sea this month, more than four weeks after saying it had stopped such activity, citing recent satellite images.

Police source: 'Abu Jihad' could be training ASG recruits in Sulu

From InterAksyon (Sep 18): Police source: 'Abu Jihad' could be training ASG recruits in Sulu

Malaysian terrorist Amin Baco in a file photograph shared by an intelligence source

Intelligence information reaching Manila indicated that a Malaysian terror suspect could be training recruits of the rebel Abu Sayyaf Group in Sulu.

An intelligence officer based at Philippine National Police (PNP) central headquarters in Camp Crame said on condition of anonymity that Amin Baco, who is also know by his nom de guerre "Abu Jihad", apparently sought refuge in the lairs of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Sulu after evading capture by law enforcement commandos who carried out "Oplan Exodus" in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last January 25, 2015.

Abu Jihad is believed to have resumed the training of new recruits of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) deep in the jungles of Sulu, a police intelligence source disclosed on Friday.

"He [Abu Jihad] is now in hiding in Sulu and has taken up the training of some newly recruited militants of the ASG in Sulu," the intelligence source said.

He added that the training being supervised by Abu Jihad in Sulu appears to be mostly involved with urban guerilla warfare and hand-to-hand combat.

"In effect, you might say that there are no more ASGs in Sulu, and they are now replaced by an Organized Crime Group of kidnappers," the intelligence source quipped.

The intelligence source shared the suspicion that Abu Jihad's trainee could have been involved in the grenade blast, which could have been a test mission, at Camp Kasim in Jolo, Sulu sometime in May this year. At least 14 policemen were hurt in that incident.

Japan bills to expand military role near enactment despite protests

From InterAksyon (Sep 18): Japan bills to expand military role near enactment despite protests

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stands to bow after his censure motion is rejected during the plenary session for his censure motion at the Upper House of the parliament in Tokyo September 18, 2015. REUTERS/Yuya Shino

Japan's parliament drew near on Friday to enacting contentious defense legislation that could ease the constraints of the pacifist constitution to let troops fight overseas for the first time since World War Two, despite public protests and delaying tactics by the opposition.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says the policy shift, which would mark the biggest change in defense policy since the creation of Japan's post-war military in 1954, is vital to meet new challenges such as from a rising China.

But the bills have sparked massive protests from ordinary citizens and others who say they violate the pacifist constitution and could ensnare Japan in US-led conflicts after 70 years of post-war peace. Abe's ratings have also taken a hit.

Japan's ally the United States has welcomed the shift but China, where bitter memories of Japan's wartime aggression run deep, has repeatedly expressed concern about the legislation.

"Recently we have noticed that voices in Japan opposing the bill have become louder by the day," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters on Friday.

"We demand that Japan earnestly listen to these just voices domestically and internationally, learn the lessons of history, uphold the path of peaceful development, speak and act cautiously in security and military matters and take actual steps to maintain regional peace and stability."

Parliament's session runs until Sept. 27, but ruling party lawmakers are keen to have the upper house approve the bills - the last step to enactment - before a five-day holiday starts on Saturday, when big street demonstrations could erupt.

Abe's ruling bloc has an upper house majority, but major opposition parties submitted censure motions in the chamber and a no confidence motion in the lower house to block a vote.

One opposition member tried to delay the vote on a censure motion against Abe by resorting to the "Ox Walk", or advancing at an excruciatingly slow pace to the ballot box, but was ordered by the chamber's president to speed up. He then took out prayer beads and mimicked a funeral rite to symbolize what he has called the "death" of Abe's Liberal Democratic Party.

The motion, as expected, was defeated.

The bills, which include legal revisions to drop a long-standing ban on collective self-defense, or defending a friendly country under attack, were approved on Thursday by an upper house panel in a chaotic, raucous session.

Thousands of demonstrators have rallied near parliament every day this week, chanting "Scrap the war bills" and "Abe resign", and crowds gathered again on Friday.

The protests, while peaceful, have called to mind those that forced Abe's grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, to resign 55 years ago after pushing a US-Japan security treaty through parliament.

Besides ending the ban on collective self-defense in cases where Japan faces a "threat to its survival", the measures expand the scope for logistics support for the militaries of the United States and others, and for participation in peacekeeping.

The revisions will still leave Japan's military constrained in overseas operations by legal limits and a deeply rooted public anti-war mindset.

Critics, however, say the changes make a mockery of the pacifist constitution and deplore what they see as Abe's authoritarian mode of pushing for enactment of the bills.

"The content, process and doctrine of the security bills ... risk reversing the path we have walked for the past 70 years as a country of peace and democracy," Yukio Edano, the second-most senior leader of the opposition Democratic Party, told parliament's lower house.

Bus bombed in Zamboanga City (Photos)

From the Mindanao Examiner (Sep 18): Bus bombed in Zamboanga City

The aftermath of the bomb attack on a bus in Zamboanga City on Friday, September 18, 2015, that killed one person and wounded at least 2 dozen more. (Mindanao Examiner Photo – E. Dumaboc)

From the Facebook account of Mayor Beng Climaco.

ZAMBOANGA CITY – A powerful bomb explosion inside a bus has killed one passenger and left at least two dozen people wounded in a daring attack on Friday in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines, police and government officials said.

Police said the bomb ripped through the bus at a terminal in downtown Zamboanga at around 2.15 p.m.

Mayor Beng Climaco said the bus just came from the village of Labuan. “I condemned this heinous crime and ordered police and military to tighten security as we investigate this blast,” she said.

No individual or group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but authorities initially pointed to failed extortion as likely motive for the bombing which occurred near a police base.

Climaco said one person, Fatima Imbriada, 14, was killed and 33 people wounded from the blast. The mayor appealed to citizens to stay calm, but vigilant. “Please remain calm and vigilant at all times,” she said.

She said the explosion is an act of injustice to innocent civilians. She said the local government has provided immediate emergency assistance to the wounded victims.

Climaco renewed her call on bus companies to strictly enforce inspection of bags of passengers to prevent future attacks and also offered P200,000 reward for the capture of the bomber. “We call on all bus companies and all other public conveyance to strictly enforce inspection and other security measures. The City Government is offering P200K reward for the capture of the bomber,” she said.

The blast and fear of more attacks have forced many shops and department stores to close as soldiers and policemen secured the site to search for more bombs and debris. The bomb targeted the bus owned by Biel Transit.

The powerful bomb explosion September 20, 2013 ripped through a passenger bus owned by Biel Transit and killied 3 people in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

It was the second time that the bus firm had been bombed.

In September 2013, one of its buses was also bombed at a terminal in Labuan village and killed three people. The improvised explosive was planted under a seat and then detonated as the bus enters the terminal from a daylong trip shuttling villagers to downtown Zamboanga.

It was unknown if the Abu Sayyaf was involved in the latest attack, but the notorious rebel group had previously bombed civilian targets in Zamboanga City over the last decade with deadly results.

The Abu Sayyaf has been fighting for a separate Muslim state, but resorted to terrorism and ransom kidnappings to finance its violent campaign in southern Philippines.

One killed, around 30 injured in Zambo bus blast

From CNN Philippines (Sep 18): One killed, around 30 injured in Zambo bus blast

Initial investigation showed that an improvised explosive device (IED) went off shortly past 2 p.m. inside a D'Biel Transit unit.

An 11-year-old girl was killed while around 30 others were injured when a blast ripped through a passenger bus parked in Zamboanga City on Friday afternoon (September 18).

The fatality was identified as a certain Fatima Imbraida, while two of the injured were in critical condition. Some of the victims were bystanders.

Initial investigation showed that an improvised explosive device (IED) went off shortly past 2 p.m. inside a D'Biel Transit unit. The bus came from Labuan, a village 38 kilometers away from the town proper.

Vice Mayor Cesar Ituralde said the motive behind might have been extortion after the bus company had been receiving extortion letters from a still unidentified group.

The police and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) operatives were looking at a CCTV footage showing an individual acting suspiciously near the crime scene minutes before the explosion.

Police, military activate “Joint Task Force Tejero”

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 18): Police, military activate “Joint Task Force Tejero”

Police and military here in the region activated a joint task force in order to maintain peace and order in Surigao del Sur province and to pursue the suspects in the killing of three indigenous people leaders in the province early this month.

In a press statement on Thursday afternoon, the police regional office here said that the “Joint Task Force Tejero” was activated to go after the suspects of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV) incident where three indigenous people (lumad) leaders were killed at Km. 16 of Sitio Han-ayan, Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur, on September 1, this year.

The joint task force is headed by PSSupt. Narciso B. Verdadero, the director of the Surigao del Sur Police Provincial Office through the Joint Peace and Security Coordinating Committee (JPSCC) to ensure continuity and inter-operability of the operating units (of the government security forces)within Caraga region, the police said.

The “JTF Tejero” was the result of the meeting between the PNP and the AFP together with Surigao del Sur Governor Johnny Pimentel as a whole government approach in order to apprehend the perpetrators of the said lumad leaders' killings and bring them to the bar of justice.

It could be recalled that on September 1, Emerito Samarca, the executive director of ALCADEV, Dionel Campos and Juvillo Sinzo were killed at the aforesaid place. A cooperative store owned by the “Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Mga Sumusunod”of which Campos was the chairman was also burned down.

Charges of “Multiple Murder,” “Arson,” “Robbery,” “Grave Threat,” and “Grave Coercion,” were filed against suspects identified by the police as Loloy Tejero, Bobby Tejero, Margarito Layno and 20 other “John Does,” before the provincial prosecutor’s office in Lianga, of the said province last September 7.

The regional police assured the community that under the leadership of its regional director PCSupt. Chavez, and their counterparts in the military vowed to continually and mutually support each other in the quest for justice to the victims and the observance of the rule of law. Chavez further assured the community that a proper and intensive investigation had been conducted and police operations are being carried out in close coordination with the AFP to ensure the public’s safety and maintain peace and order throughout the region.

Army in NegOcc to hold bike ride for peace on Sept. 26

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 18): Army in NegOcc to hold bike ride for peace on Sept. 26

The 303rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army based in Murcia, Negros Occidental will spearhead a 100-kilometer bike ride for peace and progress on September 26.

Anchored on the theme, “A 100-kilometer Ride for 100% Commitment to Peace,” the bike ride will kick off from the Capitol Lagoon in Bacolod at 4 a.m.

Bikers will proceed to southern Negros and will pass through the cities of La Carlota and Bago and the municipalities of Murcia, San Enrique, Valladolid, and Pulupandan.

Capt. Russel Anthony Bumanglag, civil military operations officer of the 303rd IB, said the activity, which is part of the observance of the Peace Consciousness Month, aims to promote a united community for peace, progress and prosperity in Negros Occidental.

Bumanglag said the highlight of the activity is the oath-taking and signing of peace covenant by the ride participants, guests, and Negrense constituents.

Expected to join the tour are bikers from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, other law enforcement agencies, local government units, non-government organizations, private groups, business sector, youth sector, bike clubs, and cycling enthusiasts.

Aside from the Bike Ride for Peace, the 303rd IB is also holding civic action in the different localities in the province, the latest of which was held in San Enrique town.