Tuesday, March 7, 2017

4 gunmen killed in Lanao fighting

From the Manila Times (Mar 7): 4 gunmen killed in Lanao fighting

Four gunmen, two of them suspected drug dealers with links to the jihadist Maute group, were killed in separate operations in Lanao del Sur at dawn on Tuesday.

Philippine Army Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay, spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command, said the first gunbattle erupted in the town of Maguing after security forces swooped down before 3 a.m. on the hideout of suspected drug dealers with links to the Maute group.

Two gunmen were killed in the fighting, while two Army soldiers were injured in the clash, Petinglay said.

She added that security forces were serving arrest warrants on the suspects who are engaged in shabu trading largely financed by the Maute group.

“The search warrant was served against the drug syndicate, which is affiliated with and being financed by the Maute group in Lanao del Sur,” Petinglay said, quoting a statement from Maj. Gen. Carlito Galvez, the regional military commander.

Troops recovered an M16 automatic rifle and munitions, including two packets of suspected shabu from the slain gang members.

The wounded soldiers, Petinglay said, were brought to a hospital in Iligan City.

Similarly at daybreak, the troops also clashed with over two dozen jihadists in the town of Poona Bayabao,about 30 kilometers from Maguing, where two more gunmen were killed in Barangay Ragayan.

The fighting lasted over 45 minutes and soldiers recovered four automatic rifles, a rifle grenade launcher and an anti-tank rocket-propelled grenade launcher, including two improvised explosives from the battle site.

Petinglay said the troops retrieved the bodies of all four slain gunmen and that security operations continue in the province, a known stronghold of the Maute and other jihadist groups tied to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria or ISIS.

Meanwhile, a total of 32 Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits were reported killed in the past two months as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) intensified its campaign against the brigands in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi provinces.

This is aside from the 22 ASG men reported wounded, 13 arrested and two who voluntarily surrendered, according to Petinglay.

The bodies of 14 of the slain 32 bandits were also recovered.

Five major clashes ensued during the last two weeks and 28 soldiers were wounded.|

Last Sunday, a clash erupted at the boundary of Talipao and Maimbung towns in Sulu after soldiers spotted a group of ASG bandits holding six to 12 kidnap victims in a mangrove area.

About nine bandits were killed in a series of encounters, aside from the 10 reported killed in Barangay Igasan, Patikul town last March 3 as the military intensified its operations against the bandits over the beheading of German captive Juergen Kantner last February 26.


3 Maute rebels dead in Lanao del Sur clash

From the Sun Star-Cagayan de Oro (Mar 8): 3 Maute rebels dead in Lanao del Sur clash

Three suspected members of the Maute group were killed Tuesday, March 7, at around 9 a.m. in a clash with soldiers at the hinterlands of Poona Bayabao, Lanao del Sur.

Philippine Army’s 103rd Brigade Commander Nixon Fortes said the operation was a joint undertaking with the units from the 51st Infantry Battalion led by Lieutenant Colonel Mel Brual and soldiers from the 15th Division Reconnaissance Company.

Fortes said soldiers recovered from the encounter site three M14 rifles, one M16 rifle with attached M203 grenade launcher, a recoilless rifle, a Garand rifle, a Propelled Grenade, improvised explosive devices, and assorted ammunition.

Fortes said the Maute group wanted to establish a base in Lanao del Sur “to be controlled by Isis (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria).”

“The three members of Maute group are responsible in kidnapping, carnapping of vehicles, ambush cage and extortion,” Fortes said.

Fortes said there is no let up in the conduct of operations against the local terrorists. Earlier, Abu Sayaff Group leader Isnilon Hapilon was reported injured in an airstrike and is believed to be hiding in the forest of Butig closely guarded by Tausug fighters.

Fortes urged the public in the nearby cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro to be more vigilant and inform the authorities of the presence of any suspicious personalities in their areas.

COCPO holds simulation exercise against terrorist attacks

From the Philippine Information Agency (Mar 7): COCPO holds simulation exercise against terrorist attacks

In line with the different incidents happened in Northern Mindanao such as the terroristic attacks of the New People’s Army (NPA) and the threat of Maute Group, the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office (COCPO) is set to conduct a simulation exercise in relation to any terroristic attacks on March 8, 2017, at 10:00 a.m.

With the City Government, 4th Infantry Division, Philippine Army and other concerned agencies, which has a vital role in addressing this scenario, the activity aims to prepare the personnel of COCPO to any eventualities that will happen in its area.

The activity will be held at barangay Lumbia but the exact is withheld to let the responding personnel experience the real scenario and the nearest to reality police and government response will be exhausted to identify later the necessary additional preparation, logistical needs and the manpower capability needed to ensure that COCPO and other concerned agency can handle similar incident well.

Police Regional Office Region 10 Deputy Regional Director for Operation and COCPO officer in charge PSSupt Gerardo M Rosales said that COCPO is aware of what is happening around its adjacent area perpetrated by the NPA, that is why we need to prepare the best that we can so that we have a better idea how to handle the situation rather than waiting the situation before we will react.

He assured also the people that even COCPO is preparing for this situation, COCPO still conducting intensive intelligence monitoring and police operations to deter any plans of terroristic attacks.

PSSupt Rosales further said that this is only a simulation exercise and nothing to be alarmed if they can see and hear any emergency response heading towards Lumbia area.

He also asked the public that in case when there is a group of people will take advantage of this scenario like doing something the same other than in Lumbia area, they may report it to the nearest police station as soon as possible as it would no longer be part of the scenario.


Govt execs share PDu30’s view on war with Reds

From the Philippine Information Agency (Mar 8): Govt execs share PDu30’s view on war with Reds

Government career executives have expressed that they share the same sentiments as President Rodrigo Duterte when it comes to a war with the communist rebels.

Career executive service officers, career executive service eligibles (CESEs), and career service Executive Eligibles (CSEEs)--who attended the recently concluded inaugural session of the 2017 CES Leadership Conclave series organized by the Career Executive Service Board (CESB) share the President’s point of view when he said over the weekend, “If we Filipinos fight against fellow Filipinos, nobody wins. The nation, the Philippines loses. I do not want war. It’s a waste of money. Instead of bullets I can buy machines and give it to help others.”

According to the tabulation of responses to the questions posed by Yes for Peace-Bayanihan ng Bayan, prepared by Paul de Leon of the Professional Development Division of the CESB, 97.72% agreed to the permanent cessation of hostilities between government forces and armed groups so that resources spent on the internal armed conflicts may be channelled to education, health, women empowerment, rural development and other social services.

Likewise, 93.18% of the concerned government executives agreed to the conduct of peace talks here in the country instead of abroad to make the peace process transparent and participative and enable the Filipino people as well as legislators to participate in the formulation, approval and implementation of peace agreements.

Moreover, 93.18% agreed to the amendment of constitutional provisions and laws that block and impede the implementation of agreements between the government and the armed revolutionaries.

Notably, 100% of the respondents committed to help, to the best of their respective abilities, ensure the proper implementation of community-based government programs and projects to alleviate poverty and uplift the lives of the poor.

Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael “Paeng” Mariano, a former peasant activist, shared his insights and experiences on strategic convergence initiatives that resulted in focused, cutting-edge and grassroots-based interventions that aim for inclusive and equitable development and the enhanced role of public-private and community partnerships in attaining sustainable growth with 113 government executives--Division Chiefs, Directors, Assistant Secretaries and Undersecretaries--who attended the event.

Aptly themed: “#GoVergence: Cultivating Exemplary Service,” the leadership gathering focused on convergence for governance as a catalyst for sustained positive change. It underscored the need to promote synergism within and beyond the Career Executive Service (CES) Community on the premise that amidst diversity lie opportunities to harness unique individual and organizational talents and resources through partnership, collaboration and cooperation.

Ernesto Angeles Alcanzare, Lead Organizer of Yes for Peace-Bayanihan ng Bayan and himself a CSEE said, “We look forward to the active participation of our CES Community colleagues in facilitating and coordinating the institutionalization of the Bayanihan ng Bayan track of our campaign designed to mobilize people’s participation and informed governance toward the convergent, integrated and holistic delivery system of existing community-based government programs through bottom-up and planning budgeting.”

Earlier, Lawyer Maria Anthonette Velasco-Allones, Executive Director of the Career Executive Service Board (CESB) wrote to Alcanzare and Alidon, “The CESB supports your campaign to help the Philippines achieve lasting peace and prosperity. We sincerely wish that through this, we could instill convergence and solidarity to the Filipino people.”

For his part, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Jesus G. Dureza earlier wrote in a letter to the lead organizer of Yes for Peace that said, “We note with appreciation the peace advocacy efforts of this citizen-led initiative that you are pursuing and congratulate your unwavering efforts to support the peace process.”

Yes for Peace–Bayanihan ng Bayan is an offshoot of the Yes for Peace–Bayanihan para sa Kapayapaan, Kaunlaran at Kasaganahan, a peace education and advocacy campaign collectively albeit silently supported and implemented by the DepEd, the Philippine Postal Corporation, the Philippine Information Agency, the News Agency, the Philippine Broadcasting System, the Radio Television Malacanang, the Boy Scouts of the Philippines, the Girl Scouts of the Philippines and the Alpha Phi Omega.


Kalahi-CIDSS turns over PAMANA, BuB projects in SurSur town

From the Philippine Information Agency (Mar 8): Kalahi-CIDSS turns over PAMANA, BuB projects in SurSur town

The Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) has recently turned over and inaugurated seven PAyapa at MAsaganang PamayaNAn (PAMANA) and two Kalahi-CIDSS Bottom-up Budgeting (BuB) community sub-projects.

It was a big homerun celebration for Bayabas and all Bayabasnons.

Added mix to the highlight of such jubilant moment was the Municipal Orientation for Kalahi-CIDDS National Community Driven Development Program (NCDDP) with which they have finalized the engagement with the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement that same day at Solomon P. Lozada National High School Covered Court, Brgy. Amag, Bayabas, Surigao del Sur.

Inaugurated were one unit – two classroom building and drainage canal situated at Brgy. Amag, drainage canal in Brgy. Balete (Pob.), single barred box culvert in Brgy. Cabugo, 22 units electric powered street lights situated in Brgy. Cagbaoto, drainage canals in Brgy. La Paz and Brgy. Panaosawon and found in Brgy. Magobawok (Pob.), a gravity driven water system.

Municipal Mayor Maria Clarita Limbaro, Sanguniang Bayan Chief and members, heads of offices, Barangay Captains and their Barangay Councils, Kalahi-CIDDS Bayabas Area Coordinating team and the community volunteers ecstatically participated the big event as it progressively unfolded the entire day.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Caraga was represented by Engr. Vinnes V. Lastimado from the Kalahi-CIDSS Regional Program Management Office (RPMO) and Sub-regional Program Management Coordinator Juvy Echevaria. Both discussed to the eager Bayabasnons the Kalahi-CIDDS initiative, its procedural operation, the role of the community and the impact of volunteerism to the success and completion of the sub-projects.

Also serving as a heartfelt take away from the momentous event was the message of Mayor Limbaro inspiring those who were present during the event.

“Kita nga taga-Bayabas walay bahandi nga ikapanghinambog pag-abot sa materyal ug pinansyal nga aspeto. Apan mapagarbuhon ako muingon nga ang bahandi sa taga-Bayabas ang pagtinabangay para sa ato pag-uswag. Ang mahimo sa atong mga kamot ug kusog para sa kaayuhan sa tanan dili ikabaylo sa unsa pang lain bahandi, (The Bayabasnon wealth is not measured in terms of material and financial aspects. We are not wealthy at all. But with great pride I shall say that the wealth of Bayasbas is the helpful and selfless nature of our people. What our hands and force can do for the betterment of the entire community cannot be traded for anything else),” she said.

Engr. Lastimado also gave praise to the communities of Bayabas. "The enthusiasm and fervour of Bayabas was very evident that even OIC-RD Mita Chuchi Lim took notice and was captivated. From Makamasang Tugon (earlier Kalahi-CIDDS initiative) to the most recently turned over and inaugurated projects through PAMANA and BuB, the people of Bayabas never failed to deliver their share of every bargain,” he said.

Truly, nothing could ever go wrong with genuine practice of Maagap at Mapagkalingang Serbisyo, which the DSWD takes pride as its brand of service. This mantra, hopefully, would be imparted to all partner-stakeholders, improving the kind of service to the poor and marginalized, making it possible for the agency to effectively address the needs of the people through its programs and services.


NPA members in Negros Oriental urged to surrender, avail of P300,000 cash aid

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 8): NPA members in Negros Oriental urged to surrender, avail of P300,000 cash aid

Members of the insurgent group, the New People’s Army (NPA) in Negros Oriental, are encouraged to lay down their arms and surrender to authorities and avail of a P300,000 cash assistance offered by Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon.

Lt. Col. Roderick Garcia, commander of the 79th “Masaligan” Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army based in Tanjay City, Negros Oriental, explained Wednesday that the offer of Gov. Marañon is not only limited to NPA members in Negros Occidental.

Both provinces belong to the Negros Island Region (NIR), and so, therefore, to attain lasting peace, all NPA members in the island are covered by Marañon’s offer, said Garcia.

Gov. Marañon had earlier announced his offer to all active members of the NPA in NIR of a maximum of P300,000 per rebel who will surrender to government with a high-powered firearm.

Those without a firearm will receive cash assistance of up to P100,000.

Lt. Col. Garcia pointed out that the Negros Occidental governor’s offer is on top of the P65,000 aid that government, through its Comprehensive Livelihood Integration Program (CLIP), is giving per rebel who will surrender to authorities.

The CLIP is being implemented through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Those who will surrender will undergo a process prior to being listed as a beneficiary to the program, as well as to the offer of Gov. Marañon, said Garcia.

According to the 79th IB commander, there are more or less 50 NPA rebels still reported in Negros Oriental to date.

They are mostly sighted in the first district of the province, particularly in Guihulngan City, Canlaon City, Tayasan and Ayungon.

However, many of them are mobile as they cross boundaries to the other side of the island, the Army commander said.

Lt. Col. Garcia is hoping that the NPA rebels will take the offer of Gov. Marañon while there are no peace talks at the local and/or national level.

Once a peace agreement is reached, the offer will no longer stand, Garcia said, because there will be certain arrangements all packaged as part of the agreement, such as livelihood, housing and others similar to those offered to the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade.

Following the failure of the peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the NPA at the national level, officials in Negros Island have announced considering holding local peace talks.

NPA members wishing to surrender may send feelers to authorities, especially the Philippine Army, so their papers can be processed, said Lt. Col. Garcia.

Garcia assures them of their security and safety as they return to the folds of the law and be integrated into mainstream society.


4 police officers killed, 1 hurt in ambush in Davao del Sur town

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 8): 4 police officers killed, 1 hurt in ambush in Davao del Sur town

Some four policemen were killed and another wounded in an ambush by still unidentified armed men in Barangay Sibayan, Bansalan, Davao del Sur around 7:40 a.m. on Wednesday.

Police Regional Office X1 Chief Supt. Manuel Gaerlan said names of the victims have been withheld until families of the victims are informed of the incident.

Police said the team left Digos police station for Sibayan at around 6:30 a.m. on board a patrol car to respond to a report from Barangay Captain Eddie Dicdican about a murder case.

The route was initially cleared, prompting the police team to proceed to the area.

Based on the report, a member of the SOCO team managed to call by phone while firing was going on.

The ambush happened about a hundred meters from the scene of the murder.

As of this posting, the police are still conducting investigation of the incident.


Gov’t troops capture NPA rebel in Quezon

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 8): Gov’t troops capture NPA rebel in Quezon

In pursuit of their intensified military offensives, government troopers captured a New People’s Army (NPA) rebel and recovered M 16 rifles firearms during a follow-up operation Tuesday in San Andres, Quezon.

2ID Public Affairs Chief 1Lt. Xy-zon M. Meneses reported Wednesday the intensified operations were carried out by the 2nd Jungle Fighter Company of the 85th Infantry Battalion of the 201st Brigade under the Philippine Army’s 2nd Infantry Division (2ID) based here.

Colonel Lenard Agustin, commander of the 201st Brigade said around seven high- powered firearms consisting of two AK 47, four M16 rifles and M203 were already recovered by the army troopers.

Agustin said the captured NPA rebel will be turned over to the Quezon Police Provincial Office (QPPO) on Wednesday for validation.

The 201st brigade commander further reported that one civilian was wounded during the encounter.

The victim was identified as 22 year-old Jennifer Yuson, resident of Camflora in San Andres, Quezon, who sustained gunshot wound on her left arm and was immediately brought to the Camp Nakar Station Hospital.

Major General Rhoderick Parayno, 2ID commander said the troops are currently conducting reconnaissance operations to check if there were still other firearms, ammunition and explosives left at the encounter site.

Parayno stressed that the military offensives and the capture of the NPA rebel are the results of the 2ID’s continuous operations since the termination of the ceasefire.

He assessed that “the defeat of the enemies shows the NPAs are slowly getting hard up especially now that the communities are reporting their presence.”

1Lt. Meneses also cited 2ID record following the ceasefire termination that the army division here has already neutralized seven NPAs and has recovered 11 high-powered firearms along with various ammunition and explosives.


MILF's Camp Rajamuda receives Php8.3-M dev't projects

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 8): MILF's Camp Rajamuda receives Php8.3-M dev't projects

CAMP RAJAMUDA, North Cotabato -- The Mindanao Trust Fund (MTF) has turned over projects worth P8.3 million here, boosting the implementation of the peace agreement between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Some 7,000 residents in this sprawling camp that covers five villages are expected to benefit from the projects.

“This is a sign that the GPH–MILF peace gains are at hand and moving forward," 64-year-old Commander Jack Abbas, head of MILF Front Eastern Mindanao, said.

The MTF, established in 2005 with the European Union (EU) and World Bank (WB) as partners, among others, consolidates international development assistance for the socio-economic recovery of conflict-affected communities in Mindanao.

Since its inception, the MTF has completed a total of 577 projects across Mindanao.

On Tuesday afternoon, government and MILF representatives witnessed the opening of the Php5.5 million suspension bridge in Barangay Rajamuda here, a stronghold of the MILF.

The 84–meter bridge traverses Pulangi River, which connects Rajamuda in Pikit, North Cotabato province to Datu Montawal town in Maguindanao on the other side.

Also, two warehouses with solar dryers worth Php2.8 million were also turned over.

“The projects form part of the MTF’s effort to help in the confidence-building thrusts of the GPH–MILF peace (Agreement) implementation by transforming MILF camps into peaceful and productive communities,” Matthew Stephens, WB task team leader, said.

Seventy–five percent of the MTF fund, or some Php1.8 billion, comes from EU partners.

Irene Santiago, GPH peace panel chair for the Bangsamoro, envisions the joint efforts to transform MILF camps into productive communities as a mechanism for the swift crafting of the new Bangsamoro Basic Law that would be submitted by the expanded Bangsamoro Transition Commission before Congress by June this year.

Santiago led government peace mediators during the turnover of socio-economic projects here.


Notorious Zamboanga Del Sur KFR leader killed in encounter

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 8): Notorious Zamboanga Del Sur KFR leader killed in encounter

Police and military units shot and killed a notorious kidnap-for-ransom (KFR) syndicate head during operations in Zamboanga Del Sur on Monday morning.

Belated reports by Western Mindanao Command (WMC) spokesperson Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay said the incident took place 10:50 a.m. in Barangay Pampang, Lapuyan, of the said province.

She identified the slain kidnapping syndicate leader Fahad Andi, head of the Andi KFR Group, which is also notorious for drug pushing, trafficking, and kidnap-for-ransom activities in Dinas, Lapuyan, Margosatubig and other neighboring municipalities in Zamboanga Del Sur.

Andi is also listed as the Top 2 "High Value Target" and Number 1 most wanted person in the regional level.

His group is also involved in the series of kidnappings, gun for hire, and extortion activities in Baganian Peninsula.

Andi was killed in a 30-minute shootout with Task Force ZAMPELAN (Zamboanga Peninsula) and local police.

Witnesses reported seeing the suspect hit by gunfire and afterwards falling into the wharf area of Barangay Pampang.

Government forces recovered a .45 caliber pistol; a magazine with two live ammunition; a PRB 423 fragmentation grenade; a scooper; a black bandolier back pack and lighter; a PNP camouflage green uniform with the PRO-ARMM logo; and a camouflage sling bag.

Troops are still searching for the body of the slain suspect, Petinglay said.


Authorities kill 2 Maute-linked drug suspects in Lanao del Sur

From GMA News (Mar 7): Authorities kill 2 Maute-linked drug suspects in Lanao del Sur

Two drug suspects with alleged links to terrorists Maute group were killed in a joint police and military predawn drug raid in Maguing, Lanao del Sur on Tuesday.

Authorities identified the slain suspects as Cairodin and Pango Anto, residents of Barangay Bato-Bato, Maguing town.

Police said that a composite team of members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the Philippine Army's 103rd Brigade killed the two suspects during the implementation of search warrants.

Aside from Cairodin, the local court also issued search warrants against two other suspects identified as Baulo Anto and Sultan Abdullah Pundogar, of Barngay Malingon.

Police said that Cairodin, Baulo and Pundogar were trading drugs for the Maute group, allegedly affiliated with the ISIS terror group.

Authorities said that the suspects fired at the raiding teams which resulted in a firefight.

Two Army members were wounded in the encounter.

It was not yet clear if Baulo Anto and Pundogar were arrested during the raid.

Police said they seized an M16 rifle, pieces of magazine assembly for M14 rifle, two rifle grenades, several ammunitions and four sachets of suspected shabu.


BTC gets to work, holds 1st meeting to draft Bangsamoro law

From Rappler (Mar 6): BTC gets to work, holds 1st meeting to draft Bangsamoro law

MILF leaders sit down with rival group MNLF and other Mindanao stakeholders to begin work on drafting a revised Bangsamoro Basic Law

FIRST PLENARY SESSION. The Bangsamoro Transition Council is expected to submit a new draft of the Bangsamoro Law in July. Photo from BTC Facebook page

FIRST PLENARY SESSION. The Bangsamoro Transition Council is expected to submit a new draft of the Bangsamoro Law in July. Photo from BTC Facebook page

 The Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) gathered in Cotabato on Monday, March 6, to hold its first plenary session to begin work on drafting a revised Bangsamoro law that President Rodrigo Duterte promised he will get Congress to pass.

Leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which signed a peace deal with the previous Aquino administration, sat down with members of rival group Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and other Mindanao stakeholders nominated by the government.

MILF vice chairman and BTC chief Ghazali Jaafar underscored the challenge ahead of them.

The MILF had insisted on pushing for the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that the previous 16th Congress failed to pass in the aftermath of the bloody Mamasapano tragedy in 2015. But Duterte said the BBL has to be revised to be more "exclusive" amid protests from groups like the MNLF.

"We are all aware of the great responsibility that we carry from this day onward. Our collective mandate to draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law or BBL is by itself already a heavy task. Making it more inclusive, even as it was inclusive already in terms of process and content, puts an added pressure on our part. But with gladness and sincerity, we would do it," Jaafar said in his opening statement.

Jaafar is confident they will be able to navigate through the obstacles. "We are morally bound to see through it that what would eventually be passed by Congress of the Philippines is a BBL that is faithful and compliant to all signed agreements," Jaafar said.

"We carry the trust of our people. As Muslims, we believe that our work in the BTC is also an amanah, something entrusted to us by Allah SWT. We cannot afford to fail in either respect, especially before our Creator by whose power any and everything happens or not," Jaafar added.


Leftist rebels disown murder of doctor to the barrios

From ABS-CBN (Mar 6): Leftist rebels disown murder of doctor to the barrios

Health workers bring Dr. Dreyfuss Perlas onboard an ambulance after he was shot by an unidentified assailant. Photo courtesy of Bayan Patroller/file

The alleged "gun for hire" slain Saturday in Kapatagan, Lanao del Norte was a cadre of a splinter leftist group with no connection to the March 1 murder of doctor-to-the-barrios Dreyfuss Perlas, according to a spokesman of the Revolutionary People's Army (RPA) and the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa-Mindanao (RPMM).

Harold Fernandez, speaking for the RPA/RPMM's National Operational Command, told ABS-CBN News that Agapito Tamparong was unarmed when a composite team of soldiers and cops shot him dead.

“Tamparong has never been a gun for hire; he has never been involved in unrevolutionary activities,” Fernandez said in an interview conducted online following the release of the group’s statement on the Saturday killing.

“He could not have also been the suspect in Dr. Perlas’ killing because on the day he was killed, Ka Ruben (Tamparong’s nom de guerre) had just been released from the hospital for an ailment,” he added.

READ: Barrio doctor shot dead in Lanao del Norte

The RPA/RPMM broke away from the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in the late 1980s when ideological differences rocked Asia’s longest running insurgency. The group is composed of members of the CPP’s central Mindanao unit, which also covers the island’s northwestern provinces.

It took the name Revolutionary People’s Army after falling out with the Revolutionary Proletarian Army, which is largely based in Negros Island, with some members also operating in Luzon.

Fernandez said Tamparong had just dropped by friends before proceeding to his area of operation.

He acknowledged that the unarmed Tamparong – given two other different aliases by authorities – had tried to “evade” arresting officers out to serve warrants for double murder and frustrated murder.

“They did not have to kill him,” Fernandez stressed. “We are investigating the incident as we have been investigating the murder of Dr. Perlas, who is considered a hero in Lanao del Norte. We want to know whether their lies are meant to cover-up the extra-judicial killing of Ka Ruben or to cover-up the real identity of the killers, or to ease the pressure of public clamor for justice."

Motive unclear

Previous to the Saturday slay, there had been no word about the identities of suspects in the killing of Perlas, the municipal health officer of Sapad town.

The doctor, citing the need for more doctors to minister for Lanao del Norte’s rural poor, had opted to stay on after finishing the pay-back required of government medical scholars.

Some reports, angry at the spread of the term EJK in relation to Perlas’ death, claimed the murder stemmed from an argument with a patient whose request for hospitalization was turned down.

A statement by alumni of the Pi Omicron Fraternity, which Perlas had joined as a student in the University of the Philippines Los Banos campus, slammed the use of EJK in Perlas’ death.

“We condemn those who have put his death into political play, unjustly pigeonholing it in the ignoble company of the many illegal drug pushers and addicts slain as of late! To imply that his death was state-sponsored is ridiculous and low,” said a statement signed by Bertrand Somera, president of the Pi Omicron International Alumni Association.

While EJK has been used to describe thousands of killings of suspected drug addicts and street-level pushers under President Rodrigo Duterte’s government, its traditional use also includes the killings of activists and other persons who have run afoul of state authorities or politicians and other groups that often use government security forces.

Fernandez told ABS-CBN News that Tamparong’s duties were in towns some distance away from Perlas’ sphere of duty.

“Malayo po ang hospital ni Doc Drey. Sa ibang ospital pumunta si Ka Ruben,” he added. (Ka Ruben went to a different hospital, far away from Doc Drey’s place.)

The RPA/RPMM accused members of the Bravo Company of the 15th Infantry Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division as those behind Tamparong’s killing.

The team was reportedly headed by 1Lt. Marlouie S. Dicen, 2ndLt Fernando Oliveros Jr. under the command of Lt. Col. Audie A. Mongao of the 15th IB 3rd ID battalion unit. The group said “scores” of cops from Kapatagan were also involved in the Barangay Tiacongan incident.

“Ka Ruben was an active member of the RPA and a cadre who was serious about defending the poor against oppressive forces, including those involved in drugs,” Fernandez said. However, he said the group did not support the methods used in the government’s “Operation Tokhang.”

Sun.Star daily in Cagayan de Oro quoted Dicen as saying the slain man was also a suspect in a series of shooting incidents in the town and in nearby municipalities of the province.He said an informant had tipped them off to Tamparong’s presence.

"When the troops were approaching the area, the suspect noticed and suddenly ran which resulted to a pursuit operation, until he was cornered beside the rice field at Purok 8, Barangay Bagong Silang, Kapatagan,” according to the after-action report quoted by Sun.Star.

One of Tamparong’s companions managed to escape, the report said, while four others were released because they were not armed.

While the AFP and the PNP tagged Tamparong as a suspect in Perlas’ slay, they did not explain how he was identified or who “hired” him to kill the doctor.

Fernandez said Tamparong “made a quick decision to evade the state forces being unarmed himself… He was alone and only armed with a cellular phone because he was in the place to visit a family friend and the masses.”

The RPA-RPMM spokesman added: “Given the number of the armed operatives at the scene, the intention was really to eliminate Comrade Ruben. It was murder as can be seen by the number of bullets… It was crystal clear and very revealing that the said operation was mainly a military operation rather than a police one. That is if warrant of his arrest was supposed to be served at him.”

He said there are many unsolved cases and rampant illegal activities in Lanao del Norte, including Kapatagan.

"Either they are covering up something or made our comrade the convenient 'face' from the criminality they have ignored or failed to curb," Fernandez added.

Tamparong had a wife but no children, according to Fernandez.


Abu Sayyaf death toll reaches 9

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Mar 7): Abu Sayyaf death toll reaches 9

Army exec says gov't now in control of group's stronghold 
At least five more members of the Abu Sayyaf Group, including one of its leaders, were killed by government troops in a clash in Maimbung town in Sulu province on Sunday, bringing to 9 the total number of slain bandits that day, a military official said.

Col. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of Joint Task Force (JTF) Sulu, on Monday said that among those killed was Jaber Susukan, a brother of Kumander Idang and one of the trusted commanders of Abu Sayyaf leader Radulan Sahiron.

Sobejana said soldiers failed to retrieve Susukan’s body although they were able to confirm his death. Military reports also indicated that Idang was wounded in the clash, where government troops engaged at least 70 bandits.Initial reports on Sunday showed that four Abu Sayyaf bandits were killed in Maimbung as soldiers were patrolling Barangay Ipil.

The latest deaths brought to 23 the number of bandits killed since clashes started last month.

Sobejana said soldiers recovered five firearms from the clash site.

“Firefight is still imminent, on and off, but we have encircled their lair,” he said.

“Simultaneously, we are occupying spaces to reduce the [bandits’] maneuver space. We are now [in control of] their strongholds. They are outside their comfort zone,” Sobejana added.

Sulu-based university professor Octavio Dinampo, citing information he received from the Philippine Army, said 15 bandits were wounded in the firefight.Dinampo, who was kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf in 2008, said reports reaching him showed the bandits fled toward Barangay Mabahay in Talipao town.

Fmr. AFP Chief Visaya appointed new NIA Administrator

From The Standard (Mar 7): Fmr. AFP Chief Visaya appointed new NIA Administrator

Retired Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Ricardo Visaya is now the new administrator of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA).

Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol says, President Rodrigo Duterte informed him about the appointment on Monday evening.

Visaya replaces Peter Laviña, who resigned amid controversy arising from accusations of involvement in some government contracts.

He is just awaiting his appointment papers from Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.

Visaya retired from the military last December 7, 2016. 


NPA torches truck in Misamis Oriental

From the Sun Star-Cagayan de Oro (Mar 7): NPA torches truck in Misamis Oriental

A BAND of New People's Army (NPA) rebels burned a truck at Sitio Solo, Barangay San Juan, Balingasag town in Misamis Oriental, Monday, March 6, in an apparent effort to divert the military’s attention from an ongoing military operation.

Initial reports put the number of rebels at more or less thirty armed men.

The rebels burned a red Tanker vehicle owned by Andot Madronero, a service provider for Del Monte Philippines Incorporated.

According to the Armed Forces of the Philippines' 58th Infantry Battalion (IB) spokesperson Janelle Diaz, this is a diversionary tactic of the rebel group to lessen the pressure against their comrades in the Kaulayanan Area where the military is conducting massive operations.

 "The action of the NPA only show that they are not for peace; it is against the ideology of the communist that they are pro-poor and protecting the people. They are targeting soft economic targets in order to force the government to return to peace talks negotiation," Diaz said.

Troops from the 58th IB in coordination with the PNP are conducting hot pursuit operations against the NPA rebels.

Australia says no plan for joint South China Sea patrols with Indonesia

From GMA News (Mar 7): Australia says no plan for joint South China Sea patrols with Indonesia

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Tuesday that his country aimed to work more closely with Indonesia over maritime security, but there was no plan for the neighbors to hold joint patrols in the South China Sea.

In an interview with the Australian newspaper last month, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said he would like to see joint patrols and intended to raise the idea with Turnbull, but only if it did not further inflame tensions with China.

"We are not going to undertake any actions which would increase tensions in the South China Sea," said Turnbull, when asked by a reporter whether Indonesia had raised the prospect of conducting joint patrols.

"Our commitment is to increase our cooperation with each other in terms of maritime security. So we talk about more collaboration, more coordination, but it has not been taken any further than that," added Turnbull, who is in Jakarta to attend a summit meeting of the 21-member Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA).

Indonesia's Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs, Luhut Pandjaitan, also said after meeting Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on Monday that he did not envisage joint patrols though there were other areas to cooperate on.

"I don't know whether it necessary for us to do join patrols over there, but for sure, for economic activity, we can do," Pandjaitan said.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion worth of trade passes each year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims to parts of the sea.

Indonesia has traditionally taken a neutral position on the South China Sea, acting as a buffer between China and fellow members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that have the most at stake, the Philippines and Vietnam.

But Jakarta was angered after China said the two countries had "overlapping claims" to waters close to Indonesia's Natuna Islands and staged large-scale exercise on the edge of South China Sea in October.

Australia - which says it takes no sides on South China Sea disputes but has supported US-led freedom of navigation activities in the region - has been rebuilding ties with Indonesia after a recent spat over military.


NDF/Sison: Women Rise and Strike Against Imperialism, Militarism and for Women’s Emancipation

Propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Website (Mar 8): Women Rise and Strike Against Imperialism, Militarism and for Women’s Emancipation  

Statement on International Women’s Day
By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairperson, International League of Peoples’ Struggle
March 8, 2017

We, from the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, rise in solidarity with women all over the world and join them in commemoration of March 8, International Women’s Day.

In 1911, women of the Socialist International declared the First International Toiling Women’s Day to champion women’s democratic rights and fight for reforms against the dire conditions, especially of working women and children. More than a hundred years later, their calls still ring true for the majority of the world’s working class women who must further confront the fiercest imperialist attacks yet on the lives, rights and welfare of the majority of the world’s people.

This year, we commemorate March 8 amidst an important nodal point in the history of the international women’s movement – the dynamic reinvigoration of women’s movements in the West, particularly in the US, as evidenced by the recent Women’s March and in the strong participation of women of color in various protest movements, ranging from issues of women’s rights, gender-based violence, racism, civil rights, defense of ancestral or native lands, anti-fracking and other forms of environmental destruction, austerity, privatization, precarity, militarism and war.

Such reinvigoration no doubt has been driven by the crisis of capitalism that has reached new heights since the financial crisis of 2008, and which has had profound adverse consequences, even for the working classes of the imperialist countries. The crisis is now turning for the worse with the rise of neo-fascism, the unprecedented repression of migrant and other democratic rights, the spreading of xenophobic, hate propaganda and white supremacy under the Trump presidency.

Equally important, we celebrate the continued vibrancy of the movements of oppressed women in neocolonial countries who have unyieldingly struggled and opposed imperialism, militarism and political repression. Their long histories of militant struggle have now become beacons in the global struggle of women for emancipation against all forms of exploitation and oppression. By refusing to accept the token reforms that imperialist countries and their client states have peddled with the intention of luring women away from the path of militant struggle, the women’s movements have gained wisdom and strength from upholding the rights and interests of majority of the world’s women – the working class women who have been the most affected by the anti-democratic, anti-national and anti-women policies of the imperialists and their client states.

Imperialism has caused the immeasurable suffering of women. The ever increasing concentration of wealth in the hands of a few present no possibilities for women’s emancipation under this system. Gains made by the women’s liberation movements of the 70’s and 80’s have been so easily eroded by the reign of neoliberal policies. Instead of improving their social and economic conditions, women, like their male counterparts, are more than ever confronted with joblessness, homelessness, cutbacks in social welfare measures and other such manifestations of the global social and economic crisis.

The situation is much worse for millions of women in neo-colonies as excruciating poverty and deprivations mark their lives as consequences of economic policies oriented to benefit big foreign and local exploiters.

While they suffer along with their male counterparts, working class women have had to bear the brunt of economic dislocation due to their traditional role in caring for their families and community resources. Big mining companies, agribusiness corporations and land conversions for foreign industrial and commercial use have caused the massive displacement of rural communities and have disrupted or destroyed local agro-ecological systems that ensure food security. Driven away from their traditional communities and resources, women peasants have to find work, entailing both money and time for travel and unregulated work hours to earn for their family’s basic needs. Worse, many more women are driven to work in cities or in foreign countries, subjected to low-paying, unregulated work that leaves them vulnerable to abuse, discrimination, violence, prostitution and/or human trafficking.

At the core of the neoliberal attack on the working class is the ruthless drive to push down wages. With the introduction of so-called flexible pay schemes in many countries, neoliberalism has, in fact, stripped workers, especially new entrants to the labor force, a significant percent of whom are women, of their fundamental right to a living wage. Neoliberalism, instead of spreading prosperity with the so-called mobility of capital, has in fact degraded workers’ conditions, reducing them to modern-day slaves.

Militarism is on the rise as inter-imperialist conflicts intensify – fueled by the global capitalist crisis and as the imperialists jockey for resources and nations to exploit and plunder. US imperialism today stands as the principal purveyor of war and militarism, spending ever increasing amounts to feed its military industrial complex, in a futile effort to wriggle out of interminable crisis. It has unleashed wars of aggression and military and political intervention under the slogan of the global war on terror; trained and armed surrogate armies and paramilitary groups to foment destabilization in countries where it has vast economic interests or resist US domination. Elites both in capitalist homegrounds and in client states resort to violence, coercion, suppression and deception in order to crush political dissent and resistance.

Along with the rise of militarism is increased violence against women and children as they become victims of human rights violations, including sexual abuse by military and paramilitary groups. States do not only sanction profiteers to exploit women as objects for the entertainment and sexual pleasure of military troops but also use rape as a means of subjugation and conquest. Militarism foments misogyny, male chauvinism and the subjugation and gross sexual objectification of women.

The magnitude of the people’s sufferings have generated a spate of protests and resistance, both armed and unarmed, to imperialist policies in many parts of the globe. Women play an important role in this resistance, with many taking to the forefront of local and national struggles against anti-democratic and pro-imperialist policies and programs. They expose and oppose the deceptive schemes that depict women as being passive, and token reforms meant to veer women’s movements away from militant and committed resistance to imperialist rule. Women are organizing everywhere, and the clarion call for women’s emancipation has never been stronger.

Struggle for women’s emancipation from patriarchy and all forms of oppression and exploitation!

Down with imperialism, militarism and fascism!

Uphold people’s rights and women’s rights!

Long live international solidarity!


MILF: GSKP MLGU, other stakeholders welcome BDA-CenMin RMO-PDC Quarterly Meeting

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Mar 7): GSKP MLGU, other stakeholders welcome BDA-CenMin RMO-PDC Quarterly Meeting

The Municipal Local Government Unit (MLGU) of General Salipada K. Pendatun (GSKP) and other potential stakeholders welcomed the Bangsamoro Development Agency-Central Mindanao (BDA-CenMin) Regional Management Office-Provincial Development Catalysts (RMO-PDC) Quarterly Meeting held at Barangay Badak, this municipality last February 25-26, 2017.

The BDA-CenMin RMO-PDC Quarterly Meeting serves as regular reporting and updating of 11 Provincial Development Catalysts to RMO of BDA-CenMin on quarterly basis of their accomplishments for the past 3 months, while discussion of agenda and other issues and concerns are among the main part of the meeting.
In an interview by BDA-CenMin Communication Group (ComGroup) with Sheikh Abdulrahim Abdullah, BDA Municipal Development Catalyst of GSKP, he said that the Municipal Local Government Unit of GSKP expressed in advance its appreciation and warm welcome to the BDA-CenMin RMO-PDC Quarterly Meeting being held in the municipality.

Mr. Abdulllah further said that that Sajid Khan P. Pendatun, Municipal Mayor of GSKP informed him in advance that he could not attend the meeting due to other very important commitment but a representative will be sent on his behalf.

Mamatanto Abdullatip, GSKP Municipal Mayor’s representative in his message said that the municipal mayor is so pleased for making this municipality as the venue for the BDA-CenMin RMO-PDC Quarterly Meeting.

The meeting was attended by the 108th Base Commander and some members of Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) and the GSK- MILF Municipal Political Committee Chairman and his group. 

Some highlights of the messages delivered during the meeting was the need to strongly support the Peace Process between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the MILF; to continue the strengthening of the Bangsamoro people by all means along with their struggle in the most peaceful and civilized ways in order to regain their right to self-determination.

They also highlighted the strongest need to appropriately solve the Bangsamoro Problem because according to them, this is the ultimate way that the centuries-old Bangsamoro conflict considered the longest war in the world; war against injustices will be settled and shall finally ended; and that lasting peace and holistic development in Mindanao and Philippines, in general, will be realized and sustainably implemented. 

They also expressed their appreciation and strong support to the BDA-CenMIn for its efforts in implementing its mandates pursuant to the GRP-MILF Peace Agreement of 22 June 2001, such as: to determine, lead and manage, relief and development in Conflict-Affected Areas in Mindanao (CAAM).

Sheikh Abdulrasheed B. Ambil, BDA-CenMin Regional Manager in his message, expressed his thanks and gratitude for the warm welcome afforded to the BDA-CenMin RMO-PDC ; and for their strong support along with the Agency’s operation in this region in line with its mandates.

He also assured that with strong support of concerned stakeholders, communities, local, national and international organizations, the BDA-CenMin, along with its mandates, will continue to facilitate development interventions in its area of responsibility.

Moreover, along with the Agency’s mandates, we commit ourselves to exert our utmost efforts to make BDA-CenMin as the agent of change in our area of responsibility through development interventions, Regional manager Ambil concluded.


MILF: Minister Ueno of Japanese Embassy visits MILF Leadership

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Mar 7): Minister Ueno of Japanese Embassy visits MILF Leadership

Minister Atsushi Ueno of Japanese Embassy in Manila accompanied by IMT Member Hiroyuki Kawamoto paid visit to MILF Leadership, Monday (March 6) at Moro Front’s Administrative Camp in Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.

Chairman Alhaj Murad Ebrahim and members of the MILF Central Committee gladly welcomed the two visitors.

The purpose of the visit was to reiterate Japan’s commitment in the continuing support for the peace process through their IMT contingents’ stay for renewal and to carry through with socio-economic programs that they have engaged in the Bangsamoro.

Their participation in the IMT contingent coupled with providing socio-economic programs for the Bangsamoro manifests their strong and continuing support in all aspect of the Mindanao peace process.

The Japanese dignitary was also enthusiastic to know the development and status of the peace process, hence Chairman Ebrahim gave him updates extensively.

“There may be some opportunities seen in the on-going peace process, but we are also facing some challenges. Upon all those mentioned concerns and issues, the MILF remains hopeful that real peace with justice will be achieved”, Chairman Ebrahim said.

Minister Ueno was too appreciative for the cordial reception and very informative meeting, while the MILF leadership was pleased to know that all along, the Japanese government is keenly interested on the current state of the peace process.


MNLF IO: 49TH MNLF Declaration of the Bangsamoro Freedom Day

Posted to the Moro National Liberation Front International Office Facebook Page  (Mar 7): 49TH MNLF Declaration of the Bangsamoro Freedom Day

To celebrate March 18, 2017 in deference to the 49th Birth Anniversary of the MNLF and Declaration of the Bangsamoro Freedom Day is imperative for all Moros, Muslim or non-Muslim, civilians, or government officials, employees and workers, PNP and AFP, the MNLF's adherents and supporters living in MINSUPALA and in any corners of the world.

To participate in commemorating this splendid, memorable and remarkable DAY in the history of the BANGSAMORO JIHAD FIY SABILILLAH is indeed reasserting and manifesting, time and again, our true CONCERN, CARE and LOVE of peace, freedom and liberty for our Nation.
So, in the spirit of peace and goodwill, we are urging all Bangsamoros to join us in celebrating the upcoming 49th Birth Anniversary of the MNLF and Declaration of the Bangsamoro Freedom Day.

To do it is legal and constitutional as embodied in the "Muslim Mindanao Act (MMA)" No. 67 Declaring March 18 every year as Bangsamoro Day and Special Non-working Holiday in the ARMM."

 Ustadz Murshi D. Ibrahim, Astana', Dragon Mt/7 March 2017.

SG Ustadz Murshi Ibrahim

Ha mga mabayah tumuku sin pakaradjaan ini you can PM Utoh Makin Abduhajan for more details


DWDD: PNP activates drug enforcement group; double barrel reloaded, tokhang revisited

Posted to DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Mar 6): PNP activates drug enforcement group; double barrel reloaded, tokhang revisited

The Philippine National Police is resuming anti-illegal drugs operations in support to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), after a brief suspension since January as an offshoot of a tragic incident involving some anti-narcotics operatives.

“The war on drugs is on, and this time it is going to be more extensive, aggressive and well-coordinated, with built-in systems that guarantee full accountability and instill internal discipline among all personnel,” said PNP Chief Police Director General Ronald “Bato” M Dela Rosa.

With the concurrence of the PNP Command Group and Quad-Staff, and after careful evaluation of the prevailing drug situation in the different regions since the suspension of all police anti-drug operations, the Chief PNP have approved the recommendation of the Director for Operations, Police Director Camilo Pancratius Cascolan, to reorganize the defunct PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG) into the PNP Drug Enforcement Group (DEG), a national operational support unit with the mission and function to be the lead unit in police anti-drug operations.

The PNP DEG will be headed by Acting Director, PSSupt Graciano Mijares while all other positions in the PNP DEG are vacant and on the process of a rigid screening and complete background investigation to select only the best and most qualified to man the new unit only with personnel of unsullied service reputation, unblemished record, and a character beyond suspicion as a minimum requirement.

The organization of the PNP DEG derives mandate from NAPOLCOM Resolution No. 2015-547 passed on October 30, 2015, creating the PNP AIDG, which remains in effect to this date sans the passage of an NAPOLCOM resolution for its official deactivation.

Subsequently, 18 Regional Drug Enforcement Units (RDEU) and five (5) District Drug Enforcement Units (DDEU) in the NCR police districts shall be created while Drug Enforcement Teams (DET) will be organized in the provincial, city and municipal police offices and stations.

The PNP DEG will have a built-in Counter-Intelligence Section embedded in its intelligence division to provide a fully-functional internal disciplinary mechanism against possible irregularities, lapses, and abuses.

It shall have its own Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) and K-9 Units for tactical support including provisions for the creation of additional operating units and upgrading of personnel strength.

“According to our assessment of the drug situation as validated by PDEA’s own estimates, there has been a hike in drug activities during the period when we suspended our anti-drug operations, particularly against, street and middle-level drug traffickers, and high-value targets.” PDG Dela Rosa said.

“Until today, we continue to receive reports of the resurgence of drug activities even in some areas that had been previously “cleared” It only goes to show that we cannot afford to lower our guard when confronting a vicious enemy. There must be continuity of effort if the desire is to completely eradicate the problem.” PDG Dela Rosa added.

The PNP leadership said that the organization must sustain the momentum of the initial success that has posted against the drug problem over the entire 2nd half of 2016 and strive to take more drugs off the streets.

“We cannot turn our back in this fight because the future of succeeding generations depends on how well we fight the war on drugs today,” said PDG Dela Rosa.

According to the Chief PNP, aside from authorized PNP personnel and Barangay officials, all “Tokhang” operations should be well-coordinated with the local church to serve as a representative on behalf of the religious sector. (PNP-PIO)


DWDD: 4 ASG slain in continuous military operations in Sulu

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Mar 6): 4 ASG slain in continuous military operations in Sulu

Four Abu Sayyaf Group members were killed by the government troops in an intensified military operation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Sulu. This is in relation to the beheading incident of Juergen Kantner, the German hostage of the Abu Sayyaf Group.

The 64th Marine Company, Marine Special Operations Group were immediately deployed after receiving a report about the presence of bandits in the area, said Col. Cirilito Sobejana, head of the Joint Task Force Sulu.

According to Western Mindanao Command (WesMinCom), the Marines were conducting military operations in the town of Maimbung when they encountered the rebel group.

Major General Carlito Galvez Jr. Commander of WestMinCom also praised the success of the operation because of the alertness of the military troops with the help of their informants.

On the other hand, according to the interview of DWDD with Brigadier General Restituto Padilla, spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the successful result of the encounter is a good score for the Philippine Marine troops.

He also added that pursuit operation and clearing of the area were continuous on Sunday and the reports of the outcome of the follow-up operations are still expected. –CAT


Rebel forces in Sorsogon dwindling, says Army commander

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 7): Rebel forces in Sorsogon dwindling, says Army commander

A top ranking military official in the province said less than 10 percent of the 542 villages in Sorsogon province can be considered as under the influence of the New People’s Army (NPA).

Col. Fernando Trinidad, commanding officer of the Philippine Army’s 903rd Infantry Brigade based in Castilla, Sorsogon, said the communist rebel forces in the province continue to dwindle, giving warrant to the recent declaration of Sorsogon as a “conflict-manageable and development-ready” area.

He expressed confidence they have reduced the rebel forces to an insignificant level such that development programs and projects in the province could now be carried out with lesser apprehension from harassment by the NPA.

Trinidad, in an interview Tuesday, said the encounters between Army troopers and NPA cadres immediately after the peace talks bogged down between the government and the National Democratic Front early in February did not have any impact on the declaration.

He said police reports showed that the clashes between the two sides had occurred in the towns of Casiguran, Gubat and Casiguran, which were prior to the Army’s classification of the province as a “conflict-manageable” area.

Trinidad said Sorsogon can now fully pursue its programs and projects so that the people could enjoy the fruits of development and progress.

The Army commander estimated that the NPA has only about 30 regular armed partisans operating in the province who are led by one alias “Ka Magno.”

Trinidad, however, did not discount the possibility of attempts by the NPA to sow terror by launching sporadic armed operations.

“As we all know, this group ‘imports’ forces from other areas to augment their diminishing number so they could impress upon the public that they are still a force to reckon with,” he said.

But despite the declaration of Sorsogon as a “conflict-manageable” area, Trinidad said they will still maintain their presence in the province and their operation would still continue, albeit in a supporting role.

He explained that under the current situation it will now be the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the local government units that will be in the forefront of suppressing the remaining rebel forces.

“The military would still be here but we will no longer be the lead agency,” Trinidad pointed out.

He added they will also play a supporting role in the anti-criminality campaign, especially in the campaign against illegal drugs, which has now been revived by the PNP.

Sorsogon province is the fifth province among the six provinces in the Bicol region to be declared as a “conflict-manageable” area.

Trinidad said he is confident that Masbate, the sixth Bicol province that is also under the area of operation of the 903rd Brigade, would be declared the same within the current semester.

“The task would be easier in the case of Masbate considering its geographical situation, being an island,” he said.

In February, a clash occurred between the NPA and Army troopers in Barangay Pangle, Aroroy, Masbate that resulted in the death of four NPA rebels, two of whom were said to be ranking NPA commanders in Sorsogon.


4 rebels killed, high-powered firearms seized in Quezon clash

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 7): 4 rebels killed, high-powered firearms seized in Quezon clash

As the government intensifies its campaign against the New People's Army (NPA) insurgents, four rebels were reported killed and four high-powered firearms were seized as troops from the 201st Infantry Brigade clashed with the bandits in San Francisco town, Quezon Tuesday afternoon.

The encounter took place 2 p.m. at Sitio Umagos, Barangay Mabunga of the said locality, 2nd Infantry Division public affairs office chief 1st Lt. Xy-zon Meneses said to the PNA in a message.

"Said operation was conducted by the troops of 2nd Jungle Fighter Company under the operational control of 201st Bde, 2nd Division, in response to an information tipped-off by the concerned citizen in the area," he added.

In the ensuing firefight, four of the rebels were killed while no losses were sustained by government troops.

201st Infantry Brigade commander Col. Lenard Agustin said the slain rebels are yet to be identified.

While the recovered high-powered firearms included two AK-47 automatic rifles, one M-16 rifle and another M-16 fitted with an M-203 grenade launcher.

As of this posting, the 2nd Infantry Division has already neutralized six NPAs and recovered eight high-powered firearms along with various ammunition and explosives since the cancellation of the peace talks and its attendant ceasefire last February 4.


PHL Coast Guard commissions 3rd multirole response vessel for sea patrols

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 7): PHL Coast Guard commissions 3rd multirole response vessel for sea patrols

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has commissioned into service BRP Malapascua, its third multirole response vessel (MRRV) from Japan, in a ceremony held at its headquarters in Manila Monday.

The activity was spearheaded by Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade and House of Representatives Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez as guest of honor.

The MMRV is equipped with fire monitors, night vision camera, radio direction finder, a work boat and bulletproof navigational bridge.

“The MRRV will be the primary rescue vessel within the PCG district’s area of responsibility (AOR) when the extent of the disaster is beyond the capability of floating assets deployed within the area; provide assistance in the control of oil pollution and protection of the marine environment; enforcement of all applicable maritime laws within the designated AOR, particularly relating to illegal fishing and sea patrol; service as platform for rapid response during relief operations in the area; and transport of personnel and logistical support,” the PCG said in its statement.

The BRP Malapascua, with assigned bow number 4403, was built by the Japan Marine United (JMU) Corp. in Yokohama, Japan and was named after Lighthouse Malapascua Island in Cebu in recognition of the significance of lighthouses in the country.

The vessel will be under the helm of PCG Commanding Officer Gary Dale Gamotea.

PCG spokesperson, Commander Armand Balilo, has earlier stated that the BRP Malapascua will be deployed in the vicinity of Zamboanga and Sulu to conduct maritime security patrols to deter the increasing piracy attacks in southern Mindanao.

“Our thrust is to address the sea piracy in Sulu, so we would just install four units of .50-caliber machine guns and immediately it would be deployed to the southern Philippines,” Balilo said.

The PCG’s first two multirole vessels, BRP Tubbataha and BRP Malabrigo, were also deployed to Mindanao.

Balilo expects that the .50-caliber guns would be installed on the BRP Malapascua to support the patrol of BRP Malabrigo in the Zamboanga-Jolo route.

The PCG is set to receive seven more MRRVs until next year.

The acquisition of the MRRVs is under the project Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project, which was awarded by the transportation department to the JMU Corp. It is being implemented as an Official Development Assistance (ODA) project, via a tied loan extended by the Japan International Corp. Agency.


SBMS still on go but PA to acquire force protection equipment, sniper rifles first

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 7): SBMS still on go but PA to acquire force protection equipment, sniper rifles first

Acquisition of the country's shore-base missile system (SBMS) is still on go but the Philippine Army (PA) will first prioritize the procurement of additional force protection equipment, sniper rifles and first-aid kits for its troopers.

This was disclosed by PA commander Lt. Gen. Glorioso Miranda in a recent interview.

"(We are looking and evaluating the possible SBMS) design, however in the manner of how we implement it (acquisition), it has to conform, say for example with the requirement of the current operational environment, like now, we are prioritizing (the acquisition) of equipment for the welfare and benefit of our soldiers like force protection equipment, (ballistic) helmets to increase their survivability and we are also investing in training to make them more proficient (in combat)," he said in Filipino.

"The SBMS remains on the list but I don't see that it is necessary for us to procure it in the meantime," Miranda said.

Other needs of the troops being acquired right now are sniper rifles, first-aid kits.

Miranda said the PA would proceed on acquiring its big-time ticket items when the proper time comes.

In 2015, then Armed Forces of the Philippines chief-of-staff Gen. Hernando DCA Iriberri requested the Php 6.5- billion SBMS project to be moved to the AFP Modernization Program Second Horizon as the more pressing needs then was the acquisition of force protection equipment, sniper rifles and radioes.

The SBMS will be acquired to beef up the external defense capabilities of the PA and not aimed at any particular nation.

The SBMS consists of 12 launchers, trailers and tracking systems and missiles that could be fired to neutralize ground and naval targets.

And in its place, force protection equipment, squad designated rifles and modern radios.

The AFP's Modernization Program is divided into three horizons, with the first lasting from 2013 to 2017, the second from 2018 to 2022 and third 2023 to 2028.