Friday, March 10, 2017

Abu Sayyaf bandits abduct public school teacher

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 11): Abu Sayyaf bandits abduct public school teacher

Government troops are tracking down the whereabouts of a public school teacher who was abducted by Abu Sayyaf bandits in the island province of Sulu, a military official said Saturday.

Col. Cirilito Sobejana Jr., Joint Task Force Sulu commander, identified the victim as Ibrahim Potong, a teacher of Jolo National High School.

Sobejana said Potong was driving his motorcycle on the way home to Maimbung town when he was waylaid and taken by the bandits on Friday afternoon.
He said troops have been immediately alerted to locate and rescue the teacher.

He said they are coordinating with the victim’s family “to gather more information about Potong”.

With Potong’s abduction, the number of hostages in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf has increased to 32, including 26 foreigners.

PHL Navy's latest frigate to be deployed for annual exhibit in Malaysia

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Mar 11): PHL Navy's latest frigate to be deployed for annual exhibit in Malaysia

In line with efforts to foster closer defense ties with its Southeast Asian neighbors, the Philippine Navy (PN) will deploy its newly acquired Hamilton-class cutter, the BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF-17), to the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA 2017) in Malaysia.

The event will start on March 21 and end on the 25th, Navy spokesperson Lued Lincuna said in a message to the Philippine News Agency (PNA) Saturday.

In line with this, he said the Navy will have a send-off ceremony for BRP Andres Bonifacio and the 206 naval personnel on board at Pier 13, Manila South Harbor on Tuesday.

Lincuna said Navy flag-officer-in-command Vice Adm. Ronald Joseph Mercado will lead the ceremony.

Aside from participating in LIMA 2017, the Filipino warship and her crew will conduct port visits to Lumut and Port Klang, Malaysia,

LIMA, one of the most influential exhibitions in Asia, is a dedicated maritime and aerospace exhibition for defense, civil and commercial aviation, shipbuilding and ship repair.

The BRP Andres Bonifacio, the third Hamilton-class cutter in the Navy's service, was formally welcomed into the Philippine fleet last December 9.

The ship is armed with a 76-mm. Oto Melara automatic cannon, like her sister ships, BRP Ramon Alcaraz (FF-16) and BRP Gregorio Del Pilar.

The BRP Andres Bonifacio is the former USCGC Boutwell that was retired from US Coast Guard service on March 16 last year and handed to the Philippine Navy a few months later in July 2016.

Hamilton-class cutters have a gross tonnage of 3,250 tons, has a length of 378 ft., a beam of 43 ft., and draft of 15 ft.

Its propulsion systems consist of two diesel engines and two gas turbine engines, giving it a top speed of 29 knots and a crew of 88 officers and enlisted personnel.

The ship has cruising range of 14,000 miles and has a sea and loiter time of 45 days.

DWDD: DND forms Advisory Council for Defense Transformation

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Mar 10): DND forms Advisory Council for Defense Transformation

Camp Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City – To guide and help assess the implementation of various programs under the Philippine Defense Transformation Roadmap (PDTR) 2028, the Department of National Defense (DND) formed the DND Multi-Sector Advisory Council (MSAC).

Nine MSAC members took their oath on 9 March 2017 before senior defense officials, after which they held their organizational meeting. Albay 2nd District Representative Joey Salceda was elected Chairperson of the council.  The other prominent members of the council are former AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Alexander B. Yano, Atty. Alexander L. Lacson of the Institute for Solidarity in Asia, Mr. Antonino T. Aquino, Mr. Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis, Jr. and Ms. Marife B. Zamora from the business sector, Atty. Antonio G.M. La Viña of the Manila Observatory, UP President Atty. Danilo L. Concepcion, and Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman representing the youth.

Cognizant that transformation will not be possible without stakeholders’ involvement and participation, Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana said, “We need partners from various sectors of society to ensure that our strategies are responsive to the needs of our constituents – the Filipino people. While the MSAC is an independent body, we are confident that the esteemed members of the council will advance our transformation agenda in their respective spheres of influence.”
The MSAC members expressed their gratefulness for being part of the Department’s transformation journey. They manifested that the Council will guide and ensure the implementation of the DND’s strategic objectives for Milestone 2022.

The PDTR 2028 is the DND’s strategic and organizational development plan to attain a credible defense posture for national security and stability, peace, and economic development by the year 2028. Its core approaches seek to build total defense force capability, improve civil defense preparedness, develop self-reliant defense posture, and optimize international defense partnerships.

We are very optimistic that with the full support of our DND-MSAC partners, our One Defense Team will be able to achieve its vision of becoming a more credible defense organization that ensures Philippine security, sovereignty and territorial integrity, a reliable partner in national development, and a strategic player in the Asia Pacific Region,” Secretary Lorenzana said.

MILF: New BTC members urged to be united

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Mar 9): New BTC members urged to be united

The members of the expanded Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) were urged to be “united in purpose and direction” as it began its work of drafting the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

On Monday, new BTC Chairman Ghazali Jaafar told the other 20 commissioners that he considers them as “brothers and sisters in a common struggle” even if they may be coming from the sides of the MILF or GPH.

“We all aspire for a system of life and governance suitable and acceptable to us. We are all one in this endeavor,” Jaafar said in his message that formally began the first plenary session of the BTC under the Duterte administration.

The two-day session was held on March 6 and 7 in Cotabato City, ten days after BTC’s formal launching last February 24 in Davao City where President Rodrigo Roa Duterte was the guest of honor.

The new BTC aims to finish the draft BBL by July 2017, in time for the opening of the second regular session of the 17th Congress.

Jaafar is confident that the Commission will be able to meet the timeline. He said that “we would be able to finish the draft BBL… After all, we are not starting from scratch. We must build on the achievement of our predecessors in this Commission, some of whom are still with us”.

On November 8, 2016, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed Executive Order No 8 which reconstitued the Commission. The EO expands the membership of the BTC from 15 to 21. Out of the 21, eleven are from the MILF and 10 from the government, including 3 representatives from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) – Sema Faction.

The agenda of the sessions included review of the BTC internal rules and administrative matters.

The Commission also adopted its budget for 2017 and appealed, through a resolution, to the Department of Budget and Management for its early release.

Below are the members of the new BTC:


Ghazali Jaafar – Chairman
Haron M Abas
Ibrahim D. Ali
Mohagher M. Iqbal
Atty. Raissa H. Jajurie
Gafur A. Kanain
Abdulraof Abdul Macacua
Hussein P. Munoz
Ammal D. Solaiman
Said M. Shiek
Melanio U. Ulama


Atty. Firdausi Ismail Y. Abbas (MNLF)
Atty Hussin U. Amin
Dr. Susana Salvador-Anayatin
Hatimil E. Hassan (MNLF)
Datu Mussolini Sinsuat Lidasan
Atty. Maisara Dandamun-Latip
Atty. Jose I. Lorena
Romeo C. Saliga
Atty. Omar Yasser C. Sema (MNLF)
Samira Gutoc-Tomawis

Next plenary sessions is on April 3 to 7.

MILF: Moro, IP ADR practitioners of ARMM undergo basic mediation training

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (Mar 9): Moro, IP ADR practitioners of ARMM undergo basic mediation training 

Practitioners of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) including potential mediators from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) are undergoing Basic Mediation Training being held at Brokenshire Resort and Convention Center in this city from March 6 to 10. The activity aims to capacitate potential and practicing mediators who will work for the reduction of the number of Rido (clan feuds) in the target communities in the ARMM.

Twenty-three participants, members or staff of non-government organizations or ADR structures of the local government units, joined the activity that was hosted by Mediators Network for Sustainable Development, Inc. (MedNet).

A pool of experts in ADR from MedNet namely Caroliza Tulod-Peteros, Marides Gardiola and Edwin Golosino, facilitated the five-day training which is part of the project entitled “Strengthening Community Mediation Towards Peace and Inclusive Growth in Five Regions” with the support of KZE-Misereor, an organization from Germany.

The participants shared the incidents of conflict in their respective towns or area of jurisdiction and their experiences in resolving disputes. They learned the conflict intervention frameworks, conflict mapping, probing, feedback giving, conflict analysis, effective communication skills and non-violent communication.

The facilitators introduced Narrative Mediation and tackled the role of the mediator and the mediator’s intervention process.

In the last part of the training, the participants made a plan on how they will facilitate the mediation process of the identified case they will settle with the application of the skills they acquired from the training.

Peteros, MedNet’s Executive Director, said there will be documentation of the mediation process of the Rido cases which will be featured in the organization’s official newsletter-The Mediator.

Settlement of disputes through traditional mediation process or ADR has been practiced in the Bangsamoro region.

Respected individuals like traditional Muslim leaders, Front Commanders, Imams, or Ulama are usually tapped by conflicting parties for the resolution of the conflicts rather than submitting those in the country’s justice system.

The ARMM government created the Regional Reconciliation and Unification Commission (RRUC) while the provincial government of Maguindanao has its local counterpart, the Maguindanao Task Force for Reconciliation and Unification (MTFRU). The two institutions are mandated to help facilitate alternative process in dispute resolution.

ARMM municipal local government units are also encouraged by the regional government to establish their own ADR mechanism. Among the towns that responded to the call is South Upi in Maguindanao which has the Mayor’s Council and municipality of Kapatagan in Lanao del Sur that has established its Local Peace Committee.

There are some NGOs in the ARMM which also help facilitate mediation process of Ridos like the Teduray Lambangian Women Organization of South Upi and Lumpingan of Datu Piang.

Abdulnasser Malingco, MTFRU Deputy Chairperson said land conflict and elections are the two major causes of Rido in Maguindanao. He hoped all MLGUs in Maguindanao will institutionalize their ADR mechanism to help address Rido in the province.

RRUC Executive Director Bobby Benito noted that as the vertical conflict is reduced, horizontal conflict is increasing. He cited the important role of local mediators in arresting the escalation of Rido into more bloody confrontations that shall claim more lives.

MILF: Editorial -- ‘Convergence’ has two sides

Editorial posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Mar 8): Editorial -- ‘Convergence’ has two sides

The use of the term “convergence” is more of a government preferred approach in handling the emerging two tracks pursued by the MNLF and MILF and government, respectively. Lately, the MNLF seems inclined to it, which drifts slightly away from the “harmonization” approach being pushed by the Organization of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). It is not bad per se; it only requires more appreciation that convergence is more of a process; and this is mainly through the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, and more importantly, through the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum (BCF) under the auspices of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

Surely, the MILF will not make a mountain out of this molehill’s issue. But for all serious and practical purposes, in the crafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which the current Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) has started to deliberate on since March 6, the main term of reference would be the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and its Four Annexes and Addendum on the Bangsamoro Waters, and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB). But in order to be more inclusive and acceptable to all, all legitimate interests of other stakeholders especially those contained in the GRP-MNLF Final Agreement of September 2, 1996 shall be form part of the new proposed BBL.

To be more circumspect, the MILF is more than willing and happy to accommodate the unimplemented provisions of this agreement that can enhance and improve the proposed BBL suitable and acceptable not just to the MILF and MNLF but more importantly to the Bangsamoro people. After all, the purpose of the GPH-MILF peace process was and still is to solve the Bangsamoro Question or problem.

We are sure that when government first used this term, as clearly illustrated in its proposed roadmap on peace and development, it bears all the marks of best intentions. And we have no single reason to doubt it, because we trust President Rodrigo Roa Duterte very much for so many reasons.

But good intention has to be nurtured with clear path, programs, and consistency. A book in the 70s written by an American author bears the title: “Beyond Good Intentions”. The president only directs and gives guidelines but much of the process is given to those who are implementing it. This, therefore, gives so much weight and prominence to the administration peace team headed by the energetic Secretary Jesus Dureza. In more restrictive sense, government nominees and now commissioners to the BTC should have a full grasp of the realities in crafting the new BBL. There is no room for a second thought to it.

But we are also sure that those chosen by government to the BTC are men and women of outstanding record and commitment to give justice to the age-old problem in Mindanao what President Duterte and earlier President Benigno Aquino III had described as “historical injustices” committed against the Bangsamoro people. We are confident that both the commissioners from the MILF and from government can blend together and work as a team, as what the previous BTC headed by Mohagher Iqbal had achieved. Never in their entire almost four years in office did they decide by division of the house; decisions were always done either by consensus or the commission gave him the authority to decide.

NDF/NPA: Bansalan NPA ambush exposes AFP-PNP duplicity, shows justness of people’s war

New People's Army propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Website (Mar 10): Bansalan NPA ambush exposes AFP-PNP duplicity, shows justness of people’s war

New People’s Army
Regional Operations Command
Southern Mindanao Region
Press Statement

March 10, 2017

The New People’s Army Regional Operations Command in Southern Mindanao commends the successful tactical offensive by a squad of Red fighters belonging to the Mt. Apo Subregional Operations Command during a 15-minute ambush, which seized four firearms and subdued a PNP unit engaged in armed operations in Brgy. Sibayan, Bansalan, Davao del Sur on March 8, 2017.

Humiliated in the face of defeat and supremacy of guerrilla tactics, the enemy desperately attempted to twist the facts of the incident to conceal the bare-faced rottenness of the AFP’s counter-insurgency plan Development Support and Security Plan Oplan Kapayapaan.

The battle report submitted by the Mt. Apo Subregional Operations Command showed the NPA unit’s mastery of terrain, correct reading of the enemy situation and the superb use of guerrilla tactics in a swift tactical offensive directed against a fascist PNP unit that, along with the AFP, had perpetrated and continue to perpetuate the atrocious human rights and international humanitarian law violations in Davao del Sur and North Cotabato provinces.

On March 8, at 2:20 am, the NPA unit carried out an order to exact revolutionary justice against Marlon Lomantas, a former AFP soldier turned active intelligence agent of the 39th IB and a known drug trader and user in Brgy. Sibayan, Bansalan.

An NPA platoon was positioned at the mountainside of Brgy. Sibayan in order to frustrate military and police operations in the area. Another squad took position nearby. The NPA command was in anticipation of police and military operations to be coordinated by the 39th IB. At 6:15 am, heavily armed police personnel aboard two mobile PNP vehicles were dispatched, apparently to reconnoiter and clear the area before deploying its soldiers.

The first police vehicle passed by the NPA ambush position site at 6:35 am. The NPA squad desisted from striking when it saw civilians riding in motorcycles were in close proximity to the moving PNP vehicle. The second police vehicle passed by subsequently. At 7:10 am, the NPA squad, positioned eight meters from the road, proceeded to ambush the passing mobile vehicle. After the initial five-second volley of gunshots, the NPA commander called for the enemy troops to surrender and lay down their arms.

The PNP personnel, however, retaliated with numerous return of fire. A wounded police officer jumped off from the vehicle. It took ten minutes of an exchange of fire before the NPA squad succeeded in subduing the PNP unit before cautiously approaching the PNP mobile vehicle to seize two M16 rifles and two 9mm glock pistols. At 7:25 am, the NPA 14-man squad safely withdrew from the ambush site.

Shamefaced by the aftermath of the successful NPA ambush against its troops, the PNP hierarchy peddled the dubious line and outrageously melodramatic declaration that the PNP unit was a “non-tactical police team” overwhelmed by a superfluous NPA force which seized all six of its total firearms. It is a vain attempt to cover-up the fact that an armed PNP unit on offensive operation was effectively neutralized by a 14-man NPA unit. Seizing the initiative as a matter of principle of guerrilla warfare, the NPA unit was able to induce the enemy into a well-laid ambush and attack the enemy’s weak force by the NPA’s relative superior force. In subduing the PNP unit, the NPA aims to win a battle of quick decision by demobilizing its moving targets and wiping out the enemy swiftly.

In the wake of the Bansalan ambush, the Army’s 73rd IB, PNP Regional Public Safety Battalion, PNP Special Action Force and the 39th IB are now again scouring the countryside. Along with the PNP, these are the same forces that have no qualms whatsoever about their daily bloodbath, victimizing civilians and unarmed suspects alike, under the auspices of Oplan Tokhang and the GRP’s all-out war. The PNP troops in Bansalan are in the thick of the GRP’s counterinsurgency campaign, actively surveilling revolutionary organizations and personalities, harassing unarmed Lumad and peasants and contributing greatly in intelligence to target Red fighters and NPA units.

Mandated to defend the masses as its true army and in strict adherence to the tenets and protocols of war, the NPA will continue to exact revolutionary justice and wage tactical offensives anywhere and anytime in the countryside and areas under the People’s Democratic Government. Tempered in the long running guerrilla warfare in the country, the Red fighters will continue to deliver heavy blows against the enemy, seize arms to increase the number of its full-fighting units and advance the level of people’s war.

Rigoberto F. Sanchez
NPA-Southern Mindanao
Regional Operations Command

CPP/NPA: Pinakamataas na Pagpupugay at Parangal Para sa mga Tunay na Hukbo at Bayani ng Sambayanan

Propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Mar 9):
Pinakamataas na Pagpupugay at Parangal Para sa mga Tunay na Hukbo at Bayani ng Sambayanan

Ibaling ang Pamimighati sa Rebolusyunaryong Katapangan!
Labanan at Biguin ang Anti-Mamamayang Oplan Kapayapaan ng AFP!

Pinakamataas na Pagpupugay at Parangal Para sa mga Tunay na Hukbo at Bayani ng Sambayanan!

Ka Cleo del Mundo, Spokesperson
NPA-Quezon (Apolonio Mendoza Command)
9 March 2017

Pinakamataas na Pulang pagpupugay ang ipinaaabot ng Apolonio Mendoza Command (AMC-NPA) sa mga bayani ng sambayanan na sina kasamang Felicardo Salamat aka Ka Japson/Jelmon, Paul Aringo aka Ka Arki/Ka Junpio, Jomar Resureccion aka Ka Roro at Jeramie Garcia aka Ka Ash.

Magiting silang lumaban at nagbuwis ng kanilang buhay nang kubkubin ng pasistang pwersa ng 2nd Jungle Fighter Company na nasa ilalim ng kumand ng 85th IBPA, 201st Brigade at direktang pinamumunuan ng isang Captain Zander Khan Usman ang kanilang pansamantalang pahingahan sa sityo Umagos, Brgy. Camplora, San Andres, Quezon ganap na 2:45 ng hapon noong ika-7 ng Marso, 2017. Kasalukuyan noong nagsasagawa sila ng papulong sa mga residenteng magsasaka na may problema sa lupa at mga pagnanakaw ng kanilang hayop.

Pinakamataas na pagkilala at parangal kay Ka Japson, batikang mandirigma at kumander ng BHB sa Timog Katagalugan. Anak ng mga magsasaka sa bayan ng Guinayangan, Quezon, nagpultaym sa kanyang kabataang edad noong 1985 at mula noon ay nagsilbi sa Bagong Hukbong Bayan ng wala ni anumang rekord ng pamamahinga. Tatlumpu’t dalawang taon ng kanyang buhay ang walang pag-aaksayang ginugol at ibinuwis niya sa paglilingkod sa masa at pagsusulong ng demokratikong rebolusyong bayan para sa pambansang kalayaan, demokrasya at sosyalismo.

Kilala bilang matapang na mandirigma at kumander ng BHB si Ka Japson. Nasugatan sa maraming labanan at nagkamit ng maraming matatagumpay na labanan sa harap ng kaaway. Nahuli at ikinulong ng kaaway ng 2 beses ngunit pagkalaya ay kaagad na bumalik sa rebolusyonaryong pagkilos at pagseserbisyo sa Hukbong Bayan ng walang pag-aalinlangan.

Tunay na bayani si Ka Japson, mahal ng mga kasama at masa, bilang kasama, kuya, tatay, kapatid at kaibigan. Inspirasyon sa lahat ang buhay na kanyang tinahak na tiyak na susundan ng libu-libong kabataan at mamamayan sa lalawigan ng Quezon, sa Timog Katagalugan at sa buong bansa.

Pinakamataas ring pulang pagpupugay at parangal ang ibinibigay sa 3 kabataang sina Ka Paul Aringo aka Ka Arki/Ka Junpio ng Metro Manila, Jomar Resureccion aka Ka Roro ng probinsya ng Cavite at Jeramie Garcia aka Ka Ash ng probinsya ng Laguna. Silang mga kabataan na sa maagang panahon ng kanilang buhay ay nagpasyang sumapi sa Bagong Hukbong Bayan at ilaan ang kanilang lakas at talino upang paglingkuran ang pambansa-demokratikong interes ng sambayanang Pilipino, laluna ng hirap, api at abang masang magsasaka at manggagawa.

Sila ang mga tunay na Hukbo at bayani ng sambayanang Pilipino. Kahanga-hanga ang kanilang katapangan at kasigasigan. Ang kanilang buhay ay hindi kailanman nasayang at ang tinahak nilang landas ay paparisan ng daang libong kabataan ng kasalukuyang henerasyon.

Sa kabilang banda, mariing kinukundena ng AMC–NPA ang paglabag ng pwersa ng 85th IBPA, 201st Infantry Brigade sa Komprehensibong Kasunduan sa Paggalang sa Karapatang Tao at sa Internasyunal na Makataong Batas o Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

Ang nasabing pinaglunsaran ng labanan nina Capt. Zander Khan Usman ay may dalawang bahay ng mga sibilyang magsasaka. Nagpaputok ang mga sundalo kahit kitang-kita nilang may mga bata na nakapaligid sa mga bahay. Katunayan, ang nadala nilang sugatang babae na 22 anyos na si Jennifer Yuson ay isang sibilyan na kagagaling lamang sa pay-out ng 4Ps. Kabilang sa isinama ng militar ang kapamilya ni Jennifer na may-ari ng bahay na si Teteng at isa pang sibilyan na nagngangalang Cristopher Redota.

Pati pinagbentahan ng kalabaw ni Teteng ay tinangay ng mga sundalo.

Mas masahol pa, ang apat na mga namatay na kasama ay pinabayaang nakabilad sa araw nang mahigit 24 oras. Hindi kaagad inilusong ang mga bangkay para madala sa punerarya. Ang mga Quick Reaction Team ng organisasyong nagtataguyod sa karapatang pantao at kinatawan ng mga lokal na organisasyong magsasaka ay hindi pinayagang pumasok sa erya ng pinaglabanan para makuha ang mga bangkay at iayos ang mga residente sa lokalidad. Resulta, hindi na halos makilala ang identidad ng mga bangkay ng mga kasama.

Malinaw lamang na walang kinikilalang karapatang tao ang AFP at di rin kumikilala sa makataong batas sa digmaan. Kailangang panagutan ng AFP ang malalaking paglabag sa panuntunan ng makataong digmaan.

Ang ipinamamarali ng AFP na Development Support and Security Plan KAPAYAPAAN ng gubyernong Duterte ay katulad din lang ng nakalipas na Oplan Bayanihan kung saan inihulma sa US Counterinsurgency Guide ng imperyalismong US. Ultimong layunin ng DSSP KAPAYAPAAN na mapanatili ang sistemang malakolonyal at malapyudal sa pamamagitan ng pagsupil sa mamamayang naghahangad ng rebolusyunaryong pagbabago.

Tungkulin ng lahat ng mga rebolusyunaryong mamamayan na puspusang isulong ang digmang bayan at labanan ang DSSP KAPAYAPAAN. Parusahan ang mga berdugong kaaway sa mga paglabag sa karapatang tao at makataong batas sa digma.

Nalulungkot tayo sa pagpanaw ng mga mahal na kasama. Ganoonman, ang ating kalungkutan at pamimighati ay mapapalitan at maibabaling sa ibayong rebolusyonaryong katapangan at katatagan. Nagkakamali ang pasistang AFP at ang rehimeng Duterte sa kanilang gising na pangarap na malilipol ang lumalabang mamamayan, laluna ang Bagong Hukbong Bayan.

Ang pagkamartir ng mahal na mga kasama ay nagsisilbing abono sa lupa upang yumabong ang rebolusyonaryong lakas at paglaban ng sambayanan. Papalitan ng libu-libong mga bagong mandirigma at kumander ang mga namartir na kasama. Bubuuin ang bagong mga platun, kumpanya at mga batalyon ng BHB at siyang dudurog sa pwersa ng AFP-PNP na nagpapapahirap sa masa. Lilikha ng daluyong ang kilusan ng sambayanang Pilipino na siyang lulunod sa kapangyarihan ng imperyalismo at lokal na mga naghaharing uri.

Mabuhay ang mga bayani ng sambayanan!
Damputin ang mga armas na nabitiwan at iputok sa kaaway ng mamamayan!
Isulong ang digmang bayan!
Mamamayan, sumapi sa Bagong Hukbong Bayan!
Mabuhay ang Bagong Hukbong Bayan!

CPP: Duterte’s aerial bombing order disregards people’s lives—CPP

Propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Mar 10):
Duterte’s aerial bombing order disregards people’s lives—CPP

Information Bureau
Communist Party of the Philippines

10 March 2017
Press Release

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today denounced GRP President Rodrigo Duterte for his “total contempt of lives of civilian people’s lives who he callously considers mere ‘collateral damage’ in ordering the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to employ all its assets in an “anything goes” campaign to drop bombs and “flatten the hills” against the New People’s Army (NPA).

Addressing the AFP and Philippine National Police (PNP), Duterte declared, “I will allow the police and the military this time to use all available assets. Use them. We have new aircraft, jets. You will see it because I told them to fly them. Use them. Use the rockets. If there are collateral damage, I’m sorry.”

“In ordering the AFP to carry out aerial bombings, Duterte risks indictment for war crimes as he puts thousands of civilians in the line of fire,” said the CPP. “Aerial bombing runs as well as shellings endanger the lives of thousands of people in civilian communities wherever these are conducted by the military.”

“The AFP has never effectively employed aerial bombings and shelling against the guerrilla units of the New People’s Army,” pointed out the CPP. “In dropping bombs, the AFP succeeds only in injuring civilians and causing massive displacement of communities as a form of punishing the people, especially those who are waging mass struggles for land reform and opposing mining and plantations operations.”

“Aerial bombings and shellings also cause massive destruction of agricultural fields and the environment, especially water sources,” added the CPP.

The CPP pointed out that the AFP, “has, in fact, been regularly carrying out aerial bombing runs using its jetfighters and helicopter gunships causing grave hardships against entire communities.” On February 11, the AFP dropped six bombs in Barangay Datal Anggas in Alabel, Sarangani forcing 100 Lumad families, mostly B’laan and Kaolo people to evacuate.

On the same day, the AFP shelled Barangays Macopa, Kibagyo and Bullucan in Laak, Compostela Valley forcing 1,000 families to evacuate. The AFP also dropped bombs in barangays in Manay and Lupon, both in Davao Oriental, on February 1 and 14, respectively.

In Maddela, Isabela and Assipulo, Ifugao, the AFP have threatened to drop bombs in civilian communities in order to force the people to evacuate.

Peace gab with Reds scrapped

From The Standard (Mar 10): Peace gab with Reds scrapped

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte declared Thursday that the government is ready to wage war with the communists for another 50 years after condemning a New People’s Army ambush that killed four policemen and wounded a fifth in Bansalan, Davao del Sur.

On Wednesday, hours after the ambush, NPA rebels went on a rampage at a village in Pagadian City, killing three civilians.

“There will be no peace talks for the meantime,” Duterte said in an interview after visiting the wake of the slain policemen. “I will ask the military and the police to wage war against them.”

“I will allow them to use all available assets. Use rockets,” he said.

He said the communists would never gain power because the people did not want them to.

Duterte said he has ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines to use all its assets, including newly acquired jets, and drop bombs on the rebels.

“Go ahead, flatten the hills,” he added. “Look at what you have done. Look at how the people responded.”

He said it was no longer viable to talk with the rebels because “they’re diverting issues in the talks, they’re muddling the talks” and waging a revolution based on “ideological cannibalism.”

“It’s a question of honor. We fight a war and as the revolutionary ideology would put it, it’s a kind of ideological cannibalism because you devour your own kind. You kill your own brother and sisters on the altar of a revolution ... Because it is a war among Filipinos, your countrymen,” he added.

The Palace on Thursday said that the deaths of four policemen ambushed by the NPA might derail efforts to revive the stalled peace talks even as top National Democratic Front consultants flew to Europe Wednesday night in an attempt to start backchannel talks with the government.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the killing of the four policemen could set back efforts to restart the negotiations.

The slain policemen were identified as Police Officer 1 (PO1) Rolly Benelayo, PO1 Joe Narvaza, PO1 Saro Mangutara, belonging to the Bansalan Municipal Police Station, and PO3 Jayden May Rabor of the Scene of the Crime Operations of Digos City. Another policeman, PO3 Allen Arnado, was wounded.

Duterte earlier opened up the possibility of reviving the stalled peace talks, but has laid down three “requests” before any negotiation can proceed: A genuine ceasefire done in sincerity, the release of all soldiers and civilians being held captive by the NPA, and a stop to NPA extortion activities.

THROWING LIGHT ON. Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella clarifies during a news conference in Malacañang Thursday that President Rodrigo Duterte has laid some conditions for the peace talks to resume with the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front-New People’s Army. Malacañang Photo
“They have to release all policemen, army, everyone from the government. They should release them all. Second, they should stop asking for revolutionary tax. Third, they should stop asking for things. They’re burning a lot of things now and we’ll never meet each other half way if that’s the case,” Duterte said on March 4.

On Tuesday, Duterte said the government was in backchannel talks with the communists after terminating the peace talks in February.

In a news briefing, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana confirmed that NDF consultants Benito and William Tiamzon and Victor Ladlad were leading the back-channeling efforts with Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza, who left the country for Europe Wednesday.

“Last night, we allowed the departure of Benito and Wilma Tiamzon and Mr. Ladlad to do some back-channeling,” Lorenzana said.

Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno condemned the NPA ambush in Bansalan.

Sueno said the policemen were heading to the hinterland village of Barangay Sibayan in Bansalan to investigate a murder when they were fired upon at about 6 a.m.

“I am deeply saddened by this unfortunate and needless incident that took away the lives of our policemen. My heart bleeds for the families of the victims and, as a father, they have my word that I will look after them,” said Sueno.

The Interior secretary said he has already directed the Philippine National Police to give priority to the investigation of the case and ensure that the perpetrators will face the consequences of their actions.

“I have clear instructions to our chief PNP to respond accordingly and deliver swift action against the suspects who are allegedly members of a lawless armed group. Our police force will get to the bottom of this case,” he said.

He reminded the police to never let their guard down, especially when they are deployed outside of their stations.

In Zamboanga City, Supt. Rogelio Alabata, spokeman for the provincial police office said three civilians, indentified as Alipio Banogon Andus, 39, Ariston Obaran Paroc, 46, and Julieto Bolo Candao, were killed at about 5 p.m.

The NPA claimed responsibility for the killings.

The Philippine National Police condemned the latest attack on police crime scene investigators.

“The trademark of ruthless treachery, patented by the CPP-NPA, has reared its ugly head again in this latest attack against a non-tactical police team of laboratory technicians and technical specialists who, by the nature of their functions, are non-combatants.” said Senior Supt. Dionardo Carlos, PNP spokesman.

NPA rebels burn rubber firm's vehicle in Zamboanga Sibugay

From the Sun Star-Zamboanga (Mar 10): NPA rebels burn rubber firm's vehicle in Zamboanga Sibugay
MEMBERS of the New People’s Army (NPA) burned a vehicle of a rubber company in Zamboanga Sibugay on Wednesday, March 8, authorities said.

Zamboanga Sibugay Police Director Romulo Cleve Taboso said the incident happened around 11 a.m. Wednesday at Purok 3 in the village of Lacnapan, Kabasalan town.

Taboso said the NPA rebels drove the vehicle owned by MJ Rubber Company to a riverbank and torched it there.

The rebels owned up the torching through a letter they left in the area, signed by NPA’s Zamboanga Peninsula Regional Operations Command spokesman Ka Mario Jose.

  No one was reported killed or injured during the incident.

Investigation showed the NPA rebels torched the vehicle as the owners of the land being cultivated by the rubber firm have filed complaint with the NPA’s court, Bagong Hukbong Bayan, against the company.

The NPA rebels fled to the town of Bayog in Zamboanga del Sur, the police said.

Reds claim delay in backchannel talks with gov't

From ABS-CBN (Mar 10): Reds claim delay in backchannel talks with gov't

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) on Thursday claimed that the Philippine government has delayed the holding of backchannel talks following the collapse of official negotiations between the two parties.

"Both sides agreed to hold secret backchannel talks as early as the first week of February. For some reason, these have been delayed till now," Fidel Agcaoili, chairperson of the NDFP negotiating panel, said in a statement.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier said communist party leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon will lead the rebels' delegation in backchannel talks with the government. 

According to Lorenzana, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza went to Europe with the Tiamzon couple and another communist leader, Vic Ladlad, for the backchannel talks.

Agcaoili's statement follows Dureza's revelation on backchannel talks.

"We have kept our end of the bargain not to reveal the plans or issue any statement that would upset these," Agcaoili said.

Dureza and Agcaoili said the backchannel talks aim to revive negotiations between the two parties.

"The objective of the backchannel is to bring about the continuation of the talks in order to hold the scheduled fourth round in April to discuss important matters, including JASIG, CASER and CAPCR," Agcaoili said.

He also said soldiers recently taken captive by the New People's Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, will be released soon.
He said the release was delayed as arrangements have yet to be worked out.


Agcaoili said they have yet to verify if the ambush of police officers in Bansalan was perpetrated by the NPA.

"On the Bansalan incident, we still have to confirm if this was done by the NPA command in the area. There are peace spoilers around," he said.

Agcaoili said there is no ongoing ceasefire and claimed that government troops are sometimes at fault.

He said the NPA suffered four casualties in an encounter in San Andres, Quezon on Tuesday.

1 soldier killed, another wounded in Surigao Norte clash

From the Sun Star-Cagayan de Oro (Mar 9): 1 soldier killed, another wounded in Surigao Norte clash

A soldier was killed while another was wounded after a firefight erupted between elements of the Army’s 30th Infantry Battalion (30IB) and alleged members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in the town of Alegria in Surigao del Norte, Wednesday evening, March 8.

A report from the 30IB revealed that around 8 p.m. Wednesday, soldiers were on their way to Budlingin village to check on intelligence reports of the presence of NPA rebels in the Indigenous People’s community.

“Last night, our troops encountered the NPA while they were on their way to the village to secure the area after we received reports of the NPA harassing the community. Then a 30 minute firefight erupted against around 10 to 15 NPAs which lead to the death of a soldier while injuring another,” said Second Lieutenant Jonel Castillo, civil military officer of the 30th IB.

Castillo identified the soldier who was killed in action as Private First Class (PFC) John Francis Rivera, 27, and the wounded as PFC Windyl Daayata, 26.

Rivera and Daayata are both from the province of Bukidnon.

Castillo said that the NPA activity in the area is not new and that the armed group is going back to the IP community to bolster their ranks.

“This group is headed by commander Ricky, and they have been going back to the area to conduct recruitment operations taking advantage on the IP community,” said Castillo.

The NPA is yet to issue a statement regarding the said incident.

Socialist leader assassinated in the Philippines

From Red Flag (Mar 10): Socialist leader assassinated in the Philippines


Socialist Alternative is immensely saddened and angered to hear of the assassination of Comrade Ruben by Philippines government armed forces on 4 March.

Our deepest solidarity and condolences go to comrades in the Philippines and in the international Marxist movement. We are all diminished by this dreadful loss.

Over the past few years we have been fortunate to have had contact with the comrades of the People’s Revolutionary Army (RPA) and the People’s Revolutionary Party – Mindanao (RPM-M), the Philippines section of the Fourth International. We have benefited from numerous discussions of revolutionary Marxist politics with comrades from the Philippines at international meetings in various countries.

The experiences of veterans of the movement in the Philippines, such as Comrade Ruben, continue to inspire us with their steadfastness and enduring dedication. The fact that Comrade Ruben’s commitment to Marxist politics led him in the 1990s to break from the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army speaks of a life well-lived in the struggle for socialism, regardless of personal cost. Now, his dedicated resistance to capitalism has been repaid by the government with bullets.

Despite our being in the same geographic region as the Philippines, the conditions under which we operate could hardly be more different. Extra-judicial killings in the Philippines have taken the lives of many. Now they have removed Comrade Ruben from the key role that he would have continued to play in the struggle.

It is hard to describe how inspired Australian revolutionaries, both young and old, have been by the bravery of comrades operating under immensely difficult and dangerous conditions in the Philippines. To Comrade Ruben we say: “Red salute!”

Statement issued by the Bureau of the Fourth International, 7 March 2017

On 4 March 2017, Comrade Ruben was killed by the army in the province of Lanao del Norte, Mindanao, Philippines.

This was clearly an assassination. Ruben was wanted for his involvement in the People’s Revolutionary Army (RPA) and the People’s Revolutionary Party – Mindanao (RPM-M), the Philippine section of the Fourth International. But he was visiting friends and family. He was not carrying any weapons. He could easily have been arrested; he was executed.

It was not the police (who were also present), but a heavily equipped government infantry battalion that led the operation in Kapatagan. Ruben is the only one to have been killed, a victim of numerous shots.

Ruben was a member of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), before breaking in 1994 and participating in the founding process of the RPM-M / RPA. A political and military cadre, he made many enemies among local landowners for his activities against drug trafficking; against the purchase of votes by local politicians during the elections; against gangs and henchmen in the service of despotic landowners, whom he disarmed; and for the defence of the peasants and the rural poor.

The popularity of the RPM-M / RPA in north-west Mindanao dates back to the early 1980s (under the then Communist Party, Maoist). After the split in 1994, the new organisation consistently adopted a defensive politico-military posture. It stopped all offensive operations against the army and promptly initiated peace talks, under the Arroyo administration (2001-10).

The current president, Duterte, undertook to relaunch the peace processes in the Philippines and, in particular, in Mindanao. The attack by the police and the army, and the assassination of Ruben, is in contradiction with this commitment. This is in fact a violation of the peace talks previously initiated with the RPM-M / RPA.

We share the grief of Ruben’s comrades and we send them our deepest solidarity.

We call for international solidarity to ensure that all progressive and revolutionary forces in the Philippines are supported, as extra-judicial killings have already created so many victims.

NPA hails heroism of slain comrades in Quezon clash

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Mar 9): NPA hails heroism of slain comrades in Quezon clash

New People's Army  AP FILE PHOTO

New People’s Army AP FILE PHOTO
The New People’s Army (NPA) rebels operating in Quezon province hailed the heroism of their four comrades who were slain in an encounter with Army soldiers in San Andres town on Tuesday.

Ka Cleo del Mundo, spokesperson of the NPA-Apolonio Mendoza Command, said they bestowed the highest revolutionary honors to their slain comrades whom she identified as Felicardo Salamat alias “Ka Japson/Ka Jelmon” from Guinayangan Quezon; Paul Aringo – “Ka Arki/Ka Junpio” from Metro Manila; Jomar Resureccion – “Ka Roro” from Cavite province and Jeramie Garcia – “Ka Ash” from Laguna province.

Military report said the Army soldiers engaged the band of an estimated 20 heavily armed rebels in a 30-minute firefight in Barangay Camflora on Tuesday afternoon. No one was hurt among government soldiers during the firefight.

Soldiers recovered five rifles and a grenade launcher from the clash site.

Del Mundo claimed the fatalities were conducting meetings with farmers in the village who have agrarian and animal theft problems when they were attacked by the government forces.

Del Mundo strongly condemned the military for its alleged violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). She said the soldiers staged the attack without considering the safety of civilians living in two houses in the encounter site.

She said the wounded civilian, Jennifer Yuson, just arrived in the village after she collected her cash subsidy from the government 4Ps program.

She claimed that the Army soldiers forcibly took a certain “Teteng” and Cristopher Redota, a civilian.

Del Mundo said the NPA would avenge the heroism of the slain rebels.

Col. Lenard Agustin, commander of the Army’s 201st Infantry Brigade operating in Quezon, denied Del Mundo’s allegations.

“They were all untrue. Those accusations were only for propaganda purpose to counter the debacle that they suffered,” Agustin said in a phone interview.

He called on the NPA rebels to abandon their decades-old armed struggle and return to the comfort of their families.

“Return to the fold of the law and be with your loved ones,” he said.

Ormoc looks forward to hosting Balikatan in April

From the Manila Bulletin (Mar 9): Ormoc looks forward to hosting Balikatan in April

The Balikatan military exercise between the Philippines and the United States will push through in this city next month, Mayor Richard Gomez said.

Gomez said he is amenable to hosting the exercise since it will help improve the peace and order situation in the city.

Initial talks with a group of American and Filipino soldiers were done in October and finalized last December.

Gomez said the Balikatan will have components such as a medical mission, book donation, and construction and repair of school buildings and health centers.

The exercise is designed to give Philippine and US military forces a chance to exchange combat expertise.

The plan to hold the military exercise here came on the heels of President Duterte’s statement last year asking US military forces to leave Mindanao in the wake of increased security threats as a result of the heightened offensive against the Abu Sayyaf.

Capt. Louis Kalmar, humanitarian and civic assistance planner of the Philippine-US Balikatan program, recently visited the city to discuss the holding of the exercise with local officials.

US soldiers arrived for the Balikatan exercise in 2000. It was the first since the ratification of the Visiting Forces Agreement signed by the Philippines and the US.

In 2014, the two countries signed a deal for the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and it was declared constitutional by the Supreme Court in 2015.

Balikatan 2017 in Ormoc is the first in the Eastern Visayas region.

Bayan Muna coordinator killed in Basilan

From the often pro-CPP online publication the Davao Today (Mar 9): Bayan Muna coordinator killed in Basilan

Partylist lawmaker Carlos Isagani Zarate of Bayan Muna condemned the killing of a local coordinator in Basilan yesterday who was tagged as an Abu Sayyaf leader.
In a statement Thursday, Zarate said Hadji Billamin Hassan, also known as Hadji Ben, has just finished praying when “soldiers in plain clothes” arrested him in Tabuan Lasa town in Basilan province.

“He was brought by the naval troops to the Western Mindanao Command. Somewhere along the way, he was shot and killed,” Zarate said.

Moro leader Amirah Lidasan, national chairperson of Suara Bangsamoro said, she would not have confirmed Hassan’s death if not for a news report on television. Lidasan has worked with Hassan in various campaign for human rights.

“Had it not been for the phone interview of TVP Chavacano this afternoon, I would not have confirmed the death of Hadji Ben and the injustice that the AFP’s Western Mindanao Command has done to him and his family,” Lidasan said in her Facebook post on Wednesday.

According to the news, the military was serving a warrant for cases of arson against Hadji Ben resulting to a firefight. He was identified as an Abu Sayyaf leader. It was not clear whether he died during the firefight or while traveling to the WestMinCom,” said Lidasan.

But one thing is clear to us, Hadji Ben is not an Abu Sayyaf leader that the WestMinCom presented him to be. I thought that the WestMinCom under the Duterte administration will not resort to the usual parading of terror suspects for the benefit of their masters,” Lidasan said.

Zarate said they will seek a probe on Ben’s killing which could be related to his exposition of the Army’s role in kidnap for ransom cases in 2001.

“It seems that his name is being linked to the Abu Sayyaf due to his role in exposing the AFP-ASG collusion on kidnap for ransom cases in 2001,” Zarate said.

Lidasan added that Hassan “encouraged individuals and families who were victims of the military crackdown to present their cases in the series of congressional and senate investigations in 2002.”

She said the Army should identify him “based on his last involvement.”

“He was a member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Basilan, serving as one of the board member or officer of the Bangsamoro Develoment Agency (BDA). He was also involved in keeping the peace between the AFP and MILF in Basilan,” she said.

Zarate also said the victim ran for mayor in Tabuan Lasa in 2004 and has been a member of Bayan Muna since 2001.

“He lost, but he had proof of massive cheating in his area that he presented to the Kontra Daya meeting and press conference in Manila,” he said.

4 suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits killed in Basilan

From ABS-CBN (Mar 10): 4 suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits killed in Basilan

Four members of the Abu Sayyaf Group, including a relative of terrorist leader Isnilon Hapilon, were killed in a military offensive on Wednesday morning in Basilan province, the Armed Forces' Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) said Thursday.

A 30-minute firefight between 15 Abu Sayyaf members and joint elements of the military and the police resulted in the death of Ustadz Mobin Kulin, alias Mulawin, a cousin of Hapilon, in Tapiantana Island.

Three other Abu Sayyaf members were also killed, based on the bodies recovered in the encounter site.

Government troops also seized several high-powered firearms including a Barrett M82 sniper rifle, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher with ammunition, and 12 grenade launcher rifles.

Kulin was an “active and hardcore” Abu Sayyaf member from Lantawan, Basilan who was involved in the Lamitan siege and Dos Palmas incidents in the province, according to the military.

The remains of the slain Abu Sayyaf members will be turned over to the Basilan Provincial Police Office.

“All-out offensives are being conducted by the Joint Task Force Basilan with the support and coordination of the local government, police, and civilians in the province against the Abu Sayyaf bandits who are responsible for the conduct of bombings, extortion activities, and kidnappings in Basilan,” said Wesmincom commander Major General Carlito G. Galvez, Jr.

Authorities are still conducting pursuit operations against other members of the terrorist group.

Army: Military ops vs. ASG ‘gaining success’

From the Davao Today (Mar 10): Army: Military ops vs. ASG ‘gaining success’

COMBAT READY. As part of their Araw ng Dabaw preparations, soldiers of the Task Force Davao display their readiness to respond to emergency scenarios during the combat simulation conducted by the Joint Task Force Haribon at the Task Force Davao headquarters in Sta. Ana Wharf, Davao City on Wednesday, Feb. 8. (Paulo C. Rizal/

A ranking army official here said the military operations against the Abu Sayyaf Group was gaining success following a series of reported encounters and killings of ASG rebels.

“The AFP’s campaign against the Abu Sayyaf Group and other terror groups there in the [Western Mindanao Command], particularly in Sulu and Basilan are gaining success. The encounters and and the neutralization of terrorists in those areas) are continuous,” Brig. Gen. Gilbery Gapay, commander of the Joint Task Force Haribon said in a press conference here Wednesday.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines is currently waging an all out war against the ASG. The AFP recently deployed 8,000 soldiers as augmentation force to Sulu and Basilan, both known to be a bailiwick of the ASG operations.

“What usually happens is that they make some diversionary tactics in other areas to ease up the Armed Forces’ pressure on them,” Gapay said.

He, however, assured the public that they are constantly monitoring for possible threats. Gapay said they already neutralized the leadership of local terror group Ansar al-Khilafah in the Philippines in Saranggani which is within the area of responsibility of the Eastern Mindanao Command.

As for the ASG, the Maute Group, and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Forces, Gapay said they “extensive intelligence coverage.”

“Our intelligence coverage of these groups are extensive. [We monitor] their movements, their splinter groups so that we would know firsthand of any attempts to infiltrate Davao City), Gapay said.

PNP Chief Dela Rosa: Peace talks with NPA pointless

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Mar 9): PNP Chief Dela Rosa:  Peace talks with NPA pointless

'Bato' recalls own brush with death when NPAs placed bomb under crime victim's body in Bansalan in 1991
bato dela rosae


Philippine National Police Director General Ronald dela Rosa said on Thursday it has become pointless to negotiate with communist rebels for peace.

Dela Rosa made the comment as he took note of how suspected New People’s Army rebels killed PO3 Jayden May Rabor of the Davao del Sur police crime laboratory, and Bansalan police members PO1 Rholly Benelayo, PO1 Joey O Narvaza and PO1 Saro Mangotara during an ambush in Barangay Sibayan here on Wednesday.

“I really pity our slain police officers. They were shot many times in the head,” he said.

“We have long been talking peace with them but nothing happened. Nothing is happening. I would be retiring soon but the talks had not achieved anything,” he said.

Dela Rosa, set to retire in 2018, said President Rodrigo Duterte would have the final say on whether to resume peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed front New People’s Army, as represented by its political arm, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

“It all depends on the President,” he said.

President Duterte on Thursday afternoon ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines to wage an all-out war against the NPA and drop bombs on the rebel guerillas. He also ruled out the resumption of the peace talks with thec CPP, NPA and NDFP at this time.

In blaming the NPA for the ambush, Dela Rosa said no other rebel group operated in Bansalan.

“There’s no Abu Sayyaf or (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) rebels here,” he said, as he cited past experiences, such as the 2009 ambush against the Bansalan police chief, Senior Insp. Emelix Mabalot. Mabalot, two other policemen and a tanod, were all killed in the attack.

Dela Rosa said Mabalot and his men were on their way back to Bansalan after picking up the cadaver of a soldier in Barangay Managa when ambushed by the NPA. The rebels had admitted staging the ambush.

He also shared a personal experience when he was still the Bansalan police chief in 1991.

Dela Rosa said he and his team were to pick up the cadaver of a crime victim in a hinterland village but they found out that the rebels had placed a grenade under the body.

“So they did it in the past,” he added.

Dela Rosa said based on the report to him, the NPA’s Front Committee 51 has been operating in the area.

Chief Supt. Manuel Gaerlan, the Southern Mindanao police chief, said the rebels, numbering about 20, initially tried to set off a landmine but the explosive failed to go off.

He said when the landmine failed to explode, the rebels then trained their guns on the patrol car. The unexploded IED had been recovered near the actual ambush site.

The policemen were there to investigate the killing of two persons (not one as earlier reported) in Sibayan when ambushed, said the Davao del Sur police director, Senior Supt. Samuel Gadingan.

Gaerlan said the rebels took the firearms and personal belongings of the slain policemen before fleeing.

Police investigators said they also recovered a number of empty shells for 7.62-guns near the bodies of Rabor and the two other slain officers. The policemen from Bansalan were armed with Armalite rifles, which used the 5.56-ammunition. The NPA has AK-47s, which use the 7.62-ammunition.

7 NPAs killed in SOLCOM area of responsibility

From Update.PH (Mar 9): 7 NPAs killed in SOLCOM area of responsibility

Armed Forces of the Philippines Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) reported the death of seven NPA members during follow-up operations in Camarines Sur and Quezon provinces.

“The encounter ensued on March 7, 2017 at around 1:05 PM between 83rd Infantry Battalion (83IB) and 20 NPAs at Brgy Tabgon, Goa, Camarines Sur and recovered three (3) NPAs killed including three (3) .45 Cal pistol and materials for making Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) with one (1) CAA slightly wounded identified as Solomon Biviro,” SOLCOM said. As troops of 83IB continued the offensive two AK47 rifle, one M16 rifle, one M203 grenade launcher, and NPA documents were recovered.

SOLCOM said three NPAs who were killed are yet to be identified. While a wounded CAA is now at Camp Elias Angeles Station Hospital for medical assistance.

Meanwhile, four still unidentified NPAs were killed after a 30-minute firefight between troops of 2nd Jungle Fighter Company of 85th Infantry Battalion (85IB) and 20 NPAs on March 7, 2017 at around 2:00 PM at Sitio Umagos, Brgy Camplora, San Andres near the boundary of Brgy. Mabunga, San Francisco, Quezon.

SOLCOM commander Lieutenant General Ferdinand F. Quidilla said that the AFP will continue to conduct military offensive operation as a punitive action in order to pursue these lawless NPA members who continue to conduct violent attacks against the soldiers and the public.

The AFP appeals to the members of the NPA to engage in a localized peace talks and encourage them to ask for the help of the third party sectors if they decided to negotiate at the grassroots level.

US Embassy reiterates Philippines not included in restricted country

From Update.Ph (Mar 10): US Embassy reiterates Philippines not included in restricted country

The United States of America Embassy in the Philippines said that the Philippines is not included in the re-drafted Executive Order on ‘Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals,’ just like in the first order.

“Filipinos who wish to apply for immigrant and nonimmigrant visas may continue to do so, as the U.S. visa application process has not changed for the Philippines,” the US Embassy said.

It added that the new order imposes a temporary pause on the entry of nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen subject to categorical exceptions and case-by-case waivers. Iraq which was in the previous order was excluded.

“If you are a national from one of these countries, do not cancel your visa application or your scheduled visa appointment. At this time, we will continue to process visa applications while applying all appropriate screening measures and in accordance with any court order(s),” the US Embassy said.

It also noted that the new Executive Order does not apply to individuals who obtained a valid immigrant or nonimmigrant visa prior to March 16, 2017.

China’s 2nd aircraft carrier now for ‘equipment installation’

From Update.PH (Mar 10): China’s 2nd aircraft carrier now for ‘equipment installation’

China’s second aircraft carrier is now for ‘equipment installation’, according to Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLA-N) Deputy Chief-of-staff Wang Weiming.

“The aircraft carrier’s hull blocks have been joined at the shipyard, and equipment installation is currently underway,” he told Chinese state-media Xinhua at the sidelines of the annual session of the National People’s Congress, March 9.

However, Academy of Military Sciences researcher Chen Zhou told Beijing Youth Daily that China will not compete with United States.

United States military now has 10 active nuclear-powered Nimitz-class supercarriers, 1 Gerald R. Ford-class supercarrier awaiting commissioning, 1 Ford-class supercarrier under-construction, and 1 planned Ford-class supercarrier. The Ford-class supercarriers will replace 3 Nimitz-class supercarriers.

“The number of China’s future carriers depends on the country’s strategic and military needs. We will not compete with the U.S. to build a fleet of 12 carriers, which is not necessary for China, as the country pursues a national defense policy that is purely defensive in nature,” Chen Zhou said.

China invokes ‘freedom of navigation’ in Benham Rise

From Update.Ph (Mar 10): China invokes ‘freedom of navigation’ in Benham Rise

China’s Foreign Ministry today made a statement regarding revelation of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana that a Chinese survey ship was monitored plying the Benham Rise last year for at least three months.

During today’s press briefing, Geng Shuang, a spokesperson in Chinese Foreign Ministry confirmed that their vessels navigated northeast of Luzon last year. However, he said that they were just exercising freedom of navigation. He added that no other operations were made.

The Chinese spokesperson also said that in 2012, a United Nations body granted Philippine government’s claim that Benham Rise is part of Philippines’ continental shelf.

He said that the award limits the Philippines to explore natural resources beneath Benham Rise but cannot treat it as its sovereign territory.

Article 77 Paragraph 1 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) says “the coastal State exercises over the continental shelf sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring it and exploiting its natural resources.”

Further, Article 78 Paragraph says “the exercise of the rights of the coastal State over the continental shelf must not infringe or result in any unjustifiable interference with navigation and other rights and freedoms of other States as provided for in this Convention.”

“I think it was monitored for about three months going there, so I have ordered the Navy that if they see this survey ship this year start to accost them and driving them away also from the eastern side of the Philippines,” Secretary Lorenzana said in a media event March 9.

The National Defense chief added that a report reaching him claims the Chinese could be looking for a spot for its submarines.

Former National Security Adviser and former Philippine Navy officer Roilo Golez is calling on the Philippine government “to file a very strong protest against the presence and the visit of the Chinese survey ship in Benham Rise.”

“They cannot claim innocent passage, because Benham Rise is not part of the traditional sea lanes. Walang dahilan para nandoon iyong survey ship,” Golez said.

Government forces encounter NPA in Batangas

From Update.Ph (Mar 10): Government forces encounter NPA in Batangas

2ID photo

At around 1 pm today, another firefight ensued between the government troops from Philippine Army 2nd Infantry ‘Jungle Fighter’ Division (2ID) and members of NPA at Brgy Toong, Tuy, Batangas. According to 2ID, the encounter was a result of continuing military offensive after the termination of unilateral ceasefire, and the order of Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief-of-Staff to hit the enemy hard.

“While conducting combat operation, the troops of 1st Infantry Battalion and 730th Combat Group all under the control of 2nd Division’s 202nd Brigade encountered an undetermined number of armed rebels,” 2ID said.

No casualty from the government troops was recorded while the number of casualties from enemy side is undetermined. The troops recovered one AK47, one Shotgun, and one Improvised Explosive Device (IED).

2ID noted that the said engagement is just three days after the encounter in Quezon Province which resulted to the death of 4 NPAs, apprehension of two alleged NPAs, and the recovery of seven high-powered firearms (two AK47, four M16, and one M203).

“The enemies of the government shall expect massive combat operations as we are now more focused in protecting the people from any threat,” 2ID commander Major General Rhoderick Parayno said.

Abu Sayyaf kidnaps 13 in Duterte's first months

From Rappler (Mar 10): Abu Sayyaf kidnaps 13 in Duterte's first months

The worsening situation in Sulu is prompting the military to consider transferring an entire division to province

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said there are plans to transfer an entire military division to Sulu, one of the options mulled as the government works to meet a self-imposed deadline to crush local terrorist group Abu Sayyaf.

The kidnapping has gotten worse in the first months of President Rodrigo Duterte. There were 18 hostages when he assumed office on June 30. Now there are 31, mostly foreigners.

There are 25 foreigners among the 31 hostages including the 7 Vietnamese crewmen abducted in February. A German hostage was also beheaded last February.

"The problem in the southern Philippines is piracy and kidnapping. It's actually... it's giving me, personally, headache sometimes. I couldn't sleep at night thinking about how to solve the problem there," Lorenzana said in a forum on Thursday, March 9.

"Kidnapping has not abated. When the President was inaugurated on June 30, there were only 18 hostages being held by the Abu sayyaf. Now there are 31. It's very embarrassing," he said.

Residents are asking for a more permanent military presence in Sulu, he said.
The Joint Sulu Task Force has been responsible for the island that hosts the terrorist group that has established links with Islamic State.

Because it is a task force, the number soldiers deployed to serve it varies depending on instructions from headquarters.

Permanent presence

After Duterte assumed power in June 2016, the military has sent 8,000 men – more than the average number of a Philippine armed forces division – to the task force.

The transfer of an entire division there, however, would provide a less ad hoc structure and tighter command and control from headquarters. A military division in the Philippines usually consists of 5,000 men.

"Maybe we will transfer one division there in Jolo so that it's always there. Because one of the concerns of the Joloanos was they (soldiers) stay here for a couple of years and then we'll leave. So after you leave, the bandits crop up. They want us to establish a permanent presence in Jolo and also in Basilan," Lorenzana said.

Lorenzana said a task force may also be established in Bongao in Tawi-Taiwi, the country's southermost island which has reportedly become a transit point for the terrorist group.

The country's top security officials on Tuesday, March 7, met with local leaders in Sulu to discuss how they're going to stop the atrocities of the Abu Sayyaf. Lorenzana said he believes the military is dealing with about 400 Abu Sayyaf armed men.

Lorenzana said the government is determined to crush the Abu Sayyaf. "I believe we can solve this problem by maybe end of June. Or we'll give them another couple of months maybe," he said.

The Duterte administration is also working with neighboring countries Malaysia and Indonesia to conduct joint patrols in the piracy-plagued waters.

The President on Thursday went to the extent of warning that he'd impose martial law in Mindanao if the situation gets worse.

'EMBARRASSING' | Number of Abu Sayyaf hostages doubled after Duterte took office - Lorenzana

From InterAksyon (Mar 10): 'EMBARRASSING' | Number of Abu Sayyaf hostages doubled after Duterte took office - Lorenzana

Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana (Reuters file)

The number of hostages being held by the Abu Sayyaf has almost doubled since President Rodrigo Duterte took office last July, a development Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana admitted was "very embarrassing" to the Philippines.

"When the President [took office] on June 30, there were only 18 hostages being held by the Abu Sayyaf. Now there are 31. So dumami pa. It is very embarrassing to the whole world," Lorenzana told defense reporters.

The number does not include German Juergen Kantner, who was beheaded late last month. The military said 25 of the hostages still held by the Abu Sayyaf are foreigners.

"The problem in the southern Philippines is actually giving me personally a headache. Sometimes I can't sleep at night thinking of how to solve the problem there," he added.

Among the latest kidnap victims were seven Vietnamese sailors seized from a ship off Tawi-Tawi late last month. One sailor was killed in the attack while 17 others were rescued by the Coast Guard and Marines.

Lorenzana said he met with the Vietnamese ambassador to discuss possible measures to protect ships sailing through the waters of the southern Philippines, where kidnappings have surged since last year.

Among his suggestions, said Lorenzana, was to allow the arming of Vietnamese crews but the ambassador turned this down citing international law.

Nevertheless, he said both countries have agreed to establish a lane where vessels transiting through the Sulu Sea can be assured of protection by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Lorenzana also said that after a series of meetings, Philippine, Malaysian and Indonesian force are ready to launch joint patrols of their common maritime borders either next month or in May.

The Philippine component to this mission will be a task force headed by a major (two-star) general that will be based in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi equipped with fast-craft, ships and drones.

Lorenzana said he believes the military can solve the Abu Sayyaf problem by the end of June "or if not, we'll give them another couple of months."

He added that the military might transfer a full Army division to Sulu.

Kantner was the third foreigner beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf since last year when they executed Canadians Robert Hall and John Ridsdel.

COMMENT: A Postscript: to “Good! Enough? In All Honesty …”

Opinion piece by Patricio P. Diaz posted to MindaNews (Mar 10): COMMENT: A Postscript: to “Good! Enough? In All Honesty …”

— In “Good! Enough? In All Honesty …” (COMMENT: MindaNews, February 22, 23 and 26), we said the New BTC (Bangsamoro Transition Commission) could craft a new Bangsamoro basic law and present it to President Rodrigo R. Duterte by July 24, 2017 for submission to the Congress if the New BTC were the only body to draft the basic law as mandated by Executive Order No. 08, s. 2017. However, three situations could complicate the drafting.

The first situation will arise from the separate negotiation between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front-Misuari faction; the second, from the simultaneous legislative-federalism tracks of the Bangsamoro Peace and Development Roadmap of the Duterte government; and, third, from the contradictory draft bills the New BTC and the MNLF-Misuari will submit to the Congress. These situations are beyond the control of the New BTC.

We suggested “the crucial option”: “The New BTC uses Draft BBL as its primary working draft. Converge to this all the other peace agreements and legislations as provided in “(1)” of the “Legislative Track” of the BPDR. President Duterte convinces the 17th Congress to presume the ensuing CAB-compliant Draft BEL as constitutional.  Let the constitutional issues, if any, be decided by Supreme Court. Constitutional amendments may still be proposed to the ConAss (Constituent Assembly).

“But this option will be futile if MNLF-Misuari will continue its engagement with the Duterte government, The Congress has been entrusted with the task to consolidate the two draft bills; but the impossibility to abolish the ARMM as proposed by one and to keep and strengthen it as proposed by the other can be an excuse for the 17th Congress to write a substitute bill unacceptable to the Moros.” 

The burden is on President Duterte: “…Complications will arise from the separate negotiation of the government and the MNLF-Misuari to implement fully the 1996 FPA and from the BPDR. Does President Duterte have the wisdom, prudence, tack and, above all, political will to preempt these complications?

Acknowledged But …

President Duterte, at the launching of the New BTC last February 24, on schedule as earlier announced, acknowledged what the New BTC will have to surmount.

MindaNews (February 25) headlined, Duterte to BTC: “navigate the hindrances and obstructions; find a way to peace. But, while he gave his marching order, he failed to assure the New BTC that he would intervene, if necessary to remove obstructions to its mandate, to make its task easier and faster. On the contrary, he left all for the New BTC to contend with.

The acknowledgment was not the heart of his speech even if he cast aside a prepared speech to speak from his heart. . He did not open his speech with this. This was culled from the 26th paragraph of his 49-paragrah, 5-page speech: So I am urging the BTC to navigate the hindrances and obstructions at hanapin ninyo ang daan hanggang patungo ng kapayaan. Mahirap ‘yan. It’s going to be long journey but if there is a product that is acceptable to all, makikita ninyo ako”. (Bold, supplied)

Was this the heart of his speech? In his 25th paragraph, he said: “But I would like to tell you now that as President, ang gusto ko talaga mangyari ay kapayapaan but it must be as one country, one nation and one flag. Nagkaintindihan tayo diyan” – a part (ang gusto ko talaga mangyari ay kapayapaan)  MindaNews highlighted. For its banner headline, The Philippine Star (February 26, Sunday issue) quoted from this sentence “Peace under one nation and one flag”.

The President was vague. What was clear, though, was: He acknowledged the difficulties the New BTC would encounter, he ordered the members to find a way to peace – to unravel the complications not of their own making and beyond their control. MindaNews observed: “At a certain point, however, Duterte’s statements confused the crowd as he was apparently referring to the Constitution of a Federal Philippines instead of the BBL.”

President Duterte said he was disregarding the two-page speech prepared for him: I do not read speeches because it does not reflect what is in the heart.” As usual, he rambled extemporaneously – this time, by the official transcript of his speech, up to five pages. Most of what he said had been said earlier to Moro and various audiences – his resolve to solve the problems of Mindanao, his Moro ancestry, etc. – interspersed with his drug war, fight against corruption and warning against extremism and terrorism.

Like a Pep Talk

Secretary Dureza explained what the New BTC will do – a repetition of what had been repeatedly published in the media – and suggested it augurs well for the New BTC and the basic law draft that for the first time the President is a Mindanawon; so are the Senate President (Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III), the House Speaker (Pantaleon Alvarez) and the Chief Justice (Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno). Incidentally, not one of the last three was in attendance (MindaNews, 2/25/17: Duterte to …).

In the Sun-Star report (February 24, 2017): “Today is a milestone that has been promised. We have a golden opportunity. Now if we lose this (opportunity), it will be forever lost; we have to strike now. We call on members of BTC to come together using the experience and competency to craft a law which the congress will approve. … Road to peace is not a smooth, if we stay on the course we will get there.”

The Secretary made no mention of “the hindrances and obstructions” to “navigate’.

A Re-Launch

MILF Chairman Murad Ibrahim, in the MindaNews report (2/25/17), imparted four points:

First: He emphasized the meaning of the occasion: “As we re-launch the BTC today, we rekindle the hope of thousands of our people for a peaceful and progressive Bangsamoro even if we are occasionally gripped by sadness at the failure earlier to pass the BBL.” By “re-launch”, continuity of the peace process is affirmed.

Second:  On the failure of the BBL to pass the 16th Congress, he urged stakeholders to “look back at those experiences, not with bitterness, but with an examining eye so that we may dissect the problems and address them.”

Third: Concerning the present: “We must come out better prepared this time to respond to the challenges of legislation. The Filipino people must equally stand prepared to accept us as partners in achieving peace and progress, not only for this region but for the entire country.”

Fourth: He and the MILF have not lost confidence in the government –  in fact, ”more confident”, for Mindanawons head all the three branches of government under Duterte and  the President avows to understand “the history and the root cause of the Moro Question”.  Rightly so, referring to the re-launching, he hoped: “Perhaps, this second chance is the best second chance anyone could possibly have.”

Murad’s two-page speech, reiterated the MILF stand that the proposed BBL would be CAB-compliant like the first. He said that as the President recognized the CAB as “an attempt to redress the historical injustices against the Moro people”, they readily accepted his proposal to converge the peace agreements, believing “that we can work with our brothers and sisters from the MNLF”.

He expected “the BTC to encounter challenges” but he also expected “the three branches of our government can all work together to contribute in the epoch-making task of bring peace finally to our country” — the Executive to negotiate peace; the Legislative to enact peace legislation; and, the Supreme Court to rule on constitutional issues for peace. We see in this a challenge to Government to trust the New BTC.

Foremost in his final appeal for unity:  “To our fellow brothers from the MNLF, let us close ranks and find strength in the convergence of our peace agreements.”

Easier Option

Speaker Pimentel was not at the launching. However, in an exclusive interview by MN Editor Carolyn O. Arguillas at his Senate office in Pasay City (MindaNews, March 1, 2017: Pimentel urges BTC to work “double time” on draft Bangsamoro law), he revealed what could have been his message had he spoken at the launching.

His key points: (1) The New BTC “should now start working” and work “double time” to submit their draft to Congress by July. (2) The two-track approach to peace through BBL and Federalism “introduces some complications”. While the “the simplest (way) would be straight to federalism”, passing a “bill (proposed BBL) into law is easier than (shifting from) old Constitution to new Constitution.” (3) The Senate will “accommodate and cooperate” with the Executive Branch.

More than the complications that we have discussed as arising from the simultaneous “Legislative + Federal” track provided in the BPDR and the separate engagement of MNLF-Misuari faction with the government, he saw complications in the timeframes for the passage of the BBL, the establishment of federalism and the need to implement the existing peace agreements that mandate the creation of a Moro autonomous region”.

The mechanisms for the passage of the BBL are in motion, the output being awaited. In contrast, those for federalism are not; the primer – the Consultative Committee that will study the 1987 Constitution and recommend amendments to the Congress as Constituent Assembly — has been created but not organized’

On the New BTC and MNLF-Misuari separate proposals that will be submitted to the  Congress, he said the ideal is for the Moro fronts do the convergence of the drafts into one proposed law for submission to Congress; if the two fronts will not “then somebody has to do the harmonization or the reconciliation. It could be the Office of the President, walang masama doon (nothing wrong with that) or it could be Congress.”


Pimentel’s suggestion for the Moro Fronts to do the convergence of the Bangsamoro basic law proposals jibes with the proposal of MILF Chairman Murad to let the BCF or Bangsamoro Cooperation Forum do it. MNLF Chairman Misuari stands in the way. Only President Duterte and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation can make Misuari change his mind.

While President Duterte did not categorically spell out the “hindrances and obstructions” barring the New BTC’s way, despite his vagueness, we can trust that he will give the Commission all the help it needs to clear the way. Will Speaker Alvarez also assure the “cooperation and accommodation” of the House?

It looks as if the only obstacle is Chairman Nur Misuari. Why can’t he see and accept the wisdom of the OIC counsel for all Moro Fronts to unite and do the convergence of the Bangsamoro basic law through the BCF?

The heads of the MNLF-Misuari and of the government peace implementing panels were known early last November. But the panels have not been formally created. Why the long silence? Why the inaction?  

It is highly possible the MNLF-Misuari will not be able to submit by July its proposed amendments of R.A. No. 9054. Should the New BTC be able to submit its draft bill on time, will the Congress proceed enacting it into the Bangsamoro Enabling Law? What will happen should the MNLF-Misuari eventually submit its draft?

It can be rightly said that the Philippine Government has seen the light and has granted the Bangsamoro as the political settlement of the Moro Question. What historic irony and paradox will it be if the acknowledged Father of the Moro Liberation Front movement – in spite of his sincerity, zeal and sacrifices to liberate the Moro people — will be seen as the leading cause of disunity that will abort the Bangsamoro!