Thursday, March 16, 2017

CPP/NPA-Camarine Norte: Hinggil sa Pekeng Balitang Engkwentro sa Pagitan ng NPA at Philippine Army noong Marso 15 sa Barangay Itok

New People's Army propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Mar 15): Hinggil sa Pekeng Balitang Engkwentro sa Pagitan ng NPA at Philippine Army noong Marso 15 sa Barangay Itok

Carlito Cada, Spokesperson
NPA-Camarines Norte (Armando Catapia Command)

16 March 2017
Press Release

Isang malaking kasinungalingan ang pahayag ni ng 9th ID, Philippine Army (PA) na isang kasapi ng New People’s Army ang napatay at nakasamsam ang PA ng armas, bala’t kagamitan sa isang engkwentro sa Sityo Public, Barangay Itok, Capalonga nitong Miyerkules, Marso 15, 2017.

Walang naganap na engkwentro sa pagitan ng Philippine Army at alinmang yunit ng Armando Catapia Command ng New People’s Army, Camarines Norte. Pinabulaanan din ito ng mga residente ng Barangay Itok na may naganap na engkwentro dito. Sa pag-iimbestiga, napag-alamang isang sibilyang magsasakang nagngagangalang Obina (apelyido) ang inakusahang kasapi ng NPA at pinatay ng mga elemento ng 9th ID, sa pamumuno ng isang Sgt. Hernandez, sa Barangay Mactang, kalapit na baryo ng Barangay Itok.

Ang karahasang ito ay bahagi ng di-makatarungang all-out war sa ilalim ng huwad na Oplan Kapayapaan ng rehimeng Duterte. Ayon sa Ang Bayan, mu­la nang idek­la­ra ang Oplan Ka­pa­ya­pa­an, hin­di ba­ba­ba sa tat­long mag­sa­sa­ka ka­da ling­go ang pi­na­tay ng mga ar­ma­dong pwer­sa ng es­ta­do. Katulad ng mga sinundan nitong oplan ng mga nakaraang rehimen, pinatutunayang walang-pagkabahala ang pasistang gobyerno sa buhay ng mga inosenteng sibiyan. Sa katunayan, ang pag-akusa at pagpaslang sa mga sibilyan ay matagal nang bahagi ng teroristang manera ng operasyon ng Philippine Army upang maghasik ng takot sa mamamayan, sa bigong pagtatangka nilang ilayo ang mamamayan sa rebolusyonaryong kilusan. Bahagi rin ito ng pagkukumahog na makapag-ulat ng mga diumanong matatagumpay na operasyon, upang pagtakpan ang kabiguan nilang supilin ang NPA.

Mariing kinokondena ng Armando Catapia Command ang teroristang karahasang ito. Nananawagan kami sa mamamayan, kabilang ang lokal na midya at human rights advocates, na kalampagin ang opisina ng 9th ID, sa pamumuno ni Maj. Gen. Manolito P.Orense, at maging ang opsina ni Brig. Gen. Rolando C. Manalo, Brigade Commander ng 902nd Infantry Brigade, na siyang nagsumite ng pekeng ulat, upang isiwalat ang katotohanan at nang mabigyan ng hustisya ang pinaslang na magsasaka at ang pamilya nito.

https://www.philippinerevolution.info/statements/20170316-hinggil-sa-pekeng-balitang-engkwentro-sa-pagitan-ng-npa-at-philippine-army-noong-marso-15-s

CPP/NPA-ST: Ang AFP ang siyang hindi kayang kontrolin ng mga nakatataas nitong opisyal

New People's Army propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Mar 15): Ang AFP ang siyang hindi kayang kontrolin ng mga nakatataas nitong opisyal

Jaime “Ka Diego” Padilla, Spokesperson
NPA-Southern Tagalog (Melito Glor Command)

15 March 2017

Malaking kasinungalingan ang pahayag ng reaksyunaryong gobyerno at Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) na hindi tumutupad ang mga yunit ng New People’s Army (NPA) sa mga atas at direktiba hinggil sa tigil-putukan at sa kaseryosohan ng NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines) sa peace talks.

Katunayan, mahigpit na napanghahawakan ng NPA ang sariling tigil-putukan, at ang mga naganap na labanan sa pagitan ng NPA at AFP ay dulot ng aktibong depensang isinasagawa ng NPA laban sa mga operasyong kombat ng AFP sa mga komunidad na nasasaklaw ng NPA.

Malaking sagka sa tunay at makatarungang kapayapaan ang AFP at ang Department of National Defense dahil sa pambabaluktot nila ng kanilang pahayag. Ang tunay na motibo sa patuloy na paninira at paghilamos ng mga kung anu-anong sama at baho sa rebolusyunaryong pwersa ay upang idiskaril ang usapang pangkapayapaan. Sinusulsol ng Kagawaran sa Depensa at mga mapandigmang heneral ng AFP ang mga naganap na labanan upang tuluyang mabigo ang usapan.

Ang pataksil na pag-atake ng AFP sa mga operasyong militar nito sa kanayunan at pagtangging kilalanin ng Kalihim ng Depensa bilang isang katapat na gobyerno ang NDFP ay Pagkwestiyon sa sinseridad nila sa pagkakamit ng kapayapaan.

Ang gobyernong Duterte ang siyang tunay na hindi kayang magkontrol ng kanyang sariling armadong pwersa. Sa loob ng 5 buwan mula Agosto 2016 nang ideklara ng Rehimeng Duterte ang kanyang walang taning na tigil-putukan, iba’t ibang operasyong militar ang inilunsad nila.

Sa Timog Katagalugan pa lamang, naitala sa unang 3 buwan ng ceasefire ang mga paglabag ng AFP: 71 combat operations, 17 COPD (Community Organizing for Peace and Development sa layuning magtayo ng paniktik), 7 pagtatayo ng checkpoint, 9 na intelligence at psywar operations (kasama ang pagbabanta, pananakot, hamletting, food blockade at iba pa), at 13 paggalaw, repositioning, redeployment at pagtatayo ng detatsment sa mga pampublikong pasilidad (tulad ng Brgy. Hall, eskwelahan at iba pa). Gayong dapat manatili sila sa kani-kanilang mga barracks.

Sa simula palang, laging iginiit ng ndfp ang kagustuhan nitong matuloy ang usapang pangkapayapaan at malutas ang malaon nang problema ng kahirapan sa bansa. Sa kabila ng hindi kayang sundin ng AFP ang sarili nitong tigil-putukan, nais pa rin ng rebolusyonaryong kilusang ituloy ang usapang pangkapayapaan.

Tungkulin rebolusyonaryong kilusan na ipagtanggol sa anumang baluktot na layunin na wasakin ang rebolusyunaryong hanay habang patuloy na umuusad ang peacetalks. Hindi papayag ang ndfp na samantalahin ng afp na paikutin ang sariling hanay. Mananatiling tagapagtanggol ang npa laban sa anumang tangka ng reaksyunaryong hukbo at pulis na guluhin at maghasik ng karahasan sa mga komunidad nasaklaw ng NPA.

Sa kabilang banda, nanawagan ang rebolusyonaryong kilusan sa Timog Katagalugan sa mga mapagmahal sa kapayapaan na maging mapagbantay sa mga pambabaluktot, paninira at mga pananabotahe at mga panlilinlang ng AFP at iba pang makinarya ng estado sa hanay ng mamamayan. Manatiling buo at matatag na labanan ang anumang makauring pangaapi at pagsasamantala ng mga kaaway at imperyalistang dominasyon sa Pilipinas.

https://www.philippinerevolution.info/statements/20170315-ang-afp-ang-siyang-hindi-kayang-kontrolin-ng-mga-nakatataas-nitong-opisyal

CPP/NPA-ST: Okupasyon ng Kadamay, itinulak ng malawakang dislokasyon

New People's Army propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Mar 15): Okupasyon ng Kadamay, itinulak ng malawakang dislokasyon

Jaime “Ka Diego” Padilla, Spokesperson
NPA-Southern Tagalog (Melito Glor Command)

15 March 2017
Press Release

Sinusuportahan ng Melito Glor Command, New People’s Army Southern Tagalog (MGC-NPA ST) ang pag-okupa ng Kadamay (Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap) sa 5, 280 bahay sa Padre Pio De Pandi Resettlement Project, Barangay Carong Bata, Pandi, Bulacan bilang paggiit ng kanilang karapatan sa pabahay.

Ayon kay Jaime “Ka Diego” Padilla, tagapagsalita ng MGC-NPA ST, isa sa mga batayang pangangailangan ng tao ang magkaroon ng bahay kasama ng tubig, pagkain at pananamit kaya hindi natin masisisi ang mga maralita na angkinin ang mga nilumang, bangkanteng pabahay dahil matagal na dapat itong naipamahagi.

Nilinaw rin ni Ka Diego na kung hindi dahil sa kapabayaan ng reaksyunaryong gobyerno, hindi maoobliga ang kanyang nagdarahop na mamamayang mag-aklas at igiit ang nararapat nilang tinatamasa.

Malawakang dislokasyon sa kalunsuran

Ang Timog Katagalugan ay isa sa may malaking bilang ng mga maralitang taga-lungsod mula sa Metro Manila na nademolis ang mga tahanan at idinisloka sa mga proyektong pabahay sa Batangas, Rizal, Cavite, Laguna at Quezon.

Kalakip ng kanilang dislokasyon ay ang pagtanggal ng kanilang kabuhayan dahil sa layo ng mga proyektong pabahay sa kanilang pinagtatrabahuhan at maging sa mga serbisyong panlipunan kasama ang public utilities. Katulad ng mga ito ang Southville 1-7, Makativille sa Laguna, at iba pang mga pabahay sa Cavite, Rizal, Batangas at Quezon. Kumon sa mga lugar na ito ang mga hinaing ng mga maralita na walang tubig at kuryente, ospital, at paaralan para sa kanilang mga anak na wala sa panahong napatigil sa pag-aaral dahil inilipat. Karaniwan ding delikado ang pinaglipatan dahil binabaha, malapit sa mga riles ng tren, cell site, dump site, o fault line.

“Pinakamasahol pa, ang pagpapabayad sa mga maralita sa mga bahay samantalang pinaglaanan na ito ng pondo ng gobyerno. Samantala, matapos silang i-demolis, proyekto ng malalaking korporasyon ang papalit sa lupang tinirikan,” ani Ka Diego.

Dagdag ni Ka Diego, hindi rin sapat ang perang ipinampapalit ng reaksyunaryong gobyerno sa mga bahay na giniba nila, kaya napipilitan pa rin ang mga maralita na tumira sa mga pook na kadusta-dusta ang kalagayan o sa mga mumunting barong-barong yari sa murang materyales pagkatapos i-demolis. *
Malawakang dislokasyon sa kanayunan*

Sa kanayunan ng Timog Katagalugan, malawakan din ang demolisyon at pagpapalayas sa mga lupain ng mga magsasaka at mangingisda sa buong rehiyon.

Hindi ligtas ang mga magsasaka at mangingisdang pinalayas sa mga Hacienda Uy, Reyes, iba pang hacienda sa Bondoc Peninsula ng Quezon, sa pagtatayuan ng Atimonan Coal Fired Power plant sa Quezon, sa Laguna, sa Batangas, sa Rizal, mga baryo sa panabihan ng Laguna de Bay, tabing dagat ng Mindoro at Palawan, at mga lupaing ninuno sa buong Timog Katagalugan.

Sa Sitio Balacbacan, Brgy. Laiya, San Juan, Batangas, marahas na dinemolis ng mga bayarang goons at mga elemento ng Philippine Army at Navy ang daan-daang mamamayan sa baybay dagat para tayuan ng isang beach resort. Nakaamba ring i-demolis kapalit ng isang beach resort ang Brgy. Patungan at mga karatig na pamayanan sa Hacienda Looc sa Nasugbu, Batangas – Maragondon, Cavite border area.

Libo-libong mamamayan din ang i-dedemolish para sa pagtatayo ng Laiban Dam sa probinsya ng Rizal at Atimonan Coal-Fired Power Plant sa probinsya ng Quezon, kapwa mga proyekto sa balangkas ng Public-Private Partnership Program.

Sapilitang pinalilikas ang mga magsasaka sa mga hacienda para sa pagpapalit-gamit ng lupa tulad ng Hacienda Yulo na ginawang malawak na golf course, mga asyendang tinatayuan ng mga proyektong pabahay tulad sa Brgy. Madulao, Catanuan, Quezon at upang gawing mga rancho ng malalaking panginoong maylupa tulad sa Mindoro, Palawan at Bondoc Peninsula, Quezon.

Pinalalayas rin ang mga katutubo sa Mindoro, Palawan, Rizal at hangganang Quezon-Bicol upang bigyang daan ang malawakang dayuhang pagmimina at proyektong ekoturismo ng reaksyunaryong gobyerno.

Pakikibaka ng mamamayan para sa sosyo-ekonomikong pagkapantay-pantay

Paliwanag ni Ka Diego, sa kasalukuyang gobyerno na binabawasan ang lehitimong karapatan ng mamamayan upang bigyang daan ang interes ng mga dambuhalang korporasyon, hindi mapipigilan ang nag-aaklas na mamamayan.

Dagdag ni Ka Diego, “Kung ang reaksyunaryong gobyernong ay naglalayong maglingkod sa mamamayan, kailangan niyang pakinggan ang mga hinaing nito at hindi sa mga dambuhalang korporasyon.”

Ang pagkakaloob ng tunay na reporma sa lupa, pambansang industriyalisasyon at pagkakaloob ng libre at de-kalidad na serbisyong panlipunan ay nakasaad sa Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (caser) na iginigiit ng National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) upang ipagkaloob ang mga lehitimo at batayang karapatan ng mamamayan katulad ng pabahay.

https://www.philippinerevolution.info/statements/20170315-okupasyon-ng-kadamay-itinulak-ng-malawakang-dislokasyon

CPP/NPA-Abra: NPA Abra, Nagtagumpay sa Raid at Ambush Laban sa Pusakal na PNP

New People's Army propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Mar 15): NPA Abra, Nagtagumpay sa Raid at Ambush Laban sa Pusakal na PNP

Ka Diego Wadagan, Spokesperson
NPA-Abra (Agustin Begnalen Command)

15 March 2017

Samu’t saring armas at gamit militar ang nasamsam ng NPA-Abra sa raid ng Malibcong MPS habang limang myembro ng Provincial Public Safety Company (PPSC) na nagresponde ang nasugatan sa ambush habang patungo sana ang komboy ng mga ito sa Poblacion Malibcong, Abra.

Matagumpay na nailunsad ng isang yunit ng Agustin Begnalen Command – Procopio Tauro Front ang reyd sa Municipal Police Detachment sa Malibcong noong gabi ng March 12, 2017. Nasamsam dito ang 10 armas na kinabibilangan ng anim na ripleng M16, isang M203, dalawang pistolang 9mm, isang kalibre .45 pistola, dalawang rifle granade, isang granada at daan-daang bala ng M16, M14, M203 at mga pistola. Nasamsam din ang iba pang dokumento, cellphones at mga uniporme ng pulis. Ligtas naman na nai-turn over ang tatlong pulis na sina SPO4 Romeo Tubera (DCOP), PO3 Richard Dauz at PO2 Leomar Tuscano sa mamamayan ng Poblacion Malibcong, Abra. Ang ilang personal na kagamitan at pera na kasama sa mga nasamsam ay kaagad ding naibalik. Hindi na nakapanlaban pa ang mga lasing na pulis.

Samantala, pasado alas-10 ng umaga ng March 13, 2017, tinambangan ng isa pang yunit ng Agustin Begnalen Command – Procopio Tauro Front ang komboy ng reimporsment ng PPSC na pinamumunuan mismo ni PSSupt. Alexander Tagum, Provincial Director PNP-Abra. Lima ang naitalang sugatan sa nasabing ambush na kinabibilangan nila PO2 Jessie Trinidad, PO2 Marlon dela Paz, PO1 Gerome Baldos, PO1 Kennon Sanggoy at PO1 Von Harold Layao. Napasabugan ng command detonated explosive ang unang sasakyan. Mabilis namang tumalilis ang sakay ng iba pang sasakyan, iniiwan ang mga sugatan nilang kasamahan.

Ang magkatugon na reyd at ambush ng ABC-Abra laban sa PNP ay pagtalima sa atas ng pambansang kumand ng NPA na maglusad ng aktibong opensiba laban sa AFP-PNP upang biguin ang “All-out War” ng rehimeng Duterte. Ang PNP ay mahigpit na kinakasangkapan sa kampanyang kontra-insurhensya at nagsasagawa ng mga operasyong saywar, paniniktik at operasyong pangkombat laban sa mamamayan at buong rebolusyonaryong kilusan. Pagtugon din ang aksyong ito sa hinaing ng mga residente na biktima ng mga abusadong pulis na pasimuno ng ipinagbabawal na droga, paglalasing, pagsusugal at brutalidad. Pagkundena din ito sa pag-abuso ng kapulisan sa pagpapatupad ng “Oplan-Tokhang” kung saan libo-libong mahihirap na pamilya ang biktima ng extra-judicial killings.

Samantala, kinukondena ng Agustin Begnalen Command ang “IP Centric” approach sa Internal Security Plan ng reaksyunaryong gubyerno kung saan mas lalong pinaigting nila ang pambansang pang-aapi sa mga mamamayang Kordilyera sa pamamagitan ng paparaming rekrutment sa taga-Kordilyera na pulis at isinisabak sa mga marahas na operasyon laban sa mga pambansang minorya sa Kordilyera at mamamayang Moro sa Mindanao.

Kinokondena din ng ABC ang naisagawang command conference sa Camp Juan Villamor na kung saan ay inoobliga ng AFP-PNP ang mga LGU na tiyakin ang seguridad ng mga MPS. Inakusahan pa sila ng mga opisyal ng PNP at AFP na mga NPA umano sila. Ang ganitong mga pahayag ay nagbibigay puwang sa harap-harapang panggigipit at villification sa mga sibilyang empleyado at opisyal ng mga lokal na gubyerno. Umaalinsunod ito sa deklarasyon ng rehimeng Duterte na total war na pawang mga sibilyan ang nagiging biktima na itinuturing nilang “collateral damage”. Sa kasalukuyan ay nakadeploy ang pwersang pangkombat ng 24th IB sa kabahayan ng Poblacion Malibcong, Poblacion Lacub, Baquiro Licuan-Baay habang halos isang batalyon ng pinagsanib na 24th IB at RPSB ang gumagalugad sa mga komunidad at kabundukan.

Mahigpit na tumatalima ang Agustin Begnalen Command sa atas ng Rehiyunal at Pambansang Operasyunal na Kumand ng NPA na paigtingin ang mga taktikal na opensiba upang biguin ang anti-mamamayang “All-out war” ng rehimeng Duterte. Lubhang mabibigo ang todo-gerang ito sapagkat hindi nito tinutugunan ang mga lehitmong kahilingan ng sambayanan para sa tunay na panlipunang kagalingan. Naninindigan ang buong rebolusyunaryong kilusan sa Abra na sa pamamagitan lamang ng Demokratikong Rebolusyong Bayan mawawakasan ang kahirapang dulot ng mala-kolonyal at malapyudal na sistema na pinaghaharian ng imperlismong US, pyudalismo at burukrata-kapitalismo.

MABUHAY ANG BAGONG HUKBONG BAYAN!

BIGUIN ANG ALL-OUT WAR NG AFP-PNP!

MAMAMAYAN LUMAHOK SA DIGMANG BAYAN, SUMAPI SA NPA!

https://www.philippinerevolution.info/statements/20170315-npa-abra-nagtagumpay-sa-raid-at-ambush-laban-sa-pusakal-na-pnp

Defense chief receives first ever Major General Albert Jones Memorial Award

From Update.Ph (Mar 16): Defense chief receives first ever Major General Albert Jones Memorial Award

National Defense Delfin N. Lorenzana was given the first Major General Albert Jones Memorial Award during the Joint U.S. Military Assistance Group’s (JUSMAG) 70th anniversary celebration hosted at the US Chief of Mission residence.

“U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Y. Kim awarded the inaugural Major General Albert Jones Memorial Award to Secretary of National Defense Delfin N. Lorenzana for his steadfast commitment and invaluable contributions to the alliance of the U.S. and the Republic of the Philippines,” the US Embassy in Manila said.
 
The said award recognizes a US or Philippine government official who has made significant contributions to the bilateral defense partnership.

General Jones first commanded the 51st Division of the Philippine Army in 1940, and then commanded the 1st Philippine Corps until his capture at Bataan in 1942. Of the 76,000 Philippine and American soldiers, Jones was the only general officer on the infamous death march.

He was held as a prisoner of war (POW) for over two years, and was among the many who endured torture and starvation. In testament to his grit, tenacity, and courage, Jones returned to the Philippines in 1946 to lead the US military advisory mission in Manila, which evolved into JUSMAG a year later.

http://www.update.ph/2017/03/defense-chief-receives-first-ever-major-general-albert-jones-memorial-award/15883

Air Force acquiring fire-control radar for FA-50PH

From Update.Ph (Mar 16): Air Force acquiring fire-control radar for FA-50PH



The Philippine Air Force (PAF) is allocating some PHP82,543,000 for the acquisition of one transmitter needed for unscheduled maintenance of the fire-control radar (FCR) of one of its South Korean-made FA-50PH “Fighting Eagle” jet fighters.

FA-50PHs are equipped with Israeli Elta EL/M-2032 fire control radar further developed by LIG Nex1.
 
The money will be sourced from PAF General Appropriations Act CY 2017, said Department of National Defense Bids and Awards Committee (DND BAC) chair Assistant Secretary Josue S. Gaverza in bid bulletin posted at the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System.

Winning bidder is required to deliver the parts within 540 calendar days from the receipt of the Notice to Proceed.
–– ADVERTISEMENT ––

Bidders should have completed, within the last five years, a similar contract.

A pre-bid conference is scheduled on March 23, 10 a.m. at the DND-BAC conference room, basement, left wing, DND Building, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, which shall be opened to all interested parties.

While bid opening is on April 6, 10 a.m. at the same venue.

An FCR is a radar that is designed specifically to provide information (mainly target azimuth, elevation, range and range rate) to a fire-control system in order to calculate a firing solution (i.e., information on how to direct weapons such that they hit the targets.

http://www.update.ph/2017/03/air-force-acquiring-fire-control-radar-for-fa-50ph/15903

US to finance construction of PNP Maritime Command Center

From Update.Ph (Mar 16): US to finance construction of PNP Maritime Command Center

The United States government agreed to extend the grant worth USD 1 million for the establishment of a Maritime Command Center, which will be run by the Philippine National Police (PNP), to combat piracy and terrorism in this city. The pledge to extend the grant was made during the visit of U.S. Ambassador Sung Y. Kim in this city on Thursday.

Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar told the Philippines News Agency that the U.S. ambassador agreed to the extension period of the grant, since the PNP has yet to settle the land title of the area where the command center will be constructed.
 
The period of the grant, which was pledged last year, will expire this year.

The city government said they are eyeing for the construction of the Maritime Command Center to begin within the year.
–– ADVERTISEMENT ––

The center will be located in Barangay Bolong, a coastal village located 32.60 kilometers east of city hall.

The Maritime Command Center aims to beef up security measures to curb the presence of terrorists, smugglers, pirates, and other criminal groups in the area.

“The city of Zamboanga expressed its gratitude to the U.S. government for its continued support to the city,” Salazar said after their closed-door meeting with the U.S. ambassador.

She said this city has been getting technical as well as financial support from the U.S. government through its development arm, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), especially after the 21-day September 2013 siege.

Among the U.S. interventions in this city are the Water Security for Resilient Economic Growth and Stability (Be Secure) project; skills training for out-of-school youth under the Mindanao Youth for Development, wildlife trafficking assistance, and improving the city government’s operations in centralizing and streamlining business permit processing.

“We have a very big support from the U.S. government through the USAID,” Salazar said.

The U.S. ambassador, who declined to be interviewed by the media, also went to visit Camp Navarro to talk with U.S. troops and top Filipino military officials there.

Camp Navarro houses the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) headquarters in this city.

The U.S. government has maintained a small contingent with around 100 soldiers in this city to help the Philippine military in anti-terrorist operations by way of providing intelligence, monitoring capabilities, and technical training.

The U.S. facility inside Camp Navarro used to be the base of the defunct Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTFP).

The presence of the U.S. troops here began at the height of the global war on terror in 2001 under the “Balikatan” military exercise program.

http://www.update.ph/2017/03/us-to-finance-construction-of-pnp-maritime-command-center/15916

President Duterte orders PCG, Navy to add more patrols in Benham Rise

From Update.Ph (Mar 16): President Duterte orders PCG, Navy to add more patrols in Benham Rise



The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Thursday said after President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered two concerned government agencies to add more patrols in the Benham Rise, the message is clear that no one is allowed to send research vessels without seeking clearance from Philippine government.

In a press briefing, Acting DFA Secretary Enrique Manalo said President Duterte instructed the Philippine Coast Guard to lead in patrolling the area supported by Philippine Navy.
 
He said China ships, including their research vessel that were spotted in the area, moved at slow pace while Chinese Coast Guard and their Navy vessel were in a distance.

According to Manalo, the Philippines respect freedom of navigation to all foreign vessels who just want to pass the area.

“China has just reaffirmed the Philippine government that they respect our sovereign rights over Benham and President Duterte has already given his instructions to actively send more patrols in the Benham Rise area,” Manalo told reporters in a press briefing.

He said that they had constant communications with the Department of National Defense and the Department of Transportation vowed to give them updates on what was the latest on Benham Rise.

He said ships of any country could pass by Benham Rise without asking for clearance from our government because we do respect freedom of navigation .

“But the fact that this is within the jurisdiction of the Philippines, any foreign vessel should asked permission from the Philippines if they wish to undertake research,” he explained when asked if foreign vessels can just make research without informing Philippine government.

http://www.update.ph/2017/03/president-duterte-orders-pcg-navy-to-add-more-patrols-in-benham-rise/15919

China warns firm actions if ‘selfish’ Japan militarily interfere in West PH Sea

From Update.Ph (Mar 17): China warns firm actions if ‘selfish’ Japan militarily interfere in West PH Sea



The Chinese government has warned Japan of “firm actions” if Japan will militarily interfere on the West Philippine Sea issue. This is after report regarding Japan’s plan to send its carrier JS Izumo (DDH-183), classified as helicopter destroyer, to the highly contested waters prior to joining the Exercise Malabar in Indian Ocean.

The Japanese warship is reportedly making stops in Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka during its three-month mission which is expected to begin in May.
 
“Out of its selfish interests, Japan has been stirring up troubles and creating splits in the South China Sea. Their behavior has prompted dissatisfaction and opposition of the Chinese people,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said during March 16 press conference.

“If the Japanese side insists on doing so, or even attempts to get militarily involved in the South China Sea, harm China’s sovereignty and security, and heighten regional tensions, the Chinese side will definitely take firm actions in response,” the Chinese spokesperson said.

She also said Japan is not a party concerned in the South China Sea issue. She added that Japan has “a disgraceful history of occupying” Spratly and Paracel Islands “during its war of aggression against China.”

http://www.update.ph/2017/03/china-warns-firm-actions-if-selfish-japan-militarily-interfere-in-west-ph-sea/15927

AFP command securing West Philippines Sea celebrates 41st anniversary

From Update.Ph (Mar 17): AFP command securing West Philippines Sea celebrates 41st anniversary



The Puerto Princesa-based Western Command (WESCOM), the military formation tasked to defend Palawan from internal and external threats, celebrated its 41st founding anniversary Friday.

“For 41 years, WESCOM has always been on its dynamic obligation for serving the community with unselfish services. Serving the Palawe├▒os has been a real honor and we, in Western Command are very grateful that we are all committed with heart to provide excellent service in protecting and securing the territory and people with the help and guide of our Almighty,” WESCOM head Lt. Gen. Raul L. Del Rosario said in a statement.
 
He added WESCOM will continue conducting sustained air, land and naval operations in order to maintain peace and order and to support socio-economic development and environmental preservation in the province of Palawan as a whole.

WESCOM was established as a unified command on March 15, 1976 pursuant to GHQ LOI 1/76 “SERPENS’ with the Philippine Marines as the first unit placed under its operational control under Project “Kaunlaran” of the Philippine Navy together with the Composite Tactical Group of the Philippine Airforce based in Puerto Princesa City.
From then on, WESCOM grew rapidly in response to the changing national security requirements, thus, in 1988, WESCOM was redesigned as an Area Command.

http://www.update.ph/2017/03/afp-command-securing-west-philippines-sea-celebrates-41st-anniversary/15934

‘STATE TERRORISM’ | Air strikes raze Abra forests, farms, rights group claims

From InterAksyon (Mar 17): ‘STATE TERRORISM’ | Air strikes raze Abra forests, farms, rights group claims



A mountain forest in the Cordillera (photo by Aldwin Quitasol, InterAksyon.com)

Bombing runs by military aircraft razed a forest and destroyed rice fields tilled by indigenous people in Malibcong, Abra, a human rights group claimed, denouncing what it called "state terrorism."

The Cordillera Human Rights Alliance, quoting reports from the Mabaka Banao and Gubang Tribal Organization, or MaBaGu, and a village official, said two military aircraft carried out air strikes in the hinterlands of the town on March 16, four days after New People’s Army guerrillas raided the town’s police station, seizing arms and ammunitions and then ambushed a reinforcement convoy, wounding five policemen.

MaBaGu told CHRA eight bombs were dropped in the morning and six more in the afternoon.

The group also quoted Antonio Ambalneg, councilman of Barangay Lat-ey, as saying three bombs were dropped in his village, destroying rice fields, pastures and a communal forest that caught fire. One of the bombs missed a farmer by 60 meters, he added.

CHRA secretary general Imelda Tabiando said the air strikes have affected at least 56 families, among who are close to 200 children. Elementary and high school classes in Malibcong have also been suspended since Monday and until March 20 as the military mounts operations against the NPA’s Agustin Begnalen Command.

It said Ambalneg had asked them to relay their appeal to end the bombings and military operations, and allow the children to go back to school.

http://interaksyon.com/article/137792/state-terrorism--air-strikes-raze-abra-forests-farms-rights-group-claims

What encounter? Soldiers executed farmer, NPA in Camarines Norte claim

From InterAksyon (Mar 17): What encounter? Soldiers executed farmer, NPA in Camarines Norte claim



Communist rebels scoffed at military claims of killing a guerrilla in a clash in Camarines Norte this week, accusing the soldiers of executing a farmer instead.

Carlito Cada, spokesman of the New People’s Army’s Armando Catapia Command in the province, denied a statement by the Army’s 9th Infantry Division that troops had killed a guerrilla and seized weapons and ammunition during a clash in Sitio Public, Barangay Itok in Capalonga town on Wednesday.

“There was no encounter between the Philippine Army and any unit of the Armando Catapia Command of the New People’s Army in Camarines Norte,” Cada said.

Residents of Itok also “refuted” the Army statement, he said.

Cada added that their initial investigation indicated that “a civilian farmer by the name of Obina … was accused as being a member of the NPA and was executed by elements of the 9th ID, under a certain Sergeant Hernandez, in Barangay Mactang, a nearby barrio.”

He blamed the alleged murder of the farmer on the Duterte government’s counterinsurgency template, Oplan Kapayapaan, under which he claimed “three farmers per week have been slain by the state’s armed forces.”

He accused the government of “complete disregard for the lives of innocent civilians,” echoing earlier warnings by human rights groups here and abroad, following President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to state forces to carry out air strikes against the rebels and disregard “collateral damage,” that he could be opening himself up to prosecution for crimes against humanity.

This is aside from the thousands of lives lost in Duterte’s war on drugs since July last year.

Even as fighting has resumed and intensified since the rebels and the government lifted their respective unilateral ceasefires early last month, both sides have recently agreed to resume formal peace negotiations in the first week of April.

They are also expected to restore their unilateral ceasefires before talks resume and to negotiate a bilateral ceasefire agreement.

http://interaksyon.com/article/137794/what-encounter-soldiers-executed-farmer-npa-in-camarines-norte-claim

At close range

From the Mindanao Times (Mar 16): At close range

NPAs approached patrol car to finish off cops in Bansalan: Soco report

AT LEAST one of the police officers killed in the New People’s Army ambush in Bansalan, Davao del Sur could have still been alive before he was finished off at close range, the Scene of the Crimes Operatives concluded.

Chief Insp. Nolan Genova, the medico-legal officer of the Regional Crime Laboratory Office (RCLO) who was part of the team that processed the crime scene in Barangay Sibayan, Bansalan, presented the report yesterday during the AFP-PNP press conference held at the clubhouse of the Police Regional Office XI.

Genova said the patrol car was descending on a slope toward the bridge. “The patrol car hit the railing of the bridge and the (NPA) was positioned on the left side portion from the high ground.”

They recovered three M14 cartridges from the cadaver of PO3 Jeden Mei Rabor. Genova said the body might have been moved.

“PO1 Saro Mangotara was sitting at the back and he might still be alive when dragged down,” he said. (The officer) was made to sit down before shot.”

Genova said they could not find any bloodstains on passenger cab of the patrol car, which means Mangotara was still alive.

The four police officers killed in the New People’s Army ambush in Bansalan, Davao del Sur sustained a total of 31 gunshot wounds.
 
Initial investigation showed that at around 6:30 a.m. of March 8, the Soco-Davao del Sur received a request regarding a shooting incident in the barangay. They joined the patrol car of the Bansalan Municipal Police Station.

While the team was on its way to the area, they were fired by undetermined number of New People’s Army (NPA). Four cops and one Soco member were killed on site. Another member of Soco was wounded.

The investigator added that they found 65 cartridges from M14 and M16 at the crime scene, which means the rebels approached the vehicles at close range and fired. They also found cartridges from the position of the rebels on higher ground. Ballistics concluded that they came from the same guns.
 
There are M14 cartridges found near the feet of PO3 Rabor .

He also said that they didn’t recover any empty shell coming from the firearms of the police officers, which means they did not have the opportunity to fire back. On the right portion of the patrol car, they were able to recover improvised explosive device that did not explode that was allegedly thrown by the rebel group.
 
Based on their investigation, PO1 Rholly Benelayo (driver) died from a gunshot wound that entered through the back of his head. He had six gunshot wounds.

PO1 Joey Narvasa sustained fatal injuries to the abdomen and upper torso. He died from a total of eight gunshot wounds.

PO1 Saro S. Mangotara sustained gunshot wounds to the neck, chest and both lower extremities, with six total gunshot wounds.

PO3 Jaden Mei Rabor (SOCO personnel) sustained gunshot wound to the head, back and both upper extremities. Rabor succumbed to a total of 11 gunshot wounds.

They were able to recover from the crime scene one IED, 33 pieces of M14 fired cartridges, 23 from 5.56mm, two from 7.62 fired bullet, one M16 fired bullet, metallic fragment.

The M16 rifle of PO1 Benelayo , M16 of PO1 Narvasa, 9mm Glock pistol of PO1 Mangotara and PO3 Rabor and medical kits of the Socor where reported missing or damaged.

The report contradicted the NPA’s own version, which claimed that the police officers fired back,” the NPA statement signed by Rigoberto F. Sanchez, spokesperson of NPA-Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command.
 
“The PNP personnel, however, retaliated with numerous return of fire,” it added. “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.”

http://mindanaotimes.net/at-close-range/

Judge to hear motion filed by Sema in Roxas blast in April

From the Mindanao Times (Mar 16): Judge to hear motion filed by Sema in Roxas blast in April  

THE REGIONAL Trial Court (RTC) Branch 33 postponed the hearing on the urgent motion to quash warrant of arrest filed by Mohammad Abdul Jabbar Sema, the son of a ranking Moro National Liberation Front (MILF) leader, in connection to the terrorism case lodged against him.
 
Presiding Judge Lope Callo rescheduled the hearing to April 19 to allow the prosecution to comment on the motion filed by Sema through his legal counsel, Ricardo H. Moreno.

In the same case, Callo is set to resolve the motion to drop and/or discharge the case against Ausa Abdullah Mamasapano and Jackson Mangulas Usi.
 
Mamasapano and Usi executed extra-judicial confessions, which became the basis of prosecutors to recommend for violation of Sec. 3 (terrorism) of Republic Act 9374 (Human Security Act) and multiple murder with multiple attempted murder under the Revised Penal Code against the 14 accused.

According to the extra-judicial confessions of Mamasapano and Usi, Sema was the one who suggested to bomb Davao City because the incumbent President is from the said city, and to compel the government to reduce the military forces in Basilan to fight the Abu Sayyaf Group.
 
Meanwhile, the motion to determine probable cause and motion to dismiss on the ground of lack of probable cause filed by Sema for the multiple murder with multiple attempted murder is still pending.
 

Sison appreciates Duterte for resumption of GRP-NDFP peace talks

From MindaNews (Mar 16): Sison appreciates Duterte for resumption of GRP-NDFP peace talks

Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison “expresses deep appreciation” to President Rodrigo R. Duterte for re-opening the peace negotiations between the government (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

In a statement issued Wednesday, Sison, Duterte’s former professor on Political Thought, said that “it is in the people’s interest for the GRP and the NDFP to pursue the forging of a peace agreement.”

The fourth round of formal talks is set for April 2 to 6 in Oslo, Norway.

On forging the peace agreement, Sison said it must uphold the sovereignty and independence of the Filipino people; strengthen democracy for the exploited and oppressed people; and create the conditions for economic development through land reform, national industrialization and expansion of social services and benefits, promotion of patriotic and scientific culture and peace and development in a multipolar world.

He said that the foundations for these can be achieved within the Duterte administration.

Sison, 78, said that he is on his way to full recovery after he was hospitalized for some time but he has been helping in the preparations for the next round of peace talks.

“I wish to inform the public that I have been hospitalized for some time but under the care of a team of medical specialists and other health workers, I am on the way to full recovery,” he said.

During the next round of talks, GRP panel member Antonio Arellano said both panels will flesh out the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-economic Reforms (CASER) and the bilateral ceasefire agreement.

He added no timeline was set on the signing of CASER and ceasefire agreement as these are “complex issues which had been with us since we become a state” and cannot be resolved “summarily.”

“It goes to the root of the rebellion. You cannot project the time, but hopefully matapos within six months may mga drafts na both sides.”

http://www.mindanews.com/top-stories/2017/03/sison-appreciates-duterte-for-resumption-of-grp-ndfp-peace-talks/

GRP-NDFP talks: Bilateral truce necessary but zero armed conflicts not guaranteed, says gov’t negotiator

Posted to MindaNews (Mar 16): GRP-NDFP talks: Bilateral truce necessary but zero armed conflicts not guaranteed, says gov’t negotiator



Former NDF negotiator Satur Ocampo speaks in a peace forum in Davao City on 15 March 2017. Leftmost is GRP peace panel member Atty. Antonio Arellano. Mindanews Photo

The forging of bilateral ceasefire agreement will not guarantee that there will be no more armed encounters between the government (GRP) and the New Peoples’ Army, but will be necessary so that neither of the two parties will back out from the peace talks.

During the Mindanao Peace Forum at the Homitori on Wednesday, GRP peace panel member Atty. Antonio Arellano said a bilateral ceasefire document would not totally eradicate the possible eruption of the armed encounters but would clearly define what acts would constitute as violations based on the agreed document by both parties.

“Would you expect shooting now? Why not? We have to expect that because the rebellion is ongoing,” he said.

On the previous unilateral ceasefires, Arellano said: “Although there are some instances of unfortunate incidents, but in general, substantially the ceasefire was held until it was declared ended.”

He said that, in the previous declaration, the violations were not stated because there was “no agreement as to what acts will constitute violations.”

“Before the declaration of an indefinite unilateral ceasefire by both the GRP and the NDFP, of course, the context was, there is armed conflict. You know what happens in armed conflict. When both agreed separately to unilaterally declare ceasefire, it was a ceasefire, which was voluntary on the party,” Arellano said.

He said a bilateral agreement will put in place some monitoring mechanisms to keep track of the compliance of the government forces and NPA rebels.

Although they have yet to discuss in detail the bilateral document in the next round of peace negotiations set on April 2 to 6 in Oslo, Norway, he said they may include certain areas off-limits to military troops and NPA combatants.

“These are still subject to further discussions but the discussions are ongoing already and to tell you frankly we are all very hopeful that in due time matatapos na yung agreement at tuloy-tuloy yung usapan (the agreement will be completed at the talks can proceed unhampered),” Arellano said.

He said he is hopeful that in the fourth round of talks, they would come up with an agreement signed that is “already bilateral in character.”

Last March 12, Secretary Jesus Dureza, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, said the GRP and the NDFP peace panels agreed during the backchannel talks held from March 10 to 11, 2017 in Utrecht, The Netherlands to revive the peace talks after a month of impasse and reinstate the unilateral ceasefire, which will be effective “as soon as their respective forces shall have been informed.”

On February 1, 2017, NPA spokesperson Jorge Madlos announced the lifting of its unilateral ceasefire effective 11:59 p.m. on February 10. President Rodrigo Duterte likewise made an announcement on February 3 that the government was lifting its own unilateral ceasefire.

For his part, NDF consultant Satur Ocampo said that once a bilateral ceasefire document is signed, any incidents of violence will not compel one side to suspend the talks so that it will not affect the main agenda of the discussions.

Ocampo also dismissed rumors the top leadership of the revolutionary government has no longer control over their own forces on the ground.

“Hindi kasi nauunawaan yung structure ng command sa revolutionary movement (The structure of command of the revolutionary movement was not understood well.) The NPA is essentially army organized by the CPP. Ngayon, ang papel ng NDFP is working (Now, the role of NDFP) in building alliances in the formative stages of the revolutionary government,” he said.

The NDFP, Ocampo said, has been nominated by the CPP to represent the revolutionary forces in peace talks.

“The NDFP is an organization that represents the formative stages of an alternative government, para yung parity ng negotiating table ay on the political level. So in effect, hindi nagcocomand ang NDF sa NPA (the NDF does not give command to NPA),” he said.

Arellano said that there was no specific timeline agreed as to when the bilateral ceasefire agreement will be signed by both parties.

He said the GRP peace panel will meet next week to prepare for the next round of peace talks on April 2 to 6 in Oslo, Norway.

Arellano said the GRP and NDFP panels will flesh out the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER), considered as the highlight of the peace negotiations.

During the second round of peace talks held from October 6 to 9 in Norway, both panels agreed on the common draft frameworks and outlines on the three remaining substantive agenda on socio-economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms, and end of hostilities and disposition of forces.

Arellano said that it is important for both panels to settle CASER first before they could begin the discussions on Political and Constitutional Reforms (PCR).

“Ang agreement was to prioritize ang CASER and then at the same time, PCR. Ang CASER is socio-economic reforms. We have to identify first what are the socio-economic reforms before you can identify the institutionalization process,” he said.

http://www.mindanews.com/top-stories/2017/03/grp-ndfp-talks-bilateral-truce-necessary-but-zero-armed-conflicts-not-guaranteed-says-govt-negotiator/

U.S. Ambassador Sung Kim inspects troops in Zamboanga

From the Mindanao Examiner (Mar 16): U.S. Ambassador Sung Kim inspects troops in Zamboanga

A U.S. Navy Sea Hawk chopper lands in Sulu province in the southern Philippines in this photo taken in February 2006. A small number of American troops are still deployed in the restive region and advising the Philippine military in fighting terrorism. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

A U.S. Navy Sea Hawk chopper lands in Sulu province in the southern Philippines in this photo taken in February 2006. A small number of American troops are still deployed in the restive region and advising the Philippine military in fighting terrorism. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines, Sung Kim, visited the southern Filipino port city of Zamboanga on Thursday and inspected a small group of American soldiers helping local military forces in fighting anti-terrorism in the restive region.
The American official, accompanied by embassy staffs, also met with Filipino military commanders at the Western Mindanao Command where the U.S. maintains a small base. Zamboanga is also one of the areas in Mindanao where Washington is currently funding several infrastructure projects through the United States Agency for International Development.

The military did not issue any statement on the visit of the ambassador, but U.S. troops had been deployed in Zamboanga City since 2001 after the Abu Sayyaf kidnapped American missionary couple Martin and Gracia Burnham, and California man Guillermo Sobero. Both Sobero and Martin were killed by the Abu Sayyaf, and Gracia rescued in a U.S.-led military operation in Zamboanga del Norte province.

Last year, President Rodrigo Duterte cancelled a joint patrol with the U.S. military in the South China Sea and scrapped future war games between the two countries, and ordered American troops to leave the country.

But American soldiers are still maintaining a camp inside the Western Mindanao Command, which was previously used as headquarters of the defunct Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines. The US military previously maintained a fleet of P3 Orion surveillance aircraft in Mactan Air Base in Cebu province in central Philippines and smaller unmanned aerial vehicles or drones in Zamboanga.

The aircraft are used in operations against the Abu Sayyaf group in Basilan and Sulu, and probably Indonesia and Malaysia to monitor activities of jihadist groups there allied with terrorist groups in the Philippines.

Security had always been tight in American military camps in Zamboanga, Basilan and Sulu and even Filipino generals cannot go inside these installations without prior clearance with the US Embassy in Manila.

Local journalists were not spared by some arrogant U.S. troops who harassed news photographers and television crew and had threatened to smash their equipment if they take pictures of American soldiers deployed in public places in Zamboanga, Basilan and Sulu.

http://mindanaoexaminer.com/u-s-ambassador-sung-kim-inspects-troops-in-zamboanga/

Rebels raid house of police agent in Kidapawan City

From the Manila Examiner (Mar 16): Rebels raid house of police agent in Kidapawan City

Communist insurgents raided the house of a police agent and seized assorted weapons in Kidapawan City in North Cotabato province in Mindanao, a spokesman for the New People’s Army said on Thursday.

Rigoberto Sanchez said rebels seized over a dozen automatic weapons, including a sub-machine gun and grenade launchers from the house of Reynaldo Dinampo on Wednesday afternoon. He said Dinampo’s house is just near the headquarters of the army’s 39th Infantry Battalion and the city police headquarters.

“The NPA’s daring disarming operation was conducted in close proximity to the command headquarters of the Philippine Army’s 39th Infantry Battalion and several minutes away from the city police headquarters,” Sanchez said, adding, the rebels did not even fired a single shot when they carried out the raid.

Sanchez did not say if Dinampo or any members of his family were inside the house when rebels struck., but claimed that “masses in North Cotabato celebrate this recent disarming operation
by the Red army as fitting revolutionary justice against the fascist Philippine National Police that opened fire at thousands of protesting Lumad and peasants, killing 3 and severely wounding others, on April 1 last year in what is notoriously known as Kidapawan massacre.”


Police and military did not give any statement on the daring raid.

Just this week, rebels also torched a provincial bus in the village of Bagong Silang in North Cotabato’s Makilala town. Five gunmen, who were among four dozen passengers, stopped the bus and introduced themselves as NPA fighters and ordered everyone out of the vehicle before setting it on fire.

Officials said the bus is one of many fleets owned and operated by the Yellow Bus Line, one of the largest commuter companies in the restive region where the NPA is actively waging a secessionist war for many decades now.

Company executives did not give any statement, but it was not the first time the rebels carried out such attack on provincial buses in Mindanao with the military and police both saying that extortion was likely motive for the arson.

The attack occurred just a day after Jesus Dureza, the chief government peace negotiator, announced that Manila is resuming stalled peace talks with rebels and that a truce had been agreed upon by both sides over the weekend.

Dureza said the negotiations may start as early as next month after both sides finally to restart the peace talks after President Rodrigo Duterte scrapped the negotiations in February following a series of deadly attacks by rebels who abandoned their own truce following the government’s rejection of their demand to free more than 400 rebels languishing in jails across the country.

Duterte wanted the rebels to agree on a bilateral ceasefire before releasing the prisoners, although he had freed about 2 dozen communist leaders so they can join the peace talks.

http://mindanaoexaminer.com/rebels-raid-house-of-police-agent-in-kidapawan-city/

Abra air strike ongoing

From Sun Star-Baguio (Mar 16): Abra air strike ongoing

AFTER the rebel attack earlier this week, the military has reportedly intensified its offensive in Abra.

Imelda Tabiando of the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) has confirmed the ongoing airstrike over Malibcong town, Abra.

Tabiando said sources on the ground have confirmed 14 bombs from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have been unloaded since Thursday morning causing a continuous forest fire as a result of the bombings.

“There were eight in the morning and another four in the afternoon,” Tabiando said.

The CHRA reported the bombs were dropped from military choppers over Malibcong town.

The Mabaka Banao Gubang Tribal organization said bombs were dropped in Barangay Lat-ey by two AFP fighter planes affecting farms and forests.

As forest fires continue, the CHRA reported 56 families have been affected.

Tabiando said the Department of Education has suspended classes in elementary and secondary schools in Malibcong since Monday due to ongoing fire fight between government troops and communist terrorist.

Tabiando said there are neither casualties nor injuries reported to the CHRA as of press time.

Abra is still on full alert after an ambush wounded five policemen at the start of the week when members of the New People’s Army ambushed the convoy of Abra Police Provincial Director Senior Superintendent Alexander Tagum.

The NPA has since acknowledged the attack as well as the raid at the Malibcong Police station carting away police ammunition, uniforms and commutation equipment.

The PNP as well as the AFP has not confirmed the ongoing airstrikes.
 

Tiamzons return to Manila after Reds, gov't agree to resume talks

From ABS-CBN (Mar 16): Tiamzons return to Manila after Reds, gov't agree to resume talks


Photo by Raoul Esperas

Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon returned to Manila Thursday night, after the Philippine government and the rebels agreed to resume peace negotiations.

They arrived at around 6:55 p.m. at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on board a Turkish Airlines flight.

A foreign diplomat gave the couple port courtesy upon their arrival.

The communist leaders led their delegation in backchannel talks with the government in Europe, which resulted in an agreement to restart talks and restore a ceasefire.

READ: Duterte gov't, Reds restart talks, restore ceasefire

On Wednesday, CPP founder Jose Maria Sison thanked President Rodrigo Duterte for resuming the peace negotiations.

"I wish to express deep appreciation to President Rodrigo Duterte for deciding to continue the peace negotiations," he said in a statement.

Duterte revealed backchannel talks with the communists last week, following the breakdown of talks last month due to clashes between government troops and communist fighters, and Duterte’s dismissal of calls for the release of about 400 political prisoners.

Clashes between communist rebels and the military continue, as a unilateral ceasefire had yet to be declared as of this writing.

According to Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza, the government and the National Democratic Front have not decided on a date for the cessation of hostilities.

The New People’s Army (NPA) on Tuesday said that they will continue to counter offensives of the Armed Forces of the Philippines until the communist leadership instructs them to observe the unilateral ceasefire.

In a joint statement over the weekend, the government and rebel negotiators said that another round of talks was scheduled in June.

http://news.abs-cbn.com/news/03/16/17/tiamzons-return-to-manila-after-reds-govt-agree-to-resume-talks

Joma lauds resumption of talks, hopeful of peace pact under Duterte

From GMA News (Mar 16): Joma lauds resumption of talks, hopeful of peace pact under Duterte

Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Ma. Sison has lauded the government's decision to return to the negotiating table with the communist-led National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

"It is in the people’s interest for the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) and the NDFP to pursue the forging of a peace agreement," said Sison, 78, the NDFP's chief political consultant, in a statement.

Government and NDFP peace negotiators announced earlier this week the resumption of the formal talks in April, after President Rodrigo Duterte terminated it on February 4, citing ceasefire violations by the New People's Army (NPA), the armed wing of the CPP.

Presidential adviser on the peace process Jesus Dureza said that the fourth round of the peace talks will resume next month following backchannel talks with the NDFP panel.

In his statement, Sison expressed hope that a final peace agreement will be reached under the Duterte administration.

"The peace agreement should uphold the sovereignty and independence of the Filipino people, strengthen democracy for the exploited and oppressed people, create the conditions for economic development through land reform, national industrialization and expansion of social services and benefits, promotion of patriotic and scientific culture and peace and development in a multipolar world," said the Netherlands-based Sison.

He said "foundations" for a lasting peace "can be achieved within the current term of President Rodrigo Duterte."

Sison is now helping in the preparations for the next round of talks after even if he is under the care of medical specialists and health workers due to an undisclosed ailment.

"I am on the way to full recovery," he said. "I am presently helping in the preparations for the 4th round of the formal peace talks and hope to participate actively during the 4th round."

Expected to be discussed in the next round of talks are the proposed bilateral ceasefire and social and economic reforms.

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/603504/news/nation/joma-lauds-resumption-of-talks-hopeful-of-peace-pact-under-duterte

NPA belies Army claim of 'successful' operation in CamNorte

From GMA News (Mar 16): NPA belies Army claim of 'successful' operation in CamNorte

Communist rebels on Thursday belied the military's claim of killing a rebel and seizing a high-powered firearm and ammunition during a clash in Camarines Norte the previous day.

In a statement, Carlito Cada, spokesperson for the New People's Army (NPA) in the province, said the fatality was a farmer named Obina who was executed by government soldiers on suspicion that he is an NPA member.

"There was no encounter between the Philippine Army and any unit of the Armando Catapia Command of the New People’s Army in Camarines Norte," Cada said. "This was also refuted by the residents of Barangay Itok."

In a post on Facebook, the Philippine Army's 9th Infantry Division said troops shot and killed one NPA member and recovered one M16A4 rifle and several bullets after an encounter in Barangay Itok in the town of Capalonga on March 15 at 5:30 a.m.

Cada said the actions of the military can be attributed to President Rodrigo Duterte's Oplan Kapayapaan, which he said has killed a minimum of three farmers per week.

"Like the past operational plans of the previous regimes, this proves that the fascist government has complete disregard for the lives of innocent civilians," he said.

Meanwhile, Cada said the Army is used to making false accusations and to executing civilians so they can "instill fear in the common people, in its futile and failed target of steering away the people from the revolutionary movement."

He added the Army also uses this modus to cover up for their failed operations.

"It is also part of the hustle of submitting reports of so-called successful operations, so as to cover up their failure in defeating the NPA," Cada said.

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/603566/news/regions/npa-belies-army-claim-of-successful-operation-in-camnorte

Bombing reports stop classes in Abra town

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Mar 16): Bombing reports stop classes in Abra town

Elementary and high school classes in Malibcong town in Abra province were suspended on Wednesday, following reports of alleged government bombing operations that targeted suspected communist lairs in the area.

Neither the Cordillera police nor the military had responded to queries on the operations that took place four days after New People’s Army (NPA) rebels raided a police station in Malibcong on March 12.

On March 13, a convoy of Abra police officers, led by Senior Supt. Alexander Tagum, Abra police director, was attacked by armed men, leaving five policemen wounded.

But Insp. Marcy Grace Marron, Abra police information officer, said the police had not received information about bombing operations in Malibcong.

A plane dropped what appeared to be bombs near Barangay Lat-ey from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. on Wednesday, according to Antonio Ambalneg, a village councilman.

 He said the plane returned and unloaded bombs on rice fields and forests from 1:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Villagers counted 14 explosions, he said, adding that a blast triggered a fire in a communal forest near Sitio Cubcuba in Lat-ey.

Classes would be suspended until March 20, the Inquirer learned.

The NPA admitted raiding the Malibcong police station on Sunday. Rebels also engaged five policemen in a firefight that was later stopped by town elders.

In a statement, the Chadli Molintas Command operating in the Ilocos and Cordillera regions said the attack complied with the directives of its central committee in light of the all-out war stance taken by President Duterte in February.

Agusan clash

In Agusan del Norte province, more than 300 residents fled their homes in the remote village of Hinimbangan in Kitcharao town after the NPA attacked soldiers there on Wednesday.

The Army’s 4th Infantry Division said NPA rebels fired at the soldiers who were patrolling the village.

The rebels, military reports said, forced school officials in the village to cancel classes that day. No one was reported wounded in the firefight.

“Our troops were there to help the (local government) in identifying the needs of the community in order to alleviate their living condition,” said Lt. Col. Glenn Joy Aynera, commander of the 29th Infantry Battalion.

Aynera said the NPA, with the attack, violated the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect to Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, which was signed by negotiators of the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in the peace talks.

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/881487/bombing-reports-stop-classes-in-abra-town

Families displaced after NPA attacks community

From the Sun Star-Cagayan de Oro (Mar 16): Families displaced after NPA attacks community

SOME 89 families were forced to flee their homes after New People’s Army (NPA) rebels attacked a community where soldiers were conducting Bayanihan Team Activities Wednesday, March 15, in Agusan del Norte.
 
The military said troops from the 29th Infantry Battalion (IB) received reports of some 357 civilians from Hinimbangan village, Kitcharao town, who were compelled to evacuate to the town's gymnasium in Barangay Crossing because of the threats of attack by the NPA.
 
The military said residents claimed that the rebels forced the school faculty to cancel their classes while some insurgents allegedly fired indiscriminately upon some houses in the community.
 
The 29IB soldiers coordinated with the government officials to address the basic needs of the displaced families in the area. Relief goods and food packs were also distributed through the Municipal Social Welfare and Development office.
 
Lieutenant Colonel Glenn Joy Aynera, 29IB commander, said the troops were there to help the local government unit in identifying the needs of the community in order to alleviate their living condition.
 
Aynera said the NPA has once again violated the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect to Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law which is the only document that was duly signed by the Philippine Government and the National Democratic Front.
 
“This terroristic attack of the NPAs sowed fear among the people in that community. Rest assured that together with the PNP (Philippine National Police) we will defend the community and will bring back the peace and order in the area,” the 29IB commander said.
 
“Despite the incident, we are still thankful that the people in that community still vows to fully support the development programs of the government especially that it will benefit their families. With this, the 29IB will continue its efforts in solving the insurgency situation that hinders the peace and development in the area,” Aynera added.

http://www.sunstar.com.ph/cagayan-de-oro/local-news/2017/03/16/families-displaced-after-npa-attacks-community-531475

Military steps up bombing of jihadists

From the Manila Times (Mar 16): Military steps up bombing of jihadists

SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao: The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has stepped up its offensives against terrorists in southern Philippines by bombarding since Monday a training camp of the jihadists in Salibo town in Maguindanao province.

At least three Maranao extremists originally from Lanao del Sur were reportedly wounded in the military’s attacks.

The offensives forced more than 400 Maguindanaon families to evacuate to safer areas after Philippine Army units started shelling the lair in Salibo of a breakaway faction of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) led by Commander Salahudin, whose real name is Salahudin Hassan.

The Army operation in Salibo’s adjoining villages of Andavit and Gawang was launched after authorities learned that Salahudin and companions Abdulmalik Esmael, Bashir Ungab, Nasser Adil and Ansari Yunos are coddling a foreign terrorist identified as Mauwiyah.

Salahudin and his four henchmen were jointly trained in handling and fabrication of improvised explosive devices in nearby Mamasapano town in 2014 by the slain Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, or Marwan, and his accomplice, Abdulbasit Usman.

The elusive Mauwiyah is also known as Hamoody Ali, Mohammad Ali and Suharduno.

He is of mixed Singaporean-Indonesian descent and is a member of the Jemaah Islamiya, which started as a cell in Indonesia of the al-Qaeda and eventually became identified with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria or ISIS.

According to the displaced residents, the three Maranao members of the Dawlah Islamiya, which is based in Butig town in Lanao del Sur, were injured when artillery shells landed in the hideout of Salahudin in the initial barrage of artillery fire from a nearby Army detachment.

“They were carried away from the scene by companions and brought to a marshy area near the boundary of the provinces of Maguindanao and North Cotabato,” a local official said.

Mauwiyah and Salahudin were said to have relocated to a swampy area in Butilen District near Talitay town in Maguindanao as the bombardment continued.

Village leaders said they have been receiving feedback from informants that the radical BIFF faction under Salahudin and the Dawlah Islamiya, more popularly known as the Maute terror group, merged in November 2016.

“That explains why three Maranaos from Lanao del Sur were allegedly injured when mortar projectiles hit the hideout of Salahudin,” one of the sources said.

Two of the three Maranao militants are conversant in the Cebuano dialect, according to the sources.

The Army’s 6th Infantry Division (6th ID), which has jurisdiction over Maguindanao and nearby Sultan Kudarat and North Cotabato provinces, said one of the targets of the ongoing operations in Salibo is Imam Bongos, a leader of another BIFF faction.

The 6th ID noted that its military offensives in Salibo and nearby towns were properly coordinated with the joint ceasefire committee helping oversee the enforcement of the 1997 interim truce between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

http://www.manilatimes.net/military-steps-bombing-jihadists/317480/

Air strikes, troopers attack foreign terrorist-led group

From The Standard (Mar 17): Air strikes, troopers attack foreign terrorist-led group

A group of terrorists led by a Malaysian jihadist reportedly suffered several casualties after military fighter planes pounded their position at the hinterlands of Datu Salibo town in Maguindanao on Monday.

A two-hour air strike by rocket-firing attack planes hit a terrorist stronghold, followed by intense clashes between army troopers and the terrorists in Barangay Tee, which reportedly resulted in a still undetermined number of casualties.

Captain Arvin Encinas, Chief Public Affairs Office of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division based in Camp Siongco, Maguindanao, said the assault was launched after reports indicated the presence of two terrorists—Salahudin Hassan, alias “Bungos,” a local bomber and Abu Toraype, alias Muawiya, a foreign terrorist leader linked to the Jemaah Islamiya.

Encinas said that Bungos, a known Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter leader, was responsible for several Improvised Explosive Device bombings in Central Mindanao that inflicted casualties on both civilians and government troops while damaging private properties.

Muawiya, on the other hand, was previously allied with the group of the late Abdul Basit Usman, a top bomber and head of the Special Operations Group of the BIFF and the now deceased Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan.

Marwan was killed on Jan. 15, 2015 after the police’s Special Action Force assaulted his safehouse under Oplan “Exodus” in the marshland of Guindalungan, Maguindanao which resulted in a bloody clash that killed 44 SAF members.

Encinas, however, said the two terrorist leaders were able to escape at the height of the air strikes and artillery shelling, but added that army troops are now in hot pursuit of the terrorist group.

Encinas said the terrorist group suffered an undetermined number of casualties based on civilian accounts.

“The civilians saw some of the casualties being carried away by the fleeing terrorists,” Encinas said, but added that they have yet to validate the exact number of casualties on the terrorists’ side. He said the government side did not suffer any casualty or injury during the fighting.

The troopers later recovered four IEDs and three pressure-type bombs which were detonated by the military’s Explosive Ordnance team.

The air strikes, Encinas said, was made to deter and weaken the capabilities of the enemies fighting government troops.

“The focus of the military ooperations has to do with the mandate of the 6th ID to protect the people and secure the community the best way they can against the local and foreign terror groups that would hanper peace and order situation in Central Mindanao,” he said.

http://thestandard.com.ph/news/top-stories/231958/air-strikes-troopers-attack-foreign-terrorist-led-group.html

Govt to form peace council in Mindanao

From the Manila Times (Mar 16): Govt to form peace council in Mindanao

 The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) on Thursday said that the government is set to form the Peace, Reconciliation and Unification Council (PRUC) to solve armed conflict in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and other places in southern Mindanao.

Tesda Director General Guiling Mamondiong said the PRUC is aimed at easing tension at the ARMM and in Regions 9, 10 and 12, which are currently affected by armed conflict.

These areas to be covered by the PRUC are the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Maguindanao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Basilan and Region 9 and Region 12.

The Tesda chief has been designated by President Rodrigo Duterte to head the PRUC. Some 25 to 30 members from the provinces covered by the PRUC will join the group. A leader will also be appointed in every team.

Members of the group will come from various sectors such as religious, traditional, businessmen and youth.

The PRUC will be responsible for establishing peace and order at the ARMM and in Regions 9, 10 at 12; disseminating reconciliation and unity among regions; communicating with various groups under their jurisdiction to forge agreements; partnering with the government for orderly reconciliation between warring clans and groups and campaigning against loose firearms.

Mamondiong led a program dubbed “Consultation Summit on the Role of the Private Sector in the Maintenance of Peace and Order” last March 11 (Zamboanga City) for the provinces of Basilan, Tawi-Tawi and Zamboanga Peninsula; March 12, Lanao provinces; and March 14, Maguindanao and Cotabato provinces.

Last year, the government focused on improving the lives of Mindanao residents through the Comprehensive Reform and Development Agenda.

http://www.manilatimes.net/govt-form-peace-council-mindanao/317502/