Tuesday, March 28, 2017

AFP condemns NPA over foiled IED 'attack' in Ilocos Norte

From the Sun Star-Manila (Mar 29): AFP condemns NPA over foiled IED 'attack' in Ilocos Norte

THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) condemned on Wednesday the New People’s Army (NPA) for detonating an improvised explosive device (IED) planted on a roadside, which the military said was part of their "anniversary celebration."

Major General Angelo De Leon, commander of the 7th Infantry Division of the 81st Infantry Battalion in Ilocos Norte said at around 12:15 p.m. on Tuesday, the NPA detonated an IED planted along Barangay Calaoan, Sta. Cruz, Ilocos Norte, just 2 kilometers away from military headquarters.

He said they believe that the group is targeting the troops on board a military vehicle on their way to the headquarters.

Although no one was hurt in the incident, De Leon said the blast still caused "trauma" to a civilian motorcycle rider, who was then following the military vehicle.

“Fortunately, the military vehicle was already past 20 meters from the blast site upon detonation...Unfortunately, a civilian onboard a motorcycle who was trailing the military vehicle was almost hit by the IED blast,” he said.

De Leon said based on the accounts of the troops, the teenage motorcycle rider was still "in a state of shock" when rescued.

He said they immediately sent reinforcement, including police officers, Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO), and K9 units to clear the area.

De Leon said it was clear that the NPA seriously disregarded the safety of the civilians for their "sinister purpose."


NPA attack delays road, displaces 50 workers

From the Manila Bulletin (Mar 28): NPA attack delays road, displaces 50 workers

Alcala, Cagayan — Suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels torched last Sunday night three heavy equipment of a private contractor tasked with completing the road connecting this town with neighboring Baggao.

At least six heavily-armed guerrillas set fire on three heavy equipment of Pulsar Construction Corp. in Barangay Baybayog, here and then used the firm’s Isuzu Elf truck as their getaway vehicle, which they also torched and abandoned in Barangay Adaoag, Baggao.

Lieutenant Colonel Rembert R. Baylosis, commander of the army’s 17th Infantry Battalion (17th IB) based in Barangay Masin, Alcala, expressed disappointment at the NPA’s latest atrocity as it delays the building of the road which is essential ushering in development the two towns.

Moreover, about 50 workers involved in the construction project were immediately rendered jobless by the NPA attack.

Prior to the torching of the P10 million worth of heavy equipment for construction, a worker confirmed that he was handed an extortion letter by an NPA member with the instruction to give it to the Pulsar management.


3 terror suspects nabbed; NorMin on full alert status

From the Sun Star-Cagayan de Oro: 3 terror suspects nabbed; NorMin on full alert status

(Updated) -- The Northern Mindanao police placed the entire region on full alert status following the arrest of three men with supposed links to the Maute local terror group at an inn along Kauswagan Highway, Cagayan de Oro City Sunday, March 26.

Superintendent Lemuel Gonda, spokesperson of the Police Regional Office (PRO)-Northern Mindanao, identified the suspects as Oding Alamada, Sidic Casubidan, and Bittyara Solaiman, all allegedly connected with the Maute group based on initial information from the intelligence community.

The suspects were arrested at Resonance Inn for illegal possession of explosives, illegal drugs, and firearm.

"Alleged members pa sila kay gi-verify pa ilang identities pero bisan pa ani gi-alert sa PRO-10 ang tibuok region (Their identities are still being verified but we have alerted the whole region)," Gonda said.

The suspects were arrested by operatives of Police Station 1 and a unit of the Special Weapons and Tactics (Swat) in a follow-up operation after receiving reports that the group left a live hand grenade at room 314 of Country Village Hotel in Carmen village.

Senior Inspector Maricris Mulat, police station 1 chief, said they acted based on information that reached their office that suspects were aboard a Tamaraw FX vehicle.

The officer added that prior to their follow-up operation, the hotel staff already reported to Police Station 4 in Carmen about the suspicious guests at room 314 and he said they also received information that the suspects frequent Resonance Inn while checked in at other hotels.

"After pagkakuha sa granada wala nadakop sa Carmen police kay wala diha ang mga suspects busa padayon mi sa pagbantay," (We waited for the suspects after confiscating the grenade because the suspects were still not there) Mulat said.

Few hours later, the police saw the vehicle and chased the suspects who tried to evade after noticing the presence of the policemen.

Authorities were also able to seized from the suspects' P36,000 worth of suspected methamphetamine hydrochloride or "shabu" and drug paraphernalia, electrical wires and electrical tape, power bank battery and power bank power circuit regulator, hand gun barrel, laptop, portable DVD player, hotel room key and a .45 caliber pistol with magazine.

The police chief said the Special Weapons and Tactics (Swat) provided as back up in the event the suspects might be carrying more explosives.

Mulat said the recovered items have been turned over to the crime laboratory for examination to determine their possible connection to archived evidence from crimes relating to terrorism.

Mulat said they are also checking the identities of the suspects after Alamada identified himself as a member of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit while the two others claimed to be a farmer, a businessman, and a mechanic.

Mulat also said the two Tamaraw FX vehicles of the suspects will be subjected for verification from the Land Transportation Office.

The suspects denied the allegations that they are linked to the Maute group, saying they only came to the city to purchase a vehicle.

The police brought the suspects to the City Prosecutor's Office Monday for the inquest proceedings after authorities charged them with illegal possession of illegal drugs, firearms and explosives.


3 alleged Maute men nabbed

From Tempo (Mar 28): 3 alleged Maute men nabbed

Three suspected members of the Maute terror group from Lanao Del Sur were collared by police operatives in Cagayan de Oro City Sunday evening, the police said Monday.

Chief Inspector Mardi Hortilloza, spokesperson of the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office (COCPO), identified the suspects as Cedic Oroca, Odin Alamada and Sainoden Solaiman, all from Marawi City, Lanao Del Sur.

He said that the police went to the hotel after the tenants did not answer the hotel management’s call, and found a suspected “shabu,” a laptop, power banks, electrical wirings and a hand grenade inside the room.

One of the suspects, Oroca, denied owning the illegal drugs and the hand grenade, saying the police went inside their hotel room when he was about to check out.

Solaiman, another suspect, told the police that he is a mechanic and he was hired to fix the car’s defects. The third suspect, Alamada, claimed that he is a member of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit, a paramilitary unit of the Philippine Army in Marawi City.


Israeli-made Spike missile to be used on Philippine helicopters

From the Jerusalem Post (Mar 29): Israeli-made Spike missile to be used on Philippine helicopters

The Spike is slated to be employed by the Philippine Navy as an anti-ship weapon by next year.

A SPIKE MISSILE is seen mounted on a tripod launcher at a Singapore Army Open House in 2007.

A SPIKE MISSILE is seen mounted on a tripod launcher at a Singapore Army Open House in 2007.. (photo credit:Wikimedia Commons)

As Israel continues its pivot toward Asia, Israeli-made Spike missiles are to be used by the Philippine Navy’s first two anti-submarine helicopters.

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. produces the Spike, which was originally designed to destroy tanks.

It will be employed by the Philippine Navy as an anti-ship weapon on the Agusta Westland AW-159 Wildcats that are due to be delivered to Manila by next year.

According to Rafael, the Spike NLOS (non-line-of-sight) missile “is a perfect solution for naval helicopters,” with a range of 30 kilometers and a “dedicated warhead which can neutralize any target.”

The missile, capable of penetrating 39 inches of armor, can be operated in either direct attack mode or by mid-course navigation based on target coordinates only. These modes enable defeat of long-range hidden targets with pinpoint precision.

Philippine Navy spokesman Capt. Lued Lincuna was quoted by the Philippine News Agency on Tuesday as saying that “the missile has a built-in camera that allows it to be operated day or night” and allows pilots to engage hostile targets beyond their visual range.

Rafael will also be providing the shorter-range Spike ER missiles, weighing 33 kg with a range of 8 km, which will be used on the navy’s multi-purpose attack craft (MPAC ).

The Philippine Navy is currently operating six MPAC s, but none is armed with the missile system.

[Video: Protector Unmanned Surface Vehicle fires Spike Interceptor Missile during recent test]

Two new MPAC s, which are being built in a joint venture between Filipino Propmech Corporation and Taiwan’s Lung Teh Shipbuilding Co. and set for delivery by the end of 2017, will have mountings for Spike missiles.

Israel and the Philippines maintain close security ties, with Israel selling a large amount of weaponry to the Philippine Army over the years. With growing tension with China in the South China Sea, the overall flow of arms to the region has spiked.

A February report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute stated that, “With no regional arms control instruments in place, states in Asia continue to expand their arsenals. While China is increasingly able to substitute arms imports with indigenous products, India remains dependent on weapons technology from many willing suppliers, including Russia, the US, European states, Israel and South Korea.”

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed interest in visiting Israel and it is expected that he would use a visit to tighten security ties between the two countries and purchase more arms, as the country continues to fight against Abu Sayyaf and Islamic State terrorists.


NDF asks for 10-day suspension of military and police operations in Bukidnon for cop's release

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 28): NDF asks for 10-day suspension of military and police operations in Bukidnon for cop's release

The National Democratic Front (NDF) in Northern Mindanao has asked for a 10-day suspension of military and police operations in at least 74 villages in Bukidnon starting Monday so it can safely release a policeman held by communist guerrillas.

Police Officer 2 Anthony Natividad, who is assigned at the Kalilangan municipal police in Bukidnon, was on his way to the Philippine National Police headquarters in Camp Alagar on board his motorcycle to undergo a medical examination when taken by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Barangay Tikalaan, Talakag town.

In a statement on Tuesday, Cesar Renerio, spokesperson of the NDF-Northcentral Mindanao Region, said they are willing to release Natividad on the condition that the army and police will order their forces to stand down in some villages in the towns of Talakag, Lantapan, Baungon, Pangantucan and Kalilangan, and in the cities of Malaybalay and Valencia.

Renerio said the NDF-NCMR, through the NPA, will declare its own temporary cessation of hostilities once law enforcers will agree to the condition.

The group assured that Natividad is in good condition as it finds no reason to detain him further.

“After a thorough investigation and background check on his personal life and as a police officer, we found out that he (Natividad) committed no crime against the people and we see no reason to keep him,” Renerio said.

The communist rebels have also asked for the cooperation of local third-party facilitators and the local crisis committee of Bukidnon to ensure that the police officer can safely go back home to his family.

The military, for its part, will wait for instructions from President Rodrigo Duterte, through the Department of National Defense, before it could act on the NDF’s request, said Capt. Joe Patrick Martinez, spokesperson of the Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division.

Martinez said if there are moves from third-party facilitators and the local crisis committee to arrange for Natividad’s release, then the Armed Forces of the Philippines will welcome it.

Martinez, however, said that the rescue operation for Natividad conducted by government troopers is ongoing as of Monday, March 27, the supposed start of the 10-day suspension of military and police operations requested by NDF-NCMR.


Alert up in Region 12 for NPA’s 48th founding anniversary

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 28): Alert up in Region 12 for NPA’s 48th founding anniversary  

The Police Regional Office (PRO)-12 has raised the security alert in the entire region in line with the 48th founding anniversary of the New People’s Army (NPA) tomorrow, March 29.

Supt. Romeo Galgo Jr., PRO-12 public information officer, said Tuesday all police units in the area are currently on “full alert status” based on a directive issued by the Philippine National Police central office.

He said the move is aimed to counter attacks possibly being planned by NPA rebels in parts of Region 12.

“All our units are in place and ready to respond to any eventuality in connection with their anniversary,” he said.

He the regional office deployed additional personnel in areas that could be targeted by the rebels.

These include vital government installations, government infrastructure projects and facilities of local companies that were targeted by the group these past months.

He specifically cited road projects sites in this city and Sarangani Province, industries and companies in North and South Cotabato.

The police official said they have increased their presence along national highways to pre-empt attacks on passenger buses plying the area.

Since November, nearly a dozen passenger buses and vans were burned by suspected NPA rebels in parts of the region.

Seven of the buses were owned by the Koronadal City-based Yellow Bus Line Inc., which had repeatedly rejected demands by the rebels for payment of revolutionary taxes.

“There were a number of harassments staged by the rebels in our area of responsibility these past days so we’re not taking any chances,” Galgo said.

Last Friday, about 50 heavily-armed rebels stormed a detachment of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit or Cafgu Active Auxilliary situated near the base camp of mining firm Sagittarius Mines Inc. in Barangay Tablu, Tampakan town in South Cotabato.

The attack was repulsed by responding troops from the Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion and personnel from the PRO-12’s Regional Public Safety Battalion.

In Alabel, Sarangani, the rebels also ambushed a truck owned by a construction firm working on a road project in the area.


(Feature) Macalang village in Al-Barka: From Abu Sayyaf lair into peaceful, resilient community

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 28): (Feature) Macalang village in Al-Barka: From Abu Sayyaf lair into peaceful, resilient community

Al-BARKA, Basilan – For years, Barangay Macalang has been known to be the lair of the dreaded Abu Sayyaf group in this town. The villagers could not even build their permanent homes due to continuing harassment by the bandits as well as intense military offensives.
However, things have changed as thousands of villagers have gathered on Monday in the village’s plaza to reclaim the barangay after years of desolation through the "People’s Day" - an initiative of the regional government of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to transform battle-scarred areas into peaceful and resilient communities.

“Slowly, we are going to rebuild our lives here,” Sarifa Anzala, a grandmother of nine, told the Philippines News Agency, after she received her share of relief package during the event that saw the collective efforts of different line agencies in ARMM to bring rehabilitation assistance to residents of this remote area.

“I have seen the cruelty of the war. My husband was killed 23 years ago because of this cycle of armed conflict in our community,” Anzala lamented.

The marks of the brutal war are still visible. Roofs are shattered with shrapnel. Even a mosque was not sparred. Its walls are riddled with bullet holes.

Rubber and coconut trees also bore holes from explosions - a reminder of the intense gun battle that transpired between government troops and the Abu Sayyaf bandits just three weeks ago.

“This is the last bastion of the Abu Sayyaf that we are liberating. This barangay has been impenetrable for years because of the presence of the Abu Sayyaf,” ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman declared as he led the groundbreaking of several infrastructures in a bid to revitalize and bring normalcy to Barangay Macalang.

“We earlier liberated the villages of Baywas in the town Sumisip, and Baguindan in the adjacent town of Tipo-Tipo,” Hataman said, noting these efforts are geared to deny the Abu Sayyaf bandits the opportunity to establish strongholds in remote communities.

“The Abu Sayyaf (bandits) are on the run. They don’t have any more strongholds in Basilan,” he said.

“We agreed with the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) to add a military battalion in this town to ensure the safety of the residence and prevent the Abu Sayyaf from establishing its presence again," he added.

The ARMM government also pledged an initial PHP10 million worth of infrastructures to the barangay officials of Macalang.

“The groundbreaking is a symbol that governance is back in Macalang,” Hataman said.

Anwar Upamh, executive director of ARMM-Health, Education, Livelihood, Peace and Governance and Synergy (ARMM HELPS), told the Philippines News Agency the high impact projects would involve the constructions of a water system and a barangay hall in Macalang.

Since 2012, the regional government of ARMM has allocated PHP877 million worth of projects from the region’s Department of Public Works and Highways alone. The bulk of the funds are being used to finance the construction of a road spanning 45 kilometers in this town.

Hataman said this town would also have bridges and footbridges for easy access and open the remote communities to economic developments.

“Many construction equipment and machines were bombed by the Abu Sayyaf before,” he said.

He said the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) are also helping in securing construction workers building the roads in the hinterlands of this municipality.

In a separate interview, Al-Barka Mayor Darussalam Lajid admitted the presence of the Abu Sayyaf bandits has hampered the delivery of basic government services to the residents of Barangay Macalang.

“The victory that we achieved here today is not easy,” Lajid said, admitting that even himself could not just enter Macalang village ever since he was elected mayor for two terms.

“You can only come in when there’s a military operation,” he said.

“Most of the members of the Abu Sayyaf are from here. This is a well-controlled area by the Abu Sayyaf bandits,” he added.

Maj. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., commander of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), said a substantial number of soldiers, about 900, have sacrificed to liberate the village from banditry.

“In our research, from 2010 to 2012 alone, 256 soldiers have been killed in Al Barka. More or less 572 were wounded,” Galvez said.

“We are happy that the entire Al-Barka is (now) "free" from Abu Sayyaf,” he added.

“This is our version of Waterloo--a weakness area for the military to operate. It's very difficult to penetrate by our troops. The terrain is unfavorable. All the danger areas for the military are all here in Al Barka,” Galvez said.

“When I was the brigade commander here, the troops, especially the rangers, would also say that when they operate in Macalang, they would always go back with casualties,” he shared.

With the developments here, Anzala is confident that residents of Macalang can now transform their community from being the lair of the Abu Sayyaf bandits into a peaceful and resilient community.

“After years of desolation, we can now rehabilitate our community and put a stop to the cycle of violence that beset this area,” she said.


N. Cotabato warring Moro clans forge ceasefire, vow to settle case in court

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 28): N. Cotabato warring Moro clans forge ceasefire, vow to settle case in court

Police and local officials here said Tuesday that leaders of warring Moro clans who clashed due to a land dispute over the weekend have agreed to a ceasefire.

Chief Inspector Julius Malcontento, Carmen town police chief, said the Matalam and Cua clans, both claiming ownership of vast track of lands planted to oil palm and corn in Sitio Nalawisan, Barangay Gen. Luna here, agreed to settle their misunderstanding in the presence of Carmen Mayor Roger Taliño and Senior Supt. Emmanuel Peralta, police provincial director.

Malcontento said Taliño summoned the leaders of the warring families to a peaceful dialogue. They agreed to stop fighting and bring their dispute before the courts. North Cotabato board member Kellie Antao, chairperson of the provincial council's peace and order committee, also helped in pacifying the warring clans.

Taliño and Peralta proposed the establishment of a "peace reactionary force," a composite force of police and soldiers from the 7th Infantry Battalion to be deployed between the warring clans.
“As agreed, the warring families will be allowed to farm in the contested land without firearms and only the reactionary force members are allowed to bring guns,” Malcontento said.

Major Calvin Macatangay, speaking for the Army's 602nd Infantry Brigade, said on Saturday the armed conflict, locally known as "rido" (family feud), claimed the lives of six person.

Three others were injured and are now recuperating at the North Cotabato provincial hospital.


Freed sailor can't believe he survived Abu Sayyaf ordeal

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 28): Freed sailor can't believe he survived Abu Sayyaf ordeal


Hours after he was rescued, 62-year-old Laurencio Tiro could not contain his happiness for his new found freedom.

“I never thought I could survive the ordeal,” Tiro told journalists at the headquarters of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) here on Tuesday.

Tiro, who was abducted last Thursday, said he doubted if he could survive the ordeal due to his health condition - he is suffering from hypertension - and the possibility to be caught in the crossfire between his Abu Sayyaf captors and the pursuing military forces.

“I don’t even expect that I could be freed, but because of the intense military operation against my captors, they decided to let go of me last night,” Tiro said in Visayan.

Tiro is the chief marine engineer of M/T Tug R9 that towed cargo vessel Super Shuttle Roro 9, which the Abu Sayyaf bandits hijacked last Thursday.

The vessel was transiting in the vicinity of Sibago Island, Hadji Mohammad Ajul, Basilan, when the Abu Sayyaf seized Tiro and his boat captain, Aurelio Agac-ac.

Government forces rescued Agac-ac at dawn Saturday, March 25, in Barangay Basakan, Hadji Mohammad Ajul town.

“Last night, we walked for almost an hour and I was left by my captors until I was recovered by the troops,” he said.

Col. Juvymax Uy, commander of Joint Task Force Basilan, said it was the continuing military operations and the intervention of Hadji Mohammad Ajul town officials that forced the Abu Sayyaf bandits to abandon Tiro.

Tiro said that although his captors did not threaten to kill him, the condition in the mountains was too difficult for him.

“We just sleep. We only eat once a day. There was a time we didn’t eat a meal, only papayas,” he said.

“Every night, we transfer to different locations in the mountains. We walked at least an hour, sometimes two hours,” he recounted.

Tiro was expected to fly to Cebu City on Tuesday, March 28, but all outbound commercial flights were already fully booked.

Maj. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., commander of Westmincom, said they made some arrangements and Tiro will be flown to Cebu City on Wednesday, March 29.

Tiro said his new found freedom is his gift to his wife, who is celebrating her birthday on Tuesday.

“I’m really happy. It’s the birthday of my wife. My freedom is my gift to her,” he said.

Asked for his future plans, Tiro said he will retire indefinitely from his maritime job.

“I will retire from work. My children asked me not to work anymore,” he said.

Tiro had already retired years ago and decided to return to work as marine engineer to help finance his daughter’s medical expenses.

Tiro’s second eldest daughter was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Uy said the military will continue its intensified operation in Basilan following the liberty of the two victims.

“We would like to thank the local government of Basilan, especially the mayor of Mohammad Ajul. Without their partnership with the military, we could not push hard in our operations. We need the support and cooperation of the populace to hunt these kidnappers,” Uy said.


OPAPP warns public of impostors

Posted to the Philippine News Agency (Mar 28): OPAPP warns public of impostors

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) on Tuesday expressed alarmed over reports that there are some individuals roaming around the community posing as their representatives extorting money from businessmen.

“Information has reached our office that certain individuals are going the rounds reportedly offering persons and companies alleged OPAPP government projects and asking for reservation fees," the OPAPP statement said.

The OPAPP has warned the public especially businessmen that they have not authorized anyone to peddle or sell their projects.
“We have not authorized anyone to peddle or sell projects nor are we into this unscrupulous and anomalous business. We are implementing our projects in the most transparent way and proper way bereft of corruption and anomalies,” it stated.

OPAPP asked anyone who knew of these individuals roaming around their community to immediately report this to the nearest police station or any law enforcement agency.

“Please report to us directly such persons. We will expose and if appropriate run after them. Please contact OPAPP numbers 02-6360701 local 823 or 824 / mobile 09173009346 or email to opapp.osec@gmail.com.


US keen on providing more military aid to PHL -- Palace

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 28): US keen on providing more military aid to PHL -- Palace

Malacañang on Tuesday said that the United States has expressed its understanding of the Philippine situation as well as its readiness to provide more military support.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said this was among the issues discussed by US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim with President Rodrigo Duterte during a meeting Monday at the Presidential Guest House in Davao City.

“The President said that PHL-US relations at the bilateral level remain strong and there is readiness to discuss more matters of mutual interest with the US,” the Palace official told reporters in a Palace briefing.

He said that Kim, for his part, expressed pride over the cooperation between US and PHL intelligence forces in terms of intelligence and information sharing, training and equipment support.

“Sung Kim also assured PRRD that the US understands the security concerns of the Philippines and that the US is ready to provide more military equipment, assistance and training,” he said.

“They agreed that PH and the US have mutual interests and shared values. Both stressed that these fruitful engagements and discussions are very important in ensuring that both states are on the same page,” Abella said.

Meanwhile, the US Embassy in Manila said that Kim had a “friendly, productive meeting with President Duterte” in Davao City.

“They discussed the extensive bilateral partnership over the years as well as cooperation on counter-terrorism, child protection, piracy, and economic development in Mindanao,” the Embassy said in a statement released Tuesday.

It said Kim discussed the two countries’ partnerships in the region, especially on strengthening the local economy and promoting peace and stability.

“Overall, the US government has pledged more than PHP 3.5 billion for dozens of projects in Mindanao over the next few years, including the Roll-on, Roll-off, or RO-RO, nautical highway,” it said.

The US Embassy said the nautical highway project, which will connect the cities of Davao and General Santos to the Sulawesi Island of Indonesia by April 30, is meant to help US and Philippine businesses in Mindanao increase their exports “at great savings.”

It also highlighted the contribution of US agricultural corporation Cargill to Mindanao.

“Cargill exports PHP 7.5 billion worth of coconut oil every year, much of which comes from Mindanao, supporting tens of thousands of Mindanao farmers,” the Embassy said.

It said the company has also trained 1,000 coconut farmers to improve their agricultural practices.

“As a result, 300 small farmers from the region have been certified to produce the world’s first Rainforest Alliance certified copra, raising their incomes by 15 percent,” the statement said.

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 28): Data protection summit to tackle security concerns

The National Privacy Commission (NPC) has announced plans for the first Data Protection Officers Summit to take up the looming concerns about data security.

In a press briefing in Malacañang on Tuesday, March 28, NPC Commissioner Raymund Enriquez Liboro assured that reforms have already been undertaken to secure official data on individuals following the data breaches at the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

“Nais ko lamang sabihin na isang taon matapos po ang ‘Comeleak’ tayo po, sa tulong po ng mga sangay ng pamahalaan, lalung-lalo na po ang Office of the President through Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea ay maglulunsad po ng kauna-unahang Data Protection Officers Summit,” Liboro said.

The Summit, Liboro said, will explore avenues and new approaches for the government to further beef up its defense against violation of data privacy rights, data breaches, and on how to further secure important information of the general public. It will be participated in by data protection officers in executive agencies.

“Ito po’y kabibilangan ng lahat ng mga data protection officers ng ehekutibo at tayo po ay magsasama-sama sa kauna-unahang pagkakataon,” the NPC head said.

Liboro explained that in implementing the Data Privacy Act of 2012, the agency has come up with five guidelines for government agencies concerned.

“Naglabas po kami ng tinatawag naming limang utos ‘no. Ang una nga po diyan ay mag-appoint ng accountable officer within your organization, we call them the data protection officer (DPO),” Liboro said.

“So ang unang utos po namin ay magkaroon ng mga accountable officer na mananagot doon po sa loob ng mga opisina at magiging champion ng privacy rights of their customers or stakeholders,” he said.

Agencies were likewise directed to conduct a privacy impact assessment to check vulnerabilities within their organizations.

The agencies were also told to come up with a privacy manual to put on paper how the general public can be assured that their private information are protected.

Agencies were also directed to strictly enforce security measures against data breaches.

In the same briefing, meanwhile, Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella announced that 4.3 million 4Ps beneficiaries will start receiving PHP600 in rice subsidy from the Department of Welfare and Social Development (DSWD) this month.

“The additional rice subsidy allocated for the month of March has already totaled to PHP2.5 billion,” Abella explained.

The Palace official also announced that as part of the administration’s commitment to alleviate poverty, indigent patients can now avail of free medicines.

“The DSWD has already distributed free medicines amounting to P8.2M to 984 indigent Filipinos from Regions 3, 6, 7, 11 and the NCR region,” Abella said.

The Presidential spokesperson meanwhile lauded the results of a Social Weather Stations (SWS) Survey showing an overwhelming portion of a happy Filipino populace.

“SWS survey on happiness level is at 91 percent. It’s a group of happy Filipinos,” he said. “Nine out of 10 Filipinos considered themselves happy with their life, according to a December 2016 Social Weather Stations (SWS) Survey. This is the highest score in 20 years.”

“Around this time, the economy of the Philippines is on the upswing at 6.6 percent during the last quarter. People likewise feel safer and more secure with more than eight out of 10 Filipinos attributing this to the President’s anti-drug war,” Abella said.

He also said that among the topics taken up during the meeting between President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua include the handling of the South China Sea issue; defense cooperation; capacity building; infrastructure projects, and anti-poverty and anti-illegal drugs campaign. Abella also said that the Chinese envoy conveyed that China looks forward to the first meeting of the bilateral mechanism set up to properly handle the SCS issue this May.

“They intend to build a bilateral mechanism, mutual trust and maritime cooperation. His Excellency also expressed China’s determination to work with ASEAN members in finalizing the Code of Conduct framework on the South China Sea, sometime in the middle of this year,” he added.


As NPA celebrates 48th anniversary Wednesday, AFP vows to crush rebels by all means possible

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 28): As NPA celebrates 48th anniversary Wednesday, AFP vows to crush rebels by all means possible
Decimation of their armed ranks, integration of their surrendered fighters to society and having their recalcitrant members arrested by police, these are what the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) plans to do to the rebels as they celebrate their 48th founding anniversary on Wednesday.

"We will decimate their ranks by neutralizing their armed component, help integrate surrenders to mainstream society, and relegate the recalcitrants as police matters to deal with," said AFP public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo when sought for an reaction regarding this event.

He added that the NPA should take stock and reflect on their cause as more and more people are showing their disdain for the rebel movement.

"It is time for (them) to seriously introspect on their relevance in the light of growing disdain of the people over the NPA's forced monetary exactions, destructive arson of farm implements and public conveyances, their various atrocities and abuses, and their duplicity to the peace talks," Arevalo stressed.

And when asked on how the military plans to end the threat posed by the NPAs, the AFP public affairs office chief said they plan to defeat the latter through force and peaceful negotiation.

"Our hitherto intent is to defeat the NPA, by force and by peace negotiations -- but not necessarily in that order," he noted.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier ordered the lifting of the government ceasefire last February following a series of unprovoked NPA attacks that resulted in the death of six soldiers and abduction of three others.

This took place following the rebel announcement that they are lifting their truce effective 11:59 p.m. Feb. 10.


2 more FA-50PH jet fighters to arrive Wednesday

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 28): 2 more FA-50PH jet fighters to arrive Wednesday

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) will formally welcome two more South Korean-made FA-50PH "Fighting Eagle" jet fighters who are scheduled to land in Clark Airbase, Angeles City, Pampanga on Wednesday.

These planes, with tail numbers 007 and 008, will be welcomed by PAF vice commander Major Gen. Conrado Parra upon landing.

Arrival of the two aircraft is expected at 11 a.m. Wednesday.

The first two FA-50PH units were delivered last Nov. 28, 2015 while the second batch was handed over last Dec. 8.

While the third batch was turned over to the PAF last Feb. 22.

The PAF's 12-plane order from Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) is worth Php 18.9 billion.

The FA-50PHs has a top speed of Mach 1.5 or one and a half times the speed of sound and is capable of being fitted air-to-air missiles, including the AIM-9 "Sidewinder" air-to-air and heat-seeking missiles aside from light automatic cannons.


A caliphate on our doorstep

From the Austrailian (Mar 28): A caliphate on our doorstep

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s warning that a new Islamic caliphate could be declared in the lawless southern Philippines should leave no doubt about the urgency of the need to deal with the jihadist threat on our doorstep. The signs, as Ms Bishop has indicated, are ominous: Isnilon Hapilon, leader of the Abu Sayyaf Islamic terrorist group on the island of Mindanao, has pledged loyalty to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Like Baghdadi, he has been declared an “emir”, which Ms Bishop says suggests Islamic State may be about to formally declare a caliphate in the southern Philippines.

This move is said to have boosted support for Abu Sayyaf among Islamic extremists on Mindanao. Reports indicate hundreds of trained Islamic State fighters recruited from Southeast Asia to go to Syria and Iraq will return not to their home countries but to link up with Abu Sayyaf on Mindanao. In recent months, there have been Philippines police accounts of a specialist Islamic State bomb maker from Morocco and Uighur Islamic militants from China arriving clandestinely. Malaysian, Indonesian, Bangladeshi and even Rohingya militants from the oppressed Muslim minority in Myanmar also are said to be among those recruited.

Ms Bishop discussed the growing threat with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte in his home city of Davao City, on Mindanao, earlier this month. Mr Duterte has made no bones about his belief that the biggest threat facing his country is “terrorism … it’s sure to come”.

At last week’s Washington meeting of the coalition fighting Islamic State, Ms Bishop sounded the alarm among fellow foreign ministers, warning that, as the caliphate in Iraq and Syria faces defeat, “we don’t want to see it re-emerge elsewhere in the world, otherwise we’ll be back in a few years talking about how to defeat a caliphate in the southern Philippines”. A caliphate in our region would be a disaster for the fight against Islamic extremism. After Ms Bishop’s warning, Manila’s regional partners, particularly Australia and the US, must do all that is possible to ensure that it does not become a reality.


Abu Sayyaf dumped Malaysian hostages to escape army—sources

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Mar 28): Abu Sayyaf dumped Malaysian hostages to escape army—sources

An overwhelming military presence in the rugged hilly jungle around a Jolo village forced notorious Abu Sayyaf gunmen to abandon the last three of their five Malaysian hostages.

Intelligence sources believe that the gunmen, led by Abu Rami @Muammar Askali decided to leave the three sailors when the military started closing in on them.

The group has been terrorizing the southern Philippines with murders, kidnaps and beheadings including that of Malaysian hostage Bernard Then, 39, in November.

The source said it became apparent to the gunmen that they were making no headway in getting ransom money for the Malaysians whom they have held since abducting them from their tugboat off Dent Haven waters in Lahad Datu on July 18, last year.

READ: 3 more Malaysians freed by Abu Sayyaf in Sulu – Army

The three Fandy Bakran, 27, Mohd Jumadil Rahim 24, and Mohd Ridzuan Ismail, 33, looked frightened and exhausted but were otherwise all right when the soldiers found them in Panglima Estimo in Jolo at about 11.30pm on Sunday.

“We believe the hostages had become a liability and were too heavy a baggage for them as they were fleeing the military."

“Having got nothing from their families, they just decided to leave them,” the source said.

The gunmen had initially demanded P60 million but reduced it to P30 million for the release of the five Malaysian hostages. They were ready to go down further but there was no progress as the families could not raise that amount, the source said.

However, other Jolo-based sources claimed that Moro National Liberation Front and Sulu Governor Sakur Tan were involved in the negotiations for the release of the three whose freedom came three days after two other sailors Abd Rahim Summas, 62, and Tayudin Anjut, 42, were rescued on Thursday in Jolo.

The intelligence sources said the large military presence in the area was in line with orders of President Rodrigo Duterte who wanted some 30 foreign and Filipino hostages freed by eliminating the Abu Sayyaf.

READ: Duterte warns Abu Sayyaf: I will eat you alive …

In Zamboanga City, Philippines military Western Mindanao Com­mand said in a statement that the rescue of the three was due to unrelenting military operations as well as information from the two earlier released victims.

The three other sailors have been taken to the military hospital in Jolo and will be debriefed. They were to be taken to Zamboanga City before being flown back to Kuala Lumpur via Manila.


Sailors worked like slaves with threat of beheading hanging over their heads

From Asia One (Mar 28): Sailors worked like slaves with threat of beheading hanging over their heads

[Video report]

Five Malaysian men held captive by Abu Sayyaf were fearing for their lives throughout their eight-month ordeal in the jungles of the southern Philippines as the Abu Sayyaf militants threatened to behead or shoot them.

Tayudin Anjut, one of two men rescued first, said they lived in the jungle and were moved from one place to another at night.

“Sometimes they wore face masks. We were not blindfolded or tied though,” said the frail-looking man after being rescued and brought to the Prime Minister’s residence yesterday.

There were no physical beatings but Tayudin and Abd Rahim Sum­mas, the other rescued sailor, suffered body aches. They had to be wheeled into the residence as they were reunited with their family.
Tayudin, said the captives were forced to work for the captors.

“We were treated like slaves. Disuruh bikin itu, disuruh bikin ini we were asked to do this and that),” he told the media.

According to Tayudin, they had little to eat and drink.

“We were ordered to cook for them, and they only gave us leftovers to eat ... if there was nothing left over, then there would be no food for us,” he was quoted as saying by Bernama

“Sometimes we would have rice. Without food and medicine, my eyesight is failing and I can barely see now,” he said.

Tayudin said the kidnappers allowed them to contact their families several times, but each time, they also threatened to kill them.

Both Tayudin and Abdul Rahim did not know they were being rescued.

“There were no parting words between us and the other three captives because we did not realise we were being released,” he said.

The 45-year-old, who looks older than his age, was able to speak slowly despite his fatigue.

Abd Rahim, 62, however, could barely speak and choked on his words when he tried to answer ques­tions posed by reporters.

“Thank you to the Government for helping us return to our home land,” the older man said in barely a whisper.

Abd Rahim, who also suffers from high blood pressure, appeared weak and was bent over in the wheelchair as he was brought in.

His teary-eyed daughter Rasni­yati, 40, hugged him and said she was glad that her father had been returned safely to the family.

She said Abd Rahim had contacted the family several times during his capture.

“Once he told me to tell my mother that his body ached all over,” she said.

The two men will be treated at the Selayang hospital. They were among five tugboat crewmen abducted in waters off Dent Haven in Lahad Datu district last July 18.

Tayudin said that last Thursday, he and Abd Rahim were taken by villagers in a boat before being handed over to the Philippine authorities.

Tayudin was welcomed back by his wife Gustia Sultan, 47, and their children, Nurerin Farisha, 13, and Mohd Fahirin, five, while Abdul Rahim was met by his daughter Rasniyati, 40, and several other family members, who all could not hold back their tears when they met.

At 9.30am yesterday, ESSCom commander Datuk Wan Abdul Bari Wan Abdul Khalid confirmed that the three other kidnapped men ­– Fandy Bakran, 27, Mohd Jumadil Rahim, 24, and Mohd Ridzuan Ismail, 33, – were rescued on Sunday night.


BIFF blamed for bombing in Maguindanao

From the Philippine Star (Mar 28): BIFF blamed for bombing in Maguindanao

Government forces are convinced that the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters was behind the bomb attack. Philstar.com/File photo 

Bandits detonated on Monday night a bomb near the municipal hall of Talayan town just two hours before experts defused an explosive found beside a security checkpoint in Cotabato City.
Senior Superintendent Agustin Tello, director of the Maguindanao provincial police, said no one was hurt in the bombing in Talayan but the incident triggered panic among residents.

Officials of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division are convinced the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) was behind the attack.

The group, which boasts of loyalty to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, is known for bombing non-military targets to avenge losses in encounters with pursuing state security forces.

The BIFF, feared for its enforcement of a ruthless Taliban-style justice system in areas where it operates, lost more than 20 members during a three-day Army operation early this month in nearby Salibo municipality in Maguindanao.

The bombing near the Talayan municipal center preceded the deactivation at about 8:00 p.m. Monday by bomb experts of an improvised explosive device (IED) found near a joint Army-police security checkpoint in Tamontaka District in Cotabato City.

The city police said it was for the vigilance of villagers and barangay officials that the bomb was found and immediately dismantled by responding police and Army bomb experts.

The IED was fashioned from an explosive blasting powder packed with twisted nails and rigged with a battery-operated detonator that can be set off from a distance using a mobile phone.

City residents have been experiencing a conspicuously fragile peace since last year owing to the iron-fisted policy of Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi in maintaining law and order in all of the 37 barangays under her jurisdiction.

The mayor’s office and the city police had arrested dozens of drug offenders in recent months and had cleared the city’s thoroughfares from hostile people through periodic nighttime joint law enforcement patrols.


NPA attacks reported in Cagayan, Quirino

From GMA News (Mar 28): NPA attacks reported in Cagayan, Quirino

[Video report]

Alleged members of the New People's Army (NPA) burned heavy equipment worth about P10 million in Alcala, Cagayan, according to a report aired on "Saksi."

The incident occured a few days before the resumption of the fourth round of peace talks between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines - National Democratic Front next month.

In Maddela, Quirino province NPAs were also tagged to be behind the burning of construction equipment.

Meanwhile, NPA gunmen shot and killed a soldier and a CAFGU active auxiliary member in Laak, Compostela Valley last March 25.

Also, the Philippine Army's 3rd Infantry Battalion fought a series of gunbattles with the NPA's Pulang Bagani Company 2 in Davao City's Marilog District from March 25 to 26, during which an NPA fighter was killed.


NPA asks for 10-day ceasefire in 74 Bukidnon villages for release of cop

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Mar 28): NPA asks for 10-day ceasefire in 74 Bukidnon villages for release of cop
Members of underground groups under the Communist Party of the Philippines occupy the intersection of Edsa and Aurora Boulevard in Cubao, Quezon City, to mark the 48th anniversary of the New People's Army (NPA) on March 29. NIÑO JESUS ORBETA / PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER

Members of underground groups under the Communist Party of the Philippines mark the 48th anniversary of the New People’s Army (NPA) on March 27, 2017 in Quezon City. (PHOTO BY NIÑO JESUS ORBETA / INQUIRER)

The National Democratic Front in Northern Mindanao has asked the military to implement a 10-day suspension of military and police operations in at least 74 villages in Bukidnon starting March 27 so it can safely release a policeman from the custody of communist rebels.

Police Officer 2 Anthony Natividad, who is assigned at the Kalilangan municipal police in Bukidnon, was on his way to the headquarters in Camp Alagar on board his motorcycle to undergo medical examination when taken by the members of the New People’s Army in Barangay Tikalaan, Talakag town on Feb. 9.

Cesar Renerio, spokesperson of the NDF-North Central Mindanao Region, in a statement said they would release Natividad on condition that the army and police would order their forces to stand down in some villages in the towns of Talakag, Lantapan, Baungon, Pangantucan, and Kalilangan, and the cities of Malaybalay and Valencia.

Renerio said the NDF-NCMR through the NPA would declare its own temporary cessation of hostilities once law enforcers agree to the condition.

The group has assured the police and the public that Natividad has remained in good condition. The NPA added it no longer had any no reason to detain him further.

“After a thorough investigation and background check on his personal life and as a police officer, we found out that he (Natividad) committed no crime against the people and we see no reason to keep him,” Renerio said in the statement.

The communist rebels have also asked the local third-party facilitators, the local crisis committee of Bukidnon, as well as the Philippine Army officials and Philippine National Police regional and provincial leaderships to cooperate in ensuring the safe return of Natividad to his family.

The military would wait for instructions from President Duterte through the Department of National Defense before acting on the NDF Northern Mindanao’s request, said Capt. Joe Patrick Martinez, spokesperson of the Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division.

Martinez said the Armed Forces of the Philippines would welcome imoves from third-party facilitators and the local crisis committee to arrange for Natividad’s release.


Joma Sison wishes ‘best of health’ for ex-student Duterte

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Mar 28): Joma Sison wishes ‘best of health’ for ex-student Duterte

Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison and President Rodrigo Duterte. FILE PHOTOS

Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison and President Rodrigo Duterte. FILE PHOTOS

Self-exiled Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison wished President Duterte, his former student in college, the best of health on his birthday, Tuesday (Mar. 28).

“I wish him the best of health so that he can serve the people as best as he can,” Sison said in an online interview.

The President is celebrating his 72nd birthday on Tuesday.

Sison said Duterte should celebrate and enjoy his birthday in the company of his family and friends.

Duterte was Sison’s student at the Lyceum of the Philippines.

Mr. Duterte previously admitted that he had been taking the powerful pain killer Fentanyl due to pain in his spine, which he had been suffering since a motorcycle accident several years ago. Fentanyl is a strong synthetic opioid analgesic often used in cancer treatments which could be addictive.

The President also admitted that has been diagnosed with Barrett’s esophagus, a serious complication of the gastroesophageal reflux disease involving changes in the tissue lining the esophagus.

On several occasions, Duterte also disclosed that he has also been suffering from Buerger’s disease, the constriction of blood vessels caused by the accumulation of nicotine.

Duterte admitted that Sison played an important part in molding his political belief, which led him then to become a member of Kabataang Makabayan, a militant youth organization which Sison founded.


NPA holds lightning rally in Cubao

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Mar 28): NPA holds lightning rally in Cubao

 [Video report]

At the rally, underground revolutionary organizations in Metro Manila under the banner of the CPP called on Filipinos to join the NPA.

The founding anniversary of the NPA is on March 29.

CPP-NPA leaders on Saturday said they were set to declare a unilateral ceasefire before March 31, ahead of the resumption of peace talks with the government next month.

The CPP expects the Philippine government to declare a similar unilateral ceasefire as part of an agreement reached during back-channel talks from March 10 to 11, the group said in a statement.

Negotiators from both sides agreed on March 12 to resume formal peace negotiations in The Netherlands from April 2 to 6, a month after an angry President Duterte canceled talks because the NPA ambushed soldiers and unilaterally ended a previous ceasefire.

Mr. Duterte, in an interview on Saturday with reporters in Bukidnon province, said he would consult with the country’s political and security leaders “whether it would be good at this time” to resume the government’s unilateral ceasefire.

“I have to consult the (House) Speaker. I have to consult the Senate President. I have to convene the National Security Council and I have to ask the generals of the Army and the police,” the President said.

In the statement, the CPP urged the President to order the military to “slow down its ongoing all-out offensive military operations and aerial bombing and shelling campaigns against rural (communities), to help create a favorable atmosphere for the mutual ceasefire.”

To give the peace talks a boost, the CPP said it also expected the government to release 19 elderly and sick political prisoners, as well as five detained consultants of its political arm, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

The CPP said the NPA released on Friday two “prisoners of war” in Mati town in Davao Oriental province, as a “confidence-building” measure and would also set four more prisoners free.

RED SALUTE A woman member of the communist underground movement joins the rally in Cubao, Quezon City, to celebrate in advance the founding anniversary of the New People’s Army, which was established on March 29, 1969. —NIÑO JESUS ORBETA
The conflict between the government and the communists has raged for nearly five decades and killed more than 40,000 people.

Both sides in the conflict unilaterally declare ceasefires that the opposite party typically accuses the other of violating, leading to a fragile peace in the conflict zones where the rebels operate.


DWDD: Gov’t troops encounter NPAs in Occidental Mindoro

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Mar 27): Gov’t troops encounter NPAs in Occidental Mindoro


Troops of 4th Infantry Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, Philippine Army encountered an undetermined number of New People’s Army (NPAs) today, March 27, 2017 at around 9:00 AM following a sniping incident happened earlier, around 6:00 AM, at a Patrol Base in Sitio Naibuan, Brgy Batasan, San Jose, Occidental Mindoro.

While scouring the vicinity, the troops encountered the armed rebels that lasted for one minute. The said encounter inflicted no casualty from the government while undetermined number on the enemy side.

However, the sniping incident caused a slight wound on the left arm of Pvt Carvey C Bande.
Presently, the troops in the area are conducting pursuit operations in order to track down fleeing enemies.

MGen Rhoderick Parayno, Commander of 2nd Division, assures that the army will continue to go after the rebels until they stop terror acts they commit against the people.


DWDD: HARASSMENT | NPA Terrorizes Antipas, N. Cotabato

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Mar 27): HARASSMENT | NPA Terrorizes Antipas, N. Cotabato

A total of two hundred thirty seven (237) families returns home at Barangay Camutan, Antipas after evacuating at the municipal gym due to the harassment of New People’s Army members on the evening of March 22.

According to the evacuees, the NPA headed by a local commander named Alvin Gulmatico alyas Joel of Guerilla Front 53 tried to summon them at Brgy Camutan proper, with more or less 30 armed NPA on the evening of March 22. This caused alarm and scandal that forced the residents to evacuate on the morning of March 23.

Due to the incident, the LGU of Antipas headed by the municipal mayor, Hon Egidio Cadungon immediately convened the crisis management and requested for PNP and Army assistance. Joint Army/PNP operations were conducted to pursue the NPA and drive them away from the communities.

On the evening of March 23 at exactly 7:15pm, an encounter between the pursuing Army/PNP and NPA occurred at Sitio Embangan of Brgy Camutan, fire fight lasted for ten (10) minutes after which the NPA withdrew. There was no casualty from the government forces.

March 25, after two days of joint Army/PNP security operations, the crisis management of Antipas declared the affected areas of Brgy Camutan safe from the presence of NPA. Four (4) municipal dump trucks and two (2) Army trucks were utilized to transport the families back to their respective homes in order for them to live their normal lives.

It can be recalled that the municipality of Antipas was declared conflict manageable and ready for further development during the area clearing validation board on February 22, 2017. Hence, the NPA is trying to recover brgy Camutan, unfortunately they were not welcomed and had only caused fear to the communities.

“Dili mi dawatonang NPA kunghadlukonnilaangcivilyan (we won’t accept the NPA if they are threatening the civilian)”, Mayor Cadungon said during a short program on the distribution of relief goods to the evacuated families on March 25. CMO 39IB / MCAG

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Hand-over of relief goods and provision of transportation assistance to the evacuees of BrgyCamutan, Antipas on March 25, 2017.


MNLF-IIO: President Rodrigo Duterte met with Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari and his family in Davao City.

Posted to the Moro National Liberation Front - International Information Office Facebook page (Mar 28): President Rodrigo Duterte met with Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari and his family in Davao City.

President Rodrigo Duterte met with Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari and his family in Davao City.

The meeting happened at the Presidential Guest House on Monday night, the eve of Duterte's 72nd birthday. ...

Misuari was joined by his wife Tarhata and son Abdulkarim during the meeting.

As of posting time, Malacañang has yet to give details on what Duterte and Misuari discussed.

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MILF: Editorial - Call for mutual respect

Editorial posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Mar 28): Editorial - Call for mutual respect

The ideological and political lines determine the conduct of revolutionary struggles and their objectives. This is the reason that one revolutionary group may differ from others. For instance, communist-led struggle always call for the overthrow of existing government, replace its system, as well as those running the state. In the case of MILF, we do not seek to overthrow the government in Manila, change its system, and replace its workers. All what is desired is to allow us freely to exercise our right to self-determination. And clearly that desire for now is overwhelmingly for the establishment of a genuine self-governing and autonomous entity in the Bangsamoro.

It is in this context that we call on the leadership of the NDFP/CPP/NPA in Mindanao to respect the stand of our people, instead of calling us to armed struggle. We urge them to observe the principle of mutual respect in dealing with each other. It is on record that we never criticise your stand on several issues, which we can easily do because your ideology and ours are diametrically opposed to each other. Islam is opposed to everything that is founded on non-belief in the existence of God. But as revolutionaries, both of us have one common enemy, which is oppression.

Islam has settled the issue of belief or unbelief 1,400 years ago during the time of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him!). God had decreed in the Quran: “There is no compulsion in religion; unto you your religion and unto me my religion.”

Armed struggle had been the only form of our struggle from 1972 up to 1997, but from 1997 (when peace talks started) up to the passage and enactment of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) we call this as the political stage of our struggle. Military engagement can only happen if government forces attack us. The third stage, which we call democratic or electoral stage, commences from the passage and enactment of the BBL wherein we seek hold of government through electoral process to the establishment of a normal situation in the Bangsamoro region.

However, while armed struggle is not pursued now, but our weapons are still firmly intact in our hands. Decommissioning of weapons can only take place when the parties sign the Exit Agreement, which means all the agreements of the parties are implemented, as verified and validated by the Third Party Monitoring Team (TPMT) and concurred to by the Third Party Facilitator, and the government and MILF peace panels.

Who are in need of weapons when the Bangsamoro Problem or Question, which the parties seek to answer throughout their 17 long and hard negotiations, are genuinely addressed? Only duly constituted authorities should take hold of these weapons, not by anyone.

More importantly, the MILF believes that dialogues and negotiations are more civilized and practical than continue killing each other. Men and women are fully equipped with reason and conscience to argue and agree on lofty matters that benefit mankind in general.

Additionally, true Muslims never snap out life without justifiable cause. Islam says that who kills someone without justifiable cause is as if he or she kills mankind.