Friday, April 28, 2017

CPP/NPA-Comval Davao East Coast: Red fighters overrun AFP detachment in Davao Oriental

New People's Army (NPA) propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Apr 26): Red fighters overrun AFP detachment in Davao Oriental

Roel Agustin II, Spokesperson
NPA-Comval Davao East Coast

26 April 2017

Red fighters belonging to the Comval-Davao East Coast Sub-Regional Operations Command of the New People’s Army successfully overran the detachment of the 67IB and the 72IB in Brgy, Aliwagwag, Cateel in Davao Oriental on April 23 at around 5:00 in the morning. An M14 rifle and several military gears were seized while one enemy was killed and three others were wounded during the firefight.

Two Red fighters, including Patrick Simeon, were martyred during the engagement. Simeon, 20, was a youth activist from Metro Manila who joined the New People’s Army last 2014. The NPA in SMR and the revolutionary movement in the region confer highest honours to the two Red fighters who had bravely given their lives to the cause of the national democratic struggle.

The successful attack was undertaken as punishment against the 67IB and 72IB for their troops’ numerous crimes against peasants and Lumad in their areas of operation in Davao Oriental. The fascist AFP troops also serve as mercenary armed protectors of the anti-people and corrupt money-making eco-tourism racket of Davao Oriental Cong. Corazon Malanyaon in Aliwagwag, Cateel.

The so-called eco-tourism program in Aliwagwag Falls of the reactionary provincial government has displaced hundreds of peasant and Lumad families in Brgy. Aliwagwag and adjacent villages in the towns of Cateel and nearby Compostela. In the name of the deceitful development program, farms and communities were adversely affected to give way to the privatized “tourist destination spots” that benefited only Malanyaon’s profiteering clique.

To ensure the unhindered operation of the “tourism racket” and quell local resistance, Malanyaon and her clique mobilized the 67IB and the 72IB to sow terror among residents in the communities. Since the installation of the detachment, enemy troops had conducted psywar, harassments and threats against those who oppose the eco-tourism racket and suspected sympathizers of the revolutionary movement. During one drinking bout on February 2016, the commanding officer of the detachment shot at close range and killed a local CAFGU recruit. Fellow CAFGUs reported that he was shot because he took his time running an errand for the official. They also railed against the unjust treatment and discrimination by regular soldiers against CAFGUs.

It is the height of utmost hypocrisy therefore that the AFP, whose officials regularly receive protection money from the venture, should decry the attack when its forces have been reduced to nothing but fascist, money-grubbing armed goons.

NPA attacks in Davao City 'acts of terrorism' – Sara Duterte

From Rappler (Apr 29): NPA attacks in Davao City 'acts of terrorism' – Sara Duterte

'We condemn these acts committed by a group that pretends to champion social justice and equality,' the Davao City mayor says in a statement following the attacks

NPA OFFENSIVE. After the April 29 attacks in Davao City, Mayor Sara Duterte urges the public to support the police and the military by 'openly condemning the NPA as a terrorist organization.' Photo by Roy Geonzon

NPA OFFENSIVE. After the April 29 attacks in Davao City, Mayor Sara Duterte urges the public to support the police and the military by 'openly condemning the NPA as a terrorist organization.' Photo by Roy Geonzon

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte on Saturday, April 29, condemned the attacks "perpetrated by the New People's Army (NPA)" in Davao City as "acts of terrorism."
"I take what happened today as a personal insult especially because the local government of Davao City has been supportive of the peace negotiations between the national government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, the political umbrella that covers the armed guerrilla movement," Duterte said in a statement.

She said she herself has repeatedly offered to talk peace with NPA members within Davao City.
"We condemn these acts committed by a group that pretends to champion social justice and equality. With its history of carrying out atrocities and its continued penchant for lawlessness and bloodbath, the NPA is an organization that is not worthy of our trust and respect," she added.

In a separate statement, NPA-Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command (NPA-SMROC) spokesperson Rigoberto Sanchez said the 1st Pulang Bagani Battalion "victoriously launched 3 simultaneous tactical offensives in Davao City against the Lorenzo-owned companies and ranch" starting around 2 am Saturday.
"The PBB's coordinated offensives served as punitive action against the Lorenzos for their numerous crimes against agricultural workers, peasants, and Lumad," the statement read.

According to initial reports, the 1st Pulang Bagani Battalion set on fire the Lapanday plant in Mandug, Davao City at 3 am Saturday, April 29. One was seriously injured, while another security guard was injured after fighting with NPA members.

Sanchez said in the statement that the NPA disarmed security guards and seized several pistols at the Lapanday box plants.

"Red fighters also gutted down several equipment. Around the same time, another PBB-NPA assault unit struck Macondray Plastic Plant in Barangay Bunawan and disarmed security guards. Meanwhile, 3 high-powered firearms were also seized at the Lorenzo ranch in Barangay Pangyan, Calinan at past 3 am," Sanchez added.

Duterte on Saturday said the city government "commiserates" with the general public caught in the violence, as well as the victims of the attacks.

She called on the public to support the police and the military by "openly condemning the NPA as a terrorist organization."

"I would like to assure the people of Davao that our policemen and soldiers are on top of the situation, with the order that the safety of civilians should be ensured and protected at all times. We shall pour all the available resources to achieve this end," she added.

1 killed, 3 hurt as NPA attack factories, ranch in Davao City

From ABS-CBN (Apr 29): 1 killed, 3 hurt as NPA attack factories, ranch in Davao City

Image courtesy of Rogelyn Batuampo

A suspected member of the New People's Army (NPA) was killed while two others were injured in separate attacks here on Saturday.

Communist rebels attacked the Lapanday Foods Corp, torching equipment and disarming security guards. A security guard was wounded.

The rebels said they disarmed security guards at Lapanday's 2 box plants in Barangay Mandug before setting fire to several equipment.

Pictures taken by Rogelyn Batuampo showed thick smoke coming from the Lapanday compound in Barangay Mandug.

The NPA also attacked the Macondray plastic plant in Barangay Bunawan and disarmed security guards.

The rebels also seized 3 high-powered firearms at the Lorenzo ranch in Barangay Pangyan, Calinan at past 3 a.m.

The ranch's security guard was injured in the incident. Police said a suspected NPA rebel was killed in the incident.

A spokesman for the NPA said the attacks "served as punitive action against the Lorenzos for their numerous crimes against agricultural workers, peasants and Lumad."

The attack was carried out while the Philippines is hosting the 30th ASEAN Summit in Manila.

In an interview, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte confirmed that the attack was perpetrated by NPA rebels.

Asked if the attack was connected with the visit of Indonesian President Joko Widodo Davao or the 30th ASEAN Summit, she said: "I am sure they planned it maybe in relation to that or in relation to Labor Day."

Sara Duterte sees NPA attacks as 'personal insult'

From ABS-CBN (Apr 29): Sara Duterte sees NPA attacks as 'personal insult'

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte said Saturday she considered attacks by communist rebels as a "personal insult" and "terrorism," given the city government's support for peace negotiations.

President Rodrigo Duterte's eldest daughter said the New People's Army "is an organization that is not worthy of our trust and respect."

NPA guerrillas torched equipment and disarmed security guards of Lapanday Foods Corp early Saturday. The rebels also attacked a Macondray Plastic plant and the Lorenzo ranch. One rebel was killed while 3 others were hurt in the incidents.

"The attacks perpetrated by the New People's Army today in Davao City are acts of terrorism. I take what happened today as a personal insult especially because the local government of Davao City has been supportive of the peace negotiations," she said.

"We condemn these acts committed by a group that pretends to champion social justice and equality," she added.

The younger Duterte assured Davao City residents of their safety after the attacks.

NPA rebels hold simultaneous attacks on 3 Davao properties

From the Manila Bulletin (Apr 29): NPA rebels hold simultaneous attacks on 3 Davao properties

The New People’s Army (NPA) burned a box plant and farming equipment of Lapanday in bold simultaneous attacks on three properties starting 2 a.m., today in Davao City.

(Credits: Roy Geonzon via Facebook | Manila Bulletin)

However, officials condemned the NPA’s use of the name of a national government agency.

In a statement, NPA Southern Mindanao Region spokesperson Rigoberto Sanchez said the attacks were its “punitive action” against the Lorenzos.

The Lorenzos reportedly committed “numerous crimes against agricultural workers, peasants, and the Lumad (tribe).”

The NPA burned down Lapanday’s box plant in Brgy. Mandug with firefighters initially unable to enter the premises during the attack.

In Brgy. Bunawan, the NPA also assaulted the Macondray Plastic Plant.

In Brgy. Pangyan in Calinan, the red fighters seized three high-powered firearms around 3 a.m.

The security guards in the three areas were disarmed.

Sr. Insp. Ma. Teresita P. Gaspan, Davao City Police Office information official, said that around 80 suspected NPA rebels blocked the entry points to and from Mandug.

The guard house and barracks of the Mandug facility had been attacked by the rebels.

Police said the NPAs in Mandug left on board a white Toyota Fortuner with plate number AND 8221 and blue dump truck LAN 277 and fled toward Sitio Timawa, Brgy. Mandug.

BTC seeks sponsors for consultations

From the Manila Bulletin (Apr 28): BTC seeks sponsors for consultations

Marawi City – The Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) is still operating without any budget, and is now seeking sponsors for its scheduled field consultative meeting in this city on May 4.

Lawyer Ferdausi Y. Abbas, a Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) representative to the BTC and chair of its justice and peace committee, lamented the sad state of the commission in a letter addressed to Sultans in this city who he asked for help to generate sponsors for the field hearing.

“The Bangsamoro Transition Commission to this day has not received any budget from the Palace and the credit line of the BTC does not extend outside of Cotabato City, so (it) cannot finance outside consultations which I find most lamentable,” Abbas said in a letter dated April 26 and addressed to Sultan of Bacolod Narshrullah Conding.

Abbas, a crowned sultan himself, asked Conding to make representations with Vice Governor Mamintal Adiong Jr. and Mindanao State University (MSU) system president Dr. Habib Macaayong for joint sponsorship of the May 4 event.

In a meeting here Thursday, Sultans Conding, Alikhan Diron Sani, Subair Mustapha, and Bryan Marmay told The Manila Bulletin that the offices of the provincial governor and MSU president have agreed to extend assistance in view of their commitments to the Duterte administration’s drive for a peaceful end to the age-old Moro struggle.

Abbas’ letter did not mention any specific agenda for the May 4 hearing, saying only that the event will be a daylong affair tentatively slated at the MSU gym.

‘Most notorious’ Abu Sayyaf kidnapper killed in clash

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Apr 29): ‘Most notorious’ Abu Sayyaf kidnapper killed in clash
Abu Sayyaf leader Alhabsi (Alhabsy) Misaya. CEBU DAILY NEWS FILE PHOTO

Abu Sayyaf leader Alhabsi (Alhabsy) Misaya. CEBU DAILY NEWS FILE PHOTO

Philippine marines have killed an Abu Sayyaf extremist commander and a notorious kidnapper who had sailed across the sea border into Malaysia to snatch tourists and sailors for ransom, the military chief said Saturday.

Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año told The Associated Press that Alhabsy Misaya was slain in a clash with marines late Friday in the jungles between the towns of Indanan and Parang in Sulu province. He said Misaya’s body was identified by military officials and captured Abu Sayyaf militants.
Misaya has been blamed for abductions of dozens of Malaysians and Indonesian hostages, including one who was beheaded.

READ: Abu Sayyaf gunmen abduct 10 Indonesians, demand P50M

“We consider him the most notorious kidnapper from that bandit group and this is a big setback to the Abu Sayyaf,” Año told the AP by telephone.

Sulu-based Mindanao State University professor Octavio Dinampo confirmed the report of Misaya’s killing Friday night.

“He was shot to death by his former comrades in the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), but was turned over to the Marines for credit,” Dinampo said.

Misaya had been blamed for the abductions of dozens of Indonesian, Vietnamese and Malaysian crewmen of cargo ships and tugboats plying the busy sea border between the southern Philippines and Malaysia. He was believed to be holding several abducted Vietnamese sailors in Sulu’s jungles but the hostages were apparently not with him during the clash.

A kidnapped Malaysian man was beheaded by Misaya’s group in November 2015.

READ: Malaysian hostage beheaded by Abu Sayyaf – report

The Philippine military has been undertaking a major offensive against the Abu Sayyaf, which is notorious for bombings, ransom kidnappings and beheadings. The group is blacklisted as a terrorist organization by the United States and the Philippines.

Warring MILF groups displace NCotabato folk

From the Manila Times (Apr 28): Warring MILF groups displace NCotabato folk

Two warring groups belonging to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) engaged in hostilities have displaced a big number of residents in Pikit, North Cotabato since Wednesday.

Local officials have already sent emissaries to convince the leaders of the warring Kedtag Group and Buaya Group to reconcile their differences to prevent further adverse effects on the dislocated villagers.

Dozens of Moro families were displaced when these two groups figured in running gun battles in Barangay Kabasalan in Pikit on Wednesday.

Chief Insp. Donald Cabigas, chief of the Pikit police station, said Kedtag is a senior official of the MILF’s 118th Base Command while Buaya belongs to the group’s National Guards Division.

The rival factions are fighting for control of strategic patches of farmlands in Barangay Kabasalan.

Cabigas said local officials are now trying to resolve the conflict with the help of religious leaders and Moro elders in the municipality.

The Philippine Army’s 602nd Brigade, which has jurisdiction over Pikit and neighboring towns in North Cotabato, has called on the joint government-MILF ceasefire committee to help resolve the dispute between Kedtag and Buaya.

Gov't Awaits Confirmation On Deaths Of 3 Indonesians In Philippine Army Raid

From the Malaysian Digest (Apr 28): Gov't Awaits Confirmation On Deaths Of 3 Indonesians In Philippine Army Raid

The Indonesian Embassy in Manila is currently waiting for official confirmation from military authorities to verify the deaths of three Indonesians in a raid on Islamic State-affiliated militants in the southern Philippines last week.

The Philippines Armed Forces (AFP) reportedly killed 36 militants in a military operation in the southern province of Lanao del Sur. At least one Indonesian passport was recovered in the raid.

Lalu Muhammad Iqbal, director of citizen protection and legal aid at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the embassy has been working to confirm media reports on the number of militants slain in the operation.

AFP representatives said last week's raid was targeted against members of the Maute terror group operating in the region, who are believed to have pledged allegiance to Islamic State caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in recent years.

"The Indonesian Embassy in Manila has asked for confirmation on the validity of those reports, but the AFP has yet to respond," Iqbal said on Wednesday (26/04).

"The AFP informed us that they will conduct DNA tests on the slain militants, but that also has yet to occur," he added.

Iqbal said the Indonesian Consulate General in Davao City – also located in the southern Philippines – received information from local authorities related to the discovery of Indonesian passports.

"However, the AFP is still unable to confirm whether the passports belong to any of the 36 people who were killed, and where they were found," Iqbal said.

Military personnel have taken over the main rebel base in the province as a result of last week's operation.

Gen. Eduardo Año, incumbent AFP chief of staff, said 14 of the people killed in the operation have been properly identified by intelligence officers and witnesses.

He said the military's cleanup operation is ongoing, as security forces are still looking for the group’s leader, Isnilon Hapilon.

Hapilon is said to be a former member of the regional Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist network, which is responsible for several attacks in recent years, including the 2002 Bali bombings.

The Maute group is one of many Islamist militant networks operating in the southern Philippines.

2 C-130 transport aircraft re-supply ammo to troops fighting terrorists

From Update Philippines (Apr 29): 2 C-130 transport aircraft re-supply ammo to troops fighting terrorists

220AW photo
On April 28, two Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport aircraft of Philippine Air Force 220th Airlift Wing have transported essential military supplies to Armed Forces of the Philippines units fighting ISIS-inspired Maute Group in Butig, Lanao del Sur.

The two aircraft, with tail number 3633 and 4704, transported loads of ammunition from Clark Air Base to Laguindingan Airport.

“The combat effectiveness and sustainability of our ground forces will greatly rely on the amount of ammunition’s available for them to fight. Without these airlift operations, the capacity for our ground forces to undertake military operations will be surely compromised and consequently the failure of the mission,” 220th Airlift Wing said.

220AW photo

220th Airlift Wing said these re-supply mission increased the confidence of our troops, assured that they will be reinforced, supplied, and evacuated when needed. In effect, confident soldiers are more effective militarily.

Army Support Command Convoy Commander and Escort Officer of Logistics Support Group Captain Freginald Martinez expressed his gratitude to the pilots and crew who provided them the most effective and more rapid means of air transportation.

They were elated to know that there are now five C-130s in the Air Force, 220AW said.

“It is no doubt that the airlift that we provide remains an important enabler for aggressive combat operations such as this. So to all our brothers in the Armed Forces, as a promise, your airlifters will always be ready to respond 24/7,” 220AW said.

Another notorious Abu Sayyaf leader killed

From Rappler (Apr 29): Another notorious Abu Sayyaf leader killed

(UPDATED) Alhabsy Misaya – the leader of an Abu Sayyaf subgroup in Indanan, Sulu – is dead, says the military

The Philippine military killed one of the most notorious sub-leaders of the Abu Sayyaf Group responsible for kidnapping of foreigners.

Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez of the Western Mindanao Command confirmed on Satuday, April 29, the death of Alhabsy Misaya, the leader of a sub-group based in Indanan, Sulu.

Galvez did not provide details as operations continue to attempt to save the hostages under Misaya's care.

Misaya and his men have been the target of government offensives as the military works to meet a self-imposed deadline to crush the Abu Sayyaf by June 30.

Misaya's group is responsible for the spate of kidnappings of foreigners, particularly Malaysian and Indonesians sailing the waters between the Philippines and neighboring countries.

He was responsible for the kidnapping of 10 Indonesian crewmen of Tugboat Brahman 12 in March 2016 and 5 Malaysian crewmen of Tugboat Serundung 3 in July 2016.

All Indonesian crewmen were released last year after reported payments of ransom. The Malaysians were released this year after a series of clashes with the military.

In January 2017, the military that has grown aggressive because of its own deadline, had scored a major victory against Misaya's group when 12 of his men were killed in clashes in the town of Panamao.

That encounter won medals for the soldiers and officers involved in the operation. (READ: 5 operations vs Abu Sayyaf that won medals for soldiers)

Misaya's death comes shortly after the killing of Muamar Askali – the Abu Sayyaf spokesperson who sailed from Sulu to Bohol – to get more hostages from the famous tourist destination. (READ: ASG leader behind foreigner's kidnap killed in Bohol)

Abu Sayyaf top leader Radullon Sahiron has reportedly sent surrender feelers to the military, too.

Wanted Abu Sayyaf leader Al Habsi killed

From The Star Online (Apr 29): Wanted Abu Sayyaf leader Al Habsi killed

One of Malaysia's most-wanted terrorists, Abu Sayyaf leader Al Habsi Misaya, is believed to have been killed in a gun battle with Philippines security forces.

Al Habsi (pic), who is wanted for numerous high-profile kidnappings in Sabah's east coast, was apparently killed in the Indanan area of Jolo.

Philippines military sources said that the gun battle took place at around 9.35pm on Friday when Philippines security forces were tracking down Abu Sayyaf gunmen on the island.

Al Habsi was among the four top Abu Sayyaf commanders able to order major kidnappings on the Sabah and southern Philippines sea border.

Still on the run are Al Habsi's comrade Sarip Mura, together with the ageing Radulan Sahiron and Hatib Sawadjaan.

The reports of Al Habsi's death comes about two weeks after his close ally Maummar Askali @ Abu Rami was killed in central Philippines while planning a major kidnap of tourists in Bogol Island.

Other commanders like Idang Susukan and Apo Mike are believed to have been killed or seriously injured in gun battles in Jolo island earlier last month.

Intelligence sources had previously told The Star that Al Habsi, a syabu addict in his 30s, had managed to elude bombardment by the Philippines military and dragnets on Jolo island over the last few months.

He was believed to have gone into hiding in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines while fleeing the military offensive.

Al Habsi is believed to have financed previous cross-border kidnappings in Sabah by providing fuel money, boats and firearms.

Police say Quiapo blast not ASEAN-related

From the Philippine News Agency  (Apr 29): Police say Quiapo blast not ASEAN-related

The head of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) on Friday said the Quiapo explosion has nothing to do with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Leaders Summit that will commence today at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City.

Chief Superintendent Oscar Albayalde, NCRPO chief, in a radio interview, said they see no threat to the ongoing Asean activities after a grenade exploded along Quezon Boulevard, near the Quiapo church at around 10:49 p.m. Friday that left 12 people injured.

“Hindi po siya major explosion dahil walang namatay pero may mga nasugatan,” Albayalde was quoted as saying.

According to Albayalde, initial reports showed eyewitnesses saw two motorcycle-riding men lobbed something in the area a few seconds before the explosion.

He added that the explosion is believed to have stemmed out from a gang war in the area.

Investigators, he said, are now coordinating with the barangay to secure a copy of the CCTV footage.

Manolo Jeremias, official of Barangay 391 in Manila, said the explosion caused dismembered body parts of two victims.

The victims were brought to the Jose Reyes Medical Center, Mary Chiles General Hospital and Ospital ng Sampaloc.

Members of the police’s Explosive and Ordnance Disposal are now conducting further investigation.

Quiapo blast has no security implication for ongoing ASEAN meet: AFP

From the Philippine News Agency  (Apr 29): Quiapo blast has no security implication for ongoing ASEAN meet: AFP

Friday night's explosion in Quiapo, Manila that left 12 people injured is "gang-related" and has no security implication for the ongoing ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings being held at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City, a military spokesperson said Saturday.

"Initial reports coming from the Philippine National Police indicate that the incident is 'gang-related' and so far, we see no need to (beef up our security preparations). We put it under the law enforcement operations for the time being," Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

At about 10:49 p.m. Friday, two men on a motorcycle lobbed a suspected grenade that exploded along Quezon Blvd. near the Quiapo Church, wounding 12, five of them severely.

The victims were brought to the Jose Reyes Medical Center, Mary Chiles General Hospital and Ospital ng Sampaloc.

Police investigations are ongoing as of this posting.

DND: Upcoming maritime security patrols with Indonesia, Malaysia 'timely'

From the Philippine News Agency  (Apr 29): DND: Upcoming maritime security patrols with Indonesia, Malaysia 'timely'

The Department of National Defense (DND) has called the soon-to-be launched maritime security patrol arrangement among the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia that would forestall terrorism and piracy incidents in their common seas, a very opportune response.

"It is a timely measure in response to the ever evolving threat of terrorism, not only in our countries but the entire region as well," DND public affairs office chief Arsenio Andolong said in an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA) Saturday.

"This bodes well for the future of maritime security and safety in our common areas."

Following his meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacañang Friday, Indonesian President Joko Widodo disclosed that they have discussed the intensified security cooperation in the region.

“On maritime security, we agreed to launch the Indo-Ma-Phi (Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines) trilateral maritime patrol as soon as possible,” he said.

“In combating transnational crimes, we also agreed to conduct a joint working group on counter-terrorism this year, expanding the 2014 MOU on Counter-Terrorism Cooperation and strengthen intelligence information cooperation.”

The three Asian neighbors earlier proposed the joint patrols in the Sulu and Celebes Sea to curb the rise in kidnappings and hijackings of commercial ships by Islamic militants in these waters.

Duterte's military operations kill 162 militants including pirate leader since 2016

From the International Business Times (Apr 28): Duterte's military operations kill 162 militants including pirate leader since 2016

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a news conference at the presidential palace in Manila, Philippines March 13, 2017. Reuters
The Philippine government's Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has announced that a total of 162 Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) fighters, including a leader of its piracy wing, have been killed as a result of the "search and destroy" military policy campaign of the Duterte government, started in 2016.

Among those killed last week was Commander Muamar Askali, also known as Commander Marwan, an Abu Sayyaf sub leader known for his maritime piracy and kidnapping Western tourists, Malaysian sailors and Indonesian traders in the Southern Philippine border. Marwan, along with 10 other heavily armed militants, sailed off from Southern Philippines to its central region to reportedly disturb the ASEAN summit held this week.

 Response to failed talks

The military offensive commenced in July 2016 after a failed proposed peace dialogue between the ASG leaders and the Duterte camp. Since assuming presidency, Duterte has frequented Sulu and Basilan, the cradle of the ASG, to send a diplomatic message to the fighters to release the Canadian and Norwegian hostages but the ASG beheaded two Canadian captives defying the president's call. The ongoing fierce battle also costed the lives of 29 foot soldiers, most of whom were victims of ambush attacks of the ASG.

Before the military offensives, Duterte had appealed to the ASG that the war in Basilan and Sulu is a futile exercise. Moreover, he urged the militants to stop the war for the sake of the children of the provinces. But Duterte's message fell on deaf ears and as a result of the dialogue deadlock, the leader sent 10,000 highly trained scout rangers and battle-tested marine soldiers to wipe out the ASG.

Despite the heavy casualties suffered by the ASG, it still managed to hold 23 hostages - five Filipinos and 18 foreigners, including a Japanese and few Europeans.

Many residents in the Southern Philippines were surprised about how ASG could intensify their kidnapping activity despite the heavy military pressure. The militant group has been using the Philippine-Malaysia border to prey on their prospective kidnap victims because of the long coastline that makes it hard for marine security authorities to patrol the ocean.

The ASG raked in at least USD 10m in their 'kidnap for ransom' since 2012 and reportedly used some of the ransom money to bribe village officials, community residents and politicians to mislead military soldiers to run after them.

Focus on Asean maritime security
Duterte also announced that it would like to collaborate with Malaysia and Indonesia to form a more intensive security plan in the border. ASEAN maritime security will also be among the priority topics to be discussed in the ASEAN summit to be held in Manila from April 26-29, 2017.

While the ASG remains a security threat to the Philippine-Malaysia border, the Philippine government is no longer relying on military offensive but it is also exploring the use of development efforts to stop terrorism and soon it will collaborate with her two neighboring countries (Indonesia and Malaysia) to prevent piracy and kidnapping activities in the border.

Movement of 3 Abu Sayyaf members 'monitored'

From Sun Star-Cebu (Apr 29): Movement of 3 Abu Sayyaf members 'monitored'


And then there were three. Even though the military has admitted that looking for the three remaining Abu Sayyaf members in Bohol is like "looking for a needle in a haystack," getting out of the island has proven difficult for the bandits with almost everyone on the lookout for them. (SunStar Foto/Alan Tangcawan)
SEARCHING for the three remaining Abu Sayyaf members is like looking for a "needle in a haystack."
This was how Capt. Jojo Mascariñas, spokesperson of the 302nd Brigade of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, described the manhunt in Bohol for Asis, Abu Omar or Saad and Ubayda after they discovered that the three are looking for ways to escape, individually.
 "It was much easier if we are hunting a group because we can isolate them from the community. But with this, we are looking for three separate persons and our troops will have a hard time," Mascariñas told SunStar Cebu in a phone interview.
The military official said that the three may have already discarded their only firearm so they can approach residents in far-flung sitios in Inabanga and Clarin for help.
 Fact from fiction
Recently, a man suspected of being Ubayda asked a farmer for food in Buenos Aires, Tubigon. Mascariñas also appealed to the public to only provide firsthand information and not hearsay.
"It's hard for us to segregate true information from a bogus one because of the influx of reports. Our troops go from one town to another to verify. Just imagine if only a few are positive and the rest are negative and just rumors," he said.
 Mascariñas said residents can conduct a citizen's arrest if they're sure they're dealing with an Abu Sayyaf member after authorities plastered posters with the three men's pictures all over the island.
"But be careful," he added.
Authorities continue to monitor the bandits' movement. Two of them were sighted on board a bus from Talibon to Trinidad last Tuesday afternoon.
Positively identified
Bohol Provincial Police Office Director Senior Supt. Felipe Natividad said they're encouraging bus liners in Bohol to put up the posters with the Abu Sayyaf men's pictures inside their vehicles.
"We are receiving reports. We’re talking to the conductors, the drivers and there are a lot of people helping us now so it will take us time to verify all of the information," he said.
 Natividad said the bandits are having a hard time blending in with the community. "They are not being supported by the people. They're all angry at them, even the Muslims in Bohol. They don’t consider the Abu Sayyaf as Muslims because Muslims are good people," Natividad said.
According to the Military Intelligence Group (MIG) 7, Asis and Abu Omar were recognized when they rode a bus last Tuesday. The conductor, the inspector and the driver confirmed their identities through a poster at the Talibon Bus Terminal.
 The Coast Guard and local police have been coordinating after the two men reportedly got off in Trinidad.
Assurance Police have set up a checkpoint in the town, while the Coast Guard is checking departing ferry passengers.
 According to the latest update from the Special Investigation Task Group-Bohol (SITG), two of the Abu Sayyaf members were sighted in Barangay Buntod last Thursday night, while the other one was spotted in Barangay Cantuyok yesterday morning.
Both barangays are in Clarin. Natividad said they are verifying information that an Anthony "Tony" Yosup, allegedly Melloria's contact, got on board a boat in Cagayan de Oro and sailed to Jagna, Bohol.
 "There are many names that are cropping up. There's a certain Alden Yosup, there's an Anthony and then there's a Saad. We are still verifying the information," he said.
 Natividad assured the public that the remaining three Abu Sayyaf members in Bohol will find it difficult getting out of the island.
"The stragglers are still in Bohol, unable to escape, tired and in hiding while possibly waiting for or arranging rescue efforts," the SITG-Bohol said

Balikatan benefits Ormoc City children, community

From DVIDS (Apr 25): Balikatan benefits Ormoc City children, community

Balikatan benefits Ormoc City children, community

Photo By Staff Sgt. Peter Reft | The Honorable Richard Gomez, mayor of Ormoc City, speaks with U.S. Air Force engineers during a groundbreaking ceremony for Balikatan 2017 in Ormoc City, Leyte, April 25, 2017. Leaders from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, U.S. military, and Ormoc City gathered to commemorate the beginning of engineering projects for new classrooms at Margen Elementary School in Ormoc City. Balikatan is an annual U.S.-Philippine military bilateral exercise focused on a variety of missions, including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and counterterrorism. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Peter Reft)

ORMOC CITY, Leyte - The only things shining brighter than a clear-sky sun for residents were the eyes and smiles of children as they mingled with Philippine Soldiers and U.S. military engineers during groundbreaking ceremonies at the Don Carlos Elementary School and Margen Elementary School, here, April 25, 2017.

Leaders from the U.S. military, Philippine Army, and Ormoc City conducted the ceremonies to kick off engineering civic action programs that will give students new classrooms.

"What we're doing here now is building classes, social, and civic activities, and I'm very happy that the visiting forces are here together with us now, said the Honorable Richard Gomez, Ormoc City mayor. “This is a wonderful event and we're very grateful Balikatan is happening here in Ormoc City.".

The classroom construction projects are possible thanks to the combined efforts of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and U.S. military engineers.

"Balikatan is a Tagalog word meaning ‘shoulder-to-shoulder,’ and it is the spirit of cooperation," said Philippine Soldier Col. Lowel R. Tan, deputy commander of the 802nd Infantry Brigade, 8th Infantry Division.

More than 40 engineers from the AFP, U.S. military, and Australian Army will work shoulder-to-shoulder to build Margen Elementary a new classroom which will increase the school's capacity by approximately 100 students.

"This is all humanitarian service where we can foster and build relationships with the Philippine forces, and we can teach each other new things in order to build this classroom for Ormoc," said U.S. Air Force Maj. Scott Kelly, site commander at Margen Elementary School. "The cross cultural and technical skills learning we get during Balikatan is unmatched."

The learning experience between Balikatan participants will go a long way to enhance future humanitarian assistance efforts. These projects also benefit the children of Ormoc City.

"We are so grateful to have the building for our children because they will have a more comfortable classroom, and we can see their eagerness in coming to school because of it," said Maria Nodalo, a teacher at Margen Elementary School.


From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Apr 27): 2 KARAGDAGANG FIGHTER JETS, DUMATING NA SA BANSA


Sampu (10) na ang FA 50 lead-in fighter jets ng Sandatahang lakas ng Pilipinas, makaraang dumating sa bansa kahapon ang dalawa (2) pang FA 50 mula sa South Korea.

Ito ang inihayag ni Philippine Air Force (PAF) spokesman, Col. Antonio Francisco, anya ang mga FA aircrafts assist ng AFP ay gagamitin sa ibat-ibang operasyon kontra sa mga bandidong grupo lalo na sa bahagi ng Mindanao.

Sinabi naman ni AFP Chief of Staff Eduardo Año, ang dalawang jet fighters na dumating kahapon ng umaga sa Clark Air base sa Air Force City, Pampanga., na may tail number 009 at 010 ay agad na isasa-ilalim sa pagsubok bago naman ipapadala sa bahagi ng Mindanao.

Matatandaan na ang mga nasabing fighter jets ay ilan lamang sa bahagi ng AFP modernazation program ng AFP na sinimulan noong panahon ni dating pangulong Benigno Aquino III, mula sa Korea Aerospace Industries na binili sa halagang P18 bilyon, kaugnay na din sa pagpapalakas ng pwersa ng military.

MNLF-Ustadz Murshi Ibrahim: Photos - MNLF Leaders Summit

Posted to the Facebook page of Ustadz Murshi Ibrahim, Secretary General of the Moro National Liberation Front-Misuari Faction (Apr 26): Photos: MNLF Leaders Summit

The Leaders' Summit held at Tulip Drive,Marina, Davao City, yesterday was a great success.

Nearly 700 national and state leaders, officials and commanders of the MNLF from all over MINDUPALA had attended the Summit.

H. E. Prof. Nur P. Misuari, MNLF Founding Chairman, as a Keynote Speaker in the occasion informed the august assembly about the MNLF - OIC - GPH's formal peace talks possibly be convened on the first week of May 2017.

And he expressed all out supports to the core agenda of Duterte's administration on Federalism as an ultimate solution to all socio, economic and political problems in the country, particularly in the Bangsamoro National Homeland.


MILF: Arab missionary lectures Moro Ulama, Imams on violent radicalism

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Apr 28): Arab missionary lectures Moro Ulama, Imams on violent radicalism

An Arab missionary gave lecture to Moro Ulama and Imams on violent radicalism and urged the local religious leaders to act against the influence of radical groups espousing violence to advance their cause.

Sheikh Omar Ubaid-Mubarak Basal-ah, a representative from the Association of Darrul Bir of Dubai, shared his knowledge about Shi’ah and ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) during the First Conference for Imam and Du’at held at Alnor Hotel in Cotabato City on April 12-13.

More than hundred members of Tarbiyyah, Da’wah and Shari’ah from the 21 provinces of Bangsamoro Homeland attended the event that was organized by Darrul Irshad Qur’anic Center.

Sheikh Omar discussed Ibadah (worship), Iman (faith) and why Islam is considered as a gift and mercy to mankind.

He mentioned about Khawaarij (deviant sects who follow their whims and desires) and why those are dangerous.

The resource person noted how easy for the radical groups to accuse Muslims who do not support their cause as kufar (non-believers).

As a counter-measure, he hinted that there is a need to intensify Da’wah (call to Allah) and advocate the real teaching of Islam which is to spread peace and harmony.

Violent radicalism is one of the major security concerns in the world today. In the Philippines, some local armed groups have already pledged allegiance to ISIS.

In the past months, local Ulama and Moro associations have been conducting anti-radicalism and anti-illegal drugs advocacy in the localities.

Among these are peace advocate organizations like the United Muslim Youth Organization, AFADMin and Bangsamoro Communications Network.

The provincial government of Sarangani, together with the local Moro groups, has been initiating province-wide drive against violent radicalism and illegal drugs.

CPP/NDF/CNL: Solidarity Message

Christians for National Liberation propaganda message posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Apr 24): Solidarity Message

Renmin Malaya, Spokesperson
CNL National Executive Committee

24 April 2017

The entire membership of the Christians for National Liberation (CNL) extends its heartfelt solidarity greetings to the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) on the occasion of NDFP’s 45th founding anniversary, as it also pays earnest tribute to all our fallen comrades in the revolution who selflessly offered their own lives in the service of the people.

The NDFP’s 45th founding anniversary comes at a time of tremendous challenges especially as it takes the lead role in the peace negotiations with the Philippine government, which thus far have reached milestone pacts. The threats of militarism and fascism have never succeeded in stifling the solid commitment of the revolutionary movement in its pursuit of justice, freedom and genuine and lasting peace.

We therefore, laud the efforts of the NDFP as we also reaffirm our rock-solid vow to engage in all political and revolutionary tasks towards the attainment of our vision for a truly democratic Philippine society.

We commit to support all calls and will work closely with fellow revolutionary organizations in the noble task of waging war against imperialism, bureaucrat capitalism and feudalism until its last vestige is shrunken away.

Our profoundest salute to all our comrades in the NDFP and the 17 Allied ND organizations !

Long Live the NDR with a Socialist Perspective !
Long Live the NDFP!
Long Live the struggle of the Filipino People !

PH completes scientific research of Pagasa Island, Panatag Shoal

From Update Philippines (Apr 27): PH completes scientific research of Pagasa Island, Panatag Shoal

The country has completed the first leg of its maritime scientific research (MSR) efforts in the West Philippine Sea (WPS). This was bared by National Security Adviser and National Task Force-WPS chair Hermogenes Esperon in a statement Thursday.

The research mission, which was conducted by oceanographic vessels, BRP Presbiterio and BRP Gregorio Velasquez, was done off Pagasa Island, Lawak, and Panatag Shoal. National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) operates BRP Presbiterio, while Philippine Navy operates BRP Gregorio Velasquez.

“This purely scientific and environment undertaking was pursued in line with the Philippines’ responsibilities under the UNCLOS, particularly to protect the marine biodiversity and ensure the safety of navigation within the Philippine exlusive economic zone (EEZ),” he said.

Esperon also stressed that the MSR is a coordinated interagency effort of the NAMRIA, Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Biodiversity Management Bureau (DENR-BMB), University of the Philippines-Marine Science Institute, and the Philippine Navy.

This took place last April 7 to 25. “Among the activities under the MSR include NAMRIA’s hydrographic surveys that would aid in the formulation of a nautical map for navigational safety and DENR/UP-MSI’s reef assessment studies of the Kalayaan Island Group, Western Palawan Shelf, and Tubbataha,” he further stressed.

10 years later, search for Jonas Burgos continues

From Rappler (Apr 28): 10 years later, search for Jonas Burgos continues

Protesters decry the promotion of Armed Forces chief General Eduardo Año, but he is adamant he never knew Jonas Burgos

SURFACE JONAS BURGOS. Protesters troop to Camp Auinaldo on Friday, April 28, to bring a message to AFP chief General Eduardo Año. Photo by Darren Langit/Rappler

SURFACE JONAS BURGOS. Protesters troop to Camp Auinaldo on Friday, April 28, to bring a message to AFP chief General Eduardo Año. Photo by Darren Langit/Rappler

Protesters wearing Jonas Burgos masks on Friday, April 28, trooped to the military headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City to bring a message right at the doorstep of Armed Forces chief of staff General Eduardo Año.

"General Eduardo Año at (and) AFP, ilitaw si (surface) Jonas Burgos," read a banner signed by rights group Karapatan and Desaparecidos.

It's the 10th year since the abduction of Burgos from the Ever Gotesco mall in the same city by alleged military intelligence agents, one of whom was positively identified by a witness.

“It has been 10 years and Jonas Burgos is still missing. Though cases have been filed, perpetrators have remained unpunished. From the Arroyo regime to the current administration, the disappearance of Jonas remains a continuing proof of the climate of impunity in our country," said Jigs Clamor, Karapatan deputy secretary-general.
The quest for justice by the Burgos family is a reminder, according to Karapatan, of "prevalent injustice and lack of accountability of state security forces responsible for rights abuses and government negligence."

Año: I do not know Jonas Burgos

MASKED PROTESTERS. Protesters wearing Jonas Burgos masks gather at the gate of Camp Aguinaldo to commemorate the 10th year of his disappearance. Photo by Desaparecidos

Año was back then the chief of the Philippine Army's Intelligence Service Group (ISG). He was among those tagged by the family as responsible for the disappearance of Burgos, the son of one of the country's icons of press freedom.
"Año headed the Army Intelligence Security Group in 2007, and is mainly responsible for the hunt-down operations that led to the enforced disappearance of Jonas. We deplore the appointment of Año, whose track record is lined with human rights violations in the course of his rise in the military ranks," said Carol Araullo of progressive group Bayan.

It's a tag that Año laments to this day. "While I commiserate with Mrs. Burgos, they should accept the truth that I was not in any way involved in the disappearance of Jonas Burgos and in any of their allegations. I do not even know him," Año told Rappler.
For years, Mrs. Edita Burgos tried to block Año's promotion, but to no avail. He climbed the military hierarchy – becoming chief of the Intelligence Service of the AFP (ISAFP), commanding general of the 10th Infantry Division, and head of the Army before his appointment as chief of the entire military. (READ: Rebel hunter Año is new AFP chief)

Military's desperation

An investigative report published in 2007 by now Rappler managing editor Glenda Gloria showed the military's fingerprints all over the disappearance of Burgos, who was a communist leader in Bulacan. (READ: Jonas Burgos: Trapped in web of lives)

"That he’s a rebel doesn’t make his abduction right – using brute force off the battlefield and inside a mall, under the full glare of onlookers. That he’s a rebel – and still missing – illustrates the lengths to which desperate people would go to crush a stubborn rebellion knocking at the doors of Metro Manila," wrote Gloria, a longtime observer of the Philippine military.
He was abducted at a time when the military notorious for alleged extrajudicial killings of political activists, under the notorious counter-insurgency campaign Oplan Bantay Laya. (READ: Why would the Army abduct Jonas Burgos?)

PEACEFUL PROTEST. Cops guard the gate of the military headquarters Camp Aguinaldo from the protesters. Photo by Darren Langit/Rappler

Charges were filed against several military officers, including Año, but most have since been dropped.
"In all investigations conducted by PNP, NBI and CHR, my name was never mentioned. It was surprising that I was included in the complaint in 2011. These communist militants have been living on their own world and they would only accept their own version of the truth," Año said.

What remains is a case against First Lieutenant Harry Baliaga Jr of the military’s 56th Infantry Battalion, the unit that then responsible for the area where Burgos allegedly operated in the province.

The military said it is cooperating fully with the courts hearing the case. "The armed forces is fully cooperating with the courts on the matter of this case. But I cannot comment on it further since the case is already being tried and the matter is subjudice," said military spokesperson Brigadier General Restituto Padilla.

The case of Burgos is a rare instance of enforced disappearance that was able to specifically identify alleged perpetrators. The courts have been slow, but the search for justice continues.

Nur seeks extension of temporary liberty beyond April 27

From MindaNews (Apr 28): Nur seeks extension of temporary liberty beyond April 27

The founding chair of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) has sought, through his lawyer, an extension of his six-month temporary liberty beyond April 27, the day it was supposed to have lapsed.

Nabil Tan, Deputy Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and chair of the government’s Peace Implementing Panel in the peace process with the MNLF, told MindaNews the motion was filed on April 26 and the court has set a hearing on May 3 to decide on the motion.

Tan’s counterpart, Randolph Parcasio, has declined to answer questions on the motion to extend. “No comment sa ako ha,” he said on April 21. MindaNews repeatedly asked him but as of 5 p.m., April 28, he has sent no reply.

The court gave Misuari temporary liberty in October last year “to allow him to attend peace talk sessions with the government.”

Judge Ma. Rowena Modesto-San Pedro of the Pasig Regional Trial Court in Pasig City in an order dated October 27, 2017 granted the “motion to suspend proceedings and enforcement of warrants of arrest against Misuari” for a period of six months from October 27 or until April 27, “unless sooner lifted by the court.”

Warrants of arrest had been issued against Misuari and 59 others for rebellion and violation of Republic Act 9851 or the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide and other Crimes against Humanity following the September 2013 stand-off in Zamboanga City between his followers and government troops that left 137 persons dead, 251 injured and 118,889 of the city’s 807,000 population displaced, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council’s October 2, 2013 report.

The Department of Justice, the City of Zamboanga and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process made no objections to Misuari’s October 2016 motion to the court.

San Pedro said the Court “acknowledges that the matter of peace talks is exclusively within the realm of the Executive Department,” and that as manifested by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), it is a “top priority of the current administration.”

Misuari signed the December 23, 1976 Tripoli Agreement under the Marcos administration and the September 2, 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA) under the Ramos administration.

His faction did not participate in the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) which is tasked by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to draft a Bangsamoro Basic Law that would pave the way for the creation of a new autonomous political entity called the Bangsamoro, to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), in accordance with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) that both parties signed on March 27, 2014.

The 21-member commission has three representatives from the other MNLF factions.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza set up a separate peace implementing panel for the MNLF-Misuari faction.
The governemnt and MNLF-Misuari panels have met informally at least four times but have yet to meet formally. They are supposed to call on President Duterte within the first half of May to begin their task of drafting a law to amend RA 9054, to strengthen the ARMM.

OPAPP still in the process of submitting proposed EO on transitional justice commission

From MindaNews (Apr 28): OPAPP still in the process of submitting proposed EO on transitional justice commission

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) is still in the process of getting other agencies in government to look into its draft Executive Order on the creation of the National Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission on the Bangsamoro (NTJRCB) before its submission to the Office of the President.

“It has to go through the process. There was already a drafted EO for the Commission but you know government, it has to go through the process. It’s not as simple as saying the President will sign immediately then it’s done. You have to merge and mesh gears with all agencies of government,” Dureza said in response to MindaNews’ query why it has taken so long for the government to set up the commission that would have helped President Rodrigo Duterte address the historical injustices against the Bangsamoro as he has repeatedly promised.

Davao CIty Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, the lone Mindanawon Presidentilal candidate, chants “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is Great) as he arrives at the venue of the Cotabato City rally on February 27, 2016. Duterte was warmly welcomed by the Moro people for whom he vowed his administration would “correct the historical injustices” done to them. MindaNews file photo by KEITH BACONGCO

During his sorties as candidate and even now as the country’s 16th President and the first Mindanawon to lead the nation, Duterte, whose grandmother was a Maranao, would invite his audience to travel back to 1521 with his lecture on Philippine history from the viewpoint of Mindanao, to help them understand what happened to the Bangsamoro.

Dureza told MindaNews that transitional justice work provides for quasi judicial bodies to be in place. “There is a need for some wrongdoings done during the time of conflict that there must be an acknowledgment of responsibility and sometimes in the other experiences in the other parts of the world like Colombia where I studied a little bit what they did, it may not be a traditional penal system that will be applied but there must be a way of acknowledging of guilt and responsibility by those who have committed certain atrocities. if you may call it, during the time of conflict. You have to exorcise these.”

Some of those who committed atrocities are still alive, MindaNews said, to which Dureza replied: “Many of them are alive, not only some. Many are alive.”

“You know, even their generals in Colombia have gone to the extent of acknowledging responsibility,” Dureza said adding that could happen here although he has not yet discussed the matter with them. “That’s why the proposed EO will have to go through the rounds, it will go through all the agencies, some will be affected.”

7-member Commission

As recommended by the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC), the NTJRCB shall be composed of seven members appointed by the President, five of whom are voting members — the Chairperson and the four Commissioners,
who are responsible for convening the Sub-Commissions – while two representatives of Bangsamoro civil society “are members of the NTJCRB with a status of ex officio, non-voting members.”


As proposed, the NTJRC shall operate for six years “with the possibility of extending its mandate for another three years” and shall have four sub-commissions: Historical Memory; Against Impunity, for the Promotion of Accountability, and Rule of Law; Land Dispossession; and Healing and Reconciliation.

The TJRC was an independent body set up by the Philippine government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 2014 “to undertake a study and to make recommendations with a view to promoting healing and reconciliation among the different communities affected by the conflict in Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago.”

It was mandated to propose appropriate mechanisms to address legitimate grievances of the Bangsamoro people, correct historical injustices, address human rights violations, including marginalization through land dispossession, and make recommendations with a view to promote healing and reconciliation of the different communities that have been affected by the conflict.

Transitional justice is part of the Annex on Normalization of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front on March 27, 2014.

The UN Secretary General in its 2004 report defines ‘transitional justice’ as the “full range of processes and mechanisms associated with a society’s attempt to come to terms with a legacy of large-scale abuses committed in the past” in order to achieve accountability, serve justice, and achieve reconciliation.”


The UN report also describes the mechanisms of transitional justice in more specific terms; it employs “both judicial and non-judicial mechanisms, including individual prosecutions, reparations, truth-seeking, institutional reform, vetting and dismissals, or a combination thereof.”

Transitional Justice ensures the need to deal with the past in order to build the future, to address historical injustices in order to make new history.


The TJRC report concluded that the Bangsamoro narrative of historical injustice is “based on an experience of grievances that extends over generations” and is a result of three interlocking phenomena – violence, impunity, and neglect- which in turn are rooted in the imposition “by force” of a monolithic Filipino identity and Philippine State “on multiple ethnic groups in Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago that saw themselves as already pre-existing nations and nation-states.”

NEVER-ENDING. Sisters Saria Namayo (left) and Cartiquia Cartin (right) of Barangay Elian, Datu Saudi Ampatuan, have lived a life of never-endng evacuations such as this in March 2015. Their children and grandchildren have also experienced several mass evacuations due to armed conflict. MindaNews file photo by CAROLYN O ARGUILLAS

Historical injustice across generations was cited “particularly with respect to land dispossession and its adverse effects upon their welfare as a community as well as their experience of widespread and serious human rights violations”

“We are now in the process of submitting to the President … a proposed EO that will already institutionalize the commission on transitional justice,” Dureza told MindaNews in a sit-down interview on April 20.

He said in any peacemaking work worldwide, “there are certain issues that will have to be tackled and it is more of removing the trauma that conflict has brought to the people so it is very important that a transitional justice set up must have to be installed even early on because it helps also exorcise many of the maladies that take place in a conflict situation.”

Dureza said they’re taking a “serious look at (the TJRC) recommendations but we’d like to also see what, because some of those will not work here. Those that may work in Colombia may not work here or vice versa those that work here cannot work in Colombia. So right now, in fact there’s an effort now to take a look at the best practices or bad practices in other areas so we learn from them.”

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza says his office is still in the process of getting other agencies of government to look into its draft EO on the creation of a National Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

“Kaya sabi ko nga eh, dapat walang … hindi tayo masyadong magmamadali. It’s … one step at a time, building on it but if we wish that is going to happen immediately, then it may even result to more disastrous effect because there will be no acceptance. It’s very important that when you process and set up a new commission, although it has its own mandate, it may have to go through the process of people to understand why and it takes a lot of work to engage, especially the stakeholders. That’s why we are still in the process of still meeting and organizing the peace tables – the different peace tables – because some of those things that we download to them is this idea of transitional justice commission.”

Aside from the recommendations to create the NTJRCB, 88 specific recommendations were also made by the TJRC arising from the Consultation Process, particularly the Listening Process.

The recommendations were addressed to specific agencies such as the Office of the President, the military, police, the Commission on Human Rights, OPAPP, Congress and other agencies as well as the “future Bangsamoro authorities.”

Army'901st Infantry Brigade welcomes new commander

From the Philippine Information Agency (Apr 27): Army'901st Infantry Brigade welcomes new commander

Another milestone in the history of the 901st Infantry (Spear) Brigade happened last April 10 as the retiring Brig. Gen. Claudio Yucot turned over the command of Bicol’s Philippine Army (PA) brigade to his deputy Lt. Col. Alden Juan Masagca, in a change of command ceremony held in Villa Hermosa, Daraga.

The said ceremony, held at the 901st Brigade’s main headquarters, was attended by Yucot and Masagca’s families, local government and regional office heads and representatives, and their comrades in the armed services including the police, navy and air force. The turn-over was overseen by Maj. Gen. Manolito Orense of the PA’s top brass and Gen. Yucot’s direct commanding officer.

Lt.Col. Masagca has supposedly broken the “jinx” as he becomes the first deputy commander of the 901st to succeed his predecessor and rise to brigade commander. With an impressive record and a reputation as a hardliner accomplishing his given objectives, both Yucot and Orense agreed that Masagca is the clear choice to rise in the chain of command.

Masagca, a career officer since graduating from the Philippine Military Academy’s “Sinagtala” class of 1986, served in many combat zones in the country and gained infamy in contributing to the capture of Abu Sayaff leader Commander Robot in Jolo back in 2005.

However, with all of Masagca’s apparent talents and potential, he does admit that he has pretty big shoes to fill as his predecessor Gen. Yucot is a man who has garnered the respect of not just the army but the local leaders of Bicol.

Brig.Gen. Yucot, who retired effective April 16, has been an active leader, not just in his drive in fighting insurgents but also in his overall efforts in disaster response, civic actions and peace and order maintenance. Yucot is known in the region as a constantly active member of the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils (DRRMC) and the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC).

In his speech during the change of command ceremony, Masagca did recognize succeeding Yucot as a challenge, but a challenge he’ll willingly and happily take.

“I know General Yucot and I respect him very much. And I will not fail him and his efforts, I will continue to fight and keep the peace here in Bicol as he did,” declared Masagca.

On the other hand, Gen. Yucot has expressed his confidence with his successor. “I feel confident that Alden (Masagca) will do his job well, keep the peace and order, and protect the country from people whose ideals were even rejected by the countries they originated from,” said Gen. Yucot.

Remaining CPLA-CBA unite to support Cordillera Autonomy

From the Philippine Information Agency (Apr 28): Remaining CPLA-CBA unite to support Cordillera Autonomy

The Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army – Cordillera Bodong Association (CPLA-CBA) finally showed their united force in telling the government to grant the Cordillera the regional autonomy it has long been pursuing.

This happened during consultation entitled “Pioneer Cordillera Champions Coming Together Moving Forward for Autonomy Towards Federalism,” held on Monday at the historic Mount Data Hotel in this town with Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Secretary Jesus Dureza.

Dureza urged the various groups and entities from the different provinces in the Cordillera region to unite to attain the regional status during the consultation organized by the Regional Development Council – Cordillera in collaboration with the OPAPP to explore the re-engagement of the advocates for Cordillera Autonomy in reinforcing the RDCs Roadmap for achieving autonomy towards federalism.

Dureza assured that the Duterte Administration is supportive of the pursuit of autonomy in the Cordillera region and also in the Bangsamoro of Mindanao, as he encouraged the whole of the Cordillera region regardless of culture, tradition, belief and other aspect to unite to show that they are one in pursuing regional autonomy.

“In the Cordillera region, madaming grupo, mayroon pang nagkawatak watak and we can understand that since the Cordillera has a very diverse culture, people and tradition; there should be one united effort from by all towards autonomy in the Cordillera region,” the Secretary said.

During the event, leaders and representatives from the various factions of the CPLA with its political arm the CBA, voiced out their support to the pursuit of the regional autonomy in the Cordillera region

Despite the CPLA-CBA coming from the different factions, CBA President Andres Ngao-i of Kalinga said they are one in supporting the autonomy status for the Cordillera region.

“We are not only a supporter of the fight for autonomy but we are reminders of the national government of the agreement of the CPLA with the government in attaining the autonomous status of the region,” Ngao-I added.

“We, the CBA-CPLA, are claiming from the government for their part particularly in granting the autonomous status for the Cordillera region which was part of the written agreement and signed in the historic Mount Data Hotel in 1986 with then President Corazon Aquino and the CPLA led by Father Conrado Balweg.”

“We want to be united, we want to return the time of Father Balweg when we are one group fighting for the Cordillera region,” he added.

Among the CPLA leaders present who shared their thoughts were Conrad Dieza, former Mayor Mailed Molina and the Cosagon faction.

Ngao-I informed that the CBA as the political arm of the CPLA and neutral to the different factions, will form a technical working group to study and strategize how to unify the different CPLA factions in the coming weeks.

More than a hundred CPA members came to the event and expressed their support to the pursuit of Cordillera autonomy.

(Update) Chinese naval flotilla to drop anchor in Davao City

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 28): (Update) Chinese naval flotilla to drop anchor in Davao City

With the warming of ties between the Philippines and the People's Republic of China, three Chinese naval vessels will arrive for a three-day goodwill visit at the Sasa Wharf in Davao City from April 30 to May 2.

Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao public affairs office chief Lt. Jetmark Marcos said the three ships are from the China People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy Task Group 150.

They are the Chang Chun (DDG-150), a guided missile destroyer; the Jin Zhou (FF-G532), a guided missile frigate; and the Chao Hu (890), a replenishment ship.

The customary welcome ceremony and port briefing will be conducted upon the arrival of the Chinese ships at Sasa Wharf.

The meeting point procedure will be held at a vicinity north of Davao Gulf.

The flotilla will be headed by Rear Adm. Shen Hao, Deputy Commander of the East Sea Fleet of the PLA Navy and concurrent Commander-in-Chief of the PLA Navy Task Group 150.

AFP, MMC Foundation renews medical partnership

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 28): AFP, MMC Foundation renews medical partnership

To ensure that active-duty soldiers get the best health care possible, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has formally renewed its partnership with the Makati Medical Center (MMC) Foundation for the second time around.

Renewal took place last April 25 along with the subsequent memorandum of agreement (MOA) signing ceremonies participated by MMC Foundation chair Manuel "Manny" Pangilinan and AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Eduardo Año.

Signing took place at AFP general headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

Through its Health Heroes Program, the MMC Health Services department agreed to help coordinate and facilitate the health management and care of the qualified AFP officers and enlisted personnel.

This means that soldiers can now have access anew to the best health care facilities in all 21 AFP partner hospitals throughout the country, military public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said in a statement.

This flagship program is a renewal and expansion of the MOA signed by the AFP, AFP Medical Center, and MMC Foundation last June 19, 2013, providing for the organizational strengthening of the above-mentioned medical facility.

It was also renewed for the first time on Sept. 10, 2015, providing for an expansion of the Private Public Partnership program for organizational strengthening in an additional 19 AFP hospitals and military medical treatment facilities.

The pact will allow MMC to share its technical resources and open their hospital facilities to training, coaching, workshops, conferences, and mentoring sessions free to all AFP and partner military hospitals resident doctors and management staff.

This also means that through their partner hospitals, MMC Foundation will give or donate more hospital equipment, beds, supplies and fixtures to improve all military hospitals throughout the country.