Monday, May 29, 2017

Maute Group: Armed network ng mga angkan sa Lanao

From Abante (May 30): Maute Group: Armed network ng mga angkan sa Lanao

Bago ang Mayo 23, 2017, ang grupo ng mga bandido na nag-o-operate sa Lanao area na ­tinaguriang Maute Group ay isa lamang armed network ng mga angkan na may mga kaanak sa Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Pero, isa na ngayong ­international terrorist organization ang Maute Group, dahil sa dineklarang Martial Law sa Mindanao ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte.

Ang dating tinatawag na local group sa mga ­military at police reports ay pinangalanan na ngayon­ bilang Maute ISIS.

Inihayag noong ­Biyernes ni Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Eduardo Año na ikinukunsidera na ng AFP na iklasipika ang grupo bilang isang international terrorist organization.

Sa ngayon, ang Abu Sayyaf at New People’s Army (NPA) pa lamang ang mga grupo sa Pilipinas na nasa listahan ng US Department of State na kabilang sa Foreign Terrorist Organizations.

Sa pagsasaliksik ng VERA Files, lumilitaw na bago isinailalim sa Martial Law ang Mindanao, ay mayroon nang police at military intelligence reports na nagsasabing mahina na ang puwersa ng Maute Group gayundin ang adhikain nitong makapagtatag ng Islamic State wilayah o province sa Mindanao.

Parehong sinabi ng AFP at Philippine National Police (PNP) na ang grupo ay isang network ng mga armadong angkan na naka-base sa Lanao del Sur.

May mga kamag-anak sila sa MILF at mga koneksyon sa local politicians, at mayroong training and financial relations sa Southeast Asian terror network Jemaah Islamiya.

Pero, walang istablisadong direct ties ang Maute sa Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Noong nagdeklara lamang si Pangulong Duterte ng Martial Law sa Mindanao saka tinawag ni Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana ang grupo bilang Maute ISIS.

“It is actually Maute ISIS because they are the same,” ayon kay Lorenzana sa isang press conference sa Moscow matapos magdeklara si Duterte ng Martial Law sa Mindanao.

May dahilan, aniya, upang maniwala siya rito batay sa mga ulat na kanyang natanggap mula sa Baghdad, kung saan ang mga larawan ng mga nagaganap na sagupaan sa Marawi City ay sabay na lumalabas sa ISIS website sa Middle East. Para kay Lorenzana, patunay ito na may international backing mula sa ISIS.

Sa pagtataya ng PNP ay nasa 267 ang bilang ng Maute Group na karamihan ay magkakamag-anak at mayroong 117 na iba’t ibang klase ng high-powered firearms.

Mula sa nasabing bilang, iniulat ng militar na 85 Maute Group-linked personalities ang napatay sa serye ng mga operasyon na isinagawa noong Pebrero 2016, at 37 iba pa ang nasawi sa mga opensiba ng militar noong Abril 22 hanggang 24 ngayong taon.

“Originally the Maute is composed of close relatives but due to their depleted number of members, they are accepting outside of their clan. Thus, penetrating them is possible,” ayon sa PNP intelligence brief na napasakamay ng VERA Files.

Tinukoy sa nasabing ulat ang mga kilalang angkan sa Lanao del Sur na bumubuo sa grupo: Maute, Romato, Mimbantas and Macadatu.

“Currently, the Maute Group has gathered a force not only from the above mentioned clans but from other groups in Central Mindanao such as MILF/Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Force (MILF/BIAF), Moro National Liberation Front/Bangsa­moro Armed Forces (MNLF/BAF), Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement/Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFM/BIFF), Abu Sayyaf Group/Al Harakatul Al-Islamiya (ASG/AHAI), Ansar al-Khalifa Philippines (AKP) and individuals who want to experience (Hijra) fighting in the name of religion,” ayon pa sa police intelligence brief.

Inside Marawi: Death toll nears 100 as Philippines security forces battle Islamist militants

From IRIN (May 29): Inside Marawi: Death toll nears 100 as Philippines security forces battle Islamist militants

Two women in a white pick-up were sobbing as they inched forward in a crush of vehicles leaving the besieged southern Philippines city of Marawi. In the back lay the lifeless body of their father, caught in the crossfire between government soldiers and Islamist militants.

A young man waved a white sheet to signal they were in an emergency, hoping soldiers would hurry them through gridlocked traffic. It was futile. Vehicles were forced to slowly wind their way through a series of barriers as soldiers painstakingly checked for militants.

"Our father was killed yesterday,” said one of the women, who did not give her name. “He was hit by an airstrike. "

The family was part of a steady exodus out of Marawi that began when fighting erupted a week ago. It quickly escalated into intense urban warfare, including helicopter rocket attacks on buildings where Islamist fighters were thought to be holed up.

The conflict began with a failed attempt by security forces to capture Isnilon Hapilon, a member of the militant group Abu Sayyaf who the government says is affiliated with the so-called Islamic State. The operation was foiled when dozens of members of the Maute, another Islamist group that has pledged allegiance to IS, drove back security forces.

The gunmen then abducted a Catholic priest and civilians who had taken shelter in a church, and their fate is still unknown. Maute also took over government buildings including a school and a hospital, and freed prisoners from two jails.

IRIN accompanied soldiers past hundreds of residents who were fleeing in the opposite direction, many on foot, pushing carts full of possessions. A convoy of armoured vehicles pushed into the heart of the city, which now resembles an apocalyptic ghost town. Soldiers took positions against walls pockmarked by bullets; smoke rose in the distance.

Many of Marawi’s 200,000 residents have left by now and humanitarian agencies like the Red Cross are supporting them, while people in neighbouring towns are posting signs offering them “Free Food”.

Residents of towns near Marawi offered food to residents fleeing the city

Residents of towns near Marawi offered food to residents fleeing the city

Officials said at least 61 militants have been killed, along with 18 security forces and 19 civilians. The bodies of eight people were discovered in a ravine on Sunday after being shot with their hands tied behind their backs, and a sign attached to one of them read “munafik”, or “traitor”.

"All civilians executed were perpetrated by this group," a local military spokesman, Captain Michael Malacat, told IRIN, referring to the Maute group.

He said the military was still trying to verify if people were trapped in some parts of the city, after they called a government hotline.

General Restituto Padilla Jr., spokesman for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, told reporters in the capital, Manila, on Monday that security forces were close to taking back the city from Maute.

“Our forces are in complete control of the city, except for certain areas of the city where they continue to hold,” he said.

Martial law

The Philippines' tough-talking president, Rodrigo Duterte, has declared martial law not only in Marawi, but throughout Mindanao. The southernmost region of the country, Mindanao includes a large island as well as smaller ones, and it is home to most Muslims in the Philippines, an overwhelmingly Catholic country.

Mindanao is also home to armed groups that have fought decades-long communist and Muslim insurgencies. Several Islamist groups have broken away from the main Muslim rebel armies, most significantly Abu Sayyaf, which formed in 1991 and had early links to al-Qaeda. The fragmentation has increased in recent years as a peace process faltered, and some of these smaller groups have declared their allegiance to IS.

SEE: Forgotten Conflicts – the Philippines

Residents fleeing Marawi were caught in gridlock as soldiers searched vehicles

Residents fleeing Marawi were caught in gridlock as soldiers searched vehicles

Duterte’s declaration was quickly followed by questions about why he needed to impose martial law in stable areas of Mindanao. Some warned that it could ignite conflicts with other armed groups that have settled into an uneasy peace with the government, such as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and that it could derail peace talks with communist insurgents.

“The imposition of martial law throughout Mindanao for at least 60 days could also affect the Philippine armed forces’ handling of other armed conflicts on the island, including with the communist New People’s Army (NPA) and various Moro insurgent groups,” said Human Rights Watch in a statement on 25 May.

The statement was prescient.

Two days later, the NPA accused the government of using martial law as an excuse to step up attacks against them and said it had “little option but to undertake more and more tactical offensives.”

The government responded by announcing that it was withdrawing from the next round of peace talks.

Rights groups also worried that martial law could further strengthen Duterte’s heavy-handed approach to his war on drugs, which has killed about 7,000 people in the past year. The main casualties have been members of poor communities rather than drug kingpins.

Speaking to troops on Sunday on the island of Sulu, an Abu Sayyaf stronghold, Duterte said Islamist militants were financing themselves through the drug trade.

“The root cause of the present crisis is illegal drugs... Marawi is the hotbed of meth manufacturing and trade in Mindanao,” Duterte said, according to a statement released by the president’s office.

HRW and others also heard dark echoes of Ferdinand Marcos, who ruled as a brutal dictator from 1972 to 1981 after declaring martial law – especially since Duterte promised that his version would “not be any different from what the president, Marcos, did. I'd be harsh.”

Duterte has threatened to extend martial law across the entire country.

Soldiers searched vehicles of residents fleeing Marawi

Soldiers searched vehicles of residents fleeing Marawi

Abuses from both sides

Not all residents of Marawi oppose martial law.

Sittie Ayeesha Dicali, a former journalist from Marawi who abandoned her career after repeated death threats, noted that Maute had carried out similar attacks before.

The government blamed Maute for the September 2016 bombing of a night market – which killed 15 people – in Davao, Duterte’s home city and where he served as mayor for two decades. In November last year, the group occupied the centre of Butig, flying the IS flag from the town hall before being driven out by a week-long military offensive that included airstrikes.

“In the past incidents, they were able to escape and continue to grow,” said Dicali. “We want the government to be able to crush the group, because we cannot afford to have another siege.”

The Department of National Defense issued a statement saying that “the rule of law and human rights should prevail” in areas under martial law.

But such reassurances are tempered by past experience.

Jalal Bilao, a Marawi resident and former vice-mayor of nearby Tubaran, ventured out into the deserted streets in his neighbourhood. He echoed a longstanding complaint – that civilians are caught between government forces and militant groups, and suffer at the hands of both.

“We want the president to protect the people,” he said. “We are mad at these ISIS (fighters), but at the same time scared of the military, because of what is happening.”

(TOP PHOTO: Philippines soldiers, accompanied by journalists, patrol Marawi, which is under siege by Islamist militants. CREDIT: Dennis Jay Santos/IRIN)

MILF: Editorial -- Martial Law In Mindanao

Editorial posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (May 24): Editorial -- Martial Law In Mindanao

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao reportedly to combat militants who have launched coordinated attacks on Marawi City since May 23. The fighting claimed the lives of 15 government forces and as many as 30 wounded in action. Government account said as high as 30 militants were killed. However, there has been no independent confirmation of the figures.

Immediately, Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) issued an official statement.

He strongly condemned the violence in Marawi City perpetrated by group or groups whose only aim is to sow terror, even as he also denounced attacking civilian-populated areas and destruction of infrastructures and institutions serving the people.

As victims of martial law during the dictatorship of President Ferdinand Marcos, it is very hard to endorse another declaration of martial law. Even the best-tailored martial law is still prone to some excesses. Such can emanate from the excesses use of force in the form of collateral damage to civilians.

We are not saying this would happen this time. So far, reports in the field said the military is behaving quite well. Those manning checkpoints are courteous.

However, borrowing the words of Chairman Murad, “the MILF is not in a position to question the factual basis for the proclamation of this martial law or the decision to make it”. They are only known to the president himself.

But as the facts of the fighting in Marawi City unfold – the streets are literally littered with decomposing corpses – one may be tempted to think that ordinary force is not enough to quell the violence and stop the madness. Special, nay emergency or extraordinary, situation calls for special or extraordinary approach.

But would these madness and violence justify the declaration of martial law?

We are not ready to provide the answer and, more seriously, we don’t think we have to delve deeply into this issue. Chair Murad had not commented on it directly, and therefore we cannot go beyond that parameter.

President Duterte is a lawyer and, as such, he knows the full extent of his decision. Besides, he is a leader and he has been tested as such. In fact, he has been through all sorts of trying moments.

But one thing to remember is that the Duterte’s declaration fulfilled an oft-repeated promise to impose martial law to fight the so-called ISIS-linked militants, whom he has said are growing threat to national security. In fact, martial law has been his byword early on in his administration.

But we don’t think it is proper to question the intention of leaders; after all, the president is the father of this country right now.

MILF: Maguindanao 1st District Rep. Sema Condemns Extremist Groups For Sowing Terror In Marawi City

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (May 28): Maguindanao 1st District Rep. Sema Condemns Extremist Groups For Sowing Terror In Marawi City

Rep. Bai Sandra Sema of the 1st District of Maguindanao condemned the extremist groups for “sowing terror and fear among the people of Marawi City and considered their acts as not Islamic. She also said that the group responsible in the outbreak of violence in Marawi does not represent Islam.
In a report by Mindanews on May 26, Rep Sema said, “Please understand and support us in achieving peace so we can collectively act against this terror group. More than ever, Peace is the way. Our people can’t continue living like this. Peace is our only option. War is unacceptable”.

Rep Sema along with Anak Mindanao (AMIN) Party-list Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman tearfully urged her colleagues in the 16th Congress to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) crafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) then headed by Mohagher Iqbal, now Chair of the MILF Peace Implementing Panel.

The BBL was overtaken by the Mamasapano fiasco and failed to pass by congress.

Meanwhile, in the same report by Mindanews, it says that a consortium of Bangsamoro civil society groups called on warring forces in Marawi City to ensure the safety of civilians.

“Let not the civilians be the collateral damage,” the Cotabato City-based Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) said in a statement dated May 25.

It cited a verse from the Koran that says “killing an innocent and peace-loving civilian is like killing the whole humanity, while saving the life of an innocent and peace-loving individual is like saving the entire humanity.”

The CBCS said civilians are bearing the brunt of the ongoing clashes between government forces and the Maute Group. In both terror attacks and counter-terror response, “civilians and non-combatants are the sure victims”, Mindanews said in the same report.

The CBCS appealed to the group fighting government in Marawi, to “distance themselves from the communities in order to ensure the safety of the civilians and to spare the non-combatants and peace-loving individuals.”

MILF: ‘Let Us Stand As One Ummah For Peace In Marawi, For Peace In Mindanao’-YMPN

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (May 29): ‘Let Us Stand As One Ummah For Peace In Marawi, For Peace In Mindanao’-YMPN

Bothered by the disturbing events that unfloded in the country’s Islamic city, the Young Moro Professionals Network (YMPN) issued a statement calling the Bangsamoro people to stand as one Ummah for peace in Marawi and Mindanao as a whole.
Fierce firefight between the government troops and suspected combined local terrorists, the groups of Maute and Abu Sayaff, erupted in Marawi City that started on Tuesday afternoon. The armed confrontation claimed lives from both sides and drove mass evacuation.

The tragic event also prompted President Duterte to declare state of martial law in Mindanao group of islands for a period of sixty days.

“Whereas today, 23 May 2017, the same Maute terrorist group has taken over a hospital in Marawi Lanao del Sur, established several checkpoints within the city, burned down certain government and private facilities and inflicted casualties on the part of government forces and started flying the flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in several areas, thereby openly attempting to remove from the allegiance to the Philippine Government this part of Mindanao and deprived the Chief Executive of his powers and prerogative to enforce the laws of the land and to maintain public order and safety in Mindanao constituting the crime of rebellion,” the President’s declaration stated.

Both the Abu Sayyaf and Maute have pledged allegiance to ISIS believed to draw financial assistance from the terror group in the Middle East.
A video shared in social media showed men wearing mask, believed to be from Maute Group, hoisting black (ISIS) flag in front of Amai Pakpak Provincial Hospital in Marawi.
“We appeal to our leaders to ensure the safe passage of our brothers and sisters from Marawi, especially since Martial Law has been declared.

We appeal for transparency from them to ensure that human rights are safeguarded,” the YMPN further stated.

The youth group also cited its support to “all peace building efforts in addressing the roots of terror and grievances.”

They also urged the public not to spread false information that would create panic but instead use social media to share useful information to help secure the residents of Marawi City.

“We appeal to our leaders to ensure the safe passage of our brothers and sisters from Marawi, especially since Martial Law has been declared.

We appeal for transparency from them to ensure that human rights are safeguarded,” the YMPN pleaded.

At present the officers and members of YMPN are engaged in relief operation efforts for the displaced civilians who took refuge from Iligan city and its nearby municipalities.

Marawi City is the capital of Lanao del Sur Province which is comprised of 39 towns. It has a population of more than two hundred thousand.

MILF: Save Civilians In Marawi Siege: Tri-People, HR Groups Urge Parties In The Conflict

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (May 30): Save Civilians In Marawi Siege: Tri-People, HR Groups Urge Parties In The Conflict

Due to the alarming situation of civilians in Marawi City who have been trapped in the continuing firefights between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) against the ISIS-inspired Maute group following the attack on the city and the declaration of Martial Law by President Rodrigo Duterte; tri-people organizations and human rights groups in Mindanao called on both parties to stop the hostilities and atrocities to save the lives of civilians.

In their statement circulated in media before the advent of Ramadan, they said: “We, in the tri-people peace and human rights movements express our strong condemnation of this violence. We are deeply saddened that this atrocity happened especially in this time where our Muslim brothers and sisters are about to observe…the Holy Month of Ramadan.”

They also called on the warring groups not to use civilians as shields and free all public places from hostile actions and armed confrontations; avoid indiscriminate firing, bombing and shelling; observe compliance to the international humanitarian law and the rules of engagement in the conduct of the operations.

The undersigned persons and their organizations in the press statement have called on the government to exert all efforts to ensure the safety and protection of the civilians now trapped in the midst of the current crisis; involve and make civilian communities, not just mere passive recipients, but, as integral part in coming up with solutions to end this crisis.

They have too asked the leadership of Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to assert the existing peace processes and mechanisms to help arrest the emergency situation.

“We call on the religious leaders, council of elders, community leaders and all state and non-state peace actors to intervene and demand for the protection of lives, properties and communities; to lead in maintaining sobriety, critical mind, and prevent inciting religious and cultural biases out of this situation”, it added.

These groups have also called the attention of all the humanitarian organizations and agencies to make an action as soon as possible, to immediately respond to the needs of affected populations.

“Despite this situation, we appeal to the general public to continue building the infrastructure of peace by strengthening solidarity towards each other, intensify our efforts to build harmonious relationship between and among peoples, strengthen our convictions to build communities of just peace where respect, social justice and co-existence inspire us all”, finally said.

The groups of Tri-people were led by Abulcair Balindon and Jennevie Cornelio, Vice-Chairperson and Secretary-General of the Alliance of the Tri-People for the Advancement of Human Rights (ALTAHR), respectively, and Janel Pesons, the Secretary-General of Mindanao Peoples’ Peace Movement (MPPM).

NDF: Peace negotiations are still on, safety and immunity guarantees remain in effect

Propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Website (May 29): Peace negotiations are still on, safety and immunity guarantees remain in effect

NDFP Media Office
Press statement
May 29, 2017

The GRP-NDFP peace negotiations are ongoing despite the fact that the 5th round of formal talks did not take place as scheduled due to the decision of the GRP panel not to participate. All the bilateral agreements that lay down the framework, processes and conditions for the entire peace negotiations, including the JASIG, remain binding, operational and in effect.

The NDFP Negotiating Panel has received assurances from Sec. Silvestre Bello, head of the GRP panel, that JASIG remains operative. This means that all the NDFP consultants who are involved in the ongoing peace negotiations are guaranteed (1) free and unhindered passage in all areas in the Philippines, and in traveling to and from the Philippines in connection with the performance of their duties in the negotiations; and (2) immunity from surveillance, harassment, search, arrest, detention, prosecution and interrogation or any other similar punitive actions due to any involvement or participation in the peace negotiations.

Because the peace negotiations are still on, the bilateral consultations between the working groups of the GRP and NDFP can continue to be held in the Philippines to prepare for the eventual resumption of the formal talks. All the NDFP panel members and consultants involved in the work of the different bilateral teams of the RWCs-SER (Reciprocal Working Committees-Social and Economic Reforms) and of the RWGs-PCR (Reciprocal Working Group-Political and Constitutional Reforms) are covered by JASIG and should remain free and unhindered to go about their work.

We deem it necessary to underscore the continuing effectivity of the JASIG in order to prevent any misreading or misinterpretation that would lead prosecutors to move for, and for the courts to cancel, the bail bonds of NDFP consultants still facing charges and for the police and military to arrest NDFP consultants who are set to return to the Philippines following the GRP’s cancellation of the fifth round of formal talks.

The JASIG-protected NDFP consultants currently in The Netherlands flew out of the country in good faith and the GRP is duty-bound under JASIG and other pertinent agreements to ensure that they will not be harassed, surveilled, searched, arrested or detained after they set foot in the Philippines.

Fidel V. Agcaoili
Contact No. 0031-64-1324348

CPP: Martial Law in Mindanao: Atrocities and fake news slide show (Update 1)

Propaganda slide show posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (May 23-28):
Martial Law in Mindanao: Atrocities and fake news slide show (Update 1)

New slides added:

Communist Party of the Philippines
On March 23, 10 p.m., officials of the Duterte regime announced GRP Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration placing the entire Mindanao under martial rule while in Moscow at 5 p.m. (Russian time). Since then, progressive organizations, concerned agencies and ordinary individuals have documented increasing cases of atrocities and human rights violations, including aerial bombings of civilian communities. Bearing the brunt of these bombings are the residents of Marawi City which the AFP have overran with armed personnel and tanks. Undemocratic measures, such as checkpoints, searches and arbitrary detentions, are intensified in Davao City and other centers of Mindanao. The violations are as follows:

#NotoMartialLaw #StoptheBombings #LiftMartialLawNow

Day 5, May 28

Mira Digaynon, Mandaya woman from Baganga, Davao Oriental was killed by 67th IBPA elements.
On May 24, Daniel Lasid, a Barangay Kagawad in Matanao, Davao del Sur was killed by 39th IBPA.

Day 4, May 27

Panay units send in initial reports of intensified widespread 3rd ID, PA combat operations on May 23 in Maasin, Alimodian, Leon, Tubungan, Igbaras, and Miag-ao, all in Iloilo, Sibalom and San Remegio in Antique and Tapaz in Capiz.

Tacloban city government put up checkpoints in entry and exit points for arbitrary searches supposedly “in solidarity with the declaration of martial law.” Said checkpoints will stay for the duration of martial law in Mindanao.

AFP carries out “surgical airstrikes” in Marawi using guided rockets fired from helicopters, hitting civilian homes, including that of a lawman

Curfew implemented in Kabacan, Cotabato, requiring citizens to carry “identification cards” at all times.

Elements of 66th IB who occupied the premises of Shin Sun Company in Compostela, Comval Province since May 26, barged into the picketline of the striking workers today (May 27) and threatened the workers that their “illegal” strike will be dispersed tomorrow (May 28) as ordered by their higher command.

KMP reports two peasant leaders arrested by 66th IB, PA in Maragusan, Compostela Valley.

Residents discover bodies of dead civilians inside homes destroyed by military air strikes in Marawi.
Restituto Padilla clarifies that the AFP “will enforce the law uniformly such that all violators of the law, regardless of group affiliations, will be dealt with accordingly.” This is after announcing “peace-inclined groups such as the MILF, MNLF and the NPA will not be affected by the ongoing military operations.”

Day 3, May 26

AFP aerial bombing by MG250 attack helicopters, shelling by 105 Howitzer cannons, firing by .50 cal machine gun in Sitios Pedtobawan, Campo, Apulan, and Centro in Brgy Salat, So. Libpas, Brgy. Tuael, all in President Roxas, and Brgys. Tangkulan and Anggaan in Dumulog, Bukidnon. One civilian killed, 5 wounded, more than 2,000 affected. This is 90 kilometers from Marawi.

Duterte to MLBT2: Trabaho lang kayo, ako na ang bahala… Pagnaka-rape ka ng tatlo, aminin ko na akin ‘yon [Just go to work, I’ll take charge… if you rape three, I’ll take the blame]…During martial law, your commanders, you can arrest any person, search any house, wala nang warrant. Kagaya noon, ASSO lang [no more warrant. Like before, just ASSO (Arrest Search and Seizure Order].

Restituto Padilla, AFP spokesperson, announces AFP will exercise the right to censure (sic), especially in social media. To netizens: control of posts in social media necessary.

Police Regional Office 11: Leaders and organizers of “anti-goverment” rallies will be arrested, more so if this will cause public disturbance. Under Martial Law, the writ of habeas corpus is suspended and they can directly arrest anyone who breaks the law.

News outlet GMA7 clarifies that Amay Pakpak Medical Center was never overrun by the Maute group, contrary to AFP report of a takeover on May 24

Day 2, May 25

Task Force Davao and PNP launched Oplan Bulabog at Brgy. 23-C, Davao City arresting 260 civilians only because they could not present IDs.

Davao City government releases 30-point guidelines for the curtailment of civil liberties.

1,800 families from Marawi who have evacuated since May 22 to the municipality of Sagiuaran, Lanao del Sur are suffering from hunger despite availability of food supply from DSWD because of tight and strict military checkpoints.

30 women composed of Lumad, women, Moro, pastors and churchworkers who gathered for an ecumenical forum were put under interrrogation for an hour by 6th Marine Landing Battalion in Brgy. Domulon, Sulatan Kudarat.

LaSurECo (Lanao del Sur Electric Company) management clarifies that the Lasureco office was never overran by the Maute, contrary to AFP report.

Sr Inspector Romeo Enriquez, Police Chief, Malabang, Lanao del Sur clarifies that he was never beheaded by the Maute, contraty to Duterte declaration

Day 1, May 24

Massive bombing of Marawi City, 1 child killed. Disorganized, massive evacuation of civilians ensue.

Shelling and bombing in Matanao, Davao del Sur, more than 120 kilometers from Marawi.

CPP/Ang Bayan: NPA-EV military actions in response to US

Propaganda article from the English language edition of Ang Bayan posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (May 21): NPA-EV military actions in response to US

“THE NEW People’s Army-Eastern Visayas’ (NPA-EV) more than 14 offensives are in defense of the people against the US and its militarist stooges in the Duterte government.” Thus stated Fr. Santiago “Ka Sanny” Salas, spokesperson for the NDF-EV, in connection with Balikatan’s conclusion in the region. He added that these likewise uphold national sovereignty and democracy.

NDF-EV’s statement is also in relation to the resumption of the fifth round of the NDFP-GRP peace talks. Fr. Salas criticized the militarists’ influence on the talks and their moves to force a ceasefire agreement which would lead to the eventual surrender of the revolutionary forces. He asserted that the matter of any ceasefire agreement should only be brought about in connection with the release of all political prisoners and the signing of the CASER.

Alongside this, progressive organizations in EV staged a protest action against Balikatan. Spearheaded by Bayan-Sinirangan Bisa-yas, national democratic organizations marched along Rizal Avenue in Tacloban City last May 12 to declare their opposition to the “Balikatan” and demand the expulsion of US troops from the region and the country. Balikatan was held in Ormoc, Leyte and Guiuan, Eastern Samar.

According to the group’s statement, exercises on “humanitarian assistance and disaster response” conceal the US objective to condition the people’s minds to accede to their basing in the Philippines. For its part, the alliance of calamity victims People Surge said that “aid” from the US cannot redress its violation of the country’s national sovereignty.

[Ang Bayan is the official newspaper of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Ang Bayan is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Hiligaynon, Waray and English. Download Ang Bayan from the Philippine Revolution Web Central at  Ang Bayan is published fortnightly by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines.]

CPP/Ang Bayan: Balikatan 2017 commences under Duterte

Propaganda article from the English language edition of Ang Bayan posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (May 21): Balikatan 2017 commences under Duterte

BALIKATAN 2017 pushed through last May 8-19 despite GRP President Rodrigo Duterte’s previous stance against it. “Despite declarations of an ‘independent foreign policy’ by the Duterte regime, US military presence in the country remains pervasive,” declared the Communist Party of the Philippines on the “Balikatan” joint military exercises between American and AFP soldiers.

The military exercises of the two armed forces were set to be held in the provinces of Samar, Panay, Nueva Ecija, Isabela, Aurora and Cagayan. This is the first Balikatan under the Duterte regime and among the scheduled 257 military exercises between the US and the AFP. The pro-US officials inside Duterte’s government prevailed to continue the military exercises contrary to the latter’s declarations last October 2016 that he will put an end to these.

Participating in the Balikatan are 2,600 American troops and more than 2,800 AFP soldiers carrying out so-called “humanitarian assistance and disaster response” and also exercises on “counter-terrorism” in the said provinces. These conceal the US military’s aim to more firmly establish foot-hold in the Philippines amid the Duterte regime’s efforts to establish closer military and economic links with China. Duterte shifted the “Balikatan” exercises on “territorial defense” and “maritime security” from the South China Sea in order not to provoke China.

However, the joint US and Philippine naval maneuvers like the one carried out in Calayan island in Cagayan last May 16, seek to reinforce US military presence in the Philippine eastern seaboard. At present, the AFP pushes for the construction of a naval base for the US in Casiguran, Aurora. This will reinforce the military facilities built by the US in Guiuan, Eastern Samar since 2013, and likewise in Nueva Ecija. These aim to impede China from its increasing presence in eastern Philippines or the Pacific Ocean.

US military bases and facilities are also being constructed in Clark and Subic, Palawan, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga City and others. The Duterte regime has so far failed to carry out steps to abrogate several unequal military treaties between the Philippines and US. The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, Visiting Forces Agreement and the Mutual Defense Treaty all serve to further US military interventionism.

In any case, the “Balikatan” exercises, as well as China’s incursions into Philippine territory, are both violative of national sovereignty and will face firm opposition. Only a few weeks earlier, three Chinese naval ships docked at the Sasa Wharf in Davao City. This move by China, including its patrolling of Philippine territorial seas and building spree of military facilities in and around the Spratlys, are parallel to the projection of military might and extension of reach by rival imperialist US.

[Ang Bayan is the official newspaper of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Ang Bayan is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Hiligaynon, Waray and English. Download Ang Bayan from the Philippine Revolution Web Central at  Ang Bayan is published fortnightly by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines.]

CPP/Ang Bayan: Militarization victimizes Lumads in Sultan Kudarat and Bukidnon

Propaganda article from the English language edition of Ang Bayan posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (May 21): Militarization victimizes Lumads in Sultan Kudarat and Bukidnon

Elements of the Marine Battalion Landing Team-2 and police personnel terrorized groups delivering relief goods to Dulangan Manobo evacuees in Sitio Blanga, Brgy. Nalilidan, Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat last May 18. The military, police and the local government headed by Mayor Ronan Garcia connived in denying the evacuees much needed help and support.

Around 1,000 Dulangan Manobos have evacuated since last May 12 due to the continuing militarization of their communities. This came after an encounter last May 10 between the New People’s Army (NPA) and soldiers who were assisted by the security force of David M. Consunji Incorporated (DMCI), the biggest plunderer in the area.

 The National Democratic Front-Far South Mindanao strongly condemned the collusion of the local government with the military and their servility to the interests of DMCI. Intensified military operations in Sultan Kudarat have been ongoing since March. These have resulted in the hamletting and food blockade of 11 communities in three of Kalamansig’s villages. Alongside these are gross violations of the residents’ human rights such as illegal detention, coercion and destruction of properties.

 In Bukidnon, up to 50 Lumad families were evicted from their communities as a result of the militarization by the AFP and the paramilitary group Alamara in the last week of April until the start of May.

In San Fernando, 24 Tigwahanon families were forced to leave their homes in Sitio Salumpikit, Brgy. Bunacao last April 23, when the 60th IB launched operations following an encounter with an NPA unit nearby. According to the residents, soldiers ransacked their homes purportedly in search of Red fighters. Ugsalay Lagundong’s house was also fired at with M203 grenade.

This forced around 99 residents to evacuate to the barangay center taking with them only a few of their belongings. It took two days since their evacuation before officials from the local government visited them, but only to prod them to return to their communities despite the dangers.

 Fearing the 60th IB’s retaliation, the Tigwahanons again evacuated, this time from the barangay to the provincial capitol in Malaybalay City last May 1. There, they set up a protest camp to demand assistance from the local government.

Meanwhile, 25 Umayamnon families evacuated last May 4 from the sitios of San Vicente, Saloringan, Mahinaga and Tagbacan in Brgy. Cananga-an in Cabanglasan. They too, went to the capitol in Bukidnon because of threats from the Alamara, the paramilitary group controlled by the AFP.

 Headed by Sammy Diwangan, the Alamara accused the Umayamnon datus as the ones behind the recent NPA attacks against the Alamara. The group threatened the datus that they will be killed along with their families.

The Umayamnons asked the mayor of Cabanglasan to mediate on the Alamara’s harassment. But on the designated day of dialogue last April 20, only the armed men of the Alamara led by Diwangan and the Delamance brothers arrived. Because of this, around 100 Umayamnons were forced to flee to safety.

Meanwhile, seven more Umayamnon families who were to join the evacuees were blocked by Diwangan’s group at the marketplace of Centro Iba, Cabanglasan. The Alamara terrorized the evacuees and confiscated their belongings. Despite this, and the standing warrant of arrest against Diwangan, the police and the local government unit of Cabanglasan took no action.

In connection with this, the group Katribu filed a formal complaint with the NDFP-GRP Joint Monitoring Committee against the AFP. The filing of charges was done at the same time that the United Nations is conducting its Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights in the Philippines. According to Katribu, the AFP brazenly violates the CARHRIHL most especially with its continuing counterinsurgency operations which targets indigenous people’s communities all over the country.

[Ang Bayan is the official newspaper of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Ang Bayan is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Hiligaynon, Waray and English. Download Ang Bayan from the Philippine Revolution Web Central at  Ang Bayan is published fortnightly by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines.]

CPP/Ang Bayan: Junta joke not funny—CPP

Propaganda article from the English language edition of Ang Bayan posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (May 21): Junta joke not funny—CPP

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) is not amused by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s joke that his junta would be complete with the appointment of another retired military official in his Cabinet.

Duterte’s joke must be severely criticized. It smacks of contempt of the hardships, oppression and military abuses which the Filipino people were subjected to under the 1972-86 military dictatorship of Marcos and his military and police clique, as well as under the successive AFP oplan wars of suppression from Oplan Lambat Bitag up to the current Oplan Kapayapaan, the CPP said.

Duterte’s appointment of Palparan-trained Gen. Eduardo Año, current Chief-of-Staff of the AFP and former Philippine Army commander, last May 15 as secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government is a shameless act against the thousands of victims of his reign of terror. By heading the DILG, he is set to further enrich himself through bureaucrat capitalist corruption, as he has done in the military, CPP added.

Año is notorious for his dirty methods of suppression, such as his involvement in the abduction and disappearance of Jonas Burgos in 2007, and the illegal arrests and killings of Lumads in Paquibato and other places in Mindanao when he headed the 10th ID in 2014-15.

Two days prior, Duterte appointed former AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Roy Cimatu to the DENR to replace Gina Lopez. Cimatu is one of the principal implementers of the Arroyo regime’s violent Oplan Bantay Laya, especially extra-judicial killings of anti-mining activists. He initiated the formation of the “investment defense force”, special AFP units funded by mining companies.

There are now no less than 27 former military officials occupying key positions, which comprise the biggest clique within the Duterte regime. They bear the fascist mili-tary orientation and are pro-US zealots who follow US imperialist direction. These past several months, former military officials like Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon have been the most virulent against the peace negotiations.

This prompted Jose Maria Sison, NDFP chief political consultant, to declare that the said junta can be a threat at the expense of the peace negotiations, the people and Mr. Duterte himself. He must remember that Gen. Fidel V. Ramos turned against his second cousin Marcos. And Gen. Angelo Reyes also turned against his compadre, Joseph Estrada.

The dominance of the military clique, combined with Duterte’s authoritarian rhetoric, raises the level of impunity of military forces in the conduct of their campaigns of suppression, and a new wave of attacks against activists, advocates of the interests of the toiling masses and defenders of the country’s environment and patrimony.

 There will be worsening all-out campaign of aerial bombings and shelling of rural communities where people have actively struggled for genuine land reform and resisted landgrabbing by big landlords, mining companies and big plantations.

 The pro-US clique will ensure imperialist policies against Duterte’s independent foreign policy declarations, to the extent of removing him from power if the US decides that he poses a threat to their control.

The number of appointed former military and police officers in the Duterte government are almost as many as the six appointed to the Ramos cabinet (Barbers, Abat, Aguirre, Yan, Alunan, Enrile) and four to the Arroyo cabinet (Ermita, Ebdane, Reyes, Mendoza). One hundred former military officers were in the Ramos government and 51 in Arroyo’s.

 [Ang Bayan is the official newspaper of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Ang Bayan is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Hiligaynon, Waray and English. Download Ang Bayan from the Philippine Revolution Web Central at  Ang Bayan is published fortnightly by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines.]

CPP/Ang Bayan: CASER should come before ceasefire-Sison

Propaganda article from the English language edition of Ang Bayan posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (May 21): CASER should come before ceasefire-Sison

The NDFP cannot agree to any prolonged or indefinite ceasefire before the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-economic Reforms and the amnesty and release of the political prisoners.

Jose Maria Sison, Chief Political Consultant of the NDFP for the peace talks, reiterated this stand which he had already explained in the fourth round of the peace talks last April.

At the last round of talks, the NDFP and the GRP signed an agreement to agree on a ceasefire as soon as the guidelines and ground rules are agreed upon. The GRP will no longer be interested in the accelerated negotiation of CASER after getting first a prolonged and indefinite kind of ceasefire, he added. Sison also stressed that socio-economic reforms include agrarian reform, national industrialization, wise utilization of the environment, and people’s rights to free social services, among others.

NDFP and GRP teams held bilateral meetings on the CASER and the ceasefire in the Philippines during the last week of April until the first week of May. This was held to sort out and arrange the contentious issues between the respective drafts to accelerate the coming talks.

In this connection, Fidel Agcaoili, NDFP chief negotiator, slammed the illegal arrest of NDFP consultant Rommel Salinas in Gango, Ozamis City, Misamis Occidental. This is a clear violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees. Salinas was arrested on May 11 despite showing his ID as NDFP consultant number #ND978453.

 With Salinas were Bishop Carlo Morales of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, the latter’s wife, teacher Ma. Teofilina Morales, and driver Isadome Dalid. Salinas and Morales were charged with illegal possession of explosives based on planted evidence.

Rev. Jonash Joyohoy, General Governor of the National Priest Organization, condemned the arrest as harassment and persecution of churchpeople who are working for the liberation of the people and he called on his congregation to take all opportunities to expose and denounce the evils unleashed by PNP and AFP. In whatever forms imaginable, these evils must be stopped, he said.

Salinas is the third consultant to be arrested since the start of the peace talks. Still imprisoned are Promencio Cortez, who was arrested on February 9, in Baguio City, and Ferdinand Castillo who was arrested February 12 in Caloocan City.

There are also several cases of harassment against other consultants. On May 9, obvious military agents on motorcycles tailed Benito and Wilma Tiamzon after they visited the peasant campout in Mendiola. They noticed the surveillance for the third time since January when they arrived from The Netherlands. Last April 24, Cordillera Day, soldiers at a checkpoint on a Balbalan highway were looking for Kennedy Bangibang, another consultant. It has also been reported that the AFP Eastern Mindanao has released a shoot-to-kill order against Pedro Codaste, and there are also plans to abduct Porferio Tuna Jr.

On the other hand, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana again showed his interference when he spoke at the Regional Peace and Order Council meeting in Davao City that if he were to decide, he would rather stop the peace negotiations with the communist rebels, since the NPA is not stopping its offensives. It is clear to the revolutionary movement that the NPA has the right to engage in active self-defense and defend the people in the face of brutal AFP and NPA attacks even as the peace talks continue.

 The fourth round of the series of peace talks will resume on May 27 to June 22 in Noordwijk Aan Zee, The Netherlands.

[Ang Bayan is the official newspaper of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Ang Bayan is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Hiligaynon, Waray and English. Download Ang Bayan from the Philippine Revolution Web Central at  Ang Bayan is published fortnightly by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines.]

CPP/Ang Bayan: NPA confiscates 22 firearms

Propaganda article from the English language edition of Ang Bayan posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (May 21): NPA confiscates 22 firearms

SIX COMMANDS of the New People’s Army in different parts of the country have launched offensives within two weeks last May 4-17. These include one raid, two ambuscades, eight harassment operations and one disarming operation against an abusive businessman. Twenty two firearms were confiscated by the Red army. Reactionary armed forces suffered up to 35 casualties.

In Southern Tagalog, the NPA-Laguna (Cesar Batrallo Command or NPA-CBC) reaped success in its consecutive tactical offensives against the AFP and PNP in the towns of Majayjay and Luisiana in Laguna, and in the neighboring town of Lucban in the province of Quezon.

The NPA-CBC consecutively attacked three detachments of the 59th IB and 80th IB in the villages of Ibabang Banga and Piit in Majayjay. The action was undertaken last May 14, from 6:25 until 7 in the evening. Three were killed and another three were wounded among the soldiers. The targeted units of the AFP are protectors of the destructive company Global Heavy Equipment Inc.

After this, troops belonging to the 80th IB and the command from the 202nd IBde reinforced aboard two six by six trucks, one weapon vehicle and an armored personnel carrier. Upon reaching San Antonio in Luisiana, the NPA-CBC ambushed the convoy. Two of the military vehicles were hit by command-detonated explosives. Up to 20 soldiers were killed or wounded.

In Benguet, the NPA-Benguet (Jennifer Cariño Command or NPA-JCC) successfully raided a police detachment in Brgy. Loo, Buguias last May 16 at 9 p.m. The Red fighters were able to immediately take control of the police station without firing a single shot. The NPA-JCC confiscated a 9mm pistol, a grenade, magazines and ammunition, and other military equipment. The Buguias police force is notorious for extorting from motorists and vegetable growers. They are likewise involved in the proliferation of anti-social activities.

In Agusan del Sur, 21 firearms were confiscated by the NPA-Northeastern Mindanao Region’s Front 14 from the Lademora family in Sitio Sinug-ang, Bayugan 3, Rosario. The NPA undertook the operation last May 13 at around 7 a.m. The confiscated firearms include two M16s, one AK47, one BAR, one M14, one Garand, four carbines, three M79 grenade launchers, three shotguns, four .45 calibre pistols, and one .38 calibre pistol. The Red fighters also seized assorted ammunition, magazines and other military equipment.

According to the NPA-NEMR, the Lademora confiscation is a punitive action in response to the family’s long record of abuse, crimes, destruction of the people’s livelihood and exploitation of small-scale miners. The Lademoras also employ the remaining members of the notorious Lost Command, the armed group formed by former Philippine Constabulary Col. Carlos Lademora in the latter part of the 1970s from criminal elements and former soldiers. Presently, the Lademora family utilizes this group to terrorize farmers and strip them of their livelihood.

In Bohol, one soldier was killed and three CAFGU elements were wounded when the NPB-Bohol (Francisco Dagohoy Command or NPA-FDC) attacked the 47th IB and CAFGU detachment in Brgy. Datag, Inabanga last May 3, at around 10 p.m.

According to the NPA-FDC, the attack serves as punishment for the AFP’s abuses in the nearby civilian community and its all-out bombardment in Brgy. Napo last April 11 under the guise of “war against terror” against the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group.

In Cagayan Valley, three consecutive harassment operations were carried out by the NPA-Quirino (Venerando Villacillo Command or NPA-VVC) against three detachments of the 86th IB. Last May 4, the NPA harassed the Bravo Company’s camp of the said battalion in Dinapatan, Maddela.
Also last May 6, the NPA harassed the Alpha Company’s camp in Tappa, San Mariano. The 86th IB’s detachment in Villa Gracia, Maddela was likewise harassed last May 10 at 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, Red fighters in Quezon and Mindoro Occidental valiantly faced the enemy’s attacks last May 8. In Quezon, the NPA-Mt. Sierra Madre (Rosario Lodronio Rosal Command) foiled an attack by a company of the 1st IB in Brgy. Magsaysay, Infanta. A soldier was killed while two others were wounded.

In Occidental Mindoro, three elements of the assaulting 76th IB were killed when they were hit by command-detonated explosives set off by the NPA-Mindoro (Lucio De Guzman Command) in Sitio Tagbungan, Brgy. Barahan, Sta. Cruz. One Red fighter, Aileen “Ka Pia” Serna, was martyred in the battle.

[Ang Bayan is the official newspaper of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Ang Bayan is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Hiligaynon, Waray and English. Download Ang Bayan from the Philippine Revolution Web Central at  Ang Bayan is published fortnightly by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines.]

Gov’t troops deployed in Marawi to protect people’s lives, secure vital installations

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 28): Gov’t troops deployed in Marawi to protect people’s lives, secure vital installations

The 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division, Philippine Army on Tuesday evening immediately deployed troops in Marawi City to protect the lives of the people and secure vital installations from the threat of Maute terror group and Abu Sayyaf.

In an interview over a local radio station here, LtCol. Jo-ar Herrera, spokesperson for the Philippine Army’s 1st Division reported that earlier, reinforcements from nearby town arrived in the city to secure entry and exit points.

Herrera said the military strengthened their coordination with the local government unit to drive away the Maute and Abu Sayyaf group and ensure safety of the civilians.

He said the military conducted ongoing clearing operations in the area against the terrorist groups. “We are exercising maximum tolerance. We make sure that the ongoing military operations cannot affect the safety of our civilians,” he added.

When asked regarding his reaction on President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of Martial Law, Herrera said the command is still waiting for the operational guidelines from headquarters.

President Duterte has declared Martial Law in the southern island of Mindanao after about 100 Maute terror group and Abu Sayyaf members laid siege to a major city following a deadly gun battle with government forces. The emergency declaration took immediate effect and will last for 60 days.

Herrera said as part of their controlled measure, they are sending additional troops on the area and conducted checkpoint operations to prevent the spillover of violence.

“In implementing martial law, we will make sure that we are highly professional and we will fulfill our mandate to protect the Filipino people and secure the land. We will not allow harassment to happen,” Herrera assured.

USAID, PH partners celebrate marine biodiversity program achievements

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 29): USAID, PH partners celebrate marine biodiversity program achievements

Officials from the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines joined Philippine government and project partners to celebrate the conclusion of the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Ecosystems Improved for Sustainable Fisheries (ECOFISH) Project. For the past five years, the P800 million ECOFISH project has successfully worked with national and local governments, the private sector, and local communities to conserve marine biodiversity, enhance ecosystem productivity, and improve fisheries and livelihoods in the Philippines.

USAID worked with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), local government units, civil society organizations, and the private sector to improve fisheries management and combat illegal fishing practices that threaten ecosystems and local economies. Among the project’s achievements, the USAID ECOFISH project improved the management of more than 800,000 hectares of marine waters in 40 municipalities of the Philippines.

“In partnership with the Philippine government, the ECOFISH project improved biodiversity conservation in eight critical locations, ensuring that Filipinos, both today and in the future, benefit from productive fisheries and the robust ecosystem services that healthy marine environments provide,” said U.S. Embassy Chargé ďAffaires Michael Klecheski in his remarks during the closing ceremony.

In her keynote speech, Vice President Leni Robredo noted the partnership of the United States and the Philippines in protecting marine biodiversity and the sustainability of fisherfolks’ way of life. “As stewards of this planet, we must ensure that our natural resources are efficiently managed for future generations. This includes the conservation and protection of our waters and marine life,” Vice President Robredo said.

In partnership with BFAR, USAID’s ECOFISH project leaves a legacy of positive change that will foster future initiatives for the conservation, protection, and sustainable management of Philippine coastal and ocean resources. (US Embassy)

AFP needs legal officers

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 29): AFP needs legal officers

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) through the Office of the Judge Advocate General Service is looking for members of the Bar to serve the country.

Interested applicants must be 25 to 35 years old, physically and mentally fit, and must be a graduate from a reputable school and member in good standing of the Philippine Bar.

The documentary requirements include: application form; whole body picture (colored); 2 pcs 2x2 picture; official transcript of record (TOR) and diploma; Bar certificate and Bar rating; physical and medical exam report; PSA birth certificate; marriage contract          (if married); and clearances (barangay, police, mayor, RTC, MTC, NBI, J2 clearance).

For more details, please call at the following numbers: (02) 911-6001 loc 6117;
Mobile Nos: 0922-8671549, 0977-8516814, 0917-8537734, 0919-8363652, and  0947-8791311.

Duterte honors injured soldiers with visit

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 29): Duterte honors injured soldiers with visit

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte arrived here on Saturday, May 27 to visit and personally extend financial assistance to soldiers who were wounded in action following the clashes against the Abu Sayyaf Group in Patikul, Sulu.

Duterte met the wounded soldiers confined at Camp Teodulfo S. Bautista hospital and personally awarded the Wounded Personnel Medal to them.

The injured members of the Army's 10th Infantry Battalion were Corporal Rumy Dandoh, Roseller Olivar, Apidul Yahkob, Alkedin Abdurajik, Murphy Kasal, Sancho Antipolo Jr., and Rod Campion; Private Daryl Ando, and Alner Ronald Lacierda.

In his speech during the visit, the President appealed to all Muslims to join him in the fight against Islamic extremists in Mindanao, which he said are being financed by the drug trade.

And for those who are suffering the brunt of the war, the President expressed his gratitude to them.

"But we have to fight because it is the only country we have. Pagka nawala ito, ang Mindanao, pagka sumabog ito, wala na ang Pilipinas. Then it is a destroyed country. And, of course, we cannot allow that to happen," Duterte said.

However, he said that the crisis in Marawi City is not all created by ISIS members.

The root cause of the present crisis is illegal drugs, he said, noting Marawi is the hotbed of meth manufacturing and trade in Mindanao.

The Abu Sayyaf on the other hand is an spillover of the Misuari faction, he said.

At the same time, the President reiterated his continuing support to the members of the security forces particularly by providing them housing.

He specifically mentioned the housing project in Davao City for soldiers and urban poor.

"So bigyan lang ninyo ako ng konting panahon. Sana huwag ko na lang gastusin ‘yung pera ko sa giyera, sa bahay na lang," he told the soldiers.

"But as I promised you, I will give you everything you need. Lahat ng hiningi ng ospital ninyo, dinala ko," he said adding he will provide for all the needs of the soldiers in fighting the terror groups. (PND)

Government extends support to affected residents in Marawi City

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 30): Government extends support to affected residents in Marawi City 

The government has been providing assistance to communities affected by the military operations against the Maute group in Mindanao, Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said today.

Abella, who launched the Mindanao Hour during the press briefing on Monday, told reporters that to date, a total of P1,172,725 worth of assistance has been provided to affected families in ARMM. The assistance was extended by the government through DSWD-FO X and XII.

“As of today, there have been 12,509 families or 59, 665 persons displaced in Regions X and ARMM. Of which, 1,018 families or 4,278 persons are still staying in 14 evacuation centers are staying outside the ECs with their relative or friends,” Abella said.

The DSWD Field Office Region 10 immediately placed a Disaster Operation Center in Iligan City on May 23 to augment the operation of the DSWD ARMM.

Also, the Department of Trade and Industry enforced a price freeze on basic necessities and prime commodities in Mindanao on May 25 after President Duterte declared martial law.

The price freeze covers Regions 9, 10, 11, 12 and Caraga and takes effect for 60 days, as indicated in the declaration.
There is also enough power supply in the region, Abella said citing NPC Mindanao Generation (NPC MinGen) declaration that the operations of power plants in the Marawi City and Lanao area are normal.

With regard to the security situation, Abella said the AFP and PNP belied reports of checkpoints being conducted by uniformed elements without badges or identifications.

Checkpoints follow strict protocols and are strictly complied with, he said encouraging the public to document and report unauthorized checkpoints in Mindanao.

Clearing of Marawi of militants still in the area, rescuing trapped residents, and recovering civilian casualties and victims are the security forces’ main objectives, according to Abella.

As of Monday morning, Abella reported that there are 15 soldiers and three policemen killed in action fighting the terrorists. There are 61 enemies killed, 42 of which are confirmed by body count and 19 of which are confirmed by eye witness.

Nineteen civilians were killed by the terrorist group and 390 were rescued by authorities, Abella said.

Padilla: Government in full control of Marawi City

Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., AFP spokesman, said the security forces have complete control of Marawi City contrary to reports that it remains at the hands of the terrorists.

“It is not true that half of the city is controlled by the rebels. Totally untrue. The Armed Forces and the Police and all armed --- our forces are in complete control of the city, except for certain areas of the city where they continue to hold,” Padilla said.

These areas are subject of clearing operations that are continuously being conducted by the AFP, he said. Although there is no timeline set, Padilla said they are seeking to end the military operations in Mindanao as soon as possible.

President Duterte declared Martial law in Mindanao on May 23 through Proclamation No. 216 to quell the violence perpetrated by the Maute group, which is said to be aligned with ISIS. The Martial Law in Mindanao will last for 60 days.

Although there is Martial Law in Mindanao, Abella said it does not suspend the operation of the Constitution, does not supplement the functioning of the judicial and legislative assemblies, does not confer jurisdiction on military courts over civilian where civilian courts are able to function.

The Palace introduced the Mindanao Hour media briefing on Monday to provide the public with daily update on what is happening on the ground in Marawi City and relevant regions in Mindanao.

Mindanao Hour is spearheaded by the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the Presidential Communications Office. (PND)

Army gathers 200 OSYs, students for 2017 YLS in AgSur town

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 29): Army gathers 200 OSYs, students for 2017 YLS in AgSur town

The 23rd Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army and the local government unit of Esperanza, Agusan del Sur recently conducted the “1st Esperanza Youth Leadership Summit 2017” with some 200 out-of-school youth and students coming from the different barangays of Esperanza, Agusan del Sur.

The said YLS was held at the covered court of Esperanza National High School in Esperanza. This year's theme is “Transforming the Youth as Advocates of Peaceful Change.”

Mayor Leonida Manpatilan of Esperanza; LTC Licudine, 401st Deputy Brigade Commander; LTC Emil Cruz, 23IB Battalion Commander; Vice Mayor Victor Manpatilan of Esperanza; PInsp Geraldine Geraldino, deputy of Esperanza Municipal Police Station; and representatives from different local offices, YLS facilitators headed by Joshua Bebis, and other stakeholders were present during the opening ceremony.

The activity is aimed to inculcate positive values, attitudes and behavior to the participants that will ultimately develop a character based leadership among the youths. It also fostered unity of different communities and youth groups leading to synergy and commitment to community development, and enable the youths to discover, affirm and further use their inherent leadership attributes that will later create a positive impact to the society.

LTC Cruz underscored that the youth are the hope of our fatherland and the future of the nation. “They can also help our country in solving its social problems. He encouraged the youth to express their desires and aspirations for social reforms and change through peaceful means,” he said.

“It is very important to our youths to enhance their leadership capacity, motivate their selves on how to be a responsible and well-informed young adults of our society and community,” Mayor Manpatilan said.

PRO 10 augments joint AFP, PNP operations in Marawi City

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 29): PRO 10 augments joint AFP, PNP operations in Marawi City

Police Regional Office (PRO) 10 has augmented one company of the Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB) for the Joint Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) Operation Marawi City against Maute Group.

According to Police Chief Superintendent Agripino G Javier, PRO-10 regional director, PRO 10 personnel were deployed in different areas in Marawi City in joint operations of the AFP and other PNP units on the ground.

The office acknowledge the heroism and sacrifice of the police personnel in fighting against any forms of terroristic activities caused by the Group in Marawi City.

PRO 10 is closely coordinating with the AFP in all police operations in the area including Northern Mindanao in combatting terrorism in the region.

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The police office in the region also salutes all police personnel who get out in their comfort zones in order to regain peace and harmony in Marawi City and the entire northern Mindanao.

NDFP willing to cooperate in fighting terrorism, but asks for parameters and clarity

From InterAksyon (May 29): NDFP willing to cooperate in fighting terrorism, but asks for parameters and clarity

Benito Wilma Tiamzon
NPA leader Benito Tiamzon, with his wife, Wilma. Photographed by Miguel de Guzman/Philstar

In the wake of President Duterte’s pronouncement over the weekend asking rebels, including the communist movement, to join the fight against terrorist groups, Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army (CPP/NPA) leader Benito Tiamzon said they are, in principle, open to extending cooperation but at the same time expressed concerns regarding the parameters on the ground that it would entail.

President Duterte called on Muslim separatist groups and the communist rebels to join his administration’s fight against militants apparently linked to the Jihadist Islamic State movement.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or Islamic State, is also known by its Arabic language acronym Daesh.

“I will hire you as soldiers – same pay, same privileges, and I will build houses for you in some areas,” Duterte had said. He also asked the NPA to abandon its guerrilla war and cooperate instead with the government.

“If this drags on, and you want to join, take your chance with the Republic,” Duterte said.

The NPA’s Tiamzon said, “in principle, hindi kami tutol. at bukas kami d’yan. Wala pa kaming natatanggap na kung ano ‘yong mga partikular na mga balangkas n’yan, mga parameters, ano ‘yong magiging kaayusan. ‘Yan ay mga bagay na maraming pasikot-sikot na dapat pag-usapan ng masinsinan (We are not against it and we are open to this. We have not received appropriate guidance, like the framework, the parameters, the organizational details. These are complicated matters that need to be discussed carefully),” he said.

“Kung laban sa terorismo, hindi kami tututol d’yan at handa kami kung mag-aalok ng pakikipagtulungan si Presidente Duterte … Pero maraming dapat linawin na mga parameters kaugnay d’yan (If it’s fighting terrorism, we’re not opposed toit and we’re ready to offer our help. But there are many parameters to clarify on the matter),” he added.

Tiamzon also said the movement would expect de-escalation or the lifting of the all-out war policy that Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier declared against the NPA, since the communist armed wing was not included in the coverage of martial law.

He said there have been reports on the ground that the military was still launching offensives against the NPA in Mindanao.

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) over the weekend questioned the statements of Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza that the intensified offensives of the New People’s Army (NPA) against the government had put the quest for peace talks “in great jeopardy.”

In a statement, the NDFP pointed instead at the government’s “all-out war” against the NPA: “OPAPP Secretary Dureza’s assertion … totally obscures the fact that the GRP has been waging an “all-out-war” against the NPA, conducting offensive operations and aerial bombings of communities regardless of “collateral damage” – all on the direct and standing orders of President Duterte,” the NDFP said in a statement.

NPA strikes first

From the Mindanao Times (May 29): NPA strikes first

2 cafgus wounded in ambush as peace talks suspended

HOURS before the suspension of the fifth round of peace talks, two militiamen were wounded following an ambush perpetrated by the communist rebels at Sitio Intavas, Barangay La Fortuna, Impasug-ong, Bukidnon on Saturday around 7:30 a.m.

Supt. Lemuel Gonda, spokesperson of Police Regional Office (PRO) 10, said troops of 1st Special Forces Battalion composed of eight cafgus and two enlisted personnel, led by Pfc Ruben B. Gomez, were going to Kitanglad relay station when they were landmined by rebels.

Accordingly, the troops were able to return fire after an explosion followed by gunfire, which lasted for 30 minutes before the rebels withdrew.

Gonda said the troops encountered about 40 members of Guerilla Front 68 of the NPA.

The two wounded CAAs were identified as Peter Nunez and Arcenio Macalam.

In a separate interview, Capt. Felecor Jumagdao, the civil-military operations officer of the 1st Special Forces Battalion, told TIMES that the wounded CAAs were brought to Camp Evangelista hospital in Cagayan de Oro city for further medical treatment.

On May 25, NPA Southern Command spokesperson Rigoberto Sanchez ordered the communist guerrillas to intensify their operations against military and police targets in response to President Duterte’s martial law declaration in Mindanao.

“Duterte attempts to consolidate his power, not by siding with the interest of the masses,” Sanchez said. “But by fulfilling the wishes of military generals to resurrect full-blown martial power over the civilian bureaucracy.”

Red fighters shall defend the masses in the offensive mode by launching tactical offensives against legitimate military targets,” he added. “All NPA units shall pre-empt abuses by military and police officers by imposing arrests and checkpoints against these Martial Law implementers.”

Earlier, National Democratic Front founder Joma Sison urged the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines to refrain from attacking government forces deep in battle against the Maute group.

On May 27, Sec. Jesus Dureza of the Office of the Presidential Peace Adviser on the Peace Process said the government has withdrawn from the fifth round of the peace talks with the National Democratic Front-Communist Party of the Philippines.

Among the reasons cited are:

- The noticeable upscale of incidents of offensive attacks by the NPAs throughout the country;

- The seeming perception of the bigger public that these NPA operations are in open and public defiance of president duterte who has consistently accommodated them in unprecedented ways;

- The renewed surfacing of public apprehension questioning the sincerity of the CPP/NPA/NDF in the peace talks;

- The public admissions of some panel members of the CPP/NPA NDF leaders that they have no control over their forces on the ground;

- The sudden and perceptible erosion of public support to the peace talks with strong messages received from the public to altogether stop peace negotiations;

- The clamor now to pursue instead localized peace talks;

- The latest and recent president’s public statements that he will no longer sign agreements with the CPP/NPA/NDF

AFP on offensive

Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) also ordered the troop to launch offensives against the communist guerrillas following the ambush.

“Its unfortunate that the CPP- NPA took advantage of the crisis that is ongoing in Marawi city by ordering the NPA to intensify their attacks against AFP and PNP,” Gen. Eduardo Año, chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), told TIMES yesterday.

Año said the CPP-NPA only showed its true colors with the order.

“We shall deal with them with more force and ensure that the community are protected from NPA atrocities and terroristic activities,” he said.

The chief of staff also said he already directed all military units to be alert and intensify their intelligence monitoring in their areas of responsibility.

Sema files plea for case in Roxas night market attack

From the Mindanao Times (May 29): Sema files plea for case in Roxas night market attack

THE SON of a ranking Moro National Liberation Front (MILF) leader has filed a motion for reconsideration on the multiple murder with multiple attempted murder lodged against him in connection to the Roxas night market blast.
According to City Prosecutor Nestor Ledesma, Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 33 Judge Lope Callo has granted the motion for reinvestigation of Mohammad Abdul Jabbar Sema based on the grounds that the suspect was not given the opportunity to submit his counter-affidavit.
“The judge already granted the reinvestigation but we cannot understand why he doesn’t want to be reinvestigated. Maybe he wants the case against him dismissed,” Ledesma said.

He added that the respondent disagreed with the order of the judge for a reinvestigation, which is why he’s filing a motion for reconsideration.

Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, in a chance interview on May 26, revealed that the local government will ask the help of Solicitor General Jose Calida to petition for the transfer of the five detained Roxas night market respondents, alleged to be members of the Maute group

Of the 14 indicted individual, only seven are detained. However, two of the suspects were placed under the Witness Protection Program because they executed extra-judicial confessions, which became the basis of prosecutors to recommend for violation of Sec. 3 (terrorism) of Republic Act 9374 (Human Security Act) and multiple murder with multiple attempted murder under the Revised Penal Code against the rest of the accused.
According to the extra-judicial confessions of the two witnesses, Sema was the one who suggested to bomb Davao City because the incumbent President is from the said city, and to compel the government to reduce the military forces in Basilan to fight the Abu Sayyaf group.

Military welcomes support from rebel groups in fight vs terrorism

From MindaNews (May 29): Military welcomes support from rebel groups in fight vs terrorism

The Eastern Mindanao Command (EMC) is willing to accept support from the Moro rebels and even from the New People’s Army (NPA) should the military need reinforcement to combat the Abu Sayyaf and Maute group in Mindanao.

EMC commander Lt. General Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero told a press conference Monday they welcome any support that would help the military’s fight against terrorism.

Guerrero issued the statement after President Rodrigo R. Duterte announced during his visit in Sulu Saturday that he is willing to recruit the rebels and give them the same benefits government soldiers are getting.

“We really welcome any form of support or assistance that could be provided to the Armed Forces of the Philippines to quell terrorism and rebellion that’s taking place in Marawi City. As to how these forces – MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) – will be operationalized, it is up to the operational commander in the area,” Guerrero said.

During the “Mindanao Hour” at the Press Briefing Room in Malacanang Monday, Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said there are protocols and procedures that have to be followed in integrating former rebels into the AFP.

Marawi City falls under the jurisdiction of the Western Mindanao Command under Maj. Gen. Carlito Galvez.

Guerrero said they requested for additional battalions to secure Davao City.

But he added it may take awhile before their request would be granted due to the current situation in Marawi City, where government troops were still battling the Maute group.

The siege in Marawi erupted on May 23 and was used by the President to declare martial law in Mindanao.

During the second week of May, the 16th Infantry Battalion arrived in Davao from Sulu, supposedly to join the counterinsurgency operations of the military in the outskirts of the city.

“In the meantime, we are making do with the available units that we have here. And in fact, we are just trying to realign our forces here to e able to adequately cover the security requirements of the city,” Guerrero said.

He said that they would also bank on the support of the people in monitoring and reporting “suspicious development taking place in the peripheral barangays most especially coastal barangays.”

“Very porous ang borders natin. What is more important is for us to be mindful of the fact that we need to work together to make sure that Davao City remains safe and secure,” he said.

He said the AFP has maximized its visibility in Davao City through checkpoints and patrols in hope of deterring “enemy plans to stage terroristic action in the city.”

City Mayor Sara Duterte ordered a lockdown in the city immediately after the declaration of martial but later replaced it with a “hold and secure” order with an accompanying 30-point guideline to residents.

She said the guidelines are necessary to prevent the possible entry of terrorists.

“Hindi natin alam kung sino ang kalaban natin sa loob. (We do not who our enemies are inside Davao) Violence may escalate inside Davao City or problems may come in to Davao City,” she said.

The guidelines cover the activities of residents and tourists, and new requirements for business establishments.