Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Army holds Marksmanship Assessment and Evaluation

From the Philippine Information Agency (Mar 26, 2019): Army holds Marksmanship Assessment and Evaluation

CAPAS, Tarlac -- Philippine Army conducted a Marksmanship Assessment and Evaluation (PMAE) in time for this year’s Asean Armies Rifle Meet (AARM).

“PMAE serves as an avenue and platform in selecting the next best shooters of the Army and to compete locally and internationally particularly in the AARM and to augment as instructors of the Marksmanship Training School,” Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Commander Major General Roy Devesa said.

“For this year, there were 73 participants from the Philippine Army Major Units wherein 33 represented Luzon, 15 for Visayas and 25 represented Mindanao,” he added.

The shooters competed in various categories including pistol match for men and women, rifle event, carbine match and machine gun match.
 
 
Training and Doctrine Command Commander Major General Roy Devesa explains that the Philippine Army Marksmanship Assessment and Evaluation serves as an avenue and platform in selecting the next best shooters of the Army and to compete locally and internationally particularly in the ASEAN Armies Rifle Meet and to augment as instructors of the Marksmanship Training School. (Cherie Joyce V. Flores/PIA 3)

All contingents underwent series of matches in accordance with the regulations set by the AARM.

“The success of this event has paved a very effective way in assessing and evaluating the Army’s marksmanship capability. The procedures were highly challenging which enhanced the skills and competence of our potential shooters,” Devesa stressed.

“Tradoc, being the primary unit responsible for the Marksmanship Training of the Philippine Army will continuously improve its training program through the conduct of assessment and evaluation towards the empowerment of our troops,” he furthered.
 
 
A total of 73 soldiers participated in this year’s Philippine Army Marksmanship Assessment and 33 represented Luzon, 15 for Visayas and 25 represented Mindanao.
 

Army chief lauds troops commitment

From the Philippine Information Agency (Mar 26, 2019): Army chief lauds troops commitment

CAPAS, Tarlac -- Philippine Army Commanding General Lieutenant General Macairog Alberto lauded the commitment of troops to the Transformation and Marksmanship Program.

“In line with our vision of being a world-class Army, that is respected and revered by its contemporaries, the crafting of the Comprehensive Marksmanship Program that is part of global standards is an affirmation of our firm commitment to the Philippine Army’s Transformation and Development Program,” Alberto said during the Closing Ceremony of the 2019 Philippine Army Marksmanship Assessment and Evaluation (PAMAE).

Started in 2016, PAMAE serves as a simulation of the Asean Armies Rifle Meet (AARM).

“Through PAMAE, we are able to produce the best shooters in the Philippine Army, but more importantly, we produce the marksmanship instructors in our Philippine Army Major Units (PAMU) Training Schools and this translates to better marksmanship performance in the field of combat,” Alberto said.

For this year, there were 73 participants from the PAMUs wherein 33 represented Luzon, 15 for Visayas and 25 represented Mindanao.



Philippine Army Commanding General Lieutenant General Macairog Alberto lauds the commitment of troops to the Transformation and Marksmanship Program during the Closing Ceremony of the 2019 Philippine Army Marksmanship Assessment and Evaluation held in Capas, Tarlac. (Cherie Joyce V. Flores/PIA 3)

The shooters competed in various categories including pistol match for men and women, rifle event, carbine match and machine gun match.

All contingents underwent series of matches in accordance to the regulations set by the AARM.

“Friendly competitions such as these, enable us to hone our skills to achieve victory. Win or lose, I encourage everyone to continue harnessing and upgrading the expertise of our soldiers. Every soldier should be a marksman, not just in competitions but more importantly in the battlefield where it truly counts,” he emphasized.

“Given the responsibilities of our profession as protectors of our nation’s sovereignty, training, practicing and mastering our marksmanship skills are imperatives with the ultimate goal of achieving perfection. With quick and accurate delivery of small arms fire, we gain superiority over the enemy to win our country’s battles for a just and lasting peace,” Alberto added.

“As we go along with this program, let us keep in mind the essence of this conduct, this is our professional commitment to better serve our nation by enhancing professionalism of our personnel from the Army’s combat units,” he furthered.



Philippine Army Commanding General Lieutenant General Macairog Alberto awards winners of Pistol Match for Women Category during the Closing Ceremony of the 2019 Philippine Army Marksmanship Assessment and Evaluation held in Capas, Tarlac.

https://pia.gov.ph/news/articles/1020175

Duterte still hopeful talks with Misuari ‘bear fruit’

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 27, 2019): Duterte still hopeful talks with Misuari ‘bear fruit’



President Rodrigo Roa Duterte chats with Moro National Liberation Front Founding Chairman Nur Misuari at a meeting at the Malacañang on March 19, 2019. (Ace Morandante/ Presidential photo)

President Rodrigo R. Duterte is hopeful of finally getting a permanent resolution to the long-drawn Moro rebellion as he continues to negotiate with Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founder Nur Misuari.
The President, who had met multiple times with Misuari in the last three years, said he has been continuously talking with him to address the problems with the 1996 peace agreement between the government and MNLF.
In terms of law and order, he said Mindanao has so far gained some relief with the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) "and our only problem now is brother Nur."

He said he was happy that the government was able to come to terms with the Moro Islamic Liberation, through its chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim.

Ebrahim now heads the Bangsamoro Transition Authority and acts as interim minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

"As for Nur, maybe Allah will have mercy on us. We will (continue to) talk until we come up with an agreement," he said during the distribution of financial grants for poor families at the South Cotabato provincial capitol covered court here on Tuesday night.

Misuari has been advocating for federalism as the answer to the discontent among Moros that has led to decades of bloody rebellion.

The President, who met with Misuari last week, said the latter wants the shift to federalism to happen or he will go to war anew.

Misuari was charged with rebellion and crimes against humanity after leading a deadly siege of Zamboanga City in 2013 that left over 200 people dead.

He was granted temporary liberty by President Duterte in 2016 as part of the peace efforts in Mindanao.

The President said he was tired with the conflict in Mindanao and is committed to finally ending it before his term ends.

"When will this end? We've been fighting since 1970. That would be about 60 wars in my life time...So let's resolve this," he said.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1065735

Agreement with RPM-P/RPA-ABB-TPG model for localized peace talks

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 27, 2019): Agreement with RPM-P/RPA-ABB-TPG model for localized peace talks

Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito G. Galvez Jr. on Tuesday said the government's agreement with the Rebolusyonaryong Partido Ng Manggagawa-Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade-Tabara Paduano Group (RPM-P/RPA-ABB-TPG) is a successful example of the localized peace engagements being advocated by the government.

During the dialogue with the RPM-P/RPA-ABB-TPG/Kapatiran para sa Progresibong Panlipunan (KAPATIRAN) in this municipality, Galvez noted that the transition plan to be implemented by the government is part of the whole-of-nation approach under the EO 70 directive of President Rodrigo R. Duterte to end local communist insurgency and attain inclusive and sustainable peace.


KAPATIRAN is an organization composed of members of the RPM-P/RPA/ABB-TPG, which signed a peace agreement with the government in 2000.

“Sa mga meetings and engagements ko noong nakaraang araw, partikular na ang mga tungkol sa EO 70, lagi kong hinahalimbawa ang pakikipag-usap sa inyong grupo bilang produkto ng tagumpay ng localized peace engagements (In my recent meetings and engagements, particularly about the EO 70, I always cite our dialogues with your group as a product of the success of localized peace engagements),” he said.

The peace adviser also said that the success of the implementation of the RPM-P/RPA-ABB-TPG's various programs can be replicated in the ongoing localized peace engagements with the Communist Party of the Philippine -New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and partner national government agencies will be working together on the realization of a three-year plan for the development of RPM-P/RPA-ABB-TPG's communities and the transformation of its members into productive members of the society.

“Once na nabigay na ang lahat ng nakapaloob sa agreement, pipirma tayo ng exit agreement by end of 2021 or by early 2022, bago po matapos ang termino ng ating Presidente (Once we fulfill all components of the agreement, we will be signing an exit agreement by end or 2021 or by early 2022, before the President’s term ends),” Galvez said.

Transition plan

During his visit to Negros Occidental last March 8, Galvez said OPAPP has already allocated around PHP500 million in line with the transition plan, which includes social protection programs, capacity development, livelihood and employment assistance, housing assistance and financial assistance to 727 former combatants and their families.

These programs will support the five components of the Clarificatory Implementing Document (CID), namely: disposition of arms and forces (DAF) and security arrangements; social and economic reintegration of the RPMP/RPA/ABB-TPG/KAPATIRAN; release of the remaining alleged political offenders; transformation of the members into civilian organization engaging in socio-economic and political activities; and community peace dividends.

The peace adviser noted that the assistance to be given to beneficiaries is part of President Duterte’s commitment to honor all peace agreements during his administration.

“Napakahalaga na hindi lang natatapos sa isang pirmahan ang usaping pangkapayapaan. Hangarin namin ang pangarap ng ating pangulo na mabigyan kayo ng magandang buhay (The peace process doesn’t end in the signing of an agreement. We also want to fulfill the President’s dream of giving you a better life),” he said.

JEMC pledges support transition

The members of the Joint Enforcement and Monitoring Committee (JEMC), the five-member body tasked to oversee and monitor the implementation of the commitments under the CID, has pledged to work hand in hand to fast-track the implementation of the document’s various components.

Department of National Defense (DND) Undersecretary Cesar Yano assured members of the KAPATIRAN that the government will accelerate the development and delivery of government services.

“What’s important is action. We assure you that we will work very fast” Yano said.

Meanwhile, Veronica Tabara, chairperson of the KAPATIRAN, committed that her group will fulfill all their commitments under the disposition of firearms and forces component of the CID.

Tabara said she will also ensure the “full transformation” of her group’s members.

“We will continue to help the people and government for us to attain lasting peace in our communities,” she said in Hiligaynon.

Aside from Yano and Tabara, other members of the JEMC are OPAPP consultant Milo S. Ibrado Jr., Ramel Farol of KAPATIRAN, and Pastor Noel Villarba as third party representative.

Also present during the event were Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) 3rd Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Dinoh Dolina who committed the 3ID's support for future activities and initiatives of the group; AFP Peace and Development Office chief Brig. Gen. Cesar De Mesa and Philippine National Police (PNP) Peace Process and Development Office head Chief Supt. Gerardo Rosales.

Abang-Lingkod Party-list representative Stephen Paduano also graced the gathering where he reiterated his support for the conclusion of the peace process with former RPM-P/RPA-ABB-TPG comrades.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1065745

C-130 plane catches fire before takeoff at Clark Air Base

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 27, 2019): C-130 plane catches fire before takeoff at Clark Air Base



A Lockheed C-130 'Hercules' cargo plane of the Philippine Air Force. (File photo) 

A Lockheed C-130 "Hercules" cargo plane of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) caught fire while about to take off from Clark Air Base, Angeles City, Pampanga Wednesday morning.

Maj. Aristides Galang, PAF spokesperson, said the fire occurred at 7:10 a.m. while the plane was on the holding point of the base’s runway.

Upon seeing the flames, the flight crew immediately alerted firefighters at 7:13 a.m. who then extinguished it around 7: 36 a.m. No one was reported hurt.

The plane, with tail number 4726, was supposed to transport students from the National Defense College of the Philippines to Palawan.

The postponed trip is part of the curriculum of the students taking up Masters Degree in National Security Administration.

Galang did not give specifics on the exact cause of the fire and damages on the C-130 pending results of the investigation.

The C-130 is the primary cargo lift aircraft of the PAF. There are five in service as of this posting.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1065742

Suspected ASG member to undergo preliminary probe at DOJ

From the Manila Bulletin (Mar 26, 2019): Suspected ASG member to undergo preliminary probe at DOJ

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is set to conduct a preliminary investigation against a suspected member of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group (ASG) who was captured in Sulu last week.

Assistant State Prosecutor Ethel Rea Suril has scheduled this Thursday the start of the preliminary investigation over the complaint filed against suspected ASG member Karah Musa Salapuddin, 49, alias Cesar, a Tausug who hails from Tungkil, Jolo Sulu.


With this, Salupuddin has been directed to file a counter-affidavit that day in response to the accusations against him.

The complaint was filed by the Major Crimes Unit of the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation Group (PNP-CIDG) on Thursday during inquest proceedings at the DOJ.

Under the complaint, Salapuddin is accused of frustrated multiple murder under Article 248 in relation to Article 6 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC); illegal possession of explosives and other paraphernalia under Republic Act (RA) No. 9516; and illegal possession of firearms and ammunition under RA No. 10561.

During the proceedings last week, Salapuddin told the prosecutor that he has opted to undergo preliminary investigation and, because of this, signed a waiver of the provisions of Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code that penalizes delay in the delivery of a detained person to the proper judicial authorities.

The complaint indicated that the military arrested Salapuddin following offenses committed in Barangay Kabahayan, Sinisa Island, Panglima, Banguingui, Sulu last March 15.

However, Suril declined to give any more details of the case.

https://news.mb.com.ph/2019/03/26/suspected-asg-member-to-undergo-preliminary-probe-at-doj/

AFP: Maute leaders slain in Lanao Norte clash

From the Philippine Star (Mar 27, 2019): AFP: Maute leaders slain in Lanao Norte clash       
The military is confident that the leader of the Maute group, Owaida Marohombsar, alias Abu Dar, was killed in recent operations in Lanao del Norte.

Col. Romeo Brawner, 103rd Infantry Brigade commander, said they also received reports that Marohombsar’s likely successor, Abu Zakaria, was killed in the military offensive.
Brawner said they are waiting for the result of the DNA test to confirm that the body recovered at the scene belongs to Marohombsar.

“The scars on his arm, face, back and leg are indications that... the cadaver belongs to Abu Dar,” he said during his visit to the Western Mindanao Command.

Brawner said Maute militants who recently surrendered and were arrested confirmed that Marohombsar was killed in military operations.

He said the bodies of Maute sub-leaders Abu Bilal, Zarkawi and Abu Tahir, a bomb expert and alleged henchman of slain international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, were also recovered at the scene.
Brawner said the death of the remaining Maute leaders is a big blow to the group.

Soldiers are pursuing 15 other Maute militants.

At least 135 Maute surrenderees turned over 110 firearms.

The military said it received feelers for the surrender of more Maute militants through the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Thousands flee fighting in 3 Mindanao provinces

From MindaNews (Mar 27, 2019): Thousands flee fighting in 3 Mindanao provinces



File photo of Lumad evacuees from Balaodo, Barangay St. Peter in Malaybalay City camping out in front of the provincial capitol in the city. The evacuees said they left their homes for fear of the Alamara paramilitary group. MindaNews file photo by H. Marcos C. Mordeno

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY  – The hunt for communist rebels and Islamic State-affiliated armed groups has displaced thousands of residents in Mindanao, a humanitarian agency said.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said over 50,000 residents in Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur were displaced after military operations intensified against armed groups identified with the ISIS last week.

The bulk of internally displaced persons (IDP), numbering 39,600 individuals, came from Maguindanao where the military has been fighting the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters since February.

“The IDPs left their homes in their haste to escape the fighting,” Meher Khatcherian, who heads the ICRC in Lanao del Sur, said.

Khatcherian said over 1,800 families or 9,000 individuals were displaced in Lanao del Sur last week as the military hunted the remnants of the Maute group that seized Marawi city in 2017.

He said the affected families from Tubaran and Pagayawan towns in Lanao del Sur have fled to the nearby town of Marugong.

“Living conditions are difficult for those in evacuation centers due to limited access to water and sanitary facilities,” he said.

Khatcherian said food supply was running out, as the calamity funds of the local governments have dried up.

He said the ICRC has rushed in additional food packs to the evacuees as well as medical supplies and is constructing toilet facilities.

In Bukidnon province, armed clashes had displaced around 180 families in Malaybalay City and San Fernando town since end-February, the ICRC said.

It said the evacuees slept on the floor without mats and blankets in evacuation centers and lacked access to water and sanitation facilities.

https://www.mindanews.com/top-stories/2019/03/thousands-flee-fighting-in-3-mindanao-provinces/

Victims of NPA told to sue Ka Frank

From the Daily Guardian (Mar 27, 2019): Victims of NPA told to sue Ka Frank

BACOLOD City – The commander of the Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade (303IB) called on victims of alleged atrocities committed by the New People’s Army (NPA) in Negros to surface and file charges against National Democratic Front (NDF) spokesperson Ka Frank Fernandez, who was arrested Sunday in Liliw town, Laguna.

In a phone interview with members of the local media on March 26, 2019, Brigadier Gen. Benedict Arevalo said he has been chasing down Fernandez since he was a lieutenant in the Philippine Army.

Arevalo said many innocent people were killed because of Fernandez, pointing out that he was not only the NDF spokesperson but also a ranking leader of the NPA in Negros.

The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

“He is the one who directly gave orders to the rebel combatants as to who and what they would attack, and who they will ambush,” Arevalo said.

The 303IB commander said families of those killed by the NPA in Negros should pursue justice for their loved ones by filing charges against Fernandez.

Arevalo also claimed that Fernandez’ wife, Cleofe Lagtapon, heads the NPA’s Komiteng Rehiyon-Negros.

Arevalo said he ordered all Army units in Negros to continue pursuing the rebels to prevent them from conducting any retaliatory attacks.

https://thedailyguardian.net/negros/victims-of-npa-told-to-sue-ka-frank/

Peace adviser: Deal with RPA-ABB a good model for localized talks

From the Philippine Star (Mar 27, 2019): Peace adviser: Deal with RPA-ABB a good model for localized talks

The government's peace agreement with a splinter group of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army is a good model for localized peace talks with communist rebels, presidential peace adviser Carlito Galvez said.

In a release from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Galvez said peace engagements with the Rebolusyonaryong Partido Ng Manggagawa-Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade-Tabara Paduano Group can be replicated with CPP-NPA units in the provinces.

"In my recent meetings and engagements, particularly about the EO 70, I always cite our dialogues with your group as a product of the success of localized peace engagements," Galvez told members of RPM-P/RPA-ABB-TPG/Kapatiran para sa Progresibong Panlipunan (Kapatiran) at a dialogue in Capiz on Tuesday.

Kapatiran is composed of members of the former rebel group, which split from the CPP-NPA in the 1990s over ideological differences. The group entered peace negotations with the government in 1999 and signed a peace deal in 2000.

OPAPP said it will work with other government agencies to implement a three-year development plan for RPM-P/RPA-ABB-TPG communitis as part of the former rebels' reintegration into mainstream society.

Earlier in March, Galvez said the OPAPP had allocated P500 million for social protection programs, financial, livelihood and employment assistance, as well as housing assistance for 727 former combatants and their families.

"Once we fulfill all components of the agreement, we will be signing an exit agreement by end or 2021 or by early 200, before the President’s term ends," Galvez said.

The Duterte administration has terminated peace talks with the CPP-NPA through the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, which were restarted in 2016 but bogged down in early 2017 over the government's alleged failure to release more political prisoners. The talks were formally ended in November 2017 in response to NPA attacks.

The government has opted to focus on talks with individual CPP-NPA units, an approach that the communist rebels said will not work since the conditions that prompted the decades-long insurgency need to be addressed through socio-economic reforms on a national scale.

https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2019/03/27/1904973/peace-adviser-deal-rpa-abb-good-model-localized-talks

AFP-CRS: Photo/slide - NDFP spokesperson arrested in Laguna

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service Facebook page (Mar 25, 2019): Photo/slide - NDFP spokesperson arrested in Laguna

Image may contain: 2 people, text

https://www.facebook.com/CivilRelationsServiceAFP/photos/a.182240175128048/2384492194902824/?type=3&theater

https://www.facebook.com/CivilRelationsServiceAFP/?fref=photo

AFP-CRS: Photo/slide - More communities and local government units declare CPP-NPA as 'Persona Non Grata'

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service Facebook page (Mar 25, 2019): Photo/slide - More communities and local government units declare CPP-NPA as 'Persona Non Grata'

Image may contain: 2 people, text

https://www.facebook.com/CivilRelationsServiceAFP/photos/a.182240175128048/2384492681569442/?type=3&theater

https://www.facebook.com/CivilRelationsServiceAFP/?fref=photo

AFP-CRS: Photo/slide - Better peace talks result without Joma

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service Facebook page (Mar 25, 2019): Photo/slide - Better peace talks result without Joma

Image may contain: text

https://www.facebook.com/CivilRelationsServiceAFP/photos/a.182240175128048/2384493318236045/?type=3&theater

https://www.facebook.com/CivilRelationsServiceAFP/?fref=photo

AFP-CRS: Photo/slide - NPA neutralized in Iloilo encounter

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service Facebook page (Mar 25, 2019): Photo/slide - NPA neutralized in Iloilo encounter

Image may contain: one or more people and text

https://www.facebook.com/CivilRelationsServiceAFP/photos/a.182240175128048/2384493938235983/?type=3&theater

https://www.facebook.com/CivilRelationsServiceAFP/?fref=photo

AFP-CRS: Photo/slide - Former NPA supporters took oath of allegiance

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service Facebook page (Mar 25, 2019): Photo/slide - Former NPA supporters took oath of allegiance

Image may contain: 1 person, outdoor

https://www.facebook.com/CivilRelationsServiceAFP/photos/a.182240175128048/2384494344902609/?type=3&theater

https://www.facebook.com/CivilRelationsServiceAFP/?fref=photo

AFP-CRS: Photo/slide - PNPA tightens security vs NPA

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service Facebook page (Mar 26, 2019): Photo/slide - PNPA tightens security vs NPA

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https://www.facebook.com/CivilRelationsServiceAFP/photos/a.182240175128048/2384494638235913/?type=3&theater

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AFP-CRS: Photo/slide - President Duterte: Engaging communist rebels in peace negotiations is really useless.

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service Facebook page (Mar 26, 2019): Photo/slide - President Duterte: Engaging communist rebels in peace negotiations is really useless.

No photo description available.

https://www.facebook.com/CivilRelationsServiceAFP/photos/a.182240175128048/2385894944762549/?type=3&theater

 https://www.facebook.com/CivilRelationsServiceAFP/?fref=photo

NDF/NDF-Negros: Release Ka Frank Fernandez and his companions!

NDF-Negros propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Philippines (NDFP or NDF) Website (Mar 26, 2019): Release Ka Frank Fernandez and his companions!

Free all political prisoners! Fight the fascist, terrorist US-Duterte regime!

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) – Negros condemns the arrest of NDFP peace consultant and NDFP Negros Spokesperson Ka Frank Fernandez, 71, along with his wife, Cleofe Lagtapon, 66, and their companion Gee-Ann Perez, 20. We denounce the trumped-up charges filed against them and strongly demand that the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and its state forces present them to their legal counsel and family. Furthermore, they must be immediately released on the basis of justice, propriety and for humanitarian considerations.

Ka Frank was with his wife in Laguna to seek medical attention. Considering their old age and the status of his health, the military and police are ridiculous in planting firearms and explosives. This has been a protocol for state forces to crimininalize NDFP consultants who are actually assured safety while performing their duties as peace consultants through the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

According to reports, Ka Frank and his companions were arrested on March 23, 2019 around 5 o’clock in the morning but up to now their lawyers and family have no access to them. This is an outright violation of their human rights. The Filipino people is well aware of the AFP and PNP’s brutal and merciless nature. Ka Frank and his companions are in real danger of physical and psychological torture.

Ka Frank and his companions’ arrest along with the imprisonment of other NDFP consultants stink of the desperation of the US-controlled Armed Forces of the Philippines to sabotage the peace process.

Every move of Duterte and his cohorts exposes their single-mindedness in instating Duterte’s fascist dictatorship and disposing of just and lasting peace.

Duterte’s clones in the military and police mistake the arrest of Ka Frank as a setback for the revolutionary movement. If we recall the 2016 Peace Forum held in Negros Island, Ka Frank himself clearly put things in perspective, “the people know that the revolutionary movement is alive, not because of Frank Ferndandez, but the masses keep the revolution alive.”

Thus, Ka Frank’s arrest will only further ignite the fervor of every peace-loving Filipino and, of course, all revolutionary forces to intensify the fight against Duterte’s fascism and terrorism.

https://www.ndfp.org/release-ka-frank-fernandez-and-his-companions/

DWDD-CRS: READ| Accused in Marawi crisis found guilty for violating the International Humanitarian Law and Rebellion

From Katropa DWDD-CRS Virtual RTV Facebook page (Mar 26, 2019): READ| Accused in Marawi crisis found guilty for violating the International Humanitarian Law and Rebellion

“Justice is Served!” – A satisfying and rewarding phrase that described the sentiments of the CIDG detectives who played a vital role during the Marawi Crisis when one of the suspects in that crisis was finally convicted by imprisonment on March 15, 2019 at around 1:50 PM at the Hall of Justice, Gen. Santos ...Avenue, Upper Bicutan, Taguig City.

In the sala of Hon. Judge Felix Reyes, Acting Presiding Judge of RTC Br. 70, Taguig City, the verdict was read against one JUNAID MACAUYAG AWAL a.k.a. “Vice/Vice Junaid” or “Junaid Romato”, who was found guilty for the crime of violation of RA 9851 (The Philippine Act on Crimes against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide and other crimes against Humanity) and for the crime of Rebellion.

Awal was sentenced to a penalty of Reclusion Perpetua or life imprisonment for the case of RA 9851 and imprisonment ranging from the minimum period of eight (8) years and one (1) day of prision mayor to a maximum period of fourteen (14) years, 8 months and 1 day of reclusion temporal for the case of Rebellion.

In earlier reports submitted to PDIR AMADOR V CORPUS, CIDG Director, Awal was then an active member of an organized armed group known as the “Maute-ISIS” local terrorist group engaged in violent armed conflict in Marawi City including a widespread attack directed against the civilian population. The accused was one of the Maute-ISIS who took women and minor girls as captives and held them as their "Sabaya" or sex slaves.

Awal was arrested in the main battle area as he tried to extricate himself by joining the hostages as they escaped from the said armed group sometime on October 2017.

DWDD-CRS: STATEMENT | AFP on Apprehension of CPP-NPA Terrorist LeaderFrank Fernandez.

From Katropa DWDD-CRS Virtual RTV Facebook page (Mar 26, 2019): STATEMENT | AFP on Apprehension of CPP-NPA Terrorist LeaderFrank Fernandez.
The arrest of CPP-NPA Terrorist Leader Frank Fernandez and wife Cleofe Lagtaponis a major setback to the CNT’s ranks not only in Negros but the whole country.
...

It willcreate drastic demoralization among their members and will dwindle their armedcapability and will to fight. Fernandez is one of the most wanted persons in Negros facing multiple counts ofmurder and attempted murder case.

His apprehension is not only our victory but alsoof the people especially those who suffered from the cruel hands of Fernandez’sterrorist group. This is what I was talking about; the demise of the communist terrorist group. Their apprehension is a result of combined efforts of AFP and PNP units coupledwith information coming from reliable civilian sources.

This is also a breakthrough to our campaign against violence and terrorism inCentral and Western Visayas. We commend the efforts of the operating troops for the successful apprehension ofFernandez and company as well as the vigilance of the civilian populace for givingaccurate information on the location and activities of the arrested personalities. We are calling on the people to continue cooperating with the government securityforces through giving reliable information that would help in the neutralization ofother communist terrorists.

DWDD-CRS: Declaration of Marinduque as a Stable Internal Peace and Security (Insurgency Free) Province...

From Katropa DWDD-CRS Virtual RTV Facebook page (Mar 26, 2019): LOOK : Declaration of Marinduque as a Stable Internal Peace and Security (Insurgency Free) Province...

At around 9AM, March 26, 2019, the AFP, PNP, and the local government of the province headed by Governor Romulo Bacorro, declared the province of Marinduque as a province of Stable Internal Peace and Security in a ceremony held at the Provincial Capitol in Boac, Marinduque.

The said activity was also attended by the following participants and distinguished guests:

1. Presidential Adviser for Southern Luzon SEC. DENNIS HERNANDEZ
2. Gov ROMULO BACORRO JR
3. Vice Gov MARK ANTHONY SENO
4. Commander, Special Operations Luzon Command (SOLCOM) LTGEN GILBERT GAPAY
5. Directorate for Integrated Police Operations-Southern Luzon (DIPO-SL) PMGEN ERICSON VELASQUEZ
6. MGEN RHODERICK PARAYNO
7. BGEN JOSE ESCARCHA
8. Regional Director, PRO MIMAROPA, PBGEN TOMAS C APOLINARIO JR
9. Southern Luzon Coast Guard chief GEN ART ABU
10. Police Provincial Director PCOL CRESENCIANO LANDICHO
11. BISHOP MARCELINO MARALIT, Diocese of Boac
12. Different Department Heads of the province of Marinduque
13. members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan

The significant part of the ceremony was the signing of Memorandum of Agreement, declaring the province as a Stable Internal Peace and Security (Insurgency Free).

As a backgrounder, Marinduque province was initially recommended to be declared Insurgency Free in July 2009 since no insurgent activity (violent or non- violent) was recorded in the province. After a series of validation conducted by different Intelligence units, the province was finally declared Insurgency Free today, March 26, 2019.

Marinduque is now the 3rd province nationwide to be declared Insurgency free by the AFP and PNP next to Cavite (declared in 2017) and Romblon (in Feb 2019).

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NOLCOM: NOLCOM overseeing patrols on Bajo de Masinloc

Posted to the Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) Website (Mar 26, 2019): NOLCOM overseeing patrols on Bajo de Masinloc


PRESS RELEASE

Authenticated by: MAJ ERICSON C BULOSAN (INF) PA
Chief, Public Information Office, NOLCOM, AFP...


Date: March 26, 2019

NOLCOM OVERSEEING PATROLS ON BAJO DE MASINLOC

Camp Aquino, Tarlac City – A campaign video of a politician (Neri Colmenares) has been circulating on the internet that is targeting supposed “issues” between China and the Philippines with regards to the disputes/harassments happening against Filipino Fisherfolks on the waters of the West Philippine Sea specifically at Scarborough Shoal, also known as Bajo de Masinloc, which is under the area of responsibility of Northern Luzon Command.

NOLCOM aims to clarify these intriguing issues which were mentioned without proper substantiation as viewed from his campaign video. Issues like the presence of China’s dredging ships and Chinese harassments of Filipino fishermen in Zambales were heavily highlighted in the video.

LTGEN EMMANUEL B SALAMAT, Commander NOLCOM said “We have coordinated with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and initially, there were no reports of Filipino Fishermen being subjected to the said attack of Chinese water cannons, and so far, there were no sightings of Dredging ships in the waters of Bajo De Masinloc or in the West Philippine Sea.

“We have regular Navy and Coast Guard Maritime patrols in the northern maritime borders covered by our AOR to ensure freedom of navigation in the Sea Lines of Communication (SLOC)” he added.

“Politicians should not exploit sensitive National issues such as these if they are not backed by a solid foundation and proper confirmation just to suit their own benefit. Such action could cause undue alarm to the public and may affect our credibility as a nation once proven false, which are unnecessary.

NOLCOM assures the Filipino people that it will remain committed to doing its mandate of protecting the people and securing the sovereign territory within its area of responsibility that includes the country's vast Northern Maritime areas.

WESTMINCOM: 102nd Brigade commander visits WestMinCom troops

Posted to the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) Website (Mar 26, 2019): 102nd Brigade commander visits WestMinCom troops



Brigadier General Bagnus Gaerlan, Jr., 102nd Infantry Brigade Commander, visited the men and women of the Western Mindanao Command in Camp Navarro, Calarian, Zamboanga City at 9am today, March 26.

The newly promoted brigadier general also paid a courtesy call to Lieutenant General Arnel Dela Vega, WestMinCom Commander, at Laong-Laan this morning.



http://www.westmincom.com/102nd-brigade-commander-visits-westmincom-troops/

WESTMINCOM: WestMinCom troops welcome JTF Basilan Commander in Zambo City

Posted to the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) Website (Mar 26, 2019): WestMinCom troops welcome JTF Basilan Commander in Zambo City



Soldiers and non-uniformed personnel of the Western Mindanao Command welcomed Brigadier General Fernando Reyeg, Joint Task Force Basilan Commander, during his visit to the troops in Camp Navarro, Calarian, Zamboanga City at around 9am today, March 26.

The newly promoted brigadier general also paid a courtesy call to Lieutenant General Arnel Dela Vega, WestMinCom commander, at Laong Laan this morning.

 http://www.westmincom.com/westmincom-troops-welcome-jtf-basilan-commander-in-zambo-city/

EASTMINCOM: Coast Guard SouthMin Strengthens Collaboration with EMC

Posted to the Eastern Mindanao Command (EASTMINCOM) Website (Mar 26, 2019): Coast Guard SouthMin Strengthens Collaboration with EMC



NSFA, Panacan, Davao City - The Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) and Coast Guard District Southeastern Mindanao will continue to strengthen the cooperation and interoperability of both organizations in fields of Law Enforcement and Humanitarian Assistance in the Municipal waters of Southeastern Mindanao.

The two Commanders agreed to help each other after Acting Commander of Coast Guard District Southeastern Mindanao, Commodore Roy A. Echeverria PCG paid a courtesy call to Lt. General Felimon T. Santos Jr., Commander of Eastmincom at Naval Station Felix Apolinario, Panacan Davao City on March 26, 2019.

"The collaboration and interoperability of the two organizations is so important so that we can complement each other in our respective missions in sustaining peace and order in Southeastern Mindanao," Lt. Gen. Santos Jr., said.



Commodore Echeverria was tendered with honors during his arrival at Headquarters Eastmincom and was received by Lt. Gen. Santos Jr. and other members of the Unified Command Staff.

Source: Public Information Office, Eastern Mindanao Command, AFP

http://www.eastmincomafp.com.ph/2019/03/coast-guard-southmin-strengthens.html

EASTMINCOM: Victory of Convergence: CARAGA mass surrender

Posted to the Eastern Mindanao Command (EASTMINCOM) Website (Mar 26, 2019): Victory of Convergence: CARAGA mass surrender



NSFA, Panacan, Davao City – The Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) welcomes the mass surrender of 64 Communist NPA Terrorist Group (CNTG) regular members and supporters who yielded to the Community Support Team of 36th Infantry Battalion, 4th Infantry “Diamond” Division (ID), Philippine Army on March 22, 2019, as victory of convergence and peace.

This was the assessment of Lt. General Felimon T. Santos Jr., Commander of Eastmincom after MGen. General Franco Nemesio M. Gacal, the Commander of 4ID, in his report attributed the exodus to the relentless combat operations and continuous "peaceful war" of reaching out to the communities, Community Support Programs, and the unwavering assistance of the Local Government Units and Local Government Agencies.

"This is the result if stakeholders of peace work together, marching in unison to attain peace in every community. Indeed, this is the victory of convergence and victory of peace," Lt. Gen Santos Jr., said.



The 27 NPA regular members together with 13 Militia ng Bayan yielded with the help of Barangay Officials of Mampi, Lanuza, Surigao Del Sur (SDS). Some twenty-four Supporters or Couriers who are currently residing at Sitio Ibuan of the same barangay also dissociated and denounced their membership and support with the CNTG.

The 27 CNTG Regulars is composed of two Team Leaders and 25 members. Twenty three are from Guerilla Front (GF) 30 while three came from GF 21 and one from GF 16.

Accordingly, they went inactive prior to their surrender after losing trust with the CNTG and realizing the futility and contradiction of the NPA's propaganda.

These surrenders brought with them assorted medical and dental supplies, cellphones, and other war materials with high informative military value.



The mass surrender likewise led to the declaration of CNTG as persona non grata by Barangay and Tribal Council of Barangay Mampi, Lanuza, Surigao Del Sur On March 23, 2019.

Lt. Gen. Santos Jr. further mentioned that the continuous exodus of surrender is a manifestation that local peace initiatives are effective and calls to continue and sustain the multi and inter-agency efforts to end the conflict.

"Let us continue with our multi and inter-agency efforts to end the conflict and bring the much-needed services into the conflict-affected communities that will address the issues of conflict effectively and sustainably," Lt. Gen Santos Jr., said.

Currently, the Former Rebels are undergoing necessary procedures to facilitate their inclusion in the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).
Source: Public Information Office, Eastern Mindanao Command, AFP

http://www.eastmincomafp.com.ph/2019/03/victory-of-convergence-caraga-mass_26.html

‘CPP-NPA in WVisayas suffering massive losses’

From the Visayan Daily Star (Mar 26, 2019): ‘CPP-NPA in WVisayas suffering massive losses’
The Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army in Western Visayas is now suffering from massive losses in strength, armed capability and mass base support in the first quarter of this year, Maj. Dinoh Dolina, 3rd Infantry Division commander, said yesterday.

In his security briefing with Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. Benjamen Madrigal at Camp Macario Peralta in Jamindan, Capiz, Dolina reported that 365 regular members and supporters of the New People’s Army surrendered to the Philippine Army in the first quarter of the year.

Of the number, 255 are from Negros Island, including the 25 armed regulars who also surrendered 27 firearms, Dolina said.

NPA-Negros regional spokesman Juanito Magbanua strongly debunked claims that the 25 are regular NPA members.

Dolina attributed the massive surrender of NPA regulars, militias and mass base supporters to the concerted efforts of the 3ID Community Support Program teams, PNP, local government units and agencies, among other multi-sectoral groups.

He also stressed that the withdrawal of support of the militias and mass base supporters of the CPP-NPA is one of the major factors of the surrender of their fighters, who expressed disappointment and realization that they are becoming more of terrorist than of the “people’s army”, as their leaders are claiming.

With these surrenders, Dolina added that they are expecting bigger number of surrenderees in the coming months, as their members and supporters have now finally come to the realization that their leaders are just using them for their selfish and bloody interest.

He also said that the arrest of Frank Fernandez, secretary of the Komiteng Rehiyonal-Negros, and his deputy and wife, Cleofe Lagtapon, by the Philippine National Police and AFP Southern Luzon Command, in Laguna, will also create a drastic demoralization and the will to fight among their members in Negros.

Dolina described the arrest of Fernandez and Lagtapon as a breakthrough in their campaign against violence and terrorism being carried out by the CPP-NPA .

He added that the death of a leader of the NPA in Miag-ao, Iloilo as well as the recovery of nine anti-personnel mines following an encounter also in Igbaras, Iloilo, and the recovery of P300,000 worth of medicines after a result of a gunbattle with communist rebels in Brgy. Mabini, Escalante City, Negros Occidental, were offshoots of their relentless combat operations in Negros and Panay.

In line with the 50th founding anniversary of the NPA on March 29, Dolina said he already ordered his troops to continue hunting down communist rebels, and not to allow them to mark the anniversary of their atrocities.

http://www.visayandailystar.com/2019/March/26/topstory9.htm

PNP filing more raps vs. Ka Frank, 2 others

From the Visayan Daily Star (Mar 26, 2019): PNP filing more raps vs. Ka Frank, 2 others

Philippine National Police chief, Director G eneral Oscar Albayalde, confirmed yesterday the arrest of the elusive Francisco Obeda Fernandez, a National Democratic Front consultant and head of the Communist movement in Negros Island, and two other rebels in Barangay Calumpang, Liliw, Laguna at 5:16 a.m. Sunday.

Albayalde said that Fernandez, his wife, Cleofe Sabadisto Lagtapon, and Gee-Ann Canedo Perez who are facing multiple charges, will face additional raps for violation of the Comelec gun ban and for possession of explosives.

He said Fernandez, 71, alias Ka Frank, Ago, Tatay, Uloy, Pidong and Andot, a native of Barangay Ilaya Dumanhog, Cebu City, is NDF chairman and spokesperson for Negros and regional deputy secretary for the organization.

Fernandez had a bounty of not less than P8 million over his head for rebellion, murder and attempted murder charges in Guihulngan, Negros Oriental, Brig. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, 303rd Brigade commander in Negros, said.

Lagtapon, 66, alias Guia, Ella, Pidang and Emay of Hinigaran, Negros Occidental, is the deputy regional secretary for education of the Komite Rehiyon-Negros Cebu Bohol Siquijor (KR-NCBS), and Perez alias Angie, 20, of Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu, is a regional communications staff of KR-NCBS, Albayalde said.

They are facing murder and robbery cases in Cadiz City, Arevalo said.

The three were arrested during a service of warrant operation by the police and Army. Recovered from them were three .45caliber pistols, three magazines of .45-caliber pistols, 15 pieces of live ammunition and three hand grenades, subversive documents and three cellular phones, Albayalde said.

Aside from their pending cases, the three will also be charged for violation of the Comelec gun ban, violation of RA 10591 (Illegal possession of firearms), and RA 9516 (Illegal possession of explosives), he added.

‘HE NEEDED DIALYSIS’

Fernandez , the last of the true ideologues of the Communist rebel movement in Negros,who, as a young priest, had gone underground during the martial law years, is a criminal and will face the bar of justice, Arevalo said.

Arevalo said their intelligence work, with the help of some civilians, tracked the move of Fernandez and Lagtapon to Laguna in mid-February. Fernandez was trying to get dialysis treatment in Laguna, and he is also suffering from asthma and arthritis, Arevalo said.

BIG IMPLICATION

The arrest of Fernandez has a very big implication, “We caught the number one big fish of the CPP-NPA in Negros. We have been running after him for the last 30 years so this is not just a victory for the unit, but this is a victory for the Filipino people, especially in Negros,” Arevalo said.

This shows that CPP-NPA members “cannot run away from justice even for so long, there is always a time for reckoning and justice will eventually be served,” he said.

“This has a big implication in terms of their moral, their organization, and their leadership” in the Communist movement, he said. It is also a big boost to government security forces after running after Fernandez for almost 30 years, Arevalo added.

“The implication is if we can catch Frank Fernandez, why can’t we catch the rest of them,” Arevalo said, stressing that they are still open to the rebels’ laying down their arms and coming down to talk peace.

What’s keeping the CPP-NDF alive is the NPA.We want to talk to the NPA commanders directly rather than talking to their political commanders, so we can help them renew and normalize their lives again, Arevalo said. They still have a second chance through local peace talks, he explained.

GUV THANKFUL

Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. said,“The arrest of Fernandez is long overdue, after 30 years of pursuit, and we are thankful he was finally arrested.”

Hopefully his arrest will bring peace to Negros, the governor said.

If Fernandez cooperates with government, he should call for an end to the 50-year rebellion, because if there is no peace there is no progress, he said.

MILITANT PRIEST

Fernandez came from a small town in Cebu, and was assigned as priest in Negros. He was a sort of low-profile personality who was politicized with the declaration of martial law along with manyother priests in the Diocese of Bacolod, militant journalist Edgar Cadagat said.

In spite of several Negros priests embracing revisionism Fernandez remained loyal to the mainstream, he added.

Lagtapon was once chair of the militant women's group Gabriela-Negros.

“Fernandez’s capture would have little effect, the rectification movement has forged its stability,with almost all areas crisscrossed by guerilla fronts. His comrades could only salute him for his resoluteness,” Cadagat said.

PRAYING FOR SAFETY

San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza said “I pray for their safety and I pray that their fundamental human rights are respected even as they are made to account for whatever they’re accused of.”

Fernandez last assignment as a priest was at the San Vicente Ferrer Parish in Barangay Antipolo, Pontevedra. He was also assigned as assistant parish priest of Isabela town in Negros Occidental.

He became a fulltime rebel in 1980s although he had been militant even during his seminary days.

SARA ON ARREST

Davao Mayor Sara Duterte Carpio, who was campaigning with the Hugpong ng Pagbabago senatorial bets in Isabela, Negros Occidental, yesterday, said the president has already said there will nolonger be any peace talks with the communist rebels.

So the government is going after members of the CPP-NPA who have pending cases, she said.

She tried localized peace talks with the NPA in Davao but they really are not interested and not very straight-forward, Duterte said.

WHERE ARE THEY?

The militant human rights group, Karapatan, in a statement yesterday said lawyers and paralegals who were at Fort Bonifacio were still trying to ascertain the whereabouts of Fernandez and his two companions.

Karapatan raised the possibility that the three might be subjected to physical and psychological torture.

http://www.visayandailystar.com/2019/March/26/topstory1.htm

Philippines: Situation Report (last updated: 26 Mar 2019)

Posted to the Relief Web (Mar 26, 2019): Philippines: Situation Report (last updated: 26 Mar 2019)

 
Report from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 26 Mar 2019 — View Original


Download PDF (4.86 MB)


HIGHLIGHTS

Three simultaneous law enforcement operations of the Philippine army against non-state armed groups are reported as underway in Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and Sulu

El Niño brings drought and dry spells, with Mindanao as the most affected region

Children in the Philippines are at serious risk from a nationwide outbreak of measles, a highly contagious disease which has already claimed the lives of over 300 people

FEATURE

Mindanao humanitarian situation

Situation Overview

Three simultaneous law enforcement operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) against non-state armed groups are reported as underway in the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and Sulu in the newly formed political entity Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) since the first half of March 2019.

Renewed armed conflict erupted between the AFP and a faction of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) on 9 March in four areas in Maguindanao: Salbu, Pagatin, Mamasapano, and Shariff Aguak, causing the cumulative displacement of more than 35,200 people, of which over 27,900 are inside 19 evacuation centres or staying with host families. In Shariff Aguak, some classes are suspended while others continue while the school is simultaneously being used as an evacuation centre. The conditions of displaced farmers and fisherfolk are further aggravated by drought conditions, where central Mindanao is the most affected region.
While the military is not allowing the displaced to return home due to the operations, some IDPs have been able to check on their crops and farm animals.

In Lanao del Sur, armed encounters south of Lake Lanao, particularly in the municipalities of Tuburan and Pagayawan were reported between the AFP and the remnants of the Maute armed group on 11 and 14 March which caused the displacement of more than 8,900 people from two municipalities. Displaced people in Lanao del Sur are sheltered in schools, madrasahs or are staying with host families.

In the island provinces of Mindanao, the AFP continues to engage the Abu Sayaff Group in Sulu following the bombing of Jolo cathedral in January 2019. A spike of encounters in February led to displacements of more than 5,000 people in the municipalities of Patikul, Tongkil, Jolo, Indanan and Maimbung. Cumulatively, there are 49,300 people displaced in BARMM as of 21 March (BARMM Ministry of Social Services). Displacement data are expected to change once assessment results are finalized.

Government response and humanitarian coordination
Local and provincial authorities are leading the response, assisted by the Philippine Red Cross and humanitarian organizations in distributing food, relief items and medical assistance. UNHCR working with local NGOs has distributed kitchen sets, mats and tarpaulins, while UNICEF is supporting local health units with emergency health kits.

The BARMM government’s humanitarian response team, BARMM-HEART, called for a joint meeting with the Mindanao Humanitarian Team (MHT), composed of Mindanao-based UN agencies and international and local NGOs on 21 March to launch a joint assessment in the affected areas. Government authorities, with support from the Philippine Red Cross and the MHT are leading the response and have traveled to three affected provinces on 25 March. Participating MHT agencies and humanitarian partners include Action Against Hunger, ACTED, CFSI, FAO, IOM, Islamic Relief Worldwide, MMI, Oxfam, Save the Children, Tyakap Kalilintad, UNFPA, UNHCR, UnyPhil, and WFP. Additionally, Al-Mujadilah Foundation, CARE Philippines, Nonviolent Peaceforce, and OCHA joined the team in the Lanao del Sur assessment. The results of the assessment are expected to be presented to the MHT and new BARMM Government on 28 March. The Provincial Government of Maguindanao is coordinating with MHT members to monitor the situation and assess priority needs of the affected population.

Initial assessments show that there is a need for sustained food assistance, potable water, and relief items such as soap, sleeping mats and mosquito nets. With continued insecurity and the uncertainty when the law enforcement operations will end, it remains difficult for IDPs to continue their education, farming, and livelihood. According to military authorities, operations will continue as long as the threat remains, and the armed groups remain active in the target areas.

As military pursues Abu Sayyaf group, displaced Sulu residents get help from local gov’t

From the Business World (Mar 26, 2019): As military pursues Abu Sayyaf group, displaced Sulu residents get help from local gov’t


PDRRMO

THE SULU Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRROM) brought relief goods to displaced residents of the province on Monday as the military continues with its pursuit operations of the kidnap-for-ransom Abu Sayyaf group.

The PDRRMO, assisted by the municipal government of Kalinggalan Caluang, police and military forces, said it distributed goods to families from Simisa Island, where troops killed three Abu Sayyaf members on Sunday.

In a report on Monday, the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) said soldiers of the Marine Battalion Landing Team 3 clashed with an undetermined number of Abu Sayyaf members under sub leader Najir Arik in Simisa Island Sunday morning.

No casualty was reported on the government side. Pursuit and clearing operations are ongoing.

“The Joint Task Force Sulu continues to intensify the conduct of offensives against the Abu Sayyaf,” said Lt. General Arnel B. Dela Vega, WestMinCom commander.

Government forces have been pursuing members of the bandit group, with operations further intensified since the Jan. 27, 2019 bombing of a Catholic church in Jolo, the capital of Sulu.

The Abu Sayyaf have pledged allegiance to the extremist Islamic State.

https://www.bworldonline.com/as-military-pursues-abu-sayyaf-group-displaced-sulu-residents-get-help-from-local-govt/

66 NPA rebels surrender in Davao —military

From GMA News (Mar 26, 2019): 66 NPA rebels surrender in Davao —military

PANACAN, Davao City – A total of 66 New People's Army (NPA) rebels and supporters surrendered to authorities early this week, the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) said.

Lieutenant General Felimon T. Santos Jr., commander of Eastmincom, said the rebels decided to return to the fold of the law due to the "relentless combat operations and continuous peaceful war of reaching out to the communities, Community Support Programs, and the unwavering assistance of the local government units and local government agencies."

"This is the result if stakeholders of peace work together, marching in unison to attain peace in every community. Indeed, this is the victory of convergence and victory of peace," Santos added.

The 27 NPA regular members together with 13 "militia ng bayan" yielded with the help of barangay officials of Mampi, Lanuza, Surigao Del Sur (SDS). Some twenty-four supporters or couriers who are currently residing at Sitio Ibuan of the same barangay also dissociated and denounced their membership and support with the rebels.

The rebels who yielded brought with them assorted medical and dental supplies, cellphones, and other war materials with "high informative military value."

Santos said the continuous exodus of rebels was "a manifestation that local peace initiatives are effective and calls to continue and sustain the multi and inter-agency efforts to end the conflict."

"Let us continue with our multi and inter-agency efforts to end the conflict and bring the much-needed services into the conflict-affected communities that will address the issues of conflict effectively and sustainably," Santos said.

Currently, the former rebels are undergoing necessary procedures to facilitate their inclusion in the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).

https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/regions/689290/66-npa-rebels-surrender-in-davao-military/story/

Task Force Davao chief to assume new post

From the Sun Star-Davao (Mar 26, 2019): Task Force Davao chief to assume new post



DAVAO. Task Force Davao commander Colonel Nolasco Mempin. (Photo by Juliet Revita)

TASK Force Davao Commander Nolasco Mempin will officially assume as the new commander of the 1003rd Infantry Brigade on March 28, during a Change of Command Ceremony at their headquarters located in Purok 9, Barangay Mahayag, Bunawan District in Davao City.

Incumbent 103rd IB commander Ernesto Torres Jr. will be designated as deputy commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command stationed at Naval Force Eastern Mindanao (NFEM) in Panacan, Davao City. "I will turn over the leadership of the Brigade to Col. Noli Mempin," Torres said.

Mempin became the TFD commander in August 2017 after he replaced Col. Erwin Bernard Neri, who served as commander for a year. He is a member of the Philippine Military Academy "Bigkis Lahi" Class of 1990 and graduated top eight in a class of 147.

Prior to his designation as the TFD commander, he was the chief of Governance and Strategy Management Office of the 10th Infantry Division (ID) and commander of the 78th Infantry Battalion under the 8th ID.

Mempin vowed to continue what Torres has started during his term in their area of operation which include Davao City and parts of Davao del Norte, especially in solving the insurgency problem against the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA).

He also said that he will further strengthen the community support program and the Peace 911 of Davao City to address the root cause of rebellion and to encourage more NPAs to surrender.

"We will vigorously continue our focused military operations against NPA so that the locals can live normally without fear of intimidation and reprisals from NPA. Long-lasting peace and development is our ultimate goal in our area of operations," Mempin said.

https://www.sunstar.com.ph/article/1798763/Davao/Local-News/Task-Force-Davao-chief-to-assume-new-post

Exodus of Surrender: NPA Terrorist Disintegrate in Northern Mindanao and CARAGA

From the Manila Bulletin (Mar 27, 2019): Exodus of Surrender: NPA Terrorist Disintegrate in Northern Mindanao and CARAGA

Deceit, lies and manipulation are said to be the reasons why 71 dismayed Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army Terrorist (CNTs) members in CARAGA and Northern Mindanao voluntarily surrendered to the Community Support Program (CSP) teams under the Army’s 4th Infantry “Diamond” Division before the NPA celebrate its 50th anniversary on March 29, 2019.



(MANILA BULLETIN)

A total of 66 CNTs composed of 29 NPAs, 13 Militia ng Bayan and 24 Underground Mass Organizations from Sitio Ibuan, Barangay Mampi, Lanuza Surigao del Sur surrendered to the troops of 36th Infantry “Valor” Battalion last March 22, 2019.

Another NPA terrorists composed of four NPA regulars surrendered to the 58th Infantry “Dimalulupig” Battalion and one surrendered to the troops under the 1st Special Forces “Anytime, Anywhere” Battalion last March 20, 2019.

The surrenderees brought with them assorted medical and dental supplies, cellphones and other war materials with high informative military value.

The exodus of surrenders came as a result of the relentless combat operations and continuous efforts of the troops in conducting Community Support Programs in the 4th ID area of operations. The unwavering assistant of the Local Government Units and Local Government Agencies made them realize that there is no hope in the futile armed struggle they once believed in.

Darby (not his real name) a former NPA team leader said, “I have seen and experienced the years of lies, deceit and crimes from NPA terrorist organization which I thought was right! The NPA leaders in Guerilla Front 30 (GF 30) made us believe that we are fighting for a cause, but everything is a big lie. I just wasted my life and my family in this forged idealism of the CPP-NPA!”.

Darby claimed that he no longer wants to be a part of the CNTs that has been oppressing the people of CARAGA.

Major General Franco Nemesio M. Gacal, the Commander of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, commended the battalion commanders and the troops of the 36th IB, 58th IB and 1st SFBn together with the LGUs in their area for their significant accomplishment.

“This is a result of our comprehensive engagement for a peaceful war. As we can see, the local peace initiative is indeed very effective, we were able to reach the grassroots of the society and engage them directly,” Gacal said.

“I am calling to all Local Chief Executives in CARAGA and Northern Mindanao to continue our joint efforts in conducting Localized Peace Talks and Dialogues and further bring the much-needed services into the conflict-affected communities in order to effectively address perennial problems in the communities and once for all end insurgency,” he added.

Currently, the Former Rebels are now undergoing necessary procedures to facilitate their inclusion in the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).

Within three months into the year 2019, a total of 423 CNT members heed the call to live a peaceful life. The influx of surrenders shows the disintegration of the NPA Terrorist in Northern Mindanao and CARAGA regions.

Gacal said the 4th Infantry Division expect more surrenders the coming months due to the implementation of comprehensive CSP backed by the intensified security operation and the implementation of Peace and Development Zones (PDZs) and Convergence Areas for Peace and Development (CAPDev).

https://news.mb.com.ph/2019/03/26/exodus-of-surrender-npa-terrorist-disintegrate-in-northern-mindanao-and-caraga/

Army urges more charges against ‘NPA leader’

From the Sun Star-Bacolod (Mar 26): Army urges more charges against ‘NPA leader’

BRIGADIER Gen. Benedict Arevalo, commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade (303IB) of the Philippine Army based in Barangay Minoyan, Murcia, on Tuesday, March 26, urged the victims of atrocities allegedly committed by the New People's Army (NPA) in Negros to surface and file additional charges against National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) spokesperson Frank Fernandez, who was arrested Sunday in Liliw, Laguna.

Arevalo said he has been chasing down Fernandez since he was a lieutenant in the Philippine Army.
Arevalo said a lot of innocent people were killed because of Fernandez, who is not only the NDFP spokesperson but also allegedly the leader of the NPA in Negros.

"He is the one who directly gave orders to the rebel combatants as to who and what they would attack," Arevalo said.

The 303IB commander also stated the surviving families of those killed by the NPA in Negros should pursue justice for their loved ones and file charges against Fernandez.

Arevalo also identified Fernandez's wife, Cleofe Lagtapon, as the second most wanted NPA leader in Negros, as she was the head of the NPA's komiteng rehiyon and Fernandez's deputy.

The general has also ordered all of the units in Negros to continue aggressively pursuing the rebels to prevent them from conducting any retaliatory attacks on innocent civilians and other law enforcement agents.

https://www.sunstar.com.ph/article/1798786

Cash, jewelry lost to NPA rebels

From Panay News (Mar 27, 2019): Cash, jewelry lost to NPA rebels

Around 30 alleged New People’s Army (NPA) members carted away jewelry valued at around P70,000 and cash worth P26,000 in Barangay Caradio-an, Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental.
The armed suspects break in a house owned by 54-year-old Wilfredo Buenaflor, a police report showed.

According to police investigation, the robbers, who identified themselves as NPA, forced Buenaflor and his family to give cash and jewelry around 8 p.m. on Saturday.
Officers of the Himamaylan City police station have yet to identify the suspects who fled after the incident.

https://www.panaynews.net/cash-jewelry-lost-to-npa-rebels/

5 rebels give up

From the Mindanao Times (Mar 27, 2019): 5 rebels give up

Five alleged Communist rebels turned themselves to the government last week, a military official said.

Col. Ezra Balagtey, the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) spokesperson, said two regular members of the New People’s Army (NPA) separately gave up on Sunday to troopers of the 67th Infantry Battalion.


Balagtey said Dodong, said to be a team leader of an NPA group operating in the boundary of Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental, surrendered without firearms in Sitio Guang-Guang, Barangay Dahican, Mati City, Davao Oriental.

Dodong allegedly sought the help of local officials of Barangay Taocanga, Manay, Davao Oriental after he left the group on Thursday.

Balagtey said Kokoy, a member of the same NPA group, yielded to the patrol base in Brgy Tubaon, Taraggona, Davao Oriental on the same day. He was aided by a concerned citizen when he gave up.

Kokoy said he left the group four months after he was recruited.

On Wednesday, two NPA leaders – a vice commander and a squad leader — and a medic yielded to Lt. Col. Roy Anthony Derillo, the commander of the 58IB, at his headquarters in Barangay Migbantay, Claveria, Misamis Oriental.

The returnees were only identified as Jun Jun, Shooter, and Em-em, all NPA members operating in Misamis Oriental.

http://mindanaotimes.com.ph/2019/03/27/5-rebels-give-up/

Soldier killed in encounter

From the Mindanao Times (Mar 27, 2019): Soldier killed in encounter

A soldier was killed and another was seriously wounded in an encounter with rebels in New Corella, Davao del Norte on Monday.

The military withheld the identity of the two casualties pending notification of their next of kin.

Capt. Jerry Lamosao, the public affairs office chief of the Philippine Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said troopers of the 25th Infantry Battalion engaged some 30 armed men, said to be members of Guerilla Front 33 of the New People’s Army (NPA) led by Christian Pastor alias Khan, around 5:30 a.m. on Monday.

At least 100 families in Barangay El Salvador were forced to vacate following the incident.

Lamosao said the encounter ensued after residents informed the government troopers on the presence of an armed group in their area.

The residents, Lamosao said, reported to them that the armed group has been extorting them by asking for revolutionary tax.

Government troopers then conducted operation, resulting to the encounter that lasted for two hours.

Soldiers recovered one M14 rifle and an unexploded improvised explosive device (IED) along the escape path of the rebels.

The two wounded soldiers were immediately evacuated for proper disposition. But one of them later expired.

The town government facilitated the evacuation and provided food subsistence and temporary shelter materials to the evacuees.

“Other interventions, such as stress debriefing, will also be provided,” town administrator Alex Pana said during the initial damage/intervention assessment at the evacuation center on Monday.

The encounter happened a week after government troopers engaged rebels in Barangay Suawon in the same town.

Following the two encounters in town, town mayor Rhodora Alcoran, urged members of the NPA to “lay down your arms.”

“We are here to help,” she added.

In a statement, she said “It saddens us that we should come to this point where we should destroy the peace, sacrifice our livelihood, and, most tragically, lose lives.”

Residents reportedly complained that NPA rebels have been knocking door-to-door asking for food, clothing, and even medicine/medical treatment.

In another statement, B/Gen. Gilbert Saret, the 1001st Infantry Brigade commander, said the rebels “are already cornered, hungry, tired, [and] confused.”

“Our government forces are tireless, better equipped, and even better motivated to finish the insurgency, especially with the support and patronage the people are expressly showing,” Saret said.

“They (NPA) have lost their grounds and we are not giving them any opportunity to recover. The chance to surrender and cooperate with government is now or never,” he added.

http://mindanaotimes.com.ph/2019/03/27/soldier-killed-in-encounter/

Army blames NPA for displacement of Samar families

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 26, 2019): Army blames NPA for displacement of Samar families



Philippine Army 8th Infantry Division Commander Major Genral Raul Farnacio. (File photo)

The Philippine Army's 8th Infantry Division has accused the New People’s Army (NPA) of orchestrating the mass evacuation of villagers in San Jose de Buan town.

The military issued the statement on Monday, after the left-leaning group Bayan Sinirangan blamed government troops as behind the displacement of 42 families from remote Hagbay village.

Affected families have been taking shelter at the town's covered court since March 17 for fear of being caught in the crossfire between the military and armed rebels. Among the evacuees are 51 children, 65 women, 12 senior citizens, and four pregnant women.

The gun battle between government forces and NPA in the far-flung village has been ongoing since March 17, when the terror group attacked the Army's community support program (CSP) team from 87th Infantry Battalion in Can-aponte village in San Jose de Buan town last March 17.

The CSP team was in the area to facilitate the delivery of basic services of the government to address the needs of remote communities.

“The main reason behind these dirty tactics being used by the terrorists is to discredit the peace and development efforts of the CSP team in helping conflict-affected communities to progress and develop,” said Maj. Gen. Raul M. Farnacio, 8th Infantry Division commander, in a statement issued Monday.

Farnacio added that the mass evacuation was the same strategy employed by the communist group last January in Bay-ang village, San Jorge, Samar, which is to create a chaotic situation within the community and blame the government troops for it.

"Afterwards, these terrorists would demand that government troops should pull out from the said community," Farnacio said.

The top military official asked rebel groups not to resort to violence, but instead lay down their arms, avail of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program being offered by the government.

“Go back to the mainstream of our society, and live a normal and progressive life,” Farnacio said.

In its social media post, Bayan Sinirangan claimed that the military use innocent civilians as human shields against possible offensives waged against them by the NPA.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1065510

Arrest of key Negros rebel leaders ‘major setback’ to CPP-NPA

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 26, 2019): Arrest of key Negros rebel leaders ‘major setback’ to CPP-NPA



BACOLOD CITY -- The Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) has lauded the operating troops for the arrest of top Negros Island communist rebel leaders Francisco “Frank” Fernandez and Cleofe Lagtapon.

Maj. Gen. Dinoh Dolina, commander of 3ID based in Jamindan, Capiz, said in a statement on Tuesday that their arrest will pose a major setback to the ranks of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) not only in Negros Island, but in the entire country as well.

“It will create drastic demoralization among their members and will dwindle their armed capability and will to fight,” said Dolina, whose area of command covers the islands of Panay, Negros, Cebu, and Bohol.

Fernandez, 71, one of the most wanted persons in the country, was arrested in Liliw, Laguna on Sunday morning. He has four standing arrest warrants for murder, including one that involved the killing of his wife, the police said.

He was apprehended along with his partner, Lagtapon, 66, who reportedly heads the NPA Regional Deputy for Communications and Education in Negros Island, and Gee-Ann Perez, 20, a member of the NPA Regional Communications Staff in Negros Island.

Fernandez is the secretary of the NPA Komiteng Rehiyonal-Negros and consultant of the National Democratic Front, the political wing of the CPP-NPA.

“Fernandez’s apprehension is not only our victory, but also of the people especially those who suffered in the cruel hands of his terrorist group. This is what I was talking about -- the demise of the communist terrorist group,” Dolina added.

The Army official said the arrest of the top Negrense communist rebel leaders was the result of the combined efforts of Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police units, which obtained information from reliable civilian sources.

“This is also a breakthrough in our campaign against violence and terrorism in Central and Western Visayas,” he added.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1065642

Clashes with NPA not poll security threat

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 26, 2019): Clashes with NPA not poll security threat



Major General Dinoh Dolina, commander of the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (3ID), on Monday (March 25, 2019) says the series of armed encounters between government troops and the New People’s Army rebels will not be an election security threat. (Photo by Gail Momblan)

Government security forces said the series of armed encounters with the New People’s Army (NPA) in Western Visayas will not pose a security challenge for the upcoming May 2019 elections.

On the contrary, the clashes with the rebels show that the government troops are conducting continuous operations to secure the upcoming polls, said Maj. Gen. Dinoh Dolina, commander of the Philippine Army's 3rd Infantry Division (3ID).

“These (encounters) will serve as deterrent to them (rebels),” he said in an interview on Monday.

He said the series of encounters does not mean the rise in number of NPA members but rather indicates that the Armed Forces do not allow the free movement of the rebels around communities.

Dolina emphasized that the recent encounters with rebels came after the information coming from the local populace. “We gain the trust and confidence of people who volunteer to give us information,” he said.

Brig. Gene. John Bulalacao, Police Regional Office (PRO) 6 (Western Visayas) chief, in a separate interview, said the recent encounters help the security forces to identify personalities that might inflict security threat in the mid-term polls.

“These series of encounters are part of our preparation to ensure that the forthcoming election is secured,” he said.

Bulalacao noted that the rebels are taking advantage of the elections to generate funds through campaign fee, collection of permits to win, and other means of extortion from politicians.

The series of clashes occurred in Barangay Mulangan, Igbaras, Iloilo on March 17; Barangay Osorio-2 in San Remegio, Antique on March 19; Sitio Igburay, Barangay Lacay Doldol, Igbaras, Iloilo on March 20; and the latest encounter on Sitio Burak, Barangay Alimodias, Miagao, Iloilo on Sunday.

The latest encounter killed one suspected leader of the New People’s Army (NPA) as government troops overran an NPA hideout following an encounter.

With this, the government troops expect the rebels to retaliate.

“They (rebels) want to get even and we are prepared. We are ready to meet them everywhere,” Bulalacao said.

Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Sisenado Magbalot Jr., commanding officer of the 61st Infantry Battalion, said the army also expects the rebels to retaliate.

“It would be advantageous if they have plans (to retaliate) because they will move, and it will be reported to us,” Magbalot said in a phone interview on Tuesday.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1065627