Wednesday, April 10, 2019

China took what is 'ours', Foreign Affairs chief says of West PH Sea

From ABS-CBN (Apr 10, 2019): China took what is 'ours', Foreign Affairs chief says of West PH Sea

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said Wednesday that the West Philippine Sea "is ours" and that China, from whom President Rodrigo Duterte sought investments and loans, "took it."

Teodoro made the remark in reply to a Twitter follower who asked for his agency's stand on the "clear evidence of China's power" in the waterway.

"The stand is that it is ours. And they took it. World's highest court ruled that. Period," said the official.

"Now the question is how to take it back," he added.

China refuses to recognize a United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal's ruling that invalidated its sweeping 9-dash line claim over the South China Sea.

Philippine authorities have repeatedly raised concerns over China's activities in the disputed waters, particularly militarization efforts, which Beijing denied.

President Rodrigo Duterte has said in several occasions that the Philippines could not afford to go to war against its more powerful Asian neighbor.

Locsin, in his tweet, said he has "no fear of war."

"One attack on a public vessel triggers World War 3 with the USofA which is impervious to attack from Asia," he said.

Locsin also claimed that Manila could not defend its maritime territory before because former US President Barrack Obama "was in love with China" and told Beijing it was "okay to take what it wants from the Philippines."

Washington and Manila are bound by a half century-old Mutual Defense Treaty, its respective military forces engaging in regular war games that see thousands of US troops and American military hardware brought to Manila.

US is Philippines' 'only military ally': Locsin

However, the treaty's role in the Philippines' sea dispute with China is unclear.

Under US interpretation, the treaty covers only "metropolitan" Philippines and does not include the Filipino-occupied areas in the South China Sea, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said last year as he sought a review of the pact. 

Does PH-US Mutual Defense Treaty cover the South China Sea?

Before he stepped down from office, Obama had urged Beijing to adhere to the rule of law, saying the landmark ruling against its claims to South China Sea is "binding."

IN PHOTOS: Philippines, US troops combined live fire exercise

From the Philippine Star (Apr 10, 2019): IN PHOTOS: Philippines, US troops combined live fire exercise

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United States and Philippine military vehicles during the combined Arms Live Fire Exercise (CALFEX) of the annual Philippines-US Balikatan (shoulder-to-shoulder) Exercise 2019 in Crow Valley, Capas, Tarlac, Province on Wednesday, April 10, 2019. The STAR/KJ Rosales

MANILA, Philippines — Filipino and American forces on Wednesday completed the biggest drill of this year's Balikatan Exercise in Tarlac.

Military vehicles from both countries were used during the Combined Arms Live Fire Exercise at Crow Valley in Capas, Tarlac.

Related Stories:
'Scaled-up' Balikatan focuses on territorial defense, counterterrorism
Navy ships sail alongside US warship in South China Sea

The Armed Forces of the Philippines and the US forces officially launched the annual joint military exercises last week.

"Unique from the previous years, Balikatan 2019 have scaled-up exercises gaining more focus on the area of territorial defense and counterterrorism operations," Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr., AFP chief , said during the operning ceremony.

Aside from live fire exercises, the combined forces would also participate in counterterrorism training, amphibious operations, urban operations training, aviation operations, bilateral planning, subject matter expert exchanges, and humanitarian and civic assistance projects throughout Luzon. — Patricia Lourdes Viray


The STAR/KJ Rosales



The STAR/KJ Rosales



The STAR/KJ Rosales



The STAR/KJ Rosales



The STAR/KJ Rosales



The STAR/KJ Rosales



The STAR/KJ Rosales



The STAR/KJ Rosales

DVIDS: PH-US Exercise Balikatan increases warfighting capabilities, complex live fire training

From the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS) Website (Apr 10, 2019): PH-US Exercise Balikatan increases warfighting capabilities, complex live fire training


CROW VALLEY, PHILIPPINES
04.10.2019
Story by 2nd Lt. Tori Sharpe
3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade

CAMP AGUINALDO, Quezon City--Philippine and U.S. Army, Marine Corps and Air Force service members conducted a Combined Arms Live Fire Exercise (CALFEX) Wednesday at Colonel Ernesto Ravina Air Base, Crow Valley as part of the Philippine-U.S. Exercise Balikatan 2019.

The CALFEX featured the careful orchestration of combined and joint ground and air elements to seize an objective. Prior to the live-fire execution, Philippine and U.S. Army, Marine Corps and Air Force troops spent many days rehearsing to coordinate the success of the mission.

“Service members from across the Philippine and U.S. militaries came together using their ground maneuver, artillery, mortars and air elements to successfully execute this complex live fire event,” said U.S. Army Col. Leo Wyszynski, 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team Commander. “Throughout the exercise, from planning to execution, we've shared tactics and techniques that will allow us better operate together to ensure regional stability.”

During the execution of the CALFEX, the supporting air and ground combat elements worked together to provide indirect and suppressing fire in order to allow the main ground combat element to advance and destroy the notional enemy. Once the combined team neutralized the hypothetical threat, they consolidated in preparation for potential follow-on orders.

“The CALFEX does not only showcase the Philippine and U.S. militaries’ capabilities in combined arms, it also highlights how both militaries work together in joint operations," said Philippine Army Brig. Gen. Leopoldo A. Imbang Jr., 1st Brigade Combat Team Commander.

The CALFEX tested the service members’ maneuver warfare skills and strengthened their ability to fight together. Military training events like CALFEX help participating forces maintain a high level of responsiveness and enhance combined military-to-military relations by enabling a multi-national, multi-service cadre of troops to work together towards accomplishing a common goal.

“Without a doubt, training over the last week has increased the readiness of our forces,” said Wyszynski. “It was an honor to work with the Philippine Army's first ever Brigade Combat Team, the Aegis Brigade, throughout Balikatan and during this exercise. We have learned a great deal about operating in this tropical environment from their leaders and Soldiers.”

The CALFEX was part of a broader series of joint Philippine-U.S. interoperability events during Balikatan, which also includes an amphibious exercise, military operations in urban terrain, and aviation operations.

Exercises like Balikatan strengthen the longstanding alliance between the Philippines and United States. The United States remains committed to promoting military-to-military relations and interoperability with the Philippines and other regional allies and partners, in order to promote regional security.

https://www.dvidshub.net/news/317541/ph-us-exercise-balikatan-increases-warfighting-capabilities-complex-live-fire-training

AFP-CRS: AFP Moves to neutralize CPP-NPA-NDF assassins, in place

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook page (Apr 9, 2019): AFP Moves to neutralize CPP-NPA-NDF assassins, in place

The AFP announced that it has already initiated measures aimed at neutralizing the threat posed by the SPARU (Special Partisan Unit) assassins of the communist terrorists on Monday, April 8.

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https://www.facebook.com/CivilRelationsServiceAFP/photos/a.182240175128048/2408012709217439/?type=3&theater

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AFP-CRS: OPAPP Chief honors the brave veteran Filipino soldiers who fought in Bataan

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook page (Apr 9, 2019): OPAPP Chief honors the brave veteran Filipino soldiers who fought in Bataan

Presidential Peace Adviser, Secretary Carlito G. Galvez Jr. paid tribute to the brave Filipino soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice in the Fall of Bataan, 77 years ago on Tuesday, April 9.

No photo description available.

https://www.facebook.com/CivilRelationsServiceAFP/photos/a.182240175128048/2408016659217044/?type=3&theater

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AFP-CRS: AFP seizes BIFF hideout, recover war materials

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook page (Apr 9, 2019): AFP seizes BIFF hideout, recover war materials

The AFP successfully seized the hideout and recovered war materials after an armed encounter with Daesh-inspired Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao last Sunday, April 7.

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https://www.facebook.com/CivilRelationsServiceAFP/photos/a.182240175128048/2408026942549349/?type=3&theater

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AFP-CRS: Army official visits Negros Island’s top NPA leaders

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook page (Apr 9, 2019): Army official visits Negros Island’s top NPA leaders

The Commander of 303rd Infantry Brigade visited the Negros Island’s top NPA leader Francisco “Frank”Fernandez and his wife Cleofe Lagtapon at the Army General Hospital on Monday, April 8.

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AFP-CRS: JOMA’s leadership forces CPP-NPA-NDF members to lay low, leave

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook page (Apr 9, 2019): JOMA’s leadership forces CPP-NPA-NDF members to lay low, leave

CPP founding chairperson Jose Ma. Sison's leadership has forced many members to lay low and leave the organization. His leadership pushed many of us to leave the movement. Before you criticize those you say agents of the ruling class, evaluate and hone your abilities first as the movement's leader.

No photo description available.


AFP-CRS: 257 former CPP-NPA mass supporters end 2-day seminar through indignation rally

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook page (Apr 9, 2019): 257 former CPP-NPA mass supporters end 2-day seminar through indignation rally

At least 257 former mass supporters of the CPP-NPA terrorist who are residents of barangay Quezon, Guadalupe, Nataban, Codcod and Buluangan all of San Carlos City, Negros Occidental staged an indignation rally against the communist terrorist group to culminate their 2-day seminar last Sunday, April 7.

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PA 10ID: Law Enforcement and anti-terrorism gaps and challenges are the domain of army and the PNP

Posted to the Philippine Army 10th Agila Infantry Divisioin Facebook page (Apr 9, 2019): Law Enforcement and anti-terrorism gaps and challenges are the domain of army and the PNP.

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No less than the Col. Manny Sequitin, the Brigade Commander of the 701st Bde covering Davao Oriental and 67th IB Commander Lt. Col Jake Obligado and PNP Provincial Director Colonel Marcial Mariano P. Majistrado IV engaged the barangay government and law enforcement functionaries like the BPATS, BIN, Barangay Police, Peace volunteers, and the barangay anti-drug guys. Organizational development such as Training needs and deficiencies in equipments may have to be addressed.

While the EO 70 of PRRD provides for the civilian authorities to lead the execution of the EO in delivering the government services thru Inclusive Good Governance to address the roots of the insurgency, the security sector are indispensable partners because of the nature of the armed conflict.

This barangay Taocanga is part of the Ancestral Domain of the Mandaya tribe , and is the farthest of the 17 barangays of the town of Manay, bordering Compostela Province. It is 25 kms from the town proper and with now good roads the travel time has been cut due to better roads now from 2.5 hours in February to 1 hour and 30 minutes by 4x4 pick up.

In 2016 the CPP-NPA-NDF held their December 26 anniversary in this barangay, however with the inclusive governance strategy of the Province of Davao Oriental supported by the national agencies, the AFP and the PNP, this barangay has now become ready for development..

This is a piloting activity of the Province of Davao Orienatal led by Governor Nelson L. Dayanghirang as part of PRRD EO 70 Whole of Nation Approach to End Local Communist Armed Conflict in the Philippines. It is expected that within the month of April, interventions from agencies will have to be started already.

Gaps and challenges in Brgy Taocanga will be addressed through the Barangay, Municipal Provincial and National Task Force convergence.

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Pres. Duterte’s “Whole-of-Nation Approach” to Attain Sustainable Peace, Ending Insurgency Is Piloted in Davao Oriental

Posted to the Province of Davao Oriental Facebook page (Apr 10, 2019): Pres. Duterte’s “Whole-of-Nation Approach” to Attain Sustainable Peace, Ending Insurgency Is Piloted in Davao Oriental

BARANGAY NEW TAOKANGA, MANAY– The Province of Davao Oriental takes its peace and development efforts one step further as it successfully held the pilot implementation of President Duterte’s Executive Order 70 which bids to build sustainable and peaceful communities that will ultimately end the long-running Communist insurgency in this part of the country.

Aboard elf trucks, workers from the Provincial Government and national agencies get ready to head to Barangay New Taocanga, situated 25 kilometers from the town center of Manay

Just recently, the Provincial Government led a large team composed of the heads and representatives of different provincial government offices and partner agencies in an immersion activity held in Barangay New Taokanga, a remote village perched on the mountains of Manay town, known for its hidden gem – the pristine Lake Diomaboc and known as the gateway to the majestic Mount Campalili frequented by many mountain climbing enthusiasts. 


Lake Diomaboc surrounded by breathtaking landscapes of verdant green mountains of the distant Mount Campalili

The two-day community engagement, which served as the first step of a broad peace process, saw government entities communicating with the Mandaya villagers about their community’s vital needs which requires urgent government interventions.

Diagnosing the Ills of the Community 

With focus group discussion as a major tool to assess the situation at the grassroots, the activity enabled the participating agencies to listen to the voices of the people in order to diagnose the community’s ills. 



Focus group discussion with the Barangay Council

Among the many gaps identified that urgently needs to be addressed is the strengthening of the barangay-based institutions such as the councils on anti-drug abuse, peace and order, and disaster risk reduction and management. 


DILG Provincial Director Yvette Tolentino-Sunga lead the discussion at the barangay

Department of Interior and Local Government Provincial Director Yvette Tolentino-Sunga said that based on her department’s discussion with the barangay council, workers of the barangay need to undergo capacity development trainings that will guide them on how to do proper plans as well as basic legislations fundamental in pushing their priority development projects. 


“We can still do a lot for our people in the remotest of barangays,” she said, noting the importance of government agencies and offices conducting regular barangay visitations and consultations to monitor the progress, capacitate, and mentor the workers of the barangays, especially those that belong to the Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDA) that are seldom reached by government services. 



Hundreds of villagers turned up during the pilot implementation of the President's Executive Order 70

Governor Nelson Dayanghirang has always stressed the need for the government to look at barangay governance first since the barangay, as an institution, is the government’s first line of defense against Communist influences which preys on the insecurities of the masses. 

Consultation with the locals

Other areas which require government interventions here include concerns in the livelihood sector such as provision of livestock, seedlings, and technical trainings on farming, particularly in growing abaca which is the village’s primary produce and mainstay crop.



The Provincial Government eyes developing the Lake Diomaboc

Tourism is also another potential area to pursue here. This Mandayan village boasts of breathtaking landscapes of verdant green mountains of the distant Mount Campalili and the mesmerizing beauty of Lake Diomaboc. The Provincial Government sees this potential as an opportunity for development that will drive tourism which, in turn, will boost local economic activities. 

Aside from tourism and agriculture, the Yamog Foundation, being supported by the European Union, also sees the potential of tapping the village’s abundant water resources to put up micro hydroelectric systems to provide enough power to all households here which are currently dependent on power generators and solar panels to generate electricity. 

Whole-of-Nation Approach to End Insurgency

Widely known as “Institutionalization of the Whole-of-Nation Approach in Attaining Inclusive and Sustainable Peace, Creating A National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, and Directing the Adoption of a National Peace Framework”, the Executive Order 70 signed by the President on December 4, 2018, aims to address the root causes of insurgency by bridging the critical gaps in the community.


Governor Nelson Dayanghirang, whose flagship program Nagkakaisang Lingkod-Bayan ng Davao Oriental – Barangay Outreach Caravan forms a huge part in the said Executive Order, is warmly responsive to the President’s landmark national policy for peace and development which calls for the government’s intensified efforts to fight insurgency.

As Governor Nelson Dayanghirang had always put it, “the success of the anti-insurgency efforts all boils down to the effective delivery of public services.” 

The Governor says that since resolving insurgency has now become a key national policy, the Provincial Government has also been pouring a lot of efforts and resources for this cause, this time in building a “climate of good governance” as a widely-recognized potent weapon to counter insurgency.


The Governor’s Chief of Staff Ednar Dayanghirang

“The country’s decades-old insurgency had always been seen through the military perspective,” said the Governor’s Chief of Staff Ednar Dayanghirang. He said that through President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order 70, the nation’s peace and counter-insurgency efforts have essentially evolved.


“We are still partnering with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police but it is us in the local government who will take the lead. Our drive is a peace effort that is civilian- led. This is the new strategy which will help end the Communist armed conflict,” he said. 

The Pilot Area

Despite its rich potentials, Barangay New Taokanga, which is part of the Mandaya ancestral domain, was used to be influenced by the Communist insurgency—the reason why the Provincial Government opted to make it the pilot area for its Barangay Outreach Caravan in 2016. 


Situated 25 kilometers from the town center, this village is farthest among the 17 barangays in Manay town, making government services such as health, education, and livelihood out of reach for most of the residents, thus, predisposing the community to Communist group which formerly have large strongholds in mountainous remote areas.


701st Brigade Commander Col. Manuel Sequitin

Philippine Army 701st Brigade Commander Col. Manuel Sequitin said that with the Whole-of-Nation initiative and with all the key players coming in, the villagers here can now see new horizons for development. “The government is expected to pour down projects such as construction of roads and provision of livelihood opportunities to prevent the resurgence of insurgency here,” he said, adding that the security sector will focus more on organizing people’s organizations who will be the government’s main allies to protect the community against Communist influence.


Meanwhile, as the participating agencies headed back to their respective offices in the City of Mati, they are expected to come up with plans based on the gaps they have identified. While it will take time before projects will be implemented on the ground, it is expected that the initial interventions will be felt within one month. 

‘Trusted’ aide of Abu Sayyaf leader Sahiron yields

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Apr 10, 2019): ‘Trusted’ aide of Abu Sayyaf leader Sahiron yields



Photo courtesy of Westmincom

ZAMBOANGA CITY – An alleged trusted aide of an Abu Sayyaf leader and another member of the dreaded kidnap group surrendered to the military and voluntarily handed over their firearms on Monday, the military announced on Wednesday.

Colonel Gerry Besana, public affairs officer of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) identified the two Abu Sayyaf surrenderers as Nidsmar Annuddin, 23, one of the trusted men of Sulu-based Abu Sayyaf chief Radullan Sahiron; and Limo Ammad, 45, a follower of ASG’s late sub-leader Alhabsy Misaya.


Annuddin also surrendered his M16 rifle while Ammad handed over his Garand rifle to the personnel of the 2nd Special Forces Battalion on Monday afternoon.



Photo courtesy of Westmincom
Besana said the duo were now undergoing custodial debriefing and medical check-up at the military headquarters of the 21st Infantry Battalion in Danag, Patikul, Sulu.

They were presented to Brigadier-General Ariel Felicidario III, the 1101st Brigade commander also based in Danag, following their surrender.

Brigadier-General Divino Rey Pabayo, commander of the Joint Task Force Sulu, said the surrender of Sahiron’s man was “one blow to their group.”

“Many members will be on low morale now and soon, many will plan to follow on his footstep,” he added.

Almost a hundred bandits have surrendered in Sulu within 313 days or from May 30, 2018 to April 8, 2019, Pabayo said.

Based on their count, 96 Abu Sayyaf have surrendered during this period, including sub-leader Jaber Susukan, while 69 others were killed in different military operations.

Among those killed were Idang Susukan and Anga Adji, both sub-leaders involved in kidnappings on the Malaysian waters off Sabah.

Pabayo said the surrenders have also turned over 115 high-powered firearms and 13 watercraft.

“Within the 313 days, we also rescued 25 kidnap victims,” Pabayo added./lzb

https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1105340/trusted-aide-of-abu-sayyaf-leader-sahiron-yields

Chinese vessels on PH seas an attack on PH sovereignty—Palace

From UNTV News & Rescue (Apr 10, 2019): Chinese vessels on PH seas an attack on PH sovereignty—Palace



FFILE PHOTO: China’s Liaoning aircraft carrier with accompanying fleet conducts a drill in an area of South China Sea, in this undated photo taken December, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer/File photo

MalacaƱang considers the presence of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea as an attack on the country’s sovereignty.

Aside from the Chinese vessels sighted near Pag-asa island, there are also Chinese vessels sighted near Koto and Panata island.

According to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, once the report is validated it will be included in the diplomatic protest against China.

“Then we will object to their presence. We already filed a diplomatic protest and that applies to everything, anything that concern Chinese vessels in our territory,” he said.

READ: Phl files diplomatic protest vs presence of Chinese vessels near Pagasa Island

Salvador also said that the Palace is against the presence of these Chinese vessels and insists that they should leave the West Philippine Sea.

“They will know that we are against it. That we will not allow it. That we will not tolerate such presence in our territory. They have no business being there. It is if they continue to be present to our territory then it is an assault to our sovereignty,” he said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs already submitted a diplomatic protest against China regarding the presence of Chinese vessels near Pag-asa Island.

READ: Duterte tells China: Back off from Pag-asa Island


President Rodrigo Duterte also said he will not allow Chinese vessels to occupy Pag-asa Island. Duterte is also prepared to apply stronger measures if there are Filipino fishermen or soldiers affected due to the presence of Chinese vessels.

https://www.untvweb.com/news/chinese-vessels-on-ph-seas-an-attack-on-ph-sovereignty-palace/

3 killed in Abu Sayyaf militants' attack in southern Philippines

From Xinhua (Apr 10, 2019): 3 killed in Abu Sayyaf militants' attack in southern Philippines

Suspected Abu Sayyaf militants shot dead on Wednesday an army soldier and two militiamen in Basilan, an island province in the southern Philippines, the military said.

The military said the three were travelling on board two motorcycles when the militants shot them dead around 8:45 a.m. on Wednesday in Sumisip town in Basilan.


"The recent attack is a clear manifestation that the Abu Sayyaf group is incapable of engaging combat troops who are conducting intensified operations in the area. Rather, they are resorting to diversionary tactics to disrupt the peaceful situation in the province," Lt. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega, commander of the Western Mindanao Command, said in a statement.

Abu Sayyaf is a radical insurgent group in the Philippines, and often carry out kidnappings, bombings and beheadings in western Mindanao, particularly in their lair in the island provinces of Basilan and Sulu.

Abu Sayyaf gained notice in the southern Philippines in the early 1990s. It acquired a worldwide notoriety with a series of kidnappings and beheadings.

Albayalde assails claims police summarily executed ‘Negros 14’

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Apr 10, 2019): Albayalde assails claims police summarily executed ‘Negros 14’

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol — Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Oscar Albayalde on Wednesday hit back at so-called progressive groups for claiming that the 14 farmers killed in Negros Oriental were summarily executed.

He told reporters that the claims of these groups were merely propaganda against PNP.

“They take advantage over anything for their own advantage,” said Albayalde, who was in Bohol for a command conference.

Albayalde was accompanied by Brigadier General Debold Sinas, chief of the Police Regional Office-Central Visayas, at the Bohol Provincial Police Office.

READ: 14 Negros farmers summarily executed – fact-finding teams

Fourteen farmers were killed in the joint military and police operations in the towns of Manjuyod and Santa Catalina, and Canlaon City in Negros Oriental last March 30 after they allegedly fought back at armed operatives during simultaneous raids on loose firearms and explosives.

The raids were done on the strength of search warrants against the targets, who were suspected to be either supporters or members of the New People’s Army (NPA).

Albayalde said those progressive groups – the fact-finding teams from human rights and farmer’ organizations – that tried to discredit their legitimate operations were anti-progress.

“Sana huwag mabulag ating mga kababayan natin dito. Bakit nila tinatawag na grupo na progressive. Are they really progressive? They’re anti-progress nga eh (I hope our countrymen would not be blinded. Why do they call themselves progressive. Are they really progressive? They’re anti-progress),” Albayalde noted.

“Gumagawa tayo ng mga farm-to-market road, susunugin nila ‘yung mga heavy equipment. Is that progressive? I don’t think so (We are contracting farm-to-market roads, they burn the heavy equipment. Is that progressive?),” he added.

He pointed out that families of the victims had not filed any case against the operatives, yet groups were already using the incident as propaganda material. Progressive groups said those killed were not communist rebels but farmers and leaders of local farmers’ group.

Albayalde said President Rodrigo Duterte would not allow police brutality or police abuse. He even cited MalacaƱang’s pronouncement, encouraging victims’ families to file criminal charges against the police officers if they saw violations.

READ: Sue cops, Palace tells kin of slain Negros farmers

“Kaya pinaimbestigahan ito eh, and yet ano-anong sinasabi nila. Maghintay tayo anong labas sa investigation. Sabi ng President if they want to file charges against dun sa operating units then walang problema ‘yun (That is why it’s being investigated, and yet they say so many things. Let us wait for the outcome of the investigation. The President said if they want to file charges against the operating units, then there’s no problem about that),” he said.

Witnesses reportedly likened the spate of killings in Negros Oriental to the police’s infamous “tokhang” style execution, but Albayalde just shrugged off such allegation.

He reiterated the operations were backed by search warrants for possible possession of firearms and explosives.

“These operations were covered by search warrant. ‘Di yung sinabi na tokhang like. How can it be a tokhang alike when it is covered by a court order?” he asked.

But he said they would provide legal assistance to their personnel should charges be filed against them.

“We will stand by our personnel here,” he added.

He then hit opposition lawmakers and progressive groups, who allegedly shared disinformation on social media about the incident.

“They take advantage of everything for their advancement to their personal interest,” he said.

WESTMINCOM: Sahiron’s follower, another Sayyaf surrender amid Sulu ops

Posted to the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) Website (Apr 10 2019): Sahiron’s follower, another Sayyaf surrender amid Sulu ops



In the midst of the intense offensives on the ground, a follower of top leader Radulan Sahiron and another member of the Abu Sayyaf surrendered to military troops in Sulu on Monday afternoon, April 8.



Abu Sayyaf members Nidsmar Annuddin, 23, and Limo Ammad, 45, yielded to soldiers from 2nd Special Forces Battalion in said province at 4pm Monday.

The surrenderors handed over an M16 rifle and a Garand rifle.


Annuddin is a member of Radulan Sahiron’s group, while Ammad is a follower of late sub-leader Alhabsy Misaya.

The surrenderors were presented to Brigadier General Ariel Felicidario III, 1101st Brigade Commander, at the headquarters of the 21st Infantry Battalion in Barangay Danag, Patikul.

They will undergo a medical check-up and custodial debriefing to be facilitated by the troops.

“Through the resolute efforts of our ground troops, we made unprecedented accomplishments that dampened the will and strength of the Abu Sayyaf, and that is evinced by the influx of terrorists that lay down their arms in Sulu,” said Lieutenant General Arnel Dela Vega, Western Mindanao Command chief.

“We welcome the capitulation of terrorists in Sulu, but we will nevertheless sustain our pursuit and offensives against hardcore terrorists that perpetrate violence in the area.”

WESTMINCOM: Troops engaged by Sayyaf in Basilan

Posted to the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) Website (Apr 10 2019): Troops engaged by Sayyaf in Basilan



While traversing the road in Sitio Talisay, Upper Benembengan, Sumisip, Basilan around 8:45am today (April 10), AFP troops composed of one Army and two CAFGUs onboard two (2) motorcycles from Talisay Detachment were engaged by undetermined number of Abu Sayyaf Group members.

The incident resulted to the deaths of the 3 government troops while casualty on the enemy side is yet to be determined.

Troops of JTF Basilan are on hot pursuit of the fleeing bandits.

“The recent attack is a clear manifestation that the Abu Sayyaf Group is incapable of engaging combat troops who are conducting intensified operations in the area. Rather, they are resorting to diversionary tactics to disrupt the peaceful situation in the province,” said Lieutenant General Arnel Dela Vega, commander of the Western Mindanao Command.

“We would like to express our deepest sympathy to the bereaved family of our valiant troops. Rest assured that they will be provided with all sorts of assistance,” he added.

Updates to follow.

NegOr names Redspersona non grata

From the Visayan Daily Star (Apr 10, 2019): NegOr names Redspersona non grata

The province of Negros Oriental has declared the Communist Party of the Philippines-People’s Army “persona non grata”, citing numerous terroristic acts it has committed against the people.

In a resolution it approved, the Provincial Peace and Order Council of Negros Oriental chaired by Governor Roel Degamo, condemned the terroristic acts of the CPP-NPA, including the assassination of suspected military informants, barangay officials, CAFGU members, military and police personnel, as well as the destruction of millions worth of properties.

In the approved PPOC resolution, Degamo said that the socio-economic of Negros Oriental had been affected by the series of atrocities perpetrated by the CPP-NPA that propagate fear to the general public and even potential investors, which made a terrible economic implication, not only in the province, but the whole country as well.

The Army’s 302nd Infantry Brigade headed by Brig. Gen. Ignacio Madriaga hailed the declaration of Negros Oriental PPOC, stressing that the atrocities committed by the CPP-NPA hindered the progress of the province, especially the attempts of local government units to uplift the lives of the people in the countryside.

“We very much welcome this open show of support by the province of Negros Oriental to the intent of President Rodrigo Duterte to end the communist insurgency, and such only verbalizes the collective disgust of the people of Negros Oriental against the CPP-NPA terrorist group that has done nothing, but oppress and terrorize the people,” Madriaga, who supervises the security operations against communist rebels in the province, said.

He added that the declaration of the CPP-NPA as persona non grata will definitely weaken the communist movement in Negros Oriental and will serve as a reminder to those who support them that they are clinging to a “dead cause”.

The Negros Oriental PPOC resolution, the passage of which was moved by George Villamor, president of the Federation of Senior Citizens Association, and seconded by Board Member Jessica Jane Villanueva, committee chairperson on Peace and Order of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, also states that the atrocities perpetrated by the CPP-NPA are manifestation of betrayal of achieving peace, thus, disrupting the peace and order situation of the province,” the PPOC resolution states.

Three top leaders of the CPP-NPA in Negros Island, including Frank Fernandez, Cleofe Lagtapon and Abraham Villanueva, were recently arrested in Laguna and Negros Occidental, respectively.

Maj. Gen. Dinoh Dolina, 3rd Infantry Division commander, also said that the PPOC took the right and appropriate action against the communist terrorist group responsible for the series of atrocities in Negros Oriental, victimizing not only security forces, but also government and private properties, and, most of all, defenseless civilians.

Dolina added that Negrenses are already fed up with these anti-people, anti-peace and anti-development communist terrorists, stressing that they have no place in a peace-loving community.

He also urged other provinces in the Visayas to pass a similar resolution, not only to prevent the CPP-NPA from entering peaceful communities, but also to stop them from coming more terror.

Negros Oriental is now in the limelight, after the deadly police operations in Canlaon City, Manjuyod and Santa Catalina town, that claimed the lives of 14 persons, aside from the series of killings perpetrated and claimed by the NPA, especially in Guihulngan City, and its neighboring town of Moises Padilla in the Occidental side.

The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.*

http://www.visayandailystar.com/2019/April/10/topstory8.htm

7 soldiers injured as IED explodes

From the Visayan Daily Star (Apr 10, 2019): 7 soldiers injured as IED explodes

Seven Army soldiers were injured when an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded at about 10:30 a.m. yesterday in Sitio Asaran, Brgy. Buenavista, Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental.

The injured Army soldiers, whose identities are being withheld, pending notification of their respective families, are now being treated for their injuries at a private hospital in Kabankalan City.

P/Lt. Col. Ervin Glen Provido, Himamaylan City police chief, said last night that the soldiers of the 62nd Infantry Battalion were on combat patrol, when they spotted about 20 suspected New People’s Army rebels.

Provido said that when the Army soldiers assaulted the temporary NPA camp, seven of them were injured, when the suspected NPA rebels detonated an improvised explosive device (IED).

Provido added that after the hour-long gunbattle, the communist rebels withdrew towards the northeast direction in the Negros Oriental side.

Brig. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, reported last night that the seven Army soldiers sustained superficial injuries, from the explosion.

Arevalo said that at least two NPA rebels died, and were seen being dragged away by their withdrawing companions, on orders of their leader.

He added that more troops, assisted by the Philippine Air Force, were dispatched to the area to conduct pursuit operations against the fleeing rebels.

The injured Army soldiers were conferred yesterday with Wounded Personnel Medals by Arevalo at the hospital, where they are being treated.

Following the encounter the Himamaylan police and troopers of the 2nd Provincial Mobile Force Company, as well as the 62IB soldiers immediately established checkpoints in Lower Mambato, Brgy. To-oy and in Sitio Pamandayan, Brgy, Buenavista, Sitios Velez and Suba in Brgy. Mahalang, all in Himamaylan City.

Arevalo recalled that communist rebels also used IEDs during an encounter with 62IB soldiers in Brgy. Quintin Remo, Moises Padilla last week, that was an offshoot of the killing of Councilor Jolomar Hilario in Brgy. Inolingan of the town.

Three anti-personnel mines, including detonating accessories, as well as blasting caps, were also among the war materialsleft behind by the fleeing rebels that were recovered.

Arevalo said the use of anti-personnel mines is a clear violation of the “Ottawa Treaty”, or the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention that was adopted in 1997.*

http://www.visayandailystar.com/2019/April/10/topstory3.htm

Photo: Philippine military conducts pursuit operations vs. communist rebels

From the Visayan Daily Star (Apr 10, 2019): Photo: Philippine military conducts pursuit operations vs. communist rebels

MERGE

More troops and two Air Force gunships being dispatched to Himamaylan City to track down the fleeing rebels encountered by Army soldiers yesterday.

PH, U.S. troops claim victory in Tarlac 'assault mission'

From Rappler (Apr 10, 2019): PH, U.S. troops claim victory in Tarlac 'assault mission'


The Philippine and US armed forces bring out their equipment for an explosion-filled exercise in Crow Valley, Tarlac

ASSAULT. PH and US simulate an attack during their live-fire exercise at the Colonel Ernesto Ravina Air Base in Tarlac. Photo by Rambo Talabong/Rappler

ASSAULT. PH and US simulate an attack during their live-fire exercise at the Colonel Ernesto Ravina Air Base in Tarlac. Photo by Rambo Talabong/Rappler

The Philippine and the United States armed forces on Wednesday, April 10, united for an assault mission in Tarlac.

Across the historic Colonel Ernesto Ravina Air Base (formerly called Crow Valley), some 200 Filipino and 300 American soldiers dispersed on foot and tanks, and aboard helicopters and fighter jets.

Soldiers laid waste to the valley as the mission called for a joint attack of the air force and army.

It was all just scripted.

The live-fire exercise is the biggest in the Balikatan exercises, the annual exercise which aims to oil the interoperability of the old allies' militaries. (READ: PH, U.S. armed forces open Balikatan 2019)

The exercise stretched from 9 am to 12 pm, beginning with a voice-over reminding all present that the Philippines and the United States have in place their 6-decade-old Mutual Defense Treaty.

What did they do?

The drill began with an attack on the grounds of the imaginary enemy, executed by field artillery units from both the US and Philippine forces.

Bombardment from planes followed the barrage from ground units.

All movements in the valley were prompted by the practiced voice-over conversation of an American and a Filipino commander.



COMBINED EXERCISES. The Army and Air Force of the Philippines and the United States join forces for the live-fire exercise in 2019. Photo by Rambo Talabong/Rappler

From there, troops were ordered to move forward. The first ones to go to the frontlines were US soldiers, who were tasked to assault two cars. Filipino soldiers followed.

After the enemies were weakened came another round of attacks. Again, the ground artillery units left the field in smoke, after which airplanes bombed the same area and swooped down to conduct surveillance.

Then victory was declared.

Why does this matter?

The combined drill comes at a time of rising terrorism threats in the country and the region. The Philippines, in fact, is still reeling from the urban battle of Marawi.

"Na-experience na natin when we had our Marawi, nakita natin 'yung significance nung kinakailangang i-adjust natin 'yung ating operational tempo (We already experienced this when we had our Marawi, we saw the significance of the need to adjust our operational tempo)," said Lieutenant Colonel Louie Villanueva of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The grand exercise was also held amid talks of revising the two countries' Mutual Defense Treaty, which is currently being examined by the Philippine Department of National Defense.

https://www.rappler.com/nation/227844-philippines-us-troops-claim-victory-live-fire-exercise-tarlac

Vietnam 'quietly upgrades' facilities in West Philippine Sea

From Rappler (Apr 10, 2019): Vietnam 'quietly upgrades' facilities in West Philippine Sea

(UPDATED) Vietnam is not 'facing the same reaction from China's maritime militia forces as the Philippines recently has,' says the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative

VIETNAM UPGRADES. Vietnam is quietly upgrading its facilities in the Spratly Islands, says the Washington-based Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Photo courtesy of AMTI/CSIS/DigitalGlobe

VIETNAM UPGRADES. Vietnam is quietly upgrading its facilities in the Spratly Islands, says the Washington-based Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Photo courtesy of AMTI/CSIS/DigitalGlobe


(UPDATED) – Vietnam has quietly upgraded its facilities in the Spratly Islands in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) since mid-2017, the Washington-based Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) said on Wednesday, April 10.

"Vietnam continues to quietly upgrade its facilities in the Spratly Islands, though apparently without facing the same reaction from China's maritime militia forces as the Philippines recently has," the AMTI said in an updatedated Monday, April 8, and emailed to subscribers on Wednesday, April 10.

AMTI, which is part of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, noted that Vietnam "occupies 49 outposts spread across 27 features in the vicinity of the Spratly Islands."

The think tank said Vietnam "undertook an expansion" in the Spratlys "to extend its small runway and create a protected harbor." Vietnam "created about 40 acres of new land" through "the use of construction equipment to dredge up part of the reef surrounding the island and cover it in sand."

"This process was more time-consuming and less environmentally disastrous than the methods used for China's industrial-scale dredging and landfill at its facilities in the Spratlys, but still involved the intentional destruction of coral reef," AMTI said.

Vietnam's upgrades included the finishing touches on an airstrip, construction of communications facilities, and drainage channels.

"It seems that regardless of external factors, whether amid negotiations and relative calm or tensions and threats of violence, Hanoi is committed to a steady but modest expansion of its capabilities in and around the Spratly Islands," AMTI said.

"Vietnam has not attempted to engage in the same large-scale militarization of its features as China; there is no sign of facilities built to house attack aircraft, for instance. Instead, Hanoi's upgrades seem geared toward expanding its ability to monitor and patrol contested waters and, especially in the case of its pillbox and DK1 platforms, improve living conditions and ensure it can resupply by air if necessary," it added.

In a message to Rappler on Wednesday evening, AMTI director Gregory Poling said: "It wouldn't be surprising if Manila filed a protest against some Vietnamese activities, for instance at Spratly Island. Vietnam does the same when the Philippines does certain things in the Spratlys. That is about establishing a record of non-compliance with the other's claims."

"But again, it's a whole different issue than the changes to the status quo orchestrated by Beijing, which present a clear threat to Filipino access to disputed waters," Poling said.

He added, "It should also be noted that many of Vietnam's upgrades are in underwater areas to the southwest that are not part of Kalayaan Islands claimed by Manila. Only Beijing and Taipei pretend those underwater features are part of the Spratlys."

AMTI earlier noted "initial Philippine efforts to start runway repairs" on Pag-asa Island in May 2018. In response, the think tank said China deployed its maritime militia to the vicinity of Pag-asa Island.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said last Thursday, April 4, that he will not allow China to occupy Pag-asa Island, while the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said the presence of Chinese militia there is "illegal." Critics however said Duterte's friendliness toward China has led to an increase in China's incursions in the West Philippine Sea.

https://www.rappler.com/nation/227850-vietnam-quietly-upgrades-facilities-west-philippine-sea

Construction of defense-related manufacturing plants at GA begins

From the Philippine Information Agency (Apr 10, 2019): Construction of defense-related manufacturing plants at GA begins


Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana leads the Groundbreaking Ceremony of the Force Protection Equipment and 5.56MM magazine manufacturing plants inside the Government Arsenal in Camp Antonio Luna, Limay, Bataan. (Department of National Defense)

LIMAY, Bataan -- Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana led the Groundbreaking Ceremony of the Force Protection Equipment (FPE) and 5.56MM magazine manufacturing plants inside the Government Arsenal (GA) in Camp Antonio Luna.

Joining him in the occasion were Republic of Korea Ambassador Han Dongman, Samyang Comtech Co., Ltd. Inc. Representative Kim Jong-il, BuHueng Precision Co., Ltd. President Min Hung-ki, and Republic of Korea Defense Acquisition Program Administration Director General Kim Kitaek.

“We submitted a bill to convert this area (GA) into a defense industrial complex so that we can have right to investors, we can enjoy tax holidays or incentives and then later on we can export also from this place anything that we manufacture here,” Lorenzana said.

GA signed an implementing agreement with Samyang Comtech Co. Ltd and BuHeung Precision for the co-production of the FPE and 5.56MM magazines, respectively. 

“The project will also be good for the province of Bataan because the project will also generate investment and employment for the people here,” Lorenzana added.

Samyang Comtech Co. Ltd will establish FPE manufacturing and testing facilities, which shall have an annual capacity of 20,000 sets of armored vest and ballistics helmet in the former Elisco Tool building within the GA complex.

Meanwhile, BuHeung Precision Co. Ltd will establish a 5.56mm 30-round magazine manufacturing plant that will supply the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) with magazines.

Both companies will eventually transfer to the agency the technology needed in the production and testing of FPE, primarily armor vests and ballistic helmets, and magazines.

These technologies are needed by GA to boost its self-reliance defense capability to support the requirements of the AFP and other law enforcement agencies.

https://pia.gov.ph/news/articles/1020714

Rescued Malaysian fisherman dies in Zambo hospital

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 10, 2019): Rescued Malaysian fisherman dies in Zambo hospital


Jari Abdullah, 34, a Malaysian fisherman died on Tuesday while under medical treatment in Zamboanga City. He was shot and wounded by Abu Sayyaf bandits when rescued on April 4 in Simisa Island, Banguingui, Sulu. (Photo courtesy of Westmincom PIO)

ZAMBOANGA CITY -- The rescued Malaysian fisherman held captive by Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits died while under medical treatment in a hospital in this southern port city, military officials announced.

Col. Gerry Besana, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) information officer, disclosed that Jari Abdullah, 34, expired at about 1:17 p.m. Tuesday.

Besana said Abdullah’s death, caused by gunshot wounds inflicted by his ASG captors during the rescue operation, was witnessed by his family and officials of the Malaysian embassy and International Monitoring Team (IMT).

He added that Abdullah’s family executed a waiver consenting to the removal of his life support.

Abdullah was rescued by troops of the Philippine Marine Ready Force - Sulu that engaged bandits under Najir Arik on Simisa Island, Banguingi, Sulu on April 4.

Brig. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo Jr., Joint Task Force Sulu commander, earlier said the troops retrieved Abdullah near the ASG's withdrawal route, 15 minutes after they engaged the bandits under Arik in a firefight.

Pabayo said Abdullah managed to escape, although wounded since “he was shot by his captors before he was secured by the troops.”

“We extend our heartfelt sympathy to the families of Abdullah. Our troops are exhausting all efforts to defeat the Abu Sayyaf bandits and bring justice to the victims of terror,” said Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, Westmincom chief.

Meanwhile, Westmincom officials, led by dela Vega, turned over rescued Indonesian fisherman, Heri Ardiansyah, to Indonesian DAFA Col. Sigit Himawan Sutanto.

Ardiansyah was rescued on April 5 in the waters off Simisa Island - along with another Indonesian fisherman, Hariadin, who goes only by one name. Unfortunately, Hariadin drowned.

Pabayo said Ardiansyah and Hariadin tried to swim across the channel towards Banglao Island as the Marine forces and Abu Sayyaf bandits under Arik fought.

The remains of Hariadin was brought to Manila on Monday.

Ardiansyah, Hariadin, and Abdullah were seized from their boat while they were fishing in Pegasus Reef Kinabatangan, Malaysia on December 6, 2018.

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1066884

Troops seize rebel lair in south Negros

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 10, 2019): Troops seize rebel lair in south Negros



MEDAL FOR THE WOUNDED. Brig. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade, pins a medal on one of the seven soldiers wounded in a clash between the 62nd Infantry Battalion troopers and the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental on Tuesday (April 9, 2019). Troops encountered about 20 NPA fighters during a combat operation at Sitio Asaran in Barangay Buenavista. (Photo courtesy of 303rd Infantry Brigade, Philippine Army)

Seven soldiers were slightly wounded by Anti-Personnel (AP) mines during a clash with communist rebels which led to the dismantling of a New People’s Army (NPA) hideout in Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental on Tuesday.

A report of the Philippine Army’s 62nd Infantry Battalion (62IB) said the government troops encountered about 20 NPA fighters during a combat operation at around 10:30 a.m. at Sitio Asaran in Barangay Buenavista.


During the hour-long firefight, the rebels detonated AP mines which injured seven soldiers, who are now in stable condition.

The 62IB added that based on reports, the bodies of two rebel casualties were dragged away by their comrades.

Lt. Col. Egberto Dacoscos, commanding officer of 62IB, said in a statement the failure of the NPA’s tactical operation against the government troops shows the communist rebels are threatened and demoralized by the strengthened presence of the security forces.

Dacoscos added that the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) violated the Human Rights Law and the International Humanitarian Law when they used AP mines during the encounter.

It is a clear violation of the Ottawa Treaty, a convention on the prohibition of the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines, also called the “Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention” that took effect last March 1, 1999, he pointed out.

“We strongly adhere to the rule of law, especially in times of war and battle. We are saddened and dismayed by the desperate moves committed by this terrorist group. However, this is a failure on their part as they just showed their inhumane acts. They are truly anti-peace and anti-development”, Dacoscos said.

While being treated in a hospital on Tuesday, the seven soldiers were awarded the Wounded Personnel Medal by Brig. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade.

The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1066898

Mangudadatu hopes Lanao Sur incident won’t affect Mindanao peace

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 10, 2019): Mangudadatu hopes Lanao Sur incident won’t affect Mindanao peace



Maguindanao 2nd District Representative and senatorial candidate Dong Mangudadatu is hopeful that peace will still reign in Mindanao amid the Lanao Sur incident that claimed the lives of four members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the wounding of eight police personnel.

Mangudadatu also wished the incident would not affect the election campaign or the implementation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

“Sa aking pananaw meron tayong due process, may investigation, depende sa kalalabasan ng investigation ng PNP and AFP kung ano ang punot dulo ng nangyari sa Lanao (In my view, we have due process, there is an investigation, it depends on the outcome of the investigation by the PNP and AFP on what triggered the incident),” Mangudadatu said.

Mangudadatu begged off from further commenting on the incident, saying, “I am still assessing the issues and concerns, depending on the result of the investigation.”

Both the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are set to conduct an inquiry into the encounter in Barangay Ilian, Madamba, Lanao del Sur, where four members of the MILF were killed and eight policemen were injured in running gun battles on April 4.

Madamba is said to be part of the MILF zone, although the Lanao del Sur provincial police claimed there was no known MILF zone in the town.

Mangudadatu said all sectors should allow the normal administration of justice and avoid making speculations that would derail the investigation.

Meantime, Mangudadatu said the election campaign will continue as it is the only platform to let the people know about the political agenda of the candidates.

Mangudadatu, who is running under the banner of the President’s party – Partido Demokratikong Pilipino – Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) and strongly endorsed by Mayor Sara Duterte-led Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP), is pushing a P.E.A.C.E agenda. P.E.A.C.E stands for Prosperity, Education, Agriculture, Cultural Unity, and Energy.

President Rodrigo Duterte has endorsed the candidacy of Mangudadatu, describing him as “one of the good leaders of the Moro people, who will promote peace in Mindanao.”

“Tulungan ninyo ako, maski ito lang. Kasi hirap ako sa Mindanao na mag-ayos ng mga tribu-tribu. So, hingin ko ay isa lang. Masabi ko lang na may isang senador na aalagaan mo, kasi he will promote peace in Mindanao,” Duterte said during one of the sorties of PDP-Laban.

Mayor Sara Duterte, the founding chairperson of the HNP, also has full trust in Mangudadatu as the key to Mindanao’s peace and progress.

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1066950

C. Visayas schools adopt ROTC as major service training program

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 10, 2019): C. Visayas schools adopt ROTC as major service training program

An Army Reserve Command (Arescom) field unit official in Central Visayas on Wednesday said colleges and universities in the region are now beginning to adopt Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) as major service training program for their students.

Col. Jerry Borja, 7th Regional Community Defense Group (7RCDG) group commander, said his office has discovered after the annual tactical inspections in 36 colleges and universities in Region 7 that teachers and administrators themselves have seen the value of ROTC programs in their schools.

“We have a very impressive result of RAATI (regional annual administrative and tactical inspection). Our board of inspectors found out that the schools have been becoming very cooperative,” Borja told the Philippine News Agency in an interview.

RAATI is a yearly activity of the 7RCDG to “assess the ROTC unit’s proficiency in administrative and military tactics.”

7RCDG is a field unit of the Arescom that supervises four reservist mobilization units -- the Community Defense Centers (CDC), in Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor -- and all private and public colleges and universities that have ROTC program for their students.

Borja said that even school owners have been very active in the ROTC program.

He lauded Bohol Vice Governor Dionisio Balite for his “unrelenting support to the ROTC program of the government.”

Balite owns Bohol Institute of Technology (BIT) with four campuses in Bohol, including its main campus in Tagbilaran City, and one in Siquijor province.

All BIT campuses have ROTC units, he said.

“Before RAATI, we have a corps commander’s briefing. After attending in one briefing, Balite would hurriedly proceed to another briefing in another campus. He made sure he attended them all,” he said.

In other colleges and universities, the presidents themselves offered their support to the ROTC program.

College instructors, he said, have seen the “big difference of their students before when ROTC was not yet being offered and now that ROTC becomes a major program” of their National Service Training Program (NSTP).

Under Republic Act 9163 signed into law in 2001, NSTP aims to enhance “civic consciousness and defense preparedness in the youth, by developing their ethics of service and patriotism while undergoing training” in either one of the three components: ROTC, Civic Welfare Training Service, and Literacy Training Service.

“Na-realize nila ang importance sa basic discipline nga na-instill sa ilang estudyante nga nag-ROTC (They realized the importance of basic discipline now being instilled to their students who took up ROTC),” he said. “Teachers can see the difference.”

The instructors also saw ROTC cadets in their schools who have developed other values like being creative and hardworking, he said.

Borja said the instructors have observed that ROTC cadets are now imbued with “high sense of nationalism and patriotism.”

Because of this development, he said that 7RCDG and the four CDCs under his command need to step up their efforts to make ROTC a worthwhile program for college students.

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1066913

CPP-NPA loses over 500 members, supporters in north Negros: Army

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 10, 2019): CPP-NPA loses over 500 members, supporters in north Negros: Army


NO TO REBELS. Residents of San Carlos City, Negros Occidental denounce the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army during an indignation rally held in Bacolod City on Sunday (April 7, 2019). The marchers expressed their desire for a peaceful and rebel-free community. (Photo courtesy of 79th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army)

The Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) lost more than 500 members and supporters in northern Negros following a series of surrenders since February, the Philippine Army has said.

“In less than three months, the CPP-NPA in our area of operations incurred a total of 538 losses due to a series of mass surrenders of their regular members, militias and mass supporters,” said Lt. Col. Emelito Thaddeus Logan, commander of the 79th Infantry Battalion (79th IB), in a statement on Tuesday.

He said this development is a setback to the communist rebel movement, and a breakthrough to the government’s anti-insurgency campaign.

Last Sunday, 257 residents of San Carlos City denounced the rebel group by staging an indignation rally after attending a two-day live-in seminar, which discussed the ills of communism. The gathering, organized by the 79th IB and the city government, was held from April 6 to 7.

The participants, who came from the villages of Quezon, Guadalupe, Nataban, Codcod and Buluangan,
marched in the streets of the city proper carrying placards and tarpaulins denouncing the CPP-NPA and expressing their desire for a peaceful and NPA-free community.

In February this year, a total of 229 former supporters of the CPP-NPA from insurgency-affected barangays in the cities of Sagay, Escalante, Cadiz, Victorias and San Carlos and the municipalities of Manapla and E.B. Magalona took their oath of allegiance to the government.

On March 2, there were 25 members of the CPP-NPA who surrendered with firearms and on March 31, a total of 27 former rebel militias and mass supporters from Barangay Paitan, Escalante City also yielded to government authorities.

Logan said the mass surrenders were the result of their strategized localized peace initiatives in collaboration with the Philippine National Police, City of San Carlos, and other government agencies.

“Our collaboration successfully reached the families and immediate communities of the members of the CPP-NPA to make sure that the purpose of our initiatives will be understood by these individuals,” he said.

The CPP-NPA is considered a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1066939

SoCot security 'stable' as local campaign heats up

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 10, 2019): SoCot security 'stable' as local campaign heats up

The security situation in South Cotabato remains stable even as eight of the province's 10 municipalities and lone city were included in the watchlist areas for the May 13 midterm elections.

Dorothy Losa, election officer of the Commission on Elections (Comelec)-South Cotabato, said in a briefing on Tuesday that they have not yet recorded any election-related incident in the area since the start of the local campaign period last March 29.

Losa said they have been regularly coordinating with Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for the security preparations and other election-related concerns.

"We're getting weekly reports from the PNP and AFP and we are clear so far in terms of incidents related to the campaign and the coming elections," she said.

Losa said eight of the 12 areas in the province are listed under the yellow and orange categories or election areas of concern and election areas of immediate concern for the coming polls. These are Koronadal City and the municipalities of T'boli, Lake Sebu, Surallah, Tupi, Tampakan and Polomolok.

The municipalities of Norala, Sto. Nino and Tampakan were listed under the green category or areas "with no security concern" and considered peaceful and orderly.

Although the Comelec already declared the entire Mindanao under areas of grave concern, Losa said only Banga town was included under that category due to the presence of New People's Army rebels in the previous elections.

Under Comelec Resolution 10481, localities listed under yellow or areas of concern have reported intense political rivalry and history of election-related incidents in the last two elections while those under orange or areas of immediate concern are facing threats from organized armed groups and other lawless elements.

Red areas or those under grave concern exhibit the combined factors under the yellow and orange categories that might warrant their declaration under Comelec control.

"We don't have serious problems or threats right now in terms of security and we're hoping that it will be sustained until the end of the election period," Losa added.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1066907