Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Editorial: BARMM inherits Abu Sayyaf problem

From the Manila Bulletin (Jul 4, 2019): Editorial: BARMM inherits Abu Sayyaf problem

e-cartoon-jul-4-2019

For decades, the Philippine government had to deal with the problem of Moro insurgency in Mindanao. An Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) was established during the Cory Aquino administration in 1989, with Nur Misuari of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leading the autonomous government.

Moro insurgency, however, continued even after the ARMM was set up, this time led by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The national government, under the Benigno Aquino III administration, negotiated with the MILF and decided to set up a new Bangsamoro region to replace the ARMM, which President Aquino called a “failed experiment.” Upon his election in 2016, President Duterte pushed for the Bangsamoro law in Congress. With the law’s approval, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) was set up last March 29, 2019.

The BARMM has now inherited the problem of many Moro insurgent groups that continue to operate in Mindanao. Last Sunday, Interim Chief Minister Murad Ebrahim, who used to lead 12,000 MILF fighting men against the government, appealed to the Abu Sayyaf to lay down its arms and join the BARMM in developing the Muslim homeland.

The Abu Sayyaf is one of the many insurgent groups that have continued to operate in Mindanao, even after the BARMM was set up. Its leader Isnilon Hapilon was killed by the military in 2017 at the end of the fighting in Marawi City. But new leaders have taken over and the Abu Sayyaf is believed responsible for bomb attacks in Indanan, Sulu, last Friday, in which eight were killed and 22 wounded.

For many years, the Abu Sayyaf was known for its kidnapping-for-ransom operations, including the hostaging of two Canadians, a Norwegian, and a Filipina on Samal Island near Davao City in 2015. The two Canadians were later beheaded for failure of their families and government to pay ransom, but the Norwegian and Filipina were released in September, 2016, reportedly after payment of ransom.

Upon his election in 2016, President Duterte made the Bangsamoro one of his principal advocacies — to correct, he said, a “historic injustice” to the Moro people. Congress finally approved the Bangsamoro law and today, its leaders are moving forward with the development of the region.

But the MILF has also inherited the old problem posed by armed groups like the Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. Ebrahim said many young fighters are joining the armed groups out of financial necessity. But he said he believes most of the splinter groups are just frustrated with the government and so, he said, “We are open for dialogue.”

The MILF and the Bangsamoro officials have inherited the old problem of splinter groups operating in defiance of the government. The Bangsamoro is now the government in the region and we trust that it will be able to succeed where the national government had failed, so that together with the other leaders of the other regions of the island, they will finally bring about the “land of promise” that is Mindanao.

https://news.mb.com.ph/2019/07/04/barmm-inherits-abu-sayyaf-problem/

DBM to release P59M for BTA members’ salaries

From GMA News Online (Jul 2, 2019): DBM to release P59M for BTA members’ salaries

The Department of Budget and Management is set to release P59 million to cover the salaries of 82 Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) members for the second half of the year, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Tuesday.

Last month, BTA member Laisa Masuhud Alamia said the transition panel and their staff have yet to receive their salaries since the BARMM was established five months ago.

Panelo said the delay in the release of BTA funds, due to the reenacted budget, has been discussed during the Cabinet meeting Monday night.

The BTA remained largely unfunded and had been making do with the leftover budget of the abolished ARMM’s Regional Legislative Assembly, said Alamia.

But she said the money would not be enough to cover the salaries of the BTA members and their staff, and the workshops and other meetings for parliament work.

During the Cabinet meeting, Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unification (PAPRU) Carlito Galvez Jr. informed the Cabinet on the activities of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) normalization and other BTA activities.

He updated the Cabinet on the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), such as the appointment of leadership and heads of ministries.

Galvez also updated them on the design of a memorandum of agreement with the Commission on Higher Education to improve access to education in BARMM, and the Brigada Eskwela with Department of Education.

The ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law in February paved the way for the creation of the BARMM and abolished the old Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The BARMM includes Cotabato City, 63 barangays in the municipalities of Aleosan, Carmen, Kabacan, Midsayap, Pigkawayan and Pikit in North Cotabato. It has expanded land and water jurisdiction, fiscal autonomy, and increased the share in national government resources.

https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/nation/699587/dbm-to-release-p59m-for-bta-members-salaries/story/

2 suspected Abu Sayyaf members tagged in Basilan kidnap case fall

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 2, 2019): 2 suspected Abu Sayyaf members tagged in Basilan kidnap case fall



NBI agents announce the arrest of two suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf Group who were captured in separated places in Manila and Taguig. The two, Ibno Ismael and Totoni Hairon, were arrested for eight counts of kidnapping and serious illegal detention cases. INQUIRER photo / Marianne Bermudez

MANILA, Philippines — Two suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) were arrested in separate operations in Taguig and Manila, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said on Tuesday.

The NBI
identified the suspects as Ibno Ismael alias “Abu Kodano” and Totoni Hairon.


NBI Assistant Director for Intelligence Service Eric Distor said the arrest of the suspects was enforced based on the arrest warrants issued by Basilan Regional Trial Court. The two are facing eight counts of kidnapping and serious illegal detention cases in relation to the 2001 Golden Harvest Kidnapping Case in Basilan.

The NBI said Ismael was working as a construction worker in Taguig while Hairon was working as a security guard in Port Area in Manila.

Operatives of the NBI-Counter Terrorism Division (NBI-CTD) and counterparts from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) launched an entrapment operation against Ismael in Maharlika, Taguig City on June 26.

Agents of NBI-CTD, NBI-Technical Intelligence Division and AFP members conducted follow-up operation and apprehended Hairon at South Harbor, Port Area in Manila.

The ASG members are detained at the NBI Detention Facility as they will transfer to Zamboanga City Jail.

https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1136735/2-suspected-abu-sayyaf-members-tagged-in-basilan-kidnap-case-fall

Karapatan decries more incidents of red-tagging against their members

From the Manila Bulletin (Jul 2, 2019): Karapatan decries more incidents of red-tagging against their members

Human rights group Karapatan said more incidents of red-tagging against their members and allies were reported “in light of the Court of Appeals 14th Division’s dismissal of Karapatan’s amparo and habeas data petition’’.

Karapatan Central Visayas chairperson Phoebe Zoe Sanchez, also a professor at the University of the Philippines (UP) had received a death threat and women human rights lawyers in Mindanao were harassed in their home.


“People’s lives are on the line and the Duterte regime’s vindictive and fascist policies continue to fuel and fund the attacks directed at human rights defenders and progressive groups,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said.

In Cagayan de Oro City, Karapatan noted that human rights activist and lawyer Beverly Musni, whose daughters are also lawyers, reported that a malicious streamer tagging her and several other persons as members and recruiters of the New People’s Army (NPA) regional unit committee was placed outside her house in a subdivision.

Known as legal representatives of political prisoners in court, Karapatan said the Musni family has experienced incidents of red-tagging before, but according to Beverly Musni, attacks and malicious materials placed on their property has never happened before.

“As per initial reports, Beverly’s house helper noticed a man pointing a flashlight towards their home on the evening of June 26, 2019. A day after, on the 27th, they noticed the malicious streamer placed within the premises of their house,’’ Karapatan said.

Karapatan claimed Sanchez had received in Cebu two death threats that were sent by an unknown individual.

In the messages, Sanchez was blatantly threatened with death – “Mrs. Phoebe Sanchez inihap na lang adlaw nimo dinhi sa kalibutan condolence sa imong pamilya (Mrs. Phoebe Sanchez your days in this world was already numbered, condolence to your family)” and “Phoebe Sanchez rest in peace.”

“Karapatan strongly condemns these orchestrated attacks on human rights activists. These are indicative of a worsening scenario where no one is spared. These incidents endanger the lives, liberty and security of human rights advocates and although perpetrators cowardly hide behind anonymity, their intentions of silencing dissent remains clear,” Palabay said.

Palabay said if lawyers and leaders can easily be subjected to harassment and intimidation, then the government can effortlessly harm other human rights advocates working in areas outside Metro Manila.

She said that “it can be remembered that since the start of June 2019, a number of activists and human rights defenders were killed by either suspected soldiers or police in various regions such as Bicol and Negros’’.

“We reiterate that these are not isolated incidents, but are part of an elaborate and sinister plan and attempt to discredit, demoralize, and silence human rights advocates. We have seen the pattern of how red-tagging lays the pretext for more attacks, even resulting to cases of extrajudicial killings. In the same vein, we will continue to exhaust all mechanisms to provide protection for human rights defenders while tirelessly standing against this government’s iron hand. There is an infrastructure of impunity in this country that ensures the perpetrators remain scot-free, but there is also a movement intent on exacting justice and accountability for all the crimes committed by this murderous government,” Palabay concluded.

Tighter security at Malaysia-Philippines border

From the Gulf News (Jul 2, 2019): Tighter security at Malaysia-Philippines border

New customs immigration and quarantine post to be established in Tawi-Tawi

Manila: Border safeguards are being worked out between Eastern Malaysia’s Sabah and Southern Philippines to ensure the safety of merchants and goods ahead of the planned resumption of barter trading in the area.

In reports published in Malaysia, Faizal Salam Jamalul, mayor of southern Philippines’ side of Turtle Island in Tawi-Tawi, said that among the preparations being undertaken for the resumption of barter trade is the establishment of a new Customs Immigration and Quarantine post in the Philippine portion of the gateway territory.

The Turtle Islands is a group of islets located close to the border between the two countries. Some of the islands are administered by Malaysia and the others by the Philippines.

Jamalul said a key concern in the resumption of the barter trade between Mindanao and Malaysia’s Sabah is the security and safety of the personnel and merchandise that will pass through this gateway.

Sabah and Tawi-Tawi, as well as Sulu in Southern Philippines, are known haunts of sea pirates as well as the Abu Sayyaf, a group that professes to fight for establishment of a radical Islamic territory in Western Mindanao.

Jamalul said the Armed Forces of the Philippines committed to ensure the security of goods and people passing through the gateway.

“This post will be manned by security personnel, including the army and the navy. They will ensure the security of traders coming in and out of our borders, even escorting these ‘kumpit’ [wooden ships] belonging to traders,” he was quoted as saying by news portal Free Malaysia Today.

“I will make sure the army and other security units do a 24/7 surveillance of our waters, especially the route between Turtle Island and nearby islands,” he said.

Tawi-Tawi and Sulu had played an important part in trading since ancient times when both the Philippines and Malaysia were yet to become a formal part of the states where they belong to now.

During that time, territorial boundaries were not as explicit as they are today and commerce between these areas were vibrant with Zamboanga City, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi as recognised barter trading areas. Things changed when the Moro war for independence broke out in the early 1970s leading to the eventual abolition of barter trading by the government in Manila.

Realising the importance of barter trade between and Malaysia, President Rodrigo Duterte in October 2018 signed Executive Order No. 64 formalising its return to Mindanao.

Aside from the Philippines and Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam and Indonesia — which are part of the so-called East Asian Growth Area — “are linked by a long history of history and economic trade relations, with barter as a major form of commercial exchange,” Executive Order No. 64 states.

https://gulfnews.com/world/asia/philippines/tighter-security-at-malaysia-philippines-border-1.64981574

Pentagon: China Missile Test in South China Sea 'Disturbing'

Posted to the Voice of America (Jul 2, 2019): Pentagon: China Missile Test in South China Sea 'Disturbing'

An aerial view shows Pag-asa Island, part of the disputed Spratly group of islands, in the South China Sea located off the coast of western Philippines on July 20, 2011.
Pag-asa Island




The Pentagon said on Tuesday a recent Chinese missile launch in the disputed South China Sea was "disturbing" and contrary to Chinese pledges that it would not militarize the disputed waterway.

The South China Sea is one of a growing number of flashpoints in the U.S.-China relationship, which include a trade war, U.S. sanctions and Taiwan.

China and the United States have repeatedly traded barbs in the past over what Washington says is Beijing's militarization of the South China Sea by building military installations on artificial islands and reefs.

A U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said China tested multiple anti-ship ballistic missiles over the weekend.

"Of course the Pentagon was aware of the Chinese missile launch from the man-made structures in the South China Sea near the Spratly Islands," Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Dave Eastburn said.

"I'm not going to speak on behalf of all the sovereign nations in the region, but I'm sure they agree that the PRC's behavior is contrary to its claim to want to bring peace to the region and obviously actions like this are coercive acts meant to intimidate other (South China Sea) claimants," Eastburn added. PRC is an acronym for the People's Republic of China.

China has not confirmed the missile tests and on Tuesday the foreign ministry declined to comment, referring questions to the defense ministry, which did not respond to a request for
comment.

The Chinese government has said that the military was carrying out drills between the Spratly and Paracel Islands starting last weekend and ending on Wednesday, warning other shipping not to enter a designated area.

China's claims in the South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes each year, are contested by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

News of the China missile test was first reported by NBC News.

https://www.voanews.com/east-asia-pacific/pentagon-china-missile-test-south-china-sea-disturbing

COA: Army yet to give out P47.6-M aid to soldiers hurt in Marawi

From GMA News Online (Jul 3, 2019): COA: Army yet to give out P47.6-M aid to soldiers hurt in Marawi

The Philippine Army has failed to distribute P47.6 million worth of financial assistance to Army personnel who were wounded in action during the Marawi siege from May to October 2017, the Commission on Audit (COA) said Friday.

Based on an annual audit report on Philippine Army, a total of P47.6 million out of the P235 million assistance for the wounded army personnel from general headquarters of the Armed Forces and the Philippines and various private donors remained unused as of December 2018.

“Verification of the cash donations so far showed that the Army had not crafted specific guidelines for the receipt and utilization and liquidation of donations, especially for those intended for the wounded Army personnel," COA said in its report.

"This is a contributing factor in the slow utilization of the donations and works against its intended purpose,” it added.

Cash donations
COA said the Army donations for financial assistance to legal beneficiaries of killed-in-action Army personnel amounted to P147 million.

Of the P147 million, P128.5 million have been utilized.

A P40.122 million was also spent for the travel of female Army personnel to Hong Kong on Observation Tour on Safety and Security.

Audit of the disbursement vouchers and documents supporting this utilization, however, showed that the Army exceeded the financial assistance granted to 118 certified killed in action beneficiaries by P9.98 million.

“We recommended that Management formulate specific guidelines for the receipt, utilization and liquidation of the donated Marawi Fund intended for wounded Army personnel and, in accordance with such guidelines, utilize it fully for the timely benefit of such personnel,” COA said.

COA also tasked the Army to justify the overpayment to families of killed in action beneficiaries.

Sought for comment, Army spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala said the Army is still drafting a response on the matter.

It has been over two years since terrorists from the Maute group held Marawi City under siege for five months, taking hostages, destroying communities, killing non-Muslims and battling government troops with relentless sniper fire.

The Marawi siege left over a hundred people and at least P53 billion worth of damages.

https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/nation/699821/coa-army-yet-to-give-out-p47-6-m-aid-to-soldiers-hurt-in-marawi/story/

‘Lumad’ group slams visit of US warship

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 3, 2019): ‘Lumad’ group slams visit of US warship

DAVAO CITY, Davao del Sur, Philippines — A militant “lumad” group in Mindanao on Monday slammed the port call and goodwill visit of one of the United States’ most technologically advanced combat ships in the hometown of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Kerlan Fanagel, secretary general of Pasaka,
said the docking of the littoral combat ship, USS Montgomery, at Sasa Wharf here on Saturday was a violation of the country’s sovereignty, and an action that could pose a threat to Filipinos in case conflict would erupt between the United States and China.


The visit came amid the rising tension at the West Philippine Sea, following the ramming of a Filipino fishing vessel by a Chinese ship.

The incident prompted some opposition leaders to clamor for the Philippines to invoke its mutual defense treaty with Washington against Beijing.

The USS Montgomery commanding officer, Cmdr. Edward Rosso, said the visit had nothing to do with China. “We are here to strengthen US-Philippine alliance,” he said.

https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1137065/lumad-group-slams-visit-of-us-warship

Armed attack on PH will trigger US obligations under defense treaty

From ABS-CBN (Jul 3, 2019): Armed attack on PH will trigger US obligations under defense treaty


Philippine and US marines simulate an amphibious landing as part of annual joint military exercises in San Antonio, Zambales on May 9, 2018. Ted Aljibe, AFP/File

MANILA - A foreign armed attack on Philippine security forces will trigger the United States' obligations under the Mutual Defense Treaty, US Ambassador to Manila Sung Kim said on Wednesday.

"If there is an armed attack on Philippine forces, Philippine aircraft [in the West Philippine Sea], it will trigger US obligations under the Mutual Defense Treaty,"
the envoy told reporters on the sidelines of the US Independence Day celebration in Makati City.

He was referring to the 1951 pact between the US and the Philippines which binds the two countries to aid each other in the event of foreign aggression.

On June 9, a Chinese vessel hit and sank a Filipino fishing boat in the Recto (Reed) Bank in the West Philippine Sea, leaving 22 fishermen adrift. It was the latest incident of China's aggressive assertion of its sovereignty in the waters, the Philippines' exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.

China has denied the incident was intentional and that the Chinese vessel abandoned the Filipinos. The Philippine fishermen were rescued by a Vietnamese vessel.
'No hit-and-run': Beijing denies boat abandoned Pinoy fishermen near Reed Bank

Kim said the Philippines and China should settle their disputes on the sovereignty issue in a peaceful manner.

Since the US is not a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, or the Law of the Sea treaty, the superpower will not intervene in the international dispute.

However, Kim said US forces "have to make sure that freedom of navigation and freedom of overflight are protected."

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo earlier this year gave assurances that the US would respond to “any armed attack on Philippine forces, aircraft or public vessels in the South China Sea."
US warns PH of China threat in South China Sea
https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/07/03/19/armed-attack-on-ph-will-trigger-us-obligations-under-defense-treaty

Digos marks 30th anniversary of a dark day: Rano massacre

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 3, 2019): Digos marks 30th anniversary of a dark day: Rano massacre 

DIGOS CITY, Davao del Sur (PIA) – It has been 30 years since heavily armed members of the New People's Army (NPA) broke into a chapel at Barangay Binaton in this city and launched a bloody attack that left 39 people dead.

To mark the anniversary of the 1989 Rano Massacre, the victims were remembered and given tribute in symbolic rites on Tuesday, June 25.

High ranking officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, local government of Digos and members of the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict gathered to commemorate with the survivors and relatives.

A memorial marker made by stone tablet etched the names of the 39 victims, mostly children and women. The victims were attending a Sunday morning fellowship on June 25, 1989 when they were attacked and killed by communist terrorists who owned up to the carnage.



Three decades after, survivors shared how they survived and moved on from the traumatic experience.

Arnulfo Endar, 43, recalled that he was the guitarist at the fellowship in their United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) chapel at Sitio Rano when the NPA suddenly arrived and fired at them.

Endar was hit on his right leg but was able to escape. He said five of his family members and relatives including his father, sister and cousins were among the dead. He was 13 years old at the time of the massacre.

Helen Dominguez shared that the incident was the most painful as she also lost five members of her family including her pastor husband whose head was severed.

She said she was able to hide from the bushes with her four-year old child and prayed hard to be spared from harm. “I’m thankful to God that I’m still alive, standing in front of you,” Dominguez said.

Barangay Kapatagan Captain Juanito Morales was emotional when he shared how painful it was for the Tagabawa tribal community to experience such gruesome killing.

“It was the victims who sacrificed for fighting for democracy, for fighting against the NPAs,” said Morales, who was then the vice-mayor of Digos when the bloodbath happened.

He said that despite the trauma and grief that they went through, the survivors were thankful for the government for taking care of their community.

“Back then, it was very hard for the community. There was no road, no electricity, no government,” Morales recalled, adding “But we are grateful now because of the developments that have been poured in the village.”

Eastmincom Commander Lt.Gen. Felimon T. Santos, Jr. commended the survivors for overcoming their fears and trauma. “You are the living witness. You are really fighters. You have survived.”

“For now, we have to focus on ways to send your children to school, and enhance your skills for livelihood,” Santos told the Tagabawa folks.

10th ID Commander MGen. Jose C. Faustino, Jr. and Lt. Gen. Santos led government officials and residents in signing a manifesto committing for cooperation to uphold peace and order in the community.

The other agency-members of the RTC-ELCAC present in the commemoration were the National Commission on Indigenous People, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, National Economic and Development Authority, Department of Interior and Local Government, and Philippine Information Agency. (PIA-XI)

President Duterte vows for continuous AFP modernization

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 3, 2019): President Duterte vows for continuous AFP modernization


President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his speech during the 72nd Philippine Air Force Anniversary at the Col. Jesus Villamor Air Base in Pasay City on July 2, 2019. VALERIE ESCALERA/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said he hopes to complete a certain phase in the Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program before his term ends in 2022.

“I am hoping and praying that before my remaining three years will expire…that all of these things especially the labeled ‘Horizon Projects’ of yours will be completed during my term,” President Duterte said in a speech during the 72nd anniversary of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) in Villamor Air Base, Pasay City.

“I want to leave the office of the presidency with an assurance to myself that I leave the functions…pass it on to the next whoever he will be, na sana naman he will also take care of the requirements of the Armed Forces because it is a continuing one,” he added.

The AFP Modernization Program is divided into three horizons. The first was implemented from 2013 to 2017; the second, from 2018 to 2022; and the third, from 2023 to 2028.

He assured PAF that his administration will continue to pursue all efforts to enhance its capabilities against current threats through modernization and capacity building initiatives such as the Military Pilot Training.

Stressing the government’s good financial standing, he said he is pleased with the PAF’s modernization, particularly with the acquisition of an Air Defense Radar System and an FA-50PH flight simulator earlier this year.

He also mentioned the expected delivery of six A-29B Super Tucano aircraft and Air Defense Surveillance Radar System.

The PAF will also receive substantial assets such as 16 projects worth over P139 billion from the Second Horizon of the Revised AFP Modernization Program. This includes the procurement of utility vehicles, drones, and other command and control fixed-wing aircraft, among others.

The Chief Executive also acknowledged PAF members’ unwavering commitment to their sworn duty to protect the country’s territory through aerial reconnaissance and maritime patrol missions in the West Philippine Sea and the Philippine Rise.

PAF also takes a major role in securing the Malampaya Natural Gas Plant off the coast of Palawan, he said. It is also instrumental in the success of the government’s efforts in rescue and relief operations in disaster areas and aerial observations in calamity-devastated communities, as well as airlift of government personnel and survivors.

“Let me take this opportunity to acknowledge your very crucial role in our military’s internal security operations by providing air assets and close personnel support to your ground troops during engagements with the Abu Sayyaf and other local terrorist groups,” the President said.

He called on PAF personnel to continue performing their duties to the best of their abilities especially in addressing the current challenges of terrorism, extremism, and other external threats.

“Let us work together as one team so we may effectively uphold our sovereignty and protect the safety of our people at all times and at all costs.”

Among those present during Tuesday’s event were Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr., and Senators Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go and Ronald Dela Rosa. (PND)

https://pia.gov.ph/news/articles/1024130

Eastern Samar remains peaceful – PNP

Posted to the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 3, 2019): Eastern Samar remains peaceful – PNP

Featured Image

The Philippine National Police (PNP) – Eastern Samar Police Provincial Office (ESPPO) through P/Lt. Col. Edwin F. Barbosa, deputy provincial director, reported that the Province of Eastern Samar is generally peaceful.

He said this during the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) meeting on June 26 at the Capitol Building, this city.

Barbosa said his assessment was based on their accomplishments and assessments for every Municipal Police Station (MPS) in Eastern Samar.

The police officer disclosed that from January to May 2019, the Crime Solution Efficiency is 63.70 percent while for the Crime Clearance Efficiency is at 92.43 percent.

Barbosa further informed that they arrested 36 illegal drug users and pushers and confiscated shabu and marijuana; arrested 84 illegal gamblers and confiscated bet money; arrested 28 illegal loggers confiscated lumber; and arrested 144 illegal fishermen, confiscated catch. Cases were filed in courts.


E. Samar police force ready to maintain peace and order in Eastern Samar. (pic-PNP E Samar)

The deputy provincial director further said there are also persons arrested who violated the laws on Violence Against Women and Children and their cases were filed already in courts.

“Our accomplishments are the parameters that our policemen in the field are doing their job well,” Barbosa added.

The ESPPO promised to continue its endeavor to make Eastern Samar peaceful.

Presently, ESPPO has a workforce of some 902 Police Commissioned Officers and Police Non-Commissioned Officers provincewide.

Barbosa attributed the peace and order situation to the continuing support extended by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, civilian volunteer organizations, local government units, non-government organizations, civilians, and other stakeholders. (NBQ/SDC/PIA-E. Samar)

Army: NPA terrorists continue to violate human rights

Posted to the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 4, 2019): Army: NPA terrorists continue to violate human rights

Featured Image

The 94th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army disclosed Sunday that the Communist New People’s Army Terrorists (CNTs) allegedly continues to violate the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) through planting of improvised explosive landmines.

Troops of the 94th IB encountered more or less 20 Communist NPA Terrorist (CNTs) Saturday at 11:35pm while on combat operations at Sitio Kambugtong, Brgy Bantolinao, Manjuyod towm.

The said fire fight ensued for about one hour and twenty minutes that resulted to the death of Cpl Leoter Cagape and two slightly wounded; Pfc Emmanuel Paja and Pvt Denyl Reyes
.

After the encounter, the troops occupied and scoured the area and was able to discover one dead body of NPA terrorist, five improvised landmines, one rifle grenade, one hand grenade, assorted ammunitions, two cellular phones, assorted medical kit, 24 pieces Eveready batteries with wires, one (1) AM/FM radio, one sack of rice, subversive documents and other personal belongings, relayed CMO Officer Capt. Oliver Usog.

On the same day prior to the encounter, the Police Regional Office-7 together with 302nd Infantry Brigade Philippine Army, local government unit and other agencies, conducted medical and dental mission in Manjuyod to address the needs of the people for proper health and dental care.

“Out of desperation and distraught over the delivery of basic service by the government, the NPA terrorists tried to sabotage not only the government forces by conducting harassment and through planting of improvised landmines along the possible areas of passage but also sowing terror and fear to the local folks for them not to receive and enjoy the program of the government,” said IB Commander LtC Randy Pagunuran.

“With the encounter and the recovery of the improvised landmines, the government forces were able to negate the NPA’s hostile actions against the local folks of Brgy Bantolinao, Manjuyod,” added Capt. Usog.

However, the vigilance and alertness of the government forces, when they were able to pre-empt and foil the NPA’s hostile plan against the government forces and the innocent civilians, proved helpful.

LtC Pagunuran cited “This act of the NPA terrorist is an evident manifestation that this terrorist group are the real promoter of chaos and struggles. They clearly violate the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHIHL).

As stated in the Part 3, Article 2, Section 15 of the said agreement between the government and their legal wing; National Democratic Front, “The right not to be subjected to indiscriminate bombings, shelling, strafing, and the use of landmines,” has been violated. 


After the encounter, the troops occupied area of the NPA and discovered five improvised landmines, one rifle grenade, and one hand grenade in Sitio Kambugtong, Brgy Bantolinao, Manjuyod towm. (PA/PIA Negros Oriental)

In a medical and dental mission, hundreds of residents in the area have benefitted the basic offered such as free check-up (with free medicines), teeth cleaning and tooth extraction, tuli (circumcision), eye check-up and free distribution of eye glasses, sanitation kit, therapeutic massage, haircut, and school supplies for the children.

However with the occuring incident, the 94th IB, strongly condemns the act of terrorism committed by the NPA terrorist group who are desperate to hamper the government efforts in delivering basic services.

The army officials slammed the NPAs for making the people believe that the government does not care for the residents.

Usog said the NPAs will do anything at all costs no matter who will suffer even putting the lives of the innocent people at risk in an attempt to win against the government forces.

“It clearly shows that these terrorists are no longer fighting for the rights of the people rather they are only fighting for the mere survival of their twisted and irrelevant ideology,” added Pagunuran

The officers and men of the 94th Infantry “MANDIRIGMA” Battalion, commended the bravery of the government forces and the gallantry of Cpl Cagape who stood still in his fight to protect the innocent civilians up to his last breath.

“We commend his bravery and dedication to his oath to protect the rights people we also extend our deepest condolences to the family of our fallen comrade who will be our inspiration to strive more to end this irrelevant armed struggle,” Pagunuran lamented. (jct/PIA7-Negros Oriental)

2ID Army hospital gets P1.5-M anti-dengue supplies

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 3, 2019): 2ID Army hospital gets P1.5-M anti-dengue supplies


ANTI-DENGUE PROTECTION FOR SOLDIERS. Department of Health (DOH)-CALABARZON Regional Director Dr. Eduardo C. Janairo (3rd from right) leads the turn-over of a set of personal protective equipment, among other anti-dengue kits and vector-control supplies worth PHP1.5 million, to the 2nd Infantry Division (2ID) Army Station Hospital (2ASH) through its commanding officer Col. Armando P. Lacanilao (3rd from left) in Camp Gen. Mateo Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal on Tuesday (July 2, 2019). Joining Janairo during the turn-over rite are Regional Communicable Disease Control Cluster Head Dr. Mara Elena C. Gonzales (2nd from right) and Regional Dengue Prevention and Control Program Coordinator Jomell V. Mojica (2nd from left). (Photo courtesy of DOH4A)

CAMP GEN. CAPINPIN, Tanay, Rizal – The Army Station Hospital of the 2nd Infantry Division, Philippine Army here received some PHP1.5 million worth of anti-dengue supplies and protective equipment from the Department of Health (DOH) regional office in Calabarzon on Tuesday.

DOH-Calabarzon Regional Director Dr. Eduardo Janairo, along with Regional Communicable Disease Control Cluster Head, Dr. Mara Elena Gonzales, and Regional Dengue Prevention and Control Program Coordinator, Jomell Mojica, spearheaded the turn-over of anti-dengue and other vector control supplies to Army Station Hospital commanding officer, Col. Armando. Lacanilao, and hospital staff.

“We have included all sectors including military camps in our efforts to lessen and eliminate dengue in the community. We have to ensure everyone including our uniformed personnel, soldiers are safe and protected against mosquito bites that is why we have provided vector control supplies,” Janairo said.

Janairo, together with Lacalinao, DOH officials and hospital staff also led the ceremonial installation of the anti-dengue olyset nets as window screens at the army hospital.

“The distribution and installation of Olyset treated nets inside the camp including the hospital is accompanied with the regular anti-dengue misting and clean-up operations. The mosquito nets are embedded with permethrin, which will provide (a) five-year protection from mosquitoes and other insects,” he added.

DOH turned over the assorted anti-dengue supplies comprised of around 150 rolls of olyset nets worth PHP1.2 million; some 500 insecticide-treated bed nets worth PHP222,500; two spray cans for residual spraying at PHP28,776; five boxes of insecticides for residual spraying worth PHP41,250 and personal protective equipment (PPE) amounting to PHP6,800.

“We shall continue to support our military personnel in the prevention and control of vector-borne diseases that may affect their health and well-being in the performance of their functions and duties for the preservation and security of our country,” Janairo assured.

He emphasized the need for preventive measures as best protection against dengue following reports from the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (RESU), which recorded a total of 9,669 dengue cases this year, indicating a 10 percent increase from last year’s 8,825 cases during the assessed period.

RESU also reported that the age of the dengue cases ranged from one year to 66-year-old and around 39 deaths were already recorded.

Most affected are males with a total of 5,062 or 53 percent while female cases number around 4,543 or 47 percent.

According to the DOH Calabarzon, Cavite recorded the highest number of cases with 2,651 followed by Batangas with 2,123; Laguna - 1,966; Quezon – 1,653 and Rizal – 1,276.

Calabarzon towns and cities having the highest number of dengue cases include DasmariƱas City, Cavite with 567; Calamba City, Laguna – 457; Lipa City, Batangas – 427; Batangas City – 422; Bacoor City, Cavite – 360; Antipolo City, Rizal – 355; Lopez, Quezon - 354; and Cabuyao City, Laguna with 310.

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1073928

Soldier killed, another hurt in Cotabato City gun attack

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 3, 2019): Soldier killed, another hurt in Cotabato City gun attack



STREET AMBUSH. Police cordons the area near the intersection of Gonzalo Javier Street and Oblate Drive in Barangay Rosary Heights 6, Cotabato City, where two soldiers onboard a motorbike (inset) were tailed and fired upon by gunmen riding a separate motorcycle on Tuesday, July 2, 2019. One of the victims died at the hospital while the other remains in serious condition. (Photo courtesy of Erwin Cabilbigan – DXMY Cotabato)

Police are in pursuit of motorcycle-riding gunmen who ambushed and killed an off-duty soldier and seriously injured his colleague along a busy intersection here on Tuesday.

The 1:30 p.m. ambush occurred at the corner of Gonzalo Javier Street and Oblate Drive in Barangay Rosary Heights 6 with Army Cpl. Herminio Belano, 28, expiring later at a government hospital here.


Capt. Rustom Pastolero, Police Station 2 chief, said Belano’s companion, Cpl. Pacifico Obillo, 32, of Balaoan, La Union, was injured and is still in the hospital.

Belano of San Mateo, Isabela, was driving the motorcycle with Obillo as his back rider when fired upon by the gunmen onboard a separate motorbike along the junction of Oblate Drive and Gonzalo Javier Street.

“Witnesses saw a riding-in-tandem tailing the soldiers with one of them firing at the victims as they reached the junction,” Pastolero said, adding that the soldiers were unarmed and in civilian clothes at the time of the incident.

Belano succumbed to a gunshot wound in the head while Obillo remained under close observation at the hospital.

The victims belong to the Army’s 5th Special Forces Battalion and assigned at a detachment in Sitio Bubong, Barangay Kalanganan, this city.

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1073939

Conference to tackle peace, development in W. Visayas

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 3, 2019): Conference to tackle peace, development in W. Visayas



PEACEBUILDING CONFERENCE. Local chief executives and concerned national government agencies will gather in Iloilo City on July 11 to tackle peace, security and development in Western Visayas. National Economic and Development Authority Regional Director for Western Visayas Ro-Ann A. Bacal said on Tuesday (July 2, 2019) the conference is part of the whole of nation approach in addressing insurgency issues in conflict-affected areas. (PNA photo by Perla G. Lena)

Local chief executives and concerned national government agencies in Western Visayas will gather next week to discuss peace, security, and development.

Roan A. Bacal, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Regional Director for Western Visayas, said on Tuesday the gathering will take place on July 11 at the Iloilo Convention Center.

The conference follows the recent briefing of the Regional Development Council (RDC) on the “Whole of the Nation Approach in attaining Inclusive and Sustainable Peace, Creating a National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), and Directing the Adoption of National Peace Framework” held during the second quarter regular full council meeting of the region’s policy-making body on June 21.

“It is part of 'whole of nation' approach because now we would like a more convergent approach to barangays. We will now sit together, see where these barangays are and what are their problems and how we can, as a government, plan our strategy to be able to resolve their problems and make them feel the government is really for them,”
Bacal said.


She added that one of the agenda of President Duterte focuses on security. "Before he ends his term, the President would like barangays that are influenced by the New People’s Army (NPA) and leftist groups to be part of the mainstream," she said.

Also, they will “feel that government is really there for them and that they have better alternatives in being in government rather than being with the NPA," Bacal said.

The July 11th meeting will be graced by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon and Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security Secretary Roy Cimatu.

They are expected to discuss how to reach out to barangays that are “still under the influenced of insurgents and see how we can end it all by making sure development is really felt by them.”

Bacal said the feedback they received was that barangays located in remote areas “do not feel the government and we are losing to the propaganda of the left”.

“It’s about time now that we face this squarely and tell them government is here for everyone. We are also here to make sure that people who are underserved and also sometimes neglected will be attended to,” she stressed.

NEDA met with representatives of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of the Interior and Local Government where they discussed their preparations for the meeting.

Meantime, during the June 21 briefing, Lt. Col. Joel R. Jonson, Military Assistance of the NTF-ELCAC underscored the big role of the RDC in the identification of conflict-affected areas to be prioritized in coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

“We need to have this extra mile to reach out this conflict-affected barangays,” he said.

He also pointed out the convergence between the RDC and the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) down to the barangay level to address the concerns against communist terrorist groups.

Meanwhile, Antique Governor and RDC Chair Rhodora Cadiao in her message also said that building and sustaining peace is not a standalone obligation of the Philippine National Police, AFP, and RPOC.

She said regardless of age, gender or social status everyone should participate in nation building and create solutions.

“Driven by the slogan whole of nation approach, we aim for the government, private sector, civil society, and the whole citizenry to work together for a just and sustainable peace so every individual affected by armed conflict, especially women, children and elderly, will no longer undergo times when the life is dark and full of terror,” she said.

She added that there is a need to analyze the region’s current status to be able to strategize and for it to effectively work.

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1073872

Security tightened in South Cotabato for 2018 T'nalak fest

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 3, 2019): Security tightened in South Cotabato for 2018 T'nalak fest

Security measures have been tightened in South Cotabato in line with the week-long celebration of the province's 2018 T'nalak Festival and 52nd foundation anniversary.

Senior Supt. Nestor Salcedo, South Cotabato police director, said Wednesday they have placed all their units under heightened alert to ensure the "safe, smooth and orderly" conduct of the festivities, which will open on Thursday, July 12.


He said all security measures and activities are already in place, covering all festival venues and other strategic areas.

Based on their security plan, he said their personnel are on full deployment starting Wednesday until July 19.

"We're all set with our preparations and so far covered all security-related concerns," he said in a press conference.

Salcedo specifically cited the overall peace and order, traffic management, as well as venue and crowd security.

He said they have assigned teams to specifically secure the main festival site along Alunan Avenue and the outlying areas in Koronadal City, main roads and highways and the province's entry and exit points.

Security hotlines and police assistance desks will be set up in festival venues and other strategic points, he said.

The official said they tapped local civil security personnel and barangay peacekeeping teams to serve as security force multipliers.

He said the Police Regional Office-12 is also deploying augmentation personnel from the Regional Mobile Force Battalion-12 for the entire festival period.

As part of the security measures, Salcedo said the carrying of backpacks is prohibited in all festival venues.

He said inspection teams will be deployed in all entrance areas to check for possible illegal items like deadly weapons and firearms.

"We cannot afford to be complacent as we again expect thousands of visitors coming in during the entire celebration," he said.

Major Esmundo Estores Jr., executive officer of the Army's 27th Infantry Battalion, said they assigned a section composed of 18 personnel to help secure the festival venues.

He said their units, which are situated in peripheral areas of the province, will also be on standby for any eventuality.

"We will be regularly evaluating the situation on the ground for the possible deployment of additional personnel," he said.


Now on its 19th year, the T’nalak Festival is considered as one of the biggest annual celebrations in Region 12 or Soccsksargen.

Major activities and events are slated until July 18, the province's 52nd foundation day.

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1073961

AWOL soldier shot dead by 'Reds'

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 3, 2019): AWOL soldier shot dead by 'Reds'

A member of the Philippine Army who had gone AWOL (Absent Without Leave) was shot dead by alleged members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) early Wednesday in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.

The police identified the victim as Andy S. Castor, 41, married, and a resident of Mabini Street, Poblacion, Guihulngan City, a report from the Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office (NOPPO) said.

Early police investigation showed that the victim was riding his motorcycle at around 7:35 a.m. to bring his wife to work, Aloha, a teacher at Barangay Nagsaha, Guihulngan City, when five unidentified men believed to be NPA members shot him.


The victim was brought to the Guihulngan District Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Police investigators recovered from the crime scene eight pieces of fired cartridge cases of caliber 9-mm pistol and seven pieces of fired cartridges of caliber .45 pistol and two slugs.

Investigators are still probing the motive for the killing.

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1073998

Community support teams to help end insurgency in Capiz

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 3, 2019): Community support teams to help end insurgency in Capiz


YIELDED FIREARMS. A local civilian turns over four loose firearms to the Community Support Program (CSP) Team at the 4th Maneuver Platoon, Bungsuan Village in Dumarao, Capiz on Wednesday (July 3, 2019). The Army said the turnover of the firearms is a manifestation that the deployed CSP teams are effective in its campaign and operations to end insurgency. (Photo courtesy of 3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs Office)

A resident in Capiz province turned over four loose firearms to the Community Support Program (CSP) Team at the 4th Maneuver Platoon, Bungsuan village in Dumarao, Capiz on Wednesday.

Capt. Cenon C. Pancito III, chief of the Public Affairs Office of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (3ID), said the civilian has yielded one rifle, two home-made .38-caliber revolvers, and one home-made shotgun.


The firearms are now under the custody of Dumarao Police Station for proper disposition.

“These were owned by the locals and they can be used to disturb peace and order,” Pancito said in a phone interview Wednesday.

The CSP Team, composed of police personnel from Police Regional Office (PRO-6), is under the operational jurisdiction of the Army’s 301st Infantry (Bayanihan) Brigade, he said.

Pancito said around 300 police personnel were trained by the Philippine Army early this year.


They underwent a two-month rigid Basic Internal Security Operations Course (BISOC) at the 3rd Infantry (Spearhead) Division’s Training School in Camp Peralta, Jamindan, Capiz.

While undergoing the said course, they were also trained by 25 CSP instructors from the 3ID to equip them with the necessary skills and knowledge on how to address the insurgency problem.

After their graduation in May, they were divided into more than 10 teams and deployed all over Panay.

“The CSP teams are effective because they were able to influence those in the villages to turn over these firearms,” he said.

During the training, the Philippine Army was able to learn about law enforcement aspect from the police personnel.

“The cooperation of the Army and the police is effective. We are getting into the bottom of the problem, most especially in the security operation,” he said.

Pancito said the recovery of the firearms is just the start of the achievements of the CSP Teams.

“This a product of one team only. Other teams are also expected to deliver positive results,” he said.

The CSP deployment is in line with the Development Support and Security Plan “KAPAYAPAAN” of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to conduct Development Support Operations, to sustain the peace, ensure security and help maintain public order to foster the foundation for economic and human development.

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1074014

TF Davao to implement 'no jacket policy'

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 3, 2019): TF Davao to implement 'no jacket policy'



Task Force Davao is set to implement the "no jacket policy" in all the entry and exit points here--including during local festivities--to further ensure the safety of Dabawenyos.

The new security measure came after the recent twin bombing in Sulu that killed eight individuals and left 12 wounded.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Col. Consolito Yecla, commander of TF-Davao, said they will discuss the new rule with the city government.

“This will only be done when you are approaching the entry points or inspection areas. With this, possible suicide bombers cannot penetrate to the city or to groups of people,” Yecla explained.

He added the new standard operating procedure will also be implemented during big events in the city, such as Kadayawan Festival.

“They can wear their jacket again as soon as they have passed the inspection area,” he added.

The TF-Davao commander also announced their campaign to improve the culture of security within the organization, even as he urged the public to be vigilant and help in the implementation of security measures imposed by the government.

“Be the eyes and ears by reporting suspicious persons and unattended baggage. It is very easy to neutralize a terrorist but the hardest part there is to identify them,” Yecla said.

He also reminded the public to practice the “no backpack policy” and the prohibition of bringing plastic containers in selected public places.

“Help us in securing the city and denying the entry of these terrorists,” Yecla said.

TF-Davao has installed baggage scanners and body X-ray machines in major entries and exit points in the city which is in Sirawan, Lasang,, and Lacson. The other one is installed in the Davao City Overland Transport Terminal (DCOTT).

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1074002

PRRD to soldiers, cops: Don’t stage a coup during my term

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 3, 2019): PRRD to soldiers, cops: Don’t stage a coup during my term

President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Tuesday night appealed to members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) not to overturn the government during his term.

In his speech during the 72nd anniversary of the Philippine Air Force at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City, Duterte said staging a coup would not be necessary since he was willing to step down if he was asked to.

“I know that the Armed Forces and the Police will have to decide one day somehow. Do not do it please during my term,” Duterte said.

Stressing he wanted to avoid violence, Duterte said soldiers and policemen who no longer find him deserving to lead the country could simply talk to him over a cup of coffee.

“I told you before all you have to do kung ayaw ninyo ako (if you don’t like me), do not bring your weapons and mechanized armors there,” Duterte said.

“Just call me and we’ll have coffee and I am ready to say, ‘It’s yours for the taking,’” he added.

This is not the first time Duterte mentioned coups in his speeches.

In February this year, Duterte scolded military and police officers for joining coup attempts to return the power of the government to political rivals.

The President, in September 2018, has also described coup attempts as a "waste of time" since he was willing to step down if they were discontented with his leadership.

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1073917

Duterte hopes to complete PAF modernization within his term

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 3, 2019): Duterte hopes to complete PAF modernization within his term


AIR FORCE MODERNIZATION. President Rodrigo R. Duterte witnesses the live demonstration of the Integrated Air Operation Simulated Exercise (IAOSimEx) Capabilities of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) during the 72nd PAF Anniversary at the Col. Jesus Villamor Air Base in Pasay City on July 2, 2019. He expressed hope that the modernization program of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) would be completed before he steps down in 2022. (Richard Madelo/Presidential Photo) 

President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Tuesday night expressed hope that the modernization program of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) would be completed before he steps down in 2022.

“I am hoping and praying that before my remaining three years will expire, that all of these things especially the labeled ‘Horizon Projects’ of yours will be completed during my term,” Duterte said during the 72nd anniversary of the PAF at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.

“I want to leave the office of the presidency with an assurance to myself that I leave the functions, pass it on to the next whoever he will be,” he added.

Duterte was referring to the Second Horizon of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Program, which involves PHP139-billion worth of projects including the procurement of utility vehicles, drones and other command and control fixed-wing aircraft, among others.

He also welcomed the acquisition of an Air Defense Radar System and an FA-50PH flight simulator earlier this year, which will be supplemented by the expected delivery of six A-29B Super Tucano Aircraft and another Air Defense Surveillance Radar System.

Duterte said he wanted to complete the modernization program because he was not sure that his successor would share the same priorities.

“Gusto ko lang kumpletuhin ‘yan baka ang susunod sa akin (I just want to complete it because maybe my successor) would not be a fellow of like-minded. He might have other priorities,” Duterte said.

He, however, clarified that his desire to complete the PAF’s modernization program did not mean that the government has “exceedingly plenty of money” but just enough to acquire what is needed.

“I am not saying that we have exceedingly plenty of money. But God has been kind to us. We have almost --- the thing --- ah the money or the things that we need that are immediate and urgent,” Duterte said.

Duterte, meanwhile, told members of the PAF that he had never denied a request to beef up their capabilities.

“During my time, I have never said ‘no’ to any of the commanders and to (Defense Secretary) Delfin Lorenzana at kay (National Security Adviser) Secretary Esperon. All the things that they wanted for our Armed Forces pati ang pulis (even the police),” Duterte said.

He assured the PAF that the Duterte administration will continue to pursue efforts to enhance their capabilities.

Duterte acknowledged PAF for its efforts in providing rescue and relief operations to areas devastated by calamities, in the aerial observation of calamity areas, and in airlifting personnel, victims and relief goods.

He also commended the airmen for providing air assets and close personnel support to ground troops during engagements with the Abu Sayyaf and other local terrorist groups.

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1073919

PRRD 'coup' remark just random one: AFP spox

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 3, 2019): PRRD 'coup' remark just random one: AFP spox


AFP spokesperson, Marine Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo. (File photo)

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Wednesday described President Rodrigo R. Duterte's calls for the military and the police not to stage a coup during his term as just a random remark.

"That was a random remark on the part of the President and Commander-in-Chief, in so far as the AFP is concerned," AFP spokesperson, Marine Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, said in a message to the Philippine News Agency.

Duterte made the comment in his speech at the 72nd founding anniversary of the Philippine Air Force held at Villamor Air Base, Pasay City on Tuesday, saying staging a coup is not necessary as he is willing to step down if asked to.

Duterte added that soldiers and policemen who no longer find him deserving to lead the country could simply talk to him over a cup of coffee.

Arevalo said there is nothing new with the President's coup comment as Duterte mentioned it during the first Joint-AFP-Philippine National Police (PNP) Command Conference he presided upon assumption of office.

"As early as the first Joint AFP-PNP Command Conference that he presided upon his assumption of office and in several other instances after that, he has conveyed that same message to the security forces," he said.

And in essence, he added, Duterte's message is to forget about mounting a military take-over that would lead to violence, death, and destruction and if anyone among the military or police thinks that they can better run the country, they can freely tell him and he will step down.

Arevalo said the AFP, which is led by Chief-of-Staff, Gen. Benjamin Madrigal, Jr., is a professional institution and composed of matured servicemen and women who are patriots and loyal to the constitution and the duly constituted authorities.

"We have learned our lessons from the past and we shall live by it," he said, adding that having a Commander-in-Chief who has shown genuine care and concern for all military personnel is more than enough aside from reforms that made the AFP more capable of conducting its mandate.

"The reforms implemented in the AFP to include its modernization; the increase in pay, allowances, and benefits like housing so we can best perform our mandate abound. We were given more than what we can ask for from a President and Commander-in-Chief who has shown genuine care and concern to his soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines," he said.

Arevalo said the AFP assures the President that the military will always remain loyal to the Flag, the Constitution, and the Filipino people.

"We have, time and again assured him, as we reassure him today, that we in the AFP shall constantly and will remain loyal to the flag, to the constitution, and to the Filipino people whom we swore to protect with our lives," he added.

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1073927

PA chief, Israeli envoy exchange views on counter-terrorism

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 3, 2019): PA chief, Israeli envoy exchange views on counter-terrorism



Israeli Ambassador to the Philippines Rafael Harpaz and Philippine Army (PA) chief, Lt. Gen. Macairog S. Alberto. (Photo courtesy: Office of the Army Chief Public Affairs)

Philippine Army (PA) chief, Lt. Gen. Macairog S. Alberto met with Israeli Ambassador to the Philippines Rafael Harpaz to exchange views on counter-terrorism at Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City Tuesday.

Harpaz's courtesy call is in line with the Counter-Terrorism Trainers Training (CTTT) between the PA and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) being conducted at Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija from Monday to Wednesday.

During his visit, the Israeli official recalled the time when former President Manuel L. Quezon opened the Philippines to 1,300 Jewish refugees from Europe in 1937 to 1941.

He said this gesture is one of the reasons why Filipinos are welcome in Israel even without a travel visa.

Alberto added the PA is looking forward to more training exchanges with Israel, so as to raise the Army’s determination to defeat the terrorism threat.

And in light of the recent terror attack in Sulu, the army chief stressed the need for the country to learn from the Israeli Defense Force's years of experience and victories on counter-terrorism.

He also emphasized that the mandatory military service in Israel is also a key in addressing terrorism.

“Be strong,” Harpaz told the audience composed of high-ranking officers of the PA.

“We cannot have a 100 percent success against terrorism but we must continue to share our experiences on how to best address it,” the Israeli official added.

After the call, the Army commanding general and Harpaz flew to Fort Magsaysay to observe the ongoing CTTT.

"The Philippine Army recognizes the evolving security environment in the country and its neighboring states. Thus. we welcome the help of our international counterparts in enhancing our counter-terrorism capabilities through various training and information exchange,” Alberto said.

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1073925

Death threats unfaze IP leaders in stand vs. NPA attacks

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 3, 2019): Death threats unfaze IP leaders in stand vs. NPA attacks


DEFYING THREATS. Tribal leaders speak before members of the media in a press conference hosted by the Philippine Consulate General in New York City on Tuesday (July 2, 2019). They are in the United States for a series of speaking engagements about the atrocities of the CPP-NPA-NDFP. (Photo by Rom Dulfo/PNA)

Despite getting death threats for “breaking their silence” on the atrocities of the communist terrorist groups (CTGs) in the Philippines, indigenous people’s (IP) leaders on Tuesday vowed to remain steadfast in rallying the international community to resist the armed insurgency movement’s narratives.

“We expected that even before we spoke about the communist terrorists’ atrocities, we will already have those threats,” Christine Banugan, who is currently in the United States for a series of speaking engagements along with seven other tribal leaders, said in an interview before members of the media here.

Banugan, whose father and uncle were killed by members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), said her family has been receiving threats in the past days from the rebel group for voicing out the attacks committed by the CPP-NPA-NDF against IP communities.

“We don’t have any regrets because for us, land is life and if we need to sacrifice our lives, if we need to risk another life, I think it’s worth it, for the survival of our tribe,” said Banugan, who now takes the helm of the Mandaya tribe in Davao Oriental.

She added that they only want their voices to be heard despite all these struggles.

“Because if we will not, who else will?,” she said.

Tribal leader Magdalina Iligan, on the other hand, said members of the CPP-NPA continue to intimidate her for speaking up against their harassment in her ancestral land.

“Inaabangan nila ako, kasi pag NPA ka dati, pag tumigil ka nang mag-NPA, ayaw nila na malaman ng mga tao ang totoong nangyari (They would look after me because if you are a former NPA member and has turned back from the group, they would not want the people to know the truth),” she said.

Iligan, however, said she will remain true to her commitment to fight for the rights of her people, and stand up against oppression and harassment posed by the communist terrorists.

“Hindi na ako natatakot. Kung hindi ako tatayo, parang mawawala na yung tradisyon namin, yung tribo namin (I’m no longer afraid. If I don’t stand up, then we will lose our tradition, our tribe),” she said.

Iligan added that she was only 14 years old when she became a member of the rebel group, eventually becoming secretary of the Samahang Kabataang Makabayan in 2005, tasked to recruit new members from the youth sector, and later on as treasurer and youth coordinator for Bayan Muna in 2008.

She surrendered to military troops in Surigao del Sur in 2016.

Stop deception

Amid the threats being faced by the tribal leaders, Major General Antonio Parlade, Jr., of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC), called on United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, to look into the situation confronting IP communities in Mindanao.

“Let us call on UN Rapporteur Tauli-Corpuz to help, take action against the CTGs. Tauli-Corpuz should stop this bullying of the CTGs, even as the Armed Forces of the Philippines continue to secure the IP families in the area,” he said.

“NTF ELCAC will not allow another killing of any person critical of the CPP NPA's duplicitous and deceptive ways,” he added.

NPA threats vs. LGUs

Meanwhile, Taytay, Palawan Mayor Romy Salvame on Monday said he and some town officials received death threats from the NPA, since after the municipal council passed a resolution denouncing the rebel group as “persona non grata”.

The Salvador Luminoso-Bienvenido Vallever Command (SL-BVC) based in Palawan, in a statement posted on its website, warned that they will punish the town officials of Taytay and two other municipalities, Brooke’s Point and Quezon, which pushed for the passing of a resolution calling the armed group “persona non grata.”

The group called on the local government units (LGUs) to withdraw the resolutions, saying they were tantamount to declaring war against the armed group, adding that it is giving the LGUs enough time to “correct their mistake.”

The armed group also cited the creation of the NTF ELCAC, which stands on the front line in working out a mechanism to help end the decades-old communist insurgency.

Apart from its pursuit to end armed insurgency in the country, the NTF ELCAC seeks to unify the vulnerable and exploited sectors and take legal actions against the CPP-NPA supporters who continue to destroy the Philippines.

Contained in Executive Order No. 70, Duterte’s creation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) seeks “to synchronize the utilization of the government's instrumentalities of power with the capabilities of private sector stakeholders to finally end the 50-year long deceit, lies, and atrocities committed by the communist terrorists against the people."

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/1073959

PH to conduct own probe on China's 'missile test' off WPS

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 3, 2019): PH to conduct own probe on China's 'missile test' off WPS

The Philippines will conduct its own inquiry on China's alleged anti-ship ballistic missile launches off the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Wednesday.

"We have no first-hand knowledge about this missile launch except this news report. We will conduct our own inquiry and will decide later what to do if proven correct," Lorenzana said in a message to reporters.

Per reports, the tests took place last weekend with China warning ships not to approach the test area.

At least one missile was reportedly fired into the sea.

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1073947

PH Air Force to get more air assets, equipment soon

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 3, 2019): PH Air Force to get more air assets, equipment soon


PAF'S 72ND ANNIVERSARY. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte attaches the streamer on the banner of one of the award-winning Philippine Air Force (PAF) units during the 72nd PAF anniversary at the Col. Jesus Villamor Air Base in Pasay City on Tuesday (July 2, 2019). Assisting the President is PAF Commander Lieutenant General Rozzano Briguez. (Karl Norman Alonzo/Presidential Photo)

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) is set to acquire more air assets and equipment in the coming months, its commanding general said Tuesday.

In his speech during PAF's 72nd founding anniversary, Air Force commander, Lt. Gen. Rozzano Briguez said these aircraft are expected to support various operations of the PAF.

In the line-up for the PAF is another Lockheed C-130 "Hercules" transport aircraft, which is expected by the last quarter of this year and 16 combat utility helicopters and six additional NC212i aircraft which will start arriving by 2020.

Aside from these air mobility assets, the PAF chief said six brand-new Embraer A-29 "Super Tucanos" are expected to arrive by February 2020 and "will be a game-changing platform which will perform surface strike support to ground troops."

The "Super Tucanos" are expected to beef up the remaining North American Rockwell OV-10 "Bronco" attack aircraft being used by the PAF in strike missions.

The PAF's operational and strategic command-and-control will also be augmented by the arrival of "two command-and-control fixed-wing aircraft" which includes an EADS CASA C-295 medium transport which will arrive later this July and a Gulfstream G-280 twin-engine jet which will be delivered next year, Briguez said.

"Likewise, four unmanned aerial systems will be coming this year to support intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance for both operational and strategic functions," he added.

The PAF chief said they will also be finalizing its Integrated Command and Control, Communications and Computer Systems (IC4S) which will further enhance their capability in air operations.

"Through this, we will achieve robust, high performance, fully interoperable and integrated communications technology infrastructure that will provide all elements of the DND-AFP (Department of National Defense-Armed Forces of the Philippines) information requirement and support a common operational picture," he added.

Briguez thanked President Rodrigo R. Duterte for the "colossal and unprecedented support to the AFP" which includes the ongoing modernization program, significant salary increase for all soldiers, including the hazard duty pay of front-line troops in Sulu, together with the additional firearms.

These initiatives by the Command-in-Chief made troops more secure, confident, and focused in the conduct of operations, he added.

"We also highly appreciate the support of our foreign Air Force counterparts such as Japan, especially for the UH-1H spare parts they have given us. Our ASEAN partners, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, and also South Korea, China, the United States, Russia, Australia, and other countries that we have been working closely with," the PAF chief said.

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1073994

Perjury case aims to expose groups’ deceptions: Esperon

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 3, 2019): Perjury case aims to expose groups’ deceptions: Esperon


NSA FILES PERJURY CASES. National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. grants media interview after filing perjury cases against the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP), Karapatan, and Gabriela before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court on Tuesday (July 2, 2019). Esperon said the complaint was meant to expose the alleged deception of cause-oriented groups about the legitimacy of their activities in the country. (PNA photo by Oliver Marquez)

National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. on Wednesday said the perjury case he filed against representatives of some so-called caused oriented organizations was meant to expose their deceptions about the legitimacy of their activities in the country.

“For so long a time, many of these so-called cause-oriented organizations have deceived the public into believing that their actions, especially those that are directed against the government, had been legitimate,” Esperon said.

“Some, in fact, had misled foreign funding institutions into giving foreign grants and donations to support their supposed cause, but were instead diverted to the CPP-NPA-NDF in furtherance of the latter’s communist terrorist objectives,” he added.

CPP-NPA-NDF stands for Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front, a 50-year-old organization listed as a terrorist group by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

On Tuesday (July 2), Esperon filed perjury case against representatives of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP), Karapatan and Gabriela before the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office.

Esperon, also concurrent vice chairperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), accused the RMP of issuing false statement in their writs of amparo and habeas data petition against several government officials.

Contrary to RMP’s claims that it is a duly registered organization, Esperon said the group’s certificate of registration was revoked on August 20, 2003 for its failure to submit the required General Information Sheets and Financial Statements from 1997 to 2002.

He said the revocation took effect on September 29, 2003 based on a certification issued by the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) on April 15, 2019.

The respondents named in Esperon’s three-page affidavit complaint include Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay, Sr. Elenita Belardo, Romeo Clamor, Gabriela Krista Dalena, Editha Burgos, Jose Mari Callueng, Wilfredo Ruazol, Elisa Tita P. Lubi, Reylan B. Vergara, Sr. Maria Cupin, Joan May Salvador, and Gertrudes Ranjo-Liang. They all swore in the presence of a notary public that the RMP was a SEC-registered organization.

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1074036

Pinoys in US throw support behind IP leaders’ call vs. CPP-NPA

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 3, 2019): Pinoys in US throw support behind IP leaders’ call vs. CPP-NPA



SHARE OUR STORIES. Tribal leaders pose with members of the Filipino community, in a conference hosted by the Consulate General of the Philippines in New York City on Tuesday (July 2, 2019). They are calling on Filipinos to help end the communist armed conflict in the Philippines. (Photo by Mac Villarino/PCOO)

When Filipina Celma Dumaguing accepted a friend’s invitation to join a Facebook group of an organization supposedly advocating women’s issues in the Philippines, she was sure she was doing the right thing — giving back to her motherland by supporting various women’s causes.

But reading too much hate posts against the government and the members’ “unnecessary call to action to rally against the state” in that Facebook group made her doubt its sincerity, triggering her decision to leave the group.

Thirsty for the truth, Dumaguing was among the Filipinos who trooped to the Consulate General of the Philippines here on Tuesday, after learning that some indigenous people’s (IP) leaders were here to “break their silence” on the atrocities of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

“Para akong naliwanagan (I feel like I was enlightened). I did not know that the group I joined in Facebook was among those supporting the communist terrorists our IP leaders were saying,” she said, after hearing their stories.

Dumaguing said the tribal leaders’ speaking tour here left Filipinos in awe, as most of them, she said, were unaware of the true happenings in the IP communities.

“Their visit here is significant because I am now aware of the groups destroying them. At least nalalaman ng mga tao (at least the people know), that is what’s important.” Dumaguing said.

Come out in the open

The tribal leaders, who have been getting death threats for speaking about the deception and harassments posed by the communist terrorist groups before the international community, expressed their commitment to continue the fight that they have started.

Joel Innocencio, president of Filipino community group Patriotic Filipinos, said while it was not the first time he heard about the stories of the IP leaders, he said he was not surprised that the people who attended reacted the way she did the first time she heard them.

“They came out in the open with the truth, based on their experience, based on (what they experienced about the) deception and lies by the Reds,” he said.

Not just IPs’ woes

“The problem of the IPs is not theirs alone, its a problem of all Filipinos. Whatever happens in their ancestral domains affects peace and order, and it has a domino effect,” he added.

New York-based Filipina Juliet Payabyab said she felt surprised after hearing the IP leaders’ challenges in fighting the armed insurgency movement in their ancestral domains.

“They are the ones experiencing it. Personally, now I understand. The audience, the community here, they are interested because we only see them in the newspaper,” Payabyab said.

Disseminate the truth

Raphael Emperado, on the other hand, vowed to help rally the Filipino community in New York to listen to the stories of the IP leaders.

“We will help disseminate the story of our IP leaders. Importante malaman ng mga kababayan natin (It’s important for our countrymen here to know about their stories),” he said.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Undersecretary Lorraine Marie Badoy, for her part, called on the Filipino communities here to take an active role in voicing out the true stories back home.

“Check your sources, educate yourselves. It just hurts too much to hear these ignorances,” she said.

“Dumating na ang panahon ng CPP-NPA, tulungan nating ihayag ang kwento ng mga IP leaders (The time of the CPP-NPA has come. Let’s help our IP leaders’ stories be heard),” she added.

During the conference, some of the IP leaders, who were part of the armed rebellion before, said they became first-hand witnesses of how oppression and deception strangled tribe members to death.

Datu Ramon Bayaan, who was with the NPA for three years, said apart from killing thousands of traditional leaders who oppose their ideology and replacing them with revolutionary chieftains, they systematically deceived the IPs.

“Pagkahuman nilang makuha ang mga komunidad, ang mga kadtong traditional leader sa amoa, dili na nila pansinon. Kaya ang ila gihimo, mag-organize, magpili sila ug chairman (After they get the trust of the community, they would snub the traditional leaders. What they do is they organize and choose a new chairman), he said.

Datu Awing Maraan Apuga, on the other hand, said he was trained to become a child warrior by the NPA, eventually becoming a teacher of the Salugpungan school.


NPA DECEPTION. Datu Awing Maraan Apuga narrates how he was trained to become a child warrior by the NPA before eventually returning to the folds of law, in a conference hosted by the Consulate General of the Philippines in New York City on Tuesday (July 2, 2019). Apuga, along with seven other tribal leaders, are travelling across the United States to call on the US government, United Nations, and various international organizations to help get rid of the CPP-NPA-NDFP. (Photo by Mac Villarino/PCOO)

“Habang tinuturuan akong magsulat at magbasa, tinuturuan na nila akong maghawak ng baril, paano mag-target kung may kaaway (While they were teaching me how to read and write, they would teach me how to handle guns, how to target enemies if a fight ensues),” he said.

The tribal leaders are making their way across the United States — from New York to Chicago, California and Washington DC — to call on the international community to hear their plight back home.

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/1074043