Saturday, March 28, 2015

USAID builds more classrooms in Palo

From the Manila Standard Today (Mar 28): USAID builds more classrooms in Palo

PALO, Leyte—The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on Wednesday turned over two school buildings with 14 classrooms in Palo, Leyte -- the third classroom building project completed by the said agency this year.

Palo was one of the municipalities ravaged by typhoon Yolanda in November 2013.
Thank you! School children in Leyte wave American flaglets as a
gesture of gratitude to the USAID for its school rebuilding project.

Andrew Holland, USAID supervisory contracting/agreement officer who led the  turn-over ceremony of two buildings with 14 classrooms in Palo I Central School, said: “The United States government and other countries in the world have great determination to rebuild your lives after Yolanda.”

Holland added that aside from schools, the U.S. government is also keen on its livelihood and health care assistance to the Yolanda affected communities.

Melfe Grance Sanchez, school principal of Palo I Central School, said: “This project, which started last year, is a testimony to our conviction that has turned into reality” as she thanked the USAID and Education officials.

Students of Palo I Central School used to occupy temporary learning spaces without water and electrical facilities. Sixth grader Shan Abril, 11, said he was happy about the changes in his school.

“We are now comfortable inside the classroom. It feels good that our school is beautiful again,” added Queency Tobilla, another pupil.

According to Engr. Carlos Tan, USAID Rebuild Deputy Chief of Party for Infrastructure, USAID-Rebuild is targeting the completion of over 250 classrooms by January 2016. This is under their medium-term disaster rehabilitation program in Leyte municipalities.

USAID is working with local governments in building the classrooms.

“These classrooms will be earthquake and typhoon-resilient, taking the lesson after the powerful storm Yolanda,” he said.

Armed Forces alert for NPA anniversary

From the Visayan Daily Star(Mar 28): Armed Forces alert for NPA anniversary

Armed Forces of the Philippines soldiers are on alert status in preparation for the anniversary of the New People's Army on Sunday.
Army Brig. Gen. Joselito Kakilala, spokesperson of the AFP, who was in Bacolod City yesterday, said the rebels usually conduct atrocities in any part of the country before and during their anniversary.
“Usually, they conduct atrocities on soft targets,” Kakilala said.
“Jointly with the PNP, our field units are active in conducting law enforcement operations against the NPA,” he said.
The central command of the AFP has instructed all soldiers to be vigilant and to undertake law enforcement operations against the NPAs, Kakilala said.
Although there are still no concrete and tangible peace talks or negotiations on the ground, the AFP wants to push through the peace talks with the National Democratic Front, or with the negotiating panel of the NPA, Kakilala said.
He said the government has been urging the NPA to have peace talks since 2010.
On the Bangsamoro Basic Law, Kakilala said the AFP is confident that it will be approved, but there will be changes from its original content.
“We will support the processes in the passage of the BBL, such as public consultations, dialogs, discourses, and fora,” Kakilala said.
Once they get the side of Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the NPA, the country will be safe and secure and the tourism industry will be enhanced, he said.
Kakilala also reported that 45 provinces in the Philippines have been declared “peaceful and ready for further development.” The AFP aims to have all province in the country declared as such by the end of this year, or by early 2016.
Kakilala, a graduate of the Negros Occidental High School batch '78, was in Bacolod yesterday to address 2015 graduates of the school.

Cops on road patrol clash with suspected NPA rebels in Masbate

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Mar 27): Cops on road patrol clash with suspected NPA rebels in Masbate
Policemen on patrol in San Jacinto, Masbate, clashed with an undetermined number of suspected New People’s Army rebels shortly before dawn Friday.

Senior Police Officer 1 Zandro Cabintoy, spokesman of Masbate Provincial Police Office, said members of the 5th Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB) 2nd Maneuver Company were patrolling a forested area in Sitio Talaba, Barangay Burgos, San Jacinto when they heard a loud explosion followed by a volley of gunfire at 12:12 a.m.

He said a 30-minute exchange of gunfire ensued between the policemen led by Police Officer 1 Rommel Genopida and the communist guerrillas.

Cabintoy said investigators from the San Jacinto Municipal Police Office found 11 pieces of fired shells of a caliber 5.56 high-powered firearm, 13 pieces of fired shells of caliber 7.62 gun and two pieces fired shells of M203 in the clash site.

Police also recovered pieces of an empty softdrink can, about 300 meters of brown flat cord, three pieces of 9 mm steel bar, about one to two inches long shrapnel and several pieces of shattered orange plastic pipe believed for the improvised explosive device which exploded during the incident.

Cabintoy said it could have been a “case of harassment” that happened two days before the NPA’s celebration of its 46th founding anniversary.

He the policemen were “conducting preventive patrol in their observation post” when the encounter occurred. No one was hurt among the policemen.

Army nabs alleged NPA leader in Sorsogon

From InterAksyon (Mar 28): Army nabs alleged NPA leader in Sorsogon

Troops of the 9th Infantry Division arrested an alleged New People’s Army commander in Sorsogon Friday morning.

Captain Mardjorie Paimela Panesa, 9th Infantry Division spokesperson, said Jesus Guelas alias “Gapa” and “Insoy,” was captured around 11: 40 a.m. at Barangay Ginablan Occidental in Matnog town two days before the NPA’s 46th founding anniversary on March 29.

Guelas is allegedly the chief of the NPA’s Provincial Operational Command, Komiteng Probinsiya KOMPROB Sorsogon, and a member of the Bicol Regional Party Committee.

Panesa said the soldiers from the 903rd Infantry Brigade were conducting routine security operations when they chanced upon Guelas who initially identified himself as a Ricky Gardon to evade arrest.

Seized from his possession were a .45 caliber pistol, Ingram automatic pistol and improvised explosives.

Alleged NPA leader nabbed in Sorsogon

From GMA News (Mar 28): Alleged NPA leader nabbed in Sorsogon

Days before the 46th anniversay of the communist New People's Army, a suspected leader of the rebel group was arrested during a security operation in Sorsogon before noon Friday.

In an interview with reporters on Saturday, 2nd Lt. Janeth Barbacal, public affairs officer of the Army's 903rd Infantry Brigade, identified the suspect as Arsenio Guelas, alias Gapa and Insoy, who is believed to be the commanding officer of the Sorsogon provincial operational command and a member of the executive committee of the Bicol Regional Party Committee.

Barbacal said the suspect was caught by the Philippine Army's 31st Infantry Battalion at Ginablan Occidental village in Matnog town at around 11:40 a.m. on Friday.

Seized from Guelas, who has a pending arrest warrant for murder and frustrated murder, was a cal. 45 pistol, ammunition, magazine, a 4.5-kilo improvised bomb and detonating paraphernalia.

Barbacal said the military has coordinated with their police counterparts to determine additional charges to be filed against Guelas in connection with the recovery of war materials from him.

Guelas arrest came two days before the 46th foundation anniversary of the NPA.

On Friday, AFP public affairs office head Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, in a tweet, said the military will go on red alert starting Saturday noon because of the anniversary.

In a separate tweet, he said the NPA had been linked to killings and to extortion from traders and civilians.

NPA's 'protracted war' killing the lumad - AFP

From InterAksyon (Mar 28): NPA's 'protracted war' killing the lumad - AFP

Weapons recovered by government troops from alleged 'lumad' rebels who died in a clash in Sarangani province i February. (photo from Eastmincom)

The military said it is alarmed at the growing number of “lumad” turning up as rebel casualties in clashes in Eastern Mindanao, proof it claimed that it is the “protracted war” being waged by the communist New People’s Army that is killing off Mindanao’s indigenous people.

“There is no amount of propaganda to cover up the reality that majority of the casualties during encounters with our operating troops are ill-equipped and untrained Lumad combatants recruited into the NPA. We’re not happy with this and we too weep for the loss of innocent lives because of the NPA’s senseless war,” Brigadier General Joselito Kakilala, Civil Relations Service chief and concurrent spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said.

Kakilala accused the NPA of using “force and intimidation” to exploit what he called the “innocence and vulnerability” of the lumad to transform their communities into “laboratories of (the rebels’) own protracted war,” directed by “self-centered communist leaders such as Jose Maria Sison, Luis Jalandoni and others who enjoy the luxuries of life abroad.”

The NPA celebrates its 46th founding anniversary on March 29, an occasion the military says is often preceded by tactical offensives against government forces and economic sabotage on public and private installations and facilities.

However, Kakilala said the military is always ready to quell NPA attacks.

‘War against the lumad’ 

Lieutenant General Aurelio Baladad, commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command, said the NPA sees the ancestral domains of the lumad as ideal areas to build their “laboratories of protracted war.”

“The NPA uses communist propaganda through force and intimidation to corrupt the minds of our lumad brothers and sisters. The NPA introduces violence that destroys the simplistic nature and peaceful culture of the lumad. We’ve got to stop this,” Baladad said.

He cited the deaths of seven alleged NPA lumad fighters in Sarangani this February: alias Brigol, identified as deputy secretary and political officer; JM, identified as a team leader and logistics officer; Jonas/Batot, aother team leader; alias Lieutenant, a vice team leader; alias Mark, a medic; and alias Monet, a new recruit.

“Who wants war? Who wants death? We’re ready to die as your soldiers in order to protect and save lives of our people. But please don’t bring this war against us to the abodes of our peaceful and loving lumad people. This protracted war that the NPA is waging is destructive; it destroys life, culture and people. Our recent encounters show that more and more of our lumad brothers and sisters were the casualties of the NPA’s protracted war,” Baladad said.

He said of the estimated 1,985 NPA fighters within his command’s operational jurisdiction, 74 percent are lumad recruits.

“Truly our lumad people have been being used by the NPA as sacrificial lambs for its senseless and destructive protracted war,” Baladad said.

The Eastmincom claims to have killed 138 NPA fighters and captured 44 last year, with another 741 surrendering. It also claimed to have recovered 356 high-caliber and 386 low-caliber weapons, although Baladad said, “We don’t take pride in scorecards, anyway. We live and die defending and protecting our people from the violence of the NPA’s senseless and destructive protracted war.”

Lumad’s emancipation

AFP of staff General Greogrio Pio Catapang Jr. has ordered Baladad to reinforce efforts by his command to support lumad “emancipation movements” against the NPA.

Catapang said this movements allow the lumad to “take the lead and for us to provide the necessary lifelines. This is the spirit of our Internal Peace and Security Plan or Bayanihan,” referring to the government’s counterinsurgency program.

The AFP chief has given his full support to an AFP-IP Framework drawn up by the Easmincom to guide them and concerned local government units and other agencies in the formulation of specific campaign plans to address the issues and concerns of the lumad in Region 11 and CARAGA.

In line with this, said Baladad, they initiated the creation of a multi-sectoral Technical Working Group to focus on the enhancement of indigenous political structures, economic and development programs, security, quick reaction teams, and protection of ancestral domain.

“We’ve been conducting a series of meetings and consultations with all stakeholders and we really see a lot of hopes with the IP communities with the active participation of the LGUs and government agencies concerned,” Baladad said.

Lumads: We’re not against progress

Datu Lumansad Sibugan, the IP-mandated representative in Talaingod, said the indigenous peoples are not against progress.

“We also want economic progress in our abodes, to harness our natural resources. Let development and investment initiatives come into our homes if these would bring us economic progress without sacrificing of course our identity, culture and way of life, and also our environment. You respect us and we will also respect you,” Sibugan said.

Sibugan said they have had enough propaganda from the NPA on how to fight for their rights and ancestral domains.

“It’s time to move on from mere communist propaganda to reality. We have had enough of exploitation from the NPA and their allies. We wish that roads will be built leading to our areas as well as schools in order for us especially our children to learn,” Sibugan appealed.

PNP top spy who supplied Oplan Exodus intelligence packet recommended for general rank

From InterAksyon (Mar 28): PNP top spy who supplied Oplan Exodus intelligence packet recommended for general rank

The top intelligence officer of the Philippine National Police (PNP), who is reportedly close to resigned PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima, is among senior officers being recommended by the National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM) to President Benigno Aquino III for promotion to chief superintendent, or brigadier general in the military.

Senior Supt. Fernando Mendez Jr., currently Acting Director of the PNP Intelligence Group (IG), had provided the intelligence packet used by Purisima and former Special Action Force (SAF) Director Getulio Napeñas for their Oplan Exodus, the objective of which was to arrest high-value target terrorists on January 25 in the municipality of Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

The disastrous mission reportedly killed Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli Abdhir *nom de guerre Marwan) but missed Filipino bomb-maker Abdul Basit Usman and another Malaysian terrorist, Amin Baco alias Jihad.

While the SAF commandos were withdrawing, a combined force of hundreds of fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and one of its factions, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and some private armed groups (PAGs) waylaid them, resulting in the massacre of 44 of the commandos. The MILF claimed that they, too, lost 17 men. Reports said three civilians died in the crossfire.

The name of Mendez name was repeatedly mentioned by Napeñas during media interviews and in the Senate hearings and one hearing of the House of Representatives as the source of the intelligence packet that guided the planning and implementation of Oplan Exodus, which was approved by Aquino.

Aside from Mendez, the nine other senior superintendents, whose promotions are up for President Aquino's approval, are Billy Beltran, Acting Secretary of the Directorial Staff, Office of the Chief Directorial Staff; Joel Victor Canapi, Acting Executive Officer, Directorate for Comptrollership; Rolando Felix, Acting Executive Officer, Directorate for Operations; Eric Serafin Reyes, Acting Chief, National Operations Center, Directorate for Operations; Marrieto Valerio, Acting Deputy Regional Director for Administration, Police Regional Office (PRO) 6; Eddie Benigay, Acting Regional Director, Regional Internal Affairs Service 7; Sergio Dimandal, Acting Deputy Regional Director for Administration, Police Regional Office 10; Robert Quenery, Acting Deputy Regional Director for Administration, PRO Cordillera; and Noel Armilla, Acting Deputy Regional Director for Administration, PRO-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).  

NAPOLCOM Vice-Chairman and Executive Officer Eduardo Escueta said that also up for promotion to the Police Director rank (Major General in the military) are Chief Supt. Christopher Laxa, Acting Director for Human Resource and Doctrine Development, and Chief Supt. Dominador Aquino Jr., Acting Director for Integrated Police Operations – Eastern Mindanao.

"The Commission recommended the promotion to two-star rank of Police Chief Superintendents Laxa and Aquino since their present positions call for the rank of Police Director," Escueta said.

NPA attacks soldier, army post in Southern Philippines

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Mar 28): NPA attacks soldier, army post in Southern Philippines
New People’s Army rebels killed a government soldier in an attack Thursday in North Cotabato’s Magpet town and another military post in nearby town of Makilala in southern Philippines, officials said.

Officials said the soldier was travelling alone on a motorcycle when he was attacked by two rebels who tailed him on motorbike in Temporan village.

The identity of the slain soldier was not release by the military, but media reports have named the victim as Ricardo Paghubasan

Another band of rebels also assaulted a post manned by pro-government militias in Makilala town also in North Cotabato, but the attack sparked a firefight. No casualties were reported in the fighting.

There was no immediate statement from the NPA, but security officials put the blamed on the rebel group for the two attacks.

The NPA has been waging a separatist war for many decades now.

Philippine military assures safety of civilians as ops vs. jihadists continue

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Mar 28): Philippine military assures safety of civilians as ops vs. jihadists continue

Peace and development efforts continue in Maguindanao province as military continues campaign against Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

The Philippine military continues its offensive against jihadists it blamed for the series of terror attacks in the restive region of Mindanao as security officials assured the safety of civilians. 

An army commander, Melquiades Feliciano, even attended the graduation ceremony and also one of the guest speakers at Mamasapano National High School in Maguindanao province to show that the ongoing campaign will not affect the conduct of the commencement exercises in different schools here. 

“The military gives importance to education because we believe that it is an access to better opportunities that will bring peace and development in Mindanao. This commencement exercise exemplifies a milestone in seeking peace in light with recent hostilities between the government forces and the local and foreign terrorist,” he said. 

Security forces launched fresh operations against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and are pursuing other terrorists that included Basit Usman, a notorious bomber. 

For his part, General Edmundo Pangilinan, commander of the 6th Infantry Division, assured the public that government troops will secure civilian areas from lawless elements. 

He said troops will also help construct more than 3 dozen school buildings and a mosque in Maguindanao as part of the government’s peace and development efforts in the troubled Muslim autonomous region. 

Pangilinan also turned over 4 tricycles, 3 tractors, and dry goods to the family members of civilians killed during the bloody clash between police commandos and rebels in Mamasapano on January 25. 

He also launched medical and dental mission and provided free health services and medicines to the local residents.