Thursday, March 31, 2016

DWDD: STRICT COMPLIANCE II AFP reiterates ‘no ransom policy’ on abducted Indonesian sailors

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Mar 31): STRICT COMPLIANCE II AFP reiterates ‘no ransom policy’ on abducted Indonesian sailors

AFP Spokesperson-Col Padilla

The Armed Forces of the Philippines on Wednesday reiterated its strict compliance with the government’s ‘no ransom policy’ while assuring the mobilization of all resources to resolve the kidnapping incident which involved 10 Indonesian sailors off the coast of Tawi-Tawi.

This was stressed by AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla.

“The CSAFP (Chief-of-Staff AFP, Gen. Hernando DCA Iriberri) during his visit to the WMC (Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga City) yesterday reiterated AFP’s strict compliance to the government’s ‘no ransom policy’,” he added.

Padilla pointed out the rationale behind the measure, noting that activities of kidnapping groups will persist if they continue to acquire ransom money from their victims.

“If we are to end kidnapping-for-ransom (KFR) activities, we must deny these groups from achieving or getting their primary motive. The AFP will take strong action to discourage and will report monitored incidents of negotiations,” the military official stressed.

Regarding the identity of the kidnappers of the Indonesian sailors, Padilla said they are still to establish this with certainty.

“Although certain information received indicated that this is again a handiwork of the ASG (Abu Sayyaf Group) the AFP and all other government agencies in the province must first work to check, authenticate & validate these information to ascertain credibility before any confirmation can be done,” he added.

However, Padilla said that the kidnapping of the Indonesians over the weekend could have been conducted by groups sympathetic to the ASG bandits as the latter have been hard hit by government security forces in Basilan and Jolo for the past weeks.

“We see that the mounting pressure on the targeted groups in these areas may have compelled some of their sympathetic allies to initiate diversionary tactics to ease the pressure on their besieged forces. This may indicate that our forces are correctly pursuing core groups holding key hostages held by these KFR (kidnap-for-ransom) groups,” he added.

Despite this, focused military operations will continue against the bandit group.

DWDD: BK 2016 II 3rd ID in Capiz welcomes US ‘Balikatan’ contingent

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Mar 31): BK 2016 II 3rd ID in Capiz welcomes US ‘Balikatan’ contingent

Officers and enlisted personnel of the Capiz-based 3rd Infantry Division formally welcomed members of the US ‘Balikatan’ contingent.

This took place as the group made a courtesy call to 3rd ID headquarters in Camp Macario Peralta in Jamindan, Capiz Wednesday.

Brig. Gen. Dinoh Dolina, 3rd ID assistant commander, led the welcoming committee for members of the Joint Civil-Military Operations Task Force (JCMOTF) United States for “Balikatan” 2016.

The unit is head by Major Alejandro Bunyag.

He and his group will be training “shoulder-to-shoulder” on humanitarian civic assistance, cooperative health engagements and civil affairs with the troops of 3rd Infantry Division under the “Balikatan” 2016 Task Force Panay.

Military engineers of both countries started working side-by-side last March 29 at Jaena Norte Elementary School in Jamindan, Capiz, San Nicolas Elementary School in Tapaz, Capiz and Matangharon Elementary school in Dingle, Iloilo under the engineering Civic Action Program (ENCAP) which will run until April 16.

Last March 28-29, civil-military operations (CMO) exchange training particularly on information support affairs focusing on information support design and development was conducted; while a two-day civil affairs training started last March 30 with exchanges on CMO expertise from military personnel of both countries.

From March 31-April 1, leaders of “Balikatan” team in Panay will pay a courtesy call to the governors of the provinces of Capiz, Aklan, Iloilo and Antique.

Forthcoming “Balikatan” 2016 events in Panay include Cooperative Health Engagement in the three ENCAP sites through medical first aid trainings; at Camp Peralta through tactical combat casualty care courses and in Jamindan municipality which aims to provide medical associated training and seminars on first responders, disaster mental health, hygiene and nutrition training in accordance with the needs within the respective local communities.

Meantime, an implementation of a joint rapid reaction force particularly on Combined Logistics Point (CLP) will be conducted in the vicinity of Antique on April 11 to 14 demonstrating partnered capability in rapid response that will further increase the level of readiness and effectiveness of both countries in providing relief and assistance to the local communities in the event of natural disasters and other crises.

DWDD: NEW LIFE II Fmr NPA Receives Livelihood Assistance from CLIP of Iloilo LGU

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Mar 31): NEW LIFE II Fmr NPA Receives Livelihood Assistance from CLIP of Iloilo LGU

ILOILO PROVINCIAL CAPITOL, Iloilo City (DWDD) – A beneficiary of the government’s Comprehensive Local Integration Program received immediate and livelihood assistance from the Provincial Government of Iloilo during a turn-over of assistance ceremony at 9:30 a.m. here today March 31, 2016.

3ID CLIP Beneficiary 03312016

Alias Ruben is the latest beneficiary of CLIP who received the amount of Php 15, 000.00 for financial assistance and Php 50, 000.00 worth of livelihood assistance to start a livelihood project which will be monitored regularly by the Department of Social Welfare and Development and other concerned agencies.

Alias Ruben was one of the sixty-seven former rebels who returned to the government’s fold in 2015 from Panay and Negros after realizing the futility of the armed struggle.

“Nag desider ako nga abandonahon ang armado nga panghimakas bangud sa kabudlay nga akon naagum kag wala man kami may madangatan sa sulod sang hublag (I decided to abandon the armed struggle because of the hardships that I experienced and there is no clear direction for us inside the movement). Sa madugay na nga ti-on, wala ko gid makita ang akon pamilya labi na gid ang akon mga ginikanan bangud gina dumili-an kami (For a long time, I was not able to see my family especially my parents because we are prohibited to do so). Amo ini nga nangayo ako sing bulig sa 82nd Infantry Battalion sing Philippine Army (That’s why I seek the assistance of the 82nd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army),” alias Ruben said.

The Army’s 82IB under Lt. Col. Enriqueto Deocadez, Jr together with the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office of Iloilo facilitated the profiling of alias Ruben and the processing of pertinent documents for the livelihood assistance under the CLIP.

Hon Arthur Defensor, Sr, Governor of Iloilo handed over the livelihood assistance which was also attended by Iloilo provincial offices of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the 3rd Infantry (Spearhead) Division, Philippine Army and the media.

Governor Defensor once again expressed the provincial government’s full support in the efforts to attain lasting peace in the province of Iloilo.

In the first quarter of 2016, a total of ten NPA members in Panay had turned their backs from armed violence and chose to live peaceful lives. They revealed their longing for their families and that fighting is not the solution to their problems.

Meanwhile, Col Eric Uchida, Commanding Officer of 301st Brigade said “This is an indication that many rebels are getting tired of the hardships in the mountains and we expect more of them to abandon the armed struggle and go back to mainstream society.”

Alias Ruben expressed his deep gratitude especially to the Philippine Army for facilitating his return to the folds of law and mainstream society and also to the provincial government for providing him such program which will help him to become productive citizen of Iloilo.

Brig. Gen. Harold Cabreros, commander of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division for his part reiterated the call of all the stakeholders for NPA remnants to abandon the armed struggle, embrace peace and take the opportunity of the government’s integration program. “Join us together with the stakeholders in our efforts to end violence and insurgency and promote peace and development in our society,” Cabreros said. 3DPAO / MCAG

DWDD: Armed Men Harass CAA Detachment in Cotabato

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Mar 31): Armed Men Harass CAA Detachment in Cotabato


MANILA (DWDD) – Suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) harassed a CAFGU Active Auxilliary (CAA) Detachment at Brgy Kisante, Makilala town in Cotabato around 8:20 PM last night.

Firefight was still on progress as of this reporting (8:40pm.)

The Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police units in the area were alerted to respond and for possible similar harassment. AES

DWDD: MAINTANING SECURITY II Soldiers Encounter NPAs in Bukidnon

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Mar 31): MAINTANING SECURITY II Soldiers Encounter NPAs in Bukidnon

NPA Cadres 3

MALAYBALAY CITY, Bukidnon (DWDD) – Army troopers on security patrol operations encountered some members of the New People’s Army (NPA) the other day in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon.

According to Captain Lorenzo Siobal, Civil –Military Operations Officer of Philippine Army’s 403rd Infantry Brigade, two soldiers were killed-in-action and they were identified as Private Nicol Sermito from Calveria Misamis Oriental and Private Norbert Romanillos of Lanao del Sur, while taken to the nearest hospital for treatment was Sgt. Elmer Cabingi of Iligan City.

Reports reaching Camp Aguinaldo showed that the encounter occurred at around 5:30 pm at Upper Lubunan, Barangay Casisang, Malaybalay City when government forces,  encountered at least 7 rebels belonging to Guerilla Front 68 led by Alexander Ilesis alias Commander Wawing or Bagwis.

The firefight lasted 15 minutes before the bandits scampered towards with unknown number of casualties. Troops are conducting pursuit operations against the rebels. Zaida delos Reyes-Palanca /  AES / MCAG

DWDD: 42nd ENGAGEMENT II 4ID Scores Again Against NPA Remnants in Agusan

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Mar 31): 42nd ENGAGEMENT II 4ID Scores Again Against NPA Remnants in Agusan

CAMP EVANGELISTA, Cagayan de Oro City (DWDD) – The 4th Infantry Division, Philippine Army scores again after the troops under 29th Infantry Battalion encountered the remaining NPA at the outskirts of Tubay and Santiago towns of Agusan del Norte, Morning and Afternoon on March 30, 2016, Two NPA died and one AK47 rifle recovered.

The two separate encounters marked the 24th Armed Engagement against the NPA remnants in Agusan del Norte for the past month.

At 9:30 am, one team from 29IB, who are conducting support to Law Enforcement Operations in the outskirt areas of Brgy Telesfora, Tubay, Agusan del Norte, encountered the NPA who are conducting extortion activities with the locales. The encounter lasted for 15 minutes that eventually pushed the NPA to withdraw out of the engagement area. Troops recovered one AK47 rifle.

Meanwhile, on the adjacent town at Santiago, Agusan del Norte, another team from 29IB, who are also conducting support to Law Enforcement Operations at the outskirts of Sitio Tabon, Brgy San Isidro, Santiago, ADN, encountered another NPA group who are also conducting same activities with the populace. The encounter happened at 3:45 pm for about 30 minutes that resulted to the NPA scampered to different directions. People in the area have seen the NPA carrying their two dead comrades.

MGen Benjamin R Madrigal Jr., Commander of 4th Infantry Division said, “Again, to the NPA leaders in Caraga, if you really care for your men, you will not let them suffer to this non-sense armed struggle. We are calling you once again, to end these atrocities and finally Give Peace a Chance.”

“To the peace-loving people of Caraga region, rest assured that your Army will always be at the forefront ensuring peace and security in every community. We all know that you’re already tired on the lies and deceit of these extortionist groups. Thank you for your cooperation especially in providing timely and relevant information on their location and activities. With your support, we can finally end this insurgency problem and move on to our dream of having a peaceful community that is conducive for development.”

Troops are still pursuing the remaining NPA members. 4DPAO / MCAG

Variant of this Indian warship could be soon in Philippine Navy service

From Update.Ph (Mar 31): Variant of this Indian warship could be soon in Philippine Navy service 

Department of National Defense Undersecretary for Finance, Munition, Materiel and Modernization Fernando Manalo said March 30 that Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers of India is undergoing post qualification checks for the Indian government-owned shipyard’s bid to supply two Philippine Navy frigates.

Manalo said that Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) is the lowest bidder among the previously reported qualified bidders which include Navantia Sepi of Spain, STX Offshore & Shipbuilding of South Korea, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. Ltd. of South Korea, Hyundai Heavy Industries Inc. of South Korea, and STX France SA.

Undersecretary Manalo clarified that there is no winning bidder yet. But he noted that delivery of new frigates will be in the same period for the delivery of two anti-submarine helicopters from AgustaWestland which is 900 days after the signing of Notice to Proceed. Contract for two helicopters was signed March 29.

Though the class of frigate GRSE offered was not mentioned, it is highly hypothesized by observers that a variant/derivative of Kamorta-class Anti Submarine Warfare Corvette was offered.

The Indian Navy is currently operating two corvettes of the said class: the INS Kamorta commissioned August 2014 and the recently commissioned INS Kadmatt (January 2016). Two other corvettes were already launched for the Indian Navy and are expected to be commissioned within the second half of 2016 and before 2017 ends.

Kamorta-Class ship has an overall length of 109 meters and has a standard displacement of 2800 tons. It also uses a combined diesel and diesel (CODAD) propulsion system.

The revised technical specification released by the DND stipulated that the frigates should be at least 95 meters long and have a displacement of at least 2000 tons.

IN PHOTOS: US Sailors, Marines arrive in Subic for Balikatan

From Update.Ph (Mar 31): IN PHOTOS: US Sailors, Marines arrive in Subic for Balikatan

American Sailors and Marines who will take part in Balikatan 2016 have arrived March 30 in Subic aboard United States Naval Ship Millinocket.
American troops arrived together with their vehicles to be used in the said joint exercise.

Balikatan 2016 will officially open next week, however, pre-Balikatan activities have started several days ago. Balikatan will run until April 15.

An estimated 3,773 Filipino soldiers and 4,904 US troops will participate in the two-week military maneuvers.

The purpose of Balikatan 16 is to strengthen interoperability and partner-nation capabilities for the planning and execution of military operations, and advance regional security operations.
US Navy photo.
US Navy photo.
US Navy photo.
US Navy photo.

US Navy photo.
US Navy photo.

Bulatlat: Thousands pay tribute to Ka Roger Rosal, a revolutionary

From the Communist Party of the Philippines-affiliated online propaganda publication Bulatlat (Mar 30): Thousands pay tribute to Ka Roger Rosal, a revolutionary
Ka Roger Rosal's remains will be brought to his hometown in Ibaan. Batangas, March 31. (Photo by Southern Tagalog Exposure)
Ka Roger Rosal’s remains will be brought to his hometown in Ibaan. Batangas, March 31. (Photo by Southern Tagalog Exposure)

Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal described the ‘democracy’ prevailing in the country as ‘disgrasya’ and not ‘demokrasya’. (an unfortunate circumstance and not a democracy)

MANILA – If Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal had not become a revolutionary fighter, he thought he would probably be just your typical ordinary person without a vice; he would like be just any other youth, and later a simple farmer.
But as many now know and as many more should know, according to his admirers, Rosal became a revolutionary fighter and he never stopped at it until his death in 2011, at the age of 64. He was then a famous revolutionary leader, spokesperson of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), wanted and pursued relentlessly by the state military but cherished and adored in guerilla zones and even in the urban centers reached by his broadcasting on the Philippine revolution.
He was an honor student in his elementary and high school, but he had to work various jobs after high school, doing odd jobs at the house of his parents’ sugarcane landlords. He sold mosquito nets and, according to one of the journalists who interviewed him late in his life, even worked as “kubrador” (collector) for the omnipresent jueteng (small town lottery).
Having seen and also experienced discrimination and injustice first hand, Rosal said in an interview conducted years ago, he sought out the activists himself when, at last, he started college at 24 years old, in 1971.
He was a member of the CPP even before the declaration of Martial Law in 1972. He was arrested in July 1973, and imprisoned without charges for five months, until he and others like him decided to free themselves.
Asked by his relatives what he was doing when they saw him home after he escaped from prison, he was quoted to have replied: “Ala eh, kami e pinauwi na. Wala daw kami ginagawa doon.” (Oh, we’re made to leave. They said we’re not doing anything there.)
He immediately acted on the doing-nothing part – he promptly went to the countryside and joined the New People’s Army (NPA). He and hundreds more of activists like him led in forming “revolutionary bases” and guerilla zones.
When he died in one of those guerilla zones 40 years later, he was someone whose presence and voice were sorely missed.
Thousands march from Cubao, Quezon City to University of the Philippines in Diliman in a public tribute to Gregorio "Ka Roger" Rosal, the late spokesperson of the Communist Party of the Philippines. (Photo by Southern Tagalog Exposure)
Thousands march from Cubao, Quezon City to University of the Philippines in Diliman in a public tribute to Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal, the late spokesperson of the Communist Party of the Philippines. (Photo by Southern Tagalog Exposure)

“When it had been months, then years, that we haven’t heard him on the radio, and we asked about him, we’re told he was just somewhere far. As it turned out, he was really very far away now. He’d been fetched by the Lord. It’s sad news to hear that he’s no longer with us,” said veteran broadcaster Deo Macalma in a sharing before a crowd of thousands gathered to pay tribute to Rosal.

“Ka Roger was a serious man, but he had a sense of humor,” said journalist Ed Lingao, who was one of the last journalists to have trekked to an NPA camp to interview Ka Roger.
“He held fast to his principles, but still could make you laugh,” he added of Ka Roger. He praised Ka Roger whom he described as not just another angry young man.
He recalled that he asked Ka Roger if he regretted his choices in life, what he had become at various times. He said Ka Roger had no regrets, and that he said he became what he was because of all those things he went through.
‘Till we meet again, Ka Roger’
An estimated crowd of more than 5,000 gathered March 29 to pay tribute to Rosal.
March 29 marked the 47th anniversary since the founding of the NPA, the armed wing of the CPP. In the program held at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, the d activists saluted not only Rosal, but also the NPA and the CPP leading it, and the “national democratic revolution with a socialist perspective” that they have been waging for the last nearly 50 years. This revolution, they said, nurtured and developed the likes of “Ka Roger.” They expressed optimism that more people like Ka Roger are taking up arms and continuing the struggle, driven as they are by the Philippine society’s chronic crisis.
The tribute was dubbed as “Ka Roger: A legacy of the People’s Struggle for a Just and Lasting Peace.”
Rosal died of a heart attack five years ago, on June 22, 2011, in an undisclosed NPA guerilla zone. He was 64. He was survived by his daughters, his family, and the rest of the ranks of armed and unarmed revolutionaries and activists professing that they are looking up to his examples.
In a statement of the CPP, it said Rosal was buried somewhere in Northern Luzon, but his cremated remains will now be brought to his hometown in Ibaan, Batangas. Rosal will be interred beside his wife Rosario Lodronio-Rosal, also a revolutionary guerilla who died in battle, and his granddaughter Dion Andrea. The latter died at birth while her mother Andrea was still under detention.
CPP saw it fit that after five years, Ka Roger’s remains will be moved and buried in a grave imprinted with his name, and the homage to him as the “Voice of the Philippine Revolution.”
A serious man with a sense of humor
Rosal shot to fame as the no-nonsense, sharply witty CPP spokesperson. Although he excelled in education and organizing work of the Communist Party, and in mass work, which propelled him to leadership position in the party, the task he loved to do most was broadcasting on the radio, said Prof. Jose Maria Sison, CPP founding chair and chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, in a video message shown during the program.
Rosal enjoyed broadcasting at his Sierra Madre radio program of the revolutionary movement and responded to questions thrown by his fellow broadcasters from big networks based in Manila, said Sison.
This, Rosal managed to do, because he apparently kept himself up to date. In a sharing, Satur Ocampo, former Bayan Muna Representative, recalled how he noticed that Rosal, carrying his bag and firearm, would listen on his transistor radios while traversing the forest of Sierra Madre.
Macalma also recalled how, when he was at a rebel camp for one of those press conferences about the state of society and revolution, he woke up at 4 a.m. because he heard Ka Roger listening to the news.
“He’s addicted to the radio,” said Macalma.
The NDFP in Southern Tagalog said Ka Roger’s radio pronouncements played a major role in shaping public opinion.
The NDFP hailed in a separate statement Rosal’s pioneering guerilla radio broadcasting, where he and his team aired the good news about the revolution, and celebrated its victories and sacrifices from shifting bases of operation. How the masses were soon eager to listen to him, and how the military tried, and failed, to find and suppress him, said the NDFP statement.
The CPP recalled, in another statement, how the reactionaries were mortified at the nation’s still vivid memories, recognition and admiration for Ka Roger.
“When Ka Roger was spokesperson of the (Communist) Party, he was always a headache of fascist military officials and bureaucrat capitalists because he was promptly exposing and opposing the lies and deception of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the ruling puppet state,” the CPP said in Filipino.
Now, even in death, Ka Roger’s life is helping to expose myths, based on statements read in praise of his legacy. For example, the myth of democracy in the Philippines (Rosal himself had called it disgrasya, not really demokrasya even by its textbook meaning); the myth of promised change in elections, and the lies against the communist movement and revolution.
“Let us remember him by living up to his sharp propaganda,” his youngest daughter said in a voice message played during the tribute.
Rosal’s youngest daughter said she is proud and honored to have communist parents.
Despite the hardships of having to move frequently, growing up without seeing their parents, she said she and her sibling had never felt bereft.
“I felt the love of my parents in the love and respect they nurtured in their comrades and the masses who in turn looked out for us,” Rosal’s youngest daughter said.
She echoed the others’ statements about this being the opportune moment to recall and celebrate Rosal’s life, especially now, “when candidates are vying to be the next puppets,” Rosal’s youngest daughter said. Like the others who warned against the illusion of democracy peddled by election candidates, she warned that no real change can be expected from these competing would-be puppets. “You can get real democracy in a revolution, and not in an election.”

Army official: Rebels’ strength decline

From the Sun Star-Zamboanga (Mar 31): Army official: Rebels’ strength decline

A TOP military official said the government is winning the war against the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CNN) in the three Zamboanga provinces.

Colonel Jesus Manangquil, Jr., Army’s 101st Infantry Brigade commander, said the CNN has already lost mass based supports in the provinces of Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, and Zamboanga Sibugay.

Manangquil said the NPA rebels based in the three Zamboanga provinces belong to the Western Mindanao Regional Party Committee (WMRPC), which is headed by a certain Ka Bamban.

Manangquil said the strength of the WMRPC has declined to less than 100 armed followers this year from more than 1,000 in the previous years.

In the case of Zamboanga del Norte, Manangquil said the Bayanihan Outreach Program of the provincial government is of big help to the campaign against the NPA rebels aside from the continued military offensive.

He said the NPA rebels are always on the run evading the government troops since they have lost mass-based support.

“Marami na sa kanila ang sumuko,” he added.

He said this is also the reason why the NPA rebels could not even launch tactical attacks despite orders from the higher echelon of the CNN.

Joma Sison: CPP, Ninoy have no role in Plaza Miranda bombing

From the Philippine Daili Inquier (Mar 31): Joma Sison: CPP, Ninoy have no role in Plaza Miranda bombing

 National Democratic Front (NDF) chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison talks to Philippine media at the NDF office in Utrecht. Photo by Kristine Angeli Sabillo/

 In this December 2015 photo, National Democratic Front chief political consultant Jose Maria “Joma” Sison talks to Philippine media at the NDF office in Utrecht. KRISTINE ANGELI SABILLO/

Reacting to “resurrected” accusations he and the late Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. plotted the Plaza Miranda bombing in 1971, Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chair Jose Maria “Joma” Sison has reiterated that he had no role in the grenade-throwing in Quiapo, Manila, during a Liberal Party political rally.

Sison said former President Ferdinand Marcos used the bombing to justify his move to suspend the writ of habeas corpus and eventually declare martial law, noting the late dictator did not charge him, Aquino, and other coaccused for the incident due to lack of evidence.

“He (Marcos) did not charge us for it before any of his military commissions. Instead, he had Aquino and (Bernabe) Buscayno convicted and given the death sentence by a military commission in 1978 on trumped up charges unrelated to the Plaza Miranda incident.  The charges of subversion and rebellion filed against me before two military commissions never included the Plaza Miranda in the specifications,” Sison recalled in an interview with Ilena Saturay, a copy of which was obtained by

“The only instance when I was interrogated about the Plaza Miranda incident was on the evening of my day of arrest, Nov. 10, 1977.  It was done by Col. Saturnino Domingo who asked me questions in a very intimidating and menacing manner at the Constabulary intelligence office. I showed him the mendacity and absurdity of the presumption of his questions. Thereafter, I was no longer asked questions about the Plaza Miranda incident even while I was under severe torture and interrogation at the Military Security Unit compound where I was detained,” he said.

Sison maintained that the accusations pinning him down as the brains behind the bombing that left nine people dead and 95 others injured were aimed to “discredit” CPP and the revolutionary movement.

“The highest military officials at the time openly attacked me for my lectures and statements abroad denouncing the US-Aquino regime and demanded that my Philippine passport be cancelled to force my return to the Philippines from late 1986 onwards while I was still in the Asia-Pacific phase of my tour. Then they proceeded to include in their anti-Sison attacks the Plaza Miranda incident,” he said.

“They succeeded in having my passport cancelled in 1988 and filing against me a case of subversion unrelated to the Plaza Miranda incident.  By 1989 they succeeded in having the Senate president direct the blue ribbon and justice committees to hold joint committee hearings to investigate the Plaza Miranda incident,” he added.

The communist leader said his “military detractors” wanted to demonize him by presenting “purely hearsay and speculative testimonies” through witnesses in the 1989 Senate hearings, noting the Manila city prosecutor dismissed the complaint in 1994 as based on “sheer speculations.”

“Those attacks are pure rubbish.  They usually recycle false testimonies against me and conjectures from previous publications against me.  They never present my side in full even if the case file is available and the submissions and counter-submissions are accessible,” he said.

“Those who attack me have varying motives.  The ideologically motivated attack me as the personification of the entire revolutionary movement. They calculate that by doing so they have a short cut for discrediting the entire movement. There are also some attackers who turned renegades or traitors to the revolutionary movement and try to justify their renegacy or betrayal by vilifying me and the entire movement.  There are also mere crooks.  They attack me in order to a make some bucks.  They do so now as paid agents of Bongbong Marcos,” Sison added.

The CPP head also belied allegations that Aquino, father of President Benigno Aquino III and husband of the late democracy icon Corazon Aquino, was cofounder of the communist party and the New People’s Army and his family had been collaborating until the early months of his wife’s administration.

“Ninoy Aquino could not have been a communist or founder of the CPP. He was well known as a CIA asset from the time he was a war correspondent in Korea. He was the political representative of the comprador big bourgeoisie and the landlord class. He made himself popular by harping only on issues of corruption and civil liberties. He never opposed the ruling system of big compradors and landlords,” he said.

Moises Padilla cops need augmentation

From the Visayan Daily Star (Apr1): Moises Padilla cops need augmentation

Senior Inspector Hector Balbon, newly-designated officer-in-charge of the Moises Padilla Police Station, wants to have an augmentation force to beef up the town police station.

Balbon said yesterday that the recent liquidation of former Army MSgt. Armando Secuya in Brgy. Guinpana-an, Moises Padilla, by suspected New People's Army assassins, bolstered intelligence reports that the rebel group has deployed its Special Partisan Unit members in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental, and its neighboring areas in central Negros, including the towns.

Secuya used to be a former Army intelligence non-commissioned officer, Balbon said.

He raised the possibility that the killing of Secuya may be related to his former job as an Army intelligence operative.

But he doused speculations that his death may have been related to politics, as his wife, Guinpana-an kagawad Emmy Secuya, is running for councilor in Moises Padilla.

The recent town fiesta of Moises Padilla ended peacefully, with no untoward incident taking place.

Balbon thanked the Philippine Army for helping him in the maintenance of peace and order during the town fiesta.

The Moises Padilla Police Station has been on red alert status, following the liquidation activity of suspected NPA rebels in one of its barangays.

Balbon said he is hopeful that the Moises Padilla police will be reinforced soon by neophyte police officers, who recently completed their basic police training.

Child dies, 2 hurt when NPA rebels attack Army post in North Cotabato

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Apr 1): Child dies, 2 hurt when NPA rebels attack Army post in North Cotabato

KIDAPAWAN CITY, North Cotabato — A child died while two others were hurt when New People’s Army rebels attacked a military detachment near a civilian-populated area in Barangay Kisante in Makilala, North Cotabato, on Thursday evening, the police said Friday.

PO1 Jeralyn Tavarro, officer on duty at the Makilala police, said an undetermined number of NPA rebels stormed the detachment of the 72nd Infantry Battalion in Sitio Alang-alang around 8 p.m.

The attack took place barely three days after the rebels celebrated their 47th anniversary.
 Tavarro said the firefight lasted for 15 minutes, sending residents living at the back portion of the military camp scampering for safety.

She said a seven-month old baby, identified as Joylyn Dado, was killed when she was hit by a stray bullet in the middle of the encounter, during which, explosions also took place.

Two other minors, identified as Judith Darino, 17; and one-year old John Patrick Binoy, were hit by shrapnel and are now being treated at the Makilala Medical Specialist Center.

Tavarro said the rebels eventually retreated, without taking over the detachment.

Minister Retno Claims Abu Sayyaf Group`s Movement is Detected

From Tempo (Mar 31): Minister Retno Claims Abu Sayyaf Group`s Movement is Detected

Minister Retno Claims Abu Sayyaf Group`s Movement is Detected

Foreign Minister, Retno Marsudi with senior journlist Trias Kuncahyono when discuss in Jakarta, March 2, 2016. Tempo/ Aditia Noviansyah

Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno L.P. Marsudi said that government remains to do the rescue effort of the ten crew member of Indonesian ship being held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf group in Philippines.

She said within the last three days, the Foreign Ministry has been intensifying the coordination and communication with the Philippine government,

"We’ve gained information of the movement, position, and condition of the hostages from time to time," Retno said at a press conference in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jakarta on Thursday, March 31, 2016.

Minister Retno delivered information on the latest development of the ten Indonesian hostages for only about two minutes without holding question and answer session.

Even she did not tell any detail following the position and condition of the hostages.

The ten crew members were sailing on Anand 12 ship with 7,000 tons of coal on it along with TB Brahma 12 vessel; both departed from Putting River of South Kalimantan and were heading to Batangas, South Philippines on March 15.

It was reported later that Abu Sayyaf militia group hijacked ten crew members of Anand 12 ship while the TB Brahma was released and found by the Philippine Languyan police in Tawi-Tawi province.

 At the press conference, Retno said the government is still compromizing the best option to rescue the hostages.

"As I have told last Tuesday, the safety of the crew members is our priority," she said.

Retno explained the communication between her and the Philippine Foreign Minister had been very intensive. She knew from the latest communication with the Philippine Foreign

Minister Thursday morning that Philippines' support was very crucial in any means of hostage rescue. She said Indonesia appreciates the coordination and support from the Philippine government.

Retno added that her colleagues are also communicating with their counterparts in Philippines. Besides, the Foreign Ministry has also communicated with the crew members’ families.

ASG with 10 Indonesian sailors hiding in Sulu

From the Manila Bulletin (Mar 31): ASG with 10 Indonesian sailors hiding in Sulu

A senior leader of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) said yesterday he received information the 10 Indonesian sailors kidnapped on March 26 by the Islamic State (IS)-sympathizer Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) are being kept in Kalinggalang-Caluang municipality of Sulu.
The source, who is a native of Sulu but currently lives in Zamboanga City, said he has contact with some relatives of ASG sub-leaders but declined to be identified in print.
He said he also gets his information from sources in the Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), particularly at Edward Andrews Air Force Base in the city.
Based on the information he received, the MNLF leader, who declined to be named, identified the ASG sub-group under Alhabsi Misaya and Uddon Hassim as the ones behind the abduction of the Indonesian sailors.
He said Misaya and Hassim were “monitored with 15 armed men and 10 Indonesian kidnapping victims (KVs)… landed at shoreline of Barangay Kambing, Kalinggalang-Caluang municipality, Sulu, early morning of March 27 on board a speed boat gray (in) color powered by three outboard engines.”
The MNLF leader, citing his sources, said the ASG gunmen and their KVs came from Languyan, Tawi-Tawi, where they snatched their hostages in the early morning of March 26 (Saturday).
 “Presently, abductors and KVs are hiding in the vicinity of Barangay Masjid Punjungan Kiram, still in Kalinggalang-Caluang, under the care of ASG members Sahirul Sahiyal and Taib Lukman, both of Alhabsi Misaya group,” he said in a text message.
Earlier news reports from Indonesian online media outlets said the Indonesian sailors were on board two boats sailing from Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan, en route to Batangas, Philippines, to deliver a cargo of coal.
But on March 26, gunmen later identified as Moros from Sulu intercepted and boarded their boats in Tawi-Tawi waters, seized them and took the crew members captives.

Indonesia seeks best option in case of kidnapped crewmen

From Antara News (Mar 31): Indonesia seeks best option in case of kidnapped crewmen

BIN aware of hostages` location in Philippines

The Chief of the State Intelligence Agency (BIN), Sutiyoso, confirmed on Thursday that BIN had discovered the location where 10 Indonesian citizens are being held by Abu Sayyaf group in the Philippines.
"We have discovered the location and so have to evaluate various options, but the safety of the hostages would remain a priority," he said at the presidential palace compound.

He further said in its capacity as an intelligence agency, BIN would continue to disseminate information about developments in the case, along with any updates.

He said he had ordered his personnel to closely cooperate with the Philippine intelligence with regards to knowing the development of the case.

"We keep supplying information to the government, including the commander of the Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI), who I met last night," he said.

Sutiyoso asked the media to keep monitoring its development and demanded that they would not report it excessively.

Regarding the condition of the 10 Indonesian hostages he assured they were safe.

"They are still safe, but we do not know if they have been separated from each other or not," he said.

Sutiyoso explained that besides the 10 Indonesian citizens, there were also 11 citizens from Canada, the Netherlands, Norway and the Philippines who had been held by the group.

"Of course politically it is not easy for us to pursue the option of hitting them to save the hostages, besides the tactical aspects of such a move," he said.

The Indonesian government, he said, would continue to prioritize negotiations for at least the next eight days.

Asked about the rejection of the Philippines government of the Indonesian offer to help in dealing with the case, Sutiyoso said he thought it might have to do with pride and reputation.

"They may perhaps think of pride and reputation. We will also do it by ourselves when a hostage situation arises in the country. In view of that we need to coordinate. Let us just wait and see," he added.

Indonesia seeks best option in case of kidnapped crewmen

From the Jakarta Post (Mar 31): Indonesia seeks best option in case of kidnapped crewmen

Sutomo,49, shows a picture of his son Bayu Oktavianto in Klaten, Central Java, on Tuesday. Bayu is one of 10 Indonesian sailors held captive by a militant group in the Philippines.(Antara/Aloysius Jarot Nugroho)

The government has intensified coordination with the Philippines government, looking for the best option to save  a group of sailors held captive by a militant group in Philippines waters, the foreign minister said on Thursday.

In the past three days, the Foreign Ministry and its Philippine counterpart have continued their joint efforts to save 10 Indonesian crewmen held as hostages by Abu Sayyaf militants, according to Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi.

Other Indonesians officials from the Indonesian Military (TNI), the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) and the National Intelligence Agency (BIN) have also been communicating intensively with their counterparts in the Philippines to maximize efforts, Retno said.

"We are now still looking for the best solution. As I said on Tuesday, the safety of the 10 Indonesian crewmen is our outmost priority," Retno said in a press briefing at the Foreign Ministry on Thursday.

The ministry confirmed on Tuesday that two Indonesian-flagged vessels, the Brahma 12 and Anand 12, had been hijacked in the Philippines by a group reported to be Abu Sayyaf. Tugboat Brahma 12 has since been  handed to the Philippine authorities while the Anand 12, with 10 Indonesian crewmen, is still being held.

The notorious Southern-Philippines-based Abu Sayyaf militant group has contacted the vessels' owners and demanded a ransom of $1.08 million, setting a five-day deadline for the payment that began on  March 26.

The Foreign Ministry has been leading negotiations with the hijackers, while consulting with all relevant parties to step up the measures for the rescue, Retno added.
"Indonesia appreciates the cooperation and the support of the Philippine government ," she added.

Soldiers ramp and sing in celebration of founding anniversary

From the Philippine Information Agency (Mar 31): Soldiers ramp and sing in celebration of founding anniversary

Soldiers of the 24th Infantry (Wildcat) Battalion showed  they are  not only good in combat but also for catwalk and pageantry as they ramped their good looks and physique during the celebration of the 119th Founding Anniversary of the Philippine Army on March 22 at the Bangued Town Plaza.

 The Wildcats under the command of Lt. Col. Thomas Dominic B. Baluga displayed their artillery weapons and various communications equipment and rescue paraphernalia as they modelled on stage in their colorful uniforms that they wear on different occasions and activities.

 The uniforms of the Philippine Army vary depending on the occasions and opportunities such as their ordinary office uniform, their athletic attires, and even those for combat operations vary depending on the role each soldier play. Their camouflage uniforms for instance, vary from an ordinary activity of doing foot patrol, combat operation, or sniffing.

 For the rescue paraphernalia, the specially-designed motorized boat made of steel drums, the brainchild of Gen. David B. Diciano, Commander, 702nd Infantry Brigade, PA, was also displayed. The “Diciano Rescue Boat” is a low-cost and highly effective rescue equipment because unlike the rubber boat, it is sturdy and reliable it does not break when it runs through debris and stones in rivers and creeks.

 Since this is the first time that said combat paraphernalia were presented in public, the Abrenians enjoyed taking souvenir photos with the model soldiers. To add to the merriment, the Wildcat Band had a concert.

PH-US ‘Balikatan’ 2016 to focus on humanitarian assistance

From the Philippine Information Agency (Mar 30): PH-US ‘Balikatan’ 2016 to focus on humanitarian assistance

ROXAS CITY, CapizHumanitarian civic assistance and conduct of training will be the focus of this year’s joint Balikatan exercises of the Philippines and the United States of Amercia.

Spokesperson Lt. Col. Ray Tiongson of the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division disclosed that many communities in Panay island will be the target beneficiaries of the various humanitarian assistance activities of said event.

He said that the Balikatan 2016 which is set on April 4 to 16 will be centered on a variety of missions to include humanitarian assistance, maritime law enforcement and environmental protection.

The 3ID together with its counterpart from the U.S. Armed Forces will conduct Humanitarian Civic Assistance projects that include Engineering Civic Action Program (ENCAP) and Cooperative Health Engagement activities barangay Jaena Norte in Jamindan town and San Nicolas, Tapaz town, both in the province of Capiz as well as in barangay Matangharon in Dingle, Iloilo.

The preliminary work on three different elementary school buildings in the three ENCAP sites started on March 29, while the military medical personnel of both countries in partnership with the local community-based health workers will conduct medical first aid training in the same areas in the coming days.

Tiongson said that the other Balikatan 2016 events within the area of 3ID include the training on basic first responders, disaster mental health, and hygiene and nutrition in the Jamindan town as well as conduct of Civil-Military Operations Exchange training at Camp Peralta, also in the municipality of Jamindan.

“The implementation of a joint rapid-reaction force in the vicinity of the province of Antique as part of the distributed operations, demonstrating the partnered capability in rapid response is set on April 11 to 14,” he said.

Primarily, the activity aims to enhance the techniques, tactics and procedures as a critical part of interoperability as well as readiness and cooperation of both countries, consistent with the Mutual Defense Treaty and Visiting Forces Agreement.

In last year’s Balikatan, the Don Joaquin Artuz availed of one duplex school building while the classrooms at San Nicolas National High School were repaired and repainted. Said schools are Tapaz town.

Tiongson said that the formal opening ceremony of this year’s “Balikatan” Exercise will be on April 4 at Camp Peralta, Jamindan town while the closing ceremony will take place at Matangharon Elementary School in Dingle, Iloilo on April 16.

The Task Force Commander for BK16 in Panay is Brig. Gen. Dinoh Dolina, the Assistant Division Commander of 3ID, he said.

172 Samar trained soldiers end training, graduate

From the Philippine Information Agency (Mar 29): 172 Samar trained soldiers end training, graduate

Some 172 candidate soldiers trained in the jungle of Samar graduated yesterday.

Relatives and friends witnessed the simple yet fitting ceremony for the brave souls at the 8th Infantry Division Headquarters in Catbalogan City.

Major General Jet Velarmino, 8th ID Commander served as the Guest of Honor in the closing ceremonies with the entrustment of firearms, distribution of certificates and awarding of honors to the young men coming from all over the country who train for six months.

The class topnotcher is Private Virgil Magabo, 22 years old, from Barangay Pang-oy, San Juan, Southern Leyte who got a total average of 93.75%.

Private Laurence Caras ranked second with 91.7% and Private Jayson Castillo was third with 91.4%. Castillo also received the Bernardo Carpio Award for topping the non-academic subjects with 97.3%
All 172 new breed of soldiers were trained in the mountains and forest of Samar.

Velarmino in his commencement message urged the new enlisted elements to live up with the highest standard of competence, discipline and the core values of the Philippine Army.

“As professional and transformed soldiers, together

“As professional and transformed soldiers, together let us all uphold and protect the citizens’ right with respect to human dignity and diversity, we must be ready to serve our country and our people!”

NPA rebels sow fear among tourists, motorists in SurSur

From the Philippine Information Agency (Mar 29): NPA rebels sow fear among tourists, motorists in SurSur

At around 7:30 a.m. on March 28, some lawless elements believed to be members of the Guerilla Front Committee 14 (GFC-14) of the New People’s Army (NPA) under a certain Ka Satur sowed fear among commuters, tourists included, in Barangay Bitoon, Hinatuan town, 141 kilometers south this city.

According to 1Lt. Karl Jan Devaras, commander of the 41st Civil Military Operations (CMO) Company of the Philippine Army (PA), “The said lawless group barricaded and flagged down all vehicles that were leaving from and approaching a famous eco-tourism site,” referring to the Enchanted River.

The CMO officer, based on witnesses’ account, bared that the rebels “ordered them to step out from their bus (Tourist’s Bus) and began frisking them and searching their bags” in yelling-fashion with guns aimed at the terrified motorists.

However, the act of atrocity did not take long as all vehicles and tourists alike were allowed to leave after a couple of minutes, Devaras pointed out.

He also said that pursuit operations by law enforcement units had been ongoing.

“We vehemently condemn this Lawless Armed Group for their criminal act; the crime which they have perpetrated will greatly affect the eco-tourism industry which greatly contributes to the development of Hinatuan,” Col. Isidro Purisima, 402nd Infantry Brigade commander, was quoted by 1Lt. Devaras as saying.

Moreover, he said that Col. Purisima went on to advise this lawless elements: “I encourage this lawless group to surrender and embrace the Government’s reintegration program (CLIP) for people like them while there is still time to surrender.”

Meanwhile, Capt. Al Anthony Pueblas, CMO officer of the 36th Infantry Battalion here reacted  that such condemnable act was part of the usual atrocities done by NPA rebels who were out to highlight their 47th anniversary celebration on March 29.

PAF, volunteers work together to suppress Mt. Apo Forest Fire

From the Philippine Information Agency (Mar 30): PAF, volunteers work together to suppress Mt. Apo Forest Fire

Fire suppression operation went on for the second day at the peak of Mt. Apo facing Davao City and Davao del Sur using a super Huey helicopter by the Philippine Air Force.

Lt. Colonel Jose Ritchie Pabilona, commander of the Tactical Operations Group XI of the Philippine Air Force said that as of 11:00 0’clock am Wednesday, seven bucket operations had been conducted on the peak to put off the fire.

He said the chopper picks up water from Lake Mejo in Barangay Kapatagan, Digos, Davao del Sur using a large bucket to douse the raging forest fire several kilometers above the sea level.

Pabilona said only one chopper is used in the firefighting operation since two of its kind are posted in Western Visayas and Luzon Island, respectively.

“One of the choppers is used to also put off the fire near Mt. Kanlaon between Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental,” he said.

Pabilona said that the volunteers are coordinating with the chopper pilot to prioritize the burning areas which are hard to reach on foot.

He said the chopper is under the operational control of the 505the Search and Rescue Group and is capable of the bucket operation and has the capability to hoist survivors.

Pabilona said its bucket is capable of carrying three drums equivalent to 620 liters of water.

“It is capable of taking water from the lake, sea or river,” he said.

Pabilona said the fire suppression operation is focused on the peak facing Davao City and Davao del Sur.

Former rebels receive gov’t assistance

From the Philippine Information Agency (Mar 31): Former rebels receive gov’t assistance

Fifteen New People’s Army (NPA) rebels from various areas of the province go back to the folds of the law and receive cash and livelihood assistance from the national and provincial government of Comval.

The 15 rebel returnees were presented by Colonel Macairog Alberto, commander of the 1001st Infantry Pag-asa Brigade of the Philippine Army (PA) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to Vice Governor Manuel E. Zamora representing Governor Arturo T. Uy during the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) at the Social Hall, Capitol building on March 22.

Each of the rebel returnees received P5,000 as immediate cash assistance, food packs and other materials such as mosquito nets, blankets  and others, for their respective families.

The rebel returnees were also given temporary shelter by the provincial government, meals and other livelihood assistance through a “half way village” somewhere in Nabunturan.

Vice Governor Zamora urged the rebel returnees to completely abandon armed struggle and to become productive members of their respective communities and hoping that this will encourage others.

Salamat nga inyong gireplayan akong pag sampit kaninyo, salamat pud sa pag testing unsay kinabuhi sa gobyerno kay nalipay ko nga nagbalik-loob mo kay makita ninyo nga kaming naa sa gobyerno kanunay nagalantaw sa inyung kaayohan,” Zamora told the returnees in his message.

Provincial Director PSSUPT Albert Ignatius D. Ferro said Filipinos, whether from the government or rebel sides, have been fighting for years yet the armed confrontations have given nothing but the loss of precious lives to the country.

Tama na ang patayan at pag-aaway away sa kapwa natin Pilipino, sana yung mga kapatid natin na nasa bundok pa ay bumaba na para magkaisa na tayo dahil pangit tingnan na kapwa Pilipino ay nag papatayan,” Ferro said.

The rebel returnees will also undergo seminars and trainings as part of the evaluation of the Comval Support Units for their educational background. Such as on agricultural production, electrical and other skills and technical education under the CLIP program of the government.

The DILG said the technical education will help the returnees become productive when they are reintegrated to their respective communities.

Also attending the ceremony were Deputy Brigade Commander of the 1001st  Brigade Col. Gilbert Saret, Executive Officer Battalion Commander of the 46IB Major Crismond Mercado, Provincial Administrator Virgilia S. Allones, Provincial Social Welfare and Development (PSWD) Head Josephine Frasco and other members of the armed forces of the Philippines.

3 hurt as armed groups clash in Maguindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 31): 3 hurt as armed groups clash in Maguindanao

Armed clashes involving armed men in Pagalungan, Maguindanao erupted early on Thursday and left three persons injured and massive evacuation.

Police Senior Inspector Blayn Lomas-e, Pagalungan town police chief, said the armed hostilities erupted around 5:30 a.m. in the village of Damalasak between the armed group led by Edzing Daguiaman and Makakena Kasim.

Lomas-e said the motive of the skirmishes remain unknown to date and investigation has been on going.

Due to the clashes, hundreds of civilians left their homes and proceeded to the town center in Barangay Poblacion.

Initial reports showed that Kasim and Daguiaman have been locked in a long standing land dispute.

Soldiers and policemen have been deployed near the village to separate warring armed men.

Lomas-e could not say if the warring groups were supporters of political candidates in the coming election.

Pagalungan is one of the areas considered by police, military and election officials as "area of immediate concern" relative to the coming elections.

The village is also known as area of coverage of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) which entered into a peace deal with Manila.

Lomas-e could not say if some MILF members or other lawless elements are involved in the conflict.

Efforts are on going to settle what appeared to be a "rido" or clan war.

The three injured persons belong to one of the warring groups. They were rushed to the hospital in nearby Pikit town in North Cotabato.

TF-Masbate raid seizes 113 sacks of explosive chemicals in Masbate town; owner escapes

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 31): TF-Masbate raid seizes 113 sacks of explosive chemicals in Masbate town; owner escapes

Task Force Masbate (TFM) operatives on Wednesday afternoon confiscated 104 sacks of ammonium nitrate and other chemicals used in making improvised explosive devices.

The task force is composed of joint elements of the Philippine National Police Bicol Regional Special Operation Task Group, PNP Masbate Provincial Office and the 9th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army.

Chief Insp. Arthur Gomez, RSOTG-Masbate spokesperson, said the raid was conducted at about 2:45 p.m. Wednesday in the warehouse owned by Alfredo R. Bangiban, alias “Potong”, on the strength of a search warrant issued by Judge Alben Rabe of the Tabaco Regional Trial Court Branch 15.

The project, part of the PNP One-Time Big Time Operation, was done in Barangay Calanay, Aroroy, a gold-rich town in Masbate.

Bangiban and four companions were able to escape after they apparently learned about the coming authorities.

Despite this, Gomez expressed satisfaction that the task force was able to seize sacks of ammonium nitrate used in making IEDs and this is important for the raiding team as these would no longer pose a threat to security in Masbate.

He said it was very difficult for the raiding team to pursue the operation as it still used two boats and it was difficult to dock at the shore of Barangay Calanay due to the absence of a pier.

It took the team almost two hours to walk from the shore to the target area, deep into the mountainous portion of the village where cellular phone and other communication equipment had poor signals.

This, Gomez said, could be the reason why the suspects were able to escape before the raiding team could come.

The task force members are now tracking down Bangiban, who, according to a police report, is engaged in selling explosive substances and devices to fishermen and small-scale miners operating in the area, he said.

Aside from the sacks of ammonium nitrate, the raid also yielded five pairs of blasting caps with time fuse, 90-inch detonating cord and a .45-caliber handgun.

Gomez said in a phone interview that Bangiban had been in the RSOTG watch list following reports that he had been operating the business that illegally sells ammonium nitrate and explosive devices to people engaged in illegal fishing and small-scale mining.

He said police operatives are still digging for information and evidence to pin down other business partners of the suspect believed to be also engaged in selling explosive materials to private armed groups (PAGs), including the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.

The police official said that since the start of the series bombings of the NPA in six towns of Masbate on March 15, the task force has already focused its attention on the locating those keeping and selling explosive materials.

Police Senior Supt. Alexander D. Sampaga said in a press statement that while ammonium nitrate is being used as fertilizer for agriculture products and for mining operations, this chemical is also being used by armed groups in the manufacture of landmines and homemade bombs.

The Task Force Masbate has been operating since Feb. 9 in the island-province to quell election-related violence that would possibly mar the May 9 national and local elections.

Masbate has been tagged by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the PNP as among the election hot spots in the country due to intense political rivalries and the presence of PAGs, including communist guerrillas operating in the province.

The police have scheduled the filing of cases for violation of Republic Act 9851 and illegal possession of firearms against Bangiban and four John Does.

Jap destroyer, submarine units in PHL for goodwill visit

From the Philippine News agency (Mar 31): Jap destroyer, submarine units in PHL for goodwill visit

The Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) will send its Destroyer Escort Division 15 and Training Submarine Division 1 to the Philippines for three-day port visit starting from April 3 to 6.

Destroyer Escort Division 15 is commanded by Capt. Haruhiko Morisita while Training Submarine Division 1 is headed by Capt. Hiroaki Yoshino.

The former is composed of two vessels, namely JS ARIAKE (DD-109) and JS SETOGIRI (DD-156).

While the latter is composed of the submarine JS Oyashio (SS-511).

Roxas, Murad agree to preserve and continue peace process in Mindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 31): Roxas, Murad agree to preserve and continue peace process in Mindanao

CAMP DARAPANAN, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao -- Liberal Party standard bearer Mar Roxas and the leadership of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), led by its chieftain Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, on Thursday agreed to preserve the peace process and continue to work together to continue the pursuit of everlasting peace in Mindanao should the administration bet get elected to the presidency.

Roxas was the first presidential candidate to personally meet with the MILF central committee at the group's headquarters in dialogue and present his plans for Mindanao which includes pushing for the passage of a Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in Congress.

“Peace in Mindanao is of utmost importance to the nation for we cannot truly prosper as a nation if there is no peace there,” Roxas said in joint press briefings that immediately followed the dialogue that was off-limits to media.

He said that if elected, he would continue to push for the political realization of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) – the BBL.

The passage of the BBL was stalled in Congress after more than a few lawmakers in both chambers questioned the constitutionality of several of its provisions.

“We would carefully study all the complaints and differing opinions of all the stakeholders and look for common grounds so that we can pass the BBL. It is not important in what form it will be, but what is important is that it should be compliant with the CAB,” the Team Daang Matuwid presidential bet said.

“We would make the peace process a national agenda,” Roxas said.

For his part, Murad said that the MILF recognizes the gains of the peace process and vowed to preserve it.

He admitted that the non-passage of the BBL in Congress was a case of very bad timing – the proximity of the national elections which highly politicize the bill and the Mamasapano massacre.

However, he said that the MILF will continue the struggle towards peace and push for the implementation of the CAB.

“We believe that the BBL would have a new chance under Roxas. He was part of the peace process and we stand on common grounds, common interests,” he said.
“We will move under a new atmosphere and the BBL would be looked upon with more objectivity. With Mar, we hope that we can continue the reforms so that we can move forward,” Murad said.