Thursday, February 18, 2016

NDF: The Facts Contradict Lacierda’s False Claim

From the NDF Website (Feb 17): The Facts Contradict Lacierda’s False Claim  

by Luis G. Jalandoni
Chairperson, NDFP Negotiating Panel

The Aquino regime’s spokesman, Edwin Lacierda, should check the facts before pronouncing the false claim that “they (the National Democratic Front of the Philippines [NDFP]) refused to come to the table.” Following the successful attack of the New People’s Army in Cagayan causing casualties among legitimate military targets, 6 killed and 8 seriously wounded, Lacierda was asked if the Aquino government was interested in holding peace negotiations with the revolutionary movement represented by the NDFP. His answer, in contradiction to the facts, tries to put the blame on the revolutionary movement.

The facts are: 1) in October, December 2014 and February 2015, the NDFP Negotiating Panel received a delegation from the Aquino regime which was led by former DAR Secretary, Hernani Braganza, close associate of then DILG Secretary Mar Roxas. 2) On December 8, 2014, a Draft Peace Agreement was signed by both sides, authenticated by Royal Norwegian Government Special Envoy, Ms. Elisabeth Slattum, proposing truce and cooperation within the term of the Aquino government. 3) On February 18, 19 and 20, 2015, the team of Mr. Braganza returned and a proposal for truce and cooperation was drafted by both sides to be presented to the Aquino regime, then beleaguered with the Mamasapano fiasco

These efforts were rebuffed and set aside by OPAPP Secretary Teresita Deles and not acted on by GPH President Aquino. The Braganza team was disauthorized. The combined peace initiatives of the Braganza team, the NDFP Negotiating Panel and the Royal Norwegian Government Special Envoy thus have come to naught. The responsibility lies squarely on Secretary Deles and President Aquino.

China: US hyping up South China Sea issue

From the Philippine Star (Feb 18): China: US hyping up South China Sea issue

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei holds a regular press conference. FMPRC

China claimed that the United States (US) is only hyping up the South China Sea issue as US President Barack Obama called for a peaceful resolution on the sea dispute.

Obama and leaders from Southeast Asia earlier issued a joint declaration expressing their commitment to keeping peace in the disputed sea, as well as protecting freedom of navigation and overflight.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei on Wednesday stressed that the US is not a concerned party in the issue.

"It should speak and act prudently and create favorable conditions for parties directly concerned to peacefully resolve relevant disputes through consultations and negotiations, instead of exploiting the occasion to hype up the South China Sea issue, sensationalizing tensions, and driving a wedge among regional countries," Hong said in his regular press conference.

Hong insisted that some countries tried to use the US-ASEAN Leaders Summit to hype up the South China Sea dispute.

READ: Obama, SE Asian leaders seek resolution to maritime disputes

"But the majority of ASEAN countries disagreed, believing that it would only undermine mutual trust between regional countries, disrupt or even sabotage the efforts made by regional countries to safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea," Hong said.

Hong noted that China is willing to cooperate with Southeast Asian countries in upholding peace and stability in the region. He said that Beijing is also in favor of advancing peaceful resolution of the disputes.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry official added that China is welcoming the commitment of the US and ASEAN to non-militarization in the region.

"Country outside the region shall not show off its military force in the South China Sea nor use force or coercive means to advance its unilateral assertion. Meanwhile, it shall not rope in regional countries to conduct joint military drills or patrols targeting the third party in the South China Sea," Hong said.

Meanwhile, President Benigno Aquino III said that the Philippines has no plans of arming itself with weapons of mass destruction in able to resolve the sea dispute.;postID=2968216008905195092

US senators alarmed over China's missiles in disputed sea

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Feb 19): US senators alarmed over China's missiles in disputed sea

This image with notations provided by ImageSat International N.V., Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016, shows satellite images of Woody Island, the largest of the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. A U.S. official confirmed that China has placed a surface-to-air missile system on Woody Island in the Paracel chain, but it is unclear whether this is a short-term deployment or something intended to be more long-lasting. ImageSat International N.V. via AP

United States (US) senators have expressed concern over reports that China has deployed a surface-to-air missile system to one of the contested islands in the South China Sea.

Fox News reported earlier this week that two batteries of eight missile launchers known as the HQ-9 air defense system have been spotted on Woody Island, a part of the Paracel Island chain in the disputed sea.

READ: Report: China deploys missiles in contested South China Sea island | China denies sending missiles to disputed island

US Sen. Steve Daines said that the deployment of missiles in the island would have impacts on the stability of the region and on global commerce.

"With over 5 trillion dollars of global trade passing through the South China Sea, maintaining the integrity of international waters and airspace in the region is critically important," Daines said in a statement.

Meanwhile, US Sen. John McCain said that Beijing's recent action in the disputed sea shows its intent to militarize the region.

"Despite making claims months ago that China had halted its unprecedented reclamation and would not militarize features in the South China Sea, we now have a growing set of examples of the emptiness of Beijing's words," McCain said.

McCain added that Chinese President Xi Jinping was deliberately disregarding his commitment to the US to halt the reclamation activities in the South China Sea.

"While President Obama has rightly called for a halt to militarization, he has oddly left it to Beijing to interpret what constitutes militarization in the eyes of the United States," McCain said.

McCain, chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, suggested that the US should consider additional options to raise the costs in Beijing's behavior such as adopting policies with "a level of risk that we have been unwilling to consider up to this point."

Obama, along with leaders of Southeast Asian countries recently issued a joint declaration expressing stronger commitment to keeping peace in the region.

Military violating Constitution by parading 'child warrior' - group

From InterAksyon (Feb 18): Military violating Constitution by parading 'child warrior' - group

A child rights advocacy group said the military is violating the Constitution and trampling on the rights of a 14-year old boy it has presented to media as a “captured child warrior” of the New People’s Army.

Lindy Tremilla, Southern Mindanao head of the Children’s Rehabilitation Center, said by presenting the minor to media and even in their social media accounts, the 10th Infantry Division and Eastern Mindanao Command “paraded a hapless boy to the public who could not defend himself.”

“They have violated his rights as (stated) in Article III Section 14 of the Constitution that ‘No person shall be held to answer for a criminal offense without due process of law’,” she pointed out.

The military claimed the boy was wounded and captured by soldiers during a series of clashes with rebels in Pantukan town, Compostela Valley province on February 9.

However, human rights groups have disputed this, saying the child was hurt and a small-scale miner, Ronel Paas, killed when the military “fired indiscriminately” on their community of Sitio Diat, Post, 4, Barangay Napnapan.

Trenilla backed up this account, saying members of the boy’s community could attest that he is not a rebel but works for small-scale mining operations there. She also cited a local news report quoting the boy’s grandmother as saying he was panning for gold when he was wounded.

The CRC officer called on the Department of Social Welfare and Development to immediately take custody of the boy, who she said was being held “under duress” by the military at the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City, where he is recuperating from his injuries, and provide him not only with medical but also psycho-social care.

She stressed that the military’s keeping the boy in custody violates the Special Protection for Children Act which provides that a child in conflict with the law “shall be immediately placed under the protective custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development immediately but not later than 24 hours after apprehension…”

“We will check on this with the DSWD, and hope that the boy is taken care of,” Trenilla said, noting that the CRC has documented 32 cases of children falsely tagged “child soldiers”, among them nine-year old Grecil Buya, who was killed in New Bataan, Compostela Valley in 2007 during a clash between the 28th Infantry Battalion and the New People’s Army and whose picture the military later showed with an M16 planted beside her body.

Outnumbered Cagayan cops called for help late

From Rappler (Feb 18): Outnumbered Cagayan cops called for help late

Authorities say that around 40 rebels attacked the 21-member police battalion   

CAGAYAN CLASH. Interior Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento (middle), and police and military officials hold a news briefing on the clash between rebels and police. Photo by Raymon Dullana/Rappler

CAGAYAN CLASH. Interior Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento (middle), and police and military officials hold a news briefing on the clash between rebels and police. Photo by Raymon Dullana/Rappler
Police and military officials admitted that cops ambushed by suspected communist rebels in a remote village in Cagayan on Tuesday, February 16, were at a "disadvantage" as they were outnumbered by their attackers and were situated in an area where they were easily spotted by the enemy.
Police Chief Superintendent Reinier Idio, Philippine National Police (PNP)-Cagayan Valley Director, said on Wednesday, February 17, that the police sent a 21-member Regional Police Safety Battalion (RPSB) to investigate the February 14 torching incident allegedly perpetrated by communist rebels in Baggao town.

The battalion was attacked by around 40 rebels – 40% of the estimated 100-strong New People's Army operating in Northern Cagayan – indicating that it was a major NPA operation.

The firefight which lasted for about two hours led to the death of 6 troopers, all of them ranked Police Officer 1 (PO1), while 8 were injured.

Although no bodies were retrieved from the rebels’ side, Idio said they suspect that at least two rebels were killed in the encounter, based on traces of blood and the discovery of the rebels' assaults rifle and live ammunition.

He added that they already filed arson charges against the rebels as the investigation of the incident continued.

The clash is now considered as the bloodiest encounter between government troops and armed rebels since the last year's Mamasapano encounter in Maguindanao province, where over 60 people were killed, including 44 elite cops.

Prior coordination

Lieutenant General Glorioso Miranda of the Philippine Army admitted that the request for military reinforcement came in late but added that even so, his troops were already working on the ground since there was prior coordination of RPSB's operation.

The military sent reinforcement hours after the firefight, including a helicopter from the Philippine Air Force.

Interior Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento, who flew to Tuguegarao City early Wednesday to check on the wounded cops and to give them financial assistance, said the turnout of the encounter “could have been different” if the mission was not properly coordinated.

Sarmiento compared this to what happened in the Mamasapano encounter, in apparent reference to the view that casualties could have been minimized in the Maguindanao town with prior coordination between the military and the police.

(READ: Mamasapano: What ifs and what could have beens)

“Ang pagkakaiba talaga ay yung prior coordination [ng mga pulis sa military] so they were easily monitored….Nagkaroon sila dito ng sistema, a protocol which gave us our advantage yesterday,” Sarmiento said.

(The difference was there was prior coordination between the police and the operating military there so they were easily monitored. They had a system and protocol which gave us our advantage yesterday.)

NPA claims staging Cagayan attack to punish mining in area

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Feb 18): NPA claims staging Cagayan attack to punish mining in area
The Henry Abraham Command of the New People’s Army has admitted staging the Feb. 16 attack that killed six policemen and injured 11 others at a remote Cagayan town.

The policemen were responding to reports that heavy machinery owned by a contractor of the National Irrigation Administration have been torched when they were ambushed Sta. Margarita village in Baggao town.

In an e-mailed statement on Thursday, Ester Falcon, spokesperson of the New People’s Army-Henry Abraham Command, said the rebels burned the equipment “to punish the Brostan Company for environment and health breaches [committed by] conducting gold mining operations in the area.”

NIA has disputed this claim. Billy Tuazon, NIA Cagayan irrigation manager, said Brostan won the government contracts to build a diversion tunnel and a transbasin tunnel for the agency.

The Henry Abraham Command is now the subject of pursuit operations, due to the 5-hour clash that killed PO1 Ryan Annang, PO1 Derrel Sunico, PO1 Rogelio Alfonso, PO1 Julius Soriano, P01 Jaypy Aspiros and PO1 Arjay Bautista.

READ: Palace condemns NPA attack in Cagayan: ‘They refused to come to the table’

The rebels said it helped “protect and conserve the environment” by burning two backhoes, two bulldozers, a dump truck and a pay loader in Sitio Ngarutngot in Sta. Margarita village.

Brostan is a family-owned corporation led by Santiago City Mayor Joseph Tan, former Vice Mayor Armando Tan, and traders Danilo and Washington Tan. The Tans could not be reached for comment.

Falcon also claimed that that the company’s tunneling activities threatened to divert the Paranan and Tabegan rivers, which could affect 12 barangays in the towns of Baggao and Gattaran.

NPA attacks on Caraga coal mining firms ordered

From the often pro-CPP Davao Today (Feb 18): NPA attacks on Caraga coal mining firms ordered

Communist guerillas sing Internationale during an activity last March in one of the villages of Compostela Valley province. ( file photo by Ace R. Morandante)

Communist guerillas sing Internationale during an activity last March 29, 2013 in one of the villages of Compostela Valley province.(File photo by Ace R. Morandante)
The National Democratic Front has declared war against coal mining companies in the Caraga region and ordered the New People’s Army to mount attacks.
In an emailed statement, Maria Malaya spokesperson of the NDF’s Northern Mindanao command, said the region is currently the target of largest coal mining in Mindanao.

“In total, more than 110,000 hectares of Caraga’s land are being targeted for coal mining. This means further destruction of forests and mountains for mining. This will dislocate and destroy the livelihood of thousands of people and worsen the rapid climate change of the planet,” Malaya said.

The NDF said the New People’s Army in the region has commanded all units within its territory “to carry out punitive actions to prevent coal mining companies from operating in the areas, by destroying their equipment, preventing their agents or administrators from entering the area and attacking their armed troops.”

“The more than 110,000 hectares of land have been allocated among mining capitalists. More than 20,000 hectares of land in the region have been awarded by the government for mining to the capitalists Abacus Coal Exploration, Great Wall Mining, Benguet Corp. and Bislig Ventures,” said Malaya.

The mountainous region of Caraga represents 6.3 percent of the country’s total land area and 18.5 percent of Mindanao’s. The region has four provinces and three cities with a land area of 1,884,697 hectares.

Meanwhile, seven companies have been allowed to appropriate more than 30,000 hectares for exploration, while another 62,000 hectares are being offered by the government.

Malaya said coal mining will cause significant damage to the environment and people that would intensify the destruction resulting from nickel mining and agricultural plantations in Caraga.

“The coal will feed the power plants or coal-fired power plant (CFPP). These plants will discharge hazardous emissions that would aggravate global warming and contribute to climate change. This problem is escalating as shown by the increase and intensity of typhoons likeYolanda, Pablo and Sendong,” she added.

She added dislocation of Lumads and farmers will ensue as their ancestral lands and farm lands cover the mine-rich areas.

“This also means militarization to brutally suppress those who oppose, harass and drive away residents from the area that the capitalists will mine, like what has been done to the more than 6,000 residents of six municipalities of Surigao del Sur,” said Malaya.

In September 1, anti-mining tribal leaders of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (Mapasu) and a school director were killed by members of the paramilitary troops. The incident resulted to the evacuation of more than 3,000 individuals who are still staying at the Tandag City Provincial Sports Complex.

“This is in contrast to the land reform program implemented by the revolutionary movement.  The reactionary government is instead strengthening land monopoly of big capitalists instead of solving landlessness of farmers,” said Malaya.

Local businesses warned

Malaya has also warned local businessmen and contractors to refrain from doing business with coal mining companies to avoid the destruction of their equipment and business.

Two coal power plants are operating in Mindanao at present, one in Misamis Oriental and another in Davao City.  Another three plants are being contracted in Maasin (Sarangani), Sta. Cruz (Davao del Sur) and Phividec (Misamis Oriental).

According to the website of Mines and Geosciences Bureau Region 13, the revenue collection from mining operations in 2014 has totaled P15,060,866.70.

Masbate security focus as 2,000 troopers sent in

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Feb 19): Masbate security focus as 2,000 troopers sent in

At least 2,000 soldiers and policemen would be stationed in Masbate for the election period, signifying a focus by law enforcement agencies on the province that has become notorious for political violence and where seven politically related killings had already been reported since the start of the year.

In a statement quoting the Philippine National Police chief, Director General Ricardo Marquez, the PNP said 350 more policemen would be sent to Masbate in addition to at least 1,000 already there.

In the statement, released by Lt. Col. Angelo Guzman, public information chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Southern Luzon Command (Solcom), said 100 more soldiers would be tapped from the Army’s 9th Infantry Division to reinforce 500 soldiers already in the province.

Marquez and Lt. Gen. Ricardo Visaya, Solcom chief, met with Masbate government leaders and candidates, led by Gov. Vicente Homer Revil, on Tuesday for a dialogue for peaceful elections on May 9.
The group will sign a peace covenant on March 4.

One of the main reasons law enforcement agencies are focusing on Masbate, according to Visaya, is the presence of New People’s Army (NPA) rebels and private armed groups in the province.

Visaya appealed to candidates to shun private armies.

NPA rebels in Masbate, according to Visaya, are a “potent threat.” Candidates, he said, should refuse to pay permit-to-campaign fees to the rebels which the Solcom chief said the police and military would stop as a “top priority” program.

Gov. Revil said while Masbate has gained notoriety for reports about private armies and “strong political rivalries,” the province is on the police watch list of election hot spots mainly because of NPA rebels.

2 cops die, 5 injured in Candoni ambush

From the Sun Star-Bacolod (Feb 18): 2 cops die, 5 injured in Candoni ambush

RESIDENTS of Candoni were shocked by an ambush just before 10 p.m. Thursday, February 18, allegedly perpetrated by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.

The ambush claimed the lives of two police officers and injured five others at the boundary of Barangay Caningay and Poblacion East.

Vice Mayor Diomedes Magada identified the fatalities as PO1 Joe Harry Peralta and PO1 Henry Vell Pacheco, while injured were PO1 Jay Arroyo and PO1 Modesto Viña.
Also hurt were three civilians: Julius Miravalles, Rey Duales, and an unidentified individual.

Two other policemen present at that time -- SPO4 Boyd Mate and PO1 Charlemagne Caballero -- were unharmed.

Magada told Sun.Star Bacolod that the police officers responded to a call from Barangay Caningay concerning a man who was stabbed in a commotion around 9:30 p.m.

On their way back to the station, the six policemen were waylaid and fired upon by unidentified armed men near the bridge. The patrol car fell into the creek before reaching the bridge.

The gunfire lasted for 10 minutes, witnesses said.

Residents brought the wounded policemen to the infirmary, where they are still being treated.

They were referred for transfer to the Lorenzo D. Zayco District Hospital in Kabankalan City, but town officials refused to move the policemen, Magada said.

“We’d rather have them here because the armed men may ambush them on the way to the hospital to finish them off,” the vice mayor added.

Magada said the nearest Army detachment is four kilometers from the ambush site, adding that troopers have already set up checkpoints and were clearing the streets.

Unexpected, shocked

Magada said the Candoni residents were shocked by the ambush.

“We didn’t expect this,” he added.

The vice mayor said the ambush site was along a highway and not in the mountainous part of the barangay, and was only about 1.5 kilometers away from the town proper.
“It’s not a remote village,” he added.

Magada said the town police always respond to calls for assistance even from far-flung areas.

The vice mayor appealed to his constituents to cooperate in the investigation.

“If you know anything, please report it to the authorities to give justice to the fallen policemen and their families,” he added.

Councilor Loriemae Joy Gargar, whose house was only a kilometer away from the ambush site, told Sun.Star Bacolod that they heard the loud gunfire.

“This is alarming and we’re in shock,” she said, adding that some of the residents are in fear as their town had been very peaceful for years.

Gargar said that some of the elderly residents were brought to the infirmary due to anxiety.

She added that some male residents who ran toward the infirmary were only wearing undergarments as “everybody was preparing to go to sleep.”

Gargar, whose husband is also a town policeman, said that she phoned him right away after learning about the ambush and was relieved that he was safe.

The councilor called on her fellow residents to be vigilant and be careful in the wake of the attack.

Gov’t, NDF came close to sealing peace deal

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Feb 19): Gov’t, NDF came close to sealing peace deal

Communist rebels waging one of  the longest insurgencies in the world and the Philippine government came close to sealing a peace agreement in December 2014, when the Aquino administration sent emissaries to The Netherlands to hold secret, backroom talks with  leaders of the local communist movement.

Luis Jalandoni, head of the peace panel of the National Democratic Front (NDF) of the Philippines, said a draft peace agreement was signed on Dec. 8, 2014, by NDF leaders and a team of emissaries led by former Agrarian Reform Secretary Hernani Braganza.
According to Jalandoni, Braganza’s team went to The Netherlands in February,
October and December 2014 for informal talks with the peace panel of the NDF, an umbrella organization of underground leftist groups supporting the communist insurgency in the countryside.

Truce, cooperation

Jalandoni, a former priest, said the draft peace agreement was authenticated by Elisabeth Slattum, Royal Norwegian government special envoy.

The Norwegian government is brokering peace talks between the Philippine government and the communist insurgents.

The document, according to Jalandoni, proposes “truce and cooperation within the term of the Aquino government.”

He said Braganza’s group returned on Feb. 18, 2015, and both parties drafted a proposal for truce and cooperation that would be presented to the government.

Bad time

But it was a bad time for the Aquino administration, which was facing its worst political crisis following the deaths of 44 police commandos in a covert counterterrorism operation that backfired in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province.

“These efforts were rebuffed and set aside by [Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process] Secretary Teresita Deles and not acted on by [the government and] President Aquino. The Braganza team was disauthorized,” Jalandoni said.

He said the peace initiatives of Braganza’s group, the NDF negotiating panel and the Royal Norwegian government special envoy “[came] to naught.”

‘Check the facts’

Jalandoni disclosed the secret talks after presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda  called the communist leaders liars, accusing them of being uninterested in resuming peace talks with the government.

“[Lacierda] should check the facts before pronouncing the false claim that ‘they (NDF) refused to come to the table,’” Jalandoni said in a statement on Thursday.


Lacierda spoke after six policemen were killed in an ambush by communist New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Baggao, Cagayan province, on Tuesday.

Lacierda said the NDF “refused to come to the table” and “made many conditions” for the  resumption of peace talks.

Jalandoni said responsibility for the failure of the talks “lies squarely on Secretary Deles and President Aquino.”

Jose Maria Sison, exiled founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines, said Mr. Aquino was no longer interested in the resumption of peace talks.

“Mr. Aquino does not care about the peace negotiation,” Sison said in an online interview.

NPA surrender

He said Deles and former Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista did not want to pursue peace talks with communist rebels because they were “convinced that the government could defeat the NPA and what they wanted to achieve was force the rebels to surrender.”

The NDF has been engaged in on-and-off negotiations with the government for the past 27 years. Formal peace negotiations have been stalled since February 2011.
NDF demands

The NDF has been demanding the release of detained communist leaders before the resumption of negotiations, saying the jailed rebels are covered by provisions of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig) signed by rebel leaders and government officials in 1995.

The government, however, rejected the demand and kept the communist leaders in detention.

2 cops killed, 5 injured

From the Visayan Daily Star (Feb 19): 2 cops killed, 5 injured

Two policemen were killed and five others were injured in an ambush in Brgy. Caningay, Candoni town in Negros Occidental, 9:20 last night.

PO3 Joe Harry Peralta and PO1 Henry Vell Pacheco were killed in the ambush staged by suspected New People's Army fighters, Senior Supt. William Señoron, Negros Occidental OIC provincial police director, said.

Injured were PO1 Jay Agravante Arroyo and PO1 Modesto Derecho Viña, he added. Two other policemen identified as SPO4 Boyd Mate and PO1 Charlemagne Caballero were unharmed.

Injured were Julius Miravalles, Rey Duales and a third person yet to be identified, Nicholas Gustilo Lachica II, Candoni Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management officer, said.

The policemen were on their way back to the Candoni police station, after responding to a call for help after a fight broke out in Caningay, when the ambush took place, Lachica said.

They picked up a wounded person at the fight and were approaching the Panaculan Creek bridge, about 2 kilometers from the Municipal Hall, when they saw a toppled banana tree in the middle of the highway, followed by a burst of fire that led to the death of Peralta and Pacheco, he added.

Pacheco was a rescue volunteer before he became a policeman and is the son of former Association of Barangay Captains president Wilfredo Pacheco of Candoni, Lachica said.

The slain policemen had gunshot wounds on their heads and various parts of their body, he added.

Army blames BIFF in Maguindanao bomb attacks on civilians, non-combatants

From MindaNews (Feb 18): Army blames BIFF in Maguindanao bomb attacks on civilians, non-combatants

The military here has blamed the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) for the series of bomb attacks in Maguindanao allegedly targeting not only military combatants but also civilians.

The latest attempt of the BIFF was to set off an improvised bomb along the highway in Gindulungan town in Maguindanao Wednesday afternoon that provided discomfort to motorists, including this reporter, for two hours.

An alert infantryman noticed what he suspected at first glance to be an improvised explosive device (IED) by the roadside.

Army bomb experts quickly responded and confirmed it was a bomb, according to Col. Feliciano Budiongan, commander of the 601st Infantry Brigade.

“The BIFF was targeting the military and non-combatants alike,” he said of the IED found in Guindulungan town where a team of soldiers had just passed by.

Almost at the same time, an IED went off in Barangay Crossing Taviran, about 800 meters away from an Army battalion headquarters.

Nobody was hurt. “Luckily, no civilian passersby were hurt,” Budiongan said.

The IED, according to Budiongan, was made of black powder, empty shells of ammunition, electrical wiring and spark plugs for motorcycles.

It also contained cut concrete nails as shrapnel.

Budiongan said the group of BIFF commander Abu Nasria was behind the series of bombings on Maguindanao roads, apparently to divert the Army’s attention from Datu Salibo, Maguindanao.

The Army and the BIFF have been trading bullets and mortars in Datu Salibo, a marshland town in Maguindanao, since Feb. 5 after the rebel group harassed a government dredging project in the town.

But BIFF spokesperson Abu Misri Mama quickly denied his group was behind the roadside bombings, including the one in Datu Saudi Ampatuan that killed a town treasurer and three others.

At about the same time, soldiers had their attention focused on a nipa house in Barangay Salbu also in Datu Saudi Ampatuan, where they found a secondary bomb that the BIFF could have set off.

It was reportedly similar to a bomb exploded two years ago in the same municipality, wherein 12 people, including two workers of a national TV network, were injured.

Budiongan said the area is bomb prone because it is isolated and lack street lights.

As of press time, tension remained high in Datu Salibo and Datu Saudi Ampatuan.

4 soldiers wounded in fresh clash with BIFF in Maguindanao – Army

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Feb 18): 4 soldiers wounded in fresh clash with BIFF in Maguindanao – Army

At least four soldiers were wounded in yet another clash in Datu Salibo, Maguindanaoon Thursday.

Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay, spokesperson for the military’s 6th Infantry Division, said by phone that a company of soldiers were conducting combat patrol in Barangay Tee at around 9 a.m. when they clashed with an undetermined number of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters gunmen.

Petinglay did not identify the wounded soldiers.        
Both forces were still exchanging gunfire as of this posting and that two helicopters had been deployed to conduct air support and to evacuate the wounded government soldiers, she said.

Clashes between the Philippine Army soldiers and BIFF rebels have been on and off in Maguindanao for weeks now.

‘Unstable’ Mindanao feared

From the Manila Times (Feb 18): ‘Unstable’ Mindanao feared

INTELLIGENCE authorities on Thursday said they foresee a new wave of potential instability in the restive Mindanao region where government troops have been fighting extremist groups for decades.

This surfaced as intelligence operatives received information from sources in Mindanao that over 100 fighters belonging to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) have recently completed their training in bomb making in Central Mindanao.

The BIFF, along with the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), is among the local extremist groups in Mindanao that have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that have taken swaths of territories in the Middle East.

The intelligence report said that BIFF recruits trained in bomb making for about 45 days in Liguasan marsh near Tacurong City in South Cotabato.

“The school for bomb making was headed by Salahudin Hassan and Mauwiya, and the recruits are now ready for their test mission,” the intelligence operative added.

Another source from the intelligence community said that Hassan is a former member of the Pentagon Group headed by Tahir Alonto and later joined the Al-Khobar Extortion gang.

“Hassan has been involved in several bombing incidents in Central Mindanao, notably the August 2013 bombing in Cagayan de Oro City that was attributed to the Khilafa Islamiya Movement (KIM),” said the source.

It added that Hassan is also involved in the planning and bombing of power transmission lines of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) in Mindanao.

The same source said that Mauwiya is a Singaporean national and member of the Jemaah Islamiah (JI), a regional terror group based in Indonesia with the goal of establishing a pan Islamic State in Southeast Asia.

Mauwiya has been reportedly hiding in Mindanao for several years since his arrival in the country in 2003, almost simultaneously with Indonesian terror suspect Omar Patek and Malasian Dulmatin.

The source added that Mauwiya is also a known associate of Zulkipli Bin Hir alias ‘Marwan’ who was killed last year when elite troops of the PNP Special Action Force (SAF) launched “Oplan Exodus” in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. The infamous raid resulted in the death of 44 SAF troopers in January last year.

Intelligence officials said they are not discounting the possibility that these newly-trained recruits could launch more terror attacks even in Luzon with the help of the Rajah Solaiman Movement (RSM).

The RSM is a group of former Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) who converted to Islam. It was founded by Hilarion del Rosario who used to be an OFW from Saudi Arabia.

Among the deadly attacks carried out by the RSM along with the ASG was the bombing of Superferry 14 on February 27, 2004 in which more than a hundred were killed and scores of others injured.

.Attention focusing on whether China is militarizing Spratly Islands

The Asahi Shimbun (Feb 18): Attention focusing on whether China is militarizing Spratly Islands

Even as international attention and criticism focused on the installation of surface-to-air missiles by China on one of the Paracel Islands, Beijing had also been quietly but steadily building up its military arsenal on the Spratly Islands farther southeast in the South China Sea.

Several sources with access to sensitive military intelligence confirmed on Feb. 17 that China had installed a number of anti-aircraft guns on the Spratly Islands. Like the Paracels, the Spratlys are subject to a territorial dispute between China, Vietnam and the Philippines, among others.

At a joint news conference in September 2015 with U.S. President Barack Obama, Chinese President Xi Jinping said Beijing had no intention of militarizing the Spratlys.
Japan will demand a clear explanation from China for its installation of anti-aircraft guns on the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, Defense Minister Gen Nakatani said Feb. 17.

"Because China has said in the past that it has no intention of militarizing the islands, we will ask for an explanation that is more persuasive and transparent,” Nakatani told reporters.

Chinese officials, including Foreign Minister Wang Yi, have said that installing military equipment was only being done as an act of self-defense. Such arguments are intended to deflect criticism from Washington that the moves are nothing more than an attempt by Beijing to strengthen its military capabilities.

Diplomats in Beijing are very interested to find out if Beijing's installation of the missiles on the Paracels could be extended farther to installations on the Spratlys.

According to one Chinese researcher well-versed in Chinese military affairs, the flying within 12 nautical miles (about 22 kilometers) over artificial islands that Beijing is constructing in the South China Sea last December by a U.S. B-52 bomber sent shock waves through the Chinese military.

The source said the incident caused alarm to a greater extent than the "freedom-of-navigation operations" conducted by U.S. Navy ships in those waters.

The installation of the surface-to-air missiles on the Paracels is being seen by diplomatic sources in Beijing as a retaliatory measure by the Chinese military for the incursion into Chinese airspace by the U.S. bomber.

At the same time, excessive guarding against such intrusions could lead to a military encounter with the United States because one way of dealing with fighter jets flying over Chinese airspace would be to shoot them down.

On Feb. 8, during the Chinese New Year holidays, Adm. Wu Shengli, the commander of the Chinese Navy, held a teleconference with the main units stationed on the Paracel and Spratly islands and urged them to protect the nation's "maritime interests."

Depending on the United States’ next move, there is still a possibility that China could argue that the need for self-defense requires it to strengthen its military presence on the Spratlys, even if such a move triggers international criticism.

BRP Laguna resumes resupply mission in PHL positions in Spratly

From the Philippine Canadian Inquirer (Feb 18): BRP Laguna resumes resupply mission in PHL positions in Spratly

BRP Laguna. (Photo courtesy of 1t0pe125 via Wikimedia Commons)

BRP Laguna, one of Philippine Navy’s logistics ships.
(Photo courtesy of
1t0pe125 via Wikimedia Commons)

The BRP Laguna (LT-501), one of the Navy’s logistics ships, has resumed its resupply mission in Philippine-held positions in the Spratly Islands last Feb. 14.

This was confirmed by Western Command spokesperson Capt. Cheryl Tindog in a message to the PNA Thursday.

“BRP Laguna has resume (her resupply mission) on the morning of Feb. 14 (upon completion of her repairs). She arrived at Pagasa Island Wednesday,” she said in Filipino.

However, she did not give other locations, the BRP Laguna will visit for security reasons.

Equipment casualty forced the BRP Laguna to cut short its resupply run in the Spratly Islands early this February.

“LT-501 (BRP Laguna) left Puerto Princesa (Palawan) last Feb. 4 (for the resupply run). They proceeded (first) to Rizal Detachment (Commodore Reef) and they arrived there last Feb. 6,” Tindog earlier said.

However, due to bad weather conditions in the area, BRP Laguna stayed for two days near Rizal Detachment.

“After two days, the ship was supposed to proceed on her next destination, however, BRP Laguna’s main engine number 2 broke down. So they decided to go back to Balabac for repairs and sailed on single engine only. They arrived there last Feb. 10. Usually, they should have arrived in Pagasa Island by this time, if the ship did not sustain engine trouble,” she added.

The Philippines has Marine units deployed in Ayungin Shoal, Pagasa (Thitu) Island, Lawak (Nanshan) Island, Parola (Northeast Cay) Island, Patag (Flat) Island, Kota (Loaita) Island, Rizal (Commodore) Reef, Likas (West York) Island, and Panata (Lankiam Cay) Island.

2 US ships dock in Subic; businesses hopeful

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Feb 18): 2 US ships dock in Subic; businesses hopeful
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—Two American naval ships arrived here recently for a routine port visit and to replenish supplies.

Carrying about 500 civilian marines, USNS Carl Brashear and USNS Walter S. Diehl, a replenishment ship, docked at the Alava Pier here on Feb. 14 and will stay until Feb. 21, according to the seaport department of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA).

Local tourists flocked to the Alava Pier to take souvenir photos with the two ships in the background.

USNS Carl Brashear, a dry cargo ship, arrived on Feb. 10.

But business owners inside and outside the free port said they have yet to benefit financially from the ships’ visit.

Bong Pineda, president of Subic Grand Harbor Hotel here, said most hotel owners in the free port are preparing for the annual bilateral military exercises “Balikatan” (shoulder-to-shoulder) between American and Filipino troops scheduled next month.

The joint training exercises are usually held in various sites in the country between March and May. This free port serves as the jump-off point for participating US servicemen.

“We’re now preparing for the arrival of US soldiers for the Balikatan. This early, some of them have already booked their rooms in various hotels here,” Pineda said.

Pineda, who is also a member of the Metro Olongapo Chamber of Commerce Inc., said local businessmen are still reeling from the economic losses resulting from the liberty ban imposed on the US servicemen.

Last year, business operators here said they lost at least P20 million in business opportunities at the height of the murder trial of US Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton.

In December last year, a regional trial court in Olongapo City convicted Pemberton of homicide for killing transgender woman Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude in a motel on Oct. 11, 2014.

Earlier, SBMA Chair Roberto Garcia said the US Pacific Command had relaxed its regulation on its servicemen’s liberty activities by allowing them to go to restaurants and shops inside the free port.

The US Marines, however, are not allowed to go beyond the free port, Garcia said.

But citing his meetings with US Navy officers, Olongapo City Mayor Rolen Paulino said the servicemen may be allowed to leave the free port for rest and recreation by next month in time for the Balikatan.

6 rebels opposing Philippines peace deal die in clash

From the Fulton County News (Feb 17): 6 rebels opposing Philippines peace deal die in clash

Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters killed in shootout with government troops -- seventh such clash in six days

Six members of a rebel group opposed to the Philippines peace process have been killed in a firefight with government troops near vast areas of marshland in the country’s Muslim south, the military reported Wednesday.

Two army soldiers were also hospitalized after the clash with Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) — the seventh such clash in Maguindanao province in the past six days.

Captain Jo-ann Petinglay, spokesperson for the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said the BIFF were carried away by their companions as they retreated deep into a marsh that connects to the 220,000-hectare Liguasan Delta — Asia’s largest.

“We don’t have a body count of BIFF fatalities but local folks keep telling Army units in the area that several members of the group had indeed been killed in the encounter,” Petinglay said.

The vast delta is a catch basin for dozens of rivers that spring from forested hinterlands in the areas Bukidnon, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and South Cotabato.

A report in Philstar claimed that the hostilities erupted when bandits showed force in a secluded peasant enclave west of Datu Salibo, despite objection by local Moro villagers.

It said that four of the BIFF were killed when an 81 millimeter mortar soldiers fired to prevent them from closing in landed and exploded in their position.

The BIFF is opposed to a peace process between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the government.

The BIFF — which broke away from the MILF in 2008 and rejected the peace talks — has claimed allegiance to Daesh.

Reds say Aquino, Deles responsible for impasse on peace talks

From the pro-CPP online propaganda publication Bulatlat: Reds say Aquino, Deles responsible for impasse on peace talks

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) scored Malacañang for “making false a claim” that the NDFP refused to come to the negotiating table.

Following a raid staged by New People’s Army guerrillas in Baggao, Cagayan, Palace spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said “the administration remains committed to the peace process and the rebels are the ones making preconditions.”

In a statement sent to Bulatlat, the NDFP said Lacierda should check the facts first before making any pronouncement.

The NDFP said that in October, and December 2014 and February 2015, the NDFP negotiating panel received a delegation from the Aquino administration, which was led by former Agrarian Reform Secretary, Hernani Braganza, close associate of then Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas.

lj 1

On December 8, 2014, a Draft Peace Agreement was signed by both sides,
authenticated by Royal Norwegian Government Special Envoy, Elisabeth Slattum, proposing truce and cooperation within the term of the Aquino government.

On February 18, 19 and 20, 2015, Braganza’s team returned and both sides drafted a proposal for truce and cooperation to be presented to Aquino.

However, the NDFP said “these efforts were rebuffed and set aside by OPAPP [Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process] Secretary Teresita Deles and not acted on by GPH President Aquino.”

The NDFP said the GPH then was mired in the Mamasapano tragedy. On January 25, the Philippine National Police launched an operation against two terrorists in Tukanalipao, Mamasapano, Maguindanao. The bungled operations left 44 SAF police officers, 18 Moro rebel fighters, and five civilian dead. The tragedy has affected the peace talks between the GPH and the MILF.

The Braganza team was “disauthorized,” according to the NDFP.

“The combined peace initiatives of the Braganza team, the NDFP negotiating panel and the Royal Norwegian Government Special Envoy thus have come to naught. The responsibility lies squarely on Secretary Deles and President Aquino,” the NDFP said.

Formal peace talks between the GPH and the NDFP have been in impasse since February 2011. Several informal talks were held in the hope of resuming the formal talks but to no avail.

In its previous statements, the NDFP maintained that the release of detained NDFP consultants is not a precondition but a compliance with the Joint Agreement on safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (Carhrihl).

PNP cries murder in NPA ambush in Cagayan

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Feb 18): PNP cries murder in NPA ambush in Cagayan

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines—Interior Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento on Wednesday met with the survivors of a deadly communist rebel ambush here last Tuesday, which resulted in the killing of six rookie policemen.

The police team battled the communist New People’s Army rebels for five hours in the remote village of Baggao, with the support of soldiers from the Army’s 17th Infantry Battalion. Eleven other policemen were wounded.

They lost PO1 Ryan Annang, PO1 Derrel Sunico, PO1 Rogelio Alfonso, PO1 Julius Soriano, PO1 Jaypy Aspiros, and PO1 Arjay Bautista.

In a statement yesterday, the Philippine National Police accused the NPA of murder.

The Public Safety Battalion, led by Supt. Juan R. Aggasid, had gone to Barangay Sta. Margarita in Baggao to check reports about the torching of government equipment by communist rebels at the site of an irrigation project of the National Irrigation Administration.

Three kilometers before reaching the site, the responding policemen were hit by explosives fired from grenade launchers.

Killed were Police Officers 1 Ryan G. Annang, Derrel P. Sunico, Arjay A. Bautista, Rogelio C. Alfonso, Julius N. Soriano, and Jaypy P. Aspiros.

Wounded and airlifted to the Dr. Ronald P. Guzman Medical Center in Carig Sur, Tuguegarao City were Senior Insp. Arnel Acain, PO3 Jeremy F. Gacias, and Police Officers 1 Olier R. Cabildo, Elvis C. Madali, Edmar T. Mallilin, Jobert N. Ducusin, John Fritz G. Balunsat, Richmon E. Diesto, Kelvin E. Taguibao, Jae Mark S. Camarauan, and Mark Lester T. Layugan.

Reported as only “slightly injured” were Senior Insp. Clan Cabansi, PO2 Jaypol Melad and Police Officers 1 Estanislao S. Calayan and Mateo A. Ballad.

Sarmiento awarded the “Sugatang Magiting” medals to the families of the slain officers at the regional police chapel here. He also recommended their posthumous promotion. Sarmiento also visited the wounded at the regional hospital.

The Cagayan Valley police said they were filing a complaint with the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) against the NPA’s Henry Abraham Command, which is believed to be behind the attack.

“The PNP condemns the murder of six policemen and the injuring of 15 others who were conducting an investigation on the burning of heavy equipment by the NPA in an ongoing project in Baggao, Cagayan,” said PNP spokesperson Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor, reading from the statement.

“The NPA’s actions manifest their purpose to harass those who are working for the improvement of the standard of living of the people, contrary to the ideology being propagated by their group,” he said.

Red-baiting embroils Comval labor union

From the often pro-CPP Davao Today (Feb 17): Red-baiting embroils Comval labor union

DAVAO CITY – More than 300 banana plantation workers in Pantukan town fear for their safety as an ongoing smear campaign against them attempts to link their union to the New People’s Army (NPA).

In a statement on Wednesday, February 17, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) alleged that the Army’s 46th Infantry Battalion “have been actively campaigning against our affiliate union, Musahamat Workers Labor Union.”

The Musahamat Workers Labor Union (MWLU) is a 321-member group that is currently securing a certificate of election in Musahat Farms 2, a banana plantation located in Barangay Kingking, Pantukan, Compostela Valley province.

Romualdo Basilio, regional coordinator of the National Federation of Labor Unions (NAFLU) under KMU said, they are alarmed with the threats against the lives of trade unionist after the latest spate of killings in Pantukan town involving anti-mining advocates.

“(They are) launching a vilification campaign against the federation, our labor center, KMU and our leaders,” he said.

Basilio said this smear campaign jeopardizes the union’s bid to become the sole and exclusive bargaining agent (SEBA) in behalf of the rank and file workers in Musahamat Farms Inc.

Spying, black propaganda

Earlier on January 23, Esperidion Cabaltera, president of the MWLU, said there were soldiers who conducted a census in Purok Bag-ong Sugbo, near their union office.

“Soldiers asked the residents where the KMU members lived and where they maintained their headquarters,” he said.

He said the soldiers’ “peace and development outreach programs (PDOP)” included lectures to discourage workers not to support the KMU during the upcoming certificate of election.

“They are campaigning not to vote for our union. They said it will not be beneficial to the workers,” he said.

On February 14, soldiers from the 46th IB requested permission from the Purok Chairman of Bag-ong Sugbo, Roger Albopera to conduct another PDOP meeting with the locals, but launched another vilification campaign against KMU, said Cabaltera.

After three days, field workers of the plantation noted that unidentified men “ferried by a white Toyota Hi-Lux” mounted the following signs along the highway:
  • KMU Suportahan aron kita matabangan –NPA-NPA
  • Ihunong ang ilegal (sic) suspension sa mga trabahante! –KMU-NPA
  • Iboto ang tinuod nga tinuod nga (sic) unyon KMU! –NPA
  • (Support KMU. They will help us – NPA
  • Stop illegal suspension of workers – KMU-NPA
  • Vote for the genuine union KMU – NPA)
Cabaltera told Davao Today that, originally, their union was a “company union”.

“But later on, we noticed that the union is not for our interests so we affiliated with NAFLU-KMU on August 2013,” he said.

Cabaltera has been working at the plantation for seven years, and said it isn’t the first time that they were vilified.

Complaint before the ILO

On February 26 last year, KMU filed a complaint before the International Labor Organization to report the harassment against the MWLU officials including Cabaltero, Richard Genabe, Dionisio Gonazales, Jovito Socias, Geraldine Suico, Cenon Arcepulo and Bernardita Almero.

The complaint was addressed to ILO Program Officer Diane Lyn Respall, and was received by the Department of Labor and Employment Region 11.

It cited violations of the ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association, specifically on Articles 3 and 5, and on ILO Convention 98, on the Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining.

The report read: “The officers of the Musahamat Farm 2 Workers’ Labor Union of Pantukan, Compostela Valley were harassed and made to pose as rebel surrenderees on August 29, 2014. This incident occurred following a torching incident at the Musahamat Farm 1 premises on August 22, 2014 by members of the New People’s Army.”

“The military connived with the company management to call the union to a meeting where five heavily armed soldiers of the 71st Infantry Battalion were waiting for them and interrogated them for four hours. Paraphernalia and tarpaulin of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) were placed in front of the union officers and they were videotaped and audiotaped while undergoing questioning by the soldiers led by a certain Lt. Arnaiz. Until present, soldiers are seen inside the company compound of Musahamat Farms, Inc,” it added.


Basilio said the military’s intervention of union-related affairs “deserve condemnation”.

“The conduct of the military is violative of the “Guidelines on the Conduct of the DOLE, DILG, DND, DOJ, AFP, and PNP Relative to the Exercise of Workers’ Rights and Activities”. In particular, Article VIII of the Guidelines provides for the respect for workers’ rights during AFP Internal Peace and Security Operations or operations of the police.

The said document reads: “In the conduct and exercise of AFP internal peace and security operations/PNP operations, the workers’ rights and civil liberties must be respected, protected and advanced at all times.”

Basilio said they are calling on the DOLE officials to immediately intervene and order the Army not to conduct any activity related to trade union affairs.

Cabaltera said they have 321 members of the union and hopes to win the certificate of elections.
Musahamat Farms Inc. was established in the Philippines in 2008 and is a subsidiary of Kuwait-based Sabel International Group W.L.L.

PNP alerts units vs Red attacks

From The Standard (Feb 18): PNP alerts units vs Red attacks

THE Philippine National Police placed regional police offices across the country on high alert and warned them against possible attacks from the communist New People’s Army whose guerrillas killed six policemen and injured 15 in an ambush on Tuesday.

“To avoid similar incidents, the PNP national headquarters reminded anew all police regional offices to be more vigilant, enhanced personnel security and conduct preventive and proactive operations in coordination with AFP units against the Communist Party of the Philippines and NPA, lawless elements and criminal groups,” said PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor.

The PNP heightened their alert after 40 communist rebels ambushed a convoy of policemen who were responding to a distress call from a private contractor who complained that the rebels burned their construction equipment in Baggao, Cagayan.

Mayor said the PNP condemns the latest act of hostility of the communist movement and called it a manifestation of “utter disregard to human lives and concern of the welfare of the local populace despite the efforts of the government to uplift the well-being of Cagayan thru sustained development.”

Meanwhile, the military has dispatched helicopter gunships in the surrounding mountain ranges of Cagayan province, particularly in the surrounding jungles in Baggao town, and reported that two NPA rebels have been killed in retaliatory attacks.

Prior to the ambush, the military said it had already warned the police of a heavy concentration of NPA rebels in Brgy Pallagao in nearby Alcala, Cagayan before the the contractor complained to the police.

“The NPA’s action manifest their purpose to harass those that are working for the improvement of the standard of living of the people contrary to the ideology being propagated by their group,” Mayor said.

The PNP leadership assured the survivors of those slain in the ambush that they will immediately get the financial and other benefits due to policemen killed in the line of duty.

“On behalf of a grateful nation, the PNP high command extends condolences to the orphaned families of the deceased. Initially, the bereaved families shall be provided with PNP financial support and benefits from the Public Safety Mutual Benefit Fund Inc.,” Mayor said.

To prevent future NPA assaults, Mayor urged people in the countryside to provide information of their presence so that security forces can arrest criminals and bring them to justice.

NPA rebels nabbed at Davao del Norte checkpoint

From the Manila Bulletin (Feb 17): NPA rebels nabbed at Davao del Norte checkpoint

A high-ranking leader of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) and his aide were captured by joint forces of the 10th Infantry (Agila) Division and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Davao region (CIDG-11) Tuesday morning in Madaum, Tagum City, Davao del Norte.

In a statement to the media here, 10th ID chief information officer Capt. Rhyan Batchar identified the ranking leader as Ariel Arbitrario, alias Marlon, who is the front secretary of guerrilla front 2 of the Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC) of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-NPA operating in the areas of Davao del Norte and the nearby provinces.

Arrested with Arbitrario was Crispolo Arbitrario alias Calvin and a member of Special Operations Group (SOG) of sub-regional committee 2 (SRC-2) of SMRC.

Batchar said that the two NPA members were arrested on the strength of warrants of arrest for murder that were issued by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 3 in Nabunturan town, Compostela Valley province.

Both rebels were arrested at a checkpoint during the operations conducted by the military and the police, Batchar added.

Recovered from their possession were caliber-.45 and .38 pistols, a fragmentation grenade, an improvised grenade, and a handheld radio.

Batchar also told reporters here that Arbitrario was the mastermind behind the atrocities waged by the NPAs in the towns of Maco, Mabini and Pantukan in Compostela Valley province.

Arbitrario, on the other hand, was an NPA-SOG member who was also involved in the killings in the same areas.

10th ID commander Maj. Gen. Rafael Valencia commended the joint Army and police forces for the capture of the two NPA rebels.

“The arrest of these ranking NPAs manifest that the long arm of the law will ultimately catch up with these outlaws to face justice,” Valencia said.

The arrested NPAs were immediately brought to the Davao del Norte CIDG office for documentation and the filing of criminal cases on violation of election gun ban and illegal possession of firearms and explosives

Leftist rebel-turned-reporter killed in Philippine south

Anadolu Agency (Feb 17): Leftist rebel-turned-reporter killed in Philippine south

Elvis Ordaniza known for reporting on rampant drug trade, illegal gambling in troubled Zamboanga del Sur province

Leftist rebel-turned-reporter killed in Philippine south

A radio reporter in the Philippines’ troubled south who had returned to civilian life after membership in a communist insurgency has been shot dead.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said in a media release Wednesday that Elvis Ordaniza, known for his criticism of the rampant drug trade and illegal gambling in Zamboanga del Sur province, was killed at his home at around 8 p.m. (1200GMT).
The Sun Star Zamboanga reported Chief Inspector Orlyn Leyte, Pitogo town police chief, as saying that an initial investigation showed that Ordaniza, of local station dxWO Power 99 FM, had been preparing dinner for his family when a lone gunman shot him.
The New People's Army -- the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines -- has been waging one of Asia’s longest running insurgencies since March 1969, mainly in the poorest regions of the Philippines.
The conflict has claimed around 40,000 lives, including more than 3,000 in the last eight years alone, according to government figures.
The Committee to Protect Journalists, which began compiling records on journalism-related deaths in 1992, ranks the Philippines as the third most deadly country for journalists, after Syria and Iraq.
More than 77 members of press have lost their lives in the archipelago since 1992.
Last August, three journalists from local newspapers and radio stations were killed within a few days of each other.
Another international media watchdog, the London-based International News Safety Institute, has revealed that 14 journalists died on the job in 2013 alone, with some of the fatalities occurring due to natural disasters rather than violence.
In 2009, 34 journalists were among the 58 victims of a massacre in southern Maguindanao province resulting from election-related feud.