Sunday, January 29, 2017

Manila Eager to Sign Military Agreement With Moscow, Eyes Russian Weapons

From Sputnik News (Jan 29): Manila Eager to Sign Military Agreement With Moscow, Eyes Russian Weapons
The Philippines' military is looking forward to signing a memorandum of understanding with Moscow to allow regular contacts with its Russian counterparts, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said. Manila is also pursuing through Russian weapons offerings, and is considering purchasing specialized sniper rifles, UAVs and maybe even submarines.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Philippines' Secretary of Defense Delfin Lorenzana confirmed that he would be joining President Rodrigo Duterte for his official visit to Moscow in April or May. He noted that he looks forward to signing a Memorandum of Understanding with his Russian counterpart during the visit that would allow for regular exchanges to take place between the two countries' militaries.
"I will accompany the President there. We hope to sign an MOU – a military-to-military agreement with the Russians, that would allow visitation of troops and perhaps ships coming here," the Secretary said. "They could observe our exercises. We could also observe their exercises there," he added. The agreement may also allow for the exchange of students in Russian and Filipino officer schools, according to the official.

"Maybe later on we could also go into joint exercises; but that will be in the future," Lorenzana noted. "It's not part of the MOU that will be signed," and would require separate treaties, the Secretary of Defense clarified.

Lorenzana added that Russia has offered Manila a variety of different weapons systems, including "ships, submarines, aircraft, and helicopters."
"We will look into that because we should buy in accordance with our modernization plan…We will buy smart, will buy quality items and which will suit the needs of people on the ground," the defense official stressed, pointing to Manila's modest efforts to modernize the military.
As far as the subs go, the Philippine government's news bureau has indicated that the Department of National Defense is "determining whether these specialized ships are essential for the modernization needs of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and whether the country can afford to acquire and maintain such an expensive weapons platform."
"Do we need submarines? Let's find out. It depends on the needs of the country," Lorenzana added. 
According to the official, the military is also "interested in [Russian-made] specialized rifles, like sniper rifles…We are also thinking of buying – we'll find out if they have good quality UAVs or drones. We might be able to consider those." Earlier, President Duterte expressed an interest in Russian assault rifles, hailing them to be 'among the best in the world'.
A Philippine Navy Band plays as the Russian Navy vessel Admiral Tributs, a large anti-submarine ship, docks at Manila's pier, Philippines on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017
© AP Photo/ Aaron Favila
A Philippine Navy Band plays as the Russian Navy vessel Admiral Tributs, a large anti-submarine ship, docks at Manila's pier, Philippines on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017
Earlier this month, Russia's Admiral Tributs anti-submarine destroyer arrived in the Philippines along with the Boris Butoma tanker ship for a four-day goodwill visit. 
During the port call, President Duterte was invited aboard the Admiral Tributs, shaking hands with Rear Admiral Eduard Mikhailov of the Russian Navy and welcoming Russia as an "ally," adding that the Russian Navy is free to visit the country's ports "anytime."

During the visit, Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev said that Manila had shown an interest in diversifying its alliances, with Russia "ready to become a new reliable partner and a close friend of the Philippines."
"It's not a choice between these partners and those ones. Diversification means preserving and keeping old traditional partners and getting new ones," Khovaev emphasized.
"We are ready to supply small arms and light weapons, airplanes, helicopters, submarines and many, many other weapons," Khovaev noted, adding that Russia was serious about negotiating on the sale of modern "sophisticated weapons," including diesel submarines.
In a visit to Moscow last month, Philippine Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that Manila intends to build up its defense and security cooperation with Russia.

Russian officials have since indicated that terrorism and anti-piracy efforts may be an important area of cooperation between the two countries. Manila has been fighting a counter-insurgency campaign against Ansar Al-Khilafah Philippines (AKP), a militant group which has pledged its allegiance to Daesh (ISIL/ISIS).

NPA abducts soldier in Surigao del Norte – military

From Rappler (Jan 30): NPA abducts soldier in Surigao del Norte – military

 PEACE TALKS. The reported abduction of a soldier by the NPA is another challenge for the peace panels. File photo from OPAPP

PEACE TALKS. The reported abduction of a soldier by the NPA is another challenge for the peace panels. File photo from OPAPP

The military said the New People's Army (NPA) abducted a soldier in Surigao Del Norte Sunday afternoon, January 29, the latest incident to challenge the peace talks aimed at ending Asia's longest running communist insurgency.

The military said Private First Class Erwin Salan was leading youth volunteers in a forest clean up drive in Alegria, Surigao Del Norte, when about a dozen communist rebels "abducted" him.

He is a member of the military's Peace and Development Team (PDT), a unit that the rebels have previously tagged to be doing counter-insurgency activities that are supposedly in violation of the government's ceasefire.

The National Democratic Front (NDF) representing the rebels in talks with government formally filed with the government a complaint against these military units.

Lieutenant Colonel Rico Amaro of the 30th Infantry Battalion appealed to the NPA to release the soldier under his command.

"We fully commit ourselves to peace, we support peace talk and peace process, we have high hopes that the leadership of Guerrilla Front 16 also have this commitment for the benefit of every Surigaonon, it is not too late to rethink their action, we appeal in the name of peace, for the release of our comrade" Amaro said in a statement released by the 4th Infantry Division based in Cagayan De Oro.

The military identified Salan's alleged abductors as members of NPA Yunit Pampropaganda (SYP) – Lumad, Front Committee 16, North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC) under the leadership of Florencio Llano aka Ricky.

The 5-month-old ceasefire between the military and the NPA was first broken in Makilala, North Cotabato on January 23 while talks were ongoing in Rome.

The peace panels failed to sign a bilateral ceasefire deal that would have imposed common rules for the military and the NPA – defining hostile acts and determining buffer zones.

The government is aiming to complete the joint deal in a side meeting scheduled in February in The Netherlands.

4 BIFF bandits wounded in NCotabato clashes

From the Manila Times (Jan 29): 4 BIFF bandits wounded in NCotabato clashes

SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao: Two Army outposts of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in North Cotabato towns were attacked separately on Saturday night and before dawn Sunday by members of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), police said.

Supt. Romeo Galgo, Jr., spokesman for the Regional Police Office 12 based in General Santos City, said four BIFF rebels were wounded in ensuing exchanges of gunfire.
The members of the BIFF attacked a militia detachment in Barangay Nalapaan in Pikit, North Cotabato at 4 a.m. Sunday, which triggered a firefight.

Local police said militiamen in the detachment returned fire, preventing the BIFF gunmen from coming nearer to the outpost.

Residents of Pikit, among them traditional leaders, said two of the wounded BIFF rebels were mere adolescents and identified only by their first names as Tatoh and Ahmad.

The incident, which created panic among Muslim and Christian residents in Barangay Nalapaan, was preceded by an attempt by BIFF rebels to take over an Army detachment in Barangay Pagangan in Aleosan, North Cotabato, on Saturday night.

Local officials said BIFF fighters approached the detachment that was manned by soldiers belonging to the Philippine Army and local members of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit from two directions and opened fire with assault rifles and shoulder-fired 40 millimeter grenade launchers.

Although outnumbered, the government troops in the detachment fought back and fired at the BIFF attackers, forcing the latter to retreat.

The Aleosan municipal police said residents in the barangay (village) have confirmed to them that the gunmen belong to the outlawed BIFF.

The BIFF, which split from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2010, has declared their loyalty to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and copied the style of dreaded international terrorist group by hoisting the black ISIS flag as its revolutionary banner.

Another Abu Sayyaf bandit falls in Zamboanga

From the Sun Star-Zamboanga (Jan 29): Another Abu Sayyaf bandit falls in Zamboanga

JOINT police and military operatives have arrested an Abu Sayyaf bandit involved in the Lamitan siege 15 years ago, an official announced.

Arrested was Benzar Jumrani alias Abu Pati, according to Chief Superintendent Billy Beltran, Police Regional Office-Zamboanga Peninsula director.

Beltran said Jumrani was arrested in a law enforcement operation last week at Sitio Lingayon in the village of Limpapa, west of Zamboanga City.

Beltran said Jumrani is a follower of the late Abu Sayyaf Spokesman Aldam Tilao alias Abu Sabaya and was involved in the June 2, 2001 Lamitan siege.

He said the arrested bandit was also among the detainees that escaped in a jailbreak in December 2009 at the Basilan Provincial Jail in the village of Sumagdang, Isabela City.

He said Jumrani was placed under the custody of the Military Intelligence Group (MIG)-Zamboanga Peninsula (Western Mindanao). Jumrani was one of the two Abu Sayyaf bandits the police and military authorities have arrested last week in Zamboanga City.

The other was Abu Sayyaf sub-leader as Faizal Jaafar, who carries the aliases of Jaafar Mundi, Abu Jaafar, Abu Aren, Abu Ben and Abu Raba.

Beltran said Jaafar was arrested in a law enforcement operation through the serving of warrant of arrest for the crime of 87-count kidnapping and serious illegal detention.

He said Jaafar has also standing warrants of arrest for murder and illegal possession of firearms issued by the courts of Isabela City, Basilan and Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, respectively.

He said Jaafar was involved in the 2001 kidnapping of 21 people, mostly Europeans, in Sipadan, Malaysia.

2 bombs found in Mindanao State University

From ABS-CBN (Jan 30): 2 bombs found in Mindanao State University

Authorities recovered 2 homemade bombs inside the Mindanao State University (MSU) compound on Monday when they raided what was believed to be a safe house of the Islamic State-linked Maute terror group.

Joint elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police combed through the university campus around 12 a.m., armed with three search warrants for illegal possession of firearms and explosives and illegal drugs.

Eleven people were brought into questioning after the raid, all of whom denied having links to any terror group.

The CIDG is now conducting background checks on their identities to verify if any arrest warrant was issued against them.

Authorities said Maute bomb makers are likely using the compound, and that residents have complained that improvised explosive devices were planted there.
MSU has yet to issue a statement about the incident.

The raid of the campus comes as state forces continued to pound the strongholds of the Maute and Abu Sayyaf group in the neighboring town of Butig, Lanao del Sur.

Fifteen terrorists have been killed so far after the army launched airstrikes in Butig last week, the army confirmed Sunday.

Eight extremists were also reportedly wounded, including Isnilon Hapilon, a senior Abu Sayyaf leader with alleged ties to the IS.

President Rodrigo Duterte on late Sunday evening ordered a full-press military operation in Lanao to contain the terror group in the area.

Duterte orders 'cleansing' of PNP, extends drug war again

From Rappler (Jan 30): Duterte orders 'cleansing' of PNP, extends drug war again

The President orders the dissolution of all PNP anti-drug units and the creation of a new command to rid the police force of corrupt personnel

'CLEANSING.' President Rodrigo Duterte speaks to newly-promoted PNP officers on January 19, 2017. File photo from Malacañang

'CLEANSING.' President Rodrigo Duterte speaks to newly-promoted PNP officers on January 19, 2017. File photo from Malacañang

After the murder of a South Korean that President Rodrigo Duterte admits "embarrassed" him, he has ordered the "cleansing" of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

"This killing a Korean...They could have killed, strangled him everywhere, anywhere but they say it had to happen inside the Camp Crame, is really bad, we admit that. Something has to be corrected severely," said Duterte on Sunday, January 29, during a late-night press conference at the Palace.
"Because of this sordid incident, let me reorganize the system. Ang kalaban ko dito mga pulis na kriminal (My enemies here are the police who are criminals)," he added.
During the joint command conference with police and the military on Sunday, Duterte ordered the dissolution of all anti-drug units in the police force.
"As directed by the President, we agree to dissolve all anti-drug units at all levels including [the] Anti-Illegal Drugs Group," said PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa in the same press conference.
Duterte also instructed Dela Rosa to create a list of cops with criminal records and those who were reinstated after facing cases. These tainted personnel will be sent to the front lines of the government's offensive against terrorists in Mindanao.
"This cleansing is easy. All we have to do is look at the records of how many policemen have had cases, mostly involving extortion, and if they are reinstated – it's over with, it was done legally – I'll just gather them, bring them new uniforms, new combat boots. I have to have a strong presence in Basilan and Lanao, they'll be the first I send there," he said.
Duterte intends to create a "narco police" command to weed out police involved in the drug trade. The new command will be under the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
"I said I will establish a new command... The overall head of that is the PDEA," said the President.
Given the overhaul of the PNP's implementation of the drug war, Duterte has decided to extend yet again his deadline for "suppressing" the country's drug problem.
"The drug war I will extend to the last day of my term. Wala na 'yung March [deadline] (No more March deadline)," he said.
March had been the latest deadline of his drug war after he had first extended it in September 2016.
He admitted he had been over-confident in setting a 6-month deadline when he was a presidential candidate.
"'Di ko akalain. Mayor kasi ako noon when I was making hambog (I didn't expect it. I was a mayor then when I was boasting about it). Ang mayor ko (When I was mayor), I was limited to Davao City. Little did I know when I became president, to my horror and to Filipinos everybody including the human rights, hundreds of thousands Filipinos surrendered," he said.
He may have promised an overhaul of the PNP, but Duterte chose to reject Dela Rosa's resignation, dismissing the argument that Dela Rosa should be held accountable for the murder based on the "chain of command" principle.
Duterte said businessman Jee Ick Joo's murder, which he alleges was masterminded by Superintendent Rafael Dumlao, gives him a reason to "do more" in purging the police of abusive personnel.
"The more reason for us to do more and the correct way to do it, if I may say so is go against those who perpetrated the crime. Sila 'yun (That's the police)," he said.
In previous public speeches, Duterte assured police he would pardon them if they were ever accused of a crime while in the performance of duty. He had even said he would "promote" them if they massacred criminals. 
In his Sunday press conference, Duterte admitted he thought 40% of police are "used to corruption."
"You are corrupt to the core," he also said.
More than 7,000 people have died in drug war-related incidents as of January 28. Of this, over 2,500 were drug suspects killed in legitimate police operations, while more than 3,600 are under investigation.

Duterte tells U.S. to stop planned construction in PH bases

From Rappler (Jan 30): Duterte tells U.S. to stop planned construction in PH bases

(UPDATED) Defense chief Delfin Lorenzana says it doesn't mean President Rodrigo Duterte wants to cancel EDCA altogether. He only wants to review the structures that the US plans to build.

TREATY ALLIES. The US and Philippine militaries conduct annual military exercises. File photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

TREATY ALLIES. The US and Philippine militaries conduct annual military exercises. File photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

President Rodrigo Duterte told the United States to stop "unloading arms" in Palawan, Cagayan de Oro, and Pampanga, as he threatened anew on Sunday, January 29, to "abrogate" treaties with the country's longtime ally.

Duterte was reacting to US plans to start implementation of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), a military-to-military agreement signed by the previous Aquino administration allowing the US to build facilities and store military hardware in select Philippine military bases.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana announced the US plans in a press briefing last week, saying Duterte had approved them. (READ: US set to build in 3 PH military facilities)
But the President said on Sunday that the planned construction would put the country in danger.
"You place us all in danger. You do that and I will be there when you start building, even before you build the first post," Duterte said in a press conference late Sunday evening.
Review, not cancel, EDCA
Lorenzana said it doesn't mean Duterte wants to cancel EDCA altogether.
"He is not junking it, he is just concerned about the type of structures to be built. We will revisit the EDCA documents to see that the President's wish is followed," the defense chief told Rappler when sought for comment on the President's new pronouncements.
Duterte said the "depots" that the US will be building are "permanent facilities" and are thus unconstitutional.
"Depot by any other name is a depot. It's a permanent structure to house arms. I don't even know if there's a nuclear tip now that they're unloading," said the President.
Joint drills can continue
Duterte digressed to explain that he has been talking to China about the maritime conflict in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), assuring the public that he will protect the country's claims.
"Certainly, I have to confront them... But now investments are coming in. They have answered projects that Congress won't give Tugade," Duterte said, referring to Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade.
EDCA was negotiated as the Philippines sought US assistance in defending its maritime claims in the disputed waters.
"Sa (In the) EDCA, they're not supposed to build permanent [structures]," the President insisted.
But Duterte said American troops may continue doing exercises with their Filipino counterparts, apparently referring to joint drills conducted under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
"Sige mag-exercise lang sila diyan, walang problema," he said. (They can conduct exercises, no problem.)

Dela Rosa: Stop anti-drug operations, cleanse PNP first

From Rappler (Jan 30): Dela Rosa: Stop anti-drug operations, cleanse PNP first

President Duterte will 'determine' when the police can go back to the war on drugs, says the PNP chief   

FOCUS ON CLEANSING. File photo of PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa

FOCUS ON CLEANSING. File photo of PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa

National police chief Ronald dela Rosa on Monday, January 30, announced a stop to anti-illegal drug operations while the police force focuses on "internal cleansing."

"We have to focus our efforts towards internal cleansing. And by the time na ma-cleanse natin ang PNP, the President will determine that and he will instruct us to go back on the war on drugs. But right now, no more drug operations," said Dela Rosa in a speech before newly-promoted police officials at Camp Crame.
Dela Rosa's announcement came hours after a late-night press conference of President Rodrigo Duterte where he ordered the dismantling of all anti-illegal drug units in the PNP in the wake of a scandal related to the murder of a South Korean businessman inside Camp Crame in October 2016. (READ: Duterte orders 'cleansing' of PNP, extends drug war again)
Dela Rosa himself offered to resign over the weekend, according to Duterte, a move the President rejected.
As of January 28, over 7,000 Filipinos have been killed in the administration's 6-month war on drugs, a campaign that's been criticized by various sectors and international organizations.
This is a developing story.

Former CMO chief is new 67th IB commander

From MindaNews (Jan 29): Former CMO chief is new 67th IB commander

The former commander of the civil military operations battalion is now the commander of the 67th Infantry Battalion in Baganga, Davao Oriental.

Lt. Col. Jacob Thaddeus Obligado  took over the command from Lt. Col. Michele Anayron on Friday.

The 67th Infantry Battalion covers Davao Oriental’s first district and three other municipalities at the province’s boundaries — Lingig in Surigao del Sur; Trento in Agusan del Sur and Compostela in Compostela Valley province.

Obligado said his leadership is taking off from  the Army’s strategies on peace campaign  — the Internal Peace and Security Plan Bayanihan which has been replaced by the Development Support and Security Plan Kapayapaan of the Duterte administration. Under Oplan Kapayapaan,  the Armed Forces of the Philippines “will sustain the peace and internal stability of the country through sustained military operations to defeat terrorists, support to law enforcement in the campaign against illegal drugs and organized crimes, and actively contribute to peace promotion and nation-building.”

He cited several imperatives in pursuing permanent and lasting peace, among them “respect for human rights, international humanitarian law and the rule of law.”

“Our first imperative is our commitment that soldiers are duty-bound to serve the community’s rights and the laws of the land. It is our responsibility to fulfill these obligations,” he said, adding the other imperatives are good citizenship, stakeholders’ active participation in the peace efforts.

“Stakeholders’ engagement means that we cannot perform our tasks and accomplish our mission without the community’s involvement and participation and I can see how Lt. Col. Anayron performed these tasks through participation, collaboration and coordination of all the stakeholders,” he further said.

Obligado was formerly assigned in Davao region as commander of 10th Civil-Military Operation (CMO) Battalion and later as Intelligence Officer at  the Eastern Mindanao Command.

Maj. Gen. Rafael Valencia, commander of the 10th ID conferred on Anayron a merit medal.

In his message,  Anayron bid his “Agila sons and daughters” farewell, saying that his two-year stint as commander of the battalion that has been distinguished for its many accomplishments, has been a blessing.

“I was given the opportunity to command a unit that was trained and transformed into a model Peace and Development Outreach Program-operating unit of the Army,” he said, citing one of his predecessors who started this innovation, Col. Reuben Basiao, the new Commander of the Army’s 701st Brigade.

He also cited the Provincial Government and all local government units, as well as the community, for their support in the military’s peace campaign. “The LGUs knew and understood the internal security problem which enabled them to adopt a holistic approach to address it and master the art of maximizing the use of the military as one of their partner agency,” he said.

“In the implementation of the AFP’s new campaign, I am fully assured that Jake’s ingenuity, initiative, vast experiences and charisma, shall be again of great help in working with other peace and security stakeholders towards meeting these ends,” h Valencia said.

“Jake, under your leadership, I entrust   67th IB, the morale and welfare of the Agila troops and their dependents, and the peace and security of various areas within your battalion’s area of responsibility. Give and make the best that you can.  The command will always be here to support, direct, supervise and guide you,” he added.

On Janauary 20, Brig. Gen. Bienvenido Datuin Jr. relinquished his command of teh 701st Infantry Brigade in Mati City to  Col. Reuben Basiao.

On the same day, Lt. Col. Gilbert Ruiz was replaced by Lt. Col. Palmer Parungao, as the commander of 66th Infantry Battalion in New Bataan, Comval Province.

The 73rd Infantry Battalion also has a new commander. Lt.Col. Felix Ronnie Babac was resplaced by Lt. Col. Marlon Angcao last January 19 in turnover rites at  Barangay Felis in  Malita, Davao Occidental.

Suspected BIFF members attack Cafgu detachments in Aleosan and Pikit; no one hurt

From MindaNews (Jan 29): Suspected BIFF members attack Cafgu detachments in Aleosan and Pikit; no one hurt

Suspected members of the  Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF)  attacked two Cafgu detachments in Aleosan and Pikit in North Cotabato early Sunday morning but no one was hurt, Capt. Marvin Encinas, spokesperson of the 6th Infantry Division said.

Encinas said some 50 suspected BIFF members attacked the detachments in Pagangan, Aleosan and Nalapaan in Pikit at 12:40 a.m.

Encinas said the troops monitored their movement so they were able to return fire.

“One hour almost nagpaputok din yung tropa natin ng 105 (mm howitzer) indirect fire support,” he said.

“Matagal na din po nila ito pinaplano  to inflict casualty sa mga kasundaluhan natin ,” Encinas said, adding they were able to monitor the armed group’s movements “dahil na rin sa report ng mga civilian at tulong na rin ng MILF brothers” (because of the report of the civilians and the help of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front brothers), he added.

Armed men abduct soldier in Surigao Norte town

From MindaNews (Jan 30): Armed men abduct soldier in Surigao Norte town

A soldier belonging to the 30th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army was abducted by armed men believed to be members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Alegria town in Surigao del Norte Sunday afternoon, the commanding officer of the 30th IB said.

Lt. Col. Rico Amaro, 30th IB commander, said Pfc Erwin Salan was leading a group in a cleanliness drive with the youth in a local tourist destination in Barangay Budlingin, Alegria at around 3 p.m. when a group of armed men flagged them down.

“Salan was forcibly tied and taken by NPA rebels,” Amaro said in a text message to MindaNews.

Since the government and National Democratic Front (NDF) each declared a unilateral ceasefire in August 2016, there has been no armed confrontation between the troops and communist guerillas in Surigao del Norte.

Ka Oto, spokesperson of Guerilla Force 16 of the NPA operating in Surigao del Norte said he cannot confirm the abduction as yet. “I’ll contact our unit operating in that concerned area,” he said.

As of Sunday evening,  the NDF and NPA has not issued a statement confirming if, indeed, they had taken Salan.

On July 10, 2014, four police officers were captured by the NPA during a raid in a town police station. They were freed after 19 days in captivity.

On November 16, 2014, two police officers in Alegria town were seized by NPA rebels.

After three months in captivity, PO3 Democrito B. Polvorosa and PO1 Marichel U. Contemplo along with PO1 Jorie Amper from Malimono town were turned over to then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in February 2015 in the hinterlands of Gigaquit town in Surigao del Norte.

The government and the NDF concluded its third round of the formal peace talks on January 25 in Rome.

Both  panels signed ground rules to speed up discussion  on social and economic reforms.

The Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-economic Reforms or CASER is seen to address poverty and give solution to the ongoing armed conflict in the country.

The fourth round of formal talks will be held in April in Oslo, Norway. But the panels’ ceasefire committees will meet in the Netherlands next month to determine fi they can forge a bilateral ceasefire.

President Duterte orders ‘full-press’ military operation vs. ISIS-inspired groups in Mindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 29): President Duterte orders ‘full-press’ military operation vs. ISIS-inspired groups in Mindanao

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered a full-press military operation against terrorist groups particularly the Maute group, which has pledged allegiance to international terror group ISIS (Islamic State), in Lanao area.

President Duterte made this statement after a joint conference of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) on Sunday night.

”I have ordered a full-press military operation. That is why I said to the military and the police, you embargo the place, you contain them in that area alone, Lanao,” the President said.

”I have also asked the Armed Forces to use all available assets and all the weaponry that’s at our disposal,” he added.

The President said he also sent an urgent message to China to help the Philippines’ campaign against terrorism by offering the country loan to acquire precision-guided arms.

”The greatest danger mankind is facing is really extremism. The ISIS is recruiting everybody. The ISIS, they said, come hell or high water, they will establish the caliphate,” he said.

President Duterte, however, clarified the situation in Lanao does not warrant the imposition of the martial law.

”When the time comes that people are asking for it, I’ll give it to them. Remember these Filipinos, if you ask for it, Mr. President, let’s declare martial law, my response, I’ll think about it first,” Duterte said.

The President said as of now, there is no need to declare martial law, saying he is contented with the present military operations against terrorists.

Duterte said Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon is now the leader of ISIS in the Philippines.

”I don’t know if it covers Malaysia and Indonesia. But he is now the top honcho of the ISIS here. He is billeted somewhere in Lanao and we have a fulltime military operation there,” the President said.

Last Friday, President Duterte appealed to the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) not to provide sanctuary to terrorists in their respective areas.

MILF: Iranun Community Leaders hold Forum in Kapatagan, Lanao Del Sur

From the Moro Islamic  Liberation Front Website (Jan 29): Iranun Community Leaders hold Forum in Kapatagan, Lanao Del Sur

The Local government of Kapatagan, LDS, the Federation of Bangsamoro Civil Society Organization (FBCSO) and the Bangsamoro Communication Network (BCN) Pagilidan sa Iranun Chapter held a community forum with the theme: “Understanding CAB, Federalism and Preventing Terrorism “at the Kapatagan Municipal Gymnasium on January 22, 2017.

More than 700 participants comprising youth and students in both English and Arabic of Kapatagan National High School, Iranun Foundation College and Markaz Abdul Rahman Mahmod Muhammad Zaman and Ma’had Kapatagan attended the program.  Other participants came from adjacent municipalities of Balabagan, Matanog, Barira, and Parang. Some Christian settlers also attended.

The program officially started by a recitation of some verses from the Noble Qur’an by Director Suwaid S. Adame of the MILF-Iranun Provincial Police Force. The welcome address was delivered by Ali Najier M. Dipatuan, ABC-President and also member of the BCN. Former Kapatagan Mayor and former Commissioner of National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) and now Kapatagan Vice Mayor Bai Raida Bansil-Maglangit delivered an inspirational talk.

Nas Pulindao, a peace advocate delved on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB). He said “The Bangsamoro Problem was not solved because of lack of sincerity on the part of the previous administration of President Ferdinand Marcos by creating two autonomous regions instead of one as agreed in the Tripoli accord of 1976.

The 1996 Final Peace Accord between the government and the MNLF likewise did not solve the incessant conflict in Mindanao. In 1997, the government entered into a peace negotiation with the MILF with only one agenda: “How to solve the Bangsamoro Question?

“In seventeen years on and off negotiations, the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro  (FAB) was finally signed on 2012 and its four annexes. The CAB was signed in 2014, but the 16th Congress failed to pass the Bangsamoro Basic law (BBL).

“So, what is wrong, if while waiting for the federalism as my good friend Board member Amer Bitor Mindalano Ampaso (2nd district, LDS) claimed to be also as a solution to the nagging Bangsamoro problem, why not pass the BBL?”, said Jun Salik, former Vice Mayor of Upi, Maguindanao, now president of the FBCSO, (an aggrupation of more than 100 POs, cooperatives and associations) asked.

 He cited that many countries in the world that adapted a federal system who are successful. But the question is… which among them we are going to adapt? Now that is still a long process and therefore, the passage of a CAB-compliant BBL is the answer to the Bangsamoro Question.

As Shiekh Abbu Barra, a prominent Islamic scholar who spoke on terrorism said: “Nowhere in the Qur’an where you can find terrorism has been encouraged: Islam has nothing to do with it and strictly abhors any form of terrorism.

Islam means peace and any idea that runs counter to it is not allowed. Jihad has not been commanded to Muslim. We can live side by side with our Christian brothers or those in the other faith – it was only because of “oppression” that it becomes a criteria to wage this noble act- He challenged the students both Arabic and English to become straight forward to pursue education for the betterment of their lives, families and country “Never succumb to those who are creeping to recruit you to become radicals promising you of money, paradise …. Believe me it will ruin you.

He emphasized that no where you can find in the Qur-an that Islam promotes this idea actually the Shariah, he said strongly command the protection of this five noble goal such as: 1. Protection of life 2. Protection of religion 3. Protection of wealth/ Property 4. Protection of Intellect ( aql) and 5. Nazl.

He made mention that terrorism cannot be associated with Islam for it totally abhors act that runs counter to peace which is the meaning of Islam. He even advised the student both English and Arabic to concentrate on their education. It is through your education that a better life awaits you”. Never entertain those organizers creeping on you, (if there are such) by joining them…. Much more if this people are among the radicals – It will eventually destroy your life, future, family and your homeland. Support instead the peace process between the Moro Front and the GPH that even international communities are pushing for including peace advocates.

The open forum that followed was facilitated by Vice Mayor Bansil-Maglangit, and the audience was given time to expressed their concerns. A Christian teacher asks “what would be their fate if the CAB be implemented – would they not be marginalized? Were their religious appellations being safe and guaranteed? “.

 It was clearly emphasized to them, that once this enabling law is enacted and ratified, their rights are fully guaranteed and no such coercion in religion. They are free to exercise their creed and/or religion.

After the open forum, statement of support was delivered by Mayor Nhazrudin B. Maglangit “In the name of Kapatagan LGU, we are firmly supporting the Bangsamoro Peace Process”. Commanding Officer Hezron L. Perez, Bravo Company of 6th IB, 6 ID, said, “Our Beloved President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is our Commander in Chief, so we follow his Peace efforts. “Let us hold hand in hand to achieve our aspiration of having lasting peace in the country”.

Chief of Police Inspector Jopy C. Ventura likewise maintained that peace and order must prevail in our homeland.

The closing remark was given by Aleem Nasser Samporna, also a BCN member of Pagilidan sa Iranun Chapter.

Obligado is new 67th IB chief

From online publication the Davao Today (Jan 29): Obligado is new 67th IB chief

Lt. Col. Jacob Thaddeus Obligado, the former commander of the Civil Military Operations Command of the 10th Infantry Division swore in as the new chief of the 67th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army.

Obligado replaced Lt. Col. Michele Anayron on Friday, Jan. 27 in a ceremony held at the Battalion’s headquarters in Barangay Salingcomot in Baganga town Davao Oriental Province.

The 67th IB’s areas of responsibility are  in Davao Oriental’s first district and three other municipalities at the province’s boundaries: Lingig, Surigao del Sur; Trento, Agusan del Sur; and Compostela, Compostela Valley Province.

In his speech, Obligado said he will take off from the army’s new strategies for its Security Plan Kapayapaan. Obligado said the Army’s advocacies will include the respect for human rights, the international humanitarian law and the rule of law.

“Our first imperative is our commitment that soldiers are duty-bound to serve the community’s rights and the laws of the land. It is our responsibility to fulfill these obligations,” he said.

Obligado emphasized the role of the public to respecting the rule of law and active participation in the peace efforts.

“A good citizen will always abide by the laws of the land and will not be a headache to the government and community,” he said, adding that the Army “cannot perform our tasks and accomplish our mission without the community’s involvement and participation.”

10th Infantry Division Commander Major General Rafael C. Valencia who presided the turnover ceremony said he is confident with Obligado’s capacity.

“In the implementation of the AFP’s new campaign, I am fully assured that Jake’s ingenuity, initiative, vast experiences and charisma, shall be again of great help in working with other peace and security stakeholders towards meeting these ends,” Valencia said.

The Development Support and Security Plan Kapayapaan replaced the Internal Peace and Security Plan Bayanihan. The Security Plan Kapayapaan aims to sustain the peace and internal stability of the country “through sustained military operations to defeat terrorist, support to law enforcement in the campaign against illegal drugs and organized crimes, and actively contribute to peace promotion and nation-building.”

First District Rep. Corazon Malanyaon of Davao Oriental committed her support to the Philippine Army in ensuring the security and welfare of the province.

1,500 gov’t forces to secure ASEAN meetings in Davao

From online publication the Davao Today (Jan 29): 1,500 gov’t forces to secure ASEAN meetings in Davao

Almost 1,500 combined forces of the police and military are all set for the series of meetings related to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations here from January 31 to February 22.

In a press release, the PRO 11 said the Task Group Davao Secretariat already conducted the headcount and briefing of PNP personnel who will be deployed to their respective areas on Monday, Jan. 30.

Police Chief Inspector Manuel Gaerlan, Police Regional Office 11 regional director said on Sunday that TG Davao will activate the Multi-Agency Coordinating Center on Monday to monitor the safety and security of delegates to the ASEAN meetings. Gaerlan will command the TG Davao.

Gaerlan said they also seek for the public’s support and cooperation to report any suspicious activity through the PNP PRO 11 hotline 0917-7078547.

US won’t undermine Rody gov’t, backs drug campaign

From the Philippine Star (Jan 25): US won’t undermine Rody gov’t, backs drug campaign

The US government is supporting the Philippines’ fight against the drug menace and reports that Washington was plotting to oust President Duterte over drug-related killings are “total nonsense,” America’s top diplomat in Manila said yesterday.

US Ambassador Sung Kim cited strong cooperation between the two countries in fighting drug trafficking, which he said would continue despite some “flaws” in the way it is being carried out.
“We have absolutely no interest in doing anything to try to undermine President Duterte’s government. Period. I hope you can put that story to rest,” Kim told a small group of journalists at his official residence in Makati. “Categorically, confidently, I can tell you that is total nonsense. There is absolutely no basis for that report.”

Asked what the US would do in case Duterte declared martial law, Kim said he did not want to comment on hypothetical situations.
He said while preparing for his posting in the Philippines, he went over all the cables and reports sent from the US embassy in Manila and “there’s nothing that even resembles what’s claimed in that media report.”

Since taking up his Manila posting in early December, Kim has had what he describes as two “very long” meetings with President Duterte and key Philippine officials. Kim would only say that they had “wide ranging discussions” on numerous issues including “law enforcement in general.”

Having worked as a prosecutor in Los Angeles, Kim said he understood Duterte’s concern and focus on the drug menace. This is why the US government wants to continue its cooperation with the Philippines, which Kim described as one of the bright spots in bilateral relations.

Asked about the Trump administration’s position on human rights and extrajudicial killings, Kim cited the statement of the nominee for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, who said he wanted more information before passing judgment on the Philippine campaign against drugs.

“Obviously we have some concerns about some aspects of the drug campaign,” Kim said. “While everybody acknowledges that there is a very serious drug problem, there is also concern that some aspects of the anti-drug campaign has flaws.”

He stressed that the concerns are shared by others including Filipinos, and that his government is not telling the Philippine government what to do.

“I hope people will not view this as somehow an American concern being imposed on the Philippines,” Kim said. “My sense is this is a concern for many people. So I think it’s a mistake to portray this as a US versus Philippines issue.”

Duterte had hurled invectives at former US president Barack Obama and Kim’s predecessor Philip Goldberg for criticizing the Philippines’ bloody war on drugs, which has claimed over 6,000 lives in less than seven months.

Trump, on the other hand, reportedly told Duterte in a phone conversation that the latter was doing the right thing in the anti-drug campaign. Duterte has since described Trump as a “friend” and has invited the US president to Manila for the annual leaders’ summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations later this year.

Kim noted that even as the two countries were going through a “rough patch” in bilateral ties last year, the US Drug Enforcement Administration continued to provide information and assistance to the Philippines that helped in several major drug busts.

“We recognize that President Duterte was elected in a vibrant and free democratic election. We have great respect for the Philippines’ democratic process. He won a very impressive victory,” Kim said yesterday. “What we want is to work with them to strengthen bilateral relationship and work together on some common challenges beyond our national interests.”

Malacañang has accused a group of Filipino-Americans of plotting to oust Duterte with help from certain elements in the US government and support from “yellows” in the Philippines – a reference to groups associated with the Aquinos and the Liberal Party (LP).

The plotters allegedly want to install Vice President Leni Robredo, who ran under the LP banner, as president.

Robredo, the LP and Filipino-American businesswoman Loida Nicolas Lewis have denied the existence of any such plot.

2 children killed, 3 injured in Basilan explosion

From Rappler (Jan 29): 2 children killed, 3 injured in Basilan explosion

The military blames the Abu Sayyaf for the explosion, saying the terror group meant 'to sow fear' in the area

EXPLOSION. The military blames the Abu Sayyaf Group for the explosion that killed 2 children and injured 3 others in Albarka, Basilan.

EXPLOSION. The military blames the Abu Sayyaf Group for the explosion that killed 2 children and injured 3 others in Albarka, Basilan.

Two children were killed and 3 others were injured when an improvised explosive device (IED) went off in Barangay Danapah, Al-Barka, Basilan in the southern Philippines early Sunday, January 29.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines' Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) said the Abu Sayyaf Group, under Furuji Indama, carried out the blast "to sow fear" in the area.

The two children killed were identified as 2-year-old Niyadz Pising and 5-year-old Ombek Abar. The 3 wounded victims are Pahmiya Pising and Salmiya Akbar, both 4 years old, and 25-year-old Suraima Akbar.

Lieutenant Colonel Franco Raphael Alano said the victims were playing outdoors when they accidentally triggered the IED. They were rushed to the nearest hospital but only 3 survived.

"Joint Task Force Basilan responded to the incident as soon as it came to their attention and [they are] currently assessing the incident together with local authorities [to] come up with measures to avert the recurrence of such a tragic event," Alano said.

Major General Carlito Galvez Jr, commander of the Westmincom, denounced the "horrendous act," saying victimizing innocent civilians, especially children, "is simply unacceptable."

Last December 2, two children also died while two others were seriously injured in a similar incident in Barangay Bohe Piyang in Al-Barka.

BRP Andres Bonifacio in 3-day stop in Davao City

From the Sun Star-Davao (Jan 29): BRP Andres Bonifacio in 3-day stop in Davao City

THE Barko ng Republika ng Pilipinas (BRP) Andres Bonifacio (FF-17), the country's third Hamilton-class cutter, arrived here in the city early morning on Saturday at Sasa Wharf, Davao City for the Philippine Navy (PN) recruitment activity and exhibit of its new security assets and resources.
The vessel, aboard PN Mobile Recruitment Team from the Naval Personnel Management Center (NPMC), will be here in the city from January 28 to January 30 to showcase the Disaster Response and Rescue Units (DRRU) equipment and its capabilities to the Navy in Eastern Mindanao.
The ship came from General Santos City. The BRP Andres Bonifacio officers were welcomed by Public Safety and Security Command Center chief Retired General Benito de Leon on behalf of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
Also, part of the activity is the "Open House" which will give opportunity to the public to see first-hand the materials and equipment of the ship at the Philippine Ports Authority.
Meanwhile, the Naval Special Operations Group 7 (NAVSOU7), also known as the Philippine Navy Seals, aslo showcased their security gear at People's Park starting on Saturday until today at the activity area and will allow the park goers to wear the weapon of the Navy.
Aboard the ship are the cadets from the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Salaknib class of 2017 who are undergoing the "sea-phase" of their training and subsequently will join the Philippine Navy after their graduation in the academy.
BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF-17) is the third Del Pilar Class Frigate of the Philippine Navy under Offshore Combat Force (OCF).
It is a 378-feet Hamilton Class Weather High Endurance Cutter (WHEC) complemented with 180 personnel.
The vessel is from the United States (US) Coast Guard before being transferred, christened and commissioned to the Philippine Navy last July 21, 2016.
In a report, according to Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, the ship is expected to patrol the Sulu waters, wherein kidnapping and piracy cases are prevalent.
This is seen to further give a boost to the Philippines Navy (PN) capacity in territorial defense operations with a mission "to conduct Naval Surface Warfare operations in support of the National Forces mission". 

A military that fights with its heart

From Rappler (Jan 29): A military that fights with its heart

Writes a retired general, 'Our sad experience on the misuse of military capability against our own people has generated lasting conflicts which will take generations to heal'

No field manual or doctrine is expected to survive the quick changes in this uncertain and complicated operational environment. After all, violent conflicts in every maturing democracy are the mark of this modern world.

In my case, it will be a lot easier to tell you about the errors we made before we got it right, and how bitterly the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) learned from those errors.
We have all types of long-running insurgencies. Name it, we have it – communist insurgency, Muslim rebellion, terrorism.
These conflicts have taken a huge toll on our economy and on the character of the AFP.
I have seen enough death and sufferings from both ends. When I was a young soldier, we were there to follow the lead of our predecessors. Not one of our superiors bothered to tell us what good that would bring. We were expected to do terrible things, so horrible I cannot tell you specifically the circumstances.
We were made to believe, for example, that “a good Moro is a dead Moro.” Our seniors even had a way of saying that anyone twelve years and older is considered a combatant, and that the women will bear children who will eventually become rebels.
What we did in those years are precisely the reasons why the conflict continues to rage till today.
My story is not unique: all conflicts are contaminated with atrocities perpetrated by soldiers themselves.
I believe that using your own armed forces without the right frame of mind and direction, and against your own people, is a terrible and criminal mistake.
This is the reason why developed countries have constitutional provisions restraining the participation of their armed forces in local conflict. Australia has Section 51 of their Defence Act. Canada specifies the limitations within its National Defence Act. Britain has the same. US has the Posse Comitatus Law.
Other countries have similar legislations, if only to protect their citizens from misapplied or misused military capability.
What then is the role of the armed forces in a maturing democracy?
Understand that democracy is in some ways problematic. In developing countries, democratic space is open to misuse and abuse. This is also true for the militaries of developing nations.
In our case, the Philippines' sad experience on the misuse of military capability against our own people has generated lasting conflicts which will take generations to heal.
Changing mindsets
We have a disgusting experience of bad counterinsurgency policies. It was only in the last two decades that we recognized – and implemented – more coherent approaches.
The anti-subversion law was abolished and peace negotiation has been the direction.
The military has been in the midst of promoting security sector reform (SSR). We believe that SSR and counterinsurgency must come hand in hand and pursued aggressively.
We learned bitterly that our policies on counter-insurgency were mere knee-jerk reactions to the situation and did not include any exit strategy.
We learned to mimic what the rebels do at the countryside in order to win the hearts of the people.
We learned the necessity of putting in place senior officer supervision at every level of military activity.
We also learned that civil affairs and public affairs must not be seen as a tool to fight insurgency, but rather as a responsibility toward the less fortunate sector of society.
Our Armed Forces also learned that in order to preserve our gains and keep moving forward, we cannot fully rely on other agencies of government. We have to do it ourselves and hope that other agencies will toe the line lest they be criticized by civil society. We had to get away from the blame syndrome.
Note also that too much drumbeating about the efficiency of the military has driven some rightist sectors to advocate military takeover. That is definitely not the role of the military in a maturing democracy.
'Whole-of-society' approach

This whole-of-society approach is an offshoot of our 2010 National Security Policy.
The policy practically calls for the participation of the military in assisting poor communities. This calls for extreme interpersonal skills and a lot of adjustments.
We needed to learn very quickly the operations of every government agency. We had to adapt hastily in order to adjust our doctrine. We were, to some extent, doubtful of what we can accomplish within a timetable. But we did not want our plan to end up like its predecessors, which came short of its objectives at termination phases.
We focused on preserving our gains. We made sure that the last soldier understood the end state, the methodology, and his role.
It was prepared in collaboration with all sectors of society. It is an open document representing the consensus of all stakeholders.
Oplan Bayanihan, the operational plan for this policy, is anchored on our government’s peace framework. Efforts of the armed forces were focused on the more important goal of alleviating the roots and results of poverty. We envisioned it to be accomplished through genuine concern for the people and implemented in cooperation with all stakeholders. (Editor’s Note: Oplan Bayanihan has since been renamed to Development Support and Security Plan Kapayapaan or DSSP Kapayaan under the Duterte administration)
Beyond the battlefield
This is a paradigm shift.
It allows the armed forces to embrace the broader framework of human security. It gives emphasis on the non-kinetic dimensions of military operations to protect our people against poverty, malnutrition, illiteracy, and other peripheral threats.
The end state calls for capabilities of threat groups reduced to a level that they cannot threaten stability, and that civil authorities are capable of ensuring the safety and well-being of the people.
It has two strategic approaches. The whole-of-nation approach and the people-centered approach.
It is hinged on the participation of stakeholders and less of traditional military operations.
"Whole-of-nation" approach is about creating a shared understanding of security, not just among security forces, but also with the civil society and the communities. The role of the AFP is to unify all these efforts.
The people-centered approach works within the framework of human security. It puts the people’s welfare in the middle of every military activity. It gives primacy to human rights and the rule of law.
In essence, we underwent rapid paradigm shifts in order to show genuine concern for our people.
What war, what enemy?
Here are some of those paradigm shifts.
  • First is that this is not a war; this is law-enforcement and community organizing.
  • There is no enemy. Rebels or not, they are all citizens entitled to the same rights as any of us.
  • Only when necessary, we shoot to maim and not to kill.
  • Our Rules of Engagement: No shooting unless shot at.
  • Zero collateral damage. No such thing as acceptable collateral damage to lives and properties.
  • Human rights and rule of law are our constraints as well as restraints.
  • “Do the right thing” and not confined to “Doing things right”.
  • HAIL, which stands for Honesty, Authenticity, Integrity, and Love.
  • Threat to use force is supreme over the actual use of force. Strategic significance of any military operation is not proportional to the size of troops involved.
  • The best closure to any insurgency is through a peaceful settlement.
But many times politics comes in the way. Politicians use the issue for grandstanding. Then there goes the competition for resources.
Beyond AFP's control
We know that insurgency is a product of underdevelopment. Insurgency aggravates the inability of government to administer and alleviate an already miserable condition. And this leads to other problems on governance.
These problems make it difficult to reach a consensus toward a coherent national security policy.
Then we can add military adventurism where some not-very intelligent officers believe they can do better than the civilian bureaucrats in running the government.
The essence of a maturing democracy is among the principles we advocate among our soldiers and officers alike. This can be broken down into four:
First is a peaceful transition of power through election.
Without military presence, rogue politicians harass the voters or rig election results. Private armed groups proliferate, acting as goons for corrupt politicians.
For a time, the AFP itself was accused of involvement in rigging election results. We considered those days as the darkest hour for our armed forces.
What we are certain of, is that we have substantially reduced election violence and election fraud.
Second is a strong middle class.
Unlike the more advanced societies, developing nations have a relatively small percentage of population that's considered middle class.
Why the middle class? These are the people who value justice, fairness, and predictability. These are the people who pay a huge portion of their income to taxes. They are the first affected by recession or price increases. They earn enough for food, shelter, clothing, and can afford to send their children to school. These are the people who keep the economy moving forward.
The contribution therefore of security and the military is to establish a secure environment good for the economy and for the rising middle class.
Of course we also need to take care of the poor. We want all of them to rise to the middle class level through education, health care, livelihood, and other opportunities. Democracy and decency, after all, are meaningless to an empty stomach.
Third is a functioning civil society.
Civil society is usually represented by the middle class. These are the people who for love of justice and fairness allocate spare time to criticize the government and to be heard.
The problem however in maturing democracies, is that civil society is normally represented by leftist groups that criticize every government policy – leftists who hate the rich and the military.
Our job therefore is to ensure that no issues are thrown at the security forces and not to give any reason for civil society to discredit the military.
When we scrutinized the issues or so-called propaganda by the leftists, we discovered that all are valid despite some exaggerations. Their common issues against our military are: forced disappearances, militarization, and other human rights violations.
We knew that only after addressing these issues can we reestablish credibility. A policy was issued to engage these left-of-center groups. We invited them for discussions and forum. Our civil affairs people even had tours and team-building activities with them. The results were fascinating. We managed to dispel their misconception that the military serves as the tool of the oligarchs in oppressing the poor. We made them understand that majority of our soldiers also come from the same underprivileged class.
Fourth is economic development.
Without economic development, it will be difficult to promote democracy. We believe that economic development or lack of it can awaken the people.
Challenges of a global insurgency
Today, we are faced with bigger challenges.
We must accept that we are faced with a global insurgency. Anti-globalization forces will act alone or in unison with other groups to disrupt our democratic ideals. Global insurgency shall persist for generations.
An insurgency without a center of gravity. An asymmetric conflict without a clear hierarchy of forces which we can address. A conflict which will not be over with one campaign plan. A conflict full of violence that will take many more innocent lives. A conflict which shall drive us to feel helpless in protecting the weak and the innocent.
In this kind of confrontation, our only effective weapon is our sincerity and empathy, both to the victims or would-be victims and to the insurgents as well.
Solutions will vary from village to village. We will find those solutions as we recognize their sufferings, as we feel what they feel. One victim of insurgency is one citizen we failed to protect.
You don’t go to Afghanistan or Iraq or elsewhere simply because you were told to. You go there to risk life and limb not for your career, not for your paycheck, and certainly not for bragging rights.
We risk our lives for other people whom we have never met, all in the name of democracy. We chose the gun as an instrument to make this world a better place. That gun is a symbol of both responsibility and authority.
We are prepared to shoot or kill in self-defense or in defense of our comrades, and of any innocent stranger.
For every terrorist or insurgent we kill, two more of his brothers will come as replacements. The fewer times we kill, the fewer adversaries we would have.
We shall fight any threat to democracy, with our hearts ahead of our guns.
[These are excerpts from a speech delivered by retired army Lieutenant General Gaudencio Pangilinan Jr at the Australian Command and Staff College in Canberra in November 2015. The author served as counter-intelligence chief; commander of the AFP civil relations service; deputy chief of staff for operations; and commander of the AFP Northern Luzon Command, among others. We are publishing this with his permission and due to the timeliness of the points raised here.]