Friday, February 3, 2017

MILF: ICRC conducts First Aid for MILF Health Personnel

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Feb 3): ICRC conducts First Aid for MILF Health Personnel

The Armed conflict and other situations of violence often pose challenges to the delivery of appropriate medical care for wounded people. Wounded fighters and civilians caught in the crossfire may sustain serious wounds that require life-saving medical attention. Unfortunately in conflict situations, access to healthcare services may become difficult due to the dangers faced by healthcare workers or healthcare facilities. Facilities would either be damaged, shut down, or ill-equipped, while health care workers may also be unable to provide appropriate care in such conditions.

As part of its mandate to ensure access to healthcare to those most in need in times of armed conflict, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) conducted two basic first-aid training sessions for 39 members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, in December 2016.

The participants of these three-day trainings belonged to the General Staff and the health and dental departments from six MILF fronts in Mindanao. The training included common first-aid topics such as wound management, handling different types of fractures, bandaging techniques, evacuating the wounded, and basic principles in providing first aid.

“The skills gained from the training will support the MILF health staff to provide proper first aid for wounded fighters or civilians even before they reach the nearest health facility,” said Tomoko Matsuzawa, head of the ICRC office in Cotabato City.

“Apart from enhancing their first-aid skills, we also discussed the conduct of hostilities and the need to protect the wounded and sick as it is the primary responsibility of armed groups, under international humanitarian law (IHL), to provide appropriate medical care,” she added.

Simulation exercises using scenarios based on the participants’ experiences in rendering first aid were held. To mimic real life, the participants were asked to give first aid to “patients” using resources available in the field like banana leaves and tree branches.

The training culminated with a mass-casualty exercise where participants applied what they learned from the training and their previous experiences as health personnel. The ICRC provided first-aid kits with dressing sets to the participants and encouraged them to provide first-aid training for wounded patients. The participants appreciated the hands-on training as well as its concern for victims of armed conflicts.

The ICRC has also been conducting first-aid training for rural health units and conflict-affected communities, together with the Philippine Red Cross, to enhance their capacity to respond to emergencies such as armed conflict and natural disaster. As part of its mandate to protect victims of armed conflict, the ICRC promotes the awareness of and respect for IHL or the law of armed conflict among weapon bearers.

Army, police launch covert operation to locate 2 abducted soldiers in Sultan Kudarat

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 4): Army, police launch covert operation to locate 2 abducted soldiers in Sultan Kudarat

Police in Sultan Kudarat have intensified their intelligence operation in Columbio town to locate two soldiers abducted by communist rebels on Wednesday, a police official said Saturday.

"We maintain our support for the Philippine Army in Columbio and in Sultan Kudarat," said Supt. Romeo Galgo Jr., speaking for the Soccsksargen Police.

However, military and police intelligence units remain clueless about the identities of the communist rebels and their exact location.

An Army intelligence officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the two soldiers -- Sgt. Solaiman Calocop and Private 1st Class Samuel Garay of the Army’s 39th Infantry Battalion -- are believed to be kept at the border of Sultan Kudarat and Davao del Sur, particularly in the mountains of Kiblawan, Davao del Sur where the New People's Army have a strong presence.

The soldiers were on board a motorbike when they were flagged down on Wednesday by some 15 NPA rebels in Barangay Telefas, Columbio.

Initial information showed the two infantrymen were from the battalion headquarters in Makilala, North Cotabato and were heading to their base in Barangay Telefas, hours after the communist rebels declared they will cancel their unilateral ceasefire with the government by February 10.

Following the incident, Brig. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, commander of the 6th Infantry Division alerted all brigades and battalions under his command to take safety measures to avoid getting kidnapped by communist rebels.

Columbio is part of Sultan Kudarat but is under the 1002nd Infantry Brigade based in Malungon, Sarangani.

601st Brigade chief, Col. Cirilito Sobejana, based in Tacurong City, said intelligence agents under the 601st, are helping the 1002nd brigade in locating the abducted soldiers.

No encounter has taken place since the abduction but covert operations are ongoing.

Military on alert in Zamboanga del Sur

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 4): Military on alert in Zamboanga del Sur

Military troops have been placed on alert against possible attacks from members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in this province.

The alert level was raised after President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday announced the lifting of the unilateral ceasefire with the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA (CPP-NPA).

“We are on alert status and we are only waiting for further directives from the general headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP),” Lt. Col. Virgilio Hamos Jr., the Army’s 53rd Infantry Battalion (IB) commander, said on Saturday.

However, Hamos said the situation in his area of responsibility “is still okay” and that they are still in control.
The 53rd IB covers the entire province except for the municipality of Bayog. The battalion’s headquarters is located in the town of Guipos.

Hamos disclosed that seven of this province’s 26 municipalities are known to be NPA-influenced areas. These are the municipalities of San Miguel, Lapuyan, Bayog, Lakewood, Midsalip, Dumingag and Josefina.

He said a recent assessment put the NPA's influence in the seven towns at three on a scale of one to 10.
“These municipalities are on the watch list,” he added.

New officers appointed to key TRADOC offices

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 4): New officers appointed to key TRADOC offices

New commanding officers have been appointed to the Training and Doctrine Command's (TRADOC) Doctrine Command and Governance Strategy Management Office (GSMO).

The change-of-command ceremonies took place at the TRADOC headquarters in Camp O' Donnell, Capas, Tarlac Friday, unit spokesperson Capt. Alberto Caber said.

Installed as new Doctrine Center head was Col. Edgardo Palma while Col. Gilmar Galicia was appointed GSMO chief.

Present during the event was TRADOC head, Maj. Gen. Herminigildo Francisco Aquino.

Aquino emphasized the essential duties and responsibilities of the concerned offices for TRADOC’s growth path to a world-class institution.

“Doctrine tells us how we will fight today’s wars while GSMO tells us how to be the future Army we envision ourselves to be,” he said.

The GSMO is a personal staff of the commander on matters pertaining to governance, strategy alignment, scorecard development, strategy evaluation and strategic communication.

The Doctrine Center is a subordinate unit of TRADOC that capacitates a commander to execute campaigns, battles and engagements.

It is also the starting point from which a commander develops solutions and options to address the specific war fighting demands and challenges faced during the conduct of operations.

The TRADOC chief meanwhile commended former Doctrine Center and GSMO heads, Col. Rynell More and Col. Abundio Caracas, for doing a good job in their respective commands.

PHL Air Force looking for FA-50PH hydraulics, egress, engine systems spares

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 4): PHL Air Force looking for FA-50PH hydraulics, egress, engine systems spares

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) is currently looking for suppliers of spares and components for the maintenance of the hydraulics, egress and engine systems of its brand-new Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) FA-50 "Fighting Eagle" jet fighters.
The budget for this project is PHP39.8 million and bid opening is scheduled at 9 a.m., Feb. 8 at the PAF Procurement Center Conference Room, Villamor Air Base, Pasay City, PAF Bids and Awards Committee chair, Brig. Gen. Nicolas Parilla, said in the bid bulletin posted at the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System.

The PAF has four FA-50PHs in its inventory. Another eight are scheduled to be delivered this year. The 12-plane order from KAI is worth PHP18.9 billion.

The FA-50PH has a top speed of Mach 1.5 or one-and-a-half times the speed of sound and is capable of being fitted air-to-air missiles, including the AIM-9 "Sidewinder" air-to-air and heat-seeking missiles, aside from light automatic cannons.

It will act as the country's interim fighter until the Philippines gets enough experience in operating fast jet assets and money to fund the acquisition of more capable fighter aircraft.

The FA-50PH design is largely derived from the F-16 "Fighting Falcon", and they have many similarities, among them the use of a single engine, speed, size, cost, and the range of weapons.

KAI's previous engineering experience in license-producing the KF-16 was a starting point for the development of the FA-50PHs.

The aircraft can carry two pilots in tandem seating. The high-mounted canopy developed by Hankuk Fiber is applied with stretched acrylic, providing the pilots with good visibility, and has been tested to offer the canopy with ballistic protection against four-pound objects impacting at 400 knots.

The altitude limit is 14,600 meters (48,000 ft.), and airframe is designed to last 8,000 hours of service.

There are seven internal fuel tanks with capacity of 2,655 liters (701 US gallons), five in the fuselage and two in the wings.

An additional 1,710 liters (452 US gallons) of fuel can be carried in the three external fuel tanks.

Trainer variants have a paint scheme of white and red, and aerobatic variants white, black, and yellow.

The FA-50PH uses a single General Electric F404-102 turbofan engine license-produced by Samsung Techwin, upgraded with a full authority digital engine control system jointly developed by General Electric and KAI.

The engine consists of three-staged fans, seven axial stage arrangement, and an afterburner.
Its engine produces a maximum of 78.7 kN (17,700 lbf) of thrust with afterburner.

US Embassy in Manila: Visa issuance for Filipinos continues

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 4): US Embassy in Manila: Visa issuance for Filipinos continues

The United States Embassy in Manila has assured that they have not implemented stricter measures in issuing visas for Filipinos who wish to enter the US.

Molly Koschina, US Embassy Press Attaché, said Filipinos are not among those mentioned in the Executive Order signed by US President Donald Trump.

“The US Embassy in the Philippines has not changed visa processing or visa requirements. Filipinos are still very much welcome to the United States,” Koscina said in a chance interview.

She said that under the Executive Order on Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals, signed by President Trump last Jan. 27, visa issuance to nationals of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen has been suspended.

“This Executive Order does not restrict the travel of dual nationals, so long as they hold the passport of an unrestricted country and possess a valid US visa,” she pointed out.

AFP has more than enough forces to meet NPA ceasefire withdrawal challenge

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 4): AFP has more than enough forces to meet NPA ceasefire withdrawal challenge

Don't call in the reserves yet.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has more than sufficient forces to meet rebel groups in Eastern Mindanao, its chief-of-staff Gen. Eduardo Año has said.

"We have enough forces. We will assess everything before we make any troop movement or any adjustment," he said when asked whether there is a need for more forces after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the lifting of the government ceasefire in the wake of unprovoked New People's Army (NPA) attacks which had left six troopers dead and three others abducted this week.

Año noted he has been in contact with all military commanders in Eastern Mindanao and that all of them are now aware of what they need to do.

"They know already what to do because when we (had) our command conference early last month, (part of the) contingency planning is what the military would do in case peace negotiations fail or should the NPA decide to withdraw their ceasefire," he said.

Año placed the number of NPA combatants in the entire country at 3,700, half of whom are operating in Eastern Mindanao.

He said this is the reason why the AFP is focusing on community development programs in the countryside, especially those with Indigenous Peoples, so that the rebels would be denied additional recruits.

With the lifting of the government ceasefire, the AFP chief said they can now plan the rescue of the three soldiers abducted in Surigao del Norte and Sultan Kudarat early this week.

"Before, (the unilateral ceasefire) prevented us from conducting rescue operations. Now we plan to conduct operations," Año said.

Duterte firm vs Reds’ demands

From the Manila Times (Feb 3): Duterte firm vs Reds’ demands

A day after communist rebels announced the termination of their five-month-old unilateral ceasefire, President Rodrigo Duterte remained adamant against giving in to a demand to free their jailed comrades.

The rebels resumed hostilities in Mindanao eight days before their ceasefire ends on February 10, killing four soldiers and snatching two others.
On Thursday, Duterte said it would be “too much” to release all 400 detained communist rebels.

“I said I have surrendered, conceded too much, too soon,” Duterte said in remarks during the 38th National Convention of the Philippine Association of Water Districts in Davao City on Thursday.

He said it was enough that he released Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, top officials of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA).

“Now they want 400 released. My God, that is already releasing all. Para na akong nag-amnesty [It’s as if I declared amnesty], which is usually given after a successful negotiation,” he added.

The President also said it would be difficult to give in to the demands of the communist rebels without angering the military.

“Don’t push me into a corner because the military might not like it, and then if the military might oust me, might kill me, then you have nobody talking to you,” he said.

The President again insisted on a bilateral ceasefire agreement.

“You want individual declaration of ceasefire. I’m just asking for a document which says that we are now in a ceasefire mode, signed by the government of Oslo who’s offering their good offices for us to negotiate,” he said.

Duterte said he had yet to decide if the government will follow the communist rebels’ ceasefire withdrawal.

“So, you withdrew the ceasefire, so am I supposed to do the same? … Go ahead, I will decide in the fullness of God’s time,” he said.

“What is important is that they have to have respect. Otherwise, if respect is gone, there’s nothing else left,” the President added in a mix of English and Filipino.

4 soldiers killed, 2 snatched

 The NPA launched a series of attacks, killing four soldiers and snatching two others in separate incidents in southern Philippines.

Maj. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal, commander of the Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division, said three soldiers were found dead and were believed executed by NPA guerrillas in Bukidnon.

The three soldiers, belonging to the Army’s 8th Infantry Battalion, and whose identities were withheld pending notification of their families, had asked permission to leave their detachment to pick up supplies in Malaybalay, Bukidnon but did not return.

Later in the night, a civilian reported that three bodies were found along the road of Canayan in Malaybalay.

 The bodies were riddled with 5.56 mm bullets, Madrigal said.

In Sultan Kudarat, two soldiers from the Army’s 39th Infantry Battalion were kidnapped by NPA rebels while on their way to headquarters.

According to Capt. Rhyan Batchar, spokesman of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, the two soldiers were aboard a motorcycle when they were accosted by 10 heavily armed men in Purok 7 of Telafas village in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat, at around 7:30 a.m. Thursday.

“The NPAs are showing complete disregard of their own earlier pronouncement that their unilateral ceasefire is in effect until February 10 by continuously committing atrocities against soldiers and civilians,” Batchar said.

On Wednesday afternoon, the NPA attacked a joint police and Army team at Sitio Paliwason, Lambog village in Manay, Davao Oriental. Rebels killed 2nd Lieutenant Miguel Victor Alejo, a member of the Philippine Military Academy “Sinag-lahi” Class of 2015.

Besides these incidents, the military reported that threats, intimidation and extortion activities by the NPA forced several residents of Barangays Lambog and Rizal of Manay, Davao Oriental to evacuate.
In a complaint filed before the Manay Municipal Police Station, barangay (village) officials said the rebels were forcing them and the residents to support the communist movement.

The residents also sought the assistance of the Army’s 67th Infantry Battalion after the rebels allegedly asked for money and food.

Maj. Gen. Rafael Valencia, 10th Infantry Division commander, said the continuous threats, extortion and presence of the NPA in these communities have affected the “normal living condition of the people.”

‘Heightened alert’

Military officials alerted troops on Thursday for more attacks by communist rebels.
Army Major Ezra Balagtey, a spokesman for the Eastern Mindanao Command, said the order was handed down by Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero.

Guerrero, the regional military commander, also ordered soldiers to protect communities and army posts against NPA rebels. The order put the entire eastern region of Mindanao on “active defense posture,” Balagtey said.

“Alert troops for possible attacks. Protect the communities from criminal acts of extortion, burning of equipment, abductions, liquidations and other forms of atrocities,” Balagtey quoted the general as saying.

Jorge Madlos, a rebel spokesman, said rebel forces were ordered to resume offensives against police and military, including pro-government militias and death squads, as well as drug traffickers and warlords.

“Subsequent to the expiration of our unilateral ceasefire, all territorial and unit commands of the NPA are hereby ordered to take full initiative in planning, coordinating and carrying out military campaigns and tactical offensives against the reactionary Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police, the various paramilitary units and death squads of the Duterte government, drug traffickers and operators of the drug trade and large-scale gambling, private armies and private armed groups of warlords, local tyrants as well as spies,” Madlos said.

Grenade explodes in Lamitan City hospital; Abu Sayyaf involvement eyed

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 3): Grenade explodes in Lamitan City hospital; Abu Sayyaf involvement eyed

The police authorities strongly believed that the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) was behind the grenade explosion that caused minor damage to the district hospital in nearby Lamitan City.

Chief Insp. Allan Benasing, Lamitan City police chief, on Friday said no one was either killed or injured in the explosion except for a portion of the ceiling that was destroyed.

He said no one have seen the suspect who tossed the grenade shortly after 9 p.m. Thursday at the Lamitan District Hospital in Barangay Limook since it was blackout at the time of the incident.

Benasing said post-blast investigation showed that it was a fragmentation grenade that was lobbed into the hospital.

He said they strongly believed that the Abu Sayyaf Group led by sub-leader Nurhasan Jamiri was behind the incident.

Dr. John Bravo, Lamitan District Hospital administrator, on Friday said the building where the grenade exploded was unoccupied.

“Our laundryman stays in that building whenever he is on duty,” Bravo, however, said.

He said they have not received any threat prior to the incident since they attend to all people who need medical treatment.

SOLCOM launches sanctuary of indigenous tree species

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 3): SOLCOM launches sanctuary of indigenous tree species

The Southern Luzon Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (SOLCOM-AFP) launched on Friday the second phase of a sanctuary of endangered and indigenous tree species in Camp Guillermo Nakar in Lucena City, that will be replicated in all infantry brigade headquarters in Southern Luzon, that includes Bicol, said an official of SOLCOM.

Maj. Virgilio Perez, SOLCOM information officer, in an interview, said the Camp Guillermo Nakar Endangered and Indigenous Tree Sanctuary or CGNEITS project, which they called “Tree Growing,” seeks to advocate the propagation and preservation of Philippine native trees.

He said the tree sanctuary, a joint project of SOLCOM, government agencies and other stakeholders, encourages uniformed personnel and people in the community to take care of the endangered trees species.

“SOLCOM has collaborated with the Los Baños-based Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Ecosystem Research and Development Bureau for the technical supervision of the project,” said Perez.

He said some 235 trees have been planted aside from the trees that were planted during the first phase. The tree species planted included Kamagong, Bitaog, Balobo, Igang, Catmon, Ipil, Akle, Molave, Tindalo, Supa, Dalingdingan and Kalantas.

He added the project, which also seeks to enhance public awareness on the diverse but fragile ecosystem, is a work in progress but it hopes to protect and preserve the environment for the next generation.

Perez said they have thought of including an “adopt-a-tree” scheme that would involve one civilian participant and one military personnel taking care of at least one of the 265 trees.

“Care involves weeding, cultivating, fertilizing and securing and securing the planted tree with the ‘adopter’ continuously visiting their planted seedlings until these are stable or at least three months old,” said Perez.

Ninety percent of the trees are expected to grow within three months.

President Duterte ends ceasefire with CPP- NPA

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 3): President Duterte ends ceasefire with CPP- NPA

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte announced Friday the end of the government ceasefire with the Communist Party of the Philippines and its military wing, the New People’s Army, effective midnight of Friday (Feb. 3), reiterating that the rebels are asking too much for the past several months his administration has been talking peace with them.

The President’s declaration came after the NPA announced on Feb. 1 its own lifting of a unilateral ceasefire with the government after the Duterte administration allegedly failed to release all political prisoners and the pullout of government troops in communities in the countryside.

“I have walked the extra mile. Wala akong hangarin kundi kapayapaan pero kung ayaw talaga ninyo, wala akong magawa na dyan,” the President told the crowd as he led the switch-on ceremony of the first-ever PHP 5 million prototype solar powered irrigation system in remote Barangay New Janiuay in M’lang, North Cotabato.

The solar irrigation project would benefit some 500 poor Christian and Muslim farmers in Janiuay village in M’lang and the near environs.

Apart from his declaration of lifting the ceasefire with the communist rebels, the President made clear that he would never talk peace with terrorists, in apparent referral to the Maute terror group operating in Butig, Lanao del Sur.

“However, with Nur Misuari of the Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation front, I am ready to talk federalism,” he said.

“Believe me, there would be no peace in Mindanao kung di nyo ibigay ang federalism. You will break the country,” the President said referring to “the people in Manila”, refusing to amend the 1986 Constitution.

The President then addressed soldiers during his speech to take their positions and stay alert against NPA attacks.

“Maglaban na lang tayo for the next 50 years. Pag dinis-appoint mo ang military at pulis, baka madisgrasya ako,” he stressed.

The President said the series of recent NPA attacks has cost lives of military and police troopers.
“I have lost many soldiers during the last 48 hours,” he said.

He then called on state forces, “ Go back to your camps, clean your rifles and get ready for battle.”

Police, Army in Negros coordinate deployment of troops as NPA lifts ceasefire

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 3): Police, Army in Negros coordinate deployment of troops as NPA lifts ceasefire

The police and the military in Negros Island Region (NIR) are coordinating the deployment of troops across the region after the New People’s Army (NPA) announced the lifting of its unilateral ceasefire on February 10.

Senior Superintendent Mariano Natu-el Jr., Deputy Regional Director for Operations of Police Regional Office (PRO)-18, said as of Friday, he spearheaded the accounting of regional police personnel as part of their response.

The police in Negros is in a battle mode as stations all over the region were ordered to remain vigilant, he added.

Natu-el said the PRO-18 is working with the Philippine Army for augmentation and deployment of troops.

Senior Superintendent Dionardo Carlos, spokesperson of the Philippine National Police (PNP), called unfortunate the NPA’s termination of the unilateral ceasefire it declared last year.

Carlos said despite this development and its possible implications to internal security, the PNP will continue to observe the suspension of offensive police operations to honor the Philippine government’s own declaration of a unilateral ceasefire with the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People's Army/National Democratic Front.

Brigadier General Francisco Delfin, commander of the Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade based in Murcia, Negros Occidental, said troops were directed to reinforce detachments and police stations especially those in “vulnerable areas” as of Friday.

Delfin added that the Army will also conduct security patrols in critical areas.

Troops were authorized to engage if they encounter rebels, he further said.

Colonel Edgard Arevalo, Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Public Affairs Office, said the AFP will continue to safeguard the communities from criminal acts of extortion, burning of vehicles, farm and livelihood implements and other forms of criminal and atrocious acts, whoever is the perpetrator.

“We will continue to perform peace-building and development efforts where the people in conflict areas request us to. We will continue to capacitate local government to deliver basic goods and services to their constituents,” he added.

NPA abduction, killing of unarmed military personnel show they are not interested in peace talks -- EMC

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 3): NPA abduction, killing of unarmed military personnel show they are not interested in peace talks -- EMC

The New People's Army (NPA) decision to abduct and kill soldiers, going about their unlawful business, demonstrate the former's disregard for the ongoing peace talks.

These were the sentiments of Eastern Mindanao Command (EMC) head Lt. Gen. Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero after receiving reports that two troopers from the 39th Infantry Battalion were abducted Thursday and another three, from the 8th Infantry Battalion, who were earlier reported missing, were found riddled with bullets in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon Wednesday afternoon.
These incidents took place shortly after the NPAs announced that they will be terminating their unilateral ceasefire, which took effect last August, effective 11:59 p.m. of Feb. 10.

The abduction incident took place in Purok 7, Barangay Telafas, Columbio, Sultan Kudarat morning of Feb. 2.

An estimated 10 rebels abducted two unarmed soldiers from the 39th Infantry Battalion who were aboard a motorcycle heading for Makilala, North Cotabato.

Guerrero said the whereabouts of the two are still unknown as of posting.

In the second, another NPA band abducted three unarmed personnel of 8th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Manalog, Malaybalay City who were on their way to obtain their subsistence allowance last Feb. 1.

At about 5 p.m. on the same day, the lifeless bodies of the three soldiers were found along the road at vicinity Sitio Kalib, Barangay Kibalabag, of the same city.

They were positively identified by the government security troops who responded to the scene.
With these developments, all EMC units are ordered to be on active defense mode.

PTV 4 to air documentary on Muslims and Islam

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 3): PTV 4 to air documentary on Muslims and Islam

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Friday said the Philippine Embassy in Brunei Darussalam assisted a delegation from the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) that visited Brunei to shoot a video, conduct an interview, and put together a production for the TV Documentary “Salam.”

“Salam” is a documentary program which aims to provide a better understanding of the religion, culture, and traditions of Muslims in different countries. It also intends to break down cultural barriers and dispel stereotypes and myths about Islamic culture.

The documentary program is a part of the ASEAN integration initiative. It will be aired in PTV4.

Members of the PCOO delegation included Benjamin R. Felipe, Director IV, Print/News Portal Division; Rico R. Ibarra, photographer and videographer, Print/News Portal Division; Kate Shiene B. Agna, Operations Staff, Print/News Portal Division; and Sittie Habiba D. Sarip, News Anchor, People’s Television Network, Inc.

The documentary was shot on January 26 to 27.

During the PCOO delegation’s call on Ambassador Meynardo LB. Montealegre, the group was able to interview the Ambassador regarding the Philippine Embassy’s provision of services and assistance to OFWs in Brunei, and its ASEAN-related activities in view of the Philippines’ ASEAN Chairmanship this year.

The delegation also interviewed representatives from the Brunei Malay Teachers Association (Persekutuan Guru Guru Melayu Brunei or PGGMB), the ASEAN Council of Teachers, and Muslim Filipino Association in Brunei.

The group likewise filmed famous tourist attractions in Bandar Seri Begawan.

Joint ceasefire declaration needed to prevent violence in the ground -- AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 3): Joint ceasefire declaration needed to prevent violence in the ground -- AFP

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday said there is a strong need for the government and rebel peace panel to come out with a joint ceasefire declaration so that sporadic clashing between the units in the ground can be prevented.

AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla issued this statement after noting that six soldiers were already killed and another three abducted after the New People's Army (NPA) announced it is terminating its unilateral ceasefire effective 11:59 p.m. Feb. 10.

"Demands for a joint ceasefire (with the NPA) is one aspect the AFP has been demanding for ever since peace negotiations started in August," he said in Filipino.

With a joint ceasefire declaration, both parties can agree and submit a list of what they consider as violations to the truce, to a duly appointed third monitoring team or facilitators, who will be tasked to look and investigate on these claims, and if necessary, impose sanctions on the offending party, Padilla said.

In unilateral ceasefire, these are no provisions for a third party monitoring team, making it possible for either side to commit truce violations, incidentally or accidentally, without fear of punishment.

The unprovoked attacks against unarmed government troops this week took place in Echague, Isabela; Manay, Davao Oriental; and Malaybalay City, Bukidnon.

Padilla said NPA attacks in Isabela resulted in the deaths of two enlisted troopers, one junior officer in Davao Oriental and three enlisted soldiers in Bukidnon.

One abduction incident was reported in Surigao Del Norte last Jan. 29 and two in Sultan Kudarat last Feb. 2.

With these developments, the AFP spokesperson said all military units were placed in heightened alert to safeguard the lives of its troops going about their lawful mandate.

AFP: NPA killing of 6 unarmed soldiers violate international humanitarian law

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 3): AFP: NPA killing of 6 unarmed soldiers violate international humanitarian law

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) strongly condemned the New People's Army (NPA) killing of six unarmed soldiers, saying such brutalities are prohibited by international humanitarian law.

AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said further worrisome was that these troops had just came from peace and development missions that benefitted the communities.
"These acts are not only violations of their own ceasefire declaration, that is still in effect, it is an utter disregard to international humanitarian law when they used excessive force on the bodies of three soldiers they earlier abducted," he noted.

The AFP spokesperson was referring to the incident involving three 8th Infantry Battalion troopers, who were earlier reported missing last Wednesday, after leaving their base in Barangay Manalog, Malaybalay, Bukidnon to get their subsistence allowance.

The bullet-riddled bodies of the three were found later that day, with one cadaver bearing 27 gunshot wounds, another with 26 and the other one with 24.

The NPA unilateral ceasefire is set to be lifted by 11:59 p.m. Feb. 10.

"The NPA perpetrated acts that are completely unnecessary to the already fallen soldiers," Padilla said.

These atrocities show their clear disregard of the newly forged guidelines for the full implementation of the Joint Monitoring Committee under the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law signed by the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front (CPP-NDF) leadership in Rome last month.

"Even before they announced the withdrawal of their ceasefire, they already conducted a series of atrocities against government forces beginning last Sunday," he added.

Based from reports on the ground, the NPAs have conducted 18 attacks since January 15 this year.
These include three abduction cases involving three soldiers in separate incidents in Surigao Del Norte and Sultan Kudarat.

"We hereby demand the immediate release of Pfc. Erwin Salan abducted Jan. 29, and two other soldiers abducted Feb. 2," he added.

"The AFP regrets that the NPA has withdrawn its ceasefire declaration. The ceasefire has been an effective manifestation of the CPP-NPA-NDF's commitment to the peace talks and has so far given peace to the communities where they continue to operate," the AFP spokesperson said.

The NPA withdrawal showed their insincerity and bared their insatiable taste for violence, he added.
"For our part, our various units on the ground remain faithful to our own ceasefire declaration, but are ready for any violent incidents that will arise from the NPAs withdrawal," Padilla stressed.

He also assured the public that the AFP, as the only legitimate military organization mandated to protect the people and the communities, will take proactive defensive measures to thwart attacks from all lawless armed groups.

"We shall also continue to perform peace-building and development efforts where the people in conflict areas request us to. We will continue to capacitate local government in order to fast-track delivery of basic goods and services to their constituents," Padilla pointed out.

The AFP spokesperson also said the military will continue to safeguard communities from criminal acts of extortion, burning of vehicles, particularly construction implements that are used for the development of these areas, farm and livelihood implements and other forms of criminal and atrocious acts -- whoever is the perpetrator.

"And if ordered by the Commander-in-Chief, we will lift the SOMO (suspension-of-military-operation). It is our beholden duty to protect our citizens," he added.

AFP to hit rebels hard as President Duterte lifts ceasefire in wake of NPA attacks

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 3): AFP to hit rebels hard as President Duterte lifts ceasefire in wake of NPA attacks

As President Rodrigo Duterte lifts the government's unilateral ceasefire Friday, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said it will go hard against the rebels to prevent them from conducting atrocities and criminal activities against innocent civilians.

This was stressed by AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Eduardo Año in a statement.

"We shall abide by the President's order of ending the unilateral ceasefire. It is unfortunate that the gains of the last six months would come to a halt because the CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army) again resorted to the use of violence and choose arms to advance their interests," he noted.

The President's decision to lift the government ceasefire stems from the series of unprovoked New People's Army (NPA) attacks that resulted in the death of six soldiers and abduction of three following the rebel announcement that they are lifting their truce effective 11:59 p.m. Feb. 10.

"The last four days were disdainful and disturbing. While Fidel Agcaoilli (National Democratic Front chief negotiator) was assuring the public thru media that NDF-CPP-NPA will continue the unilateral ceasefire, the CPP-NPA were attacking our soldiers who were doing community support and development works that resulted to the death of 2nd Lt. Miguel Victor Alejo and five soldiers (mostly unarmed) and the abduction of Pfc. Erwin Salan and two other soldiers," Año stressed.

"Long before that, the NPA had killed CAFGUS and innocent civilians and burned equipment and vehicles. We welcome the pronouncement of the President because the AFP has to do its mandate of protecting the people, securing the community and taking care of our own soldiers too," he said.

"And we will hit them hard! Be that as it may, rest assured that the AFP will continue to support the peace talk with the NDF to find a permanent peaceful solution to this four decades-long conflict. We hear the people's clamor for peace and are willing to work hard to attain it but it is unfortunate that the CPP NPA NDF chooses to play deaf," he added.

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Lorenzana, for his part, regretted the lifting of the government ceasefire due to the series of unprovoked attacks by the NPA.

"It is regretful that what was a promising start to achieving peace has ended in the eruption of violence which emanated from the other party," he noted.

"We denounce the CPP-NPA's continued lawless activities that include extortion, abduction, and attacks on government forces that have resulted in the needless deaths of our soldiers, and the harassment of innocent civilians," Lorenzana stressed.

The DND chief added that he instructed Año to place all AFP units on high alert and to continue their protection of the communities under their care, wherever they are.

"Having said that, we are still hopeful that there is a chance that peace will eventually prevail," he said.