Monday, February 13, 2017

MNLF: Government, MNLF to resume talks

Posted to the Moro National Liberation Front Facebook Page (Feb 13): Government, MNLF to resume talks

MNLF - International Information Office·Monday, February 13, 2017
Posted on Monday Feb 13th at 5:00am
By Perseus Echeminada
MANILA, Philippines – The government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) are set to resume their talks on the final implementation of the 1996 peace agreement.
Emmanuel Fontanilla, MNLF spokesman and member of the peace panel, said yesterday they were just waiting for the composition of the government panel for the resumption of talks.
He said the MNLF would not be part of the newly formed Bangsamoro Transition Commission that would discuss peace with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front because the MILF would have separate talks with the government.
“The MNLF (members) in the transition commission belong to a breakaway group, they do not represent MNLF,” Fontanilla said.
He said the resumption of talks with the government would be confined to three remaining unresolved issues for the final implementation of the 1996 peace accord, which was brokered by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
These issues are governance, wealth sharing and territory.
Fontanilla said it would be up to Congress to consolidate a law that would synchronize the 1996 peace agreement with the MNLF and peace accord to be forged with the MILF.
The OIC, in a resolution, has urged the government to link up the two peace accords to attain lasting peace in Mindanao.
The 1996 final peace agreement between the government and the MNLF, represented by its founding chairman, Nur Misuari, was signed on Sept. 2, 1996 under the administration of then president Fidel Ramos.
That same year, the MILF, which had broken away from the MNLF in 1977, began informal talks with the Ramos-led government.
But a final peace accord has yet to be reached with the MILF. The current administration is continuing the peace negotiations with the MILF with the creation of the BTC.
President Duterte has also met with Misuari, who surfaced recently after going into hiding as he was ordered arrested by the court for the 2013 Zamboanga City siege.
The MNLF has been originally demanding the inclusion of 13 provinces in an autonomous region in Mindanao since it started peace negotiations with the government since the Marcos administration.
Then president Ferdinand Marcos did not agree to it despite the signing of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement.
In 1989, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao was created under then president Corazon Aquino, who also refused to give in to the MNLF’s demand.
Misuari eventually became governor of ARMM from 1996 to 2001.
Former president Benigno Aquino III pushed for the creation of a more inclusive autonomous region as he described the ARMM as a failed experiment.

MILF: DIPMC Faculty, Students visit BIAF 1O9th Base Command’s Reformatory and Da’wah Center

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Feb 13): DIPMC Faculty, Students visit BIAF 1O9th Base Command’s Reformatory and Da’wah Center

CAMP BUNAWAN, Columbio, Sultan Kudarat ----Datu Ibrahim Paglas Memorial College (DIPMC) faculty members and students visited the Reformatory and Da’wah Center at BIAF 109th Base Command last February 7, 2017.

The purpose of the visit was to learn and become aware of the existing rules and regulations of the Reformatory and Da’wah Center.

“This Center is one of the programs of Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), the military arm of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in its campaign against illegal drugs”, said Mike Andang, Chief Warden of Reformatory and Da’wah Center.

“Even before the declaration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte to launch an all-out campaign against illegal drugs, the MILF had already adopted a resolution prohibiting the sale, use and manufacture of shabu in the Bangsamoro communities.

MILF campaign against illegal drug was launched in 1994. The Bangsamoro Darul Iftah (House of Opinion) declared “Shabu as the root cause of all evils”, Andang added.

“This Center only caters to Bangsamoro from the municipalities of Datu Paglas,Maguindanao, Colombio, Sultan Kudarat,Tulunan, North Cotabato,Lutayan, Sultan Kudarat,Buluan,Maguindanao,Paglat,Maguindanao, Pandag, Maguindanao, Mangudadatu, Maguindanao, President Quirino, Sultan Kudarat and General Salipada K. Pendatun, Maguindanao who will surrender to us”, Andang stressed.

“While inside the reformatory and Daw’ah center, they will be taught how to read the Qur-an, perform obligatory prayers, teach how to advocate peace and development, learn the essence of life and become productive and law-abiding citizens before they will be allowed to return to their communities”, he further said.

“We are also against extra judicial killings because lives of people are precious. We embark on rehabilitation and reformation of Moro addicts or those that push illegal drugs. If we caught non-Bangsamoro or Christians using, selling or manufacturing illegal drugs in the Bangsamoro communities, we would turnover them to the Philippine National Police for appropriate action. The Philippine Government and the MILF are jointly campaigning against illegal drugs”, the chief warden emphasized.

MILF: Moro fronts hold dialogue for unity

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Feb 13): Moro fronts hold dialogue for unity

Top leaders of the MILF and MNLF were gathered again on February 10 to 11 in Pagadian City to continue the series of dialogues for mutual understanding and unity of purpose.

Mohagher Iqbal, chairman of the MILF Peace Implementing Panel, explained to the MNLF contingent that the objective of the two-day conference was to search for commonalities between the two revolutionary organizations.

“Islam, homeland, our people and identity are the ideas common to all of us … these is where we can draw our unity,” Iqbal told the participants most of whom came from the island-provinces and Zamboanga peninsula.

Iqbal also urged the MNLF cadre officers who composed the latter’s contingent to help in preserving the gains of the struggle such as the 1976 Tripoli Agreement, 1987 Jeddah Accords, 1996 Final Peace Agreement, 2012 Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro and the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

Iqbal explained these agreements would be harmonized in the new Bangsamoro Basic Law that would be drafted by the expanded Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC). Iqbal was appointed anew to the expanded BTC as commissioner with MILF First Vice-Chairman Ghazali Jaafar as the new BTC Chairman.

The dialogue led the participants to commit to “continue working together through special mechanisms, such as the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum (BCF) that was organized by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), to discuss important issues faced by Bangsamoro communities, and find concrete and feasible solutions to address these concerns.”

They also agreed to continue to organize and participate in various dialogues and conversations that would foster respect and strengthen the bonds of their brotherhood.

It was also agreed that both Fronts would engage the young men and women of the Bangsamoro to make them learn and appreciate the lessons of the struggle and utilize them to pursue peace, development and justice in the region.

Iqbal was joined by other members of the MILF Peace Implementing Panels such as Abdulla Camlian and Abhoud Syed Lingga as well as by its special advisor Ustadz Ibrahim Ali.
The MNLF contingent was led by Habib Sabrie Jul and Ustadz Mahmur Hasanul.

Last January 14, a similar dialogue between key leaders of the two Moro revolutionary fronts was also held in Davao City.

These dialogues were organized by the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI).

NDF: NDFP Renders High Tribute to Jan Beentjes, an Exemplary Comrade

Propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Website (Feb 13): NDFP Renders High Tribute to Jan Beentjes, an Exemplary Comrade

February 13, 2017
Jan Beentjes

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) renders high tribute to Johannes Jacobus “Jan” Beentjes, an exemplary comrade. We are deeply saddened by his passing away. We convey our most heartfelt condolences to his family, colleagues and friends.

We have very fond memories of Comrade Jan Beentjes, his devotion and determination to pursue the cause of liberation and democracy. We recall his kindness and generosity, his keen and serious mind and his humor. For all these, we love him and feel inspired by him in continuing the tasks we, together with him and other comrades, have set for ourselves to accomplish.

Jan was deeply dedicated to serve the struggle of the Filipino people for national and social liberation. He keenly followed the growth of the people’s revolution in building organs of democratic power all over the country, their fight for genuine land reform and national industrialization and their struggle against US imperialism and the local reactionaries of big landlords and compradors.

Jan offered his skills for the international solidarity work. He was a stalwart of the International DEFEND Committee in support of Filipino refugees and managed the Defend Jose Maria Sison website. He prepared video presentations on the Philippine situation and the just struggles of the Filipino people to provide meaningful information for international audiences.

He generously gave much of his time and his financial resources to help develop the solidarity work abroad. He developed his skill in music, joining his longstanding partner and soulmate and other anti-imperialist musicians to perform in solidarity activities.

Jan was a keen student of revolutionary movements. He made use of his rich experiences in the Soviet Union and the People's Democratic Republic of Korea (DPRK) to enrich educational efforts in solidarity work. He studied and discussed with other comrades the fundamental topics of imperialism, dialectical and historical materialism, political economy and basic documents of the Philippine Revolution.

We shall miss Comrade Jan Beentjes. His revolutionary spirit and service to the Filipino people and the world revoluton will continue to inspire us.

Long live the revolutionary spirit and legacy of Comrade Jan Beentjes!

 Long live the Filipino people's struggle for national and social liberation!

 Long live international anti-imperialist solidarity and the struggle for socialism!

Luis G. Jalandoni
NDFP Chief International Representative
Member, NDFP National Executive Committee

NDF/NPA: Declaration of Unilateral Ceasefire of NPA Front 16-NEMR

NPA propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Website (Feb 12): Declaration of Unilateral Ceasefire of NPA Front 16-NEMR

February 12, 2017

The Regional Command of the New People’s Army in North Eastern Mindanao Region (ROC-NPA-NEMR) declares a unilateral ceasefire in Surigao del Norte and the municipalities of Cabadbaran, Tubay, Jabonga and Santiago in Agusan del Norte. This temporary ceasefire in areas covered by NPA Front 16, which started last February 11, 2017 and will end at 11:55 in the evening of February 20, 2017, is being declared because of the intensity 6.7 earthquake on the night of February 10, 2017.

The severe damage which affected the city and neighboring municipalities was reported in the news.

At present there have been 6 reported killed in the city as a result of the earthquake while hundreds were injured. Several large buildings were damaged and cracked which may result in its collapse amidst the aftershocks after the strong earthquake last February 10, 2017. The bridge connecting Brgy. Ipil, Surigao City to San Francisco was destroyed and many roads have cracks or bulges. It was also reported that all flights to the city have been cancelled because of the damage of the airport runway. Many houses were damaged along with belongings. Some parts of the city have no electricity and there is no water in the whole city.

This ceasefire is being declared to give the Red fighters of the NPA in Front 16, all government agencies, including the police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and non-government organizations, the opportunity to inspect the areas affected, especially the mountain areas, for damages resulting from the earthquake.

Above all, this declaration of ceasefire is to enable the delivery of immediate aid to the masses and for them to be given assistance towards the rehabilitation of their damaged properties and livelihood.

On our part, the NPA in Front 16 has been on active defense posture since 6 o’clock in the morning of February 11, 2017 to assess and help the masses in the far-flung areas affected by the earthquake.

We hope that this ceasefire declaration will be reciprocated by the 30th IBPA and other concerned AFP troops and the Philippine National Police in Surigao del Norte.

Ka Ariel Montero
Regional Operational Command
New People’s Army
North Eastern Mindanao Region (ROC-NPA-NEMR)

16-year jail term vs AFP engineer affirmed

From Malaya Business Insight (Feb 13): 16-year jail term vs AFP engineer affirmed

THE Sandiganbayan Third Division has affirmed the 16-year jail sentence meted out against engineer Dante Senen, supply accountable officer of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Military Supply Unit in Cebu City on his conviction for graft and malversation of public property concerning the anomalous sale of four power generators to a private individual in 2002.

Senen failed to convince the anti-graft court to reverse its decision dated November 29, 2016 that found him guilty of conspiracy with former Philippine Air Force (PAF) Brig. Gen. Vladimir delos Trino, Major Antonio Jason Garcia, and private defendant Antonio Ularte of Eduard Enterprises for the unlawful transaction.

Delos Trino and Garcia were convicted of both charges in May 2011 but their co-accused, Senen and Ularte, remained at large. Senen was arrested only on November 21, 2011 inside Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.
All three were collectively ordered to pay the government the sum of P1.2 million as indemnity for the loss sustained on the sale on top of a P1.2 million fine.

The court found the three AFP officials liable for selling the power generators to Ularte for only P800,000.00 without holding the required public bidding that tended to favor Ularte’s firm.

In his appeal, Senen argued that there was no evidence that he colluded with Delos Trino and Garcia.

The court, however, declared otherwise, noting that it was Senen who had official custody of the power generators but the accused failed to inform his commanding officer about their transfer   and did not include them in his inventory and inspection report that he submitted to the headquarters.

AFP: Basilan, Sulu for heroes, not for misfits, rogues, scalawags

From Malaya Business Insight (Feb 13): AFP: Basilan, Sulu for heroes, not for misfits, rogues, scalawags

THE Armed Forces yesterday said it does not treat Basilan and Sulu, bailiwick of the Abu Sayyaf, as a dumping ground for misfit and scalawags, but as “a breeding ground for heroes and military leaders who thrive in adversities.”

AFP public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said that “for soldiers and Marines, sailors and airmen, being deployed in Basilan – or in Sulu for that matter – is a source of pride. Because only the warriors, professionals, and those who excel in their fields are sent to Basilan.” 

Arevalo issued the statement “so that our soldiers assigned there and would be assigned there will not feel they are misfits or errant.

“Some people resent that Basilan would be the destination for some erring members of the security forces, especially the ones who have gone astray or failed to measure up to standards,” said Arevalo.

President Duterte last week ordered hundreds of rogue cops to be deployed to Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-tawi or resign from the force.

Arevalo said many young officers and enlisted personnel are even volunteering to be assigned to the war-torn island provinces” of Basilan and Sulu “for their baptism of fire.”

“It’s a choice assignment. Because such deployments offer them a wealth of experience, innumerable lessons, opportunities to excel, and yes, earn ‘trophy points.’ For the military, it is a big deal to be deployed in Basilan or Sulu for that translates to a distinction,” said Arevalo.

Arevalo cited a Marine junior officer, now a colonel, who volunteered to be assigned to the Marine Battalion Landing Team 6 in Basilan after graduation from the Philippine Military Academy in early 1990s.

“The Basileños specifically abhor the announcement that ‘scalawags and misfits in the service’ are bound to that island province,” Arevalo said.

Last Thursday, AFP chief Gen. Eduardo Año said cops should welcome an assignment to Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-tawi.  He said soldiers take the assignment to these areas as an opportunity to earn a Medal of Valor, the highest military decoration in combat.

A soldier conferred with the medal receives a monthly gratuity of P75,000, free education, hospitalization for his families. The lifetime gratuity is on top of the salary or pension they receive.

“What’s wrong (with) being assigned in Basilan and Sulu. If you want to serve the country and the people, that’s the best way. Now, if they are complaining, then you can see the quality of these people that you do not need in the organization,” said Año.

Israel to provide equipment to Philippine special forces

From Update.Ph (Feb 13): Israel to provide equipment to Philippine special forces

1,190 Sets of force protection equipment (FPE) worth PhP53.5 million from Israeli company MAROM Dolphin Ltd. is set to be delivered in the second quarter of 2017. These equipment will be for the use of Joint Special Operations Group of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

The winning company, MAROM Dolphin, supplies force protection equipment to the Israel Defense Force. The mode of procurement is government-to-government pursuant to a Memorandum of Understanding on Logistics and Defense Industry Cooperation and the Implementing Arrangement for Procurement of Defense Materials between the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Israel Ministry of Defense (ISRAEL-MOD).

JSOG is at the forefront of the current intensified anti-terrorism campaign. It is composed of specialized units from the various major services of the AFP, including the Philippine Army’s Light Reaction Regiment, the Philippine Navy’s Naval Special Operations Group, and a Special Operations Wing from the Philippine Air Force.

The Department of National Defense said this procurement is part of various equipment acquisitions that the Department is pursuing in order to upgrade the capability of the AFP in combating terrorist groups and terrorist cells.

“We have prioritized the procurement of these specialized vests for our defenders to enhance their survivability in encounters and battles against terrorists and lawless elements. Kahit saang lupalop sila magtago, hahanapin sila ng ating mga tropa!” Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana said.

NPA now suffering tactical defeat – AFP

From Update.Ph (Feb 13): NPA now suffering tactical defeat – AFP

The armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, NPA is now suffering “tactical defeat”, said Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) nine days after an “all-out war” or focused military offensive against the armed communists was declared.

“It has been nine days since the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) launched an “All-Out War” against the New People’s Army (NPA) as directed by the President and Commander-in-Chief, Rodrigo Roa Duterte. And since then, the communist rebels had suffered several tactical defeats and the support of some frightened citizens continues to erode,” the AFP said in a statement.

The military success was due to “deliberate, surgical, focused, and well-planned combat, intelligence and civil-military operations conducted by the AFP in various areas around the country.”

The AFP said that the National Democratic Front (NDF), which is pushing for peace talks is “losing hold of their men on the ground.”

The military added that members of NPA is now either attacking innocent civilians and business establishments; or surrendering to the government fold.

Army, PNP defenses up vs. rebels attacks

From the Visayan Daily Star (Feb 13): Army, PNP defenses up vs. rebels attacks

Increasing New People's Army attacks in various areas of the country, have been noted in the past several days and both the Philippine Army and National Police in Negros Island Region are not taking chances by re-visiting their offensive and defensive strategies.

Senior Supt. William Senoron, provincial police director of Negros Occidental, also said yesterday that he reconvened the Joint Peace Security Coordinating Council to review their security contingencies, after the unilateral ceasefire was lifted.

The JPSCC meeting Friday attended by commanders of the 6th Special Action Battalion, Regional Public Safety Battalion 18, 62nd Infantry Battalion, Public Safety companies, and other law enforcement agencies, also focused on the realignment of security forces, in anticipation of possible NPA tactical offensives.

Senoron said the PNP will be actively supporting the internal security operations of the Philippine Army, especially in intelligence gathering.

The Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office is also consolidating its public safety units that are deployed in others areas of the province.

Maj. Gen. Jon Aying, 3rd Infantry Division commander, maintained that liivelihood in the countryside is the “key” in the fight against insurgency.

“With the support of the government, the non-government organizations, the military and the people themselves, we will work hard to make such efforts bear fruit,” Aying said.

Brig.Gen. Francisco Delfin, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, meanwhile, encourages localized peace talks.

“There have been precedents of localized peace talks, although these were hidden, since the focus was on the peace talks at the national level,” Delfin said.

He said that in the past six months, “NIR experienced a peaceful environment, in the absence of insurgency-related incidents, because of the unilateral ceasefire observed by both the CPP-NPA and the Philippine Army.”

Priest-turned-rebel Frank Fernandez, spokesman of the National Democratic Front in Negros, has repeatedly turned down offers for a localized ceasefire.

After the unilateral ceasefire was lifted, Army soldiers stationed in Negros island went on combat mode in anticipation of NPA attacks following clashes in Iloilo and other areas of the country.

Army suspends pursuit vs NPA to help quake victims

From the Mindanao Times (Feb 13): Army suspends pursuit vs NPA to help quake victims

TROOPS of 30th Infantry Battalion conducting operations against communist rebels immediately shifted to humanitarian assistance in badly hit areas following the 6.7 magnitude earthquake in Surigao del Norte on Friday, Feb. 10.
Capt. Joe Patrick Martinez, spokesperson of 4th Infantry Division, said around 11 p.m., Lt. Col. Rico Amaro, the commanding officer of 30th IB, directed his troops to immediately respond and assist the communities within the unit’s area of responsibility.
Soldiers under Alpha Company were able to assist the communities in San Francisco, Surigao del Norte. Three severely injured residents were brought to the Caraga Medical Hospital.
Meanwhile, one person reportedly died after the third floor of one building collapsed in Surigao City.

Troops under the Charlie Company are leading the retrieval operation. They were able to recover a body at around 1 a.m.

Meanwhile, the San Nicolas Bridge that connects Surigao City and San Francisco, Surigao del Norte has collapsed. Surigao Airport is non-operational due to the damages in the runway. There were structures that collapsed and others were severely damaged.

“We assure the Surigaonons that the 30IB will be providing all the necessary assistance that will help the local government units bring back the normal situation in the whole province especially the devastated part of Surigao City,” Amaro said.

“As we conduct our humanitarian assistance and disaster response operation in the area, we remain vigilant on the terrorist NPAs that are still causing havoc in the entire region,” he said.

Soldier, 2 civilians killed in NPA attack

From the Mindanao Times (Feb 13): Soldier, 2 civilians killed in NPA attack

THE ARMY has condemned the rebels’ attack in Agusan del Sur that killed two civilians and wounded three other non-combatants on Saturday.
The attack that also killed a soldier is a clear violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect to Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), which the communist group agreed with the Philippine government in 1998 in The Hague, Netherlands, said Lt. Col. Glenn Joy Aynera, the commanding officer of the Philippine Army’s 29th Infantry Battalion (IB).

Guerillas attacked Sitio Sarog, Barangay San Isidro of Santiago, Agusan del Norte on Saturday at 5 a.m., seven hours after an earthquake hit the area.

Aynera said he sent his soldiers to the barangay after receiving reports that there were armed men conducting extortion activity in the area.

“There was a situation in that community that needed to be addressed,” Ayner said. “That’s why I have sent my soldiers to secure the people against these NPAs.”

Upon reaching the community at around 4:30 a.m., the troopers were able to talk with some locals to confirm the report.

But around 10 fully-armed NPAs, unmindful of the civilians in the area, indiscriminately opened fire.

Two civilians and one soldier were instantly killed and three other civilians were wounded in a 10-minute attack.
“We condemn their atrocious act that claimed the lives of two innocent civilians, and seriously wounding three others. We are also deeply saddened for the loss of one of our comrades,” he further said.

The communist groups under the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), including the Communist Party of the Philippines and the NPA, signed the CARHRIHL, in which they agreed “to affirm and apply the principles of international humanitarian law in order to protect the civilian population and individual civilians.”

Aynera said the agreement calls that “civilian population and civilians shall be distinguished from combatants and, together with their property, shall not be the object of attack.”

“They shall likewise be protected against indiscriminate strafing,” he said.

Aynera assured the public that they will “always continue to conduct peace and security operations to ensure the safety and security of the people in Agusan del Norte.”

Pursuit operation is ongoing to capture the perpetrators of the attack.

The NPA declared a ceasefire in the earthquake-hit Surigao del Sur and three towns of Agusan del Norte.

Santiago is not among the three towns but is in the boundary of Tubay and Jabonga, two of the three municipalities.

Another attack
In Laak, Compostela Valley on the same day, 60th IB troopers engaged undetermined number of NPAs guerillas in a 30-minute gunfight.
No soldier was hurt.

The attackers belong to the NPA’s Guerilla Front 34 and Pulang Bagani Company (PBC) 4.
Meanwhile, two NPA amazons returned to the folds of the law after a community dialogue conducted by the troopers of 67th IB in Caraga, Davao Oriental on Friday.
Capt. Rhyan Batchar, spokesperson of 10th Infantry Division, identified the two amazons as Ka Joy, 20, and Ka Rose, 17, and both members of Guerilla Front 15.
Soldiers of 67th IB were consulting with 150 displaced families temporarily housed in Caraga Municipal Gymnasium when the two NPA amazons surrendered.

The displaced families from Barangays Don Leon Balante and PM Sobrecarey of Caraga reportedly left their homes due to NPA presence in their communities.

Earlier, six NPA members returned to the folds of the law in Davao Oriental through the 67IB while two others submitted to the 73IB in Davao Occidental.
The latest surrender count is now 10.

Maj. Gen Rafael Valencia, 10th ID commander, encouraged the NPA members to leave their group before the full brunt of military capabilities will catch up with them.

“The NPA members are just victims of the manipulation of their communist leaders,” he said.

Four abducted by NPA, including brgy. captain

From the Mindanao Times (Feb 13): Four abducted by NPA, including brgy. captain

A BARANGAY official and his wife, along with two others, were allegedly kidnapped by the New People’s Army in two separate incidents on Feb. 5 and 8.

Based on the report of 25th Infantry Battalion, Barangay Pangyan chief Rene Carlos and wife Maribeth Carlos were abducted along the road in Trento, Agusan del Sur on Feb. 5. Their companions were released while the couple was hogtied.
There’s no news yet of the demand from the armed men on the couple’s abduction.

Meanwhile, in a separate report from 71st Infantry Battalion, Jun-jun Custodio and his son, Marjun, were allegedly abducted by armed men, led by alias Mokloy who is reportedly a team leader of NPA’s Milisya ng Bayan, in Barangay Malamudao, Maco, Compostela Valley on Feb. 8.
Brig. Gen Macairog Alberto, 1001st Infantry Brigade commander, said they believe the NPA kidnaps innocent civilians to use them as human shields.

Meanwhile, Maj.Gen Rafael Valencia, the division commander, urged the NPA to spare civilians in their activities.

“The NPA is being used by their communist leaders as instruments of their propaganda to the extent of using them to sow fear among the innocent civilians,” he said.

Sarangani, ComVal clashes leave one soldier wounded

From the Mindanao Times (Feb 13): Sarangani, ComVal clashes leave one soldier wounded  

A SOLDIER of the 73rd Infantry Battalion was wounded after a series of armed clashes with the NPAs in Sarangani and Compostela Valley on Saturday, Feb. 11.
Capt. Rhyan Batchar, spokesperson of 10th Infantry Division, said the first incident occurred around 10:30 a.m. on Saturday when troops engaged communist guerrillas belonging to the Front Guerilla 71 in a two-hour firefight in Sitio Tangis, Barangay Little Datal Anggas, Sarangani.
The wounded soldier, whose name is withheld pending notification of his family, was immediately airlifted to Camp Panacan hospital in Davao City for medical attention.

Meanwhile, three consecutive firefights occurred in Barangay Bollucan, Laak, Compostela Valley between troops of 60th IB and the NPA belonging to Guerilla Front 34 and Pulang Bagani Company 4 starting at 10:40 a.m.

The exchange of gunfire lasted for about an hour.

Simba fighting vehicles were immediately dispatched resulting to another 40-minute gunbattle against the withdrawing NPA 700 meters away from the first encounter at around 11:50 a.m. of the same day. The troops involved in the first encounter pursued the NPA in the same area which resulted into half-an-hour clash.

The troops of 73rd IB were in pursuit of the fleeing NPAs following a series of clashes in Sitio Kisoy, Barangay Little Baguio, Malita, Davao Occidental and Sitio Dulid, Barangay Datal Anggas, Alabel, Sarangani on Feb. 6 and 8, respectively.
On the other hand, troops of the 60th IB pursuing the NPA in Laak, Compostela Valley earlier stumbled upon several NPA encampments in barangays Macopa, Langtud and Bollukan.
Batchar said the latest incidents involved the employment of MG 520 attack helicopter and 105mm howitzer which delivered fire support to the engaged troops.

Ground forces are now conducting clearing operations.

In a separate report from the 67th Infantry Battalion, troops on board three KM450 military trucks were attacked with an improvised explosive device at the vicinity of Daw-an, Barangay San Jose, Caraga, Davao Oriental around 2:45 a.m. of Feb. 11. No soldier was hurt in this incident.

The 10th Infantry Division earlier accounted 10 NPA rebels who surrendered since Feb. 1.

Maj.Gen Rafael Valencia, the division commander, said relentless combat operations will continue until they cripple the NPA.

“We are urging NPA members to return to the folds of the law and abandon the group that continuously extorts, attacks and harass our fellow Filipinos,” he added.

Muslim community in Baguio vows to protect city from terrorism

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 13): Muslim community in Baguio vows to protect city from terrorism

National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) director Abdullah Macarimpas stressed “the Muslim community here is working side by side with Baguio City residents to protect the city against criminality and terrorism.”

Sinar Association president Samsodin Monib on Monday reiterated the statement of Macarimpas adding that “next to Marawi, the birthplace of their children is Baguio City.”

Earlier, the Sinar Association sponsored a forum attended by key city officials and NCMF at the Baguio City Multi-purpose hall carrying the theme, “Muslim on Peace and Harmony.”

Monib said the forum was organized to shed light on issues associating the Muslim community with terrorism and drugs and to put a stop to those who are emphatically condemning them as terrorists.

In the forum, Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan said the participants must stop segregating themselves from other tribes, referring to all tribes living in Baguio, including the Muslim community.

Domogan said the violation of one is not a violation of all, in reference to terrorist attacks where people jump into a conclusion blaming the Muslims.

"Let us preemptively work together as one family regardless of tribe, religious affiliation or belief and help the police in monitoring who continue to promote peace and otherwise," Domogan said.

Domogan said the Baguio City Police Office (BCPO) apprehended alleged members of the New People’s Army (NPA) who were responsible in the burning of two Philex Mines trucks in Itogon, Benguet, last week.

Reacting to the statement of Domogan, Macarimpas said, " it has been proven that Muslims were not involved in the said incident in Itogon, we cannot allow any terroristic activity to happen in Baguio because Baguio is our home."

Monib said the association and its members are happy with the result of the forum because of the attendance and the response they received from concerned officials.

“We waited for this opportunity for a long time and we are glad that finally, it happened,” Monib said.

Feature: 4CMOBn change of command: a challenge, gratitude in uniformed service

From the Philippine Information Agency (Feb 13): Feature: 4CMOBn change of command: a challenge, gratitude in uniformed service

In a recent Turn-Over of Command Ceremony held at the Kalayaan Hall, Camp Bancasi in this city, Lieutenant Colonel Manuel Valdez IV became the 4th Civil-Military Operations (Kasaligan) Battallion’s (4CMOBn’s) newest commanding officer.

Valdez replaces outgoing battalion commander Lieutenant Colonel Rey Pasco who assumed command last March 14, 2015 until February 10, 2017.

Upon relinquishing his post, Lt. Col. Pasco highlighted in his privileged speech the indigenous peoples (IP)-centric approach on solving the challenges of peace and development particularly in Caraga region where he piloted the capacitation of the IP youth.

“For the first time, the youth from the different Certificate of Ancestral Domain Titles (CADTs) in Caraga gathered and actively participated in a summit which equipped them to become better leaders and effective communicators. The activity was successfully conducted in collaboration with the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) Caraga under the leadership of Dir. Abner Caga wherein the 1st Regional IP Leadership and Communicators Summit held on December 18-21, 2015 at Tiberias Retreat House, Carmen, Agusan del Norte. Consequently, the group was formally registered at the Security of Exchange Commission (SEC) as Caraga Mindanao Cultural Development Incorporated,” recalled Pasco.

He added that the unit is also instrumental in the creation of Indigenous People Crises Committee (IPCC), together with Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP). This group is composed of IP leaders from different CADT areas in Caraga and was organized last November 14, 2015 to provide a venue for ICC/IP leaders to meet, discuss and agree amongst themselves the different issues and concerns currently being confronted by the ICCs.

Meanwhile, in his assumption speech, Lt. Col. Valdez recounted his significant experiences in the military service. He said that he has learned the value of constant learning as a means for personal and professional growth.

"I am more inclined in doing my best and to continue what my predecessor have started and accomplished especially that he has able to make a difference during his term in this battalion," Valdez said.

As the presiding general officer during the change of command, MGen Benjamin Madrigal, Jr., 4th Infantry Division commander, Philippine Army expressed his gratitude to the local media partners and PIA Caraga for the favorable information and communication support which is essential and instrumental in keeping the people abreast about what the Phil. Army is doing for them. He said that it is important to let the public know the army's programs and projects.

Madrigal urged the partner-stakeholders to continue supporting the 4CMOBn in advancing the peace, security and development in the region. Likewise, Madrigal recognized and reiterated its strong partnership with the PIA Caraga wherein several undertakings were carried out successfully.

“The best quality of a Civil-Military Operations Officer should have good background of intelligence since it deals with different government and non-government sectors and it disseminates relevant information to the community,” said MGen Madrigal.

He also stressed that one of the many roles of the Civil Military Operations is to strengthen stakeholder engagements and deliver information effectively and to the communities. “I have placed my trust and confidence in the leadership of these two officers. So, I am challenging them to bear the mantle of perpetuating the rules and mandates of an excellent serviceman,” emphasized MGen Madrigal.

Media partners, some heads of government agencies and private stakeholders witnessed the Change of Command Ceremony.

Service with gratitude

Leading the 4th Civil-Military Operations Battalion for 21 months and ten days was a mix of colorful and challenging experiences that taught Lt. Col. Pasco to learn to regulate his life by wisely making decisions and determine actions in perfect calibration.
“Setting a certain standard and boundary enables me to perform my duty without grumble,” said Pasco.

He mentioned that what he really wanted was for the Kasaligan Troopers to relearn the good old ways of doing things and unlearn the bad habits. “We started with the basics to be able to address the necessities of our soldiers. We have done many improvements in our facilities, apart from the good transformation within ourselves. And I could not even expressed in words how thankful I am for the wonderful camaraderie we have shown to one another,” sincerely expressed Pasco.

“By improving our administrative processes and support system of companies, we made them feel that we care for them. Taking the responsibility of looking after their welfare has also motivated and inspired them to perform their duties and responsibilities to the best of their abilities – and that is empowerment,” underscored Pasco.

Pasco remarked in all sincerity that there are things that should be credited to those who rightfully deserve. “I cannot do all these without the support of my co-soldiers. Above all, I thank the Gaotu for His saving graces and blessings in all my battles and undertakings,” modestly enunciated Pasco.

He said that the challenge of leading the Kasaligan Troopers is tremendous toward greater integrity, service and openness. “But as I look at my successor, Lt. Col Valdez, I am very positive and confident that this organization under his leadership will accomplish everything that has been envisioned, and may even surpass what we have achieved,” underlined Pasco.

“To all my friends, I thank you for your support, for your indulgence. I thank you for your comradeship, and above all I thank you for your continued dedication,” concluded Pasco.

Army intensifies security for 20th CRAM in Tandag City

From the Philippine Information Agency (Feb 13): Army intensifies security for 20th CRAM in Tandag City

In line with the 20th Caraga Regional Athletic Meet (CRAM) here, the 36th Infantry Batallion (36IB), Philippine Army has intensified its security operations in the city.

In a press statement, 36IB commanding officer Lt. Colonel Randolph Rojas said he is committed to support in terms of security concerns and other tasks for the duration of the CRAM 2017.

“We are utilizing all our available resources from personnel, mobility, and other assets just to ensure the safety of the athletes, coaches, trainers, spectators and the general public, as well,” said Lt. Col. Rojas.

Some K-9 units with the capability to detect bombs and other IEDs, casualty medical evacuation team (CMET) including the field ambulance units were also deployed.

According to 36IB Civil Military Operations officer Captain Al Anthony Pueblas, being one of the members of the Technical Working Committee on Securit, their troops are mobilized based on the approved security plan in close coordination with the Philippine National Police (PNP), the chair of the committee.

Part of the plan according to Pueblas is the conduct of the joint AFP-PNP checkpoints in the identified entry and exit points in the city.

Army division chief reaches out to Maguindanao's orphans of war

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 13): Army division chief reaches out to Maguindanao's orphans of war

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao -- With peace prevailing in its area of jurisdiction, the Army's 6th Infantry (Kampilan) Division, led by Brigadier General Arnel B. Dela Vega, 6th ID Multi-Sectoral Advisory Board, Goldin Institute Philippines (GIP) and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), launched over the weekend its Peace and Development Program in a remote village in Maguindanao.

The program, dubbed as Project "Kagkapia" (Hope), was launched with the support of Regional Governor Mujiv Hataman through the Humanitarian Emergency Action Response Team (HEART) and Dr. Susana Anayatin of GIP, aims to extend help and psychological intervention to orphans of Markaz-ul Aytam Orphanage Center in Barangay Gang, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.

Capt. Arvin Encinas, 6th ID Public Affairs Office chief, said "Project "KAGKAPIA" or Hope," benefited 280 children who are orphans of war due to the conflict in the region.

Most of these children, with ages ranging from 8 to 22 years old, came from conflict-affected areas in the five provinces of ARMM: Maguindanao; Lanao Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-tawi.

The peace and development project includes activities such as the distribution of sports equipment, slippers, hygiene and sanitary kits, food supplies and the feeding program, Capt. Encinas said.

Physical enhancement of the orphanage's facilities through repair and renovation to be facilitated by the 6th Civil-Military Operations Battalion with construction materials provided by the regional governor, Hon. Mojiv S. Hataman, shall also be undertaken to uplift the living conditions of the orphans.

"The objectives of Project "KAGKAPIA" aims to make the orphans feel that the government and other sectors of the society care for them and guide them to have high hopes for their future," Encinas added.

Convergence of efforts among various stakeholders for the project is also sought by the Armed Forces of the Philippines to realize the whole of nation approach in achieving lasting peace and development.

"Orphans of war, if not properly taken cared of, can be potential source of recruits by bad elements or even terrorists/extremists hence, project "KAGKAPIA" is 6ID's tool to insulate the children from their influence," said Brig. Gen. Dela Vega.

The Markaz-ul Aytam Orphanage Center is administered by Ustadz Hasan Maloon relying only from voluntary contributions from benevolent sources.

4 NPA rebels killed in Masbate encounter

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 13): 4 NPA rebels killed in Masbate encounter

At least four suspected New People's Army (NPA) rebels were killed on Monday in a clash with Army soldiers in Barangay (village) Pangle, a remote village of Aroroy town in Masbate, said the Army’s 9th Infantry Division (9thID) spokesperson Capt. Joash Pramis.

Pramis, quoting an initial report, said that at around 6:30 a.m., a platoon of Army soldiers who were on combat patrol engaged a 20-man group of NPA guerrillas in a 20-minute firefight in which four NPA rebels were reportedly killed.

Pramis said the identities of the slain rebels have yet to be determined as their bodies are still being transported to the town hall for identification and documentation purposes.

Recovered from the encounter scene were two M14 rifles, two M16 rifles and an M230 grenade rifle.

Army soldiers are still on hot pursuit operation and scouring the possible neighboring areas where the remaining NPA rebels could have sought refuge.

Zamboanga del Norte police hunt killers of village official

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 13): Zamboanga del Norte police hunt killers of village official

IPIL, Zamboanga Sibugay -- The police have launched a manhunt operation to arrest the two gunmen behind the gun-slay of a village official in nearby Zamboanga del Norte province.

Sr. Supt. Edwin Buenaventura Wagan, Zamboanga del Norte police director, on Monday identified the subject of the manhunt operation as Jahal Lamon and a still unidentified companion.

Wagan said Lamon and his companion were tagged as those responsible for the killing of Fernando Torlao Sr., 63, barangay councilor of Tangarak, Sibuco, Zamboanga del Norte.

Wagan said the suspects shot dead Torlao around 5:30 p.m. Sunday in Sitio Landing, Barangay Tangarak, Sibuco.

He said Torlao sustained multiple gunshot wounds and died on the spot.

He added the suspects fled after the incident and have gone into hiding.

EMC lauds NPA decision to declare ceasefire in quake-hit regions

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 13): EMC lauds NPA decision to declare ceasefire in quake-hit regions

The Eastern Mindanao Command (EMC) has expressed its gratitude to the New People's Army's (NPA) enforcement of a unilateral ceasefire in Surigao Del Norte and Agusan Del Norte as military units are currently focused in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions in quake-battered Surigao City.

"We welcome the move so that we can attend to the need of the people affected by the earthquake," EMC spokesperson Major Ezra Balagtey said in message to the Philippine News Agency Monday.

Surigao City and its adjacent areas was severely affected by the magnitude 6.7 earthquake that struck the locality at 10:03 p.m. Friday.

Despite this announcement, Balagtey said that their units will be keeping a sharp lookout in case some of the rebels might not comply with their unilateral ceasefire announcement.

"Of course, we will be on the lookout to protect ourselves from possible attack," he added.

The EMC is the military command tasked to secure Eastern and Northern Mindanao from external and internal threats.

On Sunday, the Regional Command of the New People’s Army in North Eastern Mindanao Region (ROC-NPA-NEMR) declared a unilateral ceasefire in Surigao Del Norte and the municipalities of Cabadbaran, Tubay, Jabonga and Santiago in Agusan del Norte.

"This temporary ceasefire in areas covered by NPA Front 16, which started last Feb. 11, 2017 and will end at 11:55 in the evening of February 20, 2017, is being declared because of the intensity 6.7 earthquake on the night of Feb. 10, 2017," ROC-NPA-NEMR spokesperson Ka Ariel Montero said.

He added the ceasefire is declared to give NPA fighters in Front 16, all government agencies, including the police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and non-government organizations, the opportunity to inspect the areas affected, especially the mountain areas, for damages from the earthquake.

Palace welcomes NPA's ceasefire in earthquake-ravaged areas

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 13): Palace welcomes NPA's ceasefire in earthquake-ravaged areas

Malacanang welcomed on Monday the New People’s Army (NPA) decision to declare unilateral ceasefire in earthquake-ravaged areas to allow government to deliver assistance to victims.

"We are glad that the NPA heeded the call of the military for a ceasefire in earthquake-affected areas. We welcome their declaration and hope they do not renege on it as they have previously done," Presidential Communications Office (PCO) Secretary Martin Andanar said in a press statement.

The NPA-North Eastern Mindanao Region has declared ceasefire from February 11 up to February 22 in Surigao del Norte and the municipalities of Cadbadaran, Tubay, Jabonga and Santiago in Agusan del Norte after a 6.7 magnitude earthquake left heavy damages in these areas last Friday.

Andanar said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is presently conducting damage assessment and rescue, evacuation and rehabilitation activities.

"These should be continuous and remain unhampered so we can deliver immediate aid to the victims of this natural calamity," Andanar said.

He said unity of the entire Filipino nation is needed particularly those who suffered so much because of the earthquake.

"The Government and its forces lean forward to provide the fastest and most expeditious assistance our suffering citizens in Surigao need at this time and distractions from criminal activities by armed groups would not be in their best interest," the PCO chief said.

President Rodrigo Duterte has announced the allocation of PHP2 billion for relief and recovery efforts during his visit in Surigao City last Sunday.

Andanar, however, clarified that the PHP2 billion is not only for the relief and recovery efforts of earthquake-hit areas but for those displaced by the illegal mining in Surigao.

"This is what the President has mentioned, when he was talking in the context of mining problem there, if these mining sites will be closed, the people will be needing jobs and livelihood," Andanar said.

4 rebels killed, 5 high-powered weapons seized in Masbate clash

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 13): 4 rebels killed, 5 high-powered weapons seized in Masbate clash

Four members of the New People's Army (NPA) were killed and five high-powered firearms seized following an encounter with troopers from the 2nd Infantry Battalion in Aroroy town, Masbate early Monday morning.

The clash took place 6:20 a.m. at Barangay Pangle, of the above-mentioned locality, said Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo.

Troops were on patrol when they spotted an estimated 20 NPA fighters, triggering a 20-minute gun-battle which resulted in the death of four rebels and recovery of two M-16 automatic rifles, two M-14s and an M-203 grenade launcher, and assorted documents.

No losses were sustained from government forces, the AFP official said.

Pursuit operations are still ongoing as of this posting.

NPA truce in quake-battered areas, 'a very nice gesture' - DND chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 13): NPA truce in quake-battered areas, 'a very nice gesture' - DND chief

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the New People's Army's (NPA) decision to declare a unilateral ceasefire in the quake-ravaged regions of Surigao Del Norte and Agusan Del Norte a "very nice gesture".

"That's a very nice gesture from them. Our troops will also not operate against them during the rehabilitation of Surigao Del Norte (and other quake-battered areas)," he said in a message to the Philippine News Agency on Monday.

Last Sunday, the Regional Command of the New People’s Army in North Eastern Mindanao Region (ROC-NPA-NEMR) declared a unilateral ceasefire in Surigao Del Norte and the municipalities of Cabadbaran, Tubay, Jabonga and Santiago in Agusan del Norte.

"This temporary ceasefire in areas covered by NPA Front 16, which started last Feb. 11, 2017 and will end at 11:55 in the evening of February 20, 2017, is being declared because of the intensity 6.7 earthquake on the night of Feb. 10, 2017," ROC-NPA-NEMR spokesperson Ka Ariel Montero said.

He added the ceasefire was declared to give NPA fighters in Front 16, all government agencies, including the police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and non-government organizations, the opportunity to inspect the areas affected, especially the mountain areas, for damages resulting from the earthquake.

Lorenzana's views was also shared by AFP public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo Monday.

"We say that this is a good move on the part of the NPA, we are happy that they responded positively to our call to spare our soldiers who are performing rescue, relief and rehabilitation operations to benefit the victims of this tremor," he added.

"This only goes to show that within their ranks there remains to be people who have good intentions and desire to show compassion and mercy to their countrymen in times of calamities," Arevalo pointed out.

The AFP official said he was also hoping that these gestures of the NPA would be oft-repeated and thus help in the resumption of the peace talks.

AFP open to localized peace talks with NPA groups

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 13): AFP open to localized peace talks with NPA groups

While reflective of the dissent within the New People's Army (NPA) ranks, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is open to pursuing localized peace talks with rebels.

This was stressed by AFP public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo 's press briefing in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City Monday.

Request for such negotiations came from NPA groups operating in the Visayas and Masbate, he added.

These groups are reportedly surprised at the decision of their national leadership to terminate the unilateral ceasefire with the government effective 11:59 p.m. of Feb. 10.

And while the military is open to such negotiations, Arevalo said a mechanism must be first crafted so that common ground rules between the two parties can be set-up.