Thursday, February 16, 2017

2 ISAFP soldiers shot dead in Marawi City

From ABS-CBN (Feb 16): 2 ISAFP soldiers shot dead in Marawi City

Suspected members of a local terrorist group in Marawi City in Lanao del Sur province killed two intelligence personnel of the Armed Forces in a shootout Thursday afternoon, the military said.

The Intelligence Service of the AFP (ISAFP) personnel, including an Army major, were conducting an intelligence operation when they encountered the group, which resulted in a 10-minute firefight.

One sergeant was also injured, the military said. The identities of the deceased and wounded were not yet revealed by the AFP as of this writing.
According to reports from the government, the 65th Infantry battalion was tasked to conduct pursuit operations.

Task force to hold military exercise

From the Sun Star-Davao: Task force to hold military exercise

THE Joint Task Force Haribon (JTH) is set to conduct a military simulation exercise Friday, February 17, at Sta. Ana Wharf to test the capability and preparedness of the troops on how to address security challenges and terrorist threats.

JTH Commander Gilbert Gapay, in an interview Thursday, said they have already conducted a rehearsal for the exercise to appropriately execute the tactics that they might apply in an actual scenario.

The activity is seen to capacitate and boost the competence and teamwork of the military forces and component units on how to react when untoward incident happen in the city.

The exercise targets to fine tune the naval, air, and land security measures to deter activities perpetrated by lawless armed group.

The task force is the anti-terror component of the Eastern Mindanao Command formally activated on October 22, 2016 to expand its operations in ensuring security in the Davao region, particularly in Davao City, as it is now becoming an alternative seat of the National Government.

 The activity also aims to identify the weak points and resolve possible operational issues that may arise during the operation and improve the terrorism operations on different scenarios and situations.

TF Haribon is composed of Task Force Davao, Task Force Samal, 84th Infantry Brigade, the Philippine Navy, and the 11th Tactical Operations Group of the Philippine Air Force.

Davao City authorities earlier issued a public advisory to the communities residing in the area to remain calm and not panic since the explosion and live firing of guns that they might hear are part of the simulation.

Philippines Between China And Japan: No Need To Choose – OpEd

From the Eurasia Review (Feb 16): Philippines Between China And Japan: No Need To Choose – OpEd

Japan and China are two of the Philippines’ most important neighbors and economic partners. Japan is the country’s biggest trade partner, investor and donor and the only country with which Philippines has an existing bilateral free trade agreement. Being both archipelagoes with long coastlines and with maritime and territorial disputes with neighbors, notably with China, Philippines and Japan share some common maritime security interests and challenges. China, on the other hand, is the country’s second biggest trade partner and a major potential investor in Philippine infrastructure, industry and agriculture. Philippines and China share overlapping claims in the contested South China Sea (SCS) making it imperative to develop appropriate dispute management mechanisms to prevent this issue from undermining bilateral ties, as well as contributing to regional instability. No wonder that outside ASEAN capitals, Beijing and Tokyo figured prominently in the first foreign state visits of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Because of the Philippines’ strategic location, geopolitical importance and burgeoning economy, it is understandable for external powers to try to obtain the Philippines’ favor. The recent state visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Manila with a stop in Duterte’s hometown of Davao, for instance, demonstrates Japan’s determination to keep its longstanding influence in the country, amidst warming Philippines-China relations and uncertainties in Philippines-US ties. However, instead of choosing between rivals Japan and China, the Philippines should realize that maintaining good relations with these two powers is important for the country’s economy and security. Pursuit of national interests through an independent foreign policy requires staying away from great power competition to avoid entanglement. It also requires that the Philippines avoids choosing one over the other for fear of foregoing the benefits of engaging both.
To each its own
Cooperation with China and with Japan have their respective distinct values and should not be seen as a zero-sum calculation. The country finds affinity with Japan in terms of shared democratic values and appreciation for its generosity (e.g. aid, loans) and economic partnership, but it has not completely forgotten memories of Japan’s wartime atrocities. Duterte made references to American massacres of Filipinos during the Philippine-American War, a much earlier colonial atrocity, but is interestingly silent about Japan’s. Japan’s vital contribution to the country’s economy, peace, security and development and perhaps, most of all, its non-interference in Philippine domestic affairs, especially in Duterte’s controversial flagship anti-drug campaign, could be a factor. This means that the tables can be easily turned should Japan join US, EU and UN in calling out the country’s leadership over alleged human rights concerns.

On the other hand, as a fellow developing country, Philippines finds affinity with China as a rising champion clamoring for a greater space for emerging and developing economies in global affairs. Philippines takes note of China’s huge market, increasing outbound investments and tourism which could offer tremendous opportunities for the country. Manila also acknowledges valuable lessons that can be drawn from China’s poverty alleviation experience – uplifting more than 600 million out of poverty, six times the Philippines’ population, in a period of only 30 years. Like Japan, China was also not critical of the government’s war against drugs and was even among the first to express support for the same. A wealthy Chinese businessman financed the construction of a drug rehabilitation facility and further similar initiatives were reported to be in the works. However, China’s actions in the South China Sea (SCS), notably the building of artificial islands and placing military facilities in the same, continue to raise concern for more militarily disadvantaged coastal state claimants like the Philippines. Fortunately, the leadership of both sides realize that SCS is not the sum-total of their relations and that opportunities for expanding mutually beneficial economic ties abound, provided that differences be properly handled. Previous Filipino national leaders were criticized for taking a soft line against China in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) and though Duterte so far is spared from this, it remains to be seen how long can this continue, particularly if further developments on the ground inimical to the country’s interests in this maritime space ensue.

Waters that bind
Aside from economic cooperation, maritime issues constitute another prominent agenda in Duterte’s engagement with China and Japan and these are clearly reflected in the Joint Statements issued after his state visits to these two countries. Having a shared territorial and maritime dispute with China, the word “maritime” appeared 8 times in the Philippines-Japan Joint Statement (PH-JP JS), while “marine” was only mentioned once in the Philippines-China Joint Statement (PH-CH JS), with “maritime” appearing once as well in the annex agreements. However, interestingly, “South China Sea” appeared more in the PH-CH JS text compared to the PH-JP JS – 8 and 3 times, respectively. But differences in the context in which SCS was cited were apparent. Both Joint Statements upheld the importance of freedom of navigation and overflight in the SCS and mentioned the need to resolve the maritime disputes through peaceful means without the resort to threat or use of force in accordance with relevant international law, notably UNCLOS. Yet, variance in the preferred approach was evident. While the PH-JP JS mentioned the “arbitral award” and “rules-based approach”, the PH-CH JS made no reference to these, instead reaffirming that the disputes can be better handled “through friendly consultations and negotiations by sovereign states directly concerned.” Though SCS remains a sensitive issue in PH-CH relations, its inclusion in the JS text possibly suggests increasing confidence and maturity on the part of both sides, particularly China, in discussing the issue. It also suggests the continuing resolve on the part of the Philippines to press on the matter despite the warming bilateral relations. The frequent references to “maritime” concerns but scarce direct mention of “South China Sea”, on the other hand, suggests efforts on the part of the Philippines to forge common ground with Japan without necessarily alienating China. On the part of Manila, the mention of the “arbitral award” and “rules-based approach” in the PH-JP JS provided a non-unilateral call out to Beijing with an underlying intimation that a concerted pushback can take place if further destabilizing China-initiated developments in the SCS occur.

Coast guard cooperation was also a shared item in both Joint Statements. However, while references to it between Philippines and China remain tenuous, vague and exploratory, that between Philippines and Japan is already up and running since the 1990s when the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) was separated from the Philippine Navy. Reaffirmation of Japan’s concrete training, capacity-building and hardware contributions to PCG in the PH-JP JS can be taken as a reminder to the Philippines, as the Duterte government draws closer to China and begins probing maritime law enforcement cooperation with the latter.

Improving Philippines-China relations may have put to rest a great deal of anxieties arising from possible consequences and reactions of relevant states in the aftermath of the landmark SCS arbitral award. Philippine magnanimity in providing openings for direct dialogue with China is so far being rewarded by Chinese goodwill investments and pledges. But more than the economic largesse, Philippines will also expect China to refrain from undertaking actions that only serve to heighten tensions and which may produce the very scenario that Beijing detests, notably the involvement of non-claimants. However, despite the warming relations and rhetoric in support of the same, contemporary Philippines-China relations remain largely transactional – as reflected in the mention of “mutually agreed” and mutually beneficial” in the PH-CH JS text 4 times while the same was surprisingly absent in the PH-JP JS. As such, more reciprocal trust and confidence building measures are needed to reinforce this rather precarious foundation. In contrast, Philippines-Japan ties had largely overcome Japan’s wartime record and had taken deep roots anchored on more enduring “shared basic values”, “common values”, “alliance” and “partnership” (terms cited 7 times in the PH-JP text).

In sum, keeping established sound relations with Japan and exploring comprehensive all-around ties with China are not diametrically opposed. Cooperation with each regional rival power has its own respective merit which can be best appreciated in light of the evolving regional and global dynamics. “Friendship” and “friendly” appeared in both JS texts and Manila could take a cue from this – while it may not become allies to both countries based on shared values, it can surely be friends with them.

[Lucio Blanco Pitlo III is an Assistant Professorial Lecturer for International Studies at De La Salle University and Contributing Editor (Reviews) for Asian Politics & Policy. He is also a Project Consultant for Asia-Pacific Pathways for Progress Foundation Inc. This article was published at APPFI.

2 soldiers killed in Marawi clash —military

From GMA News (Feb 17): 2 soldiers killed in Marawi clash —military

Two Army intelligence men were killed and another one wounded in a firefight with members of a local terrorist group late Thursday afternoon in Marawi City, a military official said.

Lt. Col. Denedicto Manquiquis, public affairs officer of the Army's First Infantry Division, identified the fatalities as Maj. Jerico Mangalus and Cpl. Bryan Libot of the Philippine Army's intelligence service. Cpl. Rolando Cartilla was wounded in the incident.

Citing initial information, Manquiquis said that the firefight erupted in Marawi City's Barangay Lilod Madaya at about 5:30 p.m.

He said that the personnel from the Military Intelligence Group-10 were on a silver Isuzu Crosswind (Nr ZST 997) when they encountered members of a local terrorist group (LTG) on a Toyota Corolla (Nr ULB 391), adding that the firefight lasted for about 10 minutes.

On the other hand, Maquiquis said casualties from the enemy's side is still undetermined.

Also he said, the terrorists the soldiers encountered were from the Maute Group.

4 killed in NPA ambush in Davao City

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Feb 17): 4 killed in NPA ambush in Davao City
Davao PH Map
Four were killed, including two soldiers, and 10 others were wounded in an encounter with suspected communist rebels in Davao City on Thursday afternoon, the military said.

The soldiers from the Army’s 3rd Infantry Battalion were on their way to Binaton detachment when they were ambushed at the vicinity of Bilangkad, Brgy. Lamanan in Calinan District past 4p.m., Army spokesperson Col. Benjamin Hao said.

The soldiers on board a KM250 and four KM450 utility trucks were supposed to conduct pursuit operations when they encountered suspected members of the Pulang Bagani Command of the Southern Mindanao Regional Command of the New People’s Army.

Two members of the NPA were also killed and 10 soldiers were wounded, Hao said.

President Rodrigo Duterte terminated the peace talks between the government and communist rebels early this month after the collapse of the unilateral ceasefires of both sides.

2 soldiers, 3 NPA rebels dead; 11 others wounded in Army, NPA clash in Davao

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 17): 2 soldiers, 3 NPA rebels dead; 11 others wounded in Army, NPA clash in Davao

Two soldiers were killed while 11 others were wounded in a landmine explosion during pursuit and clearing operations against the New People's Army (NPA) which also suffered three casualties.

Eastern Mindanao Command spokesperson Maj. Ezra Balagtey confirmed the 11 soldiers were hit by a landmine.

While Balagtey has yet to receive a list of names of the soldiers, it was learned the casualties from the 3rd Infantry Battalion were identified as Cpl. Michael Yadao and Pvt. Virnel Damondon.

Initial reports obtained by the media show the soldiers were part of the security forces under the Charlie Company and Alpha Company led by 2Lt. Escora, 2Lt. Andig and 2Lt. Diaz in three sections of the operation in Barangay Lamanan, Calinan District, Davao City on Thursday.

The eight soldiers sustained wounds in the head from shrapnel and gun shot. They were identified as 2Lt. Harvey Kyl Escora; Cpl. Arnel Cuaresma; Cpl. Rey Danaytan; Cpl. Dominic Alegado; Pfc. Celso Neri; Pvt. Mike Barnuevo; Cpl. Jose Bautista Jr; and Pfc. Marion Rex Retutar.

The encounter between the army troops and the NPA occurred when rebels launched series of attacks in three areas in Davao City's second and third districts.

Joint Task Force Haribon chief Brig. Gen Gilbert Gapay confirmed in interview Thursday night said rebels under the Pulang Bagani Command 1 under alias Jinggoy and Pulang Bagani Command 2 under alias Lando harassed and clashed with government troops.

Around 5:30 a.m. Thursday, Gapay said rebels attacked the military detachment in Malabog, Paquibato District but the army troops were able to fight back. The encounter left one NPA rebel dead but his body was brought by the fleeing rebels.

At lunchtime, rebels attacked the civilian community in Davco pineapple plantation in Baguio District and burned the harvester owned by Del Monte Philippines.

Gapay said the attack in Davco could be a retaliation for the death of an NPA in the earlier encounter.

Another encounter ensued late afternoon in Lamanan, Calinan between the blocking force and the fleeing rebels.

According to Gapay, nearby residents also heard explosions and sporadic gunfires.

Argument leads to Militiaman’s death

From the Manila Times (Feb 16): Argument leads to Militiaman’s death

Camp Vicente Lim, Laguna: A member of Philippine Army’s Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu) was shot dead by a fellow militiaman in Pangil, Laguna after a heated argument on Wednesday.

Laguna Provincial Director Senior Supt Joel Pernito identified the victim as Gerald Relevante who was shot three times by Eduardo Galay using an M14 firearm while they were at the mess hall of the Cafgu Detachment in Barangay Galalan.

Relevante did not reach the hospital alive. Galay voluntarily surrendered with his weapon.

NPA member killed in an operation in Northern Samar

From GMA News (Feb 16): NPA member killed in an operation in Northern Samar

A suspected member of the New People's Army was killed in a five-hour firefight with the military in Northern Samar on February 14.

The suspect was identified as Bernadette Lutao alias “Kakan," wife of alleged NPA leader Salvador Nordan alias “Badok.”

A press release from Philippine Army showed troops of 43rd Infantry Battalion, 8th Infantry Division, led by 1Lt. Edsel Ryan Celebre, engaged the NPA rebels while conducting combat operations against lawless elements in Sitio Cabaywa, Brgy. Santander, Bobon, Northern Samar.

Authorities seized one improvised explosive device (IED) and three cellular phones.

Maj. General Raul Farnacio, head of 8th ID, said the accomplishment was a result of the collective effort of the local government unit and agencies, 8ID, and civilian constituents to attain just and lasting peace in Northern Samar.

He said since the lifting of the ceasefire by President Rodrigo Duterte, the 8ID troops have been conducting security operations in the region as part of their mandate.

“Rest assured that your Army in Eastern Visayas are tirelessly committed to serve and secure the people within the bounds of respect of Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law, and Rule of Law,“ said Farnacio.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Feb. 7 said government forces are waging an all-out war against the NPA.

“Yes, it is an all-out war kasi they are considered by the President already as terrorists. We also consider them as terrorists,” Lorenzana said at a press briefing in Malacañang.

Russia to help train Duterte guards

From ABS-CBN (Feb 16): Russia to help train Duterte guards

Russia's top security official on Thursday offered the Philippines access to an intelligence database to help it fight crime and militancy, and training for the elite forces assigned to protect President Rodrigo Duterte.

Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of Russia's Security Council and Vladimir Putin's top security adviser, made the offer during a meeting between Russian and Philippine security officials in Davao, where he was visiting Duterte at his home city.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Russia had invited the Philippines to join a database-sharing system to help combat trans-national crime and terrorism, which he said could help track Islamist militants and their financial transactions.

In an interview with Reuters last week, Lorenzana said there were "very strong" links between Islamic State and militants in the Philippines.

Patrushev's trip underlines Russia's intent to capitalize on a radical recalibration of foreign policy under Duterte, who harbors resentment of the Philippines' deep-rooted ties to the United States.

Duterte has made strong overtures towards China and Russia.

He praised Putin's leadership when he met him at an international summit late last year. He also he talked at length to Putin about what he called US "hypocrisy".

Lorenzana said security officials from both sides also discussed law enforcement cooperation, including anti-piracy and anti-narcotics exercises by coast guard and police.

The two countries were working on a military technical cooperation agreement, he said, and Russia offered to provide enhanced training for troops protecting Duterte.

Duterte will visit Moscow in May.

"We are keen on signing a defense cooperation agreement," Lorenzana said of that trip.

Lorenzana said last week Russia was interested in selling military equipment to the Philippines, like drones, helicopters, rifles and submarines.

18 rebels yield since February 1

From the Sun Star-Davao (Feb 16): 18 rebels yield since February 1

THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) 10th Infantry Division (ID) recorded a total of 18 New People’s Army (NPA) rebels who returned to the folds of the law since the lifting of the unilateral ceasefire last February 1.
In Thursday’s, February 16, AFP-Philippine National Police (PNP) press forum, 10th ID spokesperson Rhyan Batchar said this reflects their relentless efforts to contain the lawless armed group in line with their mandate to maintain peace and protect the community against illegal activities perpetrated by the rebels.
According to him, the NPA rebels who surrendered complained on failed promises of their recruiters and their hardships in the mountains.
The rebel returnees also feared to engage in a firefight with the soldiers who are conducting legitimate operations in line with the all-out war declaration.
“The NPA (surrenderees) revealed that the hardship and starvation brought about by the relentless combat operation of the military encouraged them to return to the folds of the law,” Batchar said.
There were three NPA members carrying one high-powered rifle who turned themselves in on Tuesday, February 14, namely Alyas Alas, 29, team leader of NPA Guerilla Front 71 who voluntarily submitted himself and his grenade rifle to 73rd Infantry Batallion (IB) in Malita, Davao Occidental; Alyas Aldrin, 26, and Alyas Omar, 46, both member of NPA Pulang Bagani Batallion Command who surrendered to the 60th Infantry Battalion.
Earlier, the military forces captured eight NPA members in Alabel, Sarangani during an hour-long clash and the filing of frustrated murder and illegal possession of firearms are already in the process.
The eight members of Guerilla Front 71 who were captured by 73rd IB are under the custody of the PNP Alabel namely Simeon Salda, 28; Jun Moda, 20; Claude Palbe, 21; Garzon Palbe, 31; Rene Ompao, 24; Sabelo Colano, 20; Nonoy Sanama and Morelo Sanama.
Batchar said the arrested rebels were new recruits who have been members for about seven months since the lifting of the unilateral ceasefire.
The length of the rebels’ service manifests the massive recruitment activity of the left while the ceasefire was still in effect.
 Alyas Kaloy, who surrendered his grenade rifle, is now in the process of enrollment to the government’s incentives for returnees.
To date, a total of 12 high-powered firearms were recovered from the NPA as well as 14 explosive devices were recovered in nine encounters under 10th ID area.
Batchar said the rebels are also victims of the propaganda of their leaders. Thus, they urge rebels to surrender.
“Ayaw namin na dumating sa punto na mas mahirapan sila kaya habang may pagkakataon pa eh bumalik nalang sila (We don’t want it to get to the point that it will be difficult for them, so as much as possible, they should just return) and we can offer help,” he said.
There is a Comprehensive Local Integration Program that awaits a returnee including P15,000 cash assistance that will be given immediately to them and additional P50,000 livelihood assistance for a total of P65,000 that they would receive. If they will bring their rifles or firearms there is corresponding firearms remuneration depending on the caliber of the firearms that they will surrender.

Doctor, nurse wounded in Ifugao clash

From the Manila Times (Feb 16): Doctor, nurse wounded in Ifugao clash

CAMP DANGWA, La Trinidad, Benguet: A physician and a nurse were among those believed wounded in the recent clashes at the remote village of Namal, Asipulo in Ifugao where government forces overrun a rebel encampment.

Taking cues from identification cards left behind by wounded and fleeing rebels after the encounter on Sunday night, soldiers named Ana Marie Leung, a doctor, and nurse Isabelle Anne Ramos as amongthose hurt during the hour-long gunfight.

Lt. Col. Nicolas Quemado, commander of the 54th Infantry Battalion (IB) said they found the physician’s Professional Regulations Commission ID card and two ATM cards and Ramos’ postal identification card at the New People’s Army (NPA) camp, the reason why the military tagged them to have joined the communist movement.

Leung was believed to be one of those wounded in the firefight after a villager reportedly identified her as one of those carried away by retreating rebels, the military official said.

Government troops also believed the overrun camp in Namal belonged to top cadres of the communist movement taking their cue from the seized documents including the documents of Leung and Ramos. “What we fought,” Quemado said, “are the heads of the Ifugao NPA command.”

The suspected NPA rebels reportedly belonged to the Nona del Rosario Command of the Ilocos-Cordillera Regional Committee.

The military official also urged the families of Leung and Ramos to communicate with them to claim the identification and ATM cards of their relatives.

The 54th IB said pursuit operations against the fleeing rebels who sought refuge in thick forests in Asipulo are still ongoing.

Quemado added that they are now coordinating with the Anti Money Laundering Council for the possible freezing of the bank accounts believed as being used by the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA Ifugao.

Meanwhile, Ifugao lawmaker Teodoro Baguilat Jr. said the skirmishes have forced indigenous peoples (IPs) to flee their villages and urged the government to push for the resumption of the peace talks.

“Just days after the breakdown of the peace talks and the lifting of the ceasefire, the military and the NPA have renewed their fighting. While casualties on both sides are expected, the greater tragedy is the displacement of peace-loving indigenous peoples from their ancestral homes,” Baguilat said.

Hundreds of IPs are now in an evacuation center in Asipulo where the fighting has been raging in the past days.

Baguilat said displaced villagers are in dire need of food, water and blankets because of the cold weather. “But more than anything, what they need is to go back home and to live in peace, away from the war that is not of their making and certainly not their fault,” he added.

3 NPAs charged with arson

From The Standard (Feb 17): 3 NPAs charged with arson

Three suspected members of the New People’s Army Chadli Molintas command were charged for arson, robbery and illegal possession of ammunitions before the provincial prosecutors’ office here.

The suspected NPA rebels were allegedly part of the team that burned two brand-new trucks of the Philex Mining Corp. at Tapac, Ampucao, Itogon last Thursday.

Authorities identified the suspected rebels as Sarah Abellon, Promencio Cortez and Marciano Sagun. Police operatives caught them at a checkpoint after pursuing the rebels, who burned the Philex trucks in Gilbraltar, Baguio City, where their transient house was reportedly located.

Police and military intelligence reports show that Abellon is said to be the secretary of the Sub-Regional Military Area Command who they said oversees the NPA’s extortion activities on big projects. Cortez, meanwhile, carries a P4.8-million reward for his arrest.

Prior to the burning incident, the rebels were planning to raid the mining firm and cart away all firearms of the security guards of the company at their various locations, police said.

However, realizing their plans could no longer materialize, the suspected rebels were contended with just burning the two Volvo trucks rather than gaining nothing from their failed operation, they added.

Scene of the Crime Operatives of the Baguio City Police Office searched the transient house rented by the three suspects and recovered personal belongings, gadgets, assorted ammunition and P850,000 in cash believed to be Abellon’s “revolutionary tax” collection.

Combined police and military forces also pursued insurgents who sought safety in various parts of Tuba and Itogon towns after burning the Philex trucks loaded with ore concentrate and bound for San Fernando City, La Union.

Concerned residents claimed there was a series of gunfights between the rebels and the police and military in Cap 4, Tuba last Thursday afternoon. This extended to Friday morning despite the military denying their encounters with the rebels in the area.

Philex officials said the company never received extortion letters from the NPA command operating in the province before the arson incident “that would justify their acts of burning their trucks.”

Opinion: ASEAN’s rising terrorism threat calls for urgent actions

Opinion piece in the Business World (Feb 17): ASEAN’s rising terrorism threat calls for urgent actions

2016 WAS A YEAR of rising terrorist activity for the ASEAN region. Arrests and deaths of terrorist suspects in Indonesia more than doubled to 170, Malaysia faced a steady stream of travel attempts of foreign terrorist fighters to Syria or Iraq and witnessed its first successful Daesh attack in June, and the Philippines suffered from an increase in bombings and hostage takings conducted by Daesh-affiliated groups, including Abu Sayyaf. Less covered in the international media, Thailand’s “Deep South” experienced a dramatic upsurge in attacks to over 800, resulting in over 300 deaths and 600 injured.
Unfortunately, this trend is not expected to subside in 2017; rather, without effective collaboration between ASEAN countries, it is predicted that the level of terrorist violence will increase further.

Daesh has shown great interest in this region. In June last year, a propaganda video instructed their supporters to focus on Southeast Asia, telling them to join their regional branch in the Philippines if they can’t make it to Syria or Iraq. Now, as Daesh’s territorial control in the Middle East diminishes, their need to disperse and move elsewhere is becoming a reality. As a result, it is predicted that many foreign terrorist fighters from Southeast Asia now in the Middle East -- there are believed to be more than 1,000 will return home to continue their campaign and potentially declare a caliphate.

Several militant groups in the region have already pledged allegiance to Daesh and have adequate manpower and connections to be a viable threat in the region. Southeast Asia also provides an extremely hospitable environment for Daesh to thrive. Using ongoing conflicts and pockets of instability, and capitalizing on racial and religious intolerance, Daesh could gain power and momentum in the region.

Daesh has frequently utilized the suffering of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar as justification for their cause and recruitment. Now, the recent sectarian violence in Rakhine has led to increasing attempted attacks on Myanmar interests and protests in Muslim majority countries; Malaysia and Indonesia. This could lead to an environment in which Daesh’s claim of legitimacy is strengthened.

Long running conflicts in both the Philippines and Thailand also provide fertile breeding grounds for violent extremism. Protracted insurgencies in both countries provide Daesh with the opportunity to exploit deep-rooted grievances to garner support, resources, and potentially start exercising control.

As well as potential local support for Daesh, Southeast Asia has exceptionally porous borders, which combined with highly sophisticated smuggling networks, provides easy entry into, and movement within, the region for persons, weapons, and resources.
Although there is clear cause for concern, there are many actions which could help mitigate these risks.
Indonesia’s immigration offices in Batam and Depok last year rejected close to 1400 passport applications, mostly for suspected intentions of travel to become foreign terrorist fighters. Unfortunately, screening processes in many parts of the region are usually poor to nonexistent, and it remains easy for terrorists to move from one country to the next. Building on the successful border liaison office mechanism and network to address transnational crimes, UNODC has started assisting border officials to recognize and prevent the movements of foreign terrorist fighters. Dismantling smuggling networks and preventing corruption at border checkpoints will further assist.

Throughout the region, counter terrorism investigators and prosecutors are hindered by inadequate legal frameworks. In line with UN Security Council Resolutions, Universal Legal Instruments Against Terrorism, and International Human Rights Law, it is essential that ASEAN countries update their terrorism related legislation. Notably, traveling for the purpose of conducting or facilitating terrorist activities has only been criminalized by one ASEAN nation, Malaysia. Without this legal backing, ASEAN remains vulnerable to the movements of terrorists.

While ASEAN countries have improved collaboration and intelligence sharing, it still occurs in an ad hoc and inconsistent fashion. Regular and efficient information sharing through formal and informal channels, within and between countries of the region, needs to be seriously enhanced.

Lastly, there is no ASEAN plan for the prevention of violent extremism or PVE. In much of the region, local grievances and root causes of terrorism are left unaddressed and Daesh’s propaganda goes unchallenged; leaving communities vulnerable to radicalization. It is important that ASEAN develops a regional PVE plan which is subsequently tailored for each country.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of recommendations; however, if all ASEAN nations implement a common approach, including what we are recommending, risks posed by terrorists in the region would be significantly reduced.

[Jeremy Douglas is the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Regional Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific and the former UNODC Representative for Pakistan. Joseph Gyte is a UNODC Counter Terrorism Consultant for Southeast Asia.]

DWDD: Army installs new chief of staff for CMO

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Feb 14): Army installs new chief of staff for CMO


FORT BONIFACIO, Taguig City – The Philippine Army installed an experienced CMO officer as the new Assistant Chief of Staff for Civil-Military Operations, G7 during the change of chief office ceremony held here on Monday 8:00 a.m.  
Colonel Facundo O Palafox IV formally assumed as the head of the Assistant Chief of Staff for CMO, G7, and replaced Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos, Jr. who will assume command of the Army’s 202nd Infantry Brigade based in Southern Tagalog.
Brigadier General Rodel Mauro Alarcon, the Acting Army Chief of Staff presided the change of chief of office ceremony.
Palafox is the former deputy and executive officer of the G7 prior to his new position. He also served as the Squadron Commander of the 2nd Cavalry Squadron and been a Commandant of The Armor School both are under the Mechanized Infantry Division, Philippine Army.
A graduate of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1990, Palafox also holds a Master’s degree in Public Management major in Development and Security from the Development Academy of the Philippines.
Meanwhile, Col Burgos will replace Col Glorivine Dida as commander of the 202nd Infantry Brigade. Dida will assume as the Assistant Division Commander of the 2nd Infantry Division, Philippine Army.
The designation of Palafox, Burgos and Dida is part of the Army’s continuing career and leadership development program for its senior officers

DWDD: ADDITIONAL BENEFIT || Soldiers and Policemen to be exempted in Estate Tax if Bill pushes through

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Feb 14): ADDITIONAL BENEFIT || Soldiers and Policemen to be exempted in Estate Tax if Bill pushes through

pnp afp

Valenzuela City 1st District Rep. Wes Gatchalian filed a House Bill which aims to exempt both uniformed personnel of Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines from paying estate taxes.

Since both members of PNP and AFP guarantee the “fullest enjoyment of a citizen of his freedom” as they are protecting the citizens from lawless elements of the community, Gatchalian said on his explanatory note that these modern-day heroes deserve a small token for all of their sacrifices.

He stressed that the men and women in uniform have already given much to the country by risking their lives in protecting the freedom of the people, and relieving their families from the additional burden of paying estate tax is the least thing that the government can do for them.

Gatchalian also added that once the HB 4881 was already passed as law, the family of a soldier or policeman who passed away will be guaranteed an exemption from paying more than 20 percent in the estate taxes.

Lastly, he reiterated that HB4881 was proposed to ultimately honor the men and women in uniform. – CAT

DWDD: EMC condemns NPA’s Ambush of Relief Assistance Convoy in Surigao

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Feb 15): EMC condemns NPA’s Ambush of Relief Assistance Convoy in Surigao

The Eastern Mindanao Command (EMC) condemned in the strongest terms the action of the New Peoples Army (NPA) that despite their declaration of ceasefire they ambushed an aid convoy that delivered relief goods to the victims of the earthquake in Surigao.

This atrocity by this armed lawless group has added to the suffering and misery of the people who are trying to recover from the devastation brought by the earthquake.

We call on everyone at this time to show compassion and help in aiding the victims of this tragic event instead of promoting violence.

Rest assured that despite this NPA attack, the Eastern Mindanao Command will continue its efforts in helping the LGUs and the Local Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council to restore normalcy in the earthquake affected areas.

DWDD: 200 new soldiers to bring peace and development in Central & Western Visayas

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Feb 15): 200 new soldiers to bring peace and development in Central & Western Visayas


CAMP PERALTA, Jamindan, Capiz – Two hundred (200) newly enlisted soldiers were welcomed by the Army’s 3rd Infantry (Spearhead) Division led by its commander Maj. Gen. Jon N Aying during the joint enlistment, entrustment of firearms and graduation ceremonies of Candidate Soldiers Classes 410 and 411-2016 held here yesterday February 13, 2017.

The new members of the Spearhead Troopers Division have successfully completed the six (6) month rigid Candidate Soldier Course (CSC) and Jungle Warfare Mountain Operation Course (JWMOC) held at the Division Training School (DTS) in Camp General Macario Peralta Jr., Jamindan, Capiz.

The training that kicked-off last August 1, 2016 aimed to provide the candidate soldiers with the basic knowledge and skills of soldiery, to develop their character worthy to become members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and to prepare them to perform duties as riflemen and automatic riflemen of the infantry squads.

Gabriel C Cablas,  received the Commander, 3rd Infantry Division Award for graduating Number 1 besting 104 others in Class 410 with a General Point Average of 89.29% in all evaluated subjects both academic and non-academic in the said training.

While Kenneth D Pedrosa, topped the Class 411 besting 94 others. Pedrosa also received the Commander, 3rd Infantry Division Award who garnered a General Point Average of 90.05% in all evaluated subjects both academic and non-academic courses.

In his speech, Maj. Gen. Jon Aying  emphasized to the new soldiers the true meaning of  military professionalism that once you are already a soldier, you have to resist your right to live where you choose to live, to say not anymore what did you choose to say , to dress what you do not choose to dress and it needs but an order to settle them with their families and dislocate their normal lives.


“If you have the right perception in life, faith in God, spotless morality, harmonious relationship with your comrades and the people in the community, whatever you will be doing will be easy” he added.

Maj Gen Aying also reminded the newly enlisted soldiers that the firearms being entrusted to them are the symbol of strength to win the battle and this weapon will serve as the weapons to promote peace and order in their respective fields.

He also thanked the parents, relatives and friends of the new soldiers for the support and congratulated the Division Training School personnel who were responsible for the training of these new breed of soldiers.

The new soldiers will be assigned in the different battalions in Western and Central Visayas and the Negros Island Regions to perform peace and development works in the countryside and likewise add to the unit’s strength in these areas.

The Chief of Staff, 3ID Awards went to Reymar Q Atillano and Joven D Buyco for Graduating Number 2 in Class 410 and Class 411 respectively.

Recipients of the Commandant, 3rd Division Training School Awards were Justine GLariosa and Erwin M Verdadero for graduating Number 3 in Class 410 and Class 411 respectively.

For obtaining the highest rating in Physical Fitness Test throughout the duration of the training, the Physical Proficiency Awards went to Marvin P Licos for Class 410 and Jeorem S Sison for Class 411.

DWDD: NO RANSON POLICY | AFP discourages PH, Germany to grant ASG’s ransom demand

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Feb 15): NO RANSON POLICY | AFP discourages PH, Germany to grant ASG’s ransom demand

gold afp

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) strongly discouraged the Philippine and German authorities to pay the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) a P30 million ransom demand for the release of its German hostage.

In a video that spread in the internet, Jurgen Kantner warned his government that the bandit group will kill him if ransom is not paid before February 26.

AFP Public Affairs Office Chief Col. Edgard Arevalo explained yesterday that the payment of the ransom will give the ASG more funds to buy the loyalty of the communities they are hiding in.

Arevalo said that they are still confirming the authenticity of the video and assured to exert all their efforts to rescue Kantner.

“We now have continuing operation against the ASG which has been yielding good outcomes, so we are still positive that we will be able to rescue him,” Arevalo added.

Kantner was abducted by ASG on November 7 in Tanjung Pisut, Tawi-tawi while his female companion, Sabine Mertz was allegedly raped and killed by bandits.

Under President Rodrigo Duterte administration, the ASG has beheaded two Canadian hostages after the ransom was not granted.

DWDD: 4ID Condemns NPA’s attack, vows to help Surigao Rise again

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Feb 15): 4ID Condemns NPA’s attack, vows to help Surigao Rise again


CAMP EVANGELISTA, Cagayan de Oro City – Army troops conducting relief operations were fired upon by NPAs in Barangay Linunggaman, San Francisco, Surigao del Sur, 8:30 P.M, Tuesday.
A platoon of 30th Infantry Battalion in a convoy with civilian partners from LGU, NGOs, and LGAs was harassed by members of New People’s Army after they have distributed relief goods for the communities affected by the recent magnitude 6.7 earthquake.
No casualty was reported on the incident.
It can be recalled that the NPA has declared the ceasefire in the area in order for the Government Agencies and Local Government Units to facilitate the Disaster Relief Operations and to restore the normalcy of the situation after the earthquake shook the entire province.
Col. Franco Nemesio Gacal, Commander of 402nd Infantry Brigade said, “In partnership with all the Government Agencies, NGOs, and civilian volunteers, we will not allow this recent act of treachery on the part of the NPA to cause the deprivation of basic needs due to the people affected by the disaster. It will not deter us to continue our efforts in helping the province to bring back to normal situation.”
 “We condemn in the strongest terms possible the recent harassment of NPA. There is no way that we can trust these terrorists. They have deceived the entire nation when they attack our soldiers with civilian volunteers who have just delivered relief goods the earthquake- stricken communities.  The recent declaration of ceasefire by the NPA is nothing but lie and deception”, said by Maj. Gen. Benjamin R. Madrigal, 4ID Commander.

DWDD: Sobejana asks for help to rescue German hostage

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Feb 16): Sobejana asks for help to rescue German hostage


Sulu Joint Task Force Commander Col. Cirilito Sobejana on Wednesday asked the support of civilians especially from terrorist-inflicted communities to rescue the German hostage, Jurgen Kantner.

Col. Sobejana explained that his group is doing their best efforts to rescue Kantner and other victims abducted by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) but cannot do it alone.

“We will be doing the relentless effort, we will pursue them and hopefully we will be able to make it,” Sobejana said.

Sobejana also discouraged the payment for ransom as it will give the bandit group the more capability to develop its force.

Kantner’s video spread in the internet addressing his government that the bandit group will kill him if the ransom is not paid before February 26.

“It’s a strategy actually…we will just do our best effort and hopefully we will be able to get the victim with no ransom,” Sobejana explained.

Meanwhile, Sobejana assured that all available manpower including the navy and air force components and 14 battalions under his command will be utilized in operations to rescue ASG’s hostages.

The commander also said that they are developing a good strategy to cover all areas in Sulu, particularly where kidnap victims brought.

Prior to six months order to decimate the bandit group, Sobejana said that issues of kidnapping in Sulu, Basilan, and Tawi-Tawi must end on or before July 31.

The Abu Sayyaf has currently 27 kidnap victims including a Dutch, a German, a Korean, five Malaysians, six Vietnamese, seven Indonesians, and six Filipinos. -MF

MILF: Editorial -- Death penalty!

Editorial posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Feb 15): Editorial -- Death penalty!

“...Take not life, which God has made sacred, except by way of justice and law. Thus does He command you, so that you may learn wisdom.”

This is what God says in the Holy Qur’an in Surah Al-’An’am, verse 151, regarding capital punishment for certain crimes especially murder.

Muslims who support the death penalty believe that its use provides for an effective deterrent against crime and, as such, helps to promote justice. Islamic law permits the use of the death penalty as a punishment against intentional murder and Fasaad fi al-ardh, which translates to "spreading mischief throughout the land." This type of crime is interpreted in a variety of ways, but can include, among others, rape, adultery, treason, apostasy, and piracy.

Capital punishment is still widely supported in Islamic states and nations in which Islam is the state religion. However, there are growing groups of Muslims that support the abolishment of the death penalty, arguing against the mainstream interpretation of Quran passages regarding capital punishment.

Restoring death penalty is one of the priority bills of the Duterte administration. The proposed House Bill 4727 seeks to impose death penalty on more than 20 heinous offenses. According to the original version of the bill, the following are punishable by death under the Revised Penal Code—treason, qualified piracy, qualified bribery, parricide, murder, infanticide, rape, kidnapping and serious illegal detention, robbery with homicide, rape, intentional mutilation or arson and destructive arson.

However, a few legislators believe plunder should not be punishable with death. Their reasons or motives are unknown. But plunder can be more heinous than murder, which is made punishable under the proposed law, because plunder can cause mass killings, once the frenzy starts.

The Mirriam-Webster Dictionary defines plunder as: “to take the goods of by force (as in war): pillage, sack (invaders plundered the town); to take by force or wrongfully: steal, loot (plundered artefacts from the tomb); and to make extensive use of as if by plundering: use or use up wrongfully (plunder the land).”

Life for life, eye for eye, nose for nose, ear for ear, and tooth for tooth is the most natural disposition of justice. In a simple illustration, if one owes you US$1,000, would you accept a lesser payment for that, say US$900, $800, etc.?

The Torah of the Jews first prescribed this and the Qur’an sustained it partly, but supplemented it this way: “And We ordained therein for them: Life for life, eye for eye, nose for nose, ear for ear, and tooth for tooth and wounds equal for equal. But if anyone remits the retaliation by way of charity, it shall be for him an expiation….” (Surah Al-Maedah, Verse No. 45).

The resort to “blood money” in Islam and in the MILF, in particular, has this verse as a foundation. The precondition is that if the nearest of kin agrees to the payment of blood money for murder; if they do not agree, then the punishment would eventually proceed.

It is not our intention to comment directly on the death penalty bill, because it is an internal affair of the government. But perhaps it is useful to everyone to know the MILF’s perspective on the matter.

MILF: MILF to set free ‘child warriors’ starting Feb. 18

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Feb 15): MILF to set free ‘child warriors’ starting Feb. 18

The United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Philippines announced that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will free in a series of formal ceremonies more than a thousand children who were recruited as “child warriors” or are affiliated with the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), the armed wing of the MILF.

In a communiqué sent to the Manila Bulletin Tuesday, UNICEF-Philippines said at least 1,782 children have been identified and validated for release.

The first batch of child warriors will reportedly be released by the BIAF in formal rites on Saturday, February 18 at the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) along Crossing Simuay in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, where Camp Darapanan, the MILF’s central headquarters is located.

The release of child combatants will be until March 2017.

Under an Action Plan it signed with United Nations concerned agencies in 2009 and 2013, the MILF has committed “to end the recruitment and use of children within their ranks,” Jingjing Romero, a consultant of UNICEF-Philippines said in the communiqué.

The UN agency initiated in 2015 a six-point roadmap for the joint action plan, involving a four-step process — identification, confirmation, validation and orientation of children associated with the MILF combat ranks.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jess Dureza is expected to witness the release of the child warriors on Saturday.

Muslim Mindanao officials led by Regional Governor Mujiv S. Hataman and Maguindanao Gov. Esmael G. Mangudadatu renewed their support to the Mindanao peace process, particularly the creation of the expanded Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), which would craft an “inclusive” version of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

President Duterte appointed recently 21 members of the new BTC which now includes representatives from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) which has a standing peace agreement with the government signed in 1996. The BTC is expected to harmonize the MILF and MNLF peace accords in drafting a legislative measure that would create an inclusive Bangsamoro political entity.

“We have high hopes that these latest developments (involving the BTC expansion and the prospected release of MILF child combatants) would finally redound to our cherished end of rebellion in Muslim Mindanao,” Mangudadatu told a press conference Tuesday.

MILF: New IDB Chairman visits MILF Leadership

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Feb 15): New IDB Chairman visits MILF Leadership

Ambassador Salim Levant Sahinkaya, new Chairman of GPH-MILF  Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB) made a courtesy call to the MILF leadership, February 15 at the MILF Administrative Camp, Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao .  

Ambassador Sahinkaya replaced Ambassador Mustafa Pulat whose term ended January 3, 2017.   His entourage includes William Horland, IDB Vice Chairman, Asbjorn Lode, Chief of Staff, other IDB members, and staff.

They were warmly welcomed by the members of the MILF Central Committee led by AL Haj Murad Ebrahim.

To recall, the IDB is one of the mechanisms that will implement the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB). It is tasked to supervise and monitor the decommissioning process.

Sahinkaya said he was very pleased to come to Camp Darapanan and express gratitude for updates on the peace process that they may receive from the MILF.

Al Haj Murad briefed the IDB delegation on the current situation of the peace process, how the road map is expected to be going.

Updates about recent development particularly the expansion of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) were explicitly mentioned by Chairman Al Haj Murad.

Issues on emerging radicalization among Moro youth were also taken up in the said meeting.

NDF/NPA: Enemy troops hit in NPA back-to-back offensives as AFP all-out war rampage Southern Mindanao countryside

NPA propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Website (Feb 16):
Enemy troops hit in NPA back-to-back offensives as AFP all-out war rampage Southern Mindanao countryside  

New People’s Army
Regional Operations Command
Southern Mindanao Region
Press Statement

February 16, 2017

Three tactical offensives were launched almost simultaneously by NPA units around the region on February 14, even as the warmongering 10ID set loose virtually all of its combat troops in a fascist rampage in the hinterlands of Southern Mindanao.

A company of Red fighters belonging to the ComVal–Davao Gulf Sub-Regional Operations Command successfully fended off the combat operations of the 28IB in Lupon, Davao Oriental when it struck the enemy’s scout platoon at around 8:00 in the morning in Brgy. New Visayas. Five AFP troopers were confirmed killed while several others were wounded.

A few hours later, in a mobile checkpoint mounted by another company in Brgy. Don Mariano Marcos of the same town, two active members of the 72nd IB-CAFGU were captured at a national highway at around 11:00 in the morning. Rene Doller, 34, and Carl Mark Nucos, 24, both of the 72IB CAFGU were taken as prisoners-of-war.

Their .45-caliber pistol was also confiscated. They are being treated leniently and investigated for their possible crimes against the people and the revolutionary movement and involvement in their unit’s counterinsurgency operations.

Meanwhile, in Bukidnon province, the joint operation mounted by 72nd CAFGU and paramilitary Alamara was hit by Red fighters under the Davao City–Bukidnon Sub-Regional Operations Command at around 9:00 in the morning in Brgy. Matupi, Kitaotao.

Presently, the 10ID has forward deployed almost all of its combat troops in at least 26 towns in all the provinces of Southern Mindanao. It foolishly believes that unleashing fascist war against the revolutionary forces—even an all-out one—can accomplish what all the other internal and security plans in the past have failed to do. Spread thin and wide, however, its isolated troops only become vulnerable targets of military actions by the NPA in guerilla bases and zones where the masses loathe the AFP and want them punished for their numerous crimes against the people.

Amidst these relentless attacks, the NPA continues to defend the people by ensuring that their the insidious Oplan Kapayapaan’s civil-military and combat operations are made accountable for terrorizing peasants, Lumads and the masses. Around the country, bigger and more coordinated NPA units are launching heavy blows against AFP troops carrying out its bullheaded and costly all-out war at a time when the masses demand economic relief and for the peace process to be given a chance.

Regional Operations Command
NPA-Southern Mindanao

NDF/NPA: POWs in Far South assure families of lenient treatment, calls for end to AFP operations

NPA propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Website (Feb 15):
POWs in Far South assure families of lenient treatment, calls for end to AFP operations

New People’s Army
Valentin Palamine Regional Operations Command
Far South Mindanao
Press Release

February 14, 2017

The Regional Operations Command of Far South Mindanao today released proof of life audio messages and photos of Sgt. Solaiman Calocop and Pfc. Samuel Garay of the 39IB-PA, currently held as Prisoners of War by the Mt. Alip Sub-Regional Operations Command.

In separate audio messages, POW Calocop and POW Garay both assured their families that they are being treated well by their NPA custodial unit. POW Calocop, particularly, noted the NPA’s respect to his religion. The two are presently being investigated for their involvement in the crimes perpetrated by the 39th IB against the people and the revolutionary movement.

The two POWs also appealed to their battalion commander and the AFP to cease all military operations as these only endanger their lives and safety. At present, however, combat troops of the 39th IB are still operating in Sultan Kudarat while their peace and development outreach program teams continue to make peasant and Lumad communities as military garrisons.

Below are the full transcripts of their audio messages.

Spokesperson, Valentin Palamine Command
New People’s Army Regional Operations Command

Sgt. Solaiman Calocop audio message:

I am Sgt. Solaiman Calocop, 819608, Infantry Philippine Army, Charlie Company, 39ID, Sitio Lam Alis, Brgy. Datal Blao, Colombio, Sultan Kudarat.
I became a POW last February 2 at 7:00 in the morning. We were captured in Sitio, in New Bantangan en route to the battalion.
I am appealing to my battalion commander, Ltc. Harold Argamosa, sir, and to the Armed Forces of the Philippines to cease operations because it endangers our lives. I am appealing to our government, especially to Pres. Rodrigo Roa “Digong” Duterte to help us return to our families because my wife cannot raise our 5 children alone.
To my beloved wife and children, siblings and relatives, I am free to pray the Sambayang here. The NPA are kind and disciplined, they do not harm us, they feed us. They make our tents first before they make their own. They wash our clothes for us. To my family, do not tire asking our government for help.
Ako si Sgt. Solaiman Calocop, 819608, Infantry Philippine Army, Charlie Company, 39ID, Sitio Lam Alis, Brgy. Datal Blao, Colombio, Sultan Kudarat.
Napasok po ako sa POW noong February 2, alas-7 ng umaga. Nahuli kami sa Sitio, sa New Bantangan habang (byaheng) papuntang batalyon.
Nanawagan po ako sa aking battalion commander, Ltc. Harold Argamosa, sir, at sa Armed Forces of the Philippines na itigil po ang operasyon dahil ito po ang magpapahamak sa amin. Nanawagan po ako sa gobyerno, lalong-lalo na kay Pres. Rodrigo Roa “Digong” Duterte, na tulungan kaming makabalik sa aming pamilya dahil hirap itaguyod ng asawa ko ang lima naming mga anak.
Sa mahal kong mga asawa’t anak, mga kapatid at kamag-anak, malaya po akong nakakapag-Sambayang dito. Mababait po at disiplinado ang mga NPA, hindi po sila nananakit, pinapakain po kami. Inuuna po nila yung aming tulugan bago sa kanila. Sila po yung naglalaba sa aming mga damit. Sa aking mga kapamilya, huwag lang po kayong magsawa humingi ng tulong sa ating gobyerno natin.

Pfc. Samuel C. Garay, Jr. audio message:

I am Pfc. Samuel C. Garay, Jr., 901760, Infantry Philippine Army, 39IB-10ID, Charlie Company and assigned at Sitio Lam Alis, Brgy. Datal Blao, Colombio, Sultan Kudarat.
We became POWs on February 2, 2017, at around 7:00 I think. We left our detachment and were going to our battalion in Makilala. On the way, we were captured by the NPA in Crossing Bantangan and until now, February 13, we are still in their custody.
I am appealing to our 39IB battalion commander, sir, we hope that you will help us and that there will be no operation for our safety. And I am also appealing to our President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to help us return to our families.
And to my family and my wife, do not worry about our situation because we are okay here. Do not worry because we are being treated lenietly. They do not harm us or anything. That’s all and don’t worry about us here. That’s all, thank you.
Ako si Pfc. Samuel C. Garay, Jr., 901760, Infantry Philippine Army, 39IB-10ID, Charlie Company ug na-assign sa Sitio Lam Alis, Brgy. Datal Blao, Colombio, Sultan Kudarat.
Na-POW mi kaniadtong February 2, 2017, sa oras nga mga alas-7 siguro to. Nagbaba mi sa among detachment padulong sa among battalion sa Makilala. Sa among pagbiyahe, nadakpan mi sa NPA sa dalan sa banda sa Crossing Bantangan ug hangtud karon February 13, nag-uban gihapon mi nga nadakpan nila.
Ug nanawagan sa among battalion commander sa 39IB, sir, hinaot unta tabangan mi nimo ug walay operation nga mahitabo para sa among kaayohan. Ug nanawagan pud ko sa atong presidente nga si Pres. Rodrigo Roa Duterte nga tabangan na unta mi niya nga makauli mi sa among pamilya.
Ug sa akong pamilya ug sa akong asawa, ayaw mo og kabalaka sa among kahimtang karon kay okay lang mi diri. Ayaw mog kabalaka kay maayo ang ilang pagtrato sa amoa. Wala mi nila gipasakitan o giunsa pa man. Kato lang ug ayaw mog kabalaka nga okay lang mi diria. Mao lang to, daghang salamat.

NDF/NPA: Small miners in Sarog massacred by the 29th IBPA and SAF-PNP

NPA propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Website (Feb 14): Small miners in Sarog massacred by the 29th IBPA and SAF-PNP  

February 14, 2017

The NPA in Front 16 strongly renounce the statements made by Lt. Col. Glenn Joy, commanding officer of the 29th IBPA and its spokesperson Capt. Angelo Gomez, that they encountered and were fired upon by Red fighters of Front 16 in the mountain area of Sarog, Barangay San Isidro, Santiago, Agusan del Norte last February 11, 2017. One soldier and 2 civilians were reported killed while another 2 were wounded.

There was no encounter between the New People’s Army (NPA) and 29th IBPA troops of the AFP because no member of the NPA in North Eastern Mindanao Region (NEMR) was in Sarog during that time. In the area were armed paramilitaries controlled by the 29th IB such as Alan Lagangga and those they no longer can control who are former CAFGU and LUPACA members who have mining tunnels. These armed paramilitaries are assets of and accompany 29th IBPA and PNP, and plotted with them in ransacking mine tunnels of high grade gold.

According to the investigation of Front 16-NEMR on the incident, last February 11, 2017 at around 4:30 in the morning, armed men with their faces covered and who were with the 29th IB and SAF-PNP troops conducting joint operations in the area, fired upon the small miners in the mountains of Sarog. Eventhough the small miners begged and shouted that they were civilians, the armed men continued to shoot at them. Killed were two civilians Jerson Beto ,17 years old and Pepito Tiambong, 40 years old, residents of Brgy. Guinoyoran, Santiago, Agusan del Norte. Another seven were wounded, Samuel Jaum, 40 years old; Orly Cuyo, 38 years old; Oca Sandag, 40 years old and another 4 whose names are still unknown.

Two enemy columns were shooting at each other or were in a crossfire. Killed and wounded in the crossfire were Msgt. Marlon Balais who was with one column of the 29th IBPA, and another who was in the other column maneuvering in the upper portion of the mountain. Also wounded were portal guards Oka Sandag, a CAFGU of Brgy. Pangaylan, Santiago and two member of the CVO in Purok 5, Brgy. San Isidro, of Santiago, AN.

A day before the massacre, intelligence assets of the 29th IB Danny Munoz, Mat Manlapas, Jun Perez and Tata Villegas, attempted to enter the tunnels. The miners refused and the four left after threatening the miners that they will return. Before the shooting also happened, 29th IBPA troops detained two small miners who were nearby.

To conceal their killing of civilians and because a soldier, CAFGU and CVO members were also killed, Lt. Col. Glenn Joy and Capt. Angelo Gomez of the 29th IBPA immediately proclaimed that their troops were fired upon by NPA members even though there were civilians nearby. Capt. Angelo Gomez even shamelessly said that the action of the Red fighters violated the CARHRIHL.

But the people know the true character of the 29th IBPA under the 401st Brigade of the AFP. They are notorious for committing brutal crimes and lying to cover their deplorable actions. In May 2016 its troops ambushed and killed Datu Arnel sa Kalatinga; July 2016 they shoot and killed Jun-Jun Hudyawon near a tunnel in Manhopaw; Abril 27, 2014 they fired upon the Sarmiento family while they were walking in Kamingawan killing Rusen L. Sarmiento; November 2015, they shoot and killed Ricardo Tuazon, a farmer of Brgy. Pianing; November 2015 they killed and half buried Jerry Sagsag, a Lumad from Kotom, Alegria; November 2015, they arrested and mauled 5 farmers from Henimbangan of which a Jerry Banao, civilian from Dahon-dahonan, remains in prison; and many others. All these were blamed by the 29th IBPA to the NPA.

The NPA-Front 16 calls on the people not to be silent about the criminal acts of the 29th IB and SAF. These abuses should be exposed and opposed. We also call on the Duterte government, the provincial and local government units of Agusan Del Norte and the municipality of Santiago, to investigate such brutal killings to prove what have been committed and to give justice to the victims.

Withdraw and punish the criminal 29th IB and SAF in Agusan Del Norte!

Justice for all the victims of the killing!

Long live the people’s democratic revolution!

 Love live the NPA!

Ka Oto
Spokesperson, Front 16

CPP/NPA: Ikondena ang dispersal at pamamaril sa mga magsasaka sa Hacienda Montecarba!

New People's Army propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Feb 15): Ikondena ang dispersal at pamamaril sa mga magsasaka sa Hacienda Montecarba! (Condemn the dispersal and shooting of farmers in Hacienda Montecarba!)

Julian Paisano
Political Department
Regional Operations Command
New People's Army

15 February 2017
Ang NPA-Panay sa ilalim ng Coronacion Chiva Waling-Waling Command ay mahigpit at mariing kumukondena sa dispersal at pamamaril sa mga mahihirap na magsasaka sa Hacienda Montecarba (Tan Estate), sa Brgy. Culilang, President Roxas, Capiz noong Pebrero 11, 2017.

Ang mga magsasaka ay di-armadong gumigiit ng kanilang karapatan sa pag-aari ng lupa batay na rin sa batas ng reaksyunaryong gubyerno bilang sila ay mga benepisyaryo at humahawak ng CLOA noon pang 1997. Umaabot sa mga 60 silang mga benepisyaryo na naglulunsad ng kampuhan sa asyenda mulang Pebrero 5, upang igiit ang kanilang karapatan sa lupa.

Ngunit sila’y inatake at pinagbabaril ng mga goons ng asyenderong si Nemencio Tan. Sa panimulang mga impormasyon, sina Fernando Bacanto, Jun Bacanto, Leopoldo Lachica ang mga nasangkot sa dispesal at pamamaril sa mga walang kalaban-labang mga magsasaka. Kaagad na namatay si Orlando Eslana, kritikal sa ospital si Melinda Arroyo Eslana, at may apat pang mga sugatan na sina Ana Bocala, Adel Vergara, Lida Amo, at Rita Bocala. Ang mga pulis sa munisipalidad ng Pres. Roxas na nandoon sa malapit lang upang diumano’y magbantay ay walang nagawang aksyon upang ipagtanggol ang mga magsasaka. Ito’y isang malinaw na pagpapakita nitong mga pulis na sila’y para sa interes ng panginoong maylupang si Tan.

Kami ay nakikiramay sa lungkot at paghihirap ng mga biktima at sa kanilang mga pamilya sa ganitong walang budhi na paglabag sa karapatan ng mga magsasakang makapag-aari kahit katiting man lang na parsela ng lupa para sa kabuhayan ng gutom nilang mga anak at pamilya.

Batid namin kung gaano kabigat ang ganitong inhustisya laban sa mga magsasaka. Ito’y dahil kami sa NPA, karamihan ay mga magsasaka rin na biktima ng kawalang-hustisya at sa ngayo’y humahawak ng armas upang armadong ipakipaglaban ang paglutas sa problema sa lupa. Tungkulin naming ipakipaglaban ang interes ng uring magsasaka, ipagtanggol sila, at magbigay ng rebolusyonaryong hustisya.

Isang buhay na aral para sa mga magsasaka na ang pakikibaka sa lupa laban sa mga despotikong panginoong maylupa kagaya ni Tan ay nangangailangan ng mahigpit na pagkawing sa rebolusyonaryong armadong pakikibaka ng sambayanan. Hindi magpakailan man kusang-loob na ibigay ng mga panginoong maylupa ang kinamkam nilang mga lupain at hindi rin sila mag-aalinlangang kumitil ng buhay sa mga nakikibakang mga magsasaka dahil suportado sila ng mga burukrata, mapaniil na mga batas, at ng armadong pwersa ng reaksyunaryong estado.

Ang pangyayaring ito sa Culilang sana’y hindi maging isang banta upang matakot at umatras ang mga magsasaka at ang inyong kilusang magsasaka para sa lupa at katarungang panlipunan. Kundi’y sa halip, ito’y magiging isang tanglaw sa pag-uunawa sa makauring pakikibaka at sa kabuluhan ng ibayong pagpapalawak at pagkokonsolida sa inyong hanay upang maabot ang sapat na lakas laban sa uring mapagsamantala’t mapang-api. Makatarungan ang inyong ipinaglalaban, at dapat lang mabigyan ng hustisya ang ganitong pang-aapi.

Hustisya para sa mga magsasaka!