Sunday, June 25, 2017

New People's Army (NPA) IED Recovered in Sultan Kudarat province

Posted to the 33rd Infantry "Makabayan" Battalion Facebook page (Jun 23) New People's Army (NPA) IED Recovered in Sultan Kudarat province

Troops of A/33IB led by 1Lt Austin John Jamora recovered an improvised bomb that was planted by NPA terrorist elements near a CAFGU detachment in Kuden village, SNA town, Sultan Kudarat.

The communists are employing terrorist tactics against government troops. Popular support on the CPP-NPA-NDF has dwindled due to its abusive policies. (Photo by A/33IB)

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Soldiers in Marawi also fight battle over the Internet

Posted to the Team Tabak (1st Infantry Division) Website (Jun 23): Soldiers in Marawi also fight battle over the Internet

While the conflict in Marawi City is ongoing where government troops engage the Maute terrorist group in fierce firefights, soldiers are also fighting another battle over the Internet.

When the crisis in Marawi broke out on May 23, 2017, the Philippine Army’s 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division was incidentally conducting a series of trainings on Digital Media Capability Enhancement. The participating personnel in the said training from various units all over the Division eventually became the core of Task Force Marawi’s social media monitoring team.

“This is part of the Division’s digital media initiatives to equip our personnel not only for actual combat operations but also enhance our digital capability in facing another kind of battle using Internet technologies for disseminating information online and bring the Division to the community it serves,” said Brig. Gen. Rolly Bautista, Commander of the 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division and Task Force Marawi.

According to Marlon Magtira, digital media training facilitator, positive sentiments on the military are overwhelming while there are negative and fake information posted on social media networks.
“The enemy and their supporters are actively utilizing online digital media to spread false information about the situation in Marawi City. But our team is on the look-out to engage and provide counter measures and prevent the enemy of sowing fear and terror,” Brig. Gen. Bautista said.

Troops discover Maute tunnels

From the Philippine Star (Jun 24): Troops discover Maute tunnels

Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. yesterday said troops have successfully breached the remaining defensive positions and discovered the tunnels used by the gunmen as bunker and bomb shelters. Roel Pareño/File

Government troops continued beating back the Islamic State-inspired Maute militants and uncovered two tunnels described as among the insurgents’ last defensive positions in Marawi City.

Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. yesterday said troops have successfully breached the remaining defensive positions and discovered the tunnels used by the gunmen as bunker and bomb shelters.

Galvez said the tunnels were later used by the Maute extremists to dump the bodies of their dead comrades.

“There (was this) stench because of the dead bodies… dumped in the tunnels,” he said.

Galvez said the discovery of the tunnels is an indication that the gunmen are getting desperate and their fight is coming to an end.

“Their tipping point is nearing,” he said.

With bombproof tunnels, anti-tank weapons hidden in mosques, human shields and familiarity with the terrain, the Maute gunmen are proving a far tougher opponent than the military had expected.

The roughly 10 percent of Marawi held by the militants has many tunnels and basements that can withstand 500-pound (227-kilo) bombs, military spokesman Lt. Colonel Jo-Ar Herrera said earlier.

He said even mosques in the city have tunnels used by the militants to escape bombing runs as well as to store high-powered weapons.

The military air strikes have spared mosques and Islamic schools known as madrassas, a limitation exploited by the militants.

Residents had built reinforced bunkers and tunnels underneath their houses after a 1970 Muslim uprising led to large parts of the city being razed.

As the fighting in Marawi entered its fifth week, the Maute numbers continued to dwindle against the military’s superior firepower.

A month ago, about 500 gunmen led by brothers Omar and Abdullah Maute, along with several foreign fighters, stormed into Marawi City.

The fighting in Marawi forced President Duterte to place the entire Mindanao under martial law.

Troops since then have killed about 280 gunmen, recovered nearly 300 assault firearms and regained control of 85 buildings. Many of the high-rise buildings were used as sniper posts to slow down the advance of government forces, the military said.

At least 69 soldiers and policemen and 26 civilians have also perished in the fighting.

Of the 19 out of 96 villages across the lakeside city of 200,000 people that the black flag-waving militants occupied, only four villages remain under their control, according to Armed Forces chief Gen. Eduardo Año.

“They are constricted in a very small area. They’re pinned down,” Año said.

He said three boatloads of gunmen who tried to join the Maute militants were blasted by navy gunboats three days ago in Lanao Lake, which borders Marawi.

The gunmen may have either been militants repositioning from nearby areas or rebel reinforcements from elsewhere, he said.

Galvez added the militants were resorting to using their civilian hostages as “dummy” fighters.

“The terrorists are forcing to arm their hostages to make it appear they still have the numbers and at the same time confuse the soldiers in engaging the terrorists,” Galvez said.

Galvez gave assurance the troops have been trained to discriminate and distinguish their targets.

Año said the battle in Marawi was taking longer than usual because the militants were using civilians as human shields and had no qualms destroying an entire city and killing anyone in their path.

“We can just bomb them away or use napalm bomb to burn everything, but then, we will not be any different from them if we do that,” he said.

Opposition lawmaker Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman decried the “mounting deaths and destruction in Marawi City,” which he said are the result of President Duterte’s declaration of martial law and suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.

“Thirty days of martial law in Marawi City and the rest of Mindanao have aggravated the situation in Marawi City to inordinately horrific and miserable proportions,” Lagman said.

“All of this horror and misery after the declaration of martial law could have been avoided if the President did not precipitately and unwarrantedly declare martial law and the suspend the writ which gave the armed forces and police authorities the unnecessary impetus to implement military rule with disastrous consequences,” he said.

Lagman said the rising number of casualties, extensive damage to private properties and displacement of civilians “were the results of the excessive military offensive through airstrikes and land assaults.”

CPP/Ang Bayan: Peace talks to continue in August or September

Propaganda article from the English edition of Ang Bayan posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Jun 21): Peace talks to continue in August or September

THE FAILED fifth round of peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) will resume in August or September, according to the NDFP peace panel. This came after Sec. Silvestre Bello III’ positive response to the NDFP’s previous offer for the New People’s Army (NPA) in Mindanao to refrain from offensive actions as a measure of goodwill to salvage the talks.

The NDFP offered the said measure after the GRP withdrew from the fifth round in the series of talks on June 2. The New People’s Army will implement the recommendation as soon as the conditions warrant this. Among these conditions are the immediate withdrawal of Duterte’s all-out war which it has been carrying out against the revolutionary movement since February and the AFPs desistance from skirmishes with the NPA. Likewise, the NDFP clarified that no ceasefire exists at present, within and outside Mindanao.

This clarification was issued after the Department of National Defense, the regime’s spokesperson and some senators criticized the NPA’s raid on a police station in Iloilo and other NPA military actions.

The NPA and the whole revolutionary movement note the declarations of the DND that AFP operations to pursue the NPA will continue in spite of the GRP peace panel’s declaration.

[Ang Bayan is the official newspaper of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Ang Bayan is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Hiligaynon, Waray and English. Download Ang Bayan from the Philippine Revolution Web Central at  Ang Bayan is published fortnightly by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

CPP/Ang Bayan: Tribute to Bal Pingu­e

Propaganda article from the English edition of Ang Bayan posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Jun 21): Tribute to Bal Pingu­e

THE NATIONAL Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) renders full honors to Baltazar Bal Pinguel, the firebrand of the First Quarter Storm!

Ka Bal served the people through the national democratic movement as best as he could, in hard struggle and self-sacrifice.

Hailing from a poor family in Samar, he became an activist while studying Political Science at the University of the Philippines in Diliman. He later joined Kabataang Makabayan (KM) and was its designated spokesperson because of his exceptional oratorical skills. He led demonstrators to the US Embassy or Malacañang where the demonstrators often ended up clashing with anti-riot policemen and Metrocom troopers.

When martial law was declared, he was one of hundreds of activists who went underground or joined the armed struggle in the countryside.

Ka Bal was first assigned to do guerrilla zone building in Southern Tagalog. He was later arrested, tortured and imprisoned at Camp Vicente Lim in Laguna. Shortly after, he took part in a daring escape and rejoined the revolutionary mainstream.

In 1974, he was assigned to Samar where he served as the political officer of one of the first NPA guerrilla units, and became a member of the first District Committee in the island. By the end of the 1970s, Samar had the distinction of leading the way in advancing the armed struggle against the US-Marcos dictatorship nationwide.

Arrested again in 1980 in Cebu City, he was detained for five years at Camp Bagong Diwa before being released in 1985. Upon release, he helped found the Partido ng Bayan. In 1989, suspected military agents attempted to abduct him, so he sought political asylum in the US in 1992. There, he became involved in various justice and peace campaigns as program director at the American Friends Service Committee, and as one of the leaders of United for Peace and Justice, a broad US-based coalition against the American invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ka Bal continued to serve the national democratic movement in various capacities. An adviser to BAYAN-USA, he last joined his fellow activists in a rally in front of the Philippine consulate in New York City to protest the dictator Marcos burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Ka Bal’s untimely death cannot erase his legacy as a fiery agitator and propagandist who scorched the oppressors and exploiters and enlightened and enlivened the masses. Ka Bal passed away on June 10.

[Ang Bayan is the official newspaper of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Ang Bayan is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Hiligaynon, Waray and English. Download Ang Bayan from the Philippine Revolution Web Central at  Ang Bayan is published fortnightly by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

CPP/Ang Bayan: Groups push dismantle-hacienda movement

Propaganda article from the English edition of Ang Bayan posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Jun 21): Groups push dismantle-hacienda movement

PEASANT ORGANIZATIONS and their supporters launched coordinated mass actions across the country on June 9-14 to call for the dismantling of haciendas.

Peasants in the towns of Toboso and Manapla in Negros Occidental staged simultaneous march-rallies on June 14 to expose the situation of sugar workers, especially with the approaching Tiempo Muerto or non-milling season in the hacienda. Led by the National Federation of Sugar Workers, Amihan and Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), the pro-test actions also condemned the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

Prior to this, the UMA launched a multisectoral caravan on June 9 from Manila to Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac to support the farmers bungkalan in the area. The next day, they linked arms to form a human chain against militarization and to prevent the hacienda’s guards from approaching the bungkalan.

Likewise, on June 9, the KMP carried out a march-rally in San Francisco, Agusan del Sur against martial law and land monopoly and called for agrarian reform.

That same day, 200 peasants led by the ECJ Farmers and Farmworkers Alliance in Negros (EFFWAN) started their campout in front of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) office in Bacolod City.

They called for the cancellation of the corporative scheme and joint venture agreements with Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. These agreements with Cojuangco tied down 5,030 hectares in 11 haciendas which should have been distributed to the tenants.

In the morning of June 8, peasants from towns near the Kapdula Land gathered in time for the DAR Cavite’s and Region 4A’s inspection of Kapdula Land. Farmers from E.M. Ramos Lands and Aguinaldo Lands came to air their problems to the DAR.

On the other hand, fisherfolk from Navotas led by Pamalakaya held a protest action on June 7, World Environment Day. The fisher folk of the coastal community in Barangay Tangos, Navotas City opposed the ongoing construction of the Navotas Boulevard Business Park (NBBP), a 650-hectare reclamation project which will evict more than 20,000 fishers and urban settlers and destroy the marine life. The government has targeted more than 40,000 hectares of sea and lake shores for reclamation in the whole Philippines, 2/3 of which are in Manila Bay.

[Ang Bayan is the official newspaper of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Ang Bayan is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Hiligaynon, Waray and English. Download Ang Bayan from the Philippine Revolution Web Central at  Ang Bayan is published fortnightly by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines.]

CPP/Ang Bayan: No let-up in human rights violations

Propaganda article from the English edition of Ang Bayan posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Jun 21): No let-up in human rights violations

While the country is almost dumbstruck in the seemingly unfathomable state violence in Marawi City, the state continues to violate human rights in other parts of the nation.

Bicol. Troops of the 31st IB killed Captain Bernardo Lerio, 52, village chief of Barangay Patag, Irosin, Sorsogon, on June 14 inside his home. The military have been targeting Lerio since the Red fighters punished the late commander of the 22nd IB’s Mapaso Detachment in Brgy. Patag in 2012.

Around 7 p.m. on June 13, elements of the Military Intelligence Company (MICO 5) went berserk like monsters in an hour-long killing spree in three barangays of Gubat, Sorsogon. Onboard a motorcycle and armed with M16 rifles, they shot dead Councilman Pedro Esperida of Barangay Bentuco and Alfredo Espedido III of Barangay Naagtan inside the victims’ homes. After this, the troopers went to Barangay Bulacao to kill another resident whom they have long been harassing for allegedly being an NPA drop post or supporter, but they failed to see him. Civilians in the area recognized one of the gunmen because he was a resident of their area, Pfc. Jordan Enconado, a MICO 5 element involved in several cases of killing since Oplan Bantay Laya 1.

On June 9, at 9 p.m., elements of the 31st IB shot and killed Vicente Gaton, a civilian and resident of Brgy. Balocawe, Matnog, Sorsogon. The killing occurred at Brgy. Camcaman, in front of the old municipal hall while he was waiting for passengers in his tricycle. The victim had previously received threats from the military for having a relative who was a member of the NPA.

On June 13, forces of the 2nd IB gathered 19 civilians in Barangay Bacolod, Milagros, Masbate to display them as surrenderees. Photos of them were taken with military uniforms, combat boots, five M16 rifles and one calibre .45 pistol.

South and Far South Mindanao. On June 17, more or less 185 B’laan families (1,000 individuals) from Barangay Colonsabac, Matanao, Digos, Davao del Sur fled from their communities for fear of the 16th IB’s continued military operations. The military encamped in the center of the community and forbade the residents to go out of their houses without IDs. The residents are afraid to go to their fields lest they be accused of being NPA members.

On June 11, two civilians were wounded when troops of the 16th IB strafed their homes in Paradise Embac, Paquibato District, Davao City. One of the victims is still in critical condition as of this writing. The said battalion is notorious in Paquibato for mauling civilians, ransacking homes and other abuses.

In Davao del Norte, on June 20, the Alamara fired their guns inside the school compound of Salugpongan Ta Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center, Inc. (STTICLCI) while the students were holding classes. Four Alamara members forcibly entered the school in Sitio Nasilaban, Barangay Palma Gil, Talaingod last June 12, led by Rudel Buntalog, and supported by the AFP.

They interrogated Ramel Miguel, Alliance of Community Educators (ACE) president and teacher-in-charge for half an hour and accused him of being an NPA sympathizer. According to ACE reports, the Alamara and AFP are still in the community and continue terrorizing the Lumad.

Aside from the harassment, there are also reported cases of damage to property in Sitio Dulyan in the same village. Here the 60th IB controlled the water system and limited the use of the residents.

In a separate incident on June 5, in Sitio Butay, Barangay Palma Gil, the Alamara and 60th IB troops barred former STTICLCI student Arnold Dalin and Nasilaban PTCA Secretary Lorena Mandacawan who were on their way to help at the Brigada Eskwela of the said school. Prior to this, the paramilitary and the AFP warned the residents of Nasilaban and Talaingod not to participate in the Salugpongan’s Brigada Eskwela. The Brigada Eskwela is a clean-up activity commonly done in all schools nationwide before classes start.

Southern Tagalog. On June 7, Sigma Security Agency guards armed with armalites and automatic shotguns terrorized the farmers to stop them from weeding and cleaning the fields in Kapdula Land. According to Belinda Mojica, woman leader of Samahang Magbubukid sa Kapdula, the guards did not wear uniforms, they had no IDs and they covered their faces. The previous day, six guards tried to stop them from tilling the land. The 155-hectare land in Kapdula which the farmers started to till on May 30 was grabbed from them by the Enrile family’ JAKA in collaboration with the South Cavite Land Corp. Inc. and Sta. Lucia Realty and Devt. Corp some 20 years ago through the deceptive Joint Venture Agreement.

Northern Luzon. On June 6, operatives of the 7th Civilian Military Operations Battalion of the 7th ID in Candon City, Ilocos Sur summoned the owner of the Children’s Rehabilitation Center–Ilocos Program Office (CRC-IPO) and Ilocos Human Rights Alliance’s (IHRA) rented office. The military investigated her regarding the IHRA staff and told her that the office was being used as an NPA safe house. Barangay officials on their nightly patrols have noticed unfamiliar motorcycle-driving men roaming around the office at night till the early hours of the morning morning for the past several days. Men identifying themselves as AFP operatives have been visiting local officials of Brgy. San Isidro, Candon City since April to spy on the IHRA office. They were also told that the NPA is conducting large-scale NPA recruitment at the Ilocos Sur Polytechnic State College-Candon Campus. They were given a list of supposedly new NPA recruits, which included a member of Anakbayan Ilocos and the Solidarity of Peasants Against Exploitation. Another one on the list was Pidong Gabayan, a farmer of Salcedo, Ilocos who has been dead since 1987.

Likewise in Baguio City, two state agents have, since May, been tailing Rima Mangili-Libongen, indigenous leader of Kabenguetan Agkaykaysa nga Ilaban ken Aywanan ti Biag, Daga, ken Kinabaknang, or Benguet Unite to Defend and Nurture Life, Land, and Resources (Kaiabang) and the Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA)-Benguet Chapter. According to Kaiabang, this intends to scare Mangili-Libongen to make her discontinue with her activities. She is a member of the well-known music group Salidummay and Secretary General of Bileg ken Urnos dagiti Agtutubo nga Ybenguet (Buday, Strength and Unity of the Benguet Youth).

The men tailed her from her house in Itogon to Baguio City, and to the youth assembly she facilitated at Itogon in Bua, Tuding on May 30. On June 3, one of her stalkers grabbed her by the arm while she was at Shopper’s Lane in Baguio City, and only released her when other shoppers took notice. After this, she continued receiving threatening text messages even after she changed her phone number.

Metro Manila. Relatives of political prisoner Ferdinand Castillo complained about the state’s neglect of the conditions of prisoners in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City. The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) ascribed the prison’s already week-long loss of electric service to a fallen electrical post, but has not repaired this although other parts of the camp have already restored electricity. There are 25 political detainees in the prison who are facing health problems due to the extreme heat within, aside from the cramped conditions of the prison. Ferdinand Castillo is suffering from heart disease.

[Ang Bayan is the official newspaper of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Ang Bayan is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Hiligaynon, Waray and English. Download Ang Bayan from the Philippine Revolution Web Central at  Ang Bayan is published fortnightly by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

CPP/Ang Bayan: Under the Duterte regim’ wars//A year of destruction and killings

Propaganda article from the English edition of Ang Bayan posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Jun 21): Under the Duterte regim’ wars//A year of destruction and killings

On its first year in office, the Duterte regime inflicted unprecedented destruction to the lives, livelihood and properties of the Filipino people.

Since coming into power, GRP Pres. Rodrigo Duterte seemed to have fulfilled his promise to kill all his enemies. He persistently belittled human-human rights and other processes and laws. In front of police and military personnel, he frequently promised I will take care of you in defense of their crimes and violations.

The regime has relentlessly attacked the people’s rights through wars using bombs and other heavy weapons, in tandem with extrajudicial killings. There have been 9,000 drug-related killings, more than a thousand killed due to bombings and militarization and more than 300,000 forcibly evacuated due to military operations. Majority of the victims are national minorities, peasants, ordinary workers and the urban and rural poor.

Duterte wages his wars in partnership with the corrupt police, fascist military, paid propagandists and factotums in congress and senate. To justify these, he envelops the wars with a fog of disinformation which his propagandists and factotums systematically disseminate.

Police and the military closely monitor information and those offering counter-data or opinions are persecuted.

To win police and military support, he promises its officials and personnel the moon and the stars. He appointed no less than 27 high-ranking military and police officers to his cabinet and government. He persists in bribing them with higher salaries, new arms and added benefits, such as the P50-billion fund supposedly for military dependents. He offers unstinting sympathy to soldiers and police personnel killed in his wars while displaying indifference to lost civilian lives.

Duterte’s wars

Duterte had yet to fully assume his presidential post when his war against drugs took off.
Under this, he and the PNP terrorized urban and rural poor communities. At the height of this one-sided war, around 30 people were killed daily in police operations, most of whom allegedly fought back. According to data from the PNP Double Barrel Secretariat, up to 3,002 have been killed by police from July 1, 2016 to May 23, 2017. This does not include the 5,000 plus killings still under investigation or killings perpetrated by death squads run by or made up of police personnel. Rival drug lords in police custody are blatantly killed, such as the case of Tony Co who was stabbed in a riot inside the Bilibid prison and Mayor Rolando Espinosa who was shot by the police inside a jail in Albuera, Leyte.

Duterte jailed Sen. Leila de Lima, his drug war’s number one critic. He made public three lists naming politicians, judges and entrepreneurs he wanted cowed or persecuted. He insulted a UN official and kicked her out of the country when the latter attempted to investigate the killings. His political rivals filed a case of mass murder against him in the International Criminal Court last May.

Side by side with the war against drugs, the regime implemented the counter-revolutionary Oplan (operation plan) Kapayapaan, which Duterte used to balance out the peace negotiations he was conducting with the NDFP and Moro groups. He intensified this Oplan when the AFP declared an all-out war against the New People’s Army in February. This war worsened when he ordered the AFP to flatten the hills in response to resurgent NPA offensives.

Under Oplan Kapayapaan, up to 67 activists and members of progressive organizations were killed by state forces from July 2016 to June 2017. Most of them were Mindanao peasants.

Arrests of ordinary civilians and harassment of progressives are rampant. In Davao City alone, more than 300 were arbitrarily arrested when martial law was imposed.

Up to 39 political detainees, including 19 NDFP consultants, were freed for the peace negotiations. But up to 39 have also been illegally arrested on trumped-up criminal charges.

They include four NDFP consultants and a bishop. They join more than 400 other political prisoners who are still detained in various jails despite the regime’s obligation to free them all under the CARHRIHL.

Aside from CARHRIHL, the regime also violated its ceasefire agreement with the revolutionary movement. From August 2016 to February, the AFP took advantage of the NPA’s ceasefire to forward deploy troops in 500 barrios and conduct combat and intelligence operations within.

After the CPP and NPA terminated its unilateral ceasefire, the AFP intensified attacks against areas it considers as NPA territories. From March alone, no less than 27 bombing incidents by the AFP have been reported, mostly near or inside communities they consider as NPA bases. These have displaced 4,000 families and killed a civilian. This excludes AFP bombings in Moro civilian communities in Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat which pro-Maute groups supposedly occupied.

 When Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao this May, the Department of National Defense stated the NPA’s extortion activities as one of its reasons. Despite the DND and the GRP peace panel’s withdrawal of this statement, military forces remained in NPA areas. From May 23, skirmishes between NPA and AFP units continued in different parts of Mindanao. These include encounters in the provinces of Davao, Surigao, Agusan, Cotabato and Bukidnon. The AFP is also active in arrests and fake surrenders of individuals presented as NPA members. Troop deployment did not change even when the AFP was supposedly focused in Marawi. In some areas, they even boosted their presence.

In Marawi, extensive and severe destruction caused by AFP operations is indisputable. The frequency and severity of the bombings apparently aim to leave no structure standing as the AFP destroys the city’s infrastructures, including hospitals, schools, commercial buildings and houses. It has created a grave humanitarian crisis. (Read related article.)

The city’s economy is in tatters. More than half (60% in 2012) of the population live under the poverty line. Majority of them are in small enterprises (small stores, hollow block factories, construction and others). ARMM workers earn the lowest minimum wages (P255-P265) in the entire country. Before the AFP ground the city to dust, inflation was already high (4.5% in 2015, compared to 2.7% in Davao City and 4.1% average for the whole country). Prices further soared after martial law was declared.

Towns dependent on Marawi for their livelihoods are affected. The city serves as the commercial and trade hub for the entire Lanao del Sur. According to estimates by bureaucrats, it will take years and P30 billion to rehabilitate the city.

Even as his martial rule is yet to be concluded, Duterte has already warned that he will declare a second martial law which will be a copy of the Marcos dictatorship if the Supreme Court scraps his current declaration. The longer he stays in power, the clearer become his directions towards implementing more severe suppression campaigns. In the face of criticisms to his rule and his wars, he is more and more relying and toeing the line of the state’s fascist pillar and its imperialist master.

[Ang Bayan is the official newspaper of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Ang Bayan is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Hiligaynon, Waray and English. Download Ang Bayan from the Philippine Revolution Web Central at  Ang Bayan is published fortnightly by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines.]

CPP/Ang Bayan: The Moro people and martial law

Propaganda article from the English edition of Ang Bayan posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Jun 21): The Moro people and martial law

Almost one month has passed since GRP President Rodrigo Duterte imposed martial law in Mindanao but its direction and outcome is still unclear. Two of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) deadlines in their Marawi operations have lapsed, still they have failed to clear the city of armed men.

Duterte is now putting the blame on local politicians, as well as the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), for the ongoing battles between the AFP and armed groups entrenched in the city. He is unable to satisfactorily explain why instead of being defeated, armed resistance against the AFP is increasing.

Soon, the Moro people’s anger will erupt over the regime’s destruction of their city, the AFP soldiers disrespect and the desecration of their culture and rights. Marawi residents have repeatedly demanded a stop to the endless bombardments and indiscriminate firing by soldiers as these cause the worsening hardship and destruction of livelihood of hundreds of thousands of Marawi residents as well as those in the neighboring towns.

This has created an extensive humanitarian crisis in the whole Lanao del Sur. Up to more than 309,000 residents have evacuated from their communities. There are reports of 59 civilian deaths in evacuation centers including three children, while almost 21,000 have fallen ill.

Around 23,000 students have failed to enrol because their schools have been destroyed. More than 3,000 are still trapped inside Marawi and are experiencing extreme hunger. In the midst of battle, a young boy inside a mosque was killed by a stray bullet.

According to an investigation by the National Interfaith Humanitarian Mission last June 13-16, violations of the Moro people’s civil and democratic rights continue unabated. Mass arrests escalated. Men wearing black are suspected of being members of ISIS and are interrogated.

Duterte’s rape joke has brought fear. Soldiers constantly threaten that they will rape the women or take the pretty ones as their wives. The AFP likewise encamp inside homes and mosques. They fire their weapons without discrimination. Three stray bullets hit the evacuation center in Bubong, Lanao del Sur, where 300 families are staying.

Last June 15, Maranao leaders belonging to the Sultanate Leaders of Lanao and the Imams League called on the Duterte administration to stop the bombardments and declare a ceasefire in order to save many more lives and properties. They demand that the president heed the call of the civilians.

According to them, the Moro people will surely have nothing to return to if the war in Marawi drags out. They criticized Duterte’s apparent indifference to the plight of evacuees and instead blaming the victims as the culprits of the crisis.

More so, the leaders asserted that apart from terrorism, the war in Marawi has other causes which definitely could not be resolved by means of violence and martial law.

One aspect of the war in Marawi is rido or the conflict between clans disputing over politics or land. The Maute family is a powerful family who once ruled over the local politics in the town of Butig, Lanao del Sur. Impelled by its conflict with the Pansar family on issues of projects and land, the Mautes occupied Butig last December 2016. Subsequently, the Pansar family colluded with the AFP to suppress the Mautes. This prompted the AFP’s bombardment of Butig’s town center and farms, a matter infuriating not only the town’s residents, but also those in the adjacent towns. From hereon, the Maute brothers were able to gather support, and build a stronger force to counter their political rivals.

Last June 9, representatives from Makabayan and leaders of progressive organizations filed a case with the Supreme Court to abolish the martial law in Mindanao. The group asserted that the declaration violates the constitution because the claim that a rebellion exists in the whole of Mindanao cannot be substantiated. There is likewise no evidence to claim that the public’s security is endangered, and therefore the need to suspend the writ of habeas corpus is not necessary.

Using the war against terror pretext, the AFP crushed Marawi City without any regard to the damages this will bring to the lives and livelihood of the civilians. Bombs targeted homes of local politicians who are rivals of the AFP’s favored officials. The AFP hunted down and arrested rivals of incumbent Marawi officials and tagged them as Maute funders and drug lords. In Marawi City, Duterte is simultaneously waging his wars. War against the Moro

The reactionary state has a long and bloody history of suppression primarily aimed to defeat the Moro people’s struggle for secession and self-determination. A series of atrocious anti-Moro wars have been unleashed by fascist regimes from Marcos up to the present.

In 1970, the US-Marcos dictatorship made use of martial law in order to consolidate its rule over Mindanao. The dictatorship killed 200,000 Moros in a virtual genocidal war while hundreds of thousands of families were driven away from their communities. Three decades hence, the US-Estrada regime launched its total war against the Moro. In 2000, more than 50 battalions (more or less 70% of the AFP’s total force) were deployed in a full offensive to lay siege to five provinces, including Maguindanao, where the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s main camp, Camp Abubakar was located. For their part, the Arroyo and Aquino regimes unleashed the war on terror and ordered the AFP to spread violence and terror on Moro communities.

Amidst these wars, the Moro people’s unity strengthened in their demand for autonomy and self-determination. In 1972, the MNLF was formed. Thirteen Muslim tribes united to wage armed struggle against the Marcos dictatorship. From 1972-76, the MNLF carried on a fierce struggle which crushed 30% of the AFP’s forces. These struggles greatly contributed objectively to the development of the national democratic revolution.

Because of the continuing compromise of the MNLF leadership with the regimes of Marcos (Tripoli Agreement of 1976) and Ramos (Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development of 1996 which led to the formation of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao), other armed groups like the MILF took the initiative in leading the Moro people’s armed struggle. The MILF’s decision during the Arroyo regime to enter into a ceasefire, end its armed struggle and submit to an agreement for the Bangsamoro Basic Law which is governed by the authority of the GRP, has brought about the emergence of various Moro armed groups which represent different interests and have various numbers and spheres of control. Events in the recent years prove that as long as the reactionary state denies the Bangsamoro’s right to self-determination, the Moro people will build and wage their armed resistance.

Like the whole nation, the Moro people are not free. They are not free from oppression and exploitation by the imperialists and local ruling classes. While burdened by an exploitative economy, they further suffer national oppression and discrimination.

Through deceptive agreements, many of their leaders are constantly drawn to capitulation. Local Moro ruling classes are given minor concessions in order to effectively mislead and make passive the majority of the toiling Moro. Alongside this, foreign capitalists and local exploitative classes extensively arrogate and plunder the Moro people’s resources and ancestral lands.

[Ang Bayan is the official newspaper of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Ang Bayan is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Hiligaynon, Waray and English. Download Ang Bayan from the Philippine Revolution Web Central at  Ang Bayan is published fortnightly by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

CPP/Ang Bayan: NPA-Panay seizes 11 M16s

Propaganda article from the English edition of Ang Bayan posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Jun 21): NPA-Panay seizes 11 M16s

A UNIT of the New Peoples Army (NPA)-Southern Panay (Napoleon Tumagtang Command) successfully overran the municipal police station of Maasin, Iloilo, at 10:30 am on June 18. After a 20-minute operation where no shots were fired, the NPA seized 11 M16 rifles, four pistols, ammunition and VHF radios. The Red fighters safely withdrew after taking the firearms. Before retreating, they distributed leaflets explaining the purpose of the raid.

According to Ka Julio Montana, spokesperson of NPA-Panay (Coronacion Chiva Waling-Waling Command), the detachment was disarmed because its policemen have long been extorting money from small peddlers in the town center. They also tolerate the proliferation of illegal drugs and gambling.

The next day, panicky operating troops of the 61st IB and Alsa Masa fired at each other in Lampaya, Leon, Iloilo. Romeo Cabalong, a member of Alsa Masa and barangay tanod in the place, was wounded in the misencounter.

In Compostela Valley, Red fighters ambushed a 71st IB unit in New Barili, Maco. Two soldiers were killed and four were wounded. This was the same military force that attacked an NPA unit a few hours before.

A unit of the Apolonio Mendoza Command successfully launched an ambush in Barangay Pala-Ajos, Catanauan, Quezon on June 18, around 10:30 p.m. They used a command-detonated explosive to blast a 6×6 truck with at least 24 soldiers of the 85th IB. Military officials claimed two casualties but according to residents in the area, they saw 10 wounded and one dead.

The soldiers fired indiscriminately for more than 15 minutes even as the Red fighters had already withdrawn. Meanwhile, the 1st Pulang Bagani Battalion attacked troops of the 16th IB in Barangay Paradise Embac on June 11 where nine soldiers were killed and six were wounded.

On June 9, a unit of the 6th Pulang Bagani Company and Guerrilla Front 18 captured SPO2 George Canete Rupinta, Badge No. 080699, of Barangay Tagugpo, Lupon, Davao Oriental. Red fighters confiscated his 9 mm pistol issue. That same day, the NPA-North Central Mindanao Region (Western Agusan del Norte-Agusan del Sur Sub-Regional Command) ambushed troops of the 26th IB near the latter’s patrol base in Barangay Comota, La Paz, Agusan Del Sur around 8 a.m. One soldier was killed. A newly issued R4 rifle was taken from him.

On June 7, a unit of the NPA-Jennifer Cariño Command punished the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company, a foreign mining company in Cabatuan, Barangay Colalo, Mang-kayan, Benguet. They destroyed the company’s blasting equipment and tailings dam which pollutes the water system in the area. The Red fighters also destroyed a barangay police outpost.

[Ang Bayan is the official newspaper of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Ang Bayan is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Hiligaynon, Waray and English. Download Ang Bayan from the Philippine Revolution Web Central at  Ang Bayan is published fortnightly by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines.]

CPP: On OPAPP statement concerning NPA military actions

Propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Jun 25): On OPAPP statement concerning NPA military actions

Information Bureau
Communist Party of the Philippines

25 June 2017

Since yesterday, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza and the Malacañang spokesperson have issued separate statements impugning the revolutionary forces’ seriousness to talk peace citing military actions of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Mindanao and elsewhere which they claim “disrupts the conducive and enabling environment” for peace talks. It denigrates as well the NDFP Negotiating Panel and questions its representation of the revolutionary forces.

Prejudicial question

 In view of these Malacañang statements since yesterday, the prejudicial question must be put forward and asked of the GRP’s mouthpieces: has GRP Pres. Duterte ordered the AFP to refrain from carrying out offensives against the NPA since the June 18 statement of GRP Negotiating Panel Chief Silvestre Bello III declaring “not undertaking offensive operations” against the NPA?
If Malacañang cannot show such specific orders by Duterte, then its spokesperson must better refrain from issuing statements which castigates the NPA for carrying out actions against the AFP’s all-out war.

 The GRP should remember that the recommendation of the NDF for the CPP to order the NPA to refrain from carrying out offensives in Mindanao rests on the critical precondition that the AFP will likewise refrain as well from attacking the NPA and the people in the revolutionary base areas in Mindanao. Presently, such conditions do not exist concretely.

Unabated all-out war

 More than a week after Bello’s statement, the people have not seen nor heard of a Duterte order “not to undertake offensives” against the NPA. On the contrary, his defense secretary and military commanders have repeatedly declared that the AFP will conduct “pursuit” operations against the NPA. Duterte has neither rescinded his government’s “all-out war” policy and “flatten the hills” command against the NPA. The AFP’s war of suppression in Mindanao has worsened since the imposition of martial law more than a month ago.

 Before claiming the right to castigate the NPA, the GRP must first account for all its unabated armed offensives and aerial bombardments across the country. These offensives have resulted in at least eight NPA casualties over the past ten days in Mindanao alone. Paramilitaries have been employed as well to attack the schools run by Lumad organizations.

Human rights abuses continue to worsen and have become more intense compared to the period prior to martial law. The number of extrajudicial killings continues to go up. At least five people have been killed by state forces in Southern Mindanao alone since martial law was declared. In addition to close to 310,000 people who have been forced to evacuate in Marawi City and nearby towns, thousands more in North Cotabato, Bukidnon, Davao del Sur and elsewhere are now in evacuation centers after AFP aerial bombardment targeting their communities and farms.

In Mindanao, the AFP has deployed several scores of columns to wage relentless offensives in Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley, Davao del Sur, Davao City, North Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, Bukidnon, Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte and other provinces.

 Over the past few weeks, there have also been AFP offensives and attacks against civilians in Abra, Kalinga, Isabela, Quirino, Camarines Norte, Sorsogon, Albay, Northern Samar, Leyte, Iloilo, Capiz, Negros Occidental and elsewhere.

The conditions under Duterte’s all-out war compel the NPA to carry-out counter-actions to defend itself and the people. It needs to launch military actions in the widest possible area to dissipate the offensives of the AFP and blunt its attacks against the people.

CPP looks forward to peace talks

The CPP and the revolutionary forces have repeatedly and unequivocally declared its support for the NDFP-GRP peace negotiations. The NDFP Negotiating Panel with its Chief Fidel Agcaoili and NDFP Chief Political Consultant Jose Ma. Sison, is fully recognized by the entire CPP and NPA.

Like the GRP panel makes recommendation to Duterte, so does the NDFP Negotiating Panel make recommendations to the NDFP National Council, of which the CPP is part of, as well as to the CPP Central Committee which commands the NPA. The recommendations of the NDFP carry great weight in the decisions of the CPP and NDFP leadership.
The Party looks forward to continuation of the 5th round of NDFP-GRP peace talks in August or September. It anticipates preparations to be conducted by both sides in the interim.

The revolutionary forces continue to regard peace negotiations as an opportunity to resolve through dialogue the fundamental socio-economic issues at the root of the armed conflict, even as the people are compelled to wage ever greater resistance against the oppression, exploitation and armed suppression by the reactionary state.

The NDFP-GRP peace talks are at a historic juncture as the issues of socio-economic reforms are on the table.

 Will the Duterte regime share the same determination with the NDFP to accelerate negotiations on CASER? Or will he merely continue the old US/AFP counterinsurgency policy of using peace negotiations as a tool for pacification and cooptation by insisting that the NPA silence its guns while the AFP wages all-out war and demanding the NDFP to prematurely enter into a bilateral ceasefire even before completing the agenda on socio-economic reforms and political and constitutional reforms?

Gov’t, MILF to strengthen partnership

From the Daily Tribune (Jun 25): Gov’t, MILF to strengthen partnership

The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have vowed to continue to strengthen their partnership on the ground beyond the Peace Corridor by helping to rebuild Marawi City.

Assistant Secretary Dickson Hermoso, the government’s focal person for the Peace Corridors, said the partnership would continue. Outside of the Marawi crisis, Hermoso said the MILF already showed it is continuously working with government.

He cited the incident two days ago in Pigcawayan, North Cotabato where the government and MILF ceasefire mechanisms worked together in helping the military contain the situation.

Hermoso said the MILF blocked Malagakit and Simsiman areas from the incursion of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF). These two barangays are known MILF communities.

“That is why, if you noticed, the BIFF started attacking Barangay Malagakit at 5:30 in the morning and it ended at 5:30 in the afternoon because of the help of the MILF,” Hermoso said.

“The MILF now is really a partner for peace and development in Mindanao,” Hermoso told reporters during the Mindanao Hour on Friday at Lispher Inn, Davao City. He even vouched for the sincerity of the MILF and their volunteerism, their spirit to help government in the peace corridor.

The peace corridor was established following the Marawi siege. It is manned by a composite government and MILF teams providing a safe passage of humanitarian aid and civilian protection activities straddling from Malabang, Lanao del Sur to Marawi City. This includes the areas around Lake Lanao.

Hermoso said there are 50 members of the MILF, all from Maranao tribe. They were organized into five teams, who bravely go inside the ground zero in Marawi to retrieve trapped civilians. “And, they did good,” he added.

Knowing the risk is high, Hermoso said the MILF team still took the challenge and volunteered to go into ground zero.

“The only thing is they’re also Maranaos. They know what is happening inside the ground zero. They equally share the burden of those people being trapped and still continuing up to this moment.”

So far, the government and MILF peacekeepers were able to retrieve and recover 277 trapped civilians, wounded persons, children, women, elderly and those that are really in need of this humanitarian effort.

“We coordinated this with the emissaries to connect us to the Maute and we bridged this to the government leadership in Marawi City for us to be given a respite of taking out or retrieving the trapped civilians,” Hermoso stressed.

Hermoso said they are all aware that there are more civilians need to be retrieved especially the wounded, children and elderly.

He also underscored the significance of opening the peace corridor for trapped civilians in the lake.
“For all we know, we thought that the IDPs of Marawi City are just in Iligan but there are so many that evacuated to the Lake, to the towns along the Lake Lanao. There are so many,” he said. 

Reds want Duterte assurance before halting attacks

From the Daily Tribune (Jun 26): Reds want Duterte assurance before halting attacks

President Rodrigo Duterte should order state security forces to halt operations against rebels if the government wants the New People’s Army (NPA) to minimize its offensives in Mindanao, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) yesterday said.

In a statement, the communists took exception at Malacañang’s recent pronouncement coursed through Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella that they are “disturbed” by the disconnect between the movement’s leaders based in Europe and the guerrilla forces on the ground.

The CPP said the National Democratic Front’s (NDF) recommendation for the NPA to avoid attacks against the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) comes along with the demand for the government to suspend its pursuit operations against the rebels.

“The GRP (Philippine government) should remember that the recommendation of the NDF for the CPP to order the NPA to refrain from carrying out offensives in Mindanao rests on the critical precondition that the AFP will likewise refrain as well from attacking the NPA and the people in the revolutionary base areas in Mindanao,” the CPP said.

The rebels also questioned the effect of GRP chief negotiator to the NDF and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello’s statement last week that it recommends the halt of operations targeting the rebels.

“Until it’s an order inked by President Duterte,” the CPP stressed the “prevention of hostilities is nothing or is of no effect at all.”

“If Malacañang cannot show such specific orders by Duterte, then its spokesperson must better refrain from issuing statements which castigate the NPA for carrying out actions against the AFP’s all-out war,” it added.

Last week, around 50 to 70 NPA rebels raided a municipal police station of Maasin in Iloilo, the same day the Philippine government reciprocated NDF’s offer.

Abella the other day said the government is beginning to be impatient with the double-speak that the communists have been doing.

While their the Netherlands-based leaders suggest to minimize offensives against state security forces, guerrilla fighters in the hinterlands have launched series of attacks particularly in Iloilo and in various parts of Mindanao.

NPA attacks in Mindanao, Abella said, have “further fueled the public’s doubts on whether it is still worthwhile to continue the peace negotiations with them,” adding the Palace is “disturbed” by the said attacks.

“We are disturbed by the recent NPA attacks considering that their leaders in Europe issued a statement condemning the incident in Marawi, even offering to refrain from undertaking offensive operations in Mindanao to enable our government forces to deal with focus on the rebellion still happening,” Abella said.

“These NPA attacks disrupt the conducive and enabling environment indispensable in peace making and peace building,” he added.

Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza, for his part, lamented the incident, saying it should not affect the hopes of a bilateral ceasefire between the two parties.

“It is disheartening to note that such attacks provide a negative impact in our mutual commitment with the NDF to provide that enabling environment conducive to the continuation of peace negotiations with them,” Dureza said in a statement.

“The impact is not just on the peace negotiations, it illustrates the tragedy of the insurgency.

Hopefully, the attack is just part of the birthpains of the agreement to stop offensive military actions, even if it covers only Mindanao as of now. It is an argument for a nation-wide ceasefire,” he added.

Trillanes wants more troops recruited

From Malaya Business Insight (Jun 26): Trillanes wants more troops recruited

SEN. Antonio Trillanes IV is pushing for a massive recruitment of troops to bolster the Armed Forces in its drive against terrorism in Mindanao and other parts of the country.

Trillanes has filed a bill providing for an increase in the standing force of the AFP through the recruitment and special enlistment of Provisional Enlisted Personnel (PEP).

Under Senate Bill No. 1473, an additional 20,000 PEP will be recruited who shall only serve a tour of duty of 5 years. They will undergo the same training and receive the same salary as that of their equivalent Regular Enlisted Personnel.

After their tour of duty, in cognizance of their contribution, those who will not be reenlisted as regular EP will be entitled to training and educational benefits, and will be given priority in hiring in the Civil Service, particularly in the law enforcement services and related agencies.

“The situation in Mindanao, as well as other security threats, demands a larger force from our military. However, budgetary concerns continue to become a challenge in supporting the pension and retirement needs of the military retirees,” Trillanes said.

“I am pushing for this measure to allow the armed forces to increase and strengthen its standing force while providing a long-term solution to the looming military pension crisis. More importantly, it hopes to address our security needs at this time,” he said.

To resolve the budgetary concern brought about by the current pension system in the military, membership in the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) will be compulsory for the PEP and the PEP who will be absorbed later in the regular force, thereby creating a new and separate pension system for them to be managed by the GSIS. The current retirees and active personnel of the AFP will retain their old pension system.

US Navy helps in search for Bohol mayor’s body

From Northbound Philippines (Jun 22): US Navy helps in search for Bohol mayor’s body

Two remotely operated underwater vehicles or ROVs were reportedly launched by the United States Navy to help locate the remains of Bien Unido, Bohol Mayor Gisela Boniel on Wednesday.

ABS-CBN’s TV Patrol Central Visayas reported late Wednesday afternoon that a US Navy ship arrived at the waters where the search and retrieval operation was being conducted and deployed the two ROVs.

The search and retrieval team could not confirm of any assistance from the US servicemen, but the report said the deployment of the ROVs was in coordination with the Philippine Navy intended to search for the missing body of the slain mayor.

The US Navy is currently conducting joint maritime training exercises with the Philippine Navy here in the waters of Cebu.

An ROV is a tethered underwater mobile device which is highly maneuverable and operated by a crew aboard a host vessel, according to Wikepedia.

Meanwhile, a diver from Bien Unido was rescued by fellow members of the search and retrieval team when he was seen struggling to get back to the surface after losing oxygen.

Mel Quiao, one of the divers hired by the Bien Unido municipal government, was rushed to the Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving in Mandaue City where he was treated for decompression sickness.

The TV report said Quiao failed to inflate his buoyancy control device (BCD) jacket to normalize his ascent or resurfacing after he noticed that his oxygen tank was already empty.

Quiao was brought back by other divers to the surface and to the sea ambulance on standby where he was given first aid by members of the Emergency Rescue Unit Foundation on board.

Gov’t sends new ship to help in Marawi siege

From the Manila Bulletin (Jun 25): Gov’t sends new ship to help in Marawi siege

The government has sent a massive new ship to help troops battling extremists in Marawi City as well as to assist in rebuilding efforts afterwards.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said BRP Davao Del Sur, a strategic sealift vessel (SSV), would deliver military supplies and relief goods as well as treat injured troops during its mission.

BRP Davao Del Sur (Via BRP Davao Del Sur Facebook Page / Manila Bulletin)
“The Philippine Navy has deployed BRP Davao del Sur in Cotabato. BRP Davao del Sur will greatly assist in our military operations in quelling the rebellion in Marawi,” Abela said.

“Apart from delivering military supplies and relief goods, the vessel will be utilized as a back-up floating medical facility to treat the wounded,” he added.

Abella said Navy vessel is ready to provide the support required once the reconstruction, rehabilitation, and rebuilding of Marawi begins.

BRP Davao del Sur is the country’s second SSV that can serve as a military sealift and transport vessel. The ship, which arrived in the country from Indonesia last month, can also act as one-stop operations center at sea for quick deployments such humanitarian aid and disaster relief response.

The other SSV, BRP Tarlac, arrived in the country in June 2016. Both ships cost the government around P4 billion.

Philippines, US navies training exercise ends

From The Freeman (Jun 25): Philippines, US navies training exercise ends

Philippine Navy and United States Navy troops gather for the closing ceremony of ‘Sama Sama 2017’ Maritime Training Activity at Naval Forces Central in Lapu-Lapu City yesterday. Joy Torrejos

‘Sama-Sama 2017,’ a maritime training activity between troops of the Philippine Navy and the United States Navy conducted at the Naval Forces Central in Lapu-Lapu City officially ended yesterday.

The training activity began on June 19 and involved exercises in rescue, medical response and maritime security.

Last Thursday, a simulation exercise of visit, board, and seizure (VBSS), a training on how to apprehend a vessel carrying illegal items and how to arrest the people behind the crime, took place in the waters off Bohol. Rear Admiral Don Gabrielson, US Navy Task Force 73 commander, told reporters yesterday that the training is intended to deepen the relationship between the two navies.

"We worked on this exercise on boarding ships, we worked together on rescue to save lives, we work together on basic air defense capabilities, and we worked together on diving subject matter exchanges and other maritime security exchange of information, some cyber information and also on regular relationship-building that needs to happen in order to build and to deepen the trust in the relationship we already have," Gabrielson said.

Commodore Loumer Bernabe, commander of Naval Forces Central, said the training exercise with their US counterparts builds a strong foundation or an alliance for readiness to respond to any natural or man-made disasters.

"The strong point there is we continue to work together on same goal or objective that is making our region safe and secured as there are a lot of challenges happening," Bernabe added.

Bernabe said the drills done together with the US Navy are beneficial, citing as example their experience when super typhoon Yolanda hit last 2013 where aid came from their counterparts, including the US Navy. Gabrielson added that the exercises are always applicable in real time situations as both camps are all experienced in facing issues pertaining to disaster-response. He added that the troops are trained in fundamental skills that both navies share and that these skills will help improve their ability to operate together.

"They're already familiar with the procedures, they're already practiced at the basic fundamentals of getting together to work so that they can get together and immediately work together when they need to...What is important is that they can come back together to solve hard problems right away," Gabrielson said.

US, PH navies learn new skills, build ties as joint exercise ends

From the Sun Star-Cebu (Jun 24): US, PH navies learn new skills, build ties as joint exercise ends

THE Philippine Navy and the United States (US) Navy capped their week-long military training in Cebu yesterday, with upgraded skills of personnel in responding to any maritime threat.
In his speech, Rear Admiral Don Gabrielson, commander of Task Force 73 of the US Navy, thanked all the sailors and marines who participated in the exercise.
 “The most beautiful part of this thing is that you meet people and you build a new relationship. You build trust at the very important level, on the operational and tactical level, which we can carry on,” he said.
The training dubbed as “Sama Sama 2017,” which was participated in by 200 Filipino and American marines, included boarding ships, search and rescue, basic air defense capabilities, diving, and even cyber information exchange,” he said

Philippine envoys talk with Islamist militant leader during brief truce

From Reuters (Jun 25): Philippine envoys talk with Islamist militant leader during brief truce

Philippine emissaries met on Sunday with a leader of a militant group loyal to Islamic State, officials said, taking advantage of a short truce in a battle over a southern city occupied by rebels for more than a month.

The eight Muslim leaders entered the conflict zone in the heart of Marawi City alongside rescue teams. It was not immediately clear what was discussed with Abdullah Maute, one of two brothers in charge of the Islamist group named after them.

Retired General Dickson Hermoso, who coordinates efforts to free trapped civilians, said a unilateral eight-hour truce by the army to mark the Eid al-Fitr Islamic holiday was extended to enable the talks, details of which he withheld to avoid jeopardizing chances for dialogue.

"We need to balance this because this is very precarious," Hermoso told reporters.

He said the Maute group released some women and children on Sunday and the emissaries had come under fire briefly from rebel snipers.

"We have only established a foothold with the Maute," he said. "We hope both sides will again grant us the respite."

The military had on Saturday said Abdullah Maute had fled from the town and was no longer in the fight. Though they have no solid evidence, the authorities believe his brother, Omarkhayam, was among three of the seven Maute brothers killed.

A source familiar with the meeting said the emissaries were from Marawi and were only granted access to Maute because they were of the same "Maranao" clan.

The seizure of Marawi has caused the biggest internal security crisis in decades for the Philippines, and a realization that the long-feared arrival of Islamic State could be a reality.

Images of black-clad fighters and Islamic State flags flying in Marawi has caused alarm in the mainly Roman Catholic nation, and the protracted occupation and presence of foreign fighters suggests the militants may have bigger designs on the southern Philippines than previously imagined.

The daily air strikes were halted on Sunday but small skirmishes took place as rebel snipers fired intermittently on positions held by troops.

Rescue teams tried to reach trapped civilians and recover bodies of dead residents killed in the heart of a city battered for weeks by clashes, air strikes and artillery shelling.


Military spokesman Jo-Ar Herrera said troops had not resumed operations after the truce and were holding defensive positions.

"We have reports there were around five people who came out from ground zero," Herrera told news channel ANC.

"We're very confident we can rescue more."

Muslims attended prayers at a Marawi mosque in an emotional gathering.

The violence has displaced some 246,000 people, and killed more than 350, most of them rebels, and about 69 members of the security forces. Twenty-six civilians have been killed but officials believe many more could be dead.

"This is supposed to a day of happiness," said Imam Aleem Ansari Abdul Malik, who led the prayers.

"Families should be together but they were torn apart."

He reminded Muslims to shun the advances of radical groups.

"This is just a small fire, do not allow the flames to go bigger by joining extremists," he said.

Conditions for those trapped in Marawi have been dire, with witnesses reporting bodies on streets, limited food and water and a constant threat of being killed by either the militants, or air strikes.

The threat of Islamic State gaining a foothold in the Philippines has been raised by their losses in Syria and Iraq, and intelligence reports that the militants are seeking new bases from which to project their agenda.

Though the military is confident it can retake Marawi soon, the level of the militants' preparations, combat capability and resilience has created some trepidation about whether their assault could be the beginning of a wider campaign.

Lieutenant Colonel Emmanuel Garcia, head of the Western Mindanao civil-military operations, on Saturday said intelligence indicated that Malaysian operative and extremist fundraiser Mahmud Ahmad had been killed, while Isnilon Hapilon, the Islamic State anointed "emir" of Southeast Asia, had fled.

Is Hapilon still in Marawi City?

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jun 25): Is Hapilon still in Marawi City?

Isnilon Hapilon

One of America’s most wanted terrorists may have escaped a five-week battle with Islamic State (IS)-inspired terrorists in Marawi City, which began with a raid to capture him last month, the military said on Saturday.

Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, a veteran Filipino fighter said to be the leader of the IS group in Southeast Asia, has not been seen in the battle zone in Marawi City, said Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, head of the military’s Western Mindanao Command.

An attempt by government troops to arrest Hapilon on May 23 triggered a rampage by Islamist fighters flying black IS flags and backed by Asian and Middle Eastern fighters who seized parts of the mainly Muslim city of Marawi.

President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in the entire region of Mindanao, unleashing an offensive to crush what he said was an attempt by the terrorist group to establish an Islamic province in the area.

“He (Hapilon) has not been seen in the area. We have some reports that he was already able to slip somewhere but as of now we are still confirming the reports,” Galvez said in an interview with dzBB radio station.

Asked if Hapilon was on the run, he said: “Yes, yes because reportedly he suffered a lot of casualties. Majority of his group, more than half, were casualties.”

Galvez’s statement appeared to contradict earlier military reports, which said Hapilon was still in the area.

The military on Friday also said top Malaysian IS leader, Mahmud bin Ahmad, was reported killed in the fighting, as well as Omarkhayam Maute. But their deaths could not be independently confirmed, with Malaysian security officials casting doubt on the reports.

US bounty

Hapilon was indicted in Washington for his involvement in the 2001 kidnapping of three Americans in the Philippines, and has a $5-million bounty on his head from the US government, which has his name on its “most wanted” terror list.

He leads a faction of the militant group Abu Sayyaf that has pledged allegiance to IS. On top of the US bounty, Manila has also offered P10 million for his capture as well as half a million pesos each for the arrest of brothers Omarkhayam and Abdullah Maute.

Security analysts say Hapilon has been recognized by IS as its “emir,” or leader, in Southeast Asia, a region where the group wants to establish a caliphate.

The military says Hapilon’s group had joined forces with the Maute Group, to launch the Marawi siege, now on its second month.

Galvez said there are “strong indications” that two or three of the Maute brothers among the key players in the siege had been killed, including Omarkhayam, believed to be the group’s top leader.

Only Abdullah has been visible in the fighting, Galvez added.

Foreign fighters

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella in Manila said the military is “validating an intelligence report” that Mahmud, who helped lead and finance the Marawi siege, died from wounds he had sustained in the early days of the fighting.

When asked about Mahmud’s reported death, Malaysia’s Inspector General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar told Agence France-Presse (AFP) in a text message in Kuala Lumpur: “Not true. He is still alive.”

Abella said authorities were also verifying another intelligence report that 89 foreign fighters are in Mindanao, entering the region through the Philippines’ porous maritime borders with Malaysia and Indonesia.

“They might have entered the Philippines via the backdoor where the point of entry is Mindanao via Indonesia or Malaysia,” Abella said. “This is the purpose why we are making a collective effort against terrorism and violent extremism through a trilateral cooperation with Indonesia and Malaysia,” he added.

Foreign ministers of the three countries held a meeting in Manila on Thursday and agreed to coordinate more closely to combat cross-border flows of weapons, fighters and finances supporting terrorism.

Malaysian IS-linked militant Mahmud Ahmad believed to have fled Marawi

From the Malay Mail Online (Jun 25): Malaysian IS-linked militant Mahmud Ahmad believed to have fled Marawi

Police believed Islamic State militant group member Dr Mahmud Ahmad who was allegedly killed in a clash in Marawi, the Philippines has left the area.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said the former Universiti Malaya lecturer was believed to have escaped with Isnilon Hapilon, the head of the Abu Sayyaf group in Basilan.

“The Philippine authorities informed that Hapilon had escaped from Marawi and there is a big possibility that Mahmud was with him.

“We cannot confirm this but we have received information from the relevant parties in the Philippines saying Mahmud is still alive,” he said at a media conference at the IGP’s Aidilfitri open house in Bukit Aman here today.

Last Friday, Khalid denied the news that Mahmud was killed in a clash in Marawi City together with fellow militants there.

‘PH becoming a magnet for jihadists’

From the Manila Times (Jun 24): ‘PH becoming a magnet for jihadists’

THE Philippines faces a much bigger terrorism threat than the one posed by the Islamic State (IS)-linked Maute group that attacked Marawi City last month – the likelihood of the country becoming the new base of extremists forced out of the Middle East, officials have warned.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Eduardo Año raised the possibility of more extremists transferring to Southeast Asia and putting up a new base of operations, following a regional security meeting on Thursday.

“In reality, when [IS] loses its ground in Iraq and Syria, some of these jihadists and extremist will be looking for land bases or areas outside Iraq and Syria,” Cayetano said in an interview.

Año said the military had monitored 40 foreign terrorists in the country, but not all of them were in Marawi. About 20 of the foreign terrorists monitored were Indonesians, and six were Malaysians.

“Out of the 40 (foreign terrorists) half of the number were scattered in different areas, but most of them have been killed already,” the AFP chief said.

But Año said more foreign fighters were attempting to penetrate the region as well as the Philippines, amid advances by Western forces against the IS.

“We expect that those terrorists who will be displaced will go to Asia, and because of the Marawi uprising the Philippines is now like a magnet,” he said.

Education needed

On Thursday, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia agreed that the socioeconomic development of residents who have been traumatized by terrorism were paramount in combating the expanding influence of groups like the IS in Southeast Asia.

“We agreed to help each other in socioeconomic development to stop extremism not only by bullets but also by ideology,” Cayetano said after the trilateral meeting at the Conrad Hotel in Pasay City on Thursday.

Cayetano said the Philippines needed the help of Malaysia and Indonesia in destroying the narrative of extremism that sowed division and conflict between Muslims and Christians.

“So with the help of Malaysia and Indonesia we will be able to combat [IS] not only through arms but also through education and communication,” he said.

For the Philippines, Cayetano said, all departments of government—from education, social services, health and livelihood—must come up with plans to help fight extremist ideology by showing young people that there were other ideas that were not extreme and violent.

He warned that more attacks were likely to happen and with more participants, the risks would be bigger.

Cayetano warned that Southeast Asia was a potential IS target, and the vulnerability of the Philippines compared with other countries could be higher because of the degree of freedom in the country.

He said extremists might choose to go to smaller provinces or smaller areas in Mindanao, radicalize young Muslims, sell portions of their land and convince non-Muslims that this was “legitimate jihad.”

“So this is what we would do to prevent Southeast Asia from falling into the hands of extremist so that they will not have a foothold in radicalizing,” Cayetano said.

BRP-Davao del Sur holds ‘open house’ activity

From Sun Star-Zamboanga (Jun 23): BRP-Davao del Sur holds ‘open house’ activity

ZAMBOANGA. BRP-Davao del Sur, one of the newest Philippine Navy Landing Docks, arrives on Friday, June 23, at Zamboanga port for an open house activity. (Bong Garcia)
ONE of the two landing docks of the Philippine Navy, BRP-Davao del Sur (LD-602), on Friday made a port of call for a two-day “open house” activity in Zamboanga City.
Rear Admiral Rene Medina, Naval Forces Western Mindanao commander, said the open house is to showcase its capability as a landing platform dock as well as to give opportunity to the populace of the city for a guided tour aboard the ship.
The BRP-Davao del Sur’s bulletin stated that it is capable to conduct a wide array of military, naval and non-military operations. Some of which is to conduct amphibious, sealift, and helicopter operations; command, control and communications; and, humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations.
Medina said the arrival of LD-602 is aimed at promoting peace, develop friendly relations and bring the Philippine Navy and the Armed Forces of the Philippines closer to the hearts of Zamboangueños and of the Filipino people in general.
Among those who joined the aboard ship guided tour on Friday were members of the media, staff and volunteers of the Philippine Red Cross-Zamboanga Chapter, personnel from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and some Reserve Officers Training Course cadets.
Lieutenant Junior Grade Arriane May Ayyanggod, the passenger service officer of the BRP-Davao del Sur, guided them during the aboard ship tour.
The open house is coupled with the conduct of recruitment activities aboard the ship for interested individuals who wish to join the roster of the Philippine Navy.
The BRP-Davao del Sur was launched on September 29, 2016 and commissioned in the service of the Philippine Navy on May 31, 2017.
 She was named after one of the main provinces of Mindanao, Davao del Sur.
The vessel can transport heavy equipment, supplies and troops anywhere in the archipelago.
She was the second ship ordered and constructed by the Indonesian state-owned shipbuilder PT PAL after BRP Tarlac (LD-601), which was delivered in May 2016.

Army to fight Maute in cyberwar

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jun 25): Army to fight Maute in cyberwar

Army said Saturday has fielded online combatants to thwart attempts by the Maute Group to spread online propaganda.

Task Force Marawi commander Brig. Gen. Rolly Bautista said a social media monitoring team was formed to specifically foil the Maute group’s attempts to “sow fear and terror” and recruit more members through cyber space.

Bautista said that when the crisis in Marawi City started last month, the Philippine Army’s 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division, which he commands, was incidentally conducting a series of trainings on digital media capability enhancement.

He pointed out that training participants from various units in the army division eventually became the core group of Task Force Marawi’s social media monitoring team.

“This is part of the Division’s digital media initiatives to equip our personnel not only for actual combat operations but also enhance our digital capability in facing another kind of battle using internet technologies for disseminating information online and bring the Division to the community it serves,” Bautista said.

“The enemy and their supporters are actively utilizing online digital media to spread false information about the situation in Marawi City,” he said. “But our team is on the lookout to engage and provide counter measures and prevent the enemy of sowing fear and terror.”

An October 2016 report by regional security expert Sidney Jones, of the Indonesia-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, described the Maute Group as the “most social media savvy” among terrorists claiming allegiance to the Islamic State.

The Maute Group amplified its message and recruit more members through social media.