Thursday, July 6, 2017

10 political prisoners released after presidential pardon

From InterAksyon (Jul 6): 10 political prisoners released after presidential pardon

The first four of the 10 political detainees pardoned by President Rodrigo Duterte are released from the New Bilibid Prison Thursday: (From left) NDFP peace consultant Emeterio Antalan, Josue Ungsod, Joel Ramada and Ricardo Solanon. (photo by Kodao Productions)

Ten political prisoners – National Democratic Front of the Philippines consultant Emeterio Antalan, Ricardo Solangon, Joel Ramada, Apolonio Barado, Jose Navarro, Generoso Rolida, Arnulfo Boates, Manolito Matricio, Josue Ungsod, and Sonny Marbella – were granted presidential pardon and released from New Bilibid Prison (NBP) on Thursday, July 6, 2017.

They will be presented at a press conference by the human rights advocacy group, Karapatan, on Friday, July 7, 1:30pm, at the Bayan Conf. Room, 4F Erythrina Bldg., 1 Maaralin, Brgy. Central, Quezon City.

Fidel Agcaoili, Chair the of the NDFP Peace Panel, said: “It is too few and too late. It is just a fraction of the 409 political prisoners still in detention whose liberty was supposed to have been given through general amnesty as offered by PRRD on 16 May 2016 as part of the package to resume the peace negotiations with the NDFP. Moreover, the release of the 10 through pardon was volunteered by the GRP Panel for the Christmas season last December. It took more than six months for that voluntary offer to happen. This manifests the regime’s total lack of empathy and concern for the plight of political prisoners who are/have been in prison for trumped up charges in violation of the CARHRIHL.”

5 NPAs nabbed

From the Mindanao Times (Jul 4): 5 NPAs nabbed

FIVE alleged members of the New People’s Army (NPA), including two women, were arrested after they were reportedly found transporting explosives in a military checkpoint in Barangay Mangayon, Compostela, Compostela Valley Sunday evening.

But a human rights group said those arrested, all farmers, were just framed-up as the military officers only planted the evidence.

Capt. Andrew Linao, the civil-military operation officer (CMO) of the 701st Infantry Brigade, identified the suspects as Rolan Segovia, Estanislao Talledo, Alexir Mata, Jhona Rose Baugto and Alicia Tidasan, all residents of Barangay Ngan, Compostela.
Linao told TIMES yesterday that troopers of the 72nd Infantry Battalion intercepted the five suspects in a detachment checkpoint in Mangayon around 8:10 p.m. Sunday for transporting Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).

Five IEDs and six blasting caps were allegedly placed in sacks of rice.

Linao said the suspects are members of NPA’s Milisyang Bayan, but they are still establishing what unit the arrested suspects belong.
“They are laying and detonating IEDs,” he said.

The army captain said the apprehension was a result of the Martial Law imposed in Mindanao as NPAs are now pressured.

The Anakpawis Party-list, in its facebook post, is calling for the release of the five farmers.
Human rights group Karapatan in Southern Mindanao Region said the five arrested were farmers who are members of the Compostela Farmers Association (CFA).

The CFA, in its statement, said the five were supposed to attend a barangay-wide assembly of the local peasant organization in Purok 4B, Mangayon.

The statement said soldiers under the 66th IBPA held them around 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Karapatan said the farmers visited a lumad school when they were intercepted.
Eight military agents interrogated and vilified them, the Karapatan said.

The explosives, the human rights group said, were just planted.

During the interrogation, “another seven military soldiers arrived and brought with them a sack of rice with a bomb inside.”

“They accused us that we were the ones who brought the bomb, they put it beside our bags,” Karapatan quoted Tindasan as saying.

Baugto’s mother, Rosalina, has sought the help of town council of Compostela for the release of her daughter and the four other farmers.

“It’s not strange to all of you the detained members of CFA, they are in fact, known defenders of peasant and lumad rights, that’s why I am asking all of you to help them be released immediately,” Rosalina appealed to the town councilors.

‘NPA rebels’ face rap for planting landmine

Meanwhile, the four suspects who reportedly planted a landmine at the roadside of Purok 2, Km. 26, Barangay L.S. Sarmiento, Laak, Compostela Valley on June 27 were already brought to the Nabunturan trial court for inquest proceedings.
2nd Lt. Amadeuz Vincent John Celestial, civil-military operations (CMO) officer of 60th IB, identified the suspects as Junrex Mission, Jimmy Adlin, Romar Ruales and Ronel Tonlay, all residents of the barangay.

All four face charges for violating Republic Act 9516 or the law on the illegal possession, manufacture, dealing, acquisition or disposition of firearms, ammunition and explosives.

Accordingly, they were caught around 6 a.m. by joint forces of Charlie Company of the 60th IB and L.S. Sarmiento Cafgu detachment under the Delta Company of the 72nd IB.

They were turned over to the police. Other explosive paraphernalia were also seized from the suspects upon their arrest.

Celestial told TIMES that the military has been conducting security operations in the area because of reports from residents and concerned citizens of NPA presence.

Earlier, around 10:25 p.m. of June 26, the military encountered around 10 armed men believed to be NPA members.

Military nabs 2 suspected Maute supporters in Cagayan de Oro

From the MindaNews (Jul 5): Military nabs 2 suspected Maute supporters in Cagayan de Oro

Military arrested in Cagayan de Oro City Wednesday morning two suspected supporters of the terrorist Maute Group, both relatives of Farhana Romato-Maute, mother of the Maute leaders Omar and Abdullah who was arrested last month in Lanao del Sur.

In a statement, the Martial Law Special Action Group (MLSAG) of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division apprehended Farhana’s niece, Monaliza Solaiman Romato, and her daughter, Tahera Romato Taher, at 4:30 a.m. in Barangay Macasandig in Cagayan de Oro in a search, arrest and seizure operation.

Monaliza Solaiman Romato, in a photo released by the EastMinCom.

Upong the issuance of a warrant by Regional Trial Court Branch 18 executive judge Dennis Z. Alcantar, the authorities, who were accompanied by barangay officials, searched the house rented by a certain Irene Romato Idris at Residencia Apartment, Aluba, Brgy. Macasandig where they found the two suspects.

Authorities recovered from their possession four M203 grenades, one blasting cap, nine-volt battery with battery holder, one piece C4 explosive, eight detonating cords, 19 pieces 100-watt incandescent bulbs, jungle knife, suspected ammonium nitrate placed inside a plastic bag, and suspected red colored ammonium nitrate placed inside a plastic bottle.

The confiscated items were immediately brought to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) for proper filing of case and disposition.

According to a report from the Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom), Monaliza allegedly took over the role of her aunt, Farhana, after she was arrested last month, providing “financial and logistical support to the Maute Terrorist group and her house in Cagayan de Oro served as a sanctuary and transit point for Maute terrorist members.”

It said Monaliza is the mother of a certain “Colingling” who serves as “intel/liaison” of the Maute Group in Cagayan de Oro and provided sanctuary to Maute members such as Farida Romato, Al Majid Romato and Al Jadid Romato during their stay in the city before they were arrested in Iloilo Port last June 18.

“Her link with Maute was likewise traced to Mohammad Noaim Maute alis ‘Abu Jadid/Majid’, a trained Maute terrorist bomber tasked to conduct bombing in Cagayan de Oro City during the previous Ramadan when she supported her stay in the city.”

BTC to submit draft BBL to President Duterte on July 18

From MindaNews (Jul 6): BTC to submit draft BBL to President Duterte on July 18

The Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) will submit its draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacanang on July 18, a month and two days after completing it and six days before the President delivers his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) where he is expected to certify the bill as urgent.

BTC chair Ghazali Jaafar said he does not know if the President will still review the draft as he had repeatedly said he would, or hand it over immediately to Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on the same day it is submitted to him in Malacanang.

The Bangsamoro Transition Commission completed on Friday, 16 June 2017, its draft Bangsamoro Basic Law, and is now ready to submit it to President Rodrigo Duterte. Photo courtesy of BTC Facebook

“That we don’t know. Depende na sa President yan” (That depends on the President), Jaafar, concurrent 1st Vice Chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) told MindaNews in a text message.

The submission of the draft BBL was initially set for June 28 but Secretary Jesus Dureza, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process told MindaNews on June 23 that it was reset because Pimentel and Alvarez would not be available by then. The plan, he said then, was “after PRRD receives it (draft BBL), he hands it over immediately to Congress.”

“We should not commit the mistakes of the past. We should learn from them,” Dureza told MindaNews.

Dureza explained that the lesson learned from the previous administration was: “dili gipasa ug dili pud gidawat sa Bangsamoro ang Palace-tweaked version” (the draft law was not passed and the Bangsamoro did not accept the Palace-tweaked version.”

“Agreed version”

The then 15-member BTC under the Aquino administration, chaired by MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal, submitted its draft BBL to the Office of the President on April 22, 2014 since the OP said it will review it first before its submission to Congress. The review took two months and when handed back to the MILF-led BTC, it rejected the Palace version of the BBL, claiming it was a “watered down version” that would render the future Bangsamoro less autonomous than the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) that it sought to replace.

A series of meetings followed between the government and MILF peace panels but they ended in an impasse until then Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa took over in August 2014.

Another series of meetings ensued between the team of then BTC chair Mohagher Iqbal, concurrent MILF peace panel chair, until an “agreed version” was finalized in the first week of September 2014 and submitted to Senate President Franklin Drilon and tSpeaker Feliciano Belmonte in the presence of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III on September 10, in rites held in Malacanang.

The original draft BBL submitted to Aquino in April 2014 was a 97-page, 18-article document. The “agreed version” submitted to Congress in September that year was a 119-page draft law containing articles and an additional three-page appendix on a proposed ordinance providing for the “parliamentary districts composing the provinces, cities, municipalities and geographic areas of the Bangsamoro.”

After the committee hearings, the Senate and House committees tackling the draft BBL submitted substitute bills both titled “Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region” or BLBAR.

The two BLBARs were also criticized for rendering the future Bangsamoro less autonomous than the ARMM.

Congress adjourned under the Aquino administration without passing the Bangsamoro law.

New draft

The new draft BBL crafted by the BTC chaired by Jaafar, consists of 114 pages and 18 articles.

Duterte had earlier said he would wait for the submission of the draft BBL, study it along with the draft amendatory law of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) under Nur Misuari. Misuari’s faction has a separate five-member peace implementing panel but the faction headed by Yusoph Jikiri (formerly by Muslimin Sema) has three representatives in the current BTC.

The 21 members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) with President Rodrigo Duterte (center) at the launch on 24 February 2017 at the Garden Pavilion of the Waterfront Insular Hotel. TOTO Lozano / Presidential Photo

The 21-member BTC is less than one member now with the resignation in late May by Marawi City-based Commissioner Samira Ali Gutoc. Gutoc cited personal reasons and policy questions in her resignation.

Sail on still waters

In his speech at the inauguration of the PTV Cordillera hub in Baguio City on March 11, Duterte said of the draft BBL: “I will study it before we submit it to Congress and pray that it would sail on still waters.”

“Maybe the Senate would have a more or less rigorous opposition, that’s expected. This is a democracy,” he said.

A month later, on April 10, at the Davao International Airport before departing for the Middle East, he told reporters he would call all Moro revolutionary leaders to a meeting to come up with a consensus on how to move forward in implementing the legislation aspect of their peace agreements as he acknowledged he will certify for urgent passage in Congress only one draft Bangsamoro law.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte presides over a meeting with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) delegation led by its chairman Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim and Presidnetial Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza at the Matina Enclaves in Davao City on December 2, 2016. ROBINSON NI√ĎAL/Presidential Photo

“That is what we want,” Duterte said.

Duterte inherited from previous administrations since Marcos four major peace agreements with the Moro revolutionary fronts — the MNLF’s Final Peace Agreement (FPA) of 1996 which is a continuation of the Tripoli Agreement of 1976 and the MILF’s Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) of 2014 which is a continuation of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro in 2012.

These peace agreements are on their implementation phases — the MNLF on its latter stage although the government maintains the 1996 peace pact has been fully implemented; and the MILF on its early stage of implementation.

The MNLF under Misuari is drafting a law to amend RA 9054, the law governing the ARMM, to ensure the provisions of the 1996 FPA that were not included in the law are included while the MILF, along with other MNLF factions drafted the BBL that, in accordance with the 2014 CAB, will pave the way for the creation of the Bangsamoro, a new autonomous political entity that will replace the ARMM.

Both drafts — amendatory law for the MNLF-Misuari and the BBL for the MILF and other factions of the MNLF — are to be submitted to the President who will study them. Duterte on April 10 said he will certify for urgent passage in Congress only one draft Bangsamoro law.

President Rodrigo Duterte meets with Moro National Liberation Front founding chair Nur Misuari at the Presidential Guest House in Panacan, Davao City on June 3, 2017. Accompanying Misuari is his wife Tarhata and son Abdulkarim. No details of the meeting were released. PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

The government and MNLF-Misuari Peace Implementing Panels have yet to meet formally but they have had at least five informal meetings.

Undersecretary Nabil Tan, Deputy Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and chair of the GPH Peace Implementing Panel told MindaNews on Tuesday that they have finished discussing the proposed amendatory law and the formal meeting will just be a confirmation of what has been agreed upon.

He said they are also eyeing the submission of the draft amendatory law on the same day of the submission of the BBL, but in another area in Malacanang.


Under the Bangsamoro Peace and Development Roadmap presented by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and approved by the President in July last year, the BTC membership was expanded from 15 to 21 supposedly to make it more inclusive and to ensure the MNLF factions are represented there.

The expected outcome was supposed to be the convergence of the GPH-MILF and GPH-MNLF peace tracks into one draft Bangasmoro law.

In November last year, however, Dureza announced there would be a separate peace implementing panel for the MNLF-Misuari faction and that Congress will converge the peace tracks.

Lawyer Randolph Parcasio, chair of Misuari’s Peace Implementing Panel, told a forum on Bangsamoro and federalism in early December that letting Congress do the “convergence” of the draft laws “would be a disaster.”

He said there must be “one common proposal of the MNLF and MILF” but how that can be done, “yan dapat natin pag-isipan” (that we should think about).


Dureza in an interview with MindaNews in April said he does not think convergence of the two peace tracks — one to set up a new entity to replace ARMM and the other to strengthen ARMM — would be problematic.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza says in this April 2017 interview that the GPH-MILF and GPH-MNLF peace tracks “will have to meet somewhere in Congress” because Congress cannot pass a law for the MILF and another for the MNLF. MANMAN DEJETO
“I don’t think it’s a problematic situation because I know for a fact that all factions of the Bangsamoro would like to see a more empowered governance unit for the Bangsamoro. So if the convergence of all these to-be-crafted draft bills can all the more provide and respond to this so- called aspiration of the Bangsamoro which up to now — we still get their messages that under the present existing law that it has not fully responded to their aspiration as a Bangsamoro people — then an output of what could come out of this convergence of these two tracks that we hopefully converge somehow — in Congress — will come out in a better and a more responsive law to govern the Bangsamoro,” Dureza said.

“They will have to meet somewhere in Congress. Because there’s no other way but Congress to enact the implementing law. So we have two tracks because we have two factions that cannot yet reconcile with their differences, personally or in principle. We’d like to see how that is going to be resolved in the end but there is no other way but when Congress acts on outputs coming from the MNLF or from MILF peace tables. There’s no other way but to converge it because Congress cannot pass a law for the MILF and another law for the MNLF. It will have to be one law, best case scenario,” Dureza added.

Lorenzana admits gov’t underestimated Maute Group

From MindaNews (Jul 6): Lorenzana admits gov’t underestimated Maute Group

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (left) in the press briefing Thursday (6 July 2017) in Marawi City. With him is Acting Local Government Secretary Catalino Cuy and PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa. MindaNews photo by H. MARCOS C. MORDENO
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Thursday said the government underestimated the strength of the Maute Group.

In a press briefing here, Lorenzana said he thought government forces would resolve the conflict in three days.

The siege by the ISIS-inspired Maute Group of the country’s lone Islamic city entered its 45th day on Thursday.

Lorenzana said they initially placed the militants’ number at around 200. He said the estimate increased to between 400 and 500, and later to 700.

“That’s why they’re still there. Nag-iimbak sila ng bala, baril (They’re amassing ammunition, guns),” he said.

The secretary said government fatalities had reached at least 90 and the wounded over 400.

Military figures placed casualties from the Maute Group at close to 300. Meanwhile, civilian deaths had reached around 30.

Since May 25, the military has launched artillery bombardment, aerial bombing and ground assault against the armed group in downtown Marawi.

In a press conference in Cagayan de Oro City on June 11, Armed Forces Chief-of-Staff Eduardo Ano said that the recovery of Marawi was “just a matter of time”.

“Konting pasensiya lang ito (This needs a little more patience),” Ano said in the same press conference.


Lorenzana, who was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte to head the rehabilitation program, announced in the briefing that government was already preparing a rehabilitation plan for Marawi.

He said the rehabilitation plan includes the repair of infrastructure and homes of civilians.

“The President promised to help everybody,” he said.

JTG “Deter” pushes for interagency TF in Siquijor amid terror threats

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 6): JTG “Deter” pushes for interagency TF in Siquijor amid terror threats

Siquijor province is insurgency-free but it is not exempted from terror threats, said Philippine Navy Capt. Jorge Ibarra, commander of the Joint Task Group Deter of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Ibarra further said he is pushing for the creation of a joint interagency task force to secure the province and prevent the spillover of terrorist groups from Mindanao to enter Siquijor.

This was said during the interagency workshop on Security held on Tuesday, July 4 at Salagdoong Beach Resort in Maria, Siquijor.

The workshop sought to review and evaluate the different law enforcement agencies structure and its operating concepts in the province of Siquijor; establish command and support relationship of the interagency structure on security; and to establish an effective interagency communication network.

Ibarra said Siquijor can be the eyes and ears of terrorism so that the best effort we can do is to secure the area and keep it free from terrorism, he said.

Ibarra however, assured the public that Siquijor is currently part of the areas being patrolled by Navy vessels with its 24/7 seaborne patrols even prior to the Inabanga, Bohol incident.

The Siquijor Police Provincial Office (SPPO) also lent its support as even before the clash between the government troops and ASG in Bohol happened, the Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB) had sent two teams composed of 15 augmented personnel who were deployed to beach resorts particularly in San Juan which is right across Mindanao.

Aside from the RPSB team, another platoon from the AFP was deployed which is enough to protect the island, SPPO Deputy Director for Operations Enrique Belcina said.

Despite the terror threats, Siquijor generally remains peaceful and safe, Belcina said.

While pushing for the creation of a joint task force on security in Siquijor, Ibarra also asked the support of the local communities particularly in the information collection.

Ibarra added that priority efforts with a series of meetings with stakeholders are made to secure the island and deter possible attacks.

He said all Philippine Navy vessels are seen patrolling the sea at all times. They only dock at the port at certain times to re-fuel or get provisions, he said.

US turns over 12 trucks to AFP

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 6): US turns over 12 trucks to AFP

The United States (US) has officially turned over on Thursday 12 Ford F-550 trucks to the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP’s) Naval Special Operations Group (NAVSOG) at the Naval Base Heracleo Alano, Sangley Point in Cavite.

Security cooperation manager for the Joint US Military Assistance Group Frederick Riker handed over the ceremonial truck key to Philippine Navy Capt. Alfonspin P. Tumanda Jr.

The said trucks will help ease the mobility of the NAVSOG troops spread throughout the Philippines including units located in Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga and Davao. It will also aid in the transport and deployment to critical areas of rigid-hulled inflatable boats that were previously delivered by the US to the AFP.

Through a variety of assistance packages over the past three years, the US has also provided the Philippines with over 200 million dollars of grant assistance to assist the partner forces in building the required capabilities for success.

Present also during the ceremony were other representatives from the Joint US Military Assistance Group, as well as Capt. Alfonspin P. Tumanda Jr. and Cmdr. Jim P. Razo, the Commander and Deputy Commander of Philippine NAVSOG.

Duterte to resume peace talks with left

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 6): Duterte to resume peace talks with left

President Rodrigo Duterte is keen to resume again the peace talks between the government and the communist group, Communist Party of the Philippine/ National Democratic Front/New People’s Army.

In his visit to the 64th founding anniversary of Hagonoy town, President Duterte said that he wants to end one of the longest insurgencies in the world, which is for him a fight as a matter of principle.

President Duterte emphasized that he is hurt everyday as he read his daily briefer containing list of dead soldiers and even dead members of the New People’s Army, because he said these are all Filipinos.

Duterte urged the communists to be sincere in the peace talks.

“You sincerely do it; any modality na tinuod jud (that is true). You do not just withdraw because we cannot agree on certain agenda. Manluod mo mosibat dayon tas mobalik napud ug storya (When you get disappointed, you suddenly went away then comes back and talk to us once again.)

He likened the communist group to an electric fan vacillating left to right and right to left.

“First you said that during the Martial Law declaration, suko mo (you are angry) then you ordered your troops, the NPAs, to engage us, government forces, actively. Then you changed your mind, and said that you are going to cooperate.”

Addressing his former teacher and Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison, he said, “Sir, you are sir. You are not dying but you are seriously sick. Would you be happy to see and to die that there is peace in this country before you finally close your eyes?”

On Tuesday, Secretary Silvestre Bello III announced in a press briefing in Malacanang that the talks will resume on August.

PRRD visits 1002nd Infantry Brigade, awards 6 soldiers for gallantry

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 6): PRRD visits 1002nd Infantry Brigade, awards 6 soldiers for gallantry

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte visited the 1002nd Infantry Brigade at Camp Herminigildo Agaab here Wednesday as a way to show gratitude to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for its efforts in the Marawi crisis and to award medal of gallantry to six soldiers of the brigade.

The President personally pinned the Gold Cross Medal to Staff Sergeant Loujie Basa of 72nd Infantry Battalion (IB) based in South Cotabato for successfully defending his patrol base without casualty on the government side and for the recovery of war materials after a 5-hour firefight against more or less 80 members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Tampakan town.

He also awarded the Military Merit Medal with Bronze Spearhead Device to 2Lt. Ronald D. Velasco, 2Lt. Dennis C. Cortejo, and PFC Lloyd Vincent M. Manansan of the 39th IB; and to 2LT. Orestes D. Fausto, and Corporal Edsan Pedroso of the 73rd IB.

Duterte assured the AFP of his continued support to the troops and their families even after he get out of the presidency.

“I would not forget this episode in my life that I have to work with you closely, talk to you, encourage you, and most of all to protect you and to assure you, lahat naman tayo mamamatay pati ako, but I assure you we will not forget your families kung sakali wala na tayo dito.”

He said he will allocate a trust fund which will be administered by the Central Bank solely for the education of all the soldiers’ children.

“Lahat talaga kung gusto nilang mag-aral makakatapos, yan ang pangako ko sa inyo (All of them if they want to go to school they can finish, that’s my promise) before I leave the Presidency.”

Duterte also presented some reforms in the AFP particularly in the procurement of life-saving equipment for use of military personnel.

He emphasized that he would no longer allow second-hand equipment from now on for increased efficiency and safety.

“I would never accept a hand me down, gusto ninyo magbili tayo ng bago. Ayaw ko yang magbili tayo ng second hand kasi hindi maganda (if you want we will buy a new one. I don’t want us to buy a second hand).”

Capt. Gilbert Denso, Commander of Golf Company of the 72nd IB based in South Cotabato said the promise of the president to buy brand new equipment is an advantage to the AFP especially that lawless elements and threat groups are also upgrading their equipment.

“Maganda yung sinabi ni Presidente naka encourage sa amin, high morale kami. We are looking forward na mabigyan kami ng bagong equipment, dahil hindi rin basta-basta ang gamit ng mga kalaban, so dapat mag upgrade din kami (The president’s message inspires us, it raises our morale. We are looking forward for the new equipment because our enemy also uses high quality armaments, so we need also to upgrade.”

Meanwhile, Duterte also told soldiers to expect a salary increase by January 2018 as he promise to make their welfare as top priority.

“I’d like to congratulate you again, the entire AFP for liberating Marawi and keeping the people safe, and you can rest assure that for as long as I am the president of this country hindi kayo maging second class,” he emphasized.

Army, PNP arrest NPA leader in Surigao City

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 6): Army, PNP arrest NPA leader in Surigao City

Joint police and military efforts led to the capture of a New People’s Army (NPA) leader on Wednesday, July 5 here.

The arrested person was identified as Arpel Medelozo Rabago a.k.a Ka Yoyo, 30 years old and a resident of Purok 6, Upper Sangay, Barangay Anomar, this city, a vice commander of an NPA platoon of the Guerilla Front 16 operating in Surigao del Norte.

He was arrested by the army's 30th Infantry Battalion, Surigao City Police and Provincial Public Safety Company by virtue of warrant of arrest issued by RTC Branch 32 Judge Dan Calderon at around 5:00 p.m., July 5, 2017 at the checkpoint along the national highway of Barangay Trinidad, this city.

Rabago has a pending case for frustrated murder last October 21, 2013 and warrant of arrest for multiple attempted murder issued by the late Judge Victor Canoy of RTC Branch 29 last November 27, 2015 and kidnapping and serious illegal detention.

He is now with the Surigao City Police Station for proper disposition.

According to 30IB Civil Military Operations Officer 2LT Jonel Castillo, Ka Yoyo is responsible for the series of harassments and extortion in certain parts of the province.

He also led a numerous attacks against government troops who were conducting Peace and Development Activities in the towns of Malimono, San Francisco and Surigao City during the previous years.

In his statement, 30IB Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Allen Tomas said the government troops will continue to strengthen the peace and security in the province.

“We will never allow these communist insurgents to destabilize our peace efforts especially in conflict- affected areas," said Lt. Col. Tomas.

PACANGEL 17 delivers humanitarian assistance, capability building in PH

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 6): PACANGEL 17 delivers humanitarian assistance, capability building in PH

Over the course of ten days, more than 100 active duty United States (US) Air Force, Army, Navy, Nevada Air National Guard, and five other Pacific nations delivered humanitarian assistance and performed subject matter expert exchanges with their partners in the Philippines during the Pacific Angel (PACANGEL) 2017.

PACANGEL team members from the Philippines, US, Fiji, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Australia worked in conjunction with local non-governmental organizations to conduct subject matter expert exchanges, complete electrical, plumbing and infrastructure repair projects, and provide dental, optometric, pediatric and general health care to the people of Northern Cebu Province.

“It has been an honor being here in the Philippines and working with the community and our multi-lateral partners,” said Lt. Col. Edward Khim, PACANGEL Philippines mission commander.  “Not only were we able to provide structural repairs at seven different sites, but our doctors saw a record-breaking number of patients.  At the end of the day though, it’s not about the numbers, it’s about building partnerships and learning from each other,” he emphasized.

PACANGEL doctors and technicians were able to cater more than 6,000 patients throughout the five days of health services outreach.

While PACANGEL events in the Philippines are now complete, Pacific Angel 2017 will continue in three other locations, namely, Tam Ky, Quang Nam Province, Vietnam; Northern and Western Divisions, Fiji; and Gorkha, Nepal.

Operation Pacific Angel is a recurring joint humanitarian assistance mission sponsored by US Pacific Command (USPACOM) designed to bring humanitarian civic assistance (HCA) and civil-military operations (CMO) to areas in need in the Pacific region. It is conducted in locations throughout the Pacific theater to support the U.S. military charter of capacity building in partner nations. The operations contain elements of all four branches of the Department of Defense, including active duty,National Guard, and reserve members.

The key difference between this mission and previous missions is that these missions are focused on capacity building in the host nation. The mission objective is to provide assistance to an area, and leave behind a capability for the host nation doctors to continue to provide the services.

Army lauded for arrest of BIFF men, recovery of guns

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 6): Army lauded for arrest of BIFF men, recovery of guns

Major Gen. Arnel dela Vega, commander of the 6th Infantry Division Thursday lauded soldiers of the 33rd Infantry Battalion for the arrest of six outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters Wednesday in a remote village here without bloodshed.

"I am glad that our government security forces had pre-empted terroristic attacks against peaceful communities. We appreciate the continuous support of the people in sharing information about possible acts of violence," Dela Vega said in a statement released by the 6th ID Public Affairs office.

Col Bismarck Soliba, 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade commander, said the operation was launched "to protect the people against atrocities."

"We wanted to prevent the BIFF from initiating terroristic actions against peaceful communities," said Soliba.

Lt. Colonel Harold Cabunoc, 33rd IB commander, led his men and the PNP Special Action Force in the arrest of six BIFF members following a brief firefight.

Local officials and community leaders of Barangay Mangadeg, Datu Paglas, Maguindanao helped the police and military forces locate the lawless elements known to have pledged allegiance to ISIS.

Two days earlier, 33td IB personnel also arrested five men engaged in illegal drug peddling and gun manufacturing activities for the BIFF.

Colonel Cabunoc said their arrest came with the help of local leaders in communities in Datu Paglas who are tired of fleeing due to armed hostilities between government forces and BIFF.

Army files illegal possession of firearms vs NPA 'terrorist'

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 6): Army files illegal possession of firearms vs NPA 'terrorist'

The 79th Infantry Masaligan Battalion of the Philippine Army based in Negros Island has filed charges of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition against a suspected member of the New People’s Army (NPA).

In an interview Thursday afternoon, Lt. Col. Roderick Garcia, battalion commander of the 79th IB, identified the suspected Yunit Militia of the "Communist terrorist" group operating in northern Negros as Pedro Serguelis.

In the afternoon of July 3, Army troops were conducting operations in Barangay Trinidad in Guihulngan City when they chanced upon Serguelis.

Confiscated from Serguelis were one homemade caliber .357 revolver with 13 rounds of ammunition, one homemade shotgun with five ammunition and one pistol-grip homemade shotgun.

Serguelis was advised to report to the Guihulngan Police Station for proper disposition as the government troops were still in hot pursuit of other Communist terrorists and could not bring him down from the mountains at the time, said Garcia.

However, Serguelis never presented himself to the police, Garcia said, and the 79th IB filed a case against him.

Lt. Jec Manaoang, Civil Military Operations Officer of the 79th IB, said the Yunit Militia is an armed group of the Communist terrorists embedded in the barangays to collect food and money from the community through intimidation.

They also act as force multiplier, guide or source of information when the Communist terrorists conduct tactical offensives or terroristic activities like ambush, raid, arson and murder of civilians they believe are government informants, Manaoang added.

Last June 30, the 303rd Infantry Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army encountered more or less 30 suspected NPA members at Sitio Agpapatao in Barangay Sandayao, Guihulngan City, said Lt. Manaoang.

Troopers from the 79th IB under the 303rd Brigade conducted pursuit operations that resulted in the recovery of one M14 rifle, ammunition, “subversive documents and war materials”.

Combat operations continue in Guihulngan City and nearby areas in response to clamor from the communities of activities “terrorizing” civilians, said the 79th IB commander.

No negotiations with Maute Group terrorists - AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 6): No negotiations with Maute Group terrorists - AFP

As armed conflict in Marawi City reached its 45th day Thursday, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is firm that there will be no deals or negotiations with the Maute Group terrorists who have ravaged the city and killed scores of civilians and government troops.

AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla commented this on reports that claimed President Rodrigo Duterte allegedly tried to negotiate a deal with the lawless elements but backed out.

"Everybody believes that nothing of that sort will ever happen because the instruction coming from the commander-in-chief has been very clear, that there will be no negotiations with this evil elements who are inside the city and brought damage and havoc to Marawi," Padilla said.

The AFP official said that negotiations with the terrorists was out of the question as these elements had willingly killed innocent civilians and soldiers who were just doing their duties.

"They have killed many innocent civilians and the lives of our men. So how can you negotiate with them? " Padilla asked.

As of this posting, Maute Group terrorists killed in the ongoing Marawi City conflict reached 351 with firearms seized at 425.

Number of civilians executed by the terrorists is placed at 39 while rescued civilians reached 1,723.

Fighting in Marawi City broke out when government security troops tried to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, the ISIS' "emir" in Southeast Asia last May 23.

DND chief 'not ok' with deployment of erring cops in Marawi

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 6): DND chief 'not ok' with deployment of erring cops in Marawi

Deployment of erring police officers in Marawi City does not sit well with Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
And while clarifying that he is not questioning the decision of the Philippine National Police (PNP) leadership to do so, continuation of such practice may damage and have a negative effect on the organization.

"Not against because that is their decision, the PNP (is) not under my jurisdiction. I am just questioning the wisdom of doing so. Their punishment should not be a Marawi assignment but sanctions such as suspension without pay or outright dismissal from the service," Lorenzana pointed out.

He was referring to PNP Director General Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa's order to send to Marawi two Mandaluyong police officers accused of hitting two civilians with a "yantok" cane.

The two were allegedly beaten for drinking liquor outside their homes which is in violation of a Mandaluyong ordinance.

Military engineering brigades to help in Marawi rehab

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 6): Military engineering brigades to help in Marawi rehab

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) engineering brigades will be deployed to help in the proposed rehabilitation of Marawi City once the all Maute Group remnants are eliminated.

This was bared by AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla in press briefing Thursday.

These units are the 52nd and 54th Engineering Brigades and they will also be joined by other engineering units of the Air Force and Navy.

Padilla said these specialized military units will be part of the Engineering Task Force being organized for the proposed Marawi City rehabilitation program.

He added that these engineering outfits have constructed and completed around 2,000 community projects nationwide since 2007.

These include school buildings, farm-to-market roads, rural electrification projects, water systems, day care and health centers.

The AFP spokesperson stressed that these formations are more than willing to do their role in the proposed rehabilitation and reconstruction of Marawi City.

He added that these engineering brigades specialized in construction projects in conflict-affected areas.

Duterte denies initiating talks with Maute group

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 6): Duterte denies initiating talks with Maute group

President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday denied reports that he pushed for talks with the Maute group in Marawi City.

“No I did not… he’s a pretender. I have never talked to terrorist, that’s one. I will never talk to criminals and to terrorists,” Duterte stressed during an interview after visiting members of the 403rd Infantry Brigade at Camp Bahain in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon.

“But I would talk to revolutionaries who are imbued with their values to a principle there, kagaya nitong Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). I talked to them because what drove them to fight government is the rising nationalism,” he added.

The President issued the statement following allegations made by Agakhan Sharief who claimed that a top Duterte aide had approached him to act as intermediary to start back-channel talks with the Islamic State-inspired militants.

Duterte said that the MNLF and the MILF might have initiated talks with the Maute group.

“But kung manggaling sa akin, ako maghingi sa mga criminal pati terorista, imposible. Tsaka marami na akong patay na sundalo pati pulis. Huwag nila akong biruin ng istorya-istorya lang tayo,” he said.

“If there has to be peace, it would really be peace. Huwag mo akong laruin ‘yang away ngayon tapos bukas -- let us finish this once and for all,” Duterte said.

AFP foils Maute Group attack in CDO with arrest of 2 terror sympathizers

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 5): AFP foils Maute Group attack in CDO with arrest of 2 terror sympathizers

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) announced it has foiled a possible bombing attack by Maute Group terrorists in Cagayan De Oro City with the arrest of two perpetrators and recovery of several explosive-making materials Wednesday.

AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said that among those arrested was Monaliza Solaiman Romato, also known as "Monay", niece and reportedly the replacement of Maute matriarch and finance head Ominta "Farhana" Romato Maute who was arrested last month.

Romato was arrested with Tahera Taher during the 4:30 a.m. operations in a house along Aluba, Barangay Macasandig.

Seized from the house were four M-203 rifle grenades, a blasting cap, 9-volt battery, a piece of C4 explosive, detonating cords, 19 piece of 100-watt incandescent bulbs, a jungle knife, and suspected ammonium nitrate.

Padilla said the successful arrest of the two and recovery of explosive items prevented a Maute Group inspired bombing attack in Cagayan De Oro and other nearby areas.

Romato's arrest came almost a month after Mohammad Noaim Maute alias "Abu Jadid," an alleged bomber of the Maute group, was apprehended in Cagayan De Oro last June 15.

No explosives were found in the suspect's location and investigations later learned that Maute Group members often store their explosives in locations where their womenfolks are staying.

Duterte to Communists: Show sincerity in the peace talks

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 6): Duterte to Communists: Show sincerity in the peace talks

President Rodrigo Duterte encouraged the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), on Wednesday, July 5, to show its sincerity to continue the peace talks between the government and the communists.

"I have to talk to the communists but this time I hope you do it in a modality that is sincere," the President said during his visit to the 64th founding anniversary of Hagonoy in Davao del Sur.

President Duterte highlighted that the communists and the government must stop threatening each other.

"We are all Filipinos…you know every time I see a dead soldier or a dead NPA, I feel sorry because we’re Filipinos and we are fighting an issue as a matter of principle,” he said.

The Chief Executive underscored that nothing beneficial would come out of the exchange of threats between the government and the insurgents.

“You do not just withdraw because we cannot agree on a certain agenda in the --- You sulk and then disappear, and then come back wanting to talk. Hindi ko naiintindihan. Ang raming problema,” he said.

President Duterte meanwhile reassured the public not to fear the implementation of martial law in Mindanao as he "would not allow" abuses by security forces.

“Rest assured there will be no abuses in times like this. I will not allow it,” the President said.

The Chief Executive said the crisis in Marawi made him declare martial rule to eradicate terrorism which is "much worse" than the communist insurgency.

“Although the fighting is winding up, maybe we need more time to clean the place,” Duterte said.

President Duterte added that the public could rely on the military and police who are "well educated and well aware of their duty to the Republic and the Filipino people.”

The President meanwhile encouraged the local government of Davao del Sur to make its province more competitive.

“You have to make your province and municipality competitive. And if you want to make it a city, there are certain requirements of your income plus population but more than just standards, you have to have something more,” Duterte said,” noting that while mining is a source of income for the province, they also have to ensure that the environment is not neglected.

“Ako, wala akong problema sa minahan except that whether you like it or not, basta may minahan, may destruction. The only thing you can do for environment is to lessen or mitigate it to its lowest descent. Pero kung may mamimina sa lupa tapos gagamitan ng chemical to extract the ore, gold, whatever, there’s always the damage of contamination,” he said.

The President also encouraged the people of Davao del Sur to engage more in food production, particularly in aquaculture.

“Food’s gonna be really expensive in the coming generations. Pag mauna kayo diyan, kasi nandiyan lang ‘yung dagat malapit sa inyo, aquaculture,” he said.