Thursday, August 17, 2017

5 armed group members nabbed in raid

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 17): 5 armed group members nabbed in raid

Five members of a private armed group operating in Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat were arrested Thursday morning in a raid conducted by joint police and Philippine Marines, police said.

Elements of Sultan Kudarat Police Office, Kalamansig and Lebak town police personnel and 2nd Marine Battalion Landing Team swooped down on the house of Tenti Tau Mangarin alias Commander Winston, alleged leader of an armed group, at around 4:30 a.m.

The raid was covered by search warrants and warrants of arrest against Mangarin, according to Sr. Supt. Raul Supiter, Sultan Kudarat provincial police director.

Supiter said Mangarin apparently sensed the raid and escaped before the law enforcers entered his residential compound in Barangay Datu Ito Andong in Kalamansig.

However, five of his armed followers were arrested and did not put up a fight.

“Mangarin is a high value target (HVT) of police and facing charges for illegal possession of firearms and explosives,” Supiter said.

Arrested were Bonao Mangarin, Usop Mangarin, Mimong Agam, Osik Mangarin and Seleno Ogib.

Seized from them were four Armalite Rifles, a Garand rifle, one .45 caliber pistol, two fragmentation grenades, military uniform, a binocular, assorted ammunition and magazines.

Supiter said the suspects are now detained at Kalamansig police lock-up cell while charges for violation of Republic Act 10591 (Illegal Possession of Firearms and Explosives) are being prepared against them.

Supiter said Mangarin’s group is among the PNP listed private armed groups in Sultan Kudarat.

Halfway home for returning NPA rebels

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 17): Halfway home for returning NPA rebels

The provincial government of South Cotabato is pushing for the opening by next year of a halfway home for former and returning New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in the area.
Ma. Ana Uy, acting head of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO), said Thursday they have started the preparatory works for the establishment of a halfway home in Barangay Morales, Koronadal City.

She said South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes earlier endorsed the construction of the facility at a portion of a two-hectare lot donated by the local government to the South Cotabato Provincial Police Office (SCPPO).

She said the project will specifically occupy around 1,000 square meters of the entire site, which was intended for the new headquarters of the SCPPO, she said.

But since the lot was already donated to the SCPPO, Uy said the local government still needs to seek formal endorsement from Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald “Bato” Del Rosa for the use of the lot.

She said the governor has already sent a formal letter request to the PNP chief regarding the matter.

“(But) we’re already in the pre-implementation phase and we expect the project to go full swing soon,” she said.

Uy said the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) had signified to help fund the construction of the halfway home.

She said the DILG has allotted grants of P5 million to local government units, including the province, who have signified to establish a halfway home for returning rebels.

“One we receive the endorsement from the PNP chief, we will formally avail of the funding from the DILG,” she said.

A halfway home or house refers to the temporary residence that serves as the processing center for former rebels.

The facility could also be used to cater to other individuals in crisis situations such as victims of violence against women and children, juvenile delinquents, former convicts and times of disaster.

The DILG issued last June the guidelines that detailed the systems and procedures on the establishment of the “halfway homes,” which is a component of the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP).

The CLIP started in 2014 and aims to facilitate the mainstreaming of former NPA rebels as productive citizens; enhance capacities of LGUs and national government agencies in the implementation and sustainability of the CLIP; and compensate and remunerate all surrendered firearms, including those coming from the NPA.

Suspected Reds shoot dead Sorsogon village chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 17): Suspected Reds shoot dead Sorsogon village chief

A village chief in Sorsogon City, Sorsogon province was gunned down Wednesday night by unidentified persons believed to be members of the New People’s Army (NPA).

Oscar Jetomo, head of Barangay (village) Marinas, was shot dead in his residence at about 8:45 p.m. Wednesday after at least three persons supposedly seeking assistance approached him.
Sorsogon Police director, Senior Supt. Marlo Tejada, in a phone interview Thursday, said as the victim met the suspects, two of them drew their pistols and shot him at close range.

He said police investigators are looking at two angles as the possible motive for the murder – first is that the NPA suspects Jetomo to be a military asset, and second is personal grudge.

Barangay Marinas is a remote village in Sorsogon City, located in the vicinity of Casiguran and Gubat towns.

Davao mayor to NPA: Celebrate Kadayawan with us

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 17): Davao mayor to NPA: Celebrate Kadayawan with us

Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio has invited the New People’s Army (NPA) to join Dabawenyos in celebrating the 32nd Kadayawan sa Davao, especially during two major events – the street dancing and the floral float parade.

Duterte-Carpio said Filipinos are invited to witness the celebration as long as they will abide by the rules of the city.

“Every peace loving Filipino is invited to witness our celebration (including the NPA), as long as they will follow our rules here in our city,” she said.

The mayor said local and foreign tourists visiting the city will provide a wider business opportunity for the small and big businesses here.

“So far, we received a lot of visitors, but I expect that the number will still go up especially towards the near end of our celebration,” she added.

Even during the term of former mayor now President Rodrigo Duterte, the NPA has always been welcome join the celebration as long as they will not bring with them their firearms and explosives.

This is the first time that the city is holding the Kadayawan Festival under Martial Law period.

Duterte-Carpio assured a safe and secure celebration, saying, the security forces here have already adjusted their security measures for the different events.

People are expected to flock at converging points especially at the Rizal Park where the Indak-Indak sa kadalanan (street dancing) competition and the Pamulak sa Kadalanan (Floral Float Parade) on August 19 and 20, respectively, conclude.

Public Safety and Security Command Center (PSSCC) chief Benito De Leon earlier said that all security forces are all set for the big events during the celebration.

De Leon said that more than 17,000 warm bodies will be deployed in the different parts of the city during the entire celebration. There are also augmentation from 10th Infantry Avila Division and Regional Police Office 11.

Village chief killed, 2 others wounded in Guihulngan shooting

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 17): Village chief killed, 2 others wounded in Guihulngan shooting

Hinakpan village chief Leudigario Binera was shot dead early Thursday. (Photo courtesy of Jessa Albios and Mark Gomez)

A village chief was shot dead while two of his companions were wounded by unidentified riding-in-tandem suspects in Barangay Tinayunan, Guihulngan City in northern Negros Oriental Thursday morning.

The victim was identified as Leudigario Gargoles Binera, 40 years old, married, and the village chief of Hinakpan, Guihulngan City.

Police investigators are now looking closely at the possible involvement of the New People's Army in the shooting incident.

Initial police probe disclosed that at around 9:30 a.m Thursday, witnesses said Binera and his companions were drinking coffee outside the residence of Angelito Villarmente in Tinayunan when an unidentified person arrived and suddenly fired at them using a caliber .45 firearm.

Thereafter, the suspect fled on board a motor scooter waiting nearby, being driven by another person.

The victims were rushed to the Gov. William Billy Villegas Hospital in Guihulngan City for treatment.

Barangay chairman Binera died while undergoing treatment, the police said.

Recovered from the crime scene were six pieces of caliber .45 fired cartridges.

Acting provincial police director Sr. Supt. Henry Biñas, in an interview Thursday afternoon, disclosed that police investigators are considering some angles in the shooting .

Hinakpan is a village close to Magsaysay, where suspected Communist terrorists ambushed and killed the fGuihulngan police chief and five other policemen, and wounded three other police personnel and a civilian last July 21.

Also, the provincial police director has asked police investigators to do a trace of the victim’s prior activities and whether he had some arguments or personal enemies.

Another angle to be considered in the investigation is the possible link between the ambush-slay of the Guihulngan policemen and Binera’s murder because of the geographical location of Hinakpan, Biñas said.

These barangays are “infiltrated with the NPA” and without being explicit, the provincial police director said it appears that some people are seeking justice for the dead and wounded policemen.

“Sometimes the NPA would engage in treacherous ways to get the sympathy of the people”, and that has caught the ire of some Guihulngan residents, Biñas said.

Asked if most, or if not all of the shooting incidents in recent weeks in Guihulngan were related, Biñas said there appears to be a pattern of retribution and retaliation but he did not elaborate.

He appealed to the families of the slain police personnel to let the wheels of justice turn.

Biñas also disclosed that some family members of the slain policemen have been receiving threats in recent days.

In fact, one person appeared at his office on Wednesday asking for assistance after receiving threats through text message.

Biñas said he has offered the use of the Negros Oriental Philippine National Police Provincial Office (NORPPO) camp as a temporary refuge for those who are under threat.

Outgoing Govt Arsenal chief lauded for initiative, dedication

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 17): Outgoing Govt Arsenal chief lauded for initiative, dedication

Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has recognized outgoing Government Arsenal (GA) director, retired Maj. Gen. Jonathan Martir, for his initiative and dedication that helped the agency produce diversified defense materiel.

“Because of Director Martir’s initiative and leadership, the GA has diversified production of defense materiel for use of the AFP’s (Armed Forces of the Philippines’) tactical units, repaired unserviceable rifles of the AFP, and developed its capability in manufacturing weapons, as well as medium and large caliber ammunition,” Lorenzana said as Martir formally stepped down on Wednesday after serving a seven-year term.

He expressed hope that Martir’s replacement, retired Maj. Gen. Daniel Casabar, would carry on the reforms and good governance that the former had carried out.

Casabar, he said, is well-fitted for the post as he served the military in various capacities prior to his retirement in April 2010.

“I know that the GA is in good hands with Maj. Gen. Casabar on top, confident that he can stir the GA to realize our longtime dream of having a self-reliant defense posture,” the defense chief added.

The GA is tasked to produce rifles and ammunition for all Philippine security forces.

Madrigal is new Southern Luzon Command chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 17): Madrigal is new Southern Luzon Command chief

Maj. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal, commander of the Cagayan de Oro-based 4th Infantry Division, has been appointed to head the Armed Forces of the Philippines' (AFP) Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM), effective Friday.

Madrigal was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte to replace Lt. Gen. Ferdinand Quidilla, who is set to retire after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56 on August 30. Duterte gave the go-ahead for Madrigal's appointment on the recommendation of the AFP Board of Generals.

Madrigal, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1985, assumed command of the 4th Infantry Division in March 2016.

He vowed to increase his operations against rebel groups in southern Luzon with the help of civilians and other peace and order stakeholders.

DND to turn General Arsenal into priority supplier of weapons, ammo

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 17): DND to turn General Arsenal into priority supplier of weapons, ammo

The Department of National Defense (DND) is committed to transform the General Arsenal (GA) into the top supplier of rifles and ammunition for all of the country’s security forces.

This was bared by DND Secretary Defin Lorenzana during the turn over ceremony at the GA headquarters in Limay, Bataan Wednesday.

In the above-mentioned event, GA director Jonathan Martir was replaced by retired Major Gen. Daniel Casabar after a seven-year tenure.

“To make this happen, we at the DND commit to support the GA as the priority supplier of rifles and ammunition not only for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) but hopefully, to the entire security forces of the Philippine government including the Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and all other armed civilian agencies,” he said.

To do this, Lorenzana said the DND is committed to supporting the GA in enhancing its production capability and capacity.

This includes GA’s officials and employees' well-being so that they can provide better services and cater to the needs of the country’s defense and security forces, he added.

AFP soldiers train in US military base

From the Manila Bulletin (Aug 15): AFP soldiers train in US military base

For the first time, members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) were given access to a United States (US) military base to train with US Marines from Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division.

According to the US Embassy in Manila, Philippine Marines from Assault Armor Battalion worked alongside their American counterparts in Okinawa for more than two weeks to become familiar with Amphibious Assault Vehicles and how to best utilize their capabilities.

The US embassy reported that during the training, Filipino Marines learned different amphibious skills such as hand signaling, egress training, and water operations. They also familiarized themselves with maintenance procedures, logistical planning, and facility capabilities.

“This training benefits both forces moving forward as they continue to work together during exercises such as Kamandag this October to bolster Philippine amphibious capability and combined security operations,” the embassy said in a press statement.

AFP verifies if soldier in verbal abuse incident suffers from combat stress

From UNTV (Aug 17): AFP verifies if soldier in verbal abuse incident suffers from combat stress


The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is determining if Corporal Marlon Lorigas is suffering from combat stress.

This was after Lorigas allegedly committed verbal abuse against several teachers and students of the Mindanao State University.

The teachers and students said the soldier shouted harsh words at them while ordering them to come out of the bus and to remove their tops during an inspection at a checkpoint in Marantao, Lanao del Sur.

AFP Public Affairs Office (PAO) Chief Col. Edgard Arevalo explained it is not far from possible that Lorigas is experiencing combat stress because of the long battle he is engaged in against terrorists in Marawi City.

Despite this, Arevalo noted the AFP will not tolerate the action of Lorigas as he committed human rights violation especially during the ongoing martial law in Mindanao.

“Whatever reports of abuse we receive especially since martial law is ongoing, violations such as check point rules, and most especially the order of General Año is strict that while martial law is ongoing, we should respect human rights,” said Col. Arevalo.

Aside from dismissal from service, the soldier might also face administrative charges among others.

“Investigation is now ongoing and if he was proven to have committed violations, he will face charges. Administrative case and based on his action. And upon the completion of the investigation, he might face other cases in our court martial,” said the PAO chief.

Arevalo, meanwhile, clarified that the military is now exerting efforts to address the mental health needs of soldiers battling terrorists to avoid a repeat of the said incident.

“That’s part of our investigation, and we have a program for the soldiers, for such situations. And if there are findings… It’s actually not far from possible that in the 85 days of fighting in Marawi City, the soldiers will experience combat stress,” said Arevalo.

Opinion: SOMEONE ELSE’S WINDOWS: Marawi Siege and the Question of Shifting Alliances

Opinion piece from H. Marcos C. Mordeno in the MindaViews section of MindaNews (Aug 17): SOMEONE ELSE’S WINDOWS: Marawi Siege and the Question of Shifting Alliances

In the heyday of national liberation movements that sprang after World War II, repressive Third World regimes turned to the US for military assistance or were forced to receive such assistance. The Philippines, which hosted American military bases until 1991, was one of these client governments. Apart from getting hand-me-down weaponry and base rental, the country sent officers to Fort Bragg to train in counterinsurgency tactics focusing on jungle warfare.

Such tactics may have worked in the war against the rural-based New People’s Army as well as the Moro rebel groups. The siege in Marawi City, however, which enters its ninetieth day on August 20, suggests the need for the Armed Forces of the Philippines to rethink its strategy and get serious in modernization. As the conflict drags on with the Islamic State-inspired militants defying the military’s deadlines it has become clear that the AFP is ill-prepared to meet the challenge of urban warfare posed by adversaries who are unburdened by questions of law, ethics and morality.

It seems strange but an obscure city tucked in the country’s poorest province has become a trump card of geopolitics in this part of Asia.

Inadequate strategy

That the AFP has deployed several battalions, armor and air assets against at most 1,000 militants yet failed to suppress them within a short span of time underscores the inadequacy of its existing strategy to quell the threat of terrorism. On the other hand, the militants, enjoying greater familiarity with Marawi’s layout, are putting to good use such guerrilla tactics as ambushes, improvised explosive devices and sniper operations.

Crude but effective, these tactics have inflicted over 100 fatalities and at least 1,000 wounded combatants on government side. And the longer the conflict lasts, the more it will create doubts on the AFP’s capacity and encourage more Moro youth – children included – to don the black shirt and wave the black flag of “extremism”.

Complicating matters is bad governance, dire poverty and other social conditions that drive the underprivileged to the fold of the militants. For sure, the militants are exploiting the devastation of Marawi and the displacement of its residents to add to the general disillusionment with how government has responded to the crisis. It is easy to imagine a Maute Group leader agitating would-be recruits with words like “look what they have done to your city, look what they have done to your fellow Muslims, to your families.”

Friends like these

Back to the question of enhancing the capability of the AFP in urban warfare, whom will the Philippines turn to? Will it be the US, a traditional ally, or China, which is flexing its muscle in the global arena? Or will it make a new friend but keep the old?

Whatever its response would be, the Philippines needs to play its cards with more circumspection. The US is trying to reassert its dominance in the region which has since waned after it pulled out from Clark and Subic, while China, a new superpower, has a territorial dispute with the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries in the South China Sea. It is even possible that aside from trying to outdo each other in terms of providing support [to the Philippine military] the two world powers would extend their geopolitical game to the rehabilitation of Marawi once the city is fully recaptured from the militants.

Offhand, one may surmise that President Rodrigo Duterte will lean towards China considering his rants against US foreign policy and the criticisms on his violent war on illegal drugs, and his administration’s growing economic ties with Beijing. In fact, Chinese firms have bagged several big-ticket infrastructure projects under Duterte, including a monorail project in Mindanao with Davao City as its nerve center. Of late, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano hinted of a joint exploration with China in the West Philippine Sea.

In addition, Duterte has not ceased taking potshots at the US. Nor is he keen on continuing with the Balikatan war games much less seeing American troops on Philippine soil. It seems that the only thing working for the US is the pro-American orientation of the AFP, as the President himself admitted in a press conference last June 11 in Cagayan de Oro City where he awarded medals and cash assistance to soldiers who were wounded in action in Marawi.

Offers from both sides

It was American drones that first flew over the conflict zone in Marawi, a move that the US Embassy in Manila said was just to provide “technical assistance” to Philippine troops. The deployment of the drones happened after a “friendly fire” from a Philippine Air Force plane that killed 11 soldiers on the ground, an incident that highlighted the AFP’s outdated ways of carrying out aerial bombardments. The US followed up with a handover of two Cessna aircraft.

Both moves signaled Washington’s eagerness to patch up diplomatic relations and military partnership with its former colony. It has no choice but to court the Philippines back into its embrace if it doesn’t want to be upstaged by Beijing in the region.

China, meanwhile, has refused to be outplayed. It has given weapons and offered advice on counterterrorism tactics to troops fighting in Marawi. One may frown at Beijing’s relative inexperience in counterterrorism and arguably inferior technology compared to the US which has dealt with all sorts of armed groups across the globe. But Duterte, a maverick in every sense of the word, may yet decide contrary to expectations.

How Duterte would play the Marawi card with the US and China is worth watching. After all, the stake [for the Philippines] in this three-cornered game is not just rolling back the threat of terror but also the future of its claim of sovereignty on the West Philippine Sea.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at

Duterte meets with Honasan, RAM members

From GMA News (Aug 16): Duterte meets with Honasan, RAM members

President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday met with Senator Gringo Honasan and some members of the Rebolusyonaryong Alyansang Makabansa (RAM).

The meeting took place in Malacañang before Duterte gave his speech at the 19th anniversary rites of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC).

EARLIER: Pres. Duterte meets with Sen. Honasan with other Reform the Armed Forces Movement members in Malacañang Palace

Philippines’ communist rebellion: a new generation

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Aug 16): Philippines’ communist rebellion: a new generation

This photo taken on July 30, 2017 shows Philippine communist leader Jaime Padilla during a press conference of the New People’s Army (NPA) in the Sierra Madre mountain range, located east of Manila. Fuelled by one of the world’s starkest rich-poor divides, a Maoist rebellion that began months before the first human landed on the moon plods on even though the country now boasts one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. AFP
A kerosene lamp flickers beside a Macbook in a jungle camp as ageing Philippine communist leader Jaime Padilla plots the next step in one of Asia’s oldest insurgencies with a new generation of fighters.

Fuelled by one of the world’s starkest rich-poor divides, a Maoist rebellion that began months before the first human landed on the moon plods on even though the country now boasts one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.

“There’s a big pool of young people who will pursue the people’s war even if it takes us a hundred or more years,” 70-year-old Padilla, one of the Philippines’ most-wanted men, said at a rare news conference for a small group of reporters.

Padilla, who joined the New People’s Army (NPA) a few years after the insurgency began in the late 1960s, insisted the rebels were not concerned by President Rodrigo Duterte’s threats to end peace talks.

A self-proclaimed socialist, Duterte swiftly launched negotiations with the Maoists after winning presidential elections last year and there were high hopes he could end the rebellion, which the military estimates has claimed 30,000 lives.

But last month Duterte angrily declared there would be no more talks because the NPA continued to extort money from businesses and ambush security forces.

READ: ‘Bully’ Duterte tells Reds: No more talks

Padilla, a slight, bespectacled ex-farmer who goes by the alias “Ka (Comrade) Diego”, heads the Melito Glor Command, one of the most important units of the NPA, the communists’ 3,800-member armed wing, military commanders told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

The unit operates across the south of the main island of Luzon, the country’s industrial heartland that lies next to the capital of Manila, typically attacking isolated security outposts and taking guns from slain police and soldiers.

It also collects “revolutionary taxes” from businesses, ranging from big power plants and even small pig farms, as well as local politicians, Padilla said.

Hammer and sickle

This photo taken on July 30, 2017 shows guerrillas of the New People’s Army (NPA) in formation in the Sierra Madre mountain range, located east of Manila.
Fuelled by one of the world’s starkest rich-poor divides, a Maoist rebellion that began months before the first human landed on the moon plods on even though the country now boasts one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. AFP

The guerrillas sleep in hammocks near streams and rural hamlets, help farmers harvest crops, and melt into nearby forests to evade any approaching large military forces.

They choose only to fight smaller units, according to Padilla.

His press conference was held on a hilltop ringed with wild banana plants, about two hours’ hike from a poor, coconut-growing hamlet.

The 50 or so gunmen escorting him wore olive military-style uniforms inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, the movement’s ideological godfather.

Most also had on thick red makeup, many decorated with the hammer-and-sickle communist logo rendered in yellow, to conceal their identities.

While their numbers are relatively small, there continue to be frequent reports of communists killing security forces across the Philippines.

Last month the rebels killed six policemen and a civilian in an ambush on the central island of Negros, according to the police, and wounded six of Duterte’s military bodyguards in another encounter in the southern Philippines.

READ: Duterte security men ambushed in North Cotabato; 6 wounded

Padilla said the rebels wanted the talks, held in Europe, to continue. But they stood ready to fight.

“We’ve been fighting for 50 years. What does it matter if it takes another 50 years,” said Padilla, who gave a slide presentation by lamplight with the help of a young female guerrilla.

Padilla defended the continuing NPA attacks, calling them a form of “self-defense” against military operations in areas where their shadow government was in place.


He also insisted it was legitimate to demand the equivalent of two percent of any business project in revolutionary taxes, but admitted companies that refused to pay were punished “harshly”, with their equipment usually burnt.

The payments are vital to the communists’ survival.

They net the rebels up to two billion pesos each year, Philippine military spokesman Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla, no relation to the rebel leader, told AFP, branding the practice plain “extortion”.

“This paralyses the local economies, keeps people poor and makes it easier to recruit them. It’s a vicious cycle,” the general said.

Another key reason that the Philippines continues to host a communist rebellion when Marxism has dissolved almost everywhere else around the world is an economic system that has created huge wealth but left tens of millions in deep poverty.

The Philippines has one of the fastest growing economies in Asia and has grown by more than six percent for much of the past decade.

But 22 million, or one in five Filipinos, continue to earn a dollar or less each day, according to government data.

Padilla, the NPA leader, said millions more young Filipino adults fared little better working in low-paying contractual jobs after completing their schooling.

This made the NPA a viable option even for fresh graduates of the country’s top universities, he added.

One of them, a 25-year-old from a middle-class family who called herself Ka Kathryn, told AFP she joined the NPA five years ago after her father, an engineer, was fired for organizing a union at an energy company.

“We are facing an enemy who has committed atrocities against the people,” said Kathryn, who had studied to become a television presenter but now carries an M-16 rifle.

“We should stand up to them and not cower in fear.”