Monday, November 20, 2017

DWDD: STAYING SHARP | NFNL Officers undergo Marksmanship Training

From DWDD the AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Nov 18): STAYING SHARP   |  NFNL Officers undergo Marksmanship Training

SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union (DWDD) – Marksmanship training and record firing of Naval Forces Northern Luzon officers and enlisted personnel at the Coast Guard District North Western Luzon Firing Range, Poro Point, San Fernando City, La Union, November 16, 2017. NFNL/MAG

DWDD: STRENGTHEN EFFORTS | WESCOMconducts CMO Family Coordinating Conference

From DWDD the AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Nov 18): STRENGTHEN EFFORTS  |   WESCOMconducts CMO Family Coordinating Conference 

PUERTO PRINCESA, Palawan (DWDD) – Team WESCOM conducts the CMO Family Coordinating Conference purposely to review and assess the Command’s CMO efforts based on the desired objectives of the AFP Development Support and Security Plan Kapayapaan and craft CMO-PCR related activities that will strengthen ties between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP). WESCOM/MCAG

DWDD: INFANT KILLERS | NPA adding Insult To Injury

From DWDD the AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Nov 18): INFANT KILLERS  |  NPA adding Insult To Injury

BUKIDNON (DWDD) – The 403rd Infantry Brigade condemns the terrorist New People’s Army and its leadership for spreading lies and lame words in its bid to correct its lawlessness and banditry when it staged an ambush against personnel of Amai Manabilang Municipal Police station on November 9, 2017, around 5:30 pm, that resulted to the murder of one PNP personnel and a four-month old baby, Walysha Machorao, while wounding three PNP personnel and three civilians.


The lies that are being spread by a certain Malem Mabini (a fake name used by a person who obviously does not have the decency and the guts to make himself accountable for his statements) start with making people believe that their group flagged down two civilian vehicles tailing the PNP patrol car so that the civilians onboard would “evade from being injured” from the crime that they were about to commit. Unfortunately, there were no such two vehicles. There was only the Toyota Fortuner which was tailing the PNP patrol car. Most importantly, said civilian vehicle was not flagged down nor stopped by the so-called “NPA Blocking Force”. Otherwise, the driver would have stopped the vehicle in fear upon seeing unidentified armed men flagging their vehicle down in an isolated part of that Cagayan de Oro-Dominorog-Kalilangan road.

The NPA’s statement further pointed out that the incident was “a painful occurrence which was unforeseen”. It was indeed painful for nothing would ever be agonizing than to lose a life of an innocent child, an infant, in the hands of rabid rascals who cannot contain their itch for fire their weapons at even the innocent civilians. What is even more painful is losing a life of an innocent child during a time when we are commemorating the National Children’s Month. On point, it was never an unforeseen occurrence and much that it would never have happened if only the NPA quenched its thirst for banditry by sparing civilian vehicles from indiscriminate fires. Admittedly, the NPA said that whether they like it or not, the process of continuing their ill-motivated armed struggle, which they are hallucinating to be a civil war, entails unavoidable circumstances such as the death of baby Walysha. It is, in every way, admitting that killing of civilians and making them objects of attack will continue as long as they exist. The 403rd Infantry Brigade, in all its capacity, will not allow this to happen.

Meanwhile, in order to cover their grave mistake, the NPA compared their human rights violations to the heroic acts of our soldiers in Marawi City, limiting the latter to “airstrikes, bombings, and indiscriminate firing of innocent civilians”. The NPA is clearly at a loss as it tried to discredit the actions of the AFP in the liberation of Marawi City from the hands of terrorists, which the Filipino people have overwhelmingly supported. It continued in its attempt to downplay the incident by saying that “the military and the police overemphasize the said ambush as barbarous”. Once again, just to emphasize, it was indeed barbarous and inhumane. In fact, there are no other words that could best describe the death of an innocent child in the hands of oblivious armed bandits than barbaric. The NPA even brag that their ambush was “successful” despite the tragic loss of innocent lives.

The NPA also claimed that it “adherently abide by the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law” or CARHRIHL. CARHRIHL is an agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines to uphold and respect Human Rights and protect civilians and non-combatants from armed engagements between the AFP and the NPA. In this agreement, Part 3, Article 2, Paragraph 15 prohibits the use of landmine. Also in this agreement, Part 4, Article 4, Paragraph 4, provides that Civilian population and civilians shall be treated as such and shall be distinguished from combatants and,together with their property, shall not be the object of attack. Unfortunately, the NPA has repeatedly violated these provisions by subjecting civilians and their properties to attacks. Just to name a few, below are the violations committed by the NPA:
  1. Burning of three boom harvesters and one skidder owned by the Del Monte Philippines Incorporated in Brgy. Patpat, Malaybalay City, Bukidnon on March 20, 2017;
  2. Raid of / forcible entry at Maharlika Vic Lao Farm and stealing of two shotguns owned by security personnel and more or less 120 pecking ducks in Purok 4, Brgy. Tawas, Kitaotao, Bukidnon on June 29, 2017;
  3. Burning of DOLE Palletizing Plant and indiscriminate firing in Sitio Gabunan, Brgy. Casisang, Malaybalay City, Bukidnon on September 6, 2017;
  4. Raid of / forcible entry at SUMIFRO Repolidon Compound in Brgy. Tugaya, Valencia City, Bukidnon on September 9, 2017;
  5. Murder of Barangay Councilor Romeo Bantilan, Jr. at his residence in Brgy. White Kulaman, Kitaotao, Bukidnon on October 8, 2017;
  6. Attack of DAVCO Compound and burning of several equipment in Sitio Rang-ay, Brgy. Merangeran, Quezon, Bukidnon on October 8, 2017;
  7. Burning of DOLE Portable Banana Processor in Sitio Sta. Cruz, Brgy. Casisang, Malaybalay City, Bukidnon on November 3, 2017; and
  8. Killing of Walysha Machorao, 4-month old baby, and wounding of three civilians during an ambush in KM 28, Brgy. Ticalaan, Talakag, Bukidnon on November 9, 2017.
The NPA’s fallacious statements, their attempt to indemnify the victims of their banditry, and their appeal for forgiveness only add insult to injury. Unless justice is brought upon the perpetrators, the 403rd Infantry Brigade will not cease from going after these bandits. More so, it will continue to perform its mandate of protecting our people and securing the communities within its area. Finally, to all those who continue to support the NPA, you have blood in your hands. 403IBde/MCAG

DWDD: STORMTROOPERS | 8ID to Recruit Additional 500 Candidate Soldier for CY 2018

From DWDD the AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Nov 18): STORMTROOPERS  |  8ID to Recruit Additional 500 Candidate Soldier for CY 2018


CAMP GENERAL VICENTE LUKBAN, CATBALOGAN CITY – The 8th Infantry (Stormtroopers) Division, Philippine Army is recruiting additional 500 Candidate Soldiers for CY 2018 to fill-up the line units of the 8th Infantry Division.

Interested applicants may proceed to the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Personnel, G1 and must bring along with them the original copy of the following documents: Birth Certificate from Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) with official receipt; Form 137 of Transcript of Records; Diploma (High School or College); one (1) 2×2 picture with name tag and valid identification cards.

“If you are 18-26 years of age, single, never been married, never been borne or sired a child, emotionally, physically and mentally fit, at least 5 feet in height (male & female), with no pending case in court, have passed the AFP Service Aptitude Test (AFPSAT) examination with a strong desire to serve the country and have all the needed documents for processing, you are welcome to apply for the Candidate Soldier Course and join the Philippine Army,” Col. Leonardo C. Dacumos, Assistant Chief of Staff for Personnel, G1 of 8ID said. 8DPAO/MCAG

DWDD: COURTESY CALL | Commander FMRF visits Royal Thai Fleet Headquarters

From DWDD the AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Nov 20): COURTESY CALL  |  Commander FMRF visits Royal Thai Fleet Headquarters


CHONBURI, Thailand (DWDD) – Commodore Albert A Mogol AFP, Commander, Fleet-Marine Ready Force and head of mission for ASEAN Multilateral Naval Exercise (AMNEX) 2017 together with the Naval Task Group 80.5 Staff aboard BRP-Tarlac (LD601) paid courtesy call to Commander in Chief, Royal Thai Navy Admiral Naris Pratoomsuwan and Commander in Chief, Royal Thai Fleet Admiral Rangsarit Sattayanukul on November 14, 2017 at Royal Thai Fleet Headquarters, Chonburi District, Thailand. The Philippine Navy sent two vessels to this ten (10) day 1st ever AMNEX and International Fleet Review hosted by the Royal Thai Navy. NPAO/MCAG

DWDD: COMMUNITY INTERACTION | PN Ships conducts “Open Ship” in Thailand

From DWDD the AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Nov 20): COMMUNITY INTERACTION  |  PN Ships conducts “Open Ship” in Thailand


CHONBURI, Thailand (DWDD) – The Philippine Navy Contingent headed by Commodore Albert A Mogol AFP, Commander, Fleet-Marine Ready Force as head of mission and Navy Captain Donn Anthony L Miraflor PN (GSC) the Commander Naval Task Group 80.5 conducted open ship aboard BRP-Tarlac (LD601) and BRP-Gregorio Del Pilar(FF15) on November 15, 2017.
The two (2) ships were visited by the Filipino Community at Thailand and other Navies from the participating countries. Subsequently, a PN Hosted reception and Filipino Community Interaction were simultaneously conducted at the evening aboard BRP Tarlac (LD601).

The Philippine Navy Contingent with the two(2) ships will be participating in the International Fleet Review 2017 with other ASEAN and Non-ASEAN countries. NPAO/MCAG

DWDD: COMMUNITY ACTIVITY | PN joins Lapu-Lapu Fiesta 2017

From DWDD the AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Nov 20): COMMUNITY ACTIVITY  |  PN joins Lapu-Lapu Fiesta 2017

LAPU LAPU CITY, Cebu (DWDD) – Troops from the 82nd Marine Battalion Reserve, 8th Marine Brigade Reserve, Philippine Marine Corps’s join the Parade Activity of the Lapulapu City Fiesta Day Celeb on November 18, 2017. NPAO/MCAG

DepEd upholds neutrality of schools, other learning institutions as zones of peace

From the Philippine Information Agency (Nov 20): DepEd upholds neutrality of schools, other learning institutions as zones of peace

During the Universal Children’s Day, the Department of Education (DepEd) underscored anew its strong commitment to maintain the neutrality of schools as zones of peace, to ensure that learners and teachers are in an environment conducive to learning and free from harm.

The long-standing commitment of the Department was strengthened through the issuance of the DepEd Order No. 44, series of 2005, or the Declaration of Schools as Zones of Peace.

Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones emphasized that DepEd has and will always condemn all activities that endanger schools and other learning institutions, which may result in the delay of the delivery of quality, accessible, relevant, and liberating basic education to Filipino learners.

Briones, who has long been campaigning for this commitment, further stated, “We enjoin everyone to ensure that learners, teachers and other personnel, as well as schools and other learning institutions, are spared from any form of violence and threat at all times, especially during armed conflict.”

To better inform the public and all education stakeholders, schools were instructed to post the official tarpaulin indicating schools as zones of peace.

Moreover, DepEd has been actively campaigning for the Philippines to sign the Safe Schools Declaration (SSD) and the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use During Armed Conflict.

The SSD was crafted and developed through consultations among various states as “an inter-governmental political commitment that provides countries the opportunity to express support for protecting students, teachers, schools, and universities from attack during times of armed conflict; the importance of the continuation of education during armed conflict; and the implementation of concrete measures to deter the military use in schools.”

5 soldiers wounded in clash with NPA in Nueva Vizcaya

From the Philippine Information Agency (Nov 20): 5 soldiers wounded in clash with NPA in Nueva Vizcaya

A recent firefight between government soldiers and the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in the upland villages on the southern part of the province left 5 soldiers wounded.

Police and military sources said the five injured soldiers were identified as Safron Marcelino, Roderick Requizo, Roland Verdadero, Leonard Dela Cruz and Danilo Rivera. They were rescued by the joint team of volunteers from the Philippine Red Cross and radio communication groups.

The wounded soldiers are now confined in various hospitals in the province.

The firefight which erupted early morning Thursday in the upland barangay Sanguit in Dupax del Sur town made rescue efforts difficult because of the distance and accessibility of the area as continuous rains poured in the entire province.
Mayor Ruben Basconcillo said around 30 families have left their homes within the danger zones for fear of being caught in the middle of the firefight.

“These families sought refuge to their relatives and our barangay hall in barangay Ganao which is now our focus for relief operations and provision of other assistance,” the mayor said.

Basconcillo said classes in the area has been temporarily suspended through the Department of Education as the area is still a hot zone for civilian activities.

Earlier, similar encounters in upland barangays of Kasibu town claimed lives of 5 soldiers and killed close to 10 NPA rebels in the upland barangays of neighboring Alfonso Castaneda town, a host municipality for the multi-million Casecnan Multi-Purpose Irrigation and Power Project.

Military officials said the province has long been a breeding ground for communist rebels due to the presence of large scale mining and dam projects, including the proposed Diduyon Irrigation and Power Project in the towns of Kasibu, Quezon, and Alfonso Castaneda.

They said these projects are being targeted for revolutionary taxes coupled with capitalizing environmental issues to gain sympathy from the affected communities.

Soldiers clash with 30 NPAs in Iloilo town

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 20): Soldiers clash with 30 NPAs in Iloilo town

The Philippine Army's 61st Infantry Battalion (61 IB) clashed with some 30 members of the New People's Army (NPA) Monday afternoon at the boundary of Barangay Canawilian, Janiuay, Iloilo and Barangay Trangka in Maasin town.

The soldiers were conducting foot patrol when they encountered the rebels.

The 40-minute encounter resulted to the recovery of four backpacks containing suspected personal belongings, according to Lt. Col. Sisenando Magbalot Jr., 61st IB commanding officer.

Magbalot said that they have yet to open the recovered backpacks.

"There are also traces of blood found in the area so possibly there were wounded NPAs," he said, adding that no one from the government troops was hurt.

Clearing operation in the area is still ongoing as of press time.

Magbalot said that his men are continuously conducting combat operations in areas where presence of NPA has been identified.

Magbalot added that the encounter also the result of their intensified operations against terrorist groups as ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Troops rescue 5 fishing boat crew

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 20): Troops rescue 5 fishing boat crew

Government security forces rescued five Filipino fishing boat crew seized more than a month ago by Abu Sayyaf bandits in the province of Sulu, military officials announced Monday.
Rescued were Vergel Arquino, 25; Jushua Ybanez, 23; Emo Fausto, 63; Junald Minalang, 24; and, Spriano Sordido, 53, all crew of F/B Danvil 8 owned by Danvil Yanoc of Pagadian City.

All except Arquino, who is from Davao City, are residents of Pagadian City, the capital of Zamboanga del Sur.

They were rescued off Sugbay Island, Languyan, Tawi-Tawi around 1:30 p.m. Friday but the rescue was only made public on November 20.

Abu Sayyaf bandits seized the five crewmen on October 14 when they sought shelter in the coast of Barangay Simbahan, Pangutaran, Sulu due to bad weather.

Brig. Gen. Custodio Parcon, Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi commander, said they took the opportunity to rescue the victims after learning the Abu Sayyaf captors were on the run brought about by the continuous military operations against them in the province.

The rescued fishing boat crew underwent medical examination upon arrival at the Naval Forces Western Mindanao headquarters in this city.

Efforts to foil potential terror attacks continue: AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 19): Efforts to foil potential terror attacks continue: AFP

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson, Major General Restituto Padilla, on Sunday assured the public that government troops continue to exhaust all efforts to foil any potential terror plot by extremist groups and their allies in Mindanao.

This came in the wake of President Rodrigo Duterte's announcement that the decision to extend martial law in Mindanao will come from military and police recommendations.

"We are working to meet the deadline by the end of the year to address the threats posed by terror networks in Mindanao," Padilla said in a message to the PNA Sunday.

"We shall make the necessary assessment to determine if we have successfully done that and in the event that we have not, appropriate recommendations will be made to the Commander-in-Chief and the Security Council/Cluster," he added.

The military official said that their ultimate goal for now is to degrade and eliminate the ability of terrorist groups and their networks so they could no longer pose a serious threat to national security.

Martial law in Mindanao was declared on May 23, when fighting in war-torn Marawi City erupted.

Heavy fighting was brought about by efforts to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader and ISIS emir in Southeast Asia, Isnilon Hapilon, and his cohorts.

The five-month battle to liberate Marawi City was only declared over after authorities confirmed the death of Hapilon and Maute Group co-founder, Omar Maute, last Oct. 23.

India interested to supply military equipment: Lorenzana

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 19): India interested to supply military equipment: Lorenzana

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Friday India has expressed interest to help in the Philippine military modernization by supplying equipment.

Lorenzana made the remark when asked if the Philippines and India have agreed to sign any agreement during last week's 31st ASEAN Summit.

"Wala kaming napirmahan ngayon but we already have some documents, memorandum of understanding about visitation, mga (military) students coming here, or students, officers of the AFP and enlisted personnel of the AFP going there," Lorenzana said.

What seems apparent during the meeting with India is the country's desire to supply the Philippines with equipment it needs for the military's modernization program, Lorenzana said.

"Ang gusto nilang pasukan dito, is they want to provide us, to supply us also with equipment kasi they have a very robust defense industry, gumagawa sila dyan ng mga barko, mga tangke, whatever mga bala, in fact in the past we bought yung rounds ng mga artillery sa kanila, so they are capable of doing that and they want to tap into our market kasi alam nila nagmomodernize tayo, marami tayong binibili gusto rin nilang pumasok," the DND chief said.

India has expressed interest in selling naval frigates to the Philippines.

This is not India's first time to participate in the AFP Modernization Program, as one of India's leading shipyards Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers previously joined the bid to secure an PHP18 billion frigate program but eventually lost to South Korea's Hyundai Heavy Industries.

"In fact nagparticipate sila sa bidding last time sa frigate (project) kaya lang natalo sila sa pangalawa, they won in the first round pero nung pumunta yung ating mga technical personnel sa India para (i-inspect) yung kanilnag financial capability, they found out they cannot, there were technically, nadisqualify sila so that's why Hyundai won kasi sila yung pangalawa," he added.

In the contract, two frigates with anti-submarine, anti-air, and anti-surface capabilities were supposed to be constructed for the Philippines.

Duterte to list CPP-NPA-NDF as terrorist

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 19): Duterte to list CPP-NPA-NDF as terrorist

Like the United States, President Rodrigo Duterte will place the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) in the list of terrorists.

If he had recognized them before as legitimate rebels, Duterte said he would no longer talk to them with the continued depredations and killing of innocent of people - even an infant, a four months old baby - during an ambush in Bukidnon.

“So beginning from now, wala nang (no more) rebellion-rebellion because rebellion is just a light offense. It can be bailable except for the leader,” Duterte told reporters in a press interview at the launching of the Department of Agriculture (DA) - Ayala Malls partnership of TienDA and Fisherfolk outlets at the Abreeza Mall Saturday.

Duterte said he would remove the communist movement from the category as legal entity or semi-(revolutionary) movement which would merit the Philippine government attention.

“We will consider them terrorists, ordinary brigands and no more about principles there. You are not fighting for any principle. My God, killing a four-year-old infant?” he said.

Duterte said government authorities would file murder, arson, and other charges “because I would consider them criminals already.”

The President pointed out that killing a baby is an intentional act. It is not an accident.

“You know when you fire at government vehicles or anyone for that matter. There's always a danger. It's a malicious act. There is the intent to kill that's why it's an ambush,” he said.

“Therefore, according to law, you are responsible for all the unintended and intended victims. There is pure malice, there (is) criminal intent. That is what the law says,” he said.

Asked if he is still interested in continuing the peace talks with the CPP-NDF given that their armed group — the NPA — have intensified attacks against government forces, Duterte said he is no longer inclined to talk peace with the communists.

The peace negotiations with the left have been suspended since February.

He also referred to the legal groups like Bayan, which is also conspiring with the ongoing rebellion citing the propaganda and the protest-rallies of the allied groups pointing him as fascist and into graft and corruption.

“There's a lot of streamers there and placards saying that pasista ako, ako ay graft and corruption, may PHP2 billion ako (I am fascist, I am into graft and corruption, I have PHP2 billion),” he stressed.

If this is what the communists believe, Duterte said they should not relate with him. “What's the point? Why are you talking to me if I am a corrupt official, if I have amassed wealth?” he asked.

Duterte said he could give everybody access to his bank account except his political nemesis.

“I can give you any time to find out. All they have to do is write the AMLC (Anti-Money Laundering Commission) to allow them to push the button there,’ he added.

“Ngayon, kung corrupt ako, kung pasista ako, kung mamamatay tao ako, at DDS ako (Now, if I am corrupt, I am fascist, I am a killer, and I am DDS [Davao Death Squad]) why talk to me? Go find somebody else,” he added.

The past two weeks saw the NPA’s intensified offensive operations against government forces in the areas of Davao, Bukidnon, and Agusan.

In Davao City, NPA liquidation hitmen killed a police officer in Barangay Valencia, Tugbok District on November 13. The rebels also abducted two police officers in Caraga.

On November 14, NPA burned two trucks along the highway of Barangay Cuyago, Jabonga province of Agusan del Norte.

There was also the ambush incident killing a four-month-old baby and a police officer in Talakag, Bukidnon.

Duterte said the NPA's extortion activities, even victimizing farmers, have contributed to the high prices of farm goods.

“Kayong mga Pilipino dapat maintindihan ninyo 'yan bakit mahal? Kasi ang NPA, may extortion. Pati 'yung mga farmers nagbabayad. Dagdag 'yan doon sa presyo (You Filipinos you should understand why the (products) are expensive? Because the NPA is into extortion. Even farmers pay. That’s an addition to the prices,” he said.

The President said the NPA is victimizing the businessmen and burning their equipment.

The businesses are providing work for the countryside and yet the rebels are destroying the very essence of the industry, he added.

“And they say that they fight for the people? What a lousy statement actually,” he said.

Duterte said he would give his soldiers a break then “we will also go to the offensive”.

“We will study and maybe we will have a crackdown here somewhere. Nagsasawa na ako dito sa kalokohan nila. So 'yang lahat ninyong pretending to be speaking for the people 'yung mga quasi ano ninyo diyan, legitimate kunwari (I am sick with their foolishness. So everything that you are pretending to be speaking for the people and your quasi, legitimate pretenses),” he said.

But Duterte said he would give a chance to the rebels who have reached their senior years, to surrender and they would be provided with housing and work.

“Pero magtrabaho kayo (But you will have to work). I will not just pay you for your indulgence. I will take you in government. But you have to work just like any other Filipino working every day to earn his keep,” he assured.

AFP backs Duterte plan to tag NPA as terrorist group

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 19): AFP backs Duterte plan to tag NPA as terrorist group

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson, Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla, on Sunday said the military supports President Rodrigo Duterte's announcement that he would classify the New People's Army (NPA) as a terrorist group.

"On the matter concerning the NPA, government has done its part and negotiated with sincerity," Padilla said.

Duterte said he was already 'fed up' with the recent actions of the communist rebels, and reiterated that he is "not any more inclined" to continue the peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the NPA.

Peace negotiations between the communist rebels and the government were stalled since February 4, after members of the NPA conducted a series of unprovoked attacks killing unarmed soldiers and police personnel, and burned millions of pesos worth of properties.

"We totally agree with the Commander-in-Chief in calling the NPAs terrorists because it is clearly reflected in the numerous criminal/lawless/terrorist acts that they have been committing against defenseless and innocent civilians," Padilla added.

Recent NPA attacks show banditry, disregard for human life: AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 20): Recent NPA attacks show banditry, disregard for human life: AFP

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson, Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla, on Monday called the recent unprovoked attacks by the New People's Army (NPA) as a demonstration of lack of regard to human life and the group's continued down swing on crime.

Padilla was referring to the NPA ambush in Bukidnon last November 9 that killed a four-month-old baby girl, identified as Machorao Malysha, of Kili-Kili, Wao town in Lanao del Sur, and a policeman identified as Senior Police Officer 3 (SPO3) Arnel Carillo.

The infant was on board a sports utility vehicle with seven of her kin when hit by stray bullets. Their family was following a police vehicle when ambushed by members of the NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

"There are criminal acts. Most of their activities have in fact increasingly affected innocent civilians and law abiding citizens," said Padilla.

Instances like this only strengthens President Rodrigo Duterte's pronouncements that the NPA should be declared as a terror organization, Padilla stressed.

"It is the state's duty to defend (civilians) and we completely agree with the Commander-in-Chief's pronouncements," he added.

4th Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Ronald Villanueva earlier said that the November 9 incident is just plain murder.

"The killing of the infant and policeman – like other NPA executions – is just plain murder. The NPA’s actions and claims of revolutionary are flagrant violations of our law and international law. If they wanted to offer indemnification to the family, it would be best if they surrender the perpetrators to justice," he said.

Villanueva added that in staging the ambush, the NPA have violated Part 4, Article 4, Num 4 of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) which states that civilians shall be treated as such and shall be distinguished from combatants and, together with their property, shall not be the object of attack.

The law also stressed that civilians shall be protected from indiscriminate strafing and use of landmines.

'Foreign fighters' helping BIFF in Maguindanao, N. Cotabato

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 20): 'Foreign fighters' helping BIFF in Maguindanao, N. Cotabato

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is still verifying reports that foreign fighters or jihadists are helping the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in the ongoing campaign in Maguindanao and North Cotabato.

This was stressed by Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla, AFP spokesperson, in an interview Sunday.

"Oo, merong binitawang salita yun mga taga 6th Infantry Division (Lt. Col. Gerry Bersana of the 6th Civil-Military Operations). Positive, may mga nakita dun. Pero hindi pa ma-ascertain kung sino-sino yung mga yun (Yes, the 6th Infantry Division mentioned something about that. Positive, they saw something there. But they cannot ascertain yet whom they have seen)," he added.

These individuals are foreign looking, the AFP spokesperson admitted, but said validation is needed to determine whether these foreign fighters are among those reported present in the five-month battle in Marawi City.

"Foreign-looking but we need to validate and ascertain. Hindi namin sure (if galing Marawi) pero malamang iba ‘to (We are not sure if they were from Marawi but it seems these are from a different place)," he added.

Padilla declined to comment on whether the sighted foreign terrorists are Caucasian-looking.

"They may be any nationality that’s why there’s a need to check further. Tuloy-tuloy pa rin ang operations against BIFF, nangunguna diyan ay 6th Infantry Division sa ilalim ni Maj. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega (Operations against BIFF are ongoing. It is spearheaded by the 6th Infantry Division under Maj. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega)," he added.

Operations against the terror group started last November 15 and 17 after a large concentration of BIFF men was spotted in Maguindanao and North Cotabato, respectively.

Activists file charges against Abaya over Busan agreement

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 20): Activists file charges against Abaya over Busan agreement

Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes, Bayan Muna chair Neri Colmenares and other representatives from the Agham and Train Riders Network (TREN) on Monday filed a complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman against former officials of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) over the alleged anomalous PHP3.8-billion maintenance contract with the Busan Joint Venture.

Among others, charged were former DOTC Secretary Jun Abaya, former Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) general manager Roman Buenafe and former Undersecretary Rene Limcaoco for approving the said contract, which the complainants claimed, had caused the current dismal service of the MRT-3.

The respondents were charged with graft and violation of the procurement law.

According to the complainants, the Busan Universal Rail Inc. (BURI) had no financial and technical capability to maintain the MRT-3, but they apparently merely circumvented the guidelines in order for them to pass the qualifications as a maintenance provider.

Reyes said that the first complaint filed by the current Department of Transportation (DoTr) against the former DOTC officials was insufficient, hence, they still have to file another complaint against the same.

The DoTr earlier charged the former DOTC officials before the Ombudsman over the alleged questionable awarding of the contract to the (BURI), when in fact, the Busan Joint Venture was the original one who participated in the bidding.

Navy to have missile system by Christmas

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 20): Navy to have missile system by Christmas

If everything goes as planned, the Philippine Navy (PN) will be mounting its first-ever missile system on three brand-new multi-purpose attack craft (MPAC) this Christmas season.

This was confirmed Monday by PN flag-officer-in-command, Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado, when asked on the delivery and mounting of the Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd's Spike ER (extended range) missile systems on its three MPACs.

The weapons are on anti-ship mode or can engage surface vessel targets. It is capable of penetrating 1,000 mm (39 inches) of rolled homogeneous armor and has a maximum range of five miles.

"A pre-delivery inspection is already scheduled. Then an Air Force plane (from the Philippines) will go Israel to transport the missiles to the Philippines, all expenses paid by the proponent," Mercado said.

Tentative delivery and fitting out date is within December, the PN chief added.

The three MPACs, with hull number BA-488, BA-489, and BA-490, were activated last May 22.

These MPACs are the Mark III models and considerably more advanced that the six Mark I and IIs currently in the Navy inventory that was constructed by Subic Bay-based Propmech Corporation.

Contract for the three ships are worth PHP270 million which was sourced from the Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Act Trust Fund of 2000.

The contract includes mission essential equipment which includes day/night electronic navigation systems, communication suites, safety-of-life-at-sea, propulsion system and seamanship and ship-handling gears.

Classifying NPA as terrorist won’t affect peace talks: Casiple

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 20): Classifying NPA as terrorist won’t affect peace talks: Casiple

Classifying the New People’s Army (NPA) as a terrorist group would not affect the peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines/National Democratic Front (CPP/NDF).

This was the reaction of Professor Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms (IPER), on the plan of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to classify the NPA as a terrorist group.

Casiple made the reaction during the Forum on Political Reforms and the Mindanao Peace Process: Challenges and Prospects held Monday at the Makati Diamond Residences in Makati City.

The political analyst noted that Duterte was prompted to declare the NPA as a terrorist group with the killing of a four-year-old baby in Bukidnon and a policeman as well as the past incidents of atrocities committed by the NPA.

Likewise, Casiple described the threats/accusation of the President against the NPA as in the “realm of possibility and not idle threats.”

He stressed that the President made the threats/accusation against the NPA and not against the CPP/NDF.

Envoy optimistic about return of Balangiga bells to PH

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 20): Envoy optimistic about return of Balangiga bells to PH

Ambassador-designate to the United States Babe Romualdez is optimistic that the Balangiga bells will "soon" be returned to the Philippines after Defense Secretary James Mattis assured President Rodrigo Duterte that he will do everything in his capacity to bring back the war artifacts.

During the meeting of Mattis and Duterte at an event in Pampanga, the envoy said the latter requested the US official to help Manila in retrieving the bells, given it has "sentimental value" to the Filipino people.

According to Romualdez, Mattis gave a response assuring the chief executive "he will do what he can".

With the favorable reply, the envoy said the bells' return is certain should come a time that the authorization necessary would come from the defense secretary.

"Ang maganda rin doon, yung defense secretary siyempre siya ang namamahala sa Armed Forces ng US, baka dumating ang araw na siya lang ang kailangang mag-authorize na isoli na sa atin yung mga bells," he said.

"For me, I am confident that we'll get it back in a couple of years, no not years, I think sooner than later," he said. "(It would be) within our lifetime, but I think sooner than later since (talks) are already there."

"Ang latest na information na na-receive ko, yung law which prohibits the bringing of articles of war, memorabilia ng war medyo nag-expire na, so mayroon tayong mga kaibigang Amerikano na tumutulong sa atin," Romualdez said before he leaves for Washington to assume his role as the Philippine envoy to US.

US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim in July already said America is willing to return all three Balangiga Bells to the Philippines as both sides explore resolution at an earlier date.

The prominent bells were taken from the Balangiga church in Samar by American troops as a war
booty from the "Balangiga Massacre" in 1901.

With a total of three, one bell is displayed at the 9th Infantry Regiment at Camp Cloud in South Korea while the other two are in the former base of the 11th Infantry Regiment at F. E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenee, Wyoming.

Duterte first demanded for the return of the bells during his second State of the Nation Address. “Give us back those Balangiga bells. They are ours. They belong to the Philippines. They are part of our national heritage. Isauli naman ninyo. Masakit ‘yun sa amin," he said.