Thursday, December 7, 2017

PAF chopper makes emergency landing in NegOcc

From Update Philippines (Dec 8): PAF chopper makes emergency landing in NegOcc

A Philippine Air Force (PAF) Huey combat utility helicopter made an emergency landing after suffering some electrical problems while on a routine mission in Negros Occidental Thursday afternoon.

Maj. Aristides Galang, PAF spokesperson, said the UH-1 helicopter, with tail number 516, was conducting its assigned mission when it encountered electrical problems, prompting pilots to land at the highway between Hinigan and Binalbagan, Negros Occidental past noon.

“Pilots decided to perform the said landing to check and correct such discrepancy as a standard procedure for safety,” he said.

Both aircraft and crew returned to their base in the province after fixing the problem, Galang added.

The PAF operates 30 to 40 units of the Huey helicopters for transport, supply and medical evacuation missions.

Air Force conducts recruitment drive

From Update Philippines (Dec 8): Air Force conducts recruitment drive

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) is conducting a recruitment drive starting December 9 until January 15 for Candidate Soldier positions. PAF bases in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao will be designated as examination areas.

Below is the list of examination areas and schedule of examinations provided by PAF.
PAF photo

Initial requirements include: a) Duly accomplished Application Form, b) NSO Birth Certificate (Original & Photocopy), c) Transcript of Records (College & K to 12 Graduates)/ Certificate of Grades (atleast 72 College Units), d) 2 pieces 2X2 ID picture with white background, e) Other essential documents like Armed Forces of the Philippines Service Aptitude Test (AFPSAT) Individual Result Form (IRF) (IF
TAKEN): Original and Photocopy.
An applicant must be a natural born Filipino, Kto12 graduate or at least completed 72 units in college, must be at least 18 years old but not a day older than 26 on May 23, 2018, at least 5 feet tall, with good moral character, and must be single, never been married and never borne or sired a child.

Mayor Sara scraps talks with NPA terrorists

From Update Philippines (Dec 7): Mayor Sara scraps talks with NPA terrorists

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte has scrapped the localized peace talks with the the New People’s Army (NPA) after her father President Rodrigo Duterte declared the communists fighters as terrorists.

“Since the policy of the government is to never negotiate with terrorists, what we are going to do is to talk to the community about their issues through the DC-PEACE Dev,” Mayor Sara said.

She renamed the Davao City Peace committee (DC-PEACE) that previously led the talks with communists to Davao City Advisory Committee for Peace and Development (DC PEACE Dev).

She said the new body would serve as the medium between the city government and far-flung communities to resolve their issues and concerns.

“The output of the talk will be used by the city government of Davao to address the issues the communities are experiencing. We acknowledge that they have issues with regard to the services of the government,” Mayor Sara said.

“What we are going to do is go to the hinterlands and build peace tables, where the community can raise their concerns so that the government can address it,” she said.

Senator Chiz hopes NPA terrorist tag just a negotiating tactic

From Update Philippines (Dec 7): Senator Chiz hopes NPA terrorist tag just a negotiating tactic

Senator Chiz Escudero is hoping that the tagging of Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) – New People’s Army (NPA) as terrorist group by President Rodrigo Duterte is just a negotiating tactic.

“I hope this terror tag on CPP-NPA is just a hiccup or a negotiating tactic in the peace process. I am still optimistic that peace talks between the government and the CPP-NPA will soon resume and prosper under cooler situation,” Senator Escudero said in a release statement.

Escudero, former chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, also said President Duterte’s declaration removes the possibility of peace talks. “And given the government policy, we don’t negotiate with terrorists.”

He also reminded the police and the military to strictly observe the provisions of the Human Security Act (HSA) in the conduct of their operation after the government had officially declared the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the National People’s Army (NPA), as terrorist organizations.

“Any offense committed under HSA necessitates stronger evidentiary requirements. You can’t just file murder, illegal possession of firearms or any non-bailable offense. Government has to follow and adhere to the stringent requirements provided by the law, and these requirements carry corresponding penalties against violators,” Escudero said.

“Ang nakakalungkot dito, marami na namang maiipit na iba’t ibang lugar sa bansa at mga sibilyan dahil sa umpugan ng NPA at ng gobyerno. At magpapatuloy pa rin ang patayan ng Pilipino at kapwa Pilipino,” he said.

“I believe that peace negotiation should be exhausted to bring the armed conflict to a permanent and just closure,” Escudero added.

The senator also noted that Republic Act 9372 or the HSA defines terrorism, as well as provides for the procedure should the government seek to tag a group as terrorist.

Army, Marines getting 345 new Korean military trucks

From Update Philippines (Dec 7): Army, Marines getting 345 new Korean military trucks

The Philippine Army and Philippine Marine Corps will be getting new troop carriers after the Department of National Defense (DND) entered into government-to-government contract for the supply of Kia military trucks.

The DND released to Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) Notice to Proceed in October for the supply of 227 units of KM250 2 1/2 ton truck modified as troop carrier and 10 KM250 2 1/2 ton trucks modified as wrecker for a total contract price of PHP1.419821 billion.

Above mentioned military trucks will be delivered to Philippine Army and Philippine Marine Corps, with great portion going to army.

Another Notice to Proceed was released to KOTRA for the supply of 108 KM450 1 1/4 ton trucks modified as troop carrier for Philippine Marine Corps for a total contract price of PHP313.956 million.

This government-to-government deal, signed in October, is between DND, KOTRA – trade and investment promotion organization operated by the government of South Korea, and Kia Motors Corporation as supplier.

No more peace talks

From the Mindanao Times (Dec 8): No more peace talks
Sara converts DC PEACE into advisory council

FOLLOWING the order of President Rodrigo Duterte declaring the communist group as terrorist, Mayor Sara Duterte said she is no longer pursuing the localized peace talks that she initiated.

The mayor will also be converting into an advisory council the Davao City Peace Council (DC PEACE), the body tasked to supposedly conduct peace talks with the New People’s Army (NPA).

The presidential daughter said she has mixed feelings about the situation.

“As city mayor, I am saddened because there were efforts coming from the city government to sit down and talk peace with the NPA,” Sara said.

The mayor once tagged the NPA as terrorist following the death of fish vendor Larry Buenafe who was hit by a detonated improvised explosive device set up by the rebel during their attack at Lapanday on April 29.

But nonetheless, the mayor still pursued her planned local peace talks with the communist group.

Earlier, members of DC PEACE were supposed to go to the hinterlands of the city this week to make contact with NPA leaders. It has been scrapped.

The DC PEACE team convened yesterday morning in response to the declaration of President Duterte tagging the communist movement as terrorists in a proclamation released earlier this week.

DC PEACE member Irene Santiago, who was the government panel chair of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, said the locally initiated move is no longer pursuing peace talks “but to address the root causes of rebellion.”

The mayor will soon be issuing an executive order to convert DC PEACE into an advisory council that would inform the local government of the grievances of those in the hinterlands in hopes of local government addressing the situation on its own level.

The advisory council, Santiago said, is not at all designed to be a service delivery organization of the government.

She said the council will implement a peace table setup.

The peace table is a venue where a dialog takes place between government and the marginalized sectors – women, indigenous peoples, farmers, workers, etc. – and where they can freely express what they expect government to do to create an environment conducive to peace and what they can also contribute to make peace sustainable.

Santiago said the team will only be having minimal security to avoid the impression that it is a military operation masking as a government caravan.

The committee is scheduled to meet today to identify their next move through a strategic planning.

The group is still hoping to go to the hinterlands of the city on Dec. 20 to initially meet with a community in the second district.

Archbishop Romulo Valles, another member of DC Peace, said the church is looking forward to listening to the grievances of the communities.

“The church doesn’t have all the practical solutions,” Valles said. “But we are looking forward to pursue peace in creative ways.”

“There are valid ways of pursuing peace,” Valles said.

The Mayor said she would give the advisory council free rein to decide the next move.

The Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines are not part of the committee, Mayor Duterte said, allaying fears rebels would see the visit to the hinterlands as a police or military operation.

80 Lumads graduate from Cafgu training

From the Mindanao Times (Nov 8): 80 Lumads graduate from Cafgu training

TWO-HUNDRED forty trainees graduated on Wednesday for the 45-day training on Civilian Army Auxiliary II (CAA II)at the headquarters of 1003rd Infantry brigade located at Barangay Mahayag, Bunawan District.
Col. Ernesto Torres, commander of 1003rd Infantry Brigade, told TIMES that the trainees were composed of two companies where one of the CAA II companies will be a component of the Ancestral Domain Defense Force that they are creating.

Eventually, the 80 IP candidate soldiers undergoing training at 10th Infantry Division training school will be merged with the CAA II company to form part the ancestral domain force in defense of the New People’s Army and to secure the communities, among others.
He also said that the recruitment was done in close consultation with the tribal chieftains of the five tribes in brigades’ operational area.

“We likewise involved them in the organization and deployment planning.,” he said.

He said also they already agreed with the Datus from five major tribes in the city to call the ancestral domain defense force as “Bahaning Kasalihan,” translated as “dependable tribal warrior.”

“We will endeavor to nurture a Lumad force that can truly bring lasting peace and allow progress to prosper in ancestral domain,” he added.

The concept of the special recruitment is a project implemented by the army in the Eastern Mindanao area to be able to address the concern of the tribes to optimize the integration of Lumads into the army’s regular force to combat the encroachment of the ancestral domains by the New People’s Army.

“We will endeavor to nurture a Lumad force that can truly bring lasting peace and allow progress to prosper in the ancestral domain,” he further said.

NPA ‘bomb’ expert yield

From the Mindanao Times (Dec 8): NPA ‘bomb’ expert yield
A BOMB expert and another member of the New People’s Army surrendered to the 71st Infantry Battalion and 60th Infantry Battalion in Mawab, Compostela Valley and Asuncion, Davao del Norte on Sunday.

Capt. Jerry Lamosao, the spokesperson of 10th Infantry Division, said the bomb expert, identified only as Jojo, a member of the Guerilla Front 2, Southern Mindanao Regional Committee, surrendered to the 71st IB on Dec. 2.
Lamosao said Jojo was the vice commander of Milisyang Bayan Cluster Command (MBCC) sector Sapa in Masara Lines of Maco.
According to him, MBCC is a group tasked to conduct sniping, extortion, and ambushes using bombs.

“There will be no more talks between the government and the terrorists yet we are still open to those who intend to voluntarily submit themselves, cooperate, and return to the folds of the law,” Lt. Col. Esteveyn Ducusin, the commanding officer of 71st Infantry Battalion of 7th Infantry Division.

Ducusin already directed his troops to intensify the security measures and the military offensives against the NPA to maintain peace and order in Compostela Valley.

Meanwhile, another NPA member surrendered an M14 rifle and AK-47 rifle to the 60th Infantry Battalion.

2Lt. Amadeuz Vincent John Celestial, the Civil-Military Operations (CMO) officer of the 60th IB, identified him only as alias Toni, 28, a resident of New Corella, Davao del Norte. Another former rebel who also surrendered to 60IB helped facilitate Toni’s surrender.
Toni said he has been with the armed group since 2006. He also said that during the ceasefire, he was deployed by the NPA in Cagayan Valley (Luzon) for three months.

Toni will be enrolled in the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP). He will also receive additional remuneration for the firearms that he endorsed.

Lt. Col. Emmanuel Canilla, commander of 60IB, said that while they will welcome any rebel who will surrender, it would be better if they could bring their firearms with them.

“If they leave with their firearms behind, that firearm may still be used by the other NPA criminals to terrorize our people and communities,” he said. “Plus, they get remuneration for every piece of it (firearm).”

Col. Erwin Bernard Neri, 1001st Infantry Brigade commander, expressed his optimism in the campaign to end the insurgency. “We are encouraging NPA members to return to the folds of the law, re-join mainstream society and support the people’s clamor for peace and an end to violence,” Neri said.

Recently, eighteen members of NPA terrorist surrendered to the soldiers of 3rd Infantry Battalion and 1001st Infantry Brigade. Based on the records of the 10th Infantry Division, there were already 228 NPA rebels who surrendered since January this year.

NPA accused military of killing civilians in South

From the Mindanao Examiner (Dec 6): NPA accused military of killing civilians in South

Communist New People’s Army rebels condemned Wednesday the alleged murder of 8 civilians by government troops who accused them as insurgents during a military operation in South Cotabato province.

Efren Aksasato, a rebel spokesman, said soldiers from the 27th Infantry Battalion massacred villagers in Lake Sebu on December 3. “The 27th Infantry Battalion massacred civilian residents and not NPA members in a skirmish that took place in on December 3,” he said in a statement sent to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner, adding, the victims were all members of the indigenous T’boli tribe opposing mining operation in their ancestral domain.

The 6th Infantry Division said all those killed were NPA rebels who clashed with soldiers that left 2 infantrymen dead.

Aksasato said those killed by soldiers were members of the T’boli-Manobo S’daf Claimants Organization, a group fighting for the tribe’s ancestral lands being claimed by the mining firm D.M. Consunji Holdings Inc. (DMCI) through the government’s Integrated Forest Management Agreement program (IFMA).

IFMA is a production sharing contract entered into by and between the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the mining firm which grants DMCI the exclusive right to develop, manage, protect and utilize a specified area of forestland and forest resources therein for a period of 25 years and may be renewed for another 25-year period, consistent with the principle of sustainable development and in accordance with an approved Comprehensive Development and Management Plan.

“Reports said that at around 12:25 in the afternoon in December 3, forces of the 27th Infantry Battalion conducting military operations arrive in the community. The soldiers approached the house of the chieftain Datu Victor Danyan and opened fire. This prompted the residents, armed with 12-gauge shotguns and indigenous weapons, to fight back.”

“The firefight resulted to the death of eight individuals namely Datu Victor Danyan Sr., Victor Danyan Jr., Artemio Danyan, Pato Celardo, To Diamante, Bobot Lagase, and Mateng Bantal. A number were also wounded that includes Luben Laod and Teteng Laod, and a minor that was taken to a hospital,” Aksasato said.

He said rebel forces near the area responded to the military atrocities and rescued other civilians and brought them to safety away from government soldiers, but eventually NPA fighters engaged troops in a running gun battle. He said one rebel was killed in the clashes.

There was no immediate statement from the military on Aksasato’s allegations. But President Rodrigo Duterte has tagged the NPA and the Communist Party of the Philippines as a terrorist organization following the collapse of the peace talks due to the rebels’ continued attacks on government and military and even civilian targets.

Tagalog news: Mga LGU sa Palawan pinulong ng WESCOM kontra NPA

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 6): Tagalog news: Mga LGU sa Palawan pinulong ng WESCOM kontra NPA


Nakipagpulong ang Western Command (WESCOM) sa mga lokal na pamahalaan ng Palawan upang matalakay at bumuo ng hakbang laban sa rebeldeng grupong New People’s Army (NPA) sa kanilang nasasakupan.

Ito ay sa pamamagitan ng isinagawang ‘local chief executive forum on anti-terrorism and Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) recruitment and atrocities’ sa WESCOM.

Dito, binigyang ni Lt. General Rozzano Briguez, commander ng WESCOM na dapat paigtingin ang pagkalap ng impormasyon lalo na sa mga liblib na lugar na siyang pangunahing puntirya ng NPA sa kanilang panghihikayat.

Gagamit din aniya ang tropa ng pamahalaan ng teknolohiya lalo na sa komunikasyon sa paglaban sa mga rebeldeng NPA na kumikilos sa kabundukan ng Palawan.

Sa pulong, hiniling ni Mayor Medwin Pablico ng Dumaran na makapagtayo ng detachment ng militar sa barangay Magsaysay dahil sa umano’y presensiya ng rebeldeng grupo na nagsasagawa ng recruitment sa lugar.

Subalit ayon kay Col. Robert Velasco, hepe ng Unified Command Staff ng WESCOM, hindi maaaring maglagay ng detachment ang pamahalaan sa bawat barangay na kung saan mayroong kumikilos na rebeldeng NPA.

Iminungkahi ng mga opisyal ang sandatahang lakas ng Pilipinas na palakasin ng gobyerno ang pagbibigay ng tamang impormasyon, kaakibat ang nararapat na serbisyo sa mga komunidad mula sa mga ahensiya ng pamahalaan.

Ayon kay Velasco, kadalasan kasi na ang nagiging dahilan ng mga nahihikayat na sumapi sa mga rebelde ay ang kahirapan at hindi patas na hustisya.
Samantala, pinaalalahanan naman ng Department of the Interior and Local Govenrment (DILG) ang mga lokal na opisyal na i-convene at gawing aktibo ang kani-kanilang local peace and order council at magkaroon ng quarterly meeting.

Base sa kumpirmasyon ng WESCOM, 65 barangay ng 10 bayan sa Palawan kabilang ang Puerto Princesa ang nakikitaan ng presensya ng NPA na nagpapalipat-lipat ng lokasyon.

Kabilang sa mga natukoy na lugar ang ilang barangay sa Quezon, Rizal, Bataraza, Brooke’s Point at Sofronio Española sa bahaging sur, San Vicente, Roxas, Taytay, Coron at Busuanga naman sa norte.

Misuari’s 2013 Zambo siege case still suspended, says Roque

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 6): Misuari’s 2013 Zambo siege case still suspended, says Roque

The case against Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chairman Nur Misuari for his alleged involvement in the 2013 Zamboanga siege is still suspended indefinitely.

During his first press briefing in Zamboanga City, Presidential Spokesperson Atty. Harry Roque clarified that the case versus Professor Misuari is not dismissed, but merely suspended, while peace talks between the Government and the MNLF are still ongoing.

“The DOJ has created a special task force that handles this specific case for violation of international humanitarian law in connection to the Zamboanga siege,” Atty. Roque said. He did not elaborate if there is a timeline for the case to progress.

Meanwhile, Atty. Roque emphasized that President Duterte is pushing for a more inclusive Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) this time. The original BBL which was drafted during the previous administration excluded the MNLF especially in the consultations. This exclusion, some analysts think, could have very well been one of the triggers for the Zamboanga siege.

“President Duterte,” Atty Roque said, “believes that an inclusive BBL, where MNLF is made part of the consultation process, is a means to achieving lasting peace in Mindanao.”

However, the presidential spokesperson clarified that areas who do not wish to be part of the Bangsamoro will not be compelled. “The President respects Davao’s and Zamboanga’s decision not to be part of the BBL,” he said.

Yes for Peace advocates hail Duterte’s call for an inclusive BBL

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 7): Yes for Peace advocates hail Duterte’s call for an inclusive BBL

Advocates of the citizen-led "Yes for Peace–Bayanihan ng Bayan" hail the call of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte for the passage of an inclusive Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) made during the Bangsamoro Assembly held recently in Sultan Kuradat, Maguindanao province.

In his call President Duterte categorically stated that the BBL must be inclusive and deals with the concerns of Muslims, Christians and Lumads.

To conclude his call, the President stressed, “As far as I am concerned, actually what is at stake here is the preservation of the Filipino republic and to correct historical injustice.”

Mama S. Lalanto, al Haj, adviser of Yes for Peace said, “One the options for consideration is the serious review of the output of the Regional Consultative Commission composed of Muslims, Christians and Lumads that drafted the law that created the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.”

“Even the Moro Islamic Liberation Front led by Al Haj Murad and the Moro National Liberation Front led by Nur Misuari agree that had the ARMM Law as drafted been enacted into law, most of the concerns that have delayed the long sought peace in Mindanao could have already been addressed.”

For his part, Johnny Balawag, Chairman of the National Board of Trustees of the Department of Education National Employees’ Union (DepEd NEU) that now houses the Secretariat of Yes for Peace – Yes for Peace said, “Peace is the way and the only way! All of us need to be involved!”

Balawag, himself a Muslim, added, “We believe in peace and peaceful development not only for ourselves but for everybody.”

Lawyer Domingo Alidon, President of the 24,840 strong DepEd NEU said, “We are pleased that President Duterte has underscored what we have always pushed for ever since we started campaigning in 1988 – inclusivity and people’s participation in the national comprehensive peace process.”

For his part, Ernesto Angeles Alcanzare, organizer of Yes for Peace said he feels vindicated. “We hope that coupled with the support that we have managed to get from the country’s security sector – the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines – in terms of following through the compliance of DepEd teaching personnel across the country to DepEd Memorandum No. 66, series of 2017 issued by Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones last April, President Duterte’s call will serve as a clarion call for Secretary Jesus Dureza to take cognizance of our proposal for the respondents to Yes for Peace to be considered as the potential active peace constituency to push for the success of the President’s peace and development agenda,” Alcanzare said.

In a statement, the Community Relations Service, Armed Forces of the Philippines (CRS, AFP) declared, “In support of the peace and development efforts of the government, we encourage everyone to be vigilant and analytical to any deceptive schemes that may affect individual’s safety.” Likewise, Major General Ronnie Evangelista, Commander of the CRS, AFP called on the Filipino people to, “Get involved! All Filipinos should be participative on all issues, peace and order no less. After all, security is our shared responsibility.”

Volunteers bring hope, love to Mohammad Ajul town in Basilan

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 7): Volunteers bring hope, love to Mohammad Ajul town in Basilan

We woke up early morning. With packed goods, a well-rested and a conditioned body, we were ready for quite a long trip to the coastal village of Pintasan, Mohammad Ajul in the eastern part of Basilan. This remote place with history of conflict is rarely visited by government agencies to bring basic services.

We drove for some 30 kilometers by land and embarked on a sea ride for more than an hour before reaching the area. The sea was calm that day but the humid air draws one’s sweat profusely.

The travel may wear out anyone, but for some 20 volunteers—doctors, nurses, private individuals from the cities of Iloilo, Isabela and Lamitan — the day was full of excitement; many went for the first time.

Plying the coastlines of Basilan, the ugly brownish sights of coconuts infested with coconut scale insect astound us with sorrow that our farmers are suffering. This contrasted the aqua-bluish shores of Pintasan, lifting our spirits in consolation that somehow people have alternative means of livelihood in the bounty of the sea.

Hundreds welcomed the team; some had been waiting for three hours already hoping to get served first. Getting off and on the long shores were quite challenging as there was no wharf or make-shift platform to keep our feet and shoes from getting wet.

Assistance from the troops of the 4th Special Forces Battalion of the Philippine Army, headed by LtCol. Andrew Bacala Jr, was of great help and eased the journey and hauling of goods.

It amazes one to see how volunteers sustained the energy of serving the underprivileged communities in Basilan, in spite of going through a difficult journey to the area. It never wears and tears the spirit even after the mission.

The head of mission, Ms. Isabel Grace P. Villegas said that it brought the volunteers so much joy that one could not explain. The volunteers were from the Iloilo Medical Team of the Kayang-Kayang Missions International Inc. that reaches out to unreached tribes and groups in the Philippines that has been deprived of government services because of circumstances, like conflict and issues of governance.

She explained that it was plain and genuine volunteerism as all of the doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and counselor volunteers have even spent for their fares to come to Basilan. According to her, these volunteers have expressed their intention and willingness to go to Basilan to help the needy and less fortunate communities, like the MNLF village of Pintasan in Mohammad Ajul.

About 300 residents of Pintasan and few from nearby barangays have benefited from the civic and medical mission with free haircut offered by the army, psycho-social games and magic show, and other activities from Lamitan Jaycees Inc.

Sumptuous meal was prepared by the local barangay of Pintasan and shared with the community. It was during this moment of pleasantries with the locals and the conversations with Mohammad Ajul Mayor Aya I. Pawaki that more stories about the aspirations of the people were shared and revealed. One could sense her passion and sincerity to offer genuine change that this government under the Duterte administration has promised.

The mayor has been lamenting over government’s slow and seemingly hopeless response to the issue of IRA-less towns in Basilan. Mohammad Ajul is one of the municipalities created by the ARMM Regional legislative Body that has no Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) because of legitimacy issues. She said that she has been lobbying to authorities and even to Congress to address this concern. The ARMM and the provincial government, however, are giving subsidies to these IRA-less towns. Mayor Pawaki said they are grateful for this support but this sends a message that we owe are at the mercy of their generosity rather than a right of the people of Moh. Ajul.

Time was not enough for more stories from the mayor. But she expressed her gladness for the short conversation on her vision, advocacy, and plans for Mohammad Ajul, from improving the peace and order situation to providing more livelihood opportunities for her constituents.

At the exit conference, Mayor Pawaki thanked the volunteers who came to bring services to the people. She hoped that this mission will inspire more government agencies to visit other villages of Mohammad Ajul to see and feel for themselves the situation of the community, hoping to erase any doubts, fear and stigma about the area for several years now. In the past, conflict between ideological groups and government forces enveloped the town, then later by lawless elements.

Safety issues remains to be the major concern of visitors, volunteers and government agencies to do mission in the area. The role of the army’s 4th Special Forces remains vital to changing the paradigm of doing military work in Basilan.

This elite force of soldiers in the army engaged in fierce battles with lawless elements and terrorists until recent years; but these same men and women employ means and strategies to mend broken relationships and build back peoples’ confidence and trust to government. They were instrumental in bringing in volunteers, groups, and charitable institutions in recent years that helped change the face of Basilan.

As more people visit Basilan, more stories of hope and aspiration could be spread that may in turn bring positive results and development in Mohammad Ajul. The mission left the town with gladness and joy with stories of hope that they helped nurture because of their show of love to the people.

2 soldiers injured in clash vs. rebels in Negros

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 7): 2 soldiers injured in clash vs. rebels in Negros

Two Army soldiers were injured in a series of encounters with suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels Thursday morning at Sitio Cunalom, Barangay Carabalan in Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental, police said.

A report of Police Regional Office-6 identified the wounded in action as Sgt. Jomar Dolorfino and Pvt. Jelord Para-onda from the 62nd Infantry Battalion (IB) platoon led by 1st Lt. William Portillano.

Dolorfino was wounded during the first encounter at around 6:30 a.m. while Para-onda was injured during the pursuit operation around 9:15 a.m.

The operation is ongoing as of press time.

The clash Thursday morning came two days after troops of the 62nd IB led by Captain Allen Marl Tacorda discovered an NPA encampment in Barangay Buenavista, also in Himamaylan City.

The 303rd IB reported that the rebel camp can accommodate around a hundred people that can be used for trainings and teach-ins, and as planning area for attacks.

The site also has two comfort rooms, 15 bunk beds, and a dining hall.

The Army troopers seized medical paraphernalia, binoculars, night vision goggles, five pairs of civilian boots, boxes of chalk, radio antenna, and about 20 sacks of charcoal.

Colonel Eliezer Losañes, commander of the 303rd IB based in Murcia, Negros Occidental, said in a statement they have anticipated the NPA’s offensive attacks.

“That is why, it is imperative to conduct intensive combat operations to deter the terroristic attacks,” he said.

Losañes added that given these security concerns, the 303rd IB is proactive in defeating the Community Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army in the Negros Island.

Mayor Inday scraps local talks with Reds

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 7): Mayor Inday scraps local talks with Reds

Mayor Inday Sara Duterte has canceled the localized peace negotiation with the New People’s Army (NPA) following the declaration by President Rodrigo Duterte of the communist rebels as terrorists.

However, Mayor Inday did not dissolve the Davao City Peace committee (DC-PEACE) - which had spearheaded efforts to strike peace with NPA rebels operating in the city.

Instead, she renamed it to Davao City Advisory Committee for Peace and Development (DC PEACE Dev). She also gave it a new mandate.

“Since the policy of the government is to never negotiate with terrorists, what we are going to do is to talk to the community about their issues through the DC-PEACE Dev,” Mayor Inday said.

She said she would formalize the renaming of DC-PEACE into the DC Peace Dev with the issuance of another Executive Order.

Mayor Inday said the new body would serve as the medium between the city government and far-flung communities to resolve their issues and concerns.

“The output of the talk will be used by the city government of Davao to address the issues the communities are experiencing. We acknowledge that they have issues with regard to the services of the government,” she said.

Mayor Inday said she was also leaving the NPA issue to the military.

DC Peace Dev spokesperson and lawyer Eliza Lapeña said that the new role of the committee is to build peace tables, which communities can use as sounding boards.

“What we are going to do is go to the hinterlands and build peace tables, where the community can raise their concerns so that the government can address it,” she said.

Lapeṅa said that they would start talking to residents of hinterland communities in the city on December 20.

Ex-NPA rebel gunned down in south Palawan

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 7): Ex-NPA rebel gunned down in south Palawan

A former New People’s Army (NPA) member was shot and killed by two unidentified assailants early Thursday morning in southern Palawan.

Marine Battalion Landing Team-4 (MBLT-4) commanding officer Lt. Colonel Danilo Facundo identified the slain former rebel as 25-year-old Junjun Lacaran Gaposan, who went by the aliases “Ka Jason” and “Ka Arman.”

The former rebel, who is also a resident of the said barangay, was killed around 9:30 a.m. while attending a “tabuan” or market day at Sitio Cabangaan, Barangay Samariniana, Brooke’s Point, located 219.5 kilometers south of this city.

“Confirmed that he was gunned down by two unknown assailants, who fled in a forested area of Cabangaan,” Facundo told the Philippine News Agency.

Investigation is still ongoing.

Captain Wanel Ansa, environment unit and civil military officer of MBLT-4, said the victim suffered gunshot wounds in the head and different parts of the body.

"It looks like he was shot at close range," he said. Six empty shells were found at the crime scene. Gaposan's body has been brought to a morgue in Brooke's Point.

Presidential son backs CPP-NPA terror tag

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 7): Presidential son backs CPP-NPA terror tag

Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte has thrown his support to the proclamation of the New People’s Army (NPA), as a terror group, characterizing their activities as acts terrorism.

“Tama lang. Dapat nga matagal nang dineklara na terorista ang NPA dahil sa mahabang record nito ng pandarahas, pagpatay, at pagpapahirap sa ating mga kababayan, lalo na ang mga mahihirap na magsasaka at lumad (It’s just right. The NPA should have been declared terrorist long time ago with its long record of harassment, killing, and the suffering it gave to our compatriots especially the poor farmers and lumads),” Vice Mayor Duterte said in a press statement.

Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio has yet to release an official statement on the matter although in an earlier interview, the mayor said she would consult the Davao City Local Peace Committee (DC Peace) regarding the matter.

Duterte-Carpio has been pushing for localized peace negotiations with the NPA.

Paolo said the NPA activities are no different to the Abu Sayyaf bandits and the Maute terror group.

The vice mayor recalled the death of a four-month old baby when the NPA rebels attack a convoy of vehicles in Bukidnon last month.

He also lambasted leftist organizations for their supposed silence on NPA's atrocities.

“Sa mga naniniwala na may prinsipyo ang NPA, totoo naman na meron. Pero isa itong baluktot na prinsipyo na para lang sa pansariling interest ng kanilang mga lider (Those who believed that the NPA has an ideology, it’s true it has. But it is a twisted ideology for personal interest of its leaders),” he stressed.

Paolo cited the alleged extortion activities victimizing mining companies.

“Kung ayaw magbigay sinunusunog nila ang mga gamit ng mina (If they refuse to give they burn the mining equipment),” he said, referring to several instances of NPA attacks against mining companies for failure to pay the so-called revolutionary tax.

"The money just go to the pockets of the leaders and not even the lumads,” Paolo added, even as he branded NPA rebels as "spoiled brats."

On Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Proclamation No. 374 declaring the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization under Republic Act 10168, or the Human Security Act.

Citing RA 10168, the President said it is the policy of the state to "protect life, liberty, and property from acts of terrorism, to condemn terrorism and those who support and finance it and to recognize it as inimical and dangerous to the national security of the country and the welfare of the people, and to make financing of terrorism a crime against the Filipino people, against humanity, and against the law of nations."

In the proclamation released by Malacanan on Wednesday, Duterte also ordered the Department of Foreign Affairs to publish the designation of the CPP-NPA and all other designated persons/organizations in accordance with the provisions of RA 10168.

AFP talks with youth vs NPA recruitment

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 7): AFP talks with youth vs NPA recruitment

The military is now launching dialogues and talks with the youth to prevent them from being lured into recruitment efforts of the New People's Army (NPA) rebels.

This was emphasized by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo, adding that they are coordinating with school and local government officials in this initiative.

He issued this comment when asked how of the plan of the AFP to counter the NPA's recruitment drive among the youths.

"Alam natin yan, kung kaya nga ang mga effort natin sa ngayon ay makipag-ugnayan tayo hindi lamang sa mga pamunuan ng paaralan, kundi makipag-ugnayan tayo sa pamunuan ng local na pamahalaan at gayun din sa ating discussions with the youth (We are aware of that. That is why our efforts are geared towards coordination with school officials as well as local government units to form discussions with the youth)," Arevalo stressed.

Among the planned interactions with the youth are the so-called "Youth Leader Summit" which is a good opportunity for both parties to exchange views on the country's peace and security situation, he added.

Duterte extends Guerrero's term as AFP chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 7): Duterte extends Guerrero's term as AFP chief

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte hands over the Command Saber to newly installed Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero after receiving it from outgoing AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año during the Change of Command Ceremony at Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo in Quezon City on October 26, 2017. (MARCELINO PASCUA/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO)

President Rodrigo Duterte has extended the term of Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Rey Leonardo Guerrero until April next year, Malacañang announced Thursday.

“AFP Chief of Staff General Guerrero will reach his age of compulsory retirement on December 17, 2017, and the President has extended his service to April 24, 2018, as per Republic Act No. 8186, or six months since he assumed office as AFP Chief of Staff,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.

Roque said Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, by authority of the President, signed the extension of service on Wednesday.

Guerrero took his oath of office also on December 6, the same day his appointment as AFP chief was confirmed by the Commission on Appointments.

Guerrero, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1984, assumed leadership of the 130,000-strong Armed Forces after Gen. Eduardo Año retired from service on October 25.

Prior to being named AFP chief, Guerrero was the commanding officer of the AFP’s Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) that is based in Davao City.

DND: Term extension gives Guerrero more time to complete AFP programs

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 7): DND: Term extension gives Guerrero more time to complete AFP programs

The extension of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero's term by four months gives the former more time to implement his programs for the military.

This was disclosed by Department of National Defense (DND) public affairs office chief Arsenio Andolong in a message to the Philippine News Agency Thursday when sought for a comment on the matter.

"This bodes well for our One Defense Team since it will allow Gen. Guerrero ample time to implement his programs for the Armed Forces of the Philippines as Chief-of-Staff," he added.

During his assumption speech last Oct. 26, Guerrero vowed to eliminate the remaining security threats in the country aside from continuing the ongoing AFP Modernization Program.

The incumbent AFP chief, a member of Philippine Military Academy Class of 1984, was originally slated to retire this coming December 17.

He will be extended until April 24 of next year as per Republic Act No. 8186.

Guerrero's term extension was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte last Dec. 6.

Guerrero extension sign of PRRD's trust, confidence: AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 7): Guerrero extension sign of PRRD's trust, confidence: AFP

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte administers the oath of office of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Rey Guerrero during a ceremony in Malacañan Palace on December 6, 2017.  (KING RODRIGUEZ/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO)

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief-of-Staff Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero's extension is a sign of President Rodrigo Duterte's continued trust and confidence of the former's leadership.

This was emphasized by AFP public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo in statement Thursday.

"General Guerrero is profoundly grateful to the President for the latter’s continued trust and confidence in his capability to lead the AFP," he added.

With this term extension, Arevalo said Guerrero will be given more time to implement important plans and programs of the AFP especially in this challenging time that the nation faces threats from foreign and local terrorists and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front.

"Further, the extension also gives General Guerrero the opportunity to fast track the upgrade of the AFP capability as it aspires to be a world-class Armed Forces that is a source of national pride," he added.

The AFP chief, a member of Philippine Military Academy Class of 1984, took over from Gen. Eduardo Año, last October 26.

He is supposed to retire by December 17 when he turns 56, the mandatory retirement age. He will be extended until April 24 of next year as per Republic Act No. 8186.

Guerrero's term extension was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte last December 6.

"General Guerrero will lead the AFP in its celebration of the 82nd Anniversary with the Theme: 'Protecting the people; securing the state.' The event is scheduled on the third week of December," Arevalo added.