Wednesday, December 13, 2017

PAF in the market for F-27 propeller assembly

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 14): PAF in the market for F-27 propeller assembly

The Philippine Air Force (PAF), through its Bids and Awards Committee, is allocating the sum of PHP8,255,000 for the procurement of a propeller assembly needed for the maintenance of one of its three Fokker F-27 "Friendship" transport aircraft.

The item is intended for F-27 with tail number 10669, the bid bulletin posted in the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System stated.

Pre-bid conference is slated on Dec. 19, 9 a.m. at the PAF Procurement Center Conference Room, Villamor Air Base, Pasay City.

While submission and opening of bids is slated for Jan. 9, 9 a.m. at the same venue.

The F-27 Friendship is a turboprop aircraft designed and built by the defunct Dutch aircraft manufacturer Fokker. Many aircraft have been modified from passenger service to cargo or express-package freighter roles.

Tugade now an Air Force reserve lieutenant colonel

From Update Philippines (Dec 14): Tugade now an Air Force reserve lieutenant colonel

Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade formally joined the Philippine Air Force (PAF) reserves as a lieutenant colonel during short ceremonies Tuesday.

Donning ceremonies were held at the Hall of Flags, Department of National Defense (DND) Building, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said in a statement Thursday.

PAF photo

The ceremonies were spearheaded by DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and AFP Chief-of-Staff Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, he added.

The two officials also formally donned the DOTr chief his lieutenant colonel rank.

Duterte: If funds enough, I will buy 50 attack helicopters

From Update Philippines (Dec 14): Duterte: If funds enough, I will buy 50 attack helicopters

President Rodrigo Duterte said that if there is enough funds, he will acquire 50 “attack helicopters” that may be used against communist terrorists. The President previously revealed the acquisition of 23 attack helicopters.

“Now, I am not a dreamer but the reality, pag one year, pag continuous ang bakbakan, mauubusan talaga kayo ng tao ‘yan pati bala. At mayroon akong mga attack helicopters, kayo ang pagpapraktisan ko,” he said during the Ceremonial Demilitarization of Captured, Confiscated, Surrendered and Recovered Firearms during the Marawi Crisis on December 13.
“Kung may pera ako magdagdag ako ng 50 [attack helicopters],” he added.

He also said that he really needs Martial Law in Mindanao. “Alam mo mahirapan talaga ako ‘pag walang martial law sa Mindanao. I will make it public and maybe telegraph also to the other side.”

“Alam mo itong mga komunista, the terror group now called the communists, ito ‘yung walang hinto na laban. And they have been fighting government for almost 50 years and I hope we will not have to go into another 50 years,” he said.

He also noted that he does not want to kill fellow Filipinos.

“And the problem is sabi nga ng isang – I heard which I think is a very appropriate, ‘yung hindi makahintay,” he said.

“If you want change, and then you have to go to the people and explain to them,” he said.

105 troops feted with Order of Lapu-Lapu medals

From Update Philippines (Dec 14): 105 troops feted with Order of Lapu-Lapu medals

President Rodrigo Duterte presented the Order of Lapu-Lapu (Kamagi and Kampilan Medals) to 105 soldiers during his visit to the Philippine Army headquarters in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City Wednesday.

Under Executive Order No. 17, the Order of Lapu-Lapu is awarded to officials and personnel of the government, as well as private individuals, in recognition of their “invaluable service in relation to a campaign or advocacy of the President”.

Conferment ceremony of the Order of Lapu-Lapu Ranks of Kampilan and Kamagi Medals, December 13, 2017

During the visit, the Chief Executive also led the destruction of war materiel and weapons seized in the five-month battle to recapture Marawi City from the hands of the Maute Group terrorists.

Lt. Col. Ray Tiongson, Army spokesperson, said 75 soldiers were awarded the Kampilan Medal while 30 others received the Kamagi Medal.

The Kampilan Medal is awarded to those who were seriously wounded or injured or suffered great loss of property as a direct result of their participation in an activity pursuant to a campaign or advocacy of the President.

The Kamagi Medal, on the other hand, is awarded to those who actively participated in and contributed significantly to an activity pursuant to a campaign or advocacy of the President.

Following peace talks collapse, lawyers of Tiamzon couple, fellow NDF consultant ask court not to cancel bail

From InterAksyon (Dec 13): Following peace talks collapse, lawyers of Tiamzon couple, fellow NDF consultant ask court not to cancel bail

NDFP peace consultant Wilma Austria and her husband, Benito Tiamzon, member of the rebel peace panel, are seen in this Kodao Productions file photo.

The lawyers of three consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, including alleged communist rebel leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, have asked a Manila trial court not to cancel their bail bonds as requested by the Department of Justice following the collapse of peace talks.

Late last month, following President Rodrigo Duterte ordered negotiations with the NDFP terminated, the DOK filed a motion with Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 32 seeking the cancellation of the bail bonds and the rearrest of the Tiamzons and Adelberto Silva, who are charged with murder over the discovery of a mass grave of alleged victims of a rebel purge in Leyte.

“In view of the cancellation of the peace talks, there is no more legal ground for the continuous provisional liberty of the accused; thus, the immediate recommitment and cancellation of bail of all the accused should logically follow,” the DOJ said.

Aside from scrapping the peace talks, Duterte has also tagged the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Amy as terror organizations. In fact, the communists have been included as the basis for the yearlong extension of martial law in Mindanao that Congress granted Wednesday, December 13, on Duterte’s request.

Also on Wednesday, lawyers from the Public Interest Law Center representing Silva, and the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers representing the Tiamzons, filed their joint comment to the DOJ’s motion for recommitment and cancellation of bail.

They noted that despite Duterte’s termination of the peace talks, the government’s negotiating panel “has yet to serve a written notice of termination to the NDFP,” 30 days after which the talks may be deemed officially ended.

They also pointed out that since August last year, Duterte had already twice announced a “termination” and, while he backtracked on this decision both times, “based on the President’s public statements, the Office of the Solicitor General precipitously filed motions for recommitment in February 2017 and then in August 2017, a position later proven unwise and incorrect.”

In fact, they said, “in October 2017, the negotiating panel of the (government) even was even constrained to filed a Manifestation (Ad Cautelam) in October 2017, clarifying that there was no formal termination of the peace talks yet, to counter motions by the OSG.”

“Thus,” they stressed, “great caution and circumspection in the appreciation and interpretation of the President’s words is more than required now,” citing a December 8 speech in which Duterte said, “Let’s give time for a cooling off with the Communist Party of the Philippines …” and hinted that the government panel could “always resuscitate it at some other time.”

They also quoted chief government negotiator Silvestre Bello III as saying Duterte continues to hope for a “just, inclusive and lasting peace” as his legacy and that, while the termination of the talks was “”one of the big humps in the road to peace … I’m sure (these) humps would someday disappear and we will go back to the road to peace.”

The NDFP consultant’s lawyers also said ordering their rearrest and return to jail “is like a Gordian knot difficult to undo, and will certainly defeat all efforts and expectations by various peace advocates, including the Royal Norwegian Government as third party facilitator, to pursue the peace talks as a venue to address the root cause of the armed conflict.”

Appealing to the court for “prudence and good judgment in these trying times,” they asked that the DOJ’s motion be denied “for lack of a formal written notice of termination” from government or “deferred so as not to render moot and academic the efforts and overwhelming calls toward the resumption of the peace negotiations.”

Human rights, envi groups demand release of arrested Ilocos activist

From the pro-CPP online publication the Northern Dispatch Weekly (Dec 13): Human rights, envi groups demand release of arrested Ilocos activist

Human rights organizations, environmental groups and a local government official of Ilocos Sur called for the immediate release of Sherwin De Vera, an environmental activist and writer, illegally arrested yesterday, December 12, between 6-6:30 PM.

Defend Ilocos, Ilocos Human Rights Alliance (IHRA) and Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) among others in separate statements condemned the arrest of Sherwin De Vera, called for his immediate release and that the trumped-up charges against him be dropped immediately.

“I vehemently condemn the arrest and trumped up rebellion charges against Sherwin De Vera,” Jeremy Bueno, vice mayor of Santa, Ilocos Sur posted on his social media account.

De Vera is now in the custody of the Criminal Investigation and Detention Group (CIDG) in Bangued, Abra.

De Vera, a human rights and environmental activist, was arrested at a checkpoint in Barangay Bulag, Bantay, Ilocos Sur around 6:30PM while on his way home from Candon City. He was detained overnight at Camp Elpidio Quirino before he was brought to Abra.

De Vera is facing charges of rebellion (Case No. 2014-155) filed at a Court in Bangued.

Last July 18, De Vera had been tailed by unidentified men while he was going around on some errands in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur. The following day, unidentified men believed to be military agents went to the University of the Northern Philippines (UNP) in Vigan and asked De Vera’s whereabouts from the people he visited the previous day.

De Vera writes a column, Ilocandia Rumblings, for Northern Dispatch Weekly. He is also a researcher of the Regional Development Center-Katinnulong dagiti Umili ti Amianan a Luzon (RDC-KADUAMI).
“My arrest is a testament of Duterte’s crackdown on political dissent. The lurking martial law and tyranny is now at hand. Our democracy, our democratic rights are now in clear and present danger. We must rise up and oppose this tyranny,” De Vera texted from his detention.

Windel Bolinget, chairperson of CPA, said that De Vera’s arrest, and that of many other human rights violations across the county, manifest the hastening breakdown of democracy and unmasks further the tyrannical and fascist rule of Duterte.

“It is both a crackdown against human rights defenders and a direct attack on the people,” Bolinget said.

“More than ever it is upon the people’s collective action, will and might that can arrest this situation. To rise up against this tyranny is the just and right thing to do, and it is upon every individual do so,” Bolinget said.

Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, in a press release, said that De Vera’s arrest not only shows the intensifying crackdown against activists but also a threat to environmental advocates.

“Sherwin’s arrest threatens to send a chilling effect on other environmental advocates who dare stand up against the plunder of natural resources, and government negligence and indifference towards the people affected by environmental problems and issues,” the Kalikasan press release said.

“We call on our fellow environmental advocates to unite and resist the creeping dictatorship of the Duterte regime,” the Kalikasan release further said.

CPP/CPP-Information Bureau: On Duterte’s another martial law extension

CPP-Information Bureau propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Dec 13): On Duterte’s another martial law extension

Information Bureau
Communist Party of the Philippines

13 December 2017

It has now come to pass that Amboy Duterte will extend martial law in Mindanao for another year after falling flat on his face on his “revolutionary government” and federalist ambitions. He has resorted to calling on his minions in congress to grant him and his military cabal a full year of martial rule to carry out his triple wars of suppression.

That this will result in unmitigated death and destruction goes without saying. That this came after his declaration of the CPP and NPA as terrorists and simple criminals and his unbridled hostility to the legal democratic movement, speaks loudly and clearly of his intention to impose nationwide martial law. With barely concealed steps, Duterte is setting up his fascist dictatorship to perpetuate himself in power.

The people and the revolutionary movement are ready to defend themselves and will meet him head-on.

NDF/Sison: Statement on the Further Extension of Martial Law and Suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus in Mindanao

Propaganda statement of Jose Maria Sison posted to the National Democratic Front Website (Dec 14): Statement on the Further Extension of Martial Law and Suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus in Mindanao

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Founding Chairman, Communist Party of the Philippines
Chief Political Consultant, National Democratic Front of the Philippines
December 14, 2017

The US-directed Duterte regime has obtained from its rubber stamp Congress the further extension of martial law and suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao to the entire year of 2018. The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People´s Army (NPA) are identified as the main target, clearly indicating that the entire Philippines will soon be placed under martial rule.

The gross and systematic violation of human rights in Mindanao will certainly escalate.. As the unnecessary and egregious martial rule by Duterte will expand nationwide, the violations of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the people will surpass the rate and proportions of martial rule under the Marcos fascist dictatorship. Duterte chose to label the CPP and NPA as ¨terrorist¨, impose martial law and his fascist dictatorship on the people exactly at the time that the peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP ) were advancing at a rapid rate.

The notoriety of Duterte as the No. 1 terrorist and butcher of the Filipino people is already well-established and secure on the basis of the mass murder of more than 14,000 suspected users and pushers of illegal drugs in impoverished communities, the destruction of Marawi and death of many of its citizens and the growing number of assassinations of legal leaders and activists of organizations of workers, peasants, fishermen, youth, women, indigenous people, church people and advocates of human rights and peace.

The objective of the US-Duterte regime is to destroy the CPP and NPA before the end of 2018 by first concentrating attacks on the guerrilla fronts in Eastern Mindanao and elsewhere in Mindanao and then on the guerrilla fronts in Luzon and the Visayas upon the expansion of martial law nationwide. The regime overestimates the capability of its total armed strength of 170,000 in an archipelago of 115,000 square miles. It exaggerates the psychological impact of terror tactics under martial rule and the effectiveness of US indoctrination, training and equipment.

In comparison to the resources available to Marcos in 1972, Duterte has much less in an underdeveloped, agrarian and semifeudal economy that is far more crisis-stricken than ever before. Under a continuing neoliberal policy, the economy has become far more dependent on the export of raw materials, semi-manufactures and cheap labor, on the import of basic goods and manufactures for consumption and on an ever rising level of foreign debt and taxation to cover trade and budgetary deficits. The GDP growth rate is supposed to be high at 6.9 percent but most of this goes to the few big compradors and foreign investors while the working people suffer low income, mass unemployment and poverty.

What makes Duterte even weaker as a puppet president of the US is his total failure in his war on illegal drugs with the number of addicts rising from 1.8 million in the time of Aquino to more than 4 million now. Worst of all, the truth has come out that he himself is a fentanyl addict and that his close relatives and friends are the main smugglers and distributors of illegal drugs. His promise to get rid of corruption has been exposed as false because it is now absolutely clear that his presidential campaign was funded and assisted by the biggest plunderers like the Marcoses, Arroyos, Estradas and the Eduardo side of the Cojuangcos.

The US is now using Duterte in the vain hope that he can destroy the CPP and NPA and that he can junk the 1987 Constitution under the pretext of setting up a federal form of government under his overcentralized unitary dictatorship on top of regional ruling families of big compradors and landlords in order to do away with the ban on foreign military bases and all restrictions on foreign investments. Duterte is a disposable tool of the US for violating national sovereignty and territorial integrity, the national patrimony and economic sovereignty. Like Marcos, he can be ousted by the people through the convergence of various political forces in a broad united front.

The Duterte regime has no moral and political standing whatsoever to claim that it stands for the rights and interests of the people. It is already discredited and will become far more discredited by engaging in the terror tactics already announced by defense secretary Lorenzana. These terror tactics include the mass arrest of the leaders and members of the legal democratic forces and opposition parties, extortions from businessmen outside of its control and monopoly of business privileges and mass murders and political assassinations of suspected revolutionaries or mere dissenters.

When Marcos proclaimed martial law in 1972, the NPA had only a few guerrilla zones (not yet the size of guerrilla fronts consisting of guerrilla bases and zones) concentrated in Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Tarlac and Pampanga provinces. But thanks to Marcos and his martial rule, his terror tactics and flagrant human rights violations drove the patriotic and progressive mass organizations and thousands of activists to the underground for deployment in the countryside for armed struggle. As in the time of Marcos, the battle cry of the revolutionaries today is: people´s war is the answer to martial law!

Military officers of the AFP who are patriotic and progressive are seriously concerned that Duterte is misusing the AFP and PNP as if these were his personal armies. They are critical of the promotion of officers on the basis of their friendship and personal loyalty to Duterte. But they are most aghast by his termination of the peace negotiations between the GRP and NDFP exactly at the time when their respective panels were about to meet for the fifth round of formal talks in Oslo and sign the drafts of the general amnesty of political prisoners, the coordinated unilateral ceasefires and Parts I and II of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (Agrarian Reform and Rural Development and National Industrialization and Economic Development).

They are worried that Duterte is practically forcing the CPP and NPA to fight back under conditions favorable to the CPP and NPA. They are alarmed that the NPA is frequently launching tactical offensives from more than 100 guerrilla fronts on a nationwide scale. Each guerrilla front is usually as large as a district of several municipalities. It carries at various levels the Party organizations, the various types of underground mass organizations, NPA units, people´s militia, self-defense units and organs of political power. When a guerrilla front is under encirclement and concentrated enemy attack, it is directly and indirectly assisted by other guerrilla fronts.

According to CPP publications, as a result of the Second National Congress of the CPP, the Party cadres and Red commanders of NPA companies who are battle-tested and have been successful in operations share their experiences and skills in politico-military training with less experienced NPA units. The victories of the NPA in Mindanao in countering enemy campaigns of encirclement with campaigns of counter-encirclement by one or several guerrilla fronts are well disseminated and utilized in training and in widespread application. The guerrilla forces are now more ready than ever to coordinate under general guidelines at the level of the biggest islands (Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao), regions, provinces and guerrilla fronts.

The Duterte regime and its military planners intend to use terror tactics similar to those used in the US conquest of the Philippines from 1899 onwards, Operation Phoenix in Vietnam in the 1960s, various oplans under the Marcos fascist regime and Oplan Bantay Laya I and II in the Philippines from 2001 onwards. They plan to unleash the most brutal methods to uncover and destroy cadres and members of rural and urban organizations and to cut off the links between urban and rural revolutionary forces. Duterte himself has already ranted that he would enjoy ordering his minions to kill, kill and kill.

According to CPP and NPA publications, the NPA units can fight and defeat their enemy by seizing the initiative in a war of fluid movement, involving major tactics of concentration, dispersal and shifting according to circumstances. In close to five decades, they have waged extensive and intensive guerrilla warfare on the basis of an ever widening and deepening mass base. They can deliver annihilative blows where their enemy do not expect them. And they can use both annihilative and attritive tactics in order to force the enemy into a defensive mode or guard duties. Some AFP officers have expressed the fear that the CPP and NPA are poised to launch tactical offensives against not only the AFP, PNP and auxiliary units but also the die-hard and corrupt political agents and business associates of the Duterte ruling clique.

Duterte has been boasting of acquiring the latest sophisticated weapons from the US and other countries. He seems not to know that the guerrilla forces make fun of planes and attack helicopters because they make noise to announce their coming. Any new type of firearms carried by his troops fall soon enough to the hands of the NPA. Thus, such ruffians like Marcos and Duterte are called transport officers of the NPA aside from being recruitment officers. Military trucks and armored carriers are noticeable from the time they leave military camp and approach from a distance their target areas.. They are vulnerable to mines and other explosive devices.

The Duterte regime is confronted not only by the NPA but also by a broad united front. It cannot violate human rights without being exposed and opposed by respected institutions, including the human rights organizations, lawyers and other professional associations, churches, the press, UN agencies and the International Red Cross. The anti-Duterte sections of the AFP and PNP are expected to spearhead the withdrawal of support from Duterte and coordinate with the growing mass movement in order to overthrow him in the same way that Marcos and Estrada were overthrown. In such an eventuality, the CPP and NPA would be happy with the limitation of bloodshed and with the resumption of peace negotiations between NDFP and GRP under a new president or a transitory people´s commission.

MILF: Editorial - US isolated on Jerusalem

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (Dec 13): Editorial - US isolated on Jerusalem

It is unfortunate that the United States, the most powerful state in the world today, is isolated on the recognition of East Jerusalem as Israel newest capital. Muslim and Arab countries from Indonesia to Morocco denounced the decision. Further American friends and foes alike have almost criticized President Donald Trump’s decision with exceptionally harsh language. The European Union, along with Germany, Britain and France, as well the pope have denounced the decision.
This decision further isolates the US from the rest of the world. As with other issues such as climate change and global free trade agreements, Trump finds himself at odds with the international community.

Is this the symptom of a mighty power on a decline?

Undoubtedly, the American Century was the 20th century. After that, it seems things were bound to go downhill. Like fourth-century Romans and post-World War II Europeans, Americans are beginning to realize that they are no longer citizens of an unrivalled superpower. And they’re kind of freaking out about it.

What rises must fall. This seems to most of us almost as much a law in the field of geopolitics as it is in physics. Every country that has ever won an empire or a superpower status for itself has not lived forever. What afflicted Rome and any other empire that led to their demise is precisely self-evident in the US today: declining moral values and political civility at home, an overconfident and overextended military in foreign lands and fiscal irresponsibility by the central government.

Let there be no mistake. We want to repeat it. The American people are great people. Their love of liberty and freedom made them what they are today. Many of their leaders are real leaders who produced more and more other good leaders. Every man or woman is given the opportunity to shine or succeed. (However, the exception was during the slavery period where every Black was treated as no human at all).

However, it is US’ policies anchored solely on capitalist agenda and free enterprise, which virtually is devoid of egalitarian considerations, doomed other players. The law of the jungle always favours the strong and mighty. Add the dominant foundation of every nation’s policy, “my country right or wrong,” it is no wonder why we are in a bad world today – as it had been practically before.

The truth is that the US can father an agreement to resolve the lingering Israeli-Palestinian. But in almost all occasions, it squandered that opportunity every time it presented itself. The reasons are many. One is the US economy is heavily Jewish, which spills over to influencing decisions and policies including foreign relations. Two, between Palestine and Israel, the latter is always the favourite. Three, Israel and US’ interests especially on global scope are almost identical particularly in combatting so-called hostile regimes as well as rising Islamist power in the Middle East. Third, the control of resources especially on oil can only be realized if the oil-producing states are played one against the other. The US needs an errand or clone for this. Israel fits this role perfectly so well. To ensure further, Israel must be the dominant power in the region; in fact, it is the only power here, let alone nuclear capability which has never been censured or investigated.

MILF: KPI holds Peace Forum

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (Dec 13): KPI holds Peace Forum

The Kalilintad Peacebuilding Institute Inc. (KPI) held a peace forum with the theme ‘’Understanding of Bangsamoro Peace Process, and Prospect of the new Bangsamoro Political Entity” at Datu Paglas on December 12, 2017.

“Our leaders are not stopping to find a way for the passage of new Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). The BBL is the most practical, and civilized solution to Mindanao conflict”, emphasized Professor Esmael A. Abdula, President of Kalilintad Peacebuilding Institute, and BLMI Training Officer, and member of BLMI Steering Committee.

“We are not fighting because the Manila government is dominated by Christians. We are not against Christian Filipinos. We are not against religion of any kind. We are simply against oppression. And to us the worst oppression is the long deprivation of the Bangsamoro of their inalienable rights to freedom and self-determination”, Abdula quoted MILF Founder Salamat Hashim’s saying.

He explained the three tracks of implementing stages: 1) Security-Related Measure (Bilateral Implementation), 2) Normalization Process (Bilateral Implementation), 3) Passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (Philippine Government’s responsibility – unilateral responsibility).

“As leaders of our organizations, our essential role is to advocate the significance of peace, and the immediate passage of the new BBL that will end decades of war, and correct the injustices against Bangsamoro”, he added.

Abdurrahim Molilis, MILF-CCCH member, Community leaders, youth leaders, religious leaders, and some representatives for the business sector of Datu Paglas, and Buluan, Maguindanao, and some leaders of the Indigenous People belonging to the B’laan Tribe from Colombio, Sultan Kudarat attended the peace forum.

Samer Mamalaguia, active youth leader, and Abdulaziz Talib, member of KPI Board of Trustees, organized the peace forum.

MILF: Iqbal clarifies talk with Libyan official in Manila

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (Dec 11): Iqbal clarifies talk with Libyan official in Manila

MILF chief peace negotiator, Mohagher Iqbal, took exception to the news item appearing in The Philippine Standard dated December 11, citing him as asking the Libyan government  through charge d’ affaires Ahmed Eddeb, who is stationed in Manila, “to assume the role of facilitator” which Malaysia has been doing since 2001.

The news was by-lined by Susanne D. Fabunan, who interviewed the Libyan official recently.

“This is absurd if not an outright distortion of what really was the conversation. We have never talked about facilitation of the GPH-MILF peace negotiations. Malaysia is doing a fine job in the facilitation.”

This was the statement of Iqbal as a way of clarifying the news report that put words into his mouth, which he vehemently denied said those.

Iqbal said that even in the said news the statement of the Libyan charge d’ affaires is very clear. He never talked about facilitation but about Libya reassuming its role in the IMT.

In the interview with Luwaran reporter, Iqbal recalled his exact statement to the official: “When the situation in Libya stabilizes and a legitimate government is put in place, I suggest that Libya should consider rejoining the IMT.”

The Libyan responded, according to Iqbal, by saying: “The MILF should make a formal request so he can convey the matter to the Libyan government…. We have to go through official channel to convey to our government.”

Iqbal also questioned the motive of the news item which comes at a time the MILF and government peace panels are slated to meet in Kuala Lumpur this month to sign important documents mainly on guidelines on ways to effectively implements their agreements.

Iqbal appealed to the media in general and to the Philippine Standard in particular to be precise especially in attributing statements to anyone especially when the subject is sensitive.

MILF: MILF communities in Region IX react on the RPOC- IX Resolution

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Dec 12): MILF communities in Region IX react on the RPOC- IX Resolution

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Zamboanga City reacted on the issuance of Resolution No. 06-2017 by the Regional Peace and Order Council IX, declaring that there is no presence of MILF, and MNLF communities in Region IX.

The resolution said that: “Regional Peace and Order Council of Region IX issued Resolution Order No. 06-2017 declaring that there is no presence of MILF, and MNLF communities in Region IX”.

The resolution was prepared by RPOC-IX Secretariat/Assistant Regional Director of the DILG-IX Mr Pedro Cuevas, Jr. CESO IV, and attested by Mayor Maria Isabelle G. Climaco of Zamboanga City. It was adopted on June 7, 2017.

The liaison officer of the MILF Information Committee for Western Mindanao who requested anonymity said that the encounters between members of the Moro Front, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Basilan is a proof that the MILF has members in the area.

He added that the presence of the International Monitoring Team (IMT) led by the Malaysian Royal Army in Western Mindanao Command, Zamboanga City (WestMinCom) is also an evidence that there are Moros in the City.

“The IMT area of coverage are the provinces of Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Maguindanao, North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del sur, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, Davao del Norte, Compostela Valley, Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and Palawan”, he said.

The IMT is mandated to observe and monitor the implementation of ceasefire agreement between the GPH, and MILF.

He said that “IMT conducts field verifications to validate reported violations of the ceasefire agreement by GPH or the MILF.”

Acting Provincial Chairman of Zamboanga Province said that before he joined the MILF, he was a member of MNLF under the Chairmanship of Prof. Nur Misuari.

“I have been as organic member of the MILF for the past 13 years, residing in the Zamboanga City proper. It is a proof that there are MILF communities in the region.”

He added that the MILF in Zamboanga Province are divided into three (3) districts, and all districts have political set up from provincial/city committees, and barangay committees.

He also said that, “He, and other MILF Political Committee members of the three (3) districts have attended the Bangsamoro Assembly in Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao to show full, and strong support for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law drafted by the New Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).”

“Our participation, nay presence in the said assembly showed that there are members of the MILF in Region IX particularly in Zamboanga City,” an MILF PolCom member said.

The Western Front Command of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) of the MILF is located within Region IX, and there are Base Commands in the island of Basilan and Sulu recognized by the IMT.

The Zamboanga Peninsula is an administrative region in the Philippines officially called Region IX. The cities composing Region IX are Dapitan, Dipolog, Basilan, Pagadian, and Zambonaga City located in the three provinces of Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanaga del Sur, and Zamboanga Sibugay.

On December 10, an Interfaith Peace Assembly was held at Pagadian City. It was organized by different CSOs and in partnership of MILF Political Committee of Zamboanga del Sur of the Bangsamoro to support the passages of the BBL drafted by the New BTC.

2 alleged NPA leaders surrender to Cagayan police

From Rappler (13): 2 alleged NPA leaders surrender to Cagayan police

The regional police in Cagayan Valley urges other communist combatants to surrender, saying livelihood assistance from government awaits them    

CAGAYAN, Philippines – Two alleged members of the New People's Army (NPA) surrendered to police amid the Duterte administration's intensified "crackdown" on communist rebels.

In a report sent to media on Wednesday, December 13, the Cagayan Valley regional police identified the surrenderers as Nestor Belarmino, alias "Ka Rapi, 39; and Loarlito Malubag, alias "Ka Jay-R", 27.

Police said Belarmino was an NPA unit's supply officer while Malubag was a squad leader.

Both former rebels reportedly turned themselves in to authorities last week, saying they could no longer bear the difficulties and hunger in the mountains.

"Maliban sa takot at pangamba na posibleng malagay sa alanganin ang kanilang buhay ay di na umano nila nakayanan ang hirap na dala ng pagod at pangangalam ng sikmura sa gitna ng bakbakan," the Cagayan Valley police said in its report.

(Aside from fear and anxiety that their lives could be in danger, they allegedly cannot endure anymore the difficulties brought about by the physical exhaustion and hunger amid the clashes.)

Intelligence gathered by police showed Belarmino joined the Cafgu unit of the Army's 17th Infantry Battalion in 2008, but was later recruited by certain "Ka Nick," the same person who also recruited Malubag in 2014.

In a statement, Police Regional Office II director Police Chief Superintendent Robert Quenery welcomed the surrender of Belarmino and Malubag as he also urged other rebels to do the same.

“Tinitiyak natin na may naghihintay na pag-asa at magandang kinabukasan para sa kanila dahil maliban sa makakapamuhay na sila ng normal kasama ang kanilang pamilya at mga mahal sa buhay ay mabibigyan pa sila ng tulong pangkabuhayan mula sa gobyerno,” Quenery said.

(We assure them that hope and a good future await them because, aside from the fact that they will be able to live normal lives with their families and loved ones, they will receive livelihood assistance from government.)

President Rodrigo Duterte recently scrapped peace negotiations with the Left, and declared the Communist Party of the Philippines a terrorist organization. He has ordered the re-arrest of its political consultants previously freed for the talks. The NPA is the armed group of the CPP.

Army blames NPA for canceled release of captive cops in Surigao

From MindaNews (Dec 13): Army blames NPA for canceled release of captive cops in Surigao

NPA rebels somewhere in Caraga Region. MindaNews file photo by ARIES SANDINO M. MORDENO

A military official blamed the New People’s Army (NPA) for the aborted release of two policemen being held by the rebel group in Surigao del Norte.

“The communist terrorists should be blamed why the two abducted cops from Placer Surigao del Norte are still held captive until now and supposedly spending time with their family if they were not abducted in the first place,” said Lt. Col Xerxes A. Trinidad, battalion commander of the 36th Infantry Battalion (IB) in a press statement Wednesday.

Since early this year, the 36th IB has placed Bacuag, Gigaquit and Claver towns in Surigao del Norte under their area of responsibility. These towns used to be under the area of the 30th IB.

“The AFP has no authority to declare a SOMO (Suspension of Military Operations), more so the 36IB. We are following the chain of command, unless there is a directive from the President declaring a SOMO, the 36IB will not stop in pursuing the abductors and rescue the two cops. Also, we will be relentless in conducting Security Operations to perform our mandate in securing the land and serving the Filipino people,” Trinidad said.

The Army official was reacting to the decision of the National Democratic Front-Northeastern Mindanao calling off the scheduled release of the two police officers they abducted in Placer town in Surigao del Norte early last month, citing the military’s refusal to suspend operations to facilitate the captives’ safe return to their loved ones.

Ka Maria Malaya, spokesperson of NDF-NEMR, said in an emailed statement that PO2 Jhon Paul M. Doverte and PO2 Alfredo L. Degamon were supposed to be released on Dec. 5 as part of the NDF’s gesture of peace and in response to the ardent request of their families to be reunited with them this Christmas.

NPA guerrillas wearing vests and uniforms of the police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group snatched Doverte and Degamon on Nov. 13 at a police outpost in Barangay Bad-as, Placer.

Malaya said they decided to cancel the scheduled release of the two policemen after the military refused to heed the Third Party Facilitator’s call for them to stand down.

“All units of military and police force should stand down for six days in six towns of the province to pave way for the safe release but the military failed to do so as they continued its military operations,” Malaya said.

“Apparently, Ka Maria Malaya, as part of the terrorist organization, is twisting the blame to the AFP where in fact they’re the ones who perpetrated the abduction. If they are really sincere, they can anytime release the cops anywhere,” said Captain Francisco P Garello Jr., civil military operations officer of the 36th IB .

“This is clearly a dubious scheme of the communist-terrorists to ease the pressure as their cohorts in the mountains have already felt the hardships without food and continuously evading the pursuing troops,” Garello added.

2 soldiers die in freak highway accident in North Cotabato

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 13): 2 soldiers die in freak highway accident in North Cotabato

For saving the life of a child, two soldiers were killed and eight others were wounded in a freak vehicular crash in Antipas, North Cotabato Monday morning.

1Lt. Silver Belvis, speaking for the 39th Infantry Battalion, said the KM-450 military truck loaded with soldiers was traversing part of Antipas-Arakan highway at around 9 a.m. when a child crossed the street, prompting the driver to avoid hitting the kid.

Unfortunately, the truck fell off a cliff in Crossing Bulwang Spring, Sitio Lukeke, Barangay Malatab, Antipas, North Cotabato. The Army truck overturned and fell about 10 feet at the left side of the highway.

Belvis declined to name the soldiers, both from 39th IB, until their next of kin are officially informed.

An Army official said the KM-450 vehicle was speeding along the Antipas section of the highway because the area is a known New People's Army infiltrated area.

Cotabato residents rally vs extremism

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 13): Cotabato residents rally vs extremism

Residents and local officials here denounced extremism and vowed to continue working with security officials to prevent a Marawi City-like siege by misguided citizens.

Dr. Danda Juanday, Cotabato City administrator, said the local government would intensify cooperation and collaboration with the Philippine military and police to thwart attempts, if ever, to destabilize Cotabato City, home to about 360,000 Muslims, Christians and Indigenous Peoples.

"This is not religious conflict,” Juanday told participants to the mass rally against religious extremism here Monday. “The reason of misguided Islamic militants in spreading violence was not religion, according to a study. Poverty, inequality and injustices were among the reasons for extremism.”

Fr. Gerald Fornan, parish priest of Immaculate Conception Cathedral, said everyone should work for peace to prevent the spread of violence that has been threatening the peaceful city.

Capt. Arvin John Encinas, speaking for the 6th Infantry Division, earlier said the Army’s 6th Infantry Division is committed to secure the citizens in its area of jurisdiction, including Cotabato City.

The rally, attended by about 3,000 peace-loving citizens of the city and its environs including local and village officials, vowed to help security sectors’ quick response on reported presence of lawless elements in the city’s 37 villages.

Organized by the Cotabato City Association of Barangay Chairpersons (ABC), the rally participants gathered at the Cotabato City State Polytechnic College and marched toward the Cotabato City plaza.

Troops neutralize 354 Abu Sayyaf men since January

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 13): Troops neutralize 354 Abu Sayyaf men since January

Government security forces have neutralized 354 members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in a continued offensive against the ASG in Western Mindanao since January this year, a top military official announced.

This, as President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) to continuously pursue the ASG to deny them of safe haven and to prevent atrocities.

Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., Westmincom chief, told the Philippine News Agency that the number of neutralized ASG members this year is “five times higher” compared to 75 in 2016.

Of the 354, Galvez said 127 of them were killed in separate clashes in the provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

He added that 137 have surrendered while the remaining 90 were arrested.

He said a total of 230 firearms were also recovered, seized and surrendered to the different units.

Meanwhile, he said the number of kidnapping incidents had drastically reduced to 12 this year from 23 in 2016.

Galvez attributed this to the conduct of continuous offensive and joint cross border patrols the navies of the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

Violent incidents perpetrated by the ASG have also decreased to 77 this year from 123 recorded in 2016 based on Westmincom report
These violent incidents included harassments, bombings, kidnappings, and killings.

Galvez said the campaign against the ASG would continue until all leaders and members are neutralized.

Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Joint Task Force Sulu commander, said there are still an estimated of 400 Abu Sayyaf bandits in the province.

Sobejana said they are headed by Radulan Sahiron, the one-armed and the oldest ASG leader, with six sub-leaders.

Grenade found at DPWH-Cotabato

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 13): Grenade found at DPWH-Cotabato

Police bomb experts deactivated a live grenade found Tuesday inside the compound of the Department of Public Works and Highways-Cotabato District Office on Ramon Rabago Sr. St. here.

Police said the PRB-423 grenade, believed to have been hurled by saboteurs from outside the compound, was discovered at around 5:50 p.m. at the vicinity of the office’s administrative section.

The bomb disposal unit used a water disruptor to rid of the grenade found sans its safety lever pin. Probers have yet to determine the motive behind the foiled grenade attack.

Also on Tuesday, members of the military bomb disposal unit disarmed an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) found by the roadside along Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao.

Lt. Col. Gerry Besana, Army’s 6th Infantry Division civil military operations office, said residents alerted authorities over the EID presence in the area.

Besana said the bomb, packed in a container full of black powder and construction nails, bore the signature style of the Jemaah Islamiyah and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

Army, NPAs clash in Nueva Ecija

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 13): Army, NPAs clash in Nueva Ecija

Soldiers from the Scout Platoon of the Philippine Army’s 84th Battalion clashed with 10 suspected New People’s Army (NPA) members in Barangay Bunga in Carranglan on Wednesday.

Sketchy reports from the public information office of the 7th Infantry Division said the encounter took place when the government troops responded to a call from the people about the presence of armed men in the area.

No casualty was reported from both sides of the military and the suspected communist rebels.

The Army recovered at least two assault rifles after the encounter.

In October, nine rebels were killed in an encounter in Barangay Burgos, also of this municipality.

EastMinCom gets more troops for anti-NPA campaign

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 13): EastMinCom gets more troops for anti-NPA campaign

Additional units are being brought to reinforce the Davao City-based Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) in line with efforts to neutralize New People's Army (NPA) bands known to be operating in the region.

This was emphasized by command spokesperson Major Ezra Balagtey in an interview late Tuesday.

In line with this, the EastMinCom has absorbed the 15th Infantry Battalion which had just finished a tour-of-duty in Western Mindanao.

Initially, the 15th Infantry Battalion is from the Jamindan-based 3rd Infantry Division but was deployed to help in security operations in Basilan before being deployed to Marawi City during the height of the clashes with Maute Group terrorists.

The former was replaced by the 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion following the liberation of Marawi City, Balagtey said.

Aside from the above-mentioned unit, the military official said two battalions, the 88th and 89th, have been recently activated, following the recruitment of additional troops.

He added that they are expecting more troops to arrive as announced by Armed Forces Chief-of-Staff Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero.

Balagtey also noted that half of the NPA forces operating in Mindanao are to be found at the EMC area.

"Kasi parang ito ang last frontier ng NPA, (ang) Eastern Mindanao, and more than 50 percent of NPA (in) Mindanao-wide is nasa EastMinCom," he pointed out.

Latest information indicated that less than 1,800 NPAs are operating in the EastMinCom area.

Lorenzana: Rebellion in Mindanao not yet subdued

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 13): Lorenzana: Rebellion in Mindanao not yet subdued

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Wednesday admitted before lawmakers that the rebellion in Mindanao has not yet been entirely subdued.

“Rebellion has not stopped. It just moved to another place," Lorenzana said during the Congress' joint session to deliberate on President Rodrigo Duterte’s request for a one-year extension of martial law in Mindanao.

He said that while there is substantial change in the situation in Marawi City following a five-month siege, other groups inspired by the Islamic State (IS) have been consolidating their forces through recruitment, especially in Central Mindanao.

“The situation in Marawi has substantially changed from the time that our troops were fighting the ISIS-inspired Maute group. However, as situations developed later on, the other ISIS-inspired groups... (there are) reports now, (that) they are actively recruiting some of the Muslim youths in the area," the defense chief said.

Lorenzana, who is martial law administrator, was responding to Senator Franklin Drilon's query on the basis of extending martial law in southern Philippines despite the pronouncement of liberation of Marawi City from terrorists.

Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra, for his part, said that even the courts concluded that "rebellion in Marawi has already spilled over" to other parts of Mindanao.

Drilon questioned the constitutionality of extending martial law, noting that there are only threats at this point instead of an actual state of rebellion.

In his letter dated Dec. 8, Duterte asked Congress to further extend the declaration of martial law in the whole of Mindanao for the entire 2018 to totally eradicate terror threats posed by remnants of IS-linked terrorists and by communist rebels in the region.

He said extending martial law for another year would help state security forces to crush the rebellion in Mindanao and ensure public safety.

Duterte highlighted the different threats facing Mindanao, which were part of the security assessment submitted to Malacañang by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.

He said that despite the death of almost a thousand IS-inspired extremists, including their leaders, in the battle of Marawi, remnants of the group and their supporters have continued their recruitment and training of new members “to carry on the rebellion”.

PAF looking for spares of MG-520 electrical systems

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 13): PAF looking for spares of MG-520 electrical systems

The Philippine Air Force (PAF), through its Bids and Awards Committee, is allocating the sum of PHP8.2 million for the acquisition of spare parts needed for the maintenance of the electrical systems of its six McDonnell Douglas MG-520 "Defender" attack helicopters.

The items are for MG-520 helicopters with tail numbers 395, 417, 418, 431, 438 and 439.

Pre-bid conference is slated for December 19, 9 a.m. at the PAF Procurement Center Conference Room, Villamor Air Base, Pasay City, the bid bulletin posted at the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System stated.

Submission and opening of bids is scheduled on January 9.

"All particulars relative to Eligibility Statement and Screening, Bid Security, Performance Security, Pre-Bidding Conference/s, Evaluation of Bids, Post-Qualification and Award of Contract shall be governed by the pertinent provisions of RA 9184 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR)," PAF Bids and Awards Committee chair Brig. Gen. Erickson R. Gloria said in the same bid bulletin.

The PAF is known to operate 12 to 16 models of the MG-520.

The PAF affair with the MG-520 started in the early 90's when 25 units of these excellent aircraft were delivered to country.

It was used with great effect against New People's Army (NPA) rebels and lawless elements like the Abu Sayyaf Group for the past few years.

The MG-520 is derived from the MG-500 light utility helicopter. It can be armed with .50 caliber heavy machines and air-to-ground rockets.

DND, AFP laud ML extension in Mindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 13): DND, AFP laud ML extension in Mindanao

An affirmation of trust and confidence.

This is how Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana described Congress' decision to extend martial law in Mindanao for one year.

"The DND is grateful for this affirmation of trust and confidence from our legislators. The Filipino people can rest assured that we will not squander this opportunity to finally end the continuing rebellion and terrorism in Mindanao by destroying the Daesh (Arabic name for ISIS) structure in the area, thwart like-minded groups from conducting further acts of terrorism and prevent the spillover of violence and radicalism in other parts of the country," he added.

And with the extension, the DND chief expressed confidence that the government can move forward with unhampered reconstruction and rehabilitation of Marawi City.

"The challenges we are facing in Mindanao are also challenges to each and every Filipino. Together, as a nation, we will prevail and prove to the world our collective resilience against odds," Lorenzana said.

Meanwhile, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs Col. Edgard Arevalo said the Congress' decision proves the validity of the military's grounds for seeking martial law extension.

"We see the grant of the extension of ML (Martial Law) as an acknowledgement of the grounds we have cited that need immediate and decisive actions," he added.

“Specifically, we need to quell the ongoing rebellion in Mindanao and prevent its spread to other parts of the country. The military will faithfully perform its mandate to protect the people and secure the state,” he added.

The Senate and House of Representatives, convening in a joint session, granted President Rodrigo Duterte's request for the extension of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of writ of habeas corpus for a period of one year from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2018.

A total of 240 members of Congress voted to approve the resolution of both houses calling for Martial Law extension in Mindanao, while only 27 voted against it. There was no abstention.

A total of 14 senators voted in favor of the motion and four were against it, while 226 House members approved the motion and 23 rejected it.

To recall, Duterte placed the entire Mindanao under martial law last May 23 after Maute Group terrorists laid siege to Marawi City.

Earlier in July, Congress, in a special joint session, granted the extension of martial law until Dec. 31 this year at the President's request.

Duterte to extend PNP chief Dela Rosa's term for 3 months

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 13): Duterte to extend PNP chief Dela Rosa's term for 3 months

After confirming the police chief's appointment as next Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) head, President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday revealed he would first extend Ronald dela Rosa's term as Philippine National Police (PNP) director general for at least three months.

"I have that discretion to extend even beyond retirement age," the President told reporters in Taguig City.

"Marami pa kasi akong gagawin, I want to do some things in Mindanao of utmost importance and I need to extend the tour of duty of General dela Rosa to something like two to three months," he said.

Dela Rosa will retire on January 21 next year, when he reaches the mandatory retirement age for police officers.

The chief executive explained the extension was primarily to facilitate the infrastructure and physical setting of the headquarters of the police in Mindanao.

After his extended tour of duty, Duterte said Dela Rosa would assume leadership in the BuCor.

"Once the projects are in place or operational or functional, then he goes to the BuCor," he said.

DOJ files 295 counts of inciting to rebellion vs. alleged ISIS recruiter

From CNN Philippines (Dec 13): DOJ files 295 counts of inciting to rebellion vs. alleged ISIS recruiter

The Justice Department on Wednesday filed 295 counts of inciting to rebellion against alleged Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) recruiter Karen Hamidon.

The National Bureau of Investigation Counter-Terrorism Division (NBI CTD) said Hamidon used online messaging applications such as Telegram to encourage foreigners to go to the Philippines and join the Maute group in Marawi.

The NBI added Hamidon has been a person of interest since mid-2016 "when she gained international notoriety for successfully recruiting several Indian nationals to join (ISIS).

"The Indian Government formally requested for investigative assistance pertaining to respondent," the resolution said.

Hamidon, in early November, denied she had links to the Maute group or the Marawi crisis.

"All of the accusations hurled against me are all false," Hamidon insisted at the preliminary investigation on the allegations against her.

READ: Alleged ISIS recruiter: Charges against me are not true

Aside from allegedly recruiting terrorists, the NBI said Hamidon is also the widow of Mohammad Jaafar Maguid, also known as "Tokboy" or "Abu Sharifa," the former leader of the Ansar Khalifa Philippines (AKP) or Ansar Al-Khilafa Philippines (supporters of the Caliphate in the Philippines).

Authorities said Maguid's group planted an improvised explosive device at a Christmas display in Kiamba Municipal Hall last December.

READ: 'Most wanted' leader of ISIS-linked group killed in Sarangani

Military beefs up forces in eastern Mindanao

From Malaya Business Insight (Dec 13): Military beefs up forces in eastern Mindanao

THE Armed Forces is beefing up forces in the eastern Mindanao area as part of renewed offensives against the communist New People’s Army which President Duterte has classified as a terrorist organization.

Maj. Ezra Balagtey, spokesman of the AFP’s Eastern Mindanao Command, said four battalions have been sent to the area in the past weeks as augmentation force, including the newly-activated 88th and 89th Infantry Battalions.

Balagtey said the Army’s elite 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion and the 15th Infantry Battalion have also been recently re-assigned to eastern Mindanao, from the western Mindanao area.
Balagtey said the 15th IB came from Basilan where it was involved in the fight against the Abu Sayyaf Group while the 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion is fresh from Marawi City where they fought with the terrorist Maute Group.

The area of responsibility of Eastmincom covers the entire Caraga and Davao regions and parts of Northern Mindanao and Soccsksargen regions. The Eastmincom is under the command of Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal.

“We are expecting more troops to arrive here as announced by the chief of staff (Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero),” said Balagtey. He did not say how many troops are currently operating under Eastmincom.

Balagtey said there about 2,000 NPA rebels in the Eastmincom’s area of responsibility, or around 45 percent of the entire NPA strength throughout the country.
“This is a priority area of the AFP as far as NPA terrorist is concerned,” said Balagtey of the areas of responsibility of the Eastmincom. “The last frontier of the NPA is eastern Mindanao,” he added.

Caraga includes Agusan del Norte and del Sur, Surigao del Norte and del Sur and Dinagat Islands while the Davao region covers Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte and del Sur, Davao Occidental and Oriental, and several cities.

President Duterte last month formally terminated peace talks with the communist movement amid series of NPA attacks on military and civilian targets. Last week, he officially declared the Communist Party of the Philippines and the NPA, the CPP’s armed wing, as terrorist groups.

PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa yesterday reiterated that police chiefs will be relieved from their posts if police stations under their area of responsibility are overrun by the NPA.

“We have a one-strike policy. The provincial director will be relieved if there are two police stations overrun, that’s automatic. A regional police director will also be relieved if two provincial police stations are overrun by the NPAs,” Dela Rosa said.

He said the relieved officials will be investigated as to why the communist rebels were able to carry out their attacks with ease.

Dela Rosa issued the one-strike policy when he was appointed PNP chief in July last year. Other PNP chiefs had similar policies but imposed a three-strike policy.

Dela Rosa also said he has ordered ground troops to reinforce their counterparts in the military in places where soldiers are thinly deployed like, in Iloilo and Cagayan Valley.

AFP cites 'psychological impact' for martial law extension; opposition senator disagrees

From CNN Philippines (Dec 12): AFP cites 'psychological impact' for martial law extension; opposition senator disagrees

Top security and defense officials on Tuesday briefed senators on their justification for extending martial law in Mindanao until the end of 2018.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines' (AFP) said they recommended the extension of martial law due to its "psychological impact" on law enforcement in Mindanao.

Most residents in Mindanao approved of it, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon said in an interview with media.

"By 'psychological' we mean it's really to the liking of the majority of Mindanaoans. So theres not much objection to it especially the Mindanao people," said Esperon.

Military rule in Mindanao during the months of the fighting between government forces and the ISIS-inspired Maute group had a huge effect in their operations, he added. In October, after five months of fighting, the government declared the liberation of Marawi City from the Maute.

"Anything that we can get out of the kind of martial law that we have, we can fully use as we have done sa Marawi. Malaki ang nagiging epekto," Esperon said.

However, Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon said such reasoning is not a valid basis for the extension of martial law in Mindanao.

"The Armed Forces has recommended the extension of martial law for its psychological impact. I'm afraid that is not a valid basis for the extension of martial law," he said in a media interview.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday cited the violence caused by the communist New People's Army (NPA) as one of the reasons for the martial law extension.
Drilon said the NPA was not a factor during the first time Duterte asked Congress for a martial law declaration.

"The president cited five reasons asking for an extension... The citation of the fifth reason which is the NPA threat, constitutes one whole page. The issue was raised, why if it's an extension of an original six-month period or martial law, the NPA was not a factor then?" he said.

Esperon denied that the inclusion of the NPA in the recommendation to extend martial law was sudden.

"It has always been there. But in the first declaration, we were in the peace process, but we have always been talking about it," he said.

He added now is the perfect time to quell terrorist groups such as the Mautes, Abu Sayyaf, and the NPA.

"Kailangan natin (ng martial law) because time is of the esscence. Ngayon na mahina ang ISIS, i-apply na natin lahat kaysa maghintay na naman na lumakas sila," Esperon said.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Esperon, AFP Chief of Staff Rey Guerrero, and Interior Undersecretary Eduardo Año briefed Senate President Koko Pimentel, Senate Majority Leader Tito Sotto, Senators Ping Lacson, Win Gatchalian, Grace Poe, and opposition Senators Bam Aquino, Risa Hontiveros, Sonny Trillanes, and Drilon.

After a briefing of more than two hours, Esperon was confident they were able to convince senators to extend martial law in Mindanao for another year.

"Ganun din naman ang mga senador eh, gusto nila magkaroon ng peace and development sa Mindanao," he said.

The officials also briefed House of Representative lawmakers this afternoon.

Congress is set to hold a joint session on Wednesday to decide on Duterte's request to extend martial law in Mindanao for a year, according to House Majority Leader Rudy Fariñas. He said members of both the majority and minority blocs in the lower chamber will meet in a caucus on Tuesday to discuss the matter.
'Foregone conclusion'

Drilon said he expects the Congress will grant President Rodrigo Duterte's request to extend martial law in Mindanao until the end of 2018.

"I think the authorization of Congress to extend martial law is a foregone conclusion. Congress is a political body. The President has super majority in both Houses," Drilon said.

If Congress grants one more year of martial law in the southern Philippines, they will elevate their objections before the Supreme Court, Drilon said.

"We go through the motions. The SC will decide if there is factual basis. We want to put on record our objection, raising constitutional issue," he said.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Tuesday said the Palace looks forward to Congress' support on Duterte's request for extension of martial law.

In a letter dated December 8, Duterte asked Congress to approve the extension of martial law on the island until December 31, 2018. He said this was necessary to quell the "intensified" rebellion of the New People's Army, and attacks by foreign and local terrorist groups.

This is the second time the President has asked for an extension. Congress granted the first request on July 22 - when the 60-day period for martial law was supposed to expire - effectively stretching military rule in Mindanao until December 31 this year.

Duterte declared martial law on May 23 when the ISIS-inspired Maute terror group attacked Marawi City where it waged a war against government troops for almost five months.

Abus use children to behead captives, says Defense Secretary

From the Philippine Canadian Inquirer (Dec 12): Abus use children to behead captives, says Defense Secretary

The child warriors are now being used by the Abu Sayaff to behead its captives, Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Monday.
“They are really using children. In fact, those who are beheading their victims are just teenagers,” Lorenzana said in Filipino.

As confirmed by Lorenzana and Senator Richard Gordon, recruitment of child warriors by the Maute group, Abu Sayyaf, and other lawless elements in Mindanao are indeed happening. They also stressed that it is against International Humanitarian Law.

As stated in the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, armed groups should not, under any circumstance, recruit or use in hostilities anyone under the age of 18.

1,300 terrorists neutralized in Mindanao in 2017, says Wesmincom

From Rappler (Dec 12): 1,300 terrorists neutralized in Mindanao in 2017, says Wesmincom

The Western Mindanao Command reports its 2017 performance as President Rodrigo Duterte asks Congress to extend martial law in Mindanao by a year

COMMAND CONFERENCE. The Western Mindanao Command holds its year-end command conference on December 11, 2017. Photo by Richard Falcatan/Rappler

Government troops neutralized 1,300 terrorists in operations in Mindanao in 2017, the Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) said.

Wesmincom reported its performance in the anti-terror drive during its year-end command conference on Tuesday, December 11, as President Rodrigo Duterte sought Congress approval to extend martial law in Mindanao for a year, or until December 2018.

The terrorists included in the Wesmincom tally include members of the Abu Sayyaf, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, the New People's Army, and the Maute Group.

In a statement, Wesmincom spokesperson Captain Jo-Ann Petinglay said 40% of the neutralized terrorists were from the Abu Sayyaf.

On the military operations against the BIFF, Maute, and NPA in Central Mindanao and Zamboanga Peninsula resulted to the neutralization of 1,194 enemies, said Petinglay.

Wesmincom said 40% of the neutralized terrorists are members of the Abu Sayyaf.

Of the figure, 182 BIFF and 995 Maute members were neutralized in Central Mindanao. In operations against the NPA, 8 communists were killed, 9 captured, and 89 laid down their firearms, Petinglay said.

She added that on the government side, a total of 208 soldiers were killed in operations against terroists – 169 soldiers were killed in clashes with the Maute Group, 26 in encounters with the Abu Sayyaf, 7 in operations against the BIFF, and 6 in clashes with the NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

Last week, President Rodrigo Duterte signed a proclamation tagging the CPP-NPA as a terrorist group, following the government's termination of peace talks with the National Democratic Front.

Petinglay said Abu Sayyaf kidnappings went down to just 12 incidents in 2017 from 23 in 2016.

There were 77 Abu Sayyaf-initiated attacks on civilians and government troops in 2017, down from 123 recorded in 2016.

Petinglay said 230 firearms of the Abu Sayyaf were either seized, recovered, or surrendered to authorities.


Former NPA says NPA squad commander pocketing funds

From Update Philippines (Dec 12): Former NPA says NPA squad commander pocketing funds

“Sigi ingon ang NPA nga ang Gobyerno ang kurakot, pero ang tinuod nga istorya sila ang kurakot,” said former NPA member Danny Lauda Andip, as quoted by 10th Infantry ‘Agila’ Division (10ID) of the Philippine Army.

10ID said Andip alias Berni who was the Squad Finance Logistic Officer of Squad Abe, Front Committee 53 for one year, surrendered to 39th Infantry Battalion on December 12.

“Berni revealed that alias “Jecko”, his NPA commander is pocketing the cash that were promised to them when joining the NPA. He further added that the budget for food supplies given by Jecko are so little despite of the many extortion that the communist group are doing,” 10ID said.

All former NPA members who decided to surrender are undergoing Comprehensive Localized Integration Program facilitated by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

“We are always open for those NPA that would like to surrender, there are many ways in addressing your issues, taking up arms should not be the choice,” Lieutenant Colonel Harold Argamosa said.

EastMinCom gets more troops for anti-NPA campaign

From Update Philippines (Dec 12): EastMinCom gets more troops for anti-NPA campaign

Additional units are being brought to reinforce the Davao City-based Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) in line with efforts to neutralize New People’s Army (NPA) bands known to be operating in the region.

This was emphasized by command spokesperson Major Ezra Balagtey in an interview late Tuesday.

In line with this, the EastMinCom has absorbed the 15th Infantry Battalion which had just finished a tour-of-duty in Western Mindanao.

Sends off for 15th Infantry Battalion. 10ID photo

Initially, the 15th Infantry Battalion is from the Jamindan-based 3rd Infantry Division but was deployed to help in security operations in Basilan before being deployed to Marawi City during the height of the clashes with Maute Group terrorists.

The former was replaced by the 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion following the liberation of Marawi City, Balagtey said.

Aside from the above-mentioned unit, the military official said two battalions, the 88th and 89th, have been recently activated, following the recruitment of additional troops.

He added that they are expecting more troops to arrive as announced by Armed Forces Chief-of-Staff Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero.

Balagtey also noted that half of the NPA forces operating in Mindanao are to be found at the EMC area.

“Kasi parang ito ang last frontier ng NPA, (ang) Eastern Mindanao, and more than 50 percent of NPA (in) Mindanao-wide is nasa EastMinCom,” he pointed out.

Latest information indicated that less than 1,800 NPAs are operating in the EastMinCom area.

PAF Wing Commander gets B-day greetings 16K ft above ground

From Update Philippines (Dec 12): PAF Wing Commander gets B-day greetings 16K ft above ground

The Wing Commander of Philippine Air Force’s 220th Airlift Wing (220AW), Brigadier General Stephen P. Parreño got a birthday greetings from 16,600 feet above the ground. Parreño turned 48 on December 12.

All the personnel of 220th Airlift Wing created way “to express their birthday greetings and wishes including those deployed and, surprisingly, even those in flight,” 220AW said.

PAF photo

PAF photo

220AW said the resultant team-bonding that was developed would inevitably spillover at work and continue to boost the morale and welfare of all airlifters. This practice has been part of the Wing’s culture ever since.