Saturday, December 23, 2017

Promoting peace and preventing youth radicalization in Mindanao, Philippines

Posted to the Relief Web (Dec 21): Promoting peace and preventing youth radicalization in Mindanao, Philippines

Report from Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue
Published on 21 Dec 2017 — View Original

Changing minds together!

The southern Philippines has endured decades of conflict, violence, and the presence of armed groups. Poverty, poor governance and the ambiguous implementation of the peace agreements with the Moro Fronts has left this region vulnerable and still no closer to peace. This situation has also damaged the credibility of the Moro Fronts that have lent strong support to a seemingly never-ending peace process. In the meantime, more splinter armed groups have emerged, some of which have developed extreme ideologies. Young Moros are drawn to these groups in the belief that they can address their aspirations for autonomy and freedom, albeit through violent means.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is well aware of, and deeply concerned about, this trend, and has asked the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD) for support in gathering the young members of their communities to see what can be done to reverse this worrying trend. Over the past year, the MILF, supported by HD, has organised Youth Fora throughout the southern Philippines, in order to reach out to as many young Filipino Muslims as possible.

The fora aim to encourage the Moro youth to be actively involved in peacebuilding initiatives and to preserve and promote the gains of the peace process. They also encourage young people to refrain from joining extremist groups. The fora have now become well-recognized platforms for promoting peace, dialogue and more moderate forms of Islam amongst youth in Mindanao.

The gatherings also offered young people with an opportunity to exchange thoughts, practical tips and suggestions based on their personal experiences, on ways to identify extremist groups’ recruitment strategies. During the last Youth Forum organised by the MILF and HD in September 2017, a young man shared his own experience of having been invited to attend a series of meetings through a friend from his local community. It turned out later that the meetings thought to indoctrinate him and his peers. The young man expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to share his story and spread the word.

The first series of youth fora organised in 2017 have already become an appreciated and recognised avenue for young people to learn from each other, share experiences, and discuss effective ways of preventing youth radicalisation. The MILF and HD intend to hold a final Youth Summit by March 2018, which will bring together the most active participants from the previous conferences to share lessons learned and report back on initiatives they have since undertaken within their respective communities.

— Annieza Mohamed

Alvarez’s red-tagging may signal crackdown vs militant solons — Makabayan

From the Philippine Star (Dec 21): Alvarez’s red-tagging may signal crackdown vs militant solons — Makabayan

In a statement, members of the Makabayan bloc called Alvarez’s insinuation that the militant solons are benefiting from the New People’s Army’s revolutionary taxation “malicious and dangerous red-tagging.” Photo from Bayan Muna party-list Facebook page

The House of Representatives’ Makabayan bloc on Thursday raised alarm over the accusation of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez that some party-lists have ties with communist rebels.
In a statement, members of the Makabayan bloc called Alvarez’s insinuation that the militant solons are benefiting from the New People’s Army’s revolutionary taxation “malicious and dangerous red-tagging.”

“The malicious insinuation… is too absurd for further comment were it not for the real danger that he could be laying a preposterous predicate for cracking down on Makabayan on trumped-up charges,” they said.

The militant solons added: “This crude attempt to implicate the Makabayan bloc in the collection of revolutionary taxes is, if anything, only a means to further strengthen the administration’s objective to incriminate all of its ‘dissenter’ as either terrorists or terrorist financiers.”

In a statement Thursday, the House speaker defended the cuts in funding for projects of opposition lawmakers by implying some might have been getting money from communist rebels with whom they are ideologically aligned.

READ: Speaker goes on offense to defend cuts to opposition projects

Among the lawmakers who did not get funding for projects were members of the Makabayan bloc and of the erstwhile ruling Liberal Party.
The Makabayan bloc is composed of members of the ACT Teachers, Gabriela, Bayan Muna, Anakpawis and Kabataan party-lists.

The bloc, identified with the national democratic movement, has seven seats in the House. Support for and membership in activist groups, however, does not equate to membership in the Communist Party of the Philippines or its armed wing, the NPA.

President Rodrigo Duterte, as early as October, started accusing opposition groups of committing rebellion.

On December 6, Duterte signed a proclamation labeling the CPP-NPA as terrorist groups. Among the grounds the chief executive used in justifying his request to extend martial law in Mindanao for another year is the continued clashes of the government against the NPA.

READ: Why Duterte's 'red-baiting' of activists is dangerous

 Diversion from pork barrel issue

Members of the Makabayan bloc said the red-tagging of militant solons shows that the House leadership “just wants to divert attention” from the issue of pork barrel in Congress.

“Speaker Alvarez should just stick to the issue of pork barrel at hand and not try to use a smokescreen or flagrantly justify the continued proliferation of patronage politics,” they said.

Alvarez, a solon from Davao del Norte, is an outspoken supporter of Duterte.

On Wednesday, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said administration “allies will get more” from the 2018 budget.

2017: A Turbulent Year for Security in Southeast Asia

From BenarNews (Dec 21): 2017: A Turbulent Year for Security in Southeast Asia (By Zachary Abuza)


A Philippine soldier stands guard amid the ruins of Marawi, Oct. 25, 2017.
Jeoffrey Maitem/BenarNews

The year 2017 saw a devolving security landscape in Southeast Asia. Long-simmering crises erupted into major conflicts in the Philippines and Myanmar, while an insurgency in southern Thailand festered.

The Islamic State’s loss of key population centers in Syria curtailed its ubiquitous propaganda, but it also led to fears of returning foreign fighters replenishing local insurgencies, as well as the prospect of more lone-wolf attacks.

While some governments have worked to improve security, others have exacerbated the conflicts, conflating regime survival with national security.

The Rohingya

The biggest news story out of the region was the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims by the Myanmar security forces, which led to the largest refugee crisis in years: since late August more than 650,000 Rohingya fled to neighboring Bangladesh, where some 400,000 refugees from Rakhine state were already sheltering from earlier cycles of violence.

In what the U.N. described as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing,” security forces killed at least 6,700 civilians, according to surveys of refugees by Doctors Without Borders (MSF). That figure is almost certainly an underestimation.

Over 250 Rohingya villages were razed. The sheer number of Rohingya refugees who were victims of sexual violence suggests a coordinated policy of using rape as a weapon of war. While the Myanmar government denies that the security forces targeted civilians, hundreds were treated for gunshot wounds and other injuries. Many had been tortured. Other were killed or wounded by landmines.

The pogroms were prompted by small-scale attacks on police and border patrol outposts by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA). The poorly armed and resourced ARSA militants began operations in late 2016, and launched coordinated attacks on some 30 outposts in August.

In many ways it was a cynical ploy. ARSA, a fringe extremist group, had little support from the Rohingya community, which was already living precariously without citizenship or other legal protections. ARSA was clearly expecting a heavy-handed government response that would help the insurgents gain more adherents; but it was not expecting the overwhelming crackdown by Myanmar’s security forces, or the political and diplomatic cover that the government of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi would actively give it.

While al-Qaeda quickly issued a statement calling on Muslims to come to the defense of the Rohingya, there is no hard evidence that there has been an influx of foreign fighters from Southeast or South Asia to join the Rohingya cause. ARSA, for its part, states that it has no ties to any foreign terrorist or militant organizations. Indeed its stated goal is citizenship for the Rohingya, not separatism, let alone transnational jihadis.

But the plight of the Rohingya is certainly a motivating factor for militants. Indeed, the Bangladeshi man, who is accused of a failed suicide bombing in New York City on Dec. 11 in the name of Islamic State (IS), had recently returned from the Kutupalong refugee camp in southeastern Bangladesh, where he briefly served as an aid worker.

Rohingya Muslim refugees from Myanmar line up to receive aid at the Kutupalong refugee camp in Ukhia, Bangladesh, Nov. 15, 2017. [AP]

Southern Thailand

In some ways the Malay separatist insurgency in the Thai Deep South, now in its 14th year, is the good news story in the lot. Violence was at its lowest level in over a decade. The number killed and wounded was at a historical low; as were the number of violent incidents.

And yet, the violence festered on, flaring at certain times to remind the government that the insurgency was far from over.

The decline in violence is in part attributed to a major leadership transition within the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) rebel group in early 2017, after two of its founders died in the previous 16 months. In part, it was just due to the intense network of checkpoints throughout the south, which have made attacks harder. It was also partly due to a change in tactics.

Violence is down because the insurgents see no need for it. They have driven Buddhists out of large swaths of the south. The insurgents now rarely intentionally target civilians, certainly within the urban areas. Almost every IED was placed on a rural road to target security forces. And security forces are the primary target: insurgents killed over 40 and wounded at least 130 in 2017.

But while the downtick in violence is positive, it does have a downside: the military government in Bangkok has little incentive or pressure to make meaningful concessions at peace talks.  As such, the dialogue with the umbrella grouping MARA-Patani is largely for show; and indeed, the BRN has remained largely aloof from the process, convinced of the government’s insincerity.

Abu Sayyaf

In the Philippines, the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) began 2017 in the way they had operated in 2016, with a focus on maritime kidnappings.

Japanese crewmen thwarted a ship-jacking in early January – one of the largest vessels the ASG had ever tried to board. Later that month, they kidnapped three Indonesian fishermen. In February, ASG gunmen kidnapped six Vietnamese sailors, including the captain of a bulk cargo vessel and killed one crewmember. The ASG released the Korean captain of a vessel and his crew when a ransom was paid, and then beheaded a German hostage when he failed to pay a ransom. Another Philippine captain was beheaded in April when a ransom was not paid; that July, they beheaded 2 Vietnamese captives.

Joint maritime patrols between the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia began in mid-2017, and had an immediate impact. The ASG’s maritime operations dropped sharply in the second half of the year, as militants returned to the less lucrative kidnapping of local Filipinos. In October, the three countries began coordinated aerial patrols, while Singapore and China both sought to participate in maritime patrols. Both the United States and Australia conducted maritime operations in the Sulu Sea in support.

In an alarming development, in April, a group of ASG gunmen took a small craft to the resort island of Bohol in the Visayas near Cebu, and clashed with security forces, killing three soldiers and a policeman. Although six militants were killed, and the others retreated, it was the group’s first foray outside of Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago, to what had been considered a safe region.

The Philippine military conducted operations against the ASG throughout the year, losing many men in pitched battles, but killing dozens of militants and arresting several important figures. Malaysia, for its part, arrested over a dozen ASG suspects or militants that were supporting them. And yet, the ASG's operations remained robust by year’s end.


Assaults on the ASG forced Isnilon Hapilon and his men to mainland Mindanao, where they joined forces with another IS-pledged group, led by the charismatic Maute brothers. In May, the militants seized the city of Marawi, which they held for some five months before being dislodged in a battle with government forces. President Duterte declared martial law for Mindanao.

The siege of Marawi highlighted brutal shortcomings in the capabilities of the Philippine military, which struggled to retake the southern city. While new to urban warfare, the ability of the militants to stockpile over 1,000 men, and enough arms and ammunition for a five-month siege was an appalling intelligence failure.

The militants were bolstered by several hundred fighters from Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and as far as Yemen and Chechnya. The siege was also the subject of a slick video produced by a central IS media organ.

Marawi was left in rubble. And the population is seething at the slow and, what they deem, inadequate government response. As of December, fewer than half of the city’s displaced population of 200,000 had returned.

While government forces killed the Maute brothers and Isnilon Hapilon, and hundreds of their fighters, and about 200 escaped and are regrouping. They have largely been protected by hardline elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), whose peace process with the government has been stalled since early 2015, and able to recruit from amongst citizens who are turning on the government.

And there remain a number of other pro-Islamic State groups that have continued to fight the government. Ansarul Khilafa Philippines suffered a setback in early 2017 when Philippine forces killed their leader Mohammad Jaafar Maguid (alias “Tokboy”), but the group remains largely intact. Militants under a former MILF commander, Abu Turaipe, stepped up their attacks, as did fighters from another group that broke away from the MILF, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. 

The siege of Marawi caused enormous concern across the region, which once again saw Mindanao as an ungoverned space, and thus a regional security concern.

Countries were quick to offer support: Malaysian and Indonesia stepped up maritime patrols, and policing in their respective portions of Borneo. Australia and Singapore dispatched manned planes and unmanned aerial surveillance craft. The United States gave the Philippines two small surveillance aircraft, while both the U.S. and China provided small arms. Australia and Singapore have since provided training in urban warfare.

Other Islamic State-related terrorism

Throughout the rest of Southeast Asia, there were relatively few terrorist attacks, though arrests of terror suspects occurred in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.

In February, members of the pro-Islamic State JAD set off a pressure-cooker bomb in West Bandung, Indonesia.  In May, on the eve of Ramadan, two suicide bombers attacked a bus terminal in East Jakarta, killing themselves, and three policeman, and wounding five police and five civilians. The Islamic State’s media organ, Amaq, took credit for the attack.

There were a number of thwarted attacks. In February, Malaysian authorities arrested seven people – a Malaysian, Indonesian, four Yemenis and a Uyghur – on suspicion of plotting to detonate a car bomb. The Indonesian suspect was an IS-trained militant who had recently returned from Syria. In November, Malaysian police arrested a 19-year-old for possession of IEDs, which he intended to use at a beer festival. Malaysian authorities also claimed to have broken up a cell that was smuggling weapons from southern Thailand.

In Indonesia, officials arrested three members of JAD for plotting to attack a police station in East Java in April. In a follow up operation to the May suicide bombings, police recovered weapons and pressure-cooker IEDs in June. In all, 41 people were arrested in connection with the May attack.  In July, police arrested four men in Bandung after their IED exploded prematurely. And in November, police shot dead two suspects after an arson attack at a police station in western Sumatra.

Several top IS leaders from Southeast Asia were killed in Iraq and Syria in 2017, including Muhammad Fudhail Omar and Mohd Nizam Ariffin. Bahrun Naim - one of the most prolific recruiters for IS in Southeast Asia - has either been killed or gone underground.

A member of the police bomb squad inspects the site of an explosion in East Jakarta, May 24, 2017. [AP]

CT legislation and policy

Meanwhile, the governments of the region took some steps to address policy shortfalls in dealing with militancy. Indonesia was able to compel Telegram to block some 55 channels that were used by regional militants. The Philippines tried to force Facebook to shut down pages that were linked to the Marawi militants. But social media remains an important tool for militants to use for fundraising, recruitment, and indoctrination.

Indonesia took a more extreme step with the banning of Hizbut Tahrir for violating the official ideology of Pancasila. And yet, the number of anti-vice organizations that are able to operate and attack or intimidate religious minorities proliferated. The jailing of the Chinese-Christian governor of Jakarta, who had just lost a bitterly fought campaign, has led to a surge in religious intolerance and identity politics.

Indonesia continued to push through its controversial Counterterrorism Bill through parliament. There are three aspects to the bill that have most alarmed critics; first it would enshrine a counter-terror role for the military; it would criminalize joining militant groups overseas; and it would give the government the right to strip people of citizenship.

Towards 2018

At the end of 2017, the situation across Southeast Asia was eerily calm. And to be fair, the devolving situation led to new levels of inter-state cooperation. But prospects to improved security in 2018 are grim.

More than a million Rohingya refugees live in squalid refugee camps in Bangladesh, now amongst the world’s largest. Despite an “agreement” for repatriating Rohingya, the Myanmar government will likely make proof of residency hard. And with ongoing attacks, including the burning of some 40 more villages in November and December alone, the Rohingya have every reason to mistrust the government’s assurances for their security.

While ARSA has not staged a single attack since the August 2017 raids, it is poised to take advantage of the hopelessness, frustration of the refugee population. The insecurity of life in the refugee camps gives an added incentive to join a militant group. The Bangladesh government’s only real source of leverage over the Myanmar government to fulfill its commitment to return the refugees is allowing ARSA to recruit, organize, train, and stage attacks from Bangladeshi soil.

The security situation in Mindanao will likely continue to devolve. Already President Duterte has shifted the focus of the military to the communist New People’s Army, despite evidence that the survivors of Marawi are regrouping, while other pro-IS groups continue to stage attacks.

Duterte is already trying to lower the MILF’s expectations about passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, the implementing legislation for the 2014 peace agreement. He recently questioned the BBL’s constitutionality, which will only empower legislators who are against the autonomy agreement. As such, the MILF will only continue to splinter.

While the governments of Malaysian, Indonesia, and Singapore keep taking the threat of IS seriously, the ungoverned space in the southern Philippines will continue to create space for militants to train, regroup, and execute attacks.  On top of that, there is the resurgence of al-Qaeda, which is poised to take advantage of the Islamic State’s setbacks.

The BRN insurgents in southern Thailand have demonstrated that they are able to turn on the violence at will. With the flooding caused by an intense rainy season over in early 2018, violence is expected to spike.

The year turned out to be far more violent and destabilizing in Southeast Asia than anyone could have imagined. Sadly, 2018 is poised to start out that way.

[Zachary Abuza is a professor at the National War College in Washington and the author of “Forging Peace in Southeast Asia: Insurgencies, Peace Processes, and Reconciliation.” The views expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of the U.S. Department of Defense, the National War College or BenarNews.]

Maute considered a ‘dead group’—AFP chief

From the Philippine Canadian Inquirer (Dec 22): Maute considered a ‘dead group’—AFP chief

After losing the battle in Marawi City against the government troops, the Daesh-inspired Maute terrorists can now be considered a dead group, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Eduardo Año said.

The AFP chief believes that the possibility of the Maute group reviving itself as a fighting force will take a very long time.

“I think it will be a very long time. They will attempt to recover but they don’t have such capability like what they did in Marawi,” Año said.

Although the military is confident that it has defeated the Maute group, Año said that it should remain vigilant of lone wolf attacks.

“What we should be watchful for is the lone wolf attack, one or two persons who will show off and will detonate IEDs, that’s what we are guarding and hopefully it will never happen. But in the scale of what they did, they don’t have capability,” he said.

Meanwhile, military expert Clive Williams of the Australian Defence Force Academy said, “AFP operations will have driven ISIS-affiliated militant groups closer together and facilitated recruitment of new members.”

He added that surviving Maute fighters who might have returned to their Lanao del Sur localities might regroup and launch attacks in the future.

20 terror suspects from IS, Abu Sayyaf arrested in nationwide swoop

The third raid by the division involved the arrests of four Indonesians aged between 31 and 38
with the help from the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) in Sandakan, Sabah on Dec 4.

The suspects had entered Malaysia illegally from Tarakan and Nunukan, Indonesia and planned to enter southern Philippines to join the terrorist group.

On Dec 6, a 50-year-old Filipino suspected of having ties with the Abu Sayyaf group's supreme leader was arrested here.

The suspect was believed to have recruited Filipinos around Kepong, here to join the Abu Sayyaf group.

On Dec 10 in Sandakan saw another six Filipinos and five Malaysians aged between 16 and 47 who planned to join the terrorist group in southern Philippines arrested.

In another raid in Masai, Johor saw a Filipino who is listed as a wanted suspect in the Philippines arrested for suspicion of being involved in terror activities in Philippines.

The final raid on Dec 15, saw a 31-year-old North African man arrested at KLIA.

The suspect was previously arrested in Turkey in September last year for being involved in terror activities in Iraq and Syria.

He entered Malaysia in early December this year from a neighbouring country and was arrested through a foreign enforcement agency intelligence.

All suspects were detained under the Security Offences Act (Special Measures) 2012 (Sosma), Fuzi said.

5 BIFF bandits killed in NCotabato clashes

From the Manila Times (Dec 22): 5 BIFF bandits killed in NCotabato clashes

About 200 families have evacuated and found themselves dislocated as firefights between Islamic State-inspired bandits from Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and Philippine Army troops resumed in Carmen, North Cotabato.

Local officials on Friday confirmed that affected residents of Martesan and Misalan in Barangay Tonganon were forced to evacuate for fear of a rampage by the group of BIFF commander Esmael Abdulmalik, alias Abu Toraife.

According to the military, Abu Toraife lost five of his followers in the bloody encounters with the Army troops.

Three soldiers from the Army’s 34th Infantry Battalion (IB) and a local member of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu) were wounded in the initial gunfight that erupted before dawn on Tuesday.

Among the wounded Army troops were Staff Sgt. Wenceslao Nacional, Cpl. Gerry Culaban, Privates First Class Ignacio Cinco and Joel Looc and a militiaman identified only as Lacuesta. They sustained bullet wounds in the body.

The military said elders from the Moro community reported to them that five followers of Abdulmalik – Ganding Mutalib, Raguiab Tahir, Monsi Kadir, Saliman Guinaid and Kumay Sangutin – were killed in the gunfights with troops from the 34th IB and 7th IB.

Both units are under the Army’s 602nd Brigade based near Carmen in the 3rd District of North Cotabato.

Three other bandits, identified only as Oting, Samier and Mustapha, were also injured from 40 millimeter grenade projectiles fired by soldiers.

Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, Jr. chief of the Western Mindanao Command, said units of the Army’s 602nd Brigade are anticipating possible retaliations by Abdulmalik’s group.

The brigade has jurisdiction over Carmen and nearby towns in North Cotabato.

Brig. Gen. Nolly Samarita of the 602nd Brigade said a preemptive strike against the terrorists was launched after villagers and commanders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front sighted them in Barangay Tonganon, apparently preparing to attack the community there.

Abu Toraife is the leader of one of three factions in the outlawed BIFF, which uses the Islamic State flag as revolutionary banner.

People in Maguindanao who have known Abdulmalik, a Muslim religious leader being an Imam, said he is determined in sowing hatred among non-Muslims.

Samarita said Army units in North Cotabato will assist local officials in relief operations to evacuees.

Military operations kill 11 BIFF members in North Cotabato

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 23): Military operations kill 11 BIFF members in North Cotabato

CONTINUING THREAT. Members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), shown in this file photo, were reportedly involved in at least 15 violent incidents during the martial law period in Maguindanao and North Cotabato. (INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / JEOFFREY MAITEM)

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao – The military said on Saturday that operations in Carmen, North Cotabato have killed 11 Islamic State-inspired armed men belonging to the group of Esmael Abdulmalik.

Capt. Arvin John Encinas, spokesperson of the army’s 6th Infantry Division based here, said eight members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) died from air strikes that the military has conducted while three others died in clashes with soldiers since Thursday.

DWDD: NEW LIFE | Another ASG Surrenders With Firearms to JTF Sulu

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Dec 23): NEW LIFE  |  Another ASG Surrenders With Firearms to JTF Sulu

PARANG, Sulu (DWDD) – As a gesture of his genuine intention to return to the folds of the law and live peacefully with his family, Mohammad Effendi C. Jawali alias Khan, 25 years old, and a resident of Barangay Paugan Parang, Sulu handed-over to Brig. Gen. Cirilito E. Sobejana, JTF Sulu commander his M16 rifle at the war room of JTF Sulu.

Khan’s surrender was facilitated by 2nd Special Forces Battalion commanded by Lt. Col. Jessie R. Montoya who is now conducting a custodial debriefing to prepare said surrenderor for his reintegration with the society. Khan is a remnant of the slain ASG sub-leader Alhabsy Misaya. JTFSulu/MCAG

DWDD: CRUMBLING FORCE | 3 NPAs and Hundreds of Allies Surrenders to 10th Infantry “Agila” Division

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Dec 23): CRUMBLING FORCE  |  3 NPAs and Hundreds of Allies Surrenders to 10th Infantry “Agila” Division


MAWAB, Compostela Valley Province (DWDD) – Another member of New People’s Army (NPA) Alias Toni, 28 years of age and a resident of New Corella, Davao del Norte voluntarily surrendered with his two high-powered firearms to the 60th Infantry Battalion on December 3, 2017.

Meanwhile, on December 4, 2017, two former New People’s Army (NPA) rebels who surrendered on 2016 are now undergoing training to become soldiers of the Philippine Army, they have received their cash assistance under the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) at the DILG Office, Tagum City.

The CLIP is a government initiative that seeks to permanently and peacefully end all armed conflicts with armed groups. Both received their P15,000.00 immediate cash assistance and P50,000.00 worth of livelihood assistance in bulk. Davao del Norte OIC Provincial Director Jackeline E Esperon personally facilitated the distribution of the cash assistance.

Alias Toni said, “Di klarongpamamalakadnghukbo,” and he is also tired of his co-members of the group that he decided to surrender.

“They are actually the ones who really want to become soldiers. As how we do with the other FRs, we help them pursue their dreams or at least experience normal lives and have stable jobs,” Lt. Col. Emmanuel Canilla, Commander of 60IB said.

Col. Erwin Bernard Neri of 1001st Bde says “they [NPA former rebels] make the most out of their new life and make sure to use their money wisely”. He urged the NPA to return to the folds of the law and avail the programs of government and live as peaceful citizens of the country.

Meanwhile, a total of 120 members of Underground Mass Organization (UGMO) affiliated to Guerilla Front 2 and SECOM 27 of SMRC, New People’s Army (NPA) surrendered and pledged its full support in attaining just and lasting peace in Compostela Valley to 71st Infantry Battalion from November 28 to December 07, 2017 at Purok 8, Brgy Nueva Visayas, Mawab, ComVal Province.

UGMO is a part of NPA’s organizing tactics composed of SangaysaPartido (SP) that leads the group toward mass actions as well as the armed group barangay immersion and Milisyang Bayan (MBs) who will act as the lowest armed group that is tasked to conduct ambuscades and any other annihilative activities to deter and inflict casualties to government forces.

“Lagilangnilangsinasabinamananalonaang NPA sagiyera kaya dapatangmgalumad ay makipagtulunganupangkalabaninanggobyerno at sundaloperohanggangngayonnamanwala pa ring nangyayari,” said Anally Minio, an UGMO surrenderor.

According to Lieutenant Colonel Esteveyn E Ducusin, 71st Battalion Commanding Officer, “the Militia and the SP’s will not support the NPAs, they are tired of their propaganda of winning over the government. We do not condone any arrangements with this terrorist [NPA]. Your Army will use all its capabilities to pursue those who continuously commit terror acts and destroy peace.”

“With full force of the Army, 10ID ensures the safety of the innocent people within our area of responsibility. The remaining communist-terrorists (NPA) in the area will face the consequences of their terroristic actions. However, those who choose to surrender will have their normal life back under CLIP of the government, says Major General Noel S Clement, 10ID Commander.

With the current mass surrender, Army troopers disrupted the communist-terrorists’ plan to conduct terroristic activities. 10DPAO/MCAG

DWDD: HELPING HAND | PN aids TY Urduja Victims in the Visayas

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Dec 23): HELPING HAND  |  PN aids TY Urduja Victims in the Visayas 

The Philippine Navy’s newest landing dock and largest vessel, Barko ng Republika ng Pilipinas (BRP) Tarlac (LD601), is getting ready to depart here once the loading of tons of relief items intended for our countrymen in Visayas Region particularly Tacloban City that have been devastated by Typhoon Urduja is complete and the sea condition has improved for the vessel’s safe navigation.

Personnel coming from the different Philippine Navy (PN) units together with LD601 crew are hauling of more or less 220 tons of assorted relief items such as food and non-food items like hygiene kits, medical kits, mosquito nets, plastic mats (bedding) and solar lamps consolidated by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Health (DOH) and National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC). CMOG PN / MCAG

DWDD: DAREDEVIL | Cpt Rommel Sandoval receives Medal of Valor (Posthomous)

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Dec 23): DAREDEVIL  |  Cpt Rommel Sandoval receives Medal of Valor (Posthomous)

 FORT ANDRES BONIFACIO, Taguig City (DWDD) – A snappy salute to Captain Rommel B. Sandoval. He received the Medal of Valor, AFP’s highest honor, for his acts of conspicuous courage, gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as the Commanding Officer of the 11th Scout Ranger Company, 4th Scout Ranger Battalion, First Scout Ranger Regiment, Special Operations Command during the Marawi Crisis.

Cpt. Sandoval displayed extraordinary courage, bravery, sterling leadership and professionalism by offering the greatest sacrifice of giving his life to a fellow comrade, thereby keeping with the finest tradition of a Filipino soldier. OACPA / MCAG

DWDD: WOMEN EMPOWERMENT | PN sends Seawoman to Foreign Schooling

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Dec 23): WOMEN EMPOWERMENT  |  PN sends Seawoman to Foreign Schooling

NAVAL STATION JOSE ANDRADA, Roxas Blvd, Manila (DWDD) – The Naval Sea Systems Command has sent one of its own to take part in foreign training. F2EM Stephanie E Andrada PN, who is currently assigned at the Naval Shipyard was chosen by the Philippine Navy Foreign Training Selection Board last 10 October 2017 to participate in the Engineering Common Core Advanced Electrician’s Mate Technical Course.

In her own account, F2EM Andrada said that she is optimistic of the new concepts and skills she will acquire during the 3-month training period in Great Lakes, Illinois, USA. NPAO/MCAG

DWDD: GIFT GIVING | 79IB spreads Love this Christmas Season

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Dec 23): GIFT GIVING  |  79IB spreads Love this Christmas Season  

SAGAY CITY, Negros Occidental (DWDD) – The 79th Infantry “Masaligan” Battalion together with the Community Services Center/Social Action Office of the University of St. La Salle- Integrated School headed by Mrs Rose Destua, Community Service Director conducted gift-giving, feeding and Christmas party to the Indigenous People community in Brgy Puey, Sagay City, Negros Occidental.

DeliveringBasicServices to remote areas.

“May the Good Lord continue to inspire us to do His Holy will” 79IB/MCAG

DWDD: SUPPORT OUR TROOPS | AFP receives 500 sacks of rice for Marawi soldiers

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Dec 23): SUPPORT OUR TROOPS  |  AFP receives 500 sacks of rice for Marawi soldiers

CAMP GEN EMILIO AGUINALDO, Quezon City – The Armed Forces of the Philippines received 500 sacks of rice from Lim Seh Leng Foundation through SL Agritech Corporation in a turnover ceremony on December 22, at the GHQ Conference Room.


The sacks of rice containing 25 kilos each are intended for soldiers assigned in Marawi City. The rice donation is in support and recognition of the services of soldiers who are fighting violent extremists and terrorists.

The distribution to beneficiaries will be facilitated by the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel through the Western Mindanao Command.

Dr Henry Lim Bon Liong, Chairman and CEO of SL Agritech Group turned over the donation to Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana and AFP Chief of Staff General Rey Leonardo Guerrero.


The donated rice is of the Jasmine variety called Dona Maria with market value of around P95 per kilo.

“We are grateful for the act of kindness by our citizens who continue to appreciate the sacrifices of our soldiers especially those in Marawi,” AFP Chief of Staff General Rey Leonardo Guerrero said.

“Such gestures boost the morale of our troops and give us more reasons to serve our people better,” Gen Guerrero added. AFP PAO/MCAG

DWDD: LEADER BY EXAMPLE | LTC Peter Edwin Navarro – A Warrior

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Dec 23): LEADER BY EXAMPLE  |  LTC Peter Edwin Navarro – A Warrior

BARANGAY MAMPAYAG, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon (DWDD) – There are commanders who lead by giving orders, while there are combatant commander’s who led his men upfront in battle, selfless service for the people and country even to the expense of his safety, LTC Peter Edwin R Navarro, Commanding Officer of 1st Special Forces (Anytime…Anywhere) Battalion was Wounded-in-Action last July 22, 2017 during an encounter with NPA.

Despite being wounded in battle LTC Navarro still giving instructions to his men.

LTC Navarro during his casualty evacuation.



 After 4 days of being confined at the hospital and hasn’t fully recovered, LTC Navarro volunteered to be on Full Duty Status.



DWDD: REINTEGRATION | More Sayyaf Members Surrender in Sulu

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Dec 23): REINTEGRATION  |  More Sayyaf Members Surrender in Sulu


CAMP BAUTISTA, Jolo (DWDD) – Since the Joint Task Force Sulu’s proposal of the Comprehensive Psycho-Social and Reintegration Package for Abu Sayyaf surrenderors last November 16 that the Governor and all Mayors of Sulu are amenable with, more ASG members surrender.

This month alone, 7 Abu terrorists yielded with firearms making a total of 51 surrenderors with 48 firearms for the year since the first surrenderor last March.

Five of the seven surrenderors for December were presented by Lt. Col. Jessie R. Montoya, Commanding Officer of 2nd Special Forces Battalion to Brig. Gen. Cirilito E. Sobejana, JTF Sulu Commander at the War Room, here, Monday.


They are:Persing J. Abdurasid aka Lito, 41, and a resident of Brgy. Wanni Piyanjihan, Parang who brought his M1 Garand rifle last December 11; Midzfar Idjarani Jukuran aka Mitchie/Che Guevarra, 31, and a resident of Brgy. Panabuan, Indanan who yielded his M16 rifle last December 12; Tating Asid aka Black from Maimbung who submitted himself with M1 Garand rifle; Amin Asjad Ismula aka Amin, 37, a resident of Brgy. Taglibi, Patikul and Aldisar Bara Jurrani, 24, a resident of Brgy. Buansa, Indanan who handed-over one M1 Garand rifle each.

Right after the presentation, they underwent medical examination at the Station Hospital. They are now undergoing custodial debriefing in preparation to their reintegration into the society. Since they all surrendered with firearms, they shall be qualified to avail the comprehensive psycho-social reintegration package.

JTF Sulu leadership is very optimistic that with the active support of the Local Chief Executives and peace-loving Tausugs, the road toward peace and progress of the province is on sight. JTF SULU / MCAG

DWDD: PEACE INTEGRATION | More NPA’s Surrenders in Sultan Kudarat

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Dec 23): PEACE INTEGRATION  |  More NPA’s Surrenders in Sultan Kudarat


BAGUMBAYAN, Sultan Kudarat (DWDD) – Tinungo ng tropa ng 33rd Infantry “MAKABAYAN” Battalion ang Baranggay Sto Nino sa Bagumbayan, Sultan Kudarat upang magdaos ng diyalogo at Chirstmas party nuong ika-dalawampu ng Disyembre 2017.

Dumalo sa naturang pgtitipon ang mga Lumad mula sa iba’t-ibang barangay ng Bagumbayan kasama ang kanilang Kapitan, Tribal Elders at Indigenous People’s Mandatory Representative.

Kasama rin sa pagtitipon ang Philippine National Police at mga Lokal na Opisyal ng Munisipyo ng Bagumbayan sa pangunguna ni Mayor Jonalette De Pedro.

Sa naturang diyalogo, dininig ng mga kawal ang problema ng mga Lumad, partikular ang ginagawang panghihimasok ng teroristang NPA at kanilang mga Front Organization sa kanilang mga komunidad.

Ipinaliwanag ni LTC Harold M Cabunoc, pinuno ng 33rd IB, na ang hangarin ng Hukbong Katihan ng Pilipinas ay mahimok ang mga Lumad na na-recruit ng teroristang NPA na bumalik sa kanilang tahanan at isuko ang kanilang mga armas sa gobyerno.

Igniit ni LTC Cabunoc na kailangan ang suporta ng buong tribo para makontra ang panghihimasok ng ng mga teroristang komunista na siyang nagbunsod sa mga karahasan sa kanilang lugar.

Samantala, sa naturang pagtitipon ay pormal na sumuko ang sampung miyembro ng Platoon Arabo ng Guerilla Front 73.

Ayon kay Tata Isil, 22 taong gulang, lalo siyang naghirap sa ginawang pamumundok kasama ang teroristang NPA.

Sa loob ng 2 taon, iniwan niya ang kanyang anal paara sumama sa armadong kilusan kung saan ay naging kumander ang kanyang asawa na si Ka Jessie.

Sa sistemang balik-tribo ng 33IB, ipinatanggap ng Lokal na Pamahalaan at ng Philippine Army ang mga sumukong NPA sa kanilang mga pamilya, kaibigan at Tribal Elders.

Naging makahulugan at mainit ang pagtanggap ng mga mga mahal nila sa buhay ang mga dating NPA nang sila ay lumapit sa kanilang kinaroroonan.

Sa pagdiriwang ng kapaskuhan, kasama ang trib, namahagi rin ang lokal na pamahalaan ng mga food packs para sa lahat ng dumalong miyembro ng tribong Dulanngan Manobo.

Ayon kay Mayor De Pedro, bahagi ito sa kanyang programang pagpapaabot sa ordinaryong mamamayan ang serbisyo ng gobyerno.

Sa ngayon ay umaabot na sa 90 kasapi ng Guerilla Front 73 ang sumuko na sa mga tropa ng 33IB simula nuong Mayo taong 2017 habang aabot na sa 23 na ang unang grupo ng mga sumuko ay makatatanggap na ng benepisyo mula sa pamahalaan sa pamamagitan ng Comprehensive Local Integration Program o CLIP.

Naganap ang Awarding Ceremony sa sa “The Farm” sa Koronadal city nuong Disyembre a-beinte unona pinangunahan ni Gov Sultan Pax Mangudadatu. 33IB / MCAG

DWDD: WOMEN EMPOWERMENT | 546th Engineering Construction Battalion in Action

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Dec 23): WOMEN EMPOWERMENT  |  546th Engineering Construction Battalion in Action

Barrier Breakers Women Empowerment


546ECB Barrier Breakers/MCAG