Thursday, May 31, 2018

Military strikes rebel lair in Zambo Sur

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 31): Military strikes rebel lair in Zambo Sur

The military on Tuesday started a massive ground and air assault against communist rebels in the hinterlands of Dumingag town in Zamboanga del Sur province amid reports that New People’s Army (NPA) fighters had been seen gathering there.

While the Dumingag operation continued, NPA rebels disarmed two policemen at Barangay Mauswagon in Godod town, Zamboanga del Norte province, on Wednesday morning. Godod is more than 100 kilometers from Dumingag.

Chief Supt. Edwin de Ocampo, Western Mindanao regional police’s operations chief, said Senior Police Officer 1 Oscias Gomez and Police Officer 1 Rey Lismis of the Godod police were in a patrol car from Salug town when they were stopped by rebels who blocked the road at Sitio Rebe.

De Ocampo said three rifles and a handgun were taken from the policemen.

Rebel sighting

Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, commander of the military’s Western Mindanao Command, said the assault and firefight in Dumingag was continuing as of Wednesday.

He, however, did not provide details of the operation or if there were casualties.

Sources from the police said an undetermined number of NPA rebels under the Western Mindanao regional party committee started massing up at Barangay Saad in Dumingag on Tuesday.

Initially, soldiers from the 53rd Infantry Battalion and the 15th Division Reconnaissance Company, and policemen from Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga del Norte provinces were sent to Dumingag to engage the rebels. The military later sent four helicopters to pound the rebels’ position.
‘Punitive actions’

In a statement, the NPA in Western Mindanao confirmed that it had been launching “punitive actions” against government forces in three Zamboanga provinces.

The NPA said it was responsible for a road blockade at Barangay Lungsod in Godod, where a vehicle owned by a construction company, which was allegedly being used to transport soldiers and militiamen, was seized on May 16.

It said rebels, on May 18, also set off an explosive at Kalawit town in Zamboanga del Norte, wounding several soldiers.

“The continued offensive was part of defensive efforts against military operations aimed at defeating the NPA,” the rebel group said.

Series of clashes
The assault came after a series of clashes between government troops and communist rebels in Southern Mindanao.

In Davao Oriental province, three soldiers were wounded in an hourlong firefight in Lupon town on Saturday, the police reported on Sunday.

Last week, five soldiers were also wounded in a land mine blast set off by NPA rebels at Mabini town in Compostela Valley province.

In Surigao del Sur province, three suspected rebels on board a motorcycle fired a rifle grenade launcher at the camp of the 36th Infantry Battalion on Friday. No one, however, was hurt in the attack.

230 Zamboanga del Sur villagers flee as AFP steps up assault vs NPA rebels

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 30): 230 Zamboanga del Sur villagers flee as AFP steps up assault vs NPA rebels
Around 230 individuals fled their homes in Barangay Saad in Dumingag, Zamboanga del Sur as the military intensified its operation against the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels there.

The residents left their homes and their belongings behind as the military conducted air strikes against the rebels, said Dejhai Libradilla, the Dumingag social welfare officer.

The offensives started on Tuesday but no casualty had so far been reported

Libradilla said a team from the town’s social welfare office had been sent to the village, which was about four hours away by foot.

She said they have delivered basic needs such as food and other items and conducted stress debriefing sessions.

Majority of the people in Barangay Saad were Subanen lumad and this was the first time they experienced such operation.

2 alleged NPA rebels fall, yield in Bicol

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 30): 2 alleged NPA rebels fall, yield in Bicol
Army soldiers captured one alleged New People’s Army (NPA) rebel in Albay province, while another surrendered in Camarines Norte province on Tuesday.

Soldiers led by a Lt. Tawantawan from Task Group Albay of the Army’s 902nd Infantry Brigade were conducting combat patrol when they encountered suspected rebel Lestino Rosero in Barangay Boldo, Guinobatan, Albay, said Col. Danilo Benavidez, Southern Luzon Command public information officer.

Rosero yielded one caliber .38 revolver, 150 rounds of caliber 7.62 mm and 5.56 mm ammunition, parts of anti-personnel improvised explosive devices and an M14 rifle.

Soldiers brought Rosero to the Guinobatan police station for filing of criminal charges.

The military also reported that a certain Armando Dor Panol alias “Ka Ding,” alleged member of an NPA unit operating in Camarines Norte, surrendered to the Army’s 9th Infantry Battalion based in Barangay Guisican in Labo town. Panol surrendered two M16 rifles and documents, the report said.

Army nabs NPA officer in Negros

From the Manila Bulletin (May 29): Army nabs NPA officer in Negros

A high-ranking official of communist rebel group New People’s Army (NPA) was nabbed by troops of the Philippine Army’s 15th Infantry Battalion (15 IB) in Ilog town, Negros Occidental province.

Lieutenant Colonel Protacio Tomales, 15 IB commander, identified the NPA official as Bobby Pedro, communications director and liaison officer of the NPA’s Armando Sumayang Jr. Command.

With aliases of “Reymark Labrador” and “Recoy” Pedro is also said to be the collector of money extorted by the NPA in Southwest Negros.

Pedro was nabbed over the weekend after going to the house of Noe Castillo in Pinggot village, where he was seen carrying a firearm.

Seized from Pedro were a 9mm pistol with two magazines loaded with 37 ammunition, six rounds of 5.56mm ammunition, a mobile phone, cash, acupuncture needles, and subversive documents.

Tomalos said the arrest of Pedro was a result of tips given by the people, who reported to authorities that the NPA has been relentless in extorting money in the area.

Meanwhile, Pedro is facing charges of illegal possession of firearms. Charges were filed before the Negros Occidental Provincial Prosecutor’s Office in Bacolod City.

NPA bomb-maker killed in Misamis Oriental clashes

From Malaya Business Insight (May 30): NPA bomb-maker killed in Misamis Oriental clashes
TWO members of the New People’s Army, including a bomb maker, were killed and a government soldier was wounded in skirmishes in Lagonglong town in Misamis Oriental, the military reported yesterday.

1Lt. Tere Ingente, spokesperson of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division based in Cagayan de Oro City, said forces under the Army’s 403rd Brigade were on security operation when they clashed with about 30 rebels belonging to the NPA’s Guerilla Front B in barangay Banglay around 9 a.m. on Sunday.

Two rebels were killed during the fighting, one of whom was identified as Odelo Compas, alias Sapayanan, said to be in charge in the production of improvised bombs for the NPA unit.

Government forces also recovered two AK-47 rifles and an M16 rifle from the encounter. 
During pursuit operations on Monday, soldiers caught up with the rebels in the same barangay at around 1:45 p.m., leading to the wounding of a soldier who is now recovering at the Camp Evangelista Station Hospital in Cagayan de Oro City.

The second clash resulted in the capture of a rebel camp with 20 makeshift bunkers that can accommodate 50 people, and recovery of an M203 grenade launcher, a 12-gauge shotgun, an M653 Cabine rifle, an air gun, ammunition, a sniper scope, and three backpacks with personal belongings and documents.

Ingente said information gathered by the 403rd Brigade showed several rebels could have also been wounded in the two clashes, based on bloodstains found along the escape route of the NPA fighters.

Bomb attack in school in Sultan Kudarat foiled

From Malaya Business Insight (May 30): Bomb attack in school in Sultan Kudarat foiled
GOVERNMENT forces preempted a planned bombing by the terrorist group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) with the recovery of an improvised bomb planted in a school in Tacurong City, the military reported yesterday.

Capt. Arvin Encinas, spokesman of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said the bomb was found by forces of the Joint Task Force Talakudong around 3 p.m Sunday in front of the Griño Elementary School.

Encinas said an unnamed informant tipped them about the bomb, which was made from a 105 mm ammunition and placed inside a black bag. 
“There was going to be a Brigada Eskwela the following day. We’re lucky someone tipped us the information (about the bomb), otherwise it (blast) could have inflicted casualties on soldiers and civilians,” he said.

The informant allegedly claimed the bomb was planted by BIFF member Yasser Saligan, who is under the group of BIFF commander Sukarno Sapal, alias Diok.

Encinas said Diok’s group, which belongs to the faction of BIFF leader Ismael Abubukar, alias Commander Bungos, is planning other bombings in Sultan Kudarat.
“From time to time, they’ve been actually doing that. On our part, monitoring by our intelligence community is continuing. They are not relaxing,” he said.

The BIFF has been blamed for numerous bombings and other atrocities in Central Mindanao. It is composed of around 300 to 400 men, mostly former members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The BIFF is among local terrorist groups that have pledged allegiance with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The others were the Abu Sayyaf, the Maute Group, and the Ansar Khalifa Philippines.

Esperon: PH ready for war if Pinoys in SCS are harmed

From Malaya Business Insight (May 31): Esperon: PH ready for war if Pinoys in SCS are harmed

NATIONAL Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. yesterday hinted government will use force if China will harm Filipino civilians and soldiers in Philippine-held areas in the South China Sea (SCS) or the West Philippine Sea.

“The other night, the President said, ‘If our troops will be harmed, that will be my red line,’ or if civilians will be harmed there in Pag-asa Island,” Esperon told reporters at a forum in Manila.

Esperon, also chairman of the National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea, said the disputed areas in the South China Sea are “very important” to the administration of President Duterte.

“We are not saying we are going to war but if we are forced, if they oppress us, we are not going allow ourselves to be oppressed there (in the South China Sea),” said Esperon, a former Armed Forces chief.

Esperon said China is superior militarily, with lots of ships and aircraft. Many of these assets have been deployed recently to the reefs in the South China Sea, which China has transformed into military and air bases.

“Are we in a position to wage war? Of course not. But shall we not go to war if provoked and if unnecessarily aggrieved? Of course, we are going to defend our country... War remains to be the last option. It’s but necessary to defend yourself,” he said.

“We are not at war nor do we intend to make war the primary instrument of handling the West Philippine Sea (dispute)... If soldiers or civilians are harmed, the (situation) changes. The bottom line is it’s always the well-being of the Filipino,” he also said.

He said the Duterte administration wants the dispute resolved through diplomatic means, adding that Philippine relations with China do not start and end with the South China Sea.

The Philippines, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims over the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG), also known as the Spratly Islands. Filipino troops are occupying nine areas, the largest of which is Pag-asa Island which hosts hundreds of civilians.

China and Philippines are also locked in a territorial dispute over Panatag Shoal, or Scarborough Shoal, off Zambales. Chinese ships gained control of the shoal in 2012 following a standoff with their Filipino counterpart.

On the landing of H-6K Chinese bomber planes on Woody Island in the Paracels group of islands, also in the South China, Esperon said the government is not inclined to lodge a protest against China. The island is being claimed by China, Vietnam, and Taiwan.

Esperon noted that Woody island, which is not being claimed by the Philippines, is about 1,000 km from Pag-asa Island which in turn is 280 nautical miles (450 km) from Puerto Princesa. Pag-asa is the farthest among the nine Philippine-held areas.

Esperon said Manila would still be within the 1,900-km range of the bombers even if they take off from Hong Kong. He said Manila is just 1,200 km from Hong Kong.

“Are we the target? Should be alarmed? I do not think so because we are not at war with China and we are not at war of course with ASEAN... So shall we lodge a protest against that? I don’t think so,” said Esperon.

On Chinese militarization of the South China Sea, Esperon said it was expected of China to put defense systems, including anti-submarine, anti-aircraft, and anti-ship to defend their islands. He said some of the armament are capable of reaching Philippines.

“The question is, are these weapons aimed at the Philippines? No. Can they be aimed at the Philippines in the future? Possible, if we are at war with China,” he said.

Esperon also disclosed that lighthouses are being put up in five of the nine Philippine-held areas -- Pag-asa, Parola, Likas, Patag and Kota islands -- for navigational purposes. The four other Philippine-held areas are Ayungin shoal, Lawak island, Rizal reef and Panata island.

“As a matter of safety of life at sea, we are putting up lighthouses...That will aid navigation in the area,” he said adding a funding of P10 million has been earmarked for the construction.

Esperon also confirmed reports that the Philippine military has constructed a beaching ramp at Pag-asa island, preparatory to the improvement of the airstrip in the island.

“We are going to improve our airstrip there. That’s been planned a long time ago and we are doing it (now). We have already finished the beaching ramp. The beaching ramp is needed for the hauling of construction materials,” he said.

Esperon said facilities for soldiers and civilians in the island will likewise be improved.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Cayetano, at a House briefing, asked lawmakers to trust the administration’s diplomatic strategy with China, reminding them that Filipinos can now fish in the West Philippine Sea because of President Duterte’s closeness with the emerging superpower.

“We came from a time in the previous administration when we could not even fish. We had to play ‘patintero’ whenever we send supplies to the Ayungin Shoal (or the Second Thomas Shoal) but now we can do it (and) because we did it quietly, the situation improved,” he said.

Reported NPA bomb maker, another rebel slain in clashes

From the Mindanao Times (May 31): Reported NPA bomb maker, another rebel slain in clashes

AN ALLEGED bomb maker of the New People’s Army (NPA) and another member died during a series of clash against government troops of the 403rd Infantry Brigade in Barangay Banglay, Lagonglong, Misamis Oriental. 1Lt. Tere Ingente, spokesperson of 4th Infantry division, said the first encounter took place around 9 a.m. of May 27 against 30 communist rebels belonging to the Guerrilla Front 4B of the North Central Mindanao Regional Committee (NCMRC).

Ingente said the clash lasted for about 25 minutes, resulting in the death of two NPAs. Two AK-47 rifles and an M16 rifle was also found at the scene.

Ingente identified one of them as Odelo Compas also known as alias Sapayanan, a functional staff of the explosives/ordnance and production of the NPA.

“The identity of the other dead NPA member is yet to be determined,” she added.

As the troops continued to chase the rebels, another 20-minute firefight erupted at 1:45 p.m pf the same day near Sitio Bayhutao of same barangay.

The encounter resulted in the wounding of a soldier who was evacuated to Camp Evangelista Station Hospital in Cagayan de Oro City at 10 a.m. on Tuesday. The wounded soldier is now in stable condition.

The troops also managed to overrun an enemy encampment with 20 makeshift bunkers that can accommodate 50 NPAs, recover one M203 grenade launcher, one 12-gauge shotgun, one M635 Carbine, one air gun, ammunition, sniper scope, and three backpacks with personal belongings and subversive documents.

Brig. Gen. Eric Vinoya, commander of the 403rd Infantry Brigade, congratulated the troops for their achievement. He also extended his sympathies to the families of the rebels who were killed in the clashes.

“It would have not resulted to this if only these terrorists heeded the call of the government to lay down their arms and go back to the folds of the law,” Vinoya said.

Maj. Gen. Ronald villanueva, the commander of 4th Infantry Division, said the “NPA terrorists are the reason why there are delays of development in the areas of Mindanao.”

“They are desperately recruiting people that will join their failed armed struggle by force, threat and intimidation,” Villanueva said.

The division commander said that Campos, being a functional staff for explosives/ordnance and production of Guerrilla Front 4B, was a bomb maker himself.

“He makes landmines and IEDs proving that the NPAs disrespect the International Humanitarian Law and are worthy to be called as terrorists.” the division commander added.

Negros Island to get new 303rd IB head

From the Visayan Daily Star (May 31): Negros Island to get new 303rd IB head
Army Col. Alberto Desoyo is back in Negros Island, this time as commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade.

Desoyo will replace Brig. Gen. Eliezer Losanes as commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade in a turnover of command ceremony today at Camp Major Nelson Gerona in Brgy. Minoyan, Murcia, to be presided over by the Maj. Gen. Dinoh Dolina, 3rd Infantry Division commanding general.

Capt. Ruel Llanes, 303IB Civil Military Operations officer, said yesterday that Brig. Gen. Losanes is slated to assume a higher position, as Assistant Division Commander of the 8th Infantry Division in Samar.

Desoyo was described by his colleagues as a seasoned and disciplined combat officer, having commanded various field units of the Philippine Army.

Desoyo served as commander of the 62nd Infantry Battalion based in Brgy. Bato, Sagay City, in 2008. After his stint in Negros in 2009, he was designated as commander of the 12th Infantry Battalion in Panay.

A member of Philippine Military Academy Class 1989, Desoyo also served as chief of the Office of the Army Provost Marshall, where he was responsible for the enforcement of discipline, law and order among its military personnel.

Before his assumption of the 303rd Infantry Brigade command, Desoyo also served as chief of staff of the 8th Infantry Division in Samar, where Brig. Gen. Losanes is to be assigned.

Losanes, a member of PMA Class 1985, served for almost two years, as 303rd Infantry Brigade commander where he got his star-rank.

Brig. Gen. Cirilo Sobejana, a Medal of Valor awardee, also assumed command of the 6th Infantry Division. He used to be assigned at the 11th Infantry Battalion commander in northern Negros during the early 1990s.

Sobejana, a well-decorated military officer and a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1987, replaced Maj. Gen Arnel Dela Vega, who assumed leadership of the Zamboanga City-based Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) side-by-side with his promotion to a three-star rank by President Rodrigo Duterte.

With his promotion to Army division commander, Sobejana is expected to get his second star, and the rank of major general.

Duterte gives Joma Sison '60 days' to come home

From Rappler (May 30): Duterte gives Joma Sison '60 days' to come home

The President also says there is no need to take Sison's suggestion to meet in Hanoi as he will guarantee the communist leader's safety in the Philippines

CPP FOUNDER. President Duterte wants to meet Joma Sison in the Philippines, not anywhere else. File photo by Fritzie Rodriguez

CPP FOUNDER. President Duterte wants to meet Joma Sison in the Philippines, not anywhere else. File photo by Fritzie Rodriguez

President Rodrigo Duterte asked Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria "Joma" Sison to come home in 60 days, as he rejected Sison's suggestion that they meet in Vietnam.

"I have provided a small window of 60 days and if you come home, do not worry about being killed. I do not do that," said Duterte on Wednesday, May 30.

This was part of his speech at the Presidential Security Group Change of Command Ceremony, attended by defense, military, and police officials.

"Come home and talk and as long as you do not ask for a coalition government which I cannot give and will not give, you can come home and talk to me and the others," added Duterte.

He said there was no need to meet in Hanoi in Vietnam, which Sison suggested. Duterte surmised that Sison, his former professor, only made the recommendation because he felt unsafe meeting in the Philippines.

"He took offense and said, 'Let's just talk in Hanoi or the Netherlands. He might have felt threatened," said Duterte in a mix of English and Filipino.

Sison can return to Netherlands

If nothing is resolved in their meeting in the Philippines, the President said he would let Sison return to the Netherlands "unfettered, unbridled."

"If it is unsucessful, please go home. Hatid ko siya sa airport, walang Aquino-style na patayan. Barilin ko sa likod? No," said Duterte, referring to the murder of democracy icon Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino. (I'll bring him to the airport, no Aquino-style killing. I'll shoot his back? No.)

The President, who promised to pursue peace with communists, hoped talking with Sison would end the communist insurgency, Asia's longest-running.

"Maybe in the fullness of God’s time, we can achieve peace," said the Mindanaoan Chief Executive.

Duterte formally terminated peace talks with the communists in November 2017 but has expressed openness to its resumption since then.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, however, has been vocal against the peace talks, insisting the communists were making "unreasonable demands."

P6.3-M reward for tipster in BIFF bombmaker Basit Usman's death

From Rappler (May 31): P6.3-M reward for tipster in BIFF bombmaker Basit Usman's death

The informant against Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters bombmaker Basit Usman is one of several recipients of reward money totaling P27.6 million in a ceremony in Camp Aguinaldo

 REWARD MONEY. The Philippine military hands out P27.6 million reward money to 10 informants in a ceremony in Camp Aguinaldo on May 31, 2018. Rappler photo

REWARD MONEY. The Philippine military hands out P27.6 million reward money to 10 informants in a ceremony in Camp Aguinaldo on May 31, 2018. Rappler photo

The military on Thursday, May 31, awarded P6.3 million ($119,745*) to a tipster who led the military to a successful operation to neutralize notorious bombmaker Basit Usman of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
Armed Forces chief General Carlito Galvez Jr handed the money to an unrecognizeable recipient clad in black balaclava. He came with a backpack where he stored the bundles of cash with the help of the military chief.
He was one of 10 informants who received a total of P27.6 million reward money in a ceremony in Camp Aguinaldo on Thursday.

Usman was a notorious bombmaker in Central Mindanao, a member of the local armed group that broke away from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) over disagreements in the peace process.
He and Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir or Marwan worked together. Both were in the Most Wanted Terrorist list of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The tipster received the reward 3 years after Usman was killed in May 2015. The military previously claimed that MILF members killed Usman.
The military continues operations against the BIFF and the peace process with the MILF is poised for implementation.
The rest of the inform
ants helped in operations against the following targets:
  • Muhiden Abdusalam Uyong alias ‘Waning Abdusalam’ (Abu Sayyaf Group)
  • Kiri Hamid Sahiron (Abu Sayyaf Group)
  • Mustapha Guindalangan alias ‘Tha’ (Abu Sayyaf Group)
  • Basit Balahim alias ‘Ballan’ (Abu Sayyaf Group)
  • Regin Onsing Nazirin alias ‘Sahirun’ (Abu Sayyaf Group)
  • Abdullah Mutalib (Abu Sayyaf Group)
  • Aldimar Sangkula alias ‘Kompol-Kompol’ (Abu Sayyaf Group)
  • Eduardo Genelsa alias ‘Lando’ (New People's Army)
  • Ricardo Ampan Manili alias Joker (New People's Army)
The military said the cash reward system that started in 2001 is aimed at "encouraging citizens to join in the AFP and other law enforcement agencies’ counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency efforts."

AFP chief welcomes BBL passage as 'antidote to terrorism'

From Rappler (May 31): AFP chief welcomes BBL passage as 'antidote to terrorism'

The new Bangsamoro region will make way for 'more cooperative management' between the military and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, says Armed Forces chief General Carlito Galvez Jr

AFP CHIEF. General Carlito Galvez Jr is a known advocate of the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. File photo by Bobby Lagsa/Rappler

AFP CHIEF. General Carlito Galvez Jr is a known advocate of the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. File photo by Bobby Lagsa/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief General Carlito Galvez Jr said he's "so happy" with the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

"We're so happy. As I have said, the BBL is one of the antidotes to terrorism. Once we have passed the BBL, the political solution will be embraced," Galvez said.

Galvez is a known advocate of the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). He worked closely with the dominant Muslim rebel group when he served as co-chairman of the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities.

Galvez said the MILF "on the ground" also welcome the BBL's passage.

"I believe they are very happy with the passage. This is a long negotiation since 1997 when we had a ceasefire. I believe this is a very positive milestone," said the AFP chief.

The creation of a new Bangsamoro region to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) will make way for "more cooperative management" between the military and the MILF, added Galvez.

Interim peace agreement must include basic reforms – NDFP

From the often pro-Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) online publication the Davao Today (May 31): Interim peace agreement must include basic reforms – NDFP

Even as she sees the probability of the signing of an interim peace agreement (IPA) with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP), a member of the panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) reiterated the significance of integrating basic reforms into the agreement.

In a statement on Monday, Julie de Lima, the chairperson of the NDFP-Reciprocal Working Group on Social and Economic Reform (RWC-SER) said the interim peace agreement, if agreed to and signed by both parties, will signify movement in the stalled peace talks.

“This would be a significant development in the peace process, only if the interim peace agreement includes basic social reforms. The NDFP has always been consistent that social and economic reforms must be the cornerstone of any peace agreement.” De Lima pointed out.

She added that among the basic reforms needed to be incorporated in the IPA include Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ARRD) and the National Industrialization and Economic Development (NIED).

ARRD and NIED are two major sections of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER), the second substantive agenda in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations.

The inclusion of the reforms, de Lima noted would be the first step towards addressing the roots of armed conflicts.

She also reported that the bilateral teams of the RWC-SER have agreed on the common drafts of ARRD and NIED.

“The still unresolved contentious issues are being referred to the RWC-SERs of the two Parties for resolution before negotiations at the level of the GRP-NDFP Negotiating Panels,” De Lima added.

The teams, she said, still need to discuss the other parts of CASER to include the Environmental Protection, Rehabilitation and Compensation (EPRC), Rights of the Working People, Monetary and Fiscal Policy and Foreign Economic Trade relations.

“Genuine agrarian reform with rural industrial development and national industrial and economic development that benefits and protects the rights of the working people are among the many issues at the heart of any peace agreement. Ceasefire alone will not resolve the centuries-old problems from which the Filipino masses have struggled to break free,” De Lima said.

She also asserted that previously signed agreements such as the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), must also be complied with as a matter of justice in the IPA.

Earlier, NDFP chief consultant Jose Maria Sison has indicated the signing of IPA this coming June.

Various sectors also lauded the move and the recent developments announced by both peace panels.

Captured NPA leader transferred to Davao City to face charges

From the often pro-Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) online publication the Davao Today (May 29): Captured NPA leader transferred to Davao City to face charges

New People’s Army leader Elizalde Cañete alias Jinggoy at the Davao City Police Office
(Photo from DCPO Police Community Relation Branch’s Facebook page)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Davao City Police Office has taken custody of Injured New People’s Army leader,​ Elizalde Cañete​,​ alias Ka Jinggoy after his release from the Don Carlos Doctors Hospital in Bukidnon on Tuesday, May 29.

DCPO Director, Police Senior Superintendent Alexander Tagum told media that Cañete was transferred here “​since most of the charges against him are filed in Davao City regional trial court​”​.

Tagum said Cañete is facing 12 different cases, five of which are non-bailable crimes including illegal detention and four cases of murder.
Cañete is also facing a case of robbery ​in​ b​a​nd with P100,000 bail, four different cases of attempted murder amounting to P400,00 bail, frustrated murder with around P80,000 bail bond recommended, and an alias warrant amounting to P50,000 bail bond.

“He [Cañete] was referred to us so that we will serve the warrant of arrest to him and we will be also in charge of returning those warrants to the courts that handle the cases that involve Commander Jinggoy,” said Tagum.

Tagum added they will immediately process all the cases filed against the NPA leader.

Tagum refused to go into details but assured they will implement a stricter security measures while Cañete is under their custody.

“Commander Jinggoy will also face the same level of security measures we enforced when Maute patriarch, Mr. Cayamora, was apprehended while he is under the custody of DCPO,” Tagum added.

Cañete was released from the intensive care unit of Don Carlos Doctors Hospital and later brought to Don Carlos Municipal Police Station on Monday, May 28.

Karapatan Southern Mindanao spokesperon Jay Apiag said the police arrest and detention was hasty and could be harmful for Cañete who underwent a major brain surgery last May 11 after sustaining head and body injuries in a clash with government troops on May 10 at Barangay Kipilas in Kitaotao town, Bukidnon.

The group said no doctor or health personnel checked on Cañete’s condition inside the police jail.

Apiag said police and military must be held liable with whatever happens to Cañete under their custody.

Meanwhile, the ​Exodus for Justice and Peace,​ which acted as third party facilitator during NPA release​s​ of prisoners of war, disputed Cañete’s transfer to a regular jail, citing that he is a hors de combat who needs medical care.

“We contest this arrest, as Cañete is a hors de combat, a wounded combatant that should be tended first for his critical medical condition as stipulated under the CARHRIHL (Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law) signed by the government and the NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines),” EJP said.

​Also, it said the arrest and forced travel of Cañete ​”​is worrisome as it has implications to the ongoing back channel talks for the resumption of peace talks​”​.

According to CARHRIHL, “the wounded and the sick shall be collected and cared for by the party to the armed conflict which has them in its custody or responsibility.”

The CARHRIHL is the first of four substantive agenda slated in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations signed in 1998 which obligated both parties engaged in the civil war to respect and adhere to international humanitarian law.

NDFP Senior Adviser Luis Jalandoni condemned​ the arrest of Cañete in a tweet on Tuesday morning.

“[We] condemn in the strongest terms the military’s arresting hors de combat Z​aldy C​anete , who suffered a traumatic head injury and was recuperating after an eleven hour operation in a hospital in Bukidnon. This is a ​flagrant violation of International Laws of War and CARHRIHL!” Jalandoni said.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines-Eastern Mindanao Command announced that Cañete also known as Ka Jinggoy was apprehended by joint military and police forces last May 12 at Don Carlos Doctors Hospital.

The ​​military said Cañete replaced the late Leoncio Pitao also known as Comannder Parago as leader of the 1st Pulang Bagani Command of the NPA that operates in the boundary of Bukidnon, Davao del Norte and the mountainous parts of Davao City.

5 explosives intercepted along Cotabato highway

From MindaNews (May 31): 5 explosives intercepted along Cotabato highway

Elements of the Army’s 602nd Infantry Brigade intercepted a package loaded with five improvised explosive devices (IEDs) placed along the highway in Carmen, North Cotabato noon Tuesday, reports from the Cotabato Police Provincial Office (CPPO) said.

Bomb experts found out that each explosive was made from an 81mm projectile or mortar, with power supply, a trigger, and a detonator.

According to the CPPO, two still unidentified males onboard a motorcycle left the bag along the national highway, in particular at Sitio Galay, Barangay Kibayao in Carmen.

Before this happened, the CPPO said they received an intelligence report that a group is out to sow terror in North Cotabato and nearby provinces by placing IEDs in their areas.

When elements of the 7th Infantry Battalion and 62nd Reconnaissance Company of the 602IB, including the police, received an information that a package was left along the Carmen highway, they immediately proceeded to the area.

The Carmen municipal police station, with their K9 units, immediately cordoned the area while elements of the Explosives and Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team rendered safety procedure on the IEDs.

The CPPO said that the bombs were so powerful that they could really inflict damages both to life and property.

Police has yet to determine the group and the motive behind it.

CPP’s Sison welcomes Duterte’s assurance of safety

From MindaNews (May 31): CPP’s Sison welcomes Duterte’s assurance of safety

Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison welcomes the assurance of President Rodrigo R. Duterte to ensure his safety when he comes home after three decades of seeking asylum as a political refugee in the Netherlands.

Jose Ma. Sison. Photo courtesy of NDF International Information Office

Sison, Duterte’s former professor in Political Thought in college, said in a statement on Thursday that he would return to the Philippines after the signing of the Interim Peace Agreement, which is set for June, and the subsequent mutual approval of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER), the “heart and soul” of the government and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (GRP-NDFP) peace talks, in July or August.

He said it is better to have an assurance of safety from the President so that they could hold a dialogue and agree on how they could serve the interest of the Filipinos, especially the “toiling masses of workers and peasants through the peace negotiations and cooperation under the principles of national sovereignty, democracy and social justice.”

During the Presidential Security Group (PSG) Change of Command Ceremony at the PSG Grandstand in Malacañang Park on Wednesday, Duterte gave his former professor “his word of honor” that he should not worry about his safety and that he would not have him killed when he comes home.

“I may call on, maybe, members of his command to protect him. I have provided a small window of 60 days. And if you come home, do not worry about being killed. I will not do that,” he said.

He explained that he understands the communist leader’s ambivalence and that he knows how he feels as they both lost men to armed encounters.

The fifth round of GRP-NDFP peace talks was aborted for the second time just two days before it would resume on November 25 to 27 last year, when the President issued Proclamation 360, accusing the NDFP of “lack of sincerity,” following a New People’s Army (NPA) ambush on November 9 that killed four-month-old Walysha Manchorao and similar incidents.

The President subsequently signed Proclamation 374, designating the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing as terrorist organizations.

The President said Sison is free to leave the country “unhampered, unfettered, unbridled” if the talks would turn out unsuccessful.

“But this time, sabi ko nga, sabihin ko sa kanya, ‘please, if it is unsuccessful, please go home.’ Ihatid ko siya sa airport. Walang Aquino style na patayan, na barilin ko sa likod (I bring him to the airport myself. No Aquino-style murder, shot from behind),” he said.

Duterte reiterated that he will not agree on a coalition government with the communists.

“Come home and talk, and as long as you do not ask a coalition government, which I cannot give and will never give, you can come home and talk to me and the others, and maybe in the fullness of God’s time we can achieve peace in our land,” he said.

BIFF ‘weapons factory’ raided in Mindanao

From the Mindanao Examiner (May 30): BIFF ‘weapons factory’ raided in Mindanao

Security forces seized old and rusty guns from an alleged “firearms factory” being used by militants, whose group is tied to the Islamic State, in southern Philippines, officials said Wednesday.

Officials said police commandos, backed by army soldiers and armoured vehicles, raided several houses in the village of Tonggol in General Salipada Pendatun town suspected of being a weapons factory for the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

Military photos released to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner show illegal weapons seized from an alleged weapons factory in the troubled province of Maguindanao. Also troops headed by Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cabunoc, of the 33rd Infantry Battalion, and an armoured vehicle used in the operation.
The Tuesday raid, led by Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cabunoc, of the 33rd Infantry Battalion, was part of an operation aimed at weakening the BIFF’s access to illegal weapons. The raiders recovered a lathe machine, two anti-tank rocket launchers, one .45-caliber pistol, a shotgun, rifle grenades and several homemade guns.

“To keep our winning edge against a highly adaptive enemy in a complex environment, we employed different capabilities to maximize combined arms effects. The synergized effort enables the police commandos to serve the warrants against the suspects,” Cabunoc said.

Military and police forces failed to arrest or capture any BIFF militant, but over a dozen civilians were briefly held for questioning and eventually freed.

BIFF militants have previously attacked police and military targets in the province and in neighboring towns and have been fighting for a separate homeland in the troubled, but mineral-rich region.

Army holds battalion commanders' conference

From the Mindanao Examiner (May 31): Army holds battalion commanders' conference

The Philippine Army’s 1st Infantry Division hosted this year’s Battalion Commanders’ Symposium held in Pagadian City in Zamboanga del Sur province.

The three-day activity which ended Thursday was attended by 66 Western Mindanao Command-based battalion commanders from 1st Infantry Division and 6th Infantry Division including from Special Forces and Scout Rangers.

This year’s theme for BCS is: “Adaptable Battalion Commanders, Responding to Challenge”. The event emphasized the battalion  commander’s critical role in community security, development support, and accomplishing the given mission in their respective area of responsibility.

Governor Mujiv Hataman, of the Muslim autonomous region, was also invited as a resource speaker and he shared some valuable insights of the local chief executives and he underscored the importance of partnership and engagement between the local government and the armed forces in attaining peace and development of the region.

“This is not the first I’m talking to you giving some important experiences working with the military. My positive outlook towards the armed forces happened as a result of these numerous experiences especially during the Marawi crisis where I appreciated too much the heroism and services of every soldier in protecting the civilians, defending peace and security, democracy, and the rule of law,” Hataman said.

New Negros army commander assumes post

From the Philippine News Agency (May 31): New Negros army commander assumes post

NEW NEGROS ISLAND ARMY COMMANDER. Brigadier General Dinoh Dolina (center), commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, witnesses the turnover of command from Brigadier General Eliezer Losañes (right) to Colonel Alberto Desoyo as head of the 303rd Infantry Brigade in rites held at Camp Major Nelson Gerona in Murcia, Negros Occidental on Thursday (May 31, 2018). (Photo by Nanette L. Guadalquiver)

MURCIA, Negros Occidental -- Colonel Alberto Desoyo assumed as commander of the Philippine Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade in Negros Island during the change of command held at the headquarters in Barangay Minoyan here Thursday.

Desoyo, previously chief of staff of the 8th Infantry Division based in Catbalogan City, Samar, succeeded Brig. Gen. Eliezer Losañes, whose tour of duty in Negros lasted for about a year and a half.

“Today (Thursday), as I assume command of the Brown Eagle Brigade I cannot help but feel honored to be welcomed by all the combat support and its service unit commanders, and by no less than three fighting battalions,” the new brigade chief said in his message after receiving the unit colors from Brigadier General Dinoh Dolina, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division.

Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Gayas of the 3rd Infantry Division read the relief and designation orders of Losañes and Desoyo, respectively.

Desoyo is no stranger to Negros Occidental as he served as commander of the 62nd Infantry Battalion (IB) headquartered in Barangay Bato, Sagay City in 2008.

At present, the 62nd IB remains as one of the three battalions under the 303rd Brigade along with the 15th IB in Cauayan, Negros Occidental and the 79th IB in Tanjay City, Negros Oriental.

Desoyo, who belongs to the Philippine Military Academy Class 1989, said he never expected to be back and be given the chance to serve the people of Negros anew.

“I was thinking then that I will be retiring in Samar. Pero narito po akong muli at dahil diyan, ipinapangako ko na gagawin ko ang lahat ng aking makakaya para magampanan ang trabahong ito at naniniwala ako na sa ating pagtutulong-tulong ay gagaan ang anuman nating trabaho. (But now I’m back and I promise to do everything I can do to fulfill my duties, and I believe that with us working together, our jobs would be easier). Some of jobs may be difficult. Yes, difficult but not impossible,” he added.

Meanwhile, from Negros, Losañes will join the 8th Infantry Division as assistant division commander.

He said that he is greatly honored and grateful to relinquish his command, citing the boosting of the troops’ morale and introducing initiatives to improve the well-being of soldiers as his most important accomplishment.

For his part, Dolina urged the Negrense stakeholders to show Desoyo the same support they gave to Losañes.

“We really need your support to accomplish our mission,” he added.

Galvez, 4 other AFP officials get CA nod

From the Philippine News Agency (May 31): Galvez, 4 other AFP officials get CA nod

The Commission on Appointments (CA) confirmed the ad interim appointments of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Gen. Carlito Galvez, Jr., and four other military officials Wednesday.

This was announced by AFP public affairs office chief Col. Noel Detoyato in a statement.

Galvez was promoted to the rank of general (four stars) on April 24 and was appointed as AFP chief on April 18. He is a member of Philippine Military Academy Class of 1985.

Detoyato said the other four military officials confirmed by the CA are AFP Reserve Command chief Brig. Gen. Rolando Rodil and 355th Aviation Engineer Wing commander Brig. Gen. Joselito Maclan.

Also confirmed were Reservists Brig. Gen. Nelson Collantes, 3rd Air Force Reserve Command head, and 7th Air Force Wing Reserve deputy commander Col. Emmanuel Mahipus.

PAF allots P49-M for FA-50PH seat cartridge escape system

From the Philippine News Agency (May 31): PAF allots P49-M for FA-50PH seat cartridge escape system

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) is looking for suppliers of seat cartridge escape systems for its South Korean FA-50PH "Fighting Eagle" jet fighters.

Budget for the project has been set at PHP49.98 million, said the bid bulletin posted at the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System.

Opening of bids is scheduled at 9:15 a.m. on June 6 at the PAF Procurement Center Conference Room, Villamor Air Base, Pasay City.

"The Philippine Air Force reserves the right to reject any and all bids, declare a failure of bidding, or not award the contract at any time prior to contract award in accordance with Section 41 of RA (Republic Act No.) 9184 and its IRR (Implementing Rules and Regulations), without thereby incurring any liability to the affected bidder or bidders," PAF Bids and Awards Committee head Brig. Gen. Ferynl Buca said in the same bid bulletin Thursday.

The FA-50PHs had its baptism of fire during the Marawi City campaign where it was heavily used for close-air support mission roles, along with the venerable OV-10 "Bronco" turbo-prop attack aircraft, SF-260 light bombers and various attack helicopters of the PAF.

The FA-50PHs has a top speed of Mach 1.5 or one-and-a-half times the speed of sound and is capable of being fitted with air-to-air missiles, including the AIM-9 "Sidewinder" air-to-air and heat-seeking missiles, aside from light automatic cannons.

A total of 12 aircraft were acquired from Korea Aerospace Industries for PHP18.9 billion. Delivery commenced in November 2015 and was completed in May 2017.

PNP: Chain message on ISIS spreading AIDS a hoax

From the Philippine News Agency (May 31): PNP: Chain message on ISIS spreading AIDS a hoax

The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Thursday urged the public to refrain from spreading a "chain message" hoax on social media claiming that members of terror group ISIS are out to infect people with the HIV virus.

PNP spokesman Chief Supt. John Bulalacao said the prank is probably meant to sow fear with the undiscerning members of the general public.

"The PNP has previously declared as hoax this post because this is a mere chain text. Although poorly scripted, we ask the public not to share said post as this may create unnecessary fear among gullible individuals," Bulalacao said in an interview with reporters.

In one version of the message also spread through text messages, ISIS terrorists would allegedly poke infected needles to unsuspecting victims by pretending to be government doctors checking the victim's blood sugar.

Another version said the ISIS members are roving in medical centers and are offering free vaccines that purportedly contain AIDS virus.

"Paki inform mo mga friends nyo na my nag iikot daw kunyari sa medical center cla kunyari anti tetanus o anupaman wag daw magpabakuna kc mdami daw nagkakalat member ng muslim isis group iinject daw aids virus pampatay sa mga tao para mkaganti sa gobyerno wag kamo cla mag entertain ng mga ganon at dlikado post u na now," the viral message read.

A cursory check on Facebook showed variations of the scare message has been around in other countries since March.

AFP shells out P27.6-M reward money to 10 informants

From the Philippine News Agency (May 31): AFP shells out P27.6-M reward money to 10 informants

Ten informants who provided information that led to the neutralization of eight Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and two communist terrorist leaders received PHP27.6 million worth of reward money from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Thursday.

The awarding took place at the OJ-2 Multi-Purpose Hall, Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) Compound at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. personally handed the reward to the 10 informants, whose identities are concealed for security reasons.

Also present in the reward handover ceremonies were AFP deputy chief-of-staff for intelligence (J-2) Major Gen. Fernando Trinidad.

"Through information shared by tipsters, eight ASG members and cohorts, and two communist terrorist leaders were either killed or arrested in law enforcement operations conducted by the AFP in coordination with the Philippine National Police," AFP public affairs office chief Col. Noel Detoyato said.

One of the known terrorist personalities neutralized was Ahmad Akmad Batabol alias "Basit Usman" with a PHP6.3 million-bounty on his head.

The latter is a bomb expert and a globally notorious terrorist, who was one of the associates of Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan”. Batabol was included in the US most-wanted terrorists list.

Other neutralized personalities were ASG members Muhiden Abdusalam Uyong alias "Waning Abdusalam" with PHP3.7 million; Kiri Hamid Sahiron with PHP3.3 million; and Mustapha Guindalangan alias "Tha" with PHP1.2 million.

Arrested ASG cohorts with rewards were Basit Balahim alias "Ballan" and Regin Onsing Nazirin alias "Sahirun" with PHP1 million each; and Abdullah Mutalib and Aldimar Sangkula alias "Kompol-Kompol" with PHP600,000 each.

The arrested communist terrorist leaders were Eduardo Genelsa alias "Lando" with PHP5-million bounty and Ricardo Ampan Manili alias "Joker" with PHP4.9 million.

Detoyato said the cash reward system that started in 2001 is aimed at encouraging citizens to join in the AFP and other law enforcement agencies’ counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency efforts.

This is also part of the military’s campaign towards a whole-of-nation approach in attaining the shared goal of a just and lasting peace and development for the country.

Gov't to publish national security strategy : Esperon

From the Philippine News Agency (May 30): Gov't to publish national security strategy : Esperon

For the first time ever, the government will publish a national security strategy that would serve as a roadmap in building a stronger nation, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon announced Wednesday.
Esperon made the revelation in a briefing by the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) on the recent developments in the WPS at the House of Representatives.

"For the first time, we are publishing our national security strategy," Esperon said, noting that it was already signed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte last May 16.

He said the national security strategy will address urgent security concerns and cope with the rapidly changing global security environment in line with the objectives set forth in the National Security Policy of 2017-2022.

"In order to protect our most cherished democratic institutions and way of life, we will create an environment where peace and economic development will complement each other," Esperon quoted Duterte as saying in the national security strategy.

"To defend our sovereignty and integrity of our national territory, we will continue to develop and improve our defense, intelligence, and law enforcement capabilities to enable our troops to end communist insurgency and terrorism and violent extremism," Esperon added.

Based on the document, the country would also bolster its position in the community of nations by "strengthening our diplomatic relations with our traditional allies, engaging non-traditional partners, and pursuing an independent foreign policy that gives primacy to our national interest."

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Duterte thanks PSG for service to nation

From the Philippine News Agency (May 30): Duterte thanks PSG for service to nation

President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Wednesday thanked the Presidential Security Group (PSG) for serving the nation by “courageously” standing behind him.

“Throughout this country ordeal, the Presidential Security Group has courageously stood behind me to secure the interest of our country,” Duterte said in his speech during the PSG Change of Command at the PSG Grandstand, Malacañang Park.

“I stand confident before you today as I perform my duties as your Commander-in-Chief, assured that the PSG shall be loyal not only to one person or family, but only to the Constitution and our most cherished democratic institutions,” he added.

Duterte commended outgoing PSG Commander Brig. Gen. Lope Dagoy for his “successful tour of duty”.

Under Dagoy’s able leadership, the PSG has effectively provided security to 16 foreign and more than 900 local Presidential engagements particularly last year when the Philippines hosted the 30th and 31st ASEAN Summits.

“General Dagoy, I wish you the best as you assume your new Command. I am certain that the PSG that you will hand over is a workforce that is more motivated and dependable,” Duterte said.

Duterte is hoping that the wielding and forging of the PSG’s growth towards global competency will continue under the leadership of new PSG Commander Col. Jose Eriel Niembra.

“With your credentials and background as the former Deputy Group Commander of the PSG, I trust that you will move forward in the right direction as you create your own mark in this command,” Duterte said.

During his speech, Duterte defended his decision to appoint more ex-military men to different government officials.

“To the credit of military men, I said, no offense intended. The military is structural and they are always conscious of accomplishments, fulfillment of duty. Not because of any particular loyalty, they work extra hard,” he said.

Duterte said the practice of appointing former military men did not come from him as it was also done during the time of former presidents Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Benigno Aquino III.

Next PH-China bilateral talks on WPS expected in Q3

From the Philippine News Agency (May 30): Next PH-China bilateral talks on WPS expected in Q3
Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Sta. Romana said the next meeting for the bilateral consultative mechanism (BCM) between China and the Philippines is expected on the 2nd half of the year.

"(There's) no date yet for the next BCM, but it will be sometime in the second half of the year. Likely August or September, but not yet set," he told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Wednesday.

Sta. Romana did not elaborate specific subjects to be tackled, but assured there will be "more discussion of issues of concern to each side."

He added the two countries are expected to talk about possible progress report on results of panel study on oil the gas cooperation in the West Philppine Sea, as well as other areas of maritime cooperation such as in environment and fisheries.

In a meeting on Monday, the envoy discussed issues related to China and the West Philippine Sea with President Rodrigo R. Duterte, together with Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon.

Manila and Beijing held its second meeting for the BCM in February.

The mechanism, established in May 2017 is a venue for the two states to tackle all issues on the West Philippine Sea dispute.

Duterte to Joma : Don't worry about your safety

From the Philippine News Agency (May 30): Duterte to Joma : Don't worry about your safety

President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Wednesday clarified his previous statement against Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison, saying "Aquino-style" assassination will not happen to him.

“There is no Aquino-style killing where I will shoot someone from behind,” Duterte said in his speech during the Presidential Security Group (PSG) Change of Command.

The President was apparently referring to former senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino who was shot in the back as he got out of the plane that brought him to the Philippines from the United States on Aug. 21, 1981.

Duterte had earlier threatened to kill Sison if the peace talks that the President wanted to be held in the Philippines fail.

The President said that what he wanted to say was “if it is not successful, then I will guarantee that he can go out of the country unhampered, unfettered, unbridled”.

“He does not have to worry about his safety. If you come home, do not worry about being killed. I will not do that,” Duterte said.

Duterte appealed anew to Sison to come home and discuss peace within a “small window of 60 days" the President has provided to the communist leader.

“I’m giving you my word of honor. It is my word and I would say, you go home, let’s talk earnestly, sincerely,” the President said.

Duterte, however, said he would not give way to Sison’s demand for a coalition government.

“As long as you do not ask a coalition government, which I cannot give and will never give, you can come home and talk to me and the others, and maybe in the fullness of God’s time we can achieve peace in our land,” he said.

The Commander-in-Chief said his invitation to Sison to come home was in line with his desire to achieve peace not only with communist rebels but with other groups.

“I was elected by the people not only by the military and the police, but all, including the Moro, also have this desire and confidence to talk to us about peace,” Duterte said.

“My job is not go to war. My job cannot be killing our own countrymen. My job, my task, my mandate is to give peace to everybody,” he added.

DND issues IRR for task force aiding reintegration of rebel returnees

From the Philippine News Agency (May 31): DND issues IRR for task force aiding reintegration of rebel returnees

The Department of National Defense (DND) has issued the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for Task Force "Balik-Loob" (TFBL), the coordinating body tasked to centralize all government efforts for the reintegration of former communist rebels.

The seven-page IRR, which was released Tuesday (May 29), was signed by DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, DILG Undersecretary Eduardo Año, Housing General Manager Marcelino Escalada Jr., Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza, and Undersecretary of the Office of the President Nelson Estares.

It will take effect 15 days after its publication in two newspapers of general circulation and after registration with the Office of National Administrative Register (ONAR), UP Law Center, Quezon City.

This comes after President Rodrigo R. Duterte on April 3 signed Administrative Order (AO) No. 10, creating TFBL as the central coordinating body that will supervise the reintegration efforts.

TFBL’s IRR provides the framework to pursue a comprehensive, integrated, community-based national program that is locally-implemented to address the legal status and security of former rebels (FRs), as well as their economic, social, psychological rehabilitation needs and provide immediate to long-term interventions that are supported by strengthened institutions to ensure effective implementation and attainment of these desired outcomes.

Under the IRR, TFBL will be in charge of centralizing two existing government programs for former rebels, namely the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) administered by the DILG, and the PAyapa at MAsaganang PamayaNAn (PAMANA), which is administered by Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP), as well as all the other social services of other government agencies.

The program will now be called the E-CLIP or the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) which refers to the complete package of assistance to FRs.

Among the benefits and other forms of assistance given to beneficiaries include safety and security, PHP 15,000 immediate assistance, PHP21,000 to defray the subsistence or meals cost, support to relocate and secure the FR and his or her family, PHP50,000 livelihood assistance, temporary shelter, PhilHealth enrolment, medical assistance package, housing assistance and/or housing unit , modified Conditional Cash Transfer, legal assistance, livelihood materials, healing and reconciliation initiatives, and any additional assistance.

Composition and function
TFBL will be composed of representatives, with a rank not lower than Undersecretary from the DND, DILG, OPAPP, office of the President and the National Housing Authority. The task force will be chaired by the DND representative who may invite other government agencies and instrumentalities to the task force as he may deem necessary.

It will also have the following functions:
  • Develop the Strategic Communication (StratCom) Plan and the Implementing Guidelines governing the reintegration efforts
  • Address implementation issues at the national and local levels
  • Coordinate with concerned local government units to ensure the effective and timely implementation of the reintegration efforts
  • Provide capability assistance to concerned LGUs
  • Prepare a coordination, monitoring, evaluating and reporting mechanism that shall be used by all concerned agencies in checking the status of the reintegration efforts
  • Prepare regular consolidated reports on the implementation of the reintegration efforts to be submitted to the OP
  • Regularly review and update the StartCom Plan, Implementing Guidelines and other mechanisms to ensure the responsiveness and effectiveness of the reintegration efforts
  • Call upon the assistance and cooperation of all concerned government agencies for the effective implementation of this order
Qualified beneficiaries of the E-CLIP have to be former members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), New People's Army (NPA) and National Democratic Front (NDF) who voluntarily abandoned the armed struggle and opted to become productive members of the society.
Their spouses, partners, children, whether legitimate or illegitimate, parents or siblings are also beneficiaries.
Meanwhile, members of the Militia ng Bayan (MB), who surfaced starting April 3, 2018 shall only be eligible to the following assistance: 1) Immediate Assistance; 2) Reintegration Assistance and 3) Firearm Remuneration
MBs are individuals who have been indoctrinated and may or may not be directly involved in violent armed struggle but when organized can provide mass support to the revolutionary movement of the CPP/NPA/NDF.
The program will cover those who will surface starting April 3, 2018 or issuance of Duterte's order.
All FRs who surfaced starting July 1, 2016 will likewise be provided with benefits from the program in additional to the CLIP package they have received.

NPA leader moved to Davao to face cases

From the Philippine News Agency (May 30): NPA leader moved to Davao to face cases

The New People’s Army (NPA) leader in the Davao region was moved to this city on Tuesday after almost three weeks of treatment for gunshot wounds in the neighboring province of Bukidnon, a police official said.

Elizalde Tormis "Ka Jinggoy" Canete, the top leader of the NPA’s Pulang Bagani Command 1 – Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (PBC 1-SMRC), was released from a hospital in Don Carlos town Monday evening. He is currently detained at the Davao City Police Office (DCPO).

Chief of Police Senior Supt Alexander Tagum told reporters Tuesday afternoon that warrants of arrest were issued by the three different branches of the Regional Trial Court against Cañete for 12 criminal cases, mostly for murder, serious illegal detention and robbery in band. No bail is recommended for most of the cases.

Tagum said Cañete is also facing three attempted murder cases with bail and frustrated murder with around P80,000 bail recommended.

“In 12 warrants of arrest for the cases he is facing in RTC XI, five of it are non-bailable,” he said.

Cañete was re-arrested last May 12 while undergoing medical treatment of gunshot wounds sustained during an encounter with government forces on May 10 in Sitio Linao, Barangay Kipilas, Kitaotao.

Cañete was first arrested in 2010 in an encounter with government forces. He was then allowed by the military to recover from his wounds sustained during an encounter in Montevista, Compostela Valley province but, he jumped bail in 2013 for the murder and arson cases filed against him.

“We will immediately turn over all these warrants of arrest and expedite the transfer of the venue for custody of Kumander Jinggoy.

As much as possible we will commit him,”
Tagum said. Cañete will stay at the DCPO detention facility until a commitment order is issued by the court.

Tagum said the police will implement full security measures commensurate for high-ranking NPA leaders such as Cañete, adding that visits from relatives will not be allowed except for the NPA leader's mother.

Tagum said Cañete was brought to the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) for a medical check-up before he was brought to DCPO.

Tagum said the arrest of Cañete is a big blow to the NPA operating in Davao region, even as the police official warned leftist groups against holding rallies that would disturb peace and order.

”It is their right to conduct a rally but I would like to warn them that there are particular areas allowed for that - at the freedom park. If they will affect the traffic and affect the local peace and order baka isama naming sila sa kulungan kasama si Ka Jinggoy (we might bring them to prison with Ka Jinggoy),” he said.

Apparently fearing reprisal, Cañete’s mother, Babeta, admitted in an interview she was nervous of his son's transfer to DCPO because she's the only one allowed to watch over him.

Cañete’s group was held responsible for the death of fish vendor Larry Buenafe, who died after sustaining wounds from an NPA-planted landmine intended for the responding soldiers during an attack of a Lorenzo-owned facility in Barangay Mandug on Apr. 29, 2017.

Cañete also stands accused of burning the equipment being used in the ongoing bypass roads in Barangays Mandug and Fatima in Paquibato.

DWDD: LUMBAS 2018 | PN, RAN conducts Combined Maritime Training

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (May 30): LUMBAS 2018  |  PN, RAN conducts Combined Maritime Training

CANJULAO, Lapu Lapu City (DWDD) The Philippine Navy (PN) and the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) conducted a combined Maritime Training Activity codenamed “Exercise LUMBAS 2018” from 18 to 23 MAY 2018 at Naval Forces Central (NFC) Area of Responsibility (AOR).

This training exercise has been conducted annually in the Philippines which started sometime in 1998. In previous years, EX LUMBAS was combined maritime training between the PN and the RAN which focuses on Maritime Security Operations and Maritime Interdiction Operation (MSO/ MIO). It is conducted in the form of Table Top Exercise (TTX) on odd numbered years with Field Training Exercise (FTX) on even numbered years. However, during the Navy to Navy Strategy talks held last 09 March 2017, Exercise LUMBAS will become an annual Naval Warfare Exercise focusing on the development of PN warfighting capabilities while Multi Agency TTX will shift from LUMBAS to Defense Cooperation Program (DCP) which will fall under the purview of the National Coast Watch Center (NCWC). Exercise LUMBAS will focus on addressing transnational crimes, piracy, counter-terrorism, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) and anti-narcotics to align PN efforts with the current government policies.

For this year, the Field Training Exercise of this event was executed in two (2) segments. Segment 1 was the Harbor Phase which was conducted at facilities of NBRR and ships respective lecture/ training rooms. Opening ceremony, Subject Matter Expertise Exchanges (SMEEs), courtesy call, ships tour and FTX Opns Conferences and other related pre-sail briefing was held on 18-19 May 2018 prior the Sea Phase. Segment 2 was the Sea Phase which was conducted at seawaters of Negros Island on 20-22 May 2018 and focused on capability enhancement for Naval Operations and Maritime Security Operations, hence building Common Operating Picture (COP), information sharing and territorial defense related training. This phase was participated by one (1) vessel from RAN (HMAS ANZAC, FFH150), one (1) vessel form PN (BRP RAMON ALCARAZ, FF16) and two (2) aircrafts from PAF (FA50). Personnel from both Navy ships also conducted simultaneous the Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) exercise in their respective counterparts navy ship. One (1) Naval helicopter conducted deck landing proficiency aboard FF16 and FFH150 also during the FTX.
The culminating activities of the exercise include, friendly games between PN and RAN, and closing ceremony held at NBRR complex last 23 May 2018. NPAO / MCAG