Friday, November 30, 2018

Lorenzana says they will create another military division to send to Sulu

From the Manila Bulletin (Nov 30): Lorenzana says they will create another military division to send to Sulu

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that they will create another military division to send to Sulu to once and for all rid the province of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).
In an interview, Lorenzana said they will recruit more people to fill up the division and fulfill the mission of eradicating Sulu of the terrorist group.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (photo courtesy of the Office of the Secretary of National Defense)

“We are going to create another division. We will have permanent presence in Sulu and eliminate once and for all the Abu Sayyaf,” Lorenzana said.

“We are going to recruit more people for that division,” he added.

President Rodrigo Duterte announced on Tuesday the imminent troop movement after expressing dismay with the violent clash between government forces and the Abu Sayyaf bandits in Patikul, Sulu several days ago.

The encounter, which left five soldiers dead and several others wounded, was considered a “flashpoint” by the President.

“We visited a wake at Cauayan. I was with (Defense) Secretary (Delfin) Lorenzana and (Interior and Local Government) Secretary (Eduardo) Año. I talked to them and complained about why so many of my soldiers in Jolo are dying,” he said during a visit to a military camp in Bohol.

“By December 1, I told Secretary Lorenzana, ‘I want one division there’ so I will provide you with a Glock and three magazines,” he told the government troops.

The planned troop movement to Sulu comes amid the President’s decision to deploy more soldiers and cops to some parts of the country where incidents of lawless violence were reported.

Duterte earlier issued Memorandum Order No. 32 directing additional troops to the provinces of Samar, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, and the Bicol region to prevent the spread of violence.

The government forces have also been reminded to respect the constitutional rights of persons in performing their duty.

“No civil or political rights are suspended during the existence of a state of national emergency on account of lawless violence,” the order read.

Lorenzana, in the same interview, said it’s necessary to send additional forces in Samar, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental and Bicol to prevent Communist New People’s Army Terrorists (CNTs) from further committing terrorist attacks in those provinces.

He also admitted that the enemy still is a force to be reckoned with in those areas, thus the need for troop deployment.

Earlier, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) announced that two battalions of soldiers were already deployed to Samar to fulfill its mission of stopping the attacks by the CNTs.

“The NPA keeps doing things like burning, killing people so this is a preemptive thing para masugpo sila (to stop them. We can pursue our build, build, build program,” Lorenzana said.

“Remember they burned the equipment of the contractors in the… so they are still there..And as per the information of the mayor of Legazpi there are still NPA collecting money, extorting money from businessmen,” he added.

Lorenzana said the movement of troops will only be temporary to help troops on the ground.

4 NPA rebels slain in clash with gov’t troops

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 30): 4 NPA rebels slain in clash with gov’t troops
MALAPATAN, SARANGANI – At least four alleged members of the New People’s Army (NPA) were killed in an encounter with the 73rd Infantry Battalion (IB) in Barangay Upper Suyan here around 1 p.m. on Thursday.

Lt. Col. Marion Angcao, 73rd IB commanding officer, said on Friday the slain rebels were members of the communist Guerilla Front 71.  They were seen near the site where health workers from the province were doing their three-day mass vaccination program because of the reported measles outbreak that killed 18 children.

The military, however, could not yet identify the bodies at the encounter site.

Gov’t winning war against Reds in Caraga – Army official

From the Manila Bulletin (Nov 30): Gov’t winning war against Reds in Caraga – Army official

BUTUAN CITY – The government is strategically winning the war against the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (NPA) in Northeastern Mindanao or Caraga region.

302nd Infantry Brigade (FACEBOOK / MANILA BULLETIN)

This was the bold disclosure made by Brig. Gen. Franco Nemesio M. Gacal, commanding general of the Army’s 402nd Infantry (Stingers) Brigade, during the joint open forum and press conference of the weeklong Mindanao Week of Peace (MWOP) held at St. Joseph Hall, San Lorenzo Ruiz, Pastoral Center, Barangay Ampayon, Butuan City, on Thursday, November 29.

The 402nd Brigade commander stressed that the government was already winning the war against the CPP-NPA in various parts of the region.

Caraga region is considered as the last bastion of the communist-guerilla movement due to its typical mountainous and forested terrain in Southern Mindanao.

“Yes, we are already gaining headway,” declared Gacal, when asked by newsmen.

The 402nd Brigade commander further disclosed that more than 300 communist NPA terrorists have already surrendered to the government since early this year.

He also claimed that more rebels are set to return to the fold of the law to avail of the government’s livelihood, peace and development program, a program that is jointly undertaken by all concerned line agencies of the government and local government units (LGUs).

The ground Army commander also cited the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program or E-CLIP, where many former rebels decided to come down and avail the program to be productive and peaceful citizens in their respective communities.

Under the E-CLIP, a former rebel can avail of the P15,000 immediate cash assistance and P50,000 livelihood assistance when he surrenders. In addition, the surrendered firearms have an equivalent amount of money depending on the serviceability and caliber of the firearm, Brig. Gacal added.

Meanwhile, Lt. Tere Ingente, chief of the Public Affairs Office (PAO) of the Army’s Northeastern and Northern Mindanao 4th Infantry (Diamond) Division also told the Manila Bulletin that hardship and lack of logistical support were among the reasons why many CPP-NPAs are giving themselves up.

What is the NPA Sparrow Unit?

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 29): What is the NPA Sparrow

President Rodrigo Duterte has announced that he wanted to create a death squad to match the New People’s Army (NPA) Sparrow Unit during the Marcos regime.

Duterte named his unit the “Duterte Death Squad,” which he wanted to counter the communist rebels’ capability to assassinate people.

READ: Duterte wants to create ‘death squad’ to counter NPA’s Sparrow Unit

What is this so-called Sparrow Unit?

The NPA’s Sparrow Unit was active in the 1980s during the dictatorship of former president Ferdinand Marcos.

The communist rebel group then created an urban guerrilla unit called the Alex Boncayao Brigade (ABB), which consists of hit squads that kill government officials and suspected government agents.

A profile at the armed group at the Encyclopedia Britannica stated that “the ABB, which operated independently of its parent organization, launched its first attack in May 1984.”

The ABB hitmen were then called “sparrow units” for their swift assassinations, and they often elude arrest.

The Washington Post said these “sparrow units” were named after the sparrow bird because of their “smallness and quick moves.”

Sparrow assassinations had a pattern: a group of three men will approach the target on the street, open fire at close range using handguns, and flee aboard jeepneys or blend in with the crowd.

When the Communist Party split into the Reaffirm and Reallign groups in the 1990s, the ABB split with the NPA and allied itself with the Revolutionary Proletarian Army (RPA).

Sparrow units in DDS

A 2009 Human Rights Watch (HRW) report stated that the notorious Davao Death Squad (DDS) were composed of former members of the NPA’s sparrow units who surrendered to Duterte when he was the Davao City Mayor.

“One insider said that a high-ranking DDS member in his area had been a member of a “sparrow unit” who surrendered directly to Davao City Mayor Duterte,” HRW said in its report entitled, “You Can Die Any Time” Death Squad Killings in Mindanao.

The DDS was initially a small team called “Lambada Boys ” tasked to assassinate petty criminals.

HRW claimed that older members of the DDS recruited in the early 2000s were former members of the “sparrow units” of the NPA.

The report noted that in mid-1997, about 60 unsolved murders conducted by the DDS used similar warfare tactics to the NPA’s sparrow squad.

‘No longer deployed’

Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison denied that the Sparrow Units are still deployed as widely as in the 1970s and 1980s.

READ: Duterte ‘death squad’ to cover up EJK – Joma

Sison, however, acknowledged that there were incidents of NPA teams attacking elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. But he said the teams are “not necessarily sparrow units.” /ee

READ: Sison: Duterte’s ‘death squad’ vs sparrow units would be like ‘Oplan Tokhang’

Duterte's 'death squad' is still just an idea, Palace says

From the Philippine Star (Nov 29): Duterte's 'death squad' is still just an idea, Palace says

Malacañang on Thursday claimed President Rodrigo Duterte’s plan to form a hit squad to take out communist rebels does not violate due process, implying the "death squads" would be acting preemptively against alleged assassins.

Rights groups and government critics on Wednesday sounded the alarm on the president’s announcement that he would create an armed civilian group to target members of New People’s Army’s “sparrow” units. “Sparrows,” for Special Partisan Units, are NPA hit squads blamed for assassinations.

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He sad the unit would go after "suspected NPAs" and that this would negate the communist rebels' "advantage" of having Special Partisan Units.

Duterte’s statement, they said, would give the unit license to kill rebels, leftists and even civilians.

But presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Thursday that Duterte would only be doing his duty to protect Filipinos if the planned hit squad, which may include former rebels, is realized.

'You're running after people who will assassinate us'

“Why are you violating due process? You’re running after criminals. You’re running after people who will assassinate us. You will prevent it from happening,” he told reporters in a press briefing.

Panelo, who is also Duterte’s chief legal adviser, added: “In other words, we have situation here where there is a group of men who will kill with impunity. What do you want the state to do? Just sit idly and watch? You cannot do that. It’s the duty of the state to protect the citizens.”

Article III, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution holds that “no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.”

He added that the proposed unit will only go after members of the NPA "Sparrow" units. "You will know if they're not ("sparrows") if you're with their former comrades, then you will know... that's what the president meant," he said.

Death squads prohibited 'under all circumstances'

Commission on Human Rights Chair Chito Gascon on Wednesday said that protecting people from lawless violence should adhere to established rules of engagement and due process.

“International humanitarian law requires states to use only regular armed forces under strict military discipline. Thus this strictly prohibits death squads under all circumstances,” Gascon said.

Even Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana warned that there might be “great danger of abuse or mistakes” on Duterte’s proposition.

Despite criticisms, Panelo stressed that the creation of a “death squad” to counter communist insurgents is only an idea at the moment.

“He’s floating that idea and some are responding—others for, others against. Let’s see how it develops,” he said.

'Stepped up' operations

This is not the first time that taking action against the "sparrow" units.

In March, Duterte and Ronald Dela Rosa, then Philippine National Police director general, claimed that the NPA's "sparrow" units had stepped up operations against government personnel.

"I'm trying to enlist also the help of former police officers assigned in Mindanao for the 'sparrow''s most active," a GMA News Online report quotes Duterte as saying at the time.

In response to the plan, the Communist Party of the Philippines said: "It seems Duterte is doing some scenario-building to hatch up another tyrannical scheme. The PNP plan to have a group of 'seasoned retired police officers' to train PNP field personnel on 'anti-sparrow' operations sound shady, to say the least."

"Recall that in the late 1980s, the PNP and AFP used the 'anti-sparrow' operations to set up so-called “secret marshalls” which were used to attack activists, especially among the urban poor groups, resulting in numerous cases of 'salvagings'," the CPP also said.

IRC Report: Mindanao: Regaining dignity and livelihood lost in conflict

Posted to the Relief Web (Nov 29): Report from the International Committee of the Red Cross -- Mindanao: Regaining dignity and livelihood lost in conflict

Report from International Committee of the Red Cross
Published on 29 Nov 2018 — View Original

Over 12,000 people in Central Mindanao and Lanao del Sur have been deprived of stable income due to continued displacement caused by protracted armed conflict. These affected families received cash grants from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), with support of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), in order to regain their livelihood and become less dependent on aid.

In Shariff Saydona Mustapha and Datu Saudi Ampatuan municipalities, Maguindanao Province, 959 families (4,795 people) received 10,000 Philippine pesos each (around 200 US dollars), likewise 1,453 families (7,265 people) from Marawi who fled to eight neighboring municipalities in Lanao del Sur.

These families will be able to purchase tools or equipment, start small businesses, and meet their other basic needs, during displacement or when they return home.

Since 2015, thousands of families in Maguindanao Province have been recurrently displaced by the fighting between the government forces and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF). Following the end of the Marawi crisis in October 2017, clashes intensified between the AFP and BIFF and other non-state armed groups, causing repeated displacement and damage to livelihoods and property.

“Our beneficiaries told us they had fled their homes more than seven times between March and November 2018 due to the fighting,” explains Kaisa Kruuse, head of the ICRC office in Cotabato City. She continued, “This constant movement disrupts their access to basic necessities such as food and water, livelihood and even education. The displaced people wish to restore stability and dignity, but at the moment many still depend on humanitarian assistance.”

At the same time in Lanao del Sur, over 65,000 former residents of the Marawi’s most affected area still reside with relatives or in evacuation centers, over a year since the conflict ended between the government forces and IS-Ranao (Maute Group) and Abu Sayyaf. The ICRC and PRC regularly monitor the situation and respond with most appropriate interventions. In 2018, the ICRC cash grants reached about 2,000 families (8,000 people) displaced to six municipalities in Lanao del Sur.

The total cash grants have now reached 39 million pesos (around 745,000 US dollars). The aim is to help the most vulnerable, including displaced people, those with low income, those with multiple dependents especially children, pregnant women, the elderly and the sick.

"This support means a lot for evacuees like us from the main affected area in Marawi. We don't know when we will be able to return home, but nevertheless, life has to move on here in our current place of living, especially for my small children,” said one beneficiary in Bacolod Kalawi, sharing her business idea. "I will use this grant to put up a 'piso net' (small internet shop) and I’m hoping to change my situation for the better."

The ICRC is a neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian organization working to prevent and alleviate suffering during armed conflict and other situations of violence. It also visits people detained in relation to the conflict to monitor their treatment and living conditions, and facilitates visits from their families.

For further information, please contact:

Lany de la Cruz (in Davao), mobile: 0999 887 0985

Allison Lopez (in Manila), mobile: 0908 868 6884

Raul Caceres (in Manila), mobile: 0928 504 7648

Follow the ICRC on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo: ACT Davao Region holds a press conference along Roxas Ave.

From the Mindanao Times (Nov 30): Photo: ACT Davao Region holds a press conference along Roxas Ave.

Image may contain: 4 people, people sitting, child and outdoor

ACT Davao Region holds a press conference along Roxas Ave. regarding the arrest and detention of ACT Rep. France Castro and former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo along with solidarity mission participants.

40 NPA surrenderers receive livelihood packages from DTI

From the Mindanao Times (Nov 29): 40 NPA surrenderers receive livelihood packages from DTI

Forty former rebels (FRs) who surrendered to the 66th Infantry Battalion were handed livelihood starter kits by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-Compostela Valley on Wednesday, Nov. 28.
1Lt. Leo Daren Gapay, the civil-military operations officer of 66th IB, said they facilitated the turnover of the kits ina simple ceremony at their headquarters.
The ceremony was attended by Lt. Col. Palmer Parungao, the commander of 66th IB; Patrick Kim Evangelio, the acting division chief of the DTI-ComVal; and Faustino E. Diabordo, project coordinator of DTI-ComVal.
Gapay said the project was in line with the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-Clip) of the government to capacitate and support the former rebels in going back to mainstream society and become productive citizens
“Each individual FR was given a P20,000 worth of assistance and among the identified livelihood projects proposed by the individual FR are a sari-sari store, livestock-raising, blacksmithing and hollow block-making,” he added.
Evangelio in his opening remark said, “This starter kit of livelihood seeding program is like a book. You have to read the book in order to understand its content and apply it in your life. When you receive this starter kit, you have to make an effort for you to be able to sustain it and make it grow,” he said.
Meanwhile, Gapay said alias Maya, a former member of Guerrilla front 27, also delivered a testimony.
She thanked the army and the government for giving them another lease on life.
Parungao said the military will help monitor the progress of the former rebels and help sustain their projects.
“We made it possible for former rebels and the soldiers to live together in harmony, building respect and nurturing appreciation from each other’s effort for the community to achieve peace and self-sustainment,” he added.
He also encouraged the remaining members of the NPA to lay down their arms and surrender. “The government has programs for you to start again and live a peaceful and happy life,” the battalion commander said.

President Duterte leads turnover of AFP-PNP housing units

From the Philippine Information Agency (Nov 30): President Duterte leads turnover of AFP-PNP housing units

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte leads the ceremonial turnover of firearms to 302nd Infantry Brigade Commander Brigadier General Ignacio Madriaga during his visit at Camp Rajah Sikatuna in Carmen, Bohol on November 27, 2018. (ROBINSON NIÑAL JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO)

BOHOL CITY, Nov. 30 -- President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Tuesday, November 27, led the turnover of 365 housing units to the soldiers of 302nd Brigade in Camp Rajah Sikatuna.

During his speech, the Commander-in-Chief expressed his gratitude to the brave soldiers of the brigade, especially to the families of those who lost loved ones of in the line of duty.

The President then assured them that the government will continue to assist them and providing for their shelter is one of the ways by which government fulfills this commitment.

“I am here because maligaya ako. I’m happy that you were awarded houses,” he said.

Aside from the military personal, the President also promised to build more houses for New People’s Army (NPA) rebels who want to return to the fold of the law.

“I’ll try to build more. At the same time, we have a problem with the insurgencies. So I’m also offering them house, ” he further said.

President Duterte reiterated his commitment to the military and police that his administration will always be behind them, supporting them as they continue the fight against terrorism and extremism in the country.

“With a determined spirit and a hopeful heart, I am hopeful that we will one day overcome all threats to our people sovereignty, improve the quality of lives of our people and realize our vision of a stronger, safer and truly progressive tomorrow,” he said.

PH Navy recognizes Bonifacio's role in quest for freedom

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 30): PH Navy recognizes Bonifacio's role in quest for freedom

Did you know that one of the Philippine Navy's ships was named after Katipunan founder, Gat Andres Bonifacio, who would have been 155 years old today?

Navy Spokesperson Commander Jonathan Zata said one of the three Gregorio Del Pilar frigates, formerly Hamilton-class cutters acquired from the US from 2011 to 2016, was named after the hero in honor of his contribution to the country's quest for freedom during the Spanish colonial rule.

The BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF-17), the sister ship of BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (FF-15) and BRP Ramon Alcaraz (FF-16) arrived in the Philippines on Dec. 9, 2016.

"Your Navy recognizes the distinct contribution of the Father of the Katipunan and acknowledges his deeds and ultimate sacrifice for the price of freedom. His boldness, patriotism and vision for a better nation are virtues that are alive and well within the AFP and your Navy," Zata said.

On Nov. 30, 1863, Bonifacio, the father of the Philippine Revolution, was born in Tondo, Manila.

He was one of the founders of Katipunan and later became its Supremo (Supreme Leader). The Katipunan was a movement that sought the independence of the Philippines from Spanish colonial rule in the late 1800s.

More troops deployed to Samar: AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 30): More troops deployed to Samar: AFP

More troops have been deployed to Samar to quell “lawless violence” in the province, a military spokesperson said Thursday.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said two infantry battalions have been sent to Samar, shortly after an assessment confirmed that there is a need to put additional troops there.

"Nagkaroon na tayo ng ginagawang assessment and then nakita natin that there's really a need for us to reinforce our units there kaya pinadala natin ang dalawang battalions na ito (We conducted an assessment and found out there's really a need for us to reinforce our units so deployed these two battalions," he said.

Last week, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea issued Memorandum Order No. 32 amid "sporadic acts of violence allegedly committed by lawless groups particularly in the provinces of Samar, Negros Oriental and Occidental, and Bicol Region".

The memorandum called for the immediate deployment of additional military and police forces in those provinces.

He added that the number of military personnel or units to be deployed in Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, and Bicol Region are still being reviewed.

Marawi, A Year After: A Photo Exhibit

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 27): Marawi, A Year After: A Photo Exhibit

To let the rest of the country understand the current challenges faced by Filipino Muslims in Mindanao, a photo exhibit titled "Marawi: A Year After" was held at the National Museum of the Philippines' Museum of Anthropology.

The month-long exhibit, which opened in October, showcased the photos taken by Mylah Reyes Roque, wife of former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, during their official visits to Marawi.

“My first in Marawi was at the height of the siege when my husband and I brought blankets and mats to displaced residents in the evacuation centers. We also brought socks and underwear for soldiers and policemen,” she said during a talk about the exhibit on Friday.

Former Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque with his wife Mylah Reyes-Roque and soldiers during Marawi siege. (Photo courtesy of Mylah Reyes-Roque)

Roque visited the site for the second time with Home Development Mutual Fund or Pag-IBIG officers to provide housing assistance to affected employees of Mindanao State University.

Her third visit was with Cielito "Honeylet" Avancena, President Rodrigo Duterte’s common law wife, and the Du30 Cabinet Spouses Association. They distributed cash assistance and relief goods to the women of Marawi.

Roque’s photos showed the expansive devastation caused by the Marawi siege -- bullet-riddled mosques and cathedrals, crushed commercial and residential buildings and wrecked bridges and roads.

Roque's photos showing the damaged incurred by one of the big mosques at Marawi's Islamic Center.

'Bombang hindi sumabog'.

Roque said this is one of the unexploded ordnances (UXO) found on Menor Street.

Saint Mary's Cathedral after siege.

Roque said Saint Mary's Cathedral is perhaps the only Catholic church in Marawi, which has the features of Christian and Islamic elements.

Residents spray-painted their homes to show ownership.

According to Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM), the estimate cost of damaged public facilities, infrastructure and commercial structures that need rebuilding is PHP17.2 billion. It said the clearing alone of eight to five million metric tons of debris would cost more than PHP3 billion.

At the photo exhibition, TFBM provided an overview of the rehabilitation plan through a video. The group has begun with debris cleaning, site development, improvement of roads, underground water and electric utilities and telecommunications and sewage systems.

By 2020, the group will begin with the construction of public buildings and commercial structures, alongside homeowners’ rebuilding of privately-owned properties so residents can safely return to peaceful and productive communities by 2022.

On May 23, 2017, militants led by the Maute group and Abu Sayyaf seized Marawi City to install a caliphate in the southern part of the Philippines.

The government declared war against the lawless groups that lasted five months. Apart from killing hundreds of people and displacing thousands of families, the siege destroyed the cultural properties and residences in the city, known as the "Islamic Capital of the Philippines".

Raps filed vs. Satur Ocampo, 17 others

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 30): Raps filed vs. Satur Ocampo, 17 others

Former Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Satur Ocampo, ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro and 16 others were charged Thursday for allegedly holding minors during a solidarity mission in Davao del Norte.

Authorities filed violation of Republic Act 7610 or the "Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act" before the Tagum City Prosecutor’s Office against Ocampo, Castro, the school administrator and nine teachers and of the Salugpungan Community Learning Center (SCLC), two staff of the ACT-Teachers and three pastors of the United Church of Christ of the Philippines (UCCP) and one of the United Methodist church.

They allegedly held 14 minors without the consent of their parents and permit from the Municipal Social Welfare Office.

Ocampo and Castro were reportedly part of a humanitarian mission in Talaingod, Davao del Norte on Wednesday. The two, together with the children, teachers and church leaders on board five vans, were flagged down by police at past 9 p.m on Wednesday.

A report from the 1003rd Brigade said that when the vehicles were inspected, there were about 74 persons, including minors. The minors were immediately released through the municipal social worker.

The report said authorities have coordinated with other provinces for the minors who are not from the province.

Aside from Ocampo and Castro, the following persons were also charged:

1. Meggie Nolasco - Administrator, SLCLC

2. Pastor Edgar Ugal - UCCP Davao

3. Rev. Ryan C. Magpayo - UCCP Davao

4. Pastor Eller A. ORDEZA - United Methodist Davao

5. Rev. Jurie Jaime - UCCP Davao

6. Maria Concepcion Ibarra - teacher, SCLC

7. Jenevive Paraba - teacher, SCLC

8. Nerhaya Talledo - teacher, SCLC

9. Maricel Andagkit - teacher, SCLC

10. Marcial Rendon -teacher, SCLC

11. Ariel Ansan - teacher, SCLC

12. Mariane Aga - teacher, SCLC

13. Nerfa Awing - teacher, SCLC

14. Wingwing Dansay -teacher, SCLC

15. Jesus Modamo - staff, ACT

16. Maryro Poquita - staff, ACT

Rebel killed in Masbate clash with gov't troops

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 30): Rebel killed in Masbate clash with gov't troops

A suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebel was killed on Friday morning in an encounter with government soldiers in a remote village in Aroroy, Masbate, a Philippine Army report said.

The troops were on combat patrol when they chanced upon a seven-man NPA group in Barangay Cabasan at around 6:45 a.m., said 1LT Mishel Mitra, 903rd Brigade Civil Military Operations Officer.

In a phone interview, Mitra said a 10-minute firefight took place, during which a rebel was killed and left behind by his companions.

After the brief gun battle, the soldiers were able to recover from the scene a .45-caliber pistol and a claymore mine.

Mitra said no casualty was reported among the government troops.

The body of the slain rebel was brought to the Aroroy police station for identification and documentation.

Construction of Air Force base in Palawan to start in 2019

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 30): Construction of Air Force base in Palawan to start in 2019

AIR POWER FORUM. Maj. Gen. Restituto F. Padilla Jr., Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) deputy chief of staff for Plans J-5 (extreme right), Atty. Teodoro Jose Matta (2nd from right), Palawan provincial legal officer; and other Philippine Air Force officials attend the first-ever 'Air Power Forum' held at the provincial capitol on Thursday (November 29, 2018). The forum aims to share information to the public on how air assets of the PAF help in maintaining safety and security in the province. (Photo courtesy of the Palawan Provincial Information Office)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- The proposed Philippine Air Force (PAF) base in Balabac, southern Palawan, is expected to begin construction in the first quarter of 2019, a local government official said here Thursday afternoon.

Atty. Teodoro Jose Matta, legal officer of the Palawan provincial government, said in an “Air Power Forum” that the groundwork for the new 300-hectare air base can start as land clearing is almost complete. The forum was held at the provincial capitol here.

The first-ever forum was led by the PAF’s Tactical Operations Wing West (TOWW) to inform the public about how Palawan’s security and safety is maintained using the country’s air assets.

Matta said the area, being unblocked in the site in Barangay Catagupan, mainland Balabac, is for the base’s three-kilometer runway and four-kilometer

“At the moment we are already conducting ground-clearing. The target is that by first quarter of 2019, the area should have been cleared of obstructions and secured,” Matta said.

He noted the site was purchased by the provincial government for said purpose, and its management and possession had already been turned over to the PAF earlier.

Among those present in the forum were Lt. Gen. Rozzano D. Briguez AFP, Commander of WESCOM; Maj. Gen. Restituto F. Padilla Jr., AFP, deputy chief of staff for Plans J-5; and Maj. Gen. Jose Tanjuan Jr., who represented Kintanar.

In July 2018, Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez signed a memorandum of agreement with Lt. General Galileo Gerard Kintanar Jr., the PAF commanding general, for the establishment of the base that would take care of security in the southern border.

Alvarez said the area might also possibly serve as the location of a proposed airport to be constructed in southern Palawan to increase tourism influx.

Cops nab MILF man wanted for kidnap

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 30): Cops nab MILF man wanted for kidnap

ARRESTED. Mugshot of kidnapping suspect Maoti Salik who was arrested Thursday in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao. (Photo courtesy of CIDG-ARMM)
DATU ODIN SINSUAT, Maguindanao – Police arrested on Thursday a member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) with a warrant of arrest for kidnapping carrying an unlicensed firearm.

Maoti Salik, a resident of Barangay Langeban, Kabuntalan, Maguindanao has been turned over to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group or CIDG-Maguindanao field office, according to Chief Inspector Sabri Lakibul, Datu Odin Sinsuat (DOS) town police chief.

Lakibul said Salik, 53, paid a visit to a relative now detained at Datu Odin Sinsuat lock-up cell Thursday. A jail guard identified as PO2 Shahid Kasim, however, noticed that the suspect had a pistol tucked on his waist.

When checked, police recovered from Salik an MILF identification document and an unlicensed .45-caliber pistol with ammunition.

Lakibul said when checked further with the CIDG, the police found out that Salik has a standing warrant of arrest issued by RTC-Branch 13 Judge Bansawan Ibrahim for kidnapping charges.

Police records show that Salik is a member of the Pentagon kidnap-for-ransom group that victimized rich Filipino-Chinese businessmen during the 1990s in Central Mindanao.

Chief Supt. Graciano Mijares, police director for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), and has jurisdiction over Maguindanao, lauded the Datu Odin Sinsuat police for Salik's arrest.

Lanao Moro leaders show support for BOL

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 30): Lanao Moro leaders show support for BOL

Sultan Usman Tantao Sarangani Sr. (on the podium), the Sultan of Uya-an and Paramount Sultan of Mindanao, tells the traditional leaders of the two Lanao provinces that they must unite and work together for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) during an assembly in Barangay Poblacion, Madalum town, Lanao del Sur, on Thursday, Nov. 29. (Photo by Jigger J. Jerusalem)

MADALUM, Lanao del Sur – Traditional leaders from the two Lanao provinces pledged their full support for the implementation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) during a gathering here Thursday.

Sultan Usman Sarangani Sr., the Sultan of Uya-an and reigning Paramount Sultan of Mindanao, said they support the ratification of the BOL to pave the way for the establishment of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Sarangani said the traditional leaders in the two provinces hope that the establishment of the BARMM will lead to “better and comfortable life for the Bangsamoro people.”

He also applauded the BOL for recognizing the importance of traditional leaders in the Bangsamoro society by creating mechanisms for them to play a pivotal role in promoting peace and order, and conflict resolution.

“(We) will also work for the unification of the traditional leaders and encourage the search for solutions to the differences among the traditional leaders,” Sarangani added.

While they have no political power, traditional leaders remain widely respected and regarded as cultural representatives of the Meranao people.

Sarangani said the assembly attended by some 500 traditional leaders, which he noted was the first of its kind in Lanao, was a venue for them to "amplify" the provisions of the BOL to make them understand and appreciate its provisions.

He said traditional leaders are grateful to President Rodrigo Duterte for advancing the BOL and for working towards peace and development in Muslim Mindanao.

Adan Abdullah, who represented the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) during the assembly, said he will convey to the MILF leadership the inputs of the traditional leaders on BOL, as well as their support for its ratification.

Abdullah noted that traditional leaders “have the responsibility to support governance,” even as he thanked them for “helping push the idea of self-governance and self-determination”.

Among the speakers in the assembly include Aleem Rasad Bacaraman, president of the Haitul Ulama Bangsamoro; Commissioner Said Sheik of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission; and Ali Solaiman, of the MILF Central Committee.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Army: We’ll observe rules of engagement

From the Visayan Daily Star (Nov 29): Army: We’ll observe rules of engagement

The top leadership of the Philippine Army in Negros Island yesterday assured that people their attacks against the New People’s Army will be guided by the “Rules of Engagement”.

The assurance was made by Col. Benedict Arevalo, 303 rd Infantry Brigade commander, in the wake of the statement of President Rodrigo Duterte that he will create his own Sparrow unit to counter the assassination activities of the NPA hitmen.

“Let me assure you the people of Negros Occidental, that there is nothing to worry about, Arevalo, who supervises two Army battalions in Negros Occidental, said.

Arevalo who stressed that they will follow the Rules of Engagement, said that if there is one group that should be worried, it should be the NPA terrorist organization and not the peace-loving and law-abiding citizens of Negros.

“We will continue our mission to attack and hit the New People’s Army to end their violence and extortion activities, guided by the Rules of Engagement,” he added.

The Leonardo Panaligan Command described the creation of Duterte Death Squad against the Special Partisan Unit of the NPA, supporters and suspected NPA members a “desperate move” of the President.

Rebel spokesman Ka JB Regalado of central Negros, announced in a press statement that the act of Duterte in Bohol, in connection with the creation of death squads, only showed that he is the mastermind of the extra-judicial killings of 20,000 victims of Oplans Tokhang, Tambays, activists, and massacre of farmers.

Regalado also admitted that they were behind the series of sniping operations in central and southern Negros, of which the latest victim was a member of the Philippine Army in Hinobaan, Negros Occidental.

From October 30 to Nov. 14, Regalado reported that they were able to launch five series of successful sniping operations where one Army soldier died, while three others, including a policeman and two government militiamen, were injured in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental, and Isabela in Negros Occidental.

He added that the NPA is not afraid to be attacked by government forces, stressing that their morale is high and will frustrate the military tactical offensives.

To be attacked by the enemy is a good thing, Regalado said, in response to the statement of Arevalo, who ordered his troops to attack the NPA, and not just wait to be attacked.

Military says mandatory ROTC to stop NPA recruitment in schools

From Rappler (Nov 29): Military says mandatory ROTC to stop NPA recruitment in schools

'Mas mabibigyan natin ng kamalayan, ng kamulatan ang ating kababayan, lalong-lalo na ang ating kabataan,' says Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Edgard Arevalo

COMMUNIST REBELS. New People's Army guerrillas march in Davao City to celebrate the 48th founding anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines in December 2016. File photo by Edwin Espejo

COMMUNIST REBELS. New People's Army guerrillas march in Davao City to celebrate the 48th founding anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines in December 2016. File photo by Edwin Espejo

The proposal to make the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program mandatory for students would prevent the recruitment of communist rebels, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Thursday, November 29.

Speaking at a press briefing in Camp Aguinaldo on Thursday, November 29, AFP spokesman Brigadier General Edgard Arevalo said ROTC would greatly help in stopping recruitment to the New People's Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

"Napakalaking bagay po niyan na maitutulong sapagkat kagaya ng nabanggit ko kanina, isa po sa mga training, isa sa mga subjects na matututunan under the ROTC program ay sinasabi nating threats to national security," Arevalo said.
(That would be a big help because as I said earlier, part of the training, the subjects to be learned under ROTC would be what we call threats to national security.)

Mandatory ROTC?  This comes after President Rodrigo Duterte called on Congress to require ROTC for students in grades 11 and 12.
There are already pending bills filed in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Duterte also said he is considering issuing an executive order on the matter.

To battle communist recruitment?  Regarded as the longest running communist insurgency in Asia, the conflict between the Philippine government and the CPP recently came to a boil after the government declared the NPA as a terrorist group over the killings of cops and soldiers.

Back in October, AFP chief General Carlito Galvez Jr had said the communists were supposedly recruiting students from prominent universities for an alleged plot to oust Duterte.

Arevalo said the AFP looks forward to "nationalism" being instilled in students so that they would not join the NPA.

"Dito po sa ROTC program na ito...mas mabibigyan natin ng kamalayan, ng kamulatan ang ating kababayan, lalong-lalo na ang ating kabataan," he said. (Through this ROTC program...we would be able to raise consciousness and enlighten our countrymen, especially our youth.)

Deployment concerns? Arevalo attempted to suppress fears about students being sent to the front lines.

Reservists, he emphasized, don't necessarily need to be in the battlefield. They could help in relief operations and offer technical knowledge during crises.

"Meron pa po tayong regular force, kami po 'yun, kami po ang pangunahing haharap sa mga hamon at sa challenges (We still have a regular force, that's us, we'll primarily face the threats and challenges) when it comes to military operations. But members or graduates of ROTC will form part of the reservist force na puwede pong tawagin (which we can call upon)," Arevalo said.

5 rebels surrender in Impasugong, Bukidnon

From the Mindanao Times (Nov 28): 5 rebels surrender in Impasugong, Bukidnon

Five alleged members of the New People's Army surrendered to the 8th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Poblacion, Impasugong, Bukidnon, on Sunday.
Lt. Col. Ronald Illana, commander of the 8th Infantry Battalion, said alias Lucas, 49, resident of Loreto, Agusan del Sur, surrendered one Cal. 30 M1 Garand rifle; alias GM, 22, turned in a Cal. 22 rifle; alias Pigong, 18, brought his Cal. 22 rifle; alias Boy, 25, surrendered one Cal. 22 rifle; and alias Cobra, 24, brought his 9mm sub-machine gun.
He said all came from Cabanglasan, Bukidnon.
They allegedly told the soldiers that they could no longer stand the difficulty of a life on the run. They also got fed up with the false promises of their leaders.
“The Community Support Program opened the door for our misguided brothers to return to the mainstream,” Illana said. “Every day, more and more NPA members are surfacing to avail of the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program.”
Meanwhile, Col. Edgardo De Leon, commander of the 403rd Infantry Brigade, cited the increasing number of NPA fighters who surrendered. He attributed this to the effectiveness of peace dialogues at the community level.
“With the direct dialogues of the local government units, along with the Army, with the families and friends of the rebels, we arrive at an agreement quicker,” De Leon said. “That's why we are optimistic that more rebels will surrender, especially in the Christmas season.”

8IB welcomes surrender of NPA couple in Bukidnon

From the Philippine Information Agency (Nov 29): 8IB welcomes surrender of NPA couple in Bukidnon

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NPA couple a.k.a. Alay, 28 years old and his 26-year old wife alias Peme of CPP-NPA SECOM89 surrender to 8th Infantry “Dependable” Battalion at the Philippine Army camp in Impasugong town with their two kids— six-year-old daughter and 4-month old son. Alay said they are fed up of running away from the government forces and could no longer endure the shivering-cold and starvation in the mountains. The couple yielded three M16 and one long magazine rifles with rounds of ammunition. (1Lt. Lorjohn D. Hernandez, CMO, 8IB, 4ID, PA/PIA Bukidnon)
IMPASUGONG, Bukidnon — The 8th Infantry “Dependable” Battalion (8IB), Philippine Army, welcomed the recent surrender of a New People’s Army (NPA) couple in Bukidnon.

Known to his comrades as Alay/Cans/Batcom, 28 years old, and his 26-year-old wife alias Peme were at ease coming to the 8IB Army Camp in Impasugong town with their two kids.

In a custodial talk, ‘Alay’ said they are operating in the hinterlands of Cabanglasan, Bukidnon under
Section Committee 89 (SECOM89) of North Central Mindanao Regional Command (NCMRC) as a combatant; while his wife is serving as a medic in CPP-NPA’s medical corps.

‘’We are tired of running away from government forces and could no longer endure the shivering-cold and starvation in the mountains with our 6-year old daughter and 4-month old son. Hence, we decided to give up. We are now bringing these firearms, the instruments of violence. The NPAs used these in murdering innocent Lumads,” Alay said.

Alay’s wife Peme also recounted the hardships within the NPA organization like repeated quarrels and disagreements among higher CPP-NPA ranks, which harshly affect the members.

The couple yielded four rifles—one M16 and one long magazine—with rounds of ammunition.

Lt. Col. Ronald Illana, 8IB commanding officer, said the couple is just victims of deception.

’’We do understand that these people are just victims of NPA’s agitation and false promises. With that in mind, we encourage them to surrender and see the efforts of the government to attain peace as it unfolds before them,” he said.

Newly installed 403rd Brigade Commander Col. Edgardo De Leon, who co-chairs the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) committee, meanwhile, assured that the 403Bde would help ex-rebels’ E-CLIP enrolment for reintegration in mainstream society.

“Alay and Peme, you’ve made the right decision. This will assure better future of your children. Now that you rejected violence and embraced peace, the government will assist you. With this, I also urge those NPA terrorists who are thinking of coming back to the folds of law to never hesitate of surrendering because I assure you that 403Bde in Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental will help you avail of the government’s E-CLIP,” De Leon Said.

Likewise, 4th Infantry Division Commander Major General Ronald Villanueva said the NPA terrorists are now heeding the government’s call to surrender.

“They have seen the NPA’s rotten system. Good thing this couple decided to reject the NPA’s failed ideology. With this decision, they will be able to relive the joy of family closeness this Christmas season; the start of a life away from chaos, hunger, and fear of losing lives in an encounter with the government troops who continuously conduct security operations,” Maj. Gen. Villanueva said. (1Lt. Lorjohn D. Hernandez, CMO, 8IB, 4ID, PA/PIA Bukidnon)

Cebuano News: 403rd Brigade mi-abiabi sa bag-ong commander

From the Philippine Information Agency (Nov 29): Cebuano News: 403rd Brigade mi-abiabi sa bag-ong commander

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MALAYBALAY CITY, Bukidnon — Gi-abiabi sa 403rd Infantry “Peacemaker” Brigade (403Bde) sa Philippine Army bag-ohay lang ang ilang bag-ong kumander.

Si Col. Edgardo Y. De Leon milingkod isip brigade kumander, nga maoy mopuli ni Brigadier General Eric C. Vinoya, atol sa seremonya nga gipahigayon sa Brigade Grandstand, Camp Osito Bahian, Malaybalay City.

Sa wala pa ang iyang bag-ong ‘assignment’ sa Bukidnon, si De Leon nagsilbi isip Chief of Staff sa 4th Infantry "Diamond" Division, Philippine Army, Camp Evangelista, Cagayan de Oro City.

Sa iyang pakigpulong, si De Leon nag-awhag sa tanang katawhan sa pagtabang kaniya diha sa pagtukod sa Army nga takus sa pagsalig sa katawhan.

"Uban sa matinabangon nga katawhan, ang inyong Army nagsaad sa usa ka serbisyo nga labaw sa tawag sa katungdanan, usa ka serbisyo nga dunay dedikasyon, pagpaubos ug propesyonalismo," miingon si De Leon.

Sa kasamtangan, si ‘outgoing brigade commander’ Brig. Gen. Eric C. Vinoya, nga mobalhin isip Assistant Division Commander sa 3rd Infantry Division sa isla sa Visayas, mipadayag sa iyang hugot nga pagtuo ug pagsalig sa bag-ong kumander nga makasugakod sa daghang mga hagit nga atubangon niini diha sa iyang mando aron matuman ang mga nagkalainlaing misyon sa Philippine Army.

Gipasalamatan ni Vinoya ang mga sibilyan, mga opisyal sa lokal nga kagamhanan, ang mga sundalo sa 403rd Brigade, ug ang iyang pamilya.

"Ang akong pag-alagad sa 403rd Brigade usa ka dakong dungog ug pribilehiyo sa akong pag serbisyo isip sundalo, busa dili nako kini malimtan sa tibuok kong kinabuhi,” miingon si Vinoya.

Ang 4ID Commander sa Philippine Army nga si Major Gen. Si Ronald C. Villanueva, nga nangulo sa seremonyas, miingon nga ang duha ka mga opisyal naghimo sa sumbanan nga serbisyo ug nagpakita sa ilang pagkamaayo nga lider.

"Usa ka kadungganan ug oportunidad nga ako manamilit sa usa ka talagsaon nga opisyal nga nagserbisyo sobra sa duha ka tuig sulod sa 403Bde alang sa dakong kaayohan. Ingon man usab, kalipay nako nga kita mo-abiabi sa bag-ong kumander nga si Col. De Leon, diin maoy modala sa 403rd Command ug padayon nga manguna sa kritikal nga misyon sa 403Bde alang sa kalinaw sa tibuok nasud," matud ni Villanueva.

Ang 403rd Infantry 'Peacemaker' Brigade anaa ubos sa mando sa 4th Infantry Division sa Army. Usa sa mga responsibilidad niini mao ang pagplano ug pagpatuman sa ‘contingency’ nga suporta alang sa hiniusang operasyon ug maghatag sa ‘contingency support’ sa tibuok nasud. (RLRB/PIA Bukidnon)

Cebuano News: Magti-ayon'g NPA misurender

From the Philippine Information Agency (Nov 29): Cebuano News: Magti-ayon'g NPA misurender

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IMPASUGONG, Bukidnon -- Gi-abiabi sa 8th Infantry "Dependable" Battalion (8IB), Philippine Army, ang magti-ayon nga NPA sa Bukidnon nga misurender bag-ohay lang.

Si alyas “Alay/Cans/Batcom,” 28 anyos uban sa iyang 26-anyos nga asawa nga si alyas “Peme” desidido nga mi-surender sa 8IB Philippine Army Camp sa lungsod sa Impasugong uban ang iyang 6 ka tuig nga babayeng anak ug 4 ka bulan nga lalaking anak.

Sa usa ka ‘custodial’ nga pag-abiabi, miingon si Alay nga naglihok sila sa kabukiran sa Cabanglasan, ubos sa Section Committe 89 (SECOM89) sa North Central Mindanao Regional Command (NCMRC) isip usa ka ‘combatant’, samtang ang iyang asawa nagsilbi isip ‘medic’ sa ‘Medical Corps’ sa CPP-NPA.

''Gikapoy na mi sa tinago-tago nga panginabuhi ug paglikay-likay sa mga sundalo. Dili na namo ma-agwanta ang kagutom ug katugnaw sa kabukiran uban sa among duha ka gagmay’ng anak. Busa nakahukom mi nga mo-surender. Ug dala namo karon kining mga armas nga maoy gihimong instrumento sa kapintas sa mga NPA. Mao kini ang ilang gigamit sa pagpatay sa mga inosenteng lumad,” matud ni Alay.

Midugang usab pag-istorya si Peme nga apektado sila sa mga panag-away sa mga lider sulod sa organisasyon sa NPA sama sa balik-balik nga panagbingkil, away, ug panagsumpaki sa han-ay sa mga labaw sa grupong CPP-NPA.

Dala sa magtiayon aron i-surender ang upat ka mga pusil—usa ka M16 ug usa ka taas nga magasin—nga adunay mga bala.

Lt. Col. Si Ronald Illana, commanding officer sa 8IB, miingon nga ang magtiayon mga biktima lamang sa pagpanglingla.

''Nasabtan namo nga kining mga tawhana biktima lamang sa kasamok ug bakak nga mga saad sa NPA. Tungod niini, gi-awhag ang atong mga kaigsoonan nga anaa pa sa bukid nga ilang itugyan sa kagamhanan ang ilang pagbag-o ug tan-awon ang mga paningkamot sa gobyerno diha sa pagkab-ot sa kalinaw,” si Illana miingon.

Sa kasamtangan, ang bagong na-‘install’ nga 403rd Brigade Commander nga si Col. Edgardo De Leon, diin maoy co-chair sa “Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) nga komitiba, mipasalig nga ang 403Bde makatabang sa mga misurender pinaagi sa pagpa-enrol kanila diha sa 'E-CLIP aron haruhay ug malinawon sila nga magpuyo sa komunidad.

"Alay ug Peme, eksakto ang inyong desisyon. Tungod niini makasiguro mo mga mas maayo ang kaugmaon sa inyong mga anak. Karon nga inyong gisalikway ang kapintas ug midawat kamo sa kalinaw, ang gobyerno motabang kaninyo. Tungod niini, giawhag usab nako ang mga teroristang NPA nga nagplano nga mobalik sa sabakan sa balaod nga dili magpanuko sa pagsurender tungod kay gipasalig nako nga ang 403Bde sa Bukidnon ug Misamis Oriental makatabang kaninyo nga makapahimulos sa E-CLIP sa gobyerno," si De Leon miingon.

Subay niini, si 4th Infantry Division Commander Major General Ronald Villanueva miingon nga ang ubang mga teroristang NPA karon mi-uyon na sa mga panawagan sa gobyerno nga mosurender.

"Nakita nila ang dunot nga sistema sa NPA. Maayo kaayo kay gihunahuna sa magtiayon nga isalikway ang napakyas nga ideolohiya sa NPA. Uban niini nga desisyon, magkahi-usa na unya sila sa ilang mga pamilya ilabi na ang kalipay diha sa kasaulogan sa Pasko,” dugang ingon ni Maj. Gen. Villanueva. (1Lt Lorjohn D. Hernandez, CMO, 8IB, 4ID, PA / PIA Bukidnon)

Satur Ocampo, party-list rep held for questioning in Davao Norte

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 29): Satur Ocampo, party-list rep held for questioning in Davao Norte

Police and military authorities have held for questioning former party-list representative Satur Ocampo and ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro in Talaingod, Davao del Norte since Wednesday evening.

Chief Insp. Jason Baria, Police Regional Office 11 (Davao) spokesperson, confirmed on Thursday that Ocampo, Castro, 17 adults and 14 minors are being held for possible breach of the Republic Act No. 7610, a law that provides special protection against child abuse, exploitation, and discrimination.

Ocampo and Castro were in town following reports that children and teachers of the Salugpungan Ta Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning School in Sitio Nasilaban, Barangay Palma Gil, were fleeing due to alleged forcible closure of the schools.

Karapatan said the rescue of the children were part of its "National Humanitarian Mission" in Talaingod.

Karapatan demanded the immediate release of members of the mission and lumad students and teachers fleeing from military operations.

Karapatan claimed there were at least 79 individuals, including 29 students and 12 teachers, of the lumad schools who are being held by the police, the Army's 56th Infantry Battalion, and Talaingod's Municipal Social Work and Development Office.

Baria, however, said there were only 14 minors and 19 adults.

Concerns raised

The incident also raised concerns from local officials and even in nearby Compostela Valley province.

Compostela Valley Governor Jayvee Tyron Uy confirmed he received a report of five vans traveling to Talaingod with minors coming from the different provinces in Mindanao.

Uy said he was worried about the welfare of the children, adding that a mother came up to him to report that her child, who was part of the Karapatan's "humanitarian mission", has been missing for five days.

"I thank the authorities for they were able to flag down the vehicles and found the children," the governor said in a press briefing on the sidelines of the Kultura Mindanao launch in Davao City Thursday.

Uy also condemned the group that brought the children in Talaingod, a known hotspot for New People's Army (NPA) activities.

Army joins ARMM medical, dental outreach in Maguindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 29): Army joins ARMM medical, dental outreach in Maguindanao

HEALTH MISSION. An Army dentist attends to a patient during the Nov. 26-28 outreach program of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao - Humanitarian Emergency Action Response Team in Maguindanao. (Photo by 6ID).

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao -- Government forces are not only for armed conflicts, but they primarily help the government save lives by participating in medical missions for indigent residents, an Army official here said Thursday.

Major Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Army's 6th Infantry Division based in Maguindanao, said that with major armed conflicts declining due to the improved peace and order situation, soldiers under the division have joined medical and dental outreach programs of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

“Army doctors and nurses joined the ARMM People’s Day activities for the past three days that ended Wednesday in Maguindanao,” he said.

The soldiers, equipped with medical equipment and led by 40th Infantry Battalion commander, Lt. Col. Edgar Catu, spearheaded the medical mission in partnership with ARMM-Humanitarian Emergency Action Response Team (HEART).

They served more than 500 indigent residents of Raja Buayan and its near environs in Maguindanao in the health services conducted at the municipal gymnasium on November 26-28.

Myrna Jo Henry, ARMM HEART spokesperson, said the outreach program served 250 residents who availed of medical check-ups, 150 tooth extractions, 50 circumcisions, and 50 free haircuts.

Major Arvin John Encinas, speaking for the 6ID, said the Army's participation in the outreach activity seeks to strengthen its alliance among the different stakeholders of the government and the communities.

Sobejana said it also aims to strengthen stakeholder’s relationship where trust and confidence are built among the populace and the military as partners for peace and development.

Army condemns NPA attack in Northern Samar

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 29): Army condemns NPA attack in Northern Samar

The Philippine Army condemned the New People’s Army (NPA) for attacking two soldiers tasked to do community work in conflict-stricken villages in Las Navas, Northern Samar.

In a statement issued Thursday, the Army’s 8th Infantry Division based in Catbalogan City, Samar said that the attack is proof that communist rebels are anti-development.

“The two soldiers were in the area not to combat, but to help transform conflict-affected areas into progressive and sustainable communities through collective and collaborative efforts with local government units and line agencies,” the Army said.

Both soldiers were tasked to buy food supplies in the market in San Miguel village late Tuesday afternoon. While on their way back, they were shot several times by assailants. Members of the NPA’s special partisan unit were behind the attack, according to the military.

Corporal Jaype Malbas was wounded while private 1st class Rommel Debuton died upon arrival at the nearest hospital, according to the military report.

The Army launched hot-pursuit operations to apprehend these terrorists.

In his statement, Farnacio conveyed his condolences to the bereaved family, friends, and loved ones of the soldier who died while performing his duty.”

“Your Army will be more steadfast in its campaign, now, that we are under a state of national emergency, in suppressing lawless elements from sowing fear in the hearts and minds of vulnerable communities located in remote areas. These terrorists are depriving the people to act, think, and live normally,” Farnacio added.

Malacañang issued on Nov. 22, 2018 Memorandum Order No. 32 declaring a state of national emergency in the provinces of Samar, Negros Oriental and Occidental, and Bicol Region amid "sporadic acts of violence allegedly committed by lawless groups particularly.”

The order, titled “Reinforcing the guidelines for the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police in the implementation of measures to suppress and prevent lawless violence,” ordered the Department of National Defense and the Department of the Interior and Local Government to coordinate with each other in deploying the troops.

New AFP chief to come from PH Army

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 29): New AFP chief to come from PH Army

Outgoing Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Gen. Carlito Galvez's replacement has already been selected, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Wednesday.

But he declined to name the officer, preferring to let President Rodrigo Duterte make the announcement himself.

"Meron na pero hindi ko sasabihin kasi ayaw ko namang pangunahan si Presidente. Antayin na lang natin ang official announcement. Suffice to say he will come from the Philippine Army. (A new AFP chief has been selected but I refuse to pre-empt the President. Let us just wait for the official annoucement. Suffice to say he will from the Philippine Army)," Lorenzana said in a message to reporters.

Galvez, a member of Philippine Military Academy Class of 1985, is scheduled to retire from active military service on Dec. 12 after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56.

PRRD won't put OPAPP under military control

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 29): PRRD won't put OPAPP under military control

Malacañang on Thursday denied allegations made by Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Maria Sison that President Rodrigo R. Duterte has plans to put the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) under military control.

“I’m surprised even that you are giving credit to Joma Sison,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo told a reporter in a Palace briefing.

Panelo said
Sison is “living in a different world” and “has lost touch with his men.”

“He started with the beautiful concept but 50 years hence, wala. Walang nangyayari, ni hindi na siya sinusunod ng mga tao niya. Otherwise kung sinusunod siya, sana walang mga violations ng ceasefire (Nothing. Nothing is happening, his men don’t even listen to him. Otherwise, if they did, there wouldn’t be any violations of ceasefire),” Panelo said.

Sison, who is currently in exile in the Netherlands, said there still a lot of leeway for corruption in OPAPP because of the arbitrariness in selecting beneficiaries and fabricating beneficiaries

He added that the resignation of Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza showed Duterte's "intolerance toward peace negotiations and his mania for all-out war."

No replacement yet

Panelo, meanwhile, said Duterte has yet to appoint Dureza’s replacement.

“Wala pa siyang sinabi (He has not mentioned anything yet). We’ll let you know as soon he appointed one,” Panelo said.

He also assured that charges will be filed against the two dismissed OPAPP executives, Undersecretary and PAMANA National Program Manager Ronald Flores and OPAPP Assistant Secretary for Support Services and PAMANA Concerns Yeshter Donn Baccay due to corruption.

On Tuesday night, Duterte announced that he has accepted Dureza’s resignation and that he has dismissed his two subordinates, Flores and Baccay.

Soldiers in Escalante NPA clash receive medals

From the Sun Star-Bacolod (Nov 29): Soldiers in Escalante NPA clash receive medals

SAGAY. Colonel Benedict Arevalo, commanding officer of the Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade, pins a medal to one of the troopers who encountered the suspected rebels in Escalante City on November 16. (Brown Eagle)

SOLDIERS who encountered suspected rebels in Escalante City, Negros Occidental on November 16 were recognized at the 79th Infantry Battalion (IB) headquarters in Barangay Bato, Sagay City on Monday, November 26.

Colonel Benedict Arevalo, commanding officer of the 303rd Infantry Brigade (IBde) based in Murcia town, awarded the members of the 79th IB and 6th Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) with military commendation medals.

“As a commander, I want to ensure that my troops will always be in the highest state of morale by giving them medals and due recognition for what they've worked hard for because well-motivated troops can easily win the campaign against the New People’s Army (NPA),” Arevalo said.

The SAF personnel were also recognized as a manifestation of the government forces strong collaboration and commitment to put an end to NPA's extortion and violence in the province.

“The Army and police in Negros will continue to strengthen collaboration to fight the terrorist NPAs,” Arevalo said.

On November 16, military troopers and SAF personnel engaged in a firefight with suspected rebels in Barangay Washington, resulting in the reported deaths of two rebels.

Following the reported sightings of armed men in the village, the military conducted clearing operations in the area when they encountered about 10 alleged NPA members, who were reportedly seeking refuge at one of the houses.

Army exec in Bicol says more troops needed to crush NPA

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 29): Army exec in Bicol says more troops needed to crush NPA

A top military officer admitted that the deployment of more troops in the Bicol region is needed in the fight against insurgency.

Brigadier General Greg Almerol, Sorsogon-based 903rd Infantry Brigade commander, said he supports the pronouncement of President Duterte, of including Bicol region in Memorandum Order 32 as one of the areas which need additional forces “to suppress lawless violence.”
“The incidents of violence recorded in Bicol region is high for the past few months, particularly the attacks by New People’s Army (NPA) in Camarines provinces,” he said.

Almerol also admitted that Bicol lacks Army troops because most of the soldiers here have been deployed in Mindanao.

“We need additional armed forces to address the threats,” he said.

Asked about the strength of the New People’s Army and other terrorist groups in the region, Almerol said: “Actually they are almost eliminated, but we really need more troops in order to fasten the time frame in crushing them.”

On Monday, 107 members of the NPA operating in the towns of Claveria and Aroroy in Masbate province surrendered to authorities, turning over 19 firearms.

1 soldier killed, another wounded in NPA ambush in Northern Samar

From Rappler (Nov 29): 1 soldier killed, another wounded in NPA ambush in Northern Samar

NPA rebels attack two soldiers buying food in a market

AMBUSHED. Corporal Jape V. Malbas of the Community Support Program team of the 20th Infantry Battalion is being treated for wounds sustained in an ambush. Photo courtesy of DPAO, 8ID

AMBUSHED. Corporal Jape V. Malbas of the Community Support Program team of the 20th Infantry Battalion is being treated for wounds sustained in an ambush. Photo courtesy of DPAO, 8ID

CATBALOGAN CITY, Philippines – Less than a week after President Rodrigo Duterte declared a state of national emergency, members of the Special Partisan Unit (SPARU) of the New People’s Army ambushed two soldiers of the 20th Infantry Battalion, Tuesday afternoon, November 27, in barangay San Miguel, Las Navas in Northern Samar.

Through Memorandum Order No. 32, Duterte ordered Friday, November 23, the deployment of more soldiers and police to the Bicol region and the provinces of Samar, Negros Oriental, and Negros Occidental to "suppress lawless violence and acts of terror"

Captain Francis Agno, spokesperson of the 8th Infantry Division Philippine Army based here, told Rappler that PFC Rommel C. Debuton and Corporal Jape V. Malbas of the Community Support Program team of the 20th IB were on their way to buy food in the Barangay San Miguel public market when they were ambushed by members of the SPARU of the NPA,

Debuton was killed while Malbas was wounded in the attack.

Malbas is now being treated in the hospital.

Soldiers of the 20th IB are now hunting the NPA rebels in the mountainous part of Las Navas.

Meanwhile, Major General Raul Farnacio, army chief of Eastern Visayas extended his condolences to the family of Debuton whom he said "offered and sacrificed his life while performing his duty."

According to Farnacio, Northern Samar is a "traditional hot spot area" and "these terrorists are depriving the people to act, think and live normally."

"Your Army will be more steadfast in its campaign, now, that we are under a state of national emergency, in suppressing lawless elements from sowing fear in the hearts and minds of vulnerable communities located in remote areas," Farnacio said.

Officials: Philippines to Launch Military Operations against Militants

From BenarNews (Nov 26): Officials: Philippines to Launch Military Operations against Militants

Members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters rest inside their stronghold in the southern Philippine province of Maguindanao, Aug. 17, 2011.

Members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters rest inside their stronghold in the southern Philippine province of Maguindanao, Aug. 17, 2011. AP                    

The Philippine military said Monday it would conduct sustained operations to flush radical groups out of their jungle camps ahead of the January 2019 plebiscite in the south.

Maj. Gen. Bienvenido Datuin, chief of the Armed Forces Civil Relations Service, said plans for the military operations were in the final stages, more than a year after pro-Islamic State (IS) militants were defeated in the southern city of Marawi.

“Definitely the areas controlled by the extremists will be targeted before the Jan. 21 plebiscite,” Datuin told reporters.
Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza said the military had identified 12 villages in the town of Patikul on the remote Jolo island as areas of concern; as well as several territories in central Mindanao that are known to be strongholds of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and two areas in the Lanao provinces that have been identified as camps occupied by IS-linked militants.

The plebiscite is meant to ratify the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) that was passed in July by President Rodrigo Duterte’s government, four years after Manila and the 11,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) inked a peace deal.

The BOL is aimed at giving the people in the impoverished south control over many local government functions, including taxation and education, and allowing Muslim Filipinos to incorporate Islamic law into their justice system.

It is also designed to give self-determination to the minority four million Muslims in the south by giving them powers to elect their own parliament. As part of the deal on the BOL, the MILF had also agreed to disband its fighting force.

Authorities hope that the BOL would end a nearly 40-year conflict that has killed more than 120,000 people in the country’s second-largest island of Mindanao.

The plebiscite is to take place in the predominantly Muslim provinces of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur. It will also include six towns in Lanao del Norte and the cities of Cotabato and Isabela in Basilan.

Dureza said “there are areas in these provinces that government troops find it hard to gain entry because rebels control them.”

Violence in these areas could mar the plebiscite, he said.

“The military even advised me not to go to these areas,” Dureza said. “The government will have to deal with these potential trouble makers if we have to have an orderly plebiscite in the south.”

The BIFF have so far been the largest, most-organized group that is threatening the plebiscite. Composed of more radical and younger fighters, it had broken away from the MILF when the latter opted to negotiate autonomy for Muslims in the south.

BIFF had pledged allegiance to the IS, but did not send fighters when IS-linked militants led by Isnilon Hapilon, backed by foreign fighters, seized Marawi last year. The five-month battle destroyed Marawi and left 1,200 dead, most of them militants.
Duterte had not lifted martial law he had declared in the south, saying that many militants were known to have escaped during the Marawi fighting and joined armed groups in Mindanao’s vast jungle areas.

Two suspected Abu Sayyaf members jailed five months over immigration offence

From The Star Online (Nov 27): Two suspected Abu Sayyaf members jailed five months over immigration offence

KOTA KINABALU: Two suspected Abu Sayyaf members, who were arrested in a nationwide police swoop on militants early this month, were sentenced to five months' jail under an immigration offence.

 The two, rubber tapper Hassan Ali, 47, and construction worker Din Abdilla, 34, were also ordered to be given a stroke of the rotan.
Both pleaded guilty before Sessions Court judge Azreena Aziz to charges under Section 6(1)(c) of the Immigration Act 1959/63 for having no documents in their possession.

The court also ordered that the duo be referred to the Immigration Department for deportation and have their biometric details recorded.
Hassan, a father of 10 children, has been living in Sabah for the last 38 years, while Din, who has six children, has been living in the state for the last 13 years.

The two, who were brought to the Kota Kinabalu courthouse Tuesday (Nov 27) under a tight security ring, were arrested on Nov 1 at Kampung Unggusan in Tenom about 200km from here during anti-terror operation by Bukit Aman.

The prosecution was led by Asst Supt Sabrina Jimius, while the duo were not represented.
On Nov 16, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun said that seven Filipino-based Abu Sayyaf Group militants and a Malaysian Islamic State member were rounded up by the federal police in anti-terror swoops in Putrajaya and Sabah.

He said that the suspects were arrested by the Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division between Oct 30 and Nov 12.

Hassan and Din were among three Filipinos arrested in Tenom whom police suspect were members of the kidnap-for-ransom group linked to the southern Philippines-based Abu Sayyaf group.