Saturday, January 13, 2018

Harnessing the human terrain: AFP embarks on ’realistic objective’ of defeating all terror groups in South this year

From the Business Mirror (Jan 13): Harnessing the human terrain: AFP embarks on ’realistic objective’ of defeating all terror groups in South this year

In Photo: President Duterte (third from left), in a camouflage uniform with a pistol tucked in his waist, arrives to visit troops in Camp Ranao in Marawi City on July 20, 2017.

The military is embarking this year on what it calls a “realistic objective” of crippling all terrorist organizations in Mindanao, including the New People’s Army (NPA), which has been categorized by President Duterte as a terror group, by capitalizing on the gains of its internal security operations in the region last year.

In fact, for most of the battle-scarred senior military commanders, “cripple” is a mild term to describe the projected after-effect of operations against all of Mindanao’s threat groups. The fitting word is “defeat,” which, ironically, has been a byword of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) against enemies of the state in past years


Members of the New People’s Army march in their guerrilla encampment tucked in the Sierra Madre Mountains southeast of Manila on November 23, 2016.

Still, for a slight change, the military top brass has reissued the overly rehashed marching orders to its troops, but this time, with confidence and with certainty of results: End the remnants of the Islamic State (IS) group, the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), with focus on its two breakaway factions aligned with the IS; and the NPA.

’Doable’ objective

Against the ASG, the mission is clear and doable, according to Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Joint Task Force Sulu, who is leading the campaign against terrorists in the southern area with wit and grit, and with brilliant operations, which the ASG may have never encountered before.

The objective, not only against the ASG, but even against all the other threat groups, becomes even clearer under the shadow and operational footsteps of martial law.

“We want it done as soon as possible, we are doing our best effort. We are trying to get their leadership,” Sobejana said as he emphasized his tested strategy of neutralizing the key leaders of the ASG that resulted in the successive surrender of terrorist fighters.

According to Sobejana, the killing of top terrorist leaders has created a domino effect down to the ranks of the ASG, which prompted a considerable number to yield after they became “headless”.

“That is our priority for now, getting their leaders, neutralizing the leaders to really fast-track the defeat of the ASG,” he said.

“We strongly believe that [defeating the ASG], especially now that we are not alone in this fight. Government officials from the governor down to the barangay captains are with us, so to us, this is very doable, very doable,” Sobejana also said.

Sobejana belongs to the crème dela crème of warriors in the AFP, as he is a Medal of Valor awardee, along with Brig. Gen. Custodio Parcon, who is heading the campaign against the ASG in Tawi-Tawi, being the head of Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi.

Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command commander Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. said he will push his men not only to defeat the ASG, but even the BIFF and the NPA in Central Mindanao and neutralize any remaining member of the IS.

He added, though, that the NPA, with its “insignificant” number, is being held at bay in his operational jurisdiction.

“That is our goal for the year, we will do it, it can be done,” said Galvez, who joined other senior military commanders for the traditional New Year’s call on Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana early this week.

While there had been reports of foreign fighters sauntering into Mindanao in support of their local IS colleagues, Galvez and Lorenzana said the military is yet to catch one, although the reports of such foreign presence are being continuously validated.

Sulu redeployment
Just before he embarked on his trip from Mindanao to Manila for the New Year’s call to the defense secretary at Camp Aguinaldo, Galvez has redeployed 11 battalions to Sulu to hasten the operations there against the ASG, which is headed by Radullan Sahiron, considered the emir of the terrorist group.

The battalions were pulled out from Marawi City, where they have been deployed last year at the height of the operations against the IS and its affiliate, the Maute Group.

Galvez said the ASG in Sulu was already on the verge of collapse last year as a result of the successive operations by Joint Task Force Sulu, which killed a number of the group’s key leaders, although the trend was somewhat aborted by the pullout of soldiers.

He said the redeployment of the 11 battalions should send the ASG into its demise, especially with the objective of neutralizing its remaining leaders within the year.

300+ ASG ’neutralized’

A report released by Galvez’s command, through its spokesman, Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay, said that a total of 352 ASG members were neutralized last year, as the Joint Task Forces Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi and Zamboanga under Sobejana, Parcon, Brig. Gen. Juvymax Uy and Col. Leonel Nicolas, respectively, intensified their operations against the ASG.

Of the number, 144 have yielded to government forces, which represented 41 percent of the neutralized bandits.

The report also said that a total of 223 firearms were “recovered, seized and surrendered to the joint task forces.”

The four task forces also logged a total of 53 encounters with the ASG.

In Central Mindanao, the Joint Task Force Central under Maj. Gen. Arnel dela Vega also neutralized 243 members of the BIFF last year.

A total of 38 firearms were recovered and seized by the task force, which recorded a total of 44 firefights with the terrorist group.

The Western Mindanao Command has six task forces.

Cutting NPA force by half

While the military commanders in Mindanao are eyeing to end all terror groups in the region within the year, AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero has drawn a “modest” goal against the NPA around the country by aiming to cut its forces by at least half of its present number.

Guerrero said that currently, the guerrillas number to about 3,700.

The chief of staff ordered all area commands whose operational jurisdictions list the presence of rebels to sustain and intensify their operations against the group.

The head of the Armed Forces Eastern Mindanao Command, Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal, has already ordered his troops to resume operations against the NPA as soon as the cease-fire with the rebels ended on January 2.

The area command reported earlier that around 45 percent, or 2,000, of the total armed members of the NPA, operate within its areas.

Lorenzana said that since martial law has been extended in Mindanao, there’s a good chance that the military could lick the communist rebels operating in the region, a belief that Guerrero shares.

The defense secretary said that since Duterte has tagged the NPA as a terrorist group, it is included in martial law’s order of battle.

Guerrero added that if the measure is not extended, as he noted the petition against it before the Supreme Court, it will significantly affect their operation.

Specifically, it will affect the conduct of checkpoints, visibility patrols and the “intensified military operations,” according to him.

In Sultan Kudarat, Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, commander of the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion, said nearly all of the rebels operating in the province are members of local tribes.

“About 90 percent of the members of the Guerrilla Front 73 of the communist terrorist organization here in Sultan Kudarat are indigenous people. This is reflected by the fact that 100 percent of the surrenders in 2017 belong to the Dulangan Manobo and T’boli tribes,” he said.

Cabunoc and his men are dealing with the rebels through a combination of “soft and strong hand” approaches, or a mixture of combat operations and community support operations.

“The decisive terrain in an insurgency is the human terrain. We need to dominate in the battle of opinion, in touching the hearts of the populace, and in getting the support of the people. To achieve this, the civil government and the military establishment must synergize their efforts toward a common goal,” he said.

Image Credits: Ace Morandante/Presidential Photographers Division, Malacañang Palace via AP, AP Photo/Aaron Favila

Forensics expert, kin of 8 Lumads killed in South Cot refute military’s “encounter” claim

From MindaNews (Jan 13): Forensics expert, kin of 8 Lumads killed in South Cot refute military’s “encounter” claim

A forensics expert and family members of the eight Lumads (Indigenous Peoples) killed last month in Barangay Ned, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato belied Saturday the military’s claim that the victims died in an encounter.

“Ang lupok halin sa military (The gunfire came from the military),” Lita Wali, sister of Datu Victor Danyan, said in a press briefing.

Dr. Benito Molino, a forensics expert who joined a fact-finding mission on January 11 and 12 said at least 300 empty and live shells of M14 and M16 rifles were recovered from the various sites where the soldiers apparently fired their weapons.

“Based on physical evidence…it appears that there was no encounter,” Molino said.

Relatives of eight Lumads (Indigenous Peoples) killed in Barangay Ned, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato on December 3, 2017 belie claims of the military that their kin were killed in an encounter. The relatives cried as they narrated what happened during a press briefing on Saturday in Koronadal City. MINDANEWS PHOTO

Danyan, chair of the Taboli-Manobo S’daf Claimants Organization (TAMASCO), was killed on December 3 in Barangay Ned’s Sitio Datal Bonlangon, which remained a ghost town as the 22 households there have remained at an evacuation center more than a month after the bloody incident.

Besides the tribal leader, also killed were his sons Artemio and Victor Jr, son-in-law Pato Ceraldo, Samuel Angkoy, Mating Balabagan-Bantal, Toto Diamante and Toto Danyan.

TAMASCO is a people’s organization formed in 2006 to reclaim the tribe’s almost 1,700-hectare ancestral domain planted with coffee by Silvicultural Industries, Inc.

The company was granted a 25-year Integrated Forest Management Agreement (IFMA) 22, which expired on December 21, 2016.

It applied for a renewal but TAMASCO did not give its consent during the Free and Prior Informed Consent process facilitated by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples.

TAMASCO, with the help of various church and legal rights groups, later discovered that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources approved another IFMA 18-2007 covering the same land.

Aside from struggling to reclaim their land planted with coffee, tribal leader Danyan and his group also opposed the entry of coal mining operations in their ancestral land.

Lita Wali cried during the press briefing as she narrated what happened on December 3.

“I was cooking lunch. We heard volleys of gunshots and my brother rushed out of the house to see what’s happening. He was gunned down. There was no exchange of gunfire,” Wali, who admitted that the elder Danyan was carrying a home-made gun, said in Ilonggo.

The fact-finding team brought Wali and several family members to the press briefing where they demanded justice for the victims.

“We will continue the fight for our ancestral land even with the death of my father,” said Tarcela, whose husband Pato Ceraldo was also killed during the military operation.

Datu Victor Danyan of Datal, Barangay Ned, Lake Sebu, chair of the T’boli-Manobo S’daf Claimant Organization (TAMASCO). File photo taken in 2007, courtesy of LRC-KSK
“We want justice for the victims,” Tarcela said.

Sister Susan Bolanio, executive director of the Oblate of Notre Dame-run Hesed Foundation, Inc., believed that the tribal leader was killed for leading the struggle to reclaim their ancestral land.

“He was deliberately targeted to silence dissent in the area,” said Bolanio, whose foundation has been helping Danyan’s community for two decades.

The fact-finding mission was composed of Hesed Foundation, Convergence of Initiatives for Environmental Justice, Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, Philippine Miserior Partnership, Inc., Legal Rights Center, Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates, Alternative Law Group, Center for Energy Ecology and Development, and Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, among others.

The mission recommended a deeper investigation into the incident, including the conduct of a national public inquiry, to render justice to the victims.

In a statement issued on December 5, Captain Arvin Encinas, 6th Infantry Division spokesperson, said soldiers from the 33rd Infantry Battalion (IB) and 27th IB “seized the largest New People’s Army (NPA) guerilla base in the boundary between South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat provinces after a two-pronged attack that commenced dawn of December 3.”

The firefight erupted at past noon when NPA terrorists engaged the troops of 27IB “near a terrorist cave hideout” in Sitio Datal Bonglangon, Encinas said.

Two soldiers from 27IB paid the ultimate sacrifice in the initial clash, while seven insurgents were killed in the running gunbattle that ensued, he added.

At the press briefing Saturday noon, Datu Dande Danyan, a relative of the slain tribal leader and now the TAMASCO chair, denied that the victims were communist rebels.

NPA rebels seize equipment owned by agribusiness firms in Davao City

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jan 13): NPA rebels seize equipment owned by agribusiness firms in Davao City
Dozens of communist rebels hijacked three pieces of heavy equipment owned by two agribusiness firms in a hinterland village here on Saturday, the police said.

Senior Insp. Ma. Teresita Gaspan, the spokesperson of the Davao City Police Office, said about 30 New People’s Army (NPA) rebels forcibly took control of two boomtruck sprayers owned by Japanese banana firm Sumitumo Fruits Corp. (Sumifru) and another boom-type sprayer truck owned by Tristar Company in Barangay Manuel Guianga in Tugbok district.

The trucks were traveling toward Barangay Tamayong in the adjacent district of Calinan when the rebels seized them at around 7:30 a.m., Gaspan said.

No details as to the condition of the drivers were given by the police spokesperson, however.

 She said police and Army units had already conducted checkpoints and also launched an operation to locate the seized equipment.

Agribusiness companies, particularly the Japanese-owned banana firm, had been regularly subjected to attacks by the NPA, with guerrillas burning vehicles, equipment and chopping down banana trees for the companies’ refusal to heed the rebels’ extortion demands, authorities said.

BIFF links with drug syndicates to raise funds: guv

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 13): BIFF links with drug syndicates to raise funds: guv

Running out of funds, the Islamic State-inspired Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Maguindanao has connected with drug syndicates and is forcing civilians to shell out money in the form of “zakat” (religious tax) to fund its armed operation, Governor Esmael Mangudadatu said Friday.

In an interview, Mangudadatu said the collection of “zakat” is supposedly voluntary and no specific amount a Moro may share for the operation of a local Mosque or place of worship.

But the BIFF has been doing it under duress,” he said. “This is happening in remote villages where poor farmers could not refuse forced taxation, otherwise, they will be harassed.”

Mangudadatu earlier told the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC), which he chairs, that BIFF members also turned to peddling illegal drugs, selling stuff in and out of Maguindanao.

The BIFF turned to illegal drug syndicates for funds while the drug lords ally with the armed group for protection in the wake of the intensified campaign against illegal drugs and drug personalities.

“It is a case of one group benefitting from the other in illegal activities,” the governor said.

To contain this problem, Mangudadatu urged the local populace not to give in to BIFF-imposed “zakat”. He urged the local officials down to the barangays to help military and police authorities contain the BIFF so their villages would improve.

“This is for the benefit of people on the ground. The government cannot do it alone. We need the support of grassroots,” he added.

During the PPOC meeting, officials from the affected towns of Shariff Aguak, Datu Unsay, Datu Saudi, Datu Hofer and Datu Salibo complained of forced taxation by the BIFF, informing the governor that many who resisted taxation were executed.

The military has repeatedly pounded BIFF positions in Maguindanao in the tri-boundaries of Datu Unsay, Datu Saudi, and Datu Hofer where the BIFF had harassed hundreds of families from Teduray communites since Dec. 25.

An estimated 800 Teduary families are currently staying in evacuation centers in the province due to the series of BIFF harassments.

23 NPA rebels surrender in Sultan Kudarat

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 13): 23 NPA rebels surrender in Sultan Kudarat

A total of 23 members of the New People’s Army’s (NPA) Guerilla Front 73 yielded to the military in nearby Senator Ninoy Aquino town Friday.

Lt. Col. Harold M. Cabunoc of the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion (IB) based here, said the rebels, belonging to the Manobo-Dulangan tribe, surrendered in two batches to the 33rd IB Alpha Company under 1st Lt. Cesar Ballado and Capt. Rogelio Agustin of the 33rd IB Charlie Company.

“They brought with them assorted firearms and explosives, including one M14 rifle, four M1 Garand rifles, one home-made Tomgram, and two pistols,” Cabunoc told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in an interview.

The 33rd IB chief said members of a village-level political wing of the communist movement, the Kilusang Rebolusyonaryong Barangay (KRB), have also surrendered together with the armed group members.

“This is a big blow to the communist movement because the Army has dismantled the political structure that is responsible for the resourcing and sustaining of the New People’s Army members who roam in the hinterlands,” Cabunoc said.

“Popular support must be removed from the insurgents to drain their resources and deny them safe havens within civilian communities,” he added.

Andit Banday, 47, heads the KRB political structure operating at the borders of Palimbang and Sen. Ninoy Aquino towns in Sultan Kudarat.

He had organized mass mobilizations in lumad communities in collaboration with communist-affiliated people's organizations and NPA cadres.

I was approached by Ka Yoyo of the Guerilla Front 73 and Sultan Main of a KALUMARAN (Kusong sa Katawhang Lumad sa Mindanao) organization,” Banday told Cabunoc after his surrender.

“They convinced me to accompany tribal members to political rallies in Koronadal, United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP Haran) in Davao City, and in the University of the Philippines,” said Banday, showing his Manilakbayan ID card.

Ulong Gongga, 60, a councilman of the KRB, said that the communist movement has not refunded, as promised, his personal expenses during the political rally in the US embassy in Manila a few years ago.

Sen. Ninoy Aquino (SNA) Mayor Randy Ecija Jr. described the surrender of the communist insurgents as a product of the effective collaboration among various uniformed services, such as the 33rd Infantry Battalion, Military Intelligence Group 12, Marine Battalion Landing Team 5, SNA PNP, and other government agencies.

Since May 2017, a total of 113 former members of the Guerilla Front 73 have surrendered to the government through the 33rd IB.

All the surrenderers belong to Manobo-Dulangan tribe living in the mountains of Sultan Kudarat and were deceived into joining the movement to oust the government.

2 Abu Sayyaf men arrested at shopping mall

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 13): 2 Abu Sayyaf men arrested at shopping mall

The Philippine National Police (PNP) arrested two suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) at a shopping mall in this city, a top police official said Saturday.

Chief Supt. Billy Beltran, Police Regional Office-9 (PRO-9) director, identified the arrested suspects as Emran Ismael, who carries the aliases of Bantong Basintin and Bantong Basiri; and, Bryan Mohammad alias Pojong Attiun.

Beltran said they were arrested at around 9:15 p.m. Friday at a shopping mall on La Purisima Street, Barangay Zone III.

He said the suspects have standing warrants of arrest for the crime of seven-count kidnapping and serious illegal detention penalized under Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines.

He said the court of Isabela City, Basilan did not recommend bail for the temporarily release of the suspects.

He said the suspects were involved in the kidnapping of seven workers of the Golden Harvest Plantation in Barangay Tairan, Lantawan, Basilan, on June 11, 2001.

The Abu Sayyaf bandits executed by beheading some of the hostages while the others have either escaped or rescued by pursuing military troops.

Beltran said the suspects were positively identified by two witnesses who are under the witness protection and security benefit program of the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Equal rules apply to all Benham Rise researchers: Palace

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 13): Equal rules apply to all Benham Rise researchers: Palace

Echoing the Department of Foreign Affairs' (DFA) explanation regarding the reported approval of a Chinese-conducted research in Benham Rise, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Saturday said all nations expressing interest to study the area faces "same rules."

"Because we have sovereign rights over Benham Rise, since it was awarded to us as an extended continental shelf, we have the right to exclusively explore and even conduct scientific research in it,” he said.

He added that the exclusive rights include "consent" if foreigners would also want to conduct research.

"For as long as we consent, it would be legal," he explained. "The secretary of Foreign Affairs said that the same rules would apply to any country that wants to conduct research in Benham Rise."

Following the law, any research activity in the area requires a Filipino on board the ship, including the sharing of their research results.

Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano earlier questioned the DFA for supposedly approving the request of a Chinese think tank to conduct a scientific research in Benham Rise. This, while allegedly rejecting a French-based organization having similar request.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano did not specifically mentioned what countries were already rejected or granted access to the continental shelf but explained there's "nothing suspicious" about approval or disapproval of scientific research.

"Whether they are Americans, Japanese, Chinese, Mongolians, Singaporeans, et cetera, if they comply, we will approve. If they do not comply, we will not approve," he said.

PH, China to hold second South China Sea dialogue on February

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 13): PH, China to hold second South China Sea dialogue on February

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has announced that the Philippines and China are seeking to meet for the second bilateral consultation mechanism (BCM) in February — a blueprint which tackles issues on the South China Sea dispute.

DFA Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano told reporters that Manila will raise all reported developments in the area during the talks.

Recently, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said they would urge the foreign affairs department to file a diplomatic protest should they "see that the Chinese are militarizing the area (that is) very near our place."

This was in response to a report of state-run China Central Television (CCTV), which bared shots of Fiery Cross Reef that appears to have been "transformed into an airbase."

Lorenzana said the Fiery Cross Reef is "very near" Reed Bank, an area in the South China Sea situated within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.

According to Cayetano, while developments on the resolution over the longstanding sea dispute are not yet one hundred percent done, the establishment of the BCM enabled the two parties to move forward.

Cayetano assured that all activities in any of the features in the contested region, including the reported airbase in the area, will be raised at the BCM.

The first meeting of the Philippines-China BCM on the South China Sea was held in Guiyang, Guizhou Province in China last May 19, 2017.

While the date for the second dialogue is set next month, the DFA has yet to announce the exact venue for the meeting.

Banking on 'good faith'

Pressed for comment on the reported structure in the South China Sea, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the "general thrust" of the Philippines "is to rely on the principle of good faith."

Roque said the scope of this principle of good faith is in China's commitment not to reclaim "new areas" or build "new artificial islands" in the strategic waters.

"So far, we believe there has not been any reason why we should doubt China's good faith on the building, on its commitment to desist from making reclamation or from building new islands," he said.

PH most attacked country in cyberspace in SE Asia: IT experts

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 14): PH most attacked country in cyberspace in SE Asia: IT experts

Digital technology experts said the Philippines is the most attacked country in cyberspace in Southeast Asia and the 10th in the entire globe.

They said Filipinos are, however, "quite not prepared" for cyber security threats, as the country ranks 37th out of 193 countries in the recent global security index report on cyber security preparedness.

These facts were revealed to media on Friday by digital technology expert Reynaldo Lugtu, member of the advisory board of Global Chamber Manila, a business network focused on growing cross-border trade and investment around the world.

Data from the United States' Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) showed that the Philippines is the 10th most attacked country worldwide on the internet.

The list enumerated Canada as the most attacked, followed by India, United Kingdom, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, China, Japan, and the Philippines.

Countries listed as the 11th to 20th most attacked were Germany, South Africa, Turkey, Spain, Hong Kong, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Singapore, Nigeria, and New Zealand.

Lugtu pointed out that the behavior of Filipinos makes them very vulnerable to online attacks. That is because many are unaware of the threats in cyberspace.

“In the legal aspect, we are ahead of other countries because we have already passed the Data Privacy Act, the E-Commerce Law, and the Anti-Wiretapping Law. However, we are low in the cultural aspect because we are not well-informed of the dangers lurking online, so that we easily open emails or click links without knowing the risks,” Lugtu explained.

Lugtu said the Global Chamber Manila is set to hold a one-day convention called "A Forum on Cyber Security and the Internet of Things" on January 31, 2018 at Enderun College in McKinley Hill, Taguig City which is aimed at making people aware of the dangers on the internet, he said.

Colin Christie, executive director of Global Chamber Manila, said the forum will be top-billed by cyber security expert Marc Goodman, author of the best-selling book “Future Crimes.” Goodman will discuss the many technological advances of the cyber world and its many pitfalls.

“Mr. Goodman is a global strategist and consultant focused on the profound change technology is having on security, business, and international affairs. He is the founder of Future Crimes Institute and Chair of the Policy, Law, and Ethics at Silicon Valley’s Singularity University. Over the past 20 years, he has built his expertise in international cybercrime and terrorism, working with organizations, such as the Interpol, the UN Counter-Terrorism Task Force, NATO, and the US Government,” Christie said.

The business group expects more than 250 representatives from both the public and private sector, including government officials and members of the academe, to attend the event.

“We hope to use this occasion to provide Filipinos with a better grasp of recent developments in the automated age, as well as the technologies and best practices, to help everyone protect themselves and their systems from attack and unauthorized access,” Christie said.

Global Chamber Manila is a thriving community of CEO’s, executives, professionals, and students in over 500 metropolitan areas around the world. The group leverages technology and uses its collective networks worldwide to help member companies grow by reducing risks, become more productive, and succeed faster.

Lorenzana: CPP 'delusional' in victory vs. gov't

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 14): Lorenzana: CPP 'delusional' in victory vs. gov't

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that it is the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) which was delusional in claiming that they could win and establish a communist government in the country.

The CPP issued this statement in wake of military pronouncements about the New People's Army’s (NPA) capability to conduct large-scale depredation and extortion this year.

Lorenzana said that this statement was issued by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) based on forward assessment backed by careful study, evidence-based evaluation and massive support from the local government units and communities

"Halos araw-araw ay nababalitaan natin ang pagbabalik-loob sa pamahalaan ng kanilang mga miyembro mula sa iba’t-ibang lalawigan at kabayanan dahil hindi na masikmura ng mga ito ang kabulukan ng kanilang sistema, at dahil na rin sa pagnanais nila ng kapayapaan at makabuluhang pagbabago, (Almost everyday, we hear news about their members all over the country who are surrendering to the government. It is because they cannot stand the rotten system of the group and they aim for peace and meaningful change.)" the DND chief said.

These series of surrenders forced the CPP-NPA to double their deceptive recruitment efforts, using social issues and twisting facts to gain support, targeting the vulnerable sectors of the society to include students, women, children, urban poor and cultural minorities, he added.

"Pero hindi na nila malilinlang kailanman ang taumbayan dahil lantad na ang kanilang totoong motibo at layunin. Hindi na nila maitatago ang ginagawa nilang pangingikil, paninira ng mga ari-arian at kabuhayan, pamimilit, pananakit at pagpatay, maging ng mga inosenteng sibilyan, (But they cannot fool the people anymore because their true motives are exposed. They cannot hide their extortion activities, destruction of property and livelihood, coercion, violence and murder of innocent civilians.)" the DND chief stressed.

Lorenzana also said that empty talk of the CPP-NPA would not diminish the troops’ resolve to finally put a stop to the communist-terrorists’ decades-long exploitation of indigenous peoples and rural communities.

"For far too long, they have impeded progress, denying the Philippines a chance to fully develop and depriving the Filipino people the opportunity to improve their quality of life," he added.

With the AFP set to conduct more intensified activities and focused operations against the CPP-NPA, Lorenzana said the government's arms remain widely open to those who wish to return to the fold of law.

"This administration is revitalizing the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) which offers livelihood assistance, immediate cash assistance and firearms remuneration to rebel returnees.

In addition, it offers a reintegration package that includes livelihood and capacity development trainings, all aimed at providing rebel returnees and their families social equity and a fair chance to be productive members of the society," the DND chief emphasized.