Thursday, January 18, 2018

5 Reds killed in clashes

From Tempo (Jan 19): 5 Reds killed in clashes

Five New People’s Army (NPA) rebels were killed following separate skirmishes with government forces in Agusan del Sur and Davao Oriental recently, a military and police report said.

One of the rebels fell in a gunbattle that occured 4 p.m. Sunday in Quarry 69, Sitio Agpan, Barangay Imelda, Bunawan, Agusan del Sur.

The report said two platoons from the Army’s 75th Infantry Battalion (75th IB) led by 2Lt. Begee de Jesus and 2Lt. John Arangoso were conducting Focused Military Operations (FMO) in the area when they encountered the rebels.
The firefight lasted some 15 minutes before the rebels disengaged, leaving their dead comrade behind.

No one on the government side was hurt in the incident.

Meanwhile, four rebels fell in the gunbattle that occurred in Sitio Palo Palo, Barangay Marayag, Lupon, Davao Oriental around 1 p.m. on Tuesday.

Capt. Andrew M. Linao, spokesperson of 701st Infantry Brigade, said the encounter occurred after patrolling troops of the 28th IB were alerted by residents of Barangay Marayag about rebels allegedly collecting revolutionary tax in the area.

“Our operating troops simply responded to the call and engaged the rebels,” Capt. Linao said.

Apart from the bodies of the four slain communist combatants, elements of the Army’s 28th Infantry battalion collected a number of low and high powered firearms as with several improvised explosive devices that were left by the rebels in the area following the skirmish.

In a statement, Brig. Gen. Reuben S. Basiao, commanding general of the 701st Brigade, lambasted the continued recruitment and extortion activities of the NPA.

“The NPA is desperate in implementing their recruitment efforts forcing the residents to attend their meetings and extorting the communities for their survival. However, the community is tired in believing their false promises realizing they will not benefit from the terrorists and would rather prefer to have the government on their side,” he said.

10 NPA rebels surrender in Albay

From GMA News Online (Jan 19): 10 NPA rebels surrender in Albay

Ten members of the New People's Army laid down their arms and surrendered to the military on Thursday.

The NPA rebels—seven men and three women—surrendered to the Philippine Army's 901st Infantry Brigade in Villahermosa, Daraga, Albay.

The rebels turned over their high-caliber firearms, among them three M-16 rifles, one shotgun, and one M-79 grenade launcher.

The NPA members were scheduled to be presented to the commander of the PA's 9th Infantry Division on Friday morning.

Lake Sebu police vow to get NPA suspects in store robbery

From the Philippine Star (Jan 19): Lake Sebu police vow to get NPA suspects in store robbery

Lake Sebu in South Cotabato is one of the country's most important watersheds. The STAR/Mandy Navasero, file

 KORONADAL CITY, Philippines — Police in Lake Sebu in South Cotabato have vowed to catch suspected rebels who robbed a store of more than P300,000 in merchandise on Wednesday.
Senior Inspector Rene Dale Cairel of the Lake Sebu municipal police said Friday that the suspects, led by Elmer Lasib, belong to Guerrilla Front 73 of the New People’s Army. 
Lasib and his men arrived at Barangay Klubi, Lake Sebu on Wednesday and looted the store of a trader named Edwin Tomayao Agnes.
They also took the personal belongings of Catholic priest Jerome Millam who was visiting Agnes at the time.

Lasib and his companions hurriedly left before personnel of the Lake Sebu municipal police and militiamen reached the area.

Cairel said they are now preparing criminal charges against Lasib based on testimonies of witnesses.

The robbery incident preceded by the entrapment two days before of an NPA member collecting money from merchants in Kidapawan City, the capital of North Cotabato. 
Crisanto Dandan Coyoca, 29, of Barangay New Corella in Makilala town in North Cotabato, was nabbed in the act of receiving “protection money” from a hardware store owner whose identity the police withheld for security reasons.

Chief Inspector Ramel Hojilla, chief of the Kidapawan City police, said the operation that led to Coyoca's arrest was planned after the merchant reported him for giving a written demand for cash.

Hojilla said Coyoca has confessed being a member of the NPA’s Guerilla Front 72, which forcibly collects money from members of the business community in North Cotabato.
Hojilla said Coyoca will be prosecuted for extortion.

DWDD: SOLCOM troops seize NPA encampment in Lopez, Quezon

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Jan 19): SOLCOM troops seize NPA encampment in Lopez, Quezon


CAMP GUILLERMO NAKAR, Lucena City (DWDD) – The Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) troopers belonging to 85th Infantry Battalion, 2nd Infantry ‘Jungle Fighter’ Division seized an NPA encampment and recovered firearms, explosives and supplies at Barangay. Jongo, Lopez, Quezon at about 10:00 AM last January 15, 2018 after a fierce fighting with communist terrorists.

The troops of 85th IB led by 1LT Randy A Bobis (CE) PA encountered an estimated 20 NPAs at the vicinity of Brgy. Jongo of Lopez town. They conducted thorough clearing of the area and seized 15 nipa huts that can accommodate more or less of 30 NPAs.

Meanwhile, the troops recovered two (2) M16A1 Rifle with Serial Number: 522869 and Serial Number: 9060661; one (1) M203 Grenade Launcher with Serial Number: 141307; six (6) containers of high explosives; blasting caps; five (5) sacks of rice; one (1) generator set and other communist terrorists’ personal belongings.

“With that number of nipa huts and the supplies found in the encounter site, they are possibly planning to conduct terroristic actions in the area targeting nearest government vital installations, AFP camps/detachments and PNP stations, said Lt Gen Danilo G Pamonag AFP, Commander, SOLCOM.”

On the other hand, pursuit operations are being conducted to pursue the fleeing NPAs and blocking possible route of withdrawal.

Lieutenant General Pamonag said that the troops of 85th IB is working closely with the Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB) to track down the communist terrorists and conduct checkpoint operations on all possible enemy routes.

“It was good that there’s no casualty during the incident and possible atrocities were preempted, we certainly condemn NPA activities targeting innocent civilians and we will continue to pursue them and prevent them from inflicting harm in the community, Lt Gen Pamonag added.”

DWDD: INTENSIFIED OPERATIONS | NOLCOM Troops Clash anew with Communist Terrorist Abra and Kalinga

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Jan 19): INTENSIFIED OPERATIONS  |  NOLCOM Troops Clash anew with Communist Terrorist Abra and Kalinga

CAMP GEN SERVILLANO AQUINO, Tarlac City (DWDD) Another encampment of the New People’s Army (NPA) was discovered and seized by the NOLCOM troops that resulted to a forty (40) minute encounter while conducting Focus Military Operations (FMO) in the Province of Abra.

The encounter ensued at high noon, 12:45 PM of January 18, 2018, between the Alpha Company of the 24th Infantry Battalion, Joint Task Force (JTF) “KAUGNAY”, 7th Infantry Division, PA and an unidentified platoon of the New People’s Army (NPA) terrorist group at Brgy Gapang, Pilar, Abra.

This resulted to the wounding of one (1) Army personnel, who sustained superficial splinter wounds in the face, while undetermined number of casualty on the terrorist side. Moreover, the discovered NPA encampment consists of fourteen (14) tents and two bunkers. Several subversive items were also  recovered comprising of five (5) backpacks,  two (2) holsters for Cal .45, four (4) chargeable flashlights, three slings for M16 rifle, one (1) load bearing gear, one (1) transistor radio, five (5) jungle bolos, subversive documents, food stuffs including a half sack of onion, cooking paraphernalia and other personal belongings.

A separate incident also transpired in the early morning, 6:45 AM of January 18, 2018, when a small group of NPA terrorist conducted harassment to Allaguia Patrol Base in Brgy. Allaguia, Pinukpuk, Kalinga firing six (6) rounds using a carbine. This prompted the Army troops to retaliate and fire a few shots towards the enemy direction.

The terrorist were positioned three hundred (300) meters northwest of the detachment under the “E” Company of 77th Infantry Battalion, 5th Infantry Division, PA. The exchange of fire lasted only for less than a minute wherein the NPA’s withdrew towards Sitio Dommand of same barangay.

The successful conduct of Development Support Operations (DSO) was a result of the local community’s participation to rid their localities of these lawless elements. NOLCOM forces will continue to pursue the NPA terrorist group and other threat groups to keep the safety of the people and ensure the security of the area against any threat within its Area of Responsibility. NOLCOM/MCAG

DWDD: CSAFP FLIES FA-50 | Gen Guerrero vows to support PAF Modernization

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Jan 19): CSAFP FLIES FA-50  |  Gen Guerrero vows to support PAF Modernization

CLARK AIRBASE, Pampanga (DWDD) – The Philippine Air Force conducted an FA-50PH Tactical Capability Demonstration Flight with General Rey Leonardo B Guerrero, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) at the Air Defense Alert Center, Clark Air Base, Pampanga on January 18, 2018.

According to Major Aristedes Galang Jr. Spokesman, Philippine Air Force, upon arrival, the Commanding General of the Philippine Air Force (PAF), Lieutenant General Galileo Gerard R Kintanar Jr AFP, together with the City Council of Commanders received the CS, AFP in front of Haribon Building. He was then escorted by the Commander of Air Defense Command and Wing Commander of 5th Fighter Wing to Bay 1 Hangar where he was welcomed by the corps of fighter pilots.

General Guerrero, who was flown aboard a FA-50 jet by one of the PAF pilots who saw action in Marawi, was joined by LtGen Emmanuel B. Salamat, NOLCOM Commander in the activity which validated their high regard to the capabilities of PAF’s newest acquisition. General Guerrero also gave his commitment to PAF’s future big ticket acquisitions after observing a simulated bombing activity that spotlighted the accuracy of the aircraft’s on board aerial firepower, fighting capability and technology.

After the flight, the FA-50PH aircraft recovered at Clark International Airport and taxied to park at Haribon Building for a ceremonial and beer toasting in honor of the CS, AFP.

He was then awarded with a Mach 1+ patch, Mach Buster Plaque, and FA-50PH patch as a proof that he flew a speed of Mach 1.2 or around 1, 482 kilometers per hour flight. The modernization of the country’s air power has gained another strong endorsement after General Guerrero urged to continue the modernization of the PAF during the said activity.

The acquisition of FA-50, one of PAF’s workhorses that was considered by AFP ground commanders as the game changer during the Marawi campaign, will soon be sharing attention with multi-role fighters that are planned to be acquired by the Philippine Air Force. AFP PAO / MCAG

MILF: Editorial: Tedurays’ in dilemma?

Editorial posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Jan 15): Editorial: Tedurays’ in dilemma?
In one look, it seems the Tedurays are currently in big dilemma, if not in trouble. Various interests and forces are finding common rendezvous in their areas. In consequence, they are pulled away in several directions. However, most of them remain loyal to the establishment of the Bangsamoro government as envisioned in the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
The most immediate threat to this ethnic tribe, sometimes referred to or pejoratively as Tirurays, comes from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF). In fact, the BIFF made armed incursions into the Mount Firis complex that resulted in the deaths of two tribesmen and burning of several houses.

The complex is sacred to the tribesmen, likened to Vatican for Christians. Every year they perform a sort of pilgrimage to the “sacred stone”.

BIFF spokesman accused the tribesmen of working actively with the military, as members of a paramilitary force called Civilian Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU), and for allowing Christian settlers “to squat lands” in the complex, which is surrounded by Maguindanao’s Datu Hofer, Datu Unsay and Datu Saudi towns.

Mount Firis was and still is part of the Camp Omar, one of the acknowledged camps of the MILF way back in 1999 during the time of President Joseph Estrada. The late Ustadz Umra Kato, the founder of BIIF, was for some time the camp commander until he was expelled from the MILF in 2010. Until today, his followers still clings to that line; and therefore, it should be free of hostile elements, they argued.

The other groups, which also operate in the tribesmen areas, are the rejectionist faction of the Communist Party of the Philippines, and their leaders are practically known to everybody. Likewise, the New People’s Army (NPA) is also actively recruiting members thereof. Religious and mining interests groups are also working round the clock to promote their agenda.

Also the land mess is seriously made messier. About 70 percent of their ancestral lands, especially in South Upi are owned by non-Muslims. Making the problem more intractable is the non-permanence of land occupants due to the slash-and-burn system of farming, as well as the concept of communal land ownership versus the land Torrens title system.

Like any group, the Tidurays have internal problems. But their case appears more serious. They lack dominant group leadership that more or less can call most of the shots that can unite them. There are many, of course, who have altruistic agenda but they are not yet powerful enough to influence the greater majority.

The MILF is doing everything to help. At the same, the MILF explains to them that their aspirations, as a people, cannot be achieved in a flash. In negotiation, one or the other party cannot get all what he or she wants, because negotiation is essentially a compromise. The MILF did not get everything it wanted, in spite of the fact that in terms of deaths and destruction to properties lost in the course of struggle, they cannot be compared to any other groups. Other groups’ sacrifices and losses are pale in comparison.

We listen to other people’s advices, because we know there are many bright ideas down there. This is a strength of character and part of good process in generating or knowing better ideas. But at the same time, we must also keen on spotting ideas that are sugar-coated but ultimately designed strategically for those vested interest groups. This we want our Tiduray brothers and sisters to discern.

MILF: “No other best time to pass BBL but this year” - MILF

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Jan 15): “No other best time to pass BBL but this year” - MILF

In a press release issued on January 14, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Vice Chairman Ghadzali Jaafar said that there is still hope that the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will be passed by Congress into law this year.
“Inaasahan natin na mangyayari ito sapagkat sa 2019 ay magtatapos yung termino ng mga assemblymen natin sa ARMM. At kapag nagwakas ang termino ng mga leaders na ito na wala pang batas ang Bangsamoro Government ay magkakaproblema ang gobyerno sapagkat magiging vacuum ang governance ng ARMM by 2019 kung saan mag-expire ang term ng officials ng autonomous government,” said Jaafar.

Jaafar, who is also the chairman of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, said that before that period will come the government needs to prepare for the conduct of plebiscite within the Bangsamoro government’s territory.

“Pero kung maipasa itong BBL by March or June sa palagay ko ito’y tamang-tama lang sapagkat after its passage, the plebiscite will take place for the people to ratify whether they will approve or reject the BBL,” said Jaafar.

Jaafar shared that the BTC is continuing its efforts to dialogue with lawmakers and the Bangsamoro masses.

“Ang leadership ng MILF ay nakikipag-usap din sa mga political leaders para kahit papaano lalo sa Mindanao ay makatulong sila para lalong lumakas ang pagkakataon para ang BBL ay maipasa bilang batas,” he said.

Ask about changes in the BTC’s submitted draft of the BBL, Jafar said that it is part of the legislative process.

“This is normal thing in passing a law kasi ang isang panukalang batas ay bago maging batas ay dadaan ito sa diskusyon ng mga lawmakers, lower house and senate. At sa process na yun maaaring mayroong mabago dun sa provision na proposed law. Mayroon dun pweding mapalitan, pweding madagdagan. It’s a process. Maaaring mangyari ito sa proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law. Normal yun na dadaan ang BBL sa ganyang bagay.

However, MILF peace implementing panel Mohagher Iqbal said that Congress can technically enhance BBL but the changes should still be consistent with the signed agreements.

“Of course when we submitted the BBL to Office of the President and eventually to Congress of the Philippines we are not saying that Congress cannot improve and enhance the BBL,” Iqbal said.

Iqbal added that it is crucial that the law will be consistent with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) and aspirations of the Bangsamoro people.

“Because if the law passed by Congress will not address the concerns and aspirations of the Moro people then you know giving a bad medicine is worse than not giving medicine at all. We want a good BBL that would really address the problems of Mindanao,” Iqbal added.

Presently, at least 200 documents have been signed since the talks between the government and MILF started in 1997.

Iqbal said that there is only one agenda from the start of the peace process and it revolves around solving the Bangsamoro problem.

“FAB and CAB contain the political solution to the Moro problem. It will not be implemented unless the government will enact a law in a form of legislation and that action is unilateral to the government,” Iqbal explained.

Iqbal said the legislation of BBL should happen this year especially that both the Speaker of the House and Senate President are from Mindanao.

“The President’s allies in both the lower and upper house are in control of the Congress so he can do it if he wants to pass the BBL and we are very sure about that,” Iqbal said.

Part of the agreement of the both parties is for the government to pass the BBL crafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission. It is an obligation of the government that needs to be complied before the MILF will do the full decommissioning of its combatants.

The Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) that was signed in 2012 and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) forged between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 2014 has signaled that the elusive peace in Mindanao is now within reach.

However, if the Congress will enact a Bangsamoro-law that is lesser than the aspirations of Bangsamoro people then it will not address the four-decade conflict in Mindanao, the MILF said.

MILF: MILF Kutawato Political Committee Holds Peace Advocacy in Talayan

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Jan 16): MILF Kutawato Political Committee Holds Peace Advocacy in Talayan

TALAYAN, MAGUINDANAO ---- The Kutawato Political Committee of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) held a peace advocacy with the theme: “Understanding and Supporting the Bangsamoro Peace Process and the New Bangsamoro Basic Law 2017.”
Vice-Chairman of the MILF Kutawato Political Committee explained the overview of the MILF legitimate armed struggle, political struggle and the democratic struggle that will result to the establishment of Bangsamoro Political Entity once the BBL is enacted into law by the Philippine Congress.

Prof. Esmael A. Abdula, President of Kalilintad Peacebuilding Institute (KPI) and BLMI Training Officer, said that understanding the Bangsamoro Peace Process is one way of addressing peoples’ frustration. It levels off the masses’ knowledge about the current situation of the peace process between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

“Addressing the Moro Historical Injustices is the ultimate solution to the Bangsamoro Problem”, Abdula emphasized.

Abdula added that “MILF is an organization representing the Bangsamoro to achieve their long dreamed right to self-determination towards long lasting peace in Mindanao.”

“The Philippine Government must pass the BBL to end the decades-long Mindanao armed conflict, thereby creating the Bangsamoro Political Entity”, Abdula said.

Nasser Pulindao, Vice-President of Federation of Bangsamoro Civil Society Organizations (FBCSO), explained the status of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that is currently being deliberated by congress.

“In finding final, and peaceful solution to Mindanao conflict, the MILF does not set any timetable in its negotiation with the Philippine Government”, Pulindao said.

“The Bangsamoro people wants the BBL be legislated first before federalism”, Pulindao further said.

Pulindao stressed that the “BBL will restore social justice among the people of the Bangsamoro homeland.”

“Unity among stakeholders in support to the passage of the BBL is the key to peace and development”, concluded Pulindao.

MILF Kutawato Political Committee, BIAF senior, and field commanders, women sector, KPI staff members Abdulaziz Talib and Samer Mamalaguia, and some community leaders attended the peace advocacy.                 

MILF: Bangsamoro Core leaders unify after 40 Years

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Jan 17): Bangsamoro Core leaders unify after 40 Years

After more than 40 years, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), traditional leaders, and the Rajah Mamalu Descendants has finally unified into one, with the creation of Bangsamoro Biwang Unified Coordinating Council (BBUCC).
The BBUCC aims to resolve grievances, and armed conflict in Palimbang, and adjacent municipalities in Sultan Kudarat Province.

About 500 top leaders, and officials of the two Moro Fronts, and members of the BBUCC witnessed the significant occasion during its 1ST Inauguration held on January 6, 2018 at Barangay Malisbong, Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat province.

The distinguished guests were Ghazali Jaafar, BTC Chairman, and 1ST Vice Chairman of the MILF, CC, and Mohaguer Iqbal, Chairman of the MILF Peace Implementing Panel, and Chairman of the MILF Central Committee of Information.

The BBUCC officials and members upon seeing the guests were inspired, and vowed to support the current peace process.

BTC Chairman Jaafar was represented to the occasion by his Chief of Staff, Prof. Raby Angkal. In his message to the participants, he acknowledged, and appreciated the Bangsamoro leaders who in one way or another initiated in consolidating the four core leaders of BBUCC based in Sarangani, and Sultan Kudarat provinces.

Angkal related the historical background of the Bangsamoro armed struggle that started in early 70s where bloody encounters between MNLF Forces, and combined members of the Philippine Constabulary, Philippine Army, armed militias, and the dreaded ILAGA Fanatics that took place in almost all part of Mindanao, and island provinces.

He said that amidst the weak and mostly home-made firearms of MNLF Forces then, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) had suffered major setbacks as a result of strong, committed, and unified Bangsamoro.

The BTC Chairman’s message refreshes the wounds, and mixed emotions of the audience with tears fallen on their eyes while they’re chanting: ALLAHU AKBAR! ALLAHU AKBAR! ALLAHU AKBAR!

Abdulsatar Badrudin, Chairman of Biwang State Revolutionary Committee (BSRC) of the MNLF related on how does the four unified council was organized, and consolidated.

He said that on September 7, 2017, a caucus meeting of more than 100 Top leaders was held, where they first created the “committee on grievances” to address issues on grievances, and miscommunication to strengthen unity, and solidarity of the BBUCC as one Organization with one common objective to regain the Bangsamoro right to self-determination (RSD).

On October 7, 2017, the BBUCC was formally organized, and designated a secretariat to draft its Constitution-and-by-laws based on the principles demonstrated by the two (2) prominent Bangsamoro Front leaders, the late Sheik Salamat Hashim, and Prof. Nur Misuari, Badrudin said.

Kimboy Bayang, Chairman of Biwang Provincial Political Committee of the MILF expressed his thanks, and gratitude to the guests namely; BTC Chairman and 1ST Vice Chairman of the MILF, CC Jaafar, represented by his Chief of Staff Prof Angkal; MILF Peace Implementing Panel Chairman, and Chairman of Information Committee of the MILF, CC Iqbal; Datu Muslimen Sema, Chairman of Bangsamoro People’s Congress of the MNLF; Datu Romeo Sema, Vice Chairman of the MNLF Political Committee, Datu Utto Salim Cutan, Acting Mayor of Maasim, Sarangani; Labualas “Sambroud” Mamansual Abdul, former Mayor of Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat, and other guests who attended the symbolic inauguration of the BBUCC.

Bayang narrated the story behind the creation of the BBUCC that emanated from the previous experience a couple of years ago where a mere miscommunication between Rajah Mamalu Descendants, the MNLF, and the MILF resulted to armed conflict.

Acting Maasim Mayor Utto Salim Cutan urged Bangsamoro leaders to stand firm, and hold on to the organization’s Vision, and Mission for members of the Four Core organizations to stop killing each other.

“Even if we conduct Islamic symposium every day without unity, and adhere to teachings of Islam, we could not realize our main objective We must proceed with our struggle with one goal, one destiny to regain our right to self-determination, Cutan said.

Former Palimbang Mayor Labualas “Sambroud” Mamansual Abdul expressed optimism that the aspiration of the BBUCC to have a strong, and unified command can be achieved through adhering to the saying, “In unity, there is Strength.”

“Such kind of unity started in the early 70s, and has been proven effective with tangible results, he added.

“The results of our activity today viz-a-viz, the consolidation of the four (4) organizations will be submitted to higher authorities (MNLF, MILF, etc) for their information, and guidance,” he further said.

Malisbong is where more than 1,000 Bangsamoro; young, and aged men, and women, including children were massacred by members of the Philippine Navy on September 24, 1974 inside a mosque at the height of MartiaL Law. To date, there’s no justice rendered to the victims.

MILF: Ceasefire mechanism strengthened in Basilan

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Jan 17): Ceasefire mechanism strengthened in Basilan

On January 5 to 6, 2018, the GPH-MILF Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) and the International Monitoring Team (IMT), two components of the ceasefire mechanism created by the GPH-MILF Peace Process sailed towards the island of Basilan for the strengthening of ceasefire mechanism in the said Province.
Upon arrival, the ceasefire team made courtesy call to the Provincial Governor of Basilan, Jim S. Hataman Salliman, at Isabela City, and discussed the security concerns in his area of jurisdiction.

The Hall was occupied by delegates from the IMT headed by the Head of Mission - Datuk Masrani bin Paiman, the GPH CCCH led by Col. Sirajan, and MILF CCCH spearheaded by Malik Caril.

The governor was asked by the IMT HoM about the peace, and security situation in his AoR. He responded that upon the commencement of his duty as public official, the security issues in Basilan were lessened, and his constituents have gradually lived peacefully.

Mr. Caril of MILF-CCCH also inquired from the Governor regarding his knowledge, and action made about the Sumisip Municipal Resolution dated November 16, 2017 disallowing the stay, and banning the residency of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) communities in the two barangays of Sumisip Municipality such as Barangays Upper Cabengbeng, and Lower Cabengbeng.

Governor confirmed his awareness of the said resolution, and to finally resolve this case, he guarantees his support for the conduct of dialogue between the LGU Sumisip, and MILF groups provided there will be an agreement that both parties shall hand in hand work closely to protect their communities from lawless groups.

He likewise mentioned about his all-out support to the peace process since the term of past President Benigno Aquino III.

The Ceasefire mechanism team then proceeded to conduct peace advocacy to local residents of Brgy. Magcawa, Al-Barka. The IMT HoM delivered his speech addressing the locals to keep themselves away from engaging with activities that can spoil the peace process, and keep an eye on the intrusion of lawless groups.

Among the prominent guests were Col. Sino Cruz, and Col. Sirajan from the AFP; and from the BIAF-MILF, 114th Base Cmdr. Dan Asnawi, together with his three deputies: Hud Limaya (Inner Defense), Abbas Salung (Expeditionary), and Rajan M. Abdurahman (Guerrila).

The said program was conducted with joint security provided by the AFP, and BIAF. It portrayed the beauty of harmonious collaboration towards peace and security between the GPH, and the MILF forces resulting from untiring efforts exerted through the ceasefire mechanisms

After the conclusion of the program, the ceasefire team moved to Brgy. Upper Cabengbeng to conduct verification of the misencounter happened between AFP, and BIAF happened last November 8, 2017.

On the 2nd day of mission, January 6, 2018, another verification was made by the team at Brgy. Buton, Hadji Muhammad Ajul relative to the misencounter that transpired between AFP, and PPF-MILF last August 20, 2017.

MILF: BDA Damakling catalysts hold peace advocacy

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Jan 18): BDA Damakling catalysts hold peace advocacy

DATU PAGLAS, MAGUINDANAO --- The Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) Catalysts Damakling Chapter held peace advocacy with the theme: “Understanding and Supporting the Bangsamoro Peace Process and the Bangsamoro Basic Law 2017.”
Samer Mamalaguia, one of the organizers, said peace advocacy is one way of reaching out to the grassroots level, to enlightened them on how sustainable peace, and development can be achieved in the community.

“Parents should inculcate to their children the importance of peace so that they can internalize it until they grow older,” he emphasized.

Abdulaziz Talib, KPI staff, said peace building should start in the communities as it will redound to lasting peace in Mindanao.

“Participating in peace advocacyies can help us understand our role to make the GPH-MILF Peace Process succeed,” Talib added.

Prof. Esmael A. Abdula, President of Kalilintad Peacebuilding Institute (KPI) and BLMI Training Officer, explained to the participants the importance of knowing the history of the Moro legitimate struggle in Mindanao to pave the way for the establishment of Bangsamoro Region, and end the decade-long armed conflict.

“Addressing the Moro historical injustices through the passage of the BTC-Crafted Bangsamoro Basic Law is solving the Bangsamoro Problem, and ultimately achieving lasting peace in Mindanao”, Abdula emphasized.

Abdula added that “The MILF democratic struggle by engaging the GPH in peace process is bloodless, painless, and uncostly. Its success will end decades-long animosity, and conflict among Filipinos.”

Abdula said that the passage of a CAB-Compliant BBL will prevent the rise of violent extremism in Mindanao.

The parents, students, religious members, women sector, Social Welfare Committee and academic professionals attended the peace advocacy.

NDF/Sison: Sison agrees to 1-on-1 meeting with Duterte

Jose Maria Sison propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Website (Jan 15): Sison agrees to 1-on-1 meeting with Duterte

 Source: InterAksyon | January 14, 2018, 10:46 PM
Exiled Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Ma. Sison accepted President Rodrigo Duterte’s proposal to a one-on-one talk but said this should be “in a country that is a neighbor of the Philippines.”

“I welcome the positive statement of President Duterte that he would like to converse with me one on one,” Sison said, reacting to the suggestion Duterte made during a sit-down interview with Davao City-based independent media outfit MindaNews.

(READ THE MINDANEWS ARTICLE HERE: Duterte on resuming talks with NDF: he and Sison should talk)

In the interview conducted at the Presidential Guest House in Panacan, Davao City, Duterte suggested that he might be amenable to resuming peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines if the communists stopped issuing “arrogant” statements.

He also said: “Gusto ko si Sison pumunta dito. Kaming dalawa mag-usap, kaming dalawa lang dito sa kwarto (I want Sison to come here. The two of us will talk. Only the two of us here in this room).”

Despite Duterte’s bellicose tone, Sison said the suggestion to a one-on-one meeting “is more important than his still angry words.”

The CPP founder, who is chief political consultant of the NDFP, which represents the rebels in peace talks, was once Duterte’s college professor.

“In the interest of the Filipino people and for the sake and purpose of resuming the peace negotiations, I am willing to have serious conversations with President Duterte,” Sison said. “It would indeed be a waste if we would not interface even once, considering the success of the four rounds of formal talks since 2016.”

“Considering our mutual convenience and sense of prudence, we can meet in a country that is a neighbor of the Philippines,” he said, adding that Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, chairman of the government peace panel, and his NDFP counterpart, Fidel Agcaoili, “can agree on the arrangements.”

“After the resumption of the peace negotiations, I can go to the Philippines for my first visit after a long time,” Sison, who has been living in exile in The Netherlands since the late 1980s, said.

NDF/Sison: On the Order to Close Down Rappler and the Railroading of Bicameral Resolution No.8

Jose Maria Sison propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Website (Jan 17): On the Order to Close Down Rappler and the Railroading of Bicameral Resolution No.8 

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
NDFP Chief Political Consultant
Press Statement | January 17, 2018

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) order to close down Rappler and the railroading of bicameral Resolution No.8 of both Houses of Congress to constitute themselves as the Constituent Assembly and to carry out charter change are part of the chain of events to impose the fascist dictatorship of Duterte on the Filipino people.

Prior events in the chain include the escalation of all-out war under Oplan Kapayapaan, frenzied extrajudicial killings in both urban and rural areas, extension of the duration of martial law in Mindanao until the end of 2018, the threat of martial law nationwide, the termination of peace negotiations with the NDFP and the labelling of the CPP and NPA and suspected supporters as “terrorists.”

Duterte is hellbent on imposing fascist dictatorship on the Filipino people and is flagrantly using basically the same strategy and tactics of mass murder, intimidation, corruption and charter change as the late fascist dictator Marcos used.

Duterte´s pretense to change the unitary form of government to that of a federation is akin to Marcos´ pretense to shift to the parliamentary form of government. As in the case of Marcos, the real objective of Duterte is to concentrate powers in his hands as fascist dictator, to prolong his rule and serve his imperialist masters and fellow oligarchs and warlords through the transitional and regular provisons of a sham constitution.

Upon the ratification of a pseudo-federal constitution, Duterte will assume the powers of both the President and the Prime Minister. Elections next year will be canceled, with Duterte´s super majority in control of Congress and rewarding themselves with extended terms at higher salaries and bigger pork barrel benefits. He will be able to rule like an absolute monarch during the transition period, the end of which is not stipulated.

Charter change is not really to establish a federal government but a fascist dictatorship on top of a new layer of extremely expensive regional goverments ruled by big compradors, landlords, corrupt bureaucrats and warlords like Duterte. Duterte and his ilk want to do away with the restrictions on foreign investors, deliver to them cheap labor and the natural resources of the country, prevent national indutrialization and land reform and bury the people under mountains of foreign and local debt and heavier taxes on consumption goods as the trade and budgetary deficits grow.

Duterte´s reign of greed and terror is inflicting intolerable suffering on the Filipino people and is driving them to wage various forms of resistance. There is now a broad united front of antifascist, anti-imperialist and antifeudal forces moving to isolate and overthrow the Duterte regime. Unwittingly, this tyrannical rule is inciting the revolutionary forces and broad masses of the people to intensify the new democratic revolution against the entire semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system.

NDF/Sison: On Duterte and His Parrot Roque

Jose Maria Sison propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Website (Jan 17): On Duterte and His Parrot Roque  

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
NDFP Chief Political Consultant
Press Statement, January 17, 2018

I am glad that Duterte, through his parrot Harry Roque, has made himself clear that he never had the intention of meeting me and was lying when he told Mindanews that he wished to meet me in particular and converse one-on-one with me in a room.

Of course, when I first read the report on Duterte´s interview with Mindanews I had some misgivings that he did not mean what he said because of his notoriety for saying one thing and then saying the opposite within a short period and also because of his arrogance and anger in setting some absurd preconditions, like the CPP and NPA humbling themselves and capitulating to his tyrannical rule.

Nevertheless, in the interest of the Filipino people and in my sincere wish to find a way for the resumption of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations, I preferred to give importance to Duterte´s public offer of a private conversation and I agreed to meet him in a country near the Philippines.

Comrades, friends and my lawyers reminded me of Duterte´s treacherous character, his previous threats to kill me and warned me against my meeting him in any place under his full control and under conditions of his proclaimed all-out war policy, martial law, termination of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations and designation of the CPP, NPA and their suspected supporters as “terrorists.”

I have therefore suggested a neutral venue abroad for the one-on-one conversation with Duterte. I cannot submit myself to the disposition of anyone that boasts of himself as a murderer with impunity at the age of sixteen and as an instigator of mass murders that have already offended the Filipino people and other peoples of the world.

The pompous parrot Roque also makes himself and his master look utterly stupid by insisting that the CPP and the NPA, both pillars off the people´s government, surrender themselves to the mechanisms of the reactionary government of big compradors and landlords that are servile to foreign interests.

At this juncture, I must say that it is too difficult or impossible to have any kind of serious conversation or negotiations anywhere with someone already crazed by power, fentanyl and the drive for fascist dictatorship. His main interest now in the CPP and NPA is to make them the scapegoats to justify martial rule and military campaigns of mass murder.

Duterte is either ignorant or merely contemptuous of the peace process. His complaints or allegations against the CPP and NPA can be easily submitted by his negotiating panel to the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) created under the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

The NDFP has far more serious complaints against the AFP, PNP and their armed auxiliaries and has submitted these to the JMC so as not to disrupt the negotiations on the substantive agenda of social and economic reforms; and political and constitutional reforms.

But Duterte had repeatedly rushed to the mass media to attack the CPP, NPA and the NDFP; and to declare as many as three times the termination of the peace negotiations within a short period. Since the very beginning of the peace negotiations, he has never had the intention of fulfilling his promise to amnesty and release all political prisoners in compliance with CARHRIHL.

There is something terribly wrong with Duterte´s mentality and behavior. He must be examined and treated by a team of psychiatrists as being demanded of his imperialist master and fellow shithole Trump in the United States.

It is also advisable for the pipsqueak Roque to have his head and mouth examined for presuming that out of his own bloated sense of self-importance dependent on a nutty shithole he can evaluate and downgrade others who are very much beyond his sphere of sychopancy. He should realise by this time that human rights associations and activists are contemoptuous of him as the servant of a monstrous human rights violator.

But let me give some kind of praise for Duterte and Roque. I think that the revolutionary forces and the people are thankful to them for making it absolutely clear that they are responsible for the termination of the peace negotiations and for the rising intensity of the people´s armed revolution for national and social liberation against the oppressive and exploitative state, now once more in the grip of a fascist dictatorhip.

The revolutionary forces are correct in saying that it is far easier for them to single-mindedly oust the US-directed Duterte regime than to negotiate and make a just peace agreement with it. The process of ousting the regime is a way of strengthening the revolutionary forces and the people against the entire semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system.

CPP/NDF-SM: NPA imposes punitive action vs. Sumifru, Highland banana firms in Davao

NDF-Southern Mindanao propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Jan 15): NPA imposes punitive action vs. Sumifru, Highland banana firms in Davao

Rubi del Mundo, Spokesperson
NDFP Southern Mindanao

15 January 2018

Workers and peasants in corporate plantations around Southern Mindanao are rejoicing Saturday’s punitive action carried out by Red fighters of 1st Pulang Bagani Battalion-New People’s Army against foreign-owned Sumitomo Fruits Corp. (SUMIFRU) and Ayala-owned Highland Banana Corporation in Sitio Tigon and Sitio Sicao, Brgy. Tamayong, Calinan District in Davao City. Three boom truck sprayers were simultaneously gutted down and pushed down a cliff at around 8am on January 13, 2018.

The recent NPA action in Davao City is part of the revolutionary movement’s policy to penalize big bourgeois comprador companies which continue to exist with impunity by inflicting unimpeded environmental destruction and exploitation of peasants and workers.

SUMIFRU and Highland are both notorious for exploiting workers’ welfare by dishing out barely liveable wages, subjecting them to inhuman working conditions, union busting and other repressive labor practices. Particularly in their farms in Davao City, both companies push plantation workers to work almost 12 hours, sometimes 16 hours daily under different schemes meant to extract super-profit. Packing plant workers are also made to work the same length of hours without sufficient safety implements.

SUMIFRU and Highland, likewise, continue to utilize toxic chemical fertilizers and pesticides in their boom truck sprayers. Workers report that they are routinely exposed to the harmful chemicals being sprayed by boom trucks.

On the other hand, peasant families who initially expected to be alleviated from poverty by entering into agri-business venture agreements with SUMIFRU and Highland are faring no better under highly-exploitative arrangements that eventually cost them their lands. With no control over production, they fall prey to the companies’ exclusive and manipulative management schemes that have buried them deep into indebtedness and have resulted in the seizure of their lands.

SUMIFRU and Highlands have racked up billions in profit from the sweat and blood of thousands of workers who are paid slave wages under cruel working conditions. They are responsible for the landgrabbing of thousands of hectares as they launch aggressive corporate expansion through various means of swindling, intimidation, ambiguous legalese or “corporate assumption” in order to supposedly “salvage” banana
farms’ productivity.

Without the punitive actions being meted out by the New People’s Army against foreign-owned and large corporations, the Filipino people and country’s resources will continue to be a watering hole for imperialist greed, especially with the US-Duterte regime’s adamant maneuver to betray national and economic sovereignty via federalism and the Charter Change. With the rate he is going, the fascist sell-out Rodrigo Duterte will stop at nothing to surrender the country to neoliberal interests at the expense of the working class. In these times of tyranny and repression, the masses look to the NPA to defend their democratic interests.

MILF ‘platoon’ leader arrested in anti-drug ops

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 19): MILF ‘platoon’ leader arrested in anti-drug ops

Anti-illegal drugs operatives of the police have arrested an alleged “platoon” leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in a buy-bust operation in Zamboanga del Sur, an official disclosed Thursday.

Chief Insp. Helen Galvez, Police Regional Office-9 (PRO-9) information officer, identified the arrested suspect as Askim Andam, 23, of Payong, Sultan Naga Dimaporo, Lanao del Norte.

Galvez said Andam was arrested at around 1 p.m. Wednesday at Highway Aide Compound, Barangay Banale, Pagadian City.

Galvez said Andam was a platoon leader of the 105th Base Command, Central Mindanao Front, MILF “based on his admission and confiscated identification card.”

She said confiscated from the suspect were four plastic sachets of suspected shabu and PhP300 “marked money” consisting of three PhP100 bills.

She said the suspect was detained at the headquarters of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) while appropriate charges were to be filed against him.

1,500 security forces to monitor Ati-atihan revelry

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 19): 1,500 security forces to monitor Ati-atihan revelry

KALIBO, Aklan -- Authorities in Western Visayas have deployed around 1,495 policemen and soldiers to ensure zero major crime incidents during in this year’s week-long Kalibo Sto. Nino Ati-atihan Festival.

Chief Superintendent Cesar Hawthorne Binag, Police Regional Director- Western Visayas, said here Thursday that the police would also stand guard against possible terrorism spill-off and illegal drugs.

Binag led the send-off ceremony of the second batch of police at the ABL Sports Complex here Thursday.

The send-off ceremony for the first batch was held last week at the Aklan Provincial Police Office.

The Kalibo Sto. Nino Ati-atihan Festival, considered as the “Mother of Philippine Festival”, started January 10 and will culminate on January 21.

"The deployment is now completed but we will be adding more troops as necessary. We are following the Major Event Security Framework of the PNP (Philippine National Police)," Binag said.

The framework includes the deployment of police personnel in both the festivity area and in the borders. The deployment includes the non-uniformed personnel, K-9 units, explosives and ordnance team including the Special Weapon and Tactics.

The number also includes some 200 personnel coming from the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

For his part, Kalibo Mayor William Lachica urged policemen not only to be vigilant but also to enjoy the revelry.

Isabela-based Army needs 500 new soldiers

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 19): Isabela-based Army needs 500 new soldiers

CAMP MELCHOR DELA CRUZ, GAMU, Isabela -- The Isabela-based 5th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army (5ID-PA) is looking for at least 500 new soldiers to supplement its existing number of troopers.

Capt. Jefferson Somera, Division Public Affairs Office chief, made the announcement on Thursday calling on interested applicants from its area of operations to apply.

He said the army division was continuously recruiting soldiers to fill the needed number of soldiers of the camp to be deployed in various military units of the army division.

Somera said there was an Armed Forces Aptitude Test set on the last week of this month to be held at Camp Melchor F. Dela Cruz here.

Applicants should be 18 to 26 years old, should bring with them their original NSO Birth Certificate, Diploma, Form 137 for high school graduate, 2 x 2 picture and at least two valid identification cards.

The 5ID-PA is one of the country’s biggest Army divisions and covers Cagayan Valley and the Cordilleras.

Palace clears Go in frigate issue

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 18): Palace clears Go in frigate issue

Malacañang on Thursday said that an internal investigation showed that the allegations against Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong Go” on the multi-billion frigate project of the Philippine Navy were not true.

“An investigation has been conducted and it has been found that the allegations of Rappler are untrue and unfounded,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said at a briefing in Legazpi City, Albay.

According to reports from online news site Rappler, Go allegedly “intervened” in the selection of the combat management system (CMS) of the two warships.

Go has categorically denied the accusation, while Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and former Navy chief Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado have backed him up.

Mercado has been earlier relieved as Navy Chief over issues related to the CMS.

Roque reiterated that there was no way Go could have intervened in the acquisition of the two frigates, including the CMS, because the project was already awarded by the Philippine government during the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III.

“So again, I’d like to debunk the claim of Rappler that this combat system was procured separately from the frigates; hindi po. Iyong PHP15.7 billion na binili po nating frigates includes already this combat system,” he said.

“And because this was already awarded to Hyundai, it was really futile on the part of anyone, including Secretary Bong Go, to intervene because at that point the winning bidder Hyundai had already specified kung ano po iyong ilalagay na combat system sa barkong naibili na natin. So malinaw po iyan,” Roque said.

The Palace spokesperson said Rappler’s allegation against Go “appears to be defense by way of an offense,” noting how the allegations surfaced immediately after the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) declared that Rappler Inc. and Rappler Holdings violated the ownership rules of the Constitution on mass media companies.

“So it appears that the best defense is an offense. But as you know former FOIC of the Navy Mercado has issued a statement stating categorically that SAP Bong Go never intervened in connection with the frigate project. Likewise, we have a clarification already issued by Secretary Lorenzana that the white paper was not handed to him by Secretary Bong Go,” Roque said.

AFP Intelligence chief: Over 3,500 elements still threaten country's security

From CNN Philippines (Jan 17): AFP Intelligence chief: Over 3,500 elements still threaten country's security

The military revealed on Wednesday there are still over 3,500 combined elements threatening security in the country, which warrants the extension of martial law in Mindanao.

Armed Forces of the Philippines Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence Maj. Gen. Fernando Trinidad said these include communist rebels, Dawlah Islamiyah, Bangsamoro Freedom Fighters, and the Abu Sayyaf group.

Trinidad revealed the figures during the second round of oral arguments on the extension of martial law in Mindanao at the Supreme Court, saying the measure will bolster efforts to destroy the ongoing rebellion and facilitate the restoration of public order and safety.

"The AFP is appealing for the extension of martial law and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus for one year," Trinidad said in his presentation.

"This appeal is not intended to gain any extra power for the AFP, but to hasten the accomplishment of the AFP's mandated task in securing the safety of our people in Mindanao particularly, the whole world in general," he added.

Trinidad also said the Maute group, led by Owayda Marohomsar, has intensified its recruitment efforts in Lanao del Sur, and that they are planning bombings in the cities of Zamboanga, Iligan, Cagayan de Oro, and Davao.

AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Leonardo Guerrero said martial law added enhanced authority to the military, as they are permitted to arrest rebels even without warrants.

Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, however, enumerated successful military and police operations that did not need martial law, which included the arrest of the perpetrators of the Davao market bombing and the killing of Malaysian terrorist Marwan.

Leonen was the lone justice who voted against the proclamation of martial law in Mindanao.

Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe also asked Guerrero why the second martial law extension is longer than the first, considering Marawi has already been liberated.

The AFP Chief of Staff said the Marawi crisis was only a part of the whole problem in Mindanao, and that they are not after additional power.

Martial law was declared in Mindanao on May 23 when ISIS-inspired Maute fighters attacked Marawi City, resulting in a war that took five months to end.

It was first extended up to December 2017 after the 60-day period provided by the Constitution lapsed, but Congress extended it to December 2018 upon the request of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Aboitiz donates 2,300 safety glasses to DND

From Update Philippines (Jan 16): Aboitiz donates 2,300 safety glasses to DND

The Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. formally turned over to the Department of National Defense (DND) 2,300 units of Delta Plus safety glasses for use of combat personnel Monday.

The items were formally received by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana from Aboitiz Group head Sabin Aboitiz during the ceremonial handover at the DND Social Hall in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

“On behalf of our One Defense Team, I thank the Aboitiz Group for giving protective eyewear for our frontline troops… It should be noted that this donation demonstrates the strong cooperation and collaboration that has always existed between the private sector and the government. Aside from being a tangible and visible indicator of our joint efforts, it demonstrates our concern and love for our valiant soldiers who continue to sacrifice their lives for our freedom and who continuously face threats at sea and on land,” he added.

The DND chief also said that in modern combat operations, the risk of soldiers getting eye injury was very high, leading to either partial or total blindness or a lifetime of disability and suffering, not just for the soldiers but for the families as well.

This was evident in places like Marawi and in other areas where soldiers operate. The Aboitiz Group’s donation was not only timely but significant as well because it would augment the current efforts to boost the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ capability to conduct focused, surgical, and sustained military operations.

The Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. earlier turned 700 units of Delta Plus safety glasses to troops during the height of the Marawi Siege last year.

The glasses aim to protect frontline troops from eye injury resulting from IED explosions, debris, and shrapnel.

With this, the number of safety glasses handed by the Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. to the military now totalled to 3,000.

“We in the Aboitiz Group appreciate very much the sacrifices made by our soldiers. We can never thank them enough for their service and sacrifice that they have done for the country,” Aboitiz said.

Philippine military welcomes LGBT applicants

From Update Philippines (Jan 18): Philippine military welcomes LGBT applicants

In searching for 10,000 Filipinos who want to volunteer to become new soldiers, sailors, airmen, or marines, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said they would not discriminate against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community who may want to apply.

But along with the open invitation came repeated reminders for the LGBT community to behave properly, if they so wish to join the Philippine military.

“We were being asked kung ang recruitment ba namin will include members of the LGBT – the so-called LGBT community. Are we not going to discriminate against them? Ang sagot po namin, no. The AFP is not going to discriminate against them. Malaya po silang makapag-apply at pumasok sa Armed Forces,” said Colonel Edgard Arevalo, AFP chief of public affairs.

“Subalit ang amin pong tagubilin ay iisa lamang. Sa sandaling sila po ay mag-apply at tanggapin na po sa Armed Forces of the Philippines, atin po silang pinapa-alalahanan na kailangan po nilang mag-act at kumilos nang may dignidad at pag-iingat sa kanilang unipormang isusuot. Sapagkat an AFP is a uniformed service. It is a noble profession of arms,” he added.

Arevalo said there are provisions in military law defining good conduct.

“Ang ating AFP has punitive laws. Lalong-lalo na ang nakalagay sa articles of war, na sinasabing nagpo-proscribe ng conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline,” he said.

He stressed that anyone who could fulfill the application requirements would be welcomed into the AFP, regardless of their gender.

“They are welcome. Pwede po silang mag-apply, Tatanggapin po natin sila sa AFP, but of course they have to pass all the examinations, all the tests,” he said.

Arevalo expressed his belief that the LGBT community would be able to contribute greatly to the Armed Forces, but again ended with the warning that military discipline is required under the articles of war.

The public affairs chief however did not explain why he felt the need to issue such reminders in discussing the prospect of recruiting members of the LGBT community.

Rebel couple surrenders to army

From the Mindanao Times (Jan 18): Rebel couple surrenders to army

TWO TOP leaders of the New People’s Army (NPA) surrendered to the soldiers of 27th Infantry battalion in South Cotabato on Monday, Jan. 15, 2018.

Capt. Mc Gary Dida, the civil-military operations (CMO) officer of 1002nd Infantry Brigade, identified them to TIMES as Noel Minioto alias Ka Efren, deputy secretary of Far South Mindanao Region (FSMR), and his wife, Jeanalyn Defensor Bendalian, the medical staff of FSMR.
The couple turned themselves in to the army through the help of South Cotabato Governor Daisy Avance Fuentes.

Legazpi joined the movement in 1992 after becoming a leftist leader for the youth. After six years, he became a full-time member of NPA and rose through the ranks.
No matter what we did, we couldn’t overthrow the government through our armed struggle,” he said, adding that the development program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines has been a very effective tool in delivering basic services to far-flung barangays.

“Ka Efren’s surrender is a proof of the strong credibility being enjoyed by the government,” Lt. Col. Benjamin Leander 27IB battalion commander, said.

“With our intensive security operations and continuous collaboration with our stakeholders, we can align our efforts in attaining peaceful and conflict resilient communities within our area of operation,” Col. Roberto Ancan, the 1002nd Infantry Brigade commander, said.

Maj. Gen. Noel Clement, 10th Infantry Division commander, hoped that the efforts of the government against insurgency will be sustained.

“This very significant development only indicates that not only the regular members and the mass supporters of the NPAs are tired of the armed struggle, even their top leaders already realized its futility,” he said.

Fuentes also assured the couple that they would be given ample support by the government so they can resume their normal lives.

P50M peace fund for 2018 approved

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jan 18): P50M peace fund for 2018 approved

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Negros Occidental yesterday gave its concurrence to the P50 million Peace and Order budget for 2018, as approved earlier by the Provincial Peace and Order Council.

On motion of Board Member David Albert Lacson, chairperson of the SP committee on Peace and Order, the provincial council also granted authority to Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. to prioritize peace and order projects for implementation this year.

PPOC action officer Ma. Lina Sanogal earlier disclosed that P15 million of the newly-approved fund, will be earmarked for intelligence data gathering, with the bulk of the budget allocated to various peace and order programs and projects.

The SP also approved PPOC resolution number 17-04 authorizing the release of the confidential fund for first and succeeding quarters of 2018 from the allocation of the Office of the Governor charged against the 2018 PPOC fund.

The proposal of Kapatiran Inc, formerly known as the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade, for a Community-Based Forest Management Agreement (CBFMA) for the proposed PAMANA peace and development community site in Brgy. Locotan, Kabankalan City, was also approved by the SP.

A resolution approved by the PPOC last month indicated that the CBFMA could provide KAPATIRAN members an opportunity to participate in managing and sustaining the reforestation program of the provincial government of Negros Occidental.

The CBFMA is a major requirement for the tenurial instrument so the full implementation of the disposition of arms under the Closure Agreement between the RMP-P/RPA/ABB and the Philippine government can be completed.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has hired former RPA-ABB members as forest guards in Negros Occidental.

Sanogal said the PAMANA infrastructure projects in Brgy. Locotan, Kabankalan City, are almost complete, and beneficiaries can settle after the acquisition of the tenurial instruments. 

Joma Sison: Rappler 'shutdown,' Cha-Cha show Duterte aping Marcos

From Rappler (Jan 17): Joma Sison: Rappler 'shutdown,' Cha-Cha show Duterte aping Marcos

'Duterte is hellbent on imposing fascist dictatorship...and is flagrantly using basically the same strategy and tactics of mass murder, intimidation, corruption and charter change as the late fascist dictator Marcos used,' says Jose Maria Sison

JOMA SISON. The founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines. File photo by Fritzie Rodriguez

JOMA SISON. The founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines. File photo by Fritzie Rodriguez

The move of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to shut down Rappler and the bid for a shift to federalism showed that President Rodrigo Duterte is "hellbent" on imposing a dictatorship patterned after that of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison said.

Sison made the statement on Wednesday, January 17, after the SEC revoked Rappler's license to operate for allegedly violating the Constitution and the Anti-Dummy Law, and as Congress tackled proposals to amend the 1987 Constitution. (READ Rappler's statement: Stand with Rappler, defend press freedom)
Sison, on exile in the Netherlands, said in a statement that President Rodrigo Duterte was following the “same strategy and tactics” that the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos had used to keep his grip on power.

“The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) order to close down Rappler and the railroading of bicameral Resolution No. 8 of both houses of Congress to constitute themselves as the Constituent Assembly and to carry out charter change are part of the chain of events to impose the fascist dictatorship of Duterte on the Filipino people,” Sison said.

He said previous events that support his claim are the “frenzied extrajudicial killings,” the extension of martial law in Mindanao and the threat of its nationwide imposition, the termination of the peace talks with the National Democratic Front, and the government tag on the CPP-New People’s Army as a terrorist organization.

“Duterte is hellbent on imposing fascist dictatorship on the Filipino people and is flagrantly using basically the same strategy and tactics of mass murder, intimidation, corruption and charter change as the late fascist dictator Marcos used,” Sison said.

He likened Duterte’s bid to shift to a federal form of government to “Marcos’ pretense to shift to the parliamentary form of government.”

“As in the case of Marcos, the real objective of Duterte is to concentrate powers in his hands as fascist dictator, to prolong his rule and serve his imperialist masters and fellow oligarchs and warlords through the transitional and regular provisions of a sham constitution,” Sison said.

He predicted that under an amended charter, “Duterte will assume the powers of both the President and the Prime Minister.”

“Elections next year will be canceled, with Duterte´s super majority in control of Congress and rewarding themselves with extended terms at higher salaries and bigger pork barrel benefits. He will be able to rule like an absolute monarch during the transition period, the end of which is not stipulated,” Sison said.

Duterte had said that he did not favor a suspension of elections in 2019, as floated by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, if charter change pushed through.

AFP lists 5 people who could be next ISIS emir in SE Asia

From Rappler (Jan 18): AFP lists 5 people who could be next ISIS emir in SE Asia

Defense and security officials appear before Supreme Court justices to defend the second extension of martial law in Mindanao

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Wednesday, January 17, said the international terrorist network Islamic State (ISIS) or Dawlah Islamiyah has not given up on trying to establish an Islamic caliphate, and the regional leadership remains to be in the Southern Philippines.

Major General Fernando Trinidad, AFP deputy chief for intelligence, presented before Supreme Court justices the names of 4 people plus an unnamed Egyptian who could supposedly replace ISIS emir Isnilon Hapilon as regional leader.
Among them are 3 Filipinos, including the only documented millennial who joined the fight in Syria.
Defense and security officials were present in the High Court to defend the second extension of martial law in Mindanao.

The petitioners argued that there is no actual rebellion that could justify the extension of martial law because the military has declared combat operations in Marawi City to be over.

The military argued that there is a continuing rebellion and remnants of pro-ISIS groups continue recruitment activities.

Lorenzana: White paper came from Malacañang, not Bong Go

From Rappler (Jan 18): Lorenzana: White paper came from Malacañang, not Bong Go

(UPDATED) Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana confirms he wrote the marginal note pointing to Secretary Bong Go as the source of a document endorsing a foreign supplier for the project, but clarifies he only 'assumed' it came from the Palace official


Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Wednesday, January 17, sought to clear Special Assistant to the President Christopher "Bong" Go of intervening in the controversial P15.5-billion project to acquire two warships for the Philippine Navy.

Lorenzana made the statement in an interview with reporters on Wednesday, January 17, even as he confirmed that he wrote the marginal note pointing to Go as the source of a white paper endorsing a particular foreign supplier for the project.

On Wednesday, at the sidelines of the oral arguments on the extension of martial law in Mindanao, Lorenzana clarified that he received the white paper in Malacañang but said he could not recall who handed it to him. He said he just initially assumed that it came from Go.

The white paper endorsed a supplier that now stands to be selected to provide the critical Combat Management System (CMS) to be installed in the warships.

Referring to the marginal note on the white paper, Lorenzana said: "In this document, nakalagay (it states) it was given to me by Bong Go. I assumed it came from him. Hindi naman sa kanya galing (It did not come from him) personally. But it came to me while I was in Malacañang."

Lorenzana said he couldn't remember who gave him the document. "I can no longer remember. Hindi ko nga matandaan itong ang papel na ito unless nakita ko pangalan ko diyan. It was my handwriting. It was actually written by me in January 12, 2017. This is one year ago. Nakalimutan ko na. Hindi rin alam ni Bong Go na binigay sa akin. So ang conclusion ko dito, somebody gave it to me in Malacañang. So I assumed na galing kay Bong Go," he said.

(I can't remember this paper except when I saw my name. It was my handwriting. It was actually written by me in January 12, 2017. I've forgotten about it. Bong Go doesn't remember giving it to me either. So my conclusion is, somebody gave it to me in Malacañang. I assumed it came from Bong Go.)

Based on this supposed assumption, he said he wrote the marginal note and sent the document to former Navy chief Vice Admiral Ronald Mercado.

"So I assumed. I forwarded it to Mercado, who in turn gave it to [Rear Admiral Robert] Empedrad, who was still the project management leader," Lorenzana said.

Mercado also cleared Go in a separate interview. "When I was FOIC (Flag Officer in Command), he never – with so many times we were together in many foreign navy ships – [intervened]. There was never an instance, not once that he even asked me about the frigate," he said.

Mercado admitted he was hurt by the decision to relieve him when he stood by the supplier that the Navy wanted for its ships. He refused to elaborate on the contract.

The report angered President Rodrigo Duterte, who called Rappler a fake news outlet for publishing the documents.

White paper came from Hanwha
Lorenzana said the white paper actually came from Hanwha, the supplier of the CMS that HHI wanted to install in the warships. The Navy preferred another supplier, Tacticos Thales. This debate has stalled the completion of the Critical Design Review, paperwork that needs to be completed before the construction of the ships begin.

Mercado insisted that HHI should follow technical specifications set by the Philippine Navy – meaning Tacticos Thales. DND, PN, and HHI debated this for months until Mercado was relieved in December 2017 for alleged subordination.

Lorenzana could not explain, however why Hanwah's white paper would be given to him in Malacanang. Asked if there was a meeting with Hanwha in Malacañang, he said, "No. I do not know. Somebody must have brought this there at ikinalat siguro kaya dumating sa akin. Noong makita nilang frigate – because I was the one who signed the contract – binigay sa akin. But there is no intervention here by Bong Go. In-assume ko lang na galing sa kanya."

(Somebody must have brought this there and distributed it so it reached me. When they saw that it was about the frigate – because I was the one who signed the contract – it was given to me. But there was no intervention by Bong Go. I only assumed it came from me.)

He said a separate meeting with Empedrad's in Malacañang was not with Go but with another official in his office, Undersecretary Christopher Lao of the Presidential Management Staff (PMS), who is now Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board CEO and commissioner.

The PMS is under the supervision of Go. A signed letter shows that Lao arranged for Empedrad to go to Malacanang to explain the CMS selection on January 20, 2017 or about a week since Lorenzana received the white paper.

Lorenzana said he was not in that meeting and could not explain why a Navy officer would be called to a meeting in Malacañang to discuss the selection of the CMS.

Three days later, Empedrad wrote a report explaining why the navy prefers Tacticos Thales.

"Empedrad stated the preference of navy. In short, hindi rin naano yung ano nilalakad ng Hanwha. Hindi rin sila ang preference," Lorenzana said.

But HHI would still choose Hanwha against the navy's wishes. "The problem is, doon kasi sa contract, Hyundai ang may choice kung sno ang pipiliin. Pinili nila ang Hanwha. Wala na kami pakialam doon," said Lorenzana.

But under Mercado, the navy insisted that Hanwha did not comply with the technical requirements specified in the contract.

Empedrad is new Philippine Navy chief

From Rappler (Jan 18): Empedrad is new Philippine Navy chief

Rear Admiral Robert Empedrad was the Navy officer in charge of the controversial P15.5-billion frigate deal

FRIGATE DEAL. New Philippine Navy chief Robert Empedrad was the Navy officer in charge of the Frigate Project Technical Working Group. Screenshot of a sourced document

FRIGATE DEAL. New Philippine Navy chief Robert Empedrad was the Navy officer in charge of the Frigate Project Technical Working Group. Screenshot of a sourced document

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has designated Rear Admiral Robert Empedrad as the new Flag Officer in Command (FOIC) or Philippine Navy chief.

His designation, according to a letter signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on January 16, was effective on December 19, the day former Navy chief Vice Admiral Ronald Mercado was relieved from his post.

Empedrad is the Navy officer who was in charge of the controversial P15.5-billion frigate acquisition project, which, based on documents, Malacañang had been involved with.

Empedrad had been called to a meeting in Malacañang by an undersecretary in Special Assistant to the President Bong Go's office to discuss the selection of the critical Combat Management System for the two frigates to be built by Hyundai Heavy Industries.

Go denied any involvement in the frigate deal.

It was supposedly former Navy chief Mercado's insistence not to accept a suggested CMS supplier, Hanwha Thales, which led to his sudden relief from his post.