Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Indonesian terrorist gets 10 years' jail for buying guns in Philippines

From the Straits Times (Feb 6): Indonesian terrorist gets 10 years' jail for buying guns in Philippines

After his verdict was read out, terrorist Suryadi Mas'ud approached reporters and said: "You all have to abide by Allah and repent. We are nearing the apocalypse."ST VIDEO: WAHYUDI SOERIAATMADJA

An Indonesian court has sentenced hardened terrorist Suryadi Mas'ud to 10 years in jail for procuring firearms in the Philippines and for his involvement in funding terrorism.

The panel of three judges at the West Jakarta district court also slapped Suryadi, alias Montilia Perez, with a 50 million rupiah (about S$5,000) monetary fine, or a six-month jail term in default.

"The defendant purchased firearms in the Philippines for terror acts in Indonesia. What the defendant did has created public fear," presiding judge Machri Hendra told the court room on Tuesday (Feb 6).

"The defendant had been convicted previously and throughout the trial he never showed remorse."

The 10-year jail sentence matched the punishment sought by prosecutors.

The 45-year-old terrorist travelled to General Santos in the southern Philippines in late September 2015. To avert suspicion, his second wife Neneng Rita Anyar travelled with him on this mission to procure arms for several planned attacks back home.

Suryadi visited local militants named Marod and Dato, old friends from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Marod agreed to help and let Suryadi stay at his house.Suryadi fought alongside MILF rebels against the Philippines military from 1996 to 2000.

Related Story
Trial of terrorist in Jakarta sheds light on arms trail from southern Philippines to Indonesia

Marod would bring home firearms which were on sale and Suryadi checked the condition of each one.

He sent photos of the guns to Iwan Darmawan Muntho, alias Rois, who is on death row in the Nusakambangan island prison after being convicted of being involved in the bombing of the Australian embassy in Jakarta.
If Rois gave the nod, Suryadi would test the guns in the backyard of Marod's house. Rois, who was later placed in an isolation cell, had arranged and funded Suryadi's mission.

Suryadi paid a total of US$30,000 (S$39,000) via Western Union, using borrowed ID cards, to purchase 16 M-16 rifles, one M-14 and five handguns.

After Tuesday's verdict was read out, Suryadi, said he did not plan to appeal.

Suryadi and others who fought in the southern Philippines have become top targets for the Indonesian government's surveillance unit because of their possible link to the country's firearms supply.

Suryadi had served several years in prison for his role in the 2002 bombing of a McDonald's outlet in Makassar, south Sulawesi, and over a paramilitary training camp in Aceh in 2010.

PH signs $233-M deal for Canadian choppers to fight rebels

From InterAksyon (Feb 7): PH signs $233-M deal for Canadian choppers to fight rebels

Philippine Air Force Bell 412EP helicopters

The Philippines signed a deal with Canada on Tuesday to buy 16 combat utility helicopters worth $233.36 million, as the military prepared to step up operations against Islamist and communist rebels.

The Bell 412EPI helicopters will be delivered early next year as President Rodrigo Duterte re-focuses the armed forces modernization program to tackle growing domestic threats as Maoist fighters and pro-Islamic State extremists try to regroup.

“The helicopters will be used for the military’s internal security operations,” Major-General Restituto Padilla, military chief of plans, told Reuters, adding the aircraft could also be used for search-and-rescue and disaster relief operations.

The helicopters would replace the second-hand Vietnam War-era UH-1H Huey rotary aircraft, the workhorse of the Philippine Air Force. The Philippines acquired those from the United States.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana signed the negotiated government contract with the Canadian Commercial Corporation, which was licensed to sell the American military aircraft.

It was the second time the Philippines has acquired Bell helicopters. In 2014, it bought eight lower variant of the aircraft for 4.8 billion pesos.

The Philippines is spending 125 billion pesos for the next five years to modernize its armed forces, but putting priority on equipment and armaments for internal security operations to defeat domestic threats as well protect its maritime borders.

It is also acquiring three frigates from South Korea, air defense radars from Israel, armored vehicles, a long-range patrol aircraft and assault rifles and grenade launchers from Russia.

Talaigod tribal leaders to hold rally today

From the Mindanao Times (Feb 6): Talaigod tribal leaders to hold rally today

TRIBAL leaders from the different barangays of Talaingod, Davao del Norte will hold a protest rally today to seek justice for the murder of Datu Banadjao Mampaundag and son Jhonard on Sunday.

Capt. Edson Abello, the civil-military operations (CMO) officer of 1001st Infantry Brigade, told TIMES yesterday that at least 200 Lumad leaders of Talaingod will gather at the town hall to express their indignation against the New People’s Army (NPA) for liquidating the Langilang-Mananobo tribe leader and his son.
From the municipal hall, the protesters will march to the tribal house and will end at the town gymnasium.

Mampaundag and his son were killed by alleged communist rebels who posed as military soldiers at their house in Sitio Igang, Barangay Palma Gil in Talaingod at 4 a.m. Sunday.
The murder came just days after Mampaundag signed a manifesto of support to the government’s peace effort together with other tribal leaders during the Indigenous People Leaders’ Summit held on Feb. 1-2 at Camp Felix Apolinario, the headquarters of the Philippine Army’s Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom), in Panacan.

The military said the NPA could have killed the tribal leader for signing the commitment to stay away from the communist insurgents.

Rebel brings along his M16 rifle in surrender

From the Mindanao Times (Feb 6): Rebel brings along his M16 rifle in surrender

A member of the New People’s Army (NPA) surrendered to the soldiers of 66th Infantry Battalion last Jan. 27 in Montevista town, Compostela Valley.

Lt. Col. Palmer Parungao, the commander of 66th IB, identified him to TIMES as alias Jesse, 26, male, a resident of Barangay Mayaon, Montevista.

He also surrendered his M16 rifle (defaced serial number) and one magazine loaded with 16 bullets to the Charlie Company of the 66th IB in Barangay Poblacion.

Parungak said the 66th lnfantry Battalion conducted a massive education drive perations in its area of operations covering the municipalities of Compostela, New Bataan, Maragusan and barangays Araibo, Las Arenas, and Tagugpo of Pantukan, all in Compostela Valley.
The operation resulted to 791 people who surrendered to them from December 2017 to Jan. 27.

“This figure shows a strong commitment of the people in condemning the CPP-NPA terrorist organization which … poses danger to the lives of the people in the communities,” he said.

He said the battalion killed alias Lepi, front secretary, in one of its operations, which cut off the resource generation network of the NPA in the area. It also reportedly caused a leadership crisis which weakened the group.

“The reduction of its equipage due to encounters, intelligence operations and surrenders had also been a strong factor in the bogging down of its fire power,” he said, as he credited the cooperation of the local government unit which spearheads development and livelihood assistance efforts to help the surrenderees.

“People joining the armed movement were just victimized by the false promises of the NPA,” he said.

Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Noel S Clement, 10th Infantry Division commander, said that they always want the rebels to surrender rather than die in gunbattle.

“Our forces are will continue to hunt down remaining NPA terrorists while local government units and agencies are busy delivering the much needed basic services for the people,” Clement said.

At least 130 NPA supporters surrender to military

From Rappler (Feb 7): At least 130 NPA supporters surrender to military

'Among the individuals who surrendered were 2 regular CPP-NPA members, 35 Militia ng Bayan members, and 93 CPP-NPA mass base supporters or members of the Underground Mass Organizations,' Captain Norman Tagros says

At least 130 members and mass-based supporters of the New People’s Army in Bukidnon surrendered to authorities on Wednesday, February 7 in Sumilao, Bukidnon.

Captain Norman Tagros, Spokesperson of the 403rd Infantry Brigade, 4th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, said the rebels surrendered to the 1st Special Forces Battalion.
“Among the individuals who surrendered were 2 regular CPP-NPA members, 35 Militia ng Bayan members, and 93 CPP-NPA mass base supporters or members of the Underground Mass Organizations bringing along a total of 34 assorted high and low powered firearms and one Improvised Explosive Device (IED),” Tagros said.

Tagros said the surrender is a result of a relentless and continued the conduct of Community Support Program and relentless focused military operations in the different CPP-NPA terrorists threatened areas in Northern Bukidnon.

Bukidnon has a large presence of NPA and mass-based support in Mount Kitanglad, Mount Kalatungan, and the Calabugao valley areas, with at least 4 guerrilla fronts and the North Central Mindanao Command.

Brigadier General Eric C Vinoya, Commander of the 403rd Infantry Brigade, said he appreciated the surrender of the former CPP-NPA rebel members and supporters.

"It is with great appreciation that I welcome the surrender and the oath of allegiance to our government of the 130 CPP-NPA members and supporters. This very significant moment is a great contributory factor in our bid to finally attain peace in our communities here in Bukidnon." Vinoya said.

Those who surrendered will be processed under the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) program of the government.

"With your surrender, rest assured that we would work hand-in-hand with the Local Government Unit and our government agencies in order to assist you as you start anew and live a peaceful and normal life through livelihood projects and capacity development programs,” Venoya said.

“The government has prepared a program for you such as the Comprehensive Local Integration Program wherein our brothers who are former members of the NPA will receive cash and livelihood assistance, housing, and employment assistance, among others," Venoya added.

Soldier killed by suspected NPA in Butuan City

From MindaNews (Feb 7): Soldier killed by suspected NPA in Butuan City

Suspected communist rebels on Monday killed a soldier who responded to a report of the presence of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Barangay Anticala, some 23 kilometers east of Butuan City.

Capt. Anthony Pueblas, spokesperson of the 402 Infantry Brigade identified the slain soldier as PFC. Roger Badayos.

Pueblas said they noticed the rebels are increasingly encroaching the villages around Butuan City, trying to envelop the highly urban center.

“The encounter happened around noon Monday as our troops approached the village,” Pueblas said.

He said the encounter was the second incident involving the NPA fighters. The first encounter happened on the same day in Kitcharao town, Agusan del Norte.

The NPA rebels have been very active after President Duterte ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines to destroy the NPA.

On Feb. 4, 2018, suspected NPA rebels killed Datu Benadjao Mampaundag and his son, Jhonard Mampaundag in their house in Barangay Palma Gil, Talaingod, Davao City.

The father and son had just arrived from the “ Panagtagbo Alang Sa Kalinaw and Kalambuan (Gathering for peace and development) where President Duterte spoke to them at a military camp in Panacan, Davao City on February 1.

The Mampaundags along with several leaders of the Indigenous Peoples or Lumads, reportedly expressed support to the call of President Duterte “to distance themselves” from the NPA rebels.

Capt. Tere Ingente, public information officer of the 4thInfantry Division said Lumads form 60 to 80 percent of the NPA cadres in Mindanao.

Ingente said the rebels are targeting leaders of the indigenous people who are supporting the Army.

She said rebels abducted and later beheaded Mar Acebedo Bocales while he was out hunting for wild animals in San Miguel, Surigao del Sur last Jan. 29.

Bocales and his family who were allegedly members of Magahat-Bagani Force, a paramilitary group, were among the suspects in the September 1, 2015 killing of Emerito Samarca, Executive Director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (Alcadev) and two Lumad leaders.

The National Democratic Front (NDF) International Office on January 31 said the NPA had nothing to do with the beheading.

The NDF pointed to an armed group led by a certain Emerson Cuarteron as responsible for the abduction and beheading of Bocales.

217 NPA surrenderers flown to Manila for “educational tour” and dinner with Duterte

From MindaNews (Feb 7): 217 NPA surrenderers flown to Manila for “educational tour” and dinner with Duterte

Two hundred seventeen alleged members of the New People’s Army (NPA) who were reported to have surrendered to government were flown to Manila Tuesday morning for a two-day “educational tour” and dinner with President Rodrigo Duterte at the MalacaƱan Palace, the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) said.

The NPA surrenderers were sent off at 9 a.m. on Tuesday at the Tactical Operation Group 11 in Sasa where they boarded a C-130 aircraft for Manila, Maj. Ezra L. Balagtey, chief of the Eastmincom’s Public Information Office said in a text message.

Balagtey said all 683 NPA surrenderers within Eastmincom’s jurisdiction will all have the chance to meet and dine with the President in Malacanang but schedules have yet to be arranged for the other batches. The 217 flown to Manila Tuesday represents the first batch who will dine with the President on Wednesday.

He said a welcome ceremony has been prepared for them at 8 a.m. at the Tejeros Hall in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, presided by Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff General Rey Leonardo Guerrero. Guerrero was Eastmincom chief before he was named AFP Chief of Staff in October last year.

OFF TO MANILA. Two hundred seventeen former members of the New People’s Army board a C-130 aircraft for Manila on Tuesday, February 6, 2018 for an “educational tour” and dinner with President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacanang on February 7, Photo courtesy of EastMinCom

Before proceeding to Malacanang, Balagtey said, the NPA surrenderers will be taken on an educational tour at the Intramuros and other historical sites “to awaken their nationalism” in order to encourage their active participation in nation- and peace-building.

He added that they will also visit the mushroom production and other farms in Bulacan in coordination with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority to help them get livelihood ideas to become self-sustaining as part of the government’s Comprehensive Local Integration Program.

Balagtey said they will return home on February 9.

On November 23 last year, President Duterte issued Proclamation 360, calling off the peace talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF), two days before the supposed fifth round of formal peace negotiations on November 25 to 27 in Oslo, Norway. The NDF represents the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the NPA in the talks.

On December 5, Duterte issued Proclamation 374 declaring the NPA and the CPP as terrorist organization pursuant to RA No. 10168, also known as the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2002.

Duterte has yet to disband his peace panel.

On January 22, Duterte ordered his troops to “destroy the NPA, destroy the organization.”

“Just like drugs, dito sa giyerang ito, destroy the NPA. Destroy the organization,” he told his troops in Camp Manuel Yan in Mawab, Compostela Valley, as he called on the NPA guerrillas to “surrender.”

“Mag-surrender na lang kayo, bigyan ko kayo ng trabaho, automatic may pera pa kayo” (Just surrender and I will give you employment and money), he said.

MID commander recognizes achievement of troops in ensuring peace and development

From the Philippine Information Agency (Feb 7): MID commander recognizes achievement of troops in ensuring peace and development

LABANGAN, Zamboanga del Sur -- The commander of the Mechanized Infantry Division (MID), Philippine Army met the brave and resolute troops of the 1st Cavalry (Tagapanguna) Squadron recently at its headquarters in Camp Colonel Jacobo E. Zobel here.

MajGen. Gilbert I. Gapay during his “talk to men” he congratulated the troops for a job well done in their operation during the Marawi City siege on May 23 last year.

“You have greatly contributed to the success of the military operations during the Marawi siege by successfully defeating the Maute terror group and regained control of the area,” Gapay proudly announced.

Gapay also said the troops have successfully confronted local terrorist group Abu Sayyaf (ASG) in Sulu and Basilan, and the New People’s Army in Zamboanga Peninsula and Lanao del Norte.

The commanding general encouraged the troops not to be satisfied with their achievements.

“In spite of our sterling record of accomplishments, we should not rest on our laurels. Thus, I encourage you to always strive to be your best,” Gapay urged.

He said under the AFP’s Army Transformation Roadmap (ATR), the Philippine Army is mandated to attain its vision to transform  into a better, more dynamic, more responsive, more capable, and more professional Army by 2028.

The good general underscored the need of the troops to focus on major thrusts under his leadership, namely: to enhance operational effectiveness, improve sustainment programs, sustain transformation effort, and pursue the modernization program of the Armor force.

“We cannot achieve the MID’s vision of becoming a world-class organization without the help and support of the troops,” Gapay concluded.

Gapay also visited the Light Armor Cavalry troops at 104th Brigade in Basilan, 2nd Mechanized Brigade headquarters in Marawi City, Light Army Cavalry troops in Camp Ranao, 103rd Infantry Brigade in Marawi City, 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division, Philippine Army in Camp Major Cesar Sang-an, Pulacan, Light Army Cavalry Troops in Indanan, Sulu and Western Mindanao Command (WesMinCom), Zamboanga City.

His visit to the different units was his first upon his assumption of office on December 16, 2017.

53rd IB newly installed commander vows to pursue counter-insurgency program

From the Philippine Information Agency (Feb 7): 53rd IB newly installed commander vows to pursue counter-insurgency program

GUIPOS, Zamboanga del Sur -- Newly installed commanding officer of the 53rd Infantry (Matapat) Battalion, Philippine Army vowed to pursue the counter-insurgency program of his predecessor.

LtCol Marlowe E. Patria, who assumed his first command position as the commanding officer of the unit on February 2 said he will continue the counter-insurgency program which was started by his predecessor, LtCol. Virgilio Hamos, Jr., who is now the assistant chief of staff for intelligence at the 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division, Philippine Army in Pulacan, Labangan.

“I am happy with the opportunity to serve our brave men and women in the unit and to continue to fight for an insurgency-free Zamboanga Peninsula,” Patria declared.

It can be recalled that under the leadership of LtColonel Hamos, the unit has successfully implemented comprehensive civilian and military efforts and simultaneously defeated and contained insurgency and addressed its root causes.

Patria said he considered his new assignment as an honor and a privilege adding that he will have the opportunity to belong, learn and grow in the 1st Infantry division which has the reputation of being the “fiercest and fightingest” division in the Philippine Army.

“During my term here, I commit to remain steadfast in ensuring that our communities will not live in fear, danger, and oppression caused by insurgents,” Patria said.

He said that all of their programs and activities will be geared towards the protection of the youth from the influence of insurgency and violent extremism and inculcate the love of God, family, and country.

He added that the unit will continue to convince the insurgents to go back to the folds of the law and live normal lives together with their families.

“But for those who will still refuse to surrender and choose to continue in wreaking havoc to our communities, our Matapat troopers are always ready to fight against them and put them where they rightfully belong,” Patria declared.

He also thanked the stakeholders– media, local leaders, NGOs, private organizations and the youth groups for their support to the “Matapat” troops under the leadership of his predecessor.

“I pray that our zeal for an insurgency-free country will continue under my stead,” Patria said.

The good commanding officer also shared an inspirational quote by African proverb on the value of teamwork.

Patria concluded by sharing an African proverb about the value of teamwork which says, ‘if you want to go fast, you go alone, but if you want to go far, let us go together.”

Tribal leader calls for ‘pangayaw’ vs NPA

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 7): Tribal leader calls for ‘pangayaw’ vs NPA

DAVAO CITY—A tribal leader of the Ata-Manobo tribe in Talaingod, Davao del Norte declared a “pangayaw” against the New People’s Army (NPA), particularly the 30 lumads who allied with the communist group.

Datu Lumansad Sibogan, the presiding officer of the Council of Elders of the Ata-Manobo Tribe in Talaingod, said it is high time to stop their own tribal members who follow the path of the NPA to the point of killing their own relatives.

Sibogan said "pangayaw" is a cultural practice or self-governance of the tribes to exact justice for the killings in the community that not even the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP), police or military can stop.

"Pangayaw" has been defined as a ritual performed by a warrior chief prior to waging a prestige killing.

“Magdeklara mi ug pangayao sa ila, kay mas naminaw sila sa mga tao sa pikas kaysa amo nga ilang paryente (We will declare a pangayaw against them because they listen more the other side (NPA) than their relatives),” Sibogan said.

Sibogan, who is from JBL, Barangay Sto. Nino, Talaingod, has also been receiving threats from the NPA.

In fact, he said he already received two letters threatening to peel him. “Panitan kuno ko nila. Unsang panitan nga dili man ko kamote (They said they will peel me. How can they peel me I am not a sweet potato),” Sibogan said in jest during Tuesday’s AFP-PNP press corps briefing at the Royal Mandaya Hotel.

Sibogan admitted tribal leaders are divided.

There are 60 tribal leaders in Talaingod and 30 of them are members of the Office of the Tribal Council supported by the government while the other 30 leaders are members of the Salugpongan Ta Tanu Igkanugon (Unity to Defend the Land) which reportedly promotes the objectives of the NPA.

Sibogan expressed disgust over the killing of the Langilang-Manobo tribal leader Datu Banadjao Mampaundag and his son, Jhonard Mampaundag by armed men believed to be members of the NPA, inside their home in Barangay Palma Gil, Talaingod, Davao del Norte on Sunday dawn.

The incident happened a day after Banadjao came home from the two-day "Panagtagbo Alang sa Kalinaw ug Kalambuan," an Indigenous Peoples Leaders’ Summit held at the Green Height Convention Center in Davao City on January 31 and February 1.

Sibogan alleged that Banadjao and Jhonard, who was later learned to be a member of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (Cafgu), were murdered by a certain Rommel Gabo.

He said Rommel is his nephew, adding that their members of the community no longer respect own relatives.

Sibogan said all of them are affected by the killing of Banadjao.

Respect culture

Emmanuel Caccal, provincial head of the NCIP– Davao del Norte, said “pangayaw” is part of the lumads’ culture.

He said NCIP can only ask the lumads not to launch a “pangayaw” because it means death to anyone they meet. NCIP is also saddened by the killing of Banadjao and his son.

When he met Banadjao a few days before he was killed, Caccal said he noticed sadness in the datu’s face. When asked if there was something that worried him to which Banadjao only answered none.

According to Caccal, his team was scheduled to visit So Igang but “I was told by Datu Banadjao not to go there because it is dangerous.

Caccal is hoping the killing of Banadjao and Jhonard would be the last. He said the lumads only wanted to live simple and peacefully.

“Nasubo mi sa panghitabo (We are saddened by the incident,),” Caccal said as he vowed that NCIP will work towards solving the incident peacefully.

Meanwhile, the Chief of the Davao del Norte Provincial Police Office, Chief Inspector Werenfredo Regidor, said he respects the cultural practice of the lumads to launch a pangayaw.

He, however, assured that the police will do its best to protect lives and preserve peace in the IP communities.

Capt. Edson Abello, Civil Military officer of the Army’s 1001st Brigade, said troops have been deployed in So Igang to secure the community and that a military detachment has already been put up in the area.

PRO 11 spokesperson, Chief Insp. Andrea dela Cerna, said there was a clear human rights violation by NPA members for the killing of the Mampaundags.

"We will be calling the attention of the United Nations to look into this matter because it's a clear violation of international human rights also," she said.

Dela Cerna said the rebels did not just attack the victims but also the responding ambulance which was ambushed using an improvised explosive device (IED).

"What we see here is, even our civilians and even the driver of the ambulance were also put in danger during that time," she said.

Capt. Jerry Lamosao, spokesperson of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said the troops are ready to protect the people. He said the situation will be monitored to prevent escalation of the conflict.

Murder cases ready

Regidor said two counts of murder will be filed against the identified perpetrators. He said witnesses saw 12 armed men attacked the Mampaundags’ home.

Of the 12, nine have been identified and were confirmed members of the NPA.

He said the police will file the cases after the victims’ burial as requested by the wives of Banadjao and Jhonard.

Eastern Visayas Army forms new battalion to fight Reds

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 7): Eastern Visayas Army forms new battalion to fight Reds

The Philippine Army in Eastern Visayas activated a battalion to reinforce military units in the more aggressive fight against communist rebels in the region.

The 93rd Infantry Battalion, also known as “Bantay Kapayapaan” (Peacekeeper), is headed by Lt. Col. Hilarion Palma and composed of well-trained army officers and enlisted military personnel.

In a statement issued Tuesday night, Major Gen. Raul Farnacio, commander of the Army’s 8th Infantry Division, said that aside from wiping out insurgents, the new battalion would also help prevent the spill-over of hostilities after the Marawi crisis, assist in addressing illegal drugs, and fight private armies in Samar Island.

“I am very confident and I expect highly of their capability as a unit to accomplish their mission. For one, most of them are seasoned officers and soldiers who have already accumulated trainings, experience and operational backgrounds of fighting our enemy in this rugged terrain of Samar and Leyte,” Farnacio said.

The army officially activated the team on Monday in a ceremony at Camp Eugenio Daza in Fatima village, Hinabangan, Samar.

In his visit to Eastern Samar late last year, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana announced the creation of 10 new battalions nationwide to augment the existing government forces in the fight against insurgency and terrorism.

In previous interviews, Farnacio admitted that insurgency remained a serious threat to the region’s peace and order with the efforts of the New People’s Army (NPA) to regain control of their former strongholds.

The NPA in Eastern Visayas has 403 active members with 577 firearms. It has five guerrilla fronts in Leyte and Samar provinces and maintain its influence in 31 villages, according to the 4th quarter 2017 report of the Philippine Army to the Regional Development Council.

Villagers leave home due to NPA harassment

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 7): Villagers leave home due to NPA harassment
Villagers leave home due to NPA harassment
Hundreds of residents in a remote village in Maragusan town left their homes after they were allegedly harassed by members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in exchange for food.

About 1,000 residents of Sitio Kawyapi, Barangay Langgawisan in Maragusan, started to evacuate on Tuesday afternoon following the arrival of the NPA in the area.

The lawless elements were forcing residents to give them food. The people evacuated to nearby Barangay Talian of Maragusan as of posting time.

In a sketchy report, the residents in the area were used by the NPA as human shield against the operating troops of a 66th infantry battalion.

Lt. Col. Palmer Parungao, the commander of 66th Infantry battalion, however, clarified that the residents were not being hostage by the rebels as reported earlier.

"Tanghali dumating yung NPA so nagtakbuhan yung mga tao. Galing Manay, Davao Oriental tapos pagpunta nila doon may hinahanap sila kaya natakot yung mga resident. Nag fo-force na maghingi ng pagkain may iba nag sira ng bahay (The NPA arrived noon so the people ran away. They (NPA) came from Manay, Davao Oriental and when they arrived there they were looking for someone so the people were afraid. They were forcing people for food while others were destroying houses)," Parungao said.

But Parungao said the NPA members had no intention to hostage and "we do not want to attack them because there are still (civilian) people in the community," Parungao said.

Parungao could not determine the number of armed men holding in the area but they belong to Guerilla front 15 and Pulang Bagani Company (PBC) 8 of the NPA.

According to Parungao, the incident proves the people do not support the rebel groups already. He said the people used to support the NPA.

For now, the Maragusan LGU and other agencies are providing the needs of the evacuees. Parungao said the 66th IB had provided additional forces near the area to secure the community.

BBL draft now in House committee level

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 7): BBL draft now in House committee level

The House of Representatives’ version of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is now submitted and being deliberated in the joint congressional committees.

This after the sub-committee meetings were conducted last week and it was presented as an urgent priority of the Committee on Local Government and Peace, Reconciliation and Unity to come up with the “draft bill,” which will be tackled for public consultation and finalization in the House plenary in due time.

Rep. Celso Lobregat of this city’s first district on Wednesday said the BBL Sub-Committee, in which he was one of the three members, took the lead to harmonize its provisions as they had already discussed it provision by provision and “agreed to disagree” the constitutionality and partiality of it and taking into consideration the unconstitutional provisions, which needed to be discussed thoroughly.

The sub-committee, chaired by Rep. Wilter Wee Palma II (1st District, Zamboanga Sibugay) and represented by at least three members each from the three committees, is now coming up with a working draft bill based on House Bills 6475, 92, 6121 and 6263 authored by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Deputy Speaker Bai Sandra Sinsuat Sema (1st District, Maguindanao), Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (2nd District, Pampanga) and Rep. Mohamad Khalid Dimaporo (1st District, Lanao del Norte), respectively.

The four bills seek to provide for the BBL and abolish the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). They seek to repeal Republic Act 9054, entitled “An Act to Strengthen and Expand the Organic Act for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao” and RA 6374 entitled “An Act Providing for an Organic Act for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.”

“We were already done with our bloody work of consolidating the four proposed BBL bills, those provisions not agreed upon will be referred to the mother committee, after that we shall have public consultations and there might be changes again before it reaches the plenary,” said Lobregat, member for the majority of the House Committee on Local Government, Peace, Reconciliation and Unity.

He said the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) version of the BBL was dominant, but it didn’t mean that the house committees would approve it, instead they would still had to scrutinize it and determine its constitutionality based on the consolidated version of the BBL.

“We made it very clear, we make the consolidated draft bill and this will be used for discussion in the committee level,” Lobregat said.

He said there was no problem in passing the BBL as long as the unconstitutional provisions would be removed and it would not jeopardize the welfare of other Filipinos who did not wish to be under the jurisdiction of the proposed Bangsamoro region.

“It is the commitment of the House leadership that the BBL will be materialized, we were give a timeline, but again, we wanted a constitutional BBL, we are part of the Philippines, it is not only the Bangsamoro who has to be considered but the entire Filipino nation should also be heard, and it is the reason why the senate and congress are now doing its series of public consultations here in Mindanao region,” Lobregat said.

“Again, I would like to reiterate to the public, that I am for peace, I am not anti-peace but we need a Bangsamoro Basic Law that is just, fair, acceptable, feasible and within the realm of the constitution and existing laws,” Lobregat added.

Troops, crime group clash in Zambo

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 7): Troops, crime group clash in Zambo

Government security forces clashed with a syndicated crime group involved in extortion and kidnapping activities in the province of Zamboanga del Norte, a top police official said Wednesday.

Chief Supt. Billy Beltran, Police Regional Office (PRO) 9 director, said the clash happened at around 12:08 p.m. Tuesday in Sitio Monob, Barangay Daniel Maing, Kalawit, Zamoanga del Norte.

Beltran said joint police and military forces were on combat patrol when they encountered more or less 20 gunmen, who are said to be members of a crime syndicate.

He said the firefight lasted for around 30 minutes after which the armed men fled towards the hinterlands.

He said there were no casualties on both the government and the enemy side. The armed men are reportedly involved in extortion and kidnapping activities in Kalawit and in nearby areas.

He said the troops recovered from the clash site the following: one KG9 (9-mm Luger) assault rifle with ammunition; a rifle grenade; a fragmentation grenade; 10 sets of hammock; four sets of fatigue uniforms; six backpacks; a binocular; four flashlights; a cellular phone; and empty shells for M-16 Armalite rifle and M-14 rifle.

He said troops are tracking down the whereabouts of the syndicate crime group members.

Army mediates over Lanao Sur clan war settlement

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 7): Army mediates over Lanao Sur clan war settlement

MALABANG, Lanao del Sur – The Army's Ragat-Ranao task force once again succeeded in facilitating the peaceful settlement of clan wars involving Maranao families in the coastal towns of Lanao del Sur.

On Tuesday, the Army’s 6th Infantry Battalion (IB), based here managed to bring the warring Dimatingkal-Manalocon-Cadayon clan and Oting-Bacaraman-Pandato to the negotiating table.

The historic “rido” (family feud) settlement inside 6th IB headquarters in Matling, Malabang, Lanao del Sur was witnessed by Maj. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, 6th Infantry Division (6ID) commander, other military officials and local government executives of the adjoining towns of Malabang, Balabagan, Kapatagan, Marogong and Picong, all in the western coast of Lanao del Sur.

The warring families hugged each other like long lost friends and swear before the Quran never to use violence anymore in settling quarrels.

The warring families also turned over to Dela Vega assorted high powered firearms as a gesture of their commitment to end violence in their respective communities.

“Peace and development can only be achieved if the culture of violence will be eradicated in the area thru unity, understanding, humility and constant communication,” dela Vega said in his speech before the reconciled Maranao families.

“People involved in feuds should look after the welfare of their next generations and rethink how they can come up with a win-win solution to any misunderstanding or dispute,” he added.

The family feud started only in November last year after a clan member was shot in the mountains of Barangay Diragun, Marogong, Lanao del Sur.

Relatives of the aggrieved party retaliated and a cycle of violence developed. The latest violence was recorded on January 18 when a family member of the warring families was shot dead.

Dela Vega lauded 6th IB commander Lt. Colonel Ruben Aquino for going out of his way to bring warring families in the negotiating table.

“I salute the families involved in this settlement, I am glad you now realize the importance of having peace in your community so that development could come in,” he said.

Dela Vega also directed the military in the area to continue pursuing peaceful means of breaking the barrier to peace and push for community development.

"You people here are the beneficiary of any development projects the government is doing for you,” he said. The Ragat-Ranao task force has been active in settling family feuds in Lanao del Sur province since last year.

40 ex-NPAs want to join military

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 7): 40 ex-NPAs want to join military

More than 40 New People's Army (NPA) rebel surrenderers, out of the 215 taken to Manila for a three-day tour, have expressed their desire to join the military.

This was stressed by 701st Infantry Brigade commander Brig. Gen. Reuben James Basiao during a chance interview at Armed Forces of the Philippines headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City Wednesday.

He added that the request of the above-mentioned rebels, who are qualified to join the military, are being considered and evaluated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Basiao stressed that procedures former NPAs need to undertake in joining the military are similar to the ones being administered to civilians interested in being part of the AFP.

The surrendered rebels came from the Eastern Mindanao. They arrived from Davao City from Manila on Tuesday.

AFP public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Emmanuel Garcia said that the ex-NPAs flew aboard one of the Air Force's Lockheed C-130 "Hercules" cargo planes.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier pledged to bring to MalacaƱang and tour the former rebels in Manila during his visit in Panacan, Davao City last December 21, 2017.

The goal is to awaken the surrendered NPAs to a better perspective in life particularly in peace building and nationalism.

Nolcom awaits orders on ‘restriction’ of foreign vessels in PH Rise

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 7): Nolcom awaits orders on ‘restriction’ of foreign vessels in PH Rise

While it has yet to receive orders regarding President Rodrigo Duterte's directive to drive away any foreign vessels or ships conducting research or any other activities in the Philippine Rise (formerly known as Benham Rise), the Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) is more than ready to perform its mandate especially in terms of maritime security.

"(In regards) to maritime security ay amin namang ginagawa dahil ito ang ating mandato at aantayin lamang namin ang utos sa taas para gawin para maisagawa ang aming mandato. We will still continue 'yung mandate na ito, to monitor our fellow Filipinos na nangigisda sa karagatan natin ganun din yung mga pagmo-monitor ng fishing vessels and Chinese vessels within our territory," Nolcom spokesperson Lt. Col. Isagani Nato said Wednesday.

He added that they were still conducting maritime and air patrols in waters under the operational jurisdiction of Nolcom along with the Coast Guard, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and Philippine National Police-Maritime Group.

Nato said Nolcom was using the Air Force's Tactical Operation Group 2 and 3 and aircraft from the Navy to patrol its maritime areas.

"Sabi ko nga itong patrol na ginagawa natin ay regular. It is a mandate ng Nolcom forces so patuloy yun kahit meron o walang kautusan sa taas patuloy," he added.

And as of now, they are still to receive reports on the presence of foreign ships transiting along Philippine Rise.

Nolcom undertakes three to four patrol missions in maritime areas under its control, Nato added.

NDF/NPA-FSMR: Fake surrenders is a ploy to cover up AFP’s vicious transgressions in Daguma

NPA-Far South Mindanao Region propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Website (Feb 6): Fake surrenders is a ploy to cover up AFP’s vicious transgressions in Daguma

Valentin Palamine Regional Operations Command
Far South Mindanao Region, NEW PEOPLE’S ARMY
Press statement | 05 February 2018

The AFP and PNP’s vaunt on the alleged 32 NPA who turned over is an exceedingly bloated lie. The apparent “surrenderees” reportedly received cash assistance from the Sultan Kudarat provincial government while the AFP has promised to compensate those who have surrendered their guns. The AFP further disclosed that there were eight other “surrenderees” they are currently processing.

Such is a pretentious fabrication to shield military transgressions against the people in Daguma. The Dulangan-Manobo and T’boli masses are aware that the apparent “surrenderees” presented by the AFP to the public are their folks who were accused as NPA members and charged with trump up cases. They were relentlessly harassed and threatened by the military, and were gulled by false promises of easy money if they yield.

Fake surrenders become a means of the AFP and PNP officials to earn from the government’s amnesty program. The unaware and vulnerable “surrenderees” become their sources for pocketing the amnesty fund and livelihood assistance for the rebel returnees. Recruiting more “surrenderees” is also an ostensive “achievement” for attaining promotions.

Coercion and fake surrenders is a ploy devised by the AFP to prop up their futile effort to protect Consunji’s monopoly interest in Daguma Range and secure DMCI’s impending large-scale mining operations. They would often brag that the “surrenderees” are proofs of their ostentatious claim that the revolutionary influence in the area is waning and that the armed resistance of the masses is already defeated.

The AFP’s task in Daguma obviously is to disintegrate the staunch struggle of the Lumads for land and self-determination. Under Duterte’s militarist rule, reclaiming the lumad’s land and defending the ancestral domain has become a crime and the land grabber despotic landlord Consunji is the victim all along.

Perhaps only the most vicious and greediest oligarchs like Consunji deserve to be protected by the fascist state forces. He is a powerful terrorist and criminal who imposes crimes and transgressions with impunity such as land grabbing, countless killings, burning of lumad dwellings, looting and destruction of properties, harassments and threats.

A few of the most heinous crimes committed by Consunji’s private armed mercenaries and hired AFP forces includes the murder of Datu Jakang Abag and 23 members of his family (1979), the slaughtering of 8 lumads in Kedakelan, Esperanza (1989), various slaying incidents and massacres that killed more than a hundred persons in Kanalan, Tubak, Esperanza (decade of 1990), the murder of Dulangan-Manobo activist John Calaba (2015), and the massacre of the 8 T’boli-Manobo peasants led by Datu Victor Danyan Sr. in Sityo Datal Bonglangon, Brgy. Ned, Lake Sebu.

In spite of the incessant state attacks, the lumads are determined in advancing their struggle and are firm against the deceptions that seek to weaken their resistance. The reactionary state must be denounced for degrading the legitimacy of the lumad’s struggle for self-determination.

All revolutionary forces and the masses must firmly defy all forms of threats and deceptions. In any event, the people who have a worthy understanding of the social realities and the masses’ struggle are always distrustful of the AFP’s falsehoods and pretentions.

Ka Dencio Madrigal
Spokesperson, VPROC-FSMR

MILF: EU delegation visits Cotabato City to get firsthand information on peace process

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Feb 6): EU delegation visits Cotabato City to get firsthand information on peace process

Cotabato City – A seven (7)-man delegation from the European Union (EU) arrived in Cotabato City on January 30 to meet Ghazali Jaafar,1st Vice Chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Central Committee (MILF, CC,) and Chair of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) to get firsthand information on the latest developments of the current peace process including the monitoring of global issues on radicalism, and terrorism in Mindanao.
However, due to a prior commitment, Jaafar designated his staff headed by his Chief of Staff Prof. Raby A. Angkal, Prof. Abdullah B. Adam, Executive Assistant III, Margany R. Gumander, Peace Program Officer II, and Abdula P. Tayaan, Communication Officer to meet, and engage with them in a dialogue.

A round table question, and answer dialogue was held at the BTC Office, 4th Floor, Elena V. Co Building, Don Rufino Alonzo St., Cotabato City.

The EU Delegation 2-day visit is part of their monitoring programs, and activities on humanitarian aid to the victims of both man-made and natural calamities. They also extend support to the government counter insurgency and campaign against radicalism and terrorism.

The first question raised by the EU is on the current status of the ongoing peace process.

How would the MILF foresee or evaluate the current flow of the peace process with the (Philippine) government for the past several years? A member of the EU delegation asked.

“The MILF demonstrated its sincerity, patience and determination to attain just and dignified peace in our homeland by engaging the government in peace negotiation. In fact, the peace talks lasted for more than 17 years before the Government, and the MILF came up with the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) on October 15, 2012, followed by the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed on March 27, 2014,” Angkal said.

“The GPH-MILF Peace Process is so far the longest peace negotiation in world where the government had designated at least 12 peace panel chairs at a given time, and 4 chairpersons on the MILF side, Angkal added.

What are the expectations of the MILF now that the BBL is in the Senate Sub-Committee level conducting public hearing?

The MILF sees the passage of the BBL as the only viable solution to attain just, and lasting peace in Mindanao. Senator Juan Miguel “Migs” Zubiri, Chairman of the Sub-Committee on BBL stated during the Senate Committee Public Hearing on BBL on 25 January in Cotabato City, “Rest assured the senate will pass an undiluted BBL. If there’s any changes, only the wordings for enhancement”, Angkal replied.

During the public hearing in Cotabato City, Senator Sonny Angara, Chairman, Senate Committee on Local Government believes that the Bangsamoro people are united, and fully support the BBL.

“Sa dami ng taong dumalo sa Senate Public Hearing on BBL ni isa man ay walang tutol sa BBL,” Senator Angara said.

“Not even Senator JV Ejercito, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Heath – known anti-BBL before who reiterated that he has proven during his term as the Mayor of San Juan that Muslims and Christians could live together harmoniously,” Angara also said.

Are you optimistic that President Duterte has the blessings to the Senate public hearings on the BBL?

“We are very optimistic that President Rodrigo Duterte is sincere and committed to correct the historical injustices against the Bangsamoro people. At the very start of his campaign, and during his SONA in 2016, Pres. Duterte reiterated his commitment to pass the BBL, and to correct the historical injustice to the Bangsamoro,” Angkal said.

Angkal also said that, no less than President Duterte himself who announced in public that if the BBL will not pass in Congress, he has already prepared an Executive Order (E.O.) No. 10 to ensure that the signed agreements will be implemented.”

“I don’t want that Marawi incident will be repeated again.” This was the stern warning of the president to congress, both Lower and Upper House as a gesture of support for the passage of BBL in Congress, Angkal added.

The plus factors for the passage of BBL according to Angkal was that President Duterte is a Mindanaon, the Senate President, and the House Speaker are also Mindanaoans, and so there’s no reason why BBL will not pass in Congress, Angkal told the EU delegation.

Had there any specific guidelines, and mechanism adopted by the government to ensure a sustainable implementation of the signed agreement? How could the MILF ensure that once the BBL passed into law and implemented, just and dignified peace could be attained?

Yes, there’s an implementing guidelines to be followed to sustain peace building mechanism, and we believe the government panel is in the right tract for the implementation of the signed agreement, Angkal said.

BTC Commissioner Mohaguer Iqbal, Chairman for the MILF Peace Implementing panel, and ASEC Nabil Tan, Chair of the Peace Government Implementing panel are meeting from time to time to ensure that the peace agreement (CAB), and its annexes are implemented, Angkal further explained.

Prof. Abdullah Adam supplemented the explanation of Angkal and said that the MILF is certain that just, and dignified peace could be achieved once the BTC draft BBL is passed into law.

How about the other existing armed groups who are also fighting against the government for same cause; like the MNLF, and the Maute/ ISIS terrorist group? Has there any possibility that the MILF could unify these groups to join in the Bangsamoro new political entity?

For your information, the MILF Central Committee had already created an Ad Hoc Committee on Unity and Reconciliation Chaired by Chairman Jaafar to address the following: disunity among the Bangsamoro, family feuds, and the likes.

In fact, the MILF and the MNLF had signed twice a Unified Declaration supporting the ongoing GPH-MILF peace process, and the passage of BBL.

No less than, Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim of the MILF, and then MNLF Chairman Muslimen Sema who signed the said unified declarations in 2015, and 2016 at Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, Adam replied.

Under Executive Order No. 08, signed by President Duterte on November 7, 2016, the 21-member Bangsamoro Transition Commission, there are three (3) MNLF Commissioners, namely; Atty. Ferdaussi Abbas, Atty. Omar Yasser Sema, and Hatimil Hassan; two (2) Indigenous people’ Commissioners Romeo Saliga, and Melanio Ulama, and one (1) Christian Commissioner Dr. Susana Anayatin, the rest are members of the MILF, CC, Adam emphasized.

MILF: CBCS conducts forum on peace and preventing violent extremism in Gensan.

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Feb 6): CBCS conducts forum on peace and preventing violent extremism in Gensan.

The Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS), in partnership with the Muslim Student Association of Ramon Magsaysay Memorial College (MSA-RMMC), conducted on January 29, 2018 a forum entitled “Promoting Peace and Preventing Violent Extremism in the Bangsamoro: Conversation with Students.”
Seventy one (71) students from various colleges and universities here in General Santos City participated in the forum. The participants were mostly RMMC students but representatives from other colleges were also present

Prof. Rufa C. Guiam, former professor ofe Mindanao State University - General Santos City and author several published articles and speaker in several international conferences was the resource person of the forum.

Prof. Guiam spoke on two major topics: “The roots, “drivers” (push or pull), and strategies for addressing violent extremism” and “Salient features of the BBL and on Federalism.”

She started her talk by testing the knowledge of the student participants on the concept of terrorism.

One answer from a student participant caught the attention of the speaker was that “Terrorism is a crime committed by a Muslim.”

Having noticed the students’ lack of basic knowledge about terrorism, the speaker decided to clarify and elaborate on the basic concepts of radicalization, violent extremism, and terrorism.

She said radicalization is the process by which individuals are introduced to an overtly ideological message and belief system that encourages movement from moderate, mainstream beliefs towards extreme views.

But she emphasized that radicalism should not be equated with terrorism, and that people who hold radical views do not necessarily become terrorists or violent extremist.

On the other hand, violent extremism is viewed as “encouraging, condoning, justifying, or supporting the commission of a violent act to achieve political, ideological, religious, social, or economic goals”.

According to the UN Statement on the Plan of Action against Terrorism, terrorism has four common elements as follows: a) threat or use of violence; b) political objective, i.e. the desire to change the status quo; c) intention to spread fear by committing spectacular public acts (could be heinous or just bluffing actions), and d) intention to target civilians.

The speaker emphasized that terrorists are made, not born. She said there are factors that drive individuals, either pulling or pushing them to violent extremism. She enumerated seven socio-political conditions that may drive individuals into violent extremism, as follows:

1. Denial of basic political rights and civil liberties

2. Harsh and brutal rule that entails gross violations of human rights

3. Widespread corruption and perceived immunity for well-connected elites

4. Poorly governed, weak and failing states, ungoverned areas

5. Protracted violent conflicts

6. Presence of repressive regimes widely perceived as illegitimate or bankrupt; absence of strong and legal opposition

7. Provision of previous support to VE movements by governments that once relied on those movements to serve their short term political or strategic interests.

In addressing the phenomenon of violent extremism, Prof. Guiam said the United Nations (UN) has identified the following areas where action/activities designed to address the issue of peace and violent extremism could be undertaken:

1. Dialogue and Conflict Prevention

2. Strengthening Good Governance, Human Rights and the Rule of Law

3. Engaging Communities

4. Empowering Youth

5. Gender Equality and Empowering Women

6. Education, Skills Development and Employment Facilitation

7. Strategic Communications, the Internet and Social Media

In her second talk, Prof. Guiam discussed briefly the salient features of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) as well as on a comparison between Federalism and Unitary System.

CBCS expressed gratitude to Moammar Amal, MSA president, together with his fellow officers and members for assisting CBCS in the logistics preparation and in the overall conduct of the forum.

MILF: Former supreme court chief justice davide affirms the stance of his fellow framers of 1987 constitution the constitutionality of BBL

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Feb 6): Former supreme court chief justice davide affirms the stance of his fellow framers of 1987 constitution the constitutionality of BBL

Three Surviving Framers of 1987 Constitution are unanimous in declaring that the previous, and present Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is constitutional, and free from any legal infirmities and within the context of the law.
During the 6th Senate Public Hearing on February 5, 2018, Retired Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. affirms the stance of his fellow framers of the constitution that the expanded BTC version of BBL is constitutional, said a report by OPAPP website Peace.Gov.Ph.

In his argument made during the public hearing at the Senate, Davide elaborated four points why congress should pass the bill and called the same to support it. The retired Chief Justice argued, " First, the passage of the bill for the creation of an autonomous region is a constitutional mandate. Second, its passage is compelled by the imperative of correcting historical injustices. Third, the region that has been given autonomy must be recognized, and respected for its distinctiveness and uniqueness. And Fourth, the BBL must be understood as an extraordinary special law not only because of its nature but also as an embodiment of the peace agreement and the product of the prolonged negotiations. "

Joining Davide in declaring the constitutionality of the previous, and present BBL were Dr. Florangel Rasario Braid, and Retired Associate Justice Rodolfo Ascuna.

The proposed bill gained collective support from the Bangsamoro core area as shown, and seen during the 3rd and 4th Senate public hearings conducted in Cotabato City and Marawi City, respectively.

The Senate subcommittee on BBL are scheduled to continue their public consultations vis a vis: February 8, 2018 ( 9am) at Jolo, Sulu ( Notre Dame College of Jolo); February 8, 2018 ( 1:30 pm) at Bongao , Tawi-Tawi ( Henry V. Kong Gymnasium, MSU Bongao Campus); February 9, 2018 (9am) at Isabela City, Basilan (Basilan State College); and February 9, 2018 ( 2pm) at Zamboanga City ( Zamboanga City Polytechnic College).

DWDD: SPARTAN TROOPERS | 81IB Joins in the Commemoration of 73rd Liberation Anniversary of Suyo

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Feb 7): SPARTAN TROOPERS | 81IB Joins in the Commemoration of 73rd Liberation Anniversary of Suyo

SANTA CRUZ, Ilocos Sur (DWDD) – 81st Infantry (SPARTAN) Battalion joined the Local Government Unit of Suyo, Ilocos Sur in commemorating the 73rd Anniversary of the Liberation of Suyo in Mt. Tapao.


Spartan Troopers attended the Wreath Laying Ceremony in Mt. Tapao, Suyo, Ilocos Sur in honor of the fallen heroes during the Liberation of Suyo.

It was on February 5, 1945, during the Second World War, that the town was liberated from the Japanese Forces based in Mt Tapao, Kimposa and Budac, all of Suyo, IIocos Sur by the United States Armed Forces Infantry in the Philippines – Northern Luzon together with the veterans of said town.


The activity started with a foot march from Suyo Proper to the monument located at Mt. Tapao. Therein, a wreath lying was done by the local government officials headed by the local chief executive, heirs of the Suyo veterans, and Lt Col Charles DZ Castillo INF (GSC) PA, the Commanding Officer of 81st Infantry (SPARTAN) Battalion, 7ID, PA who likewise acted as the guest speaker during the ceremony. It was then followed by a 21-gun salute rendered by Municipal PNP.

During his speech, Lt Col Castillo PA, said, “Today’s activity is a good pretext to remind people once again of the historical truth. With this year’s theme: “Agnanayonka a sawawayawaya”, we must not allow anyone to take the peace that was given to us by the sacrifices of the Suyo Veterans.”

“To our beloved Suyo, your Philippine Army is one with you in celebrating this momentous occasion. Let us renew our determination to make good use of the freedom which was restored to us in 1945, so we can pass our beloved Suyo to the next generation in good heart. Happy 73rd Liberation Anniversary! Mabuhay ang Bayan ng Suyo! Mabuhay ang mga nagbigay sa atin ng Kalayaan! Mabuhay tayong lahat!” he added. 81IB / MCAG