Wednesday, March 7, 2018

'Maute in Metro Manila' report unconfirmed - NCRPO

From ABS-CBN (Mar 8): 'Maute in Metro Manila' report unconfirmed - NCRPO

[Video report]
Police are still verifying reports that some members of the Islamic-State inspired Maute terror group are allegedly hiding in Metro Manila. 

"Iyan po ay for validation. Hindi po confirmed ang report na iyan," Director Oscar Albayalde, chief of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), told DZMM. (That is for validation. We have yet to confim that report.)

Albayalde made the statement after the military said that some 300 Maute militants who held Marawi last year for 5 months have regrouped and are planning similar attacks elsewhere.

Some of the rebels are slipping into Metro Manila to carry out bombings, according to Major Ronald Suscano, spokesman for the Army's 1st infantry division.
Police said on Monday that 2 Maute rebels had been arrested near a train station in the crowded Tondo area of Manila. 

Authorities are monitoring 70 Muslim areas in Metro Manila where terrorists could hide, said Albayalde.

Muslim leaders, he said, have pledged help to security forces.

The public may report any suspicious activity or persons via text messages to 2286 or 2920.

Army favors peace talks if rebels declare ceasefire

From Malaya Business Insight (Mar 8): Army favors peace talks if rebels declare ceasefire

THE Philippine Army yesterday said it is favorable to the resumption of peace negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army if the insurgents would declare a ceasefire.

Army spokesman Lt. Col. Louie Villanueva noted that Army soldiers are in the forefront in the fight against the insurgents. Military estimates placed the NPA strength at 3,700 as of end 2017.

On Tuesday, President Duterte said he is open to resuming peace talks with the communists if they would declare a ceasefire. He said he discussed with Norwegian officials the possibility of continuing the talks.

Norway is brokering the peace talks between the government and the communist-led National Democratic Front.

Duterte terminated the peace talks with the communists in November due to a series of rebel attacks against government and civilian targets.

Last December, Duterte declared the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization. Last month, the justice department asked a Manila court to legally declare the group as terrorist in line with the Human Security Act.

“The Army’s interest is to have a settlement of this issue,” Villanueva said. “If this (peace talks) push through, it’s a good development.”

Villanueva, however, said the sincerity of the communists to talk with the government has to be ensured before talks resume.

“We’ve given them chances in the past but they undermined the (peace) process. We supported the peace process but they undermined the process,” said Villanueva.

AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bienvenido Datuin said: “The AFP is for peace and development and will always follow the policy direction of the President and political leaders

“The CPP-NPA-NDF should reciprocate with sincerity in their actions once they declare ceasefire and go back to the negotiation table,” Datuin added.

AFP seeks help of Muslims in Metro in arresting terrorist

From Malaya Business Insight (Mar 8): AFP seeks help of Muslims in Metro in arresting terrorist

THE Armed Forces is coordinating with the Muslim community in Metro Manila for the arrest of members of the Maute Group who are said to have taken refuge with relatives in the metropolis.

“Our thrust is to touch base with the Muslim community to alienate the Maute members...  We are exerting efforts to ensure the safety of Metro Manila,” a senior military official said on condition of anonymity.

The source said initial coordination has been made with Muslim religious leaders and businessmen.

“The objective is to prevent violent extremism in NCR (National Capital Region),” the source said.

On Saturday, security forces arrested Maute sub-leader Abdul Nasser Lomondot in Manila. He took part in the five-month Marawi City siege but managed to slip out of the military cordon in the city.

The Marawi conflict, which broke out May 23, resulted in the death of 974 terrorists, 168 soldiers and policemen and 47 civilians.

Officials earlier said Lomondot arrived in Metro Manila sometime last month, mainly to hide from security forces who are pursuing remnants of the terrorist group involved in the bloody siege of Marawi.

“There is a big possibility but we cannot give you the details,” the source said when asked if there are other Maute members currently in Metro Manila. “We cannot dismiss that possibility... They, migrating to Metro Manila, is a big possibility,” he added.

The source nevertheless said they have not received any information about an imminent attack in Metro Manila but said the military establishment is reading to respond to any terrorist activity.

“Metro Manila is stable but our troops are ready for any eventuality. What’s important is ready to render immediate response,” the source said.

Philippines eyes wheeled and tracked AFVs

From Update Philippines (Mar 7): Philippines eyes wheeled and tracked AFVs

The Philippine Army told Shephard Media as far back as 2014 that it harboured ambitions to procure main battle tanks within the 2020-28 period. However, a more realistic and immediate plan is to acquire lighter AFVs.

Thus, the army’s Horizon 2 procurement plan proposal (covering 2018-22) features light tanks with a budget allocation of PHP9.484 billion ($185 million). A total of 44 units are needed to equip three tank companies of the Mechanized Infantry Division (MID) of the Philippine Army, which is based at Camp O’Donnell in Tarlac.

However, following the bloody urban combat in Marawi last year, Shephard understands that the desire for tracked tanks has been eclipsed by a requirement for wheeled armoured vehicles. Two types are being eyed: a tank destroyer armed with a 105mm gun, and a vehicle armed with a 30mm gun in an unmanned turret. Ideally, both vehicles would share a common 8×8 platform.

The Philippine-based MaxDefense blogsite explained that options for a wheeled tank destroyer from Europe, South Korea and Turkey are currently being considered.

The requirement for a wheeled vehicle was made explicit when Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana revealed last August that the army was interested in armoured vehicles weighing less than 20t.

If funds do not permit a 30mm gun, the army might have to settle for a 6×6 hull carrying an RWS armed with a 12.7mm machine gun.

Whichever company is selected for the wheeled requirement would find itself in pole position to supply the extant requirement for light tanks as well. Specifications have not been finalised by the army’s technical working group yet, but the preference is for a diesel-powered, tracked vehicle weighing less than 35t and armed with a 105mm gun.

Companies are already making proposals to the army.

Therefore, of the 44 AFVs required and funded, the army will probably opt for a mix of wheeled and tracked vehicles. MaxDefense believes the procurement process ‘may start late this year or early next year’.

The number of tracked light tanks available on the international market is limited. Although there is a European option, two contenders come from Asia, PT Pindad’s Kaplan (developed in conjunction with FNSS) and Hanwha Defense Systems’ K21-105.

Both platforms feature a CMI Defence turret and Cockerill 105mm high-pressure gun.

Xavier Rigo, communication manager at CMI Defence told Shephard: ‘The Cockerill 3105 is the market-leading 105mm turret for the light-/medium-weight tracked and wheeled vehicle segment. It is currently in series production and it is integrated with the PT Pindad medium tank and Hanwha Defense Systems K21-105 medium tank. The Cockerill 3105 turret is also selected by SAIC for its entry into the US Army’s Mobile Protected Firepower programme.’

Rigo added: ‘Market interest in the Cockerill 3105 turret continues to grow as its utility and value for high-mobility systems is increasingly appreciated.’

CMI Defence would not be drawn on specific Philippine requirements, however. ‘We are a supplier of large and critical subsystems to vehicle OEMs and to system prime contractors. As such, questions relating to the supply of a light tank to the Philippines are an issue for the vehicle system OEM or system prime.’

There are rumours that Belgium had enacted an arms embargo against the Philippines due to the issue of extrajudicial killings under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration. If true, that would have meant the Philippines could not consider the Kaplan, K21-105 or any vehicle fitted with a CMI Defence turret or gun since the latter is a Belgian company.

However, Shephard has determined that no such embargo is in place. A Belgian federal government official noted: ‘At the moment there is no implementation of any arms export embargo against the Philippines because of human rights concerns.’

Nevertheless, Frieda Coosemans, advisor for the Belgian Directorate-General for Economic Analyses and Global Economy, added: ‘The export of weapons and dual-use goods is always subject to control in order to safeguard international security…Therefore, companies involved in the trade of these items have to comply with strict rules.’

Likewise, a spokesman from the Walloon authority added: ‘There is no Walloon embargo on the Philippines. Export requests are examined on a case-by-case basis.’

Of interest, four Steyr Pandur II 8×8 vehicles (two with a 12.7mm RWS, one with a 30mm RWS and one with a 105mm gun) arrived in Indonesia last September. It is unclear whether the Indonesian Army is interested in the type or whether they are being evaluated by PT Pindad.

Another pertinent question is whether the Philippines will consider Chinese and Russian vehicles. Norinco makes the VT5 tank that weighs approximately 35t. However, the Philippine military would be leery of buying such equipment from China, with which it has territorial disputes.

Duterte has previously given overtures to buying more Russian equipment, but the only likely candidate from there would be a BMD-4-based platform.

Light tanks armed with a heavy gun would have proved useful in urban fighting as the military retook the town of Marawi from Islamic insurgents. Nevertheless, vehicles fitted with an RWS proved themselves there thanks to their accuracy, night-fighting capability and crew safety.

The Philippine Army deployed four mechanised battalions, one cavalry squadron and a light armoured troop, totalling 120 AFVs. A number of their lightly armoured vehicles were seen fitted with all manner of home-made protection against RPGs.

In addition to its quest for light tanks, the Philippine Army plans to upgrade 44 of 114 M113A2s received from US Excess Defense Articles in 2015. This M113 Firepower Upgrade programme, funded to the tune of PHP1,051,650,000 ($20.5 million), will add a 12.7mm machine gun in an RWS to the vehicles.

Given that Elbit Systems has already successfully upgraded 28 M113s for the Philippines – with 14 receiving 76mm gun turrets (from dilapidated FV101 Scorpion tanks), four gaining 25mm UT-25 unmanned turrets and six receiving a 12.7mm Dragon RWS – the Israeli company is in prime position to win this next contract.

Among this batch of 44 M113s, five will be converted into mortar carriers featuring a Soltam CARDOM 81mm mortar from Elbit Systems. The mortar mount will be able to accommodate 120mm CARDOM mortars when they are acquired in the future. This project falls under the second list of Horizon 1 of the army’s modernisation plan.

The Philippine Army has no more than ten Scorpion light tanks in service, some of which were used in Marawi.

M13 International Monitoring Team to leave for Mindanao tomorrow

From the Sun Daily (Mar 6): M13 International Monitoring Team to leave for Mindanao tomorrow

KUALA LUMPUR: The 13th Mindanao International Monitoring Team (IMT-M13) will depart to Mindanao, the Philippines tomorrow to continue monitoring and overseeing the ceasefire process between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) chief General Tan Sri Raja Mohamed Affandi Raja Mohamed Noor said IMT-M13, led by Maj Gen Datuk Mohd Nazir Mami will replace IMT-M12, which will end its duties on March 14.

He said the mission was a continuation of efforts to fulfill the Philippine government's aspirations and an agreement by the Malaysian government to send a monitoring team for a period of 12 months.

"I expect IMT-M13 to be the last assignment because I understand the negotiation process is in the final stages.

"Therefore, this team plays an important role so that no incidents can disrupt the passing of the the Bangsamoro Basic Law," he said in a press conference after officiating the formation of IMT-M13 at Wisma Transit here, today.

Also present were Army chief Gen Tan Sri Zulkiple Kassim and Air Force chief Gen Tan Sri Affendi Buang.

IMT-M13 comprises a total of 16 officers and personnel, namely 11 from MAF, two from the police, and three civil servants from the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Prime Minister's Department.

Raja Mohamed Affandi said IMT had successfully achieved its mission to bring the Philippine government and MILF to the negotiating table.

"So far there have been no incidents which could affect the peace process between both parties," he said.

Based on records, a total of 12 teams have been deployed to Mindanao since Aug 24, 2004, involving officers from Brunei, Indonesia, Japan and Norway.

The team's main goal is to carry out monitoring tasks and create a more conducive environment for the peace process between the two parties.

The Mindanao conflict has persisted for the past three decades, and Malaysia has successfully managed to bring both sides to the negotiating table, with the two agreeing to a ceasefire.

6 urban areas under tight watch against terrorists

From the Manila Times (Mar 7): 6 urban areas under tight watch against terrorists

THE military is keeping a tight watch on about six urban areas where extremist groups may be planning terrorist activities, a spokesman for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Tuesday.

“There are different areas that were found [to be possible target areas]. Four, six, but these are all metropolis and urban areas. So all urban areas are under close watch from us right now. Maybe, it is not just four areas,” Brig. Gen. Bienvenido Datuin, Jr. told reporters in a chance interview at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

Datuin said that considering the vast area of Mindanao and the resources terror organizations in the country have, it “may be possible” for the terrorists to stage attacks in certain urban areas.

“It may be possible, but we are, as I have said, we are closely guarding, monitoring all the metropolis and the urban areas to make sure that they will not be able to make their way in [the urban areas]insofar [as]their terroristic activities and plans are concerned,” Datuin said.

“There are still remnant groups, Islamic State (IS)-affiliated groups in Marawi. This means that they are still terrorizing and may plan another attack,” he added.

Datuin’s statement comes as the Philippine Army said on Monday that the IS in Southeast Asia has a new “emir” in the person of Abu Dar, who was one of the leaders of the Islamist extremists in the five-month long Marawi siege. He replaced Isnilon Hapilon who died in the war.

“We are trying to get information regarding [Dar]. We are getting information about his personality and capability.

 We’re trying to establish since what we just know is that he was among the sub-leaders [of Hapilon],” he said.

“He may be the new [IS] ‘emir’ and we have to confirm that [since]that only came from the 1st Infantry Division [of the Philippine Army]and we are working overtime to confirm that,” he added.

When asked about reports of the terrorists using women as front-liners, Datuin told reporters that this has not been confirmed although, he added, it was possible.

“Etong mga terrorists sa Marawi ginagamit kung sino-sino. Tipong pati mga bata ginagamit nila, so this means the information is possible (These terrorists in Marawi are using different people, They are even using children, so this means the information is possible),” Datuin said

Asked about the threat in Metro Manila, Datuin said, “There are possibilities.”

He said, however, that the Philippine National Police (PNP) would help prevent the attacks and that the military had a strong collaboration with the PNP.

The IS-inspired Maute group staged a series of attacks in Marawi City starting on May 23, 2017, after the military tried but failed to arrest Hapilon, the Abu Sayyaf leader.

The siege that lasted for five months displaced thousands, destroyed homes and other infrastructure, and killed about 1,000 civilians, troops and terrorists.

Datuin is the new commander of the Civil Relations Service of the AFP, replacing Maj. Gen. Ronnie Evangelista on January 11.

Military recovers guns, explosives from NPA

From the Sun Star-Manila (Mar 7): Military recovers guns, explosives from NPA

SULU. Authorities inspect the firearms and improvised explosive devices that were recovered from or surrendered by the communist rebels. (Photo courtesy of Police Regional Office - ARMM)

A TOTAL of 209 high- and low-powered firearms as well as 155 improvised explosive devices (IED) were either confiscated from or surrendered by members of the New People’s Army (NPA) to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) from January to February 2018.

Lieutenant Colonel Emmanuel Garcia, Philippine Army public information office chief, said 165 firearms were confiscated by the Eastern Mindanao Command from NPA terrorists.

Of the IEDs, 131 were recovered in Eastern Mindanao, where the number of NPA members is said to be highest in the country.

Among those recovered were the cache of arms discovered in Compostela Valley and Calinan District, Davao City on February 21 and 27, respectively.

Also included in the haul are the firearms that were turned over by the NPA surrenderers, who received compensation in return.

“The AFP continues to call on the remaining rebels who are still in the movement to come back to the folds of law and be productive members of the community,” Garcia said.

“The AFP will continue to conduct operations to degrade the armed capability of the terrorists and further enhance Community Support Program to empower local government units in providing basic services to the people in their communities to encourage more NPAs to surrender,” he added.

Meanwhile, as part of the government’s campaign against loose firearms, local chief executives from the municipalities of Talipao, Omar, Indanan, Pata, Parang, Jolo and Maimbung handed over their loose firearms to the Joint Task Force Sulu (JTFS) on Tuesday, March 6.

The activity was attended by mayors and their representatives, Western Mindanao Command commander Carlito Galvez and JTFS commander General Cirilito Sobejana.

“Local chief executives have made a good example to show how serious they support our campaign against loose firearms,” said Chief Superintendent Graciano Mijares, Autonomous Region of the Muslim Mindanao Police Regional Office director.

NPA losing three fighters to AFP daily – EastMinCom

From the Manila Bulletin (Mar 7): NPA losing three fighters to AFP daily – EastMinCom

The terrorist group New People’s Army (NPA) is losing at least three regular fighters daily to the government – either through surrender or arrest – in combat operations in Eastern Mindanao.

Lt. General Benjamin Madrigal  (PIA / MANILA BULLETIN)

This was revealed by Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr., commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Eastern Mindanao Command (AFP-EastMinCom) which has jurisdiction over Davao, Compostela Valley, and CARAGA Region.

“Basically, the NPA loses about three regular members daily. Two, due to surrender and the other arrested during combat operation. We are also able to recover about three firearms daily,” Madrigal said.

The military is also able to effect the surrender daily of at least five militia men. More than 300 of them have turned themselves in since January.

“We have a good turn-out not only on regular members but the most important is the support elements like the militia, the parties in the localities and what we call active masses or members of the underground mass organization. Without their support, the regulars won’t survive,” Madrigal added.

Support, Madrigal said, does not only come in terms of food but they also provide information, collect funds and provide means of transportation to the regular NPA fighters.

Sincerity factor
One of the reasons terrorists return to the fold of the law is the sincerity shown by the President and how the government strives to provide for returnees in order for them to live normal and better lives, Madrigal explained.

The EastMinCom chief said through the help Noel Legaspi, he was able to convince members in Davao del Sur, Sarangani, and General Santos to come down from the mountains, return to their families and live a normal life.

Legaspi alias Ka Efren is the deputy secretary and spokesman of the Far South Mindanao Region (FSMR) of the NPA. He surrendered with his wife, a medical staff of FSMRon January 15, 2018. He was a leader of the League of Filipino Students in 1992 and became a regular member of the NPA six years later.

As the returnees increased in number, the NPA’s recruitment program suffered immensely, Madrigal said.

On Monday, about 188 former NPA rebels and supporters from Mindanao arrived in Manila for their turn to break bread with President Dutertein Malacañang and top officers of the AFP some of whom they have crossed paths in their respective operations for ideology and territory.

The third batch of NPA returnees were welcomed by AFP Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Salvador MelchorMisonJr in simple ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo on Tuesday.

The 188 former rebels are part of a group of 683 NPA fighters who met with President Duterte inPanacan, Davao City onDecember 21, 2017.

After meeting the President, the former rebels will be given a tour of historical sites today, among them Luneta Park and Intramuros and meet former NPA fighters who now work as advocates of peace and development.

The returnees are composed of 537 males and 93 females who are regular NPA members, supporters and mass organizations membersfrom Compostela Valley, Davao Del Sur, Davao Del Norte, Agusan, Surigao, and nearby provinces.

Security expert: 23 armed groups fused, forming 'ISIS Philippines'

From CNN Philippines (Mar 6): Security expert: 23 armed groups fused, forming 'ISIS Philippines'

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is validating reports that 23 armed groups in the country are now consolidating their forces under one name, "ISIS Philippines."

ISIS Philippines is among the groups recently declared terrorists by the US State Department.

READ: U.S. gov't adds Maute group, ISIS-PH to list of foreign terrorists

Security analyst Rommel Banlaoi identified the 23 groups as follows:

1. Ansar Dawlah Fi Filibbin (ADFF)
2. Rajah Solaiman Islamic Movement (RSIM)
3. Al Warakarul Islamiyah Battalion
4. Jama'at Ansar Khilafa
5. Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF)
6. Ansharul Khilafa Philippines Battalion
7. Bangsamoro Justice Movement
8. Khilafa Islamiya Mindanao (KIM)
9. Abu Sayyaf Group (Hapilon faction)
10. Syuful Khilafa Fi Luzon
11. Jama'atul Tawheed Wal Jihad (IS Lanao in Butig)
12. Ma'rakah Al-Ansar Battalion
13. Dawla Islamiyyah Cotabato
14. Dawlat Al Islamiya Waliyatul Masrik
15. Ansar Al-Shariah Battalion
16. Jamaah Al-Tawhid wal Jihad Philippines
17. Jundul-Tawhid Battalion (ASG Sulu)
18. Abu Dujanah Battalion
19. Abu Khubayn Battalion
20. Jundallah Battalion
21. Abu Sadr Battalion
22. Jamaah Al Muhajirin Wal Anshor (Philipina)
23. Islamic State of Marawi

Banlaoi said most of these groups are based in Mindanao.

"We are trying to confirm the veracity of that information. Yesterday, informal reports came in regarding the matter and I referred it to our intelligence community and operations and people on the ground. We are trying to confirm that," said military spokesman BGen. Bienvenido Datuin in an ambush interview.

But the military admitted that after the Marawi Seige ended in October 2017, remnants of the ISIS-inspired Maute Group are now trying to recover by recruiting, reorganizing and retraining to rebuild their losses during the five-month-war.

"We are not discounting the possibility that they plan another attack. That's what we are trying to preempt," said Datuin.

Metro Manila, a target

Two alleged high-profile ISIS-affiliated personalities were arrested in Metro Manila in a month, Tunisian Fehmi Lassoued and Maute Group Sub-leader Nasser Lomondot.

RELATED: PNP, AFP arrest suspected foreign terrorist in Manila

RELATED: Suspected Maute sub-leader arrested in Tondo - NCRPO chief

With their arrest, authorities are not discounting the possibility that terror groups are planning an attack in Metro Manila.

In fact, in a leaked confidential memorandum from the Philippine National Police in Region 10, Manila is among the six areas that are allegedly targets of 'ISIS bombers'.

"Their targets are the populated areas, malls, and plazas. Cities mentioned are Zamboanga, Davao, Manila, Cebu, Iloilo, CDO, and cities of Northern and Southern Luzon," the document stated citing a text message received by the regional intelligence office.

The PNP confirmed the authenticity of the document but it's content is still subject for validation.

"The document is authentic. It really came from R2 of PRO 10, yung intelligence. However, the contents of that document requesting for validation is yet to be validated," said Philippine National Police (PNP) Spokesman CSupt. John Bulalacao in a phone interview.

Bulalacao said PNP Region 10 has already launched an investigation saying that whoever leaked the document will be met with administrative cases.

Bulalacao advised the public to refrain from circulating or sharing the documents in social media so avoid public panic.

Post-Marawi analysis

Jasminder Singh of Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Nanyang Technological University in Singapore said millions of dollars looted in Marawi City are "being used for recruitment."

Singh added that ISIS-inspired groups are already planning their next move, with new cells emerging in other parts of Mindanao like Jolo, Cotabato, and Basilan.

Singh and Banlaoi also noted that some leaders of ISIS-inspired groups are still alive:

1. Abu Dar - the alleged leader of ISIS in Southeast Asia replacing Isnilon Hapilon.
2. Amin Baco - the Malaysian who worked with the Abu Sayyaf Group and notorious terrorists like Zulkifli Bin Hir alias Marwan.
3. Abu Turaifie - leader of a break-away group of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.
4. Mauwiyah - a Singaporean-Indian who is known to be one of the longest staying foreign terrorists in Mindanao.
"The remaining jihadists of ISIS Philippines are still propagating the ideology of ISIS and they are taking advantage of the existing grievances of people in Mindanao," said Banlaoi.

The alleged new Emir of ISIS in the Philippines and Southeast Asia Abu Dar is said to be staying in Pagayawan town in Lanao Del Sur.

Assemblyman Zia Alonto Adiong, the spokesman of the provincial government of Lanao Del Sur said the presence of remnants of terror groups in the province threatens the efforts to stabilize the peace and order situation and rehabilitation efforts for Marawi City.

With this, they are continuously working with the security sector to flush-out terror groups in their area.

"The idea really is one: identify areas where these terrorist organizations are possibly hiding; number two is to remove possible mass base support; and number three is to entice all mayors, LGUs in the province to work closely with our security sector," Adiong said in a video statement.

The military, however, assured that they are on top of the situation as they monitor the movements of these groups.

Authorities also ask for the public's vigilance to quell threats posed by terror groups in the Philippines.

AFP verifies report of 23 armed groups joining forces under ‘ISIS Philippines’

From UNTV (Mar 6): AFP verifies report of 23 armed groups joining forces under ‘ISIS Philippines’

FILE IMAGE: A screenshot of a video in the internet showing some allegedly Filipinos signifying alliance with the ISIS terrorist group.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said the remaining terrorists are still recruiting and strengthening their forces.

Twenty-three armed groups are believed to have joined forces under the so-called “ISIS Philippines”.

However, the AFP is still verifying the said information.

The military is also looking into intelligence reports that a certain Abu Dar replaced Isnilon Hapilon as the emir of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia.

Abu Dar, a Maranao, was able to flee the clashes in Marawi City and is believed to have brought with him a huge sum of money.

“We are trying to confirm the veracity of that information. Yesterday, informal reports came in regarding the matter and I’m telling it to the intelligence community, operations and people on the ground we are trying to confirm that,” AFP spokesperson BGen. Bienvenido Datuin said.

The AFP noted that terrorists continue to recruit new members, organize, and re-train themselves.

The military and the police are also verifying a circulating text message, saying terrorists are planning to bomb six cities.

The said text message states a leaked copy of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Region X in Cagayan de Oro City.

“We are closely monitoring them to make sure that they will not conduct or execute any atrocities or terroristic actions within the metropolis or any urban areas,” said the AFP spokesperson.

“This is being validated, but this should not be a cause of panic or alarm among our citizens. If we are talking about Mindanao, so we could protect the people there. Here in our area, in Visayas and Luzon, the security forces, the military, the intelligence community and the PNP are on top of the situation. We are doing our part in seeing to it that our people will be protected,” said PNP spokesperson PCSupt. John Bulalacao.

Joint Task Force steps up routine seaborne patrols in NegOr

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 7): Joint Task Force steps up routine seaborne patrols in NegOr

The Joint Task Force (JTF) Leon Kilat of Negros Oriental is stepping up its maritime and coastal patrols via the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Coast Guard to seal off the province from possible terror attacks.

JTF Leon Kilat executive director Bimbo Miraflor disclosed that this is in line with their ongoing efforts to ensure that the province and its people are safe and secure amid the terror threats in nearby Mindanao.

Miraflor also allayed public concern regarding reports of alleged ISIS presence in nearby Mindanao, following a memorandum from a Philippine National Police (PNP) Regional Office in Mindanao regarding the validation of alleged “ISIS bombers and expert bomb makers” following the receipt of a text message.
According to Miraflor, upon verification, the said memo appeared authentic but the information that it contained was just subject for validation.

The memo has been circulating on social media, prompting the Task Force executive director to once more appeal to the public to not spread it around to prevent undue public panic.

Police are still verifying possible links to the ISIS following the arrests of suspected foreign terrorists that authorities say have been neutralized, Miraflor disclosed.

His sources in the military and the police have assured him that at present, there are no reports of terror threats in Negros Oriental.

Nevertheless, “a strong security presence must be maintained at all times with heightened proactive security deterrence along (the) Sulu Sea and among all points of entry from Mindanao to prevent unwarranted entry” of persons of interest and watercrafts, Miraflor further quoted his sources.

Army soldier hurt in clash with NPA

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 7): Army soldier hurt in clash with NPA

A soldier of the Army's 102nd Division Recon Company (DRC) was wounded in an encounter with more or less 50 members of the communist New People's Army (NPA) at the vicinity of Sitio Gurem, Barangay Sibulan, Sta Cruz, Davao del Sur on Monday.

But after the encounter, the troops were also able to recover an improvised explosive device (IED) with a detonating cord, one backpack and subversive documents with high intelligence value.

Capt. Jerry Lamosao, spokesperson for 10th Infantry Division, said the encounter transpired around 12:12 p.m between the 102nd DRC and the NPA.

Lamosao said the troops responded to information from a concerned citizen that a group of NPA members were consolidating at Sitio Gurem and were planning to conduct atrocities for their upcoming anniversary on March 29.

"With the on-going focus military operation, the troops were alerted for the combat operation," he said.

Lamosao said the troops sighted the presence of the armed NPA some 200 meters from the direction of the government forces. The firefight followed that lasted for almost 45 minutes.

Lamosao said the troops launched a pursuit operation

According to Lamosao, the 10ID will relentlessly pursue the remaining CPP-NPA members to protect the people and secure the communities.

Duterte promises government assistance to rebel returnees

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 7): Duterte promises government assistance to rebel returnees

President Rodrigo R. Duterte talks to surrenderees from the New People's Army during a dinner hosted by the President for the rebel returnees at the Malacañan Palace on March 6, 2018. (Rey Baniquet/Presidential Photo)

President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Tuesday, March 6, hosted a dinner at Malacañan Palace for former members of the New People’s Army (NPA).

Speaking before the rebel returnees, Duterte said the rebel group has been fighting the government for the past 50 years and has brought nothing except misery to the lives of the people.

The demand for a coalition government by the communists is not acceptable, the President said, noting that in order to assume power, one must win the elections.

The Chief Executive promised the former rebels financial assistance, education, training, and as well as integration to the Armed Forces.

He also pledged to bring female rebel returnees to Hong Kong for them to see the achievements of capitalist societies, contrary to the promises of the NPA.

As the government starts massive infrastructure development, the President explained that it means more skilled workers are needed.

He then advised them to acquire training and new skills to be able to join the workforce. For instance, Duterte said three companies in Davao City are in need of skilled workers for their operations.

He also underscored that education of their children would allow them to have better lives.

One hundred eighty-seven rebel returnees composed the third batch to visit Malacañan Palace.

NPA loses 209 firearms in Jan-Feb

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 7): NPA loses 209 firearms in Jan-Feb

Aside from being hit by massive surrenders, the New People's Army (NPA) has also lost 209 high- and low-powered firearms in the first two months of 2018, a military spokesperson said Wednesday.

This is apart from the 155 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) seized during the same months, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief, Lt. Col. Emmanuel Garcia, said in a statement.

In the areas covered by the Eastern Mindanao Command alone, a total of 165 firearms and 131 IEDs were confiscated from the rebels and their supporters over the same period.

Garcia said the 16th Infantry Battalion (IB) discovered an arms cache in Calinan district, Davao City on Feb. 27, as revealed by a former rebel, while troops also seized six firearms and other war materiel.

The 66th IB also discovered three arms cache that yielded six high-powered firearms, five IEDs, and several war materiel in Compostela Valley on Feb. 21, as disclosed by rebels who surrendered to the IB. Surrenderers, mostly from the eastern part of Mindanao, bring along their firearms and submit them to authorities.

Aside from the immediate assistance and enrollment of these former rebels to the Comprehensive Local Integration Program, they also receive remuneration for firearms they surrender.

"The AFP will continue to conduct operations to degrade the armed capability of the terrorists and further enhance Community Support Program to empower local government units in providing basic services to the people in their communities to encourage more NPAs to surrender," Garcia said.

AFP coordinating with PNP vs. alleged terror attacks

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 7): AFP coordinating with PNP vs. alleged terror attacks

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is closely coordinating with its police counterparts following reports that some terrorists groups are planning to launch attacks on Holy Week and other important Christian holidays.

"These are all possibilities, and we (will) coordinate with the Philippine National Police and the security sector to prevent that (from happening)," AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Bienvenido Datuin said in an interview Tuesday.

He added that this is needed to prevent atrocities and other attacks during these critical days.

"Ang standing order is to prevent atrocities or terroristic acts to happen within these critical days. So we will make sure it will not happen," Datuin stressed, even as the AFP is validating the above-mentioned information.

Earlier, the AFP spokesperson said they are not dismissing the possibility of increased terrorist activity in Mindanao following reports that Maute Group sub-leader Abu Dar has taken over the leadership of ISIS in Southeast Asia.

"It may be possible, but we are, as I said, we are closely guarding, monitoring all the metropolis, the urban areas to make sure na hindi sila makakaporma in so far as yung mga terrorist activities (and) plans are concerned," he added.

Dar is said to have assumed command of the ISIS in Southeast Asia following the death of Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon last Oct. 16 during military efforts to retake Marawi City from the hands of the Maute Group terrorists.

PAF shopping for FA-50PH jet tires

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 7): PAF shopping for FA-50PH jet tires

To ensure that all its aircraft are flyable and serviceable at all times, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) is looking for suppliers of tires for the main landing gear of its brand-new FA-50PH "Fighting Eagle" jets.

According to a bid bulletin posted at the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System, the budget for this project is PHP8.87 million.

The submission and opening of bids are slated to be held at the PAF Procurement Center Conference Room, Villamor Air Base, Pasay City at 9 a.m. on March 13.

"All particulars relative to Eligibility Statement and Screening, Bid Security, Performance Security, Pre-Bidding Conference/s, Evaluation of Bids, Post-Qualification and Award of Contract shall be governed by the pertinent provisions of Republic Act No. 9184 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations," PAF Bids and Awards Committee chair Brig. Gen. Erickson R. Gloria said.

The Mach 1.5-capable FA-50PHs were used in combat during the five-month battle to retake Marawi City from the clutches of the Maute Group terrorists.

The PAF has about 12 units of these jet aircraft, which were acquired for about PHP18.9 billion from Korea Aerospace Industries.

Deliveries commenced in December 2015 and were completed in May 2017.

CA confirms Alvarez, 7 other solons as Colonels in AFP reserve force

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 7): CA confirms Alvarez, 7 other solons as Colonels in AFP reserve force

The Commission on Appointment (CA) on Wednesday confirmed the nomination of House of Representatives Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and seven other lawmakers from both houses of Congress to the rank of Colonel in the reserve force of the various services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Alvarez was confirmed as Colonel of the Philippine Navy-Marines.

Also confirmed were the nominations of Senators Loren Legarda and Manny Pacquiao as Colonels of the Philippine Air Force and Philippine Army (PA), respectively.

The CA also confirmed the nominations of four lawmakers from the House to the rank of Colonels: Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas (Judge Advocate General Service), Deputy Speakers Gwendolyn Garcia (PA) and Bai Sandra Sema (PA), as well as Rep. Roy Loyola (PA).
Meanwhile, the ad interim appointment of Pangasinan Rep. Marlyn P. Agabas as Colonel of the Philippine Army (Reserve) was also confirmed.

In addition, the CA gave its nod to the ad interim appointment of Major Gen. Rene Glen Paje.

The CA committee on national defense, headed by Senator Gregorio Honasan, unanimously recommended to the CA plenary the confirmation of the nominations/ad interim appointments of Alvarez and the eight other senior officials of the AFP.

"After a thorough deliberation, your committee unanimously voted to favorably recommend for the Commission’s confirmation and its consent to the ad interim appointments and nominations,” he said in his sponsorship speech.

With their outstanding qualifications and wealth of experience in their fields of expertise, Honasan said the batch of nominees is symbolically “a representative of the cross-section of the best citizen army in the world”.

AFP always for peace, dev't: spox

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 7): AFP always for peace, dev't: spox

The Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) efforts are always geared towards peace and development, its spokesperson said Wednesday.

"The AFP is for peace and development and will always follow the policy direction of the President and political leaders," Brig. Gen. Bienvenido Datuin said in a message to reporters when sought to comment on President Rodrigo R. Duterte's announcement that he is willing to reconsider peace talks with the New People's Army (NPA) should a ceasefire be reached.

Datuin, however, said the NPA and its political leadership should reciprocate their actions with sincerity once they declare a ceasefire and return to the negotiation table.

Duterte, on Nov. 23, 2017, signed Proclamation No. 30, ordering the termination of all peace negotiations and meetings with the rebel group.

The termination was an offshoot of rebel atrocities and other acts of violence against civilians and security forces.

Lorenzana cites reasons for Mercado's relief

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 7): Lorenzana cites reasons for Mercado's relief     

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Wednesday cited usurpation of authority, insubordination, and violation of the procurement law as reasons for the relief of Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado from his post as Philippine Navy flag-officer-in-command.

Lorenzana made the statement during the House probe into Mercado's relief over the PHP16-billion frigate acquisition project (FAP).

He said Mercado committed three violations in connection with the frigate deal, noting that he had "lost trust and confidence in his ability to lead the Philippine Navy."

Lorenzana said Mercado's insistence on Thales Tacticos as the supplier of the combat management system violates a provision of Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act as the law prohibits the specification of a brand.

He added that Mercado's side trip to the Netherlands to visit Thales is against the no-contact policy of the procurement law.

Lorenzana also accused Mercado of usurpation of authority and insubordination, noting that the FAP's implementation has become the "sole responsibility of the Secretary of Defense."

"How can you continue to have confidence and trust on a leader who interferes in a legally binding contract, usurped your authority and defy your orders?" he said.

Lorenzana stressed that there is no issue in the FAP and "it should have moved smoothly" except for Mercado's insistence in the acquisition of CMS of Thales.

"The frigate project was conducted above-board and I will ensure that it will continue that way until the two frigates are delivered to the Philippine Navy in accordance with the contract agreement," he said.

The frigates, along with their weapons system and munitions, are covered by a contract worth PHP18 billion signed by Lorenzana in October 2016.

DOJ junks criminal raps vs. Tunisian with alleged ISIS links

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 7): DOJ junks criminal raps vs. Tunisian with alleged ISIS links

The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday dismissed the criminal complaint filed by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines against an alleged member of the terrorist organization Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) who was nabbed by authorities last month.

In a seven-page resolution signed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter L. Ong, the agency dismissed the illegal possession of explosive devices and firearms complaint filed by Regional Police Intelligence Operations Unit (RPIOU) of the National Capital Region Police Office against Tunisian national Fehmi Lassqued and his Filipina live-in partner Anabel Salipada for lack of merit.

“After a careful review and evaluation of the evidence submitted by the parties, the undersigned finds no probable cause to charge respondents for violations of RA 10591 and RA 9516,” read the DOJ resolution approved by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Rassenell Rex Gingoyon and Acting Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan Jr.

“Basic and well-established is the rule that the party alleging has the burden of substantiating his allegation and any declaration or assertion not so substantiated is, at best, a self-serving statement or declaration which is inadmissible in evidence for being hearsay,” it stressed.

The two were arrested in Ermita, Manila last Feb. 16 by joint operatives of the PNP and the Philippine Army, pursuant to a search warrant issued by the Makati City Regional Trial Court.

The charge sheet signed by Supt. Carlito Narag Jr., RPIOU chief, sought the indictment of the suspects for violations of RA 10591 and RA 9516.

It cited as evidence the explosive devices seized from the couple during their arrest, including four pipes, two batteries, three capacitors, two integrated circuits, three battery clips, and 11 resistors and also the .45-caliber pistol and ammunitions recovered from them.

Both Lassqued and Salipada denied the allegations in separate counter-affidavits filed through the assistance of public attorneys.

In his counter-affidavit, Lassqued said contrary to the police’s claim, he was not arrested in Ermita, Manila but in Ayala Triangle on Feb. 16 while he was taking his cigarette break from his Spanish class.

Salipada, on the other hand also denied owning the explosive devices and the firearm. She said when the police searched their apartment in Manila she was taken and held outside the apartment.

Ong said that among the evidence presented, both the suspects and the arresting officers admitted that the five photographs of the seized items taken inside Room 409 but did not include the arresting officers and the suspects.

However, Ong noted that two other photographs which showed the suspects with the seized items were not taken inside Room 409 due “to the difference between the backgrounds of said photographs and earlier five photographs.”

“Furthermore, a perusal of the two photographs labeled as ‘Photograph of the arrested suspect and the confiscated evidence’ suggest that these pictures were taken in a place other than Room 409, since their background are different from those in the five photographs without respondent Lassoued,” Ong said.

“This supports the story of respondents that Fehmi Lassoued was not present inside Room 409, on February 16, 2018, during the implementation of SW M. 18-003, and further support Fehmi Lassoued’s story that he was later brought to an unfamiliar room with the seized articles,” he pointed out.

The prosecutor also learned that Salipada was brought by authorities to the Ospital ng Maynila Medical Center on Feb. 17 for medical examination while Lassoued was taken at the Army General Hospital in Fort Andres Bonifacio on February 18.

“Finally, the fact that both respondents underwent medical examination at two different places and on two different occasions suggests that they were arrested in separate places at different time,” he said.

On the photos of the seized explosive devices and firearms, the military and police said it was taken at the house of Lassqued and Salipada.

However, the DOJ resolution noted that the background of the picture where the seized items were taken is different from the couple’s apartment.

“A perusal of the photographs suggest that these pictures were taken in a place other than [the apartment of [Lassqued and Salipada] since their background are different,” the resolution noted.

DepEd refutes allegations of military encampment in N. Samar schools

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 7): DepEd refutes allegations of military encampment in N. Samar schools

The Department of Education (DepEd) on Wednesday denied allegations that it was involved in the military encampment in northern Samar.

In a statement, DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones said there is no truth to the claim of People Surge, ACT, BAYAN, and SAGUPA-SB that her department was “complicit” to the supposed occupation of schools by armed troops.

Briones said she is an “advocate for the protection of learners, teachers, and all learning institutions from armed conflicts and all forms of neglect, abuse, cruelty, and exploitation”.

She added that DepEd is a member of the Inter-Agency Committee on Children in Armed Conflict, hence, it is mandated to endorse verified cases of violation to the committee and in no way condones any act that puts its learners and personnel at risk.

A report from the DepEd Division of Northern Samar said that no military encampment in schools transpired in the area since the 78th Infantry Battalion of the 8th Infantry Division of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and a Civilian Auxiliary Force Geographical Unit are positioned far from Rubas Elementary School and Villa Elementary School.

The report clarified that some military personnel came only to deliver computer units to Las Navas National High School.

On Wednesday, members of People Surge, ACT, BAYAN, and SAGUPA-SB staged a rally in front of DepEd to support the campaign of a group of farmers from Northern Samar who relayed the alleged military encampment of elementary and secondary schools in Las Navas municipality.

The demonstration turned disruptive when some 30 protesters attempted to advance to the doors of the Rizal Building moving past the department’s gates.

Hanhwa CMS compliant to PN specs: Navy chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 7): Hanhwa CMS compliant to PN specs: Navy chief

The chief of the Philippine Navy (PN) on Wednesday defended the choice of picking South Korean firm Hanhwa for the combat management system of the procured frigates over the widely-preferred Thales Tacticos.

During the House hearing on the multibillion-peso frigate project, PN flag-officer-in-command Rear Admiral Robert Empedrad said Hanwha's Naval Shield Integrated Combat Management System (ICMS) complies with the specifications set by the Navy.

Empedrad said both Hanhwa CMS and Thales Tacticos are equally capable to be put into the two newly-acquired frigates.
"There's no basis to say that Tacticos is far superior than the Naval Shield ICMS,"
he said.

"Wala pong kayang gawin ang Tacticos na hindi kayang gawin ng Naval Shield ICMS (There's nothing Tacticos can do that Naval Shield ICMS can't). Both CMS satisfy the Philippine Navy's requirement," he added.

Emepdrad also insisted that the frigate acquisition project (FAP) is above board and "within the pulse" of Government Procurement Reform Act (Republic Act 9184).

He, however, warned that further delays in the project's implementation could cause "financial repercussions."

The FAP has a contract of PHP18 billion including the weapon systems and munitions.

The frigates, presently being built by HHI, will be armed with weapons capable of neutralizing surface, sub-surface and air threats aside from its electronic warfare ability.

Duterte still hopeful on forging peace with Reds

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 7): Duterte still hopeful on forging peace with Reds

President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said he would pursue efforts for peace with the enemies of the states including communist rebels despite his decision to terminate talks with them last year.

“I would talk to the enemies of the states, make peace with them and hopefully we can finally reach that level of comfort in our country without worrying about fighting,” Duterte said in his speech during the 145th founding anniversary and 2nd Kanlahi Festival in Tarlac.

Duterte said he canceled peace negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) after CPP founder Jose Maria Sison demanded for a coalition government.

“The problem with Sison, which I would like to have a peace talk, reach out to him. The problem is Sison wants at the end of the day a coalition government,” Duterte said.

The President said he cannot grant Sison’s demand because “sovereignty or the power to run the country, which is their sovereign power of the state, is given to Filipinos who are elected by the people.”

“So I said, if that’s what you want, at this early, let us stop this because I cannot give you what I do not own,” Duterte said.

Duterte said his government remains focused in solving the problems of law and order particularly terrorism, crimes and illegal drugs.

“You are lucky here in Luzon. The NPA movement is strongest in Mindanao particularly in my area of eastern Mindanao,” he said.

The President said series of harassments against civilians and killings of soldiers committed by the NPA despite an ongoing ceasefire had also prompted him to terminate the peace talks.

Though a number of NPA rebels and supporters have already returned to the fold of the law, Duterte said fighting remains abound in the eastern side of the country.

“If the Lord God have mercy, I think I can maybe solve the problem of the NPAs,” he said.

Duterte said the Moro rebel groups particularly the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have also expressed interests to attain long lasting peace in Mindanao.

Last Tuesday, Duterte hosted a dinner for the third batch of NPA rebel returnees at the Malacanang Palace.

Speaking before the 187 rebel returnees, Duterte said the rebel group has been fighting the government for the past 50 years and has brought nothing except misery to the lives of the people.

He promised the former rebels of financial assistance, education, training, jobs as well as their integration to the Armed Forces.

He also pledged to bring female rebel returnees to Hong Kong for them to see the achievements of capitalist societies, contrary to the promises of the NPA.

Duterte has congratulated the military for a job well done in convincing the NPA rebels to surrender.

CPP/Ang Bayan: Kababaihan, magbangon laban sa rehimeng US-Duterte

Ang Bayan propaganda article posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Mar 7): Kababaihan, magbangon laban sa rehimeng US-Duterte

Ang Bayan
Communist Party of the Philippines

7 March 2018

Walang-habas ang pagyurak ni Rodrigo Duterte at ng kanyang rehimen sa mga karapatan ng kababaihan. Hindi nahahangganan ang kanyang paghamak sa pagkatao ng mga babae. Nagdudulot ng di mabatang pahirap ang kanyang mga patakaran, laluna sa kababaihang anakpawis.

Sa kanyang hindi nakatatawang mga biro ng panggagahasa, mga pangungutya at mga pagbabanta, si Duterte ngayon ang maliwanag na larawan ng pangit na mukha ng pyudal at patriyarkal na katangian ng atrasadong sistemang panlipunan na nagsasamantala at umaapi sa kababaihan.

Pinakahuli sa pangwawalang-hiya ni Duterte sa kababaihan ay ang kanyang tuwirang utos sa mga sundalo na barilin sa ari ang kababaihang Pulang mandirigma. Aniya, ito raw ay para mawalan na sila ng silbi. Binatikos rin niya ang mga inang Pulang mandirigma dahil “iniiwan” ang kanilang mga anak para lumahok sa armadong pakikibaka. Para kay Duterte, ang kababaihan ay pawang parausan at paanakan lamang ng kalalakihan. Hindi niya matanggap na ang kababaihan ay gumagampan ng malaking papel sa pakikibaka at pagbabago ng lipunan.

Sinusulsulan ni Duterte ang kanyang mga tropa na gumawa ng mga krimen at brutalidad sa lumalabang mamamayan, sibilyan man o kombatant. Tuwirang inuupat ni Duterte ang panggagahasa at iba pang anyo ng karahasang sekswal laban sa kababaihan bilang kasangkapan sa kanyang maruming gerang Oplan Kapayapaan. Layunin nitong maramihang takutin ang kababaihan at wasakin ang kanilang pagkatao.

Mahaba ang listahan ng kahindik-hindik na mga pasistang krimen ng mga nag-ooperasyong tropa ng AFP. Kabilang dito ang paggahasa ng di-bababa tatlong sundalo sa isang 14-anyos na Lumad noong Hulyo 2015 sa Talaingod, Davao del Norte. Noong Hulyo 2016, binaril ng mga tropa ng 8th IB ang isang buntis sa Bukidnon. Kalakaran na ng nag-ooperasyong mga sundalo ang bastos at kawalang-galang sa kababaihan.

Sa inilulunsad na hayok na pasistang gera ng rehimeng Duterte, patuloy na dumarami ang kababaihang biktima ng pamamaslang, panggigipit, iligal na pang-aaresto at detensyon. Sa Mindanao, iniinda ng kababaihan, laluna ng kababaihang Moro, ang ipinataw na batas militar. Hanggang sa kasalukuyan, daan-libong kababaihang Moro at kanilang mga anak ang nagdurusa sa mga sentro ng ebakwasyon at pinagkakaitang makabalik sa kanilang mga tahanan sa Marawi. Kasabay nito, sistematikong gumagamit ang pasistang militar ng taktika ng panlilinlang at pang-aakit tulad ng “panliligaw” sa layuning gawin silang pasibo at ilayo sila sa landas ng paglaban.

Ang mga magsasaka, laluna ang mga kababaihang magsasaka, ay dumaranas ng mala-aliping pang-aapi at iba’t ibang matinding anyo ng pyudal na pagsasamantala sa kanayunan. Ipinagtatanggol ng rehimeng Duterte ang malawakang monopolyo sa lupa ng malalaking asendero at malalaking plantasyon. Malinaw na kasinungalingan ang pangako nitong libreng pamamahagi ng lupa ngayong prayoridad ng rehimen ang pagbabago ng klasipikasyon ng lupa para bigyan-daan ang malawakang pagpapalit-gamit ng mga lupang agrikultural. Pampasiklab lamang ni Duterte ang libreng irigasyon na walang silbi sa karamihan ng mga magsasaka dahil wala namang tunay na reporma sa lupa at dahil maliit na porsyento lang ng mga sakahan ang naaabot ng pasilidad nito.

Hanggang ngayon, dumaranas ang kababaihang manggagawa ng mas mababang sahod at di makatao at anti-babaeng mga kundisyon sa paggawa. Biktima sila ng sistema ng kontraktwalisasyon. Bilang mga manggagawa, nagdurusa sila sa mataas na tantos ng disempleyo, mababang klase at walang katiyakang trabaho, laluna sa harap ng malaking bawas (mahigit 600,000) sa bilang ng mga may hanapbuhay noong nagdaang taon. Sa kabila ng kanyang mga pampasiklab, hindi mapagtakpan ni Duterte na inutil ang kanyang rehimen sa pagtatanggol sa karapatan at kagalingan ng mga migranteng manggagawa, laluna mga kababaihan at bigo siya na mabigyan sila ng hanapbuhay. 
Nagdudulot ng labis na pagdurusa sa kababaihan ang kontra-mamamayang mga hakbang at patakaran ng rehimeng Duterte na pawang pagpapatuloy ng mga maka-imperyalistang neoliberal na patakaran ng nagdaang mga rehimen. Sa bungad ng taon, ininda ng mamamayan, lalo’t higit ng mga ina at mga nangangasiwa ng mga tahanan, ang nagtataasang presyo ng bilihin at serbisyo dulot ng ipinataw na dagdag at bagong buwis sa ilalim ng TRAIN.

Lalo pa silang biniktima ng artipisyal na kakulangan ng bigas, na minamaniobra ng kaibigan ni Duterte na si Manuel Piñol para higit na ibwelo at kontrolin ang pag-aangkat ng bigas. Biktima ang daan-daan libong mga bata ng korapsyon sa burukrasya at kawalang-responsibilidad ng magkasunod na rehimen na nagdulot ng trahedya ng ineeksperimentong bakunang Dengvaxia.

Dagdag sa dinaranas nilang kaapihan, nais ng naghaharing reaksyunaryong estado na manatili silang nakakulong sa pagiging pasibo, tahimik at kawalang-pakialam. Pilit silang ipinipiit sa loob lamang ng mga tahanan—bilang asawa, ina, kapatid o anak—na ang tanging silbi sa buhay ay maglingkod sa lalaking myembro ng kanilang pamilya.

Subalit matagal nang binabaklas ng mga kababaihang ang bilangguang ito. Sa harap ng dinaranas nilang matinding pang-aapi, maramihang nagbabangon ang kababaihan upang lumahok sa mga pakikibaka. Para sa kababaihang nagbangon, ang lumahok sa pakikibaka ang unang hakbang sa paglaya. Sa pakikibaka, naiaangat nila ang kanilang prestihiyo at ang katayuan nila bilang kababaihan. Binabasag nila ang mababang pagtingin at pagturing sa kanila ng dominanteng kaayusang pyudal at patriyarkal.

Aktibo silang nag-aambag sa pagwawakas ng mapang-api at mapagsamantalang sistemang malakolonyal at malapyudal at pagtatatag ng demokratiko at maunlad na kaayusan. Laksa-laksang libong kababaihan ang kabilang sa mga rebolusyonaryong organisasyong masa at iba pang pambansa-demokratikong samahan at kilusan.

Marami sa mga Pulang mandirigma ng Bagong Hukbong Bayan ay nagmula sa hanay ng kababaihan, laluna mula sa hanay ng kababaihang anakpawis. Nagpasya silang lumahok sa armadong pakikibaka at gumampan ng iba’t ibang rebolusyonaryong gawain. Tinitingala sila ng sambayanang Pilipino. Nagsisilbi silang mga kumander, giya sa pulitika, medik, upisyal sa suplay, edukasyon, guro sa literasiya at iba pang tungkulin sa iba’t ibang andana ng hukbong bayan. Walang gawain o oportunidad ang ipinagkakait sa kanila dahil lamang sila ay babae. Marami rin sa mga lider ng Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas ay mga babae.

Itinatakda rin ng BHB ang pantay na pagturing sa kababaihan gayundin ang paggalang sa kanila sa lahat ng sitwasyon. Nakasaad sa batayang alintuntunin nito—ang Tatlong Punto ng Disiplina at Walong Bagay na Dapat Tandaan (mas kilala sa taguring Tres-Otso)–ang mahigpit na pangangalaga sa kanilang mga karapatan at ang maayos na pagturing sa kanila sa gawi at salita. Nakasaad naman sa konstitusyon, programa at iba pang alituntunin ng PKP ang pantay na karapatan ng kalalakihan at kababaihan, maging sa loob ng kasal.

Sa harap ng pang-aapi, pandarahas, pambabastos at pagmamaliit ni Duterte sa kababaihang Pilipino, wala silang ibang masusulingan kundi ang magbangon laban sa pasismo ng rehimeng US-Duterte. Dapat sumulong ang kababaihan sa landas ng pambansa-demokratikong paglaban at isulong ang iba’t ibang anyo ng armado at di armadong paglaban. Nananawagan ang Partido sa lahat ng mga kababaihang manggagawa, magsasaka at mga estudyante, na sumapi sa Bagong Hukbong Bayan at lumahok sa pagsusulong ng matagalang digmang bayan sa buong kapuluan.

MILF: North Cotabato PolCom holds Peace Advocacy

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Mar 6): North Cotabato PolCom holds Peace Advocacy

MLANG, NORTH COTABATO (March 6, 2018) --- “Peace Negotiation is the practical means of resolving the Mindanao problem”, said Professor Esmael A. Abdula, President of Kalilintad Peacebuilding Institute and BLMI Training Officer in a Peace Advocacy organized by the MILF Political Committee of North Cotabato.
“The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is committed for the peaceful settlement of the Mindanao problem to end the Mindanao armed conflict”, Abdula added.

Abdula emphasized that, “People’s participation is vital in the implementation of all peace agreements between the Philippine government, and the MILF.”

“We support the MILF leadership in its political struggle,” said Franco Sagadan, Former Barangay Captain of Dunggoan, Mlang, North Cotabato.

Sagadan said that community leaders should conduct forum, and other activities to inform people of the contents of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) crafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) so that people can understand, and support its passage.

Mohammad Antao, Board Member of 1st District of North Cotabato told the participants that “Supporting the passage of the BBL can help resolve, and end the hostilities in Mindanao.”

“Let us promote, and support peace in Mindanao”, Antao emphasized.

Community leaders, religious and traditional leaders, MILF Political Committee, MILF-BIAF field commanders and women sector attended the Advocacy.

MILF: RRUC-ARMM, MILFs Taskforce, and CSOs Facilitate Settlement of land conflict in Maguindanao

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Mar 6): RRUC-ARMM, MILFs Taskforce, and CSOs Facilitate Settlement of land conflict in Maguindanao

Cotabato City -- Regional Reconciliation and Unification Commission of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (RRUC-ARMM), Taskforce Conflict Resolution and Management of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (TFCRM), and the Local Government Units of Datu Blah Sinsuat, and North Upi together with Civil Society Organizations in Maguindanao brought on Sunday warring Maguindanaon and Teduray clans to a negotiating table here to end their dispute that had claimed numerous lives and injuries to some members of the warring clans.
RRUC – ARMM Chairman Romeo K. Sema, successfully mediated and settled the “rido” (family feud) involving the families of Mama, Umping and Martin, all residents of Barangay Matuber, Datu Blah Sinsuat, Maguindanao.

Chairman Sema, concurrent head of the ARMM Coordinating Mechanism for Rido Settlement (ACMRS), said the clan war had claimed at least 4 lives, and injured 2 family members in firefights.

Abdulbasit R. Benito, Executive Director of RRUC-ARMM said that conflicting parties agreed to end their feud by amicable settlement where relatives of the victims received “Diaht”.

Diaht is a monetary provision by a killer or the killer's clan to the family of a person who has been killed in intended for the cleansing of the heart.

The conflict was brought about by a land dispute where family of Umping claimed the parcel of land in Barangay Matuber that was sold to the family of Mama Amir. The conflict had worsened when 2 relatives of Mama Amir were slain. Before the said killings, 3 family members of Umping were arrested and detained related to the dispute.

In succeeding weeks, the feud between the two (2) families escalates when 2 members of Martin family, a Teduray were killed in a separate clash.

In a peace agreement signed by both parties, the families agreed to end the killings, including affidavit of desistance to be filed by Mama Kamir to release the three members of Umping from jail. It was also agreed to conduct resurvey of the 6 hectares parcel of the disputed land, and the excess of that will be distributed to the Umping family.

TFCRM, Chairman Gordon Shayfullah Khan committed to secure peace and stability in the area. On part of the MILF, I guaranteed that Mama Amir family will not violate this agreement, Gordon said.

The LGUs of Datu Blah, and North Upi will facilitate the safe return of families displaced by the said conflict. To the celebrate successful settlement of dispute, a thanksgiving kanduli will be held in the community upon the return of the displaced persons due to conflict.

The peaceful resolution of this conflict has been achieved through the concerted efforts of the LGU of DBS and North Upi, Office of the Southern Cultural Communities (OSCC-ARMM), Task Force Conflict Resolution and Management of the MILF (TFCRM), local Civil Society Organizations (CSO), the Cohesion, Resilience, and Expansive Engagement for Peace in the Philippines (CARE for Peace) and The Asia Foundation.

DWDD: AWARDING | PH Fleet Honors Navy officers

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Mar 7): AWARDING  |  PH Fleet Honors Navy officers


NBHA, Sangley Point, Cavite City – New Philippine Fleet commander, Rear Admiral Danilo R Rodelas AFP spearheaded a momentous event on March 05, 2018, during the Monday colors.

During the event, the Award of Senior Command at Sea Badge and Plaque was given to Captain Antonio C Palces PN(GSC) at Commodore Rudiardo A Brown Beaching Area Naval Base Heracleo Alano, Sangley Point, Cavite City.

In addition to him, there were other awardees, Captain Oscar D Canlas Jr PN(GSC) and Commander Rolando Z Fernandez PN(GSC) who were also given the award of Command at Sea Badge and Plaque for commanding various Philippine Navy vessels. PHFleet / MCAG

DWDD: DONNING OF RANKS | CMOG Officers and EP promoted and honored

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Mar 7): DONNING OF RANKS  |  CMOG Officers and EP promoted and honored


MARINE BARRACKS RUDIARDO BROWN, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City (DWDD) – The Civil Military Operations Group- Philippine Navy headed by its Group Commander, Colonel Nestor R Marcelino PN (M) (MNSA), donned the ranks of the 2 newly promoted Officers, 9 Enlisted Personnel and awarded the 2 relieved Enlisted Personnel in front of Headquarters Civil Military Operations Group-Philippine Navy, Marine Barracks Rudiardo Brown, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

The CMOG-PN family commends their valuable accomplishments and services they bestowed for the unit and further wishes their fair winds, clear skies, following seas! MCAG / CMOGPN

DWDD: COMMENCEMENT EXERCISE | Joint Graduation Ceremony of YNSC CL 04, DKSC CL 04, MUSC CL 03, BMSC CL 02 and RMSC CL 02

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Mar 7): COMMENCEMENT EXERCISE   |  Joint Graduation Ceremony of YNSC CL 04, DKSC CL 04, MUSC CL 03, BMSC CL 02 and RMSC CL 02


FORT SAN FELIPE, Cavite (DWDD) – Joint Graduation Ceremony of YNSC CL 04, DKSC CL 04, MUSC CL 03, BMSC CL 02 and RMSC CL 02 was held last March 5, 2018 with Rear Admiral Giovanni Carlo J Bacordo AFP, Commander, Naval Sea Systems Command as Keynote Speaker. NSSC / MCAG

DWDD: DONNING OF RANKS | NETC promotes Officers and EPs

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Mar 7): DONNING OF RANKS  |  NETC promotes Officers and EPs

SAN ANTONIO, Zambales (DWDD) – The Naval Education and Training Command conducted donning ranks ON March 5, 2018 to the newly promoted Officer and Enlisted Personnel of this Command with Rear Admiral Allan Ferdinand V Cusi AFP, Commander, NETC. NETC / MCAG