Thursday, March 22, 2018

Peasant leader killed in Compostela Valley

From the often pro-CPP online publication the Davao Today (Mar 21): Peasant leader killed in Compostela Valley

 DAVAO CITY, Philippines – A peasant leader was shot dead in Compostela Valley Tuesday evening, human rights group Karapatan reported.

Jay Apiag, spokesperson of Karapatan Southern Mindanao, has identified the victim as Agudo Quillio, 52, a resident of Purok Gemilina, Sitio Lawaan Barangay Kingking Pantukan town in Compostela Valley province.

Quillo was preparing dinner when three unidentified armed men forcibly entered his house and shot him.

According to the report, he sustained multiple gunshot wounds on his chest that resulted to his immediate death.

Apiag accused the Army of being responsible for Quillo’s death. Apiag said Quillo was killed because of his active participation in the peasant movement calling for land reform and due to his strong opposition to the large-scale mining operation of St. Augustine Mining Limited and Kingking Pantukan Mining.

Quillo was the chairperson of Hugpong sa mga Mag-uuma sa Pantukan (HUMAPAN), a municipal-wide peasant organization.

Apiag added, “peasant organizations like HUMAPAN, became a target of attack by the intensified militarization against various peasant and indigenous people’s organizations.”

According to Karapatan, Quillio is the 70th victim of extrajudicial killing in Southern Mindanao.

The group also holds the Duterte administration accountable for the crimes against those who are notably active in asserting their legitimate demands to the government.

14 NPA terrorists from Compostela Valley surrender to PA battalion

From the Manila Bulletin (Mar 22): 14 NPA terrorists from Compostela Valley surrender to PA battalion

Fourteen communist-New People’s Army (NPA) terrorists and two Milisya ng Bayan (MB) members voluntarily surrendered to the 71st Infantry (Kaibigan) Battalion 71st IB) late Tuesday afternoon, said 1st Lt. Jhocell D. Asis, Civil Military Operation (CMO) officer of the Army’s 71st IB, on Thursday.

In a phone interview with The Manila Bulletin, the 71st IB CMO officer said the unarmed surrenderees were all members of Section Committee 27 (SECOM 27), Sub-Regional Committee 1 (SRC 2) of the CPP-NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Command (SMRC) from Barangay (village) New Barili, the barangay in the highest peak of Maco town, Compostela Valley (ComVal) province.

Guerrillas from the New People’s Army in formation during the 49th anniversary of the communist rebel group in Sierra Madre mountains. (Czar Dancel / MANILA BULLETIN)
“Through the intervention of the barangay chairman and with the help of the local government unit of Maco, the mass surrender was made successful,” 1st Lt. Asis added.

The surrenderees personally yielded themselves to the command group of the 71st IB led by its battalion commander Lt. Col. Esteveyn E. Ducusin.

“We are very thankful for the continuous support of the local officials who served as intermediary between us and NPA members and supporters,” the 71st IB commander said, in a statement.

“The flock of surrenderees will continue as our battalion, 71st IB, continues in building good image through different community services and outreach programs that gain trust and confidence of the people,” he said.

He added that they will never stop to suppress CNTs in their Area of Responsibility (AOR) until the populace will leave peacefully away from fear and coercion made by the remaining communist-NPA terrorists.

There are a total of 518 NPA members who already voluntarily surrendered to 71st IB from September of last year upTuesday (March 20), 1st Lt. Asis said.

The 71st IB remains steadfast in performing its mandate to serve and protect the people in the Area of Operation, the 71st CMO officer added.

‘Valor’ battalion intensifies martial law ops in Surigao del Sur

From the Manila Bulletin (Mar 21): ‘Valor’ battalion intensifies martial law ops in Surigao del Sur

Camp Bancasi, Butuan City – Troops of the Army’s 36th Infantry “Valor” Battalion (36th IB) is intensifying the enforcement of martial law in Surigao del Sur with the continued threat coming from the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), according to 36th IB Civil Military Operation Officer Capt. Francisco P. Garello, Jr.

Garello said relentless military and security operations such as intensified military-police checkpoints, and route and areas security have been undertaken to deter the travel of terrorists and lawless elements.

A massive security awareness campaign has also been undertaken to inform the public on the true nature of the CPP-NPA and its deceptive recruitment strategy.

“Recent encounters in some parts of the province of Surigao del Sur, are results of the continuous campaign to address the armed component of the communist terrorist group while AFP-PNP checkpoints have intensified due to continuing threats of the CNTs in the province,” the CMO officer of the 36th IB said, in a statement sent to The Manila Bulletin on Wednesday.

Garello added that commuters and private vehicles will be randomly checked.

It can be recalled that, around 11:30 a.m. on February 21, troops of the 36th IB intercepted foreigners at the checkpoint in Dreamland Patrol Base, Sitio Dreamland, Barangay Alba, Tago, Surigao del Sur.

As a routine process, the foreigners were subjected to questioning and were asked for proper identification as they have violated Municipal Ordinance and Tribal Laws.

Hence, the group was invited at Tago Municipal Police Station for documentation and identification. They were later released upon documentation as witnessed by their legal counsel Antonio Azarcon.

“We call for all commuters to cooperate and voluntarily subject themselves in the routine process of the AFP-PNP checkpoints,” also said Lt. Col. Xerxes A. Trinidad, commanding officer of the 36th IB, in a statement sent to The Manila Bulletin.

Cops repulse BIFF attack on Maguindanao town police station

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Mar 22): Cops repulse BIFF attack on Maguindanao town police station
SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao–Policemen in Datu Salibo town have repulsed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) gunmen, who tried to gain control of the police station there on Wednesday evening, the Maguindanao police said on Thursday.

At least 10 heavily-armed BIFF gunmen initially fired an M-79 grenade, Maguindanao police director Senior Supt. Agustin Tello said.

The grenade exploded just outside Datu Salibo’s police station in Barangay Sambolawan, around 7 p.m.

As the grenade landed and exploded in front of the police office, the gunmen opened fire using assault rifles in an attempt to neutralize the police personnel inside, according to Tello.

It was not clear how many policemen were manning Datu Salibo’s police station at the time of the attack.

But Tello said the policemen engaged the attackers in a 45-minute firefight.

The BIFF gunmen only fled when they sensed that soldiers from the 57th Infantry Battalion, who rushed to the rescue of the embattled policemen, were already nearing town.

No casualty had been reported from either side, he said.

Tello said initial investigation showed that the attempt to take over the Datu Salibo police station, which is near the Maguindanao highway, was perpetrated by BIFF gunmen under Kagi Karialan.

Nolcom to build fishermen’s shelter in PH’s northernmost island to bolster its claims

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Mar 22): Nolcom to build fishermen’s shelter in PH’s northernmost island to bolster its claims

Philippine flag hoisted on Mavulis Island. Photo from Nolcom PAO

The Armed Forces of the Philippines in Northern Luzon (Nolcom) is taking a leap to bolster its claims in the northern frontier by soon building a fishermen’s shelter in Mavulis Island, the country’s northernmost island in Batanes Province.

The construction of the facility will start early April, Nolcom public information officer Lt. Col. Isagani Nato said in a statement Thursday.

The military has also tapped local stakeholders for the project. A memorandum of agreement will be signed by the military and the stakeholders on Friday in Basco, Batanes.

“When completed, the project will increase the presence of local fishermen in the region contributing to the protection of our marine resources and enhance the information gathering around the maritime area,” Nato said.

The shelter will also serve as a station for Nolcom troops visiting Mavuli Island, also known as Y’ami, to secure the maritime domain “during poaching season.”

Poaching by foreign vessels used to be frequent in the Batanes islands chain, hampering the fishing activities of locals there.

The Nolcom started its maritime awareness on Mavulis Island in 2016 when it hoisted a Philippine flag to assert sovereignty.

Cordillerans urged to join Army reserve corps

From the Sun Star-Baguio (Mar 21): Cordillerans urged to join Army reserve corps

CORDILLERA Administrative Region's (CAR) local and provincial officials, professionals and students are encouraged to join the military reserve corps which promotes nationalism and volunteerism.
 Regional Community Defense Group (RCDG) 2nd Lieutenant Alber Bunggo of the Philippine Army said RCDG is mandated to reserved unit by the chief of staff of Armed Forces of the Philippines under the Armed Forces of the Philippines Reservist Act of 1991 or RA Nr.7077.
Bunggo highlighted the purpose of reservists in disaster and rescue operations, socio-economic activities, humanitarian assistance and environmental protection.
The reserve force is organized to five components; the army reserve, air force, navy, AFP-wide technical and affiliated reserves.
The reactivation of 14th CAR RCDG was conducted last year led by newly reactivated unit head Colonel Gregory Docil.
At least five community defense center will serve as headquarters distributed in Benguet, Abra, Ifugao, Kalinga and Mountain Province.
 With some active reservists, he assured the reserve force will not be infiltrated by the Cordillera People Liberations Army. "We have a background investigation if they are member of CPLA," Bunggo said. "The reserve force is open to those who are interested. Kahit sino po iyong personalities pero tinitignan po namin iyong background."
Interested individuals may submit application form, affidavit of non-pending case, whole body postcard size picture, NSO birth certificate, college diploma and transcript of record authenticated by the school registrar, board certificate or PRC License, certificate of employment, physical examination report, and command clearance.
 "We are willing to have information drive in any municipalities of Benguet regarding the benefits being of a member of the reserve force," Bunggo said.

Army chief Bautista outlines ‘reality’ of terror threat in PHL

From the Business Mirror (21): Army chief Bautista outlines ‘reality’ of terror threat in PHL

The threat of terrorism, which the Philippines experienced firsthand during the five-month long Marawi City siege, is a reality the world needs to confront, the chief of the Philippine Army (PA) Lt. Gen. Rolando Joselito Bautista said.

The Army commander’s statement came as the authorities at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) hoisted the heightened alert on Tuesday, amid reports that foreign terrorists have sneaked into the country through the southern backdoor.

Manila International Airport General Manager Ed V. Monreal, however, said that the public should not be alarmed with the heightened security status since “it is just part of a security measures to protect our passengers, the facilities and, of course, the airport users.”

“We have coordinated with the Philippine National Police-Aviation Security Group [PNP-Avsegroup] and directed the Office of Transport Security personnel to remain vigilant. But we do not want to cause inconvenience in the process by creating long lines at the baggage-screening checkpoints,” Monreal added.

He said security personnel at airport checkpoints will conduct inspections of car’s passengers of motor vehicles. He advised the public to abide with the new security protocol for their own protection.

The heighten alert was raised after reports from the Western Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) alleged that some foreign terrorists were able to slip into the country recently.

The report has reportedly prompted the AFP and the PNP to embark on a manhunt.

“The threat of terrorism is omnipresent and unavoidable in this day and age. It is a reality that the free world must now confront. The siege of the city of Marawi opened the eyes of countries in our part of the world to the realities of terrorism,” Bautista said during the Army’s 121st anniversary rites on Tuesday.

The Marawi City fighting, which started from May 23 to October 23, 2017, subsequently resulted in the death of more than 1,000 military, police, civilian and Maute Group terrorists, aside from causing billions of pesos worth of damages in public and private infrastructure in Marawi City.

Despite challenges and losses, however, the Army managed to neutralize the Maute Group terrorists which proved its capability to defend the country against security threats.

Leading the charge
“The Army served as the main effort to address and neutralize the ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria]-Maute terrorist group in a protracted battle for the liberation of the City of Marawi. Having no less than our Commander in Chief, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, who entered the main battle area at the height of the firefight, inspired and motivated every AFP, PNP and Coast Guard personnel to perform their mandate to rescue the hostages and neutralize all the terrorists,” Bautista said.

He also attributed the desire of military personnel, wounded in the fierce battles, to continue fighting with the President’s unwavering support. “His unwavering support made even some of the wounded to refuse medical evacuation in order to be able to go back to the frontlines,” he added.

In the liberation of Marawi City, the Army managed to get the better of their terrorist enemies in the urban terrain by swiftly making the necessary adjustments by tailoring its tactics, techniques and procedures to suit the difficult urban environment.

“Thinking out of the box, the Army outmaneuvered the ISIS-Maute terrorists and shook their core, resulting in the neutralization of about 900 terrorists, headed by the FBI’s most wanted terrorist, Isnilon Hapilon, and the Maute brothers,” Bautista added.

Authorities thwart bombing attempt in Basilan

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 23): Authorities thwart bombing attempt in Basilan

Passengers unmindful of the scroching heat of the sun enter the port of Isabela City, Basilan to board a ferry bound for Zamboanga City. (File photo by: Teofilo P. Garcia Jr.)

Authorities have prevented an attempt to set off anew a bomb at the property of a government engineer in Basilan province, police said Thursday.

This came after a “suspicious object” which turned out to be an improvised explosive device (IED) was found around 6 a.m. Wednesday in front of the warehouse of Soler Undug in Barangay Aguada in Isabela City, Basilan.

Undug is the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao’s (ARMM) district engineer for Basilan province.

Supt. Restituto Pangusban, Isabela City police chief, said responding police and military Explosive Ordnance Demolition (EOD) personnel rendered safety procedure after confirming that the recovered “suspicious object” was an IED.

Pangusban said authorities recovered a cellular phone-triggered ammonium nitrate fuel oil (ANFO) pipe bomb, rigged with several one-inch concrete and common nails as shrapnel.

The IED was powered by a nine-volt dry cell battery with rocker switch and detonating cord. The cellular phone’s subscriber’s identity module number is +63938-007-8821, he said.

Pangusban said investigation continues to determine the motive as well as the identity of the suspects behind the bombing attempt.

On February 1, an IED has exploded at the residence of Undug in Purok Yakal in Barangay San Rafael, Isabela City.

No one was killed or injured in the explosion that caused minor damage on the perimeter fence of Undug’s residence.

ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman earlier blamed the Abu Sayyaf bandits as the ones behind the February incident and disclosed that the motive was extortion.

Undug oversees the ongoing implementation of ARMM’s transcentral road project worth millions in Basilan province.

PNPA holds 39th Commencement Exercises

From the Philippine Information Agency (Mar 21): PNPA holds 39th Commencement Exercises

TRECE MARTIRES, Cavite -- The Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) will hold its 39th Commencement exercises today, March 21, 2018 at the Camp General Mariano N. Castaneda in Silang, Cavite.

A total of 106 men and women cadet graduates of the Maragtas (Magiting At Responsableng Alagad ng Batas na Gagabay sa Transpormasyong Alay sa Bayang Sinilangan) Class of 2018 will be joining the force upon graduation.

Out of the 106 graduates, 79 cadets are male and 27 female and will all be conferred the degree of Bachelor of Science in Public Safety (BSPS) and appointed to the initial rank of Inspector in their respective service bureaus.
This year’s top three topnotchers are Cdt Fritz John Napalinga Vallador from Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental, Cdt Francis Pang-ay Fagkang from Sadanga, Mt. Province and Cdt Jess Torres Agustin of Anchokey, Kabayan, Benguet.

Twenty-four year old Cdt Fritz John Napalinga Vallador is the son of an OFW in Spain and had to live with her aunt while her mother worked abroad.

His hard work and perseverance earned him the first place as he will receive the coveted Presidential Kampilan Award, Chief PNP Kampilan Award, Plaque of Merit for Graduating No. 1 and Best in Math and Science award.

Second ranking is Cdt Francis Pang-ay Fagkang who will receive the Vice-Presidential Kampilan Award and Plaque of Merit for Graduation No. 2.

Top three in ranking is Cdt Jess Torres Agustin who will be awarded the DILG Kampilan award, President, PPSC Leadership Kampilan award and the Plaque of Merit for Graduating No. 3.

The PNPA was established under Section 19, Presidential Decree 1184, and granted Academic Charter by virtue of Presidential Decree no. 1780 with the mandate to provide preparatory education and training for future commissioned officers of the three uniformed services of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG): Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).
Meanwhile, seventy-six cadets will join the PNP, thirteen cadets will serve in the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and seventeen for the Bureau of Fire Protection.

Reintegration of former combatants highlights Cordi groups’ assembly

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 21): Reintegration of former combatants highlights Cordi groups’ assembly


 BANGUED, Abra -- From arms to amity.

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) proposed the formation of the Peace and Development Forces (PDF) to former Cordilleran rebel groups as part of the peace agreement between the government and the Cordillera Bodong Administration-Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CBA-CPLA) on Wednesday morning.

During the “Galigad” or a ceremonial cessation of hostilities presented by the CBA-CPLA Balao-as faction, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza along with AFP-Peace Process Office Chief BGen. Raniel Ramiro suggested the process of decommissioning of firearms as an initial step to the eventual creation of the PDF towards the normalcy of former rebel groups in Cordillera.

“Puwede yung mga baril ninyo hindi i-surrender at ipapa-inventory lang natin sa military kasi ang military ang custodian (ng firearms). Inventory muna, lista, and then i-deposito na muna. Pagkatapos, mag train kayo gaya ng mga army reservists. Pag tapos na kayong mag-training at qualified na kayo, puwede na kayong ipasok doon sa agency as reservists of the military (Instead of surrendering your firearms, they should be part of the military’s inventory as they are the custodians for them. Inventory first, list them, then deposit them for the meantime. Afterwards, you may train like those enlisted as army reservists. Once you’ve completed it, you may join as reservists of the military),” Dureza said.

The event, in partnership with the Regional Development Council (RDC) and the National Economic and Development Authority – Cordillera Administrative Region (NEDA-CAR), also featured the information and education campaign on Cordillera Autonomy.

Marissa Cabato of NEDA-CAR said the campaign is still open for changes and interested individuals may submit contents to be included in the IECs subject to the evaluation and approval of RDC and NEDA-CAR.

On Jan. 17, Senator Miguel Zubiri fulfilled a recent promise to the Cordillerans by filing Senate Bill 1678 or an Act Establishing the Autonomous Region of the Cordillera. Zubiri is among the senators supportive of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region and the Autonomous Region of the Cordillera.

According to Senate Bill 1678, the establishment of an Autonomous Region of Cordillera will give the Cordillerans “the opportunity to decide on what policies and programs will best fit the economic, social, and cultural development within the framework of the national sovereignty and in consonance with their local practices and cultural heritage and identity.”

The bill also aims to address underdevelopment and poverty in the Cordilleras more effectively through regional autonomy.

Last year, leaders and representatives of various Cordillera rebel factions and other groups, namely the CPLA and CPLA-CBA, Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), Cordillera Broad Coalition (CBC), Cordillera Regional Consultative Commission (CRCC), and North Luzon Coalition for Good Governance (NLCGG), jointly called on all Cordillerans to unite and rally behind efforts to establish the constitutionally mandated Autonomous Region of the Cordillera.

Cordillera groups, together with the local chief executives and representatives of the six provinces of the Cordillera and the City of Baguio, have expressed support for the passage of House Bill 5343, "An act establishing the autonomous region of the Cordillera." (OPAPP PR)

46 killed by NPA in Negros since 2010: Army

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 21): 46 killed by NPA in Negros since 2010: Army

The Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (ID) on Wednesday said 46 people, including policemen, have been murdered by members of the Community Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in Negros Island in recent years.

The 3rd ID, headed by Brig. Gen. Dinoh Dolina, issued the statement on Wednesday urging the public to remain vigilant and cautious as the NPA is set to celebrate its 49th founding anniversary on March 29.

Based on a report of the 3rd ID covering years ‎2010-2017, the CPP/NPA liquidated 16 Negrense civilians in 2016 alone.

Among the victims were Juvy Mahusay, Anthony Tusoy, and William Arquil, dealers of a solar panel firm, who were assassinated on March 22, 2016 at Sitio Cabatangbatangan, Barangay Bucalan in Canlaon City, Negros Oriental.

On May 22 of the same year, farmers Dionisio Ybañez and Jose Pios were also killed by rebels at Hacienda Aliwanay, Barangay General Luna in Sagay City, Negros Occidental.

Last year, the army said the rebels killed 10 civilians, among them Roberto Lumayno and his driver Danilo Braga at Purok Greenhills, Barangay Minapasok in Calatrava, Negros Occidental during an incident on June 22.

Another victim, Eliodoro Alvarado, was dragged out of his house and shot on the head for not giving in to the rebels' extortion demand. This happened on May 27 at Sitio Binataan, Barangay Quintin Remo in Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental, the Army said.

On July 21, 2017, NPA rebels staged an ambush in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental which claimed the lives of six policemen and a civilian.
“And who can forget the La Castellana massacre where eight civilians and a policeman were ruthlessly executed by these terrorists despite begging for their life as civilians,” the 3rd ID said.

The incident happened at Barangay Puso, La Castellana in Negros Occidental early morning of January 27, 2013 while the victims were on their way home from a fiesta celebration.

“These incidents affirm that the CPP/NPA is not fighting for the welfare of the civilians contrary to their claims that they are protecting their so-called ‘masses’,” the 3rd ID said in a statement.

Dolina called on the members of the CPP-NPA to give peace a chance, yield their firearms, and abandon the armed struggle so they can return to their families and begin a new and peaceful life.

The 3rd ID coverage includes 10 provinces in the islands of Panay, Negros, Siquijor, Cebu and Bohol.

Troops rescue 3 farmers seized by NPA

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 21): Troops rescue 3 farmers seized by NPA

PAGADIAN CITY--Government troops safely recovered three farmers, including a couple, who were seized by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels on Monday in the nearby Misamis Occidental province, military officials said Wednesday.

Capt. Benjie Jimenez, information officer of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division, said the three farmers were recovered Tuesday in Barangay Roxas, Aloran, Misamis Occidental.

The couple was identified as Renie Ando, and his wife, Aireen. The identity of the third farmer was not immediately available.

Capt. Jimenez said NPA rebels used the victims as human shields while retreating after they figured in a clash on Monday afternoon with government troops in Brgy. Sinampongan, an adjacent village of Roxas.

Jimenez said the clash ensued when the troops encountered a group of 20 NPA rebels around 3 p.m. Monday in Sinampongan. The clash lasted in the evening and spread to nearby villages.

The abduction of the three farmers were reported by Aloran Mayor Junie Roa and Roxas Village Chief Marieta Dologaog, prompting the military to pursue the fleeing NPA rebels.

Jimenez said troops from the Army’s 10th Infantry Battalion safely recovered the three farmers after the NPA rebels abandoned them as they fled to the hinterlands of Aloran town.

Maj. Gen. Roseller Murillo, Army’s 1st Infantry Division commander, said abducting innocent civilians as human shields is a violation of the International Humanitarian Law.

Troops recover 11 firearms, grenade in Lanao Sur

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 21): Troops recover 11 firearms, grenade in Lanao Sur

Photo shows the firearms, ammunition and unlicensed radios and ammunition pouches the troops have recovered in simultaneous law enforcement operations in Lanao del Sur. (Photo courtesy: 1st Infantry “Tabak” Division)
PAGADIAN CITY – Military troops recovered 11 firearms and one grenade in simultaneous law enforcement operations in three areas of the nearby province of Lanao del Sur, officials said Wednesday.

Capt. Benjie Jimenez, information officer of the Army’s First Infantry Division, said the firearms and grenade were recovered in the towns of Pualas and Lumbatan and Marawi City.

Recovered were: caliber 5.56-mm M4 rifle, one; caliber 7.62-mm M14 rifles, two; caliber .30 M1 Garand rifles, two; caliber 5.56-mm M16 rifle, one; caliber 5.56-mm M653 rifle, one; M-203 grenade launcher, one; caliber .45 pistols, three; and, M65 type hand grenade, one.

Also recovered were assorted ammunition and magazines, and five units of unlicensed handheld radio sets.

Jimenez said the operations was carried out by the Joint Task Force Ranao, 55th Infantry Battalion, and the 63rd Infantry Battalion after receiving of reports from concerned citizens about the presences of armed civilians in the three areas.

Maj. Gen. Roseller Murillo, Army’s 1st Infantry Division commander, lauded the troops for the successful operations. He said it will contribute to the smooth recovery and rehabilitation of Lanao del Sur after the Marawi siege.

On March 16, residents of Piagapo, Lanao del Sur surrendered 43 high powered firearms to the Army’s 1st Infantry Division which covers the entire Zamboanga Peninsula, Lanao provinces and Misamis Occidental.

Troops nab Sayyaf man involved in Malaysian resort kidnapping

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 22): Troops nab Sayyaf man involved in Malaysian resort kidnapping

A team of police and military operatives have arrested an Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) member involved in the kidnapping of 21 people, including Europeans, 17 years ago in a Malaysian resort, a police official said Wednesday.

Chief Supt. Billy Beltran, Police Regional Office-9 (PRO-9) director, identified the arrested ASG member as Dani Suraidi, who carries the aliases of Dad and Amdak Jumah.

Suraidi was arrested around 5:40 p.m. Tuesday in Barangay Sta. Barbara, this city, Supt. Beltran said.

Beltran said Suraidi has a standing warrant of arrest for kidnapping and serious illegal detention with ransom.

Suraidi belongs to the group of slain ASG senior leader Albader Parad and was involved in April 23, 2000 kidnapping of 23 people in Sipadan island diving resort, Palau, Sabah, Malaysia, the police official said.

The ASG herded the hostages that included 10 Europeans, nine Malaysians and two Filipinos, to the forest of Sulu, where they were released in batches months later following payments of ransom.

Beltran said Suraidi also served as the trusted man of slain ASG leader Alhabsy Misaya.
Parad was killed in a clash with government forces on February 21, 2010 in Maimbung, Sulu, while Misaya was killed on April 28, 2017 in Parang town in the same province.

Beltran said Suraidi was taken to the Regional Intelligence Unit-9 office for debriefing and eventual turnover to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) for temporary custody and for proper disposition.

2ID army troopers stage fun bike on 42nd pre-anniversary fest

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 22): 2ID army troopers stage fun bike on 42nd pre-anniversary fest

CAMP GENERAL MATEO CAPINPIN, Tanay, Rizal – Troopers and support services personnel of the Philippine Army’s 2nd Infantry ‘Jungle Fighter’ Division (2ID) staged their Fun Bike on Wednesday morning as part of their pre-anniversary activities highlighting the 2ID’s 42nd founding year in this camp.

2ID public affairs chief Captain Patrick Jay M. Retumban said the ‘Fun Bike’ is both a fitness, stamina and endurance event yet fun-filled as the army troopers here drum up preparations to highlight their 42nd Founding Anniversary on March 23.

Retumban said that the 2ID adopts this year’s theme:
“Committed Jungle Fighters: 42 years of serving the people and securing the land.”

Colonel Marceliano V. Teofilo, 2ID chief of staff, 2ID and Dr. Gilbert Esquejo, lead surgeon of the Philippine Band of Mercy were at the lead pack of the hundreds of fun bikers which started their cycling rounds around 5:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

Joining them were 2ID officers, enlisted personnel, dependents and civilian employees as well as participating bikers and cyclists from the Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) and civilian guest bikers.

The fun bikers embarked on their 42-kilometer run from Camp Capinpin to the headquarters of the 80th Infantry Battalion in Baras, Rizal.

After the fun bike, Colonel Faisal Nawang, assistant Division Commander for Reservist and Retirees Affairs together with Dr. Esquejo awarded the plaques to the winners.

The military top brass and troopers also staged their fun marathon in this camp as part of the anniversary celebration salvo last Saturday, and an Anniversary Fun Golf at the Sierra Madre Golf Course last Monday.

The 2ID public affairs chief also said that in the runup to the anniversary celebration, the army troopers and civilian participants are up for the beat of their Mega Zumba fest slated on Thursday (March 22).

The founding day celebration on March 23 will be marked with the Anniversary Parade with DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu as Guest of Honor and Speaker at the parade grounds and grandstand.

Maguindanao cops repulse BIFF attempt to overrun station

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 22): Maguindanao cops repulse BIFF attempt to overrun station

SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao—Policemen in Datu Salibo town thwarted an attempt by a suspected IS-linked group to overrun their station on Wednesday night. 
Senior Supt. Agustin Tello, police director for Maguindanao, said about 10 heavily armed men, using M-79 grenades and high-powered weapons, fired at the police station in Barangay Sambolawan, Datu Salibo, at around 7 p.m. 
This prompted policemen to return fire despite being undermanned, Tello said, resulting to 45-minute firefight. 
The attackers fled after sensing the arrival of reinforcement from Army’s 57th Infantry Battalion, backed by armored personnel carriers, in the area. 
The police station is located beside the national highway linking Datu Salibo and Datu Saudi Ampatuan towns in Maguindanao. 
Tello said initial investigation showed the harassment was perpetrated by elements of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) Kagui Karialan faction. 
No casualty was reported on the government side. Neither could police confirm if the attackers suffered casualties during the gun battle. 
Soldiers and police personnel in Datu Salibo, where BIFF maintains a heavy presence, have been placed on heightened alert following the incident.

1 killed, 21 hurt in Sultan Kudarat grenade attack

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 22): 1 killed, 21 hurt in Sultan Kudarat grenade attack

LAMBAYONG, Sultan Kudarat--Police here have launched a massive manhunt against a man who shot dead a teenager and injured 21 others in a grenade attack during a birthday party Wednesday evening. 
Senior Supt. Raul Supiter, Sultan Kudarat Police director, said a still unidentified attacker shot dead Jerome Balaba, 15, at about 9 p.m. in front of the Manzano residence in Barangay Palumbe, where a debut party was being held. 

Balaba allegedly confronted a motorist, who just arrived at the birthday bash, for wearing a facemask and acting suspiciously, Supiter said.
The confrontation angered the assailant who pulled a .45-caliber pistol and opened fire on Balaba, killing him instantly.

Supiter said the gunman also pulled a fragmentation grenade and tossed it at the front yard of the Manzano residence where party guests also gathered. 
He said all the injured victims were guests at the debut party of a certain Erica Bumatay. 

Responding policemen rushed the victims to various hospitals here and in neighboring Tacurong City. 

Police, backed by elements of the Army’ 33rd Infantry Battalion, immediately launched a manhunt against the attacker, who fled on a motorbike heading toward Sultan sa Barongis, Maguindanao.

Abu Sayyaf seizes Sulu public school teacher

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 22): Abu Sayyaf seizes Sulu public school teacher

The military’s Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) said government forces are exhausting all means to rescue a public school teacher seized by suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits in the province of Sulu, officials said.

Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay, Westmincom information officer, disclosed that Marjorie Abdul, head teacher of Liang Elementary School, was seized by five gunmen believed to be Abu Sayyaf bandits at the school premises around 9:30 a.m. Thursday.

Liang is one of the 30 barangays in Patikul, a third class town in the province of Sulu.

A coordination with the police and the provincial government was established to intensify pursuit operations, identify the perpetrators, and trace their hideouts, Cape. Petinglay said.

“As we speak, all intelligence resources are being utilized to obtain further information and pursuit operations are currently being launched by all operating units under the Joint Task Force Sulu,” she said.

She said Westmincom condemns any kidnapping activity by lawless groups, specifically the Abu Sayyaf bandits, in the province of Sulu.

“Rest assured that we will sustain our operations in coordination with the other law enforcement agencies,” she added.

Lorenzana opposes move to make Marine Corps independent

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 21): Lorenzana opposes move to make Marine Corps independent

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Wednesday dismissed outright proposals to separate the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) from its mother unit, the Philippine Navy (PN).

The defense chief issued this statement after House of Representatives Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas filed a bill seeking to institutionalize the PMC as a distinct and autonomous arm of the military.

"Number 1, Marines are expeditionary forces. In other countries like the US, where we patterned ours, the US Marines are for overseas deployment. That is also true with the Royal Marines of UK. Both units are invasion forces embedded with their Navies. The Philippines, on the other hand, will not be invading foreign shores anytime soon or ever," Lorenzana said.

Second, he pointed out that the PMC is "basically a ground force" and making them an independent service will mean that there will be two ground forces, including the Army, in the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

"Number 3, the PMC claims that they have particular skills, like ship-to-shore operations. The Army could easily learn these skills," he added.

Lorenzana further said that the PMC was envisioned as a light, hard, striking force to pursue pirates and smugglers, upon its creation in 1950 by a General Headquarters order.

"It was originally part of the Philippine Naval Patrol, the forerunner of the Philippine Fleet. In short, the PMC was envisioned as an adjunct of the PN and it was envisioned as a small force only," he said.

The PMC is composed of about 8,000 officers and enlisted personnel spread around three maneuver brigades, apart from combat support and headquarter units.

Duterte encourages Moros to join police, military

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 21): Duterte encourages Moros to join police, military

President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Wednesday said he sees a need for more Moro members in the police force, saying not all Moros should be considered as “enemies.”

“Not all the Moro of Mindanao are our enem(ies),” Duterte said in his speech during the graduation of the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) “Maragtas” Class of 2018 in Silang, Cavite.

Duterte said he wants diversity in the police force, saying Moros deserved to be “included” in peacekeeping duties to maintain peace and order in the Philippines.

“So maybe next time there should be a percentage of the Moro people joining PMA or the PNPA. We need them. As a matter of fact, kailangan talaga natin sila (we really need them),” Duterte said.

”We cannot govern this country by just selecting from the other provinces without looking towards Mindanao,” Duterte said.

Duterte said aside from Moros, he said there should be more policemen divided among other tribes.

”Not only the Moro, but as a matter of fact, it should be divided among tribes, Ilocano, Bisaya...that ought to be the Philippine National Police,” Duterte said.

Duterte, meanwhile, expressed hope that he would have the funds to enlist more officers.

“I hope by the next batch or the next -- the one coming up for this generation, I will have the money to give you to enlist more police officers,” he said.

‘I will take care of you’

Duterte, meanwhile, urged PNPA graduates to perform their duties in accordance with the law and assured anew that he would protect them should they encounter problems in the fulfillment of duty.

“Just perform your duty in accordance with the law, trabaho kayo (just work) and if there are events that would occur intended or not intended for as long as you are in the performance of duty, do not be afraid,” Duterte told the graduates.

“Just do it. And if you have to kill because you are in danger of losing your life, unahan mo na, patayin mo na (kill them before they kill you) and I will take care of you. Ilang beses ko na sinasabi yan (How many times have I said that),” he added.

Duterte lamented how his critics, particularly human rights groups, seemingly placed policemen and soldiers in parity with criminals.

“Itong mga (These) bleeding hearts human rights (groups), they are bringing up the issue in parity,” Duterte said.

Duterte also took a swipe at the International Criminal Court (ICC) anew for starting a preliminary examination on the alleged human rights violations in connection with the government's anti-narcotics campaign.

He said the ICC failed to take notice of the thousands of policemen who have also died while in the performance of duty.

“That’s why I lost so many men. Itong mga (These) human rights (groups), ang akala nila lahat namatay (they think all have died)…well how about my policemen?” Duterte said.

Duterte calls out US: ‘No joint expeditions during my time’

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 21): Duterte calls out US: ‘No joint expeditions during my time’

President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Wednesday told the United States that the Philippines will no longer participate in its wars and expeditions, “at least during my time”.

Duterte made this remark during the 39th commencement exercises for Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) “Maragtas” Class of 2018 in Silang, Cavite.

“I’m addressing America right now, whatever expeditions that you will conduct, any wars that you will fight in any other countries, count us out,” Duterte said.

Duterte said the Philippines did not get anything from “all these years of sacrifice except brutality and agony” from the US.

“We will stand on our own though we have no money,” the Chief Executive said, adding in jest that he will just order the printing of money and give five sacks to each Filipino.

“We will never beg for any help. Sometimes it would mean really the dignity of the people,” he added.

The President said Filipinos have been enslaved by two countries in succession – the Spaniards, for 400 years, and the Americans for 50 years.

“That’s enough. You have had your fill, do not ask for more,” Duterte said.

He said the US stole the Philippines’ natural resources and the oils of the Arab countries.

“If that’s the case, unless we are threatened directly, there will be no more joint expeditions, at least during my time. You all have to wait until I’m gone,” Duterte said.

It was not the first time that Duterte hurled these kinds of remarks against the Philippines’ longtime ally for its "interference" in the country's domestic affairs.

In 2016, Duterte had repeatedly slammed former US President Barack Obama for interfering in such government campaign as the war on drugs.

Duterte had even threatened to terminate the Philippines-US Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

Despite criticisms from international and local human groups, Duterte promised to continue his war on drugs and vowed to kill those who will destroy the country.

“Do not mess up with drugs because I will really kill you,” he said.

Duterte criticized several human rights groups for drumming up the number of drug suspects killed by law enforcers but not that of policemen killed in action.

Over 4K Reds surrendered in 3 months: AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 22): Over 4K Reds surrendered in 3 months: AFP

BACK TO THE FOLD OF THE LAW. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte talks to the 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. (Robinson Niñal Jr./Presidential Photo)

A total of 4,356 New People's Army (NPA) regular members and their supporters have surrendered to government forces nationwide from Jan. 1 to March 15 this year.

"The figure is composed of 626 NPA regulars and Sangay sa Partido Lokal (SPL) or local party members and 3,730 Militia ng Bayan (MB), Underground Mass Organization (UGMO) members and mass supporters. Majority of surrenders happened in eastern Mindanao particularly in the regions of Davao and CARAGA totaling 97 percent or 4,194," Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Emmanuel Garcia said in a statement Thursday.

These numbers include the recent surrender of 1,265 NPA supporters and residents of nine barangays of Monkayo town in Compostela Valley and defection of 115 supporters in Trento, Agusan Del Sur.

"The massive surrenders of NPAs and their supporters were attributed to the combined focused military operations, intelligence efforts, civil-military operations, re-integration efforts, peace and development programs of the AFP and PNP; and the intense campaign of local government units in convincing their constituents who are members and supporters of the NPA to go back to mainstream society," he added.

Garcia said the AFP expects more rebel surrenderers as former NPA members and supporters continue to divulge corruption and deception inside the rebel ranks.

Revelations from former rebels disclosed that most of them were deceived into believing the propaganda and false promises of their leaders.

The rebel surrenderers warned would-be-recruits not to fall for the pattern of deception being done by the NPA terrorists and called on their former comrades to take the peaceful path to change.

"The AFP assures the public that focused military operations against communist terrorists will continue to protect the people and vulnerable communities from terrorist atrocities," Garcia pointed out.

Navy to get 3 more patrol planes from Japan Monday

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 22): Navy to get 3 more patrol planes from Japan Monday

The Philippine Navy (PN) will formally receive three more Beechcraft King Air TC-90 patrol airplanes from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) on March 26.

The turnover ceremony will take place at the Naval Air Group, Naval Base Heracleo Alano, Sangley Point, Cavite City, Navy spokesperson Capt. Lued Lincuna said in a message Thursday.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana will be the event’s guest-of-honor and speaker. He will be joined by Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koji Haneda and other delegates of the JMSDF and Japan Ministry of Defense.

The first two TC-90s were delivered to the Philippines last March 27. With the arrival of the three airplanes, the number of Philippine-operated TC-90s will climb to five.

Last Jan. 31, one of the first two delivered planes, with tail number 390, conducted its first maritime air patrol mission off Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, Zambales.

The TC-90 has a range of more than 1,000 nautical miles, and a cruising speed of 260 knots, and is capable of carrying eight passengers along with the pilots.

As of this time, the Navy is operating six Norman Britten "Islander" patrol aircraft, four GAF "Nomad" airplanes, five AgustaWestland combat utility helicopters, and one Robinson R-22 training helicopter.

The TC-90, which is part of the Beechcraft King Air aircraft family, was offered by Japan shortly after the Agreement Concerning the Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology was finalized on Feb. 29, 2016.

Army units clearing Marawi City of unexploded bombs, munitions

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 22): Army units clearing Marawi City of unexploded bombs, munitions

Philippine Army (PA) units are still at the forefront in Marawi City but this time, to help clear unexploded bombs and other munitions left after the five-month battle.
This was announced by PA commander Lt. Gen. Rolando Joselito Bautista during the Army's 121st celebration rites in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City on Tuesday.

"In our efforts to support the Joint Task Force Bangon Marawi, the Joint Task Group Builder composed of the engineering units from the Army, Navy and Air Force was organized to provide manpower and equipment for the clearing operations for unexploded ammunitions and improvised explosive devices left in the Main Battle Area," he added.

Fighting in Marawi City started when Maute Group terrorists led by the Maute brothers; and Abu Sayyaf leader and ISIS Southeast Asia emir, Isnilon Hapilon, conducted a series of attacks in the said city.

The conflict only ended when government forces managed to neutralize Hapilon and his Maute allies last October.

"But even at the height of conflict, the Army engineers already initiated the construction of Bahay Pag-asa Phase 1 and 2, a housing complex for the IDPs (internally displaced persons) of Marawi City," Bautista pointed out.

'Sydney Declaration' increases regional cooperation on South China Sea

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 22): 'Sydney Declaration' increases regional cooperation on South China Sea

The level of regional cooperation, particularly on maritime security, has increased with the joint statement of Australia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) taking a strong position against aggressive acts in the South China Sea, an expert said Thursday.

At the recently concluded ASEAN-Australia Special Summit, leaders issued a joint statement titled “The Sydney Declaration” which affirmed each parties’ commitment to maintain and promote peace, stability, maritime safety and security, freedom of navigation and overflight in the region.

While short of an explicit reference to the recent developments in some features in the West Philippine Sea, Dindo Manhit, president of think tank Stratbase Albert del Rosario Institute, noted that signatories acknowledged the importance of “non-militarization” in the area.

Manhit said he believes “the declaration has raised the level of regional cooperation amidst a changing geopolitical environment where the Philippines is a major stakeholder.”

Aside from underscoring the importance of non-militarization, the declaration stressed “the need to enhance mutual trust and confidence, exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities and avoid actions that may complicate the situation.”

“We reaffirm the need for states to pursue the peaceful resolutions of disputes, in accordance with universally recognised principles of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and to comply with the relevant standards and recommended practices by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO),” it read.

China and other littoral countries such as Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, and the Philippines have overlapping claims in the South China Sea.

Multilaterally, China and the bloc had already agreed to proceed on the negotiations of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC).

Claimant-to-claimant, the Philippines and China established its bilateral consultative mechanism on the sea lane.

The conclusion of COC is seen to result to a more binding edict as enshrined in the 2002 Declaration of Conduct (DOC) which is aimed at reducing tensions in the region and prevent claimant-countries from aggressively pursuing their claims.

During the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit, parties expressed support to the full and effective implementation of the DOC “in its entirety” and also looked forward to an early conclusion of an “effective COC.”

“ASEAN’s unequivocal support for the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea and non-militarization springs a new momentum for the government and a strong message against actions that run counter to building regional trust and confidence,” Manhit said.