Saturday, March 31, 2018

2 hurt in Pigcawayan firefight

From ABS-CBN (Mar 30): 2 hurt in Pigcawayan firefight

PIGCAWAYAN, North Cotabato—Two people were wounded in a firefight between 2 armed groups here on Friday morning.

The wounded were identified as Ibrahim Samama, who allegedly escaped from the North Cotabato District Jail, and a certain Bruds.

They are affiliated with the Sampillo brothers' group, which was involved in the firefight against the group of a certain Commander Badrodin Mamalinta, also known as "Bads," of the 105th Base Command of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The Sampillo brothers are alleged drug lords with standing warrants for violating the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, according to the military and police.

The clash was reportedly due to a "rido" or clan war, the military said.

The military has deployed soldiers from the 34th Infantry Battalion to the area to monitor the situation.

No locals were evacuated out of the area as of posting time.

NDFP Mindanao to NPA fighters: Redouble offensive efforts

From GMA News Online (Mar 29): NDFP Mindanao to NPA fighters: Redouble offensive efforts

On the 49th anniversary of the New People’s Army (NPA), a regional chapter of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) urged on Thursday fighters of the armed group to redouble offensive efforts against the government.

In a statement, NDFP Mindanao spokesperson Joaquin Jacinto also encouraged rebels to learn from past mistakes and aim higher to propel the “people’s war” to its desired phase.

“... [T]he NDFP–Mindanao resoundingly applauds the accumulated victories in the past year, and calls upon all Red fighter units to redouble efforts in launching more and more tactical offensives against operating enemy troops, utilizing a wide array of tactics and techniques in order to achieve our strategic revolutionary goals,” he said.

“We must take this opportunity to sum up, learn from past mistakes, and aim ever higher to fulfill the requirements to help usher the people’s war towards the strategic stalemate phase and bring the nation ever closer to its glorious socialist future,” Jacinto noted.

He urged NPA fighters to take heed of intensified agrarian revolutionary campaigns and mass mobilization.

The NPA, the armed front of the Communist Party of the Philippines, was founded on March 29, 1969, and has been waging one of Asia’s longest-running insurgencies.

President Rodrigo Duterte has proclaimed the CPP-NPA as a rebel group, and the  Department of Justice has petitioned a Manila regional trial court to formally outlaw the organization in accordance with law.

Psywar tactics

Jacinto claimed psychological warfare tacticians of the Armed Forces of the Philippines have resorted to “subterfuge, perfidy and black propaganda” in orchestrating civilian murders and “make it appear like it was executed by ‘terrorists’, and impute the crime on the NPA.”
"Then, through their trolls they poison both social and mainstream media with such fake news,” he said, citing the alleged killing of a Civilian Active Auxiliary member and a Mamanwa chieftain in separate incidents by state or state-sponsored agents.

This was also true with “fake surrenders,” which the AFP allegedly uses in vain to portray a “weakening NPA,” Jacinto claimed.

Amid allegations of dwindling numbers by no less than Defense chief  Delfin Lorenzana, the NPA is making headway in 46 guerrilla fronts in Mindanao, according to the NDF-Mindanao official.

He claimed that "NPA units operate in more than 2,500 barrios in over 200 municipalities in 20 provinces in the island. In these areas, hundreds of thousands are directly organized, while tens of thousands are covered by the people’s revolutionary government at the barrio level, and a few at municipal levels.”

“In the first quarter of the year alone, the combined strength of all NPA units in the five regions of Mindanao have launched a relatively significant number of tactical offensives against enemy troops, which have been inflicted with more casualties,” he further claimed.

In a separate statement, Lorenzana said the NPA is the reason for the countrys  lack of growth.

81 'underground members' in Sultan Kudarat withdraw support for NPA

From the Philippine Star (Mar 27): 81 'underground members' in Sultan Kudarat withdraw support for NPA

Lt. Col. Cabunoc. commander of the 33rd IB, accepts the surrender of NPA rebels in Sultan Kudarat province in this file photo.
Another 81 members of the underground communist movement in Sultan Kudarat province have withdrawn support for the New People's Army, a military official said Tuesday.
Capt. Jo-Ann Petinglay, spokesperson of Western Mindanao Command, said the former communist supporters pledged allegiance to the government after a dialogue with local government officials of Bagumbayan town on Saturday.
Petinglay said the return of the rebel supporters to the government fold was initiated by the 33rd Infantry Battalion under Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc and locals official of Bagumbayan town.
She said the surrender and withdrawal of support was also witnessed by members of the Manobo ethnic group, who also previously supported the NPA's Guerrilla Front 73. 
Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., Westmincom chief, credited the continuous military operations in Sultan Kudarat with driving NPA rebels out of villages in Sultan Kudarat.
The Communist Party of the Philippines on Monday played down government reports of rebels and supporters surrendering to local authorities.
According to the Armed Forces of the Philippines, 3,730 of those who surrendered are from the so-called "Militia ng Bayan" or are supporters. Around 97 percent of surrenderees are from the Caraga and Davao regions, the military also said.
"There are, of course, some members of the NPA who have surrendered. That is not being denied. It is the natural course of war," the CPP said Monday, citing Noel Legazpi, a former spokesperson of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines who has surrendered to the government.
The party pointed out, however, that most of those who surrendered are unarmed civilians who "have not been charged in court nor has evidence been put forward against them" but whom the government calls members of the NPA.

Abu Sayyaf extremists continue to hold 10 hostages in Philippines

From Xinhua (Mar 27): Abu Sayyaf extremists continue to hold 10 hostages in Philippines

The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), an extremist group in the southern Philippines, continues to hold 10 hostages, including a Dutchman and three Indonesians, a Philippine Army general said on Tuesday.

Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, the commander of the military's Joint Task Force, said that the hostages also include six Filipinos.

He said there is an estimated 300 to 400 Abu Sayyaf terrorists operating in the Western Mindanao region, especially in Sulu, Basilan, and Tawi-Tawi provinces in the Sulu Archipelago.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has directed government forces to "sustain" its offensive to defeat the ASG, which is notorious for conducting bombings, shootings, beheadings, assassinations and kidnappings, according to Sobejana.

He said Duterte gave the order during a visit in Patikul town in Sulu on Monday.

During Duterte's visit, the military presented 76 Abu Sayyaf members who surrendered to the government. The former ASG fighters reportedly turned in 700 firearms.

"As of now, our operational tempo is okay. We just have to sustain it," said Sobejana, adding that the end of the Abu Sayyaf is imminent.

"Actually, it's (Abu Sayyaf) nearing its end," Sobejana said, adding that the military's priority is to rescue the kidnapped victims so that the operations won't be restricted.

"At present, our operations are calculated because of the presence of the kidnapped victims. The freedom of the kidnapped victims is our priority," Sobejana said.

Authorities said the ASG wants to establish an Islamic State in the Philippines, and ultimately, an Islamic caliphate across Southeast Asia.

The ASG helped the Maute Group in attacking Marawi City in May last year that claimed the lives of more than 1,200 people. The fighting that lasted five months ruined the Philippines' only Islamic city.

Check out the 246 weapons recovered by Philippine Marines (PHOTOS)

From (Mar 27): Check out the 246 weapons recovered by Philippine Marines (PHOTOS)

Marines working in the often dangerous province of Sulu cataloged a stockpile of guns that included just about one of everything.

Among the reported haul were recoilless rifles, M1 Garands and Carbines, an M60 machine gun, M16s, M14s, M79 grenade launchers, a Singapore-made Ultimax 100 light machine gun, some mortars, AK47s, and a smattering of random shotguns and other vintage militaria.

The guns came from seven local municipalities and were unlicensed weapons apparently handed over during “constant dialogues” between the locals and the Marines. Of course “the implementation of Martial Law in the area contributed also to the success of this endeavor.”

President Rodrigo Duterte has clamped down the mountainous southern islands in the state of emergency since last May, ostensibly for 60 days, but it has been extended at least through this year.

In the Philippines, gun owners have to apply for a firearm license every two years, can own a maximum of 15 guns unless they get a special collector’s permit, and are barred from owning fully automatic weapons. All of the guns collected were termed by officials as “high-power firearms.”

The guns were received by members of the elite Marine Battalion Landing Team-1 of the Philippine Marine Corps, a unit that has often been neck-deep in alligators fighting IS-linked rebels in recent years. Sulu has been a breeding ground for jihadist groups such as the Abu Sayyaf and, throughout the 1980s and 90s, was the stomping ground for the Moro National Liberation Front, a separatist group.

Over the past several months, MBLT-1 has been involved in “hearts and minds” operations in Sulu that included giving out soccer balls, holding eyeglass and cataract clinics, giving free haircuts and distributing school supplies. That stuff is always better than mortars, 40mm GLs and suppressed M1s, anyway, right?

Those M1s…How much you want to bet there is a rare gas trap in there?

The main rifle of the Philippine military is the M16/M4 in a number of variants. Between 1974-1986, a local company, Elisco Tool Manufacturing Co.made 150,000 M16A1s for the Philippine Government under license from Colt. As part of the license agreement, in addition to the TDP Colt provided technical assistance to establish the manufacturing line. As such, old ETM M16s are common in the islands. However, that may be a Colt XM177 up front.

Note the M14s and mags, also the interesting indig LBE

Is it too late to get these M1’s on the boat to the CMP? Also, note the M14s intermingled in on the tables.

M1 Garands were the bulk of the haul, with 136 counted. Officials also said 36 M16s and 17 M14s were recovered

Dig the locally made slings. M1907 leather must be hard to come by in Sulu

Some of the crew-served goodies included our 81 mm mortars

How about the modifications on the M60 up front?

Bloop tubes a-go-go. And dig the M1 Carbines with local mods to include a pistol grip and what could be a suppressor

Odds are that M2 probably has been in the PI since 1945…

Another view of that wonky M60 and the Carbine with a better look at the can and pistol grip.

Filipino extremist blamed for bombings, killings surrenders

From the Manila Bulletin (Mar 30): Filipino extremist blamed for bombings, killings surrenders

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines — A senior commander of the Abu Sayyaf extremist group blamed for bombings and kidnappings has surrendered in the southern Philippines, the defense chief said Thursday, expressing hope it would bring the “eventual collapse” of a key militant stronghold.

Abu Sayyaf (Manila Bulletin File Photo)

Nurhassan Jamiri surrendered with 13 of his men to army forces in southern Basilan province on Wednesday. They handed over 10 assault rifles and a large cache of ammunition and were undergoing questioning, military officials said.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Jamiri’s surrender, which came after negotiations with authorities, “will hopefully bring the eventual collapse of the Abu Sayyaf group in Basilan,” the birthplace of the small but violent group, “and bring justice to the deaths of thousands of soldiers.”
Emerging in the late 1980s as an offshoot of the decades-long Muslim separatist rebellion in the south, the Abu Sayyaf lost its top commanders early in combat and descended on a bloody path toward terrorism and criminality.

The United States and the Philippines have blacklisted the Abu Sayyaf as a terrorist organization.

Jamiri has been blamed for years of bloody attacks, including a 2007 ambush in largely Muslim Basilan that killed 24 Philippine marines, several of whom were beheaded. His group has given sanctuary to other Abu Sayyaf militants behind piracy and kidnappings, including of Vietnamese sailors in recent years, the military said.

His group has also carried out bombings in the Basilan cities of Isabela and Lamitan and the southern port city of Zamboanga across the Basilan Strait, along with ransom kidnappings and extortion, military officials said.

Asked if Jamiri and his men would face prosecution, Lorenzana said yes. “Nobody should go scot-free. Surrendering did not exculpate their past crimes,” he said.

Last month, Malaysian security officials suspected that Jamiri was killed with two other gunmen in a firefight in a plantation in the east coast of the Malaysian state of Sabah. But Philippine military officials said the militant was in Basilan at the time.

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the military to crush the Abu Sayyaf but took a more conciliatory tone Monday when he said in a speech before Abu Sayyaf fighters who surrendered that he held no grudge against their group and understood why they took up arms. He offered houses and livelihood training to the former guerrillas.

At least 216 Abu Sayyaf fighters have surrendered in recent months. More than 300 fighters remain and government offensives will continue against them, a military official said.

5 ‘terrorists’ in Palawan yield to authorities on NPA anniv —WestCom

From GMA News Online (Mar 30): 5 ‘terrorists’ in Palawan yield to authorities on NPA anniv —WestCom

Five members of the New People’s Army (NPA) surrendered to operatives of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Western Command (Wescom) in Palawan on Thursday which marks the rebel group’s 49th founding anniversary.
On Friday, Wescom spokesperson Cherryl Tindog said the “terrorist” surrenderers were taken to the military’s custody for validation and documentation.

They are set to receive financial assistance and livelihood opportunities as their application for the Local Social Integration Program of the Provincial Government of Palawan and the Department of the Interior and Local Government's Comprehensive Local Social Integration Program is being processed.

Wescom commander Lieutenant General Rozzano Briguez said their surrender was a “serious blow" to the ranks of communist terrorism in the province, as well as an indication of the armed group's “unwilllingess” to continue with the armed struggle.

“According to them, their rank is tainted with corruption of their leaders, fatigue and disappointment due to unfulfilled promises,” the official said.

"We continue to urge the remaining members of communist terrorist NPA to choose the path of peace. We call on them to put their arms down, surrender and rejoin the society,” he added.

NPA members were likewise urged to avail of the government’s integration program to “start their lives anew with their families and loved ones.”

Marking the NPA’s founding anniversary the day before, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana in a speech on Thursday reiterated his call for the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) to lay down their weapons from their “irrelevant” cause, citing their alleged acts of killing, extortion, and burning committed by leftist rebels

The group was formally proclaimed as a terrorist group in December last year upon a proclamation signed by President Rodrigo Duterte, who had officially ordered the termination of peace talks with the rebels.

Military captures wounded Abu Sayyaf sub-leader after Sulu clash

From GMA News Online (Mar 31): Military captures wounded Abu Sayyaf sub-leader after Sulu clash

An Abu Sayyaf sub-leader was captured after being wounded during a firefight with troops in Patikul, Sulu on Saturday morning.

The Armed Forces' Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) identified the captured bandit leader as
Walton Jujirin.

The Wesmincom said troops from the 1st Infantry Division encountered Jujirin and his four companioins while conducting rescue operations in Barangay Taung at around 7:15 a.m.

It said Jujirin was wounded and left behind by his four companions after a five-minute firefight.

Troops are in the area to rescue hostages of the Abu Sayyaf group.

Brigadier General Cirilito Sobejana, commander of Joint Task Force Sulu, said last week that the Abu Sayyaf is still holding at least 10 hostages.

The remaining hostages include a Dutch national, three Indonesian and six Filipinos.

Sobejana said rescue operations for the remaining Abu Sayyaf hostages have been intensified.

He said freeing the remaining hostages would pave the way for the military's "unrestricted" operations against the terror group.

PNP warns parents of NPA recruitment through student orgs

From GMA News Online (Mar 31): PNP warns parents of NPA recruitment through student orgs

The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Saturday said parents should monitor their children's activities during the summer break as some student organizations have reportedly been "infiltrated" by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA).

"The Philippine National Police discourages students from venturing into insurgency-affected areas to join summer off-campus activities that are organized by groups that may have been infiltrated by front organizations of the terrorist CPP-NPA," PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent John Bulalacao said in a statement.

The PNP said college students have recently been sighted with communist rebels in various areas in the country that are considered as bailiwicks of the NPA.

Bulalacao said parents should monitor their children "especially that both the police and military are expected to intensify the operations in rebel-infested areas."

He said that in some instances, students joined communist rebels in ambush or attacks on government forces.

Some of these students, he added, have been killed during clashes with the military and the police.

"The sad part is that their parents never knew of their involvement with the underground movement," said Bulalacao.

He said parents should be more careful in allowing their children to join off-campus activities, which are being used by the CPP-NPA as venues for recruitment.

Bulalacao said that during the summer, members of "militant" youth and student organizations participate in the rebel group's "indoctrination" and "social immersion" courses in training camps in the hills.

"I advise these students to avoid compromising situations and possible conflict with the law while engaged in CPP-NPA activities," said Bulalacao.

After officially terminating peace talks with the CPP-NPA and National Democratic Front of the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte signed a proclamation declaring the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization.

The declaration was followed by announcements of the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines of an all-out war against the CPP-NPA.

Duterte had also ordered a crackdown on alleged legal fronts of the CPP-NPA.

5 umano'y rebelde, sumuko sa militar kasabay ng NPA anniversary

From ABS-CBN (Mar 31): 5 umano'y rebelde, sumuko sa militar kasabay ng NPA anniversary

Sumuko ang limang umano'y miyembro ng New People's Army (NPA) sa Western Command (Wescom) Joint Task Group North noong Marso 29, kasabay ng araw ng anibersaryo ng rebeldeng grupo.

'Lay down arms': Lorenzana challenges NPA on 'futile' anniversary

"Natutuwa po tayo dahil 'yun po ang ating panawagan sa kanila na instead of staging violent activities ay sumuko na lamang at harapin ang bagong buhay," ani Captain Cherryl Tindog ng Wescom Public Affairs Office.

Matipid ang militar sa pagbibigay ng detalye sa pagkakakilanlan ng mga sumuko dahil na rin sa pagpatay ng isang pinaghihinalaang miyembro ng NPA sa dalawang police asset noong Marso 2 sa bayan ng Sofronio EspaƱola.

Ang mga pinatay ay tumutulong anila sa pakikipagnegosasyon ng gobyerno sa mga sumusukong miyembro ng NPA sa Palawan.

"Gusto nating masigurado ang protection din ng mga sumukong rebelde, dahil lately may mga violent activities against dun sa mga kasamahan nila and we don't want it to happen to them," sinabi ni Tindog.

Base sa imbestigasyon ng Wescom, kahirapan, pagod, at korupsiyon ang dahilan ng mga rebelde kung bakit napili nilang sumuko na sa mga awtoridad.

Ipapasok naman sa Local Social Integration Program (LSIP) ng Palawan Provincial Government at Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) ng Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) ang mga sumuko.

Layon ng mga programang ito na mabigyan sila ng tulong pinansiyal at hanapbuhay.

Wala namang naitalang insidente sa Palawan kaugnay ng naging anibersaryo ng NPA.

Gayunman, mananatili ang pagbabantay ng Wescom sa Palawan lalo na't dagsa ang mga turista sa lalawigan.

Mabinay 6: Youth activists now ‘targets of government crackdown’

From Rappler (Mar 31): Mabinay 6: Youth activists now ‘targets of government crackdown’

It's been a month since the military arrested Myles Albasin and 5 other young people in Negros Oriental. They allegedly fired at the soldiers, but have tested negative for gunpowder.
MABINAY 6. The 6 youth activists were tagged as part of the New People's Army following an "encounter" with the military. Photo from Kush Felisilda/Aninaw Productions

MABINAY 6. The 6 youth activists were tagged as part of the New People's Army following an "encounter" with the military. Photo from Kush Felisilda/Aninaw Productions

NEGROS ORIENTAL, Philippines – On Tuesday, April 3, it will be exactly one month since veteran journalist Grace Cantal Albasin and her husband received that jarring call. Their daughter Myles – youth leader, recently graduated from the University of the Philippines in Cebu, about to enter the Ateneo de Davao law school in June – had been arrested by the military with 5 others.

The couple would've have run to the detention center right that minute, except it's here in Negros Oriental, more than 350 kilometers from their home in Cagayan de Oro via various routes.

The charge, according to the military, is that Myles and her companion were in possession of firearms and explosives. What Grace knows is, the group of young people were staying in the town of Mabinay to help organize a farmers forum.

Mabinay, the most populous municipality in Negros Oriental, is a 3-hour bus ride from Dumaguete City.

"I know that Myles is part of Anakbayan. She visits communities, joins transport strikes, does research. My daughter is an activist, and I don't think there's something wrong with that," Grace told Rappler in late March.

Her daughter only did what is right – to help the marginalized, she said. (READ: Youth activism: More than just organized action)

The military's version: According to the police report, the Philippine Army, led by First Lieutenant Prad Adoptante and Second Lieutenant Reymart Africa, conducted a patrol in the area of Luyang village, Mabinay.

It was in the wee hours – at around 2:30 am – of Saturday, March 3. The military claimed armed men shot at them with automatic rifles. They said the exchange lasted over 5 minutes, then they heard a male voice shouting they would surrender.

After the encounter, the army arrested the suspected members of the New People's Army (NPA), the communist party's guerrilla arm:

Myles Albasin, 22
Bernand Guillen, 18
Joey Valloces, 18
Carlo Ybanez, 18
Randel Hermino, 19
Joemar Indico, 29

Myles and her companions invoked their right to a preliminary investigation.

The group has since been called the Mabinay 6 in the media.

Parents finally see Myles: Grace and her husband drove from Bukidnon, then caught the first flight on Sunday, March 4, from Cebu to Dumaguete City.

When they arrived at the Negros Oriental detention and rehabilitation center around 4 pm, they were not allowed to see Myles. The guards argued it was past visiting hours.

The crying mother insisted, and they were eventually allowed to see their daughter – but inside the warden's office, accompanied by civil military officers and Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) personnel.

"I hugged her. Finally, I was able to see her, that she's alive, and was able to talk to her, but without privacy," Grace told Rappler.

On Monday, March 5, Grace visited the detention center again at 8 am with their lawyer. Parents of the 3 other detainees from Negros Occidental were there too. They were not allowed to see their children because it was not a visiting day.

Grace reached out to the local media. Negotiations went on for hours. By 11 am, they were allowed to see their children again, now with privacy.

On March 21, Myles turned 22 behind bars. Her family came to have lunch with her and her fellow detainees.

Negative for gunpowder: The story that Grace got from her daughter was contrary to the military's account: it was the military that started firing at the young people on March 3.

"Myles told us that they were staying at an abandoned house on top of a hill in Mabinay. They were sleeping when they heard a rock being thrown at the house. Then the military knocked and arrested them," Grace said.

Grace asked around the area if an exchange of fire happened, because, if there were, "they would have woken up to the sound."

"Those who live near the house where Myles was staying said they heard 3 or 5 shots. But those living a kilometer away said they did not hear anything because they were asleep," she said.

The 6 detainees all tested negative in a paraffin test.

They are charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives in violation of the Republic Act 10591 and Republic Act 9516.

"My child is not an NPA. They (military) said there was an encounter. They already lied about that. What about other things? They could be lying about other charges," Grace added.

Grace also said members of the military visit the 6 detainees separately during non-visiting days.

"That could be their tactic, so one might turn against the other. I told Myles not to entertain them. You can't really say if they suddenly do something to her," she said.

Congressional probe: On Myles' birthday, Kabataan Representative Sarah Elago filed a resolution directing the House committee on human rights to investigate the arrest of the Mabinay 6.

Several students and teachers have also staged protests in Cagayan de Oro and Cebu, condemning the arrest and calling on the government to free these young people.

Elago earlier told Rappler that the government crackdown on the Left can potentially harm student and youth leaders voicing out their concerns. (READ: Duterte administration worse than Marcos dictatorship – youth activists)

"When they oppose or criticize policies, it doesn't mean they are terrorists. That makes them targets of this crackdown," she said.

Myles, a student leader when she was in UP Cebu, is a member of leftist group Anakbayan.

Grace said: "You cannot just silence them by arresting them. Activism is integral to democratic space. If you stop it, you show that the democratic space is shrinking."

Duterte gov't not fond of youth activists: The Duterte administration is not exactly friendly to youth activists. President Rodrigo Duterte threatened UP students that Lumad youth would take their slots if they keep "walking out" of their classes as a sign of protest, which he said was a "waste" of taxpayers' money.

In November 2017, 22-year-old Jo Lapira, a UP Manila alumna, was among the 15 who died in a clash between government troops and suspected NPA members.

In November 2017, Duterte accused the National Democratic Front-Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army as a "terrorist organization," and officially ended peace talks with them.

In February 2017, the justice deparment filed a petition seeking to declare alleged CPP-NPA members as "terrorists" under the Human Security Act.

5 NPA rebels surrender in Sultan Kudarat province

From the Mindanao Examiner (Mar 30): 5 NPA rebels surrender in Sultan Kudarat province

Five communist rebels have surrendered to the military in Lebak town in the southern Philippine province of Sultan Kudarat, officials said Friday.

Officials said the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels – Ariel Udas Apang, 29; Iyoy Lebeg Nayam, 31; Nicanor Nayam Apang, 38; and Ariel Matog Apang, 36; and Uwi Sulay Kulam – are all residents of Sultan Kudarat. They surrendered to the Marine Battalion Landing Team-2 under Lt. Col. Jose Marie Santos on Wednesday.

The group also surrendered one M1 rifle, an improvised Uzi sub-machinegun, one fragmentation grenade and two improvised explosive, according to 6th Infantry Division chief Major General Arnel dela Vega.

The rebels, all members of the Manobo tribe, are currently being interrogated. The NPA has been fighting for many decades now for the establishment of its own government in the country.

Suspected terror leader killed in clash in North Cotabato

From the Mindanao Examiner (Mar 31): Suspected terror leader killed in clash in North Cotabato

Policemen foiled a possible terror attack after killing a suspected bomber in a clash at a roadblock in North Cotabato’s Aleosan town in southern Philippines, officials said Saturday.

Officials said the suspect who was travelling on a motorcycle had opened fire on policemen manning the roadblock in Dualing village in an attempt to evade arrest late Friday. The man was later identified as Buds Basilan, a sub-leader of the militant group called Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

Policemen recovered an automatic pistol and an improvised explosive from Basilan’s bag and safely disarmed the device. The militant was said to have come from Midsayap village on his way to Aleosan.

Basilan, officials said, was also on its most wanted list and is facing a string of criminal charges in connection to the violent and deadly campaign of his group that police and military claimed is tied to the Islamic State.

Police said it has tightened security in North Cotabato following the clash and due to the Lenten season.

5 Reds in Palawan surrender on NPA anniversary

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 31): 5 Reds in Palawan surrender on NPA anniversary

In this February 2018 file photo, Lt. Gen. Rozzano Briguez (in military uniform), commander of the AFP's Western Command in Palawan, shakes the hand of a rebel returnee during the awarding of cash assistance by the provincial government under the Local Social Integration Program. (Photo by Wescom PAO)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- Five members of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) surrendered in Palawan on March 29, the day their comrades were celebrating the armed guerrilla struggle’s 49th founding anniversary.

"We are glad that these five NPA members had decided to surrender and return to the fold of the law. Their surrender is another serious blow to the ranks of communist-terrorism in the province of Palawan," Lt. Gen. Rozzano Briguez, commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) Western Command (Wescom) in Palawan, said in a statement issued Friday afternoon.

Briguez did not name the five rebels for fear they would be punished by their comrades, but noted they also yielded their firearms to the Marine Battalion Landing Team 12 (MBLT-12) under Wescom’s Joint Task Group North.

The surrenderers are now in the custody of the military for validation and documentation, a required process before they could qualify for assistance under the provincial government’s Local Social Integration Program (LSIP), and the Department of the Interior and Local Government’s Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP).

The LSIP and the CLIP are amnesty programs offered to rebel returnees as part of the government’s commitment to pursue peace and development amid the stalled peace talks with the communists.

"Their surrender is a clear indicator of their unwillingness to continue with the armed struggle. According to them, their rank is tainted with the corruption of their leaders, fatigue, and disappointments due to unfulfilled promises," the general added.

Briguez called on the other rebels in Palawan to choose peace instead of making their families suffer by continuing to stay with the NPA, which he said has lost its ideology.

"We call on them to put their arms down, surrender and rejoin the society," he said.

1 dead, 4 wounded in NegOcc shootings

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 31): 1 dead, 4 wounded in NegOcc shootings

A resident of Kabankalan City died while four others were injured in four separate shooting incidents on Good Friday and Black Saturday in Negros Occidental, reports from the Police Regional Office 6 (Western Visayas) showed.

At about 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Sunny Villamor, 58, of Barangay Tabugon, was gunned down on his way home from Barangay Camansi allegedly by two suspects identified as Joseph Dequitos, 21, and Josing Caliwa, 38, both residents of the village.

Initial investigation of the Kabankalan City Police showed that Villamor came from the house of Rodelo Esteban, where he watched a card game of “tong-its” when attacked.

Villamor's son, Sammy, 18, witnessed his father being shot by the two suspects.

According to the report, Dequitos and Caliwa followed the elder Villamor from Esteban’s house.

It said Dequitos fired at the elder Villamor, but the victim was not hit and was even able to stab Caliwa, who in turn fired at the victim. Dequitos again shot Villamor, who died immediately.

Policemen were able to arrest Caliwa, who was brought to Bacolod City to get treatment for his stab wound.

Dequitos, however, was able to escape.

Police investigation showed that on March 28, Villamor and Caliwa fought over a game of “tong-its,” with the former accusing the suspect of cheating.

In Moises Padilla town, Dave Tortal, 44, a Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team member, was shot by four suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) at his residence in Barangay Odiong at about 7:40 p.m. on Friday.

Tortal was standing at the terrace when his assailants fired, hitting him on the left thigh. He crawled to get his gun inside the house and fired back.

He heard the retreating gunmen shout “Mga NPA ni, hapa!” (We are NPA, get down!), while continuing to fire shots. Tortal was brought to Bacolod City for treatment.

In Calatrava town, the group of Kadong Mancao engaged in a shootout with the group of Arnie and Boboy Solitas in Sitio Magsimbahon, Barangay Malatas at about 1:15 p.m. on Friday.

One person was wounded but the victim was not identified, police said.

Police investigation showed the two groups collect revolutionary taxes for the NPA, and the collected money caused the misunderstanding.

After the incident, joint operatives of the Calatrava and Toboso police, with the 1st Provincial Mobile Force Company, conducted checkpoint operations in possible withdrawal routes of the groups.

Over at Cauayan town, a councilman of Barangay Baclao, Luciano Montilla Sr., and his son Luciano Jr. alias “Luciano Concepcion”, were shot by four unidentified men in Barangay Inayawan at about 9:30 a.m. Saturday.

The victims were on a motorcycle when the assailants waylaid them.

The gunmen fled while the victims were treated at the Cauayan District Hospital. Police are still investigating the motive behind the shooting.