Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Retired cop, ex-soldier shot dead in Negros Occidental town

From Rappler (Apr 10): Retired cop, ex-soldier shot dead in Negros Occidental town

Police say 4 men arrived at a wake in Isabela town and shot 3 guests, all men, at close range

NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines – Three people, including a retired police officer and a former soldier, were shot dead while they attended a wake in Barangay Bulad in Isabela town here, Monday night, April 9.
Two other people, including a minor, were hit by stray bullets.

Killed were Alejandro Borres, 70, a retired policeman; Jose Joerito Amable, 50, a retired soldier; and Pedirico Bitgue, 30.
Thimoty Arron Achivar, 10, and Alquin Genterula Jr were wounded.

Chief Inspector Reuben Pajarito, town police chief, said 4 gunmen arrived at the wake and shot the 3 victims at close range. The suspects then fled on board two motorcycles.

The 3 victims were rushed to a hospital, but were declared dead upon arrival.

Recovered from the scene were fired bullets and ammunition of .9 mm and .45 caliber pistol.

The police have yet to determine the motive of the incident and the identities of the suspects.

Police are also looking into the possibility that the incident might have been perpetrated by suspected rebels.

Phil-Indo exercises start today for border security

From the Mindanao Times (Apr 10): Phil-Indo exercises start today for border security

A COORDINATED patrol operation dubbed as “CORPAT PHILINDO XXXII-18” between the Philippine Navy and Republic of Indonesian Navy will start today, April 10 until the 29th to secure the border areas between the two counties from any illegal activities.

Ensign Aileen Jansor, the chief Public Affairs Office of the Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao (NFEM), said the coordinated patrol operations will also enhance the inter-operability and harmonious relationship between the two neighboring countries.

The 20-day activity kicked off with the opening ceremony in Manado, Indonesia on April 10 followed by courtesy calls, goodwill games, and dinner reception.

Likewise, part of the coordinated patrol operations are sea serials, shipboard exercises and coordinated patrol between the two navies at the border areas.

Further, the activity will also pave way for the repatriation of Filipino fishermen currently jailed in Indonesia.

The BRP Davao del Sur (LD-602) will be the primary vessel that will participate in the exercises. A send-off ceremony was conducted on April 7 at the Sasa wharf.


Army battalion dismantles NPA unit after operations

From the Mindanao Times (Apr 10): Army battalion dismantles NPA unit after operations

THE 10TH Infantry Division’s 66th Infantry Battalion dismantled the Guerrilla Front 27 of the New People’s Army (NPA) after a two-week long operation conducted at the boundaries of New Bataan and Maragusan both in Compostela Valley.

Meanwhile, the troops were also able to recover firearms, improvised explosive devices, medical kits, and other subversive documents owned by the rebels.

Lt. Col. Palmer Parungao, commander of 66th Infantry Battalion, said the prelude was the surrender on March 28 of alias Caloy, team leader of GF27, alias Michael and alias Kulot, both members of the same unit, who brought with them one M16 rifle with one magazine of ammunition.

Their interview led to the surrender of alias Ayang of Guerrilla Front 2 and alias Cesar, squad leader of GF 27. They later led the troops to the hideout of the GF 2.

On the morning of March 31, the scout platoon of the 66th IB encountered the elements of GF 2 in the vicinity of Upper Camanlangan, New Bataan, Compostela Valley.

Accordingly, the camp was overrun by the troops without any casualties.

They found in the camp four IEDs, one tube of M203 grenade launcher, 200-meter electrical wires, several blasting caps, three backpacks containing personal belongings, and subversive documents.

At around 3 p.m. on the same day, alias Codince, squad leader and former political instructor of GF27, surrendered to the unit. He pointed to the cache of firearms at the vicinity of Lower Camanlangan, New Bataan.

The operation resulted to the capture of .45 caliber 1911 Norinco pistol and one magazine with ammunition; and another Colt pistol with full of ammunition.

Parungao said the sidearm was the primary weapon of the Sparu units operating in the area. The Sparu is the main liquidation squad of the NPA.

On the fourth day of the pursuit operation, one of the operating platoons discovered on dual-purpose IED, 50-meter electrical wire, one blasting cap, eight batteries, medical kits and subversive documents in Sitio Tuburan, Barangay Tandik, Maragusan, Compostela Valley.

“The series of surrenders of the regular elements of Guerrilla Front 27 and Guerrilla Front 2 led to the discovery that GF 27 ceased to exist,” He said. “The remaining six members were absorbed by the mother front, GF2, sub-regional committee 2.”

“They attested that since the death of alias Lepi, former front secretary of GF 27, who was neutralized by the 66th IB last year at Barangay Araibo, Pantukan, the dismantling of their main guerrilla bases in Maragusan municipality, barangays Araibo, Las Arenas and Tagugpo of Pantukan, the GF27 continuously bogged down,” the battalion commander added.

“They have been surrendering with their military wares. To those who still fight, we will give you the weight of our strength and you will suffer the consequences,” he further said.

Maj. Gen. Noel Clement, commander of the 10th ID, said the military continues to earn the trust of the people.

“To our brothers and sisters who are victims of the malady of insurgency, it is high time now for you to be united as one community and denounce the ideology that continually compromises your peaceful living,” he said.

Clement said they will help all rebel returnees get back to mainstream society.


Group to file human rights complaints before GRP-NDFP Joint Monitoring Committee

From MindaNews (Apr 9): Group to file human rights complaints before GRP-NDFP Joint Monitoring Committee

Indigenous peoples from Kapalong, Davao del Norte hold a protest rally at the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples’ (NCIP) Region XI office in Davao City Thursday (16 April 2015). The lumads are calling for the scrapping of the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA) allegedly because it cannot protect them from militarization and mining companies operating in their communities. MindaNews photo by TOTO LOZANO

Complaints of human rights violations allegedly by government forces will be filed before the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) of the government (GRP) and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), a leader of a militant group said Monday.

Rafael Mariano, chair emeritus of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, told a press conference at the Lispher Inn here that the complaints will be based on the findings of the groups that participated in the three-day International Fact Finding and Solidarity Mission on state of farmers and Lumad rights in Southern Mindanao, Caraga, and Northern Mindanao from April 6 to 8.

Mariano, a former agrarian reform secretary, called on the JMC to investigate the alleged human rights violations against farmers and prosecute the suspects.

He also urged the military to honor the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law that the GRP signed with the NDFP in 1998.

The mission reported 11 incidents of extrajudicial killings in the three regions; 11 incidents of threats, harassments, and intimidation; 22 trumped-up charges; six incidents of forced evacuation involving 514 families; two incidents of strafing; nine incidents of coercion; 12 incidents of extortion; two “frustrated” extrajudicial killings; one incident of torture; five illegal arrests and detention; two incidents of illegal search and seizure; attack on the Lumad-run Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Inc. Academy; and landgrabbing in Tandog, Maramag, Bukidnon.

Mariano added the group wants President Rodrigo R. Duterte and principal perpetrators of the reported to be held responsible for violation of Republic Act 9745 or the Anti-Torture Law and other laws pertaining to human rights protection.

He said they will file civil and administrative cases against the alleged perpetrators.

He added they will file complaints against Duterte, the military and police before the International Criminal Court and United Nations Human Rights Council if the government fails to take action.

He said they want to hold a dialogue with Public Attorney Office chief Persida Acosta and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines on providing free legal assistance to the victims and continuous monitoring of their cases.

They will also recommend to the Department of Justice to review all cases involving political prisoners and victims of alleged trumped-up charges.

The group recommended the abolition of the Interagency Committee on Legal Action that is “instrumental” in filing of trumped-up charges.

Former Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo, a convener of Movement Against Tyranny, said the climate of impunity has continued while the number of alleged trumped-up charges against human rights advocates increased under the Duterte administration.

He said Duterte’s Oplan Kapayapaan was recycled from Oplan Bayanihan of former president Benigno Aquino III and Oplan Bantay Laya of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Arroyo is a close ally of Duterte. Over a thousand Left-leaning activists were killed during her watch.

Ocampo vowed to continue opposing federalism and pressure Duterte to lift the martial law in Mindanao.

The Islamic State-inspired Maute Group attacked the Islamic City of Marawi on May 23 last year, prompting Duterte to place Mindanao under martial law.

The island-wide martial law has been extended twice last year with the second extension to last until December 31, 2018.

Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Rep. France Castro said red-tagging of civilians worsened under martial law in Mindanao.

She said Lumad students continue to flee their communities due to militarization and the impact of martial law in the far-flung areas of Mindanao.

She said she was moved by a student who asked if peace could be restored in their community as they have grown tired of evacuating and want to continue attending classes.

She said the Makabayan bloc in Congress continues to call for the resumption of peace talks between the GRP and NDFP in order to address the root causes of armed struggle.

“I have seen the effect of martial law, it’s not necessarily peace. We want just and lasting peace. Militarization is not the answer to the problems of our society but just and lasting peace are to meet the needs of our people and less-opportune students,” she said.

Antonio Tinio, also an ACT representative, said martial law only benefits the interests of the big agribusiness companies and mining corporations in Mindanao and targets the poor farmers.

Anakpawis representative Ariel Casilao said they participated in the three-day mission to listen to testimonies of human rights violations to give voice to the farmers and Lumads in Congress.

He said they have asked the House committees on human rights and agrarian reform to conduct an inquiry on reported cases of human rights violations but that the committee on rules ignored it.

He said Congress failed to consider the situation of farmers and Lumads when it approved the extension of martial law.

He alleged that the military forced civilians to surrender even if they are not New People’s Army members.

Mariano said they want government officials, including prosecutors and judges, allegedly conniving with the military in extorting peasant victims of trumped-up charges investigated and prosecuted, and urged Congress to enact a law that prohibits the military from using civilian facilities for socio-civic purposes.

The group called for the immediate stoppage of projects that displace the Lumads such as plantations and mining ventures.


NPA admits killing Lumad leader in North Cotabato

From MindaNews (Apr 10): NPA admits killing Lumad leader in North Cotabato

The New Peoples’ Army (NPA) has admitted responsibility for the April 4 killing of a Lumad leader in Magpet town, North Cotabato.

Isabel Santiago, spokesperson of the Mount Apo Sub-Regional Command of the NPA Southern Mindanao Region said they imposed “revolutionary justice” against Antonio P. Takinan for aiding the military in counterinsurgency.

Takinan served as the indigenous peoples’ mandatory representative in Magpet.

On April 4, Takinan and his brother-in-law Robilio Tambunan, were on board motorcycles towards Barangay Tagbak, Magpet when ambushed by the rebels.

Takinan died on the spot while Tambunan fought back and escaped with injuries, Santiago said.

Tambunan is the IP mandatory representative in Tagbak.

Santiago said they seized from Takinan a caliber .45 pistol.

“The standing order imposed by the NPA against Takinan stemmed from his active intelligence gathering activities, forced recruitment of indigenous peoples for the paramilitary Cafgu (Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit) Bagani fighters and assisting the military in its combat operations that resulted in grave human rights and international humanitarian law violations,” she said.

She blamed Takinan for the shelling and aerial bombardment of Lumad communities on December 21 last year by the 39th Infantry Battalion.

She further accused him of helping the Army force civilians to either “surrender” or admit to being supporters of the NPA.

Last week, Lumad leaders in Magpet condemned the killing and asked for protection from the military.

The Army has yet to issue a statement on the killing.


128 loose firearms surrendered in Lanao Sur

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 10): 128 loose firearms surrendered in Lanao Sur

MADALUM, Lanao del Sur--A total of 128 assorted loose fire arms from 10 Lanao del Sur towns were handed over during 76th Araw ng Kagitingan” (Day of Valor) in this municipality on Monday.

The loose firearms were turned over by the mayors of Madalum, Madamba, Ganasi, Lumbatan, Binadayan, Calanogas, Balindog, Pagayawan, Tugaya and Bayang towns to Maj. Gen. Roseller Murillo, commander of the Army's First Infantry Division.

Murrilo lauded the local town executives for their cooperation in the military’s campaign against loose firearms in the province, and for their "support of President Rodrigo's Duterte’s call for a meaningful and lasting peace."

Murillo said the surrender of loose firearms "will save numerous lives" and would do much to contribute to "the lasting peace" in the province and in Mindanao.

Sultan Usman Sarangani Sr., former mayor of this town, underscored the importance of yielding loose guns in order to minimize “rido” (clan war) incidents, which he noted has bedeviled Lanao del Sur for decades.

Sultan Sarangani also called on residents in the neighboring municipalities who still possess more loose guns to "turn them over to the authorities despite the fact that for a Maranao, owning a gun is a status symbol."

Maranaos also use firearms to "defend themselves" but the former mayor said the lesser the number of unlicensed guns in the province, the more peace was achievable.

The loose firearms that were handed over to the military consisted of high-powered guns such as bushmaster and M16 rifles.

Also on the same day, town officials of Saguiaran also surrendered at least 32 loose firearms to Lt. Col. Gremel B. Brual, commanding officer of the Army's 51st Infantry Brigade.


Hunt vs. cohorts of arrested Indonesian 'bomb-maker' intensified

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 10): Hunt vs. cohorts of arrested Indonesian 'bomb-maker' intensified

The police has widened its intelligence and security operations against the suspected cohorts of an alleged Indonesian “bomb-maker” who was arrested last month in Palimbang town in Sultan Kudarat province.

In a press conference on Monday afternoon, Chief Supt. Marcelo Morales, Police Regional Office 12 (Soccsksargen) director, said they have identified several personalities who had reportedly assisted the suspect, Mushalah Somina Rasim alias Abu Omar, in his movements in parts of the region.

Morales said joint operatives over the weekend were able to track the alleged safe house used by the Indonesian at the Doña Soledad subdivision in Barangay Labangal here, where they found an improvised explosive device and various bomb-making materials.

The safe house was discovered based on intelligence operations conducted by the PRO-12, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and other law enforcement agencies, he said.

"He (Mushalah) stayed there for several days upon arriving from Balut Island," Morales said.

Balut, which is part of Sarangani town in Davao Occidental, is close to Indonesia's Sangihe islands and a traditional "backdoor route" for Indonesians entering the Philippines.

Morales said the 32-year-old Mushalah, who was allegedly involved in suicide bombing activities in Indonesia, later transferred to Barangay Colobe in Palimbang, where he was arrested last March 10.

The suspect, who is now in the custody of the Bureau of Immigration, reportedly joined the remnants of the local terror group Ansar Khilafah Philippines, led by Abu Mahe in conducting recruitment activities in parts of Palimbang and nearby Maitum town in Sarangani.

Morales said the improvised explosive was "intentionally" hidden under a pile of sacks filled with charcoal, inside the safe house.

It appears that the suspects used charcoal, which absorbs odor or scent, to prevent the detection of the explosive by K-9 units, he said.

However, he noted that operatives of the explosives ordnance disposal (EOD) unit found the piled charcoal-filled sacks suspicious and eventually found the explosive, which reportedly has the capacity to inflict "massive casualties."

The police official said they have launched a follow-up against several personalities who had rented and maintained the safe house.

He declined to identify any of the suspects due to the ongoing operations but acknowledged that they are linked to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

"We found some receipts at the safe house and traced their time and date. We were able to identify one based on CCTV (closed-circuit television) footages (from an establishment)," he said.

Morales said police units in the region remain on high alert and have maximized personnel deployment in various strategic areas.

He said they are evaluating and assessing the need for additional deployment of police units to some areas in the region.

PRO-12 has operational jurisdiction over the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and North Cotabato, and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

"We are working on the realignment of some personnel as we want to maximize them for our security patrols. Every personnel should count and we don't want them confined to their desks," Morales added.


Lanao Sur execs yield guns to Army

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 10): Lanao Sur execs yield guns to Army

Military officials see a peaceful Lanao del Sur with more civilians who possessed guns for self-defense have started turning over their rifles to local government officials who, in turn, hand them over to the Army.

Major Gen. Roseller Murillo, commander of Joint Task Force Ranao, said he expected the surrender of more unlicensed guns to the military as the campaign against loose firearms has been intensified to meet the deadline set for by the government under martial law imposed in Mindanao.

Over the weekend, Murillo received 163 firearms from local officials in the towns of Saguiaran, Madalum, Bayang, Lumbatan, Calanogas, Ganassi, Binidayan, Balindong, Tugaya, Pagayawan, and Madamba.

Of the 163 guns, 156 were high powered firearms while seven were considered home-made and low powered.

Murillo said the disarmament would help speed up the rehabilitation of Marawi City and its environs following last year’s siege.

“The existence of loose firearms in the hands of civilians prevent development and create more violence,” Murillo said in a radio interview here Tuesday. “I urged the locals to let the police and the military handle peace and security issues.”

Under Martial Law Order No. 1, town mayors were directed to collect loose guns in their localities and hand them over to the government. Failure to do so may put local government executives’ performance under question.

By military estimates, more than 50,000 loose guns are in the hands of civilians whose love of gun makes them easily resort to violence. Families locked in clan wars in the province often settle disputes through the barrel of guns.


4 Reds killed, 5 others captured in 2-day clash in CamSur

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 10): 4 Reds killed, 5 others captured in 2-day clash in CamSur

Three members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) terrorist group were killed while five others were captured by government troops during an armed skirmish around 6:45 a.m. on Tuesday in Bato, Camarines Sur.

Earlier on Monday, an NPA rebel was also killed in an encounter with the military in Barangay (village) Gubat in Lagonoy, Camarines Sur.

Lieutenant General Danilo Pamonag, commander of the Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) based in this camp said military troops from the 83rd Infantry Battalion (83rd IB) engaged the outlawed terrorist group in an hour-long gun battle on Tuesday, killing three NPA rebels and captured five other members.

Pamonag said two of the five NPA captives who were wounded were given medical treatment.

He reported that there were no casualties on the government side.

He said the government troops also recovered the terrorists’ three M16 rifles as the military’s pursuit operations are ongoing.

According to Pamonag, “although SOLCOM supports President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s intention to resume peace talks, the military troops under SOLCOM operating in Southern Tagalog and Bicol will still perform their mandate to protect the people.”

He added that the troops’ concern for their fellow Filipinos and respect for human rights are to be commended.

This, he said, was demonstrated when one of the wounded rebels had almost died but the military doctors did their best to treat and revive him.

Pamonag also reported that the 83rd IB troops’ clash with the NPA terrorist group in Barangay Gubat in Lagonoy, Camarines Sur around 8:40 a.m. on Monday prompted the rebels to retreat, leaving behind their dead comrade in arms.

The government troops recovered an M14 at the battle site.


Abu Sayyaf man arrested in Basilan hospital

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 10): Abu Sayyaf man arrested in Basilan hospital

Policemen arrested a suspected member of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) while seeking medical treatment at a hospital in Basilan province, the police reported Tuesday.

Supt. Restituto Pangusban, Isabela City police chief, identified the arrested ASG member as Pangamdas Tanjil alias Torotoy Abbas, 35, of Tuburan town, Basilan.

Pangusban said Tanjil was arrested at around 10 a.m. Tuesday at a hospital in Isabela City, the capital of Basilan province.

Pangusban said Tanjil was arrested following information that the latter was taken to the hospital for medication after he figured in a vehicular accident few days ago in Tuburan town.

He said Tanjil has standing warrant of arrest for Kidnapping and Serious Illegal Detention issued by the court in Basilan province.

He said Tanjil has been implicated in several kidnapping incidents that occured in Basilan province the past years.

Pangusban said the suspect, who sustained non-life threatening injury, was taken to the Basilan court for inquest proceeding and was committed to the provincial jail of Basilan.


34 NPA rebels yield to Army in North Cotabato

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 10): 34 NPA rebels yield to Army in North Cotabato

As the military intensified its offensives against communist rebels operating in the borders of North Cotabato and Maguindanao, 34 rebels decided to surrender to the Army’s 19th Infantry Battalion in adjacent Magpet town.

With their firearms and determination to live normal lives, the rebels renounced communism and vowed to work for their families and for the government after their surrender ceremonies in Magpet on Monday.

Two of the surrenderees, Fidel Sicao and John Manumba, handed over two M16 rifles to Lt. Col. Ehrlich Noel Paraso, 19th Infantry Battalion commander. They also turned over several rounds of ammunition, magazines and homemade explosives.

Army offensives, hardship, hunger and health problems forced the rebels to come down and surrender, according to Sicao, a former member of NPA Pulang Bagani Command (PBC) 3 operating in the borders of North Cotabato, Bukidnon and Davao provinces.

He told Paraso that the NPA leadership and armed fighters are actually a bunch of opportunists and does not really care for the masses, especially the Indigenous Peoples.

"We are glad that these former rebels have finally found courage to lay down their firearms,” Paraso said. “This proves the futility of the NPA’s communist ideology that proclaimed to have won the masses in the countryside…the reality is the opposite.”

The military is now taking actions in order to facilitate the surrenderees’ application for the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) so they can avail of financial aid from the government. While the 19th IB is accepting surrenderees, Paraso stressed that military offensives will be intensified against the rebels in the mountains near Mt. Apo, the country’s highest peak.


Pre-'Balikatan' activities ongoing in Nolcom areas

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 10): Pre-'Balikatan' activities ongoing in Nolcom areas

As part of this year's "Balikatan" exercises, engineering personnel assigned to the Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) started engaging their stakeholders in pre-selected areas in four provinces in Regions 2 and 3 for the conduct of humanitarian and civic action (HCA) operations.

In a statement Tuesday, Nolcom spokesperson Lt. Col. Isagani Nato said HCA activities started last April 3.

Coordination is now being made among concerned local government units, school heads and Nolcom units in order to gain support from different stakeholders, he added.

"Moreover, all these undertakings will be a prelude to Balikatan 34-18 to be conducted on May 2018," Nato stressed.

Aside from this, Philippine Army and Navy engineering units together with their US, Japanese and Australian counterparts, will be involved in a engineering civic action program which will result in the construction of a two-room school building in five different sites in Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Cagayan and Isabela.

Health programs will also be conducted to increase the capacity of the local government units and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to care for the people entrusted to them, through Health Education and First Responder Training.

This includes First Aid Response/Disaster Preparedness Response; Vector Control Mitigation; Public Health; and Community Outreach.

Different sports activities involving the community and soldiers are also lined-up, as well as donation of sports equipment to different beneficiaries and spiritual enhancement spearheaded by the chaplains from the AFP and US contingents will form part of the program to enhance community relations.

"All these are products of sustained and intensive consultations with all stakeholders to achieve maximum effect beneficial to the community. As an annual bilateral exercise, dubbed as “Balikatan', the event displays the shoulder to shoulder involvement of Philippine-US forces in achieving their common objectives of enhancing combined/joint Interoperability, build AFP and United States Pacific Command capability, and foster confidence in mutual defense relationship while contributing to the welfare and social development of the local communities," Nato added.


PAF to acquire FA-50 Flight Simulator Facility

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 10): PAF to acquire FA-50 Flight Simulator Facility

In line with efforts to improve the proficiency of all Filipino jet pilots, the Philippine Air Force (PAF), through its Bids and Awards Committee, has allocated the sum of PHP14,721,500 for the procurement of an FA-50 Flight Simulator Facility which will be used in the training of military aviators selected to operate the Mach 1.5 capable aircraft.

Pre-bid conference is slated on Wednesday, 2 p.m. at the PAF Procurement Center Conference Room, Villamor Air Base, Pasay City.

While submission and opening of bids is on April 27, 9 a.m. at the said venue.

"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 RA 9184 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR)," PAF BAC chair Brig. Gen. Fernyl G. Buca said in a bid bulletin posted at the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System.

The PAF presently operates 12 FA-50PH jet aircraft acquired from the Korea Aerospace Industries for PHP18.9 billion.

These jet aircraft are being used for air defense as well as ground attack missions as proven in the five-month Marawi City siege.


PVAO assures quick, timely transactions for all veterans

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 10): PVAO assures quick, timely transactions for all veterans

Photo courtesy: PVAO

The Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) is exerting all efforts to ensure that transactions by veterans and their beneficiaries would be easy and more convenient, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Tuesday.

This includes PVAO's Skype Validation Program, which aims to spare the veterans and surviving spouses from personally submitting their Pensioner’s Update Form and establish their continued entitlement to benefits from the office.

“Indeed, your One Defense Team is doing all we can to facilitate the continuous stream of benefits for our veterans. This reflects that our first commitment is to our people -- not only to our war veterans, but to our present and future defenders as well,” Lorenzana said.

PVAO, an attached agency of the defense department, is responsible for ensuring that all benefits and privileges for veterans are given in a timely and expeditious manner.


Duterte: PH, China ‘sovereign equals’

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 10): Duterte: PH, China ‘sovereign equals’

President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Tuesday described the Philippines and China as “sovereign equals,” not just for being partners in building "much-needed" infrastructure, but also bridging greater understanding between their people.

Speaking at the Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan, China, Duterte stressed the need to “cooperate, coordinate, and collaborate” to achieve Asian region’s shared dream of prosperity.

“As sovereign equals, the Philippines and China are partners in the building of much-needed infrastructure. We are bridging bridges of greater understanding between our peoples. We are working together on strengthening economic complementarities,” Duterte said in his speech.

Duterte described the Philippines and China as having stood “shoulder to shoulder” in fighting criminality and terrorism.

“With China, we stand together in the war on criminality and the illegal drug trade. We are shoulder to shoulder in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism. Make no mistake: there can be no progress without stability in Asia’s lands and waters,” Dutete said.

Duterte expressed commitment to work with all nations in the regions to seek both “friendship and cooperation in forging a more prosperous continent and world”.

“The Philippines is ready to work with all nations in the region who seek friendship and cooperation. This is what nations -- big or small -- should act on collectively when we leave Boao: Cooperate, coordinate and collaborate. So we can achieve our shared dream of prosperity for all,” Duterte said.

The President also took the opportunity to highlight the Philippine government efforts to “nurture” the dream of a comfortable life for Filipinos.

“We want a society with opportunity for all. We want a nation with a hardworking, talented, and law-abiding and advance together and move to the social-economic ladder,” Duterte said.

“We are slowly making the Filipino dream a reality. As we strive to push our economy forward, we encounter challenges but we will not be deterred,” he added.

Duterte also mentioned the Philippine government’s efforts to improve the country’s peace and order situation, end corruption, and strengthen policy framework for businesses to thrive.

“Good governance is the basis for a sound economic policy. The Philippines should do more to increase investments in a country particularly in infrastructure, innovation and interconnectivity,” Duterte said.

He spoke about the infrastructure program “Build, Build, Build” which he said will provide the solid backbone for growth and more jobs for Filipinos.

The BFA gathers over 2,000 participants worldwide to discuss bilateral and multilateral cooperation, global governance, and world economy and trade in building a new consensus and produce new outcome.


Social dev't group welcomes plan to resume peace talks

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 10): Social dev't group welcomes plan to resume peace talks

A social development and advocacy group on Tuesday expressed hope that President Rodrigo R. Duterte will not waver on his position to resume peace negotiations with communist rebels, noting that it is the “best option” to facilitate lasting peace in the Philippines.

“We, in the Philippine Misereor Partnership (PMPI) welcome President Duterte's announcement for the resumption of the GRP-NDFP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines-National Democratic Front of the Philippines) peace talks on April 4,” the group said in a statement.

“We hope that the President will not waver anymore on his position to pursue peace,” it added.

The PMPI described the possible resumption of peace talks as “another door to open for a peaceful resolution of armed conflict” and “another path to ensure that violence in communities can be managed”.

The group acknowledged that peace talks were “tortuous and full of uncertainties” but remained hopeful that both parties will “agree on substantive issues and create visible impacts” to the lives of Filipinos who are often at the receiving end of this war.

It also expressed hope that the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) will abandon its demand for pre-conditions before peace talks are resumed.

“We also hope that the leadership of the CPP-NPA-NDF will not continue to demand for pre-conditions and to patiently chase the path of a peaceful dialogue to push their so-called dreams for the people,” the PMPI said.

The PMPI, meanwhile, urged both parties to “listen to the cry of ordinary people for peace and to stop and mitigate violence in their communities due to this conflict”.

It also wanted both parties to impose strict timelines and address "violations" or "snags" in the peace table “without trash-talking each other”.

“This whole process of peace dialogue even the language of both parties should manifest peace,” the PMPI said.

The group also sought for both parties to put at the center of the dialogue the injustices done to conflict-affected communities and individuals.

“These we believe will usher-in a long and lasting peace and deepen our collective resolve to pursue the path of peace, betterment and progress,” the PMPI said.

The PMPI is a social development and advocacy network composed of people’s organizations (POs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs), church/faith-based groups and Misereor, the overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Germany based in Aachen, Germany.

Three conditions

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said that Duterte was only willing to resume peace talks under three conditions -- an absolute ceasefire, cease and desist from collecting revolutionary taxes, and a no coalition government.

“If you really want to make it happen, then you stop immediately. You and I, let’s have ceasefire. No single shot, not even firecracker and I will be happy,” Duterte said in a speech during the inauguration of Lisap Bridge project in Bongabong, Oriental Mindoro last April 3.

Duterte terminated the peace talks in November last year, citing the communist rebels’ failure to show sincerity and commitment to pursue genuine and meaningful peaceful negotiations.

He also issued a proclamation classifying the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization in December last year.

Roque, however, said that the Duterte administration may withdraw its petition to declare communist rebels as terrorists but only once a formal peace agreement has been signed.

“I think it will be withdrawn if there is a final peace agreement signed. But while the peace talks are ongoing, ang pupuwedeng gawin is, diyan lang siya (what we can do is keep it there),” Roque said.


NPA owns up to political assassination in North Cotabato

From the Mindanao Examiner (Apr 8): NPA owns up to political assassination in North Cotabato

New People’s Army rebels have owned up Sunday to the killing of a councilman in Magpet town in North Cotabato province in southern Philippines.

Isabel Santiago, a spokeswoman for the rebel group, said Antonio Takinan was killed as a punishment for his alleged involvement in the anti-insurgency campaign and human rights violations in the province.

Takinan was shot dead on April 4 while travelling on a motorcycle with his brother-in-law Robilio Tambunan, who was wounded in the attack and escaped assassination.

Santiago accused Takinan to being an intelligence agent for the military and behind forced recruitment of tribesmen to fight the NPA as government militias. She said the rebel group had ordered Takinan’s death.

“The standing order imposed by the NPA against Takinan stemmed from his active intelligence gathering activities, forced recruitment of indigenous peoples for the paramilitary CAFGU Bagani fighters, and assisting the military in its combat operations that resulted in grave human rights and international humanitarian law violations.”

“Takinan’s intel activities led to the indiscriminate mortar shelling and aerial bombardment of Lumad communities on December 21 last year by the 39th Infantry Battalion. Recently, Takinan aided the 19th Infantry Battalion which had been terrorizing Lumad communities of Manobo for several weeks now, forcing civilians to either surrender or admit to being supporters of the NPA,” she added.

Santiago also said that Takinan allegedly extorted money from other tribesmen who are locked in bitter land disputes in the town. “Masses also reported that Takinan took advantage of land disputes in the hinterlands of Magpet by extorting from the Lumad,” she said.

Takinan’s slaying came barely a week after rebel forces clashed with soldiers from the 39th Infantry Battalion and killing three infantrymen in nearby Digos City in retaliation to military operations dubbed as “Oplan Kapayapaan” in the towns of Arakan, Antipas, Roxas and Magpet and Makilala in North Cotabato, and the towns of Santa Cruz and Bansalan, including Digos City in Davao del Sur province.

Santiago said the military operations in those areas have targeted innocent civilians and tribesmen. “It is aimed at targeting civilian Lumad and peasants, coercing them to swear in as combatants and surrendered persons,” she said, adding, in response to the government’s anti-insurgency campaign, the NPA has been ordered to defend the masses and punish legitimate military targets, including armed and active intelligence agents hiding under the badge of civilian bureaucracy.”

There was no immediate statement from the military on Santiago’s allegations, but the NPA has been waging decades of deadly campaign in the country for the establishment of its own Maoist government, and even demanded from President Rodrigo Duterte a coalition government as one of its preconditions for the revival of the stalled peace talks last year.

2 senior NPA leaders abducted in Mindanao

From the Mindanao Examiner (Apr 9): 2 senior NPA leaders abducted in Mindanao

Two senior communist rebel leaders were reported missing in southern Philippines and believed abducted by the military, Marcella Arsenio, a spokesman for the New People’s Army said.

The duo – Lora Manipis, also known as Ka Al; and husband Jerual Domingo, alias Ka Jamjam, – had been missing since February 24, but the rebel group only reported this matter on Monday.

Arsenio said the couple also served as peace talks consultants for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, the political wing of the rebel group. He said the duo was last seen in Kidapawan City in North Cotabato province. “Both vanished without trace since February 24, 2018. Witnesses last saw the couple in Kidapawan City and they had not made any contact with their family and comrades since then,” he said.

At the time of their disappearance, they were arranging for activities related to the peace process and mining issues affecting tribesmen in nearby South Cotabato province where the large-scale operations of X-trata Mining is located in Tampakan town, according to Arsenio.

He said Manipis was a former student activist before joining the NPA and spent more than a decade of her life in organizing mass movements and branded by the rebel group as a “revolutionary leader” who helped achieve the rapid expansion in the mass base and wage successful mass struggles in the region. While her husband, who came from a Protestant family, is an “exemplary Red fighter and commander tested in hardships and sacrifices in doing painstaking revolutionary work in the guerrilla bases and zones of Saranggani and South Cotabato provinces.”

Before the couple disappeared, Arsenio said military intelligence agents spied on the home of the duo for two years and had recently interrogated their daughter while she was in school.

“We condemn the couple’s forced disappearance, the unbridled violation of their rights and the reactionary government and military’s refusal to surface them,” Arsenio said. “We hold President Rodrigo Duterte and his fascist regime accountable for the forced disappearance of Ka Al and Ka Jamjam and other fascist crimes.”

“Their forced disappearance exposes the regime’s lack of genuine interest in the peace process and its penchant to use dastardly ways to suppress the revolutionary forces. It exposes the tyranny of Duterte’s terrorist regime and its mockery of the peace process and towards individuals like Manipis and Domingo who have been working tirelessly for a just peace and for the resumption of the peace talks,” he added.

Arsenio said since Duterte won the presidency in 2016, they have recorded over 6,200 cases or victims of human rights atrocities in Mindanao, including 20 victims of extrajudicial killings, 22 illegal arrest and detention, and 6,185 victims of displacement and evacuation due to the government’s anti-insurgency campaigns.

He said aside from Manipis and Domingo, other communist consultants Leo Velasco, Rogelio Calubad, Prudencio Calubid, NDFP staff members Philip Limjoco, Leopoldo Ancheta, Federico Intise and his wife Nelly, were allegedly abducted by the military.

“We fear that Manipis and Domingo may have already been executed by intelligence and military operatives, or are suffering from intense torture and other violations of international humanitarian law,” Arsenio said.

There was no immediate statement from the military or government on Arsenio’s allegations. The NPA has been fighting for many decades now for the establishment of a separate state in the country. Government peace talks with the rebels have collapsed after communist negotiators demanded Duterte to free over 500 NPA leaders and members detained for various crimes, and a coalition government.