Wednesday, April 25, 2018

'My son is not an NPA,' says mother of teenager killed in Davao clash

From Rappler (Apr 25): 'My son is not an NPA,' says mother of teenager killed in Davao clash

Eastmincom admits it erred in the spelling of the name of the boy, but insists he was indeed an NPA child soldier

NPA FIGHTER. The school ID of slain teenager Jhun Mark E. Acto. He was in Grade 8. Photo from Karapatan

NPA FIGHTER. The school ID of slain teenager Jhun Mark E. Acto. He was in Grade 8. Photo from Karapatan

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The mother a slain boy denied the claims of the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines that her son was a guerrila fighter.

Eastmincom had
earlier reported that 15-year-old Rondi Ondo was killed in an encounter between the government forces and the New People's Army (NPA) fighters in Davao del Sur on April 21, Saturday.

The military command report claimed that the so-called child soldier's body was recovered "after the encounter with an M16 rifle and clad in black NPA uniform."

Also killed in that clash was Julito Pueblas, whom the military report identified as a high-ranking rebel leader.

But the child was neither an NPA member, nor named Rondi Ondo, based on the statements of his mother and the human rights group Karapatan - Southern Mindanao Region.

"There is no truth to the military's claim," said Jay Apiag, Karapatan SMR secretary-general.

The child's name was actually Jhun Mark Acto, contrary to the statement by the Eastmincom.

Rappler and another journalist in Davao City ran a fact-check to verify the military's claim. They were able to get in touch with Acto's mother on April 23 and interviewed her on the phone.

Maritess Acto (not Ando as earlier reported), the mother, said the military "is trying to (make it) appear that my son was an NPA (killed in the firefight) " when he was shot by a sniper.

At around noon of April 21, she said her son was out in the coconut fields with his uncle and cousin at Barangay Astorga in Astorga, Sta. Cruz.

Eastmincom's spokesperson, Maj. Ezra Balagtey, admitted Wednesday, April 25, that they were wrong about the child's name. The military however, maintained that Acto was an NPA fighter.

"In the first place, why is he at the (site of the) encounter," Balagtey told Rappler.

Maritess Acto said she was informed by the military through a phone call that her son was killed in what they called an encounter. The mother said at that time she was in their hometown Makilala, Cotabato province. Jhun Mark, meanwhile, was in Davao del Sur with his aunt "to earn some money to be used for his schooling in June," according to a Davao Today report.

Karapatan also sent Rappler a photograph of the child's school identification card, showing that he was a student of Ricardo L. Ipong National High School in Makilala.

It was the human rights group that got in touch with Maritess Acto on the day they learned the military came out with a statement identifying her son as an NPA fighter.

"Their recent allegations are mere proof that they are a factory of fiction," Apiag added.

PNP preparing intel-driven 'Oplan' vs terrorism

From Rappler (Apr 24): PNP preparing intel-driven 'Oplan' vs terrorism

The Oplan is confidential as publishing will predictably compromise the counterterrorism operations it organizes

COUNTERTERROR PLAN. PNP chief Oscar Albayalde says they've been busy preparing a campaign plan against terrorism

COUNTERTERROR PLAN. PNP chief Oscar Albayalde says they've been busy preparing a campaign plan against terrorism

The Philippine National Police (PNP) is now preparing a blueprint to fight terrorism in the country, and according to PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde, it will be intelligence-driven.

"Actually it's (counterterrorism plan) being developed now. Number one is we really have to improve on it (counterterrorism efforts). Most of the time we rely so much [upon] the Armed Forces of the Philippines and of course our foreign counterparts," Albayalde told Rappler in an exclusive Camp Crame interview broadcast on Tuesday, April 24.

"We really have to improve on this. We have to train people on this, because this is quite new to the PNP," Albayalde admitted.

Why this matters: Once the plan is finished, Filipinos can expect cops to be more aggressive and organized in monitoring suspected terrorists in the country, with the aim of preventing attacks rather than preparing for only the time they strike.

"You can counter terrorism basically by countering it by intelligence. You can prevent it from happening really...You can only prevent those attacks through intelligence," stressing the importance of clean intelligence work.

Talks of preparing a counterterrorism police "Oplan" (campaign plan) have been going around inside Camp Crame as early as when the Marawi siege erupted in May 2017, prompting the PNP's top officials to re-evaluate their current case-to-case approach of investigating terror suspects.

The Oplan is confidential, according to Albayalde, as publishing it would predictably compromise the counterterrorism operations it organizes.

What we know is that the plan will also facilitate closer relations with police forces of other countries. "Terrorism is a global issue," Albayalde explained during the interview.

Top NPA rebel, 2 others held in Sarangani clash

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Apr 24): Top NPA rebel, 2 others held in Sarangani clash
Government security forces captured three suspected communist rebels, including a ranking leader, during clashes in Sarangani province on Monday and Tuesday, the military reported.

Major Ezra Balagtey, spokesperson of the Eastern Mindanao Command based in Davao City, said Pablito Torno, also known as Jebjeb, a vice commander of the New People’s Army (NPA) unit operating in the province, was arrested during Monday’s firefight in Sitio Salbuyan, Barangay Amsipit in Maasim town.

Torno was wounded and was rushed by soldiers to a hospital in General Santos City, Balagtey said, quoting a report from Lt. Col. Jones Brisal Otida, commander of the 27th Infantry Battalion.

Balagtey said on Tuesday, two more rebels were captured in an encounter, this time in Malapatan town.

Lt. Col. Marion Ancao, commander of the 73rd Infantry Battalion, said his men were verifying reports about the presence of NPA rebels in Sitio Bagyan in Barangay Upper Suyan when the firefight took place.

Ancao said the rebels fled and left behind two of their comrades, later identified as Sarah Balabang and Bactira Masalon.
Seized from the captured rebels were an M16 and a Carbine rifle.

4 officers promoted, 15 receive medals

From the Sun Star-Zamboanga (Apr 25): 4 officers promoted, 15 receive medals

THE Police Regional Office (PRO)-Zamboanga Peninsula have promoted four senior officers to the next higher rank and awarded “Medalya ng Kagalingan (Medal of Merit)” to 15 policemen.

Chief Superintendent Billy Beltran, PRO-Zamboanga Peninsula director, spearheaded the donning of ranks and oath-taking of the promoted officers as well as the awarding of medals held after the flag ceremony Monday at Camp Abendan in Zamboanga City.

Chief Superintendent Edwin De Ocampo, deputy regional director for administration, and Senior Superintendent Narciso Verdadero, deputy regional director for operations, assisted Beltran during the ceremony.

Promoted from Chief Inspectors to Superintendents were: Superintendent Joseph Maulad of Zamboanga Del Norte Provincial Police Office; Superintendent Edilberto Alvarez of Zamboanga City Police Office (ZCPO); Superintendent Edwin Verson of Zamboanga Sibugay Provincial Police Office; and Superintendent Homer Dumalag of Zamboanga Del Sur Provincial Police Office.  

The awardees of Medalya ng Kagalingan are: Senior Inspector Julius Dao-an; Police Officer (PO) 3 Larry Balasabas; PO3 Adonis Atilano; PO1 Ivan Araneta; and, PO1 Al-jahad Hadjiri, all of the Police Station 2 of ZCPO in recognition for the neutralization of two bandits named Isabelo Tarroza and Alexander Delos Reyes and the arrest of other criminal gang, Nesser De Leon, during law enforcement operation on April 19 in Curuan village.

They also recovered of Garand Rifle, KG9, Rifle Grenades and several magazines and ammunition.

Senior Inspector Sonny Boy Perez, SPO1 Merkan Idris, PO3 Jayton Lagdameo, PO1 Khalid Faizal Barahim and PO1 Kenneth Glenn Jacoba, all of Isabela City Police Station, were cited for the arrest of Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) member Tanjil Alim Pangamdas during a law enforcement operation on April 10, 2018.

Pangamdas has standing warrant of arrest as he is facing charges for kidnapping and serious illegal detention.

He was arrested in a hospital while seeking medication after he figured in a vehicular accident.

Chief Inspector Oscar Buenaobra, Chief Inspector Norbert Velonza, Senior Inspector Felixberto Lelina, Inspector Marjan Sali, and Inspector Alexander Raupan, all of Police Regional Office 9, were awarded for the neutralization of Anwar Ansang gun-for-hire group members namely as Suad Esmail and Moamer Fermin on April 20, 2018 in Sitio Balaisan in the village of East Migpulao, Dinas, Zamboanga del Sur.

Esmail and Fermin were listed as the Top 2 and Top3 most wanted persons in Dinas, respectively.

Chief Inspector Jade Mandi, Senior Inspector Nijam Salim, SPO2 Kemjie Edao, PO3 Dominic Dalena, and PO1 Keymen Edao, all of Zamboanga Del Sur Provincial Police Office, awarded for the arrest of alleged contract killers namely as Marcos Isong, Gilbert Bualat and Renato Fuentevilla.

Beltran congratulated the awardees for a job well-done citing they should be emulated by other policemen.

New Funding for Mindanao Trust Fund to Strengthen Peace and Development in Southern Philippines

From Modern Diplomacy (Apr 24): New Funding for Mindanao Trust Fund to Strengthen Peace and Development in Southern Philippines

Efforts to bring peace and progress in Mindanao were reaffirmed today following the signing of a new agreement that will build more socioeconomic infrastructure and improve literacy in conflict affected areas.

The new Program Partnership Agreement signed by the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) – the development arm of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) – and humanitarian organization Community and Family Services International (CFSI) entrusts the two parties to implement the USD 3.2 million grant with financing from the Mindanao Trust Fund for Reconstruction and Development (MTF).

The Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) also provided complementary funding amounting to 1 million euro to support similar activities.

“This new partnership agreement strengthens Normalization under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. It will help improve the quality of life of people in conflict-affected areas through community participation and the pursuit of sustainable livelihood within a peaceful, deliberative society,” said Secretary Jesus Dureza, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process. “For four years, we have been reaching out to our fellow Filipinos in the south, touching lives and taking ‘peace by piece’ steps towards a developed Bangsamoro.”

Established in 2006 with support from development partners including the Australia, Canada, European Union, Sweden, New Zealand, and the United States, and administered by the World Bank, the MTF consolidates international development assistance for the socioeconomic recovery of conflict-affected communities in Mindanao and seeks to build confidence in the normalization process with the MILF.
From 2006 to 2017, development partners have provided PHP 1.4 billion (USD 28.9 million) to the program. Within this period, results delivered by the MTF-Reconstruction and Development Project include 573 projects that improved infrastructure, strengthen livelihoods and functional literacy in 315 conflict-affected communities across 75 municipalities. Nearly 650,000 people now benefit from clean water, better roads, and more post-harvest facilities and access to farming and fishing equipment.

“The support of the Philippine government and development partners towards projects that strengthen the Bangsamoro’s capacities to improve their socioeconomic conditions reinforce people’s trust on the Bangsamoro peace process and the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law,” said MILF Peace Implementing Panel Chair Mohagher Iqbal.

The project also supported activities to improve livelihoods, infrastructure, and basic literacy in the Six Acknowledged MILF Camps: Camps Abubakar, Omar, Rajamuda, Badre, Bushra, and Bilal. The decision of Secretary Dureza of OPAPP, the MILF, and development partners to further intensify these efforts through the MTF highlight the partners’ commitment to peace and development in Mindanao.

“Greater economic opportunity and access to basic services foster hope in conflict-affected areas, which can build understanding and collaboration among community members. The World Bank is committed to supporting efforts that enhance the prospects for peace in Mindanao,” said Mara K. Warwick, World Bank Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand.

“Australia is a longstanding supporter of peace and development in Mindanao, and is proud to be a partner for change in the second phase of the Mindanao Trust Fund,” said Australian Ambassador Amanda Gorely. “As the first phase has already shown, the socio-economic infrastructure and literacy projects it will provide can have a remarkable impact for communities in Muslim Mindanao.”

“One of the biggest challenges for development policies is to tackle the most vulnerable communities affected by multiple conflicts and threats; to not leave them behind. This complex aim needs joint resources from national and international stakeholders following a sound local leadership. MTF has acted as a valuable driver of such efforts,” said Juan Pita, General Coordinator of AECID.

The MTF has a steering committee that oversees the implementation and evaluation of the program. It is chaired by OPAPP, BDA, and the World Bank, which also serves as the trust fund secretariat.