Thursday, May 24, 2018

Isabela city civil registrar shot dead

From the Mindanao Examiner (May 23): Isabela city civil registrar shot dead

BASILAN – An unidentified gunman shot dead the civil registrar officer of Isabela City in a daring broad daylight attack Thursday in the troubled province of Basilan in southern Philippines.

Jordan Juaini was killed in the village called Eastside just several meters away from a police checkpoint. No individual or group claimed responsibility for the murder and the motive to the killing remains unknown.

Gun attacks and extrajudicial killings are not uncommon in Isabela or Basilan, one of 5 provinces under the restive Muslim autonomous region. There was no immediate statement from the local mayor or provincial governor over the spate of killings.

The murder occurred while the whole of southern Philippines is under an extended state of martial rule due to terrorism, rebellion and criminality.

Joint PNP-PA operations yield high-powered firearms, uniforms

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 24): Joint PNP-PA operations yield high-powered firearms, uniforms

The joint law enforcement operations conducted by the Regional Mobile Force Battalion 2 of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the 86 Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (PA) recovered high-powered firearms and uniforms that were hidden in the forested areas of Dicimungal, Nagtipunan, Quirino.

Captain Jefferson Somera, PA's Public Affairs Office chief, said the team found two M14 rifles, five M16 rifles, assorted ammunition, 14 pairs of combat boots and 15 sets of PNP uniforms while conducting intensified combat and intel-driven operations at the said barangay last May 19, 2018.

According to Somera, the said area was believed to be a former base of the New People’s Army (NPA).

Somera said based on information from Police Senior Superintendent Gregory B. Bogñalbal, Quirino Police provincial director, the recovered firearms were not from the Maddela Police Station which was raided by the rebel groups last year.

He added that the recovered firearms will be subjected for in-depth investigation to identify where they came from.

Police Superintendent Alberto A. Calimag, force commander of the Provincial Mobile Force Company, said three of the recovered PNP uniforms belong to police officers of Maddela Police Station.

“The others have Quirino patches but the nameplates were already removed,” Calimag said.

Both Somera and Calimag appealed to all concerned citizens to continuously provide information that will lead to the arrest of any groups that are planning to sow terror in the communities.

Westmincom chief vows to sustain rescue ops for Sulu hostages

From the Philippine News Agency (May 23): Westmincom chief vows to sustain rescue ops for Sulu hostages

Lt. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega, newly-installed Western Mindanao Command chief, answers questions of reporters in an interview in Camp Basilio Navarro just after he assumed command on Wednesday. (Photo by: Teofilo P. Garcia Jr)

Newly-promoted Lt. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief, on Wednesday vowed to sustain the military's operations to rescue the remaining hostages of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

Dela Vega made the pledge in an interview in Camp Basilio Navarro shortly after he was installed as the 10th commander of Westmincom. He replaced Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., who was installed as the Armed Forces chief-of-staff on April 18.

Dela Vega, without elaborating further, said the military has adopted “measures” against the ASG based in the province of Sulu.

“We will sustain our efforts in rescuing the remaining KVs (kidnap victims) and very handful na lang man yan,” Dela Vega said.

ASG members are still holding captive nine people, including five foreigners--three Indonesians, one Vietnamese, and one Dutch--and four Filipinos.

“We will prevent further attempts (by the ASG) to kidnap more new victims,” the military official added.

National Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana said he is confident that the newly-installed Westmincom chief “will do his best of recover them (the hostages).”

“It has been my dream to recover them all, so that they can return to their respective families,” Lorenzana said.

Lorenzana presided Wednesday's turnover of command.

ARMM elite police force completes anti-terror training

From the Philippine News Agency (May 24): ARMM elite police force completes anti-terror training

CAMP SK PENDATUN, Maguindanao -- As the government steps up its campaign against terrorist elements in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the Police Regional Office (PRO) said it has completed Wednesday the training for a 66-man elite police force.

The elite unit, called PRO-ARMM Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT), was formed to respond to urban and rural threat groups, according to Chief Supt. Graciano Mijares.

Mijares, police regional director for ARMM, said 66 elite police officers underwent a 45-day rigid training inside this camp in Parang town, a 30-minute drive from Cotabato City, to curtail threats of terrorism across the region.

He said the 66 police officers were trained on counter-terrorism, close quarter battle, hostage rescue operation, sniping and urban offensives.

“The lessons we learned in Marawi led to more police preparations,” Mijares told reporters here during an interview Thursday. He said more police SWAT training would be conducted in the region where IS-linked terrorists are believed to be hiding and recruiting.

With the newly acquired skills, Mijares said he expects the SWAT unit to serve and protect the people is their paramount concern.

The special unit is armed with modern equipment acquired by PRO-ARMM from the national headquarters, including night vision goggles and modern assault rifles, among others. The SWAT will form the quick reaction unit of police provincial offices in the region.

ARMM comprises the cities of Lamitan and Marawi; and the provinces of Maguindanao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, and Lanao del Sur.

Insurgency stalls dev’t of 900-hectare land in Samar

From the Philippine News Agency (May 24): Insurgency stalls dev’t of 900-hectare land in Samar


A state-run university in Samar province blamed insurgency why the school has failed to develop its 900-hectare farm and forest land in San Jorge town.

Northwest Samar State University (NwSSU) President Avelina Bergado said Thursday that plans to develop a land in Matalud into an eco-tourism destination has been stalled by the presence of the New People’s Army (NPA).

The school official has expressed concern after the National Economic and Development Authority initially tagged the 900-hectare property as a potential site for public-private partnership.

“The presence of waterfalls, vast forest, and very cold weather make it an ideal place for ecotourism. There have been plans to build access roads as part of forest development integrated program, but it was not pushed through because developers are afraid to go there,” Bergado told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

NwSSU with its main campus in Calbayog City, has been supervising a satellite campus in San Jorge since it became a university on Oct. 14, 2009.

Republic Act No. 9719 renamed the Tiburcio Tancinco Memorial Institute of Science and Technology into NwSSU integrating Samar State College of Agriculture and Forestry located in San Jorge.

The university is mandated to provide advanced education, higher technological, professional instruction and training in trade, fishery, agriculture, science, education, commerce, engineering, forestry, nautical courses and other related fields.

The San Jorge campus owns a 900-hectare land, some parts of which had been occupied by an agriculture high school in the 1960s. When the NPA occupied the area from the 1970s to 1980s, development activities stopped, the school official recalled.

“It seems that armed rebels are against any infrastructure development project in the area. We have been seeking help from the Philippine Army to clear the area from insurgency threats,” she added.

The Samar provinces have been the stronghold of armed rebels due to their densely-forested mountainous areas, high poverty incidence, and issue of widespread landlessness, based on a 2013 study of William Norman Holden of the University of Calgary in Canada.

The NPA launched its first tactical operation in the country in Calbiga, Samar in 1974, when its members ambushed an Army scout patrol and seized a number of weapons. In 1976, the NPA gained popular support among the inhabitants of Samar following its actions against cattle rustling gangs.

Army fetes troops, cops killed in Marawi conflict

From the Philippine News Agency (May 24): Army fetes troops, cops killed in Marawi conflict

The Philippine Army paid homage to the valiant soldiers and police officers killed during the five-month battle to retake Marawi City from the clutches of Maute-ISIS Group terrorists Wednesday.

This was highlighted by a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers, Libingan ng mga Bayani, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City, Army spokesperson Lt. Col.Louie Villanueva said.

The event, which took place during the first year commemoration of the conflict, was spearheaded by PA vice commander Major General Robert M. Arevalo.

“This commemoration gives us glimpse of that epic moment of our history. It reminds us of our modern heroes who represent the character of our army’s long history of patriotism and the cause for which they laid down their lives. The battle they have fought may have long been over. And, the peace we now enjoy is the fruit of their heroism. Let the passion and spirit of patriotism keep burning in our hearts, and let this be the time for us to do our share to preserve the freedom they have fought for,” he added.

Among those who came to honor the fallen heroes were the former members of the Joint Task Force Marawi, Army personnel and civilian employees.

Villanueva said 165 soldiers and police officers were killed in the bloody fighting which started May 23, 2017 and ended on October of that year.

Some were laid to rest in their respective hometowns while some were interred at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Another Japanese destroyer to visit PH Friday

From the Philippine News Agency (May 24): Another Japanese destroyer to visit PH Friday

Another Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) vessel, the JS Setogiri (DD-156) and her helicopter, will dock at Pier 15, Manila South Harbor from Friday to Saturday for a goodwill visit.

Capt. Lued Lincuna, Philippine Navy (PN) spokesperson, said the Japanese destroyer will arrive on Friday morning with her 220 officers and enlisted personnel.

The contingent will be headed by JMSDF Escort Division 7 head, Capt. Susumi Moriyama, and JS Setogiri skipper, Commander Tokeshi Tonegawa.

"The PN will render customary welcome ceremony upon arrival of the vessel, to be followed by a port briefing on security and health aboard the JS Setogiri," Lincuna said.

JS Setogiri is the fourth JMSDF ship to visit the Philippines in the past five months with JS Osumi being the third and destroyer, JS Akizuki, the second, and JS Amagiri the first.

5 soldiers wounded in IED explosion

From the Sun Star-Davao (May 23): 5 soldiers wounded in IED explosion

FIVE soldiers were wounded when an improvised explosive device (IED), which was allegedly planted by members of the New People’s Army (NPA), exploded on Monday, May 21 in Sitio Patawon, Barangay Cabuyuan, Mabini, Compostela Valley.

Captain Jerry Lamosao, Division Public Affairs Office (DPAO) chief of the 10th Infantry Division (ID) said the incident happened at 10:55 p.m. on Monday.

The wounded security officers were from the 46th Infantry Battalion (IB). They were initially tasked to establish a blocking position towards Km 15, Barangay Cabuyoan, Mabini, Compostela Valley when an IED exploded in the vicinity of Sitio Patawon, Barangay Cabuyuan. 

Lamosao said it was possibly planted by the members of Milisyang Bayan led by alias Janu of Guerilla Front (GF) 2, Sub-Regional Committee 2 (SRC) Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC).

“First aid was applied to wounded personnel and were immediately extricated and brought to the nearest hospital,” he said.

Meanwhile, the personnel of Municipal Police Station (MPS) together with Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) conducted a follow-up investigation on the incident in an effort to apprehend the fleeing rebels.

Prior to the incident, at around 1:30 p.m. on the same day, there was a separate encounter between the communist group and the government forces, who were on peace and development patrol.

The troops under 46IB a firefight with undetermined number of NPA group believed to be elements of GF2, SRC2, SMRC in Km 15 Barangay Cabuyoan, Mabini, Compostela Valley where it lasted for about five minutes after which the enemy withdrew.

AFP: New Maute leader recruits using money, eyes orphans and kin of deceased

From CNN Philippines (May 23): AFP: New Maute leader recruits using money, eyes orphans and kin of deceased

A year after the war that left Marawi City in ruins, the sub-leader of the Maute group, Abu Dar, is burning cash to replenish its forces by recruiting and training new members, according to the military.

Abu Dar replaced Isnilon Hapilon who was killed close to the end of the five-month Marawi Siege, Joint Task Force Ranao Deputy Commander Col. Romeo Brawner Jr. told CNN Philippines' On The Record.

"They find it more difficult now to recruit if they use only the ideology. They are now using money to try to entice people to join them," Brawner said.

He said Dar is offering a joining fee of P70,000 and a monthly fee of P10,000 - 15,000. The 100-strong sub-group is eyeing to recruit orphans and kin of the deceased combatants in the Marawi Siege, he added.

"This is not the first time that a militant group tried to bring in members using money. It's a combination of money and ideological commitment and ability to wave violence. You have to have a perfect storm," said analyst Joseph Franco of the Center of Excellence for National Security.

The counter-insurgency expert however has doubts that Dar has the "street cred" to influence new members. Franco said that Dar is unlike Hapilon who had resonance with ISIS propagandists in Syria, Iraq and Southeast Asia.

"He [Hapilon] had a brand. I'm not sure Abu Dar has a similar-I hate to say this-'star power'," he said. He noted that Hapilon's popularity complemented Maute's resources to fund a war against government forces.

It is also unlikely that Dar's group will get funding from ISIS, he said. "They have issues on their own home court. Then how can the local affiliates - the guys overseas - how can they receive support from the home office?"

The military said they received reports that the Maute sub-group is training new recruits in remote and mountainous areas in Butig, Lanao del Sur.

"But these are minimal and I think the military is still in control," said Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra. He said he is confident that the government will be able to convince the remaining members of the IS-inspired group to surrender.

Brawner said 27 members of the Maute Group have surrendered to the government and they are expecting more in the coming weeks.

The military has also improved its training on combat in urban setting, where concrete structures and industrial materials like LPG tanks could be used against the soldiers, said Joint Task Force Trident and Marawi Commander Maj. Gen. Danilo Pamonag.

Abu Dar emerges as new Maute group leader–AFP

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 24): Abu Dar emerges as new Maute group leader–AFP

ABU DAR From PNP wanted list

Owayda Benito Marohombsar is not your typical battle-hardened militant, but the military suspects he now leads the Islamic State (IS)-inspired Maute group, which plotted the siege of Marawi City a year ago.

A native of Pagayawan, a fifth-class town of 13,000 in Lanao del Sur province, Marohombsar saw action only in skirmishes with government forces in the province’s Butig town before the Marawi siege.

At the height of the siege, Marohombsar — known as Abu Dar — escaped with dozens of Maute gunmen and has since been active in recruiting new members using millions of pesos they allegedly looted from the local Landbank branch and abandoned homes of wealthy families.

Marohombsar and his men failed to reenter the city because of the tight military cordon, said Col. Romeo Brawner Jr., deputy commander of Joint Task Force Ranao.

Spiritual adviser

Little is known about Marohombsar, who also goes by the alias Humam. Various government sources say he is a relative of the Maute brothers — Abdullah, Omar and Madie — who were killed during the five-month battle for Marawi.

Marohombsar is also related to Moro National Liberation Front leader Faizal Marohombsar, who was involved in the kidnapping of five Chinese engineers in Carmen town, North Cotabato province in 2001.

The sources, who declined to be identified, said Marohombsar served as spiritual adviser to the Maute brothers.

One of the sources said Marohombsar was a “learned” Islamic scholar but unsure about where he finished his Islamic studies.

Brawner said Marohombsar was now acting as head of the group and carried a P3-million bounty on his head.

Lone survivor

He said Marohombsar was the only survivor among the plotters of the Marawi siege, including the Maute brothers and IS emir for Southeast Asia Isnilon Hapilon, who were seen in a photo and video seized from slain militants planning the assault.

Brawner said the new Maute group leader was reportedly moving between the towns of Pagayawan, Piagapo, Tubaran and Marantao and nearby areas as government forces pursued him.

Lanao del Sur Rep. Mauyag Papandayan, however, believes the military was not bent on capturing Marohombsar as the militant freely entered Barangay Malaganding in Tuburan town where he shot dead a village official a day before the barangay elections.

A regional police report said barangay chair reelectionist Hadji Ansary was killed by unidentified gunmen inside his home.

NPA surrenderers: AFP civic action program vs. Reds very effective

From the Philippine Canadian Inquirer (May 23): NPA surrenderers: AFP civic action program vs. Reds very effective

TOWARDS A NEW BEGINNING. Three NPA rebels, Ka Jelly, Ka Kem, and Ka Dodong (their faces covered for security reason), who surrendered and took their oath of allegiance before Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado, commanding general of the Joint Task Force of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (JFT/AFP) in Camp Aguinaldo last week, May 19.  (PNA photo)

TOWARDS A NEW BEGINNING. Three NPA rebels, Ka Jelly, Ka Kem, and Ka Dodong (their faces covered for security reason), who surrendered and took their oath of allegiance before Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado, commanding general of the Joint Task Force of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (JFT/AFP) in Camp Aguinaldo last week, May 19. (PNA photo

For the first time, three former rebels of the New People’s Army (NPA) who recently surrendered confirmed that the civic action program launched by the military has been very effective in the fight against insurgency.

“Keep it up, sustain your so-called Bayanihan civic action program because it is hurting the NPA,” said Ka Jelly (true name withheld for security reasons) in an exclusive interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in Camp Aguinaldo on Tuesday.

Ka Jelly had been with the NPA for almost two decades before he and two of his comrades decided to surrender last May 18 to Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado, commanding general of the Joint Task Force of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (JTF/AFP), which secures Metro Manila.

Arrojado is a veteran military strategist in the AFP’s war on terror in Mindanao, particularly against the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu and Basilan, before he was assigned to his current position.

Ka Jelly, whose testimony was corroborated by his comrades, Ka Kem and Ka Dodong, said they decided to surrender after realizing that they were fighting fellow Filipinos.

During the interview, Ka Jelly said he considers the AFP’s civic action program a success “because it has been benefiting the people down to the grass root level, since the program includes free medical-dental treatment, food, shelter and other civic actions.”

“That is why I urge the AFP to intensify this Bayanihan civic action program because the NPA is having a hard time countering this humanitarian effort,” he said. “There is no way to put down a good program that benefits the people.”

As a former rebel, Ka Jelly manifested how the communist movement is having a difficult time countering the civic action program undertaken by the AFP through the years that he said should be sustained.

Ka Jelly said he was recruited by the NPA in Compostela Valley in Davao del Sur in 1999 when he was only 17 years old.

“Actually, I joined the NPA just for fun and adventure and my desire to own a gun,” he said, noting that as a rebel, he participated 15 times in raids of military units in Pantukan, Compostela Valley.

“During the raid of an army detachment in 2003, four soldiers were killed and four others (were) wounded during the hour-long of fighting,” he added.

At the same time, Ka Jelly and his two comrades said that while they hail from Compostela Valley, they were ordered by the Central Committee to come to Luzon to reinforce the depleting NPA fighters in the area in April 2017.

“We travelled for three days and two nights by land on board three vans from Davao to Southern Luzon. There were no checkpoints along the route, and besides, we did not bring our firearms,” he said.

They were transferred to other vehicles upon arrival in Lucena City and were brought to Quirino, Isabela where they were briefed about their mission as reinforcement coming from Mindanao.

He identified two NPA rebels who met them in Lucena only as Ka Anak and Ka Sera.

During the series of lectures, he counted 210 NPA comrades, 40 of them non-combatants.

It was there that they were told by the sub-region finance committee that the NPA has been experiencing lack of funds, despite the collection of revolutionary taxes.

After staying several months in Isabela, Ka Jelly thought of surrendering to the government, but the question was how, since the NPA would not allow it.

He hatched a plan by making an excuse that he was to meet a relative in Montalban, Rizal to borrow some money. His request was granted, together with Ka Kem.

However, while on their way to Montalban, the NPA leadership in Isabela suspected something fishy, so Ka Dodong was asked to go after Ka Jowell and Ka Kem to make sure they return to Isabela.

But instead of convincing the duo, Ka Dodong was the one convinced to go with them to Montalban.

“It was during this critical moment that we prayed to God for our safety,” Ka Jelly said.

“In fact, I continued to pray even during my stint with the NPA for almost 20 years,” he said, “because I always believe in God Almighty. And God heard my prayers.”

Ka Dodong and Ka Kem also said they did not stop praying while with the rebel movement. The three are members of the Iglesia ni Cristo.

Shortly after reaching Montalban, they sent feelers to the National Intelligence Service Agency (NICA) in Metro Manila that they would like to surrender.

NICA immediately contacted Gen. Arrojado to fetch them.

Without delay, Arrojado sent a team to Montalban to pick up Ka Jelly, Ka Kem and Ka Dodong.

They were brought to Arrojado’s office in Camp Aguinaldo where they were asked if they had firearms with them.

“They answered yes, but they were buried underground,” said Arrojado, who sent a team of soldiers from the JTF/AFP to go to Isabela to recover the weapons.

He contacted Maj. Gen. Perfecto Rimando, commanding general of the 5th Infantry Division, and Brig. Gen. Bartolome Bacarro, commander of the 502nd Brigade of the Philippine Army, based in Echague, Isabela to coordinate with the recovery of the buried firearms.

Arrojado said the troops from JTF, 5th Infantry Division, and 502nd Brigade retrieved five M-16 assault rifles, two M-14 rifles, and one Baby Armalite M653 rifle buried in Sitio Pulang Lupa, Barangay Disimungal, Nagtipunan, Quirino, last Saturday.

The weapons were brought to the JTF headquarters last Saturday.

Ka Jelly, Ka Kem and Ka Dodong took their oath of allegiance before Arrojado.

Their papers are now being processed.

Ka Jelly said he and his two comrades would be happy to see President Rodrigo R. Duterte if given the opportunity to see the commander-in-chief.

Arrojado said the successful mission was a joint effort by the JTF/AFP/PNP/NICA under the Enhanced Comprehensive Integration Program of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to eradicate the long-drawn communist insurgency in the country.

He also expressed hope that other NPA rebels would surrender so that the country would attain lasting peace sooner than later.

Armed men fire at policemen in Quezon town

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 24): Armed men fire at policemen in Quezon town

Two motorcycle-riding armed men fired at policemen in Lopez town in Quezon province early Thursday.

No one was hurt among the policemen, said Chief Insp. Noel Divino, Lopez police chief, said

Police recovered one caliber .45 pistol loaded with five bullets left behind by the escaping men.

Concerned citizens tipped off the authorities on the presence of the armed men in Barangay Calantipayan around 12:05 a.m., police said.

When the authorities arrived at the place, they were met with gun fire from the suspects, identified by police tipsters as
“Abuy Lopez” and one alias “Mark.”

Divino said the investigators were still checking the background of the suspects and if they belonged to criminal groups or assassination team of the communist New People’s Army.

A police team was tracking down the suspects.

KMU scores harassment, killing of workers

From the often pro-Communist Party of the Philippines online publication the Davao Today (May 23): KMU scores harassment, killing of workers

A labor group organizer was detained by soldiers while a banana plantation worker was killed by suspected military agents in Davao region,days before the first year anniversary of martial law in Mindanao.

Kilusang Mayo Uno Southern Mindanao (KMU-SMR) reported that one of their organizers was arrested by soldiers of the 71st Infantry Battalion on Monday, May 21.

Carlo Olalo, spokesperson of KMU-SMR, identified the organizer as Daniel Remeticado, a resident of Barangay Camingawan, in Mawab town, Compostela Valley.

He said unidentified men in civilian clothes arrived at Remeticado’s residence around 7 pm on Monday. Remeticado was then brought to the headquarters of the 71st IB at Barangay Nueva Visayas, Mawab.

Olalo added that Remeticado was arrested without any warrants or case filed against him.

Remeticado was released the next day after his family and KMU members went to the army’s detachment and demanded for his immediate release.

“They [military] said no cases were filed and no warrant of arrest was issued against Remeticado, but since Mindanao is under martial law, they can arrest without warrant,” Olalo told Davao Today in an interview.

Olalo said that when they asked Lt. Steven Docusin of the 71st IB regarding the grounds for Remeticado’s arrest, “Docusin reasoned out that it was due to his being a KMU organizer, a purported “legal front” organization of the CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army).”

“The soldiers warned us that they can arrest me and fellow KMU members when we confronted them at their headquarters,” Olalo added.

Meanwhile, human rights group Karapatan reported that a worker of banana plantation, Continental Farm Corporation, in Panabo City was gunned down on morning of May 17.

Jay Apiag, spokesperson of Karapatan Southern Mindanao, identified the victim as Ariel Maquiran, 33, a resident of Barangay Maduaw, Panabo City.

According to Karapatan, Maquiran was driving a motorcycle heading home from work when two unidentified men in motorcycle followed and shot him.

Maquiran hit the gas but fell when he reached crossing Barangay Little Panay where another two armed men shot him multiple times.

The report said Maquiran sustained nine gunshot wounds which resulted to his death.

Apiag said Maquiran was summoned for military investigation last March for his alleged involvement on the burning of equipment owned by the Lapanday Food Corp. in April 2017.

Carlo Olalo said the recent attacks against labor organizers and workers add to the long list of human rights violations under the martial law implementation in Mindanao.

“These recent cases of human rights violation is the government’s way to silence those who dissent against the Duterte’s anti-people policies and the military uses martial law as a license to kill progressive leaders, especially workers, peasants and Lumad,” Olalo added.

Karapatan said Maquiran is the 40th victim of politically motivated killings since President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao and is the 72nd victim under the current administration.

Police eye NPA in slay of militiamen in Compostela Valley

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 24): Police eye NPA in slay of militiamen in Compostela Valley
Police investigators were eyeing communist rebels as those behind the killing of two militiamen in a hinterland village in Montevista, Compostela Valley early this week.

Chief Insp. Milgrace Driz, the spokesperson of the Southern Mindanao police office, said on Thursday that suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels were seen as likely responsible for the killing of Daniel Angog, 40; and his nephew, Jeffrey Angog, 39, both members of the Citizens Armed Auxiliary (CAA) assigned at the San Vicente patrol base in Camansi village.

The NPA was known to operate in the hinterlands of Montevista.

According to Driz, the Angogs were having a drinking session with several friends at Purok (Community) 3 in Camansi during a local festivity when four armed men arrived, and at gunpoint, tied the victims before herding them to an area some 150 meters away and executed them.

Driz said responding policemen recovered from the scene at least 20 empty shells from M-16 rifle bullets, and one empty shell from an AK-47 rifle.

Former village councilor shot dead in Negros Occidental

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 24): Former village councilor shot dead in Negros Occidental
Four armed men claiming to be New People’s Army (NPA) rebels shot and killed on Wednesday a defeated candidate for barangay councilor in Sitio Calubihan, Barangay Tan-awan, Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental province.

Rodolfo Ambong, 48, a barangay tanod who ran and lost for Tan-awan barangay councilor last May 14 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections, died on the spot due to multiple bullet wounds.

Police investigation showed that Ambong was aboard a motorcycle when he was shot and killed by the four men who introduced themselves to the barangay residents as NPA members.

Supt. Rhea Santos, Kabankalan City police chief, said the victim suffered 11 bullet wounds, including a fatal shot in the head.

The police recovered 15 fired cartridges of 9mm and .45 caliber pistols at the scene of incident.

Santos said Ambong was charged with murder but the case was dismissed due to the non-appearance of witnesses against him.

Police said they were looking into the possibility that the murder case had something to do with his killing.

Martial Law in Mindanao spawns atmosphere of fear, intimidation – NDFP

From the often pro-Communist Party of the Philippines online publication the Davao Today (May 23): Martial Law in Mindanao spawns atmosphere of fear, intimidation – NDFP

( file photo by Alex D. Lopez)
It’s been one year since President Rodrigo Duterte imposed martial law in Mindanao, but for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in Mindanao (NDFP-Mindanao) the decree only worsened the situation in the island, largely to the lives of ordinary civilians and their communities.

In the statement it issued to commemorate Duterte’s one year of martial rule in the island, the NDFP said more or less 72 percent of the entire combat-effective troops of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are now positioned in various areas in Mindanao.
This is composed of 51 army maneuver battalions, aside from the support of the naval and air force units, the NDFP added.

But what is glaring in terms of consequences to such imposition is not on the quelling of what the government perceived as “terrorists” who occupied the Islamic City of Marawi on May 23 last year, but of the continuing ill-effects of full militarization especially in the rural areas of Mindanao, it said.

“The NDFP-Mindanao stands alongside the Bangsamoro, the Lumad and the people of Mindanao and the country in condemning the atrocities of the US-Duterte regime’s martial rule since its imposition on May 23, 2017, which stemmed from the AFP’s failed attempt to capture Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon,” said NDFP-Mindanao spokesperson Joaquin Jacinto in a statement on Friday, May 18.

While the relentless military action resulted to the complete ruin of Marawi City, the death of thousands of civilians and the displacement of nearly half a million residents, the NDFP-Mindanao maintained that persistent militarization “virtually created an atmosphere of fear and intimidation for the general populace in Mindanao.”

“Under martial law, the AFP’s Oplan Kapayapaan unleashed vile military operations in all regions in Mindanao that made full use of aerial bombardments and artillery fire to satisfy Duterte’s order to ‘flatten the hills’,” Jacinto claimed.

Cases of human rights violations to include extrajudicial killings, indiscriminate firing, prohibiting or limiting farmers to attend to their farms were also rampant as the martial law practically granted the military and police the “full license and control in containing and engaging against whomever the reactionary state considers as terrorist threats,” the statement added.

“Duterte’s martial law is no different from that of Ferdinand Marcos,” the NDFP-Mindanao argued, “as the decree is being exploited to suppress peoples’ rights.”
The group also scored the rehabilitation being done by the government in Marawi City, saying that the restoration efforts do not serve the interests of the residents.

“Clearly, the so-called ‘rehabilitation’ planned out by the fascist US-Duterte regime is only intended to serve the profit-hungry interests of capitalists who have initially invested in the Marawi siege to secure for them profitable business ventures; and at the same time to secure new military bases for the AFP as well as for the US Armed Forces in the implementation of Operation Pacific Eagle,” Jacinto said.

In the same statement, the NDFP-Mindanao urged the people “to unite and launch protests to press the US-Duterte regime to bring the people of Marawi back to their homes and fully restore their livelihood, and bring forth a resounding call to put an end to the death and destruction of Duterte’s highly repressive martial law.”

Jacinto said series of protest actions were already launched in Mindanao and the rest of the country that condemned the atrocities of Duterte’s martial law.

Despite the calls of lifting the “oppressive” decree, Jacinto said the Duterte administration “extended the martial law imposition until the end of this year, widened its scope, and maliciously included the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines) and the NPA (New People’s Army) in its terror tag.”

Paquibato holds promise once cleared of rebels

From the Sun Star-Davao (May 23): Paquibato holds promise once cleared of rebels

THE Philippine Army’s 10th Infantry Division sees Paquibato District, Davao City, as a potential place for development where people can live a good life free from armed conflict.

Army's 10th Infantry Division commander Major General Noel Clement issued such statement following the Serbisyo Caravan of the Association of Regional Executives of National Agencies (Arena) in Davao Region in the area last week.

The Arena Serbisyo Caravan is an aggrupation of the regional directors/heads of the national government agencies in the region that aims to enhance managerial capacity, promote welfare and balance human development, and uphold good governance and integrity in public service.  

Clement said the association’s serbisyo caravan is an outreach program that provides government services to the remote, depressed and conflict-affected area in the region, with corresponding numbers of beneficiaries. 

Clement said with the serbisyo caravan being implemented in Paquibato District marked the end of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) influence in the area.

He added that this is good for Paquibato. He recalled that back in the 80s, Barangay Colosas and its neighboring sitios in Paquibato were the resting place of rebels and they have organized a solid mass base capitalizing on military abuses and poor government services.

But now that government services are delivered through the caravan, the army, government and stakeholders have broken a "wall of deception" constructed in the minds of the people by the NPA.

Clement said as soldiers gain foothold in advancing military objectives in Paquibato, the local government and other agencies were able to deliver the needed services for people. He added that they are happy to be part of the caravan.

Dureza confirms 'quiet' back-channel talks with Reds

From ABS-CBN (May 22): Dureza confirms 'quiet' back-channel talks with Reds

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza on Tuesday hinted that formal peace negotiations between the government and the communist rebels may soon resume.

"As agreed between the 2 panels that met recently abroad on a quiet back-channel mode, we are not free to disclose details thereof unless both sides agree jointly to make the announcement," Dureza said in a text message to ANC.

"In fact, the panel chair of the CPP/NPA/NDF issued a statement earlier reminding and admonishing the government side of prematurely announcing outcomes when the truth was that it was the newspaper article that unduly disclosed the preliminary outcomes, despite the general statement that was issued by the govt side," he added.

"If Mr. Joma Sison now discloses those positive outcomes, it is a clear indication that a conducive environment to the full resumption of the cancelled talks is at hand," Dureza said.

The two sides began holding informal talks in Europe in a bid to resume peace talks earlier this month.

Gov't, Reds start informal talks in Europe

Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Maria Sison on Monday revealed that an interim peace agreement is expected to be signed when formal talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines resume on June 28.

Aging communist leader Sison eyes homecoming this year

Both sides, he said, were expected to announce a stand-down agreement two weeks before that.

"So, by June 14, plantsado na (it's all ironed out)," he said. "Of course, I may be proven wrong because everything depends on that joint announcement... but I don’t see any problem because there may be some misunderstanding but they can be solved."

The talks fell through in November last year following clashes between government troops and communist rebels.

President Rodrigo Duterte then moved to have the CPP - New People’s Army declared as a terrorist group.

Duterte, however, had a change of heart, saying he would like to give peace another chance.

Duterte wants to give peace talks with Reds ‘another last chance’