Saturday, June 9, 2018

Abu Sayyaf sub-leader and 9 others surrender in Basilan

From ABS-CBN (Jun 9): Abu Sayyaf sub-leader and 9 others surrender in Basilan

A sub-leader of the Abu Sayyaf group and nine of his men surrendered to the Philippine Army's 64th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Tumahubong, Sumisip, Basilan on Friday morning, the military said.

In a statement, the Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) said sub-leader Bobong Mastul and his men surrendered due to the intensified campaign against lawlessness by Joint Task Force Basilan.

"We, the team Wesmincom, welcomes all those who wish to lay down their arms and return to the fold of the law," said Wesmincom chief Lt. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega.

The group also surrendered high-powered firearms including three M16 rifles, an M79 grenade launcher, a sub-machine pistol, a 5.56 mm carbine, an M1 Garand rifle, various magazines and ammunition, and assorted communication equipment.

They are still in the custody of the 64IB for profiling, custodial debriefing, and proper documentation of the firearms they turned over.

They will then be integrated with the "Balik-loob" program of the government.

10 Abu Sayyaf bandits in Basilan surrender, yield high-powered guns

From GMA News (Jun 9): 10 Abu Sayyaf bandits in Basilan surrender, yield high-powered guns

Ten Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members in Basilan on Friday surrendered and turned over their high-powered firearms to the military.

A press release from the Western Mindanao Command (WesMinCom) on Saturday said that Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Bobong Mastul alias "Bobong" and nine of his followers turned over their firearms to the 64th Infantry Battalion headquarters in Sumisip, Basilan.

Pressure from the intensified military campaign against lawless elements in the province supposedly forced the ASG members to surrender.

Also, the press release quoted Brigadier General Juvymax Uy, commander of the Joint Task Force Basilan, as saying that "Combined efforts of government troops and local government officials resulted in the surrender of the bandits."

Surrendered firearms by Mastul's group include three M16 rifles, one M79 grenade launcher, an Ingram sub-machine pistol, a 5.56mm carbine, an M1 Garand rifle and various magazines, ammunition, and assorted communication equipment.

"We welcome all those who wish to lay down their arms and return to the folds of the law," WesMinCom commanded Lieutenant General Arnel Dela Vega was quoted in the press release as saying.

AFP seeks P51.3M to buy land for new camp in Marawi

From Politiko Mindanao (Jun 9): AFP seeks P51.3M to buy land for new camp in Marawi

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is asking President Rodrigo Duterte’s approval of P51.3 million for the purchase of land for a new military camp in Marawi City, an official said Friday.

Colonel Antonio Francisco, deputy commander of AFP Civil Relations Service, in the Bangon Marawi briefing in Malacanang said that the Task Force Bangon Marawi has already given its nod for the land acquisition for the establishment of a second camp.

“It (proposal) is now at the Office of the President,” he said.

Aside from the budget for the purchase of land, he said up for approval also of the President is the P38.8 million for surveying the Camp Ranao,the base of the Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade under the military’s 1st Infantry Division.

Contrary to reports, Task Force Bangon Marawi chairman Eduardo del Rosario said the new camp would not be built in the center of the Islamic City.

“Actually that is outside MAA (most affected area), asa periphery lang to secure MAA, most especially during the rehabilitation phase,” he said.

Following the five-month Marawi siege last year, Duterte has said there would be a new military camp to be built in the city.

10 Sayyaf terrorists yield in Basilan province

From the Mindanao Examiner (Jun 9): 10 Sayyaf terrorists yield in Basilan province

Ten Abu Sayyaf terrorists have surrendered in the restive Muslim province of Basilan and the military said they would be reintegrated into society as part of the government’s so-called Balik-Loob program.

The terrorists led by Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Bobong Mastul surrendered with their weapons in Sumisip town on Friday, according to the Western Mindanao Command.

Quoting the terrorists, Colonel Gerry Besana, an army spokesman, said the Abu Sayyaf fighters “finally decided to re-embrace Islam and ask forgiveness for all their wrong-doings upon hearing the encouragements (to surrender peacefully) from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and by President Rodrigo Duterte himself.”

He said the terrorists were also forced to yield due to hardship as a result of the intensified campaign against lawlessness by the military’s Joint Task Force Basilan.

The military released the names of the other terrorists as Atotong Sarahadil, Mudzrie Salahudin Jabbon, Sapwan Kapitan Aliman, Nassir Jaid Tahil, Hair Tiglama Kawakibon, Adeh Kawakibon, Rubin Ikih, Aminin Baliyong and Suedin Muril.

The group yielded three M16 automatic rifles, an M79 grenade launcher, an Ingram machine pistol, a Carbine and Garand rifles and assorted ammunition and radio communication equipment.

It was unclear whether the terrorists could avail the Balik-Loob program because it was created to reintegrate surrendered communist New People’s Army rebels into society.

While suspected drug users and pushers were being killed in the government’s war on drugs, the government has freed and provided financial aid to the Abu Sayyaf terrorists.

Dozens of terrorists had surrendered to the Western Mindanao Command since last year and were eventually returned to their provinces despite their involvements in brutal killings of soldiers and civilians, and deadly bombings and ransom kidnappings in the region.

Bulatlat: 2 political prisoners whisked away from Crame

From the Communist Party of the Philippines/National Democratic Front-associated online propaganda publication Bulatlat (Jun 9): 2 political prisoners whisked away from Crame

As of press time, however, the local chapter of human rights alliance Karapatan in the province said Ben Quilloy and Rita Espinoza have not reached their supposed destination.
Political prisoners Ben Quilloy and Rita Espinoza were taken by Bayugan policemen from Camp Crame at around 2 p.m. yesterday, June 8 without the knowledge of their relatives and lawyers.

Ma. Sol Taule, one of the lawyers of the two development workers, told Bulatlat that she learned that Quilloy and Espinoza were to be transferred to Bayugan Munical Police Station in Agusan del Sur. Quilloy is charged with murder while Espinoza is facing charges of robbery and arson.

As of press time, however, the local chapter of human rights alliance Karapatan in the province said the two have not reached their supposed destination.

Taule added the policemen did not allow Quilloy and Espinoza to bring their maintenance medicines and personal belongings.

 Brenda Gonzalez, convenor of Assert Socio-Economic Initiatives Network (ASCENT) condemned the “dubious move by state forces.” She reiterated that the two are innocent of the fake charges against them.

“They are among the countless development workers who have dedicated their lives to serve the poor and marginalized, but are being vilified, threatened, and harassed by the government,” Gonzalez said.

One violation after another

Quilloy and Espinoza were arrested without warrant on Oct. 19, 2017 by combined elements of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit (CIDG) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Kabankalan, Negros Occidental. The two just came from a week-long consultation with Negros sugar farmers when they were arrested.

They were denied access to their lawyers when they were subjected to inquest in Kabankalan. On Oct. 20, 2017 the two were transferred to Camp Crame in Cubao, Quezon City without the knowledge of their lawyers and relatives.

On October 24, 2017, former PNP Director General Ronald de la Rosa presented Quilloy and Espinoza to the media, claiming that they are high-ranking members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

Duterte: Peace talks with Reds may resume in July

From the Philippine Star (Jun 9): Duterte: Peace talks with Reds may resume in July                          

After giving a two-month ultimatum to return to the negotiating table, President Duterte revealed Thursday that formal peace negotiations between the government and the communist rebels may resume in July.

Duterte told the gathering of new-elected barangay chairmen in Lapu-Lapu City of positive developments in the peace talks with the communists.

He said he called on exiled Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison to come to start the peace talks.
“I will be talking to the rebels. I’m talking to Sison. We will start the talks maybe July,” he said.

Duterte in November cancelled the peace talks with communist rebels, accusing them of bad faith in deadly attacks against soldiers and police while peace negotiations are ongoing.

Duterte had already shelved a round of negotiations in May and informal talks in July last year, citing deadly guerrilla attacks on security forces.

Duterte appealed to the communist rebels to lay down their arms as a sign of good faith for the renewed peace negotiations.

“If there will be no decommissioning of firearms, nothing will happen,” he said.

Sison earlier reiterated he will only return to the country if there will be substantial progress in the peace talks.

Sison pressed for a ceasefire deal, amnesty proclamation for political prisoners and an agreement on agrarian reform and rural development and national industrialization and economic development, key components of the proposed Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms, as vital parts of the interim peace agreement.

Sison said the peace negotiations have become even more pressing due to the economic crisis, imperial exploitation and plunder of the country. 

 Government peace panel chairman Silvestre Bello III said the peace panel will seek an interim peace agreement with the National Democratic Front (NDF) before the formal restart of the peace talks.

The NDF is the umbrella organization representing the CPP and its guerrilla front, New People’s Army (NPA), in the peace talks with the government.

Bello said the interim peace agreement will be coupled with a coordinated unilateral ceasefire.

From there, Bello said they will be talking about possible proclamation of amnesty for the rebels but subject to concurrence of Congress.

The militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), however, decried the continued harassment by the military on communities suspected of harboring the NPA.

Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) should refrain from militarizing communities once peace talks resume.

“The bigger concern right now – a major hindrance to peace – is the intensifying AFP operations against civilians,” Reyes said.

“Communities continue to be militarized. Civilians are being rounded up and forced to ‘surrender’ as NPA combatants. Activists are being arrested and slapped with trumped-up charges,” he said.

The group said the AFP and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana should explain if the arrests of civilians that included farmers and activists would cease one peace talks resume.

“The way we see it, the biggest threats to the resumption of the peace talks come from the ranks of the military, from the likes of Lorenzana,” he said.

Reyes said Bayan supports the resumption of the peace talks to address the roots of the armed conflict.

“This goes beyond just ceasefire agreements. Socio-economic reforms are urgently needed to address poverty, which is the reason why rebellion exists in the country,” Reyes said.

This developed as the military raided a suspected food supply chain of the NPA in Bukidnon on Wednesday.

On the other hand, the military killed a suspected NPA rebel during an encounter in Apayao province yesterday.

The military said this showed the communist leadership has heightened their recruitment of new members in a bid to reestablish their presence in key areas in Northern Luzon, Southern Tagalog and the Visayas.

DND, AFP deny alleged order to stop patrols in South China Sea

From CNN-Philippines (Jun 9): DND, AFP deny alleged order to stop patrols in South China Sea

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana denied the allegations posed by an opposition lawmaker that the President ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to cease patrolling contested waters.

Magdalo Partylist Representative Gary Alejano, in a press conference earlier Saturday, said that he received classified information that President Rodrigo Duterte had ordered the AFP to cease patrols in the disputed territories in the South China Sea.

"No such order was given," Lorenzana on Saturday told CNN Philippines when asked about the allegation.

AFP Public Affairs Office Chief Col. Edgar Arevalo corroborated Lorenzana's statement.

"For the record, there is no such order coming from the Commander-in-Chief. As a matter of fact, our maritime and aerial patrols continue-contrary to such information allegedly received by the Partlylist Congressman," Arevalo said in a statement.

Alejano refused to name the specific sources of his information, but said that they were military and Palace officials.

These anonymous officials of the armed forces, Alejano said, had raised concerns over the order, which compromises the contested territory with China.

"Isn't that an impeachable offense," Alejano said on the alleged order.

Alejano also said that Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano had only filed one diplomatic protest against China, and not "dozens".

READ: Duterte gov't filed 'dozens' of protests vs. China's activities in South China Sea, officials say

The lawmaker said that there was only one note verbale, which was brought to the residence of Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua on May 28.