Friday, June 29, 2018

Lawmen arrest ASG linked to plantation raid

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 29): Lawmen arrest ASG linked to plantation raid

Police and military operatives arrested an Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) member allegedly involved in the raid of a plantation in Basilan province 17 years ago, a police official said Friday.

Chief Insp. Chester Natividad, Police Station 3 chief, said Wahab Salapuddin, alias Abu Damdam, was arrested by virtue of a warrant of arrest, in Barangay Sangali, this city at about 5:45 p.m. Thursday.

Natividad said Salapuddin has a standing warrant of arrest for seven counts of kidnapping with serious illegal detention.

He said Salapuddin was allegedly involved in the raid of the Golden Harvest Plantation in Barangay Tairan, Lantawan, Basilan on June 11, 2001, during which, the bandits seized 15 plantation workers and beheaded five of them.

The other hostages either escaped or were rescued in succeeding military offensive against the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan.

Natividad said Salapuddin was detained at the headquarters of Police Station 3 pending a  commitment order from the court.

PRRD on talks with Reds: ‘If they’re not willing, that’s fine’

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 29): PRRD on talks with Reds: ‘If they’re not willing, that’s fine’

President Rodrigo Duterte finds no problem if the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) would no longer talk peace under his administration.

“If they are not willing to talk to me, that’s fine. I don’t have problem,” Duterte said in a media interview after gracing the 25th Annual National Convention of the Vice Mayors’ League of the Philippines in Panglao, Bohol on Thursday night.

According to reports, Jose Maria Sison, founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CCP), said the NDFP could no longer negotiate with the present administration “based on the implications drawn from the current impasse”.

“Well, it does not really change the equation. We are still fighting with the Communist Party of the Philippines,” Duterte said.

“So we continue with the war. Anyway, we have been there for 50 years. Ano ba naman ang dagdagan natin ng 30 years (Would it matter if we add 30 years more)?” he added.

Duterte also seemed to remain unfazed by Sison’s threat to join forces that may destabilize the government.

“What forces? Who is willing to join him? De Lima? My God!” Duterte said, referring to detained Senator Leila De Lima.

“What's important is the Filipino people know what is going on. If you want to cease, overthrow government, fine,” he added.

Despite Sison’s threat, Duterte said he is still committed to achieve peace with the enemies of the state, including Moro rebels in Mindanao.

“If you want to talk, you come here. If you don’t like, it’s up to you,” Duterte said, referring to the self-exiled communist leader.

“Look, I’m here. I’m just a worker of (the) government and my main task is just to seek, to find peace for my country,” he said.

Last week, the government relayed to the NDFP the decision of Duterte to postpone the resumption of peace talks “pending the three-month review of all signed agreements related to the peace negotiations”.

The three-month period will also be used for public and government consultation on the peace talks.

Gov’t eyes localized peace talks in wake of Joma’s threat to withdraw

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 29): Gov’t eyes localized peace talks in wake of Joma’s threat to withdraw

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Friday said the table is now set for localized peace talks.

Lorenzana's remarks came after Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria "Joma" Sison announced that they will no longer seek peace negotiations with the government.

"Mr. Sison, in response to your childish tantrums, we will vigorously pursue the ongoing localized peace talks. I am sure that once you are out of the picture, true peace will have a chance to become a reality and you will be consigned to the dustbin of history," Lorenzana said in a statement.

The defense chief also chided the CPP founder for using the peace talks to be in the limelight, adding that without it, Sison is deemed irrelevant.

"Without it (peace talks) you are irrelevant. You also know that the President can terminate the talks, and this is why you are desperately using reverse psychology and intimidation to save it," Lorenzana emphasized.

Earlier, the CPP founder said they are withdrawing from the peace negotiations following the recent cancellation of peace talks slated for June 28 to 30. Also, Lorenzana said that during peace talks, rebel groups and their allies are not really interested in the peace process.

"They have already admitted that the peace talks is basically in support of their armed struggle. It was never their principal objective. Their term 'just and lasting peace' is a situation when they have finally succeeded in their armed struggle, definitely not our idea of just and lasting peace," the defense chief pointed out.

He added that the public should not be swayed by Sison's superficial words about reforms.

"They will institute reforms all right, but along communist lines when they have finally won. In fact, they don't even have to win because their socialistic CASER (Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms), which they are trying to ram down our throats, will ensure that they will have a foothold in governance," Lorenzana added.

This is a far cry from government efforts to institute reforms in accordance with laws, resources and people’s most pressing needs, such as land reform, job generation projects, infrastructure development, and other poverty alleviation initiatives, he added.

Esperon presents PH counter-terror efforts at UN Conference

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 29): Esperon presents PH counter-terror efforts at UN Conference

National security adviser, Secretary Hermogenes C. Esperon Jr., addresses heads of Counter-Terrorism Agencies of United Nations Member States at the UN Headquarters in New York City on Friday (June 29, 2018). (Photo courtesy of NSC)

National security adviser and director general of the National Security Council, Secretary Hermogenes C. Esperon Jr., led a high-level delegation to the first-ever United Nations High-Level Conference of Heads of Counter-Terrorism Agencies of Member States at the UN Headquarters in New York City, where he presented Friday the Philippine government’s programs and plans of action in combatting terrorism in the country.

In his speech, Esperon said the country has been taking the necessary steps in the fight against terrorism, consistent with the UN Global Counterterrorism Strategy. These include strengthening engagements with local and international bodies relative to anti-money laundering and terrorism financing, implementing the conventions related to chemical and biological weapons, and strengthening its partnership with the Interpol.

In the wake of the Marawi siege by the Islamic State-inspired Maute Group, efforts at the domestic front were focused on strengthening the country’s anti-terrorism law, investigation and prosecution of personalities in the UN sanctions and national lists, implementing a national action plan in preventing and countering violent extremism, and fast-tracking the rehabilitation and rebuilding of Marawi City.

Esperon also underscored the threat of the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) as an equally dangerous local terrorist group that is fueled by foreign ideology.

“The CPP-NPA has been committing the same brutal atrocities like the Daesh (Islamic State). CPP-NPA terrorists killed more than 10,000 soldiers, policemen, and civilians in one of the longest running insurgencies in the history of the world. It had entrenched itself in international organizations through its international solidarity networks,” he said.

Esperon expressed hope that by locally proscribing the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization, the true nature of the group will be exposed to the community of nations as an equally brutal and dangerous presence in a peaceful democratic state.

The two-day conference was organized by the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism, to provide an opportunity for the UN and Member States to forge new partnerships in addressing the complex and transnational threat of terrorism.

Other members of the Philippine delegation were National Intelligence Coordinating Agency Director-General Alex Paul I. Monteagudo, Anti-Terrorism Council Officer-in-Charge Florentino P. Manalastas, Department of Foreign Affairs-Office of Civilian Security and Consular Concerns Undersecretary Jose Luis G. Montales, the Philippine Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr., and the Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Kira Christianne D. Azucena.

Soldiers clash with NPA rebs planting landmines in Occidental Mindoro

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jun 30): Soldiers clash with NPA rebs planting landmines in Occidental Mindoro
CITY OF CALAPAN – Soldiers, acting on information from the local Mangyan community, stopped suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) who were attempting to plant improvised landmines in Sta. Cruz town in Occidental Mindoro province on Friday afternoon, the military said Saturday.

Brigadier General Antonio Parlade Jr., commander of Philippine Army’s 203rd Infantry Brigade under the 2nd Infantry Division, in a text message said soldiers from the 76th Infantry Battalion engaged around 40 rebels in a 15-minute firefight in Barangay (village) Pinagturilan at around 1:30 pm.

Parlade said the NPA rebels were conducting a landmine planting operation in Sitio (sub-village) Kanambangan when they were engaged by the soldiers.

No soldiers were hurt but Parlade said they suspected some rebels were wounded and killed based on heavy blood trails on the site.

Recovered at the clash site were improvised explosive devices, an upper receiver for an M16 rifle, assorted guns, assorted ammunition rounds, a cellphone with SIM cards, subversive documents and assorted medicine.

Parlade said police and army units are now conducting pursuit and blocking operations against the NPA rebels.

Duterte’s ‘plan’ to crush NPA ‘set to fail’ — CPP

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jun 29): Duterte’s ‘plan’ to crush NPA ‘set to fail’ — CPP

Communist rebels gather somewhere in Southern Mindanao FILE PHOTO/Karlos Manlupig

President Rodrigo Duterte reportedly plans to crush the New People’s Army (NPA) before 2018 ends, but the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) believes that it is “set to fail.”

The CPP issued the statement after its founder Jose Maria Sison declared that communist rebels and peace consultants “can no longer negotiate” with the Duterte administration.

Duterte, the communists said, “did not budge an inch” in demanding the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to sign a bilateral ceasefire agreement.

“Duterte’s Oplan Kapayapaan aims to crush the New People’s Army (NPA) before the end of 2018,” the CPP said on Friday.

“He is interested only in creating the illusion of peace, not attaining just and lasting peace. Duterte’s concept of peace is acquiescence to oppression and exploitation,” it added.

But the CPP claimed: “Duterte’s Oplan Kapayapaan is set to fail.”

The communists explained that Duterte was “antagonizing the broad masses of peasants and minority peoples as a result of unmitigated killings, illegal arrests and detention, conscription, forcing people to ‘surrender’ and rampant military abuses.”

“He is alienating himself from the rural masses by seeking to convert thousands of hectares of land to commercial plantations and mining sites,” the CPP said.

Duterte reaction

In an interview with reporters in Panglao, Bohol province, on Thursday, President Duterte brushed off Sison’s statement, according to a report from the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

“I am here as a worker of government and my main task is to seek, find the peace of the country. If they are not willing to talk to me, that’s fine, I have no problem. So we continue with the war,” he said.

The President added: “If you want to cease overthrowing governments, fine. You want to talk? Come here. If you don’t want to, fine.”

Reacting to Sison’s statement, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a text message to reporters: “Spoken like a true terrorist.”

Jesus Dureza, the President’s peace adviser, has said the talks were merely postponed to allow public consultations on the agreements so far reached between the government and NDFP negotiators.

These, he said, would build both goodwill and support for the peace negotiations among the people.

Reached by the Inquirer through a text message on Thursday, Dureza declined to comment on Sison’s statements.

Soldiers clash with NPA rebels in Bukidnon

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jun 29): Soldiers clash with NPA rebels in Bukidnon

A gun battle between soldiers of 8th Infantry Battalion (8IB) and the New People’s Army (NPA) occurred Friday afternoon, June 22, in a forested area near Paculab sub-village, Barangay Kalabugao, Impasugong, Bukidnon.

Lt. Col. Ronald Illana, 8IB Commanding Officer, said the soldiers were on combat clearing operations around 2:50 p.m when they encountered armed rebels under SECOM 89, North Central Mindanao Regional Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army Terrorists (CNTs).

He said the CPP-NPA terrorists immediately fled the scene after the firefight that lasted for about 15 minutes.

While the government troops are combing the area to track down the rebels, they recovered an M16 rifle of the CNTs.

The commanding officer said there were no casualties reported on the government soldiers, while undetermined casualties on the enemy side.

In a statement, Lt. Col. Ronald Illana reassured the people about the unit’s equal commitment to peace and in securing the communities from CNT threats.

“The 8th Infantry Battalion continues to perform its mandate to secure the IP-dominated communities of Impasugong town from threats, exploitation, and extortion that are rampantly steered by the CNTs. We all want peace. However, we cannot ‘turn a blind eye’ to any hostilities plaguing in various communities. We will continue to protect the people even as we await any progress on the peace talks,” Lt. Col. Illana said. (1Lt. Erwin P. Bugarin, CMO Officer, 8th Infantry Battalion, 4ID, PA/PIA Bukidnon)