Monday, July 2, 2018

2 Abu Sayyaf Group members surrender in Zamboanga

From UNTV News & Rescue (Jul 3): 2 Abu Sayyaf Group members surrender in Zamboanga

AFP officials welcome the former rebels back to the government fold (Photo courtesy of: AFP WestMinCom)

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Joint Task Force Zamboanga presented on Monday (July 2) two members of the Abu Sayyaf Group who surrendered to authorities on Saturday (June 30).

Brothers Asbi Ahaddin and Apdal Ahaddin, both residents of Barangay Muti, Zamboanga City, were members of an ASG unit under sub-leader Marzan Ajijul.

The two also turned over their respective firearms to include an M16 rifle and an M1 Garand rifle.

The two have an outstanding warrant of arrest for charges of attempted murder in line with the bombing of an armored vehicle in 2015. They were also named as suspects in the strapping incident of a bus in 2017.

Following their surrender, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) turned over them to the custody of the Philippine National Police (PNP) for legal disposition.

They also call on their comrades in the field to also surrender to authorities. They believe that despite the government’s determination to pursue them, it is also sincere in helping them recover and restart a life in freedom.

“Bumaba na lang sila at mag-surrender kasi ang gobyerno natin ay patas, walang Muslim walang Christian,” said Apdal Ahaddin.  (They should just come down because our government is fair. It does not discriminate between Muslims and Christians.)

To date, Col. Leonel Nicolas, the Commander of the Joint Task Force Zamboanga said they are still in pursuit of six more ASG members in Zamboanga City.

“Tuloy-tuloy yung ating pursuit operations, sinusuportahan natin yung PNP at hopefully yung mga ganitong personalities ay mahuli natin,” he said. (Our pursuit operations are continuous. We support the PNP and hopefully personalities like these will be captured.)

Since 2017, authorities were able to neutralize a total of 14 ASG members in Zamboanga City.

NPA encampment found in Abra

From the Manila Times (Jul 3): NPA encampment found in Abra

ABRA: THE Army’s Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) overran an encampment of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Abra province on Sunday night. 

The campsite at Sitio Mabungtot, Barangay Ud-udiao in Sal-lapadan town was discovered while Army soldiers of the 24th Infantry Battalion (24IB) of Joint Task Force (JTF) “Kaugnay” were conducting Focused Military Operations (FMO).

Lt. Col. Isagani Nato, Nolcom public affairs chief, said the abandoned encampment, around 100 square meters, was in a densely vegetated area and could accommodate 18 rebels.

Nato said the troops found at the encampment some personal belongings of female NPA members, medicines and food sachets.

He said the troops would be relentless in keeping the enemies of the state on the run to deprive them of the opportunity to recruit new members.

Alleged NPA rebel slain in Compostela Valley clash

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 3): Alleged NPA rebel slain in Compostela Valley clash
A suspected member of the New People’s Army (NPA) was killed in a hinterland village in Pantukan town, Compostela Valley province after a 15-minute firefight with government troops on Tuesday.

A platoon of the Army’s 46th Infantry Battalion were patrolling the vicinity of Sitio Sudlon, Barangay Tagugpo in Davao City around 5:45 a.m. when they clashed with a group of armed men believed to be NPA rebels, according to Chief Insp. Milgrace Driz, Southern Mindanao police spokesperson.

The rebels left behind one of their slain comrades.

Troops recovered from the site, a cal. 45 pistol and several rounds of ammunition in its magazine, Driz said.

Driz said the body was temporarily laid at the Tagugpo village hall.

All police stations in Compostela Valley and the provincial mobile force have been alerted to intercept the fleeing rebels.

Rebel surrenders in Bingawan

From Panay News (Jul 1): Rebel surrenders in Bingawan

A 29-year-old member of the New People’s Army (NPA) has surrendered in Bingawan, Iloilo.

Hunger and fear of getting killed by government forces prompted Jerry “Ka Nonoy” Glorian, 29, to turn himself in, local authorities said.

Mayor Mark Palabrica of Bingawan facilitated Glorian’s surrender.

He and Senior Inspector Ramil Jacaba, municipal police chief, picked up Glorian in Purok 7, Barangay Poblacion, Bingawan at 10:45 a.m. on Friday.

Glorian turned over a .45 pistol with three ammunitions.

The rebel sent him surrender feelers, saying he was afraid that police and military officers would go after him, Palabrica said.

“He (Glorian) was too hungry and tired of hiding in the mountains,” the local chief executive said.

Palabrica assured Glorian of a “livelihood program.”

“We are calling on other rebels to surrender. I will ensure their safety. We (in the local government) are willing to help them,” the mayor said.

A press release from the Iloilo Police Provincial Office identified Glorian as a native of Tapaz, Capiz living with a common-law wife in Bingawan.

Palabrica and elder brother Matt, the vice mayor, presented Glorian to Senior Superintendent Marlon Tayaba, IPPO director, to whom he turned over his gun and bullets.

According to Glorian, he joined the NPA in October 2010 under the Coronacion Chiva Waling-Waling Command operating in Central Panay, particularly in Calinog, Iloilo and Tapaz, Capiz.

Glorian returned to Bingawan after he was presented to Tayaba since there was no outstanding warrant of arrest against him, the IPPO said.

COA finds P3.9-B unused AFP fund, P1.3-B undelivered PNP combat equipment in 2017

From GMA News (Jun 30): COA finds P3.9-B unused AFP fund, P1.3-B undelivered PNP combat equipment in 2017

The Commission on Audit has found that P3.859 billion of military funds for 2017 — mostly meant for the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines — remained unutilized.

In its annual audit report on the AFP, the COA said 78.43 percent or P3.027 billion of the 3.859 billion unutilized funds was for the AFP's modernization, while 19.44 percent or P750 million is for calamity, and 1.81 percent or P69.87 million is for pension.

The non-utilization of the multi-billion-peso fund, the COA said, "hinders the attainment of the goals of the Agency, and its accomplishment is not within the targeted budget for programs/activities."

The COA said it has already recommended and the AFP has agreed that programs, projects and activities to be undertaken must be properly planned to ensure the attainment of the goals of the AFP.

The AFP also agreed that its accomplishment must be within the targeted budget for programs/activities, the COA said.

Undelivered items

In a separate report, the COA said the Philippine National Police has yet to receive the P1.347 billion worth of mobility and combat equipment it had bought two years ago, the Commission on Audit said in its report.

In its report, the COA found out that various mobility and combat asset requirements procured from the Philippine International Trading Corporation remained undelivered as of December 31, 2017, and have been outstanding for more than two years.

The COA noted since the fund transfers in 2016, none of the required items have been delivered and the memorandum of agreement did not provide a timeline of delivery, which the agency found "disadvantageous" to the PNP.

The COA said the combat assets "could have greatly contributed to the capability of the police force to effectively

and efficiently accomplish its mandate and would have benefited PNP personnel had the items been delivered in the year where the Agency Procurement Requests (APRs) were issued to the PITC."

The undelivered items, the COA recommended, should be delivered within the next six months or else, the PITC should return the amount advanced to the company so it could be returned to the national treasury.

‘Disadvantageous’ vehicles

The COA also found out that purchase of P1.893 billion worth of patrol vehicles from Mahindra Enforcer and Mahindra Scorpio in 2015 became "disadvantageous" the PNP due to various problems that plagued the vehicles.

The COA interviewed police officers using the vehicles and found out that 57.20 percent or more than half of them were unsatisfied with the overall performance of the Mahindra vehicles.

The most common complaint about the vehicles was their high fuel consumption, which contradicts the specifications set by the National Police Commission for them to be fuel-efficient.

The COA blamed the problem on the PNP's failure to conduct an "operational needs assessment" before buying the vehicles. This, the COA said, "pushed back the full attainment of the objective of the Capability Enhancement Program (CEP) of the PNP."

The COA said the non-evaluation of the actual performance of the initial 1,656 Mahindra vehicles bought before buying additional units resulted in 206 units not being effectively utilized out of the total 2,054 units purchased.

Among the problems encountered with the vehicles were the frequent breakdowns, a poor after-sales services and a limited availability of spare parts that "impacted on its vision of a more capable, effective and credible police force."

Ex-rebel surrenders, yields firearm to Iloilo police

From the Daily Guardian (Jul 2): Ex-rebel surrenders, yields firearm to Iloilo police

JERRY Glorian (3rd from left), 27, of Brgy. Roosevelt, Tapaz, Capiz and a former member of the New People’s Army (NPA) from Bingawan, Iloilo surrendered to the Iloilo Police Provincial Office after eight years of waging rebellion.

A FORMER member of the New People’s Army (NPA) from Bingawan, Iloilo finally surrendered to Iloilo Police Provincial Office after eight years of waging rebellion.

The rebel returnee is Jerry Glorian, 27, of Brgy. Roosevelt, Tapaz, Capiz and currently lives in Bingawan with his common-law wife.

Glorian surrendered through Bingawan Mayor Mark Palabrica and Vice Mayor. He was subsequently brought to the IPPO headquarters where he also surrendered to Senior Superintendent Marlon Tayaba a caliber .45 pistol with magazine and ammunition.

Glorian said he joined NPA when he was only 17 years old but left when he met his common-law wife and decided to settle down four years ago.

Since there is no outstanding Warrant of Arrest against him, Glorian returned to Bingawan after presenting himself to Iloilo PPO.

NPA chief linked to Agusan mayor’s killing arrested

From the Manila Bulletin (Jul 1): NPA chief linked to Agusan mayor’s killing arrested

CAMP COLONEL RODRIGUEZ, Butuan City – A commander of Communist New People’s Army Terrorists (CNTs), who was been implicated in the 2015 killing of Loreto town Mayor Dario Otaza and his 27-year old son, Darly in Agusan del Sur province, was arrested in San Miguel, Surigao del Sur, a field report received by the police regional command and tactical operations center here on Sunday stated.

The suspect, whose identity was temporarily withheld by government authorities pending more tactical and legal documentary procedures, was completely surprised when lawmen arrived 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday in a target place at Purok 2, Barangay Bolhoon, in San Miguel town, Surigao del Sur province and arrested him on the strength of arrest warrants for frustrated homicide, murder and rebellion, issued by three regional trail court judges in Agusan del Sur on Oct. 10, 2011, Dec. 28, 2010 and Sept. 22, 2009, respectively.

The 46-year old suspect is currently detained at the San Miguel Municipal Police Station (MPS) Jail in San Miguel, Surigao del Sur.

According to San Miguel MPS and Agusan del Sur Police Provincial Office (PPO), the suspect is the head of CNT guerilla committee of the CPP-NPA Northeastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC).

The arrested NPA leader was the primary suspect in the abduction and murder of the Otazas in Butuan City in October 2015.

The arrested rebel leader had been allegedly identified by Otaza’s security escorts as the head of the rebel team that swooped down on the mayor’s residence in Butuan City.

Father and son were abducted from their home and brought to the outskirts of Butuan City by armed men.

They were found 12 hours later in a mountainous village hogtied and their bodies riddled with bullets, police report said.

The slain Loreto town Mayor was an outspoken critic of the NPA and helped convince nearly 250 rebels, most of them members of lumad (Manobo tribe) indigenous community to surrender to the government, a separate Army report also said.

Soldiers kill suspected NPA member in Masbate clash

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 2): Soldiers kill suspected NPA member in Masbate clash

New People’s Army rebels. AFP FILE PHOTO

LEGAZPI CITY – A suspected member of New People’s Army (NPA) was killed during a clash with Philippine Army soldiers in the hinterland village of Milagros town in Masbate province over the weekend, the military said on Monday.

Capt. Joash Pramis, the Army’s 9th Infantry Division (9ID) spokesperson, said the still unidentified rebel was among the five-man NPA group who chanced upon a platoon of soldiers patrolling in Barangay (village) San Carlos.

The suspected rebel died during the five-minute firefight that erupted between the two groups at around 9:30 p.m. Sunday.

Later, the soldiers recovered a shotgun and the body of the rebel in the clash site.

Pramis said government troops were scouring nearby areas where the other rebels might have escaped.

Six top Reds face re-arrest — Justice

From the Manila Standard (Jul 2): Six top Reds face re-arrest — Justice

THE Justice Department is seeking to throw communist leaders who were granted temporary liberty back in jail, after the government terminated peace talks they were supposed to join.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Sunday that he ordered the prosecutors handling the criminal cases against National Democratic Front (NDF) and Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) leaders to ask courts in Manila and Taguig City to revoke their bail and order them back to detention.

If they do not voluntarily follow the court’s order and violate the conditions set for their temporary release, the courts may order their arrest.

The DOJ had earlier moved for the provisional freedom of NDF consultants Benito Tiamzon, Adelberto Silva, Rafael Baylosis, Randall Echanis, Vicente Ladlad and Alan Jazmines for the scheduled peace talks in the Netherlands.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra

The Manila City RTC granted the motion and allowed Tiamzon, Silva, Baylosis, Echanis and Ladlad to post bail for their multiple murder cases so they could travel to the Netherlands for the informal peace talks and to Norway for the formal talks.

Jazmines, on the other hand, was granted provisional liberty by the Taguig RTC.

However, both courts have set conditions for their temporary release and participation in the peace talks.

These included their personal appearance before the courts trying their cases. The DOJ has noted that Tiamzon and Silva went into hiding when their bail was cancelled after the talks were aborted in November last year.

Baylosis was arrested in February on what he had alleged were trumped-up charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives. His bail for the firearms charge was set at P100,000.

Jazmines was forced to return to his detention cell at Camp Bagong Diwa after the canceled peace talks last year and after the government sought to declare more than 600 people, including rebel consultants, terrorists.

For the latest bail grant, the NDF consultants were supposed to be free only until the end of the informal talks, set for June 3 to 9 and June 22 to 28 in the Netherlands, and the succeeding formal negotiations in Oslo, Norway, slated for June 27 to 30. They would have to return to the country within three days after the talks, the DOJ said.

However, the peace talks were cancelled again, reportedly to allow a more thorough engagement with the public on the issue.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, meanwhile, said the government should pursue peace talks at the local level with communist rebels, and cut out any role for self-exiled CCP founding chairman Jose Maria Sison.

The situation of the communist rebels differ from place to place and localized negotiations are more practical, Lacson said on radio dzBB Sunday.

He added that coursing talks through Sison was impractical, since he had no control on the New People’s Army guerrillas on the ground.

In the House, Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano said he remained hopeful that peace talks would eventually push through, despite the latest termination.

“It is unfortunate that the talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Peoples Army-NDF have been stalled again and public rhetoric from both sides have started to fly instead. Such exchanges of statements further erode the trust and confidence of the stakeholders in the talks, especially the Filipino people,” he said.

“Nonetheless, I support the peace talks and urge the administration to still pursue it. I believe it is only through the peace table that real peace could be achieved. Military solutions alone cannot address the insurgency. This is something we must have already learned by now,” he said.

Lorenzana to Joma Sison: Without peace talks, you are irrelevant

From Rappler (Jul 2): Lorenzana to Joma Sison: Without peace talks, you are irrelevant

'Mr Sison, you know that the peace talks is the only thing that is keeping you in the limelight,' Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana tells Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria 'Joma' Sison

REAL AGENDA. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana hits Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison for backing out of the peace talks. Lorenzana photo by Rappler; Sison photo by AFP

REAL AGENDA. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana hits Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison for backing out of the peace talks. Lorenzana photo by Rappler; Sison photo by AFP

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana slammed Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria "Joma" Sison for again abandoning peace talks with the Philippine government.

"Mr Sison, you know that the peace talks is the only thing that is keeping you in the limelight. Without it, you are irrelevant," Lorenzana said in a statement.

"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," he added.

On Thursday, June 28, Sison said the National Democratic Front (NDF) "can no longer negotiate" with the government of President Rodrigo Duterte after its alleged failure to agree to the communist rebels' long-standing demands.

The NDF is the political arm of the CPP, which is behind Asia's longest-running insurgency. It has engaged in on-again, off-again negotiations with the Philippine government for more than 3 decades since the administration of former president Corazon Aquino.

The peace talks progressed during the presidency of Duterte, who vowed to reach a peace deal with the communist rebels by the second year of his term. (READ: Duterte's romance with the Reds)

Lorenzana said the government will now focus on "localized peace talks" in the absence of Sison.

"Dapat kang mahiya dahil inabandona mo ang iyong mga mandirigma (You should be ashamed for abandoning your warriors)," he said. "That's why they are coming down in droves to live peaceful and productive lives."

"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 added.

Duterte earlier brushed aside Sison's statements, adding that the government's operations against the New People's Army (NPA) will continue. (READ: The end of the affair? Duterte's romance with the Reds)

"Wala akong problema (I have no problem), so we continue with the war. Anyway, we've been there for 50 years. Ano ba naman na dagdagan natin nang (So what if we add another) 30 years?" Duterte said last Thursday.

Philippines: Thematic Protection Bulletin - Closing the Gaps (29 June 2018 | Issue No. 1)

Posted to the Relief Web (Jul 2): Philippines: Thematic Protection Bulletin - Closing the Gaps (29 June 2018 | Issue No. 1)

Report from UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Protection Cluster
Published on 29 Jun 2018 View Original
  • Airstrikes were launched against a faction of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) by the Philippine Air Force (PAF) in the marshy areas of the municipalities of Datu Montawal, Pagalungan, Gen. SK Pendatun, and Sultan sa Barongis in the province of Maguindanao, as well as in the municipality of Pikit in the province of North Cotabato on 10 June 2018.
  • This incident was part of an ongoing operation by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) against the BIFF faction led by Esmail Abubakar (aka Commander Bungos), whose group had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS).
  • As of 19 June 2018, approximately 5,136 families (23,465 individuals) were forced to flee from the municipalities of Pagalungan, Datu Montawal, Sultan sa Barongis, General SK Pendatun and Pikit. This figure is expected to rise as military operations continue and the BIFF is anticipated to retaliate.
  • In response, the local governments of affected municipalities immediately opened evacuation centers in several locations to cater to the humanitarian needs of the displaced population.
  • Most of the displaced are staying with host families, while the rest have settled in designated evacuation sites, such as schools, gyms, and in other community structures.

AFP urges youth to be guardians of peace

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 2): AFP urges youth to be guardians of peace

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) urge 75 school and community youth leaders to be active partners of peace after participating in a 3-day Youth Leadership Summit (YLS) at the Mindanao Civic Center, Tubod, Lanao del Norte on June 22-24, 2018.

YLS participants witness a demonstration in the field from the military combatants riding an armor car. (photo: YSL participant/5th Mech IB Kaagapay)

In his message during the culminating day, Brigade Commander Col. Robert Dauz of the 2nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade (MAGBALANTAY), Philippine Army, said that the youth must be aware with what is happening around because they are vulnerable and easy to be recruited by leftist groups and violent extremists.

Dauz said this even if they have not monitored any recruitment of youth from the leftist group in areas of Iligan and Lanao del Norte.

Col. Dauz encouraged the youth as they have a big voice when united and can influence their families, including the elders.

Dauz believes that Filipinos should not be afraid because the youth are partners in guarding peace.

On-going military operation is being conducted, and monitoring at the barangay level, deliberate proper coordination with various stakeholders in giving information on what is happening in the area of responsibility.


(First Row) Brigade Commander Col. Robert Dauz (center) of the 2ndMechanized Infantry Brigade (MAGBALANTAY), Philippine Army and LtCol Ronel Manalo (right), battalion commander of the 5th Mechanized Infantry (KAAGAPAY) Battalion Mechanized Infantry Division, Philippine Army, with YLS participants. (photo: 5th Mech IB Kaagapay)

Meanwhile, LtCol Ronel Manalo, battalion commander of the 5th Mechanized Infantry (KAAGAPAY) Battalion Mechanized Infantry Division, Philippine Army, said the Summit is spearheaded by the Philippine Army, in collaboration with the local government unit, and the youth as their partners to fight violent extremism.

Manalo said, the youth are good in social media, they can use this as platform to pursue and guard peace most especially now that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is asking for help to all to be vigilant with the threats of extremism and suspicious people and activities.

Having fun, youth participants experienced motivating activities to be peace advocates and future leaders, they experienced also a boodle fight luncheon, Manalo shared.

The participants came from different municipalities of the province of Lanao del Norte.

Maj. Carlos Sol: soldier of peace passes away

From MindaNews (Jul 1): Maj. Carlos Sol: soldier of peace passes away

Major Carlos Sol, Director of the combined secretariat of the government panel’s ceasefire mechanisms in the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) passed away late Saturday night at the Cotabato Regional and Medical Center in Cotabato City, three days after he suffered a second stroke and lapsed into a coma.

Like his counterparts in the MILF, the 61-year old Sol would sit quietly near or behind the principal actors in the peace negotiations, seldom acknowledged in public even as he played a major role in the entire peace process: keeping the peace on the ground between the armed combatants, even if it meant putting himself in harm’s way to prevent armed conflicts in the communities from escalating into a full-blown war.

Dubbed by many as “soldier of peace,” Sol earned the respect of both government and MILF peace panel members as well as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the MILF’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) for his work in the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) and the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG).

Major Carlos T. Sol, 61. Soldier of Peace. Photo by IONA JALIJALI

Retired Col. Dickson Hermoso, Assistant Secretary for Peace and Security at the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), said Sol is “best remembered as the man who crosses the line of fire between government forces and the MILF to implement the ceasefire agreement.”

Sol mentored a succession of peace panel members as well as commanding officers and generals of the AFP who were assigned in Maguindanao and other areas with MILF presence, on the ceasefire mechanisms, and regularly kept the peace panels abreast of the developments on the ground.

He was a constant in the government peace panel’s security sector for over a decade. Peace panel members and military commanders came and went but Sol remained, working quietly in the background, the go-to person, the one with the institutional memory of the peace process.

According to colleagues in the peace process, Sol had been suffering from kidney ailment and had been on dialysis for a few years now but sometimes missed treatment due to fieldwork and meetings.

Since late April, Sol had been in and out of the hospital, MindaNews was told. He was in Davao City on in the latter part of June for a check-up and was advised by his heart doctor to undergo angioplasty. He opted to return home to Cotabato City after finding out he was number 63 on the waitlist for the surgical procedure at the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao.

Sol joined the Philippine Army in 1987, at the age of 30. Before that, he was a top official of the Ministry of Human Settlements in the region until the ministry headed by Imelda Marcos was disbanded when the EDSA revolution toppled the Marcos dictatorship in 1986.

“Faithful sentinel of the peace process”

Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the MILF peace panel extended his panel’s “heartfelt condolence” to Sol’s family and the GPH peace implementing panel.

“We miss one of the mainstays of the peace process, who spent most of his life to see this through and succeed, especially the ceasefire,” Iqbal told MindaNews.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, government peace panel chair in the negotiations with the MILF from July 2010 until his appointment to the Supreme Court in November 2012, posted on Twitter: “We fondly called him Major Sol. He walked with a limp, had the heart of a father and the courage of a battalion. Many times he put himself in harm’s way to keep the peace, saving many. He will be missed. I salute you.”

(L to R) Director Carlos Sol of the Combined Secretariat for the GPH CCCH and AHJAG. Police Director, DIPO for Western Mindanao, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza, Irene Santiago, Chair of the Government Implementing Panel for the GPH-MILF Peace Accord and Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, Jr., Commander of the Western Mindanao Command at the Forum on GPH-MILF Peace Process held at the Waterfront Insular Hotel in Davao City on 26 April 2017. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

Political Science Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, who succeeded Leonen as peace panel chair until the end of the Aquino administration on June 30, 2016, said the ceasefire mechanism “will never be the same without Major/Director Sol. He provided the continuity and carried with him all the goodwill accumulated in a long, difficult but mutually desired process that would bring peace to/in the Bangsamoro. We grieve with the family – he has moved on to another journey where guns and physical pain don’t exist.”

Former Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles thanked Sol “for the steadfastness and the courage, for the deep understanding and wisdom honed in the service as a true soldier for peace. You stood guard over the peace process not with a gun (although you had access to that too), but by building bridges, mending fences, overcoming stumbling blocks with both street smarts and empathy, never losing sight of the big picture while you handled the nitty-gritty on the ground always with calmness and good humor.”

“Be still the faithful sentinel of the peace process in your place of reward where pain and worry can no longer touch you,” said Deles. ”

Bantay Ceasefire
“Inna Lillahi wa innah Illahi Rajium (From God we come to God we shall return). Our sincerest condolences to the family of Major Sol and to the peace process mechanism he has served for so long. May his soul rest in Gods peace,” said Guiamel Alim, Executive Director of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society.

Lawyer Mary Ann Arnado of the Mindanao Peoples Caucus recalls how Sol helped them in their Bantay Ceasefire monitoring work. “Major Sol for me was a figure of strength, a military officer with a unique mission.”

“His accuracy for details and solid information earned him the respect of thousands of combatants every time he asserted and ordered ceasefire. He taught me how to read maps and weaponry which are essential skills for ceasefire monitoring,” Arnado said

She said Sol was instrumental in bringing in the Bantay Ceasefire in establishing the joint monitoring outpost to serve as demarcation post to separate warring combatants.

Arnado noted that while she was soliciting help for the then ailing Rasid Ladiasan, Sol’s counterpart in the secretariat of the MILF’s CCCH who later became its chair, she was informed by somebody from the government’s CCCH that Sol was also sick and was undergoing dialysis. “I asked if I could also inform others for help but Maj. Sol didn’t want to go public with his condition. He boldly fought his illness with regular dose of dialysis alongside a highly stressful and dangerous work on the field. I cannot imagine a ceasefire committee without Major Sol there.”

Ladiasan passed away in May 2016. He and Sol are credited for having worked for an immediate ceasefire following the Mamasapano tragedy on January 25, 2015 where 66 persons were killed — 44 from the Special Action Forces of the Philippine National Police, 17 from the MILF’s BIAF and five civilians. The tragedy could have been avoided had the Philippine National Police coordinated with the ceasefire mechanisms of the GPG-MILF.

Contributions beyond Mindanao

Iona Jalijali, head of the GPH peace panel secretariat under the Aquino administration described Sol as “a true pillar of peace in Mindanao.”

“This is how I would always remember you, Sir. Always such an image of quiet strength, and with that ready smile. So much of what I know, I learned from you. It was such a pleasure and honor to have worked with you and call you a friend,” Jalijali, now with the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, said.

Jalijali told MindaNews that Sol was “an institution in the peace process, singularly responsible for keeping the peace through the ceasefire agreement with the MILF” and it would be “difficult to find someone who can step in his shoes, who understands as much as he does the cost of war and what it takes to keep the peace.”

Sol’s expertise in the ceasefire process has not only benefited the Philippines but other countries with armed conflicts as well.

Emma Leslie, Director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies in Cambodia, said Sol was “tireless in his professional commitment to ensuring a robust and meaningful ceasefire for the Bangsamoro. But personally he always went above and beyond to support the peace process between the GPH and MILF.”

Leslie said that during the Mamasapano tragedy, “he put himself in harm’s way with his friend and colleague, the late Rasid Ladiasan to stop the firefight” and outside the Philippines, “he generously gave his wisdom and experience to fellow soldiers and peace builders in Myanmar as they worked towards their own ceasefire mechanisms.”

“With all those others who have gone before us in the GPH-MILF peace process may he deservedly Rest In Peace,” said Leslie.

Sol’s remains are in his hometown in Alamada, North Cotabato. Interment will be announced later. Sol is survived by wife Valerie and only child, Karla.

After Marawi: advancing Australia–Philippines strategic relations

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI)-The Strategist (Jul 2): After Marawi: advancing Australia–Philippines strategic relations (By Benjamin Schreer)

Last week, the Asia Pacific Pathways to Progress Foundation and the Griffith Asia Institute co-hosted a Philippines–Australia Track II dialogue in Manila, focusing on the security dimension of the relationship. It brought together academics, analysts and practitioners to talk about the security challenges facing both countries, as well as their policy responses. A key message for Australia was the need to think about options for further strengthening our strategic ties with this important Southeast Asian state beyond the battle for Marawi.

The terrorist siege in that southern Philippine city provided Canberra with an opportunity to boost defence relations by supplying much-needed assistance. The provision of surveillance support to the Armed Forces of the Philippines, in the form of AP-3C Orion aircraft, was particularly valued. Since then, the Australian Defence Force has stepped up its engagement by training Philippine soldiers in combined urban operations to enhance their capacity to address similar scenarios in the future.

While cooperation on counterterrorism will continue to be an important aspect of Australia–Philippines defence relations, it should be embedded within a broader strategic relationship. In particular, the two countries need to work together to manage a bigger strategic challenge: China’s quest for regional dominance and its ongoing efforts to turn the South China Sea (SCS) into a Chinese ‘lake’.

The geopolitical significance of the Philippines in our region is clear. Despite the depredations of the authoritarian populism of its current president, Rodrigo Duterte, the country remains one of Asia’s largest democracies. It has a burgeoning, young and increasingly better-skilled population of over 100 million people. It’s also one of Southeast Asia’s best-performing economies, alongside China and Vietnam, with GDP growth predicted to remain above 6.5% out to 2020.

Moreover, it’s a ‘frontline state’ in the emerging competition for the SCS because of its close proximity to some disputed islands and features. It sits in what some in Beijing term the ‘first island chain’ off China’s east coast. Its location makes the country a potential ‘barrier’ against a future bout of Chinese military expansionism and a putative ‘springboard’ for US-led operations against China’s People Liberation Army (PLA). As Stephen Biddle and Ivan Oelrich point out, Philippine territory could be utilised to deny the PLA control over parts of the SCS by establishing an ‘anti-access/area denial’ perimeter.

Like Australia, the Philippines doesn’t want to live in a China-dominated order. Notwithstanding Duterte’s recent friendly overtures to Beijing, as Peter Chalk’s recent ASPI report points out, the Philippines hasn’t walked away from the US alliance. Many in the political elite in Manila (as well as in the bureaucracy, the military and the wider population) continue to be deeply opposed to China’s encroachment on what they consider sovereign Philippine territory at Scarborough Shoal, seized by Chinese forces in 2012, and to the continued harassment of Philippine fishermen by China’s coast guard and maritime militia.

Driven by these concerns, the AFP is investing—albeit slowly—in territorial defence, with a long-term objective of acquiring a deterrent capability against China. The Philippine government just announced a record budget of US$5.6 billion for the five-year ‘Horizon 2’ defence modernisation program, with the lion’s share earmarked for air and naval capabilities. The future ‘Horizon 3’ program is likely to include more money for further upgrades, including the acquisition of submarines. These investments are very modest from a regional perspective, and defence spending remains well below 1% of Philippine GDP. But they signal an important, if incremental change in the country’s defence policy.

Australia doesn’t take sides in territorial disputes in the SCS. But Canberra has repeatedly stated its deep concern about China’s attempt to change the territorial status quo in the region and to challenge the wider ‘rules-based order’, as both the 2016 Defence White Paper and 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper make clear.

In this context, investing in strategic ties with the Philippines must be a key priority for Canberra. Australia should offer to upgrade bilateral ties to a ‘strategic partnership’ akin to the one just concluded with Vietnam, and ensure high-level dialogue is maintained, with regular visits by senior ministers and officials.

Australia should also explore opportunities to include the Philippines in trilateral security or defence dialogues, involving Japan, Singapore, the Republic of Korea and the United States. These moves would send an important signal to the region about Australia’s willingness to play a more active role in shaping the security of Southeast Asia and about the Philippines’ geopolitical significance in the region.

At the same time, Canberra should seize the opportunity and offer assistance to strengthen the Philippines’ territorial defence capabilities, including in hard-edge areas such as air defence and anti-submarine warfare. It could also explore the possibility of more regular sharing of strategic assessments of Chinese intentions and capabilities, and information about the disposition of naval and coast guard assets, as well as other fishing vessels.

Enhancing the strategic relationship in these ways would be important steps in pushing back against Beijing’s revisionist claims and its attempt to establish effective control over the SCS.

[Benjamin Schreer is head of the Department of Security Studies and Criminology at Macquarie University and Ian Hall is a professor in the School of Government and International Relations at Griffith University. Image courtesy of the Department of Defence.]

Armed Forces of the Philippines vs. Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Maguindanao and North Cotabato as of 19 June 2018

Posted to the Relief Web (Jul 2): Armed Forces of the Philippines vs. Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Maguindanao and North Cotabato as of 19 June 2018

from UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Protection Cluster
Published on 27 Jun 2018 View Original

IDP Protection Assessment Report - Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) vs. Pro-ISIS militants in Tubaran and Pagayawan, Lanao del Sur (Issue No. 01; 20 June 2018)

Posted to the Relief Web (Jul 2): IDP Protection Assessment Report - Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) vs. Pro-ISIS militants in Tubaran and Pagayawan, Lanao del Sur (Issue No. 01; 20 June 2018)

Report from UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Protection Cluster
Published on 20 Jun 2018 — View Original

Download PDF (1.66 MB)


An airstrike and subsequent armed confrontation occurred in Barangay Guiarong, Tubaran and Barangay Padas, Pagayawan, Lanao del Sur when the Armed Forces ofthe Philippines launched a Law Enforcement Operation (LEO) today, 17 June 2018 against an alleged number of people led by Abu Dar considered to be rebuilding a group based on the remnants of the ISIS-inspired group that caused the seven (7) month Marawi conflict in May 2017.

The airstrike was launched between 9:00 am and 12:00 pm on Barangay Wago and Dinaigan in Tubaran. This encounter is reported as connected to an earlier armed confrontation between the two groups two days prior to the recently concluded Barangay Elections in Barangay Malaganding in the same town.

The local government units of the two municipalities have responded to the emergency and have opened designated evacuation centers for IDPs to take temporary shelter in.


Based on the report of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) of Lanao del Sur, a total of 2,325 families (11,605 individuals) have been displaced from the municipalities of Tubaran and Pagayawan as of 11:36 am of 20 June 2018. Of this total, 1,791 families (8,935 individuals) have evacuated to the homes of friends, family and relatives (home-based), while 534 families (2,670 individuals) have taken shelter in ten (10) designated evacuation centers.

In the municipality of Pagayawan, a total of 255 displaced families have been recorded that are both home-based and in evacuation centers. These IDPs come from seven barangays, namely: Padas, Rangiran, llian, Guiarong, Bangon, Linindingan, Madang and Diampaca. Two evacuation centers are located near the municipal hall and are housing about 57 displaced families.

From the municipality of Tubaran, a total of 1,314 families (6,550 individuals) have been recorded as displaced, with 387 families (1,935 individuals) currently being sheltered in four designated evacuation centers, while 927 families (4,615 individuals) are home-based. The latter are found in Barangay Tangcal, Tubaran, as well as in the municipality of Binidayan.

From the municipality of Pagayawan, a total of1,011 families (5,055 individuals) have been recorded as displaced, with 147 families (735 individuals) currently being sheltered in six (6) designated evacuation centers - one of which is located in the municipality of Ganassi - while 864 families (4,320 individuals) are home-based. The latter are found in five (5) barangays in Pagayawan, as well as in the municipalities of Bayang, Ganassi, Marogong, and Calanogas.

Initial protection monitoring has been separately conducted by Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP), UNHCR, and Community and Family Services International (CFSI) to determine the access of IDPs to food assistance. Protection issues and concern recorded have been referred to the local government units concerned.

In Pagayawan, the local government unit has acquired blank forms of the Disaster Assistance Family Access Cards (DAFAC) from the DSWD provincial sub-office in Malabang for the immediate registration of IDPs in the municipality.

DOJ to pursue petition tagging CPP, NPA as terrorist groups

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 2): DOJ to pursue petition tagging CPP, NPA as terrorist groups

The Department of Justice (DOJ) will pursue the petition filed before the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) seeking to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), as terrorist groups.

"We will continue with our petition in the court, unless and until the President and the government peace panel direct us otherwise," Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told reporters Monday following the suspension of the peace talks between the government and the communist rebels.

Guevarra also revealed that the DOJ has asked the courts to order the arrest of National Democratic Front (NDF) consultants and CPP leaders who were granted bail to participate in peace talks which were originally scheduled for last month.

He was referring to the petition filed by the DOJ before the Manila RTC last March seeking to declare communist leaders and their armed members as terrorists.

The DOJ submitted to the court a list of over 600 personalities, including CPP founder Jose Maria Sison, peace negotiator Luis Jalandoni, former lawmaker and leftist leader Satur Ocampo, and Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.

Also in the list are alleged CPP leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultant Rafael Baylosis, former peace panel chief Luis Jalandoni, human rights lawyer and former Baguio City councilor Jose Molintas and Cordillerans Joanna Carino, Windel Farag-ey Bolinget, Sherwin De Vera, Beverly Sakongan Longid and Jeannette Ribaya Cawiding.

The petition was filed following the termination of the peace talks between the government and the CPP in November last year.

Duterte initiated formal peace talks with the NDF shortly after winning the presidency in 2016 but canceled them in November last year amid continued attacks of the NPA on government forces and civilians.

The President signed a proclamation in December 2017 declaring the CPP-NPA as a terror organization using Republic Act 10168 or the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012 as basis.

In a 55-page proscription petition, the DOJ asked the Manila RTC to issue an order declaring the CPP and NPA, also known as the Bagong Hukbong Bayan, as terrorist and outlawed organizations, associations or group of persons pursuant to Section 17 of RA 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007.

The petition was basically based on two grounds: that the organization, association or group of persons were organized for the purpose of engaging in terrorism; and that even if the organization, association or group of persons was not organized to engage in terrorism, it still commits acts of terrorism, such as murder and arson and other activities, for the purpose of sowing terror.

The petition also said that the CPP-NPA is just buying time by deceiving the government in entering into peace talks while their main purpose is to mobilize their forces in preparation for a “people’s war” to overthrow the duly-constituted authorities, seize control of the government, and impose a totalitarian regime.

It added that the CPP-NPA also committed acts of terrorism, such as murder, kidnapping, arson and other activities, to sow terror and panic.

PNP gets 45 bomb sniffing dogs

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 2): PNP gets 45 bomb sniffing dogs

The crime-fighting dogs have been drafted into the Philippine National Police's K-9 unit. (PNA photo by Benjamin Pulta)

Some 45 new crime-fighting dogs have been drafted into the Philippine National Police (PNP)'s K-9 unit.

The dogs underwent training from Nov. 20, 2017 to May 23, 2018 in Alfonso, Cavite.

They will be assigned as explosives detection units along with their handlers.

Police officials said the dogs, mostly Belgian Malinois and Labradors, will greatly assist the PNP in its mission for the prevention and suppression of crimes.

The PNP is short by around 131 dogs for the needs of its K9 national operational support unit.

PRRD to grace PAF 71st founding anniversary

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 3): PRRD to grace PAF 71st founding anniversary

President Rodrigo Duterte will be the guest-of-honor and speaker at the celebration of the Philippine Air Force's (PAF) 71st founding anniversary Tuesday.

This was bared by Air Force spokesperson Major Aristides Galang in a message Monday afternoon.

The event will be held 3 p.m. at the PAF Multi-Purpose Gymnasium, Villamor Air Base, Pasay City.

Galang said this year's theme is "Blue Team @ Top Speed Integrating Efforts in Regaining Air Defense Capabilities for Peace and Resilient Development".

An awarding ceremony will be conducted to recognize deserving personnel and units of the PAF who have shown dedication and hard work throughout the year.

More so, the event will also be attended by other Major Service Commanders, Galang said.

Former NPA rebel surrenders

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 2): Former NPA rebel surrenders

A former member of the New People’s Army (NPA) from Bingawan, Iloilo surrendered to the Iloilo Police Provincial Office (IPPO) last week.

This was confirmed by IPPO director Senior Supt. Marlon Tayaba during an interview Monday.

Jerry Glorian, 27, of Brgy. Roosevelt, Tapaz, Capiz, also gave up his caliber .45 pistol with magazine and live ammunition. He currently lives in Bingawan with his common-law wife.

Tayaba said they are now processing the financial assistance for Glorian through the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Glorian joined the NPA when was only 17 years old and they usually stayed in some parts of Calinog, Iloilo and Tapaz, Capiz.

Tayaba said that Glorian may have surrendered due to their difficult life in the mountains.

“He is sending a message to others to join him in going back to the fold of the government. I am hoping that more members of the armed group will be encouraged to surrender. Our goal is to bring peace so why not join us and hand and hand, let us solve this problem,” he added.

While IPPO is still receiving reports that there have been ongoing recruitments of NPA in the province, especially among minors, Tayaba assured that they are strengthening the operations to help the Philippine Army in its anti-insurgency drive.

Philippine Army takes in 250 new recruits

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 2): Philippine Army takes in 250 new recruits

CAMP GEN. CAPINPIN, Tanay, Rizal– Around 250 Army aspirants took oath during the opening ceremony of the Candidate Soldier Course Classes 562 and 563 for 2018 at the 2nd Infantry “Jungle Fighter” Division (2ID) Training School here (2DTS) last Saturday.

Major General Rhoderick Parayno, the 2ID commander, welcomed the new recruits, composed of 244 males and six females - who would be joining the Philippine Army after passing the Complete Physical Examination (CPE) at the 2nd Army Station Hospital (2ASH).

The soldier-candidates went through medical, psychological and physical examination as requisites to undergo the basic military training.

Parayno also commended the 2ID staff behind the screening and selection process of the new recruits.

“Tinanong ko kayo ng mga mahahalagang katanungan na may kaugnayan sa determinasyon niyo na magsundalo sapagkat tunay na hindi isang biro ang maging isang kawal ng Philippine Army. Ang inyong pagsali sa hanay ng kasundaluhan ay nangangahulugan ng inyong pagtalikod sa buhay na inyong nakagisnan (I asked you (candidate soldiers) of the challenging question pertaining to your determination to become soldiers because truly being a Philippine Army soldier is not a joke. Your entry to the ranks of the military means you have to abandon what your past life was),” Parayno said.

He said that the recruits’ entry into the training ground signals that they voluntarily offer their services, not only for the government, but also for the country.

“Sa kursong ito ay huhubugin ang mga katangian na dapat ninyong taglayin bilang isang sundalo tulad ng patriyotismo, propesyonalismo at higit sa lahat ang maging tunay na disiplinado (In this training course, your traits will be honed like a true soldier imbued with patriotism, professionalism and above all to be disciplined),” he added.

Capt. Patrick Jay Retumban, chief of the 2ID public affairs office, the new recruits will undergo the five-month basic military training prior to their enlistment in the Army.

Retumban said the formal ceremony culminated in the reception rites, which featured the time-honored military tradition of welcoming the "cream of the crop" among recruits, who have passed the screening and selection process.

He said one of the challenges that would demonstrate the candidate-soldiers’ stamina and agility during the ceremony is the mud challenge, where they perform “log rolling to the left and right” at a mud-packed area at the training site.

Palawan signs pact for establishment of PAF base in Balabac town

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 2): Palawan signs pact for establishment of PAF base in Balabac town

NEW MILITARY BASE IN PALAWAN SOON. Governor Jose Alvarez (left) and Philippine Air Force commanding general Lt. Gen. Galileo Gerard Kintanar Jr. shake their hands following their signing of a memorandum of agreement for the establishment of a military air base in Balabac town, southern Palawan. (Photo courtesy of PIO)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY -- The Philippine Air Force (PAF) will establish a military air base in Balabac town in southern Palawan.

This, after Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez and PAF commanding general Lt. General Galileo Gerard Kintanar Jr. inked a memorandum of agreement that would establish the base.

A statement sent Monday by the office of Gil Acosta Jr., information officer of the provincial government, said the "Balabac Air Base" will be set up in a 300-hectare area in Barangay Catagupan, Balabac, southern Palawan.

Quoting Alvarez, the statement said that setting aside the property for the PAF base is the provincial government’s contribution to efforts to secure the West Philippines Sea and the southern border.

“Indeed, this is a big milestone for us, as we impart on securing the future of the West Philippine Sea including our southern borders. Rest assured that we have a government here that is ready anytime,” it quoted Alvarez.

The statement, quoting Kintanar, also said the establishment of the air base will be an important milestone in the history of PAF and the provincial government due to the role it will have in sheltering equipment and personnel.

“This is a significant and historic event giving us 300 hectares of precious land in southern Palawan, in a place where we’ll hopefully call later as the Balabac Air Base of the PAF,” the statement said, quoting Kintanar.

Alvarez's authority to sign the agreement is in accordance with Resolution 13644, series of 2018, approved by Sangguniang Panlalawigan members.

Suspected NPA killed in Masbate clash with Army

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 2): Suspected NPA killed in Masbate clash with Army

A suspected New People's Army (NPA) rebel was killed on Sunday night in a clash with Philippine Army (PA) soldiers in the hinterland village of Milagros town in Masbate, Army Capt. Joash Pramis, PA 9th Infantry Division (9ID) spokesperson, said Monday.

The slain rebel, whose identity has yet to be established, was among the five armed men encountered by a patrolling platoon of soldiers, Pramis added.

The firefight erupted at around 9:30 p.m., lasting for about five minutes. It resulted in the death of one of the rebels and the recovery of a shotgun.
Pramis said Army troops are still scouring areas where the suspected rebels had fled.

Assorted weapons seized as soldiers clash with NPA rebels in Mindoro

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 2): Assorted weapons seized as soldiers clash with NPA rebels in Mindoro

The Philippine Army’s 2nd Infantry “Jungle Fighter” Division (2ID) Commander Maj. Gen. Rhoderick Parayno on Sunday lauded continuing efforts of the 76th Infantry Battalion (76IB) on their successful operations against the communist New People’s Army terrorist group over the weekend.

Parayno congratulated the 76IB troops after their clash with NPA terrorists around 1:35 p.m. on June 29 in Sitio Kamambugan, Barangay Pinagturilan in Sta. Cruz, Occidental Mindoro which left an undetermined number of casualties on the communist rebels, recovering a number of enemies' firearms.

“Now that we are on the track of them, we will run them down until they are totally annihilated in order to stop their threats, extortions and other terroristic activities to the Mangyan Indigenous People (IP),” Parayno said.

The military report also said police checkpoints are beefed up in the area as pursuit operations are ongoing.

The 76IB acting commanding officer Lt. Col. Mario Lito Retirva disclosed the troops were conducting combat operations after receiving a report from concerned IPs regarding the presence of armed group extorting foodstuffs and recruiting IPs in the area.

Retirva said the government troops proceeded to the Mangyan community to confirm the report when they encountered around 40 rebels.

Firefight lasted for 15 minutes, but none of the soldiers was hurt while an undetermined number of wounded were reported on the NPA side as indicated by bloodstains at the clash site.

After the skirmish, the soldiers recovered an M16 upper receiver, 9 mm cal. Pistol, caliber .38 revolver, improvise explosive devices (IEDs), assorted ammunition and magazines, personal belongings and other subversive documents.

Meanwhile, Brig. Gen. Antonio Parlade, Commander of the 203rd Brigade under the 2ID, said the soldiers’ encounter with the terrorist group has preempted the rebels’ plan to bomb construction equipment in the area using the IEDs.

Parlade also urged Rosita Serrano, alias “Ka Bebang”, a known NPA leader in Mindoro, to surrender and return to government fold.

“Sa kasalukuyan matatanda at sakitin na ang mga lider ng NPA sa Mindoro. Ito na marahil ang tamang panahon para kayo ay bumaba, at pag-usapan natin ang katahimikan sa Mindoro (As of now, the NPA leaders in Mindoro are already old and sickly. It is about time that you (rebels) come down and we will talk about peace in Mindoro),” he said.

Capt. Patrick Jay Returmban, chief of the 2ID Public Affairs Office, said the 2ID headquarters received a text message on the progress report on join pursuit operations on Sunday where the troops and the police efforts recovered two more shotguns, a laptop, and two cellphones from the rebels.

Retumban said the troops were able to open a rebel's mobile phone which revealed an SOS message to their comrades saying “kapag hindi dumating ang medic natin baka mamatay na ang 2 na lubhang sugatan dito. Magdala kayo ng blood clot (if our medic would not arrive, our two seriously injured members here may die. You bring blood clot).”

Maguindanao clashes leave 2 soldiers hurt

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 2): Maguindanao clashes leave 2 soldiers hurt

Clashes between government forces and Islamic State-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) erupted Sunday in three adjoining municipalities of Maguindanao and left two soldiers slightly injured.

Capt. Arvin John Encinas, Army’s 6th Infantry Division spokesperson, identified the injured as Staff Sgt. Alfredo Tambo and Private First Class Ian Cajeta, both of the Army’s 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion (MIB).

Encinas said the injured soldiers were part of a team that responded to harassments by the IS-linked BIFF in Barangay Elian, Datu Saudi Ampatuan, around 2 p.m., where the terrorists attacked the soldiers’ armored personnel carrier. Separate attacks were also noted in far-flung military detachments in Shariff Saydona and Shariff Aguak towns.

“The BIFF attacks that started early Sunday morning triggered the clashes,” Encinas said, adding that the group also set off roadside bombs targeting the soldiers.

On Saturday night, the BIFF set off two improvised bombs that rocked the barangay hall of Barangay Timbangan in Shariff Aguak town. No one was hurt in the incident.

Encinas said troops under the 2nd MIB-1st Company conducted blocking maneuvers against the fleeing BIFF in neighboring Barangay Pamalian, Shariff Saydona town and engaged the extremists in a brief firefight.

No casualty was reported on the government side. Citing reports from villagers, Encinas said the BIFF could have suffered fatalities.

He said the national highway linking Cotabato City and the provinces of Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat remains passable and safe as the skirmishes occurred in the interior portion of the three municipalities.

“Currently, more Army checkpoints were put up along the highway,” Encinas said.

Brigadier General Cirilito Sobejana, 6th ID chief, said the Army will continue to hunt down the BIFF even up to the marshlands of Maguindanao, where the lawless group is reportedly hiding.

At least 200 families from three towns have fled to safer grounds but have returned home when fighting slowed down Monday.

Warring clans in Maguindanao settle decade-old dispute

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 2): Warring clans in Maguindanao settle decade-old dispute

Military and local officials have successfully settled the animosity between two Moro village officials in Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao, through a series of peaceful dialogues.

On Friday, June 29, the Army facilitated the peace covenant signing between Datu Saudi Ampatuan village chairpersons Datu Tambungalan and Tamano Mamalapat of Barangays Kitango and Kitapok, respectively.

Brigadier General Deosdado Carreon, the Army’s 601st Infantry Brigade (IB) commander, and Lieutenant Colonel Alvin Iyog, 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion chief, assisted the town government in settling the dispute, said Capt. Arvin John Encinas, the spokesman of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division.

“Cordiality highlighted the peace settlement ceremony,” Encinas said in an interview on Saturday, adding that the warring families have been locked in a decade-old “rido” (clan war) but agreed to meet at the headquarters of the 601st IB in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao.

“Both parties got tired of fighting and finally decided to reconcile their differences,” the Army official said.

Encinas said that Datu Saudi Ampatuan Mayor Bai Anida Dimaukom was also instrumental in the successful “rido” settlement, as she worked tirelessly to convince both parties to end their dispute.

The Tambungalan and Mamalapat families, who are blood-related, also agreed to work harder for the betterment of their respective communities.

“We have to move forward now and leave the past behind now,” Tambungalan said in the vernacular.

Malapat, for his part, said: “Never again will we go back to our violent past as it is futile to lose more family members in this long-drawn quarrel.”

Kitapok and Kitango are adjacent villages of Datu Saudi Ampatuan and the site of intermittent skirmishes between the two families that had claimed lives from both sides.

Lorenzana backs termination of peace talks

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 2): Lorenzana backs termination of peace talks

The rebels' plans to oust President Rodrigo Duterte and use the ceasefire to recover their lost grounds and influence are just two among the eight reasons why the Department of National Defense (DND) has strongly recommended the termination of peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front (CPP-NDF).

This was bared by DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana in a statement late Sunday night.

"We found out that during the last unilateral ceasefire covering the period 2016 until January 2017, the CPP/NDF/ held the largest and the 2nd People’s Congress in October-November 2016 and the Central Committee Plenum on December 2016. During these two occasions they crafted a 3-year plan to advance the revolutionary movement that included the planning for the 'OUST DUTERTE MOVEMENT' if PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte) will not agree to a coalition government," he added.

Lorenzana said they also found out that in January 2017, the National Military Commission of the CPP/New People's Army (NPA) reinforced the earlier plenum agenda.

Using the lull provided by the ceasefire, the rebels were able to consolidate, recover their lost ground/mass base and expand their influence.

The DND chief added that in May 2017, the rebels formally launched its "OUST DUTERTE" operation which was to culminate this coming October.

"Based on the foregoing deliberate actions of the CPP-NPA-NDF, it is obvious that they are not sincere to talk peace and end the armed conflict. They are employing the revolutionary dual tactics to show semblance of peace but continually conducting violence and terror acts on the ground," he added.

Lorenzana also added the ongoing review of all peace documents and agreements revealed that it lays down the foundation of power-sharing towards a coalition government.

"In fact, the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) Panel during the Aquino Administration recommended the abrogation of the talks because the panel has come to the conclusion that 'we were just being taken for a ride'. The GRP Panel then made serious studies and they believed the NDF Panel is not truthful, sincere and honest except to get concessions such as: release of high ranking party members and giving their armed components to recover lost grounds and mass base," he added.

Besides this, the DND chief said that majority of the Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples (ICCs/IPs) do not want a ceasefire primarily because it means the NPAs will return to their areas.

Also, the IPs also want the CPP-NPA-NDF to publicly apologize for their act of crimes and terrorism against the ICCs/IPs for almost 50 years where around a thousand IPs were murdered by the rebels and their supporters.

Aside from this, the rebels can't comply with the four pre-conditions set by Duterte which are a requisite for the Commander-in-Chief in going back to the negotiations.

These are no coalition government, no arson attacks and no revolutionary taxes or extortion and NPAs are to stay in a safe area of their choice and no recruitment or mass mobilization.

Lorenzana said these pre-conditions are considered by the President as a sign of sincerity and non-compliance is not an option.

"They (CPP-NPA) have been tagged as a Terrorist Organization locally and internationally. They had their chance to work for peace when President Duterte appointed four of their members to the Cabinet. But they betrayed the government when they used their positions to advance the CPP’s revolutionary movement," the DND chief added.

PH, US Marine units join RIMPAC harbor phase drills

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 2): PH, US Marine units join RIMPAC harbor phase drills

US and Philippine Marine Corps units conducted a series of exercises as part of this year's "Rim of the Pacific" (RIMPAC) harbor phase activities.

This was announced by Philippine Navy (PN) spokesperson Cmdr. Jonathan Zata in a statement Monday,

RIMPAC officially started June 28 and will end on August 2.

Zata added the PMC contingent to Naval Task Force 86 RIMPAC quickly disembarked at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam upon arrival last June 26, and proceeded to the Boondock Training Site, Marine Corps Base in Hawaii for the above-mentioned exercises.

Part of the harbor phase activities include the amphibious assault vehicle familiarization, a shore-to-shore exercise that aims to enhance the sea-to-land capabilities of the PMC contingent as part of RIMPAC 2018 exercise.

Meanwhile, the US Marine Corps conducted a combat life-saving training that intends to provide intermediate step between the buddy aid-style basic life support and the advanced life support skills.

Zata added that training on military operations in urban terrain was also conducted to enhance the PMC contingent on its urban war-fighting tactics, techniques and procedures.

"The Philippine Navy’s participation to RIMPAC 2018 trumpets the Command’s commitment in promoting multilateral cooperation to strengthen relationship and cooperation among participating navies of the world," the PN spokesperson said.

The country's contingent to RIMPAC 2018 consists of the strategic sealift vessel, the BRP Davao Del Sur (LD-602), the frigate BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF-17), an AgustaWestland AW-109 naval helicopter and around 700 sailors and marines.

Return to PH if you want to help, Palace urges Joma

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 2): Return to PH if you want to help, Palace urges Joma

MalacaƱang on Monday urged self-exiled communist leader Jose Maria Sison to come back and help the government’s efforts to build comfortable life for the Filipinos.

“Stop talking. If you really want to help our countrymen, you return here and be part of building a comfortable nation for the Filipino people,” Roque said in a press briefing in Maasin City, Leyte.

Roque said Sison should accept the invitation of President Rodrigo Duterte to conduct peace negotiations in the Philippines and not in other countries.

“It is not the government’s fault that peace talks did not push through. It was Joma who backed out. We are Filipinos. What the President had said, let’s talk peace here,” Roque said.

He said Sison should not worry of his safety since Duterte has assured him that he will not be detained in the country.

“But Joma Sison is really boastful. He thinks he is the savior of the country. He said he will oust the President, the term will not be finished,” Roque said.

“Joma Sison, wake up. You’re dreaming. You cannot oust a government while you are in Europe. You come back and live here in the Philippines so that you will see the condition here. Our economy is in very good condition,” he added.

Roque said while poverty still remains a problem in the country, “many” have been lifted out of poverty.

“Because you live a comfortable life there in other country, you don’t know already what the situation here in the Philippines is,” Roque said.

Sison went into exile in the Netherlands after former president Ferdinand Marcos’ two-decade regime ended following a bloodless People’s Power Revolution in 1986.

Last week, Sison has reportedly said that the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) will no longer negotiate with the Duterte administration and would instead join forces to topple the government.

Duterte has belittled Sison’s threat, saying he finds no problem “if they are not willing to talk to me”.

The President, however, said he would continue to reach out to the enemies of the states, including the Moro rebels in Mindanao, to bring genuine peace in the country.