Thursday, July 5, 2018

DWDD: ENCOUNTER | 40IB engage BIFF in Mamasapano

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Jul 5): ENCOUNTER  |  40IB engage BIFF in Mamasapano

MAMASAPANO, Maguindanao (DWDD) – Troops from the 40th Infantry Battalion engaged members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom fighters (BIFF) at Barangay Pidsandawan, Mamasapano, Maguindanao yesterday, July 4

According to the Joint Task Force Central, the encounter at Brgy Pidsandawan ensued in a continuous firefight that resulted to six (6) reportedly killed and an undetermined number wounded on the enemy side while government forces incurred one (1) killed-in-action (KIA) and nine (9) wounded-in-action (WIA) (names withheld).


Government forces were able to recover various firearms, composed of: four (4) M16 Rifles; three (3) M14 Rifles; two (2) M1 Carbine Rifles; one (1) Garand Rifle; one (1)-Ultimax SMG; three (3) shotguns; one (1) magazine for shotgun; three (3) magazines for M14 Rifle; and two (2) Bandoleers. AES / MCAG

DWDD: “Sharing will enrich everyone with more knowledge” – Ana Monnar

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Jul 5): SHARING KNOWLEDGE  |  Las Navas PNP, 20IB conducts Gender Sensitivity and Security Seminar

LAS NAVAS, Northern Samar (DWDD) – “Sharing will enrich everyone with more knowledge” – Ana Monnar

Police Chief Inspector Anthony T Din, Officer-in-Charge Las Navas Police conducted lecture on operational procedure on the Conduct of Arrest and Detention to 20th Infantry “We Lead” Battalion personnel during the one-day Seminar on Gender Sensitivity and Gender Peace and Security held at 20IB, 8ID, PA, Barangay San Jorge, Las Navas Northern Samar on July 3, 2018. WESMINCOM / Photos by: LasNavas Police NSPPO / MCAG

DWDD: WANTING PEACE | Another ASG surrenders in Basilan

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Jul 5): WANTING PEACE  |  Another ASG surrenders in Basilan

BASILAN (DWDD) – The joint special intelligence operation of the Joint Task Force Basilan intelligence personnel and intelligence operatives of the 74th Infantry “ ”Battalion and in coordination with Honorable Jim Hataman Saliman, the Provincial Director of Basilan Province, compelled another member of the Abu Sayyaf Group to lay down his arms as efforts are being exhausted by the troops to contain local terrorists in the province.

Omaidi Sabirin Salain a.k.a Maidi/Jhay yielded to the troops of the 74th Infantry Battalion at 6:05pm on Saturday (June 30, 2018) in Barangay Sinulatan, Tuburan, Basilan Province and turned-over an M16A1 rifle and one (1) short magazine with ammunitions.

“We hope that more Abu Sayyafs will decide to lay down their arms and choose to live a peaceful life. Rest assured they will be provided with livelihood programs to support their basic necessities,” said Lieutenant General Arnel Dela Vega, commander of the Western Mindanao Command.


Salain was formerly listed number 6 of other identified personalities in the Periodic Status Report (PSR) of Basilan-based ASG/UTG.

Said surrenderor and his surrendered high-powered firearm were brought to the Headquarters of the 74th IB for custodial debriefing and proper disposition.

“Salain said during the initial debriefing that he decided to surrender because of the realization that this is not the life that he wanted,” said Brigadier General Juvymax Uy, the Commander of the Joint Task Force Basilan. WESMINCOM / MCAG

Davao City allocates P5.8 M for halfway home of rebel returnees

From PTV News (Jul 4): Davao City allocates P5.8 M for halfway home of rebel returnees

The local government has allocated PHP5.8 million for the construction of a halfway house for New People’s Army (NPA) rebels who have returned to the folds of the law.

In an interview on Tuesday, Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said the halfway house will be called “Kalinaw Village”, where surrendered rebels will be housed while they are in the process of debriefing.

Mayor Sara said the fund has been included in the recently-approved P1.2 billion Supplemental Budget No. 1 of the city.

While the national government implements the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) to provide financial assistance for former rebels, Duterte-Carpio said a complementary program was needed as not all surrenderers can qualify for the CLIP initiative.

“Gimanduan nako ang 1003rd Brigade nato mga mo buhat og complimentary program sa CLIP program nga under siya sa local government wherein ma-catch pa gihapon nato tong mga FR na dili mag- qualify (I asked our 1003rd Brigade to make complementary program on CLIP, which is under the local government wherein we can still take the FR who will not qualify),” she said.

The mayor said the money will be used for the livelihood and immediate assistance of Php65,000 to each of some 40 former rebels or a total of PHP2.6 million; PHP2.530 million for infrastructure; PHP550,00 for personnel salary, PHP89,000 for training and seminars; and PHP85,000 for professional services.Duterte-Carpio said the facility will be established near the Army’s 1003rd Brigade Camp in Bunawan District.

Aside from the city’s funds, the mayor said there will be assistance from the DILG for the program’s infrastructure needs.

Brig. Gen. Ernesto Torres Jr., 1003 Brigade commander, said the construction of the facility has already started and that it will be managed by a representative from a Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Torres said Kalinaw Village will feature units for safety protection, psycho-social, capability building and employment, home line services, monitoring and evaluation.

“If we determine that the FR (former rebel) can be enrolled in CLIP, he or she can proceed to the next level of processing but if they don’t, there has to be a program from the local government that will cater to them,” he said.

Expert confirms CPP/NDF plot to seize political power

From the Manila Bulletin (Jul 4): Expert confirms CPP/NDF plot to seize political power

The Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) is a very consistent and doctrinal organization remaining the same and true to their dogma of communist and socialist revolution since the 1960s to the present.

Guerrillas from the New People’s Army in formation during the 49th anniversary of the communist rebel group in Sierra Madre mountains. (Czar Dancel / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)
A source who requested anonymity made the remark a day after the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) confirmed that Communist terrorists are hatching a plan to oust President Rodrigo Duterte from power this October.

The source said the CPP-NPA-NDF’s main objective will always be to seize the political power in the country.

“It means they (CPP-NPA-NDF) will not only topple the government but they will change the democratic system, take over the country and govern based on their communist belief of governance,” the source said.

“So they are consistent in coming up with plans on how to destabilize the government, weaken its institutions so that the people will lose faith in government, and oust the sitting President if they can heighten their agitation of the masses and their so-called “progressives” and “united front”,” the source said.

All presidents that held office, according to the source, were targeted by the left for “oust” plot, – from former Presidents Cory Aquino, Fidel Ramos Joseph Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Benigno Aquino III, and now President Duterte.

“In their regular plenums, they always craft an “oust” plan for the sitting President. Whether they believe they will succeed or not is beside the point. It is just in pursuit of their strategy of continuous weakening of government and creating that condition which is ripe for a peoples revolution,” the source said.

“So there is a really plot against PRRD and it is documented by the CPP in the form of a strategic plan. Also, it is very obvious that over the years, the peace process is just being exploited to further pursue their political and propaganda agenda, gain concession from government, consolidate their legal and armed elements, but they are not really sincere in actually laying down their arms and pursuing peace.”

“So the peace process is just a process for them, part of their “protracted warfare” strategy, and taking advantage of changing administrations every 6 years and changing policy and approaches to insurgency,” he added.

The source said in their plot, the CPP will always establish “tactical” alliance with the opposition and some members of the church/clergy who have been wittingly and unwittingly recruited and supporting their “mass base” peoples organization and “sectoral” organizations that composed their so-called united front (legal) organizations.

“So the oust plot is a plan by the CPP. The church as an institution and the opposition is not aware nor part of the one that crafted the plan. But the CPP will take advantage of the current political and social issues against the President, and agitate thru propaganda the clergy and the opposition, in order to create a picture of a united front against PRRD,” the source said.

The source said in order to do this, history shows that they were able to use those former members of the “first quarter storm” movement and those “anti-Marcos” movement to pursue their “anti-dictatorship” and “anti-imperialist” agenda.

“So they will do the same to some politicians from the opposition and some priests who were recruited before, mostly working at the church Social Action Center (SAC) and indoctrinated on the concept of “liberation theology”. So more on personality approach for cooperation but institutional and agitation,” the source said.

Eight more BIFF killed in Maguindanao clashes

From the Philippine Star (Jul 4): Eight more BIFF killed in Maguindanao clashes

Eight more members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters have been killed in a series of clashes in Maguindanao that began on Sunday.

A platoon from the Army's 40th Infantry Battalion gunned down four BIFF bandits in an encounter Wednesday morning in Barangay Pidsandawan in Mamapasano, Maguindanao.

Members of the 40th IB were proceeding to Pidsandawan to check on the reported presence there of a senior BIFF commander, Nanding Mama, when they were attacked from three directions, sparking a running gunbattle that lasted for two hours.

Four followers of Mama, whom villagers identified only as Usop, Banding, Kamensa and Udtog, were killed in the encounter. Local leaders also reported that four other bandits — Sarip, Munda, Norodin and Faisal — were wounded in the incident. 

Soldiers seized firearms left by Mama and his companions in the scene of the encounter as they fled.

The firearms — four M16 rifles, three M14 rifles, an M1 Carbine, a .30-cal M1 Garand, a 5.56-mm Ultimax automatic rifle and three 12-gauge shotguns — are now in the custody of the 40th IB.

Four other BIFF militants had been killed in earlier clashes in Datu Paglas, also in Maguindanao, on Tuesday.

Traditional Moro elders and barangay officials have confirmed that four bandits — Ali Tudon, Alamid Yusop, Kalon Benzar and a certain Murshid — were killed in encounters with soliders and police officers sent to check on the reported convergence of gunmen led by Abu Solaiman in Mupak, near the town proper of Datu Paglas.

Abu Solaiman and his followers retreated to the marshy bundary of Datu Paglas and General Pendatun town carrying three wounded companions — initially identified only as Odin, Guiday and Kalid, all residents of nearby Shariff Saidona Mustapha, Maguindanao. 

Soldiers, led by Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc of the 33rd IB, recovered improvised explosive devices laid along the route to where the group of Abu Solaiman gathered the day before.

On the government side, two soldiers and a militiaman were wounded in the series of clashes

Cpls. Millard Bacatan and Musa Kalim of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit were injured when a 40-mm projectile grenade landed and went off near them during a gunfight with members of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

Pvt. Allan James Cabildo was shot in the lower torso while he and his companions were advancing towards a BIFF position in the Mupak area of Datu Paglas.

The 33rd IB and the police Special Action Force from the Sultan Kudarat and Maguindanao provincial police offices launched on Tuesday an offensive against BIFF bandits in Datu Paglas after local officials had repeatedly tried, but failed, to convince the militants to leave.

NGO urges authorities to protect, address needs of displaced residents

In a related development, peace-building NGO Initiatives for International Dialogue earlier this week urged troops and government officials "to provide utmost priority" to the humanitarian needs of communities affected by the fighting.

The NGO said that, based on reports, around 5,136 families had been forced to flee areas of Pagalungan, Datu Montawal, Sultan sa Barongis and General SK Pendatun in Maguindanao and Pikit in North Cotabato because of the clashes.

IID executive director Gus Miclat said in a statement: "In the immediate, aside from ensuring the safety and security of civilians in the conduct of military operations by the government forces, we invoke the state’s responsibility to protect and fulfill the rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs) during evacuation until their safe and dignified return to their places of origin."

Troops clash with BIFF in Maguindanao town center

From Rappler (Jul 4): Troops clash with BIFF in Maguindanao town center
The military says it foiled an attempt of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters to occupy the town hall of Datu Paglas town after a 9-hour operation that included air strikes on Tuesday, July 3
MILITARY OPERATION. A military operation against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in a Maguindanao town center on July 3, 2018. Photo courtesy of the Philippine Army 33rd Infantry Battalion
MILITARY OPERATION. A military operation against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in a Maguindanao town center on July 3, 2018. Photo courtesy of the Philippine Army 33rd Infantry Battalion

Clashes between government troops and the separatist Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) reached a town center in Maguindanao on Tuesday, July 3, as the military continues aggressive operations to hunt down groups linked with the Islamic State (ISIS).

The military said it foiled an attempt to occupy the town hall of Datu Paglas town after a 9-hour operation on Tuesday, July 3, that deployed air force assets for air strikes.

Three soldiers were “slightly wounded” due to shrapnel and bullet wounds, the military said.

“Combined Army and police forces had blocked the attempt of ISIS-inspired terrorist group in occupying the seat of the municipal government here on Tuesday,” said Lieutenant Colonel Harold M Cabunoc, commanding officer of the 33rd Infantry Battalion that led the operation.

Cabunoc said clashes with the group of BIFF sub-leader Sulaiman Tudon erupted at 5 am on Tuesday.

“The troops attacked the enemy-held cluster of concrete houses in Sitio Mopac of Barangay Poblacion, an area that is about 500 meters from the municipal hall.
Supported by armored vehicles and infantry mortars, the house-to-house close quarter battle lasted about 9 hours in an area that is located in the middle of a rice field,” Cabunoc said.

“We confronted enemy snipers and improvised bombs as we seized the areas that are previously occupied by the terrorists. We also wanted to contain the fighting outside of the highly populated area some 500 meters away,” Cabunoc said.

Leaders of the BIFF, a breakaway faction of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), have pledged allegiance to ISIS, based on their video releases.

The group is one of the threats that the government cited when it asked Congress to extend martial law in Mindanao until the end of 2018. (READ: End martial law? Lorenzana warns vs another Marawi)

Duterte's demand 'unacceptable' – CPP

From Rappler (Jul 5): Duterte's demand 'unacceptable' – CPP
The Communist Party of the Philippines notes that a presidential proclamation formally terminating peace negotiations 'has never been rescinded'
PEACE TALKS. This file photo shows members of the New People'€™s Army in Maco, Compostela Valley. File photo by Mick Basa
PEACE TALKS. This file photo shows members of the New People'€™s Army in Maco, Compostela Valley. File photo by Mick Basa

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) on Thursday, July 5, said that by demanding to hold the next round of peace talks in the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte is "driving another nail to completely shut down" the talks.

"He knows fully well that the demand to hold talks in the Philippines is unacceptable and unworkable for the NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines), unless he thinks the NDFP will be negotiating only to surrender the Filipino people's aspirations and give up all its revolutionary principles," the CPP said in a statement sent to Rappler.
The CPP was reacting to chief peace adviser Jesus Dureza's earlier statement that detailed the President's conditions for the resumption of peace talks, among them, that the venue of the talks should be "local."

In his statement, Dureza also said "the doors for the resumption of peace talks with the NDFP are still open." The CPP called this "an outright lie" and a "desperate PR stunt" to "make it appear that it is the NDFP which closed its doors."

"Notice that Dureza's statement does not make any mention at all of the fact that Duterte issued Presidential Proclamation 360 last November 23, 2017, which formally terminated peace negotiations with the NDFP. This proclamation has never been rescinded," the CPP noted.

"By completely shutting the door to the negotiations, Duterte is laying down the conditions for imposing martial law or a general crackdown, use the terror proscription against the CPP and NPA against his critics and dissenters against his tyranny, and push charter change for pseudo-federalism to perpetuate himself in power."

The NDFP, the political arm of the CPP which formally represents rebels in talks, has not issued a statement.

On June 28 – the day peace talks were supposed to resume – CPP founder Jose Maria Sison said the NDFP can no longer negotiate with the Duterte administration, adding that it would be "easier and more productive… to participate in the Oust-Duterte movement."

Following Sison's pronouncements, Duterte said the government's operations against the New People's Army would continue.

US and the Philippines: Friends, partners, allies (Amb. Sung Y. Kim)

From the Business Mirror (Jul 4): US and the Philippines: Friends, partners, allies (By Amb. Sung Y. Kim)

EVERY July 4 the United States and the Philippines celebrate Philippine-American Friendship Day, while the US celebrates its Independence Day.

This gives me an opportunity to reflect on the US-Philippine bilateral relationship as well as my time here. Over the past 18 months, I have been touched by the warmth and hospitality of the Filipino people. I am honored to call on so many Filipino friends.

Every day, it seems, I am gratified by the depth and breadth of the US-Philippine relationship. At the Embassy, we often talk about our countries being friends, partners and allies. And it seems, this is a perfect time to highlight just how apt that description is.


THE US-Philippine friendship is built on shared sacrifices and shared values. It is also built on people-to-people ties, forged through education, exchanges, family connections and travel.

There are more than 300,000 US citizens living and traveling in the Philippines at any given time, and an estimated 4 million US citizens of Philippine ancestry. Nearly every person I have met here has a family member in the US.

I am also constantly struck by our extensive, long-standing educational ties, which we have worked hard to continue building. In one important example, it was an honor to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the formation of the United States Educational Foundation in the Philippines earlier this year.

Among its many contributions to our enduring friendship is the Philippine Fulbright Program—the oldest continually running in the world. That highly respected program has sent more than 3,200 Filipino scholars to the US and has brought more than 1,000 US scholars to the Philippines. Among them are some of the Philippines’s highest achieving artists, scientists and public servants.

Building on this success, the EducationUSA program has helped thousands of Filipino students study in US colleges and universities. This year EducationUSA held fairs for Philippine students in Manila and Cebu City, with 34 United States schools in attendance.

As we think about friendship and family, we naturally want to protect the future generations.

In one example, our friendship was reinforced when the US joined with the Philippines’s Dangerous Drugs Board and the 26th Annual National Youth Congress that successfully engaged young Filipinos to promote drug abuse prevention in May of this year. We partnered with the DDB to fight the scourge of illicit drugs through community programs and drug demand reduction.

In another example, five years ago, the United States Agency for International Development embarked on a project to detect, treat, cure, as well as prevent the spread of tuberculosis. Over the last decade, the USAID has provided over P4 billion to support the Philippines’s goal of eliminating TB by 2035. As a result, more Filipinos have access to state-of-the-art TB treatment and protection health services, which are curing more and more people.


THE US-Philippine partnership has made itself evident time and again throughout the years.

That partnership has been particularly evident in addressing the challenges that followed the end of fighting in Marawi City. Alumni of US government exchanges from Mindanao were on the frontlines of humanitarian and psychosocial efforts to address the needs of people displaced by the fighting.

Now, through the US embassy’s year-long P18.5-million #ForMindanao campaign, US exchange alumni are developing low-cost, high-impact projects that addresses the immediate needs of an estimated 13,500 out-of-school youth, university students, madrasa students, and women in Mindanao, as well as tackling the root causes of conflict and violent extremism.

The USAID has also been incredibly active in Mindanao, quickly providing immediate and extensive humanitarian assistance that continues today, working with local government units and many Philippine government departments to provide life-saving services to internally displaced persons, including P730 million in emergency relief to help provide transitional shelter, water sanitation and hygiene, and at the same time, bolster other logistical requirements.

The US also remains one of the Philippines’s closest economic partners, exchanging more than P940 billion in goods last year. It is among the Philippines’s top 4 foreign investors: US businesses have invested approximately P235 billion in this country.

The US-based company Convergys is the largest, single-private employer in the Philippines. The largest exporter, Texas Instruments, is a US company, and so are some of the largest taxpayers, such as Chevron. Economic partnership benefits everyone.


THE US-Philippine alliance is perhaps most evident in our two militaries’ long tradition of shoulder-to-shoulder training and defense cooperation. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the US military have long-standing ties going back to World War II, and this has contributed to regional security and stability throughout those many years.

Every year the AFP and US military train together in high-profile exercises, which includes the Balikatan and Kamandag. During these annual exercises, our two militaries build effective and ready forces capable of responding to security challenges by focusing on a variety of missions, including mutual defense, counterterrorism, as well as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

The Philippines is by far the largest recipient of US military assistance in the region, supporting the AFP’s modernization goals through a variety of programs and initiatives. In the past few years, the US has delivered millions of dollars worth of planes, ships, armored vehicles and small arms to the Philippines.

A few examples demonstrate the point: Earlier this year, the US delivered a Scan Eagle Unmanned Aerial System at the cost of P687 million to the Philippine Air Force, which will provide unmanned intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to the AFP.

Last month the US provided personal protective equipment worth P178 million to the Philippine Marine Special Operations Group, which will also protect AFP members in the southern Philippines and Mindanao.

In 2017 the US donated two Cessna 208B air intelligence and surveillance aircraft to the AFP. Since then, the aircraft has enhanced the PAF’s counterterrorism capabilities and helped protect AFP members actively engaged in counterterrorism operations in the southern Philippines, particularly in Mindanao.

These are only a few of the inexhaustible list of wonderful programs, initiatives and relationships that represent our two countries’ bond every day.

I have been honored to serve as US Ambassador to the Philippines for a year and a half. In that period, I am proud to say that we have built on more than 70 years of working constructively for the benefit of both our countries, and I expect that relationship to continue for decades to come.

It is clear to me that our future is brightest when our two countries remain the closest of friends, partners and allies.

3 suspected NPAs killed in Camarines Norte encounter

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 5): 3 suspected NPAs killed in Camarines Norte encounter

Three suspected New People's Army (NPA) rebels were slain in a clash with Army soldiers in a remote village in Camarines Norte Thursday.

Government troopers also seized five assault rifles and two improvised explosive devices (IED) from the insurgents during the clash in a far-flung village in Jose Panganiban town, a military official said.

The identities of the fatalities are yet to be determined, according to Army Capt. Joash Pramis, 9th Infantry Division (ID) spokesperson.

Army soldiers were on patrol around 6:30 a.m. when they engaged an undetermined number of communist rebels in Sitio (sub-village) Banasi, Barangay Sta. Cruz in a fierce firefight.

The encounter lasted for almost an hour and led to the deaths of the three rebels, and the recovery of M-16, AK 47 and M-14 rifles, a grenade launcher and two IEDs, Pramis said.

As of posting time, Army soldiers are still conducting pursuit operations against the fleeing rebels.

Door for peace remains open: Palace

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 5): Door for peace remains open: Palace

President Rodrigo R. Duterte, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza, and Special Assistant to the President Christopher "Bong" Go (Presidential Photo)

The door for the resumption of peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) is still open subject to the conditions set by President Rodrigo R. Duterte, Malacañang said.

“The door for peace talks remains open provided that PRRD’s conditions are meet,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement following the Command conference held Wednesday night.

Roque said one of the conditions is that the coalition government demanded by Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Maria Sison should not be part of the peace talks.

He said Duterte’s call for the
holding of the talks in the country is another condition, along with the demand to stop collection of the so-called revolutionary tax.

Roque said cessation of hostilities in which the New People’s Army (NPA) are “encamped” in designated areas should be observed before resuming the talks.

Meanwhile, Roque said "localized" peace talks may be pursued by local government units (LGUs) “provided they do not concede any aspect of government and pursuant to guidelines to be agreed upon by the Cabinet cluster on security”.

According to Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza, the “way forward” in the stalled peace talks was decided following the consolidations of various positions expressed during the command conference conveyed by Duterte in Malacañang.

Dureza said Duterte has also expressed his wish that Norway continues as facilitator in the event the peace talks are resumed.

Last month, Duterte decided to postpone the scheduled June 28 resumption of peace negotiations between the government and the NDFP to allow the government to “engage the bigger peace table, the general public”.

During the postponement, all backchannel talks are also suspended to allow the review of all signed agreements between the GRP and communist rebels.

Duterte has repeatedly invited self-exiled Sison to go home to talk peace within a 60-day window period.

PAF expanding ops with help of gov't agencies

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 5): PAF expanding ops with help of gov't agencies

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) has greatly expanded its operations across the country due to the support of its government partners, its chief, Lt. Gen. Galileo Gerard Kintanar, has said.

"Through our close coordination with the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), we are expanding our operations in other areas, such as General Santos City, Laoag, Ubay in Bohol, Iloilo, Laguindingan and Lumbia Airports (Cagayan de Oro)," Kintanar said, as the Air Force celebrated its 71st founding anniversary Tuesday.

He also expressed gratitude to Palawan’s provincial government for signing the memorandum of agreement (MOA) that allowed the PAF to use a 300-hectare area as base in Balabac, and to the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority for another MOA allowing them to operate a forward operating base in Lal-lo, Cagayan.

"The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has likewise handed (the) Guian Airport in Samar," Kintanar added.

In line with this, the Air Force chief said they are coordinating with the DOTr and CAAP to integrate their air defense radars to effectively monitor and detect unregistered aircraft and other unidentified entrants.

"More importantly, we need to engage more stakeholders as we develop a national strategy for aviation security, with DOTr and CAAP as our main partners," he said.

PAF ‘assets’ used in gov't anti-drug campaign

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 5): PAF ‘assets’ used in gov't anti-drug campaign

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) has utilized its newly-acquired intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) assets in the government's ongoing campaign against illegal drugs.

This was stressed by Air Force commander Lt. Gen. Galileo Gerard Kintanar during the PAF's 71st founding anniversary rites held in Villamor Air Base, Pasay City Tuesday.

"Recently, at the request of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency or PDEA, we deployed our newly-acquired ISR assets to facilitate their successful raid of a laboratory in Batangas which can produce 25 kilos of shabu with a street value of PHP125 million daily," he added.

This showcased the PAF's strong support to the ongoing anti-illegal drug campaign, Kintanar said.

"It is also noteworthy to mention the PAF's strong support to the leadership('s) campaign against illegal drugs and criminality through partnership with concerned government agencies," the PAF chief added.

Among the PAF's newly-acquired ISR assets include the two US-donated Cessna 208Bs which were delivered last in July last year and six unmanned ScanEagle drones this March.

DND: Localized peace talks with Reds more flexible

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 5): DND: Localized peace talks with Reds more flexible

The Department of National Defense (DND) said it strongly supports calls for peace talks with communist rebels but wanted it held at the local level.

Arsenio Andolong, DND spokesperson, in an interview on Thursday, said the local level peace dialogues are more flexible as negotiating with ranking communist leaders like Jose Maria "Joma" Sison and his company will not progress.

"We believe that we will move forward with local peace talks bale in short yung peace talks na talking with Sison, et al, will not progress, we are in favor of peace talks but at that level, mas magiging flexible (yung talks in) theory," Andolong said.

Earlier, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza said the doors for the resumption of the peace talks with the National Democratic Front remain open but this is based on the wishes of President Rodrigo Duterte that there will be no coalition government and there will be a halt in the collection of the so-called revolutionary tax.

President Duterte also wanted the talks held in the country and that there should be a ceasefire agreement, in which, armed NPA members are encamped in designated areas.

In the meantime, localized peace arrangements may be pursued by local government units with insurgents in their respective areas of responsibility.

This “way forward” in the stalled peace talks was decided following the consolidation of various positions expressed during the command conference convened by Duterte in Malacañang on Wednesday night.

The Chief Executive also expressed his wish that Norway continues as facilitator in the event peace talks are resumed.

2 Methodist missionaries on BI watchlist deported

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 5): 2 Methodist missionaries on BI watchlist deported

Two of the three United Methodist Church (UMC) missionaries who were included on the Bureau of Immigration's watchlist have already left the country.

In a text message to reporters, BI Spokesperson Dana Krizia Sandoval said Zimbabwean national Tawanda Chandiwana was deported to his country Thursday noon.

Chandiwana was detained for overstaying and violating the provisions of the missionary visa granted to him after he was found to have engaged in political activities.

On the other hand, another UMC missionary, American Adam Thomas Shaw, took a flight back to the US Wednesday morning.

No further details of their departure were provided.

Shaw was ordered to leave for engaging in missionary works without a visa, overstaying, and for involvement in leftist activities.

As for another missionary, Malawian Miracle Osman, the BI official said they would still check on her status. She was included on the BI’s watchlist last March 12, and was ordered to leave last June 18.

The foreigners were ordered to submit their requirements for the fulfillment of their order to leave before they could depart the country.

All of them were subsequently included on the BI’s blacklist following reports of their involvement in leftist activities.

“Alien missionaries in the Philippines must be actually, directly, and exclusively engaged in religious work. They must not engage in any endeavor that is not consistent with their religious or missionary vocation,” Sandoval earlier said.

At the same time, she clarified that there is no crackdown on foreign missionaries.

Based on BI's records, there are more than 500 missionary visa holders in the country.

Guidelines on localized peace talks to be finalized on July 12

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 5): Guidelines on localized peace talks to be finalized on July 12

Members of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s Cabinet cluster on security will be meeting on July 12 to finalize the guidelines for the upcoming localized peace talks with communist rebels.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed this on Thursday, expressing Duterte’s support for localized peace talks during the command conference held in Malacañang on Wednesday night.

“Ang alternatibo na pupuwedeng ipatupad ng gobyerno ay iyong localized peace talks (An alternative we can implement are localized peace talks),” Roque said in a Palace briefing.

Roque said local government officials have already been conducting localized peace talks resulting in the surrender of insurgents.

“That’s why bulk of the surrenderees that we have particularly in the Davao Region, is a result of negotiations between the fighters themselves and the local government unit,” Roque said.

“There will be a meeting of this Cabinet cluster (on security) on July 12 to finalize the guidelines for localized peace talks,” he added.

Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza said Dutete's wishes are: That there will be no coalition government, that there will be a stop in the collection of revolutionary tax, that venue of the talks will be local, and that there will be a ceasefire agreement in which armed New People's Army (NPA) rebels encamped in designated areas.

Roque, meanwhile, shrugged off Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison’s claim that localized peace talks were impossible, calling rebel leader's statements “irrelevant.”

“Now that peace talks are not being held, he’s completely irrelevant as far as I’m concerned. So Joma Sison can say anything he wants, that’s his opinion; he’s even living 10,000 miles away. So I don’t see how he can even be relevant,” Roque said.

He also said Duterte is not taking seriously threats that NPA guerillas are ready to oust Duterte.

“We’re laughing at it,” Roque said.

He also allayed fears that Duterte has plans of declaring martial law.

“Paulit-ulit na ngang sinabi ng Presidente, problematic talaga ‘yang nationwide martial law (The President has repeatedly said a nationwide martial law is problematic). If he wanted to, he could have – and we all know that,” Roque said.

Meanwhile, Roque said Norway could still participate in peace talks “any which way they want” should they be held within the country.

“We’re just saying that Norwegians can help any which way they want.

“Let’s just say that the President did not dispute that Norwegians can be a third party facilitator. But there was no outright statement that they will continue to be a third party facilitator. If the Norwegians can help in localize peace talks, they are more than welcome to do so,” he added.

Where Did the U.S. Go Wrong in the Philippines? A Hard Look at a ‘Success’ Story

Commentary posted to War on the Rocks (Jun 14): Where Did the U.S. Go Wrong in the Philippines? A Hard Look at a ‘Success’ Story (By Zachary Abuza)

Image: U.S. Army/Staff Sgt. Christopher McCullough

Since the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, U.S. Special Operations Forces have been involved in training and assisting their Philippine counterparts. This has been hailed as a successful mission, with a small footprint, an acceptable price tag, and few Americans returning home in body bags. And yet, 17 years later, I and other analysts of Philippine security issues are still writing about ungoverned space, the proliferation of radical groups, and endemic corruption within the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). I routinely speak with regional officials who continue to express frustration that the deteriorating security situation is spilling over into other countries. While Islamic State militants have been able to plan and execute attacks in Malaysian and Indonesia, the Philippines is the only place in Southeast Asia where pro-Islamic State militants held territory. If the U.S. special operations effort is going so well, then why are things so bad?

How did this happen in a country where the United States invested considerable blood and treasure to improve armed forces’ capabilities, and which has been held out for years as a success story for the counter-terrorism paradigm of working “by, with, and through” partner forces? Although the armed forces did improve thanks to U.S. security cooperation, they remain under-resourced and plagued by endemic corruption. Moreover, the Philippines is still plagued by a host of political problems and socio-economic infirmities.

But a real assessment of how this supposed counter-terrorism success devolved over the course of just a few years must focus on America’s own errors. The United States failed to understand how terrorist groups grafted onto or simply took advantage of the ungoverned spaces created by indigenous insurgencies. It emphasized counter-terrorism over counter-insurgency, and thus failed to appreciate the thing that mattered most: governance. And while the U.S. assistance program was not large by Department of Defense standards, it created moral hazard and a culture of dependency in the Philippines.

The operation had many tactical counter-terrorism successes, but these were bound to be ephemeral because of the many shortcomings of the U.S. approach, including, most importantly, the failure to think strategically.

By, With, and Through

Working “by, with, and through” foreign counterparts has been an increasingly important part of the U.S. counter-terrorism effort since 9/11. This approach often involves using small numbers of U.S. Special Forces to train, advise, assist, and provide intelligence. In addition to serving as a force multiplier, this approach is also meant to get host governments to take ownership of their own internal security problems, and deal with poorly governed spaces that offer terrorist organizations sanctuary.

Few cases of U.S. counter-terrorism assistance are regarded as successful as the Philippines. The 2002 National Security Strategy laid out a plan to degrade, diminish, and defeat terrorist organizations, and identified the Philippines as a place where a minimal investment in training, logistics, and intelligence sharing could neutralize a regional terrorist threat, while also enhancing the capabilities of the Philippine security forces. The Department of Defense has long held up the Joint Special Operations Task Force – Philippines, established in 2002, as a model of U.S. security and counter-terror assistance programs.

In 2015, the RAND Corporation released a glowing report on the task force, providing a host of metrics including the number of terrorists killed or captured and number of attacks, and tried to correlate these to the amount of assistance the United States had provided to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). In many ways, this effort harkened back to the same metrics the U.S. military used during the Vietnam War: body counts, number of militants captured, weapons seized, and declines in attacks or bombings.

I spent some time with the special forces in the Philippines and have analyzed their operations for 17 years. In many ways they did everything right: The force was small, never more than 500 to 600 men. They were deployed in small units and embedded with their Philippine counterparts, whom they trained and provided with intelligence. Though U.S. forces had rules of engagement that allowed them to fight back in self-defense, they were not involved in offensive combat operations. They trained the Philippine armed forces to use civic action projects to try to win over a leery local Muslim population who mistrusted the national government and military after years of egregious human rights abuses and institutional prejudice.

The special forces worked exceptionally closely with the U.S. Embassy, coordinating their actions and messaging. Their coordination with USAID to implement meaningful development programs was excellent. They were teamed with intelligence and law enforcement. The task force’s budget and resources, by Department of Defense standards, was modest. In short, they went in light and with a small footprint, committed to improving the capacity of their treaty ally, using an inter-agency framework.

When the task force wound down in early 2015, the United States left a skeletal force of some 200 special operators who remained to provide some intelligence capabilities. The training and logistics support programs largely ended; though larger bilateral trainings, such as Balikatan, continued to be held annually.

A Worsening Security Environment

Despite the rave reviews, the end of the task force coincided with the rapid deterioration of the security situation. The Abu Sayyaf terror group, which the United States had helped pacify in Basilan, returned, actively challenging government forces there and across Sulu. Meanwhile, a botched counter-terrorist operation in January 2015 led to the collapse of peace talks with the largest insurgent group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), all at a time when groups were increasingly jumping on the Islamic State bandwagon. With the Joint Special Operations Task Force — Philippines not standing over them, the AFP was first complacent, then overwhelmed by the magnitude of the threat.

In March 2016, the Abu Sayyaf began a maritime kidnapping campaign. Within a year it had taken 70 sailors and fishermen from six countries, briefly shutting down intraregional trade. Since 2016, Abu Sayyaf militants have kidnapped and beheaded foreigners, killing Canadian, German, and Malaysian nationals, and staged abduction raids into Malaysia’s Sabah state. While trilateral maritime patrols with Malaysia and Indonesia have had some success, all three countries have limited resources and capabilities. In April 2017, the Abu Sayyaf attempted their first hostage-taking raid into the comparatively secure Visayan region.

Also starting in April 2017, pro-Islamic State militants from the Maute Group and Abu Sayyaf group militants sieged the city of Marawi for five months. That they were able to infiltrate over 600 men and enough arms and ammunition to sustain them was an abject intelligence failure. While Philippine security forces fought bravely, their lack of urban training hampered the effort to liberate the city. Some 12 casualties were the victims of friendly fire incidents from aerial operations.

As the Islamic State suffered huge setbacks in Iraq and Syria during this time, it called on militants to travel to the island of Mindanao to establish new pockets of control. The Philippines remains beset by militant groups who render large portions of the country weakly governed or not governed at all, threatening the security of many other Southeast Asian states. Independent researchers Angelica Mangahas and Luke Lischin told me that between January 2016 and March 2018, there were some 254 attacks that could be attributed to pro-Islamic State groups. In that time, there were some 730 incidents by all groups in Mindanao alone, that, not including the Marawi siege, accounted for nearly 1,500 deaths.

Today, the southern Philippines still draws in militants from all over the region. Malaysian security forces have diverted considerable resources to Sabah, to counter the logistics cells helping to move militants in and out of the Philippines from Indonesia and Malaysia. After years of improvement, regional security forces now see Mindanao as a font of regional terrorism.

The test of any counter-insurgency is whether the overall political situation where insurgents operate has improved sufficiently such that people are less willing to take up arms against the state. I have studied several independent data sets from the World Bank, The Economist, Freedom House, Fragile State Index, Global Rule of Law Index, Reporters without Borders, and others. Each data set has its own limitations and methodologies, but taken together they paint a remarkably similar picture: governance, democracy, rule of law, professionalization of security forces, and media freedoms have all declined during 17 years of U.S. assistance. They portend more, not less, political violence, a trend that is only accelerating under the murderous leadership of President Rodrigo Duterte, who has transformed the security forces into an unaccountable extrajudicial killing squad, responsible for over 20,000 deaths.

In light of the devolving security situation, the United States revved up operations and assistance to the Philippines. On Sep. 1, 2017, U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis authorized Operation Pacific Eagle-Philippines, described as a “comprehensive campaign to assist the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in their fight against violent extremist organizations.” The commitment was once again open-ended, with the department simply saying it would “terminate when the AFP no longer requires U.S. military assistance to address its internal terrorist threat.”

While the AFP has reiterated its commitment to combatting the pro-Islamic State groups, it has reverted to tactics the United States tried so hard to wean them off of. More often than not, these tactics, such as the use of field artillery, prove counterproductive causing more civilian casualties and engendering more mistrust of the government.

The Philippines should be in a much stronger position. It has had one of the fastest growing economies in the region for several years. It has seen increases in trade and investment; government revenue streams are stronger. Yet governance continues to worsen.

The Problems With U.S. Counter-Terror Efforts in the Philippines

So what went wrong? There were several problems with the U.S. approach. First, it was too reliant on decapitation, or manhunt efforts to kill or capture terrorists. No matter how many suspects were neutralized, the organizations were always able to quickly regroup and recruit anew, especially in a region plagued by endemic corruption, surging population growth, un- and under-employment, popular mistrust of the government, and deep-seated grievances. As such, counter-terrorism gains were not sustainable.

Arresting so many suspected terrorists also had a blowback effect. The government never implemented a disengagement program in the prisons. This problem was compounded by overcrowded jails where vulnerable prisoners were alongside charismatic terrorist leaders who sought to give people a new spiritual raison d’etre that would help them atone for their misdeeds. Prisoners had nothing but time to radicalize until they escaped in a jailbreak, which became almost routine during this time.

The third problem was moral hazard. Even though U.S. forces went in with a small footprint, they created a culture of dependency. The United States provided the AFP with roughly $50 million a year in counter-terrorism assistance between 2002 and 2016, a significant amount for the AFP, whose total 2017 budget was only $4.4 billion. Although the force’s budget, in constant 2016 dollars, has increased by 90 percent since 2002, it still is insufficient for the host of internal and external security threats that the Philippines faces after decades of chronic underinvestment and senior-level corruption.

No one believed the institutional transformation of the AFP would happen quickly. And there is no doubt that the force is better than it was when the U.S. started its counter-terrorism assistance in 2002. But this is a very low bar. After 16 years of a robust assistance program, $3.9 billion in counter-terrorism assistance and operations, not to mention other security sector modernization funding, we should see more tangible gains.

With its open-ended assistance program, the United States in many ways incentivized corruption. What motivation did the AFP have to take the lead against small groups such as the Abu Sayyaf? Not only did the armed forces continue to get funding regardless of the results it produced, many field commanders were in fact getting kickbacks from the group’s hostage-taking. The number of times the Abu Sayyaf miraculously broke out of encirclements was breathtaking. Unlike in Indonesia, where the US and Australia funded a new and elite counter-terrorism police force, the US continued to work with under-resourced and corrupt security forces with egregious human rights records.

Corruption within the AFP remains endemic. By 2011, nearly 50 percent of Filipinos polled by Pulse Asia said that the force was corrupt; the worst of any institution in the survey.

It’s also worth noting that many AFP decisions undermined the U.S. training program. When the United States provided training to small units that started to have real tactical successes, the immediate reaction of the armed forces leadership was to break up those units in the hope that those individuals would take their training back to their units. Moreover, because of the armed forces’ mandatory retirement age and the system of seniority, the senior leadership constantly turned over. AFP commanders lasted on average under one year. Even if some legitimately benefited from U.S. training, no one had a chance to make their mark.

No Strategic Vision

But America’s biggest failing was to treat the wrong problem and to do so through a narrow tactical lens that failed to account for the political environment. The United States was focused on combatting terrorism, rather than helping the host government conduct a more holistic counter-insurgency. Narrow counter-terrorism was exactly what the Philippines wanted, as it enabled the government to avoid the tough reforms necessary to address the long-running insurgencies and ungoverned spaces. This is most obvious when one looks at the case of the MILF.

In 1996 the group began providing sanctuary and training camps for Al Qaeda’s regional affiliate, Jemaah Islamiyah. What eventually cut the group’s ties to Jemaah Islamiyah was a peace process with the government that began in mid-2003. Once the peace process began, the al-Qaeda affiliate became a liability, and many, though not all, were forced out of MILF-controlled territory.

A peace agreement was signed in 2014, but in the midst of deliberations by Filipino lawmakers over the implementing legislation, a police unit launched a raid into MILF-controlled territory in January 2015, bypassing the normal ceasefire coordinating mechanisms. The death of 44 police aborted all congressional deliberation. It was a tactical encounter, with strategic costs.

Although the United States repeatedly has said that it supports the peace process, it largely accepted the Philippine position, placing the onus on the MILF. Washington has done little since 2015 to raise the cost for the Philippines to follow through, and the peace process — until very recently — has been stalled.

As the Philippine Congress refused to pass implementing legislation, in the midst of a national election, cells declaring allegiance to the Islamic State were proliferating across the southern Philippines. Today, central Mindanao has at least four different pro-Islamic State groups including the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, Ansuar al-Khalifa Philippines, and the Maute Group. They were able to take advantage of frustration and disillusionment with the MILF leadership, and mistrust of the government.

The MILF leadership acknowledges they are powerless to stop the defections or compete with these groups for new recruits. Until a peace agreement is concluded, the group has neither the incentive, will, nor, increasingly, the capacity, to police its territory. While there has been some recent progress towards the implementation of the peace agreement, the MILF is a weaker, less cohesive organization and will have a much harder time implementing its end of the deal. The Mautes and Abu Sayyaf are regrouping and recruiting anew, taking advantage of the government’s botched reconstruction of the city, which will only deepen animosity towards the government from its 400,000 displaced people. Meanwhile, Mindanao continues to draw foreign militants.

While the Philippines continues to conduct counter-terror operations, more often than not, their tactics – which the U.S. tried to wean them off of – have fuel the proliferation of extremist groups and created a more complex security landscape for a military that is already challenged and under-resourced.

The Counter-Terrorism Trap

For 17 years, the United States has fallen into the same trap it has created for itself repeatedly since 9/11. It has enabled corruption in host-nation security forces, focused on counter-terrorism instead of counter-insurgency, allowed the government to pursue policies that are inimical to U.S. security interests, turned a blind eye to failures of governance, and focused on tactical successes while losing sight of strategic objectives.

First, the failure to root out corruption has created moral hazard: There is simply no incentive for the AFP to ever finish the job. Open-ended commitments ensure that America will be played, and it seems to be repeating this mistake.

Second, the United States has framed the Philippines as a counter-terrorism problem, not a counter-insurgency problem. It lost sight of the fact that indigenous insurgencies were what created the ungoverned space that terrorists utilized. And the United States backed aggressive counter-terror operations that led to the collapse of a peace process at a critical time.

Third, although few insurgencies are ever defeated on the battlefield, the United States was unwilling to use its leverage to push the Philippines into a negotiated settlement when it mattered most. U.S. reticence continued, even as the security situation on the ground worsened and the Philippine government and Congress continued to stall on the peace process. If the host government doesn’t have the political will to solve core grievances, no amount of assistance can help them.

Fourth, the United States never held the Philippine government to account when its rule of law, democracy, and political institutions were constantly being degraded. Even if U.S. security assistance had gone well and the decapitation strategy had worked, these gains were meaningless given that the underlying political context was so much worse. With legal and political channels and protections weakening, what is to preclude significant portions of the population from taking up arms against the state?

Fifth, the United States focused on short-term tactical successes, rather than the big picture: ungoverned space in which terrorists could regroup, train, and execute attacks. After several years of improvement, Mindanao is once again a black hole for regional security.

The experience in the Philippines should raise serious questions about counter-terrorism efforts that are declared successful. The case is a cautionary tale about the much-touted light footprint approach and, more generally, about America’s ability to influence political and security conditions in a host country with more deeply rooted problems. If the United States can’t influence the actions of a treaty ally that is dependent on American aid and professes to share U.S. interests, it shouldn’t expect to achieve anything better elsewhere.

Zachary Abuza is a Professor at the National War College, and the author of Forging Peace in Southeast Asia (2016). Follow him @zachabuza. The views are the author’s alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the National War College or US Department of Defense.

Man, brother-in-law jailed for involvement in Abu Sayyaf militant group activities

From the New Straits Times (Jul 3): Man, brother-in-law jailed for involvement in Abu Sayyaf militant group activities

A 27-year-old man and his brother-in-law were sentenced to six years and three years’ jail respectively for being members of Abu Sayyaf militant group and omitting information related to the terror group.

Judge Datuk Mohd Sofian Abd Razak meted out the sentence against Hajar Abdul Mubin and Abdul Syamir Dabilin, 25, after they pleaded guilty to being members of Islamic State and intentional omission of information about a terror act.

Sofian in his judgment said Hajar was lucky as the prosecution team decided to offer an alternative charge.

“Fleeing to Malaysia is not a short cut for you to escape from involvement in Abu Sayyaf terror group. Your act can threaten the national security,” he said.

Sofian told Abdul Syamir he should not hide information related to terrorism in the county even it involved family members.

“You should know what your brother-in-law did was wrong. You should report it to the authorities,” he said.

Hajar was accused of supporting Abu Sayyaf by being a member of the Abu Sayyaf group at a house in Lorong Pangsa Baiduri 2, Taman Desa Baiduri, Cheras, between 2010 and Aug 30 last year.

He was charged under Section 130J(1)(b) of the Penal Code which carries maximum 30 years’ imprisonment.

Abdul Syamir was charged with intentional omission of information regarding a terrorist act at Persiaran Pangsa Baiduri, Taman Desa Baiduri, Cheras, between 2008 and Aug 30 last year.

The offence falls under Section 130M of the same Code which provides for seven years’ jail, fine, or both, upon conviction.

Earlier, counsel Zaini Bakar who represented the duo pleaded for lenient sentences against his clients.

“Hajar has not been a member of Abu Sayyaf since he escaped in 2015 while Abdul Syamir did not report about the former as he believed Hajar had repented,” he said.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Munirah Shamsudin pressed for deterrent sentences as the case involved public interest.

The duo were among 19 people nabbed by police in a series of raids between July 4 and Aug 30 last year, believed to have planned terror attacks during the Sea Games closing ceremony and National Day celebration last year.

3 suspected rebels slain in Camarines Norte clash

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 5): 3 suspected rebels slain in Camarines Norte clash
Three suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) were killed in a firefight with government soldiers in Jose Panganiban town in Camarines Norte province Thursday morning, the military said.

Capt. Joash Pramis, spokesperson of the Army’s 9th Infantry Division, said soldiers were on patrol at 6:30 a.m. when they engaged in a fierce firefight with an undetermined number of communist rebels at Sitio (sub-village) Banasi, Barangay (village) Sta Cruz.

The firefight lasted for almost an hour and led to the killings of the three still unidentified rebels and the recovery of two M16, AK47 and M14 rifles, a grenade launcher and two improvised explosive devices, Pramis said. No one was hurt on the government’s side.

Army troops were pursuing the other rebels who escaped after the clash, Pramis said.

Roque defends claim some priests have links with Reds

From the Journal Online (Jul 4): Roque defends claim some priests have links with Reds

“IT’S not fake news.”

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque stood by his claim that some Catholic Church leaders are conniving with communist rebels to oust President Rodrigo Duterte.

Roque earlier drew criticism from the outspoken Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo after saying that the idea of communist rebels and Catholic leaders joining forces to oust the president was not far-fetched.

Pabillo dared Roque to identify Church leaders who may be involved in an alleged ouster plot against the President.

Roque said his claim was not “fake news”, but he still failed to name even a single Church leader who could be involved in an oust Duterte plot.

He stressed that the communist party has a proven history of penetrating any institution just to advance its interests.
“Hindi po fake news iyan; iyan po ay kasaysayan. Napakatanda na po ng CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines - New People’s Army), it’s the world longest insurgency. Ang konsepto po talaga ng mga Maoist ay iyon din ang konsepto ng National Democratic Front eh talagang papasukin nila ang iba’t ibang institusyon ‘no. Kaya po ang sa akin, iyan po ay isang panawagan, isang babala,” Roque told radio dzRH.

“Matuto naman po tayo sa kasaysayan. Huwag magbulag-bulagan at huwag nating… kunwaring hindi alam kung paano gumalaw ang CPP-NPA.”

Roque added he is standing by his earlier statement that some Church leaders could be joining forces with communist rebels because of their similar dislike for the President, who has recently ramped up his tirades against the Church and its teachings.

For Pabillo, Roque’s statement only exposes the “insecurity” of the Duterte administration.

“That only shows how insecure they are. They are so blinded by their fears and their bias that they cannot see their mistakes. They deflect on others their inefficiencies,” the prelate added.

27 ex-NPA rebels receive cash reward in Bukidnon

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 5): 27 ex-NPA rebels receive cash reward in Bukidnon

Twenty-seven former members of the New People’s Army (NPA) received cash remunerations for their surrendered firearms, military officials said.

Captain Norman Tagros, civil military operations chief of the Army's 403rd Infantry Brigade, on Thursday said a total of PHP655,000 were given to the former NPA rebels during a ceremony on July 2 at Camp Osito Bahian, this city.

Tagros said each rebel received an amount ranging from PHP2,000 to PHP80,000, depending on the kind and quality of the firearms surrendered, as evaluated by authorities.

Aside from the firearms remuneration, the former NPA rebels will also be receiving their livelihood assistance amounting to PHP65,000 each from the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP), Tagros said.

Brig. Gen. Eric C. Vinoya, commander of 403IB, voiced appreciation to the former rebels' decision to leave the communist guerilla group and "embrace peace."

Vinoya made an assurance that aside from the cash and livelihood assistance, the former rebels will also receive housing assistance, employment, and PhilHealth benefits.

4 suspected NPA guerrillas killed in CamNorte clash —Army

From GMA News (Jul 5): 4 suspected NPA guerrillas killed in CamNorte clash —Army

Four suspected New People's Army fighters were killed in a clash with government soldiers early morning on Thursday in Camarines Norte.

A report on Super Radyo dzBB's Dobol B sa News TV by Peewee Bacuño said that the encounter took place in Jose Panganiban town at about 6:30 a.m.

Four suspected rebels were killed in the clash with elements of the 9th Infantry Battalion, the Southern Luzon Command was quoted in the report as saying.

No casualty was reported on the side of the security forces, the report added.

Recovered from the slain rebels were one AK-47 assault rifle, two M16 rifles, one M14 rifle, two grenade launchers, and two improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Scene of the Crime Operatives rushed to the encounter site for a follow up investigation.

Philippines wants rebels 'encamped' in fixed areas for talks

Associated Press article posted to the Wichita Eagle (Jul 4): Philippines wants rebels 'encamped' in fixed areas for talks
The Philippine government will demand that peace talks with communist rebels shift from Europe to the Philippines and the insurgents are encamped in designated areas during the negotiations to peacefully settle one of Asia's longest-raging insurgencies.

Presidential adviser Jesus Dureza said Thursday that New People's Army guerrillas would also be asked to stop collecting so-called "revolutionary tax" from companies and demanding to be part of a future coalition government.

President Rodrigo Duterte's conditions were finalized in a meeting with top military and police officials late Wednesday. They're seen as likely to be rejected by the guerrillas, who fear that holding talks in Manila would expose them — including their Europe-exiled leaders — to military surveillance and harassment.

The low-level, rural-based rebellion, which has raged since 1969, has left about 40,000 combatants and civilians dead, hampered security and economic development in the impoverished countryside for nearly half a century. The military estimates that about 3,900 Marxist insurgents continue to wage the insurgency.
"The doors for the resumption of peace talks ... are still open," Dureza said in a statement.

Dureza said the president still wishes Norway to continue brokering the broader talks, but added that "in the meantime, localized peace arrangements may be pursued by the local government units with the insurgents."

When he took power in 2016, Duterte resumed peace talks with the rebels but canceled them last year to protest continued guerrilla attacks on troops. He also signed an order declaring the rebel group a terrorist organization, a label the insurgents have opposed. The United States has also designated the rebels as terrorists.

After preliminary talks, both sides agreed to a new temporary cease-fire on June 21, with peace talks to resume a few days later in Norway, which has been brokering the decades-long negotiations. But Duterte delayed the resumption indefinitely to allow public consultations, antagonizing the guerrillas.

Last week, communist rebel leader Jose Maria Sison, who founded the Communist Party of the Philippines and is based in the Netherlands, said the insurgents can no longer hold peace talks with Duterte's administration and that it is better to help oust him and negotiate with his successor. Other rebels, however, said that Sison's recommendation would still have to be approved by other guerrilla leaders.

The volatile Philippine president shrugged off Sison's threat and said he was ready to continue fighting the insurgents. "If they're not willing to talk to me, that's fine. I have no problem so we continue with the war. Anyway, we've been there for 50 years," Duterte told reporters.

MILF: Bangsamoros of Tawi - Tawi hold peace rally, urge BICAM members to restore deleted BBL provisions

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Website (Jul 5): Bangsamoros of Tawi - Tawi hold peace rally, urge BICAM members to restore deleted BBL provisions

IN PHOTO- Some of the participants to the peace rally in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi holding their tarps that urge Bicam members to restore deleted, and/or amended BBL provisions

The Tumpukan Bangsa Sama Inc. (TBSI) organized a peace rally dubbed as " ONE TAWI - TAWI " supports Bangsamoro Basic Law with a Theme: " Correct Historical Injustice, Now or Never " held at Datu Amilbahar Jaafar Convention Center, MSU Preparatory High School, Bongao, Tawi - Tawi on July 3, 2018.

Tawi - Tawi lies in the Southernmost part of the Philippines and have been traditionally referred to as the country's backdoor, just 30 km from Simunul to the State of Sabah in Malaysia.

Prior to the peace rally, a motorcade of at least 200 vehicles including motorcycles was done and 3 motor launch (boat) coming from island municipalities arrived with their delegations.

The peace rally was attended by around 2,000 participants from different sectors of the province, men in uniform, students, academe, CSOs/ NGOs, religious leaders, traditional leaders, LGUs and from the professional group.

Noteworthy to mention, those who graced the activity were: Dr. Alpha Amiruhadj, Prof. Abduljamil Ishmael, Datu Abdurahman Dakulah, Dr. Abdurajak " Jack Moro " Sandag, Dr. June Ahamad, Hon. Datu Nur-Gerry Wagas, Hadji Abdurahman Idris, Hadji Ishmael Haibaton, Dr. Sitti Amina Mohammad, Hadji Serata Dais and Al Trekee Dayan.


IN PHOTO- Participants to the peace forum in Bohe Indangan, Simunul, Tawi-Tawi
Invited guest was BTC Chairman Ghazali Jaafar but was represented by his Chief of Staff Prof.  Raby Angkal.

The Bangsa Sama leaders in their respective messages were in agreement to support the passage of BTC-drafted BBL and appealed to the Bicameral Conference Committee members to restore the deleted " Six Major Issues " of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.

Prof. Abduljamil Ishmael in his message stated that, " This BBL is or maybe the last and ultimate way to correct historical injustice. "

After the rally, the BTC delegation proceeded to Bohe Indangan in Simunul where the first Masjid in the Philippines was established by Shiek Makdum sometime in 1380. They were met by Mayor Nazif Ahmad " Bonjing " Abdurahman who hosted a Peace Forum on BBL attended by almost 200 participants.

MILF: Bangsamoro CSOS appeal to BICAM committee to restore deleted or amended BBL provisions

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Website (Jul 4): Bangsamoro CSOS appeal to BICAM committee to restore deleted or amended BBL provisions

IN PHOTO- Mr. Guiamel Alim, Chair of Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society Organizations (CBCSO)

The Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) represented by its Chairperson Guiamel Alim appealed to Bicameral Conference Committee members on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) by sending a manifesto to their respective emails, offices, and through social media.

The CBCS has a thousand member - organizations in its quest for sustainable peace and development in Mindanao particularly in the Bangsamoro core area.

The manifesto was drafted during the CBCS sponsored Comparative study session on BBL attended by at least 50 CSO leaders on June 30, 2018, finalized on July, 2 and signed by Chairman Alim.

The manifesto elaborated why there is a need for a strong autonomy for the Bangsamoro.

The CSO's contend that, " Bangsamoro is an opportunity rather than a problem. It only takes one to understand where the Bangsamoro is coming from - their history, struggle and aspiration from a demand for a separate state from the Philippines after having been politically disenfranchised and economically marginalized in their homeland, the Bangsamoro now settles to live in a self - governing entity within the sovereignty of the Philippine state. "

" The grant of meaningful autonomy as envisaged by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) in the proposed BBL is a tacit recognition of the Bangsamoro right to self - determination, an inherent right denied them for so long time. A self - governing entity is the right way to address the legitimate grievances of the Bangsamoro stemming from historical injustices, land dispossession, human rights violation - issues that served as the rallying point in the decades - old armed conflict. "

They further argued that, " In the BBL drafted by BTC, safeguards are built in providing balance between ensuring on one hand that social justice is afforded the Bangsamoro and on the other hand, respecting the sovereign power of the state. This is indeed the right step towards addressing the roots of violent conflict in Mindanao. By recognizing the legitimate cause for self - determination through a meaningful autonomy, the Bangsamoro, a more of an opportunity and an ally of national development rather than a problem. This can eventually lead to the process of healing towards national unity and reconciliation, a state of affairs we all have wanted to see for so long. "

It is to be recalled that during the 3rd reading of SB 1717, and Substituted HB 6475 by the Senate, and the House of Representatives (HoR), respectively there were " six major issues " deleted and amended in the two approved versions that the BBL becomes " more diluted " in effect the proposed Bangsamoro entity will become a " weak autonomous region" and lesser than the ARMM.

On that premise, the group also appealed to the national government, the Executive and Legislative Departments to work out the passage of an acceptable BBL by : Restoring the list of powers as agreed in the CAB; Allowing meaningful autonomy and real self - governance with minimal intervention from national government; Doesn't take powers already granted to the ARMM but builds on these powers; Returning effective control over and benefits of the natural resources in the Bangsamoro territory to the Bangsamoro; and providing for a high level of fiscal autonomy with the block grant being released regularly and automatically to the Bangsamoro Government.