Saturday, July 7, 2018

Duterte names two more former military officers to key DND posts

From the Manila Bulletin (Jul 7): Duterte names two more former military officers to key DND posts

President Duterte has appointed two more former military officers to hold key positions in the Department of National Defense (DND), one of them was a member of the soldiers who staged a mutiny against President Arroyo in 2003.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana accepted the appointment papers and led the oath-taking ceremony for retired Maj. Gen. Angelito de Leon and former Navy Lt, Senior Grade James Layug.

De Leon, a member of the Philippine Military Academy PMA) Class 1984, was designated as Assistant Secretary for Plans and Programs while Layug, a member of the PMA Class 1995, was named director under the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Installations and Self-Reliant Defense Posture.

“I promise to serve at the Department of National Defense with dedication to fulfill the programs of our President and our Secretary of National Defense. I am very glad to be back and I look forward to seeing you all in the future,” de Leon said.

“Now, I am here appointed to be part of this great institution. I would like to thank President Rodrigo Roa Duterte for the trust and confidence he has placed on me. I would like to thank Secretary Lorenzana and the One Defense Team for accepting me as a member of the family,” Layug said.

Before joining the DND, Layug was a ranking official of Bureau of Customs, the same time when the issue of smuggling of P6.4 billion worth of shabu became controversial.

The issue had prompted several former military officers, almost all of them took part in the Oakwood Mutiny, to resign from their posts.

Based on his appointment papers, Layug was assigned to the DND effective July 2 this year.

For his part, de Leon was previously the commander of the 7th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army based in Fort Magsaysay, in Nueva Ecija. His former designations include Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations (J3) and Chief of the AFP Command Center.

China Puts Coast Guard Under Military Command

From the Diplomatic Courier (Jul 6): China Puts Coast Guard Under Military Command

China’s top legislative body, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, decided last month to transfer administration of the country’s Coast Guard from the State Oceanic Administration (SOA), a civilian authority, to the People’s Armed Police Force (PAPF), which falls under the command of China’s Central Military Commission (CMC). The move, which took effect July 1st, is expected to allow China’s Coast Guard, which has over 200 vessels and more than 16,000 service members, to enhance its maritime emergency and law enforcement capabilities through closer coordination and more frequent training exercises with the PLA Navy, thereby allowing it to play a stronger role in combating maritime crimes, such as smuggling and piracy, and illegal activities that contribute to environmental degradation. It is also expected to help the Coast Guard to more effectively conduct search and rescue operations.

Some observers fear the transfer presages a program of fully arming China’s Coast Guard vessels, which, for the most part, are currently armed only with water canons but in future could be fitted with small-caliber canons and heavy machine guns.

Others say that an increasing militarization of China’s Coast Guard could allow it to help enforce the country’s contentious territorial claims in the East and South China Seas, which would heighten tensions between China and neighboring countries such as Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

In its 2016 report to Congress, the U.S. Department of Defense said that “the enlargement and modernization of the China Coast Guard…will improve China’s ability to enforce its maritime claims.” The report also predicts that over “the next decade, a new force of [Chinese] civilian law enforcement ships will afford China the capability to patrol more robustly its claims in the East China Sea and the South China Sea.”

In recent years, the Philippines has alleged that China’s Coast Guard has over-zealously intercepted Philippine fishing boats and confiscated their catches near the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea.

Tensions increased between China and Japan in 2016 when China briefly sent four of its Coast Guard ships into territorial waters around the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea, which are claimed by both China and Japan.

During a news conference on June 26th, Japan’s Defense Minister, Itsunori Onodera, said that Japan “will maintain a level-headed response” to China’s latest move to put its Coast Guard under military command, but he noted that his country is nonetheless “determined to steadfastly defend [its] landmass, territorial waters and airspace.”

‘China testing electronic warfare’

From the Philippine Star (Jul 7): ‘China testing electronic warfare’

China’s installation of anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missile systems on three outposts in the South China Sea,” CNBC reported.
China has been conducting electronic warfare tests using hardware installed in its military outposts in the disputed South China Sea.

Quoting sources who have seen US intelligence data, CNBC News reported that the testing was the first known use of the electronic warfare assets since the deployment of the equipment earlier this year in its fortified outposts, including Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) and Panganiban (Mischief) Reefs, both claimed by the Philippines.

“The move (testing) allows Beijing to further project its power in the hotly disputed waters. The placement of electronic warfare assets, which are designed to confuse or disable communications and radar systems, comes on the heels of China’s installation of anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missile systems on three outposts in the South China Sea,” CNBC reported.
While the Philippines won its case before the arbitral tribunal in 2016 contesting China’s nine-dash claim over the South China Sea, the Duterte administration is treating Beijing “with kid gloves over the dispute.”

President Duterte said the country cannot afford to go to war with China over the dispute, explaining that a lot could be gained economically with a peaceful resolution.

Earlier, the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies warned it would only be a matter of time before China deploys fighter jets to its artificial islands built over Philippine-claimed territories.

The AMTI said the deployment of fighter aircraft in Philippine-claimed territories is expected to expand Beijing’s capability to project power.

The AMTI said recent developments at the Kagitingan Reef, Zamora (Subi) Reef and Panganiban (Mischief) Reef or the “Big Three” followed similar military deployments in the China-occupied portions of the disputed Paracel Islands.

From harbor dredging and runway improvements to hangar and radar construction, upgrades at Woody Island in the Paracels “have served as a blueprint for things to come on China’s Spratly holdings in the south,” the AMTI said.

It said China has repeatedly deployed J-10 and J-11 fighter jets to Woody Island, and in late October 2017, the Chinese military released images and video of J-11Bs on Woody for exercises.

It also noted that just like in Woody Island, Chinese anti-ship cruise missiles, military transport aircraft, surface-to-air missile systems and jamming equipment on Kagitingan, Zamora and Panganiban Reefs are present in the South China Sea.

“With similar platforms now seen on the Big Three, it is reasonable to look at other recent Woody Island deployments as signs of things to come at Fiery Cross, Mischief and Subi Reefs,” the AMTI said.

Southern Philippines: 2 Soldiers, 4 Militants Killed in Clashes

From BenarNews (Jul 7): Southern Philippines: 2 Soldiers, 4 Militants Killed in Clashes


Soldiers in the 33rd Infantry Battalion launch an assault against pro-Islamic State militants in Maguindanao, Philippines, July 3, 2018.  Photo courtesy of the Philippine Army 33rd Infantry Battalion

An army junior officer and a soldier were killed in clashes in the southern Philippines that also caused the deaths of four Filipino militants linked to the Islamic State (IS), military officials said Friday.

Second Lt. Junibert Zonio was among troops sent to the remote town of Datu Saudi Ampatuan in Maguindanao province that encountered heavy fire from Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) Thursday, officials said.

Zonio, who was struck in the jaw by a bullet, died instantly, while another soldier also died, army spokesman Capt. Arvin John Encinas said.

Four BIFF militants – Ali Tudon, Alamid Yusop, Katod Bensar and one who was not identified – were killed and their bodies recovered, he said, adding that radio intercepts indicated additional enemy fighters could have been killed. Continuing air and artillery assaults in the nearby towns of Datu Paglas and Mamasapano are believed to have killed several BIFF fighters, based on military radio reports.

“The number of militants dead was based on two-way radio conversations we intercepted from factions of the terror group and from civilians on the ground,” Encinas said. “Our clearing operation is still on going. There will be no let up against these terrorists.”

Along with the two killed, 15 soldiers have been wounded in the assault that began Sunday.

New officer
Zonio finished the army’s Officer Cadet School last year and his first deployment was in Mindanao, the territory under military rule as troops track down remaining members of an IS-linked group that attacked the city of Marawi in 2017, Encinas said.

The five-month siege of Marawi ended in October with the death of Isnilon Hapilon, a wanted Abu Sayyaf terrorist who assumed the IS leadership here and several key leaders of the group. At least 1,200 people were killed, most of them enemy fighters.

Since then, President Rodrigo Duterte said intelligence reports indicated that dozens of fighters escaped. Military officials said surviving members were trying to recruit additional fighters.

Regional army chief Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana Jr. vowed to crush BIFF forces to “safeguard the civilians and put an end to this menace.”

The BIFF had splintered from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the country’s main separatist group that signed a peace agreement with the government in 2014, and pledged allegiance to IS, but did not send fighters to Marawi.

BIFF spokesman Abu Misri Mama denied the military report that militants were killed, saying they could have been civilians mistaken for fighters.

“We have reports that say some of the rockets of military planes hit fleeing civilians,” he told BenarNews.

The military offensive against BIFF militants began last weekend and apparently targeted leader Abu Turaipe, believed to be the most senior leader in line to inherit local IS leadership following the death of Hapilon. Turaipe’s forces number in the dozens and have been engaged in hit-and-run attacks with the military.

Mission documents abuses of state forces in Soccsksargen

From the often pro-Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) online publication the Davao Today (Jul 7): Mission documents abuses of state forces in Soccsksargen

105 community member-participants coming from nine different communities of Kalamansig town in Sultan Kudarat join the Tungguan: National Fact-Finding Mission organized by the Save our Schools Network on June 27-28 at Barangay Basak in Lebak town. Tungguan is the Manobo-Dulangan term for ‘defend’. (Mara S. Genotiva/

LEBAK, Sultan Kudarat – Davao Today accompanied the Save our Schools Network when it conducted a national fact-finding mission comprised of various rights groups on July 27 to 30 at Barangay Basak, Lebak to investigate the incidents of harassment, and encampment of Lumad schools and communities by government troops in the province.

The delegation, led by ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro and Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas, interviewed at least 105 Dulangan-Manobo from nine different far-flung communities of Kalamansig town, where many cases of rights violations were reported.

The SOS Network said the fact-finding mission was able to document 225 cases of attacks on Lumad community schools with eight cases of forcible evacuation, 67 cases of threats, harassment and intimidation, four cases of destruction of school and private property, and 11 cases of violation of domicile.

According to Rius Valle, spokesperson of SOS Network, the mission was not able to proceed to Kalamansig due to uncertainty in the security of the participants and added that Mayor Ronan Eugene Garcia “has been targeting Lumad schools and civilian communities he believed to be NPA supporters.”

Among those who shared their ordeal during the Mission were the Dulangan-Manobo residents.

Destroyed house locks, scattered clothes and belongings in disarray, some missing—these were only a few that the Lumad residents of Sitio Tinagdanan, Baragangay Hinalaan in Kalamansig town, Sultan Kudarat saw when they returned home last month after two days in evacuation.

On May 10, one of the residents, Mailyn Gantanga, was on her way home when she heard the news that about 50 men in uniform under the Marine Battalion Landing Team 2 came to their community to look for New People’s Army rebels.

Gantanga, a volunteer teacher of a community school run by the nongovernmental Center for Lumad Advocacy and Networking, Inc. (CLANS) said the militarization prompted more than 80 families to flee their homes to the nearby community of Sitio Nges.

She said the Marines arrested eight individuals without warrants of arrest.

“The Marines falsely accused us as NPAs, including our children and even pregnant women,” Gantanga told Davao Today.

When they returned home two days after, they found a “Closed” sign written on the doors of the community school and church.

Gantangan said the military operations and harassment intensified since they built the CLANS school two years ago.

In an interview with Davao Today on June 29, Mailyn Gantanga narrates the day when members of the Marine Battalion Landing Team 2 arrived at their community and arrested eight civilians accused, forcing the whole community to evacuate. (Mara S. Genotiva/

SOS Network earlier reported that 56 Lumad schools in Mindanao were forced to cease operation due to “intense military attacks brought by martial law.”

Out of the total, 36 were owned by CLANS in Soccsksargen region.

This, according to SOS Network, is “the most number of forcible closures in Mindanao.”

CLANS has been particularly targeted in the province, Valle noted.

In February, CLANS volunteer teacher Jolita Tolina was arrested at her home in Sitio Chiris, Barangay Sangay, Kalamansig for murder and frustrated murder after allegedly participating in an ambush by the NPA rebels against the Marines last year that left one soldier killed and more other wounded.

Tolina remains detained at the police jail in Isulan town.

Gantangan who used to work with Tolina, belied the charges and maintained that those were trumped-up and none of the teachers and community leaders could have been NPA fighters or involved in the ambush.

“We are only armed with pencil and paper to fight illiteracy among our tribe,” she added.

She was also threatened to be arrested by the Marines for teaching at CLANS.

An informant named ‘Sais’ told her that her name is in the Marines’ list and is likely to be arrested.

Aside from military operations, SOS Network decried that the Department of Education region 12 has refused to issue school permits to CLANS and to Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Inc. (MISFI) Academy, which also runs Lumad schools in the region.

SOS’ Valle said the DepEd regional office has yet to issue permit to operate for 13 Lumad schools.

He said DepEd officials during dialogues bared that local government units and the military prohibit them from visiting the Lumad school campuses, thus delaying their work to process the applications of these schools.

CLANS continued to conduct classes while waiting for the permit, pointing out that they cannot deny the Lumad communities’ right to education.

Consorcia Pablo, a member of the Parent-Teachers Community Association and a resident of Sitio Kibag, Baragangay Santa Clara, Kalamansig said CLANS made education more accessible for the poor Lumad families because parents do not need to spend a single centavo for the schooling.

The schools are also built near their homes.

As a mother of three, sending her children to study in a DepEd school would cost her a lot. They need to buy school supplies and food provisions on top of their daily necessities.

Aside from the cost, she is anxious of the three-hour travel her children had to take to the nearest public school.

Compared to the community school run by CLANS, Pablo added, school supplies and lunch are provided and the school building is at the center of their community.

However, this opportunity to send their children to school is beset with difficulties.

Women from different villages in Kalamansig town, Sultan Kudarat participate in a psychosocial intervention session facilitated by members of the National Fact-Finding Mission. (Mara S. Genotiva/

During the group discussions at the Fact Finding Mission, parents raised that state agents threatened families that they will be removed from the list of 4Ps beneficiaries if they enroll their children in Lumad schools.

4Ps or the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program is the cash assistance program by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Meanwhile, volunteer teacher of CLANS, Rowe John Libot, underscored the importance of education for Lumad communities in their struggle to defend their ancestral lands.

Libot, a fresh education graduate, added that due to the lack of access to education, “Lumad communities became vulnerable to local and foreign companies like [those] owned by the Consunjis that encroach on ancestral domains of IPs for plunder and exploitation of natural resources.”

The Consunji family owns the David M. Consunji, Inc. (DMCI), a big mining and logging company operating in the area, has long been criticized by rights groups for land grabbing and alleged involvement in the extra-judicial killing of anti-mining leaders.

Aside from the regular classes for schoolchildren, Libot added, they also provide literacy and numeracy program for adults during weekends.

When asked about his thoughts regarding the threats and harassments experienced by Lumad school teachers, Libot pledged that he will continue to teach at CLANS hoping that more Lumad children will soon become teachers and doctors who will serve in poor rural communities.

For its part, ACT’s Castro denounced the Duterte administration’s Martial Law declaration in Mindanao, “wherein children are halted of their schooling, communities are pressured in spite of being civilians and teachers are arrested for teaching.”

A delegate facilitates a psychosocial intervention with the children while their parents join the focus group discussions. (Mara S. Genotiva/

“Said communities are heavily militarized due to Consunji’s interest for the establishment of his Agro-industrial Coffee Plantation and logging concession. Therefore, the establishment of IP schools became an expression of resistance towards economic plunder of Lumad’s ancestral land and natural resources,” Castro added.

The lawmaker also criticized the Department of Education for its “conscious efforts” to delay the release of Lumad school’s permit to operate (PTO) “through its ridiculously long bureaucratic processes.”

Castro added they would file a resolution for the Congress to conduct an investigation on the militarization of Lumad communities and the DepEd’s refusal to issue PTO for community schools.

In July last year, President Rodrigo Duterte in a press conference after his second State of the Nation Address threatened to bomb Lumad schools in Mindanao for alleged subversive teachings.

The SOS Network slammed Duterte’s pronouncement, saying this was “a direct presidential endorsement of violence against IP communities and schoolchildren.”

Former NPA rebel arrested in Cebu

From the Sun Star-Cebu (Jul 6): Former NPA rebel arrested in Cebu


(UPDATED) Authorities arrested a former rebel leader who heads a private armed group in northern Tuburan town, Cebu in a private subdivision in Cebu City, Friday morning.

Eduardo Sacamay, who is also known as Edgardo, was caught around 7 a.m. in a subdivision in Barangay Kasambagan.

Sacamay is a former New People's Army regional commander in Cebu in 1980 to 1990s. He heads the Sacamay Group which had "established itself as a menacing private armed group in northern Cebu, responsible for the liquidation of persons in recent years."

According to Senior Inspector Alejandro Batobalonos, of the Cebu Provincial Police Office, Sacamay's arrest was based on two murder charges.

CPPO operatives carried warrants of arrest issued by Tagbilaran City, Bohol Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 47 Judge Suceso Arcamo and Toledo City, Cebu RTC Branch 59 Judge Hermes Montero against Sacamay.

Sacamay was accused in 2016 for the murder of Tuburan, Cebu Mayor Democrito Diamante's supporter Rene Cangmaong.

Murder is a non-bailable offense.


Sacamay denied he is a murderer.

"Manok ug baboy ra gyoy napatay nako," he told reporters.

In 2008, he claimed that 25 cases (murder, frustrated murder, arson and simple rebellion) were dismissed by a court in Bohol.

Sacamay said he laughed when the CPPO operatives arrested him.

He also claimed he is a member of Kilusang Pagbabago (KP) Negros. KP was formed in 2016 to support President Rodrigo Duterte.

The CPPO operatives who arrested the former rebel commander are from Provincial Mobile Force Company led by Superintendent Rene Kyamko and Provincial Intelligence Branch led by Chief Inspector Christopher Rey Natnat, Senior Inspector Nazarino Emia and Batobalonos.

Soldiers overrun NPA camp in Davao Oriental

From Politiko Mindanao (Jul 7): Soldiers overrun NPA camp in Davao Oriental

The government troops overran a camp of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) following a firefight in Davao Oriental Friday.

While conducting focus military operations, the Army troopers encountered about 60 Maoist rebels at the vicinity of Langgawisan 1, Brgy. Ompao in Tarragona town at 9:35 a.m., said Capt. Jerry Lamosao, public affairs office chief of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division.

After a 45-minute firefight, the rebels withdrew towards different directions.

“There was no casualty on the government forces while undetermined on enemy side,” Lamosao said.

He said the troops overran the terrorists encampment that has eight improvised kitchens.

The soldiers also recovered firearm, blasting caps, batteries, medical supplys and other personal belongings with subversive documents.

10 suspected NPA rebels yield to PH Army in North Cotabato since March

From the Manila Bulletin (Jul 7): 10 suspected NPA rebels yield to PH Army in North Cotabato since March

KIDAPAWAN CITY – At least 10 suspected New Peoples’ Army (NPA) rebels yielded to the 19th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army in North Cotabato since March, data from the Army said.


Lt. Col. Elrick Paraso, 19th IB commander under the 901st Brigade, said the former rebels realized that living in the hinterlands and their fight against the government will only make their lives miserable.

“I know a lot of the NPA rebels wanted to surrender but were only prevented by their leaders. But to the NPAs: Don’t follow what your leaders say. Think about your family. Think about your future,” Paraso said.

Paraso has since intensified his campaign in March to persuade and encourage communist guerillas to go back to the mainstream and live a new life.

He explained the government is willing to support any rebel who would decide to leave the guerilla organization through the Enhanced Comprehensive Livelihood Integrated Program (E-CLIP).

In an interview over Radyo Bida in Kidapawan City, Paraso has given their mobile hotline 0935612 1207 so people could connect with the Army in North Cotabato.

“Any information leading to the surrender of the NPAs will be treated with utmost confidentiality,” he stressed.

Paraso made the announcement after a successful patrol operation on Friday against the NPAs in Barangay Don Panaca, Magpet where three suspected NPA rebels were killed during the firefight.

“It only started when our supporters texted us using our mobile hotline. We verified the text. After we confirmed it to be true, we launched the operation. We became successful because of the strong community support,” he explained.

Barangay Don Panaca is among the areas in Magpet the NPAs used as their ‘bases,’ according to Army reports.

6 NPA rebs yield in Cabanatuan

From the Journal Online (Jul 7): 6 NPA rebs yield in Cabanatuan

CABANATUAN CITY -- Six suspected members of the communist New People’s Army surrendered to authorities of the Army’s Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) based in Tarlac City last Thursday, it was reported.

The rebels, comprising five regular NPA members and one Militiang Bayan, were formerly with the
Josefino Corpuz Command, now called the Kilusang Larangang Gerilya (KLG) “Caraballo”.

Lt. Col. Isagani G. Nato, NOLCOM information officer said their surrender came at 1 p.m. in Bgy. San Agustin, Carranglan, Nueva Ecija after prior coordination with the members of the 3rd Civil Military Operations Company, the 84th Infantry Battalion, and the 70th Cadre Battalion, all of the Joint Task Force “Kaugnay” of the 7th Infantry Division headed by Maj. Gen. Felimon T. Santos Jr.

The surrenderers yielded six firearms consisting of a Cal.30 M1 Garand rifle, a US carbine M1 rifle, a US Springfield M1903 bolt action rifle (M14-converted), two 12-gauge shotguns (improvised) with six bullets and a 16-gauge shotgun (improvised) with four bullets.

Commander of pro-Islamic State militants killed in Central Mindanao: Philippine army

From Channel News Asia (Jul 5): Commander of pro-Islamic State militants killed in Central Mindanao: Philippine army

Mindanao fighting 3

A Philippine soldier during an operation in Mindanao. (Photo: Joint Task Force, Armed Forces of Philippines)

KUALA LUMPUR: At least 13 militants from the Islamic State-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), including one of its commanders, have been killed in military operations in Central Mindanao, according to the Armed Forces of Philippines.

The military operations comprising land and air strikes started on Jul 1. 

A total of 13 (BIFF militants) are killed, while on the government side, 14 were wounded and two were killed during encounters,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Gerry Besana, a spokesman for Western Mindanao Command.

“Among those killed is BIFF Commander Marrox, a known bomber and one of the prime suspects in the Mamasapano clash,” said Besana, referring to the 44 members of the Philippine police's Special Action Force who died in the January 2015 operation.

The Mamasapano clash occurred during an operation against the militant BIFF in 2015 that went awry, resulting in one of the biggest casualties suffered by Philippine police in a single incident.

According to Besana, Marrox was also behind a string of attacks against the military in central Mindanao in recent years.

“Marrox spearheaded the ambush to the troops of the 40th Infantry Battalion a year ago. His followers include escapees during the North Cotabato jail break,” said Besana.

As of press time, military operations are still on-going in Central Mindanao.

“We are gaining ground and so we are taking advantage of it,” said Brigadier-General Cirilito Sobejana, who is leading the Joint Taskforce Central military operations.

US Congress: No funds for Philippines' drug war

From the Philippine Star (Jul 6): US Congress: No funds for Philippines' drug war

Members of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency guard a house believed to have been used to the manufacturing of illegal drugs in metropolitan Manila, Philippines on Friday, April 13, 2018. Two men were arrested together with chemicals and machines during the raid as the government continues President Rodrigo Duterte's so-called war on drugs.  AP/Aaron Favila  The United States government may stop extending assistance to the Philippine National Police if its anti-drugs campaign would not be consistent with international human rights.

In its appropriations report for the US Department of State, the US House of Representatives suggested that funds appropriated for the Phillippines' counter-narcotics campaign be made available if Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would determine the Philippine government's compliance with international human rights standards.

The US Secretary of State would have to report first to the Committee on Appropriations if the Philippines had adopted policies consistent with human rights such as "investigating and prosecuting individuals who are credibly alleged to have ordered, committed, or covered up extrajudicial killings and other gross violations of human rights in the conduct of narcotics operations."
The limitations of the fund, however, would not apply to funds for drug demand reduction or maritime programs of the Philippines.

Meanwhile, the US Senate appropriations noted that provisions of the International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement may prohibit counternarcotics assistance to the Philippines with certain exceptions.

The US Senate also took note the "absence of the adoption and implementation of a counternarcotics strategy that is consistent with international rights" within the Philippine National Police.

The US Senate committee stated that Washington, through the US Agency for International Development, could still continue funding national and community-based drug treatment and reduction program under the Philippines' Department of Health.

"Such funds shall be made available on a cost-matching basis, to the maximum extent practicable," the US Senate said.

The US Senate also required Pompeo to submit a report assessing the Armed Forces of the Philippines' compliance with human rights and rule of law.

While the US Senate commended the Philippine military's efforts in combating terrorism, it stressed that the AFP must be a "legitimate defender of the state and all the people of the Philippines." 

The report, which will be submitted to appropriate congressional committees, must also assess the possible involvement of the AFP in extrajudicial killings and investigation on military personnel who commit gross human rights violations.

"The report shall also include a description of the steps taken by the AFP to implement policies and reforms to prevent such abuses," the US Senate said.

Sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), the US Senate's budget proposal for the Department of State and foreign operations has been placed on the legislative calendar since June 21.

The latest recommendations of the US Congress are for the next fiscal year, which runs from Oct. 1, 2018 to Sept. 30, 2019.

This is not the first that the US government has shifted away its assistance from law enforcement since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office.

In 2016, the US Department of State shifted its focus from narcotics control to maritime security efforts in the Philippines.

AFP overruns NPA terrorists’ encampment in Davao Oriental

From the Manila Bulletin (Jul 7): AFP overruns NPA terrorists’ encampment in Davao Oriental

TANDAG CITY, Surigao del Sur – Troops of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) overran a Communist New People’s Army Terrorists (CNTs) encampment after a 45-minute fierce gunbattle Friday morning in Langgawisan 1 area, Barangay Ompao, Tarragona, Davao Oriental.


Capt. Jerry S. Lamosao, chief of Public Affairs Office (PAO) of the Army’s Southern Mindanao 10th Infantry (Agila) Division (10th ID) said combat maneuvering troops of the 4th Scout Ranger Company of the 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion Southern Command (SOCOM) under the control of the 701st Infantry Brigade encountered some 60 heavily armed CNTs at 9:35 a.m. on Friday in Langgawisan 1 area.

The CNTs were believed members of Pulahang Bagani Command 6 (PBC6) and PBC8 all of the CPP-NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC), Capt. Lamosao said.

“The firefight lasted for forty five minutes and the CNTs abandoned their camp and ran away towards different directions while some of them to the provincial border of Surigao del Sur and Davao Oriental,” he said.

There was no casualty on the government forces, the 10th ID PAO chief said.

The terrorist’s encampment had 8 improvised kitchens, he said.

The government troops seized one M16 Armalite, bomb-making material including 100 meters electrical wire, improvised explosive device (IED, batteries and 3 blasting caps, assorted medical supplies, one military backpack, 3-civilian backpacks and other personal belongings with subversive documents, Capt. Lamosao added.

Six CNTG members surrender in Nueva Ecija

From the Manila Bulletin (Jul 6): Six CNTG members surrender in Nueva Ecija

Six members of the Communist New People’s Army Terrorist Group (CNTG) voluntarily surrendered to the 3rd Civil Military Operations (CMO) (Sandigan) Company at Barangay San Agustin, Carranglan in Nueva Ecija on Thursday.


The six CNTG members go by the following aliases: alias Susan, alias Joey/BUnso, alias Loyd, alias Rico, alias Mike and alias Wanning.

The surrender of the CNTG members at about 1 p.m. are said to be results of the concerted effort of the two Community Support Program (CSP) teams of the 3rd CMO Coy led by Capt. Marcelo V. Velo Jr. and the Charlie Coy of the 84th Infantry Battalion.

The returnees also yielded firearms which include a Caliber .30 M1 Garand rifle, one US carbine M1 rifle with one magazine, one US Springfield M1903 bolt action rifle; two 12 gauge shot gun with six live ammunition and one magazine, and one 16 Gauge shot gun with four live ammunition.

Livelihood assistance from 7th ID will be given to the returnees while their benefits from the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP) are being processed.

Maj. Gen. Felimon T. Santos Jr., 7th ID commander, said he is happy with the surrender of the communist terrorists and that he expects more CNTG members will choose to live peaceful life.

Santos also believes that the series of surrender is a result of the effective CSP activities conducted by the units involved.

AFP reports 5,400 “reoriented” NPA supporters as KMP slams forced surrenders

From the often pro-Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) online publication the Davao Today (Jul 7): AFP reports 5,400 “reoriented” NPA supporters as KMP slams forced surrenders


In this photo taken on December 21, 2017, more than 600 New People’s Army rebel returnees meet with President Rodrigo Duterte at the the Naval Station Felix Apolinario in Panacan, Davao City. However, human rights groups said that authorities are responsible for forced surrenders of civilians under their campaign to clear villages from communist influence. (MalacaƱang file photo)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Amidst reports from human rights group that authorities are responsible for the spate of forced surrender of peasant and indigenous people, the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Southern Mindanao claimed thousands of individuals are undergoing “re-orientation” under its counter-insurgency campaign.

Capt. Jerry Lamosao, spokesperson of the AFP’s 10th Infantry Division claimed they have neutralized 5,414 supporters of the New People’s Army (NPA) and members of underground mass organizations.

From January to July this year, the AFP said around 213 individuals have surrendered as members of the “Sanga sa Partido sa Lokalidad” or Communist Party branch members and another 11 individuals from left-leaning organizations, including the peasant organization Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP).
“Some of the dead recovered in our encounters with the NPA possessed KMP IDs,” said Lamosao.

KMP-Southern Mindanao spokesperson Tony Salubre, however, scoffed at the military’s accusation saying “it was ridiculous because (we) do not issue individual identification members to (our) members but only to chapter officers and representatives.”
He also said the military’s “surrenderees” are merely farmers who are civilians forced to clear their names out of fear of reprisals.

During an International Fact-Finding and Solidarity Mission sponsored by the KMP in April, KMP chairperson said forcing farmers to surrender as NPAs has become a central part of military operations.
“Intensification of military presence — military use of civilian facilities, logbooks in peasant communities, restriction of movement, roving, food, and economic blockade, among others, happen on a daily basis, especially with the military’s conduct of Community Operations for Peace and Development (COPD),” said Ramos.

Meanwhile, the National Democratic Front Southern Mindanao said “spokespersons of the 10th ID of the Philippine Army invariably claim of having “cleared” rural barangays of the influence of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army, especially in Davao City. Almost always immediately, however, engagements between their fascist forces and NPA units undermine these fictitious claims.”

For its part, the rights group Karapatan said “soldiers stepped up their attacks against peasant and indigenous people populations in Mindanao.”

Under Duterte’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan and martial law in Mindanao, the group documented the killing of 163 peasants and indigenous people from July 2016 to June 30, 2018, while 351 individuals were victims of frustrated killings.

“Nearly two thousand have been illegally arrested, and at least 200 are still detained on fabricated, absurd and baseless criminal charges, bringing the number of political prisoners to 503.”

Karapatan added that the “Duterte regime attempts to deceive the public into believing it pursues peace. But its all-out war and the war on terror campaign, its relentless efforts to sabotage peace processes, and the non-adherence to previously signed agreements all expose Duterte’s disinterest in a just and lasting peace.”

These numbers come as a result of the deployment of 70 percent or 71 battalions of the country’s entire armed forces with 42 army battalions and 3 marine battalions in Lumad and peasant communities; and 21 army battalions and 5 marine battalions in Moro communities.

13 BIFFs, 2 soldiers perish in clash

From the Manila Standard (Jul 7): 13 BIFFs, 2 soldiers perish in clash

Camp Siongco, Maguindanao—Thirteen members of the Islamic State-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and two government troopers were killed in the ongoing skirmishes in this province, the Philippine Army reported.

“The number of BIFF killed was based on two-way radio conversations we intercepted from factions of the terror group and from civilians on the ground,” Capt. Arvin John Encinas of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division spokesman told the media in an interview late Thursday.

“We had one BIFF body count and several other unidentified bodies of BIFF elements killed during air and artillery assaults in the border of Datu Paglas and Mamasapano towns the past two days,” Encinas added.

Three of the BIFF fatalities recovered by Army troopers in the battle zone were identified as
Ali Tudon, Alamid Yusop, and Katod Bensar, all members of the BIFF faction under Kagui Karialan.

“Unfortunately, we also have two soldiers, including an Army lieutenant, who perished in the battle,” Encinas said. He declined to identify the fatalities pending notification of their respective families.

He also said 15 other Army troopers were wounded so far in the gun battles.

Encinas said 14 firearms—four M16 rifles, three M14 rifles, one Carbine rifle, a .30-caliber machinegun, an Ultimax rifle, a .38-caliber pistol, and three 12-gauge shotguns—were recovered from the fleeing BIFF members.

On Wednesday, four roadside bombs targeting government forces were disarmed by military bomb disposal experts between Barangay Sepaka, Datu Paglas, and Barangay Pidsandawan, Mamasapano, as government troops inched their way toward BIFF positions in the area.

“The BIFF is on the run,” Encinas said, adding that the latest of the running gun battles was reported around 6 am Thursday in Barangay Dapiawan, Datu Saudi town.

Other areas affected by the clashes are the towns of Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Datu Salibo, Rajah Muda, and Datu Unsay.

Local governments of the affected towns, in coordination with the provincial government and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao-Humanitarian Emergency Assistance Response Team, are now attending to over a thousand families displaced by the conflict.

8 Daesh-linked terrorists killed in clashes

From the Gulf Today (Jul 6): 8 Daesh-linked terrorists killed in clashes

Eight members of a Daesh-linked Moro “rebel” group were killed in continuing encounters with government forces who foiled their attempt to overrun a town hall in Maguindanao province in restive Mindanao, the military confirmed on Wednesday.

Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cabunoc, an Army infantry battalion commander, reported that four of those killed were members of the Bangsamoro Moro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in their foiled attempt to capture the Datu Paglas town hall in Maguindanao on Monday morning.

Cabunoc added a soldier was also killed and three others, including a militiaman, were wounded in the foiled attempt, highlighted by attack helicopters and armored vehicles that assisted the ground forces.
On Tuesday, government forces pursuing the Datu Paglas attackers, also killed four other BIFF members in a separate encounter that lasted for two hours in a “barangay” (village) in the town of Mamasapano, according to Cabunoc.

He added that aside from the four confirmed deaths, the BIFF could have suffered more fatalities and others wounded in the clash that occurred about 500 metres away from the Datu Paglas town hall.

The terrorists, Cabunoc revealed, took five minors as hostages, who, however, escaped unscathed during the heavy fighting.

The military said the BIFF was founded by the late Ameril Umbra Kato, a veteran field commander of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) who seceded with about 1,000 of his armed followers due to major policy differences with the front leaders over the conduct of their peace negotiations with the government.

Although the BIFF has since broken into three rival factions, they all pledged allegiance to the Deash extremists in the Middle East and even carried the black Daesh flag in their encounters with government forces, the military disclosed.

Brigadier General Cirilito Sobejana, an Army infantry division commander, said they were determined to pursue their “search and destroy operation” against the BIFF that supported two other Daesh-linked terror groups - the Abu Sayyaf and the Maute Group - that laid siege to Marawi City in May 2017.

“Let us prevent the terrorists from sowing chaos in urban centers or institute the tactics that they used in Marawi last year,” Sobejana pointed out.

16K students, 350 teachers affected by Maguindanao skirmishes

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 7): 16K students, 350 teachers affected by Maguindanao skirmishes

A total of 16,590 students and 350 teachers have been affected by ongoing clashes between government forces and Islamic State-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in four towns in Maguindanao province’s second district.

Merriam Kawit, Maguindanao 2nd District schools’ division superintendent, said the affected schools are in the towns of Rajah Buayan, Mamasapano, Shariff Saydona Mustapha, and Datu Paglas.

“We are still waiting for advice from our superiors as to when we could resume classes in the affected areas,” she said over a local radio station Friday.

Kawit has called on both sides to "at least spare the children and schools” from the skirmishes, saying they have suffered enough from being displaced alone.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (DSWD-ARMM) said it has recorded 12,040 families or some 50,000 individuals that have been displaced since the start of the clashes on July 1.

ARMM Executive Secretary Laisa Alamia, concurrent DSWD-ARMM chief, enumerated the breakdown of the displaced families per town-- Shariff Saydona Mustapha (1,106); Shariff Aguak (1,049); Datu Saudi Ampatuan (1,685); Datu Paglas (1,912); and Datu Unsay and Buluan (6,288).

“Despite the conflict, however, the DSWD-ARMM has monitored ‘zero’ civilian casualties so far in the field,” Alamia told newsmen during a press conference here Friday.

She said that ARMM’s Humanitarian Emergency Assistance Response Team has already prepositioned relief goods up for delivery soon to the affected areas.

“Initially, the local government units, together with DSWD workers, are providing relief assistance to the evacuees,” Alamia said.

Aside from the military-BIFF clashes, several low-lying towns in Maguindanao, particularly Northern Kabuntalan, Datu Piang, parts of Datu Salibo, Mamasapano, and Rajah Buayan, are facing problems on flooding brought about by the  inclement weather.

Studies ongoing for creation of defense industry zone: DND

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 7): Studies ongoing for creation of defense industry zone: DND

Studies are underway on the construction of the so-called Government Arsenal Defense Industry Economic Zone in Limay, Bataan, Department of National Defense (DND) spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said Friday.

"The Government Arsenal is now studying this proposal to create the Government Arsenal Defense Industry Economic Zone. There are now some presentations but we still have to submit this to the President as he is the only one authorized to declare its (creation)," Andolong said in an interview.

The Government Arsenal (GA) is a DND-attached agency tasked to provide ammunition and some basic weapons to the military and police.

Once this proposal goes into high gear, it will be constructed in government lands near the GA complex in Limay, Bataan, Andolong said.

Last year, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said efforts were underway to develop a special economic zone for manufacturers interested in supplying the Philippine military’s needs.

He added that the move is in line with initiatives to revive the country's Self-Reliant Defense Posture (SRDP) program, considering the variety of security threats it is facing.

"Considering the present threats to our sovereignty, such as terrorism and territorial disputes, it is about time to revive the SRDP program and highlight once again the need for enhanced external defense capabilities," Lorenzana said.

He added that the country had an SRDP program in the 1970s that aimed to provide support to the military in terms of weapons, platforms, and equipment. Unfortunately, it did not attain so much success and its implementation was discontinued because of several impediments, such as budgetary limitations.