Tuesday, July 10, 2018

New Army's 104th Brigade commander in Baslian province assumes post

From the Zamboanga Today Online (Jul 8): New Army's 104th Brigade commander in Baslian province assumes post
Colonel Fernando M. Reyeg assumed office as the new commander of the 104th Brigade/Joint Task Force Basilan on Friday (July 6) during a simple change of command ceremony held at the Philippine Army's 104th Brigade headquarters in Tabiawan, Isabela City.

Reyeg replaced Brigadier General Juvymax R. Uy, who will assume as the Assistant Division Commander of the 6th Infantry Division.
In his message, the new 104th commander expressed his gratitude to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) leadership for the trust and confidence they gave him.

He also took the chance to thank the AFP Chief of Staff General Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. for his mentorship and guidance throughout his career in the AFP.

The colonel vowed to work on sustaining the gains made by his predecessor in securing Basilan Province so that development will further take place.

For his part, Uy, in his message, reckoned the accomplishments of the Brigade under his leadership including the reduction of the Abu Sayyaf Group from a peak of more than 200 hundred of manpower and firearms to less than 40 by now.

"Today, Basilan has gained a lot through the joint collaborative effort based on the outlook and positive indicators by outsiders,” he said.

Murillo also commended Uy for the outstanding performance and numerous accomplishments, including his involvement in the peace and development, during his 18-month stint as 104th Brigade head.

Colonel Reyeg is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1991 and hails from Daraga, Albay. He further enhanced his competencies by undergoing civilian and military schoolings here and abroad.

He is also a recipient of various awards, badges, and letters of commendation, such as Gold Cross Medal, Marksmanship Badge, and Letter of Commendation from the City Mayor of Lamitan.

He is happily married to Mrs. Bella Reyeg and blessed with four children namely: Marianne Helene, Livan Austin Fernando, Miguel Justin Fernando, and Mary Grace.

Prior to his current designation, Colonel Reyeg was the Chief of Unified Command Staff of the Western Mindanao Command.
Yesterday's turnover ceremony was presided by 1st Infantry Division Commander Major General Roseller G. Murillo. It was also graced by the Local Chief Executives of Basilan led by Governor Jim Hataman-Saliman; officers and men of the Western Mindanao Command; and the family and friends of Brigadier General Uy and Colonel Reyeg.

Addressing to Reyeg, Murillo said, “Sabi nga ni John F. Kennedy, Peace-making is not just a 1-day activity. It is a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly activity. So for the rest of the stay of Colonel Reyeg here he will be working for the peace in Basilan.”

Cordillera rebels reject 'localized' peace talks

From the Philippine Star (Jul 9): Cordillera rebels reject 'localized' peace talks                          

Communist rebels in the Cordillera said they will not participate in "localized" peace talks, saying the causes of the nearly five decades of rebellion in the country can only be solved on a national scale.

Simon Naogsan, spokesperson of the Cordillera People's Democratic Front, reiterated localized peace talks cannot replace stalled peace negotiations at the national level between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines.

The CPDF is an allied underground organization of the NDFP.

Social problems that led to the rebellion, the CPDF spokesperson—a former government engineer who went underground after disgruntlement—"is rooted to a rotten system in Philippine society."

"Among us (Igorots)," Naogsan said, "national oppression is perpetrated by the reactionary state ruled by big landlords, comprador bourgeoisie and US imperialism."

The CPP-NPA-NDF believe feudal agrarian relations, imperialism and "bureaucrat capitalism"—or the use of government resources and structures by the ruling class to enrich themselves at the expense of the rest of the people—have kept the majority of Filipinos poor.

"We cannot expect these problems to be answered by local governments," Naogsan said.

He also listed issues in the Cordillera region that need to be solved at the national level, which include:
  • Disrespect of ancestral land rights
  • Militarization
  • Political misrepresentation and disrespect of indigenous socio-political systems
  • Government neglect of social services
  • Discrimination
  • Misrepresentation and commercialization of indigenous culture
Naogsan also insisted that localized peace talks are "a divide and rule tactic" to perpetuate the existing problems that pushed the communists to take up arms against the government.
The CPP had already said "localized" peace talks will not work when these were proposed in 2017.
It said then that the proposal for separate talks with regional CPP and NPA units showed a "very shallow appreciation of the profound social problems which are at the root of the raging civil war in the Philippines."
Government officials, including Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, have revived the proposal in recent days in response to a statement by CPP founder Jose Maria Sison that the rebels would rather work to oust President Rodrigo Duterte since peace talks at this point would be pointless.
Sison, now chief political consultant of the NDFP, has since clarified that that was not an official stand. The NDFP has said in the past that it can only negotiate on behalf of the CPP-NPA, but cannot make decisions for them.


118 NPA terrorist supporters pledge loyalty to PH government

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 6): 118 NPA terrorist supporters pledge loyalty to PH government

One hundred eighteen supporters of the New People’s Army (NPA) terrorists from the mountainous area in Barangay Bulonay, Impasugong, Bukidnon arrived at the main village, surrendered, and took allegiance with the Republic of the Philippines on Thursday, July 5.

Militia ng Bayan members and their Mass-based supporters pledge allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines after their surrender on Thursday, July 5, 2018 in Bulonay, Impasugong, Bukidnon. (8IB/PA)

In an interview, Impasugong town mayor Anthony Uy said the surrendered NPA supporters narrated to him their frustrations with their leaders in the mountains.

“They said many benefits due them from their leaders never arrived. Hence, learning of the real livelihood being enjoyed by their former comrades who gave up months earlier, they decided to surrender,” the mayor said.

The surrenderees, Uy said, are now temporarily housed in Barangay Bulonay local government compound—kept under 8IB watch—while authorities are doing profile assessment.

Lieutenant Colonel Ronald Illana, Commanding Officer of 8th Infantry “Dependable” Battalion (8IB) believe that more mass-based supporters of the NPA terrorists would divulge identity and yield after seeing their former comrades now living in peace.

“They decided to come out of hiding and surrender after learning of the livelihood programs and other benefits that the government has in store for them,” Lt. Col. Illana said.

Authorities said the mass surrender started after an LGU-sponsored dialogue where various government agencies asked residents to present several issues evolving in communities and how can these be solved.

Gathered to lead the said dialogue are Impasugong municipal Mayor Anthony Uy, with Vice-mayor Norly Pepito, the town’s Budget Officer, Treasurer, Municipal Engineer and Physicians.

Likewise, various government agencies namely Municipal Department of Social Welfare and Development Office; Assessor's Office; Disaster Risk and Reduction Management Office; Environment and Natural Resources Office; and Agriculture Office gathered to work as team during the dialogue.

Militia ng Bayan members and their Mass-based supporters pledge allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines after their surrender on Thursday, July 5, 2018 in Bulonay, Impasugong, Bukidnon. (8IB/PA)

“Our Community Support Program (CSP) teams learned that there are Milisyang Bayan and NPA terrorist supporters in the area. Through dialogues like this, communities will know what are the programs are and how the government can address issues that trigger recruitment of NPA terrorists in the hinterlands.” Lt. Col. Illana added.

Right after the day’s dialogue, supporters declared their loyalty to the government.

Major General Ronald Villanueva, Commander of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, meanwhile, said “The shift of support from NPA terrorists to the government, which is now happening in Impasugong, Bukidnon, proves that the residents finally realized that there are solutions to issues; that there is a government that looks after them.

"I urge these residents to defy deceits and ploys used by NPA terrorists just to press on their failed armed struggle. All they (NPA rebels) do is find issues to cause people’s hate to the government. In addition, later, recruit members from your community. If you know someone that is still with the NPA terrorists, let them know that the government have programs for regular NPA who wish to abandon their armed struggle and be a productive member of society.”

In simple rites on same day, the surrendered NPA supporters stood up and burned down the CPP-NPA’s flag. (1Lt. Erwin P. Bugarin, CMO Officer, 8th Infantry Battalion, 4ID, PA/PIA Bukidnon)


NPA amazon surrenders

From Tempo (Jul 9): NPA amazon surrenders

CAMP BANCASI, Butuan City – A New People’s Army (NPA) ama­zon voluntarily surrendered to the Army’s 36th Infantry Battallion (36th IB) in Barangay Dayo-an, Tago, Surigao del Sur, recently.

Capt. Francisco P. Garello, Civil Military Operation (CMO) officer of the 36th IB on Sunday said the surrendered NPA amazon (name withheld for security reason) was a former member of Squad 2, Platoon 3 of Guerilla Front Committee 30 (GFC 30) of the CPP-NPA Northeastern Mindanao regional Committee (NEMRC).

“She said she was tired of running in the mountains, lacking food and other logistical support,” said Garello.

Currently, the rebel returnee is being assisted by the 36th IB, local government units and other concerned line govern­ment agencies for her enrollment in the Comprehensive Local Inte­gration Program (CLIP).


JTF-NCR Commander retires from military service

From the Manila Bulletin (Jul 10): JTF-NCR Commander retires from military service

Brig. General Alan R. Arrojado, Commander of the Joint Task Force-National Capital Region (JTF-NCR), retired from the military service at Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City on Tuesday.

JTF-NCR logo/ Manila Bulletin

Arrojado was replaced by Brig. Gen. Abraham Claro C. Casis, Commander of the Army’s 703rd Infantry Brigade (703IBde), 7th Infantry Division (7th ID) during the Change of Command Ceremony.

Among Arrojado’s major accomplishments during his post as Commander of JTF-NCR, were the successful and peaceful conduct of the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) 2018 wherein the Command supported the Philippine National Police (PNP) counterparts in the NCR during the May 14 polls; and the surrender of three former rebels on May 16, 2018 which led to the recovery of two M14 rifles, four M16A1 rifles, one upper receiver M16 rifle, one M653 a.k.a. baby armalite, ammunitions, and military and PNP uniforms at Sitio Kalbo, Barangay Disimungal, Nagtipunan, Quirino on May 19, 2018.

Meanwhile, Brig. Gen. Casis, a native of Nueva Ecija, is a member of the Philippine Military Academy “Sandiwa” Class of 1985.

Casis, who takes the helm of the leadership of the JTF-NCR, is a seasoned combat officer who is experienced in different military operations being a scout ranger and a special forces operator. He held significant staff positions both in the Army and in the General Headquarters, Armed Forces of the Philippines. He has good reputation in all his previous units.

Casis is a graduate of Master in Business Administration at Araullo University, Master of Arts in Eductaion at Bohol Institute of Technology, and International Relations Course at Foreign Service Institute, Department of Foreign Affairs.

He is a recipient of various military and civilian awards. He is also a recipient of Noble Peace Prize from the United Nations and Honor Graduate Award from the Command and General Staff College.


13 Abu Sayyaf members give up to military

From Malaysia Business Insight (Jul 9): 13 Abu Sayyaf members give up to military

AT least 13 members of the Abu Sayyaf surrendered to the military in Sulu on Saturday night in what officials said was a result of continuing combat operations against the terrorist group.

The 13 included Mudjakar Bagade, alias Jack;  Madzramil  Bagade, alias Madz; and Benarauf Bagade, all brothers of Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Alden Bagade who the military said was accidentally shot and killed by another brother, Muslim Bagade, on June 17 in Indanan town.

The 10 others who surrendered were Albaser Hadjiri, alis Bas;  Junimar Sampangan, alias Kanol;  Alvarez Rasid, alias Bari; Aksan Adam; Sahari Absari; Jeneyvar Muammil;  Amil Sangkaan; Albenal Dawadil, alias Joko; one Nanoh, alias Sab Abduhrasad; and Sabri  Bidin, alias Sab.

Col. Gerry Besana, spokesman of the military’s Western Mindanao Command, said the 13 surrendered around 9 p.m. to the Army’s 2nd Special Forces Battalion in Barangay Samak in Talipao town.

Besana said the terrorists, who are undergoing custodial debriefing, turned over six high-powered and three low-powered firearms during their surrender. He said the 13 vowed to yield more firearms soon.

“Our combat operations are continuous. Its (surrender) also due to social pressure by the civilians and LGUs (local government units,” said Brig. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo, commander of the military’s Joint Task Force Sulu.

“It’s due to social pressure, plus our relentless combat operation. They are growing hungry and they are on the run,” Pabayo added.

Pabayo said the surrender of the 13 terrorists means the military is on track to clearing Sulu “from the menace of the ASG through peaceful means by giving them a better option and to re-embrace the true essence of Islam.”

Wesmincom commander Lt. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega vowed the 13 will be given “support packages” under the government’s “Oplan Balikloob.”

“We also urge the other remaining ASG members to do the same because there is nothing more fulfilling than to accomplish our mission without any bloodshed,” Dela Vega said.


45 BIFF members killed since June 1: Military

From Malaysia Business Insight (Jul 9): 45 BIFF members killed since June 1: Military

FORTY-FIVE members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters have been killed in the renewed military campaign against the Daesh-inspired group in Central Mindanao since June 1.

The continuing campaign against the BIFF was launched five days after Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana assumed command of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division based in Maguindanao on May 26.

“After my assumption, we had five days of mission planning, after which we launched the operation June 1. We’ve been conducting the operation for a month and eight days already,” said Sobejana.

Sobejana said 45 BIFF men died, 28 were reported injured, and three others were captured “in the sustained operations that we are conducting.” He said there were at least 10 major armed encounters with the group during the period.

He said the operation also resulted in the recovery of 28 assorted firearms and 10 improvised explosive devices, destruction of an IED factory and firearm manufacturing facility, and capture of four camps. 

On the military side, Sobejana said four soldiers were killed, 20 others were injured, three of them hit by an IED that exploded while the soldiers were maneuvering.

“For as long as they (BIFF) still exist I will not stop, we’re going to continue with our operations....In due time, we hope to put an end to this group,” said Sobejana, adding they are not setting a timeline.

“I don’t want to set a timeline because it will just result to hasty decisions. I want it done deliberately, without collateral damage. We’re exerting our best. In due time (we will end BIFF) but we don’t need a timeline,” he said.

Sobejana said he is utilizing all available military resources to defeat the BIFF, which he said is composed of around 300 to 400 members, mostly former members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The BIFF was established in 2010 by former MILF commander Ameril Umbra Kato who died of heart attack five years later. The group later pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

“We are doing our best effort to put a rapid conclusion, immediate conclusion to this problem because the more (we) prolong it, the more we prolong the agony of the civilians,” Sobejana said.


Bicam hits BBL deadlock

From the Daily Tribune (Jul 10): Bicam hits BBL deadlock


Civil Society Organization (CSOs) and Bangsamoro Communities outside Bangsamoro Territory on a Press-Conference held in Quezon City. Appealing to BICAM for the Restoration of deleted or amended BTC-BBL-Provisions to support passage of a Basic Law manifested by certifying the as BBL urgent bill.....Photo by; Rafael Taboy

The bicameral conference committee deliberating on the differing versions of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) got off to a bumpy start yesterday as it ended in a stalemate on the contentious territorial jurisdiction of the proposed Bangsamoro region.

Deliberations by the Senate and House of Representatives contingents bogged down when the matter of territorial jurisdiction in the proposed new political entity in Mindanao was taken up.

There were also intense debates on issued concerning wealth sharing, exclusive and reserve powers of government.

Despite this, Senate Majority Floor Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, who led the Senate contingent, said he was satisfied with the outcome of the first day of the five-day consultative meetings with the Congress team, led by House Majority Leader Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas.

“We’re off to a good start. We finished three articles of the Bangsamoro Basic Law,” said Zubiri.

“Although we got bogged down on territorial jurisdiction, we decided to table it and defer action on it at a later time and agree on all the acceptable provisions,” he added.

Zubiri stressed that the conferees agreed that they will craft a law that will enhance the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) that was branded as a failed experiment to address the decades old Bangsamoro Question.

“We’ve reached a consensus that whatever was in the ARMM Law, Republic Act 9054, we will retain and hopefully enhance,” said Zubiri.

ARMM plus preferred

“In other words, we do not want an ARMM minus, we want an ARMM plus,” he added.

 The territorial jurisdiction provision of the proposed BBL covers 39 barangays in Cotabato and Lanao del Norte.

Zubiri maintained that the inclusion of the said barangays, if agreed by the bicameral committee, will still be subjected to the approval of local residents through a plebiscite.
On the power sharing provision, Zubiri said “the Senate will stick to its resolve that we should only be discussing powers granted to the Bangsamoro government.”

“We will clearly define powers of the Bangsamoro government,” he added.

Zubiri, on the other hand, said that the Senate is open to adopting the House version on wealth sharing which 75-25 in favor of the Bangsamoro government.

He noted the “full house” attendees from the side of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), led by Chairman Al Haj Murad, MILF Vice Chairman for Political Affairs Ghadzali Jaafar and chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal.

Jaafar wants 39 barangays

Jaafar, in a chance interview by reporters, stressed the inclusion of the 39 barangays in the Bangsamoro territory by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) is supported by both the MILF and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) –citing historical “Empire Province of Cotabato.”

“It is very important that the BBL to be passed and enacted into law should be acceptable to the leaderships of the MILF and the MNLF,” said Jaafar.

“That (Empire Province of Cotabato) is the traditional province of the Moro, including non-Muslim Moro in that region that’s why the people there should be included if the Moros are given their own government,” said Jaafar.

Jaafar said that the “Empire Province of Cotabato” is composed of what is now the provinces of Maguindanao, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato, Sarangani and the cities of Cotabato, Kidapawan, Tacurong, Marbel and General Santos.

He echoed Zubiri’s statement that residents of the said 39 barangays will have the final say to their inclusion, including six municipalities in Lanao del Norte and Basilan, through a plebiscite.

The MILF vice chairman also emphasized that they want all provisions of the ARMM law to be retained in addition to what the BTC has proposed.

“Generally, I don’t think people in the ground can accept at this point a BBL that is watered down,” said Jaafar, adding he could not predict what would happen if the BBL fails to be passed into law.

But Jaafar maintained the MILF is committed to the peaceful settlement of the Bangsamoro question.

At the same time, he stressed that the proposed BBL will not be Islamic but a democratic and inclusive one that is open to all, Muslims, Christians and lumads alike.

“We believe that the best way to resolve the Bangsamoro Issue is thru peace process, the most civilized way most peaceful way,” said Jaafar.

“What is this Bangsamoro issue that I am talking to you now, this is the legitimate desire of the Bangsamoro people to have a government of its own which is not Islamic…which is democratic that is our assurance and which is inclusive of everybody. Meaning this government respects the rights of all citizens living there the Christians, the Lumads the IP (indigenous people), the Chinese, the datus, the sultans, the Muslims of course,” he added.

Constitutional BBL

 Fariñas, for his part, urged his fellow conferees to strictly follow the provisions of the 1987 Constitution in finalizing the BBL proposal.

“I appeal to everybody that we work hand in hand, we have to be guided by the Constitution. We have to ensure that anything we do and everything that we do here will be compliant to the Constitution because surely this will be challenged,” he said.


US, PH navies start joint exercises

From the Daily Tribune (Jul 10): US, PH navies start joint exercises

The navies of the Philippines and United States, with the Japanese Navy as observer, commenced yesterday their joint naval exercises with a ceremony aboard a warship docked at Poro Point in La Union.

Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Salamat, Armed Forces of the Philippines-Northern Luzon Command Commander welcomed US Navy officers Commander Commodore Nichols Driz and Rear Admiral Murray Joe Tynch III. Also present was Japanese Navy Capt. Masahiro Goto.

"This training provides us with an exceptional opportunity for both Philippine and US Navies to engage in a broader range of maritime operations and unique scenarios in our maritime areas,” Salamat said.

Dubbed as Maritime Training Activity (MTA) “Sama-Sama,” the exercise will last until July 16, involving sailors and marines of the Philippine Navy, the US Navy’s 7th Fleet and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.

The training will be conducted within the area of the Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) in La Union, Zambales and Cavite.


Lawmakers' fear of territorial loss delays final BBL scope, plebiscite

From Rappler (Jul 10): Lawmakers' fear of territorial loss delays final BBL scope, plebiscite

'I understand the positions of district congressmen because it's a loss of territory for them and medyo mabigat 'yan and malalim….Diyan medyo madugo,' says Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, co-chair of the bicameral conference committee

Members of both the Senate and the House continue to deliberate on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law on the second day of the closed-door bicameral conference committee. Photo by Maria Tan/Rappler

Members of both the Senate and the House continue to deliberate on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law on the second day of the closed-door bicameral conference committee. Photo by Maria Tan/Rappler

The bicameral conference committee on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law is nowhere close to finalizing the controversial territory and plebiscite under the BBL, as district representatives strongly opposed the inclusion of 6 towns in Lanao del Norte and 39 barangays in North Cotabato in the Bangsamoro region.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, bicam co-chairman, said the issue is "personal" to district representatives, as they are worried they would lose territory.

“I understand the positions of district congressmen because it's a loss of territory for them and medyo mabigat 'yan and malalim….Diyan medyo madugo (it's a very serious and deep issue. That's where it would be quite contentious)....For them, it's historical,” Zubiri told reporters on Tuesday, July 10.

“May uuwing luhaan on this issue (Someone would go home in tears on the issue). It’s just managing the outcome,” Zubiri said, as he admitted it is unlikely to reach a middleground, as territory is the most contentious issue.

Zubiri also refused to divulge the issues of the district representatives, saying it would be best to ask them.

Among the members of the bicam are Lanao del Norte 1st District Representative Mohamad Dimaporo and Lanao del Norte 2nd District Representative Abdullah Dimaporo. The two are also members of the subcommittee on territory and plebiscite.

Under the Senate and House versions, the following Lanao del Norte towns and North Cotabato barangays (villages) shall vote on whether or not they want to be included in the proposed Bangsamoro State:

Lanao del Norte:
  • Baloi
  • Munai
  • Nunungan
  • Pantar
  • Tagoloan
  • Tangcal

North Cotabato:
  • Barangays Dunguan, Lower Mingading, Tapodoc in Aleosan town
  • Barangays Manarapan and Nasapian in Carmen town
  • Barangays Nanga-an, Simbuhay, and Sanggadong in Kabacan town
  • Barangays Damatulan, Kadigasan, Kadingilan, Kapinpilan, Kudarangan, Central Labas, Malingao, Mudseng, Nabalawag, Olandang, Sambulawan, and Tugal in Midsayap town
  • Barangays Lower Baguer, Balacayon, Buricain, Datu Binasing, Kadingilan, Matilac, Patot, and Lower Pangangkalan in Pigkawayan town
  • Barangays Bagoinged, Balatican, S. Balong, S. Balongis, Batulawan, Buliok, Gokotan, Kabasalan, Lagunde, Macabual, and Macasendeg in Pikit town
The two versions, however, differ on the mode of plebiscite. In the Senate version, the 39 villages and 6 municipalities will be automatically included in the Bangsamoro once their residents vote in favor of inclusion.

The House version spelled out two levels of inclusion. First, the village and town residents must vote yes to the inclusion; second, the majority vote in the entire provinces of Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato, respectively, must be in favor of their inclusion as well.

Residents of the 39 barangays and 6 municipalities had twice voted for its inclusion in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which the proposed BBL seeks to replace. But because of the double layer of voting needed, they have not succeeded.

Zubiri said under the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, these areas were given the opportunity to join the region without the approval of the mother units.

Bangsamoro Transition Commission chairperson and Moro Islamic Liberation Front vice chairperson Ghazali Jaafar said on Monday that the MILF preferred the Senate’s proposal.

Jaafar said Moros have long been living in the 6 towns and 39 villages, even before the greater Cotabato province was divided into smaller provinces in the 1960s.

Zubiri said the bicam is set to decide on the issue on Wednesday, July 11.


NPA camp overran

From the Mindanao Times (Jul 9): NPA camp overran

Government troopers overran an encampment of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Tarragona Davao Oriental on Friday.

Capt. Jerry Lamosao, spokesperson of the Philippines Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said soldiers of the 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion (SRB), under the operational control of the 701st Brigade, were conducting operations in Langgawisan 1, Barangay Ompao when they encountered around 60 rebels at 9:35 a.m. Friday.

The gunfight between the troopers of the SRB’s 4th Scout Ranger Company and the rebels belonging to two units of the Pulang Bagani Command (6th and 8th) lasted for 45 minutes.

As the enemy fled towards different directions, the military overran the camp.

Lamosao said the NPA camp has eight improvised kitchens.

They recovered one M16 riffle (with serial number RA 1219830), one improvised explosive device, 100 meters electrical wire, three blasting caps, various batteries, medical supplies, one military backpack, three civilian backpacks and other personal belongings with subversive documents.

Lamosao said there was no casualty on the government forces. Bloods were found on the escape route of the rebels.

Major General Noel Clement, 10ID commander, commended the troopers accomplishment as he also thanked the people of Tarragona for their support in terms of information dissemination.


4 army officers due for transfer

From the Mindanao Times (Jul 9): 4 army officers due for transfer

TWO ranking military officers in the region will be saying goodbye to their post this month. Two others will also be re-assigned by next month.

On Tuesday, Brig. Gen. Erwin Bernard Neri will vow out as the commanding officer of the Philippine Army’s 1001st Infantry Brigade.

His deputy commander, Col. Gilbert Saret, will temporarily assume the top post after a turnover ceremony at its headquarters in Barangay Mapaang, Maco, Compostela Valley.

Neri said he will be reassigned to the General Headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). The re-assignment, he said, is a normal because he has already served as 1001st IB chief for almost two years.

Before becoming the 1001st IB commander, Neri served as the Task Force Davao commander until 2016. The TFD provides security in the city, particularly on its downtown area.

The 1001st IB covers the eight towns of Compostela Valley, four towns and one city of Davao del Norte and one municipality of Agusan del Sur.

Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Raymund Dante Lachica will also vacate his post as the commander of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Battalion on July 16.

Based in Barangay Malagos, Baguio District, the 3rd IB covers this city.

Lachica has also served as the battalion commander for almost two years.

He did not reveal his upcoming assignment.

His replacement is yet to be announced. But his executive officer will temporarily be replacing him.

In an interview, Maj. Gen. Noel Clement, commander of 10th Infantry Division, said that two battalion commanders will also be replaced by next month.

He said the commanders of the 16th IB and the 46th IB are also due to transfer.

The 16th IB is currently under Lt. Col. Darren Comia. The battalion covers Paquibato District and some upper barangays of Calinan District.

The 46th IB is under Lt. Col. Michael Licyayo. It is based in Pantukan, Compostela Valley.

Clement has yet to release the name of the replacements pending the deliberation.


Fighting flare up in Mindanao

From the Mindanao Examiner (Jul 9): Fighting flare up in Mindanao

Security forces continue to pursue ISIS-inspired Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters following the series of deadly clashes in the troubled province of Maguindanao where the battle affected hundreds of villagers in several towns.

At least 6 soldiers had been reported wounded and several militants killed in sporadic fighting that began early this month when BIFF militants under Abu Turaiffe, Sulaiman Tudon and Mah Nanding launched attacks in Shariff Saydona Mustapha, Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Datu Paglas and Mamasapano towns.

This was also confirmed by the Western Mindanao Command and said focused military operations began at around July 1 when members of the 21stMechanized Company led by 1st Lieutenant Juvylito Lisondra clashed with BIFF in Pamalian village in Shariff Saydona Mustapha town. The fighting lasted for 2 hours.


In a timeline released by the Western Mindanao Command, it said the militant group also harassed troops in Elian village in the neighboring Datu Ampatuan town where 3 soldiers were wounded.

On the second day, July 2, one Mechanized Infantry Platoon of the 2ndMechanized Battalion and one infantry section of the Alpha Company, of the 57th Infantry Battalion also encountered at least 30 BIFF members in Pusao village in Shariff Saydona Mustapha.

The intermittent fighting was so heavy that the Philippine Air Force’s Tactical Operations Group 12 needed to provide combat air strike to support ground forces battling the militants for 10 hours.

The Western Mindanao Command said that on the same day over a dozen militants clashed with 23rd Mechanized Company in Elian village in Datu Saudi Ampatuan town while fighting continued in Pusao and Pamalian villages.

“Personnel from the 57th Infantry Battalion delivered accurate mortar fires to the locations of the enemy opting the rebels to scamper to different directions,” it said.

And on July 3, another operation was launched against the BIFF by the 33rdInfantry Battalion, Special Action Force, Special Reaction Platoon, 1st Platoon Alpha Company, 1st Platoon Bravo Company, 14th Mechanized Company and the 12th Mechanized Company in downtown Datu Paglas. Three soldiers were wounded during the close quarter battle.

Security forces managed to push back the BIFF and soldiers recovered improvised explosives there. Pursuit operation was conducted by the 40thInfantry Battalion on the same day in the village of Pidsandawan in Mamasapano and recovered weapons and a cadaver of a militant.

Attempt to seize power
The 6th Infantry Division said combined army and police forces had blocked the attempt of the BIFF to occupy the seat of the municipal government of Datu Paglas. It said troops, backed by armored vehicles and infantry mortars, engaged the militants in house-to-house close quarter battle that lasted about 9 hours. No civilians were reported hurt in the fighting.

Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, commander of the 33rd Infantry Battalion, 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.”

And on July 4, troops from the Alpha Company of the 40th Infantry Battalion under 1Lt. Charles Joseph Ramos together with a scout platoon under 1Lt. Mario Flores and intelligence operatives clashed anew with the BIFF led by Nanding’s group and inflicted heavy enemy casualties.

Troops are continuously probing the area for the possible recovery of additional body counts as more enemies were confirmed hit due to body parts littered in the encounter area. Additional seizures include three M14 rifles, two M1 Carbine rifle, one Garand rifle, one Ultimax SMG 3 rifle, and three shotguns.

Defeat terrorism
Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, urged the public to help them defeat terrorism by reporting the presence of militants hiding in the communities. “We believe the enemies are just in the immediate vicinity hiding from our troops, that is why we are urging the people to report suspicious-looking people they happen to meet in the area,” he said.

Dela Vega said pursuit operations continue and troops have cordoned or blockaded the conflict areas in Maguindanao to prevent the militants from escaping. “Blockade are being conducted by the ground troops to thwart the extrication of the enemies. Aerial and land assets are being utilized to track down the fleeing members of the terror group in the immediate vicinity of the encounter site,” he said.

Government forces have maintained its security patrols in the areas to protect and facilitate the return of villagers displaced by the fighting. Despite the breakdown of peace and order and the spread of violence, the provincial governor Esmael Mangudadatu has not released any statement as in the past conflicts.

Stay Vigilant
As the military pursues the BIFF, President Rodrigo Duterte called on the Philippine Air Force to remain vigilant in protecting the nation from threats of terrorism and external forces. “I therefore enjoin the men and women of the Philippine Air Force to remain vigilant as we intensify our fight against the current challenges of terrorism and external security,” Duterte said in his speech during last week’s 71st Founding Anniversary of the Philippine Air Force at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.

Duterte said his administration is working on the implementation of the “second horizon” of the Armed Forces of the Philippines modernization program by 2022 “to further develop a modern, adequately equipped border security force’. He said part of the second phase of the modernization project, worth about P300 billion, includes the 16 projects for the Philippine Air Force worth some P139 billion.

“We will continue to face challenges as we realize our shared vision of a stronger and safer Philippines. It is therefore vital to innovate and invest in strategies and technologies that will allow our forces to perform their duties safely and effectively,” he said.

Duterte said the Philippine Air Force has completed this year the acquisition of air defense surveillance radars, utility aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles that complemented the existing air crafts.

3 more Sayyafs surrender in Mindanao

From the Mindanao Examiner (Jul 9): 3 more Sayyafs surrender in Mindanao

Three more Abu Sayyaf militants surrendered to the military in the restive Muslim province of Basilan in southern Philippines where 13 other fighters yielded in the neighboring province of Sulu, officials said Monday.

Lt. Col. Gerry Besana, a spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command, said the militants – Samir Laarin, 33; Ramil Mobarak, 33; and Naim Majid, 31, – also handed over three rifles to the 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion under Lt. Col. Montano Almodovar in the town of Akbar over the weekend.
He said the surrender was facilitated by army intelligence operatives in coordination with local town officials headed by Vice Mayor Ali Sali. The three men were then presented to Col. Fernando Reyeg, commander of the 104th Infantry Brigade. “This is a result of our continuing close collaboration with local government officials to convince these Abu Sayyaf members to lay down their arms and return to the fold of the law,” Reyeg said.

Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, said some 123 militants have surrendered to the military in Basilan, Sulu and in Tawi-Tawi and Zamboanga Peninsula since early this year.

He said relentless military campaign against the Abu Sayyaf have forced many militants, including their leaders, to surrender peacefully and take advantage of the government amnesty program under the so-called “Oplan: Balik-Loob.” Under the program, the government provides financial aid to the Abu Sayyaf surrenderees and livelihood skills for them to be able to live a normal life with their family.

Some former militants are now helping the military in its campaign in an effort to convince the others to abandon their struggle and surrender peacefully.

Last week, the military said 13 Abu Sayyaf fighters surrendered to the 2nd Special Force Battalion under Lt. Col. Jessie Montoya in Sulu’s Talipao town.

The military did not say who negotiated the surrender of the militants, of if they were involved in the spate of ransom kidnappings and terrorism in the restive region. The Abu Sayyaf is still holding nearly a dozen, mostly foreign sailors, they kidnapped at sea of the volatile region.

The Abu Sayyaf, whose leaders have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, has been on a deadly campaign for over 2 decades now. It is one of several militant groups fighting for a separate homeland in Mindanao, which was previously under the Muslim rule.

Military shells BIFF lairs in Mindanao

From the Mindanao Examiner (Jul 9): Military shells BIFF lairs in Mindanao

Military forces shelled Monday suspected areas in central Mindanao, south of the Philippines, where pro-ISIS militants were hiding, officials said.

Officials said the target of the massive bombardment were the militant group called Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, blamed by the military for the spate of bombings in the provinces of North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Maguindanao.

Military photos show troops battling BIFF militants in Mindanao.

The military campaign began early this month and sporadic, but deadly clashes continue in those areas with security officials claiming to have killed dozens of militants. One army officer was also killed in the battle that left several soldiers wounded.

“All-out offensives launched by operating elements of Joint Task Force Central (Mindana0) are on-going to contain the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Central Mindanao. Artillery shelling commenced at 3:30 a.m. today. It was followed by an air strike at 4:05 a.m. Troops then continued their advance,” the Western Mindanao Command said in a bulletin it released early today.

“All available assets – air, land, and sea – are currently being deployed to pound the BIFF (militants), who are responsible for the conduct of atrocities, such as bombings in the provinces of Cotabato, Maguindanao, and Sultan Kudarat. Pursuit (operations) against the evading BIFF is continuously being conducted by operating troops,” it added.

There was no immediate report of casualties on both sides in the latest fighting.

BIFF leaders have pledged allegiance with the Islamic State and vowed to put up a caliphate in the restive, but mineral-rich region. Many of the militants were former members of the larger Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which signed an interim peace deal with Manila in 2014.


Sayyafs holding Muslim girl escape military raid in Sulu

From the Mindanao Examiner (Jul 10): Sayyafs holding Muslim girl escape military raid in Sulu

Security forces launched a rescue mission early Tuesday in the southern Philippine province of Sulu in an effort to recover a seven-year daughter of a Muslim trader kidnapped in Tawi-Tawi province last month.

Police, backed by soldiers, swooped down on a village called Pang in Kalingalang Caluang after receiving reports the militants and their hostage were spotted in the area. But the militants managed to escape with their victim, according to Lt. Col. Gerry Besana, a spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command.

“The captors together with their victim fled to unknown direction leaving behind three high-powered firearms and war materials which include one M16 automatic rifle with banana-type magazine, and two M14 rifles with three magazines, and assorted military and PNP uniforms,” he said.

Abu Sayyaf militants seized the girl, whose surname is Astah, in the village of Himba in Tandubas Island on June 25 and shot and wounded her mother before escaping out to the open sea.

Besana said at least 7 militants were involved in the kidnapping. He said the navy was alerted by the escape of the militants. “Navy troops maximized intelligence monitoring and we have alerted the Naval Task Groups in all areas (in Sulu) to pre-empt possible landing of the fleeing bandits and rescue Astah,” he said.

Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, said the operation is continuing in Sulu, one of 5 provinces under the Muslim autonomous, to rescue the girl. “We deeply sympathize with the family of the victim in the situation that they are in at the moment. Our troops and the PNP are doing their best to bring the victim back to her family,” he said.

Officials did not say how much ransom the Abu Sayyaf has demanded from the family in exchange for the girl’s freedom.

Troops tracking abducted child recover 3 high-powered guns

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 10): Troops tracking abducted child recover 3 high-powered guns

Troops have recovered three high-powered firearms in an operation to rescue a child seized by Abu Sayyaf bandits in Tawi-Tawi on June 25, the military reported Tuesday.

Lt. Col. Gerry Besana, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) information officer, said the firearms -- one M-16 Armalite and two M-14 rifles and ammunitions, as well as military and police uniforms, were recovered in Sitio Kambal, Barangay Pang, Kalingalan Caluang, Sulu at about 5:50 a.m. Tuesday.

Besana said the operation was launched following reports that the child, Radzmalyn Asta, 7, was seen in Kambal, Barangay Pang.

However, he disclosed that the operation “yielded negative presence of the KV (kidnap victim) in the area.”

Asta was seized by a group of Abu Sayyaf bandits in Sitio Polao Pinang, Barangay Himba, Tandubas, Tawi-Tawi in the evening of June 25.

Asta’s father, Rahim, put up a fight that resulted in a brief shootout but failed to prevent the abduction of his daughter. The victim’s mother, Rahsa Malyn, was wounded after she was hit in the crossfire during the shootout.

The Abu Sayyaf bandits, who pretended to buy gasoline at the establishment of the Asta family, escaped on board a motorboat towards the direction of Sulu, bringing the child with them.

Besana said the Joint Task Force Sulu has intensified pursuit and intelligence operations to track down the bandits and rescue the victim.


Army, Cordillera leaders support localized peace talks

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 10): Army, Cordillera leaders support localized peace talks

LOCALIZED PEACE TALKS. Leaders of the Cordillera are one with the 5th Infantry Division in backing the conduct of localized peace talks. (From left) Brigidier Gen. Henry Robinson of the 702nd Brigade, Major Gen. Perfecto Rimando of the 5th Infantry Division, Chief Supt. Rolando Nana of the Police Regional Office Cordillera, NEDA-CAR Regional Director Milagros Rimando, Ifugao Governor Pedro Mayam-o, and Benguet Governor Crescencio Pacalso attend the Cordillera Regional Development Council meeting in Ifugao last month (June 18, 2018). (Photo by Liza T. Agoot)
BAGUIO CITY -- The 5th Infantry Division (5ID) of the Philippine Army and the Cordillera Regional Development Council (RDC) have both expressed support to the plan of the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to pursue localized peace talks with the communist terrorist groups (CTGs) or the New People's Army (NPA).

The RDC approved the move in its last meeting in June.

In a statement received Monday evening, Capt. Jeffrey Somera, chief of the 5th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office (DPAO), said unit commander Major Gen. Perfecto Rimando backs the said program, given the distinct cultures of Filipinos.

The Army's 5th Infantry Division operates in Cordillera and Region 2.

The Army division chief’s statement came as the DND and AFP leadership recommended that a much practical approach be undertaken to end the communist terrorist influence in the countryside.

"We should not single out the approach in relation to peace talks because the approach applied in one area might not be appropriate in another area," Rimando said. "Localized peace talks is the better alternative, since the communist terrorists here in Northern Luzon have different motives compared with their comrades in Visayas and Mindanao.”

The Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) has its own way of settling its communities' problems. A proof of this was the successful negotiation that ended the uprising of the Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA) through the intervention of tribal elders years ago.

In Cagayan Valley Region, the active participation and initiatives of the provincial and municipal leaders have led to the surrender of NPAs in the past months. Authorities said this might be considered a big step for a localized approach to the insurgency problem.

In Cagayan province, former rebels may now get employed under the Cagayan Employment Assistance Program of the province.

Somera said 13 former rebels, who were among the 30 surrenderers in the first quarter of the year, are now employed by the local government.

“With this development in our area of operation, we are optimistic that a long-lasting peace in the area of Cagayan Valley and Cordillera Region is within reach," Rimando said in the statement. "The 5ID will give its all-out support to any initiative being pursued by the local leaders in relation to the localized peace talks with the CTGs.”

In its second-quarter meeting last June, members of the Cordillera RDC approved the proposal for the creation of peace initiatives in the provinces of the region to back the national government’s peace talks with the NPA and other armed groups.

Milagros Rimando, RDC co-chairman and National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Cordillera regional director, said the Cordillera RDC had passed a general resolution supporting the crafting of mechanics on the conduct of localized peace talks.

Andy Ngao-I, an RDC member who chairs the Kalinga Peace and Order Council and the Kalinga Bodong Council, said the Kalinga Bodong or the indigenous practice of settling disputes could also be adopted.

“We can always call out the members of the left-leaning groups, who are ‘binudngan’ (tribe members),” he said.

Ngao-I was one of the CPLA members, who served as a secretariat when the government, under then President Corazon Aquino, had the Mount Data Sipat agreement in 1987. The agreement made the region’s armed groups lay down their arms, using the indigenous bodong system.

Natives of Kalinga are particular about adhering, honoring, and supporting the indigenous system of settling disputes, where a tribe leader picked by the community represents the tribesmen in a “bodong” (peace pact) with another tribe. The pact covers tribe members outside the province and outside the country.

Ngao-I said the indigenous peace practices can be used to encourage local NPAs to stop the atrocities in their communities.

“In the indigenous system, even if you are a leftist, whether you like it or not, you are still under the umbrella of the bodong,” he pointed out.

"It is important that local peace initiatives be strengthened because national talks have bogged down a number of times," Thom Killip, a former Sagada town mayor and former Presidential Adviser for Northern Luzon under the Arroyo administration, said. "But the real action takes place on the ground. That is why we would like to suggest that each community should be able to establish its own peace initiatives. Filipinos must have a collective and constitutional right for a community to come up with its mechanism for its survival and protection. That’s what we are doing.”


PH ships in RIMPAC opened for public tour

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 10): PH ships in RIMPAC opened for public tour

The two Philippine Navy (PN) vessels, deployed to this year's "Rim of the Pacific" (RIMPAC) excercise, conducted an "Open Ship" while docked at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii last July 7.

This was bared by Navy spokesperson Cmdr. Jonathan Zata in a statement late Monday.

He added that the strategic sealift vessel BRP Davao Del Sur (LD-602) and frigate BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF-17) along with other ships participating in the RIMPAC exercise held a one-day guided shipboard tour for the public.

Zata said around 3,000 military and civilians experienced the world-famous “Filipino Hospitality” during the tour.

Aside from orientation of the two ships' capabilities, the tour was highlighted by the cultural performance from the students of Naval Officers Basic Course aboard BRP Davao Del Sur and live-band performance from the PN Seabees Band aboard BRP Andres Bonifacio.

RIMPAC 2018 started June 27 and will end on August 2.

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

Aside from the two ships, the PN also deployed an AgustaWestland AW-109 naval helicopter and 700 marines and sailors for RIMPAC 2018.


Cebu naval base ideal for PN’s frigates, large ships

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 10): Cebu naval base ideal for PN’s frigates, large ships

Once operational and with all the proposed improvements done, Naval Base Rafael Ramos in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu would be an ideal and strategic location for the Philippine Navy (PN) as ships based there could be deployed south t or north easily.

"Maganda kasi strategic ang location since ang Cebu nasa gitna siya ng Pilipinas (Its location being in Cebu is strategic since it is at the center of the Philippines). Within one (hour) pag galing ng Cebu (makakapunta siya) sa Norte, makapunta sa South tapos medyo tago pa siya (Within one hour from Cebu, it can travel to the north, and then to the south and its location is also secluded). It’ s a very strategic location," PN spokesperson Cmdr. Jonathan Zata on Monday said.

Naval Base Rafael Ramos is the projected home of the PN's present and future frigates once upgrades consisting of dredging, primary and secondary roads, drainage systems, proposed slope protections, a 152-meter by 12-meter wharf, a 105-meter by 165-meter beaching ramp, and 225-meter by 20-meter berthing area among others, are completed.

Zata admitted that the improvements are intended to address the basing needs of the Navy's two 2,500 gross-ton missile-firing frigates, now undergoing construction in South Korea's Hyundai Heavy Industries, and expected to be delivered in 2020 and 2021.

These ships are expected to augment the three 3,200 gross-ton Del Pilar-class frigates (formerly the US Hamilton-class cutters) now in PN service. Other large ships in the PN inventory are the two strategic sealift vessels, the 7,000-gross ton BRP Tarlac (LD-601) and BRP Davao Del Sur (LD-602).

Dredging is needed as the waters in the facility are quite shallow for vessels with large drafts.

The improvements have a budget of PHP1 billion and bidding process have started last week.

Zata said there is a pressing need for the PN to upgrade the Cebu naval base as its frigates and other large ships in the fleet have no home port to speak of.

At present, these large Navy ships are anchoring off Subic Bay and Pier 13, Manila South Harbor.

And once these upgrades are completed, the PN spokesperson said Naval Base Rafael Ramos will be the first-ever facility capable of handling large vessels.


600 military personnel to augment SONA security

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 10): 600 military personnel to augment SONA security

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will be committing around 600 officers and enlisted personnel to augment the security measures being implemented by the police during President Rodrigo Duterte's third State-of-the-Nation-Address (SONA) on July 23.

All of these soldiers will be coming from the Joint Task Force-National Capital Region (JTF-NCR), AFP public affairs office chief Col. Noel Detoyato said Tuesday.

"Our committed unit lang sa amin is the JTF-NCR, around 600 men. JTF-NCR can be augmented by others, depende sa needs na sasabihin ng (depending on the needs stated by the) PNP (Philippine National Police)," he added.

Also, Detoyato said they have yet to detect any security threats for the SONA except for pronouncements coming from militant groups claiming that they will conduct protest actions during the occasion.

"Nothing. Except yung (for) noise sa (in the) radio and (but) those are noise. There’s a difference between raw info and (intelligence) report. May intel siya na iniikutan bago siya sabihing intel report (There’s a process before an intelligence information can be considered as an intelligence report). So iyong mga nasa dyaryo (Those published in the newspapers), pronouncements, those are considered as raw info," the AFP official said.

And when asked to expound on what he meant by noise, Detoyato said: "Iyong mga magra-rally kami (Those saying that they are staging a rally). We have to validate kung magra-rally, limang tao lang naman so hayaan na yun. Depende kung anong grupo ang nagsasabing magra-rally kami, protesta kami pero pag tignan mo background, at the most maiipon niya 50 (If there is a rally and there are only five persons, let's leave it at that. It will depend on what group will say they will conduct a rally but if you look at the background and they only have 50 participants), that does not pose any threat."

When asked about the communist threat, Detoyato said that these are mostly confined outside Metro Manila and not a threat.

"Threat nila (Their threat is) limited up to the rally. Ang threat nila siguro sa mga commuters natin dahil magta-traffic talaga (Maybe their threat will affect our commuters because it will cause heavy traffic). Pero (But) to destabilize the whole government, no, they can’t do that," he added.


Samar misencounter report out in 2 weeks: AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 10): Samar misencounter report out in 2 weeks: AFP

It will take another two weeks before the report on the tragic misencounter between police and Army troops in Sta. Rita, Samar last June 25 is released.

This was announced by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief Col. Noel Detoyato in an interview with reporters Tuesday.

"Two weeks pa siguro, (Probably in two more weeks). Hindi (pa) tapos (ang) joint (AFP-Philippine National Police) probe (The joint probe is not yet over). Hindi pwedeng maging haphazard kasi dalawang malaking organization (ang involved) (It can't be haphazardly done because two big organizations are involved)," he added.

Around 9: 20 a.m. of June 25, elements from the 1st Platoon, 805th Company, Regional Mobile Force Battalion 8 of the PNP and troops from 87th Infantry Battalion had a miscounter in in Sitio Lonoy, Barangay San Roque, in Sta. Rita, Samar that resulted in the death six policemen and wounding of nine others.

Detoyato said the AFP-PNP Board of Inquiry is still looking on reports that the police officers have communicated with the military via cellphone and this prompted the investigators to collect and investigate all the mobile phones of the troops involved.

"May nag-coordinate daw thru cellphone so kinuha lahat ng cellphone tapos anuhin mga messages para malaman kung galing, saan nagsimula, kasi makikita naman sa time. Saan nagsimula tapos saan nagtapos kung nakarating ba sa baba. Kasi kung hindi nakarating hanggang dun sa baba, (There was somebody who coordinated through cellphone so all their cellphones were retrieved and then they are checking the messages to determine where did it come from, where did it start, because you will see the time in it. Where did it start, where it ended and if it really reached the ground. Because if this did not reach the ground,) we have to modify the structure kung paano mag-coordinate (on how to coordinate). Coordination lang talaga (It's all about coordination), it will all boil down sa (to) coordination," he added.