Tuesday, July 17, 2018

‘Localized peace talks aimed to isolate Joma Sison’

From the Philippine Star (Jul 18): ‘Localized peace talks aimed to isolate Joma Sison’

The government’s localized peace negotiation is aimed to isolate National Democratic Front chief political consultant and Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison from revolutionaries, the NDF national council said last Monday.

“Localized peace talks are a vain attempt to isolate (Sison) from the mass of revolutionaries, because of the crucial role he plays in the (negotiations). It could hardly be a coincidence that the latest vilification (against Sison) has come on the eve of the Duterte regime’s issuance of its guidelines on the localized talks,” said the NDF statement on its website.

Calling the localized talks a worn-out tactic of past administrations, the NDF said these have failed because revolutionaries – their armed wing New People’s Army (NPA) – oppose the form of negotiation.

“Localized talks are a classic divide and rule tactic. The idea is to hoodwink local CPP leaders and NPA commanders into agreeing to local ceasefire arrangements and later on induce them to surrender,” the NDF said.

NDF claimed that the NPA National Operations Command has exposed the fakery in these mass surrenders by pointing out that ordinary civilians, ex-guerrillas and even paramilitary elements are presented as surrenderees so that high-ranking military officials could pocket the millions of pesos in funds allotted for this program.

“Regional CPP leaders and NPA commanders fully support the NDF negotiating panel in the peace negotiations with the government. The CPP, NPA and other allied organizations of the NDF are of one mind that the peace talks must address wholly the social, economic and political roots underlying the armed conflict,” the NDF said.

NDF said regional revolutionary forces are already issuing statements repudiating the Duterte administration’s localized peace talks scheme.

“Only deluded minds like those of (Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana) and his band of militarists are desperate enough to make another stab at this failed and worthless tactic,” the NDF said.


Localized peace talks are absurd and stupid, Sison said last Monday.

“You are daydreaming if you think that you can divide and disintegrate the united nationwide armed revolutionary movement led by the (CPP) by trying in vain to stage so-called localized peace talks,” Sison said.

Sison added that localized peace talks are “little zarzuelas (musical plays) staged by the military and local peace and order councils for (psychological war) purposes and for pocketing public funds in the name of fake surrenders.”

The NDF chief negotiator said Duterte and Lorenzana should admit that “you have all along been sabotaging the (peace negotiations), canceling and terminating these so often due to your failure to reduce them to mere surrender negotiations.”

Sison concluded that Duterte has never been interested in pursuing sincere and serious peace negotiations with the NDF, citing the President’s repeated termination of the talks.

“He was merely play-acting when he said he would like to make peace with the people’s revolutionary movement and become the first left and socialist president of the (country),” Sison said.

After Duterte assumed office, Sison said, the President withdrew his promise to grant amnesty and release all political prisoners.

“In violation of The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992, he kept on making preconditions amounting to the surrender of the revolutionary forces,” Sison said.
Blame game

Meanwhile, blaming the assassination of local government officials on the NPA is meant to hide the real culprits and justify nationwide martial rule, the NDF national council said.

“The Duterte regime is making these ridiculous accusations in a futile attempt to muddle what Duterte himself had already impliedly admitted when he said mayor Antonio Halili of Tanauan City was killed because of his involvement in the illegal drug trade,” the NDF said.

The NDF added that the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency has also made disclosures that some of the mayors and vice mayors killed were on the government’s list of narco-politicians.

“The growing number of local government officials getting killed – the 12th to date being the vice mayor of a Tawi-Tawi town – is clearly part and parcel of the Duterte regime’s brutal campaign against illegal drugs that has already killed more than 20,000 people,” the NDF said.

The NDF claimed that earlier in the campaign, “the police had even engineered the gangland-style murder of Albuera mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. right inside his jail cell and boasted about it.”

“But not only is the Duterte regime trying to hide its hands in these killings, it is making the NPA the scapegoat in a malevolent scenario-building scheme to justify the imposition of nationwide martial law,” the NDF added.


NPA lured 5 Manobo teens to join armed struggle – AFP

From Tempo (Jul 18): NPA lured 5 Manobo teens to join armed struggle – AFP

Five young members of the Manobo tribe in Bukidnon were lured by promises of jobs in Metro Manila last year but found themselves become reluctant members of the New People’s Army (NPA).

“This only shows that Indigenous People (IP) and other minority groups are continuously being exploited by the Communist Terrorist Groups (CTG) to regain their ranks,” said Lt. Col. Isagani Nato, spokesman of the Armed Forces (AFP)-North Luzon Command.

On July 5, the five teenagers surrendered to the military with the assistance of the local community in Licuan Baay, Abra.

Three of the surrenderers are 18-year-old while two others are 17 and 15, according to Nato.

They were interviewed by joint elements of Joint Task Force (JTF) “KAUGNAY” and the local police.

The 18-year-olds were turned over by the Licuan-Baay Municipal Police Station (MPS) to the Army’s 24th Infantry Battalion (24IB) for proper disposition and medical examination.

The two minors, on the other hand, were turned over to the Department of Social Welfare and Development Office (DSWDO) for appropriate social intervention.

Nato said the five teenagers were recruited by a certain Jeffrey Mandagit in August of last year to go to Manila to work as piggery caretakers.

They boarded a passenger ship from Cagayan De Oro to Manila and upon arrival at the port were fetched by Mandagit and brought to University of the Philippines Diliman Campus in Quezon City.

Nato said the teens were obliged to join mass protests in Manila in September with a promise that they would get the job within the week.

The promise was not fulfilled.

In October, the teens were sent to Abra with the promise of jobs in Bangued.

Instead, they were brought to an NPA camp and became a full-time fighter.

They proceeded to an undisclosed barangay in Abra in November and spent a month providing security to their political officers, according to Nato.

Nato said their activities in Abra included attending cultural presentation, commemoration of the death of prominent comrades and training, while their comrades and political officers conducted meetings and planning activities, including tactical offensives against selected targets.

“Their revelations manifest the illegal utilization of the young Indigenous People (IP) recruits in different mass mobilization, mass works being taken advantage by the legal and left-leaning organizations of the CPP-NPA-NDF,” Nato said.

“With the Local Government Units (LGUs), and through Local Peace Initiatives, NoLCom will continue to encourage more NPA members to abandon their armed struggle and give them the opportunity to live peacefully again with their families,” he said.


4 soldiers killed, 2 injured in Cordillera encounter

From Rappler (Jul 16): 4 soldiers killed, 2 injured in Cordillera encounter

The encounter is said to be ongoing at the border of Mt. Province and Abra

ENCOUNTER. Photo by Jing Day-asen

ENCOUNTER. Photo by Jing Day-asen

BAGUIO, Philippines – Four army soldiers were killed and two injured in an encounter at the border of Mt. Province and Abra.

The clash began Sunday afternoon and is said to be ongoing, according to a Facebook post by a Bauko police officer.
The 81st Infantry Battalion (81IB) of the Joint Task Force (JTF) “Kaugnay” reportedly encountered an undetermined number of New People's Army (NPA) guerrillas at the border near Sitio Dandanac, Barangay Tamboan, Besao, Mt Province.

The Philippine Army said 3 government soldiers were killed, but a message from Glenn Apangchan of the Besao Municipal Police Station said there were 4 troopers killed in action and two wounded.

They cannot be identified yet as their bodies have not yet been recovered.

The NPA also confiscated some of the firearms of the slain soldiers.


PHILIPPINES: A 5 Step Guide to Becoming a Communist Guerrilla

From The News Lens (Jul 17): PHILIPPINES: A 5 Step Guide to Becoming a Communist Guerrilla (By Anonymous)

Why you need to know

Interested in joining the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines? A millennial shares some inside observations to help you decide whether you have what it takes.

By an Anonymous Author

Let’s make one thing clear: I am no expert. At best, let’s say that I am a keen observer; a relative outsider with some insight into the daily life of a Filipino guerrilla. I will not be making bold statements with extremely adept information into the workings of the New People’s Army (NPA). I will simply provide some small but, in a way, “guerrilla” life hacks about what somebody will need when joining Asia’s longest running communist revolution.

The NPA was established on March 29, 1968, shortly after the dissolution of the Philippine’s previous guerrilla movement, the Peoples' Liberation Army – or the Hukbalahap (Hukbong Bayan Laban sa Hapon). The Hukbalahap, which resisted the World War II Japanese colonization of the Philippines, became a precursor to the modern guerrilla archetype.

The NPA, which acts as the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), has polarized Filipinos for as long as it has existed. In cities and in mainstream media, you will often find depictions of the army demonized as terrorists and bandits. Posters advertising rewards for the capture of wanted NPA members adorn many public areas. President Rodrigo Duterte occasionally floats peace talks with the NPA – but only when he is not set on killing its members.

However, among leftist circles and ordinary folk in rural areas, they are hailed as modern heroes, a band of merry men and women defending the unarmed from those who seek to militarize and bulldoze their communities.

Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG Protesters in Manila hold up banners as they march in support of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

I belong to the latter category of people. I am not from one of the far-flung parts of the archipelago, but I still hold great admiration for the sacrifices of a group which started out as a ragtag band of intellectuals and now holds strongholds throughout most the country, with members coming from diverse backgrounds.

Interested? You think you have what it takes? You probably do. As a matter of policy, the NPA does not reject anybody over 18 years old willing to learn and contribute. There are only two exceptions: those who are not in a sound state of mind and body, and those who are tied to the military in any way.

This guide may not be for everyone, but if you are a revolutionary looking to join your comrades – or if you are interested in why thousands of Filipinos have viewed the struggle as their lone defense against decades of poverty, corruption, and exploitation – here are a few tips:

1. Carry a notebook everywhere

You did not come here just to fight; you came to learn and to teach whatever your particular skill set may be. You will often be tasked to organize peasant groups, get in touch with local associations, and correspond with the local authorities to carry out an assortment of duties. The most important will be to organize, gather information, create a support network, and mobilize people into either campaigning for their rights or directly contributing to the people’s war in any way possible. Not to mention, you will be getting attuned to the local dialect.

To do this, you will need to write down just about everything you see and hear. No detail is too small. You will need to make your own dictionary and figure out the grammar of the local dialect through practice. Maybe a month or two will get you on your feet and get rid of that city slang that exposes you for who you were not long ago.

When walking or indoors, never point the shooting end of your rifle frontwards, backwards or sideways – you never know when something can go wrong. Always have it aimed towards the sky or the ground.

A more important use for your notebook is getting to know the roots and interrelations between the people you come across. Many of them are related in some way, either by blood or by family history. This will come in handy when getting people together and trying not to mix in those who have had misgivings in the past. It will also help you get in touch with others in both nearby and distant communities.

Knowing whose brother is married to someone else’s sister and has a child married to someone else’s cousin may seem like a daunting and unnecessary chore, but it goes a long way in helping to build networks and connections between those ready to help their family in the struggle.

2. Brush up on your rifle etiquette

Not sure if this goes without saying – maybe it doesn’t for some. Never bring a dirty and unreliable gun to a protracted guerrilla war. Knives are certainly handy for foraging and looking for food. But this would not be a guerrilla movement without some hand-me-down rifles taken as spoils from victorious encounters. And nobody wants their rifle to be spouting mud from the chamber when they chance upon government soldiers.

Ask some of the more senior people in your squad about how to clean the specific rifle issued to you. Clean it often, and never let it get lost. When walking or indoors, never point the shooting end of your rifle frontwards, backwards or sideways – you never know when something can go wrong. Always have it aimed towards the sky or the ground.

Always sleep beside your rifle. The night is dark and full of terrors. You should avoid bringing it out in the daylight where many people are present – but, at the same time, you should never stray too far from it.

Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG Filipino communist rebels march in Mount Diwata, Surigao del Sur in the southern Philippines.
3. Don't forget your manners

In your daily work with the masses – when you will regularly carry your gun into the homes of strangers – the least you can do is have some manners and remember what brought you there. Be courteous: the ideal armed house guest. Nobody likes an intrusive figure clad in black holding a rifle arriving unannounced and then staying the entire day without speaking. It is unnerving, to say the least.

More than manners, have a sincere interest in learning and talking with the people you are visiting. You are there to aid them; their homes are not a motel. This is where the NPA gains its best reputation: from concretely and tangibly serving the masses. Do the cooking, farming and helping with chores that you would normally do in your own home. This in itself redefines what an armed group is supposed to be. The NPA is not merely a defense unit for the oppressed. It is one that integrates itself with daily practices, making hospitality its own form of revolutionary discourse.

4. Discover the joys of a transistor radio

Bored? Homesick? Getting separation anxiety from the lack of internet and television? You can always bring a book. However, in the absence of one, you will surely embrace the emotional rollercoaster provided by your transistor radio.

Need to practice that unfamiliar dialect? Want to get a whiff of the Duterte administration’s latest fascist policy? Need a Spotify-like fix? Looking for a new talk show to follow? New topics of conversation? Say no more. Your old transistor radio is now your best friend. Just remember to always have some spare batteries around.

The NPA is not merely a defense unit for the oppressed. It is one that integrates itself with daily practices, making hospitality its own form of revolutionary discourse.

Radio dramas in the afternoon with dramatic, exaggerated pronunciations will make you go far in achieving the correct revolutionary denunciations when the need for propaganda agitation arises.

Without electricity or a newspaper in sight, you will need to listen every morning for the latest political developments, locally and nationally. Even correcting the often misguided and misinformed news about the activities of the Red Army is just a phone call away – although, be warned, phones are hard to come by.

Leisure and recreation also centres around the use of the radio – at night, just before bed, listening to some music or the comedic repertoire of whoever is on. It beats chess.

5. Learn to love the art of tent-making

All may be friendly between co-guerrillas, but there is some friendly competition with things you might normally regard as nonchalant. For some reason, sewing and setting up tents evokes a competitive spirit unseen in other groups.

You might find that the love of your life is simply the man or woman who makes the best tent or shelter whenever camping out in the wilderness. These are not the tents you would normally see from campers. They are makeshift wonders, and a survivalist’s dream.

Using only sticks, twigs, car insulators, cellophane, thick plastic covering, and whatever else is handy, a true guerrilla can settle down and snag some shut-eye at a moment’s notice. It takes some creativity and resourcefulness to pull this off, but the best-looking shelters offer a surprising amount of comfort and security that may seem irresistible.

Looking for your next hike? Advance the revolution!

Why not skip your next plan for a trek and try out the ranks of the NPA? Try it for a week, or a month, or for the rest of your life.

I do not mean to demean or reduce the significance of the contemporary Filipino revolution to a fleeting internet write up. However, I find it useful to humanize our dissidents. They are people with real feelings, aspirations, and emotional spirals. They always have each other’s backs and are ready for a struggle as a matter of principle and sacrifice. More often than not, comrades will always offer a hand in teaching you how to build your own dwelling or any adjustments you might have some difficulty with.

Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG Masked members of the New People's Army protest the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Manila, November 2015.

If you find yourself interested, dig into some reading about why, outside of Filipino urban centers, the archipelago is a hotbed for revolution. The simplest explanation would be that many Filipinos face chronic poverty, exploitation and repression on every one of the country’s 7,000-plus islands. Many believe their only hope is to overhaul the system that forces this upon them.

Obviously, advancing the revolution is not an easy thing to do. More often than not, you will find that the little things will bother you the most. In my limited experience and interaction with the NPA, it seems that the best way to integrate with them is to have good reasons for being there. Ultimately, they should have everything to do with serving the people.

Read Next: EXPERIENCE: Holiday with the Guerrillas in the Philippines

2 NPA rebels bring rifles in surrender

From the Mindanao Times (Jul 17): 2 NPA rebels bring rifles in surrender

Another two members of the New People’s Army surrendered to the 8th Infantry Battalion last Friday, July 13.

 1Lt. Tere Ingente, the spokesperson of 4th Infantry Division, identified one of the surrenderees as alias Sander, 20, and a member of Squad 3 Pedler, Sub-Regional Committee 2 (SRC2), North Central Mindanao Regional Command (NCMRC).Sander also brought along one US Springfield rifle.

Meanwhile, at around 4 p.m. of the same day, alias Jems, 20, a member of Squad 1, Platoon Jade, Sandatahang Platun Pampropaganda 3 (SPP3) Toto, Guerrilla Front 4B (GF4B), NCMRC also surrendered to the said unit bringing one Carbine rifle and live ammunition.

Last July 5, 118 CPP-NPA supporters and Milisyang Bayan (MB) members pledged support to the government through the joint effort of the local government of Impasugong and 8IB’s Community Support Program (CSP) team in Barangay Bulonay, Impasugong, Bukidnon.

“It is never too late for the victims of the CPP-NPA ideology to see the truth behind the lies,” Lt. Col Ronald Illana, commander of 8th IB said.

He said the government had laid down plans and programs to help communities and that there is no need for them to join any armed struggle.

“Moreover, people now appreciate the dedication and commitment of the government in order to achieve just and lasting peace,” Illana said.

Brig. Gen. Eric Vinoya, commander of 403rd Infantry Brigade, appreciated the decision of the two former NPAs to finally embrace peace and return to the folds of the law.

“The surrender of these two victims of deception and lies of the CPP-NPA only proves that this terrorist organization is continuously violating the International Humanitarian Law by forcing civilians to become part of hostilities,” he added.

The Enhance Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP) is the government’s program for former rebels and MB where surrenderees will receive assistance from the different government agencies to help them return back to their normal lives.

“Our government has been very supportive to the NPA members who decided to go back to the mainstream society and be partners for peace,” Maj. Gen. Ronald Villanueva, commander of 4th Infantry Division, said.

“In fact, President Duterte has invited three batches of former rebels for a tour in Manila and dine with him in Malacañang Palace,” Villanueva said.

He has also promised female former rebels for a trip to Hong Kong.

“Now, he has ECLIP where additional benefits for surrenderees await. He has done extraordinary things just to end the almost 50 years war with the NPA terrorists to pave way for a lasting peace for the Philippines,” he said.

“Further, I urge other members of the NPA who long for their families left at home, now is the right time to return to them and experience a life away from hunger, fear and chaos,” the division commander added.


Alleged NPA rebel’s remains discovered in Surigao Norte

From the Mindanao Times (Jul 17): Alleged NPA rebel’s remains discovered in Surigao Norte

Troops of 30th Infantry Battalion recovered a decomposing body of Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army on Saturday around 3 p.m. at Barangay Lahi, Gigaquit, Surigao del Norte.

Lt. Tere Ingente, the spokesperson of 4th Infantry Division, said that earlier that day, residents reported to the 30th IB’s Community Support Program (CSP) team deployed in the area the foul scent that came from the mountainous part of the said community.

“From the information received, our CSP team, together with the barangay captain and local tanods, went to the area to check where and what caused the foul scent. Around one kilometer from the community, the group found a decomposing body of an NPA terrorist,” Lt. Col. Allen Tomas explained.

Found with the body were a pair of rain boots, and a bandolier, a Spikes Tactical SL15 Striker 5.56mm rifle, four magazines and 81 rounds of ammunition. The recovered body and items were directly brought to the barangay.

It can be recalled that last July 10, there was a 15-minute firefight between troops of 30IB and 10 NPAs of Sangay ng Partido sa Platun 16C (SPP16C), Guerrilla Front Committee 16 (GFC16) of North Eastern Mindanao Regional Command (NEMRC) at the vicinity of same barangay, Gigaquit town.

There was no casualty reported in the troops of 30IB yet, bloodstains show that there were casualties from the NPAs SPP16C.

“After four days of the encounter in Barangay Lahi, our troops found a dead NPA terrorist left by his comrade,” Brig. Gen. Nemesio Gacal, commander of 403rd Infantry Brigade, said.

“This is not the first incident where NPA terrorists leave their dead comrade in the encounter site,” Gacal said.

“They even did not inform the family nor gave a decent burial. Further, we would like to thank the residents of Barangay Lahi that led to the recovery of the body so it can finally be turned over to his family and be given a decent burial,” he further said.

Moreover, the body was claimed and identified as Romel Tac-an Also Known as alias Jasper, the vice commander of SPP16C. She said he was identified by his father, Jaime Tac-an.

Maj. Gen Ronald Villanueva extended his sympathies to the families of the Tac-an.


NDFP-Southern Mindanao calls localized peace talks a “surrender package”

From MindaNews (Jul 16): NDFP-Southern Mindanao calls localized peace talks a “surrender package”

PEACE. Members of the New People’s Army welcome Davao City Mayor and Presidential frontrunner Rodrigo Duterte upon his arrival to receive Army Private First Class Edgardo Hilaga of the 7th Infantry Battallion in an upland village in Tulunan, North Cotabato on April 26, 2016. Hilaga was freed by the NPA after five days in captivity. MindaNews photo by TOTO LOZANO

DAVAO CITY – The National Democratic Front of the Philippines in Southern Mindanao Region (NDFP-SMR) has rejected the localized peace talks now being pushed by the Duterte administration calling it a “surrender package” and a “hollow attempt to draw a veil over the ravages of Martial Law in Mindanao and the escalating bloodbath of Oplan Kapayapaan affecting millions of civilians in the country.”

In a statement, NDFP-SMR spokesperson Rubi del Mundo said the proposed mode of negotiations, which is awaiting an executive order from Malacañang setting the guidelines, “is but a smokescreen to obscure the fact that Duterte has never been serious in addressing the root causes of the Filipino people’s armed resistance and is only predisposed in the complete capitulation of the revolutionary movement.”

She added there is no room for a democratic discourse or opposition under the Duterte administration with the increasing number of civilian death toll.

She said the New People’s Army units in Davao City had rejected Mayor Sara Duterte’s invitation for localized peace talks with her Davao City Peace Committee created last year.

The mayor said she will no longer pursue localized peace talks but focus instead on extending development programs in insurgency-affected areas.

She said it would be counterproductive to the existing programs currently undertaken by the Task Force Peace 911 or Peace 911 created in May this year to replace the peace committee.

Del Mundo said all NPA commanders and fighters in the country have thrown their support to the stand of their national leadership that the stalled talks between government (GRP) and the NDFP must push through in a foreign venue.

“A substantive agenda patterned in neoliberal reactionary development plans essentially pre-empt and reject whatever economic or political gains the masses hope to have in the negotiations. So if not for the benefit of the masses or the ‘local fighters’ leadership,’ for whom then will the local peace talks serve?” she said.

She said the President appeals “to the corrupt nature of his fellow bureaucrat capitalists by encouraging them to subvert previously agreed-upon guidelines and machineries and the advances borne out of the past 25 years.”

She said he intends to isolate the many local and national politicians who are supportive of the GRP-NDFP negotiations and paint them as “anti-peace or communist sympathizers.”

“While he prattles senselessly about wanting to make peace a reality, he continues his crackdown against the homeless and the unemployed in the towns and cities and dispatches fascist AFP battalions to sow terror in the countryside and drive away Lumad and peasants from their land and livelihood,” she said.

Government will pursue local peace talks if the rebel leaders continue to ignore the conditions set by President Rodrigo Duterte such as the holding of negotiations in the country instead of in a foreign venue.

Duterte also told the rebels to stop collecting “revolutionary tax” and staging attacks, confine their fighters to their camps and junk their demand for a coalition government.

Palace spokesperson Harry Roque said the guidelines state that the localized peace negotiation “is nationally orchestrated, centrally directed and locally supervised and implemented,” should not compromise the constitutional integrity and sovereignty, and shall cover the NPA, its organs of political power and Militia ng Bayan for a complete and genuine resolution of the local armed conflict.

It cites the constitutional mandate of the state to protect public safety, civilian welfare, critical infrastructure and private properties and rule of law and order at all times even if both parties agree to a ceasefire, he said.

Roque also mentioned “government goodwill, full amnesty package based on disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation and reintegration to the mainstream of society.”

He said the substantive agenda will be based on the Medium Term Philippine Development Plan and Philippine Development Program 2040.


Terror suspect’s wife arrested in GenSan

From MindaNews (Jul 17): Terror suspect’s wife arrested in GenSan

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – The wife of suspected terrorist Owaidah Marohombsar alias Abu Dar was arrested while an alleged bomb expert and two leaders of remnants of the Islamic State-inspired Maute Group were killed during joint Army and police operations in this city on Monday.

Troops from the Army Intelligence Battalion, Joint Special Operations Group, Joint Task Force Gensan, Regional Mobile Force Battalion and city police arrested at 6:30 am Nasifah Pundug for violation of Republic Act 9516, the law on explosives.

Pundug was arrested in Purok Maunlad, Barangay Apopong.

Recovered from the suspect are several gadgets, phones and a laptop that authorities believe contain information on the terror group’s activities in the country.

The suspect is being held for interrogation at a local police station.

Earlier on Monday, the same operatives killed Najib Calimba Pundug alias Najib Hussein, an alleged bomb maker, when he tried to resist arrest based on a warrant that was served to him in Barangay Fatima where he was said to have been hiding.


NPA says plan to kill members who yield to gov’t a lie

From MindaNews (Jul 17): NPA says plan to kill members who yield to gov’t a lie

The New Peoples’ Army (NPA) in Cotabato has no plans to execute members who have surrendered to government, a rebel leader said in a statement on Monday.

Ka Dencio Madrigal, spokesperson of the NPA’s Valentine Palamine Regional Operations Command – Far South Mindanao called an “utter fabrication” the recent claim of 19th Infantry Battalion commander Lt Col Elrick Paraso that the rebels have threatened to kill surrenderees.

Madrigal said Paraso was just “creating stories” to hide the military’s alleged threats against civilians who are accused as NPA members or supporters.

“The AFP’s ostensive concern for the alleged ‘purging’ is a ploy to hold the NPA accountable for the looming escalation of extra-judicial killings of activists and civilians,” he said.

The 19th IB covers Kidapawan City and the towns of Magpet, Antipas, Arakan, and President Rojas in North Cotabato.

Last week, at least 16 alleged former NPA rebels from Magpet received cash assistance from the local government, some four months after they surrendered.

The distribution of cash assistance took place days after three suspected NPA rebels from Tugbok district in Davao City died in a clash with the 19th IB in Barangay Don Panaca, Magpet.

Paraso said more NPA guerrillas in North Cotabato wanted to surrender but were afraid of being killed by their comrades.

The 19th IB said at least 40 NPA guerrillas have yielded to the government since they were assigned in North Cotabato in 2017. Many of them already received cash and other assistance through the government’s Comprehensive Local Integration Program.


Gunmen abduct Zamboanga trader

From the Mindanao Examiner (Jul 16): Gunmen abduct Zamboanga trader

Gunmen clad in police and military uniform abducted a businessman in a daring raid in his home in Kabasalan town in the southern Philippine province of Zamboanga Sibugay, officials said Monday.

Officials said at least 6 men, armed rifles and guns, barged in the house of Alejandro Bation in the coastal village of Nazareth late Sunday and dragged him out to a waiting motorize boat.

Alejandro Bation

The 58-year old trader, whose family owns a fishpond, was having dinner with his sons and a worker and a visitor, when the gunmen broke inside the house, said Chief Inspector Helen Galvez, a regional police spokeswoman.

“Six unidentified men, armed with long and short firearms, and wearing military and police uniform entered the premises and two of them went inside the house and pointed their gun and drag the victim going outside the house towards the mini wharf of said barangay and boarded to one of the three motorized pump boats. The armed men fled towards the coastal waters of Naga and Payao municipalities,” she said.

Galvez said police forces pursued the gunmen after receiving a report, but did not catch up with the abductors and their hostage. No individual or group claimed responsibility for the abduction, but several rebel groups are actively operating in the province and were largely blamed in past ransom kidnappings in the area.

In April, at least 7 gunmen also kidnapped a woman, Laarni Bandi, who works as a secretary for Celebes Marine Products, in the coastal town of Malangas in Zamboanga Sibugay. The 38-year old woman was released a month later after her family reportedly paid an unspecified amount of ransom to the kidnappers.

Armed men also kidnapped 6 people on July 1, including an infant, from a farm in Sirawai town in the neighboring province of Zamboanga del Norte. The gunmen, whose leader has been identified as Jamilon Tukalan, demanded P400,000 for the safe release of the hostages – Feliciano Javier, 28; his wife Elsa, 28, and their five-month old baby Vincent; and Junior Javier, 22, and wife Rica, also 22-years old and their five-year old son Val. All are keepers of farm owned by Valiente Tolo Felizarta, the town’s municipal engineer.

The town’s deputy mayor, Jaime Felizarta, has told police investigators that a man, who identified himself as “Abu”, is holding all the hostages and demanded the ransoms.


Pro-ISIS bomber killed, 7 others captured in General Santos City

From the Mindanao Examiner (Jul 17): Pro-ISIS bomber killed, 7 others captured in General Santos City

Security forces shot dead a pro-ISIS bomber and captured 7 people, including the wife of the leader of local ISIS group in southern Philippines following a dangerous mission that left one police commando wounded during a firefight.

Major Ezra Balagtey, a spokesman for the Eastern Mindanao Command, said the slain bomber, Najib Pundog, was a member of the Maute group that laid siege in Marawi City last year. “Najib Calimba Pundog alias Najib Hussein, an IED expert and bomber of the Maute group was killed during an inter-agency law enforcement operations in General Santos City,” he said.

The operations were launched before dawn Monday in the village of Fatima where Pundog was hiding, according to Balagtey, who said the bomber opened fire on security forces sent to arrest him, sparking a firefight that wounded the commando.

“Recovered in his possession are one Glock automatic pistol and a hand grenade,” Balagtey said.

Security forces also swooped down on another hideout in Apopong village and captured Nasifa Pundog, one of several wives of Humam Abdulmajid, also known as Abu Dar and the new emir of ISIS in the Philippines who was also involved in the siege of Marawi that left hundreds of people dead and wounded in fighting that lasted for 5 months.

Pundog is facing a string of criminal charges, including illegal possession of incendiary device. Five other people – Nafah Pundug Macaraya, 35; Famida Amer Macasindel, 29; Naica Amina Calimba Pundug, 22; Nashibah Calimba Pundug, 37; Saramina Calimba Pundug, 60, – were also arrested after they prevented security forces from arresting the woman.

Troops also arrested the younger brother of the slain bomber, Mohamad Naif Pundog, 23, after a fragmentation grenade was found in his possession. It was unclear whether the man tried to detonate the grenade during the security operations.

Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr., chief of the Eastern Mindanao Command, praised the successful operations and appealed to the public to support the government’s anti-terror campaign in order to prevent any possible atrocities by terrorists in the restive region.

“This joint efforts of the local communities and our law enforcers manifest that terrorism will not prosper if we put our acts together. We call on the continuous participation of the communities and other government organizations and law enforcement agencies in our effort to prevent violent extremism in our midst,” he said.

Anti-terror operations continue in the southern Philippines where security forces are battling militant groups linked to ISIS.


MNLF Division Kumander at isa pa inutas

From the Mindanao Examiner (Jul 17): MNLF Division Kumander at isa pa inutas

Nautas ang isang kumander ng Moro National Liberation Front o MNLF at angkasama nito makaraang pabulagtain ng suspek na sakay ng motorsiklo sa harap ng Hall of Justice na nasa National Highway sa bayan ng Midsayap, North Cotabato, Martes ng umaga.

Kinilala ni P/Supt. Bernard Tayong, tagapagsalita ng Cotabato Police Provincial Office ang biktima na si Datu Lumambok Mananimbong, kumander ng MNLF at ang kasama nito na si Bert Aran Camen na kapwa dead on arrival.

Batay sa ulat, nangyari ang pamamaril pasado alas-10:00 ng umaga kungsaan nakatayo lamang ang mga biktima sa harap ng korte ng pagbabarilin ng suspek na nakamotorsiklo. Na kulay pulang motorstar.

Nang makitang duguan na ang mga biktima ay tumalilis ang mga suspek patungo sa bahagi ng Aleosan.

Patuloy ang hot pursuit operation laban sa mga suspek.


3 Teroristang NPA na napatay sa Engwentro sa Jose Panganiban, nakilala na!

From the 902nd Infantry Brigade Facebook Page (Jul 15): 3 Teroristang NPA na napatay sa Engwentro sa Jose Panganiban, nakilala na!

CAMP BUSIG – ON, Labo --- Nabunyag na ang mga pagkakakilanlan sa mga teroristang NPA na napatay sa engkwentro sa bayan ng Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte nitong ika-5 ngHulyo ng taong kasalukuyan.

 Ayon sa ulat na nakarating sa himpilan ng 902nd Infantry (Fight and Serve) Brigade, ang mga napatay na teroristang NPA ay sina Budy Mari Briton, 19 taong gulang, residente ng Purok 2, San Martin, Jose Pangan...iban, Camarines Norte, Mark Jonel Lomerio, 21 taong gulang, residente ng Purok 6, Malibago, Labo Camarines Norte, at Marlon Mendoza, 23 taong gulang, residente ng Masbate City. Ang mga labi ng mga nasawing NPA ay kinuha na nang kani-kanilang kapamilya at iniuwi na sa kanilang mga lugar.

Sinabi ng pinuno ng 902nd Brigade na si BGEN PEALE JON L BONDOC AFP, “ito ang mga dahilan kung bakit hinihikayat namin ang mga armadong grupo na magbalik loob na sa ating pamahalaan. Nakakalungkot makita na sa murang edad lamang ay masawi sila sa maling paniniwala”. Dagdag pa ng heneral, “sana’y magsilbing babala na ito sa kanilang mga kasamahan at bigyang daan nila ang usapang pangkapayapaan upang sa ganun ay makasama pa nila ang kanilang mga mahal sa buhay.”

Muli ay sinabi ng heneral, “nakahanda ang pamahalaan na tulungan sila na makapagbagong buhay, sa tulong ng mga programa ng pamahalaan kagaya ng Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP) o mga benepisyo na pangkabuhayan na nakalaan para sa kanila, sapat para sa pagsisimula ng buhay na tahimik at kasama ang pamilya.”

Image may contain: one or more people

Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor


PH Navy, RAN kick off 4th MSA today in Palawan

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 16): PH Navy, RAN kick off  4th MSA today in Palawan

AIR ASSET. A group naval officers pose in front of a Navy helicopter in an undated photo. The Philippine Navy through the Naval Force West of the Western Command and the Royal Australian Navy will hold a Maritime Security Activity starting today until July 25 in Palawan. (Photo from Facebook Account of Navforwest PN).

The 4th Maritime Security Activity between the Philippine Navy – Naval Forces West (Navforwest) and the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) will open today.

Navforwest is the water asset of the Armed Forces of the Philippines- Western Command (Wescom).

Running until July 25 in Palawan, the MSA aims to strengthen the interoperability and coordination of Navforwest and RAN to fight terrorism and kidnapping.

The interoperability training will include Naval Communication System, Planning, Individual shipboarding training, maritime surveillance and search and rescue.

Participating RAN ships---the HMAS Larrakin and HMAS Wollongong--- will dock in Puerto Princesa City Pier at 9 am.

A ship tour will follow after a simple welcoming rite at the pier during the arrival of the RAN ships.

For Navforwest, the following ships will participate: BRP Simeon Castro (PC 374), BRP Carlos Albert (PC 375)and BRP Fort San Felipe (AGS 700).

The kick-off ceremony will take place at the Naval Station Apolinario Jalandoni Covered Court where Navforwest Deputy Commander Carlos V. Sabarre will be the guest of honor and speaker.

Tagalog news: Maritime Security Activity ng PH Navy at Royal Australian Navy, mag-uumpisa ngayon sa Palawan

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 16): Tagalog news: Maritime Security Activity ng PH Navy at Royal Australian Navy, mag-uumpisa ngayon sa Palawan

Mandirigma. Nagmamartsa ang isang grupo ng mga kababaihang Marine ng Naval Forces West (Navforwest) ng Philippine Navy sa isang exercise. Magsasagawa ang Philippine Navy (Navforwest) at ang Royal Australian Navy ng Maritime Security Activity simula ngayon hanggang ika-25 ng Hulyo sa Palawan. (Larawan mula sa Facebook account ng Navforwest - Philippine Navy)

LUNGSOD QUEZON -- Nakatakdang magsimula ngayong araw ang ika-4 na Maritime Security Activity sa pagitan ng Philippine Navy -Naval Forces West (Navforwest) at ng Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

Ang Navforwest ang puwersang pang-dagat ng Armed Forces of the Philippiines - Western Command (Wescom).

Magtatagal ang MSA hanggang ika-25 ng Hulyo sa Palawan.

Nilalayon ng sabayang pagsasanay ng Navforwest at RAN na palakasin ang kanilang inter-operability at koordinasyon kontra terrorismo at kidnapping.

Partikular na tutukan ng pagsasanay ay ang Naval Communication System, Planning, Individual shipboarding training, maritime surveillance at search and rescue.

Darating ang mga sasakyang pandagat ng Australia---ang HMAS Larrakin at HMAS Wollongong--- mamayang ika-9 ng umaga sa Puerto Princesa City Pier.

Magkakaroon ng ship tour sa mga sasakyan pandagat pagkaraan ng isang simpleng sermonya sa pantalan.

Ang mga lalahok na sasakyang pandagat ng Navforwest ay ang BRP Simeon Castro (PC 374), ang BRP Carlos Albert (PC 375)at ang BRP Fort San Felipe (AGS 700).

Gaganapin ang opening ceremony sa Naval Station Apolinario Jalandoni covered court kung saan si Navforwest Deputy Commander Carlos V. Sabarre ang panauhing pandangal.


Army 36IB: NPA attack in SurSur town village nothing to do with SONA

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 16): Army 36IB:  NPA attack in SurSur town village nothing to do with SONA

The attack launched by the New People’s Army (NPA) in Barangay Lindoy, Tago town, in Surigao del Sur at past 11:00 a.m. on July 10 had nothing to do with the upcoming State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Rodrigo Duterte on July 23.

During the incident, a member of the Civilian Armed Auxiliary (CAA) identified as Reymond Besinga, who was part of the security team was killed, according to Cpt. Francisco Garello, Jr., civil military operations (CMO) officer of the 36th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (PA) here.

It was staged as the army was installing the water pump turned-over to Lindoy Farmers Association under Project KaPALAYapaan on that day, the CMO added.

Cpt. Garello explained that the terror group just wanted to sow fear in order to make their presence felt as usual lest they might face an eventual meltdown much sooner.

Reportedly, the rebels had been extremely affected by the string of cases of new surrenderers now logged at 35 in the area of responsibility (AOR) of the said battalion.

Due to the incident, everybody present had to scamper for safety, it was learned.

The army was prompted to stop the ceremony that held in abeyance the turning over of a farm tractor, commonly known as “tortol” among farm workers in the province.

Cpt. Garello said that they were also quick to react by running after the three perpetrators believed to be members of Platoon 8 of Guerilla Front (GF) 19B under a certain Adel of the Northeastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC).

LTC Xerxes Trinidad immediately issued a statement condemning the terror acts.


Spearhead troopers honor newly-promoted 3ID commander

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 17): Spearhead troopers honor newly-promoted 3ID commander

CAMP PERALTA, Jamindan, Capiz -- Spearhead troopers rendered arrival honors to its newly-promoted Division Commander Major General Dinoh Dolina, held July 11, 2018.

MGen. Dolina was accompanied by 302nd Infantry (Achiever) Brigade Commander Colonel Ignacio Madriaga while he reviewed the honor guard during his arrival at Camp Peralta.

During the assumption into his post in December 29 last year, MGen Dolina expressed one of his fervent desires to wipe-out the CPP-NPA terrorist but is still open with localized peace talks.

Dolina, a native of Palo, Leyte and a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class 1985 has two other brothers in the armed service.

His older brother is Police Chief Superintendent Asher Dolina, a graduate of PMA Class 1984 and Brigadier General Tirso Dolina, the Philippine Army chaplain.

Dolina is a seasoned combat officer who rose from the ranks, being a platoon leader, company commander, battalion commander, and later as brigade commander of the 802nd Infantry Brigade in Ormoc City, Leyte.

He has served various significant positions in the Army and in the AFP to include being Chief of the Legislative Affairs of AFP, Chief of Staff of the General Headquarters and Headquarters Service Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

He was also the Chief of Morale and Welfare Division, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, J1, AFP, and Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, G2, 8th Infantry Division, Philippine Army, among others.

Dolina was also the 3ID’s former assistant division commander.


Gov’t caravan serves 600 villagers in Ifugao town

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 17): Gov’t caravan serves 600 villagers in Ifugao town

TINOC, Ifugao - - Around 600 folks from the barangays of Luhong and Danggo in this municipality were served during the one-day caravan mission by various government and non-government agencies.

Conducted activities include free medical consultations, dental tooth extraction, circumcision/minor surgery operations, distribution of vegetable seeds, school supplies and used clothes, blood typing, free haircut, film showing and information education campaign by invited government agencies.

Young and old residents of barangays Luhong and Danggo in Tinoc, Ifugao receive free haircut service from soldiers of the 54th Infantry Battalion during the caravan conducted by various government and non-government agencies that benefited 600 villagers. (MBL-PIA CAR, Ifugao)

Lt. Colonel Narciso Nabulneg Jr., 54th Infantry Battalion Commanding Officer, commended government agencies, local government units and non-government organizations who took part in said activity.

“With the services we bring, people especially in the remote areas will sense the sincerity of the government in addressing some local issues such as health problems” he said.

“The vital information on the current thrusts and programs of your respective offices you imparted to our people help them to be aware that our government truly cares”, he added.

Luhong Punong Barangay Nelson Pauhan expressed gratefulness for the conduct of the activity in their place. He said what they know was only medical mission but there were a lot of other services provided.

Nabulneg said this is a good manifestation that the whole nation approach can be at hand through the intensified stakeholders’ engagement which further attains the AFP’s advocacy for a peaceful, developed and progressive community.

“I also invite NGOs who are advocating same activity to converge with us and share our common goals to the community in order to have a one- stop shop in future undertakings,” he added.

The activity was part of the Community Support Program advocated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines which aims to deliver basic services and bring the government closer to the people especially in far flung barangays or geographically isolated and depressed areas.


3ID is RP’s greenest camp

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 17): 3ID is RP’s greenest camp

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy A. Cimatu was impressed by the current vegetation and forest cover the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) has at Camp Gen. Macario Peralta, Jr. in Jamindan town.

I think this is the greenest Division in the country,” said the country’s environment czar who was the guest of honor and speaker of a closing ceremony for a new batch of Candidate Soldier Course, July 16, at the camp.

Cimatu, who was then assigned as junior officer at the Division during the initial years of his military service, also observed the accessibility via land transportation of the 33,310–hectare military reservation.

In May, the camp has also earned the admiration of Capiz Governor Antonio A. Del Rosario when he graced the 3ID’s 44th founding anniversary as guest of honor and speaker.

He said that the camp is “so enchantingly beautiful which can keep every visitor’s spirit at peace with the world.”

The provincial chief executive has opened up the idea of including Camp Peralta as among the province’s tourist destinations “if only restrictions would allow it.”

In their respective messages, Sec. Cimatu and Del Rosario have expressed concern on ensuring that the camp must be kept from exploitation of unscrupulous people.

The camp has been declared a military reservation through Presidential Proclamation No. 67 and officially proclaimed by virtue of Sangguniang Bayan Resolution No. 19 of Jamindan town.

The sprawling camp covers the municipalities of Jamindan and Tapaz of Capiz province and Lambunao town in Iloilo and is inhabited by various communities of Indigenous People (IP).

It is just 54 kilometers away from Roxas City, 88 kilometers from Kalibo, Aklan and 122 kilometers from Iloilo City.

The whole camp is a nature park, a wildlife sanctuary and has at least five waterfalls.


Army, NegOcc city partner for construction of P2.3-M hanging bridge

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 16): Army, NegOcc city partner for construction of P2.3-M hanging bridge

GROUNDBREAKING CEREMONY. The groundbreaking and laying of time capsule for the PHP2.3-million steel hanging bridge in Barangay Buenavista, Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental to be constructed by the Philippine Army’s 542nd Engineer Construction Battalion with funding from the local government unit. (Photo courtesy of 3rd Civil Military Operations Battalion)
BACOLOD CITY -- The Philippine Army’s 542nd Engineer Construction Battalion (542nd ECB) is building another local government unit (LGU)-funded PHP2.3-million steel hanging bridge in Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental.

The 3rd Civil Military Operations (CMO) Battalion said on Facebook on Sunday that the construction of the bridge at Sitio Cabagal in Barangay Buenavista will start after the groundbreaking and laying of time capsule held on Friday.

The 80-meter bridge will connect five sitios in the village, including Cabagal, Malo, Palay, Vito and Universal, whose residents mainly rely on farming for livelihood.

Most of them earn a living from planting sugarcane, corn, rice and vegetables.

The project, located about 10 kilometers from the city proper, is expected to be completed in November this year.

The steel hanging bridge in Barangay Buenavista is the third to be constructed by the 542nd ECB in Himamaylan located in southern Negros. The first two are in Barangay Carabalan and in Barangay Mahalang.

Councilor Emmanuel Castro, on behalf of Mayor Agustin Ernesto Bascon, expressed the city government's appreciation of the continued assistance of the 542nd ECB.

“We are thankful to the 542nd ECB because this is the third time that they are building a steel hanging bridge,” Castro said in a statement.

Major Arvin Cabantug, executive officer of 542ECB, said the project is a symbol of “peace and development” dedicated to the people of the beneficiary-barangays.

The partnership is a fulfillment of the social responsibility essence of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Development Support and Security Plan “Kapayapaan.”

Buenavista village chief Harry Higgins witnessed the groundbreaking and laying of time capsule, with about 70 residents together with Cabantug, personnel of the 3rd CMO Battalion led by Captain Ariel Castro and Himamaylan City Police Station headed by Chief Inspector Antonio Benitez, and some city government employees.


PH, Aussie navies to hold maritime security activity in Palawan

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 16): PH, Aussie navies to hold maritime security activity in Palawan

PH-AUSSIE COMBINED MARITIME SECURITY ACTIVITY: The Her Majesty Australian Ship (HMAS) Wollongong, one of two Royal Australian Navy (RAN) patrol ships that arrived in Puerto Princesa City for the 10-day 4th iteration of the Maritime Security Activity with the Naval Forces West of the Philippine Navy. (Photo courtesy of the Royal Australian Navy)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- Two Australian navy patrol boats arrived here Monday to participate in a Maritime Security Activity (MSA) to enhance training, interoperability, and cooperation against terrorism and kidnapping within Palawan's water lanes.

Captain Cherryl Tindog, chief of the Public Affairs Office (PAO) of the Western Command (Wescom), said the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) patrol boats will participate in the combined MSA with the Naval Forces West, Philippine Navy (Navforwest, PN) until July 25.

The activity aims to enrich the two navies’ interoperability and cooperation in dealing with terrorism and kidnapping activities in water lanes that are of common interest to Australia and the Philippines.

The RAN ships – Her Majesty Australian Ship (HMAS) Ararat and Wollongong Armidale-class patrol boats – will perform side-by-side activities with BRP Ramon Alcaraz (FF 16) and BRP Simeon Castro (PC 374).

“There will be aboard ship training activities, maritime patrols, discussions on threats relating to maritime security, and others relevant to keeping areas of common interest safe,” Tindog said.

She said the continuing conduct of joint activities such as the MSA with other navies has helped the country in preventing kidnappings and terrorism in the maritime domain.

She further expressed that there is nothing for Palaweños to worry about even with the mention of terrorism and kidnapping that the joint maritime security activity aims to address.

“Hindi dapat matakot ang public kasi the usual sila na ginagawa under MSA pagdating natin sa ganyang sitwasyon, alam ng Navy natin ang gagawin nila (The public has nothing to worry about because they are what are usually discussed in MSA, so that when we get to the situation, our navy knows what to do),” she said.

This year's PN-RAN MSA will hold interoperability exercises on Naval Communication System, planning, individual shipboard training, maritime surveillance, and search and rescue. The PN-RAN MSA 2018 is the 4th iteration of the said bilateral activity.

The activity kicked off with an opening ceremony at the Naval Station Apolinario Jalandoon Covered Court with Capt. Carlos Sabarre PN (GSC), deputy commander of the Navforwest, as the guest of honor.


Gunmen seize trader in Zamboanga Sibugay

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 16): Gunmen seize trader in Zamboanga Sibugay

Police are tracking down the whereabouts of a businessman seized by gunmen, who are believed to be kidnap-for-ransom-group (KFRG) members in Zamboanga Sibugay.

Chief Insp. Helen Galvez, Police Regional Office-9 (PRO-9) information officer, said  Alejandro Bation, 58, who owns a fishpond and is into aqua-marine business, is believed to have been abducted by KFRG gunmen at around 8:35 p.m. Sunday in his residence in Barangay Nazareth, Kabasalan, Zamboanga Sibugay.

Galvez said investigation showed that Bation was watching television,  together with three companions, when six gunmen clad in police and military uniforms arrived and seized the victim.

She said the victim’s companion at the time of the incident were his fishpond laborer, Elizar Dumadag, 31, and his two sons, Albert and Jessie Roy.

Galvez said the gunmen dragged and forced Bation to board one of the three waiting motorboats in a nearby mini-wharf and sped towards the coasts of Naga and Payao towns.

She said the police of Kabasalan have already coordinated with military and other police units to assist them in tracking down the abducted trader's location.


Suspected Maute 'bomb-maker' killed, cop hurt in GenSan raid

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 16): Suspected Maute 'bomb-maker' killed, cop hurt in GenSan raid

GENERAL SANTOS CITY--An alleged "bomb expert" of the Islamic State-inspired Maute terror group was killed while a police officer was wounded in an operation at a village here early Monday.

Chief Supt. Marcelo Morales, Region 12 police director, identified the slain suspect as Najib Calimba Pundug alias Najib Hussein, who was reportedly a close associate of the
new Maute leader, Owayda Benito Marohombsar, alias Abu Dar.

Morales said joint operatives led by personnel from the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit and the Regional Mobile Force Battalion (RMFB)-12 stormed Pundug's rented house at past 2 a.m. in Purok 3, Barangay Fatima. Elements from the Army-led Joint Task Force GenSan, the city police and other intelligence and law enforcement agencies backed the raid.

As the operating team entered the house, Morales said the suspect opened fire at them, hitting Police Officer (PO) 3 Jerry Feo.

Morales said the other operatives immediately retaliated, fatally hitting the suspect, who was cornered inside the house.

"He tried to throw a grenade but it was fortunate that he was neutralized in time by the operating team," he told reporters.

Recovered at the scene were a 9-mm Glock pistol, two grenades, cellular phones, several bomb-making materials and a black flag of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria or ISIS.

PO3 Feo, who is a member of the RMFB-12, sustained four gunshot wounds but was already declared in stable condition before noon by attending doctors at the GenSan Medical Center.

Morales said the operation mainly targeted Pundug, who was reportedly involved in the five-month siege of Marawi City by the Maute terror group last year.

Pundug, who managed to escape and resettled in the city, was named in the martial law arrest order for murder, possession of explosives, kidnapping and illegal detention charges.

Prior to the operation, Morales said intelligence operatives monitored the presence of Pundug and eventually confirmed it in a series of surveillance operations.

"This is a product of intelligence coordination of various law enforcement agencies," Morales said.

Senior Supt. Raul Supiter, city police director, said they also arrested five other relatives of the suspect for obstruction of justice and coddling a fugitive.

Supiter said the suspects, whose identities were withheld, are also undergoing investigation for possible involvement in Pundug's activities.

Morales said the pursuit operations are ongoing against other alleged cohorts of Pundug, who are also reportedly linked to Abu Dar.


NPA attacks Army detachment in ComVal town

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 16): NPA attacks Army detachment in ComVal town

Troops from the Army's 72nd Infantry Battalion clashed anew with members of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) when their detachment in Barangay Cabuyoan, Mabini, Compostela Valley province was attacked on Monday.

Based on the initial report from Mabini Municipal Police Office, Chief Insp. Milgrace Driz, spokesperson of the Police Regional Office-11, said a firefight occurred at about 12:20 a.m on Monday near the Cabuyoan detachment.

Driz said about 10 members of the Militia ng Bayan, Guerilla Front 2 of the New People’s Army (NPA) who were positioned 50 meters away, fired at the detachment under Corporal Raul Baldestoy.

This prompted the army troops to return fire and the firefight lasted for about three minutes, Driz said.

Driz said no casualty was reported on the government side.


Cops hunt down suspects in ambush of NoCot village chair

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 17): Cops hunt down suspects in ambush of NoCot village chair

Police have launched a manhunt against two men believed to be behind the attempted murder of yet another village official in Magpet town, North Cotabato on Monday.

Supt. Bernard Tayong, North Cotabato police spokesperson, said chairperson Emilio Buenavidez of Barangay Datu Celo, Magpet, was the second village official to have survived a murder attempt in the upland town in a span of seven days.

Buenavidez was onboard a motorbike driven by a certain Roel Reposo and was heading for home when ambushed by still unidentified gunmen in the border of Barangays Noah and Bagumbayan.

Tayong said Buenavidez, 59, had just attended the meeting and election of officers for the Association of Barangay Chairpersons in Poblacion Magpet when waylaid. Senior Insp. Jose Mari Molina, Magpet town police chief, said Buenavidez and Reposo both fell off the motorbike after the 12:45 p.m. shooting.

“The gunmen thought the village official was already dead and hurriedly left on a motorbike,” Molina said over a local radio station Tuesday.

He said responding motorists and residents rushed the wounded Buenavidez to the Antipas Medical Specialist Center, but the official had to be transferred to another hospital in Kidapawan City for security reasons. Reposo was unharmed.

On July 10, unidentified gunmen also ambushed and injured Magpet’s Barangay Sallab chairperson Ferdinand Cariaga while passing thru on a motorbike in adjacent Barangay Pangao-an.

Molina said the police are now pursuing a lead that may eventually identify the gunmen in both incidents.

He declined to further comment if communist New People’s Army (NPA) rebels were involved in the separate ambush attempts. Magpet is one of the towns in North Cotabato with high NPA presence.


Wescom awards medals to PH, US Seabees in Palawan

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 17): Wescom awards medals to PH, US Seabees in Palawan

AWARDING OF MILITARY CIVIC ACTION MEDALS. Western Command (Wescom) commander Lt. General Rozzano Briguez awards the military civic action medals to the U.S. Navy Seabees and their Filipino counterparts on Monday (July 16, 2018). (Photo courtesy of Wescom PAO)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- The Western Command (Wescom) has awarded military civic action medals to officers and enlisted personnel of the construction battalions of the Philippine and US navies for jointly completing the construction of a school building of an elementary school in this city.

Capt. Cherryl Tindog, chief of the Public Affairs Office of Wescom, said Tuesday the medals were given and pinned by Lt. General Rozzano Briguez to the participating Filipino and American sailors, better known as “Seabees,” in a simple ceremony on Monday.

“Binigay sa kanila ang medals dahil sa natapos na nila ang construction ng isang unit ng two-classroom school building sa Sicsican Elementary School dahil sa kanilang humanitarian civic action (They were given the medals for completing the construction of one unit two-classroom building at the Sicsican Elementary School),” Tindog said Tuesday in an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

The completed school project in Barangay Sicsican will provide both teachers and students a more conducive learning environment.

She added it was completed through the Construction Civic Action Detail (CCAD) made up of Seabees whose mission is to execute engineering assistance, perform community relations to enhance shared capabilities, and improve the host country’s social welfare.

In an earlier press statement her office sent to the local media, Briguez thanked the US Navy for its remarkable brand of service to the people who will benefit from the school.

“The recognition you received bespeaks well of your dedication to duty and, especially, the US Navy, a remarkable brand of service to the people, regardless of culture, race or color. Wescom is very grateful to the US Government and the US Navy Seabees as they continually make Palawan -- our area of operations, the recipient of their Humanitarian Civic Assistance Projects,” he said.


Multisectoral task force formed to settle Kalinga tribal row

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 17): Multisectoral task force formed to settle Kalinga tribal row

LAGAWE, Ifugao -- Kalinga Vice Governor James Edduba has confirmed that peace is reigning between Kalinga’s Lubo and Tulgao tribes after the two murder suspects that sparked a conflict were put behind bars.

On the sidelines of the Cordillera Day celebration here over the weekend, Edduba said Kalinga Governor Jocel Baac had formed a multisectoral task force to help restore the “bodong” (peace pact) between the two Kalinga tribes.

The task force, he said, consists of members of the religious organizations, the Philippine Army, Kalinga Bodong (Peace) Council (KBC), and other sectors. He said the task force would negotiate further retention of the peace pact, applying the Kalinga indigenous practice of settling disputes.

The formation of the task force came after the last suspect surrendered to authorities last July 12.

In an earlier interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA), Edduba quoted the Kalinga governor as saying, “It is only when the suspect surrenders that formal negotiations under the indigenous system of settling disputes would commence.”

Edduba also cited the Bodong Summit among Kalinga tribes last February, where the tribesmen had agreed that negotiations to settle disputes would start only after a suspect in the crime surrenders to the authorities.

On June 30, two members of the Tulgao tribe allegedly shot to death a farmer and seriously wounded his brother in front of a store in Purok 4, Bulanao City, Tabuk City, Kalinga. Both victims belonged to the Lubo tribe of Tanudan, Kalinga.

The Tulgao tribe is from the province's Tinglayan town.

Edduba said the peace pact between the two tribes was not severed, although there was a violation of the “pagta” (agreement) of the “bodong”.

The vice governor stressed that relations between tribes are not severed, as long as there are negotiations.

Andres Ngao-I, co-chairman of the Kalinga Peace and Order Council (KPOC) and Kalinga Bodong Council (KBC), said a series of talks between the elders of the two tribes are set in the coming days to strengthen their "bodong" agreement.

He was glad to note that nobody seems to be trying to avenge the victims.

Ngao-I said the "pagta" (agreement) entered into by the two tribes many years ago dictates that the elders would talk among themselves on what to do with a violator and apply the indigenous way of settling disputes. But, as dictated by the country's law, the violator could also be imprisoned, he said.

Kalinga province strongly adheres to the indigenous way of settling community disputes, applying traditional cultural practices, where “bodong holders” (peace pact holders), respect the elders and come together to assure the maintenance of peace and order in the place.


2 more NPA rebels surrender in Bukidnon

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 17): 2 more NPA rebels surrender in Bukidnon

Two more members of the New People’s Army (NPA) based in this province voluntarily surrendered to the military, an official said Monday.

The rebels surrendered to the Army’s 8th Infantry (Dependable) Battalion (8IB) based in Impasug-ong town on July 13, said Lt. Col. Ronald Illana, the brigade commander.

Illana identified the surrenderers as alias Sander, 20, who brought along with him a US Springfield rifle, and a certain Alias Jems, 20, who also yielded a Carbine rifle and live ammunition.

Sander and Jems, who separately surrendered on the same day, were both members of the NPA’s North Central Mindanao Regional Command (NCMRC) but belonged to different operating units, the military said.

Illana urged NPA combatants to follow the steps of their former comrades, adding it was “never too late for the victims of the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines)-NPA ideology to see the truth behind the lies.”

On July 5, some 118 NPA supporters and Milisya ng Bayan (MB) members from Impasug-ong town pledged their support to the government. Illana said it was made possible through the joint effort of local government officials and 8IB’s Community Support Program (CSP) team in Barangay Bulonay.

Former rebels may avail of the government’s livelihood programs to help them transition to a peaceful life, the military official said.

Brig. Gen. Eric Vinoya, commander of the Army’s 403rd Infantry Brigade, appreciated the decision of the two NPA rebels to surrender.

"I am glad that Alias Sander and Alias Jems, who were deceived by the NPA terrorist leadership, finally made up their minds to return to the mainstream society, embrace peace, and be with their families again,” Vinoya said.

Vinoya also criticized the CPP-NPA for “continuously forcing civilians to become direct participants to hostilities.”

Vinoya assured the former rebels that they will be provided cash, livelihood and housing assistance, employment, and PhilHealth benefits through the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program.

On July 2, 27 former members of the NPA received cash remuneration for their surrendered firearms in a ceremony held at the headquarters of the 403rd IB in Camp Osito Bahian based in Malaybalay City.

Capt. Norman Tagros, 403rd IB civil military operations chief, said each rebel received an amount ranging from PHP2,000 to PHP80,000, depending on the kind and quality of the firearms surrendered, as evaluated by the Philippine National Police.


Abu Sayyaf member arrested in Zamboanga City

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 17): Abu Sayyaf member arrested in Zamboanga City

Police and military operatives arrested an alleged member of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in an east coast barangay of this city, an official said Tuesday.

Chief Insp. Helen Galvez, Police Regional Office-9 (PRO-9) information officer, identified the arrested ASG member as Nusrin Pawaji alias Nanir Bandahala.He yielded a hand grenade when he was arrested in an operation at around 5:20 p.m. Sunday in Sitio Niyog-Niyog, Barangay Muti, she added.

Galvez said Pawaji has a standing warrant of arrest for multiple attempted murder issued by a local court on January 29, 2018.

She said Pawaji belongs to the group of Jamiul Nasalon alias Jamih, who is involved in extortion activities victimizing businesses and fishermen. The group is also tagged in the ambush of a passenger bus on February 14, 2017 in Barangay Buenavista, east of this city.

Police said Pawaji was also involved in the killing of eight fishermen on January 9, 2017 near Siromon Island, this city.


AFP recall of Trillanes security escorts procedural

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 16): AFP recall of Trillanes security escorts procedural

Being a member of the opposition has nothing to do with the recall of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV's two military security escorts, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Col. Edgard Arevalo said late Sunday.

He also clarified that the detail of all military personnel as security escorts of authorized VIPs has a permanent duration.

"Therefore, security escorts whose tours of duty have lapsed and has not been renewed were recalled to the General Headquarters for accounting. And there are no exceptions to that policy," Arevalo added.

"This has nothing to do with his being an opposition senator. The same policy applies to everybody falling on the same situation as the good senator," he emphasized.

Also, affected VIPs or principals can file a new request to the Secretary of National Defense regarding the reassignment of their escorts.

"Upon grant of such request by the Secretary of National Defense, subject military personnel shall continue performing their duties as security escorts," the AFP spokesperson stressed.

In the case of Trillanes, Arevalo said the senator's security escorts were temporarily recalled last July 12 to report to AFP headquarters for accounting purposes only because their tour of duty has lapsed.

"His security detail will be restored upon approval of such request. The same policy applies to everybody falling on the same situation as the good senator," the AFP official stressed.


Navy to test Spike-ER missiles off Corregidor

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 16): Navy to test Spike-ER missiles off Corregidor

The Philippine Navy (PN) is set to test its newly-acquired Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd Spike-ER surface-to-surface missile systems on July 17 to 18 and July 24 to 26 off Corregidor Island.

This was confirmed by Department of National Defense (DND) spokesperson Arsenio Andolong in a message to the Philippine News Agency Monday morning.

"Yes, tests will be conducted on the missiles and their platforms sometime on those dates and somewhere in the area of Corregidor Island. This is all part of the Technical Inspection and Acceptance procedure that all of our acquisitions undergo," Andolong said.

This includes live-test firing of the missiles now arming multi-purpose assault craft (MPACs) with bow numbers BA-488, BA-489, and BA-491.

The boats are the Navy's Batch 3 MPACs, which was constructed by the Subic-based Propmech Corporation and activated on May 22, 2017.

Andolong, however, declined to give the exact locations of the test sites for security reasons.

The Spike-ER system, which arrived in the country last April, is the PN's first missile weapon capable penetrating 1,000 mm (39 inches) of rolled homogeneous armor and having a range of eight kilometers.

Andolong's statements were confirmed by PN spokesperson Cmdr. Jonathan Zata.

"(The dates) are for the series of acceptance trials needed to ensure that the missile system is delivered and accepted in accordance with set standards. The additional dates are for flexibility should bad weather prevail," Zata said in a text message.

Zata also stressed that the PN is closely coordinating with the DND, through the project management team, to ensure that the missile undergoes acceptance trials on the mentioned dates.


SoKor to help modernize PH defense capability

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 16): SoKor to help modernize PH defense capability

One of the Philippines’ closest allies, South Korea, will help the country modernize its defense capability, particularly the acquisition of new helicopters and submarines.

This was confirmed by South Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Han Dong-Man in an exclusive interview over the weekend with the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

“Korea is now looking to provide helicopters, small firearms and eventually submarines, since Korean military gear and arsenal are cost-effective and would contribute to enhancing the defense capability of the Philippines,” Han said.

The Philippines had bought a dozen of brand new FA-50 jetfighters from South Korea for the Philippine Air Force (PAF).

The FA-50s were extensively used during the Marawi siege last year, blasting away ISIS-linked Maute terror group that occupied the southern Philippine city for almost five months before they were crushed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

During the interview, Han said Korea is “very happy to be part of the modernization of the Philippine military by reinforcing the capability of the Air Force.”

“Even President Duterte and Defense Secretary Lorenzana were pleased with the Korean FA-50 fighter planes, which proved to be very effective in fighting terrorists in Marawi last year,” Han said.

“Korea will continue to be part of this modernization program by providing more military equipment,” he added.

Han thanked the Philippines anew for helping South Korea during the Korean War in 1950-1955, when the Philippines sent more than 7,000 combat troops that comprised the Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea (PEFTOK).

“Today’s Korea would not be enjoying peace, democracy, and economic prosperity without the great and noble sacrifice of the Filipino Korean War veterans,” Han pointed out.

“When I met former President Fidel V. Ramos, who is a Korean War veteran, I, on behalf of the Korean people and government, expressed my deep gratitude to all the Korean War veterans as deserve the title of a “hero,” he added.

Han also acknowledged that “after the Korean War, many Filipino engineers and technicians came to Korea to help (build) a gymnasium and government complex, adding that “Koreans cannot forget their contribution in the process of Korean development.”