Tuesday, August 14, 2018

DWDD: SEEKING PEACE | Ceremonial Oath Taking and Turn Over of Firearms of CNTs in Batangas

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Aug 14): SEEKING PEACE  |  Ceremonial Oath Taking and Turn Over of Firearms of CNTs in Batangas


TANAUAN, Batangas (DWDD) A simple Ceremonial Oath Taking and Turn Over of Firearms of former Communist Terrorist was held today, August 14, 2018 at the Satellite Office of the Presidential Adviser for Southern Tagalog, at A Mabini Avenue in Tanauan, Batangas

This is part of the realization of the call of President Rodrigo Duterte for a united country.


The event was highlighted with the surrender of thirteen (13) insurgents who have decided to lay down their arms and return to the folds of the law. Their desire to become part of society once again is a manifestation that the government and the communities collective efforts to reach to our brothers and sisters in the Communist front is finally succeeding. This event is a critical step towards the eventual dismantling of the Communist terror front not only Southern Tagalog but optimistically, in other parts of the country as well. 

In times like this, it is of utmost importance that we stand united and show our returning brothers that the government is willing to assist them in their ensuing reintegration to our communities through sustainable programs and services.


Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Assistant Secretary for Special Concerns Jose Antonio R Hernandez gave the Welcome Remarks while Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Ano led the Oath of Allegiance.

Also in attendance were Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Carlito Galvez Jr.; Batangas Governor Hermilando I mandanas; Presidential Adviser on Souther Tagalog Secretary Jose Maria Nicomedes Hernandez; and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. AES / LQG / MCAG


Palawan downgrades security alert on ASG kidnapping plot

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 14): Palawan downgrades security alert on ASG kidnapping plot

FROM LEFT: Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez and Provincial Legal Office chief and Peace and Order Council member Atty. Teodoro Jose Matta during a press conference on August 4, announcing the downgrading of the heightened alert against the ASG. (Photo by CARF)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- The provincial government of Palawan announced on Tuesday that it downgraded the warning that was issued to the public barely two days ago against a possible kidnapping threat by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

Palawan Provincial Legal Office (PLO) chief and Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) member, Atty. Teodoro Jose Matta, said after consulting with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Western Command (Wescom), they have decided to “lower the security alert status.”

“Based on the information, the persons of interest that we were monitoring last week who are allegedly going to Palawan, have been spotted in a different area of operation and that the armed forces counterpart in Mindanao has been monitoring this group. The threat to Palawan has ceased,” he said in a press conference called at the Provincial Capitol.

However, Matta said they are still calling upon local officials and the communities, in general, to “stay vigilant and to stay alert against suspicious persons or activities” within their areas of jurisdiction.

He noted that the security of Palawan is not merely the responsibility of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the PNP, or the provincial government but the concern of everybody.

“We are enlisting your help on this matter. Also, the security posture of the province will remain strong and secured, and that Palawan is safe,” he said.

Matta on Saturday alerted local government officials and tourism operators in the province against security threats by the ASG.

Governor Jose Alvarez said he was happy that like Bohol, the province remained safe because of the vigilance of residents.

He said the information networks that were set up in different areas have helped peacekeeping forces and other security managers of the province to prevent any untoward incident last week.

“Sana huwag mangyari ang mga hindi kanais-nais na kriminalidad para mapahiya ang probinsya, para maapektuhan ang ating turismo (I hope these criminal acts will not happen to embarrass the province and to seriously affect our tourism),” Alvarez said in the same press conference.

The provincial governor said he has ordered a thorough investigation of Indonesian vessel M/L Skpt Natuna 51, which reportedly drifted to Palawan on August 9, as he does not believe it would reach the province without any crew from such a distance.

“I do not believe that at more than 2,300 kilometers away, it will reach the province. It is hard to believe that the strong winds of the southwest monsoon will drift it from the Pacific Ocean to the Western or the southeastern coast of Palawan without any crew bringing it. We will thoroughly inspect the vessel because we suspect it was brought there,” he said.

Nevertheless, Alvarez said they lowered the security alert “so people can work.”

But barangay residents should continue being vigilant.

Alvarez said the province’s security posturing has also prohibited yachts and other vessels employing the speed of 25 knots and above in Palawan seas even if their entry is legitimate.

“If they enter, we will catch them –speedboats that are running more than 25 knots on the water because this speed is only for government assets. If they are seen, they should be caught immediately,” he said.

Alvarez further said the provincial government had also invested in purchasing 30 small speedboats that can be manned by three crew and four soldiers.

“This is to assure that our tourists in Palawan are safe. If you look at it, there is no incident happening here. They (ASG) cannot simply enter without being intercepted,” he said.

The Wescom said it will likewise build up the Naval Forces West’s (Navforwest) capacity to monitor vessel activities at sea by proposing the construction of another littoral monitoring station (LMS) in Busuanga, northern Palawan.

The LMS will be operated by the Maritime Situational Awareness Center West (MSAC West) to provide a nautical operating picture of the coastal zones in the Calamianes area, which is a marine highway for cargo vessels.

Currently, there are littoral monitoring stations on Lalutaya Island, El Nido town, and barangays Melville and Mangsee in Balabac, according to Wescom information officer Captain Cherryl Tindog.

Matta further said the Philippine Coast Guard’s (PCG) National Coast Watch System (NCWS), which will soon be operational, will also help reinforce the monitoring of coastal areas in Palawan.

Meanwhile, Alvarez said in the next five years, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) and the provincial government will be establishing an air force base on a 300-hectare government property in mainland Balabac.

“It will the same size or bigger than our airport in the city. It will be a base that will cater to civilians too, but more the military. I assure this will be bigger and better,” he said, adding it is part of the provincial government’s security stance.

Exploited for long, tribes fight back vs. NPA

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 14): Exploited for long, tribes fight back vs. NPA

The Indigenous Peoples (IP) in Mindanao lamented the continued killings of their members by communist guerillas, often in the hands of their own tribesmen who have joined the New People’s Army (NPA).

Maj. Ezra Balagtey, Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) spokesman, on Tuesday said the NPA has already killed six IP members in recent weeks within the Eastmincom area.

Eastmincom covers the Caraga region, Davao region, Bukidnon and Cagayan in Region 10, Cotabato, Makilala, South Cotabato, Colombio and Sultan Kudarat in the Socksargen area.

Balagtey said the NPA's continued atrocities against tribal communities haven't gone unnoticed among the Lumads, prompting several tribal groups to gather in Davao City to seek government protection in February this year. Others, he said, have sought refuge in Army camps.

NPA atrocities

IPs, he said, are killed for varying reasons, often for refusal to support the communist movement, or even on suspicion of being government informants. The rebels, he said, are also known to "extort" whatever little food the IPs have in their already impoverished communities.

Tribal Chieftain Eusebio Meniano of Barangay Hinapuyan, Carmen, Surigao del Sur, considers himself luckier compared with what his other kalumonan (kin) have suffered under the NPA.

Meniano was forcibly dragged out of his home on July 24, and was only released by the NPA when the local government offered the rebels food in exchange for the tribal leader's freedom.

Eastmincom reported that the negotiation came after a pursuit operation was undertaken by the Army's 36th Infantry Battalion to rescue the abducted tribal leader.

Lt Gen Benjamin Madrigal Jr., Eastmincom commander,. said the incident "confirms the revelation of former rebels who surrendered before that the NPA rebels are experiencing hardship, where they have no food to eat and that they are always running to evade pursuing troops."

Among the NPA atrocities on IP groups this year, the military said, include the killing of the tribal leader of the Langilang-Manobo tribe and his son, who were shot dead by the NPA inside their home in Barangay Palma Gil, Talaingod, Davao del Norte in February.

The victims, Datu Banadjao Mampaundag and his son, Jhonard Mampaundag, were attacked inside their home by the armed men posing as soldiers but were in fact members of the NPA.

Vulnerable, exploited

The incident prompted the tribal leader of the Ata-Manobo tribe Datu Lumansad Sibogan of Talaingod, Davao del Norte, to declare a “pangayaw” or tribal war against the NPA.

Sibogan, presiding officer of the Council of Elders of the Ata-Manobo Tribe in Talaingod, said it was high time for their own tribesmen who are NPA members to stop killing their own relatives.

On April, Councilor Antonio Takinan, 50, the Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative (IPMR) to the Magpet town council, was ambushed by six suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Barangay Tagbac.

According to Balagtey, the vulnerability of the IPs is persistently exploited by the NPA because they are the most accessible source of armed guerilla fighters. Ancestral domains, he added, are also commonly used as guerrilla bases.

Balagtey said the IP Summit in February, in coordination with the Eastmincom, was the beginning of an "IP-centric Community Support Program that is founded on broad-based consultations and engagements with tribal leaders and key stakeholders."

The summit, he said, aims to facilitate the resolution of issues and concerns affecting the IPs--consistent with President Rodrigo Duterte's advocacy of inclusivity and equity.

Reaching out

Amid the NPA atrocities on tribal communities, Balagtey said the government remains resolute in its goal to bring development to IP areas and ensure that the tribes do not become vulnerable to NPA recruitment and influence.

He said the military-led programs for IPs include the allocation of sufficient slots for tribe members into the military, skills training, livelihood programs, scholarships, and housing.

Last year, the Army's 1003rd (Raptr) Brigade in Davao City completed its IP Recruitment System, a special procurement program of the Army intended to optimize the integration of qualified IP members into the Philippine Army.

The IP recruits form part of the Lumad Security and Defense System that will augment regular Army units in securing communities. They belong to the Ata, Klata, Matigsalog, Obo-Manobo and Tagabawa tribes, residing in the districts of Baguio, Marilog, Paquibato and Toril, the areas that had been subjected to brutal subjugation and exploitation by the communist rebels.

The Lumad Security and Defense System will free IPs from the recruitment, oppression and exploitation by the NPA, military officials said.

This year, Balagtey said one of the major breakthroughs was the surrender of the feared tribal leader of the Salugpungan Ta Tanu Inkanugon and the Langilan-Manobo tribe in Talaingod, Davao del Norte.

Datu Gibang Apoga, chieftain of the Langilan-Manobo Tribe, together with the members of his group, signed a peace covenant with government security forces and local officials in a tribal ceremony in the remote village of Nasilaban, Palma Gil, Talaingod in June.

Apoga became a feared tribal leader after leading an armed opposition against the Integrated Forest Management Agreement (IFMA) project, a commercial logging operation in mid-1990’s in the ancestral domain. The IFMA would have covered an additional 17,000 hectares within the ancestral domain.

Apoga’s return to Nasilaban was seen as the positive outcome of the military’s continued peace initiatives with different tribal groups in the areas of the Eastmincom.


Guv orders PNP director to solve Guihulngan killings

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 14): Guv orders PNP director to solve Guihulngan killings

DUMAGUETE CITY -- Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo said he will not confirm the designation of Senior Supt. Raul Tacaca as full-fledged director of the provincial police until he has addressed the spate of killings in Guihulngan City.

Degamo issued the statement Monday during the opening of an intensive training on the conservation of movable and immovable cultural property of the Diocese of Dumaguete, which was graced by the chairman of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) and the director of the Department of Tourism 7 (Central Visayas).

The governor said he wants Tacaca to solve the killings in Guihulngan as these have already damaged the city’s economy.

He said he has received reports that as early as 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., most establishments are already closed and residents opt to confine themselves inside their residences.

It was noted, however, that most of the shooting incidents happened in broad daylight.

“Wala nay pili ang mga mamumuno, ma-barangay official ka man, empleyado sa gobierno, retirido nga sundalo, drug personalities ba hinoon (The killers do not spare anyone, whether it be a barangay official, a government employee, a retired soldier, or even drug personalities) who are being killed with impunity,” Degamo said.

The latest victim was a barangay captain who was shot dead over the weekend.

Virgilio Agir Masicampo Jr., 42, barangay chairman of Nagsaha, Guihulngan City, succumbed to multiple gunshot wounds after three attackers waylaid him while he was on board his motorcycle on the way to Barangay Magsaysay last Friday.

The name of Tacaca is included on the list of nominees submitted to Police Regional Office 7 for confirmation.

“Tacaca is doing his best but I need results and an assurance that he can do it, because the situation in Guihulngan City, for me, is not any more stable,” Degamo told reporters.

In an earlier interview, Guihulngan City police chief Supt. Mario Baquiran confirmed that out of more or less 70 shooting incidents this year, only 21 or so cases were filed in court.


2 militiamen, woman killed in N. Cotabato ambush

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 14): 2 militiamen, woman killed in N. Cotabato ambush

A police manhunt is underway against gunmen who ambushed and killed two militiamen and a pregnant woman in Barangay Ginatilan, Pikit, North Cotabato on Monday.

Supt. Bernard Tayong, North Cotabato provincial police spokesperson, said the police had coordinated with the Army’s 7th Infantry Battalion and the ceasefire panels of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in hunting down the gunmen.

“The ambush site is one of the communities identified with the MILF,” Tayong said.

He identified the fatalities as Richard Wacan, 26, and Ronald Lachica, 35, both members of Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) and residents of Barangay Bualan, Pikit, and Hasna Mohammad Buka, 39, who was three months pregnant.

Two school children, identified as Keise Mohammad Buka, 14 and Dante Boboy Jr., 16, were injured in the ambush that occurred at 1:45 p.m. in front of the Datu Dalandag National High School in the area.

The slain CAFGUs were on board a motorbike heading to Barangay Bualan from Poblacion Pikit when unidentified gunmen opened fire on them using M16 and M14 rifles. The housewife, on the other hand, was aboard a separate motorbike when hit by the volley of bullets fired towards the militiamen.

“She was accidentally hit during the ambush,” Tayong said. The three victims died on the spot while the injured were rushed to a hospital in the town proper.

Tayong said the ambush could have been triggered by a “rido” or family feud involving the CAFGUs and the armed group.


Relief, court-martial vs. erring AFP execs to boost troops' morale

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 14): Relief, court-martial vs. erring AFP execs to boost troops' morale

The morale of ground troops is expected to be uplifted with President Rodrigo R. Duterte's relief and court martial order against the commanding officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Health Services Command (HSC) and AFP Medical Center (also known as the V. Luna Hospital) and several others for alleged involvement in anomalous trasactions.

"We expect that the morale of troops will be affected positively by this," Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Monday.

The above-mentioned development shows the government is working hard to eliminate corruption in its ranks.

He added that the anomalies involving these personnel were uncovered by an internal audit and investigation by the military, along with a parallel inquiry by the Philippine Anti-Corruption Commission.

"First, the corruption was discovered by internal audit and investigation. The Philippline Anti Corruption Commission also conducted parallel inquiry. It was determined that there were ghost deliveries," Lorenzana added.

The defense chief also said the incident is unfortunate considering that the DND and the AFP is currently enjoying the trust of the Filipino people.

"It is unfortunate that this happened at a time when the DND and AFP enjoys the trust and confidence of the Filipino people. We will ensure that those responsible will be held fully accountable for their actions. The investigations of the other individuals who might possibly be involved are still on-going," he stressed.

Despite these developments, Lorenzana assured the public that the DND and AFP are sensitive to irregularities such as these and vow to continue safeguarding our institution against similar incidents in the future.

Earlier, AFP HSC head Brig. Gen. Edwin Leo Torrelavega, AFP Medical Center (also known as the V. Luna Hospital) commander Col. Antonio Punzalan and 20 others were ordered relieved and subjected to court martial proceedings for alleged procurement anomalies and ghost deliveries.

AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Carlito Galvez, Jr. said these personnel will be charged with violation of Article of War 95 (Fraud Against the Government). But this is without prejudice to other infractions of the Articles of War that may have also been violated; and the accused military personnel’s right to due process.

"But I commit to the members of the AFP, to the Filipino People, and to our beloved President and Commander-in-Chief that I will render justice to all concerned without undue haste. As the President said during the last SONA (State-of-the-Nation Address) corruption is corrosive. And the warning that— 'I will get you!' And I am one with him in that desire. At ito na yun (This is what is happening now)," Galvez said.

In line with this and based on the findings in the investigation, the AFP chief bared that he will order that reforms be instituted in the AFPHSC, along with a major revamp in the unit to address the systemic corruption.

"I will cause the installation only of officers and staff with the necessary qualifications, competencies, integrity, and unquestionable reputation, to run this institution which is vital to the health and well-being of our personnel and their dependents," Galvez added.


NPAs engaging in extortion, atrocities due to lack of ideology

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 14): NPAs engaging in extortion, atrocities due to lack of ideology

Due to their lack of political ideology, remaining New People's Army (NPA) are engaging in extortion and other atrocities just to survive.

This was emphasized by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief Col. Noel Detoyato Tuesday when asked if rebels will kill if their extortion demands are thwarted in the countryside.

"All circumstances ng extortion is always like that. Kill one, terrorize 10,000. Base yan sa (That is based on the) revelation ng mga nahuli, na-arrest and nag-surrender (of those who were captured, arrested and surrendered)," he added.

With this development, Detoyato said the NPAs are just operating like bandits and criminals as money or goods obtained from their extortion are for their own benefit.

"Almost everytime, They extort for their personal use," the AFP official added.

The lack of political ideology is also one of the primary reasons for the mass surrender of NPA fighters and supporters.

"The ideology is dead. Fighting and extorting for survival na lang sila. Yan ang reason why many are taking the path of surrendering. And the only way to stop the exodus of surrenderers is to force the government to sit down for peace talks so that there will be a ceasefire or worse for the government, a 'stand down'," Detoyato added.

The AFP earlier announced that NPA forces nationwide are on the decline as around 7,531 rebels and other supporters have been neutralized from January 1 to June 28 this year.

This can be broken down into 71 killed, 114 captured and 7,346 who voluntarily surrendered.

"As they had been saying and I say it again, 'peace talks is a tool to advance the armed struggle'," Detoyato stressed.


'SABIR' to help in PH patrol of vast maritime territories

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 14): 'SABIR' to help in PH patrol of vast maritime territories

The US-donated "Special Airborne Mission Installation and Response System" (SABIR) will be used by the country in patrolling its vast maritime territories.

This was bared by Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana during the ceremonial acceptance, blessing and turned over of the above-mentioned equipment at the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing Fixed Hangar, Villamor Air Base, Pasay City Tuesday.

"(SABIR will be used) for patrolling the West Philippine Sea, Philippine Rise and the Sulu Sea," he added.

The DND chief said that this equipment will help address the country's surveillance gap and aid in the surveying of areas devastated by weather disturbances.

"Also, we can use this for surveying devastated areas by typhoons, before and after, so that we can assess the damages," he added.

Lorenzana, however, clarified that the equipment will not be used everyday as other assets with ISR (intelligence, surveillance and recon) capabilities like the ScanEagles, Cessna 208Bs and TC-90s are also available.

"I don't know if we will get some more but I think we only use this once in a while, maybe it's not everyday we'll use this because we have other assets like the (ScanEagle) drone, we have the (Cessna 208B) Caravan also and then we have the TC-90s of the Navy," he added.

SABIR is a "bolt-on, bolt-off" avionics module for the Lockheed C-130 "Hercules" cargo plane which served as the Philippine Air Force's main intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance system.

Installation of the above-mentioned equipment will upgrade the aircraft with advanced command-and-control, communications, computer, and surveillance capabilities without sacrificing the C-130's primary function as a cargo plane.

Its equipment, training and transfer cost is worth PHP807 million.

The SABIR donation is part of the US Southeast Asia Maritime Security initiatives and granted to the PAF to beef up its maritime domain awareness, airborne command-and-control, counter-terrorism, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities.

SABIR will be operated by the PAF's 300th Air Intelligence and Security Wing.


Albayalde implements Ombudsman order vs. cops in anomalous AK-47 deal

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 14): Albayalde implements Ombudsman order vs. cops in anomalous AK-47 deal

Sanctions ordered by the Office of the Ombudsman against senior police officials and civilian personnel who approved the release of 1,004 AK-47 assault rifles to private mining and security firms took effect Tuesday.

This was confirmed by Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director General Oscar Albayalde in an interview with reporters.

The rifles, which were released with undue haste by the PNP in 2011 to private firms despite incomplete or falsified applications and supporting documents, were later found to have been resold to communist rebels over a two-year period from 2011 to 2013.

Speaking to newsmen, Albayalde confirmed that his office handed down the implementing orders following the decision of the Ombudsman on the case for grave misconduct, serious dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

"May (There is an) order ang (from the) Ombudsman dismissing them, so we have to implement yung utos (the order). Tayo naman ay nagi-implement lang ng utos (We are just implementing the order.) We issued the order of dismissal effective today (Tuesday). Lahat ng tao na na-involved ay dismissed na (All those who were involved are already dismissed)," Albayalde said.

The orders covered active and retired officials and civilian personnel, the PNP chief said.

"Dun sa retired na penalty, pinapa-retrieve na one year salary from the accrued leave nila, yung active ay automatic dismissed na (For those who are now retired, they still have a penalty which is equivalent to one year salary which will be sourced from their accrued leave. Those in active service are now dismissed)," he added.

"Wala silang makukuhang (They will not get) retirement benefits," he added.

Among those sanctioned by the Ombudsman was retired Chief Supt. Raul Delfin Petrasanta, who previously headed the PNP Firearms and Explosives Office.

Petrasanta opted for early retirement in June 2017 after he was ordered dismissed by the Ombudsman for his involvement in the PHP100-million government contract for the delivery of gun licenses.

Another retired official, Chief Supt. Allan ParreƱo, who left following his compulsory retirement on Dec. 9, 2015, was fined an amount equivalent to his salary for one year, along with accessory penalties.

Likewise dismissed was SPO1 Eric Tan. Due to his dismissal from service on Feb. 8, 2018, a fine equivalent to the respondent's salary for one year was imposed.

Non-uniformed personnel Nora Pirote, who opted for retirement on Dec. 31, 2014, was also fined equivalent to her salary for one year.

The fines, payable to the Office of the Ombudsman, may be deducted from accrued leave credits or any receivable from his office that is not forfeited, or she may opt to directly pay the fine.

The penalty carries with it the forfeiture of retirement benefits, cancellation of eligibility, and perpetual disqualification from holding office.

Earlier reports said among those who were dismissed were Chief Supt. Regino Catiis of the PNP Directorate for Human Resource and Doctrine Development; Supt. Nelson Bautista of the Personnel Holding and Accounting Unit; Supt. Ricky Sumalde of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group; Chief Insp. Ricardo Zapata Jr. of Police Regional Office 3 (Central Luzon); and Senior Supt. Eduardo Acierto.