Saturday, August 18, 2018

Don't make Balangiga bells trophies of war, PH tells U.S.

From Rappler (Aug 18): Don't make Balangiga bells trophies of war, PH tells U.S.
The Philippine Department of National Defense addresses groups in the United States opposed to the move of their own defense agency to return the wartime bells 

Photo from

The Balangiga Bells taken by the United States Army from the Eastern Samar town in 1901 should not be treated as trophies of war, the Department of National Defense said on Friday, August 17.

Addressing groups in the United States who opposed the return of the historic bells to the Philippines, the DND said: "We call on the American people not to allow the bells to serve as trophies for atrocities that were committed by both sides on Philippine soil a very long time ago."
After more than a century, US Defense Secretary James Mattis said the US would return the church bells to the Philippines.

At least 3 American lawmakers, however, expressed "strong disapproval" of the US defense department's plan, according to an ABS-CBN online report. They are Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney, Senator Mike Enzi, and Senator John Barraso.

The bells are currently at the F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne.

Healing wounds: In a statement on Friday, the DND said the return of the bells would serve as a symbol of the United State’s sincerity and commitment to its long-term alliance with the Philippines.

“The return of the Balangiga Bells will be a strong indicator of the sincerity of the Americans in forging a lasting relationship with the Filipino people and truly symbolic of what their government has referred to in the past as an ironclad alliance between our two countries,” the DND said in a statement.

The DND reminded its American counterparts of the time both countries fought side-by-side during World War II and its current work fighting terrorism today.

“In this ever changing world, it is time to heal the wounds of the past, move on, and look to the future,” the DND said.

Why are the bells significant? In what was known as the Balangiga Massacre, Filipino revolutionaries supposedly used the bells as a signal when they attacked a US garrison in the town of Balangiga in Eastern Samar, killing 48 out of 74 American soldiers.

Seeking revenge on the attack, American soldiers were ordered to kill everyone in the town aged 10 years and above, including work animals, to burn houses, and to seize crops.

“We must all remember that both sides lost many precious lives during the Fil-Am (Filipino-American) War – the Filipinos suffering many more deaths than the Americans,” the DND said. “It was a dark chapter in the shared history of our peoples, which should never be allowed to happen again.”

In his 2017 State of the Nation Address, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte asked the US to return the 3 bells. The US embassy had then said it would continue working with the Philippine government toward a "resolution."

In 1994, then Philippine president Fidel Ramos also made the same request to his US counterpart Bill Clinton, to no avail.

CPP-NPA terrorist dies in Bukidnon clash

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 18): CPP-NPA terrorist dies in Bukidnon clash

CAMP OSITO BAHIAN, Malaybalay City -- A combatant of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army Terrorists (CNTs) under Section Committee 89 of North Central Mindanao Regional Committee was killed in a gunfight with elements of Bukidnon Provincial Mobile Force Company on Wednesday, August 8, around 9:35 a.m at the outskirts of Impasugong, Bukidnon.

The clash ensued after the 403rd Infantry Brigade (403Bde) and Bukidnon Police Provincial Office launched a joint Focused Military Operations in the area.

The firefight lasted for about five minutes resulting to the death of a male CPP-NPA rebel fighter; the recovery of one improvised rifle; and wounding of several rebels with the bloodstains seen by troops in the battleground.

The identity of CPP-NPA rebel who died during the clash is yet to be determined.

The focused operation was launched based on the residents’ repeated reports and complaints about the presence of armed men who blatantly extorted farmers. The residents’ reports said that while having extortion activities, they (CPP-NPA terrorists) also conduct lectures to radicalize the ‘Lumad’ and the younger generation in the community.

Meanwhile, at around 12:00 noon, Wednesday, 8 August 2018, another armed clash erupted between elements of the 1st Special Forces Battalion, who are also taking part in the focused military operations of the 403Bde, and a group of CNTs near the vicinity.

The clash, which ensued for about 10 minutes, resulted to the wounding of one soldier and undetermined number of CNTs.

The wounded soldier was rushed to Camp Evangelista Station Hospital and is now regaining health.

With the declaration of Bukidnon province as Conflict-Manageable and Ready for Further Development, the 403Bde and Bukidnon Police Provincial Office continue to perform its mandate of securing communities from all forms of threat in order to keep the CPP-NPA terrorists ‘off-balanced’ and frail in launching attacks against civilians, vital economic installations, government flagship projects, and other civilian properties.

“We will be relentless in our conduct of Focused Military Operations and other Internal Security Operations in collaboration with PNP counterparts in Bukidnon, if only to ensure that our communities will be protected from threats posed by criminals and terrorits’ organizations such as the CPP-NPA.

We mourn the loss of another life in the recent battle. We offer our sincere condolences to the bereaved family of the CNT who died during clash. This could not have happened if they heeded our continued call for them to go down, surrender, and embrace peace,” said Brig Gen Eric C Vinoya, AFP, 403Bde Commander.

Mt. Napulak closed to trekkers due to ‘heightened alert’ vs. NPA

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 18): Mt. Napulak closed to trekkers due to ‘heightened alert’ vs. NPA

Trekkers are temporarily prohibited from climbing Mount Napulak, a popular hiking destination in Igabaras, Iloilo.

In an interview Friday afternoon, Mayor Vicente Escorpion said their municipal police station and the Philippine Army’s 61st Infantry Battalion (61st IB), which provide security to the town, are on “heightened alert” following the Aug. 15 encounter in Antique, where seven suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) were killed in a clash with government troops.

“The closure would ensure safety among the trekkers,” Escorpion said, adding that they also want to avoid confusion because some rebels might pretend to be trekkers.

The closure of Mount Napulak was recommended by its municipal tourism office and the 61st IB, he said.
Escorpion said he recognizes the mountainous town’s insurgency problem.

Earlier, the Iloilo Police Provincial Office named Igbaras as among 15 municipalities whose police stations are at “high risk” of being attacked by rebels.

Policemen were reminded not to leave their posts and be vigilant against possible attacks.

Escorpion is planning to conduct a meeting with the police and the army to discuss the closure of Mount Napulak, especially when it would reopen to locals and foreign climbers.

“We will analyze the situation,” he said.

An average of 50 trekkers flock to Mount Napulak during weekends, especially during summer.

PH Navy to deploy BRP Alcaraz for 'KAKADU' exercises

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 18): PH Navy to deploy BRP Alcaraz for 'KAKADU' exercises

KAKADU. The BRP Ramon Alcaraz (FF-16) will be deployed by the Philippine Navy to join the "Kakadu" multilateral regional exercise that will take place off Darwin, Australia from August 31, 2018 to September 15, 2018. The biennial exercise is hosted by the Royal Australian Navy. (PNA photo by Priam F. Nepomuceno)
The Philippine Navy (PN) will deploy the frigate BRP Ramon Alcaraz (FF-16) and a 300-man contingent to participate in the multilateral regional exercise "Kakadu" that will take place off Darwin, Australia from Aug. 31 to September 15.

Navy spokesperson, Commander Jonathan Zata, said send-off ceremonies for the PN contingent will take place at Pier 13, South Harbor, Manila on Monday.

The BRP Ramon Alcaraz is one of the three Del Pilar-class frigates (formerly the US Coast Guard's Hamilton-class cutters) in PN service. The other two are the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (FF-15) and BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF-17).

"KAKADU" is the 14th iteration of the multilateral naval exercise hosted biennially by the Royal Australian Navy. It is an opportunity for invited Navies to participate in multinational maritime activities that promote greater levels of military cooperation and understanding among nations, Zata added.

The Philippines’ participation in "KAKADU" began in 1999 and the PN's constant participation in multilateral exercises is also an affirmation of its commitment in collaborating with other navies to promote peace and stability in the maritime region.

BIFF running out of guns, uses IED vs. military: Army general

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 18): BIFF running out of guns, uses IED vs. military: Army general

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao – Running out of firearms and ammunition, the Islamic State-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Maguindanao has resorted to roadside bombings and planting of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in fighting government forces.

This was according to Brigadier Gen. Diosdado Carreon, commander of the Army’s 601st Infantry Brigade based in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao, who added that BIFF's "heavy losses" has led the terror group to resort to bombing activities.

Carreon noted the heavy presence of BIFF in the so-called “SPMS box,” referring to the Maguindanao’s adjoining towns of Shariff Aguak, Pagatin (Datu Saudi Ampatuan), Mamasapano and Sharif Saydona, where intensified military operations are currently focused.

At least 50 BIFF have been killed in air, ground and marshland assaults by Task Force Central, the military-led unit out to neutralize the BIFF, over the past two months within the SPMS box, the military said.

“At least three BIFF factions are operating within the SPMS box,” Capt. Arvin John Encinas, Army’s 6th Infantry Division spokesman, referring to the terror groups of Abu Toraife, Imam Bongos, and Kagui Karialan.

Carreon said the IED recovered by police and Army’s 7th Infantry Battalion last Aug. 8 from slain suspected bombers in M’lang, North Cotabato, were assembled in the SPMS box.

“We will do our best to contain the BIFF in the SPMS box so they cannot carry out bombings in other parts of Maguindanao and North Cotabato,” Carreon said, adding that public support is necessary for their ongoing mission to neutralize the terror group.

On Sunday, the Army’s 1st Mechanized Infantry Battalion recovered four high-powered firearms, 14 improvised bombs and bomb components from a safe house abandoned by the rebels following a brief firefight with infantrymen. A day earlier, four IEDs were detonated by Army bomb experts in Shariff Aguak.

The IEDs were intended for military convoy regularly passing the Cotabato-General Santos highway. Carreon said defeating BIFF will entail the continued support of the local residents who provide valuable information.

He cited the incident in Barangay Malangog, Datu Unsay, Maguindanao, where residents alerted the military about the presence of the BIFF–Bongos faction in Barangay Malangog.

Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, 6th ID commander, lauded the civilians for the "well-timed sharing of information to police and military authorities."

Authorities charge 2 suspects in Basilan van blast

From ABS-CBN (Aug 14): Authorities charge 2 suspects in Basilan van blast

Authorities have filed criminal charges against two suspects tagged in the deadly Lamitan bombing last month, a military official said Tuesday.

Charges of multiple murder and multiple serious physical injuries were filed against Indalin Abdulgani and Musa Jalaha for their alleged involvement in the July 31 van blast near a military detachment that left 11 dead and several others wounded, said Col. Fernando Reyeg, commander of Joint Task Force Basilan.

Reyeg said Abdulgani is a known Ustadz or preacher in Hadji Mohammad Ajul, a small coastal town in Basilan.

He was arrested two days after the attack.
Preacher arrested over Basilan van blast

Details on his participation in the deadly explosion remain murky as investigation continued.

Jalaha was, meanwhile, implicated in the case for his alleged role as an intermediary when the vehicle used in the attack was sold to a certain person, said Reyeg.

He said Jalaha knew the person who bought the vehicle from a former village official at Hadji Mohammad Ajul and that he was present when the buyer handed over the payment for the said vehicle.
He said authorities got vital information from the suspect "which led to succeeding operations."

Reyeg said authorities are looking into a few more persons of interest whose names came up after Jalaha's interrogation.

Reyeg tagged Furudji Indama, commander of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group in Basilan, as mastermind in the deadly attack.

Military links Basilan blast to Abu Sayyaf
Moroccan with ties to Abu Sayyaf eyed in Basilan blast: Defense chief

Authorities said Indama was responsible for the series of kidnappings and attacks in Basilan and the Zamboanga peninsula.

WesMinCom chief orders operation against kidnappers of 10-year-old boy in Sulu

From the Zamboanga Today (Aug 18): WesMinCom chief orders operation against kidnappers of 10-year-old boy in Sulu

Lt. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega, commander of the Western Mindanao Command (WesMinCom) yesterday ordered Task Force Sulu to conduct hot pursuit operations and possibly rescue an elementary pupil and two of his companions who were kidnapped Thursday morning in Jolo, Sulu.

Dela Vega also instructed TFS to conduct visibility patrols and set up checkpoints in strategic areas of the province.

Last Wednesday the victim, Zaire Khan Pasil, 10 years old, a student and resident of Sheik Mustafa Subdivision, Upper San Raymundo, Jolo, Sulu was forcibly taken by six (6) individuals riding-in-tandem on three (3) motorcycles along Latih-Jolo Road.

The victim along with Aldasir Tallow, driver, and Fatima Zaima Pasil, 13 years old, were on their way to Notre Dame Elementary School onboard an owner type jeep from their residence when the abduction occurred at 7:20 a.m.

The WesMinCom chief said the motive of the kidnapping is yet to be determined.

He said they are still trying to identify the suspects but said it was most probably the handiwork of the Abu Sayyaf Groups..

He also said that until now the suspects have not yet contacted the family of the victims.

Kidnapping, for monetary or ransom, is a prominent risk for both foreigners and locals in Sulu and other provinces in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Government forces have been battling Abu Sayyaf's presence in the predominantly Muslim provinces in south. In 2017, the Westmincom announced they had neutralized 352 terrorists from January 1 to December 31.

Of the total, 128 Abu Sayyaf bandits were killed while 80 were apprehended, and 144 surrendered in the Western Mindanao area. Most of those who surrendered numbering to 70 were from Basilan, 53 from Sulu, and 21 in Tawi-Tawi. The troops also recovered and seized 223 firearms in 2017 from the Abu Sayyaf bandits.

Last month, the military's WestMinCom announced since August 1 of this year, a total of 152 Abu Sayyaf Group members have already surrendered and laid down their weapons. Among which, 82 surrendered in Sulu, 63 in Basilan, 5 in Tawi-Tawi, and 2 in Zamboanga.

The five-month-long armed conflict in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, that started on 23 May 2017, between state security forces and ISIS-inspired Maute and Abu Sayyaf also saw the death of more than 1,000 militants.

The Abu Sayyaf Group is still holding several foreign hostages, including a Dutch national and three Indonesians, as well as Filipinos in Sulu.

2 Abus killed, 2 soldiers wounded in Sulu clash

From Zamboanga Today Online (Aug 17): 2 Abus killed, 2 soldiers wounded in Sulu clash

Government forces have killed an Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) sub-leader and one member in a joint law enforcement operation in Sulu, military officials said on Thursday (August 16), as they announced the surrender of another terror sub-commander.

Two soldiers were also wounded in an encounter with undetermined number of Abu Sayyaf Group members in Barangay Tigian, Buhanginan, Sulu on Monday (August 13), Lt. Col. Gerry Besana, spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command, said in a statement.

Operating troops composed of intelligence operatives from the Philippine Marines Ready Force Sulu, Marine Base Landing Team-1 and Military Intelligence Division-2 led by Captain Cadatal together with the 52nd Special Action Company, 5th Special Action Battalion led by Police Senior Inspector Simon, Jr. conducted the Joint Law Enforcement Operation in the wee hours of Wednesday (August 15) at Kalimayahan Village, Latih, Patikul town.

According to Besana, the operation led to the killing of Abu Sayyaf Group Sub-Group Leader Absulajim Abdulgani a.k.a Suraka Ingog and the recovery of one caliber .45 pistol with magazine, 10 rounds of caliber 45 ammunition, 3 rounds 7.62 ammunition, and Php2, 421.00 cash.
Besana did not provide information about the bounty on Abdulgani's head, but said the slain ASG sub-leader was a bomb expert and listed number 5 in the Periodic Status Report under late Muamar Askali Group.

After the conduct of medico legal at the Provincial Hospital, Abdulgani's body was brought to Kuta Heneral Teodulfo Bautista Station Hospital for proper disposition.

"The neutralization of this ASG sub-leader was a result of the commitment and continued monitoring activity of the government troops in the Western Mindanao Area of Responsibility," said Besana.

"The public is assured that the AFP particularly the Fleet-Marine troops will continue to exercise vigilance in the ZAMBASULTA area to pre-empt any activities brought by the Abu Sayyaf Group and other lawless terrorist groups that threatens the peace, stability and development in the area."

On Monday, August 13, troops of the Army’s 41st Infantry Battalion under 1st Lieutenant Capat, while conducting focused military operations, encountered undetermined number of Abu Sayyaf Group members in Buhanginan, Sulu, at around 4:30pm.

Besana said last Monday's encounter left two soldiers wounded and undetermined casualties on the enemy side (Abu Sayyaf).

"They (terrorists) immediately scampered to different directions when the firefighting started and immediately fled the area of encounter," said Besana.

Troops of the Army’s 45th and 32nd Infantry Battalions were then deployed to establish blockade while the two wounded soldiers were promptly evacuated to KHTBSH for immediate medical attention, he added.

The two wounded soldiers were airlifted to a hospital in Zamboanga City for further medication at around 11:15am Tuesday (August 14).

The military's progress report from the Joint Task Force Sulu showed the encounter on Wednesday resulted to one enemy (Abu Sayyaf) killed and six wounded as per human intelligence.

Besana identified the slain ASG member as Ulla Laduan while two of the 6 wounded were identified as Ben Ulamah and Jehad Usman, all residents of Barangay Danag, Patikul.

The Joint Task Force Sulu is continuously implementing its all-out campaign in eradicating the Abu Sayyaf Group in the province.

The neutralization of this ASG sub-leader was a result of the commitment and continued monitoring activity of the government troops in the Western Mindanao Area of Responsibility.

The public is assured that the AFP particularly the Fleet-Marine troops will continue to exercise vigilance in the ZAMBASULTA area to pre-empt any activities brought by the Abu Sayyaf Group and other lawless terrorist groups that threatens the peace, stability and development in the area.

Abu Sub-Group Leader and 4 others yield to troops in Sulu.

In another statement, Rear Admiral Rene Medina, commander of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao, said Abu Sayyaf Group sub-group leader Ali Hassan and members Omar Innol, Simal Alam, Kimbo Alam, and Hayudini Amil (an IED expert) yielded to the troops of the Marine Base Landing Team-1 under the Joint Task Force Sulu with four M1 Garand Rifles at around 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Medina said the successful surrender was facilitated by the MBLT-1 led by Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Cabanlet together with the Philippine Marines Ready Force-2, intelligence units, and the 52nd Special Action Company of the Philippine National Police led by Police Inspector Uy.

As of this report, the surrenderors are undergoing medical check-up and custodial debriefing at the military hospital in Jolo, Sulu.

New Pentagon Report Highlights Chinese Military Developments: First Takeaways

From The Diplomat (Aug 18): New Pentagon Report Highlights Chinese Military Developments: First Takeaways

Soldier, rebel killed in Isabela clash

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Aug 17): Soldier, rebel killed in Isabela clash

A soldier and a suspected communist rebel were killed on Thursday when a group from the Army’s 95th Infantry Battalion clashed with members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in remote Barangay Sindon Bayabo here.

About 40 suspected rebels had just accosted members of an environmental task force, whom they accused of conducting extortion activities, when soldiers encountered them at 5 a.m., according to Capt. Noriel Tayaban, officer in charge of the 5th Infantry Division’s public affairs office.

Tayaban said the Army launched air strikes against the rebels after the Reynaldo PiƱon Command of the NPA Central Isabela Front claimed responsibility for disarming members of the Task Force Kalikasan, who were manning a checkpoint at Sindon Bayabo on Wednesday.

CPP-NPA terrorist bolt camp, surrender to 10th ID troops

From the Manila Bulletin (Aug 15): CPP-NPA terrorist bolt camp, surrender to 10th ID troops

CAMP BANCASI, Butuan City – An alleged Communist New People’s Army Terrorist (CNT) escaped from his camp and voluntarily surrendered to field troops of the Army’s 10th Infantry (Agila) Division (10th ID), Capt. Jershome O. Butt, acting Public Affairs Office (PAO) officer of the 10th ID said.


In a statement sent to The Manila Bulletin on Wednesday, the 10th ID acting PAO officer said the 24-years old surrenderee (name withheld for his safety and security), was former member of Section Command 15 of the CPP-NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC).

An initial investigation conducted by the field units of the 10th ID states that the surrendree joined the Under Ground Movement (UGM) of SECOM 15, SMRC on July 4, 2017 at vicinity Palo 10, Sitio Madsayap, Barangay Old Macopa, Manay, Davao Oriental and escaped from their camp on Aug. 8 2018 at vicinity Tagaytay part of Sitio Bangol, Barangay Limot, Tarragona, Davao Oriental.

He voluntarily gave up himself on Wednesday to the 10th ID troops, Capt. Butt said.

The surrenderee join the CNTs with a good promises of good life while in the organization but contrary what he expect, said the 10th ID acting PAO officer, quoting the statement of the surrenderee .

“What he see is not good intention of the group but extortion and intimidation to the local folks living in the area and he could not bear oppression made by his companions and with encouragement of his relatives to stop involvement with CNTs that prompted his surrender,” he added.

Maj. Gen. Noel S. Clement, commanding general of the 10th ID said, the rebel returnee made the right thing to surrender.

“We are grateful to the people who answered our call to encourage their relatives and members of their families that are struggling already in the hands of NPA terrorists to embrace the peaceful life. And I commend the troops involve for the surrender of the former CNT,” added the 10th ID chief, in a the same statement sent to The Manila Bulletin on Wednesday.

Bukidnon now a Conflict Manageable, Ready for Further Devt province

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 18): Bukidnon now a Conflict Manageable, Ready for Further Devt province

A convention for peace has conferred to Bukidnon its Conflict-Manageable and Ready for Further Development (CMRFD) province.

This was announced during the conference of local government unit (LGU) of Bukidnon and 403rd Infantry Brigade (403Bde) on 07 August 2018 at the Provincial Planning and Development Office conference hall.

Reports showed that the atrocities done by rebels in this mountainous province have decreased remarkedly for almost a year now—as shown in consolidated reports from the military, PNP, LGUs, and the Provincial Peace and Order Council.

Sangguniang Panlalawigan Peace and Order Committee Chair Hon. Gino Armstrong Garcia explained some of the basic conditions before a province could earn such CMRFD merit.

He said these include: 1) Fulfilment of civilian authorities’ responsibilities on peace, security, and development issues; 2) The area is conducive for business and investments to flourish; 3) Effective control of armed violence; 4) Peace and order councils effectively working, functioning, and operational; 5) LGUs and PNP are effectively addressing local criminality problems, and 6) Security situation paves the way for entry of investors and development projects.

Asked by media how the peaceful environment affects lives in the province, the conferees jointly said: “Bukidnon is now conflict-manageable and ready for further development.”

In his message, Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr. said he observed that the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in Bukidnon has weakened as evidenced by the number of surrenders and the significant reduction of NPA-initiated atrocities.

Brigadier General Eric C. Vinoya, 403rd Infantry Brigade Commander, meanwhile, thanked all LGUs in Bukidnon especially the villages and “Purok (zones),” for doing their roles in helping the Brigade intensify its peace and reintegration campaign.

“The declaration of Bukidnon as CMRFD province is a leading milestone in our journey towards peace, progress, and prosperity.

I would like to express my appreciation and gratitude to Governor Jose Maria R. Zubiri Jr. and members of the province’s Peace and Order Council for their unwavering support to our peace and development initiatives,” General Vinoya said.

The signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), which capped the event, symbolizes LGU’s recognition of the 403Bde’s efforts that led to the significant decrease of NPA-initiated terroristic activities.

Major General Ronald Villanueva, Commander of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, likewise, said this would pave the way for more projects, including those that are culture-sensitive programs of the government.

“The declaration of Bukidnon as CMRFD area would surely attract tourists. Further, with the deep-rooted support of Bukidnon LGU through this MOA signing, 4ID gains more confidence in doing our mandate of protecting people and the community,” Major General Ronald Villanueva said.

Witnessing the signing were Brigadier General Cristobal Zaragoza, Assistant Division Commander for Operations of 4th Infantry Division (4ID); Brigadier General Antonio Rosario Jr, Deputy Commander of Eastern Mindanao Command, AFP; and Police Senior Superintendent Benedicto Pintor, Provincial Director of Bukidnon Police Provincial Office.

Sangguniang Panlalawigan members of Bukidnon also attended the conference and witnessed the said MOA signing. (Capt. Norman M. Tagros, CMO Officer, 403rd Inf Bde, 4ID, PA/PIA Bukidnon)

Soldier killed in NPA clash with Army in Quezon

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Aug 18): Soldier killed in NPA clash with Army in Quezon

An Army soldier was killed in an encounter with suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Tagkawayan town in Quezon province on Friday, police said.

Senior Supt. Osmundo de Guzman, Quezon police chief, identified the casualty as Corporal Rene Belga, from the Army’s Delta Company, 22nd Infantry Battalion based in a military detachment in Barangay (village) Maquibuay.

Police said the soldiers were conducting a civil-military operation in the said village at around 1:30 p.m. when they encountered an undetermined number of communist rebels, triggering the clash.

According to police, the encounter lasted for about 20 minutes and ended after the rebels retreated.

Checkpoints have been placed to block all possible exits of the retreating rebels, police said.

PNP, AFP defend operation that killed 7 NPA rebels; NDFP decries ‘massacre’

From the Manila Bulletin (Aug 17): PNP, AFP defend operation that killed 7 NPA rebels; NDFP decries ‘massacre’

Ranking officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday defended a joint operation in Antique recently which resulted in the deaths of seven suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA), an operation labeled as a “massacre” by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

Chief Supt. John Bulalacao, regional director of the Western Visayas Police Regional Office (PRO-6), reiterated that the joint police and military offensive at Barangay Atabay, San Jose, Antique on Wednesday was a legitimate operation.

Chief Superintendent John Bulalacao (PNP / MANILA BULLETIN)

“Our men have warrants of arrest. The overwhelming pieces of evidence recovered speak for itself. We all know how brutal NPA guerillas are in killing government personnel even those involved in search and rescue operations, medical and SOCO personnel who are noncombatants are being ambushed,” he said.

Bulalacao’s statement came after Concha Araneta, spokesperson of the NDFP-Panay, slammed the operation of police and the military saying it was a massacre and not an armed encounter.

“No encounter took place… It was a massacre planned and executed by the criminal and fascist 301st Brigade, 61st IB [Infantry Battalion], Antique and San Jose PNP. Their blood is on the hands of the fascist mercenary military and police in Panay,” she said.

Araneta said the slain individuals were legitimate personnel of the office of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and NDF in Panay and were noncombatants.

“They have been conducting researches and investigations concerning the situation of the people in different areas of Panay, not for the purpose of fighting nor to launch tactical offensives but in order to deeply and concretely study the problems and concerns of the masses in the region,” she claimed.

Those killed, Karen Ceralvo, Felix Salditos, Jason Sanchez, Rene Yap, Liezl Bandiola, Jason Talibo and a still unidentified comrade were said to be members of the NPA under the Napoleon Tumagtang Command Southern Front.

She also said the firearms recovered by the troops were planted while pointing out that if the operating troops were to serve a warrant of arrest, they could have done it in the daylight and not in the middle of the night.

The troops, armed with a warrant of arrest against Talibo and a certain Joven Ceralbo for murder, implemented the arrest around 12:10 a.m.


Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Dinoh Dolina, commander of the third Infantry Division (3ID) of the Philippine Army based in the area, insisted the operation was part of their campaign to end the alleged extortion activities of the group.

“The 3ID is expressing its fervent desire to address the extortion activities of this terrorist organization by holding a dialogue with the contractors of infrastructure and development projects in Panay,” he said.

Authorities earlier tagged the slain suspects in extortion racket in the province. This, after subversive documents and extortion letters bearing the letterhead of the NPA were recovered from them after the operation.

Alleged NPA meds, money courier nabbed in Zambo Norte

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 18): Alleged NPA meds, money courier nabbed in Zambo Norte

ARRESTED. Erlinda Dalagon, an alleged medicine and money courier of the New People's Army, was arrested in Liloy, Zamboanga del Norte on Wednesday (August 15, 2018). (Photo courtesy of PRO-9 PIO)

Police arrested an alleged medicine and money courier of the New People’s Army (NPA) in the province of Zamboanga del Norte, an official announced Thursday.

Police Regional Office 9 (Zamboanga Peninsula) director, Chief Supt. Billy Beltran, identified the suspected NPA courier as Erlinda Sangcom Dalagon, 48, resident of Sitio Lagpan, Barangay Conception, Kabasalan, Zamboanga Sibugay.

Beltran said Dalagon was arrested at the bus terminal in Barangay Baybay, Liloy, Zamboanga del Norte at about 2:50 p.m. Wednesday by policemen based on an information that a suspected member of the NPA’s Secom Sendong was sighted at the bus terminal.

Confiscated from the suspect was a grenade that protruded while she was sorting her stuff in a sling bag.

He said the suspect is a cousin of Ka Jerson Sangcom, an NPA commander under Secom Sendong, who allegedly ordered her to deliver a package containing medicines and money to an NPA member who fled towards Labason, Zamboanga del Norte.

He said Dalagon is now detained while appropriate charges are set to be filed against her.

Army: NPA collects P40M annually from extortion activities

From Politiko Visayas (Aug 18): Army: NPA collects P40M annually from extortion activities

New People’s Army rebels are getting up to P40 million a year from extortion activities in Western Visayas, an Army officer stationed there said.

Col. Benedict Arevalo, 301st Infantry Brigade commander, said they expect the NPA to intensify its extortion racket with the 2019 elections looming closer.

“We recovered proofs that are more than sufficient to prove that they have been into massive extortion activities,” Arevalo said.

 He said the NPA-Komiteng Rehiyon Panay (KRP) gets P30 to 40 million a year from such activities, based on documents seized from Maria Concepcion “Concha” Araneta-Bocala, the CPP-NPA-NDF secretary general of KRP.

Araneta-Bocala was arrested at Barangay Calumpang in Iloilo City’s Molo district on Aug. 1, 2015. She was released to take part in peace negotiations in 2016.

“Given that the arrest happened three years ago, the number could increase,” Arevalo said.

Arevalo said this was reinforced by documents recovered by government troops following a recent encounter with NPA leaders in Antique province.

The documents included letters sent to local businesses this August, seeking funds for the “revolutionary government.”

He laughed off claims the NPAs were “massacred” in the encounter. “Again, it was a legitimate operation. They were criminals who fought against government operatives,” he said.