Tuesday, August 28, 2018

‘103 NPA allies pledge support for gov’t’

From the Visayan Daily Star (Aug 28): ‘103 NPA allies pledge support for gov’t’

The 62nd Infantry Battalion reported yesterday that 103 sympathizers and supporters of the New People’s Army have withdrawn their support to the communist rebels, and pledged their allegiance to the government.

Lt. Col. Egberto Dacoscos, 62IB commander, said that the 103 rebel supporters formalized the withdrawal of their support to the terrorist organization by taking their oath of allegiance to the government in a ceremony held Saturday at the municipal gym of Mabinay town in Negros Oriental.

The former rebel supporters and sympathizers are residents of barangays Bagitc and Luyang in Mabinay, Negros Oriental, where the CPP-NPA on May 21 burned heavy equipment of a private firm contracted by the government to construct farm to market roads in those two barangays.

Dacoscos said the atrocities triggered former rebel supporters in those two barangays, who are also beneficiaries of the farm to market road projects, to withdraw their support from the terrorist organization.

He lauded their courage in standing up against the terrorist organization they had supported before.

Early this month, 28 supporters of the CPP-NPA in the hinterlands of Escalante and Himamaylan cities, also pledged their allegiance to the government.

Dacoscos said the surrender of NPA supporters and sympathizers was a result of the close coordination and collaboration among the security sector, government agencies, local government units and the general public.

Col. Alberto Desoyo, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, said that they have started to realize the true nature and objective of the armed group, which is to sow terror and hinder progress.

The activity was also attended by Mabinay Mayor Ernie Uy, Board Member Achilles Arturo Umbac, who represented Govenor Roel Degamo, among other security and barangay officials of the town.


NPA killing spree continues

From the Visayan Daily Star (Aug 28): NPA killing spree continues

The killing rampage of the New People’s Army continues in Isabela, Negros Occidental, after it claimed responsibility yesterday for the killing of a “habal-habal” driver accused of being a “guide” of the military.

The latest victim was identified by the Isabela police as Joemarie Saracia, 44, of Brgy. Sebucawan, Isabela.

KA JB Regalado, spokesperson of the Leonardo Panaligan Command, in a statement, alleged that Saracia served as a guide in military operations in the hinterland areas of Moises Padilla and Isabela.

Regalado further claimed that Saracia used the name of the NPA in his extortion activities, as ordered by the military, to be used in their black propaganda campaign to discredit the revolutionary movement.

Isabela police investigation showed that Saracia was on his way to attend a mass on Sunday, when he was shot by five unidentified suspects in Brgy, Sebucawan.
The victim succumbed to multiple gunshot wounds, including a fatal injury in the head, the police said.

Isabela policemen, who responded to the shooting incident, recovered 10 empty shells and two slugs of a .45 caliber pistol at the crime scene.

Senior Inspector Randy Babor, Isabela police officer-in-charge, said the suspects fled on board two motorcycles after taking the cellular phone and wallet of the victim.

The killing of Saracia came five days after the NPA also killed and claimed responsibility for the fatal shooting of Libas barangay chairman Rhoy Pagapang, as well as the killing of former San Agustin barangay captain Agapito Euroba, in previous weeks.

The same rebel group also claimed responsibility for separate killings of two other barangay captains, a retired Army soldier, and a body guard of a mayor, all in Guihulngan City, which is adjacent to Isabela.

The NPA also claimed responsibility for the death of Michol Ruales, an employee of the municipality of Moises Padilla, who was linked by the NPA to the killing of Jerry Turga, a leader of the Kilusang Magbubukid sa Pilipinas in the 5th district of Negros Occidental, on April 28 this year.

The killing of two Isabela barangay officials alarmed other town barangay chairmen, who asked help from the Philippine National Police to send more policemen to the town.

Antonio Mendeceles, head of the Isabela Association of Barangay Captains, had claimed that four barangay captains also received death threats.

Col. Alberto Desoyo, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, disclosed that he will meet with Senior Supt. Rodolfo Castil, provincial police director of Negros Occidental, to discuss the peace and order security situation of Isabela.

If they need us, we will help, Desoyo said, in response to the possible deployment of Army in Isabela town. He explained that the maintenance of peace order in urban areas is left to the police.


1 dead, 35 hurt in Sultan Kudarat blast

From Rappler (Aug 28): 1 dead, 35 hurt in Sultan Kudarat blast
(3rd UPDATE) The improvised explosive device detonates at around 8:34 pm in Barangay Kalawag 3

(3rd UPDATE) – An improvised explosive device (IED) explosion rocked Isulan town in Sultan Kudarat as it celebrated its Hamungaya Festival on Tuesday, August 28.

The IED blast occurred at around 8:34 pm in Barangay Kalawag 3, in front of J and H Marketing along the national highway which passed through an area of the Isulan town proper where people flocked for ukay-ukay shopping, police said.

As of 10:55 pm, one person is reported dead while 35 have been wounded.

Among the 35 wounded, 9 were taken to the Holy Nazarene Clinic and 20 others to the Sultan Kudarat Provincial Hospital.

According to Sultan Kudarat police deputy chief for operations Police Senior Inspector Arnel Ligada, the town is currently observing the Hamungaya Festival, which celebrates "maaliwalas na pamumuhay" (prosperous living).

The festival began on Monday, August 27, and is only set to conclude on Thursday.

Members of a combined military and police explosive ordinance disposal (EOD) team were seen clearing the area as of posting.
Richard J. GordonVerified account @DickGordonDG 27 minutes ago
A bomb reportedly exploded in a night market in front of Carlitos Restaurant in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat at 8:35PM. 34 patients were transported to 4 nearby hospitals and our chapter provided 5 units of blood for transfusion

Richard J. GordonVerified account @DickGordonDG 31 minutes ago 
Our team is closely coordinating with the PNP on the incident and doing assessment on the ground. Keep safe everyone!


Motorcycle bomb explodes in Sultan Kudarat

From the Mindanao Examiner (Aug 28): Motorcycle bomb explodes in Sultan Kudarat

A motorcycle laden with explosives went off late Tuesday in downtown Isulan in the southern Filipino province of Sultan Kudarat and wounded nearly three dozen people in the daring attack while the whole region is under martial rule, reports said.

The motorcycle was parked along the highway near several shops in Kalawag village when it exploded around 8.30 p.m The
wounded were rushed to hospitals and it was not immediately known if there were people who died from the bombing.

No individual or group claimed responsibility for the attack, but previous bombings in civilian areas in the restive region had been largely blamed to pro-ISIS militants fighting for the establishment of a caliphate on Mindanao.

Security forces have been fighting several militant groups in the southern region. The blast occurred following President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to the armed forces to crush terrorism.

Just last month, a Moroccan ISIS soldier Abu Katheer al Maghribi, exploded his van filled with explosives in Lamitan City in the volatile Muslim province of Basilan, several nautical miles south of Zamboanga. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the July 31 suicide attack that left over a dozen casualties.

In a post on its Amaq News Agency, the Islamic State said a Moroccan man carried out the daring assault against Filipino soldiers and identified the executor of the suicide bombing as Abu Katheer al Maghribi. “A martyrdom attack leads to 15 Filipino soldiers being killed in the city of Lamitan on the island of Basilan in the southern Philippines,” it said.

Philippine authorities said 12 people were killed when a car bomb exploded at a security checkpoint after government militias stopped the suspicious vehicle in Bulanting village, about 2 kilometers away from downtown Lamitan.

The powerful explosion obliterated the vehicle and left a huge crater and among those killed were a woman and a child; and the militia commander whose unit is under the supervision of the Philippine Army. Five soldiers and several civilians were also wounded in the explosion.

Reports said the bomber came from a nearby town and heading to downtown Lamitan when his vehicle was stopped at the checkpoint.

The military tried to downplay the explosion, saying, there was no proof that it was a suicide attack and insisted a local Abu Sayyaf fighter was behind it and the motive of the bombing was extortion – despite several witnesses reports claiming witnesses had seen the bomber before he detonated his van. Lamitan Vice Mayor Roderick Furigay, quoting a report by witnesses, also said that the driver appeared to be a foreigner and could not speak the local dialect when stopped by soldiers at the army checkpoint.

Two weeks later after the bombing, Defense Chief Delfin Lorenzana said the attack was believed carried out by the Moroccan militant. “We’ll did he die, we don’t know. Maybe he is that guy. Meron pang agam-agam kung siya talaga ‘yun e. Pero sa akin mukhang qualifications point that he is the guy,” CNN Philippine quoted Lorenzana as saying in an interview.

Lorenzana said the bomber blew up his van loaded with explosives at the checkpoint to evade capture, adding, the militant was targeting a gathering of students in Lamitan. “Wala na siyang magawa eh, mahuhuli na siya eh. So sabi niya, suicide na lang siya, but he would not, he was not, that was not the intention,” he said.

The province is also a known stronghold of the militant group Abu Sayyaf whose leaders have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. Several foreign fighters had been killed in clashes with soldiers in Basilan in recent years. The military urged the public to be on alert and stay vigilant at all times following attempts by pro-ISIS militants to bomb civilian targets in the restive southern region.

Feature: PAMANA projects, road to peace and development

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 28): Feature: PAMANA projects, road to peace and development

Northern Samar is fortunate to be a recipient of millions of pesos Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) road project, specifically, the town of Silvino Lubos, a once isolated, poverty stricken, social services-deprived community because of its inaccessibility.

Part of the PAMANA Road that is still in the construction phase to Silvino Lubos. (T. Cardenas/PIA 8-N Samar)

Silvino Lubos known as little Baguio or “Summer Capital of Northern Samar” because of its verdant hilly terrains and cold climate, is potential for growing high altitude vegetable crops and rich in abaca. It is also a source of other raw materials but remained the poorest of all towns in Northern Samar being an armed conflict area.

In response, PAMANA, a program under the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), funded almost P 1 Billion for road network which is soon to be finished, its completion will finally mean less armed encounter, less rebels and more services.

With the construction of the Cagpanita-an Road and Cagpanita-an Bridge in Mondragon, and the on-going road opening with concreting and construction of Sulong Bridge along Mondragon-Silvino Road Section, the town can be reached in one hour and thirty minutes, said Provincial Planning and Development Coordinator Engr. Romeo M. Cardenas.

Cardenas said this road network will transform marginalized areas to economically thriving and develop communities.

Stretching to a total of 12 kilometers, the road will benefit seven barangays, namely: Brgy. Cagpanita-an and Brgy. De Maria of Mondragon.

This will also pass through Sitio Naperes, Poblacion 3; Sitio Sulong, Poblacion 3; Deit De Suba, Deit de Turag, and Casapa, all are barangays of Silvino Lubos.

"The road concreting projects are poised to pave way for development in the hinterlands by boosting agricultural productivity and trade," Cardenas said.

Bartolome Atencio of Silvino Lubos, a senior citizen, during the PAMANA social preparation dialogue, expressed gratitude to President Rodrigo Duterte for funding the project to its completion, he said, his dream to see and ride a four-wheel car and reach the capital town of the province will soon come true, and he can then die peacefully, he jested.

The planning officer narrated that years ago the town can only be reached through a six to eight hours upstream motor boat from the municipality of Pambujan during rainy season and by land accessible only during summer via-Bugko-Silvino Lubos Road stopping at Barangay San Antonio (Cagpanita-an), Mondragon and trekking the long and mountainous Cagpanitaan-Silvino Lubos Road for several hours.

The new road to the said municipality would propel the development of its potential agricultural lands and forest resources. This would also facilitate the movement of goods and delivery of services and would realize the area’s full economic potential thereby stimulating growth and reducing its high poverty incidence as well as suppress the insurgency problem in the area, he added.


Enlightened BIFF rebels surrender in Maguindanao

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 28): Enlightened BIFF rebels surrender in Maguindanao

Six fully armed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter (BIFF) rebels have decided to abandon their comrades in the Liguasan Marsh recently after learning about the Army’s community projects.

The surrenderers are members of the BIFF faction under the Gani Saligan Group, a notorious rebel group in south-western Liguasan Marsh.

They brought with them six high-powered firearms including two rocket propelled grenade launchers, two cal 50 sniper rifles, one M14 rifle, and one cal 30 bolt action sniper rifle.

Among the surrenderers is Dido Malawan, 46, the Deputy Brigade Commander of the BIFF's 2nd Division.

"There are no more reasons for us to fight the government. The soldiers have solved our problems such as rido, and helped our village see the light through the electrification project," said Malawan.

The 33rd Infantry Battalion and the 1st Mechanized Infantry Battalion have orchestrated the implementation of the P2 million electrification project in Midpandacan village, General SK Pendatun town, Maguindanao in collaboration with Sultan Kudarat Electric Cooperative (Sukelco).

Aside from electrification in Midpandacan, the army had also refurbished a school that was abandoned for three years due to the perennial fighting among rival clans.

All surrenderers will receive an immediate assistance worth P20,000 from Maguindanao Lawmaker Congressman Zaid 'Dong' Mangudadatu.

They will likewise receive livelihood package from Governor Esmael 'Toto' Mangudadatu of Maguindanao.

The surrender negotiation was a collaboration among different agencies including the local government of General SK Pendatun, Maguindanao Police Provincial Office, Sultan Kudarat Police Provincial Office, 4th Special Action Battalion and the 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade.

“The surrender of our brothers from the BIFF is a welcome development in our ongoing effort in supporting the peace and development agenda of the government,” said 6th Infantry Division Commander, Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana. (6th ID)


Bangsamoro youth leaders converge for a forum

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 28): Bangsamoro youth leaders converge for a forum

Around 200 Moro young leaders from the provinces of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) gathered recently for a conference on peace, security, and development in the light of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) and the movement on federalism.

The activity was spearheaded by the Office of the Regional Governor-ARMM together with the Regional DarulIfta’ (RDI) –ARMM, ARMM Development Academy (ADA), Office of the Bangsamoro Youth Affairs (OBYA), and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) –ARMM

“This activity aims to provide young Moro leaders, ulama, and professionals a space for interaction, planning, and working together to address the concerns of the youth sector on peace, security, and development with the emerging Bangsamoro government and federal environment,” RDI-ARMM Executive Director Sheikh Abdulmuhmin Mujahid said.

The event also included workshop aimed to help the participants prepare action plans on strengthening the foundation of the youth network to counteract the challenges on peace, security, and development.

Meanwhile, Cesar Yano, Undersecretary for Defense Operations of the Department of National Defense (DND) discussed how the youth can help in preventing and countering violent extremism.

“Youth must participate in the development of local communities as leaders in government, business, academe, religious sector, and civil society,” he said.

The youth, he added, must use their talents for the development of local communities in order to create peaceful, fair, and prosperous Bangsamoro.


PH, US expand partnership against TB

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 28): PH, US expand partnership against TB

U.S. Embassy Charge d’Affaires Michael Klecheski and USAID Mission Director Lawrence Hardy join Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque and Department of Social Welfare and Development Assistant Secretary Glenda de Rama Relova in unveiling the commitment wall to officially mark the launch of USAID’s two new TB projects. Also in photo are members of the Samahan ng Lusog Baga (extreme left), Dr. Soliman Guirguis, Chief of Party of TB Innovations (extreme right) and Dr. Rose Sales, Chief of Party of TB Platforms (second from right). (Photo courtesy of U.S. Embassy)

The United States and Philippine Governments have expanded its partnership in a continuous fight to eradicate tuberculosis (TB) in the Philippines.

U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires (CDA) Michael Klecheski and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) recently launched two five-year projects valued at more than P2.5 billion to support the country’s goal to end TB.

“Eradicating TB in the Philippines is a crucial step for the country to achieve its development goals,” said Klecheski.

He added that the U.S. government will continue to work shoulder-to-shoulder with the Philippine government to end TB.

TB Innovations, implemented by Family Health International 360, and TB Platforms, implemented by the University Research Corporation, were aimed at finding and curing more TB cases in the country by supporting the Department of Health’s National TB Control Program.

It also aims to enhance TB prevention and treatment measures being done by local government units.

The project will enable to expand access to state-of-the-art TB detection technologies and encourage high-riskpopulations to seek and complete necessary TB treatment.

Klecheski launched the projects with Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III and Department Ssocial Welfare and Development (DSWD) Assistant Secretary Glenda de Rama Relova. The event, which coincided with National Lung Month, drew more than 500 people and included free TB screenings and educational activities to teach local residents on how to maintain healthy lungs.

“Our partnership with the DSWD and USAID energizes the Department of Health's work to provide equitable access to quality TB care and help alleviate poverty in our country," said Health Secretary Duque.

During the event, the DOH and DSWD launched the integration of the TB module into the DSWD Family Development Sessions. These sessions will include health education classes on TB prevention, control, care, and treatment for recipients of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, the Philippine government’s conditional cash transfer program.

Approximately 1 million people in the Philippines currently have active TB, and many of whom do not know they have the disease. Although TB is curable, at least 60 Filipinos die from the disease every day. TB can result in catastrophic costs to households and causes billions of pesos in economic losses in the Philippines each year.

These new USAID projects bring the total U.S. government contribution in support of DOH’s National Tuberculosis Control Program to over Php6.5 billion. As a result of the U.S.-Philippine partnership, the number of TB patients diagnosed and treated in the Philippines has more than doubled since 2006.


Army launches ‘Marawi' story book in Tuguegarao City

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 28): Army launches ‘Marawi' story book in Tuguegarao City

Lieutenant Colonel Jo-ar Herrera says the book honors the gallantry of the soldiers who risked their lives to liberate Marawi City, as well as police personnel who continue to fulfill their duty of protecting Filipinos.

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan  -- The Philippine Army–Operation Research Center has launched a book entitled “Marawi and Beyond: The Joint Task Force Marawi Story” in this city recently.

Lieutenant Colonel Jo-ar Herrera, center director, said the book is an account of what transpired in Marawi City, as told by soldiers and stakeholders involved in the the five-month siege, and the sacrifices of the soldiers whose service he said, the book hopes to honor.

According to Herrera, the proceeds of the sales of the Marawi story books, which are now available in bookstores nationwide, will be used for the Marawi Children’s Fund and for the expenses of wounded soldiers who are still recovering from the sustained injuries during the siege.

Sergeant Ronnie Halasan sings one of his compositions dedicated to his lost comrades during the launching of the "Marawi and Beyond: The Joint Task Force Marawi Story” in Tuguegarao City.
He said the book will not only honor the gallantry of the soldiers who risked their lives to liberate Marawi City but also the police personnel who continue to fulfill their duty of protecting the Filipino citizens.

The book also aims to generate public appreciation on peace efforts, security, and patriotism.

“There were 165 soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice as they were killed in action and 1,767 were wounded during the battle in Marawi City,” Herrera said.

He also shared that the government troops have confronted not only Filipino bandits but also foreign terrorists, including young armed individuals during the war.

“The Marawi siege was the biggest battle in our country after World War II but with the heroism of our soldiers and the best strategies we adapted and implemented, we were the fastest nation to defeat ISIS[-inspired terrorists],” Herrera added.

He also said that some countries being penetrated by foreign terrorist groups are now studying the strategies of the Philippines in successfully neutralizing the bandits.

On the other hand, Sergeant Ronnie Halasan, one of the hero soldiers in the Marawi siege, performed some of his song compositions featuring the solitude, sacrifices and touching stories during the war.

He composed 10 songs while in a battle including the “Bayani kong Mahal” which was dedicated to his lost comrades and the “Batang Mandirigma” which narrates the unfortunate story of young rebels who were used in the bloody war.


MID commander lauds 1st Cavalry Squadron for dedication, service to country

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 28): MID commander lauds 1st Cavalry Squadron for dedication, service to country

Three soldiers were awarded with bronze medal award for the heroic and meritorious achievements during the Marawi siege and some stakeholders for their active support in the Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) “Bayanihan” campaign of the Philippine Army during the 42nd founding anniversary of 1CAV at Camp Colonel Jacobo E. Zobel in Labangan town.

LABANGAN, Zamboanga del Sur -- Mechanized Infantry Division(MID) Commander Major General Dennis I. Gapay congratulated the officers and men of the 1st Cavalry (Tagapanguna) Squadron for their dedication in serving our country.

Gapay, guest of honor and speaker of the unit’s 42nd founding anniversary at Camp Colonel Jacobo E. Zobel in Labangan town, stressed “as the unit celebrates the meaningful occasion, may we reminisce the accomplishments and enormous efforts and dedication in serving our country and our people.”

“The celebration speaks of your unwavering commitment in our pursuit for excellence in genuine reforms laid down by the higher headquarters to the Army Transformation Roadmap,” he said before the crowd of officers, men, dependents and stakeholders.

Gapay lauded the 1st Cavalry Squadron for their crucial role in the Liberation of Marawi adding that in five months of fighting, the crisis ended which resulted to the death of Omar Maute and Isnilon Hapilon, the perilous top leaders of Islamic State-inspired extremists Maute group.

He said unlike the US and coalition forces in Syria, it took them three years to liberate the country from the clutches of the enemy.

“The unit made a supreme sacrifice by laying down their lives for the nation. During the height of siege, 2 of our soldiers died and 6 were wounded,” Gapay recounted.

He said he is proud of the unit’s accomplishments and selfless service.

“I owe each and everyone of you to uphold your professionalism as we to continue to perform our mandated tasks and pursue our mission of being a relevant, capable, responsive and modern armor force,” he emphasized.

He also recognized the importance of stakeholders’ involvement particularly the local chief executives, Philippine National Police, non-government organization, and media in various peace building efforts of the unit.

During the event, three soldiers were awarded with bronze medal award for their heroic and meritorious achievements during the Marawi siege and some stakeholders for their active support on the Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) “Bayanihan” campaign of the Philippine Army.


Negros Oriental cops warned vs. 'sleeping with the enemy'

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 28): Negros Oriental cops warned vs. 'sleeping with the enemy'  

The regional director of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Region 7 warned police personnel in Negros Oriental of strict sanctions if found to be “sleeping with the enemy”, referring to the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

“You have another threat in your midst, and that is the threat of the Communist Party of the Philippines- New People’s Army (CPP-NPA),” said Chief Supt. Debold M. Sinas, PRO-7 regional director, during his weekend visit in Negros Oriental.

Sinas issued his warning and precaution during a dialogue with officers and men at Camp Francisco Fernandez in Agan-an, Sibulan town.

“Gentlemen, bawal mamangka sa dalawang ilog. Bawal na bawal sa pulis nga adunay sabot sa mga NPA, nga moingon ayaw mo atake kay duty ko (Gentlemen, it is forbidden for the police to have an arrangement with the NPA, that you will tell them not to carry out attacks while you are still on duty,” he said.

“If ever such reports are verified and validated, we will make the life of that policeman to be miserable,” he warned.

Sinas gave the warning in the wake of the spate of killings in Guihulngan City, most of which were either drug-related or perpetrated by the NPA, as claimed by the latter through statements issued through the media.

He warned policemen who might be "sleeping with the enemies", referring not just to the NPA but also drug lords, to be very careful.

“If you feel that you are approaching that area, please inform us before anything happens, so we can intervene and help solve your problem,” Sinas added.

He directed law enforcers including the provincial and regional mobile groups deployed in NPA-threatened areas to avoid going places alone.

“We have to secure our people particularly in places,” he said.

Sinas enjoined all the men in uniform to just do their mandated job as policemen that people expect them to do.

He also called on them to rally behind the acting provincial commander, Senior Supt. Raul Tacaca, to follow his instructions, to observe the chain of command and the flow of authority in the provincial command.

Sinas also congratulated the police in Dumaguete and Negros Oriental for the recognition as the best place to retire. The retiree-friendly award was recently given by the Philippine Retirement Authority.


Feature: The day we saw them flying: A Dapitanon soldier's diary

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 28): Feature: The day we saw them flying: A Dapitanon soldier's diary

First Lieutenant Francisco "Iko S. Hamoy, head of the guerrilla unit in Dapitan known as the "Bravo Company" of the 1st Battalion, 107th Infantry Regiment. (Photo by: Gualberto M. Laput)
DAPITAN CITY, Zamboanga del Norte – Their hit and run tactics waged against the Japanese occupation forces was going on for more than two years. The guerrilla unit in Dapitan – “Bravo Company” of the 1st Battalion, 107th Infantry Regiment – composed mostly of Dapitanons under 1st Lieutenant Francisco “Iko” S. Hamoy - were exhausted and at times hungry, but still fighting and hoping against hope that someday the Philippines would be free from the invaders.

It was just another Friday morning, September 15, 1944, and Lt. Hamoy wrote in his diary that all was well. There was no radio broadcast or news because of “statics” and “bushier interference” from the much stronger communication station at a Japanese camp in nearby Sicayab, Dipolog City.

At 10:30 that morning something unforgettable happened. Lt. Hamoy wrote in his diary: “… suddenly… airplanes (with engine sound) much different from (that of the Japanese planes that) we used to hear, was heard from the south. Two planes came at high altitude and close to each other, but later they gradually separated from each other. Both threw white and milky ribbon of smoke forming the biggest letter V. (These are) the first American planes I saw after a period of two and a half years.”

The fighters of Bravo Company were jubilant and for the first time since the Japanese invasion, got a feeling of relief seeing the two fighter planes with stars on the fuselage, indicating the aircraft were American.

The civilians also felt the same, Lt. Hamoy said in his diary: “Everybody was rejoicing – shouting, clapping their hands… with their own eyes (they saw) American planes hovering over… it seems to show that liberation from the Japanese yoke is on sight… Governor (Matias Castillon) Ranillo (Sr.) celebrated it by buying all the tuba, cigarettes and slaughtered a pig worth P25 for the soldiers, officers and civilians… one of the planes returned and again released smoke forming letter I after V which gave us the idea of victory."

“We give thee thanks oh Lord for the coming liberation of our land from the Japanese tyranny. We also give thanks for sparing our lives and we may be given long lives to see again a peaceful Philippines,” Hamoy wrote in his diary.

Lt. Hamoy was 2nd Lieutenant commanding the Philippine Constabulary Company in Tagbilaran, Bohol, when war in the Pacific broke out with the bombing of the United States 7th Fleet at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on December 8 (7 in the United States), 1941. A few hours later, Japanese planes attacked Clark Airfield in the Philippines.

In the face of the mighty Japanese Imperial Forces, the defense of the Philippines slowly collapsed and on May 30, 1942, Bohol surrendered. But Lt. Hamoy did not.

He escaped alone towards Baliangao in Misamis Occidental on a small sailboat known as “binigiw.” He then walked his way through the jungle in Baliangao to his hometown in Dapitan.

On September 19, 1942, Lt. Hamoy organized and commanded the Bravo Company, a guerrilla unit composed mostly of Dapitanons like Antonio A. Balladares, Vicente Recamara, and Dodo Carreon.

Despite the uncertainty of General McArthur’s return after escaping to Australia, the Bravo Company continued to fight Japanese forces in Dapitan and Dipolog areas.

A month after those two planes appeared in the sky, General McArthur fulfilled his promise and returned to the Philippines - bringing with him a large liberation force that landed in Leyte.

About 76 years ago, the love for our country and freedom were the driving force strong enough for Lt. Hamoy and his guerrilla fighters to leave their families and put themselves in harm’s way to fight the Japanese - without a hint they would achieve victory.

It was their love of the country and freedom that they felt in their hearts the suffering of their struggling people, and they vowed to bear witness to their liberation.

There are people whom we look up for the money they have, the positions they hold or even just by their good looks. We believe that those who have a lot of money, those who are popular or the good-looking are the most capable of loving our society.

But ultimately, the persons we should look up to should be those who set aside their own safety and comfort for the love greater than themselves. And we will know them by the people they helped, the lives they saved and hearts they touched.

We cannot thank Dapitan’s guerrilla fighters enough. All we could do is to honor their sacrifices by imitating the love they had for their country, and live honorable lives.

God bless the men of the Bravo Company.


'RIMPAC' drills show Navy now capable of patrolling PH waters

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 28): 'RIMPAC' drills show Navy now capable of patrolling PH waters

The Philippine Navy (PN) is more than capable of patrolling the country's vast maritime territories.

This was proven by its successful and first-ever deployment to the just-concluded "Rim of the Pacific" (RIMPAC) exercises in Hawaii, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Monday when asked on what benefits the naval maneuvers has given the country.

"Ibig sabihin eh kung nakakapag-participate na tayo ng malayo sa ating (bayan), meron tayong surface ships na malalaki na rin, capital ships na capable of (crossing) oceans and participate (in international exercises), ang ibig sabihin nung ay kaya na natin siguro patrolyahin ang ating karagatan (If we are able to participate in events far from our land and we have big surface ships, capital ships capable of crossing oceans and participate in international exercises, it means we can now patrol our seas)," the defense chief said.

The PN deployed the strategic sealift vessel BRP Davao Del Sur (LD-602) and frigate BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF-17), an AgustaWestland naval helicopter and around 700 sailors and marines for the exercises which started June 27 and ended on August 2.

Lorenzana also expressed hope that the PN will be invited again for the next RIMPAC as the latter is a good exposure and training for the naval personnel.

"We were talking a while ago and since this is a very good exposure for our defense people, not only the Navy and marines, but maybe we could also send some Army Special Forces (troop) to participate and also some of our Air Force Special Operations Wing (personnel) next time around and maybe next time around we can also send more ships, maybe three ships altogether," he added.

The DND chief also emphasized that the PN's participation in RIMPAC signifies a new era in its maritime operational engagement, cooperation and interoperability with other Navies allowing it to tackle areas of areas of common concern.

"Indeed as we face growing maritime security challenges around the world, there is a need for Navies to work together to increase familiarity and exchange best practices, we also have this trilateral exercises, naval patrols with Indonesia and Malaysia, not only maritime patrol but also aerial patrol, so maybe we could also go into naval exercises with them in the future, something that we should discuss with my counterpart(s)," he added.

"By participating in joint multi-lateral maritime exercises our sailors and marines are exposed to new ideas and ways of handling things which can be used to enhance our own systems and doctrines, its also a good chance for our personnel to experience planning and execution of combined naval operations as well as establish the Navy's capacity for prolonged operations over seas, our way forward is therefore clear," Lorenzana stressed.

In line with this, the DND chief said efforts will continue on acquiring more assets for the PN to make it stronger and more credible.


TWGs to scrutinize Russian equipment: Lorenzana

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 28): TWGs to scrutinize Russian equipment: Lorenzana


The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will be deploying various technical working groups (TWGs) to look into the military equipment being offered by Russia.

This was bared by Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana in an interview with reporters Monday.

He added that these TWGs will look into the Mil-Mi-17 "Hip" medium helicopter, Kilo-class diesel-electric submarine and other equipment being offered by Russia to the Philippines.

Lorenzana said he had a look of the above-mentioned helicopter and other equipment during an exhibition he attended as part of his visit to Moscow last week.

"We will send the Army (TWG) there to look at (Russian Army equipment), pati yung (including) helicopters. Siguro (Maybe), we will send the TWG of the Air Force, yun namang sa (as for the) submarine, eh pupunta rin dun yung ating TWG ng Navy (the Navy's TWG will come to look into it)," he added.

Despite the planned deployment of TWGs, the DND chief said that they are still looking for equipment that will be fit for the AFP's use and within the agency's budget.

Earlier, the DND chief said Russia is willing to provide advanced versions of its Kilo-class submarines to the Philippines through "soft loans" but clarified that the country is still looking for other sources.

Kilo-class submarines have a surface displacement of 2,350 tons, a length of 73.8 meters and capable of speeds up 17 to 20 knots and can be armed with a variety of torpedoes, missiles and naval mines. It has a cruising range of around 6,000 to 7,500 nautical miles.


Navy to get bulk of projects in 2nd phase of AFP modernization

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 28): Navy to get bulk of projects in 2nd phase of AFP modernization

The Philippine Navy (PN) will be getting the lion's share of the ongoing Horizon Two of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Monday.

"I'm looking at our next five year acquisition program and I can see that the lion's share will be going to the Navy, next is the Air Force, third is the Army," Lorenzana said.

Horizon Two is scheduled from 2018 to 2022.

In the pipeline for the PN are two missile-firing frigates, now undergoing construction at the Hyundai Heavy Industries shipyard in South Korea and are expected for delivery between 2020 and 2021; two AgustaWestland AW-159 "Wildcat" anti-submarine helicopters, which are scheduled for delivery in 2019; and three more Spike-ER missile-armed multi-purpose assault craft, which are now undergoing bidding.

Lorenzana said allocating more modernization projects for the PN is only correct as huge gaps remain in its capabilities.

"I have always believed that the Philippines being an island nation should have a good Navy, a credible Navy, in fact looking back through our history, since we became independent, the strongest armed services in the Armed Forces (should) be the Philippine Navy because our country is an island nation," he added.

Neglect and the military's heavy involvement in counter-insurgency campaigns and other land security problems have prevented the PN from gaining its proper niche, Lorenzana said.


'RIMPAC' to help PH Navy in prolonged ops at seas

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 28): 'RIMPAC' to help PH Navy in prolonged ops at seas

Exercises like the recently-concluded "Rim of the Pacific" (RIMPAC) exercises, where the Philippine Navy (PN) deployed ships and personnel for the very first time, will greatly help boost the naval service's capability in conducting prolonged operations in high seas.

"(RIMPAC) is also a good chance for our personnel to experience planning and execution of combined naval operations as well as establish the Navy's capacity for prolonged operations over sea," Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Monday.

The PN deployed the strategic sealift vessel BRP Davao Del Sur (LD-602) and frigate BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF-17), an AgustaWestland naval helicopter and around 700 sailors and marines for the exercises, which started June 27 and ended on August 2.

These ships, assets and personnel all arrived at Pier 13, Manila South Harbor Monday.

In line with this, he said the DND will work harder to ensure that more assets will be acquired for the PN to make it more stronger and more credible, something that the Philippines, as maritime nation, can be proud of.

Also, as the DND and PN dreams of having its first diesel-electric submarines, massive efforts must be done to ensure that the country has well-trained personnel and facilities to maintain and operate these assets.

"The Navy must be ready to integrate the new ships into its operations once they are acquired, subsurface operations for example is something we need to prepare for in terms of transfer of technology, personnel training, and improvement of facilities," Lorenzana stressed.

Earlier, the DND chief said Russia is willing to provide advanced versions of its Kilo-class submarines to the Philippines through "soft loans" but clarified that the country is still looking for other sources.

Kilo-class submarines have a surface displacement of 2,350 tons, a length of 73.8 meters and capable of speeds up 17 to 20 knots and can be armed with a variety of torpedoes, missiles and naval mines. It has a cruising range of around 6,000 to 7,500 nautical miles.

In the ASEAN region, Vietnam is known to operate six improved Kilo-class submarines in its fleet.

Lorenzana earlier said that for an island nation like the Philippines, its defense can be considered incomplete without a fleet of submarines.

"For a nation with maritime territory specially island nation, its national defense is incomplete without (a) submarine," he added.

Lorenzana also said that an effective submarine force is a great deterrent for would be aggressors due to its capability to travel underwater unseen, giving it the element of surprise.

Also, a submarine force is a great morale booster to the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the DND chief added.


Japan hands over high-speed boats to PH

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 28): Japan hands over high-speed boats to PH

The Japanese government recently handed over three 7m class high-speed boats at the Headquarters of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in Manila.

The handover ceremony was attended by Japanese Ambassador Koji Haneda, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, and PCG Commandant Elson Hermogino.

Coinciding the event was the commissioning ceremony of the two 44m class patrol vessels from Japan.

In his speech, Medialdea expressed his deepest appreciation for Japan's support.

The three 7m high-speed boats are the 8th, 9th and 10th of the thirteen high-speed boats provided under Japan’s grant aid worth 600 million yen (270 million pesos).

The two 44m patrol vessels, named Bagacay and Cape Engaño respectively, are the 9th and 10th of 10 Multi-Role Response Vessels (MRRVS) that Japan provided with its soft loan amounting to 18.7 billion yen (PHP8.5 billion).

The vessels and boats will enhance PCG’s capabilities for law enforcement, help in the prevention of maritime accident and in the conduct of quick rescue operation, and contribute to the overall improvement of maritime safety in the Philippines.

According to Japan, the provision of these vessels and boats is expected to further strengthen the strategic partnership between Japan and the Philippines.


PCSO strengthens partnership with AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 28): PCSO strengthens partnership with AFP

STRENGTHENING PARTNERSHIP. PCSO Chairman Anselmo Simeon Pinili (left) and PSCO General Manager Alexander Balutan (center) receive a memento from AFP chief General Carlito Galvez Jr. (right) during the latter’s courtesy call at the main office in Mandaluyong City. (Photo courtesy: PCSO Public Information Office)
The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) will continue to partner with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for the smooth delivery of medical assistance to victims of calamities, PCSO General Manager Alexander Balutan said on Tuesday.

I really appreciate AFP chief General Carlito Galvez Jr. for paying a courtesy call to PCSO. I didn’t expect him to come to our office and say thank you to all the assistance that PCSO extended to the AFP specially during the Marawi crisis. He was then the commanding general of the Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) in charge of fighting the Abu Sayyaf, Jemaah Islamiyah and Maute terrorists,” Balutan said in a statement.

Balutan, a retired general from the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC), belongs to the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) “Matikas” Class of 1983; while Galvez, of the Philippine Army, is a member of PMA “Sandiwa” Class ’85.

For his part, Galvez said the AFP-PCSO partnership is not only beneficial to people who needs immediate medical assistance in times of calamities, but also to soldiers and their dependents in times of crisis.

Balutan recalled the case of baby Gabe, a son of a Scout Ranger officer battling the terrorists in Marawi, who needed immediate operation to save his life.

“I can still vividly remember my long conversation with the junior officer sending all his appeals to me during lull moments in battle asking for financial assistance for his baby boy. I’m teary-eyed reading all his messages and prayed hard he will live for his kid and wife who didn’t know he was in Marawi for a very critical and dangerous mission. I said yes to all his appeals and assured him to save the life of his baby boy while praying hard also for his safety and his men doing the daring assaults to the well-entrenched positions of the terrorists,” Balutan said.

He said he personally delivered medicines and bottled water worth millions of pesos to the evacuation centers in Marawi and Iligan City during the height of the military campaign against the terrorists, including the donation of a drone that ground troops used to penetrate enemy positions.

“These medical services and other forms of assistance fall under PCSO’s Calamity Assistance Program which is part of the 30 percent Charity Fund allocation,” Balutan said.

In December 2017, Balutan said PCSO donated PHP102 million for medical equipment upgrade in selected military hospitals in Mindanao.

He said the agency also donated in November 2017 an amount of PHP20 million for the purchase of medical equipment for the Philippine National Police (PNP) General Hospital in Camp Crame.

“All these donations fall under PCSO’s Institutional Partnership Program that we’re strengthening all throughout the years,” Balutan said.

Aside from these programs, Balutan said there is also the Endowment Fund program, the Medicines Procurement program and the Integrated for Health Overall Productivity and Empowerment (I-HOPE).

Just recently, PCSO gave PHP5 million worth of endowment fund to the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) in Quezon City.