Wednesday, September 26, 2018

16 more suspects in GenSan blast charged

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 26): 16 more suspects in GenSan blast charged

GENERAL SANTOS CITY -- Police have filed multiple frustrated murder charges against 16 more personalities in connection with the Sept. 16 bomb blast here that left eight people wounded.

Senior Insp. Robert Fores, deputy chief of the city police station-02, said Wednesday the complaint was filed on Tuesday by the Special Investigation Task Force (SITG) “Bonita” before the City Prosecutor’s Office.

Fores said the additional complaint has so far brought the number of suspects “identified as involved” in the attack to 19.

The SITG initially filed multiple frustrated murder charges last Friday against the arrested primary suspect, Jeffrey Panag Alonzo, and his two other alleged cohorts.
Fores, who is a member of the SITG, declined to name the 18 other suspects due to the ongoing pursuit operations.

He said the additional suspects were identified through the task group’s collaboration with various law enforcement agencies, intelligence units, and community informants.

“These suspects had participation (in the bomb attack) based on the SITG’s investigation,” he told reporters.

Fores said the task group established that Alonzo and the 18 other suspects were all remnants of the local terror group Ansar Al-Khilafah Philippines (AKP).

He described the AKP as an Islamic State-inspired group operating in South Cotabato, Sarangani, and General Santos and part of the local network of the Maute Group.

Previously based in Sarangani, the group reportedly moved to other nearby areas following the neutralization of its alleged founder Tokboy Maguid in a police operation in Kiamba town in January last year.

Joint operatives had recovered flags and other materials associated with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria or ISIS in a number of raids on the group’s enclaves in Sarangani.  

Alonzo, the primary suspect in the blast, was nabbed on Sept. 19 in a buy-bust operation in Barangay Lapu, Polomolok town.

He was positively identified by witnesses as the same person who planted the bomb that went off before noon on Sept. 16 in front the Bonita Lying-in Clinic in Makar junction, Purok Malipayon in Barangay Apopong, according to the SITG.

Fores said the suspects were linked to the armed group led by the fugitive Joefry Tuanadatu Nilong alias Imoy, who was wanted for illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

The group’s in Sitio Malyango of Barangay Lapu was tracked down by police operatives in an operation last Sunday.

The operating team recovered at the site at least two improvised explosives and related materials as well as tee-shirts with ISIS markings.

Fores said Chief Supt. Eliseo Rasco, regional director of the Police Regional Office-12, has ordered full-scale pursuit operations against the 18 other suspects in coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“We’re doing everything to bring swift justice to the victims,” he added.

GenSan sustains heightened security alert status

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 26): GenSan sustains heightened security alert status 

GENERAL SANTOS CITY -- Authorities maintained the heightened alert status here in the wake of the continuing security threats following the Sept. 16 bomb blast that left eight people wounded.

Chief Insp. Jovenson Bayona, operations chief of the city police office, said Wednesday the entire area remains under “Alert Level 4” as earlier set by the city’s crisis management committee.

Bayona said the committee and the city’s peace and order council, headed by Mayor Ronnel Rivera, decided to continue with the alert status and the enhanced security measures following an assessment on Tuesday.

“We’re currently working with our barangays to improve the implementation of the security measures,” he said in an interview over local television show “Magandang Umaga South Central Mindanao”.

Bayona cited the city-wide curfew, which was first implemented Wednesday last week.
The curfew, which covers all residents and visitors, was set from 12 midnight to 4 a.m. in the city's central business district and 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. in other areas.

The police official said they are set to meet anew with the city’s 26 barangay chairs to set other necessary arrangements in line with its ongoing implementation.

Bayona cited concerns of business establishments, including tuna canning plants, operating on a 24-hour basis and employees who are assigned in work shifts within the curfew hours.

“We will discuss and set measures to ensure that the operations of these establishments and the movements of their workers will not be hampered,” he said.

Meanwhile, Bayona said they will also continue with the strict implementation of the "No ID (identification card), No entry" policy in the four main entry points of the city.

He said motorists and commuters are required to present government-issued IDs at the checkpoints of the city police and the Army-led Joint Task Force GenSan.

Those who would not be able to present any valid ID will be subjected to questioning and sign the checkpoint’s logbook, he said.

“This is to properly monitor all individuals who are entering the city,” he added.

Plot vs. Duterte bound to fail, Davao, Caraga Army units

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 26): Plot vs. Duterte bound to fail, Davao, Caraga Army units

The Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) and the Army’s 10th Infantry Division said the "Red October" plot to oust President Rodrigo Duterte "is bound to fail.”

Eastmincom spokesperson, Lt. Col. Ezra Balagtey, said Wednesday the Armed Forces in Davao and Caraga areas "are solid and undivided".

Balagtey said dissenting views cannot be avoided but the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) remains "loyal to the Constitution."

He added that it is farfetched for government forces to collaborate with the communist insurgents, "given their differences in ideology".

Nevertheless, Balagtey said the military has continued its intelligence monitoring against destabilizers as part of the AFP's mandate to protect communities from any threat group.

"So far, we do not see any movement,” he added.

On the sidelines of the AFP - Philippine National Police (PNP) Press Corps briefing, Balagtey said the “Red October” plot is apparently patterned after the October Uprising during the Bolshevik Revolution led by Vladimir Lenin on October 25, 1917.

In that revolution, the Bolshevik Red Guards under the Military Revolutionary Committee began the occupation of government buildings and subsequently ousted the Russian monarchy.

'Bound to fail'
Balagtey said a similar takeover "is bound to fail in the Philippines because the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) lacks the support of the people."

He noted that the CPP follows the Maoist, Leninist, and Marxist ideology.

The planned mass mobilization uncovered by the AFP, he said, was designed to create unrest among the public and create a pretext for a revolutionary action.

He said the Sept. 21 mass action against Martial Law was a test but it failed to command mass mobilization.

“The people still believe in the government,” Balagtey said.

Army's 10th ID spokesperson, Capt. Jerry Lamosao, echoed Balagtey's statement, saying, “We pledge our loyalty to the Constitution.”
Lamosao said the ground forces are also stepping up their intelligence monitoring against groups that are trying to sow chaos in the military and its leadership.

Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal, Eastmincom commander, said the objective of the communist insurgents from the start has been to "overthrow the democratic government and replace it with an authoritarian socialist form."

“And ever since, this threat has pulled down our country’s growth and development,” Madrigal said in a press statement released on Wednesday. “It aims to foment continuing unrest by way of agitation among the urban poor and rural peasant communities.”

Losing leaders
Madrigal said the New People’s Army (NPA) in Eastern Mindanao has been "losing leaders, elements, supporters, and firearms because of the relentless Focused Military Operations and Community Support Programs."

The Eastmincom reported that since January this year, 659 NPA regulars, 910 members of the Milisya ng Bayan, and 285 members of the Sangay ng Partido sa Lokalidad have surrendered to the government, while 7,294 members of the NPA's underground mass organizations have withdrawn their support from the rebel movement.

From January 2017 to Sept 23 this year, Eastmincom recorded 256 NPA tribal members who have surrendered and enrolled in the Enhanced Comprehensive Localized Integration Program (E-CLIP) of the government.

Madrigal said several former CPP/NPA leaders have returned to the folds of the law, while in the past two weeks, three ranking NPA members were neutralized in Eastern Mindanao.

He cited the commander of the Pulang Bagani Command 3 identified only as alias Ivy, who was killed in an encounter in Cabarisan, Sibulan, Toril, Davao City, on September 16.

On Sept. 24, the front secretary of Guerilla Front 73 was arrested in Surallah, South Cotabato.

PAL gives 20% discount to AFP personnel

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 27): PAL gives 20% discount to AFP personnel

In line with ongoing efforts to recognize the Filipino troops' efforts in bringing peace and development, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine Airlines (PAL) on Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Agreement which gives a 20-percent discount on all domestic flights to officers and enlisted personnel.

Col. Noel Detoyato, AFP public affairs office chief, said the MOA signing took place at the PAL head office in CCP Complex, Pasay City on Wednesday.

Signing on behalf of the military was AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Carlito Galvez, Jr, and AFP deputy chief-of-staff for personnel Brig. Gen. Erickson Gloria while representing the country's flag carrier are PAL executive vice president/treasurer/chief administrative officer Stewart Lim and senior vice president for airline operations Ismael Augusto Gozon.

Under the MOA, PAL shall grant soldiers a 20-percent discount on base fare for each ticket to any destination in the country, free baggage allowance according to fare brand, and free transport of firearms.

Travelling servicemen will also be acknowledged on board, Detoyato added.

"Firearm/s should be part of the (soldier) passenger’s checked baggage at no additional cost provided it is within the baggage allowance limit. It must be covered by proper authorization, permits, and licenses and may only be accepted for carriage subject to PAL’s existing guidelines and procedures. Under no circumstance shall grenades or other explosives be allowed on board the aircraft," he stressed.

Also, tickets issued under the agreement shall be valid only for one year from the date of issuance.

Military personnel must present valid AFP ID and authorized travel order for R&R (Rest and Recreation) to avail of the discounts and privileges.

They will also be given priority during check-in and boarding.

"The agreement is part of PAL’s efforts to recognize the contribution of soldiers in bringing peace and development to the country. Also aware of the high cost of travel during their R&R, PAL believes that it has a social obligation to ease the burden of the ordinary soldier especially those away from their families. The privileges also serve as a way of providing assistance to soldiers especially during the intensive security campaign in Mindanao," Detoyato added.

CPP-NPA always trying to oust gov't: Lorenzana

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 27): CPP-NPA always trying to oust gov't: Lorenzana

The Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) has always been trying to topple the government since 1968.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana made the remarks when asked to comment on CPP-NPA claims that the "Red October" ouster plot is only a fiction invented by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

"Their plot to oust the President (Rodrigo Duterte) is true. Deny na sila kasi nabuking (They are now denying it because it was revealed now). Our troops captured documents in November 2016 after their plenum in Northern Mindanao. The peace talks with them was ongoing during this period but the CPP-NPA were not confident it would last. They started to fully implement the plan called OUST DUTERTE in February 2017 after the President cancelled the peace talks," he told reporters Wednesday.

Lorenzana added that the ouster calls were supposed to culminate this October as the CPP-NPA strongly believes that a new president would be more willing to resume the peace talks with them.

"The plan calls for mass actions all over the country and they hope it will snowball like the EDSA People Power. It was their hope that other groups would join to create the desired snowball. There were rallies staged in the recent past. However, they woefully failed to attract people to join except their usual paid rallyists. But what else is new? The CPP-NPA has been trying to topple administration after another since 1968. They can deny all they want but we know otherwise by their actions," he said.

Earlier, AFP assistant deputy chief-of-staff for operations, Brig. Gen. Antonio Parlade, said there are plans to oust Duterte and the government, dubbed “Red October", by next month.

The ouster plan coincides with the international celebration for Marxism and the Indigenous People. Allegedly, participants would be coming from a grand coalition and a broad united front.

Duterte unsure peace talks can be resumed

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 27): Duterte unsure peace talks can be resumed

President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Wednesday said he was unsure if peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) would resume any time soon, admitting that he was “not ready” to talk to them yet.

“I don’t know if it could be revived. But I am not ready at this time to talk about talking to the communist(s),” Duterte said in his speech during a Bureau of Jail Management and Penology event in Calamba, Laguna.

He lambasted the NPA for “destroying the government” and killing soldiers, policemen, and civilians since they were established over 50 years ago.

The President, meanwhile, said that he has tried mending their relationship by allowing communists to work in government.

“In my desire really to just extend a helping hand maybe I can succeed talking to them, naipasok ko rin sa gobyerno (I allowed them in my Cabinet),” Duterte said.

He, however, said he was relieved that Congress rejected their appointments.

“Mabuti na lang ni-reject ng Congress ‘yung appointments nila. It turned out to be na ayaw talaga nila ng --- (It’s good the Congress rejected their appointments. It turned out to they really didn't like) even the talks now are almost done,” Duterte said.

Duterte earlier appointed leftist leaders Judy Taguiwalo as Social Welfare Secretary and Rafael Mariano as Agrarian Reform Secretary but their appointments were rejected by the Commission on Appointments last year.

Earlier, Duterte claimed that communists, Magdalo Group, and other members of the opposition are conspiring to remove him from his post.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana added that the reported "Red October" ouster plot is confirmed to be the handiwork of the CPP-NPA and that military is taking it seriously.

According to Lorenzana, the with the cancellation of the peace talks, the implementation of the proposed ouster plot became more urgent for the rebels.

On Sept. 21, Duterte said he was hopeful that government is “winning the war” against communists, noting that many of the rebels have started laying down their arms. He added that he expected the war to be over by the second quarter of next year.

Airbus Defence banks on AFP modernization to grow business in the Philippines

Posted to Update Philippines (Sep 26): Airbus Defence banks on AFP modernization to grow business in the Philippines

Airbus Defence and Space, the military aircraft unit of Airbus, is banking on the Armed Forces of the Philippines modernization program to grow its business in the country.

We are confident that we will increase our market share even further in the country,” Airbus Defence and Space head of South East Asia Johan Pelissier told reporters in a roundtable discussion in ParaƱaque City on Tuesday.
Pelissier noted that Airbus’ vision for its Philippines operations is anchored on the AFP modernization plan.

“What we see, according to the modernization plan, is that we have a portfolio fitting to the future requirements of the Philippines, which makes us confident that we have the right product to answer for the future needs of air transport, maritime security requirements,” he said.

The AFP modernization program was initiated during the term of then-President Benigno Aquino III.

It is divided into three, five-year horizons. Horizon 1 started in 2013 and ended in 2017.

Horizon 2 will be implemented from 2018 to 2022 and Horizon 3 is from 2023 to 2028.

In Horizon 2, approved by President Rodrigo Duterte in June, the Philippine Air Force will purchase multi-role fighter aircraft, radar system, light utility aircraft, medium lift aircraft, heavy lift helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles, attack and combat utility helicopters, special mission and long-range patrol aircraft, and trainer aircraft.

Asked by how many percent the company intends to increase its market share in the country, Pelissier said Airbus Defence is still in its early stages in the Philippines. It started operating in the country in February 2014, when the PAF ordered three Airbus C295 medium transport aircraft.

The delivery was completed in February 2017.

Early this year, Pelissier said, Airbus Defence has pitched to the PAF its new airlifters A400M.

He said the talks with the PAF are in the early stages, but Pelissier declined to disclose details of their discussions.

“But we are confident for this new aircraft as this fits the requirements of the PAF… It has good value for money and it is more fuel efficient than jet aircraft,” he said.

Airbus Defence is also organizing this week the Asian Defense and Security 2018 exhibition to showcase its aerospace products to meet the defense, communications, and security requirements in the Philippines.