Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Maute recruitment has 'significantly slowed down' —military

From GMA News (Oct 24): Maute recruitment has 'significantly slowed down' —military

The military on Wednesday said recruitment by the pro-ISIS Maute terrorist group has "significantly slowed down" after "remnants" of the group turned themselves in to the government.

"Certain conditions indicate that the enemy's recruitment has significantly slowed down following the surrender of Maute-IS remnants," said Colonel Romeo Brawner Jr., spokesperson for Joint Task Force Ranao.

Brawner said continuous military operations in areas where the Maute group operates also contributed to this development.

"According to surrenderers, most of the remnants have been isolated and have lost their will to fight following the series of military operations conducted by the 103rd Brigade in Lanao del Sur," he said.

"Nonetheless, our security forces are postured to thwart possible spoiling attacks to protect our communities," Brawner added.

The Maute group was responsible for last year's attack on Marawi City, which triggered a five-month armed conflict from which the city has yet to recover. The attack also prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to place the entire island of Mindanao under martial law.

After almost five months of battle, Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, one of the leaders of the Maute group, were killed.

RPA linked to massacre

From the Visayan Daily Star (Oct 23): RPA linked to massacre

Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones yesterday said they are verifying information that former members of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army, who have allegedly become private goons, were responsible for the Sagay 9 massacre.

Rep. Stephen Paduano (Abang Lingkod), former national commander of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade, asked what the DAR secretary’s basis was for making such claim.

Paduano, who was known as Carapali Lualhati when he was with the RPA-ABB, pointed out that Castriciones who is based in Manila, was pointing a finger at the RPA-ABB when the police in Negros Occidental did not even tag the group as suspects.

“He is in Manila and he is making conclusions from there, there should be an in-depth investigation,” Paduano said.

He said he and Rep. Alfredo Abelardo Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3rd District) are filing a resolution in the House seeking an investigation on the killing of the nine civilians who occupied a piece of land supposedly covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.

“We are calling all concerned agencies, including the Department of Agrarian Reform, to stop issuing statements that are causing confusion and wait for the results of a deeper and airtight investigation,” he said.

“There should be no sacred cow. No one should be spared as long as there is a fair investigation so the truth will come out and the victims can be given real justice,” he said.

The RPA members broke away from the mainstream New People's Army in 1992 due to ideological differences. Five years later, the RPA-ABB national was formed.

They entered into peace negotiations with the government in 2000, that have yet to be concluded.

But in 2011, the group was converted into a people’s organization called Kapatiran.

Paduano said Castriciones should not make unfair accusations,

“I do not know where he is coming from and what is his bias. I am not defending the Kapatiran group, but we should have a deeper investigation to identify the real culprits,” he said.

The Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office said in a statement that all angles were being looking into to establish the motive for the killing of the nine who belonged to the National Federation of Sugar Workers.


Alleged terrorist cell leader slain in Sarangani encounter

From the Mindanao Times (Oct 23): Alleged terrorist cell leader slain in Sarangani encounter

An alleged sub-leader of ISIS-inspired Ansar Al-Khilafah Philippines (AKP) was killed in a firefight with troops of the 27th Infantry Battalion in Sitio Gansidan, Barangay Daliao, Maasim, Sarangani on Monday.

Capt. Jerry Lamosao, spokesperson of the 10th Infantry Division, identified the suspect as Basser Sahak who died at around 6 a.m. on Monday.

Sahak was allegedly responsible for a series of atrocities and bombings. He was one of the suspects charged with multiple frustrated murder in connection to the IED explosion last Sept. 16, 2018 in Purok Malipayon, Barangay Apopong, General Santos City that injured at least eight individuals.

Accordingly, Sahak was in charge of the liquidation operation and money-making activities. He managed the AKP finances and had direct contact with Abu Toraife, the leader of the ISIS-Inspired Dawla Islamiya Group that operates in Maguindanao, Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.

Further, the troops recovered an M16 rifle with a defaced serial number, and eight live ammunition of an M203 rifle, three cellular phones; four improvised anti-personnel mines with components; food supplies and personal belongings.

The body was turned over to Daliao Barangay Captain Aladin Tambingag and Maasim Municipal Kagawad Jovi Apit for proper disposition.

“The 1002nd Infantry Brigade intends to defeat this ISIS-inspired group like the AKP by isolating them in order to apply focused military operations and avoid collateral damage. We are collaborating with other government agencies and civil society organizations aimed to address socio-economic conditions contributing to the resiliency of these terror groups.” Brig. Gen. Roberto T. Ancan, commander of the 1002nd Infantry Brigade, said.

Maj. Gen. Noel S. Clement, commander of the 10th ID, lauded the troops' accomplishment as he said that "with people's participation in our campaign against terrorism, we can detect, locate and neutralize terrorists. In this way, any possible threat will always be dealt with accordingly."

Rifle cache hidden near creek found by soldiers

From the Mindanao Times (Oct 23): Rifle cache hidden near creek found by soldiers

Another four-high powered firearms, assorted medical paraphernalia, and a Communist flag were discovered by troops of 39th Infantry Battalion in Sitio Sarimoro, Barangay Coronon, Sta Cruz, Davao del Sur around 2 p.m. on Monday.

Lt. Col. Rhojun Rosales, the commander of 39th Infantry Battalion, said the arms cache was discovered by a team on a combat patrol.

"Concerned citizens again provided information to the troops that led to the discovery of the cache at the creek line in Sitio Sarimoro," Rosales said.

"The successive discoveries of arms cache indicated that the communist-terrorist NPA’s firepower and strength are decreasing," he said, adding that the 12 hidden firearms found since last week were an indication that they don't have enough NPA fighters to carry them.

The battalion commander encouraged all citizens to do their part in securing peace and sustainable development particularly in the provinces of Cotabato, Davao Del Sur, and Sultan Kudarat.

Meanwhile, Brig, Gen. Roberto T. Ancan, 1002nd Infantry Brigade commander, expressed his appreciation to the concerned citizens who continually provide information to the government troops.

“We are one in our quest for peace and development in Davao del Sur," Ancan said.

Maj. Gen. Noel S. Clement, commander of the 10th Infantry Division, commended the troops under his command as he encouraged the people to work hand-in-hand with the 10th ID to attain long and lasting peace.

"The NPAs also have families to care about so I urged them to surrender and live peacefully with their loved ones, especially that Christmas is coming," Clement said.

“The discovery of NPA firearms is an indication of their desperate and lost armed struggle,” he added.

Clash kills reported guerrilla

From the Mindanao Times (Oct 23): Clash kills reported guerrilla

An alleged communist guerrilla was killed in an encounter with the troops of the 65th Infantry Battalion (65IB) in Barangay Lacolac, Baungon, Bukidnon at 5:20 a.m. on Sunday.

1Lt. Tere Ingente, the spokesperson of 4th Infantry Division, said they received information from a concerned citizen that there are armed men in the vicinity of the barangay, which promoted the battalion to send soldiers to the area.

Ingente said the government troops were in Purok 1 of the barangay when they encountered the NPA's Guerrilla Front Committee 68 (GF68) of North Central Mindanao Regional Command. The firefight lasted for 40 minutes before the rebels escaped.

Soldiers recovered the still unidentified body, along with this rifle. The body was turned over to the Baungon police for identification.

"It is very unfortunate that we lost another Filipino life today when an NPA terrorist died during an encounter with the troops of 65th Infantry Battalion," Brig. Gen. Eric Vinoya, the 403rd Infantry Brigade commander, said.

"This could not have happened if the leaders of the said terrorist organization did not deceive and offer lies to our poor farmers and Lumad, which forced them to take up arms against the government," Vinoya said.

The government offers the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-Clip) for those remaining NPAs who want to abandon the armed struggle.

“We will assist them in processing for the ECLIP," said Maj. Gen. Ronald Villanueva. “I am sure many of them wanted to go home to their families and loved ones; many of them are tired of their life in the armed movement.”

Army officer killed in NPA clash in CamSur

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 23): Army officer killed in NPA clash in CamSur

An Army officer was killed while another soldier was wounded in a clash with suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in the hinterland village of Mainit, in Bato town, Camarines Sur on Monday afternoon, a police report said on Tuesday.

Killed was 2Lt. Jason Frederick Pasco, a member of the 83rd Infantry Battalion operating in the province of Camarines Sur, said Chief Insp. Maria Luisa Calubaquib, Philippine National Police (PNP) Bicol spokesperson.

Wounded was PFC Reynaldo Aquino of the same Army unit.

The Army troopers were on combat patrol at about 5:15 p.m. Monday when they were attacked by a group of NPA rebels, who immediately withdrew immediately after the gun battle.

Responding soldiers are on pursuit operations in neighboring villages, where the NPA rebels are believed to have fled.


Reds, 52 supporters surrender in Capiz

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 23): 7 Reds, 52 supporters surrender in Capiz

SURRENDERED GUNS. Colonel Benedict Arevalo, Commander of the 301st Infantry Brigade, inspects the assorted firearms given up by NPA surrenderers during the mass surrender ceremony in Capiz on Monday (October 22, 2018). (Photo by 301st Infantry Brigade)

ILOILO CITY -- Seven members of the New People’s Army and 52 members of the Militia ng Bayan under the East Front Committee, Komiteng Rehiyon Panay, have abandoned the rebel movement and surrendered to the government, a Philippine Army official said Tuesday.

Col. Benedict Arevalo, commander of the Philippine Army’s 301st Infantry Brigade, said a mass surrender ceremony was held in the village of Poblacion, Cuartero town in Capiz province on Monday, where the surrenderers took their oath of allegiance and pledged loyalty to the government.

In an interview, Arevalo said the surrender would weaken the rebel group’s strength, particularly in the areas of Cuartero and Dumarao in Capiz.

He said the seven NPA members were red fighters or squad members, while the Militia ng Bayan is a force multiplier whose members sometimes act as part-time fighters or provide the regular members additional manpower, information, food and other logistics.

Arevalo said the surrenderers brought with them 14 firearms -- a US M1 Garrand rifle, a US caliber .45 pistol, 10 locally-made shotguns, and two caliber .38 pistols – as well as a hand grenade and various live ammunitions.

He said they surrendered because they are already tired of the barbarism of their organization, which brought them nothing but hunger. “They want to have a normal life,” he said.

Arevalo also recognized the efforts of the troops of the 61st Infantry Battalion and the help of the local government of Cuartero for all the negotiations they did in the past months.

The military is currently processing the assistance that will be given to the rebel returnees under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP) of the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

“They will be receiving cash assistance and livelihood assistance within the end of this month or early next month,” he said, noting that additional cash will be given to them for their firearms they yielded.

Arevalo, meanwhile, urged other members of the rebel group who want to surrender to freely coordinate with their detachments or local government units. “We will help you,” he assured.

He, however, warned those who refuse to surrender that they will be hunted down, with the full force of the law and military might to neutralize them.


PNP, Army map out 2019 polls security plan for E. Visayas

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 23): PNP, Army map out 2019 polls security plan for E. Visayas

SECURITY MEETING. The joint security meeting of the police and military in Eastern Visayas for the 2019 elections held at the police regional office in Palo, Leyte on Tuesday (October 23, 2018). (Photo by Roel Amazona)

PALO, Leyte -- The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Army here in Eastern Visayas have started crafting security plans for next year’s mid-term elections.

Region 8 (Eastern Visayas) director Chief Supt. Dionardo Carlos and Army’s 8th Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Raul Farnacio formally met on Tuesday to discuss security measures for the 2019 polls.

The two officials said they will immediately recall detailed unformed personnel assigned to politicians running in the May 2019 election once the election period starts.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) had set Jan. 13, 2019 to June 12, 2019 as election period and gun ban.

Those who are facing security threats will be validated before they can be granted with police or military escorts.

“Depending on the result of validation, that is the only time we will assign security escorts to them. They are only entitled to have two police security escorts,” Carlos said.

Carlos added that those who have threats are strongly advised to hire guards from private security agencies.

Carlos added that policemen who have relatives as candidates will be re-assigned to other units for six months. They will return to their previous units after the election period.

Key police and army officials still need to finalize the list of areas in the region that will be put under election hot spots for the 2019 polls.

Towns in Samar province had been consistently listed as election hotspot and included on the election watchlist due to intense political rivalries and use of private armed groups (PAGs), while other areas are affected by insurgency issues.

“I know some of them are identified with political dynasties,” Farnacio said referring to PAGs and rebel groups supporting candidates.

“I hope that we can formulate here what to do, so we can address this issue and make the coming elections safe and peaceful,” Farnacio added.

The army official added that some politicians supporting communist rebels have filed their certificates of candidacy last week.

In the 2016 national and local elections, a total of 44 towns in the region were included on the election watchlist due to intense political rivalries, threats of armed rebels, and violence committed by criminal groups.

On the list were several towns in Samar, Leyte, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, and in Biliran.

In the recent 2018 village polls, 284 villages in the region were identified as election hot spots.


Statements tagging AFP in NegOcc massacre irresponsible

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 23): Statements tagging AFP in NegOcc massacre irresponsible

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Monday said statements linking the government and the military to the massacre of nine sugar workers in Sagay City, Negros Occidental is irresponsible.

The AFP made the statement in response to former Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares' claims that the government and the AFP should be held liable for the incident.

"Sadly, a lawyer like Mr. Neri Colmenares whose predisposition could have been prudence and caution hastily and immediately accused government and the AFP of criminal responsibility—without the presumption of innocence; without the benefit of any form of investigation. From a fellow counselor-at-law, I say those were very irresponsible, sweeping, and malevolent statements that tend to malign the reputation of the AFP whose members have fought—some were maimed or have died--protecting the people and securing the state," AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said in a statement.

This is in contrast to the preoccupation of the President and other government agencies to assist the victims and how to bring a swift resolution to the case, he added.

"The AFP reiterates its indignation over the brutal killing of nine innocent victims in a shooting incident in Brgy. Bulanon in Sagay City. We pray for and commiserate with the families of the victims just as we commit to help in the immediate resolution of the case. The AFP will provide any assistance it can towards the identification, prosecution, and punishment of the perpetrators of this dastardly act," Arevalo added.

Towards this end, AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Carlito Galvez, Jr. has sent 3rd Infantry Division commander Major Gen. Dinoh Dolina to personally assess the needs of the families of the victims and extend the identified needs.

Arevalo said Dolina will works closely with the police, local government, and other agencies of national government to ensure that justice will be served through a thorough and comprehensive investigation.


PN ship to visit Japan for pick-up of Air Force materiel

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 23): PN ship to visit Japan for pick-up of Air Force materiel

A Philippine Navy (PN) ship will be sailing to Japan as early as next month to pick up some materiel for the Philippine Air Force (PAF).

This was confirmed by Navy flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad during the welcoming ceremonies held for strategic sealift vessel, BRP Tarlac (LD-601), and the 300-man contingent aboard her at Pier 13, Manila South Harbor on Monday.

"I think one of our ships will go to Japan latter part (of this year) and we will get some spare parts and some munitions of the Philippine Air Force," Empedrad told reporters.

Empedrad, however, did not elaborate on what these spare parts are.

In a separate interview, PN spokesperson Commander Jonathan Zata said it is possible that BRP Tarlac or her sister-ship, the BRP Davao Del Sur (LD-602), will be selected for the mission.

"If the mission to Japan will push through this November, this will be the very first time that a PN-commissioned vessel will be calling on one of the ports in Japan," Zata said.


Technical problems encountered during voyage to Russia: Navy chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 23): Technical problems encountered during voyage to Russia: Navy chief

The strategic sealift vessel, BRP Tarlac (LD-601), sustained a "technical problem" while en route to its first-ever port visit to Vladivostok, Russia.

This was confirmed by Philippine Navy (PN) flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad during the welcoming ceremonies for the ship and the 300-man contingent aboard her at Pier 13, Manila South Harbor on Monday afternoon.

"One of the engines bogged down, mahirap gawin yun (it is difficult to fix) if you don't have spares so using the logistics support agreement with other countries, with the help of the Republic of Korea, we were able to purchase spare parts needed by our ship and they sent it to Russia with the help of our friends (in) Russia, napabilis yung pagpasok sa barko (the entry to the ship was hastened), our crew were able to repair the derangement," Empedrad told reporters.

BRP Tarlac left Manila South Harbor last Sept. 21 and arrived at Vladisvostok for its scheduled Oct. 1 to 6 port call.

When asked for the specific technical problem suffered by the ship, Empedrad gave permission to Naval Task Force (NTF) 87 head Capt. Florante Gagua, who said the slight problem has something to do with an oil pump.

"It's just about the oil pump, actually we can run with (an) alternate pump but for safety, the Command advised me not to go with the alternate pump," the NTF 87 chief added.

This resulted in the ship leaving Vladivostok two days late from its scheduled departure on Oct. 6.

BRP Tarlac arrived at Jeju Island, South Korea on Oct. 12, a day late for the International Fleet Review (IFR), honoring the 70th founding anniversary of the Republic of Korea (ROK) Armed Forces, which was slated for Oct. 11 to 15.

Despite this, Empedrad said the PN contingent was able to attend all other activities in connection with the IFR. When asked on whether it is a good thing to send ships abroad to participate in international maritime events, the PN chief said constant deployment is needed to fully train the crews.

"I don't plan to have our ships merely docked at a pier. I would like our ships to be always moving at sea for the training of our personnel. A ship is designed to sail, not to be always docked, and our role is to protect a vast maritime nation, our vast maritime waters. So our ships need to be always on the go for training in order for our personnel to be expert in doing their job," he added.

When asked on whether this could cause degradation in the conditions of the ships, Empedrad said this will not be an issue as long as maintenance procedures are properly done.