Sunday, November 4, 2018

4 ex-rebels tagged in Sagay massacre

From the Philippine Star (Nov 5): 4 ex-rebels tagged in Sagay massacre

The four men tagged in the Sagay massacre turned out to be former New People’s Army (NPA) rebels, who earned the ire of the communist group for allegedly collaborating with the government’s counter-insurgency operations, police said yesterday.

The four have been accused by the National Democratic Front (NDF)-Negros as among those involved in the massacre that occurred at a sugarcane farm in Barangay Bulanon, Sagay City, Negros Occidental on Oct. 20.

NDF-Negros spokesman Frank Fernandez earlier said the four – whom he identified as Vito Lutrago, Eduardo Linugon, Rexi Robles and a certain Rako – are former members of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army, a breakaway group of the NPA.

 Fernandez said the information was based on what he called as “exhaustive investigations” conducted by the
NPA Roselyn Pelle Command based in northern Negros.

Chief Inspector Robert Mansueto, city police chief, said that Lutrago, Linugon and Robles are former NPA members, while Rako is an asset of the Philippine Army.

Mansueto said they have no evidence yet linking the four to the massacre. He urged the NPA to produce proof of their involvement in the killing.

The police, Mansueto said, would include the four in the list of individuals to be invited for questioning.

He said their investigation is still underway even as multiple murder charges have been filed against two suspects – identified as Rene Manlangit and Rogelio Arquillo, organizers of the National Federation of Sugar Workers – and seven other unidentified men.

Mansueto said they have taken the testimonies of six other individuals whom they invited for questioning.

Investigation by the city police showed that two of Lutrago’s brothers were killed by the NPA several years ago.

The families of Manlangit and Arquillo have fled from their homes for security reasons, police said.

The National Bureau of Investigation is also conducting a separate investigation of the massacre.

China builds weather stations in West Philippine Sea

From Rappler (Nov 4): China builds weather stations in West Philippine Sea

China reportedly installs these weather stations on Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef, and Mischief Reef in the West Philippine Sea

MISCHIEF REEF. Structures seen on a satellite image of Mischief Reef on November 15, 2016, released December 13, 2016. Image courtesy of CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/DigitalGlobe

MISCHIEF REEF. Structures seen on a satellite image of Mischief Reef on November 15, 2016, released December 13, 2016. Image courtesy of CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/DigitalGlobe

MANILA, Philippines – China has started operating weather stations on its artificial islands in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang.

The weather stations can be found on the Spratly Islands, known by the Chinese as Nansha, in the West Philippine Sea.
China installed these weather stations on Kagitingan Reef (Fiery Cross Reef), Subi Reef (Zamora Reef), and Panganiban Reef (Mischief Reef) in the West Philippine Sea, according to a report by the South China Morning Post.

"Recently, China has begun operating a maritime observation center, a meteorological observatory, and a national environmental and air quality monitoring station on reefs of the Nansha Islands," Lu said in a press conference Thursday, November 1.

The Spratlys are a group of islands located off the west coast of the Philippine island province Palawan.

What are the stations for? Lu said they intend to take samples of the weather conditions from the area and to share the services with "countries in the region."

Lu detailed the metrics the facilities could measure. "These projects are designed to observe the maritime, hydrological, meteorological conditions and air qualities, and provide such services as maritime warning and forecast, tsunami alert, weather forecast, air quality forecast, and disaster prevention and relief," he said.

Simply for service? Lu said that "this is what we primarily wanted to achieve when we started these works on the islands and reefs in the South China Sea."

The new weather stations, however, are only just part of at least 1,600 reported structures built by China in the Spratlys and the Paracel Islands as of May this year.

China has also been militarizing the islands, which has prompted condemnation from neighbors that have claims over these.

PEACETALK: Mechanisms of policy formulation to address concerns on Violent extremism

From MindaNews (Nov 4): PEACETALK: Mechanisms of policy formulation to address concerns on Violent extremism

Understanding that any program or policy that would require action to prevent and counter violent extremism (PCVE) would require policy and legislative formulation.

In order to effectively implement programs and interventions to prevent and counter violent extremism, policy and legislative intervention are crucial and vital to ensure that these interventions could be more institutional, more effective and there is a sense of ownership not only among civil societies and government agencies, but a lasting policy that can be said to be etched in stone that can be used as a continuous and sustainable approach to PCVE.

Its institutionalization can be made possible through legislative and policy instruments executive by legislative and executive bodies. The aim of this article is to explore mechanisms where this institutionalization can possibly happen.

Peace and order councils.

Peace and order councils (POC’s) in the Philippines are inter-agency councils wherein both government agencies and civil society organizations represented can present a working collaboration on both inter-agency and intra-agency levels. Peace and order councils in the Philippines are of two types, (a) the national and the (b) local peace and order councils. The national peace and order council has two levels, the National Peace and Order Council which is basically an interagency council chaired by the Secretary of the Interior and Local Government (SILG) and the subnational which is the cluster (Luzon, Visayas Mindanao) and the Regional Peace and Order Councils (RPOC).

The NPOC functions to contribute to the strategies of the National Security Council that would effectively respond to peace and order problems, through implementation, coordination and monitoring peace and order plans, it also functions to provide a forum for inter-disciplinary dialogue and deliberation of major issues and problems affecting peace and order[i]; local peace and order councils also called subnational councils[ii].

These subnational POC’s such as RPOCs, PPOCs (provincial), CPOCs and MPOCs (city and municipal) and BPOCs (barangay) function as a forum for dialogue and deliberation of major issues and problems affecting peace and order, including insurgency; propose measures which will improve or enhance peace and order and public safety in their respective areas of responsibility, including anti-insurgency measures; propose measures to converge and orchestrate internal security operations efforts of civil authorities and agencies, military and police; as well as Perform all other functions assigned by law, the President or the NPOC[iii].

And considering that the POC’s represent the current whole of nation approach as it incorporates on a national, regional, provincial, city/municipal and barangay inter and intra-agency cooperation, it can generate policies through the passage of POC resolutions wherein agencies can agree to work together on specific policies and programs on PCVE and which the operative mechanism of these resolutions on an agency or institutional level can either be manifested through the:
  1. Passage of legislation on the local government level sanggunian
  2. Issuance of departmental or executive orders or memoranda highlighting the operational roles of the institution or agency in the PCVE program
Part of the examples developed and implemented on an operative level at the Peace and Order councils by the undersigned together with other technical experts were:
  1. Endorsement of Muslim Consultative Councils and Muslim Affairs offices as a mechanism for empowerment and to counter VE infiltration in communities in the National Capital Region (NCR) which was endorsed by then NCR RPOC Chair Mayor Herbert Bautista who was RPOC chair and QC mayor and was also implementing an enhanced Muslim Consultative Council which was started by then Mayor Sonny Belmonte and enhanced by Mayor Bautista during his term.
  2. Development of a community anti-terrorism response plan that was developed and implemented at the City of Muntinlupa under Mayor Fresnedi. This involved both empowerment of the Muslim Affairs office playing a bigger role together with law enforcement agencies in developing a community watch that is more developmental and community centric focusing more on citizen participation and cooperation. This model was passed by the Muntinlupa as MPOC resolution.
  3. Development of a more robust community response plan against terrorism which was then endorsed by the Marikina POC as a policy spearheaded by Mayor Marci which was then adopted by the city government and barangay LGUs of Marikina.
  4. Development of a more robust peace and security plan for the Cordillera POC and the Baguio POC which was spearheaded by Mayor Morris Domogan which highlighted a more empowered collaboration between civil society organizations (CSOs) of Cordillera and Baguio City in partnership with the different regional offices of government in the Cordillera
  5. The Region 2 RPOC and and the Cauayan City POC response plan to the planned Juhur Ijtima of the Tabligh which resulted to a more secure and peaceful implementation of the Juhur Ijtima which was rescheduled after the ASEAN summit.
Legislation as an institutional mechanism for PCVE sustainability.

Local government units (LGUs) have legislative bodies called Sanggunian (councils/boards) which essentially perform the function of creation of laws and policies that govern operation of programs and projects at the LGU level. These can be differentiated into the following:
  1. Provincial Boards (Sanguniang Panlalawigan)
  2. City and Municipal councils (Sanguniangs Panglungsod/Bayan)
  3. Barangay Council (Sanguniang Barangay)
These local legislative bodies can create policies that can empower PCVE programs and projects such as enabling financial support and provision through allocation of line budget for special projects like an annual youth leadership summit, training for cultural sensitivity for uniformed law enforcement officers, local Madrassah/IP education Board, community based security plan and other projects/programs that would support PCVE. The only delimitation of these local councils is that they are done within the context of the territorial demarcation of the LGUs.

National legislation is of course the highest form of legislation that can done, wherein current existing legislation such as the Human security act can either be amended, or new legislation can be crafted on a national level that will empower all agencies to conduct PCVE programs.

Executive and administrative issuances.

The President, in his capacity as the Chief Executive of the Philippines, whether in the exercise of the executive power or broader powers conferred by emergency or at particular periods can issue executive and administrative issuances. They may be in the form of (1) Administrative Orders, (2) Implementing Rules and Regulations of Administrative Orders, (3) Executive Office (laws and issuances), (4) Administrative Decisions,(5) Executive Orders, (6) Memorandum Circulars and Orders and other special directives that may be issued by the president[iv]. He can also create and move offices being the Chief executive[v]. The current National Action Plan on PCVE is one of the clear examples which is being formulated under the auspices of the National Security Council and both government, non-government and civil society partners, after which will be signed into a draft executive order.

Department secretaries as alter-egos of the President can also issue Department Orders that may serve as policy and administrative frameworks for PCVE program and project delivery, subject of course to existing rules and regulations.

Integration protocols as a way ahead

In order to have better integrated PCVE programs and policies at the regional, provincial and local levels, the suggested policy can be in the following process:

For local integration, Local peace and order councils can propose policies and programs that are needed in a particular area such as the Youth Leadership Summit and Local community watch system.

These programs then can be endorsed to local legislative councils for support through institutionalization wherein ordinances can be passed and both logistical and operational support could be provided by local government. Unlike the intelligence fund provisions from the Mayor or governor, which can be cut or realigned for other purposes, programs that are institutionalized through the passage of Sanguniang ordinances and resolutions become institutionalized and whose operations can be appropriated from the LGU budget for every fiscal year.

For national level PCVE interventions, the President may issue an executive order mandating implementation of PCVE programs or may direct specific agencies to implement these programs. Cabinet secretaries then may issue directives that are in line with the Presidents instructions. These can be institutionalized when they are legislated into law by Congress like the Terrorism Financing Act or the programs like Trainings on PCVE be included in the general appropriations act (GAA) which is passed annually by both houses.

[MindaViews is the opinion secdtion of MindaNews. PeaceTalk is open to anyone who wishes to share his/ her thoughts on peace in Midnanao.

Yusuf Roque Morales is a Commissioner at the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos. Morales worked together with then OIC of the DILG USEC Catalino Cuy (now chair of the Dangerous Drugs Board DDB) in engaging and capacitating the different Peace and Order Councils in addressing the threat of violent extremism from 2016-2017.

The author is both a member of the academe and a government official addressing concerns of Muslim in the Philippines, he has written several articles, monographs and researches on Muslims in the Philippines and has been one of the leading subject matter experts on prevention and countering violent extremism in the Philippines.]

Soldier killed in clash with Reds in Quezon

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 5): Soldier killed in clash with Reds in Quezon

PURSUIT OPERATIONS. Troops of the 92nd Infantry Battalion, in close coordination with the local police force, conduct pursuit operations following two encounters with New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in the sub-villages of Dadyangao and Madaraki in Barangay Umiray in General Nakar town, Quezon Sunday (Nov. 4, 2018). (Photo courtesy of 2ID-DPAO)

CAMP GEN. CAPINPIN, Tanay, Rizal -- A soldier was killed while an undetermined number of New People’s Army rebels were seriously wounded in two armed encounters Sunday morning in two sub-villages in Quezon.

Reports reaching the Philippine Army’s 2nd Infantry “Jungle Fighter” Division (2ID) camp here on Monday said the troops of the 92nd Infantry Battalion (92IB) twice clashed with NPA insurgents in Sitio Dadyangao and Sitio Madaraki in Barangay Umiray in General Nakar town, Quezon.

Lt. Col. Christopher M. Diaz, Commanding Officer of the 92IB, said the soldiers were conducting Focus Military Operation (FMO) in the area following intelligence report and tips from civilian residents that a group of armed NPAs were extorting rice and money from the Dumagat indigenous people (IP).

Diaz said the government troops first encountered around 10:40 a.m. an undetermined number of armed rebels who belong to the
Platoon 4A2, Guerilla Front Cesar of the Southern Tagalog Regional Party Committee.

He reported that one soldier identified as Pvt. James Lanes, 24, from Sultan Kudarat, was killed during the 20-minute firefight in Sitio Dadyangao.

He added that an undetermined number of NPA casualties were reported after heavy blood stains were traced at the enemies’ position.

The troops believed the rebels brought along their wounded comrades while retreating from the battle site.

Diaz also reported that the military troops engaged the state enemies in another 15-minute firefight, an hour later around 11:45 a.m. in another sub-village Sitio Madaraki where they conducted pursuit operations while tracking down traces of heavy blood stains left by the retreating rebels.

However, there were no reported casualties from the pursuing troops and the enemies during the 15-minute gun battle.

Brig. Gen. Arnulfo Marcelo B. Burgos Jr., Commander of the 202nd Brigade, who has operational jurisdiction over Calabarzon said the troops have sustained their tracking down operations against the NPAs in the area.

They are now running out of ammunitions with the recent two encounters; they are now tired and they have wounded comrades. We will pursue these NPA remnants until they are destroyed,” Burgos vowed.

Meanwhile, Philippine Army 2nd Infantry Division (2ID) Commander, Maj. Gen. Rhoderick M. Parayno has extended his condolences to the family of the fallen soldier.

“Rest assured that his bravery and heroism will be treasured and will never be forgotten. His example of sacrifice will continue to inspire us to strive more on our mission of protecting the people against all NPA threats and coercion especially of the Dumagat IP in Quezon,” Parayno said.

Older vessels costlier to operate, maintain: Navy spox

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 5): Older vessels costlier to operate, maintain: Navy spox

It actually costs more to operate and maintain older naval vessels, Philippine Navy spokesperson Commander Jonathan Zata said Monday.

Zata made this comment when pressed on whether or not the recent decommissioning of some of its senior vessels left the Navy short-handed.

"We're actually optimizing available resources in decommissioning Navy ships. Personnel, equipment and funds needed to maintain older ships are being rechanneled to support newer and more capable vessels. It actually cost more funds to maintain and sustain older ships than it is for newer ones. Likewise, there is a need to train personnel to handle newer and more modern equipment and weapons systems," he said in a message sent to the Philippine News Agency.

Last Oct. 31, the PN retired from service the BRP Bienvenido Salting (PC-112) after 22 years in service, while last March 15, it retired BRP Rajah Humabon (PS-11) after 38 years.

Zata said these decommissioned vessels will be replaced by a South Korean-donated Pohang-class ship and the two missile-armed frigates now being constructed by Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI).

"A Pohang-class frigate will be available by the first half of next year while (one of the two) the new and purposely built (missile-armed frigates) for the PN will be delivered by the following year, 2020," he added.

Keel-laying for the first HHI-constructed frigate took place last Oct. 16 in Ulsan, South Korea, while the steel-cutting for the second ship transpired on Sept. 17, also in the same shipyard.

Navy flagship BRP Gregorio del Pilar to get major upgrades

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 5): Navy flagship BRP Gregorio del Pilar to get major upgrades

Philippine Navy (PN) flagship BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (FF-15) will undergo various communications, weapons, and fire-control upgrades while undergoing repair for the damages sustained during her grounding at Hasa-Hasa (Half-Moon) Shoal last August 29.

This was confirmed by Navy spokesperson Commander Jonathan Zata when sought for an update on the ship on Monday.

"Del Pilar is still undergoing bottom hull repairs and will be undocked as soon as repairs have been completed. Propellers and related underwater appendages will be shipped to the US for repairs. While awaiting the completion of those repairs, she will undergo communications and weapon and fire control upgrades in order to optimize her down-time period," he added.

Zata said the frigate will be back in operation once these parts, coming from outside the country, have arrived.

The ship was pulled clear from Hasa-Hasa Shoal last Sept. 3 and towed to Subic Bay, Zambales, arriving there on September 7.

The BRP Gregorio Del Pilar is one of three Hamilton-class cutters acquired by the PN from the United States Coast Guard and converted into frigates.

These ships have a gross tonnage of 3,250 tons, a length of 378 feet, beam of 43 feet, and draft of 15 feet while its propulsion systems consist of two diesel engines and two gas turbine engines, giving it a top speed of 29 knots.

These vessels have a cruising range of 14,000 miles and have a sea and loiter time of 45 days and armed with a 76mm Oto Melara automatic cannon, 25mm and 20mm light cannons and .50-caliber machineguns.

Maute terror group member yields in Lanao Sur

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 4): Maute terror group member yields in Lanao Sur


A remnant of the Islamic State-inspired Maute terror group surrendered to authorities in Lumbatan, Lanao del Sur on Saturday morning.

Senior Insp. Jemar Delos Santos, speaking for the Police Regional Office - Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (PRO-ARMM), identified the surrenderee as Camal Tawakal Marcos, 28, farmer, resident of Barangay Tambac, Lumbatan.

The surrenderee turned over an M16 rifle with ammunition to local officials of Lumbatan, led by Mayor Allan Ismael Lao, in coordination with the office of PRO-ARMM Director Chief Supt. Graciano Mijares.

Mijares, in a statement, said his office is continuously coordinating with local government units in the region to convince rebels on returning to the mainstream society.

“It is encouraging to see that surrendering rebels now realize that they are fighting a futile cause,” he said.

The PRO-ARMM area of responsibility covers the cities of Marawi and Lamitan and the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Basilan.

Army troops recover firearms, war matériel in Davao City

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 4): Army troops recover firearms, war matériel in Davao City

Army troops from the 16th Infantry Battalion recovered an arms cache and assorted war matériel in Sitio Kialaw, Barangay Malabog, Paquibato District, this city.

Civil Military Operations Officer, 1Lt.Edelyn Glarian, on Sunday said the arms cache and war matériel were tipped off by three members of the New People’s Army’s (NPA) Pulang Bagani Command (PBC) 1 who surrendered to the government due to economic hardship.

Glarian said the three surrenderers said the area where the arms cache and war matériel were buried prompting the troops to immediately conduct “Paghalugad” operations Thursday and Friday.

It resulted in the recovery of one .22-caliber sniper rifle attached with bipod, scope, and silencer; one anti-tank landmine; one anti-personnel landmine; two blasting caps; 100- meter electrical wire for an improvised explosive device; and two civilian backpacks with assorted personal belongings.

Following the operation, Glarian said, the troops conducted clearing operations in the same area resulting in the recovery of one .30-caliber M1 Springfield (Garand) rifle.

Lt. Col. Rey Pasco, commanding officer of 16IB, lauded the troops for their shared effort and dedication carry the unit's mission for peace and development in the area.

He also appreciated the former rebels for giving their trust to the Maglilingkod Battalion.

"The recovery of assorted war materiel’s is a result of the unit's right mix of TRIAD operations coupled with support from the Local Government Units, the police, and the peace-loving communities that encourage members of the armed group to return to the folds of the law," he said.