Friday, November 16, 2018

DWDD: OFFICIAL VISIT | AFD ICRC pays courtesy call to FOIC, PN

From Katropa DWDD-CRS Virtual RTV (Nov 14): OFFICIAL VISIT | AFD ICRC pays courtesy call to FOIC, PN

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NAVAL BASE JOSE ANDRADA, Roxas Blvd. , Manila (DWDD) - The Chief, Naval Human Rights Office (NHRO), Captain Arturo G Sahagon PN (MNSA), accompanies Mr. Andrew Bell, Armed Forces Delegate of the International Committee of the Red Cross Philippines, as he pays a courtesy call to the Flag Officer in Command, Philippine Navy, Vica Admiral Robe...rt A Empedrad AFP, at the Flag Office, Headquarters PN, Naval Base Jose Andrada, Roxas Blvd., Manila.

Also present were Colonel Ricardo D Petrola PN (M) (GSC), Assistant Chief of Naval Staff for Civil Military Operations, N7, and Mr. Ricardo Lucero, Program Manager, ICRC. NPAO / MCAG

DWDD: COURTESY CALL | Foreign Armed Forces Attaches (FAFA) Corps visits PH Army

From Katropa DWDD-CRS Virtual RTV (Nov 15): COURTESY CALL | Foreign Armed Forces Attaches (FAFA) Corps visits PH Army

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FORT ANDRES BONIFACIO, Taguig City (DWDD) - To strengthen diplomatic ties with the Philippine Army, members of the Foreign Armed Forces Attaches (FAFA) Corps paid a collective courtesy call to the Army Chief, Lieutenant General Macairog S. Alberto here today, Wednesday, November 14, 2018.

Foreign Armed Forces ...Attachés to the Philippines from Australia, Brunei, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Spain, United States, Vietnam Turkey and Germany were all present.

Defense attachés are military experts attached to a diplomatic mission. They are normally high-ranking military officers who work for defense and military related matters in behalf of their state with foreign governments.
Essentially, the activity was an offshoot of the assumption of Lt.Gen. Alberto of the Philippine Army last October 15, in which, it is customary for all the defense attachés to render a courtesy call to the new Chief.

During the call, the CGPA, together with his key staffs exchanged pleasantries and engaged with some discussions with the members of the defense attaches. The event served as a venue for everyone to personally get acquainted and enhanced further understanding and camaraderie.

In his message, CGPA expressed his appreciation to the group. He told that diplomacy is a vital component to Landpower Maneuver Concept, not only as a means to strengthen relationship and ensure peace and stability in the region, but also as a means for everyone to work together in addressing various emerging security and non-traditional challenges.

Further, he emphasized that through continuous collaboration and security engagements, it provided the organization a global perspective and exposure to new technologies and systems, modern and sophisticated solutions to its needs and most importantly, it leads to the sharing of new skills and knowledge, thereby strengthening interoperability and friendship.

“Seeing all of you in person here today makes me feel more motivated, not only to serve my country and people as the Commanding General, but also to work with your respective countries. Through this, we strengthen each other’s capabilities so that we can better fulfill our commitment to the security of our nations,” CGPA added.
The Philippine Army values its diplomatic ties with its military counterparts across the globe and its significance in pursuit of attaining security and stability in the region. OACPA / MCAG

DWDD: CHANGE OF OFFICE | PH Army installs new Chief of Staff

From Katropa DWDD-CRS Virtual RTV (Nov 15): CHANGE OF OFFICE | PH Army installs new Chief of Staff

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FORT ANDRES BONIFACIO, Taguig City (DWDD) - The Philippine Army has a new Chief of Staff in the person of Brigadier General Jose C. Faustino who succeeded Major General Chad D. Isleta in a simple Change of Office ceremony held here today, Wednesday, November 14, 2018. The ceremony was presided by no less than the Commanding General, Lie...utenant General Macairog S. Alberto.

Brig. Gen. Faustino is a member of the Philippine Military Academy “Maringal” Class of 1988. He started his military career with the Scout Ranger and spent his early years of deployment in Luzon and later in Mindanao.

He also occupied various key-positions in the then Intelligence Support Group and later as Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence of 10ID and Assistant Chief Unified Command Staff for Intelligence, U2 of NCRCOM.

Significantly, he also had the opportunity to serve as Assistant Chief of Staff for Education, G8 of the Philippine Army. In 2016, he was designated as the Commander of the 501st Brigade of the 5th Infantry Division deployed in Sulu area. Prior to his current post, he was assigned as the Commandant of the Philippine Military Academy.

CGPA, in his message congratulated Maj. Gen. Isleta for steering well the Army in his capacity as Chief of Staff. He personally expressed his gratitude for all the things that he has done and contributed for the betterment of the Philippine Army. On the other hand, he also urged the personnel of the office of Chief of Staff to accord the same support, trust and cooperation to their new chief who equally holds high sense of credibility, competence and professionalism. OACPA / MCAG

2 rebels killed in AFP, NPA clash in Escalante

From the Visayan Daily Star (Nov 17): 2 rebels killed in AFP, NPA clash in Escalante

Government troopers and suspected New People’s Army rebels figured in an encounter yesterday in Sitio Puting Bato, Brgy. Washington in Escalante City, Negros Occidental, that reportedly claimed the lives of two communist rebels, a military officer said.

Col. Benedict Arevalo, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, yesterday said that an M16 assault rifle, a 45 caliber pistol, a bandoleer with six magazines containing 120 rounds of ammunition, two sacks of rice, two water containers, assorted personal belongings, as well as subversive documents, were recovered at the encounter site.

But Arevalo said they were not able to recover the two slain rebels, as they could have been carried away by their withdrawing comrades, or being hidden in the area.

Before the encounter at about 10 a.m. yesterday, Arevalo said they had already received reports of armed men being sighted in the area, where the NPA rebels managed to establish their “mass-based organizations”.

The pursuit operations against the estimated 10 communist rebels, who were reported to have been seeking refuge in Sitio Puting Bato, which is a coastal area, are still underway, as of this time, he added.

Militant organizations Bayan Negros and Pamalakaya claimed that there is an ongoing militarization in Brgy. Washington, Escalante City, and its neighboring barangays, in the guise of counter-terror action against the supposed Abu Sayyaf elements, who landed in the coastal areas of northern Negros.

Arevalo laughed off such claims, saying that the NPA and its allied organizations are hallucinating, and trying to divert their attention, by fabricating stories.

The running gunbattle lasted for about 15 minutes, and the NPA rebels withdrew in separate directions, leaving behind the firearms and ammunition, among other items, he added.

No casualty was reported on the government side.

Arevalo justified the establishment of checkpoints and sealing off of the area, to prevent the escape of withdrawing rebels.

In his visit to various infantry units, Arevalo told Army soldiers not to wait for the NPA to attack them.

“We will attack them first before they attack us,” he said.

Arevalo also enjoined Negrenses to report the presence of NPA rebels in their communities, to prevent them from committing more atrocities.

Escalante City Mayor Eddie Montero yesterday said that the situation has already been managed and “is under control”.

Montero encouraged Escalantehanons to stay calm and remain vigilant, as they go back to normal activities.

“Rest assured that the City Government, particularly our local police, is doing the best we can to ensure our safety and maintain peace and order in Escalante,” he added.

Non-ratification of Bangsamoro Law may leave 'fertile ground for extremism'

From Rappler (Nov 17): Non-ratification of Bangsamoro Law may leave 'fertile ground for extremism'

To help ensure the Bangsamoro Organic Law's ratification, the government will launch a 'Yes vote' campaign in early December, says Chief Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza

BLACK MEMORY. The devastation of Marawi City from a 5-month siege by terrorists highlights the urgency of addressing historical grievances among Muslims in Mindanao. Photo by Martin San Diego/Rappler

BLACK MEMORY. The devastation of Marawi City from a 5-month siege by terrorists highlights the urgency of addressing historical grievances among Muslims in Mindanao. Photo by Martin San Diego/Rappler

If efforts to block the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) are successful or if the law is not ratified, violent extremism will flourish in Mindanao, Chief Presidential Adviser Jesus Dureza warned.

Dureza expressed this view as he explained the importance of greenlighting the BOL, which is being questioned before the
Supreme Court.

"If BOL will not pass – I'm not threatening, I'm not making people fearful that you have to support the BOL – but my real sense is that violent extremism may have a fertile ground if we don't push through with the BOL," he said during a Rappler Talk interview on Wednesday, November 14.

There are "high expectations" for the BOL, especially among residents of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) who will become part of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) if the BOL is ratified.

The 5-month Marawi siege, said Dureza, had convinced many in the region of the urgency of ratifying the BOL in order to contain the spread of extremism.

"They saw what happened in Marawi. They thought that they won't be affected...because they thought they are our fellow Bangsamoro they won't touch us, but it happened," he said.

"The ugly face of violent extremism had surfaced and I'm sure one big thing in getting people to support the BOL is the real danger that if this doesn't push through, many will spread intrigue and it will even trigger more [people] to adopt the violent extremist ideology," Dureza added.

The plebiscite for the BOL is set to take place on January 21, 2019 – just two months away. But a plebiscite period when government and the law's supporters can campaign will be from December 7 to February 5.

'Yes!' campaign starts in December

Dureza said the government is set to launch a "Yes vote" campaign for the BOL to help ensure its ratification.

A grand launch is being organized on December 7 with events happening simultaneously in various critical cities and towns in Mindanao.

One challenge the BOL is up against is disinformation, said the presidential adviser.

"Our chief concern now is the correct information must be brought to the grassroots. Remember there are those who are opposing and they can easily twist some information there," he said.

Though he declined to specify what false information was being spread, he said there have been attempts to "scare" Mindanaoans about the BOL.

An information campaign to bring "the real story of the BARMM" to the masses will be carried out during the December to February plebiscite period.

Supreme Court test
Another test looms for the Bangsamoro law, this time in the halls of the Supreme Court.

Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan II filed a petition seeking to block the BOL, citing supposed constitutional infirmities.

But Dureza is confident the BOL will pass the constitutionality test.

He gave credit to the Senate and House of Representatives for being particularly careful in "navigating the constitutionally sensitive provisions" and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for agreeing to modify those provisions.

"When both chambers came up with a reconciled version…after a lot of work and after the MILF agreed to even downscale some of the provisions there because of constitutionality issues, I think I am very confident it will pass the constitutionality test," said Dureza.

In the interview, Dureza also said he supports another martial law extension in Mindanao to help ensure a successful and peaceful BOL plebiscite.

8 pro-ISIS militants surrender in Lanao Sur

From the Mindanao Examiner (Nov 16): 8 pro-ISIS militants surrender in Lanao Sur

Eight pro-ISIS militants have surrendered to the military in southern Philippines where security forces are hunting down extremist groups blamed for the spate of terrorism in the troubled region.

Captain Clint Antipala, a spokesman for the 1st infantry Division, said 7 militants, who were fighters of the Maute Group, surrendered Thursday afternoon in the town of Lumbaca Unayan and the other one Butig town in Lanao del Sur, one of 5 provinces under the Muslim autonomous region.

He said the militants surrendered to Lt. Col. Ian Noel Ignes, commander of the 55th Infantry Battalion. “They also surrendered two M16 and one M14 rifles, one UZI sub-machinegun and two .45-caliber and one 9mm pistols,” Antipala said.

The militants are currently being interrogated by soldiers.

Maj. Gen. Roseller Murillo, the division commander, said the continuous surrender of Mautes entails weakening of their organizational leadership and capabilities. “We encourage others to lay down their arms and live peacefully. We will continuously work together with stakeholders in order to attract more Maute and pro-ISIS groups to surrender,” he said.

The Maute Group and Abu Sayyaf occupied Marawi, the capital of Lanao del Sur, last year and declared the city as a province of ISIS, and deadly fighting between them and soldiers lasted 5 months and left the whole city in ruins with residents fleeing to nearby areas to escape the war.

Rebels raid Bukidnon military patrol base

From the Mindanao Examiner (Nov 16): Rebels raid Bukidnon military patrol base

Security forces were hunting down a group of former communist rebels who stormed an army post and ransacked its arsenal in Bukidnon province in southern Philippines.

The 4th Infantry Division launched an operation to pursue Commander Alde Salusad alias Ka Butchoy, who is the leader of the raiders, following a daring assault on a military patrol base in Kibungkog village in San Fernando town.

Two other pro-government militias who connived by Salusad’s group is also being hunted down. There were no casualties in the raid, but Salusad’s group caught militias and soldiers by surprise when they attack the army base.

According to the army, Salusad’s group carted at least 14 automatic rifles and radio communication sets, including military uniforms, backpacks and cell phones, among other things.

In 2015, members of the Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry (JMCIM) led by Brother Danny Cuarteros went to the mountain hideout of Salusad – who put up his own armed group called the New Indigenous People’s Army Reform – in a daring religious mission and convinced him and about a dozen other followers, including his father, Benjamin, to embrace God.

The JMCIM is one of the largest and most successful apostolic churches based in the Philippines with millions of followers in the country alone. It has stations also in the United States and other parts of the world.

Cuarteros said they travelled to the province and trekked the mountains for nearly 7 hours to convince Salusad’s group to “surrender to the will of the Lord and embrace his teachings and eventually ended being baptized by the JMCIM.”

“And we did, we were able to convince the group of Ka Alde through the power of God and his words to surrender and embrace God in their lives. It was very moving, it’s so emotional and in the end, God is victorious,” he told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

He said not only Salusad and his followers accepted and embraced God; they also donated a parcel of land for the JMCIM so it can put up a chapel in the heart of NIPAR’s stronghold in the town.

According to Cuarteros, Salusad also told village leaders to play worship songs every morning to remind them of God and the glorious mission of JMCIM. “That journey of faith and mission from God has become one of my most unforgettable experiences and it is a mission of peace,” Cuarteros said. “Ka Alde and his group accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour and they wanted to start a new life through the JMCIM.”

Members of the Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry (JMCIM) led by Brother Danny Cuarteros with Commander Alde Salusad alias Ka Butchoy, leader of the New Indigenous People’s Army Reform in this undated photo from the religious group.

Cuarteros’ group recently met with Salusad and his group who even allowed a JMCIM photographer to take pictures with President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature fist pose.

Salusad, who is also being hunted by the now rival group NPA, has reportedly wanted to be part of the government’s militia force Civilian Armed Force Geographical Unit, to protect communities from lawless elements in the province.

It was unknown what triggered Salusad’s group to attack the military base.

7 Abu Sayyaf militants captured in Sabah

From the Mindanao Examiner (Nov 16): 7 Abu Sayyaf militants captured in Sabah

Malaysia is holding 7 Filipinos, six of them members of the pro-ISIS group Abu Sayyaf, in separate anti-terrorism operations in Sabah and Putrajaya, reports said Friday.

It said among those captured were an Abu Sayyaf executioner, who admitted beheading their hostages in southern Philippines; and a sub-commander under militant leader Puruji Indama in Basilan province.

The rest were involved in terrorism in the Philippines and ransom kidnappings in Sabah, according to Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Mohamad Fuzi bin Harun, the Inspector General of Royal Malaysia Police.

He said the Filipino militants were captured in police operations that on October 30 and until November 12.

“The 35-year-old suspect played the role of recruiting children to join Abu Sayyaf to be used as human shields during fighting with the Philippine military in Basilan. He has also been involved in beheading hostages held by the Abu Sayyaf,” Channel News Asia quoted him as saying.

The militants escaped government offensive in southern Philippines and travelled illegally by boat to nearby Sabah where they assumed false names and managed to find work in construction sites as a cover for their true identity.

It was not immediately known whether the militants were planning an attack or ransom kidnappings in Sabah.

Fresh Sulu fighting leaves 23 casualties

From the Mindanao Examiner (Nov 17): Fresh Sulu fighting leaves 23 casualties

SULU – Security forces clashed Saturday with Abu Sayyaf militants leaving 23 casualties on the military side in the southern Filipino province of Sulu, reports said.

Radio network dzMM said the fierce fighting erupted in Patikul town where troops clashed with militants under Hajan Sawadjaan. It said four soldiers were killed and 19 more wounded in the battle.

There was no report of enemy casualties,
but security forces have been battling the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu and Basilan in the restive Muslim autonomous region. The military did not release any statament.

In May, three soldiers were also slain and 17 others wounded in fighting in Patikul’s hinterlands, a known str0nghold of the Abu Sayyaf, blamed by authorities for the spate of terrorism and ransom kidnappings in southern Philippines and Sabah.

That fighting also killed at least 11 militants, among them Sawadjaan’s brother Taha, according to the military.

The Abu Sayyaf is still holding several Filipino and foreign hostages and had freed three people in Sulu recently after receiving ransom from the victims’ families.

Kalinga halfway house nears completion

From the Philippine Intelligence Agency (Nov 15): Kalinga halfway house nears completion

CITY OF TABUK, Kalinga - - Construction of the P5 million-worth halfway house for former rebels (FR) in the province is 64 percent accomplished and is targeted for completion before the year ends.

The half way house serves as receiving facility and temporary shelter for rebel surrenderees while undergoing reintegration and processing of their enrolment to the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP). Building of half way house in identified provinces is provided under the E-CLIP of the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

Funding for this facility here was released by the DILG after the provincial local government unit donated a lot to construct the building.

Kalinga is one of nine provinces already granted P5 million each for the construction of half way house.

Under the DILG- Department of National Defense -Joint Memorandum Circular, the DILG is tasked to implement the provision of DILG-administered package of assistance for FRs who were members of the New People’s Army and Militia ng Bayan.

Beneficiaries under E-CLIP are regular NPA members who surfaced on April 3, 2018 onwards and have expressed the desire to abandon armed violence and become productive members of society including their immediate family members. All FRs who surfaced starting July 1, 2016, as well as those who have been processed but did not receive the full assistance under the CLIP may also be provided benefits from the program.

E-CLIP beneficiaries are entitled to immediate assistance of P15, 000.00; reintegration assistance, P21, 000.00; livelihood assistance, P50, 000.00; firearms remuneration in the amount that is double the cost valuation of turned-in firearms, and Philhealth enrolment under the PAMANA-Philhealth sponsored program.

The DILG provincial office here reported that three FRs already applied for benefits under E-CLIP.

Construction of the DILG-funded two-storey halfway house for rebel returnees in Kalinga is 64 percent accomplsihed as of Nov. 5, 2018.

Two high ranking NPAs surrender

From the Philippine Intelligence Agency (Nov 15): Two high ranking NPAs surrender

E. Samar Police Provincial Director (extreme left) meets PNP Regional Director 8 Dionardo Carlos (extreme right) as he arrives in Borongan City to preside a Command Conference and present the 2 NPA members who surrendered to the police late in October, 2018. (Nbq/PIA 8-E Samar)

BORONGAN CITY -- Two high ranking members of the New People's Army (NPA) surrendered to the 2nd Eastern Samar Provincial Mobile Force Company (ESPMFC) based in Barangay Buenavista, Quinapondan, Eastern Samar on Oct. 28, 2018.
Ka Nestor, a rebel or 15 years, was the commander of the NPA unit operating in Samar and Eastern Samar while Ka Joel, a rebel for 10 years. was a political instructor under the NPA national commend.

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The two NPAs surrendered with firearms making them eligible to receive P15,000 immediate fund assistance, P50,000 for their surrendered firearms and another P50,000 for their livelihood fund, according to PNP Regional Director Dionardo Carlos.

Carlos was in Borongan City after presiding in a command conference.

"Kakurian, kawaray kasiguruhan ngan seguridad an nagduso ha amon pag surrender," (Hardship, lack of security, and hopelessness pushed us to surrender) said alias Nestor. The two were presented to the media though they were covered up to hide their true identity.

ESPMFC Commanding Officer Frederick G. Senal said they surrendered with a shotgun, caliber 45, and one caliber 9 mm and ammunitions.

Senal added that the comprehensive conduct of intelligence and information operation of the command made the surrender possible.

The duo admitted they were very active members of the NPA operating in Samar and Eastern Samar areas.

Carlos, during the presscon said they presented the duo to the media to mean that the government is serious in its appeal to the armed groups to surrender and be helped by the government.

250 new CAFGUs to be deployed in ZamPen

From the Philippine Intelligence Agency (Nov 16): 250 new CAFGUs to be deployed in ZamPen

About 250 graduates of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) have undergone intensive run, drill and exercises within 45 days to complete the Basic Military Training of the Civilian Active Auxiliary held at the 6th Special Forces Battalion Headquarters in Barangay Libertad, Tungawan town.

These new CAFGUs will be deployed in the Zamboanga Peninsula.

The unit was formed to support the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in counter-insurgency activities. CAFGU members receive free health care, clothing allowance, and a monthly stipend of P4,500.00.

Another batch of 120 new recruits were in high spirits for the opening of the 45-day training for CAA.

“To our graduates, congratulations for the hard work. To the 120 new recruits, good luck! Together let us serve the people and secure the land,” Lt. Col. Diosdado Carlos Pambid, 6SF Battalion Commander, said.

Brigadier General Nixon M. Fortes of the 1st Infantry “TABAK” Division, PA, who was the guest of honor and speaker, said “It is indeed an honor that you are now part of this unit. We cannot achieve big things without your help to maintain peace and order in our community and country. You are a big part of this Special Force. Prepare yourselves for the challenges to come. May your inner desire to serve your country keep on burning. Together, let us protect our people and our country with courage and vigor.”

Col. Bagnus P. Gaerlan, Jr., commander of the 102nd Infantry “Igsoon” Brigade, presented a Plaque of Appreciation to Pambid for honorable and patriotic services rendered to 102IB since March 1, 2018 in Sibugay province.

Gaerlan lauded Pambid for his great contribution to the successful accomplishment of the brigade’s mission of implementing the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Development and Security Plan “Kapayapaan” particularly in the administration of CAFGU Active Auxiliary Units in the provinces of Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga Sibugay.

2 NPA terrorists surrender in AgSur

From the Philippine Intelligence Agency (Nov 16): 2 NPA terrorists surrender in AgSur

Two regular members of the terrorist New People’s Army (NPA) voluntarily surrendered to the elements of Charlie Company, 26th Infantry (Ever Onward) Battalion based in Loreto, Agusan del Sur on November 13, 2018.

The two were identified as alias ‘Jonel’, 33-years old and alias ‘Rustom’, 16-years old, both elements of Abe Team, Segunda Squad, Pulang Bagani Command (PBC) 4, Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC) operating in the boundaries of Loreto, ADS and Laak, Comval Province. Jonel surrendered his AK 47 rifle with one magazine and 40 live ammunitions while Rustom yielded one sub-machine gun with one magazine and seven live ammunition and cal.38 revolver.

“We condemn the series of violations being committed by the Communists-NPA-Terrorists (CNTs) on the provisions of Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) against the civilians and IP members here in our AOR. Rustom, who is a minor and a member of the Manobo Tribe in Loreto, should be in school and learning, and should never be recruited and forcibly used as their combatant,” said Lt. Col. Romeo Jimenea, Battalion Commander of 26IB.

It can be recalled that an elf truck used to deliver lemons was torched down by the CNTs belonging to Guerilla Front 8 in Brgy. Balit, San Luis, Agusan del Sur, after the owner refused to give in to their extortion demands.

In his statement during the debriefing, Rustom narrated that he was kidnapped by the CNTs after he was seen in the forest, where he was forcibly brought to their hideout somewhere in the forested part of San Mariano, Loreto. He repeatedly asked for permission to go home but he was denied by alias Tula and alias Jordan, ordering him to stay without any valid reasons. Eventually, he was with the platoon operating back and forth in the provincial boundary for three months. An M16 rifle was issued to him after a month and half, when an encounter between the 26IB troops and his group occurred, resulting to the recovery of one AK 47 by the government troops. After that, he planned to escape and decided to surrender.

Rustom is currently under the custody of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development (PSWD) for case management and necessary intervention, while Jonel is undergoing custodial debriefing in connection with their Enhanced-Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) Enrollment, in which they will be receiving psychosocial interventions, financial and livelihood assistance and firearms remunerations for their surrendered firearms.

According to them, lack of sleep, food and hardship were the main reasons why they decided to surrender, following the encounter against the 26IB troops happened in Brgy. Kauswagan, Loreto last month, October 2, 2018.

“We will continue our efforts to conduct security operations in our unit’s area to engage the remaining NPAs decisively, to give them only two options, to surrender and live peacefully with their families, or to be neutralized and face their death," said Lt. Col. Jimenea.

"We strongly urge those rebels who still blinded by the communists’ deception to open your eyes and grab the opportunity to surrender while you are still alive. Christmas Season is fast approaching, and there’s no greater gift than to be with your own family this season. Give peace a chance,” he added. (26IB, PA/PIA-Agusan del Sur)

Maute group surrenderers climb to 29

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 16): Maute group surrenderers climb to 29

Maute group remnants (with face covered) join the photo session with military and government officials after they surrendered on Thursday in Lumbaca Unayan, Lanao del Sur. (Photo courtesy: Army's 1st Infantry Division PIO)

PAGADIAN CITY, Zamboanga del Sur -- The number of the Islamic State for Iraq and Syria (ISIS)-inspired Maute group surrenderers climbed to 29 as seven more yielded to military authorities in Lanao del Sur, officials said Friday.

Maj. Gen. Roseller Murillo, the Army’s 1st Infantry Division commander, said the seven ISIS-inspired Maute group remnants surrendered around 2 p.m. Thursday in Lumbaca Unayan, Lanao del Sur.

Murillo said they turned over seven firearms, including high-powered rifles, when they surrendered to the Joint Task Force Ranao, specifically to the Army’s 55th Infantry Battalion headed by Lt. Col. Ian Noel Ignes.

Ignes said the surrendered firearms consisted of the following: two M-16 Armalite rifles; one M-14 rifle; one Uzi sub-machinegun; two caliber .45 pistols; and, one 9-mm pistol.

“The joint efforts of the LGUs (Local Government Units) and our troops in the ground made the successful surrender,” said Ignes, citing the seven surrenderers were undergoing custodial debriefing.

Murillo, who is also the Joint Task Force Zampelan (Zamboanga Peninsula and Lanao Provinces) Commander, commended the efforts of the troops and local stakeholders.

“The continuous surrender of the Maute members entails the weakening of their organizational leadership and capabilities, and we encourage others to lay down their arms and live peacefully,” Murillo said.

“We will continuously work together with stakeholders in order to attract more ISIS-Maute to surrender,” he added.

The latest batch of surrenderers brought to 29 the total Maute members who have yielded to government authorities since October this year.

Suspected NPA rebels torch day care center in NoCot

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 16): Suspected NPA rebels torch day care center in NoCot

Suspected members of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) set ablaze a daycare center in Magpet, North Cotabato on Thursday.

Supt. Aldrin Gonzales, speaking for the Police Regional Office in Region 12 (PRO-12), said the torching of the center ensued after officials of the remote village of Mahongkog failed to pay the
NPA's demand for revolutionary tax amounting to PHP50,000.

“The communist terrorists attacked the mountain village in North Cotabato and set ablaze a daycare center after village officials ignored the rebels’ extortion," said Gonzales, quoting a report relayed to PRO-12 by Chief Insp. Jun Jinete Napat, Magpet police chief.

Gonzales said some 25-military fatigue-wearing men claiming to be members of the Army’s 39th Infantry Battalion (IB) entered the village at past 7 a.m. Thursday.

“They then ordered the pupils and the teacher to go out of the center, then set the center on fire,” Gonzales said, adding that several daycare volunteer workers were also tied up by the armed group.

After setting the center on fire, the rebels fled but now without reminding the village officials of the PHP50,000 revolutionary tax that the group had previously demanded.

2Lt. Angie Taban, the Army’s 19th IB spokesperson, said the group behind the attack could be members of the NPA Guerrilla Front 53.

Taban said the rebels told the villagers they would launch roadside bombings and ambuscades should any government reinforcements pursue them.

Magpet is one of the North Cotabato towns where there is heavy presence of communist rebels mainly because of the town’s amorphous borders traversing the mountains of North Cotabato, Davao City, and Bukidnon.

2 rebels killed in NegOcc clash

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 16): 2 rebels killed in NegOcc clash

CONFISCATED FROM THE REBELS. The firearms, ammunition and other items seized by joint army and police troopers after their encounter with the New People’s Army rebels at Sitio Puting Bato, Barangay Washington in Escalante City, Negros Occidental Friday morning (November 16, 2018). (Photo courtesy of 303rd Infantry Brigade, Philippine Army)
BACOLOD CITY -- Two New People’s Army (NPA) rebels were killed and firearms and ammunition were seized by joint army and police troopers following an encounter at Sitio Puting Bato, Barangay Washington in Escalante City, Negros Occidental late Friday morning.

This was confirmed by the Philippine Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade in a report, stating that those who engaged the NPAs in a firefight were personnel of the 79th Infantry Battalion, the 6th Special Action Force Battalion, and the Joint Intelligence Task Group.

Col. Benedict Arevalo, commander of 303rd Brigade, said the gun battle, which started around 10 a.m. and lasted for about 15 minutes. The rebels subsequently withdrew, bringing the bodies of their dead members with them.

There was no casualty among the government troops, who responded after they received reports from concerned citizens about the presence of about 10 rebels in the area.

The joint team seized an M16 rifle, a .45-caliber pistol, a bandolier with six steel magazines, and 120 pieces of live ammunition.

The rebels also left behind two water containers, two sacks of rice, various personal belongings, and subversive documents with high intelligence value, the report said.

“We cannot wait for the NPAs to attack us. We will attack them first before they attack us. I want the troops to go out and run after the NPAs,” Arevalo said, reiterating his order to the troops on Negros Island.

He also encouraged the Negrenses to support the government troops and report any NPA activity in their communities.

Arevalo said the public can provide information on the presence of rebels and extortion activities by calling or texting the 303rd Infantry Brigade hotline number 0956-328-2415.

Court junks Palparan appeal to reverse conviction

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 15): Court junks Palparan appeal to reverse conviction

A Malolos Regional Trial Court (RTC) judge turned down the motion for reconsideration filed by retired Army Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan appealing his conviction for the disappearance of two University of the Philippines (UP) students in 2006.

In a two-page order dated Oct. 19 and released on Thursday (Nov. 15) by Malolos RTC Branch 15 Presiding Judge Alexander Tamayo, the court said Palparan failed to raise new arguments that would warrant the court’s reversal of its decision which sentenced him, along with Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado, Jr. and S/Sgt. Edgardo Osorio, to imprisonment of up to 40 years.

"Finding no additional and/or new points raised to outweigh the settled position of the court, the motion for reconsideration denied for merit," the court said, adding that "the motion for reconsideration offer(s) no justification to compel this court to modify or reverse the assailed decision dated September 17, 2018".

The court also denied Palparan’s supplemental motion seeking reconsideration of the penalty imposed on him due to presence of mitigating circumstances, particularly his “voluntary surrender.”

It explained that the crime of kidnapping with serious illegal detention under Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) as amended by Republic Act 7659 (which imposes death penalty on heinous crimes) is punishable with reclusion perpetua to death which is an indivisible penalty.

It added under Article 63 of RPC, when the commission of the act is attended by some mitigating circumstances and there is no aggravating circumstance, the lesser penalty shall be applied.

“The penalty being indivisible, the lesser penalty is reclusion perpetua. Thus, whether the mitigating circumstance is appreciated, still, the lesser penalty to be imposed is reclusion perpetua,” the court pointed out.

In its original decision, the court also directed the accused to pay PHP300,000 each in civil indemnity and moral damages to the families of UP students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño who were abducted from a house in Barangay San Miguel, Hagonoy, Bulacan on June 26, 2006.

In indicting Palparan for kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges, the Department of Justice (DOJ) maintained he had a direct hand in the detention of the two UP students based on the testimony of Raymond Manalo, a farmer.

Manalo and his brother Reynaldo were also abducted by alleged military officers from their respective houses in San Ildefonso, Bulacan in 2006. He said they were detained for more than one year in various military camps in Southern Luzon before managing to escape on August 13, 2007.

During their detention, Manalo said he met and managed to talk to the two missing UP students, who were also being detained by Palparan’s men. Raymond further narrated that she saw Cadapan and Empeño being subjected to torture by their captors.

The Court of Appeals (CA) ruled in 2007 that Manalo's testimony was “clear, consistent and convincing” as it ordered the Armed Forces to produce the bodies of the students.

Xi visit to 'position' PH-China ties as model of int'l relations

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 16): Xi visit to 'position' PH-China ties as model of int'l relations

The upcoming visit of President Xi Jinping to Manila is expected to position the China-Philippines relations "as a new model of international relations," Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua said Thursday.

Xi will travel to Manila on November 20 for a historical state visit, which is a first of its kind by a Chinese head of state since 2005.

"We have every reason to believe that this visit will enormously boost China-Philippines relations in the new era, position our relations as a new model of international relations and further contribute to the building of a community of shared future for mankind," the envoy wrote in an article sent to the media.

"Standing at a new and crucial historical juncture, China and the Philippines are bound to build stronger strategic mutual trust, perform deeper economic cooperation and trade, and nurture closer people-to-people exchanges," he added.

China, the Philippines, and several coastal states have conflicting claims in the South China Sea.

While proper settlement on the territorial dispute has not yet been discussed, Manila decided to compartmentalize its engagement with Beijing, one through the Bilateral Consultative Mechanism where issues on the West Philippine Sea are discussed, the other on exploring aspects of cooperation with China.

Zhao said China and the Philippines' ties grew in the past two years, with increasing trade as well as with the continuous flow of investment to Manila from Beijing.

In 2017 alone, newly-added investment from China reached USD53.84 million, representing a year-on-year increase of 67 percent.

"China now stands out as the Philippines’ top trading partner and import origin. And this August, China even became the top export market of the Philippines," the envoy said.

More than 40 cooperation documents were also signed in the areas of economy, trade, agriculture, fishery, energy, science and technology.

On tourism, Zhao noted the "booming exchanges" between the two nations, with China grabbing spot of the second largest tourist origin to the Philippines.

In the first three quarters in 2018, the Philippines has received more than 972,000 Chinese tourists, achieving a 34.9 percent year-on-year increase, Zhao noted.

With this, the envoy is optimistic the targeted 1.5 million Chinese tourists to the Philippines by end of 2018 will be reached.

"Proceeding from the principles of honoring traditional friendship, upholding peace and goodwill and advancing win-win cooperation, our two sides should by all means make the best and full use of the upcoming state visit by President Xi Jinping, and work together to make the Golden Age of China-Philippines relations richer and brighter than ever before," Zhao said.

Martial law beneficial for Mindanao: AFP chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 16): Martial law beneficial for Mindanao: AFP chief

The ongoing implementation of martial law in Mindanao has brought peace and many other benefits to the island, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Gen. Carlito Galvez, Jr. said Friday.

"Peace in Mindanao has never been closer than in the times that martial law is in place. Despite the opposition from some groups, we have been clear from the very beginning of our intentions and our actions so far have proven them wrong," Galvez said in a press conference in AFP national headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

Galvez also said the military has received positive feedback from various stakeholders regarding the implementation of martial law in Mindanao.

"We have joined rounds of consultation with the primary stakeholders in the peace, security, and development in Mindanao and we have received overwhelming positive feedback, not only on our efficient implementation of martial law, but also its impact to security, local economy, and governance and well-being of local communities," the AFP chief added.

And while these assessments are partial, as he and other ranking military officials have yet to visit other areas in Mindanao, Galvez said he is happy about the significant favorable results so far.

"Martial law has led to increased tourist and economic activity in Mindanao, especially in areas previously thought of as inaccessible to visitors from Luzon and Visayas. The improved security situation is so inviting that it is no longer unusual to find tourists exploring Bongao, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, Davao, Zamboanga City, or island hopping in Jolo, Sulu. The development created more jobs and empowered residents to become active players in the peace and security of their communities," he noted.

And with the help of local government units, an unprecedented number of loose firearms have been confiscated or surrendered to the government, with 5,685 loose firearms recovered in Mindanao alone.

"Movements of known terrorist groups such as the New People’s Army, Maute Group, and the ASG (Abu Sayyaf Group) have also been constricted. In Eastern Mindanao alone, 11,333 CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines) members and supporters have been given an opportunity to experience a more peaceful and productive way of life," the AFP chief added.

These individuals are joined by over 300 members of local terrorist groups, 572 of which are ASG, who chose to abandon their illegal activities in exchange for reformation and reintegration, he said.

"By next year, as the trend is sustained, we can make these terrorists irrelevant," Galvez stressed.

He said the number of recipients of the Seal of Good Governance has increased from six in 2016, 20 for 2017, and 23 for 2018 in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

This is inspite of the more stringent criteria, which have increased from four to seven lines of efforts.

The economic performance of the ARMM also increased from 4.3 to 7.3 GDP. In particular, Zamboanga, which ranked 102nd in 2017 in terms of economic standing, jumped to the rank of 41 in 2018.

"Despite these developments, we are aware that our job is far from over. We must capitalize on these gains moving forward. The year 2018 has been very productive and beneficial for the people of Mindanao. We thank Mindanaoans for their trust and confidence on our soldiers, who to this day continue to risk their life in search for just and lasting peace in the Land of Promise," Galvez added.

Earlier, Malacañang said it would depend on the recommendation of the AFP on whether or not martial law will be extended after the end of the year.

Martial law in Mindanao was declared on May 23, 2017 following attacks launched by the Maute Group in Marawi City.

The House of Representatives, in a special joint session in July last year, granted the extension of martial law until Dec. 31, 2017 at the President's request.

The Senate and House of Representatives, convening in a joint session early December, later granted the Chief Executive's request for the extension of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus for a period of one year from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2018.

"By next year, we aspire to bring you closer to the peace that you have always dreamt of. But we still need your help, your support, and your trust. We are all witnesses to the changes ushered in by martial law and we know we can do more. Let us continue to make our visions a reality," the AFP chief said.

Ladlad, 2 others ordered detained at Camp Bagong Diwa jail

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 16): Ladlad, 2 others ordered detained at Camp Bagong Diwa jail

The Quezon City Regional Trial Court ordered the transfer of ranking Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) leader Vicente Ladlad and his two companions from the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) to the Metro Manila District Jail (MMDJ) in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.

In a statement on Friday, QCPD Director, Chief Supt. Joselito T. Esquivel said Regional Trial Court Branch 93 Presiding Judge Arthur O. Malabaguio approved the commitment order on Nov. 15, providing the transfer of custody of Ladlad and Alberto Villamor to MMDJ, and Virginia Villamor to the Quezon City Female Dormitory located inside Camp Karingal.

Malabaguio also set the arraignment and pre-trial for the accused on November 23.

Earlier, Senior Assistant City Prosecutor Manuel Luis P. Felipe upheld the filing of violation of Republic Act (RA) No. 9516 (Unlawful Possession of Explosives) with no bail recommended; violation of Sec. 28(c) and (e) of RA 10591 (Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act), with bail set at PHP150,000 each; and violation of Sec. 28(b) and (e) of RA 10591, with bail set at PHP200,000.

Last Nov. 8, Ladlad and his companions were arrested at Lot 16-A, Block 3 Saint Mark St. corner Saint Joseph St., Doña Tomasa, Barangay San Bartolome, Novaliches, Quezon City.

The raid was conducted by virtue of a search warrant issued by Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 89 Judge Cecilyn E. Burgos-Villavert against the three suspects for violation of RA 10591.

During the search, which was witnessed by Barangay San Bartolome officials and the president of the Doña Tomasa Home Owners Association, several high-powered firearms, assorted ammunition, hand grenades and subversive documents were seized.