Monday, November 26, 2018

Arms cache discovered

From the Mindanao Times (Nov 26): Arms cache discovered

Troops of the 88th Infantry Battalion (88IB) recovered war materiel after a recent firefight with members of the New Peoples’ Army on Nov. 22 at 6:40 a.m. in the hinterlands of Barangay Santa Felomina, Quezon, Bukidnon.
Capt. Norven Jay Garcia, the civil-military operations officer of the 88th IB, said the soldiers were responding to reports from residents regarding the presence of armed groups in their barangay.
"The residents’ accounts detailed detrimental and unlawful acts of the NPAs in their area," Garcia said.
He said the group belongs to the Guerrilla front 6 of the NPAs. There are no casualties on the government side following the 45-minute firefight.
Recovered during the encounter were an anti-personnel mine, a 50-meter detonating cord, an improvised grenade launcher, two rifle grenades, two solar panels, two Cignus batteries, some medical paraphernalia, bag packs, and a sack of rice.
Lt. Col. Dante Bermillo, commanding officer of the 88th IB, said the NPAs are trying to reclaim their lost mass bases when their supporters turned their backs on the rebels. He then encouraged the other guerrillas to lay down their arms.
“Christmas is approaching and I encourage them to be with their family. Their families are waiting for them and this season is the best time to be with them,” he added.

Leader, members of NPA liquidation squad avoid arrest

From the Mindanao Times (Nov 26): Leader, members of NPA liquidation squad avoid arrest

Authorities out to serve various arrest orders failed to bag an alleged ranking Communist officer wanted for a string of criminal charges as gunfight broke out in a closed beach resort in Barangay Talomo Proper, Talomo District, past Monday midnight.
A caretaker, name withheld, was instead placed under the custody of the Investigation and Detection Management Branch Investigation of the Davao City Police Office (DCPO) following the armed encounter.
In an interview yesterday, Chief Supt. Marcelo Morales, the police regional director, said the still-at-large suspect Ernie del Pilar, alias Ka Jeffrey, the commander of the Pulang Bagani Command 1 (PBC1) of the New People’s Army, is a high-valued target.
Jeffrey has a standing warrant of arrest order for murder (two counts), serious illegal detention, robbery in band and attempted murder, said Sr. Insp. Maria Theresita Gaspan, the DCPO spokesperson.
Ka Jeffrey reportedly assumed the leadership of PBC 1 following the arrest of Elizalde Canete, alias Ka Jinggoy, at a hospital in Bukidnon last May 28.
Morales said Jeffrey and his group are part of the Red October out to create destabilization in the city.
He said they have monitored Jeffrey’s group roaming in the city since October, and they are part of the group that was busted in Barangay Langub, Talomo District.
The group was recently reported to have been hiding in the now non-operational Victorio Beach Resort in Purok 10, Talomo Cemento, Talomo Proper.
“We received information from the community that various groups of men were coming in and out of the resort despite it was already non-operational,” Morales said. “So we conducted intelligence surveillance and we verified.”
Past Monday midnight, a joint operation by agents of the DCPO led by city director Sr. Supt. Alexander Tagum, the Task Force Davao led by commander Col. Nolasco Mempin, the Regional Mobile Force Battalion led by Supt. Maximo Sebastian Jr., the Army’s 3rd Infantry Battalion led by Lt. Col. Oscar Partuza, and other support police and military units were out to arrest Jeffrey.
As the agents arrived at the compound around 1:30 a.m., they were instead attacked by the rebels, said to be members of the NPA’s liquidation squad known as Sparu Special Operations Group (SOG).
Aside from peppering them with bullets, the rebels allegedly lobbed several fragmentation grenades to the government troopers.
However, there was no report of any casualty.
"There was a premature approach,” Morales admitted. “The operatives were yet in their position, yet the subject lookouts already detected their presence.”
“Our agents were compromised,” Morales said in vernacular.
Due to darkness and the informal settlers in the vicinity, the suspects were able to escape.
“They took advantage of the darkness,” Morales said, adding that they did not chase the suspects because there were several residents in the area who may be in peril.
The beach resort is located in a secluded area near the mouth of Talomo River.
Morales said there was no police and military checkpoint in the vicinity.
Investigators from the Scene of the Crime Operative (SOCO), led by Sr. Supt. Mag-ab, recovered five claymore mines, two anti-personnel improvised explosive devices (EIDs), an M-16 rifle loaded with one magazine with 20 pieces of live ammunition, one short magazine loaded with 16 live ammunition, assorted live ammunition and empty shells, an air gun, two pellet guns, two grenade safety levers, batteries and electrical wires.
Also recovered were assorted electrical tools and electrical tapes, a laptop with charger, assorted USB flash drives, one cellphone, DVDs and subversive documents.
The recovered IEDs are now under the custody of DCPO’s Explosive Ordnance team while the recovered firearms and ammunition were turned over to the Regional Crime Laboratory for proper disposition.

PH, Japan coast guards conduct joint drills vs piracy

From Rappler (Nov 25): PH, Japan coast guards conduct joint drills vs piracy

The two coast guards stage the drills using 4 patrol ships at the Manila Bay

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and Japan Coast Guard (JCG) on Sunday, November 25, conducted drills against piracy and hijacking incidents at sea.

The two coast guard teams staged the drills using 4 patrol ships at the Manila Bay. Of the 4 were the PCG's BRP Suluan and fast patrol boat BRP Boracay, which were acquired from Japan as well as its French-built BRP Panglao.
(READ: New Coast Guard vessels from Japan to fight piracy, patrol West PH Sea)

Meanwhile, the JCG's Echigo patrol vessel and a helicopter were used for the joint maritime exercise one nautical mile north of Sangley Point in Cavite City.

PCG Spokesperson Captain Armand Balilo said the joint exercises were important to prepare against possible pirate attacks. This is especially the case in southeastern Mindanao, where 13,000 foreign vessels pass while going through the 29-kilometer Sibutu Passage from China, Japan, Australia, and South Korea.

The Sibutu Passage lies near the Tawi-Tawi islands and is usually used for shipping between the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea.

Balilo said the "zero incidents" of piracy in southeastern Mindanao were a result of intensified maritime patrols from the PCG and the Philippine Navy, as well as cooperation of local government units.

The exercises between the PCG and JCG are part of the country's regular exercises in joint maritime cooperation.

More soldiers key to stopping armed groups in Samar – military officer

From Rappler (Nov 25): More soldiers key to stopping armed groups in Samar – military officer

Major General Raul Farnacio says 'taking extreme measures' is necessary 'because circumstances demand it'

TROOPS. President Rodrigo Duterte orders the deployment of more soldiers to Samar, Negros Island, and Bicol. File photo by Bobby Lagsa/Rappler

TROOPS. President Rodrigo Duterte orders the deployment of more soldiers to Samar, Negros Island, and Bicol. File photo by Bobby Lagsa/Rappler

TACLOBAN, Philippines – The top Philippine Army officer in Eastern Visayas said the additional deployment of troops to the 3 provinces of Samar Island would be key to driving out communist rebels and private armed groups (PAGs).

President Rodrigo Duterte had ordered that more soldiers and police be sent to the provinces of Samar, Negros Oriental, and Negros Occidental, as well as the region of Bicol, to "suppress lawless violence and acts of terror." (READ: Robredo questions Duterte order vs 'lawless violence')

The province of Samar is part of Samar Island, which also includes two other provinces – Northern Samar and Eastern Samar.

Hundreds more soldiers will be sent to Samar Island, according to Major General Raul Farnacio, who said "taking extreme measures" is necessary "because circumstances demand it."

"[Sending] additional troops is needed to ensure deterrence of the armed groups in Samar, especially in Calbayog," Farnacio, commander of the 8th Infantry Division based in Samar, told Rappler in a phone interview.

"Malaki ang problema sa 1st District of Samar, dahil sa hindi ma-contain 'yung PAGs at 'yun nga, meron kaming intelligence reports na madami ang arrivals of PAGs ngayon sa Samar galing sa Misamis," he added.

(We have a huge problem in the 1st District of Samar, because the PAGs cannot be contained, and we've received intelligence reports that many PAGs are arriving in Samar from Misamis.)

PAGs and members of the communist New People's Army (NPA), according to Farnacio, are recruiting members in Samar, aside from attacking local officials and civilians.

Back in October, former San Jose de Buan mayor Ananias Rebato was killed after being ambushed by the NPA.

Farnacio said details of the additional deployment are still being ironed out.

"We are still working it out with the PNP (Philippine National Police) – in our Joint Peace and Security Coordinating Council meeting – the guidelines, parameters, and limitations," he said in a mix of English and Filipino.

"Kasama na dito na pag-uusapan namin ang mga reported na mga bayad na police at army ng iilang mga politiko sa Samar (We'll also talk about members of the police and army reportedly being paid by several politicians in Samar)," he added.

Samar 1st District Representative Edgar Mary Sarmiento, who has urged the police and military to intensify efforts against armed groups, said "there will be hope, now that at least something is being done."

"We need to trust our government and our justice system," he added.

After helicopter crash, lawmaker calls for 'genuine' AFP modernization

From Rappler (Nov 26): After helicopter crash, lawmaker calls for 'genuine' AFP modernization

COOP-NATCCO Representative Anthony Bravo, who was involved in the recent crash of a military helicopter in Tarlac, says the Armed Forces of the Philippines must be developed in all aspects

AFP MODERNIZATION. COOP-NATCCO Representative Anthony Bravo delivers a privilege speech on November 26, 2018. Photo by Darren Langit/Rappler

AFP MODERNIZATION. COOP-NATCCO Representative Anthony Bravo delivers a privilege speech on November 26, 2018. Photo by Darren Langit/Rappler

A party-list congressman called for "genuine" modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) after the military helicopter he was riding crashed in Capas, Tarlac, last week.

Cooperative NATCCO Network Party (COOP-NATCCO) Representative Anthony Bravo delivered his privilege speech at the House plenary on Monday, November 26, 4 days after his
helicopter crash.

Bravo said he discovered there were two other accidents that involved Sokol helicopters, the same type of helicopter he was riding.
In August 2014, a Sokol helicopter carrying then-4th Infantry Division commander Ricardo Visaya crashed in Lanao del Sur, injuring two other passengers. The second one involved a Sokol helicopter which crashed in Palawan in November 2016, leaving 12 people injured.

"Madam Speaker, we cannot afford to lose lives just because our military aircraft, equipment, facilities, or the training of our men are way behind. We need quality military assets with maximum capability," said Bravo.

"Hence, I call on the government to pursue a genuine modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. We need to develop the AFP in all aspects such as personnel capacity building, upgrading of facilities and equipment, and proper maintenance," he added.

What happened to Bravo? On November 22, Bravo, former House secretary-general Cesar Pareja, Commission on Appointments sergeant-at-arms Arthur Baybayan, 4 other passengers, and 4 crew members were aboard a Sokol helicopter on the way to the Colonel Ernesto Rabina Air Base or Crow Valley in Capas.

Bravo, a military reservist, was part of the House contingent invited by the AFP Office of Legislative Affairs to attend a live fire demonstration in Crow Valley.

Bravo said they first participated in a record firing activity by the Philippine Army at Camp O'Donnell before they headed to the Crow Valley Gunnery Range for a live fire demonstration.

But during the helicopter's final approach, Bravo said it turned on its side and plunged into a ravine near the helipad.
Most of the passengers, including Bravo, came out with minor scratches and bruises. But Bravo said one of the pilots sustained head injuries, while chief aircrew Sergeant Byron Deomano had to undergo amputation of his arm.

According to Bravo, there is also a need for lawmakers to address the "tedious" process of purchasing military assets needed for modernization.

"In fact, in 2017, COA (Commission on Audit) found out that [the] P3.859-billion AFP fund was unutilized and 78.43% of it or P3.027 billion was for AFP's modernization intended for the acquisition of military equipment," said Bravo.

"The AFP cited the stringent requirements of Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act as the reason for such," he added.

Alleged Maute-ISIS member nabbed in Lanao del Sur

From Politiko Mindanao (Nov 24): Alleged Maute-ISIS member nabbed in Lanao del Sur

Authorities have arrested a suspected local terrorist in Lanao del Sur, military said.

The 55th Infantry Battalion and police personnel from Binidayan Municipal Police Station nabbed Sohaylie Mohammad Cader, alias Perdaus, a member of Dawlah Islamiyah-Maute Group, in an operation recently in Barangay Lumbac, Binidayan.

“Cader is a trained IED (improvised explosive device) maker and one of the trusted members of a.k.a. Abu Dar,” said Lt. Gen. Arnel B. Dela Vega, commander of Western Mindanao Command.

Cader has a standing warrant of arrest for serious illegal detention and murder.

He was allegedly involved in the ambush of the personnel of Military Intelligence Group 10 in Marawi City, resulting to the death of a military officer and an enlisted personnel in February last year.

Cader was arrested with the help of the local government of Binidiyan and the local populace.

Westmincom to host 4th trilateral port visit, exercise with Indonesia, Malaysia

From Politiko Mindanao (Nov 25): Westmincom to host 4th trilateral port visit, exercise with Indonesia, Malaysia

The Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia are set to hold maritime exercise this week in Mindanao.

The IndoMalPhi 4th Trilateral Port Visit and Exercise in the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) joint area of operation will be held on November 27-29, according to the military.

This will be participated by representatives from Indonesia and Malaysia, CMO personnel of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao and Joint Task Force Zamboanga.

Westmincom has finalized preparation for the event.

“The objective of the Trilateral Port Visit and Exercise is to strengthen the relationship, enhance mutual cooperation, and interoperability of the three countries through the development of combined rules of engagement,” Westmincom said.

The trilateral port visit is a continuing activity which is being hosted alternately by Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines under IndoMalPhi Trilateral Cooperative Framework.

Cops, soldiers clash with suspected NPA rebels in Davao beach

From MindaNews (Nov 26): Cops, soldiers clash with suspected NPA rebels in Davao beach

Joint police and Army operatives engaged suspected New People’s Army rebels in a firefight at around 1:30am Monday in Purok 10, Talomo Cemento, Talomo District, Davao City.

The rebels belong to the NPA Special Partisan Unit and were staying at the now abandoned Victorio Beach Resort, Chief Supt. Marcelo Casabuena Morales, Philippine National Police Region 11 director told reporters at the sidelines of a press conference at the Linmarr Hotel here.

Morales said they were the same NPA rebels that clashed with the police last month in Barangay Langub and were part of the supposed “Red October” plot to oust President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

He denied rumors spreading on social media that the rebels were members of the Islamic State-inspired Maute Group who had entered the city from the sea.

A report released by the Davao City Police Office said joint police and Army forces conducted the operation to serve the warrant of arrest against the group led by a certain “Jeffrey”, commander of the Pulang Bagani Command 1 of the NPA.

The NPA commander has a pending warrant of arrest for two counts of murder, serious illegal detention, robbery in band, and attempted murder, it added.

Morales said the communist guerillas opened fire first and lobbed several fragmentation grenades prompting the operatives to fight back.

He said the rebels managed to escape due to the “premature approach” of the security forces that compromised the “surprise” operation.

But the resort’s caretaker was taken into custody by the authorities for being a “person of interest,” he said.

He said the operatives found it difficult to approach the resort because it was still dark and while the surrounding areas had dense grasses and an ongoing construction of a canal.

He surmised the rebels might have slipped through the nearby community of informal settlers.

He said the authorities learned about their whereabouts because of reports of suspicious persons from the local people.

The old resort had been monitored for several weeks.

“The community noticed very suspicious persons, sometimes they are riding motorcycles, some did not come out of the compound for several days, sometimes there’s people inside. They immediately reported it to the police and we conducted surveillance to verify the suspicious persons,” he said.

Morales said the area has no permanent checkpoints except for the random mobile ones.

Police recovered one unit of M-16 Rifle A1 loaded with one magazine with 20 pieces of ammunition, one short magazine loaded with 16 ammunition, five pieces of Claymore mines, two pieces of improvised explosive device, assorted ammunition and empty shells of firearms, air guns and two pellet guns, batteries and electrical wires, assorted electrical tools, electrical tapes, two pieces grenade safety levers, one laptop with charger, assorted USB drives, one cellphone, DVDs and some documents.

PRRD confers Order of Lapu-Lapu on 5 fallen soldiers

From the Philippine Information Agency (Nov 26): PRRD confers Order of Lapu-Lapu on 5 fallen soldiers

President Rodrigo Duterte posthomously confers the Order of Lapu-Lapu with the rank of Kampilan to one of the fallen soldiers killed-in-action during a recent clash with Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits in Sulu. (Photo courtesy of Camp Melchor F. Dela Cruz )
CITY OF ILAGAN, Isabela – President Rodrigo Roa Duterte rendered last salute to five soldiers of the 5th Infantry Division (5ID) who were killed-in-action (KIA). in a wake visit at Camp Melchor F. Dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela on November 21.

During the wake at Camp Melchor F. Dela Cruz In Gamu, Isabela on November 21, the Commander-in-Chief posthumously bestowed the Order of Lapu-Lapu with the Rank of Kalasag to : Cpl. Renhart Macad of Tabuk City, Kalinga; Cpl. Bryan Apalin of Bangued Abra; Cpl. John Raphy Francisco of City of Ilagan, Isabela; Cpl. Marlon Manuel of Cauayan City, Isabela; and PFC Jordan Labbutan of Rizal, Kalinga.

Maj. Jefferson Soriano, Division Public Affairs Office chief said the President met with the families of the fallen soldiers to hand over financial assistance.

In his message, the President recognized the sacrifice of the soldiers who perished in an encounter with the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Patikul, Sulu last November 16, 2018.

“Being the Commander-in-Chief, I would like to make my last salute sa aking sundalo. Mahal ko ang sundalo ko, mahal ko kayo. ‘Yan ang pagmamahal ng isang tatay,” the President said.

Meanwhile, PRRD also visited 1st Lt. Joshua Barrio and Pfc Gilbert Pablo, both members of the 54th Infantry Battalion soldiers who were wounded-in-action while fighting against the members of New Peoples Army in Isabela. He also awarded them the Order of Lapu-Lapu with the Rank of Kampilan and gave them financial assistance.

Philippine Army clashes with NPAs in Samar

From the Philippine Information Agency (Nov 23): Philippine Army clashes with NPAs in Samar

Oras, Eastern Samar - Troops of Charlie Company, 14th Infantry (AVENGER) Battalion, of the Philippine Army encountered some 10 CPP-NPA-Terrorists (CNTs) in the area of Brgy. Concepcion, Paranas, Samar on Nov. at 7:50 p.m.

While the troops were conducting combat operations in the area to confirm presence of armed men in the said barangay, they were fired-upon by armed CNTs that prompted the firefight that lasted for 10 minutes which forced the CNTs to scamper to different directions.

During clearing operations in the area, soldiers recovered from the encounter site two improvised explosive device, one rifle grenade, empty magazines and empty shells of AK46, M16 and M14.

"Our troops are still in the area conducting pursuit operation while we continue to validate and confirm information regarding the casualties of the fleeing CNTs, on the other hand, our engaged troops are safe with no casualty," said Lt. Col. Jimmy V. Jimenez, Commanding Officer, 14IB, 8ID, PA.

Lt. Col. Jimenez further explained that the Stormtroopers through the Avenger Battalion will continue to intensify offensive against the CNTs in the area of Samar "to degrade their armed components to further eradicate the CNTs by 2019 in our Area of Operations."

Col. Jimmy V. Jimenez , BatCom of the 14th Battalion in a file photo talks to civilian residents of Oras reminding them to refuse support to rebels, as Mayor Viviane Alvarez presides the MPOC. (Photo credits: 14th IB, Phil Army)

"Rest assured that our Battalion will remain vigilant in performing our mandated task to serve the Waraynons and in securing the island of Samar," Jimenez said. (14th IB, Phil. Army with 8th ID)

Lanao del Norte town turns over loose firearms to AFP

From the Philippine Information Agency (Nov 26): Lanao del Norte town turns over loose firearms to AFP

Over 34 assorted loose high and low powered firearms, 10 assorted magazines, and 60 assorted ammunitions were turned over to Lt. Col. Ronel R. Manalo of the 5th Mechanized Infantry (Kaagapay) Battalion, Mechanized Infantry Division in a simple ceremony held at the Municipal Tourism Plaza, Baroy, Lanao del Norte. (PIA Lanao del Norte)

LANAO DEL NORTE --- Baroy Mayor Rosa D. Olafsson has faith that no weapon is needed for peace.

Since the start of the campaign in February by the 5th Mechanized Infantry Battalion, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) against loose firearms anchored on RA 10591 (An Act Against the Proliferation of Loose Firearms), town officials of Baroy, Lanao del Norte have complied.

Led by Mayor Olafsson, over 34 assorted loose, high and low-powered firearms, 10 assorted magazines, and 60 assorted ammunitions were turned over to Lt. Col. Ronel R. Manalo, the commanding officer of said AFP battalion, in a simple ceremony held at the Municipal Tourism Plaza, Baroy, Lanao del Norte.

The 34 assorted loose firearms that were turned over were: one 7.62mm M14 rifle, 18 gauge shotguns, seven .45 caliber pistols, five .38 caliber pistols, one 9mm pistol, one .22 caliber pistol, and one .22 caliber rifle.

"Baroynians are law abiding citizens and peace loving people so they don't have any reservations in surrendering their firearms. They no longer have weapons to protect them in case there is any untoward incident that will occur in the future," she said.

The mayor also said God is on their side as she quoted a Bible verse: "If God be for us, who can be against us?"

"We want our town to be peaceful and progressive and will strive to get even more by convincing other residents to also surrender their unregistered firearms," Olafsson said.

The event was witnessed and supervised by Col. Thomas R. Sedano Jr., the commander of the Joint Task Group Lanao del Norte and 2nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade with Mayor Olaffson.

According to Manalo, the continuous campaign against the proliferation of loose firearms is another big move of the authorities to maintain a peaceful and orderly society.

He also said that leaders of the community should always be conscious in sustaining the peace among the communities where they lead.

Only security forces are allowed to carry firearms.

Enhanced reporting by the local government units to the AFP, Philippine National Police (PNP) and other government security forces/ units are needed to assure the security of their constituents if signs of perceived threats appear.

2ID Band wins in AFP’s 'Battle of the Bands Heroes’ Rock'

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 25): 2ID Band wins in AFP’s 'Battle of the Bands Heroes’ Rock'

HEROES ROCK CHAMPS. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (standing, 4th from left), AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Carlito Galvez (standing, 3rd from left), Vice Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Salvador Melchor Mison Jr (standing, 2nd from right); Philippine Army Commanding General, Lt. Gen. Macairog Alberto (standing, 4th from right), 2ID Commander Maj. Gen. Rhoderick M. Parayno (standing, left) and their spouses pose with the jubilant 2ID Band, champion in the AFP's 'Battle of the Bands Heroes' Rock' at AFP Theatre, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City on Friday (Nov. 23, 2018). (Photo courtesy of 2ID-DPAO)
CAMP GEN. CAPINPIN, Tanay, Rizal — The commander of the Philippine Army's 2nd Infantry “Jungle Fighter” Division (2ID) personally congratulated the 2ID band for bagging the championship title at the “Battle of the Bands Heroes’ Rock” on Friday evening.

"The Jungle Fighters has once again proven and showcased our talents and skills not only during combat operations but also when it comes to entertainment,” 2ID commander Maj. Gen, Rhoderick M. Parayno said in a congratulatory message relayed in a report by Capt. Patrick Jay Retumban, chief of the 2ID public affairs office, on Sunday.

Aside from Parayno, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Carlito Galvez, Vice Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Salvador Melchor Mison Jr., and Philippine Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. Macairog Alberto also commended the 2ID Band for besting eight other military band contenders.

The “Heroes Rock Battle of the Bands” is a pre-anniversary event of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to honor the heroism and sacrifices of the soldiers.

“Keep up the good work,” the 2ID commander added, as he gave a pat on the back to the members of the 2ID for their musical prowess and extraordinary performance.

The 2ID band members were donning their military uniforms while on stage at the AFP Theater in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

The 2ID band members are Sgt. Malou Eslaga, as lead vocalist; Sgt. Ralphy Havana, backup singer; Pfc. Clifordly Celestial, vocalist; Sgt. Ramsis Habana, lead guitarist; S/Sgt. Arnold Gallanosa, bass guitarist; Cpl. Michael Marbella, pianist; and S/Sgt. Alexander Cabutotan, drummer.

Retumban said the 2ID band also clinched the “Best in Original Composition” award with their musical piece “Kabayanihan” (heroism) in honoring the soldier-heroes.

As the Philippine Army’s bet, the 2ID bested eight other bands representing various AFP branches of service—Army, Air Force, Navy, Area Commands, such as the Southern Luzon Command and Western Mindanao Command, and the Civil Relations Service.

Lorenzana presented the PHP100,000 cash prize and the plaque for the 2ID band champion.

Galvez also handed over to the 2ID band another PHP5,000 and a keyboard piano for the “Best in Composition” award.

5 NPA rebels yield in Sarangani, turn in high-power firearms

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 26): 5 NPA rebels yield in Sarangani, turn in high-power firearms

Five New People’s Army (NPA) rebels have surrendered to government troops in Kiamba town, Sarangani Province following a series of operations by the Army there.

Lt. Col. Jones Otida, commanding officer of the Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion, said on Monday the rebels yielded voluntarily along with their firearms to their unit last Friday in Barangay Nalus, Kiamba.

Otida said the rebels surrendered two M14 rifles, a Garand rifle, a 12-gauge Browning shotgun, an M79 grenade launcher, three hand grenades, and two 40mm rifle grenades.

The Army official attributed the surrender to the series of joint operations in the boundaries of Sarangani and South Cotabato provinces since last week, with the participation of the elements of the 1204th Sarangani Police Mobile Force Company.

He also cited the raid last Nov. 17 on a suspected NPA safe house in Sitio Blo-lahak, Barangay Klobe in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato that resulted in the recovery of four high-powered firearms.

Otida tagged the rebels, who were under the NPA’s Front 73, as behind the burning last Nov. 9 of heavy equipment in Sitio Lamfinik, Barangay Tasiman in Lake Sebu.

“They appeared deeply demoralized because of our relentless pursuit operations,” he said.

Otida said the series of military operations shows the “untiring commitment of government forces in keeping communities safe and secure from violent ideologies.”

Brig. Gen. Roberto Ancan, 1002nd Brigade commander, said the surrenderers will be enrolled in the government's Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) for them to receive immediate welfare assistance, livelihood assistance, and incentives for the surrendered firearms.

"Let these successes inspire those who still bear arms on waiving their abysmal struggle of rising through violent acts and to champion progress through peaceful collaborations," Ancan said.

Military, police welcome deployment of add’l troops to Bicol

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 26): Military, police welcome deployment of add’l troops to Bicol

Military and police authorities in Bicol welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to deploy additional troops in the region to quell lawless violence and the decades-old insurgency problem.

Army Capt. Joash Pramis, 9th Infantry Division public affairs chief, said the deployment of additional troops to Bicol is a welcome development in reinforcing Army troops currently assigned in three Bicol provinces.

Pramis said the additional troops would intensify their capability to address lawless violence and insurgency; and enhance the Army’s security program since they will reinforce the Army Brigade unit in Albay, including three battalions that were recently sent as augmentation force to Mindanao

“We are just waiting for the operational directive from our general headquarters,” he said.

Aside from the additional troops' deployment, the Division has recently enlisted 274 new recruits.

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police in Bicol said the deployment would further boost the campaign against all forms of criminality and promote peace and order in the region.

Chief Insp. Maria Luisa Calubaquib, PNP Bicol spokesperson, said in a statement that the PNP welcomes the deployment of additional troops as it will enhance the PNPs' campaign against criminal and lawless elements in the region.

Trilateral navy exercise set in Zamboanga

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 26): Trilateral navy exercise set in Zamboanga

ZAMBOANGA CITY - A four-day trilateral security exercise involving the navies of Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines (INDOMALPHI) is set to start Tuesday here, an official said.

Ensign Katherine Ferrer, Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM) acting information officer, said the arrival on Tuesday of the Tentera Nacional Indonesia (TNI) and Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) ships at the port of Zamboanga will mark the start of the security exercise.

Ferrer said the "INDOMALPHI 4th Trilateral Port Visit and Maritime Training Activity" among the three Southeast Asian countries will be conducted under the aegis of the Trilateral Cooperative Arrangement (TCA).

Ferrer said that three ships--KRI Sura-802 from Indonesia, KD Pari from Malaysian Navy and BRP-General Mariano Alvarez (PS-38) from the Philippines--will see action during the security exercise.

The security exercise includes activities such as capability demonstration, day tour, and sports. All the activities will be held in the area of responsibility of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), the Navy official said.

She said the trilateral port visit and maritime training activity aims to strengthen the relationship, enhance mutual cooperation and interoperability of the three countries through the development of combined rules of engagement and develop better understanding and cooperation to address common issues on common maritime waters.

The TCA was signed on July 14, 2016 by the defense chiefs of Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines aimed to curb cross-border terrorism and other criminal activities as the three countries share common maritime borders.

Cops, army assure no rights abuses in Samar

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 26): Cops, army assure no rights abuses in Samar

SECURITY CONCERNS. Major General Raul Farnacio, commander of the Army’s 8th Infantry Division, discusses security concerns during a meeting with top police officials in the Visayas on Nov. 19, 2018. President Duterte has ordered the deployment of more cops and soldiers in Samar province, following reporters of 'lawless violence' in the area. (Philippine Army Photo)
TACLOBAN CITY — Top officials of the police and the army in Eastern Visayas have assured their strict adherence to human rights, following President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to augment forces in Samar province to suppress “lawless violence” and acts of terror.

PNP Eastern Visayas officer-in-charge Senior Supt. Ariel Arcinas said in a press briefing on Monday that fighting human rights abuses is part of their job as they prevent the loss of innocent lives.

“The very reason why we have to augment forces in Samar is to protect human rights. We can assure the public that there is no violation of human rights. This is our guide in the implementation of law enforcement program,” Arcinas told reporters.

The official said they are still waiting for specific guidelines on Memorandum Order (MO) No. 32 signed on Nov. 22 by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.

MalacaƱang issued the directive amid the "sporadic acts of violence allegedly committed by lawless groups, particularly in the provinces of Samar, Negros Oriental and Occidental, and Bicol Region.”

Major General Raul Farnacio, commander of the Army’s 8th Infantry Division, reminded soldiers to “religiously” live the principles of human rights, international humanitarian law, and the rule of law.

“To the general public, rest assured that your Army will strictly adhere to the rules and procedures set forth by higher headquarters in the conduct of internal security operations in Eastern Visayas,” said Farnacio in a statement issued on Saturday.

“I urged the communities to be extra vigilant in reporting to the proper authorities the presence of suspected armed groups or individuals that will sow terror in their respective communities,” he added.

The memorandum, titled “Reinforcing the guidelines for the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police in the implementation of measures to suppress and prevent lawless violence,” has ordered the Department of National Defense and the Department of the Interior and Local Government to coordinate with each other in deploying the troops.

Arcinas expects that Samar will get augmentation force from the PNP national headquarters and the regional mobile force battalion.

“Everything is normal and manageable. The deployment of more personnel is part of the PNP’s regular program. The President wants to reinforce police and military presence to sustain peace in Samar,” he added.

The decision to supress lawless violence is justified, since it is based on intelligence reports received by the Office of the President from various intelligence and law enforcement agencies, Arcinas said.

Samar province has been a stronghold of the New People’s Army (NPA) due to the place's densely-forested mountainous areas, high poverty incidence, and issue of widespread landlessness based on a 2013 study of William Norman Holden of the University of Calgary in Canada.

The NPA launched its first tactical operation in the country in Calbiga, Samar in 1974, when its members ambushed an Army scout patrol and seized a number of weapons. In 1976, the NPA gained popular support among the inhabitants of Samar, following its actions against cattle rustling gangs.

The most recent encounter between the military and the NPA was on the night of Nov. 20 in Paranas, Samar. No one was hurt in the 10-minute gun battle. Soldiers recovered from the encounter site two improvised explosive devices, one rifle grenade, empty magazines, and empty shells.

Some areas in Samar province are threatened not only by the NPAs, but also by the presence of private armed groups allegedly supported by politicians.

NPA leader, companions escape in Davao raid

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 26): NPA leader, companions escape in Davao raid

The joint police and army team entered the the premises of the Victorio's Beach Resort to scour the area after an encounter with the New People's Army (NPA) Monday morning. PNA photo by Lilian C Mellejor

DAVAO CITY -- A commander of the New People's Army (NPA) and his companions managed to elude arrest after a joint police and Army team swooped down on Victorio's Beach Resort in Talomo, this city, to implement a warrant of arrest Monday morning.

Senior Superintendent Alexander Tagum, Davao City Police Office (DCPO) director,
identified the NPA commander as alias Jeffrey, leader of the NPA's Pulang Bagani Command 1 (PBC) operating in the city.

Tagum said Jeffrey has a standing warrant of arrest for two counts of murder, serious illegal detention, robbery in band and attempted murder.

Jeffrey was able to escape with an undetermined number of companions believed to be members of the NPA Special Partisan Unit (SPARU) following a brief firefight inside the resort at Purok 10, Talomo Cemento.

Tagum said the resort has not been operating for many years and left only to a caretaker, who is now in the custody of the police as a person of interest.

During the firefight, Jeffrey and his companions lobbed several fragmentation grenades and escaped towards unknown direction under the cover of darkness. There was no casualty on the government side during the encounter, police said.

After the encounter, authorities recovered an M-16 rifle A1, ammunition, explosives, NPA propaganda materials, and other evidence.

Chief Superintendent Marcelo Morales, Police Regional Office-11 director, said Jeffrey and his men were the same NPA unit that authorities engaged in Barangay Maa two months ago. They were believed to be involved in the so-called Red October plot to destabilize the government.

Morales said Jeffrey and his men managed to escape when authorities lost the "element of surprise" when the first team of police and Army personnel was attacked by a team of NPA lookouts around 1:30 a.m.

“Nawala yung element of surprise (We lost the element of surprise), so the targets escaped,” Morales said, adding the area was also dark, wide, and woody because it has long been closed by the owner.

Morales said the operation was launched following information that some suspicious men were seen in and out of the resort.

Morales said the police already launched a manhunt operation and intensified security presence in the area.

MO 32 effective in 4 regions only: Lorenzana

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 26): MO 32 effective in 4 regions only: Lorenzana

The recently-issued Memorandum Order (MO) 32 is only in effect in four regions, where New People's Army (NPA) forces are still conducting atrocities against civilians.

This was emphasized by Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana in a radio interview Monday, where he also dismissed claims that the order will be the basis or prelude for declaring martial law nationwide, adding that President Rodrigo Duterte publicly stated that he will never do so.

Lorenzana said the said order only covers Samar (Region 8), Negros Oriental (Region 7), Negros Occidental (Region 6), and the Bicol provinces (Region 5) as these areas are still NPA-infested.

"(Eto Memorandum) 32 ito yung pinupuntirya natin yung mga lugar na hanggang ngayon namamayagpag pa yung komunistang terorista dyan sa (This Memorandum Order 32 is focused on areas where communist terrorists thrive, specifically in) Bicol, Samar and tsaka Negros (Oriental and Occidental). Panay ang sunog ng mga kagamitan ng mga construction at panay pangingikil nila sa businessmen (They continue to burn construction equipment and extort money from businessmen)," he added.

The order will also ensure the conduct of fair and honest elections in these areas, Lorenzana stressed.
"Kasi nung nakaraang eleksyon marami tayong narinig na mga sumbong ng mga tao dun na itong NPA ay pinakikialaman din eleksyon. Parang hindi nagkaroon ng patas na labanan dahil nga yung kampanya palang ng mga tao, kandidato eh kinokontrol nila mga pagpasok sa mga lugar kung di sila magbayad at saka marami silang sinuportahan na mga kandidato din. So, ibig sabihin din, election was not fair. 'Yung hindi level 'yung playing fields nung last time so ito paraan natin para ma-ensure na ang campaign hanggang sa eleksyon ay tahimik, matiwasay at pantay ang labanan (We received complaints that the NPA is interfering with the elections in these areas. It seemed that the competition is not fair because the NPA controlled the election campaign. They control the entry of candidates in these areas, especially if these candidates do not pay them. They also support some candidates. It only means election is not fair. The playing field is not fair during the last time. This memorandum order wants to ensure that there will be peaceful and fair campaign period and elections)," the DND chief emphasized.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea issued Memorandum Order No. 32 on Nov. 22 amid "sporadic acts of violence allegedly committed by lawless groups particularly in the provinces of Samar, Negros Oriental and Occidental, and Bicol Region.

“There is a need to reinforce the directive of the President in order to prevent further loss of innocent lives and destruction of property and bring the whole country back to a state of complete normalcy as quick as possible,” he said in the memorandum order.

PNP deploys SAF in areas covered by MO 32

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 26): PNP deploys SAF in areas covered by MO 32

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Director General Oscar Albayalde ordered the deployment of Special Action Force (SAF) companies in the Bicol Region, Samar, Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental to help suppress sporadic incidents of violence there, in compliance with Memorandum Order 32.

“We have synchronized our tiered response to Memorandum Order No. 32 issued by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea on November 22, 2018 that reinforces the guidelines in implementing measures to suppress and prevent lawless violence, specifically in the Bicol Region, and the Samar and Negros provinces, in relation to Proclamation No. 55 (Series of 2016) declaring a state of national emergency,” Albayalde told reporters in a press briefing.

Albayalde said a total of 132 members of the PNP elite force will augment the existing forces in the areas covered by the memorandum order.

“Well in each company more or less there are 127, that's a standard size of one company of the SAF with more or less mga four to six officers including the company commander. So, the size of one company, it's more or less 127 to 132 personnel,” he said.

“As of this time the augmentation is based on the memo. I gave a directive to the director of the SAF to deploy immediately each company in Bicol Region and Samar area with additional deployment coming from the national headquarters,” Albayalde said.

In national, regional and provincial levels, the PNP chief said they are realigning deployment of forces according to the prevailing intelligence assessment and threat evaluation with the underlying objective to thwart any attempt by domestic threat groups to commit acts of violence in these areas.

“We have alerted all maneuver and territorial police forces in these areas to assume an active defense posture while stepping-up proactive operations to suppress lawless violence and acts of terror, and prevent these from spreading to other localities,” he stressed.

The PNP chief also assured that the memorandum order is not a prelude to a nationwide declaration of martial law.

Albayalde explained that the memorandum was based on the series of rebel attacks in the areas mentioned -- the rebel attack in a police station in Samar, the Sagay massacre in Negros Occidental and ambush of cops in Bicol.

“Of course not. Remember, the State has the obligation to protect its citizens from lawlessness. This is part of it. The President saw the need to deploy more forces in these areas following the series of incidents and attacks by communist rebels. It has nothing to do with martial law,” Albayalde added.

Martial law is currently in effect over Mindanao, since the start of the Marawi siege in May last year, and there is a pending resolution in Congress to further extend it.

After the press briefing, Albayalde went to Davao to attend the Peace and Order Council meeting with the PNP and AFP.

The meeting, according to PNP spokesperson, Chief Supt. Benigno Durana, will also help establish the coordination on the response on all aspects of security threats in the provinces mentioned in Memorandum Order 32 that was recently signed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Durana said the number of additional policemen and soldiers will still depend on the result of the threat assessment that will be conducted by the police and military leaderships.

PAF allots P24-M for purchase of Cessna parts

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 26): PAF allots P24-M for purchase of Cessna parts

The military, through the Philippine Air Force (PAF) Bids and Awards Committee, is allocating PHP24.23 million for the acquisition of spares needed for the maintenance of its Cessna C-208B Grand Caravan aircraft.

The aircraft is helpful in the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ conduct of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations.

In a bid bulletin posted at the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System, PAF Bids and Awards chair, Brig. Gen. Fernyl Buca said prospective bidders should have experience in a similar project within the last five years.

Submission and opening of bids is scheduled on Dec. 10, 9:15 a.m. at the PAF Procurement Center, Conference Room, Villamor Air Base, Pasay City.

Two Cessna C-208Bs were handed by the US government to the PAF in July of last year.

It has a cruising speed of around 170 knots and has a range of over 1,000 nautical miles and capable of transporting eight to nine persons, including the pilot.

AFP, PNP exempted from hiring, transfer ban for BOL plebiscite

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 26): AFP, PNP exempted from hiring, transfer ban for BOL plebiscite

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) are allowed to hire or transfer its officers and personnel during the period of the plebiscite for the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said Monday.

In Resolution No. 10451, the poll body has exempted both the police and military from the ban during the plebiscite period in connection with the Jan. 21, 2019 activity.

“The Commission resolves to grant authority to the PNP and the AFP to appoint or hire new employees from December 22 until January 20; and to transfer or detail their officers or employees from December 7 until February 5,” the decision said.

The Commission en banc said the exemption was accorded to the military and the police since they will be deputized for the forthcoming referendum.

“To impose the prohibition against the PNP and the AFP will unnecessarily limit their movements and capabilities to carry out their mandates as Comelec deputies,” it added.

However, it noted that the exemption will be applicable if such actions are deemed essential to the proper functioning of the office and will not influence the conduct of the plebiscite.

Likewise, the resolution said that such actions should not involve promotion or salary increase or giving of privilege from December 22 until January 20.

It added that the exemption shall be prospective in application and is without prejudice to applicable rules and regulations among civil servants.

The Comelec noted that its Law Department must be notified in writing regarding the hiring, appointment, or transfer of officers or personnel.

The PNP and the AFP are also allowed to use armored land, water, and aircraft during the campaign period.

“This authority shall be without prejudice to the application of the prohibition to the use of public equipment and facilities owned and controlled by the government for the plebiscite campaign,” it added.

The Omnibus Election Code (OEC) prohibits the appointment of a new employee or creation of a new position within 30 days before a special election.

Also, the law states that it is prohibited to detail or transfer any official or employee in the civil service within the election period.

The OEC also provides that the use of any land, water, and air craft during the campaign period is strictly prohibited.

Violation of the law constitutes an election offense.