Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Lorenzana: NPA is the target of memo order

From the Malaya Business Insight (Nov 27): Lorenzana: NPA is the target of memo order

DEFENSE Secretary Delfin Lorenzana yesterday said there is no need to expand the coverage of Memorandum Order 32 that calls for the deployment of additional troops to the Bicol region and the provinces of Samar, Negros Oriental, and Negros Occidental to suppress lawless violence.

He allayed fears the additional deployment will lead to the declaration of martial law nationwide and said the real target of MO 32 is the New People’s Army, which he called a terrorist group.

He said the NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, has stepped up its atrocities, including burning of construction equipment, in the Samar and Negros provinces and in the Bicol region.

“Did you see any mention of martial law in the EO? None. It (MO 32) is merely meant to enhance our efforts to maintain peace and order, especially in the countryside,” he said adding President Duterte has issued statements that he is not going to declare martial law nationwide.

Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao in May last year after the Maute terror group attacked and occupied several barangays in Marawi City.

Lorenzana said the additional troop deployment will be in areas where the NPA has “strong” presence. He said the NPA, which collects “permit to campaign fees,” is a threat to the residents and to the May 2019 mid-term elections.

He said there have been reports that the NPA intervened in past elections in the Samar and Negros provinces and in the Bicol region, by endorsing certain candidates and through the collection of campaign fees.

“It means that elections were not fair, there’s no level playing field in the last elections. This (MO 32) is a way to ensure that the campaign period is going to be peaceful and it’s going to be fair,” he said.

Lorenzana also sought to downplay remarks made by Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a former PNP chief, that President Duterte, the military’s commander in chief, does not need a memorandum to order the deployment of troops anywhere in the country.

“It already depends on how we see this. To me, anything that will improve our operations to make the places or areas peaceful and stable, we welcome those,” Lorenzana said.

Col. Noel Detoyato, chief of the AFP public affairs office, said the issuance of MO 32 was triggered by a “series of atrocities” perpetrated by the NPA. He said the order is aimed at preventing the NPA from launching more attacks.

“We have to be ahead of them,” he said, noting the NPA carry out attacks in areas where military forces are thin.

Continued NPA attacks were among the main reasons President Duterte canceled formal peace negotiations with the communists this year.

Detoyato implied only the communists are opposing MO 32.

“The martial law rumor-mongers are the ones going to be affected by this,” he said. “They are not going to be able to freely move and we will be able to check their activities. You know, the lawless elements are the only ones who are afraid of the presence of our law enforcers.”

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, concurrent presidential spokesman, said the deployment of more troops is part of government’s efforts to strengthen the campaign against communist insurgency.

He said there are more incidents of terrorism and other criminal activities in the areas under MO 32.

“There were series of acts committed against civilians, against soldiers and policemen in those areas and therefore there is a need to deploy troops, as well as PNP forces in that area to secure the people, for its own safety and peace of the area,” he said.

He said Malacañang had to put the order in writing to formalize the directives and be transparent about the instructions, including the places that need to be secured.

He said the opposition should not be concerned about the deployment of more troops but should in fact be happy, “because you will be securing the area during election time.”

He also said the move is not a prelude to expanding martial law coverage.

Opposition Sen. Francis Pangilinan said the deployment of additional troops to communist-infested areas will mean more police abuses.

Pangilinan said what government should do is to first cleanse the PNP of misfits amid recent reports that some of them were involved in criminal acts such as rape, murder, and robbery extortion.

“Lalo lang dadami ang pang-aabuso ng PNP at madadawit pati AFP sa ganitong paraan... Sa hanay ng PNP na nanggagaling ang lawlessness (There will be an increase in abuses by the PNP, and the AFP will somehow get dragged into the allegations of abuses. Lawlessness comes from the ranks of the PNP),” he said.

He did not give figures backing his claim.

Based on PNP records, 43 policemen accused of rape have been charged with administrative cases from 2015 to the first week of November 2018. The most recent of the alleged rape cases involved as victims an arrested illegal gambling player and a 15-year-old daughter of an arrested drug pusher.

The Commission on Human Rights, through its spokeswoman Jacqueline Ann de Guia, said effective law enforcement, and not the deployment of more troops, is the answer to lawless violence.

Shutdown of terrorism-linked social media accounts eyed

From the Malaya Business Insight (Nov 28): Shutdown of terrorism-linked social media accounts eyed

THE National Intelligence Coordinating Agency yesterday proposed the shutting down of social media sites linked to terrorist organizations, a move backed by the Senate committees on public order and dangerous drugs and on national defense and security.

The proposal was made by Roberton Lapuz, chief of the directorial staff of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), during the continuation of a joint hearing on proposed amendments to the Human Security Act of 2007.

Lapuz said the Department of Information and Communications Technology should be given the power to shut down social media accounts which are “inimical to the national interest,” like those on Facebook or Twitter.

Sen. Gregorio Honasan, defense committee chair, is the incoming DICT chief.

Lapuz said India, which like the Philippines has a huge number of internet users, has a similar policy.

“We want the DICT to be empowered, to have the authority to be able to shut down social media accounts through Facebook, Twitter, and similar mechanisms,” he said.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, chair of the public order and dangerous drugs panel which is leading the hearing, said he supports NICA’s proposal but stressed there should be safeguards so as not to curtail constitutional rights to privacy and freedom of speech.

He said based on the committees’ consultations with resource persons, “as long as the state exercises its police power to preserve itself, then it’s not constitutionally infirm.”

He also said guidelines on how to identify a social media site as linked to terrorism will still be discussed.

Amendments to the Human Security Act (HAS) are being proposed because, according to Lacson, it “is seen as a dead-letter law,” having had only two convictions because of several restrictive provisions.

One is the provision stating that a person to be placed under surveillance has the right to be informed that he is being surveilled. Another is the provision penalizing a law enforcer P500,000 a day if an arrested suspected terrorist is acquitted.

During the hearing, Marwil Llasos of the Institute of International Legal Studies said social media has been used as a means of radicalization, and anything harmful to public safety and public order can be regulated by the state.

Llasos said law enforcement agencies like the National Bureau of Investigation can take down social media accounts for offenses such as cyber-libel.

Another issue raised during the hearing is the potential use of money transfer services to finance terrorist activities.

NPA attacks Army detachment

From the Malaya Business Insight (Nov 29): NPA attacks Army detachment

NEW People’s Army rebels on Tuesday attacked an Army detachment in Hinoba-an town in Negros Occidental, one of the areas where additional forces will be deployed under President Duterte’s Memorandum Order No. 32.

A police report said one of the soldiers manning the detachment was wounded during the attack on the Army’s Bugtong Kahoy Patrol Base in Barangay Asia at around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.

The soldier, identified as S/Sgt. Ricky Ignacio of the Army’s 12th Infantry Battalion, was hit in the buttock. He was brought to the Eleuterio Decena Memorial Hospital.

No one was reported killed or injured on the NPA side.

MO32, issued last week, calls for the deployment of more soldiers and policemen in the Samar and Negros provinces and the Bicol region to address lawless violence.

Security officials later said MO32 was aimed at the New People’s Army which has stepped up atrocities in these areas.

The PNP has said a company of Special Action Force will be deployed in each of the provinces while the Armed Forces said it will be consulting with the defense department as to the number of soldiers to be sent to the areas.

NPA rebels injure detachment head

From the Visayan Daily Star (Nov 28): NPA rebels injure detachment head

An Army detachment commander was injured when an isolated military outpost was harassed by two suspected New People’s Army rebels in Sitio Bugtong Kahoy, Brgy. Asia, Hinoba-an, Negros Occidental, at about 8:30 a.m. yesterday.

Army SSgt. Ricky Ignacio was hit in his hips. However, he is now in a stable condition, Col. Benedict Arevalo, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, said last night.

Ignacio was next to a police officer, who was also injured, in a previous incident of harassment staged and claimed by the NPA in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental, last month.

The New People’s Army Leonardo Panaligan Command had also claimed earlier the killing of Army Cpl. Rex Derramas on Nov. 4 in a mountainous barangay of Trinidad in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.

The harassment of a detachment being constructed in Brgy. Asia, Hinoba-an, took place several days after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the deployment of additional military and police personnel in Negros Occidental and Oriental, as well as in Bicol and Samar, to suppress the lawlessness and violent activities of the CPP-NPA.

Arevalo said the NPA rebels immediately withdrew after government troops returned fire at their location.

Government troops are still pursuing the fleeing rebels.

Army division commanders to run 'Anti-Sparrow Unit' – Lorenzana

From Rappler (Nov 28): Army division commanders to run 'Anti-Sparrow Unit' – Lorenzana

The defense chief says the President's order will be carried out 'as soon as possible'

ORDER TO SOLDIERS. President Rodrigo Duterte talks to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana during his visit to Camp Rajah Sikatuna in Carmen, Bohol on November 27, 2018. Malacañang photo

ORDER TO SOLDIERS. President Rodrigo Duterte talks to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana during his visit to Camp Rajah Sikatuna in Carmen, Bohol on November 27, 2018. Malacañang photo

The Philippine Army's division commanders will be in charge of running the military’s “sparrow unit” against communist guerrillas which President Rodrigo Duterte announced he would create, said Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Wednesday, November 28.

“It will be the division commander of the Army who will implement this and he will be accountable and responsible. We will call the unit Anti-Sparrow Unit,” he told Rappler in a message.

A two-star position in the Army, a division has anywhere from 5,000 to 8,000 troops.

After studying the President’s proposal, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Department of National Defense will implement the order “as soon as possible,” Lorenzana added.

“We will not just watch while the SPARU kill our men with impunity,” he said, referring to the official name of the New People’s Army (NPA) “sparrow units.” SPARU or Special Partisan Unit were the NPA’s hit squads.

Lorenzana had earlier admitted to reporters that it was important to establish who will be held accountable for the Anti-Sparrow Unit since such a group could easily be abused.

“There is great danger of abuse or mistakes in these undercover operations. Mistakes in identifying targets. Maybe the person just looks like someone else,” he had said.

To prevent such abuses or mistakes, no operative in the unit must act until “someone higher up” gives the green light “after careful and thorough vetting.”

'Follow rules'

In a statement Wednesday, Negros Island army commander Colonel Benedict Arevalo of the 303 Infantry Brigade said they have yet to receive formal guidelines or orders.

“Let me assure the people of Negros Occidental that there's nothing to worry about. We will continue our mission to attack and hit the NPAs to end their violence and extortion activities guided by the Rules of Engagement,” he said.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said the PNP is also yet to receive formal orders but that once it does, it will plan how to follow the directive "guided of course by what the law provides."

Duterte, on Tuesday, expressed outrage at how military and police personnel were being killed by NPA rebels.

“I will match their talent for assassinating people,” he had said in front of soldiers in Camp Rajah Sikatuna in Carmen, Bohol.

A week ago, Duterte ordered more soldiers and police to Bicol, Samar, Negros Occidental, and Negros Oriental to suppress “lawless violence and acts of terror,” later on identified by Malacañang as NPA attacks.

Critics slammed the move and raised concerns about creeping martial law.

NPA rebs bring 4 rifles in Sarangani surrender

From the Mindanao Times (Nov 26): NPA rebs bring 4 rifles in Sarangani surrender

Five members of the New People's Army (NPA) surrendered to the 27th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Nalus, Kiamba, Sarangani Province last Friday.

Capt. Jerry Lamosao, the spokesperson of 10th Infantry Division, said the surrender followed operations by the combined forces of the 1204th Mobile Force Company and the 27th IB in South Cotabato and Sarangani.

"They were deeply demoralized by the relentless pursuit operations conducted by government forces and a successful raid on their safe hub at Sitio Blo-lahak, Barangay Klobe, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato last Nov. 17," Lamosao said.

He said the former rebels brought with them two M14 rifles, one Garand rifle, one M79 grenade launcher, three hand grenades, and two 40mm ammunition.

"These series of success greatly show the degrading state of morale of the NPA terrorists and strongly prove the untiring commitment of the government forces in keeping its communities from violent ideologies, " Lt. Col. Jones Otida, the 27th IB commander, said.

On the other hand, Brig. Gen. Roberto Ancan, 1002nd Infantry Brigade commander, also said, "Let these successes inspire those who still bear arms in waiving their abysmal struggle of rising through violent acts.”

Photo: Police Director General Oscar Albayalde checks firearms surrendered by NPA rebels

From the Mindanao Times (Nov 27): Photo: Police Director General Oscar Albayalde checks firearms surrendered by NPA rebels

Image may contain: 3 people, people standing and indoor

Police Director General Oscar Albayalde checks the 25 high powered firearms that were turned over by surrendering members of the New People’s Army operating in Region XII during a presscon at Linmar Apartelle on Monday afternoon.

COA urged to audit OPAPP funds

From the Mindanao Examiner (Nov 28): COA urged to audit OPAPP funds

PEACE STAKEHOLDERS have urged the Commission on Audit to examine the funds of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process or OPAPP and whether it was well spent in accordance with the agency’s mandate and mission.

This after President Rodrigo Duterte fired last week OPAPP Undersecretary Ronald Flores and Director Yeshter Donn Baccay on corruption allegations. OPAPP chief Jesus Dureza also resigned following the sacking of his 2 executives.

“I fired Usec Ronald Flores from the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Peace Process. And there is a guy there working Director IV, Yeshter Donn Baccay,” Duterte said, adding, he also accepted Dureza’s resignation.

“I am very sad that I accepted the resignation of Secretary Dureza,” he said, noting that he is set to fire another official soon.

Duterte admitted that the reason for the dismissal of the two officials was corruption. “And Dureza treated the matter as command responsibility so he thought that it was only proper that with the involvement of his two subordinates — he offered to resign and I accepted his resignation,” he said.

He said Dureza is unlikely to head another post. “He did not ask for anything,” Duterte said, adding that all positions in his Cabinet are occupied.

Soldiers wounded in Sulu clashes honored

From the Mindanao Examiner (Nov 28): Soldiers wounded in Sulu clashes honored

President Rodrigo Duterte personally honored and pinned medals to 23 soldiers who were wounded in recent clashes with Abu Sayyaf militants in the southern province of Sulu.

Duterte visited the soldiers at Camp Navarro General Hospital in Zamboanga City and conferred the Order of Lapu-Lapu with the Rank of Kampilan on them. He also extended financial assistance. Five soldiers were killed in the battle in Patikul town.

Those who received medals were 2Lt. Michael Vincent Benito, SSg. Rex Cureg, Sgt. Romeo Barbon, Sgt. Jerson Barasi, Sgt. Reynante Ruma, Cpl. Geneus Calamlam, Cpl. Bingbong Salvador, Cpl. Felix Jay Castillo, Cpl. Denver Lambino, Cpl. Eugene Corpuz, Pfc. London Longawis, Pfc. Aldrin Paj-Dio, Pfc. Kriel Manaligod, Pfc. Jordan Magundayao, Pfc. Ruben Bulayang, Pfc. Harvie Soriano, Pfc. Marnel Piduana, Pfc. Sandoval Ludivico, Pfc. John Paul Layugan, Pfc. Gevil Lorenzo, Pvt. Jayferson Balac, Pvt. Jaime Boco, Jr., and Pvt. Rizalde Tierro.

Another soldier, Pvt. Murphy Cuntapay, is currently confined at the AFP Medical Center in Quezon City.

The medal is awarded to personnel of the government and private individuals who were injured or suffered a significant loss of property as a direct result of their participation in an action supporting a campaign or advocacy of the President.

Aside from visiting the wounded soldiers, Duterte also pledged P300 million for the construction of a two-storey hospital inside Camp Navarro. He told the hospital management that it could use the P27 million remaining fund initially earmarked for the new Camp Navarro General Hospital to buy medical equipment.

NPA rebels continue to yield

From the Mindanao Examiner (Nov 28): NPA rebels continue to yield

Communist rebels continue to surrender to the military as it intensifies efforts to convince and bring back insurgents to the fold of the law.

Just recently, about a dozen members of the New People’s Army surrendered to the 82nd Infantry Battalion in Kapai and Tagoloan towns in Lanao del Sur province, according to Capt. Clint Antipala, a spokesman for the 1st Infantry Division.

Quoting the battalion commander, Lt. Col. Jayson Jumawan, Antipala said the rebels, who belonged to the Semi Legal Team, Guerilla Front 12 of North Central Mindanao Regional Committee, handed over a rifle and a pistol during their surrender.

“They are still being interrogated and we welcome their surrender,” Antipala said.

Major General Roseller Murillo, the division commander, lauded the battalion for its effort in “winning hearts and minds” that led to the peaceful surrender of the NPA members.

“Our campaign against communist rebels and other terrorist groups is relentless and will continue to insulate communities from their terror activities. We will also complement our operations with other infantry divisions to isolate and destroy the enemies to attain just and lasting peace in Mindanao,” he said.

BRP Davao del Sur is in Albay for naval drill

From the Philippine Information Agency (Nov 28): BRP Davao del Sur is in Albay for naval drill

LEGAZPI CITY (PIA) – The BRP Davao del Sur, one of the Philippine Navy’s most modern ships in the service, is in the province of Albay for the four-day naval drill starting Tuesday, November 26, 2018.

Dubbed “Exercise PAGSISIKAP 2018,” the drill involves more than 300 sailors, marines and naval aviators from different Philippine Navy units. Naval reservists from Albay, Sorsogon, Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte will also be integrated to the regular force.

“The objective of the Exercise PAGSISIKAP 2018 is to synergize the operational requirements and train the capabilities of the various Philippine Navy support units to perform amphibious operation missions,” Ens. Estella Jane Sasil, Naval Forces Southern Luzon (NAVFORSOL) public affairs office acting director, said.

Photos by Sally Atento-Altea

Major General Nathaniel Casem, Philippine Navy inspector general, viewed the exercise as an instrument to evaluate current doctrines and develop the capabilities of the Philippine Navy to adjust to the fast changing security environment.

“The exercise aims to improve the interoperability among Philippine Navy personnel and to have shared or common understanding on tactics and operations,” Casem said as the keynote speaker during the opening ceremony today.

The exercise, which runs from November 26 to 29, has been designed to focus on interoperability evaluation between fleet and marine units operating in a coastal environment against internal security threats and external defense operations.

“Maritime surveillance form part of the numerous Philippine Navy exercises to hone individual skills and increase operational readiness level. Table top exercises to be executed through field training exercise and maritime interdiction where sailors board on critical contact of interest or a target boat will be conducted,” Casem said.

The harbor phase includes a series of ships and ground trainings, refresher training course through lectures and drills on maritime air surveillance, maritime security operations and amphibious operations are included.

Photos by Sally Atento-Altea

The exercise areas include Naval Station Julhasan Arasain, barangay Lidong in Sto. Domingo town and waters of Albay Gulf.

Amphibious operation will take place at barangay Lidong, Sto. Domingo, Albay on November 28, starting at 7:30 a.m. Here, the scenario involves a simulated attack from the ship to the shoreline to demonstrate the capability of Philippine Navy personnel, assets and armaments onboard the landing dock vessel.

It will be followed by a medical and dental mission at Lidong Elementary School.

BRP Davao del Sur will open its doors to the public on Friday, November 30, from 9AM to 4PM.

“We are inviting everyone, especially the Bicolanos, to come and visit the BRP Davao del Sur for them to witness the modernizing capabilities of the Philippine Navy,” Casem said.

Photos by Sally Atento-Altea

The BRP Davao del Sur is the PH Navy’s second Strategic Sealift Vessel (SSV) with the ability to serve as one-stop operations center at sea, crucial in sending quick deployments.

SSVs can transport heavy equipment, supplies, and troops anywhere in the archipelago. It has provisions for 121 crew members and can house up to 500 soldiers. It can also carry up to three naval helicopters on its heli-deck and two "baby boats" in its rear hold. (PIA5/Albay)

4 alleged NPAs yield, firearms seized in Ifugao

From the Philippine Information Agency (Nov 28): 4 alleged NPAs yield, firearms seized in Ifugao

Featured Image

ASIPULO, Ifugao --The continuous military operations here resulted to the surrender and rescue of alleged New People’s Army (NPA) members and seizure of high powered fire-arms.

Lt. Col. Narciso Nabulneg, Jr., Commander, 54th Infantry Battalion, reported that two NPA members had surrendered and two others were rescued after two successive encounters between government troops and the armed group at barangay Namal, Asipulo last November 21.

The troops also overran an NPA hideout and recovered high powered firearms and explosives consisting of a K3-Squad automatic weapon, three M16 rifles, M203 grenade launcher, five improvised explosive devices (IED, 27 blasting caps, two detonators, as well as cellular phones, three NPA flags, generator set and other documents.

Nabulneg said that the success operations were the results of the massive campaign against insurgency supported by the people and former rebels.

“Your bravery to stand with the government is of great help in implementing peace and order in our beloved municipality; peace and order is not just the concern of the government but of everybody,” he said.

Nabulneg also commended his men’s high level of discipline in observing the rules of engagement that was something beyond his expectation.

“Truly indeed that life is more valuable, after all, it’s not about the number of enemies killed that we’re counting but the number of enemies who return to the folds of the law and joyfully embrace the life in the mainstream of the society.,” the officer stated.

He appealed to other NPAs who are now running nowhere in the mountains to lay down their arms, embrace peace and return to the folds of the law.

“After all, we are all Filipinos and armed struggle is of no use and irrelevant. Besides, let’s treasure our lives and instead be part of building our nation,” Nabulneg stated. (JDP/MBL- PIA CAR, Ifugao)

In photo are the high powered firearms and explosives recovered by government soldiers after successive encounters with New People's Army ) at barangay Namal, Asipulo on Thursday, Nov. 21. (54th IB photo)

Navy's first anti-sub chopper to arrive early 2019

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 27): Navy's first anti-sub chopper to arrive early 2019

The Philippine Navy's (PN) first anti-submarine helicopter, the AgustaWestland AW-159 "Wildcat", is expected to be delivered within the first quarter of 2019.

This was disclosed by Navy spokesperson, Commander Jonathan Zata, in a message to the Philippine News Agency when asked on the status of the said defense project.

"Accordingly, it will arrive within the first quarter of next year. Manufacturers trials are still being done (as of this time)," he added.

Earlier, Defense spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said that initial flight-testing is now ongoing for the two Philippine-ordered AW-159 anti-submarine helicopters.

These aircraft were acquired for PHP5.4 billion including its munition, mission essential equipment and integrated logistic support.

"As confirmed by the Commander Naval Air Group. The (first) AW-159 have just started initial test flight as part of the manufacturer's trial. It is still scheduled for a series of test flights before scheduling its handover to the Philippines. According as well to CNAG, the flight signals the completion of the first unit," Andolong earlier said.

The AW-159 (previously called the Future Lynx and Lynx Wildcat) is an improved version of the Westland Super Lynx military helicopter.

The helicopter has been ordered for the Royal Navy and British Army. It is capable of speeds of 291 km/h (181 mph), range of 777 km (483 miles), ferry range of 963 km (598 miles) and an endurance of one and a-half hours (fours hours and 30 minutes if fitted with auxiliary fuel).

The AW-159 can also be armed with rockets, machine guns, missiles, torpedoes and depth charges.

Dureza apologizes for failing to curb corruption at OPAPP

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 27): Dureza apologizes for failing to curb corruption at OPAPP

Resigned Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza on Tuesday apologized to President Rodrigo R. Duterte for failing to prevent the alleged corruption within his agency, the Office of Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).

This after Duterte, during the inauguration of the Bohol-Panglao International Airport, announced that he has accepted Dureza’s resignation, saying he was “very sad” but accepted his decision.

In the same speech, Duterte said he has fired OPAPP Undersecretary and PAMANA National Program Manager Ronald Flores and OPAPP Assistant Secretary for Support Services and PAMANA Concerns Yeshter Donn Baccay due to corruption but did not elaborate.

Dureza, in a press statement, said he was stepping down from his post to allow a “needed reorganization” within the OPAPP.

“I am voluntarily tendering my resignation to pave the way for the needed reorganization that Your Excellency may wish to undertake at OPAPP,” Dureza said.

Dureza said he was glad, but with some amount of sadness, that Duterte will be terminating two OPAPP officials.

He said he tried to gather evidence to give basis to his planned move to sack the two OPAPP officials if warranted.

After talking to some local officials, he said he was able to validate some reports but they declined to be officially quoted.

Dureza said he also installed an internal Ombudsman with an outside lawyer to help validate and gather evidence due to persistent rumors about corruption.

He also took efforts to publicly warn the public through the social and mainstream media against corruption in the implementation of PAMANA projects and requested information with assurances of confidentially of the source.

He, however, said he was saddened how, despite his efforts to comply with Duterte’s advocacy against corruption, he failed by concentrating on concerns in relation to planned resumption of peace talks.

“I had left the internal functions to my other OPAPP appropriate officials while I concentrated my attention on the big task of dealing with challenges of peace,” Dureza said.

“I truly am sad that OPAPP , as an institution which I head, had to suffer publicly due to the acts of a few. Nonetheless, I take full responsibility and apologize for all this,” he added.

Dureza thanked Duterte for the opportunity of being the Presidential Peace Adviser under his watch, and urged everyone to continue rallying behind the Chief Executive.

"Although I have voluntarily relinquished my assigned task at OPAPP, I call on everyone to continue supporting our President. I will continue to do so in my private capacity. I believe in him and in his sincere intentions for our country. He cannot do this alone," he said in a post on social media.

'Wildcat' choppers to give PH Navy anti-submarine capability

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 28): 'Wildcat' choppers to give PH Navy anti-submarine capability

The military's first anti-submarine helicopter, the AugustaWestland AW-159 "Wildcat" that has the capability to detect and engage underwater threats, is set to arrive in the first quarter of 2019.

Philippine Navy Spokesperson Commander Jonathan Zata said the aerial platform is a "big leap" for the Navy as it would soon have a weapon capable of securing both "surface waters" and "underwater".

Prior to the acquisition of the anti-submarine helicopter, the Navy has no capability to detect and engage sub-surface threats.

"It is a big leap essentially dahil (because) with this capability, we now have this tool (capable) of securing not only the surface waters that we have but also underwater," Zata said.

"(And with the arrival of the AW-159), we can detect submarines, we can detect underwater vehicles and also the capability to engage underwater vehicles within our territory, so it's a tremendous leap from our current inventory," he added.

The AW-159 will be based aboard the two new frigates being constructed by South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries and whose deliveries are scheduled for 2020 and 2021, he added.

The aircraft will be fitted with sensors and weapons capable of neutralizing sub-surface threats, he said.

Earlier, Defense Spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said initial flight-testing is ongoing for the two AW-159 anti-submarine helicopters acquired by the Philippines.

These aircraft were acquired for PHP5.4 billion including its munition, mission essential equipment and integrated logistic support.

The AW-159 (previously called the Future Lynx and Lynx Wildcat) is an improved version of the Westland Super Lynx military helicopter. It can also be armed with rockets, machine guns, missiles, torpedoes and depth charges.

DND to scrutinize PRRD plan to form anti-SPARU unit

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 28): DND to scrutinize PRRD plan to form anti-SPARU unit

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Wednesday said they will study and look very closely on President Rodrigo Duterte's proposal to form a unit that will go after the communist rebels' "Special Partisan Unit" or (SPARU).

"We will study it very closely. Who will compose it, who will supervise it, who will be the targets? Who will be accountable? Because there is great danger of abuse or mistakes in these undercover operations," he said in a message to reporters.

When asked to expound on the mistakes, the DND chief said he was referring to misidentification of targets.

"Mistakes in identifying their targets. Baka kamukha lang o ininguso ng ibang tao (he or she might only look similar to the target or was just wrongly tagged). One way to prevent this is for someone higher up to give the go signal after careful and thorough vetting. Dapat walang blanket authority yung mga operatives. (Operatives should not have blanket authority on the matter)," Lorenzana stressed.

Earlier, Duterte mulled the creation of the unit to go after SPARU members, who are known for assassinating people.

Meanwhile, Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Oscar Albayalde said he is still to receive instructions from the President regarding the matter.

"Wala pang (there is still no) specific guidance dyan (on that)," he added.

Dureza shows professionalism in resigning: Lorenzana

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 28): Dureza shows professionalism in resigning: Lorenzana

Former Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza displayed professionalism when he resigned and apologized for the alleged corruption committed by his two subordinates, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Wednesday.

"He is a friend from way back in the mid '80s. We worked beautifully with each other. He showed high professionalism by taking the fall for the mistakes of his people," Lorenzana added.

In the military, he said, this is called "command responsibility", which is defined as "the commander is responsible for whatever his unit does or fails to do."

The defense chief said the trait is truly admirable for a great leader and patriot.

When asked to comment on reports that outgoing Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief-of-Staff Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. would replace Dureza at the helm of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, he said, "Bago yan (That's new). I have not heard of that. But if (it's) true, I would strongly endorse him.”

US, EU, Aussie envoys congratulate newly confirmed DFA chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 28): US, EU, Aussie envoys congratulate newly confirmed DFA chief  

The envoys of the United States (US), European Union (EU), and Australia on Wednesday welcomed the confirmation of Teodoro Locsin Jr. as Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary.
Locsin, who breezed through the committee level, was confirmed by the Commission on Appointments (CA) plenary on the same day.
In a tweet, US Ambassador Sung Kim congratulated the DFA chief and said he looked forward to working with him in strengthening further the US-Philippines alliance.
"Congratulations to SFA (Secretary of Foreign Affairs) Locsin on today’s confirmation -- I look forward to working closely to further strengthen our great alliance!" he said.
EU Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen offered similar congratulatory message, adding he expects more engagement with the secretary in the future.
Outgoing Australian Ambassador Amanda Gorely, for her part, is confident the Australia-Philippine relations will be in good hands with Locsin's confirmation. Locsin and Gorely met Nov. 23 during the latter's courtesy call at the DFA Office in Pasay.
"Congratulations to Secretary Locsin on his confirmation. I know from our recent meeting that Australia-Philippine relations are in good hands," she said.
Locsin succeeds former DFA Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, who resigned from his post to run as congressman in Taguig City.
Locsin has served as legal counsel and speech writer to former Presidents Corazon Aquino, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Before assuming office as the country's top diplomat, he was the Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York.

107 communist rebels surrender in Bicol

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 27): 107 communist rebels surrender in Bicol

At least 107 members and supporters of the New People's Army (NPA) operating in two towns of Masbate province surrendered to the Philippine Army’s (PA) 903rd Brigade Command on Monday afternoon.

Army Capt. Joash Pramis, PA 9th Infantry Division (9ID) public affairs chief, said in a phone interview Tuesday that the rebels who were operating in the towns of Aroroy and Claveria in Masbate, yielded in two batches.

She noted that of the rebel returnees, only five were regular NPA members while the rest were communist militia members and supporters.

The first batch, composed of 64 members of the communist movement Sangay ng Partido sa Localidad and Milisyang Bayan, was from Aroroy, while the second batch, composed of 43 SLP and MB members, was from the town of Claveria.

During the ceremony, the rebels yielded a total of 19 handguns.

Pramis said the surrenderers will have to undergo processing to qualify for the government’s Comprehensive Local Integration Program.

Gov’t to allocate P450-M for rebel integration program in 2019

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 27): Gov’t to allocate P450-M for rebel integration program in 2019

Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Oscar Albayalde talks with New People's Army (NPA) surrenderers during a press conference on Monday, Nov. 26, 2018 at Linmarr Apartelle in Davao City. (Photo by Lilian C. Mellejor)

The government is allocating PHP450 million to the government’s Enhanced-Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) to accommodate more communist rebels who will surrender and avail of the program next year.

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año, in a press conference at the Linmarr Apartelle on Monday, said the E-CLIP is designed to discourage rebels from going back to the armed struggle.

This year, the national government through the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) spent about PHP488 million for the E-CLIP covering almost 800 former New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.

Aside from the E-CLIP benefits, Año said there are also other packages offered to former rebels by other government agencies like the Conditional Cash Transfer from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), educational assistance skills training by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and other immediate cash assistance and remuneration for firearms surrendered.

Año said former rebels will also be given a house and lot and the opportunity to work with the government.

He also noted that 15 cooperatives run by former rebels have been assisted by the government through E-CLIP.

The government has touted the E-CLIP as a successful come-on for insurgents to surrender and lead a new life outside the communist struggle.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that in Davao region alone from January to November 24 this year, there were already 790 NPA regulars who abandoned the armed struggle. Also, 20,000 members of Militia ng Bayan and underground organizations, as well as mass supporters have surrendered.

Lorenzana likewise noted the surrender of 745 firearms and recovery of 306 others during encounters.

Ten rebels who surrendered to the Police Regional Office (PRO)-12 on Monday and to the 1002nd Infantry Brigade last November 23 will be enrolled to the E-CLIP.

They were presented by the police and Army officials in a press conference at Linmarr Hotel.

One of them, 38-year-old Joaquin Mantang, was hopeful he would qualify to become a soldier. Mantang is a member of the T’Boli tribe of South Cotabato.

Mantang surrendered after six years of fighting against government forces. He was a squad leader of Guerilla Front 73 of the NPA’s Far South Region under a certain Commander Billy.

“Kapoy na sige ug gukod sa sundalo ug police (I am tired of running after the soldiers and the police,” he said in an interview.

Mantang admitted he was missing his wife and four children, all elementary school pupils. After his surrender, Mantang wished for his family to be safe.

Año, on the other hand, was hopeful all other rebels would surrender to the government.

"Hope that your other comrades will see the light in the government's efforts to reach unto you through the localized peace initiatives and the E- CLIP program," he said.

"I am telling you, your place is here with your family and with your community where you can live in peace and security.”

Meanwhile, National Security Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Hermogenes Esperon said more rebels have returned to the fold of the law with their firearms, an indication that they have seen the futility of the communist struggle.

“There is no direction on what they are doing in the Communist Party of the Philippines. They are also having a difficulty in their daily living inside the movement because their family is expanding, and their children have no direction in life," he said.

Año, Lorenzana, Esperon and Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Director General Oscar Albayalde are in Davao City for the joint Regional Peace and Order Council and National Peace and Order Council meeting at the Ritz Hotel.

12 NPA rebels surrender in Lanao del Sur

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 28): 12 NPA rebels surrender in Lanao del Sur 

Twelve New People’s Army (NPA) rebels surrendered to military authorities in the hinterlands of Kapai and Tagoloan towns in Lanao del Sur on Monday.

The rebels yielded due to the pressure of continuous military operations, Lt. Col. Jayson Jumawan, Army’s 82nd Infantry Battalion commander, said in a press statement on Tuesday.

The surrenderers reportedly belong to a group organized by the Semi Legal Team, Guerilla Front 12, North Central Mindanao Regional Committee.

He said the group also turned over a .30 Carbine rifle and .45-caliber pistol. The rebels were placed under custodial debriefing to determine the extent of the group’s influence.

Maj. Gen. Roseller Murillo, Army’s 1st Infantry Division commander, commended the effort of the troops that led to the surrender of the 12 members of the rebel group.

“Our campaign against Communist NPA Terrorists and Local Terrorists Group in our area of operation is relentless and will continue to insulate communities from their terroristic activities," said Murillo, who is also the commander of the Task Force Zampelan (Zamboanga Peninsula and Lanao).

“We will complement our operations with other Infantry Divisions to isolate and destroy them to attain just and lasting peace in our area of operations,” he added.

Zambo City hosts 4th trilateral security exercise

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 28): Zambo City hosts 4th trilateral security exercise

A Royal Malaysian Navy ship on Tuesday docks at the port of Zamboanga City as the trilateral security exercise reels off. The other two participating navy contingents are from Indonesia and the Philippines. (Photo courtesy of Naval Forces Western Mindanao Public Information office)

ZAMBOANGA CITY -- The city government was elated that this city is part of the trilateral security exercise, involving the navies of Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines (Indomalphi).

Lawyer Eric Elias, officer-in-charge city mayor, welcomed on behalf of Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar, the Navy contingent from the Tentara Nasional Indonesia-Angkatan Laut (TNI-AL) and Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) in a ceremony at the port here Tuesday.

The arrival of the two foreign vessels – KRI Suri (802) of TNI-AL and KD Pari (3510) of RMN --marked the beginning of the Indomalphi 4th Trilateral Port Visit and maritime training activities for the navies of Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines under the Trilateral Cooperative Arrangement (TCA).

Elias said the city government is elated that Zamboanga “is part of this important pursuit, especially because security is part of the Salazar administration’s thrust for the city.”

Aside from Elias, the members of the contingent that welcomed the arrival of the KRI Suri (802) and KD Pari (3510) included Lt. Commander Ahmad Yunus, Indonesian Head of Mission; Commander Azeman Yusoff, Malaysian Head of Mission; officers and men of the Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) and local government officials.

Capt. Richard Gonzaga, Naval Forces Western Mindanao deputy commander for fleet operations, said a series of activities, such as day tours, sports activities, capability demonstration and maritime cooperative training activities, will be conducted and participated in by representatives of each country at Wesmincom’s area of responsibility until Friday.

Gonzaga said the aim of the trilateral activity is 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 purpose of the TCA is to establish cooperation among the three countries in addressing terrorism, smuggling, kidnapping, intrusion, piracy, illegal entry, robbery at sea, drug trafficking, illicit trafficking in arms, theft of marine resources, money laundering, and marine pollution.

It is also aimed at securing the maritime waters, including the Tawi-Tawi fishing ground of Zamboanga-based fishing and canning industries, and to prevent trafficking in persons, as well as illegal immigration.

9 rebels yield in Bataan

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 28): 9 rebels yield in Bataan

Nine communist rebels voluntarily surrendered to government forces in Barangay Camacho, Balanga City in Bataan on Monday.

The surrenderers were reportedly members of the
Marxist-Leninist Party of the Philippines- Rebolusyonaryong Hukbong Bayan (MLPP-RHB).

Major Ericson Bulosan, chief of the Public Information Office of the Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom), said in an interview on Tuesday that the surrender of the rebels was the result of the collaborative efforts of the military, police and the local government units (LGUs) of Bataan.

Bulosan said the surrenderers also turned in an improvised M14 rifle, two caliber 38s with live ammunition and a hand grenade.

He said the rebels underwent initial custodial debriefing for their reintegration to the mainstream of society through the LGUs of Bataan.

“The Nolcom will continue to work collaboratively with its counterparts and stakeholders to fulfill the mission in pressuring RHB remnants to abandon their armed struggle towards the promotion of peace and security in its area of responsibility,” he added.

Army assures Negrenses of efforts to end NPA violence

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 28): Army assures Negrenses of efforts to end NPA violence

Colonel Benedict Arevalo (left), commander of the Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade, pins a commendation medal on one of the troops of the 79th Battalion who engaged the communist rebels in Barangay Washington, Escalante City last November 16. The awarding was held on Monday (November 26, 2018) (Photo courtesy of 303rd Infantry Brigade, Philippine Army )

BACOLOD CITY -- The chief of the Philippine Army in Negros Island has assured that government troops will continue the efforts to end the atrocities of the New People’s Army (NPA).

Col. Benedict Arevalo, commander of 303rd Infantry Brigade based in Murcia, Negros Occidental, gave the assurance on Wednesday after President Rodrigo Duterte proposed to form a unit that will go after the communist rebels’ Special Partisan Unit or SPARU.

He said that although he is aware of the pronouncement of the President, the Army here has not yet received a formal order or guidance from the higher headquarters.

“Let me assure the people of Negros Occidental there’s nothing to worry about. We will continue our mission to attack the NPA rebels to end their violence and extortion activities guided by the rules of engagement. We will follow the rules,” Arevalo said.

He added that it should be the communist rebels who should worry, not the peace-loving and law-abiding citizens of Negros.

On Monday, Arevalo awarded commendation medals to personnel of the Army’s 79th Infantry Battalion and the Philippine National Police’s 6th Special Action Force, who engaged the rebels at Sitio Puting Bato in Barangay Washington, Escalante City last November 16.

The encounter led to the death of two NPA guerrillas and the recovery of an M16 rifle, a .45 caliber pistol, rounds of ammunition, a bullet proof vest, and subversive documents.

During the awarding rites held at the 79th headquarters in Sagay City, Arevalo said he wants his troops to be always in the highest state of morale by giving them due recognition for their accomplishments.

“Well-motivated troops can easily win the campaign against the NPA,” he said.