Thursday, December 13, 2018

Suspected NPAs kill PNP applicant in Sorsogon

From the Manila Bulletin (Dec 12): Suspected NPAs kill PNP applicant in Sorsogon

CAMP OLA, Albay – A criminology graduate was shot dead by suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Sitio Balading, Brgy Sto. Domingo, Irosin, Sorsogon on Tuesday morning.

Chief Inspector Malu Calubaquib, Police Regional Office 5 (PRO-5) spokesperson, identified the victim as Anthony Gestiada. Initial investigation also added that the victim is applying for work at the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Initial investigation disclosed that while the victim was inside his house, the suspects, armed with long firearms, entered the house and asked the victim if he is applying in the PNP service.

According to Calubaquib, without further reason, the suspects shot the victim several times, resulting in his instantaneous death.

The suspects immediately fled on board a white van without plate number to an unknown direction.

Opinion: Sison’s Communist Party must be outlawed

From the Manila Times (Dec 13): Sison’s Communist Party must be outlawed (By Rigberto D. Tiglao)

THE primordial duty of any nation-state is to defend its existence. This is the reason why all nations in the world, except for the pseudo-state called The Vatican, each have an army. Other than its armed forces, a state’s weapon for defending its existence is through laws that it can apply within its sovereign territory.

Why the hell don’t we have a law banning the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) — the Maoist organization founded by the permanent Netherlands blabbermouth Jose Ma. Sison — its New People’s Army, its negotiating arm and propagandist the National Democratic Front, and its front organizations such as Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Gabriela and several other so-called party-list organizations?

The CPP’s Constitution (available on the internet) very categorically declares that its goal is to overthrow our democratic, republican system using the weapons of “revolutionary armed struggle and the national united front.” Its program declares that is to be done by building guerilla fronts “to encircle the cities from the countryside… until it becomes possible to seize power in the cities.”

And what will replace the Philippine Republic, its Congress and Constitution? “The Party as the ruling party, in representation of the working class, shall form the government,” the CPP program declares.

Yesterday, the party even had the gall to issue a statement — carried by all newspapers — ordering the NPA to attack, that is, to kill without provocation our soldiers and policemen. The statement declared: “ The CPP calls on the NPA to mount tactical offensives across the country in response to the extension of martial law in Mindanao. All NPA units must exert all possible effort to punish the worst fascist units and officers of the AFP…”

Congress threatened

 What is shocking in the CPP statement is that it even threatened Congress: “Everyone who voted in favor of extending martial rule in Mindanao will have their names tainted with the blood of each and every victim of Duterte’s all-out war.” In the CPP’s code, to be “tainted with blood” means to have “blood-debts,” and therefore to be executed under its brand of “revolutionary justice.”

CPP statement ordering killing of soldiers and police in response to extension of martial law in its website

Have we become a nation of masochists that we don’t have a law to ban an organization that has declared war on our way of life?

Most countries in the world facing insurgencies led by communists have banned these organizations, as a means of defeating them. Even India declared 10 illegal Maoist parties in 1990. Even former members of the dissolved communist-ruled USSR, such as Ukraine, have criminalized communist parties in their nations. Indonesia’s total ban on the Indonesian Communist Party in 1965 helped it demolish what was then the second biggest communist party (after China’s) in the world. Thailand’s ban on its communist insurgency in the late 1970s — coupled with an amnesty to those who surrendered in a few years defeated the rebellion.

We did have a law criminalizing the communist party, the Anti-Subversion Act of 1957, which was enacted before Sison’s party was established, and was directed at the old Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas and its army the Hukbalahap Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan. Marcos strengthened the law through several presidential decrees and executive orders.

Aquino freed Sison

 It was President Corazon Aquino who strengthened the CPP in 1986 when she freed Sison and all other top communist leaders captured — at great cost to military intelligence’s lives — by the Marcos regime. But, not only that, she defanged the Anti-Subversion Law.

It was under the administration of her chosen candidate, president Fidel Ramos — who ironically as Philippine Constabulary chief was in charge of defeating the CPP-NPA during the 13 years of martial law — that the Anti-Subversion Act was repealed in September 1992.

A key sentence in the old Anti-Subversion Act is still very relevant today: “The Congress hereby declares the Communist Party of the Philippines to be an organized conspiracy to overthrow the Government of the Republic of the Philippines for the purpose of establishing in the Philippines a totalitarian regime and place the Government under the control and domination of an alien power.”

What would such a law banning the CPP accomplish? A lot.

First, laws reflect the national consensus and policy. A law criminalizing the CPP would mean that we as a nation have become so fed up after 50 years of this terrorist organization’s existence and its dragging down of our country’s development, that we want it obliterated from this land.

It is quite admirable for President Duterte to issue last week Executive Order 70 that creates a task force against the Maoist insurgency and calls for a “whole-of-nation approach” in attaining an “inclusive and sustainable peace.” He is the first president to declare that it is his policy and determination to defeat the Maoists.

Impact magnified

 But its impact would be magnified a hundred times if there is a law that calls for such a task force and approach, so this would be a national policy that would continue even after Duterte steps down in 2022.

Second, depending on the features of such an anti-CPP law, it would make incarceration of the CPP’s ranking leaders and even its rank-and-file easier, as the law would make it a de facto crime to be a party member. Since the emergence of the Maoists in the 1970s, authorities had to prove that communist leaders and even NPA commanders were involved in homicide and murder, in order for them to be arrested and jailed.

Perhaps if Sison can be proven here to be a Maoist party member, and therefore in violation of the anti-communist law, the Philippine government can request his extradition from the Netherlands.

With such a law, foolish academics like UP Vice President Jose Dalisay won’t be able to pontificate that NPA recruiters in campus are merely the same kind of people as “ultra-conservative Catholics and born-again Christians, Rizalist cultists, military agents, the Ananda Marga.” There will be a law that would make these NPA recruiters criminals, with people like Dalisay declared to be colluding with criminals.


 The Maoists extensively use the world wide web for its propaganda efforts, as Islamic jihadists do, mainly but not exclusively through the website Philippine Revolution Web Central (

If we have a law criminalizing Sison’s party, the government can ask the website’s server (the outfit that hosts the website for global access) to desist from providing the criminal organization web services, just as most servers in the world have stopped hosting website of Islamic jihadists. That would go a long way in cutting off the party’s propaganda reach, especially to the youth.

And third, a law criminalizing Sison’s party could be part of a strategy to finally end this useless, bloody insurgency. Such a law could offer an amnesty to those who admit their membership in the party and register with the government within a specific period of time. That in fact was what Thailand did to defeat its own communist insurgency in the 1970s.

Sison’s communist scourge upon this nation will be half-a-century-old this month. It is time for Filipinos to unite against this curse that has been bringing our nation down, which has killed over 100,000 policemen, soldiers and innocent civilians.

Is there any doubt at all that Sison’s CPP has been a criminal organization for 50 years now?

Facebook: Rigoberto Tiglao
Twitter: @bobitiglao
Archives at:

16 barangays declared NPA-free

From the Sun Star-Davao (Dec 13): 16 barangays declared NPA-free

A TOTAL of 16 insurgency-affected barangays in Davao City have been declared as cleared, peaceful, and conflict–resilient communities by the board, a military official said.

These barangays are in Toril, Marilog, Baguio, Calinan, Paquibato, Buhangin, and Bunawan.

Brigadier Genetal Ernesto C Torres Jr., commander of 1003rd Infantry Brigade, said the Area Clearing Validation Board (ACVB) composed of officers from 1003rd Infantry Brigade, 10th Infantry Division, Davao City Police Office (DCPO), barangay officials from the concerned 16 barangays, and City Government officials convened Wednesday, December 12, to validate the recommendation of the evaluation board on the clearing of identified barangays.

These barangays are three in Toril, namely: Atan-Awe, Kilate and Tagluno; two in Marilog: Baganihan and Magsaysay; two barangays in Baguio: Dacudao and Gumalang; three in Calinan: Lacson, Dalagdag and Lampianao; two in Paquibato: Sumimao and Pandaitan; two in Buhangin: Tigatto and Indangan; and a barangay in Bunawan: Gatungan.

Torres said the ACVB signed a resolution stating the 16 barangays have met all the parameters for the clearing of insurgency-affected barangays.

This includes the dismantling of the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People's Army (CPP-NPA) politico-military structure; the denial of the CPP-NPA access to the area, resources, and manpower, including mass base support; and the establishment of a functioning barangay information net and integrated community public safety system.

"The successful clearing was finally reached as a result of the months-long Community Support Team (CSP) deployment of the military, in close collaboration with the police, barangay officials and the Davao City Government, through Peace 911, in addressing the issues that gave rise to insurgency," Torres said.

With these developments, he said it is expected that the Barangay Council becomes active in catering to the needs of the barangay; the residents support and participate in government programs and activities; and there is an active networking and linkaging among the local government units (LGUs), local government agency (LGAs), non-government organization (NGOs) and public officials for the efficient delivery of basic goods and services for the local populace.

To date, a total of 49 barangays in Davao City have been cleared of NPA influence since the start of the year.

"The 1003rd Raptor Brigade shall remain an active partner of the Davao City Government in the implementation of peace and development programs to sustain our gains in attaining lasting peace for the city," he added.

Meanwhile, last December 11, Torres added that another 18 barangays of Davao City were evaluated as cleared. After the evaluation, it will likewise undergo area clearing validation to be done by the ACVB.

Ilocos Norte remains ‘rebel-free’: Military

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 13): Ilocos Norte remains ‘rebel-free’: Military

INSURGENCY FREE. The Philippine Army briefs members of the Ilocos Norte peace and order council on the peace and order situation in the province, during the fourth quarter joint Provincial Peace and Order Council and Provincial Anti-Drug Abuse Council meeting held at the Capitol Session Hall on Dec. 7, 2018. (Photo by Leilanie Adriano)

LAOAG CITY—Residents in this part of Luzon continue to enjoy a generally peaceful community with no monitored threats from the New Peoples Army (NPA).

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), represented by Major Pedro Acosta Dacanay Jr., confirmed this as Ilocos Norte is a candidate for an insurgency-free province.

Amidst threats in the neighboring provinces of Abra, Ilocos Sur and Apayao, “there has been no monitored NPA activities in the province,” First Lieutenant Johnrey Barum of the 24th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army reported during the fourth quarter joint Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) and Provincial Anti-Drug Abuse Council meeting held at the Capitol session hall here last December 7.

Since 2011 or for the past seven years now, Ilocos Norte has remained free from insurgents.

“There had been some reports however of sightings but when validated by authorities, said individuals were not armed,” he said.

With the intensified drive of the Duterte administration to get rid of the NPA or the Communist Party of the Philippines, the friendly forces continue to implement area security while reaching out to the far-flung communities and make government presence felt through various outreach programs and massive information and education drive in schools and villages.

Ilocos Norte has been under the jurisdiction of the Abra-based 24th Infantry Batallion (IB) while Ilocos Sur and La Union have been under the 81st IB.

With the support of the military, the Provincial Mobile Force Company of the Philippine National Police is now taking the lead in fighting the remaining insurgents here.

NoCot peace advocate gunned down

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 13): NoCot peace advocate gunned down

GONE. North Cotabato peace advocate Ahmad Kumayog, 43. (Photo courtesy of UNYPAD)

MIDSAYAP, North Cotabato -- A peace advocate working for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law in North Cotabato province was shot dead along the national highway here on Wednesday afternoon, police said.

The victim, 43-year old Ahmad Kumayog, treasurer of Barangay Mudsing, was driving his motorbike and was heading home at past 1 p.m. when he was attacked, according to Supt. Joan Maganto, Midsayap town police chief.

The BOL is the enabling law of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed for the creation of the new Bangsamoro political entity in Mindanao.

Maganto said Kumayo was the chairman of the United Youth for Peace and Development (UNYPAD) and a member of the North Cotabato Composite Team of Civil Society Organizations (NCCT-CSO).

“While cruising the national highway in Barangay Glad, one of two armed men on a separate motorbike opened fire on him using a .45-caliber pistol,” Maganto, quoting witnesses, said.

Motorists rushed Kumayog to a hospital but he was declared dead on arrival.

“We call upon the police authorities and even the Philippine military to conduct a thorough investigation on the killing of Kumayog in the interest of justice,” said Taher Solaiman, NCCT-CSO chairman.

The victim’s relatives said Kumayog has no known enemy and a very active peace advocate prior to his death.

3 Sayyaf bandits, soldier die in Sulu clash

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 13): 3 Sayyaf bandits, soldier die in Sulu clash

Three Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits and a soldier were killed while two others wounded following a firefight amid the intensified operations in Sulu, military officials said Thursday.

Lt. Col. Gerry Besana, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) information officer, said the firefight broke out around 2:25 a.m. Thursday in Minis Island, Patikul, Sulu.

Besana said the clash ensued after the troops belonging to the Philippine Marine Ready Force-Sulu (PMRF-S) spotted some 50 ASG bandits led by Majid Emamil while on an amphibious combat operation in the area.

The identities of the slain and wounded soldiers were not made known except, that they belong to the 83rd and 62nd Marine Companies of the PMRF-S.

Besana said the troops recovered two M-14 rifles abandoned by the group of Emamil, as well as the remains of the three slain ASG bandits.

Besana said the killed and wounded troops were evacuated to Kuta Heneral Teodulfo Bautista Station Hospital in Jolo, Sulu. The two wounded marine soldiers were later airlifted to Camp Navarro General Hospital in this city.

“We are deeply saddened by the news that another gallant soldier was killed during the encounter of our troops with the ASG bandits,” said Lt. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega, commander of Westmincom.

Dela Vega assured that the Westmincom will extend the necessary assistance to the bereaved family.

Dela Vega said the Joint Task Force Sulu continues to intensify the offensives aimed at neutralizing the Abu Sayyaf bandits and rescue all the remaining six hostages.

The remaining hostages included three foreigners--Dutch, Indonesian and Vietnamese--and three Filipinos.

“All measures are now being undertaken, in accordance with the rules of engagement and with the support of the local government and the populace,” Dela Vega added.

Gov’t troops abort NPA meeting in Leyte

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 13): Gov’t troops abort NPA meeting in Leyte

SEIZED WAR MATERIALS. Army 802nd Brigade commander Brig. Gen. Lope Dagoy presented to the media some of the firearms and other items recovered by the government after a clash with the New People's Army in Calubian, Leyte on Thursday (December 13, 2018). (Photo courtesy of Army 802nd Infantry Brigade)
TACLOBAN CITY -- Soldiers from the Philippine Army’s 802nd brigade seized rifles, bullets, other war materials, and subversive documents after a 30-minute clash with members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in a remote village in Calubian, Leyte early Thursday.

Army 802nd brigade commander Brig. Gen. Lope Dagoy said in a press briefing in Ormoc City that the clash aborted a bi-annual meeting around 6 a.m. in Anislagan village attended by 20 communist rebels.

The meeting was reportedly led by NPA Leyte front leader Geronimo Maceda.

“This is alarming because they’re able to hold a meeting within a community and their shanties are just near the residential area. It is sad that the village chief also attended the meeting. His involvement is betrayal and not acceptable,” Dagoy told reporters.

Acting on intelligence report, two platoons under the 93rd and 78th Infantry Battalions raided the village and engaged the rebels in a gun battle. No one was hurt on the military side while the number of casualties on the enemy side is still undetermined.

Also recovered were mobile phones, tablets, food items, and several personal belongings of rebels.

“They are trying to retake control of the third district because they used to collect a lot of revolutionary taxes. The NPA front here had collapsed in 2005 after an intensified insurgency campaign,” Dagoy added.

Dagoy is largely counting on information from villagers to further strengthen his unit's fight against the communist rebels in Leyte province. He said locals play a big role in combating insurgency as they are able to observe suspicious-looking people in their communities.

He urged NPA members to lay down their arms and avail of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).

Under E-CLIP, each former rebel will receive a total of PHP65,000, of which, PHP15,000 is immediate financial assistance while PHP50,000 will be given as livelihood aid.

The surrenderers will also receive additional financial assistance in exchange for the firearms they bring in, depending on the valuation of weapons. The amount ranges from PHP2,000 to PHP2 million.

E-CLIP seeks to contribute towards achieving permanent and peaceful closure of all armed conflicts with non-state groups, as well as facilitate the mainstreaming of former rebels as productive citizens.

Gains in new Bangsamoro region ensured: Madrigal

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 13): Gains in new Bangsamoro region ensured: Madrigal

All efforts will be exerted to ensure that the gains made in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) are sustained.

This was emphasized by newly-installed Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal during his assumption speech Tuesday.

"We will continue to sustain our gains in the BARMM by ensuring the successful implementation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) to usher in a new era of stability and progress in the area," he added.

The BOL plebiscite will take place on January 21 and February 6 next year.

Madrigal also said the pace to diminish the existence of terrorist cells and other armed spoilers of peace will continue in order to protect people and communities from them.

This is now being done through the countering violent extremism initiatives, with the support of concerned agencies and the Muslim community.

Madrigal replaced Gen. Carlito Galvez, Jr., his mistah at the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1985, who retired after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56.

The newly-appointed AFP chief, the 51st, served notably as 4th Infantry Division commander, Southern Luzon Command and Eastern Mindanao Command chief.

His appointment as next AFP chief was approved last Dec. 5 by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Madrigal is set to retire on September 28, 2019.

AFP chief confident of military personnel capability

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 13): AFP chief confident of military personnel capability

Despite the variety of security tasks it is instructed to do, newly-appointed Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal is confident that the military will be able to execute all of these efficiently.

"Considering the AFP's vision to be a 'World Class Armed Forces That is Source of National Pride' and the mission 'To Protect the People and Secure the Sovereignty of the State and the Integrity of the National Territory,' the task of leading the Armed Forces is overwhelming," Madrigal said during his assumption speech Tuesday at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

"However, I am confident that we can do all these, knowing that we have a very capable, better equipped, professional and solid Team AFP that is able to take on multifarious roles of civil-military cooperation, support law enforcement authorities in the fight against criminality and illegal drugs, defense of our territory, and the application of military force against terrorists and other armed groups, all at the same time," Madrigal stressed.

Earlier, the new AFP chief said efforts to neutralize the terror threat will continue.

"We'll also keep up the pace of diminishing the existence of terrorist cells and other armed peace spoilers so we can protect our people and insulate our community from their clout of fear," he added.

This is being done with ongoing violent extremism initiatives, with the support of concerned agencies and the Muslim communities.

Also, peace-inclined groups are now working in tandem with the government in the relentless pursuit of terrorism cells linked with the Dawlah Islamiya, Abu Sayyaf and remnants of the Maute Group.

These efforts greatly reduced threats posed by these groups, constricted their movement and and disrupted their terroristic plans.

"We cannot let another Marawi-like threat to happen again," Madrigal stressed.

The Marawi Siege started in May 23, 2017 and ended five months later.

Around 165 government troops were killed, along with scores of civilians. and an estimated 1,000 Maute Group terrorists and their allies were slain in the clashes, which also heavily-ravaged the city.

Madrigal replaced Gen. Carlito Galvez, Jr., his mistah at the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1985, who retired after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56.

The newly-appointed AFP chief, the 51st, served notably as 4th Infantry Division commander, Southern Luzon Command and Eastern Mindanao Command chief.

His appointment as next AFP chief was approved last Dec. 5 by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Madrigal is set to retire on September 28, 2019.

Special program set for Balangiga bells turnover on Saturday

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 13): Special program set for Balangiga bells turnover on Saturday

The Diocese of Borongan has prepared a special program for the formal turnover over of the Balangiga Bells to the Balangiga Church, in Eastern Samar, on Saturday.

In an interview on Tuesday, Msgr. Pedro Quitorio, head of the Borongan Diocese - Return of the Balangiga Bells Committee, said several activities will highlight the official turnover from the State to the Church this weekend.

“The overall program will have prayer, welcome talk, unveiling and ringing of the bells,” he added.

The Catholic priest noted that Church and government officials will deliver speeches during the program which is scheduled to start at 3 pm.

Among them are Borongan Bishop Crispin Varquez, US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim, Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, and President Rodrigo Duterte.

But, it was reported on Wednesday that the Chief Executive is no longer attending the ceremony.

After the speeches, it will be followed by the signing of the Certificate of Transfer from the DND to the Diocese.

Quitorio added that military choppers will also be showering flowers to the people while the bells are being rang.

A one-minute prayer for the dead, especially with a cemetery located beside the Parish of St. Lawrence (Balangiga Church), will be offered during the program.

At 6 pm, a Eucharistic Celebration will be conducted to be followed by traditional dances at the nearby city plaza.

On Tuesday, the three church bells were returned to the country after 117 years. They were taken by American soldiers as war trophies.

The two bells came from Wyoming, USA while the other was from South Korea.

PH war vets to get 300% hike in pension next year

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 13): PH war vets to get 300% hike in pension next year

The 300-percent increase in the monthly old-age pension of Filipino senior war veterans was transmitted to MalacaƱang last Nov. 26 and is just awaiting President Rodrigo Duterte's signature.

In all likelihood, it will be implemented early next year, providing the more than 6,000 Filipino World War II, Korean and Vietnam war veterans a total of PHP20,000 monthly old-age pension, an increase of PHP15,000 in their previous PHP5,000 annuity.

In a press release Thursday, Senator Gregorio Honasan, principal author and sponsor of Senate Bill No. 1766, known as An Act Increasing the Monthly Old-Age Pension of Senior Veterans, said the government will spend a total of PHP887.94 million in granting the additional PHP15,000 increase to the current PHP5,000 monthly old-age pension as provided for under the existing Republic Act No. 7696, Honasan said.

Both Houses of Congress decided to do away with the bicameral conference after the House of Representatives moved to adopt the Senate version and concur with its amended provisions last November 13.

"The House (of Representatives), even if they first started this (piece of legislation), decided to adopt the amendments of the Senate, practically adopting the Senate version. It will lapse into law after 30 days (from Nov.26) if the President fails to act on it," the chair of the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security said.

"Recognizing the urgency of the said measure, we believe that the President will sign it into law. Tuwang tuwa din ako dahil (I'm also very happy because) I'll be riding off into the sunset next year," said Honasan, whose term of office expires in June 2019.

The measure will entitle the eligible living senior veterans of World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War and those who have not been receiving pension from the Armed Forces of the Philippines to the PHP20,000 monthly old-age pension.

It will not, however, be transferable to any member of their family or dependents. In the event of death of the senior veteran, the pension of the surviving spouse shall still remain at PHP5,000 a month.

"The challenge is to institutionalize this to the point that it's almost engraved in stone, that whoever is the president, whoever sits in Congress, will make sure that our veterans will live forever in the memory of this nation," Honasan said.

Nothing new with Reds threat of nationwide offensive: AFP spox

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 13): Nothing new with Reds threat of nationwide offensive: AFP spox

There is nothing new with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) threat to mount a nationwide offensive in response to another year-long extension of martial law in Mindanao, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said Thursday.

In an interview with reporters, Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesperson, said the rebels are merely using the martial law extension as an excuse for their real goals which is to conduct attacks and disturbances which could severely affect the country.

"Noon ngang may umiiral na ceasefire eh nagpatuloy ang mga pag-atake nila sa mga sundalong nasa humanitarian mission; mga pangingikil at pangigipit sa mga negosyo at mamumuhunan; panunog ng mga kagamitang pansakahan at pang-gawaing bayan kaya nga kinansela ng Presidente ang ceasefire. So anong bago (In the past, they continue attacking soldiers on a humanitarian mission even if a ceasefire is in effect. They also extort money from businesses and investors and burn farming and public works equipment. These are the reasons why the President scrapped the ceasefire. So, what's new?)" he added.

Arevalo also chided the rebels for having the temerity to declare a unilateral ceasefire during parts of the Yuletide Season, a truce which they have conveniently forgotten following this latest CPP pronouncement.

"At meron pa silang sinasabing (And they still have this) unilateral ceasefire na idineklara nila ngayong panahon ng Kapaskuhan (which they declared for the Christmas season)," he added.

The CPP ceasefire is slated to begin on 12:01 a.m. of Dec. 24 to 11:59 p.m. of Dec. 26 and on 12:01 a.m. of Dec. 31 to 11:59 p.m. of January 1, 2019.

"Kaya tama ang nagising kapasyahan ng pamunuan ng Sandatahang Lakas ng Pilipinas na huwag mag deklara ng tigil putukan dahil alam namin na isa na naman itong patibong o kaya naman gagawin na naman nila itong issue laban sa AFP na kontra sa kapayapaan. Kasi natuto na tayo sa kanilang mga kasinungalingan at propaganda (This proves that the decision of the Armed Forces of the Philippines not to declare a ceasefire is right. It's because we know that this is just another ploy for them to be able to hurl allegations that the AFP is against peace. It's because we learned from their lies and propaganda)," he added.

Arevalo assured the public that they are not taking the rebel threats lightly and have ordered troops to take necessary precautions.

"Nasa mataas tayong alert level, hindi dahil sa banta na yan kundi sa pag-alalay sa PNP sa sandaling kailanganin nila ang tulong mula sa AFP (We are on a high alert level not because of that threat. It's because we will help the PNP in case they ask assistance from the AFP)," he said.

Maute member nabbed in Caloocan

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 13): Maute member nabbed in Caloocan

Operatives of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG)-National Capital Region arrested a member of the Islamic State-inspired Maute group on Wednesday.

In a statement Thursday, Supt. Arnold Thomas Ibay, Regional Chief of the CIDG Regional Field Unit (RFU), identified the suspect as Jomar Labay a.k.a. “Jumar Ibrahim”, who was arrested along Phase 9 Pocket 7A, Barangay 176, Bagong Silang Caloocan City.

Labay is one of the suspects who beheaded two persons and kidnapped four others in Lanao del Sur in April 2016.

Ibay said Labay, who was member of Maute/ISIS group, was arrested by virtue of six warrants of arrest for kidnapping and serious illegal detention with murder issued by Judge Lacsaman Buaran of the Malabang, Lanao del Sur Regional Trial Court Branch 11.

Labay has a bounty of PHP600,000 under a joint order on reward issued by the Department of National Defense and the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

Balangiga Bells to return to Eastern Samar Dec. 14

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 13): Balangiga Bells to return to Eastern Samar Dec. 14

The Balangiga Bells will finally go home to its parish on Friday, the Department of National Defense (DND) spokesperson said Thursday.

In a statement forwarded to reporters, Arsenio Andolong said the bells will depart from Villamor Air Base, Pasay City aboard a Philippine Air Force (PAF) C-130 cargo plane for Guiuan, Eastern Samar at about 6 a.m. Friday.

It is expected to arrive in its destination by 8:30 a.m., Andolong added.

Upon landing at Guiuan, Eastern Samar, the bells will be transported via land to Balangiga, which will last approximately two hours.

The DND spokesperson said the formal transfer of the bells to the parish of Balangiga will be led by President Rodrigo Duterte and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Borongan Bishop Crispin Vasquez, in behalf of the Diocese of Borongan, will receive the bells from the DND.

Among the guests to witness the transfer are US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Yong Kim and Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles.

Last December 11, the US Department of Defense turned over the bells to the Philippines, culminating the decades-long return process involving numerous initiatives and negotiations between the two governments.

Two of these bells were housed for more than a century at the Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming, while the other was kept at Camp Red Cloud in South Korea.

The bells were seized and declared as war trophies by US troops in the aftermath of the Balangiga Massacre on September 28, 1901.

The Balangiga bells were at the crux of the struggle of the people of Samar during the war at the turn of the 20th century.

Lorenzana said after more than a century, the return of the bells to the Philippines from the United States now symbolizes the two countries’ “shared histories and ideals, new beginnings, renewed friendships and a stronger brotherhood.”

Japan offers air defense radars to PH: Lorenzana

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 13): Japan offers air defense radars to PH: Lorenzana

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Thursday confirmed that Japan is offering the country air defense radars, which if acquired, will boost the Philippine Air Force (PAF) surveillance and monitoring capabilities.

"Yes, they are offering to us their latest radars. It is one of the platforms being evaluated by the PAF. To monitor aircrafts and seacrafts traversing, entering or leaving our territory," he said in response to reporters' queries on the matter.

Lorenzana did not give specific details on the air defense radars being offered to the Philippines but foreign media reports said this is the Mitsubish Electric's FP3-3 being used by Japan Air Self-Defense Force since 1991.

The country is set to acquire five more radar systems under the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program (RAFPMP), which is slated to begin 2018 and end on 2022.

Under Horizon Two and Three, which is scheduled to start in 2023 to 2028, the AFP will start the acquisition of equipment that will beef up its external defense capabilities.

The platforms eyed for acquisition under these two phases are multi-role fighters, missile batteries, and diesel electric submarines and more modern detection and surveillance systems.

The RAFPMP Horizon One started on 2013 and ended in 2017 and resulted in the acquisition of two Hamilton-class cutters (renamed the Del Pilar-class frigates), six MPACs, 114 armored personnel carriers, three brand-new C-295 medium lift aircraft, two C-130 heavy transports, five utility versions of the AgustaWestland AW-109 helicopters, eight of its attack versions, five landing craft heavies, and 12 South Korean FA-50PH jet fighters.

PNP on high alert vs. Reds nationwide offensive

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 13): PNP on high alert vs. Reds nationwide offensive

The Philippine National Police (PNP) is on high alert as the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) threatened to mount a nationwide offensive in response to another year-long extension of martial law in Mindanao.

PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde said police maneuver forces have been put on high alert for any possible tactical engagement with communist terrorist elements, who have been ordered to escalate attacks on government and prized civilian targets.

Albayalde said the police mobile strike forces were earlier deployed to 10 provinces in Eastern Visayas, Negros Island and Bicol region and have linked-up with their AFP counterparts in an active defense posture to strengthen community defenses against the New People's Army, the CPP's armed wing.

He said the latest order of CPP founding chairman Joma Sison to the NPA exposed anew the culture of lies, deception and violence of the aging underground movement in its 50-year rebellion to grab power from government.

"The CPP/NPA has found a convenient excuse in the Congressional approval of the martial law extension in Mindanao as reason to stage further hostilities against government and civilian targets even as it earlier declared a farce five-day Yuletide ceasefire to trick government into reciprocating the CPP/NPA sham gesture of goodwill," the PNP chief said in a statement sent to reporters.

"We urge our people to maintain vigilance and not be intimidated by this vain attempt by the CPP/NPA to salvage its waning reputation and regain lost support of the masses that they continue to terrorize and oppress," he noted.

Albayalde said that while the PNP maintains a stiff and decisive stance against the CPP/NPA, it is keeping the doors open to all rebels deceived by the false promise of a just society under communist rule, and now want to lead normal lives with their families.

"We gladly welcome them into the folds of the law to enjoy the blessings of democracy in a free state. We call on them to lay down their arms and come home to spend Christmas with their families,” said Albayalde.

“The government is offering a life-changing opportunity for individual rebel returnees through a livelihood package with added compensation for surrendered firearms under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program or E-CLIP, the strategic flagship program to pursue the government’s peace and development agenda," Albayalde stressed.

The CPP ceasefire is slated to begin at 12:01 a.m. of Dec. 24 to 11:59 p.m. of Dec. 26; and at 12:01 a.m. of Dec. 31 to 11:59 p.m. of January 1, 2019.

The military and the police rejected the CPP's ceasefire declaration as farce and instead placed policemen and soldiers under heightened alert.

Moros, IP kids remain vulnerable in Mindanao conflict areas

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 14): Moros, IP kids remain vulnerable in Mindanao conflict areas

The Moro people and indigenous children remain the most affected by conflict as armed rebels continue fighting government forces in Mindanao, a United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) official said Thursday.

"They are highly vulnerable to recruitment by armed groups and on the other hand are accused by security forces because they are seen as rebels," said Lotta Sylwander, UNICEF representative to the Philippines, during the Children and Armed Conflict Forum in Makati City.

"This situation prevents children and their families from experiencing their basic rights to security and to freedom of movement," she added.

Sylwander reported that children recruited by armed groups in the Philippines are used in both support and combat.

"Usually they are 15 years or older. Due to lack of opportunities and social services, some children in conflict areas voluntarily join armed groups," she said.

Citing UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Sylwander said three main groups are guilty of recruiting and using children - the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), the Abu Sayyaf and the New People's Army (NPA).

"(Reasons why the children often join) are religious motivations, to perform jihad for example (in the BIFF and the Abu Sayyaf)," Sylwander said.

"In the case of NPA, children mentioned poverty, lack of opportunities, and injustices such as land grabbing," she added.

Sylwander said children are "often influenced or convinced by other people to join or not to join" these groups.

The UN verified that 30 Filipino children were recruited and used by rebels and local extremists either as combatants or part of the medical squads in 2017.

Of the figure, 16 were used as human shields by BIFF in a single incident, while six were recruited and used by the NPA.

Last May, the UN called upon armed groups in the Philippines that are recruiting and using children to take immediate steps to end and prevent the practice.

'Inside the schools'

A former NPA member alleged that communist rebels multiply because of the Salugpongan schools set up in geographically isolated areas in Mindanao to teach young indigenous people (IP).

"Doon, matutunan mo paano mag-rally. Tinuturuan kaming magbasa, magsulat at paano mag-dismantle ng armas, paano mag-dialogue (There, you will learn how to hold demonstrations. We are taught how to read and write but also ways to dismantle arms and how to hold dialogues)," the 20-year-old Datu Asenad Bago said in a recent interview.

Bago, also a former student of Salugpongan Learning Center in Talaingod, claimed these learning centers indoctrinate and recruit minors into joining the communist movement.

Among others, he claimed that sexual abuses were frequent and were committed by the learning center's staff themselves.

"Ako rin na-rape ako ng maestro na bayot, kaming dalawa ng kaklase ko (I was also raped by my teacher who was gay. Me and my other classmate)," he said.

"'Yong kasama ko na school mate, nabigyan ng sakit sa katawan kaya binayaran ng isang salmong bigas para makakain (My schoolmate sustained bruises from the sexual advances that's why that teacher gave him a kilo of rice to compensate)," he said.

Last week, tribal leaders representing Mindanao Indigenous Peoples Council of Elders (MIPCEL) backed claims that these learning centers served as recruitment hubs for rebels.

In a MIPCEL resolution, the group also condemned the violations of IP's rights on a list called "17 atrocities" committed by the NPA.

Currently, the Philippine National Police is looking into these alleged violations by collating all affidavits of the tribal leaders and victims.

Red offensive threat warrants ML extension: Madrigal

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 14): Red offensive threat warrants ML extension: Madrigal

The one-year extension of martial law in Mindanao is warranted as New People's Army (NPA) rebels threaten to conduct a nationwide offensive, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief-of-Staff, Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal said.

"Eh 'di all the more that we have a reason dun sa extension dahil dun sa ginagawa nilang pananakot 'di ba, (then we have more reasons to justify martial law extension based on their threats)," Madrigal told reporters Thursday.

Madrigal made the reaction after the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) threatened to conduct more offensives in response to the martial law extension in Mindanao until Dec. 31, 2019 in a bid to neutralize terror and other armed threats in the island.

The NPA, CPP's armed wing, is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.

Madrigal said troops are always on alert and have been ordered to take "proactive measures" to address rebel threats.

He added there is nothing new with the CPP order to intensify its offensives nationwide as it has been doing so even during declared unilateral ceasefires saying that the CPP does not have control over its forces on the ground.

Mindanao was placed under martial law in May 2017 to quash the ISIS-influenced Maute terrorist group that laid siege to Marawi City.