Monday, December 17, 2018

Peace 911 bags award from AFP

From the Mindanao Times (Dec 17): Peace 911 bags award from AFP

Peace 911, a peace and development initiative of the city for Paquibato District, earned the Kapayapaan Award on the Armed Forces of the Philippines' 83rd anniversary celebration.
The award was given last Thursday, Dec. 11.
The Peace 911 team, including consultant Irene Santiago and Malabog Punong Barangay Jesse Areja, handed the award to Mayor Sara Duterte.
"We are thankful to the Armed Forces of the Philippines for their recognition for the work of Peace 911," said the mayor.
"The city government of Davao recognizes the effort of (the Peace 911 team)," she said.
"It is their hard work and effort (that) brought about changes through implementing emergency projects in Paquibato as an intervention on the peace and order problem in that area," she added.
For 2019, the project will still focus on the same district.
"We do not have plans yet to expand Peace 911 to other districts. We have to cater first to the needs and address the issues in Paquibato before we move to other areas of the city," she said in an ambush interview.

ARMY: Gov't winning battle for minds of people vs. NPA

From the Mindanao Times (Dec 17): ARMY: Gov't winning battle for minds of people vs. NPA

The 10TH Infantry Division claimed that the military is already winning the war against the Communist insurgency as the government continues to pour in investments in the countryside.
"We are winning in the sense that there are more projects that was not done before because of the presence of the armed group,” Capt. Jerry Lamosao, the spokesperson of 10th infantry Division, said.
He said the New People's Army has been extorting businesses even if the projects are still being planned. They even ask up to 20% of the project cost and harass workers and torch heavy equipment if they refuse.
But he said they haven't recorded any reports of torched heavy equipment in the third quarter and fourth quarter of 2018. He thanked the people in the community for providing them with necessary information of NPA activities.
Based on their record from Jan. 1 to date, the army recovered 214 low and high powered firearms, and recovered 112 guns from different encounters, which also killed 30 guerrillas and the arrest of 43 NPAs.
During that span, former rebels also surrendered 419 firearms and 263 anti-personnel explosive devices.
In the region, the 10th ID also said 118 encampments were already overrun by the soldiers.
"This is just part of the achievement of the military but not just purely military because these are all consolidated efforts of the local government units, local chief executives and with the program of the President on the Enhanced-Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP)," Lamosao said.
"With the sincerity of the government, more NPAs are returning now to the government. With the E-CLIP, automatic there is livelihood assistance, housing project, and free enrollment on PhilHealth and in schools," he added.
For the E-CLIP, they partnered with Department of Education, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Department of Public works and Highways, National Housing Authority, Department of Social welfare and Development to help the former rebels.

2 Maute Group ‘gunrunners’ arrested along NLEX

From Rappler (Dec 17): 2 Maute Group ‘gunrunners’ arrested along NLEX

Cops seize two assault rifles, a handgun, and 12,893 rounds of live ammunition for M-60 light machine guns

MAUTE SUPPLIERS? Valenzuela City cops arrest two alleged gunrunners for the Maute Group along the Northern Luzon Expressway. NCRPO photo

MAUTE SUPPLIERS? Valenzuela City cops arrest two alleged gunrunners for the Maute Group along the Northern Luzon Expressway. NCRPO photo

Two alleged gunrunners of the Maute Group, the terror organization responsible for the fall of Marawi City, were nabbed along the North Luzon Expressway in Valenzuela City on Sunday, December 16.

According to the police report, partners Edgardo Medel and Rosemarie Medel were collared by special operations agents of the Valenzuela City Police Station, after being caught in a buy-bust operation at around 6:30 pm.

Cops were able to find the two with the help of a tipster. This source, cops said, identified the Medels as suppliers of the Maute Group and are already taking orders for the 2019 elections.

Metro Manila cops also discovered from local cops that the couple has an active market in Mindanao.

Police said the two are currently based in Gapan City, Nueva Ecija.

After building up their case and establishing contact with the suspects, undercover cops arranged for a staged purchase, paying the duo marked money amounting to P1.2 million in a meeting at an NLEX service station.

Right after the deal, cops arrested the couple. Seized from the two were two assault rifles, a handgun, and 12,893 rounds of live ammunition for M-60 light machine guns.

The couple brought their 3 children in the transaction. They were turned over to their other relatives, cops said.

The Mendels are set to face charges for violating Republic Act 10591or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act.

Guns, bullets seized from rebel suppliers traced to military

From Rappler (Dec 17): Guns, bullets seized from rebel suppliers traced to military

The PNP says the firearms and ammunition in the boxes are labeled 'AFP', 'GOVERNMENT PROPERTY,' and 'PHILIPPINE ARMY'

FROM MILITARY ARMORY. The confiscated bullets and guns are presented in Camp Crame on Monday, December 17. Photo by Rambo Talabong/Rappler

FROM MILITARY ARMORY. The confiscated bullets and guns are presented in Camp Crame on Monday, December 17. Photo by Rambo Talabong/Rappler

The P1.2 million worth of firearms and ammunition found with recently arrested "gunrunners" of the Maute and Abu Sayyaf Group have been traced to the arsenal of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

This was confirmed to reporters by Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde after his press briefing on Monday, December 17.

“Oo sa military, ‘di pa sure kung sa Army…Dapat maging concerned sila rito (Yes, it’s from the military, but we’re not sure if it’s from the Army…They should be concerned about this),” Albayalde said, when asked to clarify if they already considered the seized items as originally coming from the military.

Reporters spotted the packaging of the presented firearms and ammunition: Wooden boxes bearing the labels “AFP,” “GOVERNMENT PROPERTY,” and “PHILIPPINE ARMY.”

Albayalde said during the briefing that the suspects, Edgardo Medel and Rosemarie Medel, admitted to getting P1.2 million worth of firearms and ammunition from the military, particularly in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija, headquarters of the Army's 7th Infantry Division.

The police initially said they will verify the claim, but Albayalde later said the supplies indeed were traced to the military.

He noted that they have received numerous reports about bullets being taken from the military and handed to the very enemies they shoot it out with in the battlefield.

The Maute Group was behind the Marawi siege in 2017, and the Abu Sayyaf Group is the suspected orchestrator of a slew of bombings in Mindanao.

GOVERNMENT PROPERTY. Boxes where the seized guns and ammo were stored. Photo by Rambo Talabong/Rappler

Albayalde said the two suspects dropped the name of a “retired soldier” as their main supplier. The PNP refused to identify him.

The police suspect that either the guns and bullets from the AFP’s armory were smuggled out in batches by a former serviceman, or someone from the Medels have a connection with an active officer.

The bullets and the boxes have serial numbers, which should be easy to trace to soldiers or units that had handled them.

Albayalde noted that some of them are “green-tips” or penetrator bullets that are specially designed for elite units of the military.

It remains unclear whether the Medel couple is part of a bigger organization that sources its supplies from the Philippine government. Their tipster, police said, have only named the two so far.

The top cop vowed to closely coordinate with the military on the investigation. The Army chief, Lieutenant General Macairog Alberto, is Albayalde’s classmate from the Philippine Military Academy Sinagtala Class of 1986.

Five NPA guerilla fronts set for CPP anniversary

From the Visayan Daily Star (Dec 17): Five NPA guerilla fronts set for CPP anniversary

The five guerilla fronts of the New People’s Army on Negros Island are all set to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines on December 26, Ka Juanito Magbanua, NPA Negros spokesman, said yesterday.

The celebration will highlight the gains of the revolutionary movement, that now has 110 guerilla fronts in 17 regions of the Philippines, or in 73 out of 81 provinces, he told the DAILY STAR.

The anniversary celebrations in Negros that will be joined by the masses, are expected to be attended by 2,000 to 3,000 per guerilla front, he said.

Despite the refusal of the government to declare holiday ceasefires, Magbanua said the NPA will observe a cessation of hostilities from December 24 to 26, and from December 31 to January 1.

The NPA is obliged to observe the CPP declared, he added.

“We will not initiate any offensives during our ceasefire, we will be on a defensive mode,” he said.

However, if government forces enter their guerrilla front areas they will be obliged to respond, he added.

After the ceasefire, the NPA will resume its tactical offensives against government forces when opportunities arise, such as the staging of ambushes, raids and liquidation activities, he said.

Catanduanes gov welcomes ex-NPA reb, inks pact on integration program

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 17): Catanduanes gov welcomes ex-NPA reb, inks pact on integration program

A former rebel in this island province has surrendered his firearm to Catanduanes Governor Joseph Cua.

The handover ceremony was held at the Capitol Conference Room on November 27, 2018 where the rebel returnee received P15,000 as initial cash assistance from the governor and another P15,000 from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). The cash support were in addition to the numerous benefits that he received from DILG’s key partners in government.

The benefits were part of the Task Force Balik-Loob under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP), a centerpiece program of the government’s localized peace process, which integrates and consolidates the benefits and services of all national and local agencies and local government units for former rebels and their families.

In his testimony, the rebel returnee shared some stories of his plight. A native of San Miguel, Catanduanes, he was not able to attend school and was orphaned at a young age. He worked as an abaca farmer before he was recruited in the communist group.

Governor Cua lauded the rebel returnee for his courage in embracing the government and the rule of law underscoring the importance of peace-and-order situation in the development of the community.

According to him, peace and order is vital in the development and progress of the province since investments will be based from peace and order situation of the province.

In this connection, Cua signed Executive Order No. 42, series of 2018, which constitutes the E-CLIP committee in the provincial level.

The committee will be chaired by the governor. It will also include its co-chairman, Brigader Commander Bondoc; and member-representatives, Ma. Rosella N. Taraya (PSWDO), Director Uldarico S. Razal (DILG – Catanduanes), Police Senior Insp. Jonathan O. Panganiban (PNP Catanduanes) and Rev. Fr. Renato Dela Rosa (CSO).

The committee was tasked to ensure the convergent efforts in the delivery of the identified services of the E-CLIP, among others.

The local chief executive also lauded the commitment of agencies in peace efforts and their pledged assistance.

Meanwhile, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) 902nd Brigade Commander Peale Jon L. Bondoc assured rebels planning to surrender of security and safety, along with the dedicated assistance of the police and armed forces and inter-agency support, in their reintegration process.

He also explained the mechanism of E-CLIP, stressing that the program does not only cater to the armed rebels, but also Militia ng Bayan members and rebel supporters.

He clarified that a validation process is also done before being enrolled to the program which is based on interviews to other returnees.

The E-CLIP is a whole-of-nation approach to end the cycle of violence brought by insurgency, he added. Brig. Gen. Bondoc called on for support from government and private agencies, especially media partners to help in disseminating information on the program.

Davao region police chief condemns NPA attack on Talaingod woman

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 18): Davao region police chief condemns NPA attack on Talaingod woman

File photo of Talaingod Municipal Police Station policemen responding to an incident in Barangay Sto Niño, Talaingod, Davao del Norte. Police in the town are currently investigating a shooting incident involving the wife of a CAFGU which occured on Dec. 15 (Talaingod MPS photo)

TALAINGOD, Davao del Norte --- Government authorities are now conducting in-depth investigation regarding the recent shooting incident in sitio Nasilaban, Brgy Palma Gil in Talaingod this province involving the wife of a Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) Active Auxiliary (CAA).

In a press statement released yesterday, Police Regional Office 11 Regional Director, PC Supt Marcelo C. Morales ordered Talaingod Municipal Police Station to conduct a thorough investigation regarding the incident “to identify and arrest the perpetrators as soon as possible.”

“We condemn such vicious attacks on civilians by the Communist terrorist CPP NPA,” he said.

Meanwhile, the 56th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army based in Brgy Sto Nino Talaingod, Davao del Norte immediately coordinated with the MPS for the conduct of investigation and documentation of the incident.

In a progress report released last night, the 56th IB said that it coordinated with the Mayor’s Office of Talaingod and with Talaingod Tribal Council of Elders “for the creation of a fact-finding team to further investigate the incident”.

It also said that the command provided funeral and financial assistance to the family of the victim and extended legal assistance in filing legal action against the perpetrators.

The shooting incident happened at sitio Nasilaban, Brgy Palma Gil, Talaingod, this province at about 4:45 in the afternoon, Saturday, Dec. 15. The victim was Gina Mantayona, 23 years old , wife of CAA Mario Mantayona, both residents of Sitio Nasilaban Proper, Brgy Palma, Talaingod.

Police Report said Gina Mantayona sustained two gun-shot wounds at her right abdomen. The victim was reportedly transported to Kapalong District Hospital. Due to her critical condition, she was brought to Davao Regional Medical Center in Tagum City but was declared dead on arrival at about 7:00 a.m. on the same day.

The military identified the perpetrator as Rommel Tausan alias Ka Rommel, who 56th IB said, is now leading the GF 55 operation in Talaingod, Davao del Norte.

On the other hand, 56th IB progress report had another angle of the story saying a certain Maricel Bago was supposed to be the target of the so-called Communist New People’s Army Terrorists (CNTs) but diverted to Mantoyana as their target.

The 56tth IB identified Bago as the wife of Dalaguis Balite alias Ka Ros, an active member of Guerrilla Front 55 based in Sitio Nasilaban, in Talaingod, Davao del Norte. Bago allegedly voluntarily surrendered to 5t6th IB on Dec 14.

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

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 18): 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 Malacañang 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 P20,000 monthly old-age pension, an increase of P15,000 in their previous P5,000 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 P887.94 million in granting the additional PHP15,000 increase to the current P5,000 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 P20,000 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 P5,000 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.

58IB, Claveria LGU award livelihood tool kits to IPs

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 18): 58IB, Claveria LGU award livelihood tool kits to IPs

IP community of Brgy. Minalwang in Claveria, Misamis Oriental now have the means to start their own small-scale business for extra income following the livelihood training and turnover of tool kits. (58IB)

CLAVERIA, Misamis Oriental  – The Indigenous people (IP) community in Brgy. Minalwang, Claveria, Misamis Oriental now have the means to start their own small-scale business for extra income following the livelihood training and turn-over of tool kits.

Philippine Army’s 58th Infantry Battalion (58IB) in partnership with Claveria local government unit, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and Balay Mindanaw turned over the tool kits for the graduating partipants from Minalwang during the closing ceremony of the baking training at the barangay.

The livelihood training, conducted by Balay Mindanaw to 25 IP and residents of the barangay, was part of the community support program of the government.

Among the participants of the training were wives of the Citizen Armed Force Geography Unit (CAFGUs) stationed at the barangay.

Apart from the tool kits, the participants were also given allowance for the duration of the training and their National Certificate II.

According to TESDA, the national certificate is issued when a candidate has demonstrated competence in all units of competency.

The skills they acquired through the livelihood training will open several job opportunities that will help uplift their economic living.

The training program was conducted in coordination with TESDA and Claveria to deliver the basic services to the people in the far-flung barangay.

It was facilitated by Balay Mindanaw at the nearest TESDA-accredited institution.

Through this livelihood training Minalwang is seen to become a resilient community and enable them to withstand the influence of NPA terrorists.

“I am happy that the IP community of Minalwang seeks to develop their lives by taking this livelihood training. They (IP) want to show that NPA were just full of empty promises and lies to organize their community but it is our own government that will help the community and bring them peace and development which they have long sought,” said Ltc. Anthony O. Derilo, 58thIB Commanding Officer.

284 new breed of soldiers take oath of enlistment

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 18): 284 new breed of soldiers take oath of enlistment

Some 284 soldiers of the “SIDLAK” class 544-2018 recently took their oath of enlistment at the Philippine Army's 6th Infantry Kampilan Division's Training School in Barangay Semba, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao.

The 284 new soldiers comprised six aspirants from the 4th Infantry Division, one from the 54th Engineering Brigade, and 277 from the 6th Infantry Kampilan Division or 6ID.
Their class name which is derived from the word “SIDLAK” stands for “Sundalong Itinakdang Dadamay at Lalaban Alang-alang sa Kapayapaan,” inspiring their class’ strong camaraderie and compassion.

The graduates who were engaged in different activities to include Basic Military Training and War Fighting Competency underwent rigorous trainings to enhance their skills for future missions.

Candidate soldier (CS) Argyl Nena received the special award for obtaining the highest rating in the Basic Marksmanship with a general average of 100 percent while candidate soldier Jessel John Porras received the leadership award for demonstrating an outstanding attitude, military knowledge, and exemplary military bearing in the class.

Candidate soldier Alipio Duallo, on the other hand, obtained the highest rating in the Physical Fitness Test.

Certificates of merit were also given to CS Alipio Duallo for graduating number 3 with a general average of 94.10 percent; CS Regine Mae Viajar, number 2 with a general average of 94.25 percent; and CS Edgar Cardoza Jr., graduating number 1 with a general average of 94.46 percent.

Major General Cirilito Sobejana, 6ID's commanding officer, congratulated the new soldiers for completing their training that taught them to survive the challenges ahead of their military careers.

Sobejana urged the graduates to instill discipline and respect for authority all throughout their military life, saying “Soldiery is the noble profession for we have no capital except our lives.”

Brawner is new commander of Marawi brigade; vows to provide venue for dialogue

From MindaNews (Dec 18): Brawner is new commander of Marawi brigade; vows to provide venue for dialogue

A military officer who has continuously followed the developments in Marawi City and neighboring towns — from the siege to liberation to the ongoing rehabilitation efforts — is the new commander of the 103rd Infantry Brigade.

Col. Romeo Brawner, Deputy Commander of Task Force Ranao and Commander of the Philippine Army’s Civil-Military Operations Regiment, takes over the command on Tuesday, December 18. But his Marawi assignment began in July 2017 while the war was still raging between government forces and the
IS-inspired Maute Group and its allies.

Col. Romeo Brawner, Deputy Commander of Task Force Ranao is the new commander of the 103rd Infantry Brigade based in Kampo Ranao, Marawi City. MindaNwes file photo by H. MARCOS C. MORDENO

MindaNews asked Brawner what his mission statement is as brigade commander, given, among others, a restive population, particularly those in Ground Zero or the Most Affected Area who have remained displaced since the start of the Marawi Siege in May 2017; two electoral exercises next year – the plebiscite on the Bangsamoro organic law on January 21 and mid-term elections on May 13; and dealing with remnants of the Maute Group.

Brawner replied that his operational objectives are to “run after the remnants of the Daesh-Inspired Maute-ISIS group and prevent the recruitment of new members; make sure that the elections next year will be credible, honest, orderly and peaceful; and continue to support the rehabilitation of Marawi City through Task Force Bangon Marawi by ensuring a secure environment so that the rehabilitation can proceed unhampered.”

He said his administrative objectives are to “pursue higher levels in our Army Transformation Roadmap by reconstituting the Brigade Multi-Sectoral Advisory Board (MSAB); improve the camp facilities to enhance the security and living conditions of the soldiers and their families; and improve further the state of discipline of the soldiers starting with road discipline.”

“We should be the first ones to model the observance of traffic laws and regulations. Counterflow will only be done in emergency cases or when the security situation warrants,” he said.

The MSAB, Brawner explained, “will provide a venue for open, honest and productive dialogue with various partners and stakeholders.”

The Baron of Class1989 of the Philippine Military Academy andtop among the cadets who joined the Army, Brawner holds three masters degrees: Master of Science in Information Management from the Ateneo de Manila University; Master of Business Administration from the Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand and from the European School of Management in Oxford, United Kingdom; and a Master in Strategic Studies from the United States Army War College which he finished in June 2017, just before his deployment to Marawi.

He had served as Company Commander of the 6thSpecial Forces Company, Battalion Commander of the 2ndSpecial Forces Battalion, Operations Officer of the Special Forces Regiment, Chief of Staff of the 6thInfantry Division, spokesman of the Philippine Army, and spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Brawner was among the awardees of The Outstanding Soldiers of the Philippines in 2013.

Brawner takes over from Brig. Gen. Generoso Ponio who will be commander of the Joint Task Force Ranao vice Maj. Gen. Rey Ramiro who is now the commander of the Special Operations Command or Socom.

AFP probing couple nabbed for gunrunning in Valenzuela

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 18): AFP probing couple nabbed for gunrunning in Valenzuela


The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Tuesday said it is now conducting its own investigation on how weapons and ammunition intended for the military landed in the hands of a couple in Valenzuela City, which has alleged links to rogue politicians and the Maute Group in Mindanao.

"Yes, the (Philippine) Army is already on it," AFP public affairs office chief Col. Noel Detoyato said.

He added that the military investigation will start from the initial probe of the Philippine National Police (PNP), which took custody of those caught in possession of the weapons and ammunition.

"In light of the recent PNP apprehension of gunrunners in (Valenzuela) and the recovery of firearms with ammunition stamped with AFP markings, the AFP is conducting an immediate investigation to verify the source of these firearms and ammunition. While we can already confirm that the captured firearms are not in our inventory, only a thorough inventory of our ammunition stocks will confirm whether there are losses in our stocks that could have fallen to the hands of these gunrunners," Detoyato noted.

Detoyato also said the markings on the ammunition boxes will also play a key role in the ongoing investigation.

"Also from the markings on the boxes of the ammo packaging so that the unit source can be traced. If its imported, or from (the) Government Arsenal, it has its lot numbers that can be used to trace the issuing unit. The paper trail can be followed," the AFP public affairs office chief said.

He also assured the implementation of strict handling and control of its ammuntion as well as the conduct of a periodic inventory and wall-to-wall counting to account for each and every cartridge.

"Notwithstanding, the AFP will further enhance our strict firearms and ammunition control measures and will treat this case as a valuable lead to weed out corrupt personnel in our ranks. This case is a welcome development to once and for all institute an airtight system that will prevent pilferages in our system. Lastly, erring AFP personnel will be dealt with accordingly with the full force of our military justice system and that the result of our investigation will be brought out to the public at once," Detoyato added.

On Sunday, operatives from the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) arrested Edgardo and Rosemarie Medel in an entrapment operation in Valenzuela City.

Seized during the operation were two assault rifles, a handgun and 12,893 rounds of live ammunition for an M-60 light machine gun and a M-16 automatic rifle.

Army won't condone illegal acts of personnel

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 18): Army won't condone illegal acts of personnel

The Philippine Army (PA) will not tolerate any of its personnel involved in illegal and criminal activities.

This was emphasized by PA spokesperson Lt. Col. Louie Villanueva when sought for a reaction on reports that firearms and ammunition earlier confiscated from a police operation in Valenzuela allegedly came from military stocks.

"The PA is now conducting investigation regarding the incident. We are in full support to the PNP (Philippine National Police) to determine who are behind or in cahoots to this nefarious activity," he added.

"We do not tolerate anyone in our rank who are bent on doing criminal acts. If ever or proven that any member of the PA is involve, we will not hesitate to impose the necessary legal or disciplinary action," Villanueva stressed.

He also said that Army personnel found involved in this illegal activity can be dismissed from the service, aside from being slapped with a variety of criminal and administrative charges.

On Sunday evening, operatives from the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) arrested suspects Edgardo and Rosemarie Medel during an entrapment operation in Valenzuela City.

Initial reports claimed that the two have connections with rogue politicians and the Maute Group in Mindanao.

Seized during the operation were two assault rifles, a handgun and 12,893 rounds of live ammunition for an M-60 light machine gun and M-16 automatic rifle.

4 hurt in NPA attack in Sorsogon town police station

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 18): 4 hurt in NPA attack in Sorsogon town police station

A civilian and three policemen were wounded after suspected New People’s Army rebels attacked the police station in Magallanes town, Sorsogon on Monday night, police said.

Supt. Alejandro M. Monge II, Sorsogon police spokesperson, said PO1 Rolan Geul, PO1 Sonny Son Estera, and PO1 Melvin Bartolata and a civilian identified only as “Luigi,” suffered bullet wounds after 16 rebels fired at the police station in Barangay Poblacion around 7:30 p.m.

The four were in stable condition after being brought to Magallanes Medicare Hospital in Magallanes and Sorsogon Medical Mission Group Hospital in Sorsogon City.

Monge said police were able to retaliate after the attack and the firefight lasted for 10 minutes before the suspected rebels withdrew to Banacud village, then towards Juban town.

“(The rebels) positioned themselves in front and at the back of the police station,” Monge said in a statement released to the media.

Sorsogon police also called on the community to be vigilant and to report to the nearest police station any information regarding the presence of the rebel group.

Philippines: Arrested Couple Allegedly Supplied Guns, Ammo to IS-Linked Militants

From BenarNews (Dec 17): Philippines: Arrested Couple Allegedly Supplied Guns, Ammo to IS-Linked Militants

Philippine security forces captured a couple suspected of supplying sophisticated weapons and ammunition to Islamic State-linked Filipino militants who seized the southern city of Marawi last year, police said Monday.

The couple, identified as Edgardo Medel, 46, and his wife, Rosemarie, 34, were caught Sunday night during an entrapment operation in Valenzuela, a suburb north of Manila, national police chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde said.

Officers seized two assault rifles, nearly 13,000 rounds of ammunition, two assault rifles and hand guns that the couple allegedly tried to sell to undercover police agents, he said.

“I just cannot imagine the death and destruction that will result should these war materials fall into the hands of the New People’s Army, Abu Sayyaf Group, and terror groups,” Albayalde said in a statement, referring to communist guerrillas, among other armed groups.

Citing an intelligence report, Albayalde said the couple was supplying unlicensed firearms and ammunition to followers of the Maute clan, Abu Sayyaf militants and unnamed rogue local politicians in the south.

Police conducted a controlled purchase following a tip that the couple had provided weapons to militants, Philippine media reported. After making the buy, police arrested the couple who brought their three children with them. The children were turned over to social workers.

The Maute clan helped Isnilon Hapilon, the local Islamic State (IS) commander, plan and carry out the attack on the Islamic city of Marawi during a five-month siege that saw the military engage the gunmen in street-by-street gun battles. The battle ended in October last year, with the death of Hapilon and the top lieutenants of the Maute clan.

The Abu Sayyaf is known as one of the most brutal militant groups operating in the southern Philippines and has engaged mostly in banditry, kidnapping and bombings.

One of the group’s leaders, Hapilon, was named the emir of IS in the region. He planned and carried out the 2017 attack on Marawi.

Police nab couple selling guns, ammunition to local terrorists

From the Business Mirror (Dec 18): Police nab couple selling guns, ammunition to local terrorists

Policemen arrested on Sunday night a couple tagged as alleged suppliers of weapons and ammunition to security threat groups and private armed groups in Valenzuela City.

The suspects were identified as Edgardo and Rosemarie Medel of Landville Subdivision, Barangay Pambuan, Gapan, Nueva Ecija, who were nabbed after turning over P1.2 million worth of rifles and ammunition to two policewomen at a gasoline station along the North Luzon Expressway in Valenzuela.

“I just cannot imagine the death and destruction that will result should these war materials fall into the hands of the New People’s Army, Abu Sayyaf Group and terror groups,” National Police chief Director General Oscar D. Albayalde said in a news statement on Monday.

The arrest of the couple culminated a weeklong operation by the Regional Special Operations Unit of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) who worked on the information provided by police units in Mindanao regarding the arms sales of the suspects.

“Medel also figured in previous arms transaction with buyers from Mindanao. A subsequent test buy was conducted wherein NCRPO operatives were able to obtain ammunition from Medel, who also assured the he can also supply as many as 10 rifles,” Albayalde said.

Following Medel’s assurance that he could deliver additional weapons, a buy-bust plan was hatched by the NCRPO in order to entrap the suspect with another order for P1.2 million worth of weapons and ammunition.

At around 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, the couple arrived onboard a white van with plate number REV-675 at a service station along the expressway and the transaction was

The couple was placed under arrest after accepting P1.2-million marked money from two undercover female operatives who posed as buyers of weapons and ammunition, purportedly for the forthcoming elections next year.

The confiscated arms cache consisted of two assault rifles, a handgun and 12,893 rounds of live ammunition for M-60 light machine-gun and M-16 assault rifle.

“Part of the continuing investigation will be to determine the source of these weapons and ammunition, and to possibly identify other persons involved in coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” said Albayalde.

What casualties, military asks after communist rebels claim 14 victims

From the Manila Times (Dec 17): What casualties, military asks after communist rebels claim 14 victims

THE Philippine Army on Monday denied a claim by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) that 14 soldiers were either killed or wounded during a two-week encounter in the Northern Mindanao.

Maj. Gen. Ronald Villanueva, commander of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, told reporters that only soldier was killed in action during the encounter with the communist New People’s Army (NPA).

“It is okay if…we have more casualties. It is propaganda anyway. We are more on the truth versus propaganda,” Villanueva said.

He said that the lone casualty on the government side was recorded on December 13 at the boundaries of Bukidnon and Esperanza in Agusan del Sur.

In a statement also on Monday, the CPP claimed that there were 14 casualties on the side of the military following the more than two weeks “all-out military offensive and massive bombardment” in the boundaries of Misamis Oriental, Bukidnon and Agusan del Sur provinces.

The CPP was citing reports from NPA field commanders in their respective areas of responsibility.

“After declaring it will not observe a ceasefire this holiday season, the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) ordered its forces to go on an all-out offensive and massive bombardment in the vain hope of stopping the people to gather in the NPA guerilla zones to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the [CPP],” it said.

It also said that the military in the area had mobilized more than 400 troopers from the 8th Infantry Battalion, 58th Infantry Battalion, several companies from the 4th ID, Scout Ranger forces, Special Forces and local units of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit.

The CPP also accused the military of “spoiling the peace and holiday preparations” by mounting combat operations.

“Also, they have doused on the high hopes of their foot soldiers to have a brief respite during the holidays to be with their families,” the CPP added.

The NPA in early December declared a five-day unilateral ceasefire in keeping with the Christmas season and to celebrate the CPP’s celebration of its 50th founding anniversary.

Despite this, the CPP ordered its armed units to intensify its attacks against military forces in response to Congress’ decision to grant another year of martial law in Mindanao but maintained that the NPA would comply with its own truce.

‘Rizal under NPA threat’

From the Manila Times (Dec 18): ‘Rizal under NPA threat’

THE military and police authorities in Rizal should not be complacent as the New People’s Army (NPA) might launch sporadic attacks next year, the commander of the 202nd Infantry Brigade (202IB) said.

Brig. Gen. Arnulfo Burgos, 202IB commanding general, said they have gathered intelligence reports that some factions of the rebel group might stage attacks or raids in some towns of Rizal.

He hinted that the attacks might be similar to what the rebel group carried out in Hamilo Coast, a posh beach resort in Nasugbu, Batangas in January 2017.

In the attack carried out by about 30 rebels, the security forces of the posh resort were disarmed and the rebels took away more than 40 assorted firearms.

But Burgos said there are no intelligence reports yet that the same NPA faction would be responsible in the raid that might be launched in any part of Rizal.

“The Hamilo Coast attackers last January 2017 came from Mindoro,” Burgos, a former spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, told The Manila Times.

Most parts of Rizal province, according to the army general, lie on the Sierra Mountain range, which had been the hotbed of rebels since the 1970s. Several steep terrains of the province are difficult to navigate and the mountain covers are thick.

Among the difficult to traverse mountainous towns are Tanay, Baras, Jalajala, Cardona and Morong.

Duterte wants peace with rebels, Go tells Reds

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 16): Duterte wants peace with rebels, Go tells Reds

Once most trusted aide of President says his ex-boss wants to ‘sincerely talk’ with communists

WAR MODE President Duterte wears a military uniform and calls for the surrender of communist rebels. —PHOTO FROM PHILIPPINE INFORMATION AGENCY

LUCENA CITY — Former Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, one of the persons closest to President Rodrigo Duterte, has appealed to New People’s Army (NPA) rebels not to shut the door to peace negotiations with Mr. Duterte.

“I call on the NPA to trust President Duterte,” Go told reporters in San Andres town, Quezon province, on Thursday.

“There is no other leader like him who will sincerely talk peace with you,” he said.

“If you will wait until President Duterte’s term ends, you would have difficulty looking for another leader to talk with,” added Go, who was in San Andres for a senior citizens’ event.

Communist rebel leaders had said they would prefer to wait until the President stepped down at the end of his term in 2022 rather than pin their hopes for a peace deal on him.

Ending the talks
Peace talks between rebels and the Duterte administration started on a high note after four rounds of negotiations to bring a peaceful end to the 50-year-old communist rebellion.

But on Nov. 23 last year, Mr. Duterte signed Proclamation No. 360 that terminated peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the umbrella group of all underground communist organizations.

The President had accused the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) of insincerity and denounced its armed wing, the NPA, for continued attacks on government forces.

All-out war

Last month, the President closed all doors to the possible revival of stalled peace talks.

He also ordered government forces to launch all-out offensives against the NPA.

NDFP leaders, however, said they were always ready to meet with government negotiators for the purpose of reviving the talks.

Go recalled that when the President was Davao City mayor for more than 20 years, the two of them had been in NPA mountain lairs more than 50 times for the release of policemen and soldiers who had been held captive by rebels.

“We have no bodyguards, no firearms,” Go said. “That’s how we trusted NPA before,” he added.

The President then was considered by communist rebels an ally and sympathizer.

Loyal to Duterte
Go had been in the President’s employ for almost 20 years, acting as his longtime trusted aide starting when the President was still mayor.

Go quit his position to run for senator in the 2019 midterm elections.

Go said he wished that the government had reciprocated the truce declared by rebels for the holidays.

“For me personally, I want the government to observe a temporary ceasefire,” Go said.

“No Filipino would want to kill fellow Filipino,” he said.

He said he had no idea if the President would issue an order to suspend military operations against the NPA for the holidays.

No reciprocation

The CPP declared its two-part Yuletide truce that will take effect at midnight of Dec. 24 until Dec. 26, and at midnight of Dec. 31 until Jan. 1 next year.

The CPP called for the truce to allow rebels to celebrate its 50th founding anniversary on Dec. 26.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana had rejected calls for the government to reciprocate the rebels’ gesture.

This would be the first time that the Armed Forces of the Philippines was not even contemplating on declaring a ceasefire with the NPA.

Westmincom monitoring terrorist recruitment, movements

From the Philippine Star (Dec 16): Westmincom monitoring terrorist recruitment, movements

Islamic State-inspired terrorists continue to recruit potential fighters for a potential stronghold in the southern Philippines despite being defeated in Marawi City last year, the Western Mindanao Command said.

Lt. Col. Gerry Besana, Westmincom spokesperson, said they have monitored reports of continuing recruitment, adding in Filipino that the terrorists "are really good at using propaganda ang materials."

He said the IS-inspired terrorists use social media to recruit and that many Filipinos have been convinced to support them. "At yon ang nakakalungkot (that's what's sad about it), that’s why we are doing our utmost efforts to counter this kind of propaganda," Besana said.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Department of Defense have been coordinating closely with Muslim religious leaders and scholars, and even with Christian sects, to curb recruitment by terror groups.

Besana said more than 40 stragglers from the IS-inspired Maute group that laid siege to Marawi in 2017 have surrendered. The terrorists have been linked to
Abu Dhar, who led the Dawlah Islamiyah cell, and Abu Turaife of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

He said the military is also guarding against the entry into the Philippines of foreign IS fighters.

"We were already looking into it, we are not taking chances," Besana said, adding no new foreign fighters have been monitored while those who managed to enter the country have since been "neutralized" in military operations.

"So, those who come here will suffer the same fate," he warned.
Joint Task Force INDOMALPHI

Besana said foreign militants have been having a hard time entering the country since Joint Task Force INDOMALPHI — a joint security operation of Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines to secure common maritime boundaries — was put up.

That does not mean that securing the vast and porous border into the southern Philippines is no longer a problem, he said, since the three countries cannot put up physical barriers.

But the cooperation has proven effective in curbing kidnapping, piracy and smuggling in the past two years, Besana said.

He said the program would be more effective with support from the public since residents would best know their areas and would be able to identify outsiders in their communities.