Tuesday, December 25, 2018

DWDD: NPA harass CAA patrol base in Kalinga

Posted to Katropa DWDD-CRS Virtual RTV (Dec 24): NPA harass CAA patrol base in Kalinga

Authenticated by: MAJ ERICSON C BULOSAN (INF) PA
Acting Chief, Public Information Office, NOLCOM, AFP


Date: December 23, 2018

Camp Aquino, Tarlac City – Ag-agama CAFGU Active Auxillary Patrol Base stationed in Brgy Western Uma, Lubuagan, Kalinga were attacked by more or less thirty (30) Communist New People’s Army Terrorists (CNTs) in the morning of December 23, 2018

The incident resulted to one (1) casualty from the CAA Patrol Base and one (1) killed from the NPA side.

The 503rd Infantry Brigade are on heightened alert and are currently conducting combat and pursuit operations against the fleeing NPA.

The indiscriminate attack of the NPA, while the people are preparing for coming of the Christmas season, manifests the rebel groups' disregard to the welfare and well-being of the people. Additionally, the CPP-NPA broke their own vow of unilateral ceasefire for these coming Christmas season.

NOLCOM Commander, LTGEN EMMANUEL SALAMAT, AFP reminds all troopers to be more vigilant this coming holiday season, as when people are more vulnerable to the charges of these terrorist groups.

NOLCOM will continue to pursue and persistently conduct their Focused Military Operations (FMO) to further target terrorist groups and prevent them from performing hostile activities that hinder the peace, development, and security in Northern and Central Luzon.

DWDD: AFP statement on CPP/NPA/NDF anniversary

From Katropa DWDD-CRS Virtual RTV (Dec 24): AFP statement on CPP/NPA/NDF anniversary

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DWDD: NPA's showed insincerity to genuine peace; abducted soldiers and CAAs in Agusan del Sur

From Katropa DWDD-CRS Virtual RTV (Dec 21): NPA's showed insincerity to genuine peace; abducted soldiers and CAAs in Agusan del Sur

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CAMP EVANGELISTA, Cagayan de Oro City – The terrorist New People’s Army (NPA) drastically showed insincerity to genuine peace in Mindanao by initiating raid and abducted two (2) soldiers and thirteen (13) CAFGU Active Auxiliaries (CAAs) at New Tubigon Patrol base in Sibagat, Agusan del Sur on December 19, 2018... around 3:00 o’clock in the morning.

The abducted soldiers were known as Cpl Eric B Manangan, and Pfc Darlino A Carino Jr. While the 13 CAAs are from barangays San Roque and New Tubigon both of Sigabat, Agusan del Sur. Twenty-Three (23) assorted firearms and a radio were also carted away by the fleeing terrorists.

International Humanitarian Law (IHL) obligates The NPA terrorists to observe the rights of their hostages as they ceased to become combatants. The rights of the victims’ families to communicate, know the whereabouts and to demand visitation, among others, are expected to be afforded by the said terrorist armed group.

Meanwhile, pursuit operations is ongoing to hunt down the perpetrators. This is simultaneous with the investigation by a Board of Inquiry (BOI) headed by the Division Inspector General to determine the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Major General Ronald C. Villanueva, the Commander of 4ID said, “We will not negotiate with the NPA terrorists for the release of my soldiers and CAAs. Attached to their act of kidnapping is the responsibility for their hostages’ lives. Those personnel involved, if proven by the BOI that they have neglected their duty will be meted with the maximum punishment under the Military Justice System. If provisions of the Articles of War warrants, I will shoot them myself. Incidents such as this happened because of soldiers who deliberately disregarded existing standard procedures and orders.” Major General Villanueva concluded.



MILF: Ranaw Region holds Grand Rally for BOL

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Dec 24): Ranaw Region holds Grand Rally for BOL

Photo courtesy of the Office of the Chairman, MILF Central Committee

Thousands attended the “Grand Rally of Ranaw Region for the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL)” held last December 22 at the Dimaporo Gymnasium of the Mindanao State University (MSU) in Marawi City. 

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim served as the Keynote Speaker during the Grand Rally where he expounded how important the Ranaw Region played in the history of the Bangsamoro struggle and even to his own life as a mujahid.

He narrated some historical moments that made him, and the MILF so attached with the place.

He recounted his being an engineering student in the prestigious university many years back. “I studied engineering, but did not able to finish it after devoting myself to the struggle; now I am an engineer for the destiny of our people,” he said.

He also divulged that the Ranaw region was the first to declare support to the leadership of the late MILF Founder Sheikh Salamat Hashim after separating from mainstream MNLF.

In photo- MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim addressing the big crowd who attended the Grand Rally for BOL at Dimaporo Gym, Mindanao State University, Marawi City

“In 1996, I was detained by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) at Amay Pakpak Hospital for three (3) days and thousands of people in Lanao rallied for my freedom,” he recounted.

Chairman Ebrahim, who shall head the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) as interim Chief Minister, also said that the Province of Lanao Del Sur is the “first ever area to declare open support to the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) through a manifesto of its leaders and that inspired other provinces to follow.”

He also revealed that the “rehabilitation of Marawi City is one of our priority programs in our future Bangsamoro Government.”

Meanwhile, Marawi City Atty. Mahul Gandamra addressed the people by saying that had the Bangsamoro Government been installed earlier, the Marawi siege could have been prevented.

“If the Bangsamoro Organic Law has been approved before the Marawi siege happened, that horrible incident could not have come to us,” Gandamra told the participants.

“Come for peace and change; this must happen. In behalf of Marawi City Government, I would like to express our full support to the BOL/BARMM,” he categorically stated.

“A big big YES to Bangsamoro Organic Law,” Gandamra stressed in his message.

On the other note, TESDA Secretary Atty. Guiling Mamondiong appealed to the PHILCONSA to withdraw its petition against the Bangsamoro Organic Law because this is “the only time to ratify the BOL and no other time.”

The 2nd Vice Chairman of the MILF Aleem Ali Solaiman formally closed the program by expressing an overwhelming gratitude to all the people behind the success of the program and the thousands of people from all walk of lives who attended the Grand Rally.

The crowd called out for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law and “Victory of YES” vote for the upcoming plebiscite on January 21 and February 6, 2019. The gargantuan crowd came from across the Provinces of Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte, and Marawi City.


MILF: UBJP-TAWI-TAWI chapter holds Information-drive On BOL In Island Municipality

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Dec 25): UBJP-TAWI-TAWI chapter holds Information-drive On BOL In Island Municipality

In Photo: Mr. Tirso S. Tahir, Standing (center), (2nd fr left) Chairman Abdulla Ahang, UBJP Chief Executive Officer-Tawi-Tawi chapter. and Chairman of SAMA Provincial Political Committee. In White shirt, Hji Faizal Malandi, Chief of Staff of Municipal Government of Simunul. (Sitting with sunglasses left side), Hji Salim Yusop UBJP Officer and (4th fr left) Municipal Chair of Sibutu

BONGAO-TAWI-TAWI- To ensure wider support and overwhelming YES vote for Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) during the January 21st plebiscite in the Island Municipalities of Tawi-Tawi, the UBJP Tawi-Tawi chapter headed by Chief Executive Officer Professor Abdulla Ahang conducted information-drive campaign at the Covered Court of Barangay Sokah-Bulan, Municipality of Simunul, Tawi-Tawi on Sunday December 23.

In his welcome message on behalf of the Municipal Government of Simunul and Sokah-Bulan LGU, Hadji Faizal Malandi, Chief of Staff of Simunul Municipal Mayor welcomed the entourage of Chairman Ahang and his party from Sama Provincial Political Committee of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and its line agencies.

“Here in Simunul Municipality, and its 15 Barangays, we will deliver 100% Yes votes for BOL during the plebiscite, if other Municipalities can do the same,” Hadji Malandi said.

Resource speaker, Hadji Jaafar Sumbing of the MILF Municipal Information Committee, at the same time officer of United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP)-Tawi-Tawi chapter told the audience on the advantages of BOL, and why the people of Simunul must vote yes during the plebiscite.

Mr. Tirso S. Tahir from Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI), also UBJP Officer narrated the Bangsamoro struggle and how the BOL was passed as a result of ‘hard and harsh’ negotiations between the GPH and the MILF Peace Panels.

He also delved on the salient provisions of BOL and its benefits to the Moro people and their communities once the Bangsamoro Government is in place.

Chairman Ahang expressed his gratitude to Simunul LGU and BLGUs for their unwavering support to BOL and their warm welcome and technical assistance extended to them. He shared a message on BOL and presented the Sama Provincial Political set-up and UBJ-Tawi-Tawi Chapter.

In his closing message, ABC President of Simunul Mohommad Suaib Sabauddin assured Chairman Ahang the full support of all Simunul Barangays. He also shared some concerns and issues related to inclusivity and opportunity should the BOL is ratified.

The information campaign was hosted by Barangay Officials of Sokah-Bulan and facilitated by Brother Gabra Abdurahman, MILF Municipal Chairman of Simunul and also the Information officer.

The objective of the series of Information campaign on BOL in Tawi-Tawi is to ensure that the people of mainland Tawi-Tawi and far-flung areas can be properly informed and enlightened on the salient provisions of BOL and the upcoming Bangsamoro Government so that they won’t hesitate to participate in exercising their political rights during the January 21st plebiscite for BOL.


MILF: BIWAB holds 13st General Assembly

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Dec 26): BIWAB holds 13st General Assembly

In Photo-MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim addressing members of Bangsamoro Islamic Auxiliary Brigade (BIWAB) during their 31st Assembly on December 24-25, 2018 at Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao

Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao – With less than a month before the conduct of plebiscite for the ratification of Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), the Bangsamoro Islamic Women Auxiliary Brigade (BIWAB) held its 13st General Assembly at Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao on December 24-25, 2018.
The 2-day activity was attended by 2,700 participants from BIWAB’s 32 battalions coming from different Bangsamoro areas.

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chairman Al-Haj Murad Ibrahim was the Keynote Speaker.

In his message, he encouraged the BIWAB members to encourage people to vote in the upcoming plebiscite to show the government that the BOL is accepted by all Bangsamoro.

“We need to show that the entire Bangsamoro people approve the BOL. Let us maximize the vote in Maguindanao, Lanao, and Island Provinces. Although there are minor challenges in the province of Sulu due to political interest of some local politicians,” Al Haj Murad said.

In Photo-BIWAB members attentively listening to the message o MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim

Al Haj Murad also gave an update on the petition filed by Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan II to the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of the BOL saying that he is hopeful that it will not be a hindrance in the upcoming plebiscite.

The plebiscite for the BOL is scheduled on two separate dates. In the current ARMM and the cities of Isabela and Cotabato, voters will cast their vote on January 21, 2019, while in the municipalities of North Cotabato, Lanao del Norte, and those who petitioned for inclusion will vote on February 6, 2019.

Furthermore, Al Haj Murad also told the participants that the BIWAB will be part of the decommissioning process which will begin after the ratification of the BOL, wherein MILF will decommission 1/3 of its armed forces and weapons.

“A Bangsamoro Regional Police will be established and its structure will still be discussed. There will be some of you who will be accommodated in the security mechanism depending on the qualifications,” Al Haj Murad added.

He also emphasized that not everyone will be accommodated in the security mechanism, but gave his assurance that the MILF leadership have plans to sustain the organization and transform it from a revolutionary organization to a civilian organization.

“Whether or not you will be accommodated in the government, the important thing is that you will be part of those that will receive government services and you will feel the benefit of the Bangsamoro government.”

He encouraged the BIWAB members to continue strengthening their organization as it will continue to exist as a civilian organization after the ratification of the BOL and it will still continue implementing its programs especially on Islamization.

Chairman Al Haj Murad said that: “After the establishment of the Bangsamoro government, the political struggle is completed but our Jihad is not yet done. Because the purpose of our Jihad is to make supreme the word of Allah (SWT) and we will continue to struggle to achieve this even if we are already part of the government.”


AFP Chief makes round of major services, rallies troops to victory vs NPA

From the Manila Bulletin (Dec 24): AFP Chief makes round of major services, rallies troops to victory vs NPA

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr., wants total victory against the Communist New People’s Army Terrorists (CNTs) as he addressed troops in a visit of the three Major Services of the military.

Lt. General Benjamin Madrigal (PIA / MANILA BULLETIN)

Madrigal first visited the Headquarters Philippine Navy at Naval Station Jose Andrada, Manila and gave his message to the sailors and marines. He reminded them of critical supply control and monitoring of issuances.

“The Navy I saw when I was a cadet is far different compared to the Navy of today. The Navy has improved a lot and is already comparable to our neighbors’ navy,” Madrigal said.

Madrigal, joined by key military leaders, then visited the Headquarters of the Philippine Air Force at Colonel Jesus Villamor Air Base, Pasay City. It was his first ever visit to the Philippine Air Force.

“One of our topmost priorities is to ultimately end insurgency and bring lasting peace in the country,” Madrigal said.
“To achieve total victory against local communist insurgents, we must continue focusing on capacitating ourselves in peace consistency building, stakeholder leadership, community dialogues, and nation-building efforts,” he added.

The party then proceeded to the Headquarters of the Philippine Army at Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City, where Madrigal also gave his Christmas message and Command Guidance to the soldiers.

“On a side note, Christmas is fast approaching. Let me extend my warmest greetings to every officer, enlisted personnel and civilian human resource. Allow me to also remind you of your physical security and personal security during vacation,” Madrigal said.

He also reiterated his message to all soldiers, airmen, sailors, marines, and civilian human resource to contribute to the AFP transformation roadmap. He encouraged them to work together and practice the culture of leadership, culture of unity, and culture of peace to reach the AFP’s ultimate goal to achieve just and lasting peace in our country.

“Suklian natin ng mabuti at tapat na serbisyo ang magand ang suporta na binibigay sa atin ng ating Presidente at ng mga kapwa natin Pilipino. Let us give them our genuine and honest public service,” Madrigal said as a general guidance.


DoJ to help speed up cases of rebels

From the Business World (Dec 25): DoJ to help speed up cases of rebels

THE DEPARTMENT of Justice (DoJ), as a member of the national task force formed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte for localized peace processes, will help in the speedy investigation and trial of people involved in the communist armed conflict, Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said.

“The DoJ through the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation), NPS (National Prosecution Service), and the PAO (Public Attorney’s Office), will help expedite the apprehension, investigation, and trial of those persons who will reject or defy the government’s offer of a peaceful solution to the long-festering problem of local armed conflicts,” Mr Guevarra told BusinessWorld.

The regional and local offices of the NBI, NPS, and PAO will handle the participation of the department, Mr. Guevarra said.

Mr. Guevarra also said that first orders will be given to the NBI.

“Initially, the directive will be issued to the NBI and its field offices to assist the PNP (Philippine National Police) and other law enforcement agents in the detection and apprehension of local armed insurgents, rebels, and terrorists,” he said.

Guidelines for the conduct of speedy investigation and prosecution will come “early next year.”

Mr. Duterte signed on Dec. 4 Executive Order (EO) No. 70, initiating a “whole-of-nation approach” and creating a National Task Force to end local armed conflicts by bringing together different government agencies, local government units, and representatives from the private sector

The whole-of-nation approach would address the root causes of insurgencies and other armed conflicts and threats “by prioritizing and harmonizing the delivery of basic services and social development packages by the government.”

Department of National Defense (DND) Public Affairs head Arsenio R. Andolong said the President “intends to end the Communist Terrorist Group in 2019.”

For the Defense department’s part, Mr. Andolong said Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana has ordered to sustain the Focused Military Operations against armed terrorist groups and the implementation of localized peace talks with communist terrorist groups.

“The DND and AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) are also working hand-in-hand with the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government), PNP, DAR (Department of Agrarian Reform), NHA (National Housing Authority), DoH (Department of Health), Tesda (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority), OPAPP (Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process), and other agencies in implementing the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program or E-CLIP, which is processing the return of Former Rebels, who have expressed their sincere desire to rejoin society and live a peaceful life with their loved ones,” he said.

In late 2017, Mr. Duterte ended peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA).


NPA denies hand in Bicol solon’s slay

From CNN Philippines (Dec 25): NPA denies hand in Bicol solon’s slay

The New People’s Army (NPA) on Tuesday denied any involvement in the killing of AKO Bicol Party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe.

The NPA, armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, belied the Philippine National Police (PNP)’s speculation that Batocabe was killed for refusing to give money to members of the NPA extorting from him.

“Walang katotohanan ang mga pahayag ng PNP na nag-uugnay sa rebolusyonaryong kilusan sa insidente. Walang kinalaman ang anumang yunit ng NPA sa Kabikulan sa naturang pamamaslang,” the rebels said in a statement released by the National Democratic Front (NDF)-Bicol, which represents rebels in peace talks with the government.

[Translation: “There is no truth to the PNP’s statement linking the revolutionary movement to the incident. Any unit of the NPA in the Bicol region has no involvement in the killing.”]

Batocabe was shot by unknown gunmen during a gift-giving event for senior citizens and persons with disabilities in Daraga, Albay on December 22. His security aide, Orlando Diaz, was also shot dead. The PNP said the murder could also be politically-motivated since Batocabe was running for Daraga mayor in the 2019 elections.

NDF-Bicol condemned the killing and expressed its condolences to the families of Batocabe and Diaz.

It further explained that the armed rebels have no reason to kill Batocabe because he is not considered as a “persona non grata” of the revolutionary movement.

The group said it was supposed to meet with Batocabe regarding his candidacy after Christmas, saying it was willing to talk to the lawmaker because of his vote against President Rodrigo Duterte’s request to extend martial law in July 2017. This was the first of three requests which were all granted by Congress. Martial law stays in Mindanao ‪until December 31, 2019‬, despite allegations of human rights violations committed by the military – which the Duterte administration has denied.

NDF-Bicol alleged that Batocabe’s slay is part of a series of "high-profile killings" planned by the Duterte government to justify the declaration of martial law nationwide. Malacañang has repeatedly said Duterte has no plans of placing the entire country under military rule.

Meanwhile, the PNP has relieved the provincial police chief of Albay and the regional director of the Police Security and Protection Group while authorities are investigating the Batocabe case.

Lawmakers had put up at least ₱30 million as a reward for information leading to the capture of the Batocabe's killers.


4 NPA rebels surrender to spend Christmas with family

From the Manila Times (Dec 26): 4 NPA rebels surrender to spend Christmas with family

SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao: It was a happy Christmas for the families of the four New People’s Army (NPA) rebels who surrendered to the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion (33IB) in Masig, Bagumbayan Municipality in Sultan Kudarat on the eve of Christmas.

“Ka Carding,” an NPA commander of the Manobo-Dulangan tribe living in Daguma mountain ranges of Sultan Kudarat, was thus home to share noche buena with his family.

Ka Carding, who was also the communist group’s political instructor and platoon medic serving the defunct Platoon Turo-turo, handed over his M1 Garand rifle.

He and his four followers yielded to the 33rd IB because they preferred to spend Christmas with their families and feared of getting hit by the military’s mortars and howitzers.

Lt. Colonel Harold Cabunoc, 33IB commander said the Army is anticipating harassment and offensives from the NPA since the rebel movement celebrates its 50th founding anniversary on December 26.

Cabunoc said they have launched sporadic mortar and artillery fire on the identified location of the communists in the mountains of Sultan Kudarat since Friday.

“Hearing the loud explosions from mortar fire and anti-tank weapons, they surfaced to lay down their firearms and officially surrendered,” the 33IB commander said.

Ka Carding, was accompanied by three of his men who brought with them a KG9 submachine gun, two revolvers, a 9mm pistol, and three MK2 fragmentation grenades.

“We were afraid to die in battles that we could not win. We also wanted to spend Christmas with our families,” said Ka Carding.

Cabunoc said “Ka Carding” and his men were among the remnants of the communist rebels that established the Daguma Sub-Region Party Committee about two years ago.

The series of rebel surrenders led to the gradual collapse of the communist movement in Bagumbayan and in the town of Senator Ninoy Aquino, in Sultan Kudarat province.

“We have lost the support of the people when the 33rd Infantry Battalion took over to assist the local government here. Our cadres retreated to adjacent towns, leaving us in hiding in the forest,” Ka Carding said.

A two year veteran of the communist ‘protracted war’ in the countryside, Ka Karding said they were abandoned by their comrades when the Army started coming to their communities.

“They moved to the Palimbang areas,” he said, referring to an adjacent town in Sarangani province.

Cabunoc received the former rebels at his camp in President Quirino, Sultan Kudarat accompanied by Capt. Winston Cacatian, 33IB Charlie company commander.

Col. Robert Dauz, the commander of the 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade, pe received the former communist rebels at the brigade’s headquarters in Tacurong City. |

To date, 203 NPA rebels have surrendered to the 33rd IB since the unit took over responsibility over the communist insurgency in Sultan Kudarat in March 2017.

A total of 65 of the former rebels have been granted social benefits through the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program or E-CLIP, Cabunoc said.


Davao police to bring human rights case vs NPA in international court

From the Business World (Dec 25): Davao police to bring human rights case vs NPA in international court

THE REGIONAL Police Office (RPO) in Davao is bringing cases against the communist New People’s Army (NPA) before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for alleged human rights violations against indigenous people (IP) in the region, particularly in the town of Talaingod in Davao del Norte.

The ECHR is an international court established through the European Convention on Human Rights.

Chief Supt. Marcelo C. Morales, RPO chief, said last week that the cases will be filed through the police National Task Force.

“The evidence that we will be sending to the National Task Force will be submitted to the EU (European Union) so we can expose the human rights violations committed by the NPA (against the community),” said Mr. Morales.

He added that key witnesses to the cases will be relatives of the victims whose rights were violated.

At present, he added, police investigators are busy collating pieces of evidence, including conducting forensic examinations on bodies of the supposed victims of the armed group.

Also last week, members of the police and military exhumed the remains of tribal leader Datu Salangan, who was buried beneath his house after NPA members reportedly stabbed and shot him to death.


Military officials release places around PH where possible movements of CNTs could take place

From the Manila Bulletin (Dec 25): Military officials release places around PH where possible movements of CNTs could take place

Military officials on Tuesday released the places around the country where possible movements of Communist New People’s Army Terrorists (CNTs) could take place in relation to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) 50th founding anniversary on Wednesday (December 26).

Armed Forces of the Philippines-Central Command (AFP-CenCom) chief Maj. Gen. Noel S. Clement, said in his area of jurisdiction the provinces being monitored are Samar and Negros.

Maj. Gen. Ronald Villanueva of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, on the other hand, said the areas being monitored are North Central Mindanao and Northeast Mindanao, specifically in Bukidnon, Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Agusan del Sur and Agusan del Norte.

On the other hand, Maj. Gen. Rhoderick Parayno of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division, said the areas being monitored are Rizal, Quezon, Laguna and Mindoro.

Lt. Col. Eugenio Osias, Army 7th Infantry Division spokesman, said the areas being monitored are Abra and Nueva Ecija.

CPP founding chairman Jose Maria Sison earlier ordered its armed wing–the New People’s Army (NPA)–to step up its tactical offensives against the government after it rejected its proposal to reciprocate the annual declaration of truce of the NPA.

The ceasefire announced by the CPP central committee: will run from 12:01 a.m. of December 24, 2018 to 11:59 p.m. of December 26, 2018, and 12:01 a.m. of December 31 to 11:59 p.m. of January 1, 2019.”


Yearender: Defeating Abu Sayyaf remains a challenge — AFP

From the Philippine Star (Dec 26): Yearender: Defeating Abu Sayyaf remains a challenge — AFP 

Even with the deployment of more soldiers, the military has admitted that neutralizing the Abu Sayyaf remains a tall order.

“It is still a tall challenge... to finish our fight against the Abu Sayyaf... The key... as we always said are the stakeholders in Sulu and Basilan,” Col. Gerry Besana, Western Mindanao Command spokesman, said.

“The Philippine National Police cannot do it alone. Community policing cannot be undertaken by the PNP alone... All the challenges... needs the concerted effort of all stakeholders,” Besana added.

With marching orders to wipe out the Abu Sayyaf before the end of this year, 10 Army battalions and several military units were placed under the control of the Joint Task Force Sulu this year.

Besana said around 300 bandits led by Radullan Sahiron and Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan are still holed out in Sulu. Another 200 led by Furuji Indama are in Basilan.

At least 57 bandits were killed, 202 surrendered and 39 others were arrested in military operations this year. A total of 231 firearms were recovered.

More soldiers will be involved in the campaign against the Abu Sayyaf next year, with the activation of a new Army unit, the 11th Infantry Division (ID), which President Duterte led during his visit to Jolo last week.

The 11th ID has three brigades and support units from the Navy and Air Force.

Besana said there is an ongoing enhancement of the organizational setup of the new Army division in Sulu.

“The setup will be much better to address the problem about the scourge of the Abu Sayyaf,” Besana said.

A Dutch man, a Vietnamese, an Indonesian and three Filipinos remain in the hands of the bandits.

Authorities are validating reports that a crewmember of an Indonesian fishing vessel snatched off Sabah earlier this month is also being held in Sulu.
Economic reasons

Besana said the Abu Sayyaf continues to exist for economic reasons rather than ideological belief.

He said a number of surrenderees admitted that they were forced to join the group because they have no other means of livelihood.

“One of those we talked to was a drug addict and said he joined the group thinking that it was a religious organization. He said he was surprised to learn that what the group is doing is against Islam,” Besana said.

Military treats 200 IP kids in Maguindanao Christmas gift-giving

From Politiko Mindanao (Dec 25): Military treats 200 IP kids in Maguindanao Christmas gift-giving

The 6th Infantry Division (ID), through the Santo Niño de Cebu Parish Pastoral Council (PPC), has led the gift-giving for 200 less fortunate children in Maguindanao.

The children belong to indigenous people (IP) of Upper Nabilan and Pagapulan, all of Barangay Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat on December 22.

Joint Task Force Central Commander Major General Cirilito E. Sobejana and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Governor Mujiv Hataman joined in the event.

“Christmas season is the time of giving and sharing. Let us make this season more meaningful by extending our help to the needy,” said Lt. Gen. Arnel B. Dela Vega, commander of the Western Mindanao Command.

The Influence Of US-China Struggle On Philippines Domestic Politics – Analysis

From Eurasia Review (Dec 24): The Influence Of US-China Struggle On Philippines Domestic Politics – Analysis (By Mark J. Valencia)

Manila, Philippines
Manila, Philippines

There is an intensifying and increasingly shrill debate as to whether or not the U.S. and China are on the brink of a new kind of Cold War.  Those who argue the negative say that one major difference between their rivalry and that of the U.S. and the Soviet Union in the Cold War is that the US-China struggle has not manifested itself in proxy wars. https://www.aei.org/publication/is-this-the-beginning-of-a-new-cold-war/   

Others say ‘perhaps not yet’, but that it is sowing the seeds of proxy conflicts between and within some states. They point out that China and the U.S. are increasingly vying for influence in several countries, particularly in Southeast Asia, in contexts that could eventually lead to violent domestic conflict. The Philippines is a good example.

 Philippines domestic politics are increasingly racked and rent by a polarizing debate over its policy toward China, particularly regarding its claims in the South China Sea.
The Philippines, under the administration of then President Benigno Aquino –with U.S. political and legal support–brought the question of the legality of China’s jurisdictional claims in the South China Sea before an international arbitration panel. In July 2016, the panel ruled overwhelmingly in the Philippines’ favor.  

But then newly elected Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte abruptly pivoted Philippine foreign policy away from the U.S. and towards China. One aspect of this pivot was that he did not try to take immediate advantage of the panel’s ruling and instead forged a positive relationship with China gaining China’s political cooperation and possibilities of economic largesse.

But this policy shift outraged international and domestic legal idealists as well as Philippine Americanophiles, sparking bitter opposition. This has resulted in a major domestic political struggle between factions favoring preferential relations with one or the other country.

Filipino-American ties run deep and wide.   The Philippines is a US ally by virtue of a 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty and harbors US military troops and assets.  But Philippine pride and patriotism still permeate the Philippines political psyche.  There is lingering resentment among some elite regarding US treatment of its people and their culture during its nearly 50 years of colonial rule.  They are wary of neocolonial attitudes and approaches by the U.S. 
China has made remarkable political inroads since Duterte’s election.  It has responded to Duterte’s ‘friendliness’  by stepping up its trade, aid and foreign investment, particularly for Duterte’s favored infrastructure projects.

Although the U.S. and Duterte’s  opposition warn of a China debt trap that could undermine Philippines’ sovereignty and independence, China’s foreign investment is still small compared to that from Japan and the U.S.

China also gained an advantage with Duterte when the U.S.  criticized Duterte’s extra judicial war on drugs enraging the government. China tacitly supported the effort. The historic visit of China President Xi Jinping in November and an agreement to try and agree on joint development in areas claimed by both are, in China Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s view like “a rainbow after the rain” regarding China-Philippine relations. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/19/world/asia/xi-jinping-rodrigo-duterte-philippines-china.html

China’s successes have stimulated a renewed effort by the U.S. and its Philippine sympathizers to preserve what is left of the US soft power advantage there.  There is a convergence—coincidental or not—between Philippines opponents of the democratically elected Duterte and some nationalistic US analysts.

Indeed, in America there is growing concern that Duterte’s volte-face marked a tipping point in the decline of US soft power influence on Asia.  Max Boot, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, has concluded that Duterte’s renovated foreign policy “is a potential disaster” [because] “China could either neutralize this vital American ally, or even potentially turn the Philippines into a PLA Navy base _ _.” http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-wp-philippines-comment-f3cf30b6-97ad-11e6-bb29-bf2701dbe0a3-20161021-story.html

Patrick Cronin and Richard Javad Heydarian published a piece in The National Interest entitled Presidents Donald Trump and Rodrigo Duterte Have Obscured the True Significance of the U.S.-Philippines Bilateral Alliance.”

Their views are typical of US conservatives and reflect in part a neocolonial perspective on the history of U.S.-Philippines relations and in part a refusal to recognize reality. They extol the Philippines rating as “the most pro-American nation on earth” seemingly confirming that they approve of and want to maintain the Philippines subservient position in the relationship.

But Duterte and his supporters defy this perspective. Recently he reportedly said ‘ the Philippines is tied to a mutual defense treaty with the United States, which [is the main concern that ] keeps it from telling the Western superpower to stay away’. https://businessmirror.com.ph/duterte-to-push-for-coc-in-the-south-china-sea-at-all-costs/ He also said that”_ _ the threat of confrontation and trouble in the waterway came from outside the region” meaning primarily the U.S.  https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/2173174/south-china-sea-asean-beijing-continue-work-towards-code

Another example is Heydarian’s latest take on the China-Philippines relationship https://asia.nikkei.com/Opinion/Philippines-China-after-the-rainbow-more-rain which is consistent with his and others’ earlier opinion pieces, particularly those published by staff and affiliates of Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies. https://www.cnas.org/publications/commentary/this-is-how-america-and-the-philippines-can-upgrade-their-alliance ; https://ippreview.com/index.php/Blog/single/id/644.html

Heydarian seems to think that Xi Jinping’s visit to the Philippines—and indeed, Duterte’s policy of rapprochement with China– have been a failure. He postulates that “fear of political backlash in the Philippines where large numbers are opposed to any resource-sharing agreement with China” contributed to the failure to reach a concrete agreement to move ahead with joint development.  He also highlights the Philippines military’s skepticism of China’s intentions and its resistance to “Duterte’s efforts to dilute military ties with the U.S.”  But this is only one side of the story. Another faction of the politically aware think the democratically elected President in pursuing a more neutral foreign policy has made the right choice for the country and its long suffering poor.

In sum, the Philippines political elite is sharply divided on Duterte’s foreign policy vis a vis China and the U.S. This has provided opportunity for both to become involved in Philippine domestic politics—directly or indirectly –supporting different factions. This dichotomy could lead to violent internal conflict.  Moreover, the Philippines may be only one of many countries in Southeast Asia and eventually elsewhere like Africa where domestic politics become influenced and then inflamed by the US-China struggle.

This piece first appeared in the South China Morning Post


[Mark J. Valencia is Adjunct Senior Scholar, National Institute for South China Sea Studies, Haikou, China]

Army to continue battle for hearts and minds

From the Philippine Star (Dec 25): Army to continue battle for hearts and minds

Col. Patricio Ruben Amata was named assistant chief of staff of the Civil Military Operations (CMO) unit, while Col. Facundo Palafox IV took the helm of the CMO Regiment on Friday.
Believing that the fight against insurgency cannot be won by military offensives alone, two newly installed officials of the Philippine Army have vowed to continue working toward winning the hearts of the people through various activities and programs.

Col. Patricio Ruben Amata was named assistant chief of staff of the Civil Military Operations (CMO) unit, while Col. Facundo Palafox IV took the helm of the CMO Regiment on Friday.

Army spokesman Lt. Col. Luie Villanueva said Amata would supervise the implementation of the CMO thrust and programs of the Philippine Army. Villanueva said Amata succeeded Palafox, who has been instrumental in the successful implementation of CMO activities of the Army for two years.

Palafox replaced Col. Romeo Brawner Jr. who was recently named commander of the 103rd Infantry Brigade in Marawi.

Army Vice Commander Maj. Gen. Robert Arevalo expressed confidence that the Philippine Army would be in “good shape as a force provider as it implemented changes in its key staff and command positions.”

Though firm on its stand not to declare a ceasefire with the New People’s Army (NPA) during the holiday season, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr. wished for peace and joy to fill the hearts of every Filipino on Christmas.

Palace tells Reds: You reap what you sow

From the Manila Bulletin (Dec 24): Palace tells Reds: You reap what you sow

Malacañang said the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) is only getting what it deserves for its tireless attempts to overthrow the government.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the statement after CPP founder Joma Sison called President Duterte an “abominable violator of human rights” after the President ordered to the government troops to destroy the Reds.

In a statement, Panelo said Duterte’s order to the military is backed by the latter’s constitutional mandate to protect the country and its people.

“The President’s order to destroy the CPP-NPA and all its legal fronts is pursuant to his constitutional duty to protect the people,” Panelo said.

Panelo said Sison, as an ideologue, should know that the government will give its all to quell all threats to its people and the country’s democracy.

“Jose Ma. Sison as an ideologue should be the first one to know that the government that he wants to destroy will unleash its might and send its forces to annihilate those who seek to dismantle the democratic society in order to protect its people, maintain peace and order as well as assert its constitutional authority,” he said.

“The CPP-NPA in sowing violence against the people will reap violence from its protector. That is the irreversible law of karma or the law of cause and effect,” he added.

According to the Palace official, the government has every right to defend itself as he pointed out the different crimes that the communist group has committed since it was established “for the purpose of seizing political power”.

“In a span of fifty years, the CPP-NPA has waged a continuing rebellion and engaged in the killing of soldiers, policemen, civilians, destroying properties, extorting money from businessmen and landlords, kidnapping civilians and men in uniform, committing acts of terrorism, and even exterminating its own comrades without compunction in a cleansing purge of suspected traitors to their cause,” Panelo said.

“In doing these atrocities the CPP-NPA aided by – and in conspiracy with – its legal fronts, violated the human rights of their victims, disobeyed the laws of the land, and infringed the Constitution with such impunity in order to destroy the democratic way of life enshrined in the Constitution as crafted by its framers and ratified by the sovereign people,” he added.

“The state has the inherent right to defend itself and the President is mandated to protect the government and the governed,” he continued, referring then to Sison as the leading abominable human rights violator in the country.

In a speech over the weekend, Duterte told troops in Mindanao to not just fight but destroy the CPP-NPA-NDF as he said that the country will not improve as long as peace and order are threatened by the rebels.

“I will be long gone but the problem will be still longer unless we can have law and order and we can stop corruption in government,” Duterte had said.

“Law and order means you have to destroy, not really fight, but destroy the Communist Party of the Philippines, including its legal fronts and infrastructure,” he added.

Duterte also said there will be a time that it will be obvious that the rebels’ legal fronts is just a conspiracy to fight and overthrow the government.

“Unless we are able to destroy every one of them, ang ating mga anak o apo ninyo ganun pa rin ang haharapin (your descendants will experience the same thing). And many of them will be soldiers and many of them will die without seeing the outcome of what would eventually be the Republic of the Philippines,” he said.


Joma Sison: the Filipino people have this sovereign right to oust Duterte

From the Manila Bulletin (Dec 25): Joma Sison: the Filipino people have this sovereign right to oust Duterte

Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Maria Sison Tuesday said that the Filipino people have this sovereign right to oust Duterte.

National Democratic Front of the Philippines chief political adviser Joma Sison
This developed as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said it will closely monitor the communist rebels movements as the CPP celebrates today (December 26), its 50th founding anniversary.

In a statement, Sison said having become a tyrant and a shameless instigator of mass murder and other grave human rights violations, President Duterte is the abominable No. 1 violator of human rights and is the precise target of the Filipino people’s exercise of their sovereign right to free themselves from tyranny and to undertake all necessary actions to oust him from his position.

Sison said Duterte and his followers seem to have forgotten that he received only 39 percent of the vote in the elections of 2016 and that the 61 percent that did not vote for him was the overwhelming majority.

“Despite the weakness and vulnerability of his position, Duterte has become a tyrant escalating the oppression and exploitation of the people,” said Sison, who is also the NDFP chief political consultant.

“He has brazenly used his armed minions to commit mass murders and other human rights violations. He has arrogantly pushed his scheme of fascist dictatorship through charter change for a bogus federalism. He has imposed an intolerable tax burden on the people and has caused the prices of basic goods and services to soar. He has treasonously sold out the sovereign rights and national patrimony of the people,” he added.

Sison said in an attempt to confuse the situation, President Duterte and his apologists claim that a political refugee like me and political consultant of the NDFP has the unenviable role of tyrant that Duterte is playing.

“In fact, they insinuate that it is the victims–the aggrieved people, the legal opposition forces and the armed revolutionary movement– that are the violators of human rights for fighting and seeking to oust the tyrant,” Sison said.

“As a co-belligerent in the ongoing civil war in the Philippines, the people’s democratic government (PDG), which is led by the Communist Party of the Philippines served by the New People’s Army and supported by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines has vowed to follow and enforce the International Bill of Rights, the International Humanitarian Law and the GRP-NDFP Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL),” he added.

Sison said the people’s democratic government (PDG) should welcome the expressed demand of the reactionary Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) that the PDG respects human rights.

He said that in this connection, the GRP should present formally its complaints to the PDG directly or through the Joint Monitoring Committee established under CARHRIHL.

The GRP and NDFP negotiating panels previously submitted their respective complaints to said committee under CARHRIHL.


Cops claim break in Batocabe slay

From the Manila Standard (Dec 24): Cops claim break in Batocabe slay

Bicol police have identified persons of interest in the assassination of Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe and his police escort PO1 Orlando Diaz, who were gunned down in Daraga, Albay, on Saturday after they left a gift-giving event.

“The update from the Daraga police is that there are persons of interest in the case who are the focus of investigators,” said Chief Insp. Ma. Luisa Calubaquib, spokesperson of the Special Investigation Task Group Batocabe.

She said some concerned citizens and a possible witness have shared information relating to the attack and CCTV footage that showed the potential suspects.

She added that the P30-million reward for information leading to the arrest of the mastermind in the murders would help.

“The reward will be a big help by encouraging people who know anything to come forward,” she said in Filipino.

Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde said they will explore all angles, including the possibility of extortion by the communist New People’s Army.

Albayalde cited intelligence information that the NPAs in the area were attempting to extort Batocabe but said this was still be verified.

Police are also considering the involvement of a private armed group in the area, he said.

Meanwhile, the regional police director said the provincial police chief of Albay has been relieved from his post after the Batocabe assassination over the weekend.

Batocabe was distributing Christmas gifts in his hometown of Daraga, Albay when he and his police escort were shot dead by at least six assailants.

Earlier, the police chief of Daraga town was also removed from his post.

Batocabe, elected to the House in 2010, was eyeing the mayoral seat of Daraga in the 2019 midterm elections. He had voiced concern that rivals in the local race were using armed groups to influence the vote.

Batocabe’s son said Monday the family is still interested in contesting the mayoral post.

“That is not finalized as of the moment but there will be a Batocabe who will run for mayor for Daraga,” his son Justin told reporters.

In the House, opposition lawmakers led by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman have committed to give P50,000 each for the immediate capture of the assassins of Batocabe and his police escort.

Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Barbers remembered his late colleague Batocabe as a “hardworking” lawmaker and “very capable” vice chairman of his House committee on dangerous drugs, which Barbers chairs.

“Rodel was my vice chairman at the House committee on dangerous drugs. He was hardworking, relentless and passionate in his conviction,” the panel chairman wrote on his official Facebook page late Sunday evening.

“He was courageous and outspoken, especially on issues that greatly affect ordinary people,” Barbers said. “Unfortunately, his assailant came like a thief in the night, and when everyone was busy preparing for Christmas.”

Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate, member of the Makabayan bloc, expressed hope that the perpetrator of this crime would be brought to justice soon.

He said what happened to Batocabe and his police security “highlights the climate of impunity prevalent in our country now.”

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines, meanwhile, urged the Supreme Court to take action on a spate of killings of lawyers.

The IBP appealed to the SC justices to implement measures intended to protect lawyers after some of its members fell prey to criminals, with Batocabe being the latest victim.
“Via an open online petition, beginning with 78 lawyers who agreed to append their names thereto, we respectfully urge the Supreme Court of the Philippines, through the Honorable Chief Justice, to take

immediate action to protect lawyers in the Philippines as they perform their function to protect their clients’ rights and uphold the rule of law,” the IBP said in a statement issued by national president Abdiel Dan Elijah Fajardo.

The IBP made the appeal as it condemned the Batocabe’s murder.

“We join other sectors in condemning his daylight assassination, even as we remain shocked by the audacity of the concerted action that can only find success in an environment that fosters impunity,” the statement read.

The IBP also cited the killing of another lawyer, Erfe del Castillo, a member of IBP Negros Occidental who was ambushed but survived a rain of bullets in Talisay, Negros Occidental last Friday.

Just last month, lawyer Benjamin Ramos was shot dead by two unidentified men at the public plaza of Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental. Ramos was the secretary general of the National Union of People’s Lawyers-Negros and was actively assisting the families of the victims of the Sagay 9 Massacre.

Also on Monday, the Palace denounced opposition Senator Francis Pangilinan for attributing Batocabe’s death to President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, calling his remarks “reckless and intellectually challenged.”

“Obviously, it is an attempt at gaining political mileage to boost the chances of its senatorial candidates. Using the death of Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe for such purpose however is a blatant disrespect to his memory,” he added.

Panelo said the Palace condemned the lawmaker’s death the moment they caught wind of the killing.

“To associate his death to the current government’s campaign against illegal drugs is grossly irresponsible and utterly unfair,” Panelo said.

He added that the state does not sanction the “daily killings” that Pangilinan cited.

“We reiterate that the President does not, and will never, condone extrajudicial and vigilante killings. Accountability remains a core of good governance and [the President] has made clear his stance relative thereto,” Panelo said.


Army asks Samar soldiers to step up fight vs. NPA

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 25): Army asks Samar soldiers to step up fight vs. NPA

Soldiers of Philippine Army 8th Infantry Division inside their training camp in Hinabangan, Samar. (File photo)

The Philippine Army in Eastern Visayas has asked its men to be more aggressive in their fight against the New People’s Army (NPA), after a soldier engaged in community support program was killed in an ambush in Las Navas, Northern Samar on Saturday.

In a statement issued on Monday, Maj. Gen. Raul Farnacio, commander of the Army’s 8th Infantry Division based in Catbalogan City, Samar, said there should be no holiday break for soldiers despite their enemy’s declaration of holiday truce.

“I instructed the troops to be more aggressive to put an end to the terroristic activities of the terrorists against our people within our area of operations,” Farnacio said.

On Dec. 22, about 30 NPA members attacked soldiers in Caputo-an village deployed to assist the community for the needed basic services by the local government of Las Navas town.

The more than one-hour gun battle killed Pfc. Alvin Avila of Burauen, Leyte and wounded Privates Ivan Anthony Ignao and Michael Ocasla. After the encounter, the troops recovered drop wire; a bag of assorted empty shells of machine gun, rifles, and pistols; cooking pots; detonating cords and one empty box with Armscor trademark.

The Army also condemned recent crimes committed by the NPA such as the killing of former San Jose de Buan, Samar Mayor Ananias Rebato, assassination attempt on Matuguinao, Samar mayoralty candidate Aran Boller, and landmine explosion that wounded soldiers and civilians in Catarman, Northern Samar.

“It only shows how desperate they are in their armed struggle, in their failure to conduct extortion activities in the far-flung areas particularly in San Jose De Buan and Matuguinao, Samar,” Farnacio said.

“I urge the community to report to the authorities the presence of any armed group in your area. Security is a shared responsibility of everyone, it is not just for us, the security forces and government institutions but also with the civil society and the communities,” he added.

With communist rebels poised to celebrate their 50th founding anniversary on Dec. 26, the Armed Forces of the Philippines on Monday advised the public to take the necessary security precautions and remain vigilant for possible attacks by the terror group.

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


Civilian tip-off leads troops to NPA supply stash

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 25): Civilian tip-off leads troops to NPA supply stash

A tip from a resident in the Surigao del Sur town of San Miguel led Army troops to a supply stash belonging to the New People's Army (NPA), an official said Monday.

Soldiers belonging to the Army's 36th Infantry Battalion discovered the supply in Barangay Siagao on Sunday afternoon, said Capt. Francisco Garello Jr., 36IB civil-military operations officer.

Garello said the stash consisted of bomb-making materials, communications equipment, documents, and various types of ammunition.

He said the troops found the supply cache buried on a cave after a villager informed the military of its location.

Lt. Col. Xerxes Trinidad, 36IB commander, said NPA combatants in the area commonly entrust their supplies to a supporter "purposely to ease some loads" while conducting raids/harassments, or to avoid pursuing Army troops."

Trinidad said the capture of "these materials sends a message" to the rebels "that local folks are already tired of being used as safe-keeper" as "hiding place."

“The successful capture of said supplies was the result of the yearning of the residents to achieve peace and in support to the Army’s commitment to bring normalcy even in the far-flung areas previously influenced by the CPP-NPA," Trinidad said, referring to the Communist Party of the Philippines, NPA's mother organization.

"People especially coming from conflict-affected areas desperately want to achieve long lasting peace and the Army will (help) them attain the peace that everyone wanted," the Army official said.

He also called on the remaining NPA rebels to "lay down their arms, avail the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) and finally join their families during this Christmas season.”


New year, new life for young ex-NPA rebels

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 25): New year, new life for young ex-NPA rebels

It was also December, when "Ka Iyong" joined the New People's Army (NPA) five years ago. Christmas in the years that followed was never the same again, until he came back home at the end of November this year, with the help of soldiers, whom he thought were the bad guys.

Iyong and "Ka Cindy" are young former members of the NPA. They are now looking forward to a new life this coming year, as they are reunited with their parents and families after several years of living in fear in the mountains of Ifugao with their fellow communist rebels.

“Ka Iyong,” who joined the NPA at the age of 19, and "Ka Cindy," when she was 17, are both spending Christmas with their respective families.

This, after they were rescued by the 54th Infantry Battalion from an NPA camp in Asipulo, Ifugao last Nov. 21.

The two were found by the operating troops at the vicinity of the camp, after seizing several high-powered firearms and explosives from the site.

“Ka Cindy was a subject of a rescue operation of the military after her relatives sought the AFP’s (Armed Forces of the Philippines) help to bring to them their young daughter, who was recruited by the NPA to the mountains,” 54th IB spokesperson Capt. Jefferson Somera told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

The two young former comrades were teary-eyed as they saw their families for the first time after continuously hiding and fearing for their lives in the name of a struggle they did not even understand.

With the help of the AFP, the provincial social welfare and development office of Ifugao, and the Ifugao Peasant Movement, Iyong was reunited with his mother on Nov. 30, and Cindy, with her family, on Dec. 2.

Iyong was reunited with his parents after five years of not being with them, pleading for forgiveness for being away without any line of communication for five long years.
“Ako po ay lubos na nagpapasalamat at taos pusong nagagalak sa mga kasundaluhan ng makita ko na buhay ang aking anak at inaruga ng mga sundalo (I am very thankful to the military and happy to see my son alive, for they took care of my son),” Iyong's mother "Analyn" (not her real name) said in tears.

Iyong narrated that after months of being in the mountains, he contacted his mother to say that he was fine, but did not tell them that he joined the NPA, until after a long time.

"Takot siya, saka nag aalala, pero nung nakita na niya ako, gumaan na ang loob niya, hindi na siya kinakabahan at nag aalala (She was scared and worried, but when she saw me, she felt better and was no longer worried)," Iyong told the PNA.

Cindy’s reunion with her parents was no different from that of Iyong.

Her parents were speechless when they learned of the rescue operation and that she was safe in the custody of government forces.

But unlike Iyong, who stayed with the rebels for years, Cindy was recruited only six months ago.

When they learned she did, her parents approached the military to help them bring Cindy home.

Somera said when the 54IB found Iyong and Cindy, they immediately brought them to the military headquarters for safety.

Iyong was a squad leader of the Squad Uno, Nona Del Rosario Command. Cindy, meanwhile, was a member of the group of rebels tasked to give medical attention to her NPA comrades.

Cindy received first aid training from the Red Cross as a high school student, making her skill useful to the organization.

Both Iyong and Cindy are spending Christmas and looking forward to a brighter New Year.

Both are happy, not only for the gifts that they have started to receive from friends and family since their return. They are also happy because of the brighter future promised by the government's Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP), a support program for rebels who surrender, lay down arms, and return to the fold of the law.

Foremost of the support is livelihood assistance, including skills training and education, on top of some remuneration for surrendering their firearms.

“I encourage the remaining NPA members, who are still running and hiding in the mountains to return to the folds of the law and reunite with your family and avail of the E-CLIP program of the government, which will help you live a peaceful and progressive life,” Somera said, trying to address those whose friends and family members have joined the rebel movement.

Journey with the NPA

Iyong, now 24, spent five years of his life in fear--fear of being killed in an encounter with the military and wasting his young adult life without direction.

He was in first-year college in one of the universities in Metro Manila, taking up a course in management, when he was persuaded to join the leftist organization.

“Kapag break time, may mga lumalapit sa amin na taga eskwelahan, nagkukwento, at nagyayaya na sumali kami sa organisasyon. Isinama rin kami sa mga rally (They come during break time, tell stories, and invite us to join the organization and join rallies),” Iyong related.

With the prodding of his classmates, he joined an underground organization and attended rallies.

Naging member ako ng student organization noong first-year college. Nag member ako kasi udyok ng classmates (With the prodding of my classmates, I joined the student organization when I was in first year college),” he said. "Pinaloob kami sa mga underground organizations like ‘kabataang makabayan’ tapos doon binibigyan kami ng pag-aaral sa paghawak ng armas dahil yun daw yung solusyon (We joined the kabataang makabayan student organization, where we were given lessons on how to hold guns, which according to them was the solution),” he related further.

Joining the rallies gave him fears. “Medyo natatakot din ako noong mga panahon na yun sa mga rally pero dahil sa udyok, adventure ng kabataan, dahil bata at gusto kong explore kaya nahila ako (I was kind of scared when I joined the rallies, since these felt like adventure because I was young, I was encouraged to explore, and I joined),” he said.

The indoctrination included teaching them how to hold and fire a gun, he said. “Para daw makita, kailangan sumama sa kanila para makita ang aktwal. Yun naman ang dahilan kung bakit ako napasama doon sa sa NPA (For us to see the actual thing, we needed to go with them, and that was the reason I joined the NPA),” he continued.

In December 2013, he went with the group, where they were brought to the Cordillera, in Ifugao, without informing his family where he was going.

Sobrang hirap kasi mismong kinakain, hindi siya sobra-sobra na mabubusog ka (It was so hard, even the food was not enough you would never be full)," Iyong said, describing the life he had with the rebels. "Halimbawa, sardines hinahati sa tatlong tao. Sobrang hirap. Palagi kailangan mong ‘magbagkat’ ng bigas mula sa sitio idadaan ng ilog iaakyat ng bundok. Ganun siya kahirap sa pang araw-araw na kalagayan (For example, the canned sardines are divided among three people. It was so difficult. You always have to carry rice from the sitio, passing rivers and going up to mountains, and it is a day-to-day thing).”

Those trips gave him fear, Iyong said.

Parati nakakaramdam ka ng takot, pag aalala dahil may mga militar sa paligid (You would always feel the fear, worry, because there are military men around),” he said.
Such fear made him want to leave the NPA, he said, and go back to his normal life, his family.

But then his comrades would always convince him to stay and tell him the "berdugo" (executioner), referring to the military, would kill him when he surfaces.
Iyong said fear and sadness became stronger every time there was an encounter with the military. But the convincing power of one-sided information is just too strong for him to resist.

“Iba pa kalagayan pag nagkaroon ka ng karanasan sa labanan. Iba na rin ang takbo ng isip mo, tapos kino-konsensiya ka pa din, ganun ginagawa nila (The situation is different when you get to experience fighting. Your mind is confused, because while your conscience dictates that you go back home, they would keep on convincing you to stay),” he said.

As time passed, what he thought was an adventure to explore gradually became a nightmare.

Noon akala ko adventure lang ito tapos parang ang lakas-lakas kasi ng pwersa ng NPA, pero noong nagkaroon ng labanan nagkaroon ako ng pag aalala na baka sa susunod na panahon buhay ko na ang kapalit. Parati akong kinakausap, kino-konsensiya at tapos hinihiwalay nila ang usapin ng family kahit yung kagustuhan ko na magtrabaho. Iniiwas nila ang usapang family (In the beginning I thought it was an adventure and that the NPA forces were so strong but after an encounter, I got worried that I might die the next time it happens. They always convince me and they would always avoid talking about family, including my desire to work),” he said.

In 2016, he had his second experience of an encounter with the military. He was shot on the knee and wounded by a shrapnel on the face and head.

May mga gamot kaso malapit na mag-expire. Kadalasan nag-i-istay ka lang sa gubat, may mga gamot sila pang first aid lang- hot compress, papainumin ng herbal, walang gamot. Nilagyan ng betadine, agua, hindi naman pina x-ray kahit may tama ako sa buto. Meron din sa ulo ko natamaan ng shrapnel tapos patuloy akong kinakausap ano nararamdaman ko pero walang gamot (There were medicines, but these were almost expired. We would just stay in the forest. They only had firs-aid medicines, hot compress, herbal medicines. They put betadine, hydrogen peroxide. They wouldn't let me undergo X-ray, even if I had a wound on the bones. I also had wound on the head, with a shrapnel. Then they would keep on asking me how I felt, but they never gave me medicines,) he continued.

Iyong said he would often think of his family in his loneliness and fear. He would worry if his family gets sick. He wanted to escape.

Iyong said that while he wanted to escape from the NPA and go home, the NPA would repeatedly tell him that going down would cost him his life, killed by the military, whom they call executioners.

New life

But after his rescue last November, Iyong felt secure with the military and the image drawn by the NPA of them was not true.

Binibigyan nila ako ng proteksiyon, pinaparamdam nila na family ako na hindi ko man naramdaman sa NPA. Yung bahay, pagkain, sa NPA kapos yun, pero dito hindi. Parang family, may takot sa Diyos, yun naman pinaparamdam nila sa akin, sa NPA hindi naman pinapakita yun eh. (They protect me. They make me feel family, which I did not feel with the NPA. The house, the food--those were not enough with the NPA. Family, fear in God--I never felt those with the NPA),” Iyong said.

Iyong said he now plans to go back to school, work, and have a normal life. If possible, he also wants to join the Army, he said.

He said by joining the Army, he might be able to make it up with the country and for lost opportunities.

He said he wants to join the military, not anymore because he wants fighting, but because he wants to serve the country by protecting it from danger.


Mao more than ever: Filipino communists mark a half century of armed struggle

From the South China Morning Post (Dec 24): Mao more than ever: Filipino communists mark a half century of armed struggle

  • The Communist Party of the Philippines - infamous for its jungle raids and assassination squads - was set up in December 1968 in Mao Zedong’s honour
  • Its founder now openly criticises today’s Communist Party of China and denounces its leaders as ‘monopoly bureaucrat capitalists’

  • New People's Army guerillas raise their firearms to mark a previous anniversary in 1998. Photo: AP

    New People's Army guerrillas raise their firearms to mark previous anniversary in 1988. Photo: AP
    As Christmas arrives in the Philippines, thousands of guerilla fighters are gearing up for a different kind of celebration the day afterward: Mao Zedong’s birthday, and the 50th anniversary of a home-grown resistance group that was inspired by his ideology.

    The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) – infamous for its jungle raids, assassination squads and fearsome leaders like Kumander Dante – was founded in 1968 in Mao’s honour, and has been engaged in a peoples’ revolution to overthrow the Philippine government ever since. It has been called the longest-running insurgency in the world.

    Mao Zedong, whose ideology inspired the Communist Party of the Philippines. Photo: Simon Song

    But the armed struggle, which has led to the deaths of as many as 40,000 rebels, soldiers and civilians, has been playing out in the jungles and negotiating rooms as geopolitical realities have changed.

    We now understand China as one more imperialist power trying to dominate and exploit the Filipino people. --Jose Maria Sison

    Despite Beijing’s official line that Maoism is a central part of its ideology, critics blame the market reforms launched after Mao’s death for widening the country’s wealth gap and fuelling rampant corruption. The founder of the CPP, Jose Maria Sison, now openly criticises China’s Communist Party and denounces its leaders as “monopoly bureaucrat capitalists”.

    “The Communist Party of China has become an anti-Mao and bogus communist party,” said Sison, who has been living in exile in the Netherlands since his release from prison in 1987. As far as the 79-year-old is concerned, the CPP is now far more “Maoist” than any of the leaders or policies in Beijing.

    And its struggle in the Philippines is still very much alive – even as its focus shifts away from US imperialism to encroachment by China, its one-time benefactor and arms supplier.

    Jose Maria Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Photo: Reuters

    “We now understand China as one more imperialist power trying to dominate and exploit the Filipino people,” Sison said.

    Last week, heavily armed rebels from the CPP’s military wing, the New People’s Army, attacked an army outpost on the southern island of Mindanao – taking 14 hostages, including two soldiers, and looting its arsenal. The government was quick to launch a counter-strike.

    A female New People’s Army guerilla inside a jungle training camp. Photo: EPA

    The rebel attack came just hours after President Rodrigo Duterte told a crowd in Davao City, the island’s urban centre, that he would shoot any communist who surrendered because they “do not deserve mercy.”

    “Do not consider them revolutionary,” Duterte said, as reported by local media. “They are just plain bandits and that is the way we should treat them.”


    Guerilla raids, extrajudicial killings and stubbornness on both sides have been hallmarks of this conflict for decades. More than 40 rounds of peace talks have failed since the first were held after the fall of dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986. The rebels’ offer of a traditional Christmas ceasefire was this year rejected by Manila after the Mindanao raid.

    Filipino government troops in Mindanao. Photo: EPA

    Duterte restarted talks with the CPP when he took power in 2016, but cancelled them a year later when rebels attacked Philippine troops. He has since designated the group a terrorist organisation and his threats and insults have intensified. In October, Duterte accused Sison of plotting a bomb attack against him. On Thursday, he warned that “blood will flow” as he promised to end the communist insurgency during his term.

    Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Photo: AFP

    The Philippine public has been transfixed with two new twists in the long-standing conflict. First, the Duterte administration is brazenly warming up to China and trying to lure big Chinese investment projects even as it tries to annihilate a Mao-inspired movement. Many older Filipinos, meanwhile, see similarities with the brutal Marcos era, when the communists were used as justification to declare a state of martial law that left the Philippines under one-man rule for nearly 14 years.

    Former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Photo: Reuters

    Rights groups have estimated that under the Marcos regime from 1972 to 1986, more than 3,500 people were murdered and tens of thousands detained and tortured. It was said at the time that Marcos was the No 1 recruiter for the communist rebels, whose ranks doubled to more than 17,000 while he was in power.

    The same could be happening again. Martial law has already been extended for a year in Mindanao, with Duterte calling it essential to fight radical Islamic insurgents and communists. At the moment, the CPP and its armed wing have about 4,000 fighters and more than 100 bases across the Philippines, according to the military.

    Click to enlarge

    Some believe that Duterte’s iron-fisted leadership, his bloody drug war, and the threat of Marcos-style martial law will only make the CPP more attractive to fed-up Filipinos, and lead to more violence.

    “President Duterte has vowed to crush the revolutionary movement by force. And as anybody knows, force is met with even greater force – and in this case not just firepower from armed rebels, but the force of anger by countless of ordinary Filipinos victimised by the government’s bloodlust,” said Ilang-ilang Quijano, a filmmaker and long-time journalist.

    “Right now, the cauldron of conflict is just boiling thick.”

    Nami Valbuena is a full-time guerilla fighter who lives in the jungle but speaks like a university professor. She believes that Maoism is by no means a strictly Chinese ideology, instead considering it a useful weapon for working class people everywhere.

    “Directly and indirectly, Maoism has impacted the lives of millions of Filipinos. Mao applied Marxism-Leninism in China before 1949, when conditions were similar to poor countries like the Philippines,” said Valbuena, a member of the CPP information bureau. “It provided Filipino revolutionaries with a general guide to carry-out their struggle.”

    Communist rebels in Davao, southern Philippines. Photo: Reuters

    Maoism, stripped down to a political theory, is essentially a state of constant revolution by the rural poor. In broad terms, it differs from Marxism-Leninism by empowering what were once called “peasants” – farmers and villagers that were overlooked by traditional Marxism in favour of urban workers. Maoist movements have sprang up across the world, notably in India and Nepal.

    In the Philippines more than 25 million people, or at least a quarter of the population, live below the poverty line. The country’s top economist said this week that agriculture still generates more than 31 per cent of the country’s jobs.

    More than 25 millions FIlipinos live below the poverty line. Photo: EPA

    Government critics have long said that the CPP preys on impoverished Filipinos and, like Duterte, have maintained that the communists lost any “ideological mooring” long ago. The New People’s Army is known to “tax” plantations, mines and business owners in rural areas. Last year, the US state department said that the group also uses “city-based assassination squads”, and accused it of killing three American soldiers in 1987.

    In 1989, the armed group claimed responsibility for the ambush and murder of Colonel James Nicholas Rowe, chief of the Ground Forces Division of the Joint US-Military Advisory Group.

    Bernabe Buscayno or ‘Kumander Dante’ (L) pictured with labour leader Orlando Olalai (C) and Jose Maria Sison (R) in 1986. Photo: AP

    Pervasive poverty, made worse by what Cristina Palabay of the human rights group Karapatan calls “misguided government policies and subservience to foreign interests and local big business” has made the Philippines a fertile breeding ground for Maoism.

    “Mao taught how a socialist power can become a socialist-imperialist country or one that speaks socialism but practices imperialism, such as what happened with the Soviet Union starting in the late 1950s, and what is happening now with China,” said the CPP’s Valbuena.

    Sison, the party’s founder, has vowed to continue fighting capitalism and imperialism in all its forms.

    “We use Maoist thought to understand the character and conduct of the enemies of the people and how to carry out revolution through protracted people’s war,” he said.