Monday, January 7, 2019

Martial law needed to keep Mindanao threat groups from recruiting, AFP says

From the Philippine Star (Jan 7, 2019): Martial law needed to keep Mindanao threat groups from recruiting, AFP says                          

Threat groups still operate in Mindanao and martial law needs to remain in place there to keep them from recruiting and regaining strength, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said Monday.

In an interview on Radyo5, Col. Noel Detoyato, AFP public affairs chief, said that these groups include those aligned with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria like the Maute group and remnants of Ansar Al-Khilafah Philippines.
 He said the New People's Army also remains a threat, saying the communist rebels are being affected by increased military operations against the Maute group.

"Rebellion in Mindanao is a continuing crime. They are in the process of recruiting, training, positioning," he said of the terror groups whose siege of Marawi in Lanao del Sur prompted the declaration of martial law in Mindanao in May 2017.

He said that the military is concentrated in areas of Davao del Norte, the Surigao and Agusan provinces, and the outskirts of the cities of General Santos and Cagayan de Oro. Troops have also been deployed to Cotabato City as well as Isulan and Tacurong in Sultan Kudarat province.
"These are growth areas that we are keeping secure so they will continue growing," he said.
He added local governments and residents have "become obedient" because of martial law.
Neither of those are included in the justifications for martial law listed in the 1987 Constitution.
READ: No rebel arrests means rebellion in Mindanao persists, Palace says

Rep. Edcel Lagman (Albay), in a separate Radyo5 interview, said he is hopeful that the Supreme Court will have a different appreciation of the factual basis for martial law in Mindanao—extended for a third time until the end of the year—since the situation on the ground has changed.

"In the first place, this new extension of one year, it has been almost two years since the siege of Marawi, which the president said is over," he said in Filipino. "Marawi has been liberated and the supposed principal leaders of the terrorist groups are dead."

Lagman and six other lawmakers filed a petition before the Supreme Court on Friday, saying the extension of martial law is unconstiutional.

He had earlier pointed out that, according to a military intelligence report, nobody was arrested for or charged with rebellion in 2017. That, he said, shows the rebellion in Mindanao is over.

The Palace has countered this assertion, saying this means the rebellion persists since arresting most or all of the rebels would end the rebellion that the extension is premised on.

Lagman stressed that the Armed Forces of the Philippines can address terrorism and lawless violence even without martial law.  "Around 60 percent of the strength of the Armed Forces is already in Mindanao... they are deployed against 878 local terrorists," he said.

YEARENDER: Armed forces enter the missile age

From the Philippine Star (Jan 6, 2019: YEARENDER: Armed forces enter the missile age                          

First was deployment of a Naval Task Force aboard its newly-acquired Strategic Sealift Vessel, BRP Davao del Sur, and one of its refurbished frigates, the BRP Andres Bonifacio to represent the country in the US-sponsored Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC), the biggest naval exercise held in Hawaii.
While the Philippine Air Force (PAF) is gearing up this year for a good harvest in its capability upgrade projects, the year 2018 was a banner year for the Philippine Navy (PN).

Last year, the Navy started making waves as it transitioned into developing a credible maritime and territorial defense, experiencing so-called four “firsts.”

First was deployment of a Naval Task Force aboard its newly-acquired Strategic Sealift Vessel, BRP Davao del Sur, and one of its refurbished frigates, the BRP Andres Bonifacio to represent the country in the US-sponsored Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC), the biggest naval exercise held in Hawaii.

The second was the deployment of BRP Tarlac, with more than 300 Marines and sailors, to the port city of Vladivostok upon the invitation of the Russian Navy. It was a six-day reciprocal visit to Russia’s Pacific Fleet in the Far East.

The visit, part of the Philippines’ diplomatic offensive, also had a week-long port call in Jeju Island in South Korea.

Third was the Navy’s participation at another maritime drill hosted by China. The PN sent its cargo and logistic ship BRP Dagupan City with a contingent of Marines and sailors to take part in the maritime exercise with navies from ASEAN member-states held inside China’s waters off the coast of Zhangijang.

The latest first for the Navy last year was the missile testing of its newly acquired short-range missile platform from Israel.

The Israeli-made Spike Extended Range (ER) missile system is now integrated into three of the Navy’s high-speed and locally manufactured Multi-Purpose Attack Craft (MPACs).

“We considered everything that happened to the Navy (last) year as the series of firsts in its recent history,” a senior naval officer said.

In 2020 the Navy is expecting delivery of a brand-new and long-range missile-armed frigate from South Korea, with another frigate coming the succeeding year.

This is on top of the scheduled deliveries this year of Agusta Westland AW-159 “Wildcat” fully armed anti-submarine attack helicopters and the Pohang Class frigate, a donation from South Korea.

“Year 2018 can be considered as a banner year for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), especially the Philippine Navy, as it formally entered the missile age and demonstrated its capability to sail beyond the country’s maritime and territorial waters,” the Navy said in its blog.

The PN is also conducting a thorough study for its submarine acquisition project where it intends to buy two of these subsurface warships in the future.

“It’s a go but it will not be immediate as we need more time to prepare in terms of training as well as putting up submarine support facilities and also the funding,” Navy chief Rear Admiral Robert Empedrad said earlier.

PAF in 2019
The Air Force, on the other hand, is also looking forward to the scheduled deliveries of newly procured air and land defense platforms.

Former Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Galileo Gerard Kintanar said that by this year, they will be “reaping the fruits of hard labor.”

Despite his replacement, Kintanar said he is not going out of the service until his mandatory retirement in January 2020.

Under Kintanar’s term, the Air Force has completed major procurement projects. This is on top of the ongoing processes to acquire land-based and air assets to secure the country’s skies as well as the nation’s maritime domain.

There will be deliveries of six Super Tucano aircraft, a close air support aircraft from Brazil, two fixed-wing command and control aircraft from Airbus, two radar systems from Israel and 13 Hermis Unmanned Aerial Vehicles also from Israel this year.

“We also anticipate to receive the following year (2020), two C130s and four OV10s from the United States as we also look forward fro the completion of three big contracts early this year for 16 Black Hawks from the US. The best combat utility helicopter in the world today as well as six AT-129 attack helicopters from Turkey, which are at par with the best in the world today, as well as three ground-based Air Defense Systems from Israel are also scheduled,” Kintanar said.

The Air Force’s quest for strategic basing for power projection is also gaining greater heights, through the active support of security and defense stakeholders with key advisers led by former defense secretary Gilberto Teodoro, a reservist Air Force officer and a pilot.

This support is translated into lot acquisitions and construction of facilities and air bases in Llalo, Cagayan, Guiuan Airport in Samar and soon at Ubay in Bohol.

The Air force was also gifted with a 300-hectare lot in Balabac Island in Southern Palawan where it is currently building an airfield.

Balabac Island is highly strategic to the country’s air and maritime domain awareness operations as it is directly facing the country’s Kalayaan Island Group in the disputed Spratly archipelago.

The Air Force is also building an air base in Lumbia airport in Cagayan de Oro to replace the Danilo Atienza Air Base in Cavite, with the Department of Transportation and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines in the loop.

NPA hallucinating: Army

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jan 7, 2019): NPA hallucinating: Army

The Philippine Army yesterday dismissed as “fake news” theclaim of the Leonardo Panaligan Command that government forces allegedly suffered two casualties from their simultaneous sniping operations against detachments in Isabela, Negros Occidental, and Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental. 

Brig. Gen. Ignacio Madriaga, 302nd Infantry Brigade commander, yesterday debunked NPA claims that the Linantuyan detachment in Guihulngan, was subjected to NPA sniping operations.

Ka JB Regalado, spokesman of the Leonardo Panaligan Command, issued a statement alleging that government forces suffered two casualties, based on claims of residents in those areas.

Disputing rebel claims, Col. Benedict Arevalo, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, disclosed that the CPP-NPA is hallucinating again.

It is a ploy to project to their higher ups that they have complied with the order to launch tactical offensives, Arevalo said.

Regalado said that the simultaneous sniping operations were in response to the “militarization” in those areas, and to give justice to civilians killed during police operations in Guihulngan and neighboring areas in Negros Occidental.

The number of tactical offensives conducted by the NPA will be the basis of their share of extortion money, Arevalo said. It was also done by the NPA in Panay,when he was still the 301st Infantry Brigade commander, he said.

“When government troops deny the incidents, they (NPA) will just say that we are lying, but in fact, they are the ones lying to project a good image to their organization,” Arevalo added.

It is not just propaganda, its fooling their leaders and organization, he added.

Murad to Sulu residents: BOL not only for MILF but for entire Bangsamoro people

From Politiko Mindanao (Jan 6, 2019): Murad to Sulu residents: BOL not only for MILF but for entire Bangsamoro people

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim said that the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BOL) is not just for his group but for the whole Bangsamoro people, including the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

Murad made the remarks during the gathering of tens of thousands of people Saturday, January 5, at the Notre Dame College in Jolo, Sulu to show support for the ratification of BOL.

“The BOL is not a victory of the MILF but it is the victory of the entire Bangsamoro people. This is the fruit of our sacrifices. It is the result of our collective efforts,” he said.

A plebiscite will be held on January 21 for the ratification of the BOL in areas covered by the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), including Sulu, and the six towns in Lanao del Norte and 39 barangays in North Cotabato.

In the same gathering, Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. said that the Tausug should “own” the BOL because a number of Tausugs were involved in crafting it.

Four members of the 21-member Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), which crafted the BOL, are from Sulu: Jose Lorena, former Jolo Mayor Hussin Amin, Raissa Jajurie, and Gafur Kanain.

“The BOL reflects the aspiration of the Tausugs for genuine autonomy over their ancestral lands,” he said.

He also said that the new law addresses not just the clamor of the Moro people but also interest of the Indigenous Peoples and Christian settlers.

“In other words, this is an all-inclusive law. This is a product of almost 50 years of struggle and peace negotiations,” he added.

Galvez urged the people to actively take part in the plebiscite.

At least two petitions have been pending before the Supreme Court, questioning the BOL’s constitutionality.

 Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan II is one of the petitioners.

Joma tones down tirade vs. Duterte, welcomes new prospect for talks

From the pro-Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) online publication the Davao Today (Jan 5, 2019): Joma tones down tirade vs. Duterte, welcomes new prospect for talks

Communist of the Philippines founding chairman Prof. Jose Maria Sison and President Rodrigo Duterte (

DAVAO CITY,Philippines — National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief consultant Jose Maria Sison welcomed the remark of President Rodrigo Duterte expressing openness of his administration to resume peace negotiations with the communist rebels.
Less than a month after Duterte ordered the military and police to “destroy” the communist group, he now said that he did not totally shut the door for peace talks with them.

“Ngayon di na kami magkaintindihan ni Sison, pero I’d like you to know we are keeping the fire burning and hindi puwedeng sarahan. You cannot afford to lose all channels of communication. Mag-iwan ka talaga maski maliit,” Duterte said on Friday, Jan. 5, during a situation briefing on the aftermath of tropical depression Usman in Pili, Camarines Sur.

Despite NDFP’s determination for Duterte’s ouster, Sison said that it is the consistent policy of the NDFP to be open to peace negotiations with the Duterte government.
“Enemies need peace negotiations before they can become friends or partners for the sake of the Filipino people who desire social, economic and political reforms as basis for a just and lasting peace,” Sison said in a statement.

“Thus, I welcome the statement of Duterte that he is still open to peace negotiations even as there is still an exchange of hostile words in the mass media and exchange of bullets in the battlefield,” Sison said.

Sison pointed out: “It is for the benefit of the people that the peace negotiations resume and stop the Duterte regime from proclaiming martial law nationwide, from calling off or rigging the May 2019 elections and from pursuing the scheme to impose a fascist dictatorship on the Filipino people via charter change for a bogus kind of federalism.”

Both GRP-NDFP peace negotiators was already in the stage of forging of agreements on social and political reforms, when Duterte terminated the peace talks, on November 2018, thru Proclamation No. 360.

President Duterte, in a speech in Compostela Valley, on Dec.22, told the military to “destroy” the CPP including its “legal front organizations”.

On December, the CPP also ordered its armed wing, New Peoples Army (NPA) to intensify its tactical offensive across the country in response to the extension of martial law in Mindanao.

NPA: Release of POWs stalled due to military ops

From the pro-Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) online publication the Davao Today (Jan 2, 2019): NPA: Release of POWs stalled due to military ops

The New People’s Army (NPA) in Northern Mindanao has deferred the release of the alleged 16 prisoners of war due to the intensified joint offensive operations by the police and the military, an NPA spokesperson said.

Ka Sandra Sidlakan, spokesperson of NPA Guerilla Front 21 North Eastern Mindanao Region, in a Radyo ni Juan interview aired on Jan. 2, said they weren’t able to push through with the release of POWs during the holiday season because of the military and police continued operations.

Sidlakan said for them to release the POWs, government forces should implement SOMO and SOPO.

“There need to have a Suspension of Military Operations (SOMO) and Suspension of Police Operations (SOPO) in order for a formal release of the prisoners of war with the help of a third-party facilitator,” Sidlakan said.

The communist rebels captured 14 Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) members and two soldiers belonging to the Army’s 3rdSpecial Forces Battalion during a raid in a CAFGU detachment in New Tubigon, Sibagat, Agusan del Sur early morning on Dec.19.

The NPAs also seized high powered firearms from the detachment.

Sidlakan said that all POWs were treated well while they were in their custody. The communist rebels urged the families of the POWs and the public to urge the military to temporarily suspend their operations for the POWs’ safe release.

However, Maj. Gen. Ronald Villanueva, division commander of Army’s 4th Infantry Division already rejected negotiations with the NPA for the release.

Villanueva expressed frustration over the incident, saying that he wants the captured troops to be discharged from the service.

Initial investigation revealed that all troops in the detachment were sleeping when the NPA raid happened.

Villanueva earlier said in a local radio station that they will no longer conduct rescue operations for the captured soldiers and militiamen, and leave their fate to the NPA.


Meanwhile, two members of NPA were reportedly killed in an encounter in Agusan del Sur on Monday.

According to Lt. Col. Ronald Illana, commander of 8th Infantry Battalion AFP, several other NPA members were believed to be wounded in an encounter in Sitio Kinu-aw, Barangay Binicilan, San Luis at 11:25 a.m on the same day.

NPA leaders, bomber surrender in Compostela Valley

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jan 7, 2019): NPA leaders, bomber surrender in Compostela Valley

War materials of the New Peoples Army members who surrendered to the 66th Infantry Battalion on December 25 in Compostela Town, Compostela Valley Province

DAVAO CITY (PIA) - Four ranking leaders of the New People’s Army, including a bomb expert, recently surrendered to the 66th Infantry Battalion in Compostela town, Compostela Valley province.

The surrenderees were identified as alias Cory, vice commander of the Platun Basil, Pulang Bagani Command 8; alias JB, bomb expert; alias Aldrin, team leader of Segunda Basil; and alias Datu Jeffrey, team leader of Primera Basil.

According to the 66th IB, alias Cory yielded on December 25 and was instrumental in the surrender of the other three communist rebels.

The rebels turned over their weapons, including a defaced M653 rifle, a caliber 45mm pistol, two improvised explosive devices, four blasting caps, 50 meters wire, and two caps batteries. Apart from the valuable war materiel, they also handed assorted medical items including anesthesia and gauze pads, as well as P6,500 cash.

Brigadier General Jose Faustino Jr., commander of the 10th Infantry Division, congratulated the battalion for the relentless military operations that led to the surrender of the NPA officials.

“The reduction of manpower of our enemies and their firepower will surely be a significant development as we exhaust all efforts to put this to an end,” Faustino said.

The general also disclosed in a recent press briefing that in 2018, the division has neutralized 7,939 NPA members and supporters and seized 910 firearms.

Tagalog News: 19 na miyembro ng NPA sumuko sa 401st Brigade, Philippine Army

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jan 7, 2019): Tagalog News: 19 na miyembro ng NPA sumuko sa 401st Brigade, Philippine Army

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PROSPERIDAD, Agusan del Sur - Isang buong unit ng Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s army (CPP-NPA) Guerilla Front 3, Southern Mindanao Regional Committee ang sumuko sa 75th Infantry Battalion at 26th Infantry Battalion kamakailan sa ilalim ng 401st Brigade, Philippine Army sa Agusan del Sur.

Ayon kay Major Rodulfo Cordero, civil military operations officer ng 401st Brigade, may 19 na miyembro ng grupo sa Loreto, Agusan del Sur ang sumurender, noong pasko, bisperas ng anibersaryo ng NPA.

Ang nasabing NPA unit ay pinangunahan ni Mark alias ‘Boss’, ang kumander ng Guerilla Front 3, dala ang kanyang sub-unit leader na nakilalang si alias ‘SK’ na siyang commander ng Platoon Basil, kasama rin si alias ‘Sniper’ ang commander ng Platoon Andoy.

Labing-apat na firearms ang dala-dala ng surrenderees kabilang dito ang siyam na high-powered at limang low-powered firearms. Sinurender din nila ang may ilan-ilang magazines, tatlong commercial icom radios at mahigit 1,300 ammunitions.

Ibinahagi naman ni Brigadier General Andres Centino, commander ng 401st Brigade na sinabi mismo ng mga ito na may korapsyon na nangyayari sa loob ng organisasyon mula sa kanilang ginagawang extortion activities subalit walang naibibigay na benepisyo para sa kanila. Nahihirapan na umano ang kanilang mga pamilya dahil sa kawalan ng suportang pinansyal na siyang dahilan sa pagtiwalag nila sa teroristang grupo.

Kasalukuyang nasa kustudiya ng 401st Brigade ang mga surenderees para na rin sa kanilang proteksyon. Tumanggap na rin ang mga ito ng tulong mula sa provincial government ng Agusan del Sur. Meron din na makukuha ang mga ito na tulong sa ilalim ng Enhanced Comprehensive Localized Integration Program (E-CLIP) ng pamahalaan.

Binigyang-diin ni Brigadier General Centino, na ito ang pinakaunang pagkakataon na halos buong unit ng npa ang sumurender, at nagkataon pa na sa anibersaryo ng NPA. Ito ay nagpapakita umano na ang mga miyembro ng teroristang grupo ay humihina na at karamihan dito ay tumutugon na sa panawagan ng gobyerno sa pagkamit ng kapayapaan.

Samantala, sinabi naman ni 4th Infantry Division commander Major General Ronald Villanueva, ang pagsuko ng mga miyembro ng NPA ay isang magandang desisyon na kanilang ginawa para sa kanilang sarili at sa pamilya.

Soldiers tender ‘Handog Pamasko sa Kapayapaan’ to former rebels

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jan 7, 2019): Soldiers tender ‘Handog Pamasko sa Kapayapaan’ to former rebels

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GUIPOS, Zamboanga del Sur — Fifty (50) former rebels (FRs) spent their Christmas and enjoyed a festive holiday with the officers and men of the 53rd Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army and their families in an activity dubbed “Pamaskong Handog Para sa Kapayapaan” held at Camp David Sabido in barangay Poblacion, Guipos town.

The activity which is in collaboration with the Pagadian City Health Office and Pagadian Pharmacists Association was highlighted by medical and dental services, giving of shoes, raffle draw, fun games and boodle fight.

Lt Col.Marlowe Patria, 53rd IB commanding officer said Christmas is the season of giving and sharing with loved ones and less fortunate people, and this is an opportune time to spend with former rebels (FRs) and their families.

“We can find the true meaning and real spirit of Christmas when we give our time to others, especially the FRs,” Patria said who hailed them as essential partners of peace and development.

“We are spending time with FRs thru the Pamaskong Handog. We are not only giving gifts but also strengthening our relationship with them,” Patria added.

Meanwhile, Colonel Bagnus Gaerlan, Jr, 102nd brigade commander said the activity is conducted to show to the people the sincerity and commitment of the Philippine Army in serving the FRs.

“Ipinakita namin sa mga tao na ang mga sundalo ay makabansa makatao, at lalong-lalo na, maka-Diyos,” (We show to the people that the Philippine Army is patriotic, pro-people, and above all, pro-God), Gaerlan proudly said.

Gaerlan said the country is truly blessed to have President Rodrigo Duterte who seriously implemented the Enhanced-Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) for the rebels to avail livelihood assistance and re-integration package, and other benefits.

He appealed to the FRs to convince their comrades who are still in the hinterlands to surrender and go back to the folds of law to live peaceful and normal lives.

One FR @Aka Kim, 19 year-old said she was grateful that the activity was conducted by the unit for them to come together.

“Dako kaayo akong kalipay nga nakita nako ang akong mga kauban kanhi sa CPP/NPA nga mibalik na sa sabakan sa balaod ug malipayon nga nakig-uban sa ilang pamilya,” she said. (I am very grateful that I have seen my former comrades in the CPP/NPA who returned in the folds of law and now living with their families happily). 

Kim surrendered to the 53rd IB in 2016 and have availed livelihood assistance and re-integration package under the E-CLIP of the government.

Another former rebel @Aka Angkol said it was his second time to attend a gathering of his fellow FRs, the first was during the fellowship for peace held last year, and the “Handog Pamasko sa Kapayapaan” held recently.

“I thank the 53rd IB, Philippine Army for the help and support they have provided to us. I wasn’t wrong in my decision to surrender to the government because of their sincerity in implementing the E-CLIP program,” Aka Angkol said in vernacular.

Tagalog News: Mga sundalo at MNLF leaders, nagsama-sama sa isang palaro

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jan 7, 2019): Tagalog News: Mga sundalo at MNLF leaders, nagsama-sama sa isang palaro

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IPIL, Zamboanga Sibugay - - Sa unang pagkakataon ay nagtipon-tipon ang 102nd Brigade Troopers at mga lider ng Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MNLF) sa bayan ng Ipil, probinsya ng Zamboanga Sibugay.
Masaya ang mga lumahok sa Flag Raising Contest, Tug-of-War at Basketball na ilan lamang sa mga friendly games na ginanap.

Bunga ng sama-samang pagsisikap, ang ideya ng pagpupulong na ang tanging layunin ay isulong ang pakikipagkaibigan sa mga Kristiyano, Muslim at iba pang relihiyon.

Kalimutan ang nakaraang alitan, at bigyang-diin ang pagkakaisa, ang hatid ng pagpupulong.

Marami ang umaasa na sana tuloy-tuloy na ang nasimulang magandang relasyon ng mga sundalo at MNLF.

Ayon kay Colonel Bagnus P. Gaerlan, Jr., brigade commander ng 102nd Infantry Brigade, “Peace can’t be achieved by force, it can only be achieved by understanding.” (Ang kapayapaan ay hindi makakamit sa marahas na paraan. Makakamit lamang ito sa pamamagitan ng pag-unawa at pagkakaisa.

Aniya, sisikapin ng pamunuan ng 102nd Infantry Brigade na ang ganitong aktibidad ay maging taunang pagdiriwang. Hangarin ng mga sundalo na dumami pa ang mga dating rebelde na bumalik na sa gobyerno nang sa gayon ay magkaroon sila ng normal at mapayapang buhay sa piling ng kanilang mga pamilya.

Ang “Dual Meet for Peace” ay isa lamang sa mga peacebuilding activities ng brigade troopers sa bayan ng Ipil, probinsya ng Zamboanga Sibugay.

Tagalog News: Dating rebeldeng NPA at anak nito nagtagpo

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jan 7, 2019): Tagalog News: Dating rebeldeng NPA at anak nito nagtagpo

PROSPERIDAD, Agusan del Sur - Isang magandang regalo para sa isang ina na dating miyembro ng New People’s Army (NPA) ang makasamang muli ang dalawang taong gulang niyang anak sa pagsalubong sa bagong taon.

Ito ay matapos ang pagsuko kamakailan ng isang buong yunit ng NPA sa Loreto, Agusan del Sur sa 26th Infantry Battalion at 75th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army.

Napaiyak sa tuwa si alias ‘Joan’, 19 na taong gulang, dating medic ng NPA, nang muli niyang makita at mayakap ang dalawang taong gulang na anak na si Ryan, matapos ang kanilang pagkikita sa Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur sa tulong ng militar.

Paliwanag ni Lieutenant Colonel Romeo Jimenea, commander ng 26th Infantry Battalion, si alias ‘Joan’ ay nahuli noong Pebrero ng nakaraang taon matapos ang sunod-sunod na operasyon ng tropa sa Sta. Emilia, Veruela, Agusan del Sur laban sa naturang yunit ng NPA.

Tatlo silang menor de edad na basta na lamang iniwan ng kanilang mga kasamahan sa gitna ng putukan para iligtas ang kani-kanilang sarili.

Napag-alaman na ipinagkatiwala ni alias ‘Joan’ sa kanyang dating kumander na si alias ‘Sniper’ ang kanyang anak bago siya nahuli noong Pebrero, ngunit hindi na natukoy kung saan at sino na ang nag-alaga sa nasabing bata.

Sa inisyal na debriefing sa 19 na sumukong NPA, doon napag-alaman na nasa pangangalaga ng asawa ni alias ‘Sniper’ ang anak ni alias ‘Joan’.

Sa panayam kay alias ‘Joan’, pinagsisisihan niya umano ang pag-iwan niya sa kanyang anak.

Wala daw sapat na tulong na naibigay sa kanya ng grupo salungat sa ipinangako nitong tulong pinansyal bilang suporta mula pa noong manganak siya.

Dagdag pa ni alias ‘Joan’, sapat na itong dahilan na makombinse siyang tuluyan nang iwan ang terroristang grupo at mag-bagong buhay.

Sa kasalukuyan, nasa pangangalaga na ni alias ‘Joan’ ang kanyang anak. isa na ring enrollee si alias ‘Joan’ sa Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) ng pamahalaan.

NoCot utility personnel hurt in town hall attack

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 7, 2019): NoCot utility personnel hurt in town hall attack


A town hall utility man of Libungan, North Cotabato, was critically wounded after unidentified attackers opened fire at him while at work  inside the municipal government building Monday afternoon.

Senior Insp. Onofre Julian, Libungan town police chief, identified the victim as Alejandro Catulong, 57, a job order utility worker at the town hall.

“The gunman opened fire at Catulong while he was at the lobby of single-story town hall,” Julian, said in his report to North Cotabato police provincial office.

The shooting occurred around 1:40 p.m. near the office of Libungan Mayor Christopher Cuan.

Police said they are not ruling out the possibility that the shooting may have been a case of mistaken identity. They did not say whether the mayor may have been the target.

An initial police report said the gunmen fled onboard a waiting white van just outside the town hall premises.

Cuan is among the local chief executives included on President Rodrigo Duterte’s list of narco-politicians but he repeatedly denied involvement in the illegal drug trade.

He immediately convened a meeting of police and military officials after the incident.

Resumption of peace talks with Reds slim: Lorenzana

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 7, 2019): Resumption of peace talks with Reds slim: Lorenzana

Chances of reviving the stalled peace talks with communist rebels remain slim as the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) continue to commit atrocities and threaten to oust President Rodrigo R. Duterte, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Sunday.

"With his (CPP founder Jose Maria "Joma" Sison's) threat to oust PRRD and the continuing attacks, extortions and burning of construction equipment I personally don’t see any chance of resumption of talks in the near future. I have consistently said that Sison and his people should also show some sincerity," he said in a message to reporters.

Lorenzana described Sison's call to oust Duterte "hollow" and said the CPP-NPA is losing to the government's anti-insurgency campaign.

"His previous call of prioritizing the ouster of PRRD is a hollow one knowing fully how popular the President remains. But he has to make it ostensibly to rally his fighters," Lorenzana said.

The DND chief said now that Duterte has hinted that peace talks is still possible, Sison is "grasping at thin straws to keep his dream alive."

"But he can dream on. The President has consistently said that he would re open the talks if he believes there is a compelling reason to do so. The President likewise set some conditions for talks such as: no attacks on government forces and civilians, no extortion, no destruction of properties and talks should be held here in the Philippines, among others," Lorenzana said.

Citing continued attacks by the NPA, Duterte scrapped the negotiations in 2017.

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

Visit of Russian flotilla to strengthen naval ties

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 7, 2019): Visit of Russian flotilla to strengthen naval ties

The five-day visit of the Russian flotilla in the Philippines is aimed at strengthening the relationship between the navies of the two countries, Philippine Navy (PN) spokesperson Commander Jonathan Zata said.

"The visit aims to strengthen the relationship between the two navies. It will further enhance and sustain the promotion of peace, stability, and maritime cooperation of the two countries through naval diplomacy and camaraderie," he said in a statement Sunday.

Earlier, the Russian Navy's large anti-submarine ship Admiral Panteleev, guided-missile cruiser Admiral Varyag and large sea tanker Boris Botuma docked at Pier 9, South Harbor, Manila for their goodwill visit, which started Jan. 6 and will end on the 11th.

The Russian contingent, headed by Rear Admiral Edward E. Mikhailov, was welcomed by Commodore Toribio Adaci. The goodwill visit is the first for the Russian Navy this year and the seventh since 2012.

AFP chief to troops: Strive for 'commitment to excellence'

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 7, 2019): AFP chief to troops: Strive for 'commitment to excellence'

To achieve more success this year, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff, Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal on Monday urged all military and civilian personnel to have "commitment to excellence".

"To reach higher levels of success, it is imperative that we possess a deeper sense of dedication, teamwork, professional competence, and commitment to excellence," he said.

He also reminded the AFP personnel of operational requirements, particularly in putting an end to the armed conflict and the terror threat in the country.

"We will carry on and push our strong will to score a complete victory and finally put an end to local communist armed conflict. We will focus on capacitating ourselves in peace constituency-building, stakeholder leadership, community dialogues, and nation-building," Madrigal said.

He added that the AFP will work with the Muslim community and "fully support the conduct of the plebiscite" and assure the Bangsamoro people's exercise of their right to vote.

"We also need to eradicate the existence of terrorist cells through our initiative on preventing and countering violent extremism with the support of concerned agencies and the Muslim community," the AFP chief said.

"Let us always be reminded of the trust of the Filipino people that solidifies our legitimacy and credibility as the protector of the people and the state. It is our responsibility and our obligation to repay their trust and confidence with genuine, selfless, and professional commitment and dedication to service," he said.

SC to decide on BOL constitutionality: Palace

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 7, 2019): SC to decide on BOL constitutionality: Palace

The Supreme Court (SC) will decide on the constitutionality of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), MalacaƱang reiterated Monday, after Solicitor General Jose Calida asked the high court to dismiss a petition questioning its constitutionality.

“I understand there is a petition before the Supreme Court, so we’d rather not say anything about it because it’s sub judice. We’ll let the Supreme Court decide,” Presidential Spokesperson Panelo said in a Palace briefing.

The sub judice rule restricts comments and disclosures pertaining to judicial proceedings to avoid prejudging the issue, influencing the court, or obstructing the administration of justice.

Panelo refused to comment stressing that he could be cited for contempt.

In October last year, Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan filed a petition questioning the BOL, arguing that it violates sections of the 1987 Constitution, which created the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Calida, in a response to the petition, insisted that the BOL does not violate any provisions of the Constitution since it did not create a new autonomous region but rather an expansion of the ARMM’s territorial jurisdiction.

Panelo, meanwhile, said while the Palace will continue to push for the BOL’s ratification, it will still be the public to decide on it through a plebiscite scheduled later this month.

“The people will have to decide on that. In those areas affected sila pa rin ang magdedesisyon (they will be the one to make the decision). We will have to respect the sovereign voice,” Panelo said.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has scheduled the plebiscite for the ratification of the BOL on January 21.

On July 26 last year, the President signed the BOL, or Republic Act 11054, which seeks to establish a new Bangsamoro political entity to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The BOL, which is part of the Duterte administration’s effort to achieve peace with Moro rebel groups, is premised on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, a signed peace deal.

PNP chief denies order to spy on ACT members

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 7, 2019): PNP chief denies order to spy on ACT members

Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief, Director General Oscar Albayalde on Monday denied he signed any memorandum ordering intelligence officers to visit schools and conduct an inventory of members or allies of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT).

“I will check on that. As far as I am concerned wala akong pinirmahan na ganyan (I did not sign any [memorandum] like that),” Albayalde told reporters during a press conference.

He said the ACT teachers should not be alarmed and have nothing to fear especially if they are not doing anything unlawful.

“Members of ACT have nothing to worry about if they did not do anything bad,” he added.

He said he will check the existence of the memorandum and where it came from.

"If it came from the directorate for intelligence, probably it's just an internal [memorandum]. It came from the specific directorate and remember the different directorates of the PNP they can always give out memorandum especially if it falls under their functional jurisdiction,” Albayalde said.

Meanwhile, Albayalde ordered the relief of the intelligence chief of Manila Police District’s Station 3, Quezon City Police District’s (QCPD) Station 6, and chief of the intelligence unit of Zambales pending investigation on their alleged negligence which resulted in the leakage of the such confidential document that causes “unnecessary panic” to the public.

But the PNP chief said he will be surprised if the intelligence community has not done so on ACT and other front organizations of the Communist Party of the Philippines and those identified with communist leader Jose Maria Sison.

"It is the duty of the state to protect its citizens and its interests against the enemies of the state and its allies or front organizations enumerated by Jose Maria Sison such as Bayan, KMU, KMP, LFS, Gabriela, ACT, Kadena, etc. Gathering intelligence will allow the state to distinguish genuine progressives from unrepentant communist terrorists out to overthrow a duly elected government through violent means; routinely extort, burn and loot assets of businesses that gave livelihood to peace-loving citizens of this country," he said.

"Now that Sison himself has identified ACT as a front organization...the burden is now upon members of ACT to dissociate themselves from this terrorist organization and denounce its infiltration, manipulation, and use of the ranks of Filipino educators," he added.

National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) head. Police Director Guillermo Eleazar, on the other hand, said the profiling on such organization is “perfectly legal”.

"We are repository of information...Rest assured, the NCRPO is evidence-based. Kung walang problema, walang dapat ikatakot. Wala kaming gagawin na illegal (If there's no problem there is no need to fear anything. We will not commit anything illegal),” Eleazar said.

No request from PNP to inventory ACT members: DepEd

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 7, 2019): No request from PNP to inventory ACT members: DepEd

The Department of Education (DepEd) on Monday said it has not received any request from the Philippine National Police (PNP), asking for an inventory of teachers who are members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT).

In a statement, the DepEd confirmed that ACT representatives have communicated their concern to the department "over allegedly two endorsements by DepEd Schools Division Offices (SDO) of a supposed Memorandum from the PNP".

"It is confirmed though that a letter addressed to school heads was issued by one SDO through an Acting Division Superintendent, forwarding a purported Memorandum from a PNP unit. In consultation with the concerned Regional Office, the recall of this forwarding letter has been directed," the statement read.

The DepEd added there was no similar forwarding letter, which has been issued by any other DepEd local unit based on their initial investigation.

"Should any inter-agency request for personal information of individuals be received by DepEd, such request shall be evaluated based on existing laws and regulations, including the Data Privacy Act," the DepEd said.

Earlier, MalacaƱang said ACT teacher-members have nothing to fear about being profiled if they are not doing anything illegal.
“If you’re not doing anything, why should you be afraid? If you’re not doing anything, wala namang mangyayari eh (nothing will happen),” Presidential Spokesperson Salvado Panelo said in a Palace briefing.

Panelo also echoed the PNP’s remark, noting that the agency has already denied the profiling of teachers but at the same time stressed that ACT has long been identified with the communist movement.

He added that President Rodrigo R. Duterte has always considered the welfare of teachers since his late mother was a teacher herself.

Makati court stands by rebellion raps vs. Trillanes

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 7, 2019): Makati court stands by rebellion raps vs. Trillanes

Lawyers of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV failed to persuade the Makati court to reconsider its earlier ruling to pursue the rebellion charges against the lawmaker.

In an order dated Dec. 18, 2018 which was released to the media Monday, Judge Elmo Alameda denied the motion for reconsideration filed by defense counsels, ruling that Trillanes failed to provide sufficient basis to reverse the earlier ruling of the Makati court.

"Essentially, the issues raised by Senator Trillanes through counsel in his Omnibus Motion are not novel. In fact, the matters raised therein have been thoroughly and exhaustively passed upon by this court in its assailed order," the order read.

Alameda reiterated that contrary to Trillanes' insistence, the so-called "best evidence" rule applies in the case.

The legal principle means that in case the contents of a document is part of a legal controversy, which in Trillanes' case was questions on whether he filled up forms seeking amnesty, the original document would be the superior evidence.

"Unfortunately, Senator Trillanes failed to prove that the original of the alleged application form exists. Senator Trillanes even failed to explain his failure to locate or find the copy of thereof. He also failed to prove the contents of his application. Since the existence of the duly accomplished application form for amnesty has been established nor the fact of his admission of guilt of the crime he committed, the substitutionary evidence presented by Senator Trillanes is considered hearsay and cannot be admitted as evidence to prove compliance with the minimum requirements set forth in Proclamation No. 75," Alameda said.

Last September, the Makati regional trial court issued an alias warrant of arrest and hold departure order (HDO) against Trillanes in connection with his rebellion case and other Magdalo soldiers over the Manila Peninsula siege in 2007.

Alameda said the burden of proving compliance with the minimum requirements to be entitled to amnesty under Proclamation No. 75 issued by the previous administration rests on Trillanes.

Trillanes, the judge said, failed to convince the court that he complied with the minimum requirement to personally fill-up and file the official amnesty application form as required in Section 5, 6, and 11 of Department of National Defense Amnesty Committee Circular dated Dec. 21, 2010.

The Makati court noted that Trillanes failed to present the original hard copy, a duplicate copy, or even a photocopy to substantiate his claim that he personally accomplished and filed his official amnesty application form.

The court also gave weight to the online news report published on Jan. 5, 2011 which was presented by the prosecution to prove that Trillanes failed to expressly admit his guilt for the crimes committed during the Oakwood Mutiny and Manila Peninsula.