Friday, January 11, 2019

4 rebels surrender in SurSur

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jan 11, 2019):  4 rebels surrender in SurSur

Four members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-Terrorist (CNT) have surrendered to government forces, said an official from the 36th Infantry Battalion (36IB).

Civil Military Operations Officer Lt. Jonald Romorosa of the 36IB bared that one CNT member from Platoon 8, Guerilla Front 19, Northeastern Mindanao Regional Party Committee voluntarily surrendered without firearms to 36IB Commanding Officer Lt. Colonel Xerxes Trinidad on Jan. 1.

The surrenderee was a resident of Barangay Libertad, Butuan City.

The other three gave themselves up to the 36th IB Advance Command Post based in Barangay Magroyong, San Miguel town last Wednesday, Jan. 9. The surrenderers reportedly brought along with them the two homemade shotgun.

The military did not disclose the identities of the returnees for security reasons, adding that one of the returnees held a high position in the NPA.

LTC Trinidad, quoting one of the surrenderers, said the former rebels could no longer stomach the extortion activities that they were forced to do against their fellow impoverished countrymen and the promises that were never fulfilled by the organization.

“We call on to the remaining CPP-NPA terrorist leaders to surrender and return to the folds of the law. Lay down your arms and surrender, not just for your own sake, but rather, for your own family and loved ones. Abandon your maligned armed struggle and help the government bring development and long and lasting peace in our community,” he said.

As surrenderees, the four would be enrolled in the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) of the national government. Under the E-Clip, an NPA surrenderee can immediately receive P15,000 cash assistance and P50,000 livelihood assistance.

They can also avail of firearms remuneration and housing, livelihood, and legal assistance among other forms of help from the government.

Arrival of 2 frigates to ease PH Navy patrol missions

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 11, 2019): Arrival of 2 frigates to ease PH Navy patrol missions

The Philippine Navy (PN) will be in a more comfortable position to carry out its patrol mandate once the two missile-armed frigates, currently being constructed by South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), gets delivered in two years’ time.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana made the statement Friday when asked whether the Navy has sufficient assets to perform its duties, as several of its most capable ships are slated for periodic maintenance and upgrades.

This includes its flagship, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar (FF-15), which is still awaiting its replacement propellers following its grounding at the Hasa-Hasa Shoal on August 29 last year.

The ship is expected to become available for patrol duties by the end of the year.

"Hindi naman sabay sabay na pupunta sa repair dock 'yang mga yan. Scheduling lang yan (These ships will not be repaired all at the same time. It is a matter of scheduling). In two years’ time, when we get our two frigates, we will be more comfortable," he said in a message to the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

HHI is expected to deliver the first ship by 2020 and the second by 2021.

The Philippines and HHI signed a PHP16-billion contract for two missile-armed frigates, with another PHP2 billion set aside for its weapon systems and munition.

When asked whether the defense department is planning to acquire additional Hamilton-class cutters from the US, which are being decommissioned and replaced with newer vessels, Lorenzana said the Philippines will wait first for the US to offer the ships to the country.

"No, we are not. We will await their offer and study if the acquisition is in line with our PN modernization," he added.

The Hamilton-class cutters were converted by the PN into the frigates, BRP Gregorio del Pilar, BRP Ramon Alcaraz (FF-16), and BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF-17).

PCOO exec asks NUJP to condemn CPP-NPA atrocities

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 11, 2019): PCOO exec asks NUJP to condemn CPP-NPA atrocities

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Undersecretary Lorraine Marie Badoy on Friday challenged the head of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) to condemn the atrocities of the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People's Army (CPP-NPA) as she denied the media organization's accusation of PCOO "red-tagging" NUJP members.

In a radio interview over DWFM, Badoy asked the NUJP, particularly its chairman Nonoy Espina, to issue a statement denouncing the atrocities committed by the CPP-NPA to disprove their alleged allegiance to the communist rebel group.

"I just want to ask the chairman of the NUJP: will you issue an official statement? Could you do that as a challenge -- denouncing the activities, the atrocities of the CPP-NPA? As simple as that," she said.

Badoy said Espina himself posted contents on social media, patronizing and romanticizing the CPP-NPA on its 50th founding anniversary.

"Maybe the chairman of the NUJP would like to explain to us, why during the 50th anniversary of an organization that has been consistent and relentless in its protracted war against the government, why would he put something like this on his page?" she said.

She then proceeded to recite the content on Espina's Facebook page that had photos of communist terrorists holding high powered guns.
"Mabuhay kayong mga ‘di pangkaraniwan
Pag-ibig ninyo ay walang hangganan
Mabuhay kayong lubos ang katapatan
Mabuhay kayo kailanman."

Badoy said communist insurgency is the primary hindrance to the country's progress and development.

"Internationally, they are responsible for all these horrible reports about the Philippines at a time when our country has turned a corner," she said.

Badoy added that the PCOO and its attached office, the Philippine News Agency (PNA), are only after "simple, plain and responsible journalism."

She also slammed the NUJP for not recognizing the Duterte administration's pro-people program, such as the free college education and Universal Healthcare Act.

The NUJP cried foul over an article published by the PNA over a group of former communist members who denied that their claims against NUJP being linked with the leftist movement is part of an orchestrated plan to silence the group.

The article, titled "Red link tag on NUJP not 'orchestrated': ex-rebels" and published online on January 8, cited the said group, Kilusan at Alyansa ng mga Dating Rebelde (KADRE), which narrated that “hardcore elements” in the NUJP made sure to block the release of their stories and their “freedom to expose the truth.”

The CPP-NPA, in previous reports, had been allegedly involved in cases of extortion, mass murder, and violation of indigenous people's rights.

The US State Department and the European Union have both tagged the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization.

Leftist movement sharply declining: DILG chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 11, 2019): Leftist movement sharply declining: DILG chief

The Communist movement is currently on the decline as 8,367 communist rebels had surrendered to the government from July 1, 2016 to Dec. 28, 2018.

Of this number, 1,117 former rebels have been granted benefits under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP), one of the main components of the interagency Task Force Balik Loob (TFBL) program, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año said Friday.

The DILG chief said the government’s program has been gaining a lot of ground in many parts of the country and has encouraged more communist rebels to lay down their arms because of the promise of a better life in the mainstream.

“Lives are being changed by the E-CLIP program. With more than a thousand former rebels (FRs) who have received financial assistance last year, we hope that their testimonies will serve as an encouragement for more communist rebels to surrender,” he said in a news release.

Of the 8,367 rebel surrenderers, 1,207 are armed NPA regulars while the rest are members of the Militia ng Bayan, Sangay ng Partido sa Lokal, and underground mass activists.

As of December 21 last year, a total of 1,117 former rebels were provided with financial assistance, many of whom came from the Davao region - where 361 became beneficiaries of the program - followed by Soccskargen with 166 recipients, and Caraga with 149.

The interagency Task Force Balik Loob, led by Undersecretary Reynaldo Mapagu, serves as the central coordinating body in supervising the government’s reintegration efforts for the members of the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People's Army - National Democratic Front and their immediate family members.

Año said the facts on the ground are undisputed: the communist movement is on sharp decline and the only one who refuses to accept the truth is communist leader Jose Maria Sison, who is enjoying his life in Europe and has been out of touch with reality for decades.

“We must remember that Joma is a master-propagandist. He will twist facts to suit his own reality. Hindi niya kasi matanggap na nagtatagumpay ang programa ng gobyerno para sa mga rebelde at maraming rebelde na ang gustong magbagong-buhay (He could not accept that the government’s program for the rebels is gaining success and that many rebels want to return to the government fold),” he said.

“To arrest the decline of the Communist movement, Joma and his minions have been clamoring for the resumption of the Oslo peace talks. That’s the best way to stop the hemorrhage. They were already given their chance and blew it. The train has left the station,” he added.

Año said the recent creation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict by President Rodrigo Duterte will lead to more rebel surrenderers because of its focus on localized peace engagements.

Meanwhile, 34 provinces and cities were also provided with financial assistance amounting to a total of PHP170 million for the construction of halfway houses through the program as of Dec. 19, 2018.

Halfway houses serve as temporary shelters for the rehabilitation and healing sessions of former rebels going through the process of reintegration.

With the influx of communist rebels giving up their way of life, Año said the government, through the TFBL, is racing to speed up the processing of the FRs.

“We are working double time with the other government agencies included in TFBL, as well as our regional offices, to fast-track the processing of FRs so they can avail of the financial, livelihood, and housing assistance of the E-CLIP,” he said.

E-CLIP offers assistance to former members of the NPA and Militia ng Bayan, including their immediate family members, who have surrendered to the government.

E-CLIP provides FRs with PHP15,000 immediate cash assistance, PHP50,000 livelihood assistance, firearms compensation, psycho-social support, skills training, shelter, and other forms of help, such as legal, employment and medical assistance.

The DILG has disbursed some PHP488 million for the program in 2018 and will be allocating PHP260 million for E-CLIP this year.

“The success of E-CLIP is proof of the government’s sincerity to achieve lasting and meaningful peace throughout the country. Rest assured that the government will continue this whole-of-nation approach to negotiating terms with the local rebels as well as ending local communist armed conflict in the country,” Año said.

LGUs as E-CLIP front liners
During the 2018 E-CLIP Year-End Assessment held in Nasugbu, Batangas on December 10-13 last year, local E-CLIP Committees shared their experiences in the program’s 2018 implementation.

“Sa papamagitan ng E-CLIP, tulungan natin ang ating mga kasamahan na magbalik-loob sa ating pamahalaan. Tulungan natin silang makabalik sa kanilang komunidad at mamuhay nang maayos na walang panghuhusga (Through the E-CLIP, let us help them return to the government fold. Let us help them return to their communities and lead normal lives without judgment),” Oriental Mindoro Governor and Regional Peace and Order Council chairman Alfonso Umali said.

On the other hand, Bohol Governor Edgar Chatto said “a partnership of stakeholders at all level brings peace, security, development and good governance in communities. After all, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

Meanwhile, Eastern Samar Governor Marcelino “Dindo” Picardal has this message to the E-CLIP beneficiaries: “My administration fully supports the E-CLIP for former rebels and, thus, augmented from local funds the financial assistance given by the national government to enable your families to start a new life. I hope that you will also perform your responsibility of maximizing the use of these meager resources and lead you and your families to become productive and law-abiding citizens of your communities.”

For Misamis Occidental Governor Herminia Ramiro, she believes that “To build and wield peace – it takes more than just signing treaties and agreements – but by forging trust at a deeper level – especially in reshaping, redirecting and touching the lives of our former rebels”.

Mayor seeks mountain villagers’ support vs. NPAs

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 11, 2019): Mayor seeks mountain villagers’ support vs. NPAs

Google map of Kalamansig town in Sultan Kudarat province

A town mayor in Sultan Kudarat province asked his constituents in the mountain villages on Friday to alert police authorities about the presence of “new faces” in their communities.

“This is to avoid a repeat of the January 7 burning of construction equipment in Barangay Hinalaan by communist rebels,” Mayor Ronan Garcia of Kalamansig, a coastal town of Sultan Kudarat province, said over a local radio station.

“Report new faces in your sitios as they may be rebels out to create trouble in your communities. Report right away,” Garcia said in the vernacular.

“Security measures are in place in partnership with the police, Philippine Marines and local officials,” Garcia said, adding that those behind the burning of eight heavy equipment in Barangay Hinalaan on Monday were not from the area but from nearby towns in Sarangani province.

Following the burning of a grader heavy equipment, cement mixer and dump trucks, the road construction firm, Janmerc Construction Corp., decided to temporarily cease working on the road project.

Garcia noted that the incident will have an impact on the development projects in Kalamansig but insisted it is temporary.

“In due time, the road will be completed,” he said.

Supt. Aldrin Gonzales, speaking for the Police Regional Office 12 (Soccsksargen), said the communist rebels were demanding revolutionary tax from the construction firm but was ignored.

Police estimated the cost of damages to equipment at PHP33 million.

Soldier hurt in clash with rebels in southern Negros

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 11, 2019): Soldier hurt in clash with rebels in southern Negros

A Philippine Army trooper was slightly wounded in a clash with New People’s Army (NPA) rebels, who attacked a patrol base of the 62nd Infantry Battalion, in Barangay Hilamonan, Kabankalan City on Thursday night.

Corporal Andin Jamison sustained minor injury on his right thigh.

A report of the 303rd Infantry Brigade said that between seven and nine rebels fired at the Hilamonan Temporary Patrol Base at about 7:45 p.m. and an intermittent firefight followed, lasting about 15 minutes.

The rebels then withdrew to the direction of Barangay Buenavista, Himamaylan City, where an NPA encampment was found by 62nd Battalion troopers last January 1.

Col. Benedict Arevalo, commander of the 303rd Brigade, said in a radio interview that the rebels’ action was a “typical hit-and-run,” and could be in retaliation for seizure of their camp.

He called on the troops anew to be “more aggressive and vigilant at all times.”

“I also encourage the civilian populace to continuously support the government forces and report any NPA activities in their area,” Arevalo added.

The 303rd Brigade, based in Murcia, Negros Occidental, can be reached through (0956)3282415.

NPA rebels torch bus in Zambo Norte town

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 11, 2019): NPA rebels torch bus in Zambo Norte town


Five gunmen claiming to be members of the New People’s Army (NPA) have torched a passenger bus after the owner refused to pay revolutionary taxes in Zamboanga del Norte, a top official said Friday.

Chief Supt. Emmanuel Luis Licup, Police Regional Office 9 (Zamboanga Peninsula) director, said the incident happened in Barangay Pucay, Salug, Zamboanga del Norte at about 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Licup said investigation showed the SSG Liner passenger bus driven by Deonilo Asman Bucan, 48, was traveling from Salug municipality to the town of Godod in the same province when it was waylaid by five unidentified gunmen.

He said the rebels ordered Bucan and his three crewmen – identified as Leo Lomondaya, 28; Nelson Ambahang, 28; and, Celso Ambahang, 33 -- to come down from the bus, and that they introduced themselves as NPA rebels.

He said Bucan reported that the rebels told him, “You are always passing without paying,” while pouring a gallon of gasoline and torching the bus.

The bus was loaded with fertilizer, feeds, sardines, soft drinks, dried fish, hollow blocks, sacks of rice and corn and seven containers of gasoline at the time of the incident.

Licup said the estimated loss to property was placed at PHP420,000.

He said the NPA rebels fired a shot into the air before fleeing towards Godod.

Mining company debunks NPA claim of burning equipment

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 11, 2019): Mining company debunks NPA claim of burning equipment

The Pilipinas Eco-Friendly Mining Corporation (PEFMC) has refused to believe the New People’s Army (NPA) was responsible for the recent destruction of their PHP120-million worth of heavy equipment.

Joel Obar, the legal counsel of PEFMC, said Thursday the way it was carried out was unusual because his client Mark Yu, who owns the company, did not receive any letter from the communist group warning him of any incident.

Obar said that burning is usually done when the communist rebels ask for revolutionary tax, so the company cancels the possibility that the NPA did it.

He surmised it could be the work of ordinary criminal elements disguising as NPA rebels for a fee, or purely business rivalry as he said there is some friction between those involved in small- and large-scale mining in the municipality.

“Sana itong mga tawo (hopefully, these people) who claimed they are concerned for Negros Oriental should think twice because this is not doing the province any good. It destroys the name of the province and the tourism industry and is not good for the economy of Ayungon, and so the people will get poor,” he said.

Obar added that if those responsible are concerned for Negros Oriental they should stop such kind of activity.

He speculated that the burning was done "because of a business rivalry”.

Obar, however, refused to name names, hoping the incident will not escalate in the future or even during the election.

A statement issued purportedly by the NPA in Negros earlier claimed responsibility for the burning incident last January 1 in Barangay Jandalamanon, Ayungon, saying the mining activity in the area was destroying the environment.

The Philippine National Police in the province also alleged that it was the NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, which was responsible for the incident.

Suspected bombers arrested

From the Daily Tribune (Jan 11, 2019): Suspected bombers arrested

Sudai Asmad (right) and Jeran Aba. (NCRPO photo)

The National Capital Region Police Office announced Friday the arrest of two suspected terrorists plotting to bomb Metro Manila and raise funds for the attack.

Sen, a.k.a. Abu Nas or Sugud and Jul a.k.a Sudais Asmad y Sali, and Jeran Aba y Sangcopan were separately arrested on 20 and 25 December, according to the NCRPO.

Both are allegedly members of the Daulah Islamiyah.

Aba was in Metro Manila to allegedly conduct bombings while Asmad was to solicit financial support from sympathizers, the NCRPO said.

Don’t support rebels, officials warned

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jan 11, 2019): Don’t support rebels, officials warned

Local chief executives are being warned against giving material and political support to left-wing rebel groups.

The warning of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año to local government executives was contained in Memorandum Circular No. 2018-211, a copy of which was sent to the 303rd Infantry Brigade, that mandates regional, provincial, city and municipal peace and order councils to apply moral suasion to, or recommend sanctions against LCEs who are giving material and political support to communist rebels.

Col. Benedict Arevalo, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, yesterday described it as a “welcome development”, adding it would boost their efforts against those government officials, who are directly, or indirectly supporting the communist terrorist organization in Negros.

Section 4 of RA 10168, otherwise known as the terrorism financing prevention and suppression act of 2012, states that “any person, who directly or indirectly provides funds or financial services to facilitate the commission of any terrorist act by a terrorist organization, or by an individual terrorist, shall suffer a maximum of period of reclusion perpetua and a fine not less than P1 million," Año, who used to be the Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff, said.

Any person who organizes or direct others to commit financing of terrorism will also be guilty of similar offense and penalty, he added.

Año added that the legal provision further reinforced by the pronouncement of President Rodrigo Duterte that local chief executives should not give any aid to the rebel groups, as it would only result to much distress and embarrassment, even losing power over the police.

Following the encounter between communist rebels and 79th Infantry Battalion troopers November last year in Brgy. Washington, Escalante City, Negros Occidental, residents in the area urged those supporting the NPA to stop from doing so, to avoid putting their families in harm’s way whenever armed encounters happen, Arevalo said.

The residents expressed their intent as well to pass a resolution, to be approved by the mayor, for the city government to stop providing funds and material support to leftist organizations supporting the NPA, Arevalo said.

Even before the issuance of memorandum order by DILG, Arevalo said that they have been requesting some government officials, suspected to be aiding communist rebels, to stop such illegal acts.

He added that Año may have been aware that there are some local chief executives supporting the CPP-NPA, that prompted him to remind peace and order councils to recommend sanctions against those who are doing it.