Saturday, January 12, 2019

Two Maute group members surrender

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 12, 2019):  Two Maute group members surrender

YIELDED. Two members of the ISIS-inspired Maute group surrendered to Lt. Col. Ian Ignes, Army's 55th Infantry Battalion commander in Pagawayan, Lanao del Sur on Friday (Jan. 11, 2019). (Photo courtesy of Army’s 1st Infantry Division)

ZAMBOANGA CITY -- Murillo, also the commander of the Task Force Zampelan (Zamboanga Peninsula and Lanao provinces), said the surrenderers turned over a KG-9 sub-machine gun and a caliber .45 pistol.

Lt. Col. Ian Ignes, Army’s 55th Infantry Battalion commander, said the two decided to surrender since they “were tired of running and evading our troops based on our custodial debriefing.”

Col. Romeo Brawner, newly-installed Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade commander, said the combat operations against the Maute group remnants “will be relentless and continuous so as not to hamper the recovery, reconstruction and rehabilitation of Marawi (City).”

The two men were the first Maute group remnants who surrendered to military authorities this year.

Last year, a total of 31 Maute group remnants surrendered to military authorities in Lanao del Sur. Meanwhile, Murillo commended the efforts of the troops that led to the surrender of Abu Dar’s comrades.

“Our campaign against terrorists will be continuous in order to attain a just and lasting peace in our area of operation,” he added.

Westmincom vows to defeat rebels, terrorists in New Year's call

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 12, 2019):  Westmincom vows to defeat rebels, terrorists in New Year's call

Lt. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief (center), is flanked by Westmincom's line unit commanders in a photo session after the traditional New Year's call on Friday at the Eisenhower Hall of the Westmincom's Mansion House in Camp Navarro, Zamboanga City. (Photo courtesy: Westmincom Public Information Office)

ZAMBOANGA CITY -- Government troops should remain steadfast and dedicated in their tasks, especially in defeating threat groups in Southern Philippines.

Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega,  chief of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), issued the challenge to military commanders during the traditional New Year’s call held at the Eisenhower Hall at the Westmincom Mansion House in Camp Navarro, this city on Friday.

“Let us stand steadfast amidst the challenges that come our way during our journey. I encourage everyone to go that extra mile to achieve new heights in our life as soldiers and citizens of the Philippines who are working for peace in this part of the country,” dela Vega told the military commanders and heads of law enforcement agencies during the ceremony.

More than a hundred military officials, non-commissioned officers, and civilian personnel joined dela Vega in welcoming 2019 with “hope and more determination” during the traditional New Year’s Call.

Westmincom officials led the troops as they renewed their commitment and loyalty to the AFP and to its civilian leadership during the traditional call.

Dela Vega lauded the efforts of the troops and expressed his gratitude to Westmincom personnel "for their unflinching determination and resolve that helped the command achieve massive feats, notwithstanding the threats that it confronts in the joint area of operations."

“We will prioritize the attainment of the breaking point of the communist terrorist groups and their consequent collapse and the decisive defeat of the terrorist groups-the Abu Sayyaf, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and other foreign and local terrorists,” he said.

He also called on Westmincom personnel to continue working with the stakeholders by “utilizing the combined strategic convergence -- the AFP’s ‘population-centric’ strategy,” an inclusive measure to defeat threats by means of collective participation.

The Westmincom chief also pledged to continue uplifting the morale and welfare of the troops and the civilian workforce by improving existing tactics, techniques, and procedures.

Attending the traditional New Year’s call were the commanders of Westmincom’s Joint Task Forces, including Major Gen. Roseller Murillo, Major Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Brig. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo Jr., Col. Leonel Nicolas, Col. Camilo Balutan, and Col. Fernando Reyeg.

Also present were Rear Adm. Rene Medina of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao; Brig. Gen. Cresenciano Marquez III of the Tactical Operations Wing; Chief Supt. Emmanuel Luis Licup of Police Regional Office 9 (Zamboanga Peninsula); Capt. Joseph Coyme of the Coast Guard Southwestern Mindanao District; and Senior Supt. Sydney Besana of the Bureau of Fire Protection 9.

PRRD OKs AFP, PNP deputation for BOL plebiscite, 2019 polls

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 12, 2019):  PRRD OKs AFP, PNP deputation for BOL plebiscite, 2019 polls

President Rodrigo R. Duterte has concurred with the deputation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to secure the upcoming plebiscite for the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) and the 2019 midterm elections.

"The foregoing law enforcement agencies and other concerned agencies are hereby directed to coordinate and cooperate with the Comelec (Commission on Elections) in the performance of their duties and functions,” the President stated in Memorandum Orders No. 34 and 35, which he issued on December 28 and were released to the media on Friday.

The Constitution mandates the Comelec to “deputize, with the concurrence of the President, law enforcement agencies and instrumentalities of the Government, including the Armed Forces of the Philippines, for the exclusive purpose of ensuring free, orderly, honest, peaceful, and credible elections.”

The Comelec earlier said that preparations for the plebiscite on the ratification of the BOL, which will be held on January 21 and February 6, are ongoing.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año also said the extension of martial law in Mindanao will greatly help the police and the military ensure the peaceful conduct of the plebiscite.

The BOL, previously known as the Bangsamoro Basic Law and considered as one of Duterte’s biggest legislative achievements, seeks to give the Moro people basic legal tools to chart their own destiny within the country’s Constitutional framework.

Lorenzana lauds law hiking old age pension for veterans

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 12, 2019):  Lorenzana lauds law hiking old age pension for veterans


The Department of National Defense (DND) thanked President Rodrigo Duterte for signing Republic Act (RA) No. 11164, which increases the monthly old age pension of World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War veterans from PHP5,000 to PHP20,000.

"The old law covering our war veterans’ pension, Republic Act No. 6948, as amended by Republic Act No. 7696, was enacted more than 20 years ago, and the amount provided is already insufficient to sustain the needs of our senior veterans," Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a statement sent to reporters on Friday night.

Duterte signed RA 11164 last December 20.

"We would thus like to thank our legislators and the national leadership for giving our senior veterans what is due them. This is one way by which a grateful Filipino nation honors our veterans’ sacrifices and heroic deeds, thereby encouraging the Filipino youth to follow their footsteps as defenders, leaders, and patriots," Lorenzana said.

According to law, the pension hike is only for living veterans. This means that their family members and/or dependents are not covered by the law.

The amount for funding of the law will be provided by the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office.

The law will take effect 15 days after its publication in the Official Gazette or in at least two national newspapers of general circulation.

It was passed by the Senate as Senate Bill No. 1766 on Oct. 8, 2018 and adopted by the House of Representatives as an amendment to House Bill No. 7525 on Oct. 10, 2018.

DND backs PRRD rejection of 'purely military solution' vs. Reds

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 12, 2019):  DND backs PRRD rejection of 'purely military solution' vs. Reds


Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana expressed support for President Rodrigo Duterte's decision not to use a purely military solution in ending the communist threat in the country.

"The DND fully supports the President’s decision not to employ a purely military solution to ending the communist insurgency in the country," Lorenzana said in a statement forwarded to reporters at 9:54 p.m. Friday.

This, he said, is emphasized by the national government's initiative to work closely with the local government units in pursuing localized peace talks, community support and development, and promotion of good governance, all aimed at neutralizing the insurgency threat.

This also includes the implementation of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Programs or E-CLIP, which helps former rebels start their lives anew by providing financial, livelihood, and educational assistance, psychosocial support, and housing, the defense chief added.

"While focused military actions will weaken their armed component, it is the promise of a better life for their families that drives their members to return to civil society and the fold of the law," Lorenzana added.

The DND chief also said that the government has the momentum, support and resources to render the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People's Army - National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) strategically and politically irrelevant by 2022.

"By the end of President Rodrigo Duterte’s term, the NPA will be reduced into a purely police problem of running after robbers, criminals, arsonists, and extortionists," he said.

Without the NPA as an armed component, which is listed as a terror organization by the United States and European Union, Lorenzana said the CPP will become just like any another political party, whose only chance of taking over the government is by winning an election.

"(This is) something that the Filipino people will never let happen because their (NPA) hands are stained with the blood of thousands of Filipinos they have sacrificed in the altar of a discredited and failed ideology. (CPP chief) Joma Sison and his cohorts abroad will just become footnotes in history, and will soon be forgotten," he said.