Sunday, January 20, 2019

Military won’t stop operations vs NPA in exchange for captives’ release–Lorenzana

From the Manila Times (Jan 18, 2019): Military won’t stop operations vs NPA in exchange for captives’ release–Lorenzana

DATU ODIN SINSUAT, Maguindanao: The Armed Forces of the Philippines will not stop operations against communist rebels, even after their armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), expressed plans to release the 12 militiamen and soldiers in exchange for a halt to offensives, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Friday.

“No. The Cafgu (Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit) and the military men captured know that if they are captured, we will go through the process, but [there will be] no stop in our operations, especially since we are winning,” Lorenzana said in an interview here.

Lorenzana’s statement comes after the NPA based in the Northeastern Mindanao Region said it has been preparing the release of their soldier captives but on the condition that there should be a stop to military operations in the area.

On Dec. 20, 2018, 12 the NPA abducted Cafgu men and two soldiers from the Special Forces at a patrol base in Sibagat, Agusan del Sur.

NPA to free 15 gov’t troops—NDF Northeastern Mindanao

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jan 17, 2019): NPA to free 15 gov’t troops—NDF Northeastern Mindanao

DAVAO CITY – Maoist guerrillas are now preparing the release of 15 captured government forces, including two Special Forces soldiers, in Northeastern Mindanao, a senior communist leader said.
Maria Malaya, the spokesperson of the National Democratic Front-Northeastern Mindanao Region, said in a statement on Thursday, that the New People’s Army (NPA) was just waiting for a favorable timing for the release, including a temporary halt in fighting.

“The plan, however, is hampered by the continuous military operations launched by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the utter disregard of AFP officials and the Government of the Philippines (GRP) for the welfare of their troops captured by the NPA,” Malaya said.

The NPA captured the Special Forces soldiers and 13 Civilian Active Auxiliary militias in two separate operations late last year.
Two soldiers of the 3rd Special Forces Battalion and 13 militiamen were captured during an attack in a military detachment in Barangay New Tubigon, Sibagat, Agusan del Sur on December 19.

The rebels also took 23 firearms including 16 M16 rifles, three M14 rifles, an M60 machinegun, two M4 rifles, and a handgun. The NPA also took at least 7,000 rounds of different ammunition, a Harris radio, and other war equipment.

Another government militia was captured in an ambush in the town of Remedios T. Romualdez in Agusan del Norte on November 29. The same attack reportedly resulted in the death of a soldier and two militias.

The NPA also seized four rifles from the attack, Malaya said.

Malaya said the captured government forces were considered “prisoners of war” and were treated fairly by their captors.

“The POWs are currently under the custody of the appointed Custodial Forces of the NPA who are ensuring their safety, need and welfare,” she said. “Their human rights are guaranteed and they are being treated well as prisoners of war in accordance to the policies of the New People’s Army (NPA) and People’s Democratic Government (PDR) and the provisions enshrined in the CARHRIHL and in international protocols of war,” Malaya said.

The military, however, condemned the “terror” act, saying the captured soldiers were held as hostages by the communist guerrillas.
Malaya said the military had responded with a massive operation that stretched for 25 days in Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur.

“Since the last week of December 2018 until the present, AFP troops incurred several casualties from six counter-attacks launched by the NPA,” Malaya said.

Malaya said creating a safe condition could ensure the release of the captured government forces despite the ongoing fightings on the ground.

She urged families of the captured soldiers and militias to help demand from President Duterte the facilitation of the release through the Suspension of Military Operations and Suspension of Police Operations.

Before he won the presidency, Duterte used to facilitate the release of NPA captives in Mindanao.

“We also call upon the officials of Agusan del Sur and Agusan del Norte and the chairperson of the Regional Peace and Order Council to create conditions to ensure the safe and smooth release of the POWs. We challenge the politicians advocating genuine peace to help ensure this,” Malaya said.

IDP Protection Assessment Report - Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) vs New People’s Army (NPA) in Iligan City (Issue No.1; 17 Jan 2019)

Posted to the Relief Web (Jan 17, 2019): IDP Protection Assessment Report - Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) vs New People’s Army (NPA) in Iligan City (Issue No.1; 17 Jan 2019)

Report from UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Protection Cluster
Published on 17 Jan 2019 — View Original

Download PDF (753.01 KB)

On 15 January 2019, an estimated 144 families (around 720 persons) were displaced from their homes in Barangay Mainit, Iligan City due to an armed encounter between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and elements of the New People’s Army (NPA) in the area.


An armed encounter occurred (NPA) at around 6:00 am on 15 January 2019 in the area encompassing the boundaries of Barangay Rogongon, Barangay Mainit, and Barangay Digkilaan, all in Iligan City, Lanao del Norte. The most affected sites are Sitio Lower, Sitio Pudog, and Sitio Bucana in Barangay Mainit, where most of the IDPs come from. According to the Barangay Chairperson of Barangay Mainit, there have been previous sightings of armed men, allegedly from Barangay Rogongon, near the periphery of their barangay.


At least 143 families (approximately 715 persons) were displaced from Barangay Mainit and are staying in three different evacuation centers, also in Brgy. Mainit: Ampokaw Multi-purpose Hall in Sitio Ampokaw, Covered Court, and Mainit Elementary School. In addition, one (1) family who was also displaced from Barangay Mainit is currently hosted in a home within the neighboring Barangay Digkilaan. Other reported evacuation centers (such as one in Caribao) are still being validated. None of the IDPs interviewed have confirmed that they saw armed men in the area, but they stated that they fled their homes after hearing gunfire.

The City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) conducted an initial assessment, and is in the process of validating the numbers and locations of IDPs. The local government unit (LGU) of Iligan City distributed food packs to the IDPs, while the Philippine Red Cross provided psychosocial support services. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs also conducted a field visit to the area to monitor the situation of the IDPs.

As of this report, further documentation and assessments are still being done by the CSWDO, in coordination with the barangay officials, to determine the updated number and current locations of the displaced population. The evacuation centers (ECs) that received the IDPs do not yet have assigned camp managers. Verification is also ongoing to identify whether any IDPs have been displaced to other areas.

AFP to file charges vs rebels in Bukidnon attack

Sun Star-Cagayan de Oro (Jan 20, 2019): AFP to file charges vs rebels in Bukidnon attack

THE military is set to file charges against a New People’s Army (NPA) unit responsible for the burning of a farm equipment owned by a private firm in Valencia City, Bukidnon, Friday, January 18.

Captain Ryan Layug, civil military operations officer of the 403rd Infantry Brigade, said the army troops are still determining the identities of the communist rebels who attacked civilians and destroyed the property of Dole plantation in Lilingayon, Valencia City.
Layug said around 20 members of Guerilla Front 68 held a Martigani Spray Truck of Dole Plantation. The driver and a civilian security personnel were freed after their mobile phones were carted away.

The troops arrived an hour later and discovered that the said truck was already burned by the NPA fighters.

Layug said the attack launched by the NPA against civilians and destruction of civilian properties was part of their retaliation “after they are defeated in many battles”.

“But why retaliate sa civilians kailangan nilang sagutin yan. Ngano gidamay nila civilians,” Layug said.

Layug said the NPA unit will face charges in violation of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL).

The military also said the top officials of the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front (CPP-NDF) must impose punishment against the responsible NPA unit for violating the IHL.

“Yung actions ng ground commander ng NPA violates the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect to Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) so we expect their higher ups to impose punishment sa local ground commanders nila,” Layug said.

Layug also said the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) will assist the company in filing the cases against the NPA.

“Since violation ito ng IHL ang CHR is mandated to receive and handle the complaint,”he added.

For his part, 403IB commander Colonel Edgardo De Leon has condemned the act of terror by the NPA.

“We strongly condemn the act of CPP-NPA terrorists for its blatant disregard of IHL despite signing an agreement to respect IHL. The NPA terrorist, with the guidance of their leaders, still continue to attack civilians and their properties,” De Leon said.

De Leon said, “These attacks only fuel our utmost desire to protect our people from these thugs.”

But, he said the military needs the cooperation of the public in ensuring that these NPA atrocities will be preempted.

Major General Ronald Villanueva, commander of the 4th Infantry Division, said “the NDFP that signed CARHRIHL representing the NPA must be made to explain why the NPA attacked a civilian-owned farm equipment. What is the “direct participation” of the farm equipment in the armed conflict between the AFP and the NPA? The NDF and the NPA must provide a clear answer,” Villanueva said.

ACT a Red front, asserts former Manila teacher

From the Manila Standard (Jan 19, 2019): ACT a Red front, asserts former Manila teacher

A former militant teacher has stepped up to accuse her former comrades of forming a legal front for the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army, and National Democratic Front through a teachers’ organization started in the 1980s.

Calling herself “Ka Jamie,” the teacher said through the Koalisyun at Alyansa ng Dating Rebelde that the Alliance of Concerned Teachers was formed “to push the communist and terroristic agenda.”

Requesting anonymity for fear of reprisal, Ka Jamie said she was an organizer for the Manila Public School Teachers Association, a coalition partner of the ACT, which was established on Jan. 26, 1982.

Her task was to organize the MPSTA, urging them to become regular street demonstrators, along with other public school teachers’ groups, and call for their salary increases.

“At first, we were only discussing teachers’ issues, our additional pay during elections and how we could defend MPSTA from electoral protests of politicians who were accusing us of partisanship,” Ka Jamie said.

But then her involvement became deeper in the communist organization, and she said she witnessed the alleged illegal activities of the group.

“They said we should advance a mass-oriented, nationalist at scientific educational system, along with boycotts, walkouts and work stoppages,” Ka Jamie said.

“Sometimes that got me thinking, ‘Aren’t we violating our vows as teachers, because with every protest we were pushing, the school children were being deprived and denied their right to education?’” she added.

Organizers joining in from other groups offered to introduce to them “socialist education,” alongside the NDF’s underground organization, the Katipunan ng mga Gurong Makabayan (Kaguma).
Ka Jamie said she was asked to be part of this bigger group, which claimed that the true solution to the problem in education “is armed struggle.”

She was told the participation of teachers in the rural areas “play a great role in encouraging other teachers to teach the communist ideology to children and to the masses, including the peasant warriors who lack the education.”

She said there were a series of exposure trips in the rural areas to teach in the Pambansang Demokrasyang Paaralan (Padepa), a platform to hold seminars to “brainwash” children fighters, and claimed her group stood as the lead educator in the system.

In Padepa, Ka Jamie asserted she saw NPA fighters as young as 14 years old who wasted their time at training camps instead of going to school.

The teacher said she was later sent to meet counterparts in Negros, Caraga, Davao, Bicol, and Northern Luzon, where most of the students that were being brainwashed were young NPA fighters.

Encounter in Kabankalan

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jan 19, 2019): Encounter in Kabankalan

Armed skirmishes ensued yesterday between Army soldiers and suspected New People’s Army rebels in Sitio Pacama, Brgy. Magballo, Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental. 

 The running gunbattle lasted for about 15 minutes, and the 10 suspected communist rebels withdrew in separate directions, a 303rd Infantry Brigade report showed.

The 15th Infantry Battalion soldiers stationed at the Dacongcogon detachment are still in pursuit of the fleeing rebels, as of this time.

No casualty was reported on the government side.

Two Air Force helicopters have been dispatched from Iloilo to Negros, to assist the Army soldiers in pursuing the fleeing rebels.

The encounter took place a week after suspected NPA rebels launched a sniping operation in Brgy. Hilamonan, Kabankalan City, that caused injury to an Army soldier.

4 NPAs surrender in ComVal, Davao Oriental

From Malaya Business Insight (Jan 21, 2019): 4 NPAs surrender in ComVal, Davao Oriental

A MEMBER of the communist New People’s Army and her son surrendered Saturday to military officials in Mawab town, Compostela Valley, the military said yesterday.

The two were identified only as Bella, 56, and son, Rebo, 24. 

The military said Bella served as a political officer of the “Weakened Guerilla Front 2, sub-regional committee 2” of the Southern Mindanao Regional Command while her son served as “propagandist.”

In Davao Oriental also on Saturday, two other NPA members surrendered to the Army’s 701st Brigade in Barangay Don Martin Marundan in Mati City. They were identified as alias Royroy, 24, and alias Jian, 22, both of the Guerilla Front 2 of the SMRC.

Capt. Jerry Lamosao, spokesman of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said the two were students of the left-leaning Salugpungan school in Davao Oriental before they joined the NPA.

Lamosao said the two, who brought a cal. 45 pistol with them, surrendered through the assistance of town and barangay officials.

1Lt. Jhocell Asis, spokeswoman of the Army’s 71st Infantry Battalion, said the mother and son surrendered at around 11 a.m. at the 71st IB headquarters in Purok 8, Barangay Nueva Visayas in Mawab town.

The military said Bella joined the NPA in 1973 but went down from the mountain seven years later when she got married. She was recruited her back to the NPA in 2013 by an alias “Molong” who promised to send her child to school.

Rebo was later recruited by one “Tersollaya.” Asis said Rebo told the military he was also trained to detonate improvised explosive devices.

“The surrendered NPAs regret that they had joined and believed the nonsense ideologies taught to them. They were misled and got lost in time,” said Asis.

9 soldiers wounded as Army seizes NPA camp in Samar

From Rappler (Jan 19, 2019): 9 soldiers wounded as Army seizes NPA camp in Samar

Brigadier General Ramil Bitong says the New People's Army rebels hastily escaped, leaving behind their valuables and subversive documents

OVERRUN. The 803rd Brigade of the Philippine Army overruns a camp of the New People's Army in Samar. Photo courtesy of 803rd Brigade, Philippine Army

OVERRUN. The 803rd Brigade of the Philippine Army overruns a camp of the New People's Army in Samar. Photo courtesy of 803rd Brigade, Philippine Army

CATBALOGAN CITY, Philippines – Soldiers of the Philippine Army successfully took over a camp of the New People's Army (NPA) rebels situated in a remote area in Barangay Bay-ang, San Jorge, Samar Sunday, January 13.

Members of the 801st and 803rd Brigade seized control of the NPA camp which had bunkers that could accomodate 180 people. The area also had improvised classrooms and a kitchen.
The rebels were under the Eastern Visayas Regional Party Committee (EVRPC).

Brigadier General Ramil Bitong, commander of the 803rd Brigade, told Rappler in an interview that NPA rebels hastily escaped, leaving behind their valuables and subversive documents.

The NPA rebels were still being pursued by the military troops.

General Bitong said that residents in nearby communities and some local politicians and businessmen had been complaining about the extortion activities of the NPA rebels.

"According to them, they were constantly living in fear and poverty as these NPA pillage their homes and burden them with extortions. Which prompted the military troops to conduct raid," he added.

"Nahirapan ang tropa mapasok ang NPA camp dahil masukal ang lugar at bago nakapasok ang tropa ito ay napalaban muna sa mga NPA," General Bitong said. (The Army had a hard time entering the jungle area and even engaged the NPA in a gunfight.)

On January 12, while operating troops of 63rd Infantry Batallion were approaching the main NPA camp, soldiers encountered armed rebels. During the firefight, a landmine exploded, and 9 soldiers were wounded by shrapnel.

Army Sergeant Francisco Datay, Sergeant Erwin Rafon, Sergeant Rowel Boquid, Corporal Jorgen Ubana, Corporal Rey Martin Avila, Corporal Pastor Arguilles, and Privates Jonas Sayde, Judith Romero and Albert Lomintigar are now recuperating in a hospital.

"Our troops are currently engaging the main bulk of the enemy, where most of the EVRPC leadership are consolidated," Bitong said.

According to Bitong, in the run-up to the 2019 elections, they expected the NPA rebels to atack government troops to frustrate the will of the people, impress relevance and further their extortion scheme.

WATCH: Without guns, Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces prepare to help protect BOL vote

From Rappler (Jan 20): WATCH: Without guns, Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces prepare to help protect BOL vote

Some 1,200 individuals, a mix of unarmed members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces and volunteers, will be deployed to Cotabato City precincts on Monday, January 21, to help ensure peace

SULTAN KUDARAT, Philippines – Inside their stronghold in Camp Darapanan, the troops of Muslim group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are briefed on how they can help keep watch over the Bangsamoro plebiscite on Monday, January 21.

Some 1,200 individuals, a mix of Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) combatants and volunteers, will be deployed to Cotabato City precincts on Monday to safeguard the plebiscite, without arms, but with a sense of mission.
Members of the BIAF will leave behind their guns, and bring only a ballpen and their identification cards, to help monitor the plebiscite.

Rappler Talk: Mohagher Iqbal on the Bangsamoro plebiscite and beyond

From Rappler (Jan 20, 2019): Rappler Talk: Mohagher Iqbal on the Bangsamoro plebiscite and beyond

MILF peace panel chairman Mohagher Iqbal is hopeful for a 'landslide victory' for the Bangsamoro Organic Law   

COTABATO CITY, Philippines – On the eve of the Bangsamoro plebiscite, Rappler talks to Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panel chairman Mohagher Iqbal on why he is hopeful for a "landslide victory" in the historic poll.
He also explains the challenges and plans of the MILF, the group that will govern the interim Bangsamoro government if the Bangsamoro Organic Law is ratified on Monday, January 21.

MILF's Iqbal: We expect 'landslide victory' in 4 provinces, 2 cities

From Rappler (Jan 20, 2019): MILF's Iqbal: We expect 'landslide victory' in 4 provinces, 2 cities

It's 'all systems go' for the Bangsamoro plebiscite, says MILF peace panel chairman Mohagher Iqbal, hopeful that his years of negotiating with the government will culminate in the creation of a new autonomous region

EVE OF PLEBISCITE. MILF peace panel chairman Mohagher Iqbal is optimistic about victory in the Bangsamoro plebiscite, but is aware of the challenges that await. Screenshot by Rappler

EVE OF PLEBISCITE. MILF peace panel chairman Mohagher Iqbal is optimistic about victory in the Bangsamoro plebiscite, but is aware of the challenges that await. Screenshot by Rappler

COTABATO CITY, Philippines – On the eve of the Bangsamoro plebiscite, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) officials said they have reason to hope that the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) will be ratified.

MILF peace panel chairman Mohagher Iqbal, in a Rappler Talk interview on Sunday, January 20, said they expect a "landslide victory" in most of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) areas.

"We are looking at a landslide victory of the 'yes' votes in at least 4 provinces and two cities – in Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, Lamitan City, and then Marawi City. We are encountering some problems in Cotabato City, in Isabela City, and Sulu province," he said.

Local government officials in Cotabato City and Isabela City have taken a side in Monday's plebiscite. Cotabato City Mayor Cynthia Guiani Sayadi, for example, is vocally against her city joining the envisioned Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

A longtime observer of Mindanao politics and governance, Ben Bacani of the Institute for Autonomy and Governance, said the city is likely to reject BARMM inclusion.

"They are campaigning tremendously. They are campaigning on the ground and they have so much resources at their command so they are using all these advantages to defeat 'yes' votes in those areas," Iqbal said about the Isabela and Cotabato city local governments.

Despite the challenges ahead, Iqbal said it's "all systems go."

The MILF has mobilized all its groups and has coordinated with all national government agencies – including the Department of Education, military, and police – to ensure all is set for the Monday poll.

Even members of the MILF's armed wing, the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), will be deployed to precincts – without their guns – to help monitor the plebiscite.

New chapter for Bangsamoro

Tensions have risen in Cotabato City where pro-BARMM inclusion and anti-BARMM inclusion advocates have proved equal in passion.

Iqbal said he has no strong feelings against those opposing the BOL or their local government's inclusion in the BARMM.

"We do not fault them for adopting or taking a position of 'no,' but what we want to happen is whether you vote 'no' or 'yes,' your decision must be educated. You know the issues. If you look at the Bangsamoro Organic Law, it's not a perfect law, but it's a good law," he said.

But Iqbal took a dig at possible motivations of some who oppose the BOL.

"There is no enemy here. It's about the public good, the common good versus, probably, selfish interests," he said.

Many expect the core ARMM territories to ratify the BOL. In war-torn Marawi City, for instance, there is overwhelming support for the law.

Iqbal emphasized what he thinks are core virtues of the BOL – how it is inclusive and offers a concrete mechanism for genuine self-determination for the Bangsamoro people.

"Everyone is benefiting from the Bangsamoro Organic Law – the Christians, the women, the youth, the traditional leaders, even the religious leaders, the local government units. It's real autonomy because we have 55 powers and plus the general welfare clause where the Bangsamoro Parliament can legislate on anything and everything provided it is for the general welfare of the people," said Iqbal.

Mere hours away from the historic plebiscite, Iqbal reflected on how far the MILF has come.

"It's history in the making. It's a momentous day. After tomorrow, I think another chapter is added to the long narrative of the Bangsamoro people," he said.

As the MILF's peace panel chief, Iqbal was at the frontlines of negotiating a peace agreement with the government. Peace talks between the two spanned 17 years or until the MILF and the government signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in 2014.

The CAB paved the way for the BOL, which was signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte in July 2018 but needs ratification by the people of the ARMM. This ratification is the subject of the Bangsamoro plebiscite.

From bullets to ballots: MILF chair Murad votes in school where he learned to read and write

From MindaNews (Jan 21, 2019): From bullets to ballots: MILF chair Murad votes in school where he learned to read and write

On Monday, January 21, Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), will return to the school where he learned to read and write, this time to cast his vote to formally end the nearly 51-year armed struggle and move on to the parliamentary struggle.

“First time ko bumoto” (It is my first time to vote),
said the 71-year old Murad, who joined the armed struggle 50 years ago in 1969, first with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and later the MILF.

Like Murad, thousands of mujahideens and their families are expected to troop to the polls on Monday, most of them first-timers like Murad, to ratify RA 11054 or the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Murad is voting in Simuay Junction Central Elementary School where he spent all of his elementary years – Grades 1 to 6. The school was built in 1953 and is located some 200 meters from the entrance to what is now the MILF’s Camp Darapanan.

MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim returns to Simuay Junction Central Elementary School in Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, the school where he learned to read and write, to cast his vote to ratify RA 110454 or the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao on 21 January 2019. MindaNews photo taken on January 16 by MANMAN DEJETO

Murad was one semester short of completing his civil engineering degree at the Notre Dame University in this city when he joined the MNLF’s “Batch 300” in 1969.

He was Vice Chair for Military Affairs of the MILF and Chief of Staff of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces during the “all-out war” in 2000 under the Estrada administration, and the Buliok war under the Arroyo administration in 2003.

in a concurrent capacity he served as MILF peace panel chair from early 2001 — when Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who took over from ousted President Joseph Estrada, waged an “all-out peace” — until he assumed the post of MILF chair in July 2003, after MILF chair Salamat passed away due to an illness.

Once ratified, RA 11054 will pave the way for the creation of the Bangsamoro, the new autonomous political entity that would replace the 28-year old Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and hasten, among others, the normalization process, including the decommissioning of 30% of the MILF’s weapons and forces, in accordance with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro that the MILF signed with the government on March 27, 2014.

The law provides for the “basic structure of government in recognition of the justness and legitimacy of the cause of the Bangsamoro people and the aspirations of Muslim Filipinos and all indigenous cultural communities in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to secure their identity and posterity, allowing for meaningful self-governance within the framework of the Constitution and the national sovereignty as well as territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines.”

The law provides that the ARMM is deemed abolished upon its ratification.

It also provides for a three-year transition period where the 80-member MILF-led Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) will govern the BARMM in a parliamentary system until the first set of officials is elected in May 2022.

Under the peace agreement, the President will appoint the 80 BTA members. Murad, the MILF’s nominee for the top post of Chief Minister, told MindaNews last Friday that they had already submitted the names of the 41 nominees of the MILF to the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process for 41 BTA seats.

Murad is the MILF’s nominee to the post of Chief Minister of the BTA.

MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim registers as a voter in September 2018. Photo courtesy of Bangsamoro Transition Commission

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Carlito Galvez, Jr., told MindaNews Sunday night that his office “will set a very rigid criteria according to the President’s guidance to get only honest, sincere and competent people to ensure that good governance will be in place.”

“We are respectfully requesting both the MILF and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) that they should put their best people – who could effectively, efficiently and conscientiously run the Bangsamoro Government,” He said.

Galvez added that they are recommending the “composition of a BTA Selection Committee with equitable representations from concerned parties and government agencies.”

“Our desire and intent is to recommend the (President’s) appointment of only those true public servants who will place common good, public interest and people’s welfare above all things,” he said.

The law provides that pending the constitution of the BTA and to “foreclose any political interregnum in the governance of the region,” the 25 incumbent elected officials of the ARMM and the 20-member Bangsamoro Transition Commission that drafted the Bangsamoro basic law, “shall act as caretakers of the administration of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region until the Bangsamoro Transition Authority is constituted.”

A total of 2,165,316 registered voters in the ARMM’s Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-tawi and the cities of Marawi and Lamitan; as well as the cities of Cotabato and Isabela will troop to the polls on Monday, January 21, while at least 600,000 voters in Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato will vote on February 6 to finally determine the territorial jurisdiction of the BARMM.

Peace Adviser appeals for sobriety following grenade blast in Cotabato City

From MindaNews (Jan 20, 2019): Peace Adviser appeals for sobriety following grenade blast in Cotabato City

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process has appealed for sobriety following the grenade explosion at the residence of a municipal judge at around 9:10 p.m. Sunday, 10 hours before the polls open to ratify RA 11054 or the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

No casualties were reported in the explosion inside the compound of the residence of Judge Angelito Rasalan along Sta. Maria St. Mother Barangay Rosary Heights.

Police search for evidence after a grenade explosion at the house of Judge Angelito Rasalan in Cotabato City evening of 20 January 2019. MIndaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

According to Police Chief Inspector Efren Salazar, Jr., station commander of Cotabato City-Police Staton 2, initial investigation showed a grenade landed on the roof of the house adjacent to Judge Rasalan’s before it exploded.

Recovered from the scene during the post-blast investigation were a pull ring and lever.

Initial police reports said that while the Rasalans were preparing to sleep, “two loud bursts” were heard emanating from their compound, “believed to have been thrown by still unidentified suspects.

Salazar said witnesses saw two men on a motorcycle moments before the two explosions happened.

Rasalan is assigned at the Municipal Circuit Trial Court in Nuro Upi, Maguindanao. He is the brother of Aniceto, the Executive Secretary of Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Carlito Galvez, Jr., urged the public to avoid speculations as the Commission on Elections has announced that it is not clear as yet if the bombing was election-related or work-related.

“Just stay calm and do not speculate since the investigation is still ongoing. The security forces and Comelec are on top of the situation and we should not issue any premature conclusions,” Galvez said.

Terror suspect nabbed in Cotabato City

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 19, 2019): Terror suspect nabbed in Cotabato City

A man long wanted in connection with the five-month siege carried out by Maute and Abu Sayyaf terror groups in Marawi City in 2017 was arrested here Friday.

Police identified the suspect as Datu Mohalidin, 25, of Malagapas, Barangay Rosary Heights 10, this city. He was arrested along Governor Gutierrez Ave. here at about 1 p.m.

“The suspect carries the aliases ‘Amir Khatab Usman’, ‘Datu Fahad Abdula Mangulamas’, ‘Abu Kattab’, and ‘Dats Usman’,” Chief Insp. Efren Salazar Jr., city police station 2 commander, said in a report.

Salazar said Mohalidin was apprehended by virtue of Arrest Order 01 signed by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on May 29, 2017 for violation of Article 1344 (Rebellion) of the Revised Penal Code, and of Republic Act No. 9516 (Illegal Possession of Explosives).

No bail was recommended for the suspect’s alleged crimes. Combined forces of the city police, Criminal Investigation Detection Group – Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (CIDG-ARMM), National Intelligence Coordinating Agency 12 (Soccsksargen), and the Army’s 5th Special Forces Battalion, carried out the mission to arrest the suspect.

The suspect is currently under the custody of the CIDG-ARMM at Pedro Colina Hill in this city. On Jan. 15, police and military agents also arrested here a certain Jing Pagayao, who was linked to the Sept. 2, 2016 bombing at the Roxas Night Market in Davao City.

Army gets P1-M reward for successful anti-rebel program

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 19, 2019): Army gets P1-M reward for successful anti-rebel program

REWARD FOR BRINGING PEACE TO THE PROVINCE. Sultan Kudarat Governor Pax Mangudadatu tells Lt. Colonel Harold Cabunoc, 33rd Infantry Battalion commander, how happy he has been due to Army peace overtures in Sultan Kudarat. The governor awarded the Army battalion with PHP1 million in cash on Friday (Jan. 18, 2019).(Photo courtesy of 33rd IB)

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao -- The governor of Sultan Kudarat, elated by the military campaign against communist and Moro rebels, awarded an Army battalion with PHP1 million in cash on Friday.

Governor Pax Mangudadatu personally handed over the cash reward to Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, commander of the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion (33IB), at his office in Isulan.

“I admire your advocacy and your programs that really helped the province address the problem of illegal drugs, rebellion, and peace and security,” Mangudadatu told Cabunoc during the simple turnover rites.

The 33IB is the only unit in the province that has actively pushed for a dual approach -- diplomatic and conventional warfare -- in reducing and eventually ending the problem of rebellion.

Since 2017, a total of 205 communist New Peoples’ Army rebels have surrendered to the government through the 33IB’s diplomatic approach.

The initiative also convinced 37 members of the local terrorist group, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, to peacefully surrender and support the government.

The 33IB also convinced 41 members of illegal drug syndicates to yield and reform.

Cabunoc did not say how he would use the money but stressed that all his unit members and force multipliers in the peace campaign would benefit from it.

Maguindanao ambush leaves 2 dead

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 19, 2019): Maguindanao ambush leaves 2 dead

Police and soldiers, including those deployed for poll duties, are hunting down heavily armed men who ambushed and killed two persons in Barangay Macaguiling here Friday night.

Police Officer 1 Dickson Masla, investigator-on-case of the Sultan Kudarat municipal police, identified the fatalities as Dungag Macabangon and Bryan Ali, both residents of Nituan, Parang, Maguindanao.

“The ambushers were heavily armed and could be more than 10 persons,” Masla said.

He said the victims, on board a tricycle, were ambushed by still unidentified gunmen in Barangay Macaguiling at about 10 p.m. The ambush also left a tricycle driver critically injured.

Responding police found Macabangon killed on the spot, while a gasping Ali was rushed to the Cotabato Sanitarium Hospital but was declared dead on arrival. '

Tricycle driver Nasser Sanday, 33, is now confined at the Cotabato Regional and Medical Center in Cotabato City.

Responding police recovered empty shells for .45-caliber pistol, M16 rifle, M14 rifle, and 12-gauge shotgun.
Masla said a “rido” or family feud could have triggered the ambush.

Troops seize rebels’ personal items after clash in south Negros

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 19, 2019): Troops seize rebels’ personal items after clash in south Negros


Paramilitary troopers seized bullet shells and various personal items from the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels they encountered in Sitio Pacama, Barangay Magballo in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental on Friday afternoon.

A report from the Philippine Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade on Friday night said troops of the Dacongcogon Cafgu Active Auxiliary Detachment, under the 15th Infantry Battalion, patrolled the area after they were informed by residents of the communist rebels’ extortion activities.

At about 1:55 p.m., they engaged some 10 communist rebels in a firefight that lasted up to 15 minutes.

The report said the rebels fled to various directions, leaving some of their belongings, among them 11 AK47 rifle bullet shells, a jungle knife, a jungle bolo, a hammock, a flashlight, a sweatshirt, a blanket, three pairs of slippers, a bottle of Vitamin C tablets, and food items.

During the encounter, the Army deployed two helicopters to Barangay Magballo for possible close air support.

The encounter came a week after a Philippine Army trooper was slightly wounded in a clash with NPA rebels, who attacked a patrol base of the 62nd Infantry Battalion in Barangay Hilamonan, also in Kabankalan City. Corporal Andin Jamison sustained minor injury on his right thigh.

Col. Benedict Arevalo, commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade, reiterated the Army’s continuing offensives against the communist rebels to put an end to their extortion activities.

“I encourage the people in Negros Occidental to report the NPA’s activities,” he said.
The 303rd Brigade, based in Murcia, Negros Occidental, can be reached through (0956) 328-2415 and (0947) 524-0587.

6 Iraya tribesmen abandon NPA; yield to Army’s 76IB in Mindoro

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 19, 2019): 6 Iraya tribesmen abandon NPA; yield to Army’s 76IB in Mindoro

ASSISTANCE ASSURED. A troop member of the76th Infantry Battalion (76IB) based in Occidental Mindoro assists the six rebel surrenderers from 'Milisyang Bayan'. The six yielded to authorities on Thursday (Jan. 17, 2019). (Photo courtesy of 2ID-DPAO)

CAMP GENERAL CAPINPIN, Tanay, Rizal -- Six Milisyang Bayan (MB) members of the New People’s Army (NPA) surrendered to the Community Support Program (CSP) troops of the 76th Infantry Battalion (76IB) in Occidental Mindoro on Thursday.

In a report Friday, the Army’s 2nd Infantry “Jungle Fighter” Division (2ID) public affairs office said government troops identified the surrenderers as indigenous peoples (IPs) from the Iraya tribe in the sub-villages of Kabilugan and Kalinyawan, in Barangay San Vicente, Abra de Ilog, Occidental Mindoro.

Lt. Col. Mario Lito I. Retirva, commander of 76IB, said the surrenderers were only known through their aliases “Bugo,” “Siri,” “Rustom,” “Buho,” “Pedro,” and “Dos” when they turned themselves in to authorities, for safety and security.

“These MBs served as the NPA’s eyes and ears against the government troops in the barangay. They also served as NPA force multipliers and they operate together with the NPA regular members when the group needs additional personnel to conduct atrocities such as raid, ambush, sniping and extortions,” Retirva said.

“Nalinlang kami ng mga NPA at sinamantala nila ang aming kakulangan sa edukasyon. Ginamit nila ang istado ng aming pamumuhay para magalit at mag-aklas kami laban sa gobyerno. Ginamit din nila kami upang lasunin ang kaisipan ng aming mga kapwa katutubong Mangyan. (The NPAs duped us and took advantage of our lack of education. They also incited us on the pretext of our lowly state in life to hate and rebel against the government),” the surrenderers said.

They also realized later that they have not been helping their tribal community and admitted they have in fact been blamed as the root of conflict in their locality. “Kaya minarapat naming sumuko para makapag- bagong buhay (That is why we decided to surrender, to live a new life),” the surrenderers added.

Col. Marceliano V. Teofilo, commander of the 203rd Brigade in Mindoro Island, said this is the stage wherein the NPAs in Mindoro are becoming insignificant to the masses.

He described the series of surrenders as concrete proof that the communist terrorist group’s deceptions are no longer acceptable to the masses, and the people are now fighting back.

“The 203rd Brigade will not stop until all NPAs in Mindoro including their top brass personalities surrender,” he added.

Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Rhoderick M. Parayno, Army’s 2ID commander, lauded the efforts of the 76IB.

“We are winning our campaign against the NPA terrorists in the regions. The people are losing confidence on their futile cause and they are also losing their members,” Parayno said.

He also reiterated his appeal to the NPAs to just return to the fold of the law if they want to be with their families and live peaceful, normal and productive lives.

“I guarantee their safety and I’ll make sure that they receive all the benefits due them offered by the government,” Parayno added.

A total of 34 NPA members have already surrendered to 2ID forces this month, including the eight surrenderers in Mindoro and 20 Dumagat NPA members in Laguna.

He also rebel returnees of benefits from the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) where a former rebel will receive PHP 15,000 immediate cash aid and PHP 50,000 livelihood assistance.

Surrenderers under the E-CLIP will also receive firearms remunerations, given access to housing, loans, medical and legal assistance, among others.

The educational benefits afforded to them are also extended to their immediate family members.

Bombing suspect’s arrest averts terror plot: Cops

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 19, 2019): Bombing suspect’s arrest averts terror plot: Cops

The recent arrest here of one of the suspects in the Sept. 2, 2016 bombing in Davao City has prevented an Islamic State-linked terror group from carrying out a bombing plot to disrupt Monday’s scheduled plebiscite for the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) in the city, police said.

Citing intelligence information, Chief Supt. Eliseo Tam Rasco, Police Regional Office 12 (Soccsksargen) director, said the remaining members of the terror Ansar Al-Kilafa Philippines (AKP), had plotted to set off improvised bombs in areas where the plebiscite will take place as part of group’s sabotage operation.

Rasco announced the arrest on January 15 of Abubakar “Jing” Pagayao in Barangay Bagua, this city, during a news conference here Friday.

He said Pagayao has a standing warrant of arrest under the Department of National Defense Arrest Order No. 2 after Mindanao was placed under martial law in May 2017 following the Marawi siege.

“We have preempted terror plots by AKP with the arrest of Pagayao,” Rasco told reporters here.

He said more than 5,000 police personnel have been deployed to Cotabato City to ensure a peaceful and orderly plebiscite on Monday and in North Cotabato’s five towns on February 6.

Abu Sayyaf member nabbed in Sulu

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 19, 2019): Abu Sayyaf member nabbed in Sulu

Authorities arrested an alleged member of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in a manhunt operation in the province of Sulu, police said Saturday.

The Sulu Provincial Police Office identified the arrested ASG member as Sabor Hayudini alyas Sugo, who was allegedly involved in kidnappings in the region and brought victims to Sulu.

Police said Hayudini was arrested at around 1 a.m. Thursday in Barangay Kajadtian, Indanan town.

Recovered from Hayudini were a rifle, a pistol, two fragmentation grenades and a sachet of suspected shabu.

Meanwhile, police said an unidentified person was shot and beheaded just couple of meters away from the residence of Hayudini six hours after he was arrested.

Police are still conducting investigation to determine whether the beheading of the victim is related to the arrest of Hayudini.

Police, military on ‘full alert’ in Davao for BOL plebiscite

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 20, 2019): Police, military on ‘full alert’ in Davao for BOL plebiscite

The Police Regional Office (PRO)-11 has placed all police units on ‘full alert’ as the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) votes for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law Monday.

"Davao, being part of Mindanao, and an adjacent region to ARMM, although we have not detected any threats in our region, we cannot let our guards down," said Chief Supt. Marcelo Morales, PRO-11 regional director, in a statement Sunday.

Morales ordered all unit commanders in the region to keep their personnel intact and to strengthen target hardening on all vital installations, economic key points and places of convergence.

Morales also ordered close coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and other law enforcement agencies and to ensure high state of operational readiness to thwart any hostile action that may be launched by other armed groups like the New People’s Army (NPA), the Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

The Davao police is also taking the directive of Philippine National Police, chief Oscar Albayalde to strictly implement the gun ban.

PRO-11 already recorded seven violators of the gun ban set by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and has so far confiscated nine short firearms and 256 ammunition.

On the other hand, the 10th Infantry Division (10ID) is also supporting the peaceful conduct of the ratification of the BOL to end armed conflict in Mindanao.

"The 10ID supports the peace initiative and preparations of units involve in providing security assistance during the conduct of plebiscite for BOL,” said Capt. Jerry Lamosao, spokesperson of the 10ID.

Lamosao said units under 10ID are ready in terms of security deployment to prevent untoward incidents.

“We see no significant threat that may disrupt the BOL plebiscite. We also urge everyone to still be vigilant and report any presence of suspicious persons or baggage left unattended especially in places of convergence,” Lamosao added.

Army activates 6th Mechanized Infantry Battalion

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 19, 2019): Army activates 6th Mechanized Infantry Battalion

The Philippine Army (PA) activated the 6th Mechanized Infantry "Salaknib" Battalion of the Mechanized Infantry Division (MID) on Friday.

In a statement Saturday, PA spokesperson Lt. Col. Louie Villanueva said the event was spearheaded by PA Commander, Lt. Gen. Macairog Alberto, at Camp O'Donnell, Capas, Tarlac.

"The battalion is an addition to the MID forces which forms part of the Army’s cutting edge in conducting prompt and sustained ground operations in support of AFP’s (Armed Forces of the Philippines) mission," Villanueva said. “Its activation is an offshoot of the continuing Army capability upgrade as it undertakes transformation to give rise to a modular force structure aimed at creating standardized, flexible and versatile elements capable of accomplishing virtually any assigned task.”

The battalion will be the mechanized component of the 1st Brigade Combat Team (1BCT) of the PA which was just activated in December 2018.

“True to your name ‘Salaknib’, which means shield in Ilocano, your unit symbolizes protection, strength, and security as you serve as the rapid deployment force of the Mechanized Infantry Division responding to the requirements of the Philippine Army in the conduct of ground operations against emerging security threats,” Alberto said during the activation ceremonies.

Villanueva said the 1BCT is a contingency force that is readily deployable and capable in addressing unconventional threats to national security.

Other maneuver components of the 1BCT are two infantry battalions and maneuver support consisting of specialized enablers such as field artillery and engineer combat battalions, reconnaissance company and units from signal, intelligence, civil-military operations, military police, explosive ordnance, CBRN (chemical biological radiological and nuclear), and sustainment components composed of a forward service support unit and a forward medical platoon.

Vote 'Yes' to BOL ratification, PRRD tells Moro community

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 19, 2019): Vote 'Yes' to BOL ratification, PRRD tells Moro community

YES TO BOL. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his speech during the Peace Assembly for the Ratification of Republic Act No. 11054 or the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), held at the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex in Cotabato City on January 18, 2019. Joining the President on stage are Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, Moro Islamic Liberation Front Chairman Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim, and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Carlito Galvez Jr. (Robinson Niñal Jr./Presidential Photo)
President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Friday urged the Moro community to vote “yes” to the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) in the plebiscite to be held on January 21 and February 6.

"Your approval of this law will not only serve as an expression of your desire to end more than half a century of armed struggle in the region. It will also serve as a testament to your determination to bring genuine peace and development in Muslim Mindanao through an autonomous government that truly represents and understands the needs of the people," Duterte said in a speech at the Peace Assembly for the ratification of Republic Act No. 11054 or the BOL in Cotabato City.

The President said the power to craft their own destiny now lies in the voters' hands.

"I am proud to say that the BOL has undergone comprehensive analysis and thorough review to ensure that once implemented, it will lead to better governance, inclusive political empowerment, and enhanced systems (for) transparency and accountability," he said.
The BOL version under his administration has undergone multiple consultations with various stakeholders, Duterte added.

"As the centerpiece legislation of my administration, the BOL has been the product of a long and rigorous process that involved meaningful and exhaustive consultations by one another and for all of us here. We listened to the indispensable sentiments and concerns of Muslims, Christians, Lumads, and other indigenous peoples and various stakeholders who also call Mindanao their home and rightly so," he said.

Duterte also expressed hope that with the ratification of the BOL, peace and inclusive growth in Mindanao would benefit the entire Philippines.

"Together, let us take this opportunity to begin the process of healing, reconciliation so that one day, we can embrace each other as really brother and sister Filipino, with a view of -- in tolerance in all, understanding and take the new world on its totality," he said.

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.

AFP chief visits units tasked to secure BOL polls

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 19, 2019): AFP chief visits units tasked to secure BOL polls

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff, Gen. Benjamin Madrigal, on Saturday visited two military units tasked to secure the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) plebiscite on January 21.

These units are the 103rd Infantry Brigade and the 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion located in in Camp Ranao, Marawi City and Barangay Maria Cristina, Iligan City, respectively, AFP public affairs office chief, Col. Noel Detoyato said.

Detoyato, in a message sent to reporters, esaid the AFP chief checked the readiness of the troops to secure Monday's polls as Marawi City and towns in Lanao del Norte are also going to participate in the plebiscite to ratify the BOL.

Madrigal's visit is also aimed at making sure that the welfare of the troops is taken care of, Detoyato added.

Madrigal also visited the main battle area now called as the most -affected area during the Marawi siege to check the situation and ongoing security operations to facilitate the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Marawi City led by the Task Force Bangon Marawi.

"The two units are tasked to secure the whole city in support to the Task Force Bangon Marawi and to clear the few remaining areas of unexploded ordnance," Madrigal said.

During his visit, a command conference with the officials of 103 Infantry Brigade led by its commander, Col. Romeo Brawner, and 2nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade headed by Brig Gen. Tom Sedano was conducted.

They assures the AFP leadership and the community that every soldier is ready and everything is all set within their respective areaa of responsibility.

Madrigal also inspected and toured around the camps and talked to the men of the two brigades to boost the morale of the troops on the ground.

"We extend our full support to every soldier currently deployed to conduct vital security services in the City of Marawi and the province of Lanao del Norte and the adjoining towns. The AFP is thankful for your service in this historic city at this critical time when peace through BOL ratification and rehabilitation through Task Force Bangon Marawi is at its most important phase," he said.

Radical reds hinder nationalism, economic growth: NYC chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 20, 2019): Radical reds hinder nationalism, economic growth: NYC chief

National Youth Commission (NYC) Chairman Ronald Cardema said on Sunday that he is campaigning for “unity and nation-building” and not advocating against youth militants.

Cardema made this comment after Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao on Friday criticized his leadership for allegedly taking part in President Rodrigo R. Duterte's “red witch hunting.”

“As Vice-President of the Asian Youth Council, the association of NYC Chairmen and Youth Ministers in the Asia Pacific Region, I have witnessed how our stronger neighbors like Singapore, South Korea, Japan, and China are training the millions of youthful citizens in their respective countries towards nationalism, nation-building, and towards supporting their government troops," he told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in an interview.

Cardema said the radical leftist groups, who use their time to attack the government and its troops every week, hinder true nationalism and economic growth in the country.

"Hindi ko bina-brand lahat ng makakaliwa ha, iyong mga radikal lamang. Ano ba ang magandang dapat ituro sa mga kabataan, hindi ba nasyonalismo dahil sila nga ang susunod na henerasyon ng mga pinuno (I'm not branding all the leftist groups, only the radical ones. Isn’t nationalism the best trait to teach our youth since they're the next generation of leaders?)," he added.

Casilao said Cardema is “using his office as a platform for his rabid anti-left sentiments particularly targeting youth activists.”

“Not only is this highly illegal but poses a serious threat to the life and security of youth activists," he added.

Meanwhile, Cardema told PNA that the society already knows who among youth activists are allied with the Communist Party of the Philippines-National People's Army (CPP-NPA).

"They [radical youth activists] are still trying to deceive all of us by telling us that they are not supportive of the red leftist armed fighters. Why haven’t we heard them rally against the New People’s Army, even once, especially when the NPA are burning cell sites which millions of Filipinos use every day," he added.

Cardema challenged critics and radical youth activists "to stop defending their red fighter comrades and start denouncing their illegal and terroristic acts".

The youth leader earlier called on Sangguniang Kabataan officials to strengthen their influence on the youth and keep their stance against those allied with rebel groups.

Joma talking nonsense on BOL: Palace

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 20, 2019): Joma talking nonsense on BOL: Palace

Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Maria “Joma” Sison is talking nonsense on the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), Malacañang said on Sunday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made this remark after Sison said that the President is "setting the stage for a bigger armed conflict in the Bangsamoro and adjoining areas" in his insistence to push for the ratification of the BOL.

Sison further said that there were several forces that opposed the BOL and that the President failed to offer “satisfactory terms and secure the agreement” of those strongly opposed it.

“Apart from saying that he is talking nonsense on the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) being illusory, his latest rants are being ignored as a product of an idle mind in exile,” Panelo said in a statement.

Panelo said that Sison, who is currently in self-exile in the Netherlands, was issuing statements about local issues “he knows nothing about.”

He, meanwhile, expressed hope that Sison would remain healthy in both mind and body despite his negative remarks against the President and his policies.

“We pray that he be given a sound mind and a healthy body so that he will be spared from an unwelcome illness leading to what appears to be a journey to the unknown,” Panelo said.

In a speech at the Peace Assembly for the ratification of the BOL in Cotabato City on Friday (Jan. 18), Duterte urged the Moro community to vote “yes” to the legislation in the plebiscite to be held on January 21 and February 6.

"Your approval of this law will not only serve as an expression of your desire to end more than half a century of armed struggle in the region,” Duterte said.

“It will also serve as a testament to your determination to bring genuine peace and development in Muslim Mindanao through an autonomous government that truly represents and understands the needs of the people," Duterte said.

The BOL, previously known as the Bangsamoro Basic Law, seeks to establish a new Bangsamoro political entity to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Duterte signed the BOL on July 26 last year.