Saturday, February 16, 2019

ISIS leader recruiting child warriors in Lanao del Sur

From the Manila Bulletin (Feb 16, 2019): ISIS leader recruiting child warriors in Lanao del Sur

Abu Dar, the only remaining leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in central Mindanao, has been recruiting orphans of those who fought against the government during the Marawi City siege less than years ago.


Col. Romeo Brawner, commander of the 103rd Brigade, said that based on their intelligence-gathering, Abu Dar has been leading the training of children as young as nine years old in a remote area in Lanao del Sur.

“We were able to confirm this after we seized small black shirts when we overran their camp three weeks ago,” said Brawner.

During the operation, at least five fighters of Abu Dar were killed while eight others were wounded. Among those wounded, according to Brawner, was Abu Dar.

Brawner said that Abu Dar is currently on a recruiting spree and using money to lure local residents to join him.

The recruitment is in Lanao del Sur, mostly in areas where displaced local residents of Marawi City are staying.

“He is targeting the orphans and relatives of those who died in the Marawi siege. Sometimes, he is offering money for them to join him,” said Brawner.

Another proof of recruitment of minors was the surrender of a son of Omar Maute recently, who said he started training at nine years old.

It was not clear how Abu Dar obtained money to lure his recruits but it was recalled that the fighters of Maute Group had ransacked the houses and business establishments in Marawi City.

Abu Dar and at least 20 of his men who survived the raid on their camp are believed to be holed up in the jungles of Lanao del Sur.

Among those who are with him, according to Brawner, are possibly child warriors.

“He is still in Lanao del Sur. We cannot allow him to just roam around Lanao del Sur,” said Brawner.

He said their operation to neutralize Abu Dar has been ongoing.

Madrigal seeks dialogue on recruitment of students

From the Manila Times (Feb 17, 2019): Madrigal seeks dialogue on recruitment of students

BAGUIO CITY: Armed Forces chief Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr. wants a dialogue with officials of the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd), the Department of Education (DepEd) and members of the academe to tackle the recruitment of students by the communist movement.


Madrigal said he was saddened by the death of a veterinary medicine student from the University of the Philippines (UP) Los Baños, one of those killed in an encounter between soldiers and communist rebels at the boundary of Quezon and Laguna last week.

“It is right for students to exercise their academic freedom but let us remind them there is a limit to being a revolutionary and of course, having sense of nationalism,” he told reporters.

A member of the New People’s Army was also killed in the firefight.

The Southern Luzon Command confirmed that a student, identified as John Carlo Capistrano Alberto, was killed. He allegedly joined the NPA in January.

It was not the first time that a student was killed in an encounter between communist rebels and soldiers.

In 2017, Josephine Lapira, an alleged member of the Gabriela party-list, was killed in an encounter with troops in Nasugbu, Batangas.

Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, military spokesman, appealed to parents and school officials to prevent students from joining rebel organizations.

He said parents and school officials should be aware of the students’ whereabouts, and what groups they had joined.

“The CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines)-NPA terrorists continue to lurk in our schools and communities spying for new recruits to fill the dwindling number of their cadres,” Arevalo said in a statement.

“Be on the lookout. Report the presence of these unscrupulous individuals to your AFP and allow us to save your children and students,” he added.

AFP slams anew Reds' alleged recruitment of students amid death of UPLB student

From GMA News (Feb 16, 2019): AFP slams anew Reds' alleged recruitment of students amid death of UPLB student

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) condemned anew the alleged recruitment of students in schools by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), calling it an "evil design" of the group.

The AFP issued the statement after a veterinary medicine student from the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) reportedly died during an armed encounter with the Philippine Army in Laguna.

"AFP Chief of Staff General Benjamin Madrigal Jr. strongly condemns this evil design of CPP-NPA communists," said AFP spokesperson Brigadier General Edgard Arevalo.

"Time and again, he admonishes the youth— especially students and young professionals—to be very discerning about people or groups that approach them," Arevalo added.

Arevalo urged students not to allow themselves to be misled by "nice sweet-talking individuals" who will bring them to perdition.

He also said parents and school officials—who should take full responsibility and custody over children while in schools—should guide these students.

"Please be mindful of your children’s/students’ whereabouts; be wary of the organizations they join; and be constantly vigilant of your children/and students."

The AFP also expressed condolences to the parents and family of the killed UPLB student.

"The CPP-NPA terrorists continue to lurk in our schools and communities spying for new recruits to fill the dwindling number of their cadres. Be on the lookout. Report the presence of these unscrupulous individuals to your AFP and allow us to save your children/students," Arevalo said.

295 CPP-NPA members surrender in Surigao del Norte

From GMA News (Feb 17, 2019): 295 CPP-NPA members surrender in Surigao del Norte

The Philippine military announced that 295 Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) gunmen and their supporters voluntarily surrendered Gigaquit, Surigao del Norte on Friday.

Among the surrenders were 28 Militia ng Bayan (MB) and 267 Underground Mass Organization (UGMO) members.

Seven assorted firearms were also turned in when the communist rebels surrendered to Gigaquit Mayor Elvira Egay and commander of the 4th Infantry Division's 30th Infantry “Python” Battalion Lieutenant Colonel Allen Raymund C. Tomas.

Barangay Camam-onan of Gigaquit was among the barangays declared as Conflict Affected Areas (ConAAs) in the province of Surigao del Norte, which was also among the barangays declared as Peace and Development Zones last August 28, 2018.
“LASICAM Complex (Lahi,Sico-Sico, Camam-onan) were identified as strong-hold of the CPP-NPA for the past decades but due to the conduct of Community Support Program activities and the entry of government projects and interventions, we were able to address issues, regain the trust and support of the masses," said Lieutenant Colonel Tomas

Meanwhile, Gacal said, “Indeed, Peace and Development is multi-dimensional that requires Whole-of-the Nation Approach in order to effectively address perennial problems of the communities particularly in ConAAs,” 4ID commander Brigadier General Franco Nemesio M. Gacal concluded.

Six held on suspicion of involvement with terrorist group

Posted to the Sun Daily (Feb 15, 2019): Six held on suspicion of involvement with terrorist group

KUALA LUMPUR: The police’s Counter Terrorism Branch has nabbed four foreginers and two locals, all men, on suspicion of their involvement with a terrorist group.’

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun said they were arrested in operations in Johor, Selangor and Sabah, from Dec 19 to Jan 28.

The foreigners were from Singapore, Bangladesh, the Philippines and an unnamed South Asian country.

Muhammad Fuzi said the first arrest was made on Dec 19 in Johor Baru involving a 48-year-old Singaporean businessman who was closely communicating with Akel Zainal, the Malaysian who joined the Daesh group in Syria.

“This suspect had channelled funds to Akel and recruited several individuals to launch attacks on the Freemason building in Johor Baru,” he said in a statement, here today.

The same day, a 31-year-old Bangladeshi, who works as a cleaner, was arrested in Klang, Selangor. He is believed to be a Daesh sympathiser and was actively conducting recruiting activities to fill the Daesh ranks.

The Filipino, aged 21, was nabbed in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. The construction worker was an Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) member and had slipped into the country in March 2018.

“This suspect is a firearms expert and is linked to Furuji Indama (the leader of the ASG) in the southern Philippines,” said Muhammad Fuzi, adding that his arrest brought the number of ASG members nabbed since 2017 to 29 people.

According to Muhammad Fuzi, the two locals, both aged 38, who worked as estate workers in a foreign country, were arrested in Sepang, Selangor.

“They were deported to Malaysia after being detained in that country for their involvement in providing support to Daesh terrorists in Syria. One of them had channelled funds to Khairul Amizan Azmi (a Malaysian who joined Daesh in Syria),” he said.

The latest, he said, on Jan 28, a 26-year-old man from a South Asian country was arrested in Puchong, Selangor for harbouring an individual from the sub-continent for whom Interpol had issued a Red Notice for involvement in terrorist activities and crime.

He added that all the suspects would be investigated under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012. — Bernama

4 Abu Sayyaf members killed in Sulu clash

From Politiko Mindanao (Feb 16): 4 Abu Sayyaf members killed in Sulu clash

Four alleged members of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group were killed, while five others were injured in a firefight with the military in Patikul, Sulu.

The 20-minute clash in Barangay Igasan on Thursday, February 14, also wounded two soldiers from the 6th Special Forces Battalion, Brig. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo, the Joint Task Force Sulu Commander.

He said the two militants died on the spot while the two others passed away due to blood loss.

Meanwhile, Sergeant Allan Bambino Caday and Sergeant Wilfredo Flores, who were both wounded in the incident, were discharged from confinement at Kuta Heneral Teodulfo Bautista Hospital, Pabayo said.

17 ex-Reds receive financial aid in Kidapawan City

From Politiko Mindanao (Feb 16, 2019): 17 ex-Reds receive financial aid in Kidapawan City

The government has extended assistance to 17 rebels who surrendered to the Army in Kidapawan City, each receiving P65,000.

The distribution of checks was done during the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) meeting recently at Cotabato Provincial Capitol.

Colonel Ehrlich Noel Paraso, Commanding Officer of 19th Infantry Battalion (19IB) based in Arakan, Cotabato said that 13 of the 17 who surrendered were formerly regular members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

“These are the first batch of Indigenous Peoples (IP) rebels who surrendered amidst our intensified combat operations in Arakan Valley Complex last year. The former rebels were compelled to return to the folds of law due to infighting and corruption within the NPA organization,” Paraso explained.

The beneficiaries received P65,000 each or P15,000 as immediate assistance and P50,000 as livelihood grant under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).

Paraso also said that the financial assistance for “Alias Jimboy”, one of the beneficiaries, who was killed by the NPA, was already received by his kin.

Alias Jimboy was allegedly killed by his former comrades while visiting his family in Magpet town in August last year.

Peace exec optimistic MILF can manage Bangsamoro region

From Politiko Mindanao (Feb 16, 2019): Peace exec optimistic MILF can manage Bangsamoro region

Deputy Presidential Peace Adviser Nabil Tan has expressed optimism that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) could handle the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

The Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), which will administer the BARMM will be led by the MILF.

“No one is 100 percent ready,” Tan said when asked how ready the MILF is to handle the affairs of government.

“However, they are ready in terms of [having the] determination to achieve good governance. Iba ‘yong sincerity nila [MILF] to govern and avoid corruption,” he added.

In line with the BTA’s operationalization, the national government is asking the help of various academic institutions such as the Development Academy of the Philippines and Ateneo de Manila University in mentoring the MILF on the fundamentals of governance,Tan said.

The Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) recent proclamation of the official results of the plebiscites on the Bangsamoro Organic Law held on January 21 and February 6 will pave the way for the creation of the BTA, the interim government of the BARMM.

The BTA will be composed of 80 members who will appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte. It will be led by a chief minister and two deputy chief ministers.

Incumbent officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) government will also be part of the interim body until their term of office ends on June 30, 2019.

With the BOL’s ratification, the ARMM is abolished and will be replaced by the BARMM which will have a parliamentary form of government.

The creation of the BARMM is in accordance with the peace agreement between the Philippine government and the MILF.

Militants hit anti-Left campaign materials in Davao City

From the pro-Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) online publication the Davao Today (Feb 15, 2019): Militants hit anti-Left campaign materials in Davao City

Militant lawmakers on Friday blasted the reported sightings of tarpaulin materials in what appears to be a calculated “smearing campaign” against Left-leaning party-list groups.

Anti-Left campaign materials were sighted hanging at major public centers in Davao City, urging the public not to vote party-list-groups: ACT Teachers, Anakpawis, Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Kabataan, Akbayan and Magdalo.

It also branded militant party-list groups as “protector ng CPP-NPA-NDF terrorists” and “kalaban sa pag-asenso ng bayan, bayaran.”

Bai Ali Indayla, second nominee of Gabriela Women’s Party, said their seat in the House of Representatives is a product of long years of struggle for representation of the marginalized sectors across the country.

“Despite the attacks to GABRIELA, we received overwhelming support of barangays in the One Billion Rising Campaign providing us a venue to educate the people on the need of a genuine representation of the poor sectors despite the entry of businessmen and political dynasties in the party list system,” she added.

On December 3 last year President Rodrigo Duterte tagged organizations Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN), Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and Gabriela as communist fronts .

“Satur Ocampo is fronting Bayan. Bayan is a front of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Bakit pa tayo mag… (Why should we) Alam natin that KMU, ‘yan Gabriela, (We know that KMU, Gabriela) they’re all communist fronts or being used by the communists. Alam ninyo lahat ‘yan (You all know that),” he said.

Anakpawis representative Ariel Casilao, on the other hand, decried as the red-baiting and terrorist-tagging as diversionary tactics.

“Red tagging party list and people’s organizations makes leaders and members open targets to extra-judicial killings, threats, harassment, and prosecution. It is very dangerous as it does not distinguish real terrorist acts from legitimate people’s assertion for reforms. Even the freedom of expression through peaceful demonstration, workers’ strike, and farmers’ collective land cultivation can be considered as an act of lawlessness violence. It legitimizes the attacks and suppression of legitimate rights of the people,” he said.

He added that despite the dominance of traditional politics in the party-list system Anakpawis has been fighting for the poor since our founding, we are the party-list of the masses, the poor’s ally in Congress since 2004,” the lawmaker added.

In 1995, the Party-List System Act (RA 7941) was enacted into law. Section 2 of the law stated, “to attain the broadest possible representation of party, sectoral or group interests in the House of Representatives by enhancing their chances to compete for and win seats in the legislature, and shall provide the simplest scheme possible.”

Gunmen strafe cargo truck, kills 1 in Basilan

From the Mindanao Examiner (Feb 13, 2019): Gunmen strafe cargo truck, kills 1 in Basilan

Unidentified gunmen strafed a truck loaded with lumber and killed its driver while four others managed to flee from the attack in the troubled province of Basilan in southern Philippines.

Police said the attack occurred late Wednesday afternoon in Macalang village in Al-Barka town and killed the 45-year old driver Roel Sanson. His companions fled from the truck on the first volley of gunfire and ran until they reached an army detachment and sought help.

The victim and his group were engaged in lumber trading, according to the police, but the motive of the attack remains unknown. No individual or group claimed responsibility for the ambush which happened despite the expanded martial law in the restive region due to threats of rebellion and terrorism.

Just recently, a logger was also killed by rebels after he failed to recite Muslim prayers in Maluso town also in Basilan.

Security forces raid illegal gun shop in Maguindanao

From the Mindanao Examiner (Feb 14, 2019): Security forces raid illegal gun shop in Maguindanao

Policemen, backed by army soldiers, raided early Friday an illegal gun shop supplying weapons to pro-ISIS groups and criminal gangs in the town of Buluan in Maguindanao, one of 5 provinces under the Muslim autonomous region, officials said.
Officials said security forces arrested a 60-year old gunsmith Abusama Abpun and seized four assorted rifles, including six Tommy guns and a tripod for .50-caliber heavy machine gun and several unassembled firearms.

Military photos released to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner show security forces following a raid January 15, 2019 on an illegal gun shop in Maguindanao province.
Police Senior Superintendent James Gulmatico, regional chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, said Abpun was believed to be supplying weapons to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and criminal groups in the province.
“The suspect was the source of firearms for criminal elements, including the BIFF. Our informant showed us videos of the suspect while repairing a gun owned by a BIFF member who personally brought the defective weapon to his shop,” he said, adding, they had a warrant to search Abpun’s premises.
Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cabunoc, commander of 33rd Infantry Battalion, who led soldiers in the operation, said the campaign against lawlessness is gaining grounds following the arrest of Abpun. “We have removed another logistics support source of the BIFF and other lawless elements. We will defeat them by cutting-off the sources of their weapons,” he said.
There was no immediate statement from the governor of Maguindanao, Esmael Mangudadatu, on the presence of the illegal gun shop in his hometown.

Abu Sayyaf militant captured in Sabah

From the Mindanao Examiner (Feb 15, 2019): Abu Sayyaf militant captured in Sabah

An Abu Sayyaf militant, who fled the Philippines in March last year, has been arrested in Sabah where he was working as a construction man, Malaysian media reported Friday.

Quoting an official police report, Malay Mail said the 21-year old militant, whose identity was not made public by security officials, illegally entered Malaysia in 2018 and is highly skilled in handling firearms.

The Filipino is believed to be a follower of Puruji Indama, whose notorious group, is operating in Basilan, just 30 minutes by boat from the southern port city of Zamboanga. “The department also scored another hit when they arrested a Filipino man who is a member of the notorious Abu Sayyaf Group, known for its kidnapping-for-ransom cases in southern Philippines and Sabah.”

“The suspect aged 21 had illegally entered Malaysia in March 2018 and have been working at a construction site. The suspect is highly skilled in handling firearms and has direct connections with Furuji Indama, the current leader of ASG,” said Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun.

He said 5 other suspected terrorists were also captured separately in anti-terror raids in Malaysia. One of them is a 48-year old Singaporean man, who had planned to attack the Freemason building in Johor, according to Harun.

He said they are also holding a 31-year old Bangladeshi, who was arrested in Selangor, and is a supporter of ISIS who was involved in recruiting local militants for the extremist group. And two Malaysian suspects, both aged 38, who were deported to Malaysia after they were found to have channelled funds to ISIS militants while working at a farm abroad.

Harun said police also arrested another terror suspect from a South Asia country in Selangor after police received information that the 26-year old militant had been giving protection to another terror suspect whose name is listed under Interpol’s red notice for his involvement in serious terror activities.

No other details were made available by the police on the Filipino, except all of those arrested have been detained under the Security Offences Act of 2012. The Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, including the Philippine National Police, have not release any report about the Filipino militant’s arrest.

Maguindanao LGU surrenders 26 loose firearms

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 15, 2019): Maguindanao LGU surrenders 26 loose firearms

SURRENDERED. Lt. Colonel Alvin Iyog, Army’s 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion commander, receives a 60mm mortar tube from Ampatuan, Maguindanao Mayor Rasul Sangki during the ceremonial turnover of 26 unlicensed firearms to the military on Thursday (Feb. 14). (Photo by 2nd MIB)

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao -- Local officials in this province are demonstrating their full support for the military’s disarmament program by actively participating in the collection of unlicensed firearms from the hands of civilians and turn them over to authorities.

The latest local government unit (LGU) to do this was Ampatuan town, which handed over 26 assorted firearms to the Army’s 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion (MIB) on Thursday.

In a report, Lt. Col. Alvin Iyog, commander of 2nd MIB, received the surrendered firearms that came from the town’s 11 villages, through Mayor Rasul Sangki during a simple ceremony held at the Ampatuan town hall.

The weapons included 14 pieces 12-gauge shotgun, four .38 caliber revolvers, one M-203 grenade launcher, two .45 caliber pistols, one homemade 12-gauge pistol, two M-79 grenade launchers, one M1 Garand rifle, and one 60-mm. mortar tube.

“We are glad that the Ampatuan LGU fully supports the government disarmament program because it would contribute much to the improvement of peace and order in the town, especially in the forthcoming election,” Iyog said.

“The firearms presented to us will be a great help in reduction of criminalities and violence in the communities,” he added.

Informed of the latest 2nd MIB accomplishment, Maj. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division (6ID) and concurrent head of Task Force Central, urged other LGUs in his area of responsibility to continue their support to the campaign against illegal guns to achieve lasting peace and order in Central Mindanao.

The 6th ID covers the provinces of Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, North Cotabato and parts of Lanao del Sur as its operational jurisdiction.

6 NPA-held CAFGU members in Agusan Sur freed

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 15, 2019): 6 NPA-held CAFGU members in Agusan Sur freed

Six of the 15 government forces abducted by the New People's Army late last year were released on Valentine's Day, the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) said.

Col. Ezra Balagtey, Eastmincom spokesperson, on Friday identified those released as Jurian B. Gaviola; Marson C. Iligan; Bienvinido A. Lamion; Eddie J. Tindoy; Sanny G. Malobay; and Hermito M. Iligan, all members of the Auxillary Unit of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU).

They were released at about 6 p.m. Thursday through a third-party facilitator and were subsequently turned over to the 401st Brigade under the Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division in Poblacion, Sibagat, Agusan del Sur.

Balagtey said the freed CAFGU members will be given time to talk with their immediate families before undergoing medical check-up and debriefing.

Meanwhile, Major Gen. Felimon Santos, Eastmincom commander, said the relentless operations of the military in Agusan del Sur have forced the NPA to release the six militiamen.

He said their release will not stop the troops from pursuing communists rebels as two soldiers and seven CAFGU members remain as their hostages.

On Dec. 19, 2018, NPA rebels, who attacked the New Tubigon Patrol base in Sibagat, Agusan del Sur, abducted the two soldiers and 13 CAFGU members.

“Our units in the area are continuously conducting military operations to rescue the remaining troops who are still being held and used as human shields and propaganda subject by the NPA,” Santos said.

Santos emphasized that the abduction of the troops is part of the communist propaganda of "kidnap for presscon" to force the military to stop security operations and allow them to continue their recruitment, carry out atrocities against communities, and project that they are still a force to reckon with.

He, however, assured it will not affect the government’s efforts and commitment to protect the communities and their right to live peacefully.

IS-linked gunmen killed in Maguindanao clash vs. Army

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 15, 2019): IS-linked gunmen killed in Maguindanao clash vs. Army

Three members of the Islamic State-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) were killed in a 30-minute gunfight with government forces in the marshland of Maguindanao on Wednesday, an Army official said.

Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, commander of the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion, said Thursday the "drone-covered firefight also injured an undetermined number of BIFF radicals.”

Cabunoc said the fighting erupted between his unit and the BIFF along the borders of Sultan sa Barongis and Pagalungan towns, both in Maguindanao, at about 7 a.m.

Government troopers standing in waist-deep murky waters fired rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) toward the location of about 20 BIFF members led by Salahuddin Hasan. The firefight lasted for about 30 minutes.
Cabunoc said drone images showed the BIFF fleeing the site where the Army’s mortars and RPGs landed and exploded.

“At least three were believed killed based on our monitoring of their radio communication sets,” he said.

Cabunoc said the armed men earlier fired at fisherman Mohammad Makmod, who was fishing in Barangay Tugal, forcing 60 families from Sitio Cana to move to safer grounds.

He said local government units of Maguindanao have been requested to immediately extend assistance to the displaced families.

Eastmincom chief calls on Reds to yield 'while there's chance'

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 15, 2019): Eastmincom chief calls on Reds to yield 'while there's chance'

In what appears to be his Valentine’s Day message to communist rebels, the Eastern Mindanao Command chief called on members of the New People's Army (NPA) to surrender while there is still a chance for them to live normal lives.

Maj. General Felimon Santos made the call on Thursday following the surrender of two NPA regulars in New Baguio, Makilala, North Cotabato on Wednesday.

According to Lt. Col. Rhojun Rosales, battalion commander of the Army's 39IB, the NPA surrenderers were suffering fatigue because of the relentless pursuit operations against the communist rebels who engaged government troops on February 8 in Makilala town.

They also surrendered three M14 Rifles, one M16 Rifle, an improvised Bushmaster, two rifle grenades, an improvised explosive device, various types of ammunition, landmine equipment, and propaganda materials

Santos also lauded the contribution of community members who facilitated the surrender of the two NPAs.

"We call on our peace-loving communities to continue to assist and help our units by facilitating those NPAs who want to surrender and be part in our quest for durable peace which everyone is longing for," Santos said.

Eastmincom has already received 938 regular members of the NPA through its various field units.

Based on its records, Eastmincom also received a total of 1,217 Militia ng Bayan members and 434 Sangay ng Partido sa Lokalidad--NPA's community-based support groups--and 8,932 mass supporters, from January 2018 to early February this year.

Col. Ezra Balagtey said the NPA surrenderers cited disillusionment with the rebel group, community pressure, government peace efforts, sustained military operations, as well as the sustained call of President Rodrigo Duterte to give up rebellion and rejoin the mainstream society.

NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, is listed as a terrorist organization by the European Union and the United States.

4 Abu Sayyaf killed, 5 hurt in Sulu pursuit operations

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 15, 2019): 4 Abu Sayyaf killed, 5 hurt in Sulu pursuit operations

Four Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) terrorists were killed while five others were wounded as troops launched pursuit operations against them in the province of Sulu, a top military official said Friday.

The operation was launched following a 20-minute firefight between troops from the Army’s 6th Special Forces Battalion and the ASG group around 11:30 a.m. Thursday in Barangay Igasan, Patikul, Sulu.

Brig. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo, Joint Task Force Sulu commander, said that another firefight ensued as the troops caught with the group of Monde Sawadjaan while they were fleeing from the first encounter site.

Pabayo said Sawadjaan, is the nephew of Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, one of the ASG leaders based in the province of Sulu.

Pabayo said they received an intelligence report showing that two of the four ASG members died instantaneously while the other two expired due to loss of blood.
He said that five other followers of Sawadjaan were wounded during the second firefight.

A soldier was killed while three others were wounded in the first encounter.

The firefight happened when the troops chanced the group of Monde Sawadjaan while on a focused military operation in Barangay Igasan, Patikul.

The Joint Task Forces Sulu launched the focused military operations following orders from President Rodrigo Duterte to pursue the ASG terrorists behind the January 27 double bombing of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral in Jolo, Sulu.

Fallen soldier gets full military honors

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 16, 2019): Fallen soldier gets full military honors

HERO. Soldiers salute the remains of Corporal Nemesis Salviejo at the Edwin Andrews Air Base in Zamboanga City on Friday (Feb. 15, 2019). Salviejo, who was killed in a gunfight between government troops and Abu Sayyaf bandits in Barangay Igasan, Patikul, Sulu on Thursday, was given full military honors by the Western Military Command. (Photo courtesy of the Westmincom Public Information Office)

ZAMBOANGA CITY -- The Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) on Friday accorded full military honors to a fallen soldier who sacrificed his life to help defeat the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in the province of Sulu.

Accorded full military honors was Corporal Nemesis Salviejo of the Army’s 6th Special Forces Battalion, who was slain in a firefight against 30 ASG bandits in Barangay Igasan, Patikul, Sulu on Thursday.

Three other soldiers were wounded in the encounter -- Sgt. Allan Bambino Caday, Sgt. Wilfredo Flores, and Pfc Ronan Dave Mapa.

“Corporal Salviejo fought hard and paid the ultimate sacrifice for his countrymen. His courage and gallantry will spur our will to fight and defeat the enemy,” Westmincom chief, Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, said.

Salviejo’s remains were sent to the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City via a military aircraft that departed this city at about 2:30 p.m. Friday.

“Ground troops are hunting down the militants and are penetrating enemy lair, as we speak,” dela Vega added.

Brig. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo, Joint Task Force Sulu commander, said four ASG bandits were killed while five others were wounded as troops pursued the fleeing bandits.

Army’s 1st Infantry Division honors 4 retirees

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 16, 2019): Army’s 1st Infantry Division honors 4 retirees

Brig. Gen. Roberto Ancan, newly-installed Army's 1st Infantry Division commander (right), leads on Friday the testimonial honors to four enlisted personnel, who retired from military service upon reaching the compulsory retirement age of 56. (Photo courtesy of the Army's 1st Infantry Division.

ZAMBOANGA CITY -- The Army’s 1st Infantry Division on Friday accorded honors to four of its enlisted personnel who retired from the military service.

The retirees who were given testimonial honors were Master Sergeants Florante T. Almacen, Mario S. Sungag, Ricardo R. Jimenez, and Noel V. Realista. The four personnel have already reached the compulsory retirement age of 56.

Realista, who served the Philippine Army for 32 years, said he experienced joy, happiness, and sacrifices in serving the Filipino people and the country.

“I am so grateful for the organization for everything it has done to me as a person,” he said.

Brig. Gen. Roberto Ancan, the newly-installed 1st Infantry Division commander, commended the four honorees for their accomplishments and the contributions that they have shared to the nation and to the command.

“Non-Commissioned Officers are the true backbone of our Army. They perform battle (operation) and administrative tasks and functions,” Ancan said.

He also commended the wives of the four honorees for taking care of their children while their husbands were on duty and away from the family.

The testimonial honor was held at Camp Sang-an, which houses the headquarters of the Army’s 1st Infantry “Tabak” Division in Pulacan, Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur.

4 NPA rebels, 2 soldiers dead in Bukidnon encounter

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 16, 2019): 4 NPA rebels, 2 soldiers dead in Bukidnon encounter

Four members of the New People’s Army (NPA) and two soldiers were killed in a series of encounters in Sitio Green Valley, Dalwangan, Malaybalay City on Thursday evening, the military said in a statement Friday.

The military said the 11-man team under the 1st Special Forces Battalion (SFB) was constructing a Patrol Base when attacked by about 30 fully-armed NPA rebels at about 9 p.m.

Lt. Col. Sergio Macarandan Jr., commanding officer of 1st SFB, expressed his sympathy to the bereaved families of the soldiers. He was unable to divulge the names of the slain soldiers.

Despite the incidence, Macarandan directed his unit to continue the task of "defeating the communist NPA terrorists through community support programs."

According to him, the troops were conducting community support activities following requests from residents to set up a Patrol Base to secure them from NPA rebels, who were extorting money from the poultry farms in the area.
Col. Edgardo de Leon, 403rd Infantry Brigade commander, denied an earlier report indicating four casualties on the government side.

De Leon said pursuit operations were still being conducted as of posting time, and that government troops managed to recover from the fleeing rebels two M-16 rifles, two unexploded anti-personnel mines, and various types of ammunition.
He said the recovered anti-personnel mines can kill civilians, who are unaware of their devastating effect and could have picked them up out of curiosity.

“Indeed, our troop’s timely recovery of the NPA’s anti-personnel mines saved the lives of the public," the Army official said.

"The NPA’s continuing use of anti-personnel mines is among the reasons why the international community, particularly the EU (European Union) and the US (United States), declared the CPP-NPA as a terrorist group,” he added.

De Leon was referring to the Communist Party of the Philippines, the  NPA's mother organization.

He said the NPA’s continuing use of anti-personnel mines is a complete disregard of the Ottawa Convention banning the use of anti-personnel mines because of its mutilating effect on the victims.

De Leon said the NPA rebels "are not different from the IS (Islamic State) terrorists who also use anti-personnel mines."

Citing Republic Act No. 10168 or the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012, de Leon reminded the public about an individual's or an organization's liability in case they provide assistance to the CPP-NPA.

ASG bandits disrupt medical outreach mission in Sulu

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 16, 2019): ASG bandits disrupt medical outreach mission in Sulu

The military condemned the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) for disrupting the military-led medical mission for residents of Patikul, Sulu, Saturday morning.

Lt. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief, said the bandits fired three rounds of 60-millimeter mortar shells while the Army’s 6th Special Forces Battalion and its partner government agencies and non-government organizations were conducting a medical mission.

Dela Vega said the incident occurred around 11:30 a.m. Saturday in Barangay Tanum, Patikul.

No one was hurt in the incident as the mortar shells exploded some 200 meters away from Tanum Elementary School, the venue of the medical outreach mission.

 “We strongly condemn this terroristic act resulting to the disruption of basic services delivery to the people,” commented Lt. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief.

“They bring nothing but destruction that greatly retards achievement of peace and development in Sulu. This is another reason why we have to unite to put end to this menace in our society,” Dela Vega added.

Col. Gerry Besana, Westmincom information officer, said the troops estimated that the mortar rounds were fired some 500 meters away east of the school and were “believed to be initiated by the Abu Sayyaf bandits in the area intend(ing) to intimidate the populace from availing the free medical services.”

Besana said the medical outreach mission continued despite the mortar shelling by the ASG bandits.

Besana said that approximately 2,000 residents from Barangays Tanum, Sandah, Patikul Higad, and Kadday Mapallam have benefitted from the medial outreach mission.

He said the Joint Task Forces Sulu have deployed troops to track down the ASG bandits behind the mortar shelling.

Be wary of Reds' recruitment schemes: AFP to youth

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 16, 2019): Be wary of Reds' recruitment schemes: AFP to youth

Military officials on Saturday warned members of the youth sector, especially students and young professionals, against falling prey to the recruitment schemes of communist rebels.

"Another student has fallen prey to the deceitful scheme of the terrorist Communist Party of the Philippines - New People’s Army. Under the guise of so-called immersion, idealistic young men and women -- mostly students -- were handed poisoned chalices by CPP-NPA cadres," Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, said when asked to comment on reports claiming that a University of the Philippines-Los Baños (UPLB) veterinary student, allegedly recruited by the rebels, was killed in a clash with military units in Laguna on Thursday morning.

"After being initially led to the countryside allegedly to experience life with the people, these young men and women were constantly brain-washed about perceived social ills, their emotions aroused, until they are ripe for the terrorist movement. They were recruited, taught to wield arms, and eventually meet their untimely and unfortunate death fighting government security forces," Arevalo said in message to the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

He also said that AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr. strongly condemns this evil design of CPP-NPA communists.

The NPA is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and European Union.

"Time and again, he admonishes the youth, especially students and young professionals, to be very discerning about people who or groups that approach them. They should not allow themselves to be misled by nice sweet-talking individuals who’ll lead them to perdition," he added.

And while commiserating with the parents of this unfortunate student and many others led astray by the rebels, Arevalo urged school officials to take full responsibility and guide children while in schools.

"We therefore appeal to the parents, and to the schools officials who should take full responsibility and custody over children while in schools under the doctrine of loco parentis, to guide their children/students," he said.

The doctrine of loco parentis refers to the legal responsibility of a person or organization to perform the functions and responsibilities of a parent.

The AFP spokesperson also reminded all parents and school officials to be mindful of their children's whereabouts at all times aside from being aware of the organizations they are joining.

"The NPA terrorists continue to lurk in our schools and communities spying for new recruits to fill the dwindling number of their cadres. Be on the lookout. Report the presences of these unscrupulous individuals to your AFP and allow us to save your children/students," Arevalo said.

Meanwhile, AFP public affairs office chief Col. Noel Detoyato said the entire nation, not only the military and government, must condemn the efforts of the communist rebels to infiltrate the youth and student sectors as part of their initiative to recruit more members for their cause.

"We call that infiltration of the youth and student sector and exploiting their vulnerabilities. The case of the UPLB student is another proof of student sector exploitation of the CPP-NPA-NDF (National Democratic Front)," he said in a message to PNA.

Detoyato added that such actions by the NPAs should be strongly condemned by all Filipinos as the youth is the country's future.

"The schools are supposed to be places where patriotism, discipline and nation-building are being inculcated to our children but the CPP-NPA-NDF (are) exploit(ing) these places," he said.

Albayalde, Eleazar among PMA's Cavalier awardees

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 16, 2019): Albayalde, Eleazar among PMA's Cavalier awardees

Two top police officials were among the 11 recipients of the Cavalier Award in this year's Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Alumni Homecoming at Fort del Pilar on Saturday.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Director General Oscar Albayalde and National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) head, Director Guillermo Eleazar received the award, which is the highest recognition given by the PMA Alumni Association, Inc. (PMAAAI) to an alumnus or alumna with outstanding achievements in their respective fields.

Albayalde, a member of the Sinagtala Class 1986, was awarded for his command and administration as NCRPO head and for his drive to cleanse the ranks of the PNP as its head.

The PMAAAI said that Albayalde's strict implementation of practical programs for crime prevention and suppression, intensified campaign against illegal drugs, and internal cleansing of NCRPO’s ranks proved to be a solution to the worsening crime situation in Metro Manila.

Albayalde became the chief of the 190,000-strong PNP in April 2018.

“As PNP Chief, he focused his leadership on achieving a truly disciplined organization while implementing a massive internal cleansing program anchored on firm discipline and respect for oneself and the public,” the PMA added.

Albayalde accepted the award with his wife, as he expressed gratitude to the PMAAAI for the prestigious award.

“This is the most coveted award actually because not all graduates of PMA are given this award. So if you receive one, of course you feel proud of yourself and you share it with your family,” Albayalde told reporters

Albayalde's accomplishments as a seasoned police official were highlighted by the PMAAAI.

Albayalde received 58 awards and decorations, which bore witness to his outstanding performance in his assignments - including a Gold Cross666 Medal, a PNP Outstanding Achievement Award and three PNP Heroism Medals, among others.

Meanwhile, Eleazar of Hinirang Class of 1987 was awarded for Police Operations for his efforts against illegal drugs and organized crime as then district director of the Quezon City Police District (QCPD).

The PMAAAI cited Eleazar, who pushed for a relentless drive against illegal drugs and other forms of criminality in Quezon City that netted big criminal groups later on.

By late 2017, QCPD was chosen as the Most Trusted Police District based on surveys conducted by the National Police Commission (Napolcom).

“Working quickly and precisely, the NCRPO immediately won awards in the PNP Anniversary – one for being the best region in the war against illegal drugs, another as best region in internal cleansing,” t5he PMAAAI said.

“As part of Team NCRPO since July 2016, the region experienced a 54 percent index crime reduction for the first 30 months of this administration (Jul 2016 - Dec 2018) versus the last 30 months of the previous administration (Jan 2014 - Jun 2016); and 21 percent crime drop in 2018 from 2017,” the PMAAAI added.

Eleazar expressed elation over the award.

“I would like to thank the PMA Alumni Association Inc. This Cavalier Award is something every PMA graduate dreams of getting. This wll serve an inspiration for me. In my remaining years in the service, I will continue to faithfully serve the public,” the NCRPO told reporters.

Metro Manila's top cop also stressed that he will continue to live by the ideals of the PMA even after retiring from the service, adding that he will not get the award if not for the help of his colleagues in the institution.

Aside from Albayalde and Eleazar, nine other PMA alumni had received the Cavalier Award.

They were Cavalier for Coast Guard Operations Ronnie Gil Gavan, of PMA Maalab Class of 1993; Cavalier for Special Operations Harold Nemeño, of PMA Masikhay Class of 1999; Cavalier for Naval Operations Gilbert Villareal Jr., of PMA Masinag Class of 1998; Cavalier for Army Operations Ramon Flores, of PMA Bantay Laya Class of 1994; Cavalier for Air Operations Rolando Conrad Peña III, of PMA Kalasag Lahi Class of 1997; Cavalier for Alumni Affairs Leo Angelo Diel Leuterio, of PMA Maringal Class of 1988; Cavalier for Special Field Jesus Lomeda Jr., of PMA Mapitagan Class of 1980; Cavalier for Public Administration Fernando Mesa, of PMA Makabayan Class of 1975; and Cavalier for Private Enterprise Louie Ticman, of PMA Magilas Class of 1976.

Department of Environment and Natural Respurces (DENR) Secretary Roy C. Cimatu served as the ceremony's guest of honor.

Other top military and police officials who attended the alumni homecoming were PMAAAI Chairman Cavalier Jaime delos Santos, PMAAAI President Cavalier Rodolfo Sazurin Jr., Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr., Philippine Army chief, Lt. Gen. Macairog Alberto; Philippine Air Force chief, Lt. Gen. Rozzano Briguez; and Philippine Navy Flag Officer in Command, Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad.

PMA spokesman Lt. Col. Harry Baliaga said a total of 2,000 alumni with 4,000 companions attended the event .

The PMA Class of 1959 was cited as Diamond Jubilarians, the Class of 1969 as Golden Jubilarians, and the Class of 1994 as the Silver Jubilarians.

Meanwhile, all the PMA Classes ending in 4 and 9 were made the host class - with the Class of 1989 as the lead host class.

'No need to campaign, my mistahs will vote for me': Bato

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 16, 2019): 'No need to campaign, my mistahs will vote for me': Bato

Retired Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald ‘Bato’ dela Rosa is confident he will get the votes of his mistahs (batchmates) at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA).

“I don't need to campaign among my fellow PMAers becuase they will surely vote for me. No matter how strong are their discouragements, the PMAers are not partisan but I know that deep in their hearts, they will be voting for me," dela Rosa told reporters at the sidelines of the annual PMA Alumni Homecoming on Saturday.

The PMA earlier said it will strictly enforce a “no campaigning” policy for alumni and adopted class members running for elective posts in May's elections.

Dela Rosa, a senatorial candidate in the May polls, said he owes his achievements and principles in life to the institution.

“I am strong because I am a PMAer. I learned to manifest courage, integrity and loyalty during my training in the PMA. This is where my loyalty to the Filipino people and to the President developed. This is where the integrity I hold dear in my heart blossomed),” he said in Filipino.

While admitting that he is already exhausted due to campaign sorties, dela Rosa said he will pursue his candidacy until the very end.

"No regret, no surrender. Just go with the fight," he said.

Once elected as a senator, dela Rosa said he will focus on enacting polices on law and order.