Saturday, March 2, 2019

Red-tagging flyers continue to spread in CDO

From the pro-CPP online publication the Davao Today (Mar 1, 2019): Red-tagging flyers continue to spread in CDO

Malicious flyers continue to spread and distributed in different areas in Cagayan de Oro, reports from concerned groups and individuals said.

From the previous list containing the names of religious leaders, human rights lawyers and a media practitioner with an alleged link to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA), the flyers now associate government officials and an immersion program of a local university to the communist rebels.

“We vehemently condemn this malicious, slanderous, and groundless red-tagging against some XU (Xavier University) personalities and one of our well-established immersion programs,” said Fr. Roberto Yap SJ, Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan president in a statement posted in the university’s website on Friday.

The university statement said the flyers were printed in long bond papers placed in two boxes that were discovered during the opening program of a photo exhibit inside a mall in the city last week.

Local mall security seized the said boxes to prohibit the distribution of copies, it said.

“This propaganda is devoid of any semblance of truth and substance. We must be critical and discerning in our news and information consumption, especially with those which were propagated and distributed through disreputable modes and channels,” he added.

Various groups have already condemned the distribution of said flyers, saying its circulation was the handiwork of state forces and agents as the papers can be considered as the government’s “hit list.”

Top officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Northern Mindanao have already denied the accusation.

Yap described the incident as an “orchestrated effort to intimidate the faculty members and undermine the programs of Xavier Ateneo.”

As the continuing red-tagging seemed unstoppable in the area, Yap assured the Xavier Ateneo community, including their students, faculty members, administrators, staff, parents, and alumni that the management is closely looking at the safety and security of the university.

“No evidence exists that our university, programs, and activities are currently exposed to any grave threat,” he added.

Yap added: “From this experience, we encourage everyone to be more vigilant now more than ever and to continue to think critically of the state of our nation.

He also asked for unity for the exercise of academic freedom and in pursuit of truth and speaking truth to power to build a healthier and more effective democratic society.

NPA rebel slain in Oriental Mindoro clash with gov’t troops

From the Manila Bulletin (Mar 2, 2019): NPA rebel slain in Oriental Mindoro clash with gov’t troops

Government security forces killed a suspected Communist rebel in a continuing massive flush out drive against local insurgents operating in the Mindoro provinces that has also left three policemen dead in the past few days.

At least six encounters have been recorded in Mindoro provinces since February 21, excluding the rebel attack on a project site of a hydro powerplant in Naujan, Oriental Mindoro on February 25.

Supt. Socrates Faltado, spokesman of the MIMAROPA (Mindoro Oriental and Occidental, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan) regional police said the slain Communist rebel was abandoned by his companions after an encounter in Barangay Waygan in Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro at around 5 a.m. Saturday.

Both the police and the military have stepped up the offensive against the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels after the February 21 clash in Barangay Sta. Teresita in Mansalay town.

The gunfight erupted as the government declared on the same day that the nearby island province of Romblon was already free from the threat of Communist rebels.

On February 23, police and military forces clashed with the NPA three times near the boundary of Occidental and Oriental Mindoro.
One of the three gunfights resulted in the death of SPO1 Bonifacio Tayuco and SPO2 Raymundo Robles.

On February 25, a band of rebels pretended to be Army troopers to gain entry into a hydroelectric power plant project site in Naujan town.

They then burned at least a dozen of heavy equipment, the warehouse for construction materials and three offices inside the project site.

On February 28, PO3 Edwin Encarnacion died in a clash with rebels in Barangay Malamig, Gloria town in Oriental Mindoro. A policeman was also wounded.

The 4,000-strong NPA has been waging almost five decades of armed struggle against the government. It further intensified the attacks after the peace talks with the Duterte administration bogged down anew.

NPA-Calapan leader with bounty on his head slain in clash

From the Manila Standard (Mar 3, 2019): NPA-Calapan leader with bounty on his head slain in clash

A ranking New People’s Army guerilla leader believed by authorities to be behind burning heavy equipment in Mindoro was killed in an encounter after security forces heightened their hunt against rebel fighters, the military said Saturday.

This coincided with reports that soldiers discovered a cave used as hideout and hospital by rebel fighters in the hinterlands of Agusan del Norte farther south.

Sr. Supt. Socrates Faltado, spokesperson of MIMAROPA, said Rustom Simbulan, alias “Bobby/Silang and Bayani,” platoon leader of KLG Central, was killed during an encounter with security troops in Sitio Uraray, Barangay Waygan, Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro at about 5 a.m. Friday.

Faltado said Simbulan had a standing bounty of P500,000 and was listed in the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police Joint Order 14-2012.

Prior to Simbulan’s death, he was the object of a warrant of arrest for multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder issued by RTC 4th Judicial Region, Branch 40 in Calapan City.

Faltado said that Simbulan was involved in torching heavy equipment of Sta. Clara Hyrdo Electric Power Plant in Naujan, Oriental Mindoro on Feb. 26 and the failed raid of the PMI Aggregates in Gloria, Oriental, Mindoro last Feb. 28 that resulted in the death of a policeman.

Faltado said troops recovered a cal .45 pistol from Simbulan’s possession along with two magazines, one cellular phone, medicines, backpack, sling bag, and hammock.

“Our country’s peacekeepers will push forward in eradicating these terrorists, with the help of the people, we can do it,” Faltado said.
The NPAs operating in Oriental and Occidental Mindoro have several times attacked government forces and private business firms.

Meanwhile, soldiers hunting down communist terrorists led to the discovery of a cave and bunker and hospital used by the CPP-NPA in Sitio Bulak, Brgy Lower Olave, Buenavista Agusan del Norte last Thursday, the military said.

The clandestine NPA hideout was detected following a tipped-off from concerned civilians relating to the presence of armed elements within the community.

 Reports said the troops were moving towards the terrorists’ location, when they discovered a cave measuring 40x30 meters that could accommodate 15 persons.

The scouring inside the cave led to the recovery of two Garand Rifles, 90 pieces of medicine (Atropine Sulfate) and documents.

Lt. Col. Francisco Molina Jr., commander of the 23rd Infantry Battalion, said the cave was believed used as hospital where the terrorists performed surgical operations.

NPA hospital seized; 25 rebels surrender

From the Philippine Star (Mar 3, 2019): NPA hospital seized; 25 rebels surrender

Col. Benedict Arevalo, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, receives the guns turned over by NPA rebels at the 79th Infantry Battalion headquarters in Sagay City, Negros Occidental yesterday in this photo provided by the military.

Government troopers have overrrun a New People’s Army (NPA) hospital in a cave on the mountains of Buenavista town in Agusan del Sur.
First Lt. Roel Maglalang, 23rd Infantry Battalion spokesman, said the hospital could accommodate 15 people at one time.

Maglalang said medicine for trauma wounds and surgical equipment as well as two Garand rifles and subversive documents were recovered at the scene.

As this developed, 25 NPA rebels, who operated in Salvador Benedicto, Calatrava, Toboso, Escalante and Toboso towns in Negros Occidental, surrendered yesterday.

The military said the surrenderees turned over three M16 rifles, an M14, four Garand rifles, 12 caliber .45 pistols, a caliber .22 with scope, four 12 gauge shotguns and two 9mm Uzis.

In Oriental Mindoro, the military said NPA platoon leader Rustom Simbulan was killed in an encounter with police officers in Sitio Uraray, Barangay Wagyan in Mansalay town at around 5 a.m. yesterday.

The fatality was said to be involved in the burning of heavy equipment at a hydroelectric power plant in Nauajan on Tuesday and the raid on a construction firm in Gloria town on Thursday.

In Negros Occidental, suspected NPA rebels burned a backhoe owned by Galicon Construction Inc. in Kabankalan City on Friday.

MILF: Iqbal receives awards as a ‘warrior for Peace’

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Website (Mar 1, 2019): Iqbal receives awards as a ‘warrior for Peace’

Cotabato City - The GAWAD AKAP - the Rotary Peace Awards last February 27, 2019 at Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), Pasay City is a monumental milestone for the Rotary Club of Fort Bonifacio Global City organized by its president, Raul “Rolly” Francia joined by Rotary Clubs of RI Districts 3830, 3820 and 3790.

The event was co-sponsored by 32 other Rotary Clubs, including the Rotary Clubs of Kuala Lumpur and Baguio City.

The Awards is a tribute to individuals, organizations, institutions, corporate leaders, media personalities for their distinct contribution in advancing the cause of peace.

The Awards is given to Mohagher Iqbal as chairman of the MILF Peace Panel in the successful negotiations between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

This is the fourth award given to Iqbal for his role as peace-maker.

He is a recipient of the Fr. William F Masterson SJ Award by Xavier University in recognition of his service to the mission of building a society of justice, peace and compassion during its Commencement Exercises on March 26, 2015. He received the Award together with Prof. Miriam Ferrer-Coronel, chair of the Government Peace Panel.

He is also a recipient of Peace Weaver Award during the Mindanao Week of Peace 2012, in Zamboanga City.

Sometime in 2014, he was also given an award by a third faction of the MNLF led by now Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Chairperson Abdulkhair Alonto. He received the award together the rest of the MILF peace panel members.

“Mr. Iqbal, a revolutionary nom de guerre, ably led the MILF panel in the peace process for nearly two decades that produced the recently ratified Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) which provides greater autonomy to the Bangsamoro people. He opted to become a warrior of peace,” says the Rotary Club of Fort Bonifacio Global City.

In his awardees speech, Chairman Mohagher Iqbal said that with the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) and the approval of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) and during the plebiscite, the Peace which all have been aiming for is now at hand.

Iqbal further said that with this turn of events that culminated in the oath taking of the 80 members of the Bangsamoro Parliament at the Malacañang, and the turn-over ceremony in ARMM, which marks the establishment of BARMM, there is an assurance that all are within the tract of peace roadmap.

Rotary Club of Fort Bonifacio Global City Gawad Akap Parangal Kapayapaan peace awardees: 1)Archbishop Fernando Capalla of Bishops-Ulama Conference, 2) Carolyn Arguillas of Minda News, 3)Mohagher Iqbal head of MILF peace panel, 4) Jesus Dureza former Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, 5) Rey Claro Casambre consultant of the National Democratic Front, 6) Silvestre Bello III, chair of government panel negotiating peace with the National Democratic Front, and 7) Randy Felix Malayao NDF consultant in the formal talks with the government.

MILF: Editorial - Tough ahead for MILF-led BTA

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Website (Mar 1, 2019): Editorial - Tough ahead for MILF-led BTA

No one in the roster of the MILF ever thought of an easy picking in leading the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTA). MILF Chairman and now Interim Chief Minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, is not excluded.

“We are not trained in governance,” Murad was oft-repeatedly as saying. “We used to fight government in the battlefields,” he added.

The challenges are tough, indeed! But surely, they are not unnerving. We have succeeded in our 47 years of armed struggle, 42 years of hard, harsh, and protracted negotiations, five years of engaging Congress, and the recent two plebiscites. God willing! We will succeed in putting up an initial good governance in the BARMM, because three years transition is too short to make wonders in this entity.

What is to be appreciated in the MILF, however, is the lack of pretention; if they don’t know a thing they admit it. They are also open to learning and to listen to experts and those who have the experiences. Unlike others who bragged for knowing all the trades, but in reality they mastered none. They also failed to show track records of success.

But this lack of knowledge (of governance) cannot justify non-performance in the BARMM. We must learn fast and well, and as soon as possible, we must deliver genuine basic services to the people, as well as provide good and morally-propelled governance.

It has been said that only the MILF is seen as hope for the people. For decades, they want a government of their own, as well as leaders, who are not only leaders, but guardians, and servants. Many of the so-called Moro leaders today are actually feudal masters whose words are laws and therefore must be followed. There is no real democracy in the Moro-dominated areas.

But this early, we must have some hard realizations. Much to our desire, corrective measures in the BARMM will not happen in a flash. This will take some time. In the meantime, it is not a Solomonic decision to rock the boat as early as now. Let the situation settles down smoothly and make appropriate remedies diligently. The human resource audit is a tool to put into place the right person to the right job, and to do away from the misfits.

One reason for this diligent process is the fact that those serving in the ARMM are also our people. Changing one to another haphazardly will lead to regrettable situation later. It is not the person per se that matters much, but how competent and reliable he or she is. Knowing a person is not an easy thing; unless one has been dealing with him or her for a long time, we cannot say he or she is good, competent, and reliable. Subjectivism or recommendations (by people especially powerful personalities) are at times not a good yardstick, as basis for making decision.

In fairness, the Hataman-led Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) had started to cleanse the “dirt” in this entity, but not enough for the incoming BARMM to enjoy and rely on -- and relax. Much efforts are still desired.

CPP/NPA-SM: Fascist AFP units victimize children in Bukidnon; arrest, parade civilians as surrenderees in Compostela Valley

NPA-Southern Mindanao propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Feb 26): Fascist AFP units victimize children in Bukidnon; arrest, parade civilians as surrenderees in Compostela Valley

Rubi del Mundo
NDFP Southern Mindanao Region
February 26, 2019

The renewed extension of martial law in Mindanao continues to wreak havoc in the lives of civilians in the region, especially victimizing steadily increasing number of children and other civilians.

On February 18, at around 11:00 in the morning, a platoon of fascist soldiers of the 88th Infantry Battalion accosted and seized 17-year old Loujean Antian Lumbatan, a Grade 7 student of Sinuda High School, and 10-year old Ara Mystica Antian Pangcat, a Grade 5 student of Cabalansihan Elementary School at Sitio Sanggiapo, Brgy Sinuda, Kitaotao in Bukidnon province. For no apparent reason, the two unarmed Lumad minors were arrested and held incommunicado at the unit’s camp in Sitio Sanggiapo between 11:00 in the morning and 11:00 in the evening.

Early in the afternoon, the parents and some relatives searched frantically for the missing children and proceeded to confront the soldiers but were crudely rebuffed by the latter who insisted they knew nothing of the children’s whereabouts. The girls later recounted that they could hear their parent’s voices but were warned by the soldiers not to make any sound. At around 11 in the evening, the two girls were brought to the 88th Battalion Headquarters in Maramag. While on military custody, the children were intermittently subjected to harrowing interrogation and were only released late in the afternoon of the next day, February 19. When confronted as to why they arrested and detained the two girls, the soldiers had to gall to claim it was “for the safety of the children.”

The Bukidnon incident of children abuse is but an addition to the spate of recent attacks against minors under martial law, including notably the January 30 seizure of two toddlers, a one-year old and a 2-year old, and their subsequent forced separation from their parents and guardians, by AFP and PNP troops following an illegal raid of the office of Misamis Oriental Peasants Association (MOFA) in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental. In Lumad areas in Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte and elsewhere in the Southern Mindanao, bombings, shelling and indiscriminate firing within populated communities by AFP troops and their paramilitaries Bagani and Alamara have terrorized hundreds of children.

Meanwhile in Compostela Valley, three civilians were arrested by members of the 71st IB on February 20 at Sitio Binogsayan, Brgy. Napnapan in Pantukan town. Eddie Avila, Graciano Embalsado and Pulpy Lariwan were later forced to “surrender” as members of the New People’s Army, even as local government officials insisted that the three were in fact civilians. The masses report that the families of the three fear for their safety and are terrified to press charges.

These fascist crimes perpetrated by the AFP, PNP and their paramilitaries, hardly isolated cases under Duterte’s martial law in Mindanao, are what is fuelling unrest in the countryside and pushing more and more Lumad and peasants to seek relief and justice from the revolutionary movement.

We urge all democratic forces, especially in this day as we commemorate the 1986 EDSA revolution that toppled a fascist dictator, to demand justice for all victims of the US-Duterte regime’s martial law in Mindanao and by Oplan Kapayapaan elsewhere in the country. As NPA units nationwide continue to launch attacks against fascist reactionary armed forces and thousands upon thousands march the streets, we call upon the people to learn the lessons of history: prevail in the current economic and political quagmire by overthrowing the rotten US-Duterte regime.

CPP/NPA-ST: Pagdalaw ni Pompeo, pagtitiyak ng imperyalistang dominasyon ng US sa Pilipinas

NPA-Southern Tagalog propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Feb 27, 2019): Pagdalaw ni Pompeo, pagtitiyak ng imperyalistang dominasyon ng US sa Pilipinas

Jaime 'Ka Diego' Padilla
NPA-Southern Tagalog (Melito Glor Command)

February 27, 2019

Patunay na numero unong tuta ng US ang Pilipinas sa Timog-Silangang Asya ngayong kasalukuyang nag-uusap sina Duterte at US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sa Villamor Air Base upang talakayin ang ilang mga usapin sa hidwaan sa West Philippine Sea, “terorismo” sa Minadanao, seguridad sa rehiyong Asya-Pasipiko at iba pa. Singkahulugan ito ng direktang pakikialam ng US sa kalagayang panseguridad ng bansa.

Mapanganib ang pagbisita ni Pompeo sa Pilipinas. Magpapatupad ito ng atas ng Imperyalismong US sa malakolonya nito (Pilipinas) laban sa Tsina. Panibagong yugto ito ng pang-uupat o isang proxy war laban sa Tsina. Kasalukuyang nasa isang economic war ang US sa Tsina at nakaamba ang pagkatalo ng una sa huli. Nais idaan ng US sa ibang daluyan ang pakikidigma nito sa Tsina sa kanyang desperasyon na pahinain ito. Kasabay nito, ibebenta ng US ang mga armas-pandigma nito sa mga bansang sangkot upang salbahin ang nalulugmok nitong ekonomiya.

Nananawagan ang Melito Glor Command – New People’s Army Southern Tagalog sa mamamayang Pilipino na tutulan at labanan ang anumang panghihimasok ng US sa bansa. Dapat aktibong lumahok ang bawat mamamayan sa digmang bayan upang palayain ang Pilipinas sa imperyalistang dominasyon ng US. Sa pananagumpay nito, makakalaya ang bayan sa pagkagapos sa tanikala ng imperyalismo at maitatayo ang nagsasariling gobyerno ng mamamayang Pilipino.

CPP/NPA-SM: So-called LGU declarations naming CPP-NPA-NDF persona non-grata mere PR stunts, result of psywar tactic by desperate AFP in Southern Mindanao

NPA-Southern Mindanao propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Mar 1): So-called LGU declarations naming CPP-NPA-NDF persona non-grata mere PR stunts, result of psywar tactic by desperate AFP in Southern Mindanao

Rigoberto F. Sanchez
NPA-Southern Mindanao (Merardo Arce Command)

March 01, 2019

The fascist propaganda machinery of the AFP’s Eastern Mindanao Command are having a field day in these last few days, with so-called “declarations” from local government units or Lumad communities condemning the “atrocities of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines” and subsequently naming them as “persona non-grata” coming out of the woodwork.

In reality, these “declarations” are the product of the relentless psywar and intimidation campaign of “peace and development outreach programs” under the whole-of-nation approach of Oplan Kapayapaan. In Southern Mindanao and elsewhere in Mindanao, they are in fact mere PR stunts which hold neither a grain of truth nor reflect the sentiments of thousands of Lumad who continue to be victimized by the US-Duterte regime’s hated martial law and hold the revolutionary movement in high esteem, especially the NPA as their true people’s army.

The mercenary bigwigs of the AFP in the region are wasting precious taxpayers’ money from their over-bloated budget in conducting useless “peace-building seminars” and other similarly ludicrous activities in Davao City, Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley Davao del Norte and Bukidnon in order to lend credence and credibility to the implementation of counter-insurgency programs such as the corruption-laden Enhanced-Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) in the region.

It eludes common sense that peasants and the Lumad should support the reactionary armed forces or their counter-insurgency campaigns, as persistently claimed by the AFP. The peasants and Lumad know that behind the veil of the AFP and PNP’s civic-military activities, these rabid dogs of the US-Duterte regime seek to destroy the masses’ way of living, sell their ancestral land to capitalist greed and exploitation and threaten or kill whoever stands in their way.

In Davao Oriental, for example, Governor Nelson Dayanghirang himself recently admitted that despite pronouncing the province as “insurgency-free” in 2016, the revolutionary movement is still a “continuing concern” as NPA units continue to launch successful tactical offensives against and thwart the attacks being carried out by AFP and PNP troops. Like most bureaucrat capitalists in the region and the ruling class which he represents, Dayanghirang conveniently glosses over the incontrovertible fact that the masses continue to embrace the NPA and the revolutionary armed struggle as the sole means to attain social justice and emancipation from the rotten semi-feudal and semi-colonial system.

The AFP, together with their brutal paramilitaries Alamara and Bagani and detested Lumad dealers as Joel Unad, browbeat Lumad councils and members to attend these so-called peace-building seminars, force them to get in line and hold anti-insurgency placards in rallies and strong-arm them into signing declarations and such. They likewise malign and red-tag legal organizations, progressive partylists and non-government institutions that champion the rights and welfare of peasants and Lumad, effectively putting these civilian institutions and their leaders in the AFP’s hitlist. To be sure, these “declarations” are a portent and justification of more arbitrary arrests, extra-judicial killings, indiscriminate shelling and bombing and all-around wanton violations of human rights against civilians, activists and mass leaders in the region.

In addition, Duterte himself is desperately capitalizing on these counter-insurgency activities in order to ingratiate to the masses his motley gang of senator-wannabes composed of plunderers, liars, fascists and murderers, especially in Davao City and other provinces in the region where his popularity has suffered immense backlash following his anti-poor policies and fascist attacks against the people.

If anything, the desperate US-Duterte regime and its fascist dogs in the AFP are the real ones who are unwelcome not only in the countrysides but in the rest of the country as well. So let them pretend their “declarations” and other such non-sense actually amount to anything. The steady advance of the revolutionary armed struggle and the people’s war will render these machinations as false and futile time and time again.

NDF/Agcaoili: Setting the Record Straight

Fidel Agcaoili propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Philippines (NDFP or NDF) Website (Mar 1): Setting the Record Straight

Fidel Agcaoili
Chairperson, NDFP Peace Panel

The February 27, 2019 press release of the Philippine News Agency as published in Manila Bulletin is way off the mark.

For the record, I am not a lawyer, never had the ambition to be one despite coming from a family of lawyers.

So I have nothing to do with the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, though some of its members happen to be legal consultants of the NDFP Negotiating Panel even before the organization was founded, as well as legal counsels of detained NDFP consultants and political prisoners.

Such happenstance does not make NUPL a so-called front of the Communist Party nor are the concerned lawyers as members of the Party. In accordance with due process, it is for any court of law, be it revolutionary or reactionary, to determine the truth of such allegations through competent and admissible evidence and not through manufactured witnesses or planted evidence like what is brazenly happening now.

But red-tagging has a more sinister objective. It is meant to smear any organization or individual to set them up for the kill, as has been shown in many cases in the past such as those of NDFP consultant Randy Malayao and NUPL lawyer Benjamin Ramos.

The peace-spoilers in the GRP security cluster are having a heyday, before but especially after GRP Executive Order 70, engaging in a wild frenzy of anti-communist witch hunting against legal democratic organizations, individuals and the parliamentary opposition. They have even become bold enough to disrespect and challenge the pronouncements of their commander-in-chief. But I leave it up to them to sort out their differences.

WESTMINCOM: Rangers encounter abus in Basilan

From the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) Website (Mar 2, 2019): Rangers encounter abus in Basilan

While conducting focused military operation, troops of the 9th Scout Ranger Company of the 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion under Captain Espiritu encountered 20 Abu Sayyaf Group members of unknown leader in Barangay Camamburingan, Ungkaya Pukan, Basilan Province 10am yesterday (March 1).

Said encounter lasted for about 20 minutes, after which, the enemy withdrew towards south direction.

No casualty was reported on the government side while on the enemy side it is yet to be determined as pursuit operations are still being conducted.

“This group is trying to reorganize but it is assured that we will not allow them to do so,” said Lieutenant General Arnel B. Dela Vega, commander of the Western Mindanao Command.

“Intensified operations are currently being conducted to pursue the fleeing bandits,” LtGen Dela Vega added.

EASTMINCOM: Labor Leaders seek assistance, dissociate with Labor Organization

From the Eastern Mindanao Command (EASTMINCOM) Website (Mar 1, 2019): Labor Leaders seek assistance, dissociate with Labor Organization 

NSFA, Panacan, Davao City - Three labor leaders reported and called for an appointment with Lieutenant Colonel Esteveyn E. Ducusin, Battalion Commander of 71st Infantry Battalion at his Headquarters in Purok 8, Nueva Visayas, Mawab, Compostela Valley Province on February 27, 2019, relative to their security and dissociation with a labor organization in Kingking, Pantukan, Compostela Valley.

Accordingly, the three identified as Esperidion D. Cabaltera, Richard M. Genabe and Ronaldo T. Rosales voluntary appeared before Lieutenant Colonel Ducusin and revealed that while they are active with Musahamat Workers Labor Union, a labor group associated with Kilusang Mayo Uno, they were involved with the underground organization and were tasked in organizing mass protest rallies and strikes by forcing their members to join; extorting the members of the labor organization, mass demonstrations against the implementation of Martial Law in Mindanao, and courier of the main armed group.

Accordingly, they also revealed that they underwent Pambansang Demokratikong Paaralan (PADEPA) and Araling Aktibista (ARAK) which are basic courses of New People’s Army.

Ltc. Ducusin assured the three of their security after they expressed their security concern before they left the headquarters late afternoon of the same day.

Meanwhile, MGen Felimon T. Santos Jr., Commander of Eastern Mindanao Command, in his directive, encouraged the units to open its doors to people who want to participate in the holistic approach of peacebuilding in each community and sectors.

"Every contribution counts, the 'whole of nation approach' of winning the peace and ending insurgency starts with every individual and every community. We should continue to open our doors for them and let us be a conduit of resolving their issues and concerns that are being exploited by those who are pushing for an armed revolution," MGen Santos Jr. said.

Source: 71st Infantry Battalion, 7th Infantry Division, PA

3 killed, 2 hurt in BIFF attacks

From MindNews (Mar 1, 2019): 3 killed, 2 hurt in BIFF attacks

Three soldiers were killed and two others were wounded when suspected members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) under the Bongos or Ismael Abubakar faction launched simultaneous attacks on Thursday in Cotabato City and Maguindanao.

The first attack happened past noon along Sinsuat Avenue, in front of Superama Hyper Market Rh10 Cotabato City. Killed in the attack was SSgt Levin Lardera, of the 6th Infantry Division in Camp Siongco, Maguindanao.

The victim was onboard a black Honda motorcycle heading back to the camp when unidentified gunmen riding in tandem shot him several times with a cal. 45 pistol.

He was rushed to Cotabato Regional Medical Center but was declared dead on arrival.

The second attack took place in Barangay Sambolawan, Datu Salibo, Maguindanao around 4:45pm when several assailants waylaid a red car carrying young soldiers.

Killed were Private Nelier Jhon Pinti and Private First Class Junard Estribor, both assigned at the 57th Infantry Battalion. Private Muqtadir Sampulna and an 18-year old female civilian named Resty Alvarico were wounded.

PO2 Nassrolah Gani, case investigator of Datu Salibo police said they recovered 49 empty shells of 5.56 mm ammunition at the crime scene.

This type of ammunition is used for various firearms, including the M16 rifle series.

Gani said they brought the victims to the hospital in Shariff Aguak but Pinti and Estribor died from the severe gunshot wounds.

The police investigator blamed the incident on the BIFF.

“Yes we did it, our men were behind the attack to avenge one of our comrades killed by government troops yesterday,” Abu Misry Mama, spokesperson of the BIFF Bongos faction, confirmed in a phone interview.

Mama was referring to a certain Boy Naltive, who was killed in Barangay Butalo, Datu Salibo on Tuesday. The BIFF blamed his death on the military.

Abu Amer, spokesperson of the BIFF Karialan faction, also said in a phone interview that the Bongos faction was responsible for the two attacks.

The BIFF is a splinter group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that reportedly pledged allegiance to the ISIS in 2014.

MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim heads the Bangsamoro Transition Authority which will serve as interim government of the new autonomous region in Mindanao until the holding of regular elections in 2022.

This came after the ratification of the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in a plebiscite held on January 21 and February 6 this year, a development that concluded the political component of the peace agreement signed between the government and the MILF in March 2014.

However, the BIFF and other so-called extremist groups remain a security concern in the region.

Military shells BIFF position in Maguindanao

From MindNews (Mar 1, 2019): Military shells BIFF position in Maguindanao

A unit of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. MindaNews file photo by FERDINANDH CABRERA

BULUAN, Maguindanao – The military bombarded with artillery fire a position of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) Thursday night in Maguindanao province, sources said on Friday.
The shelling came three days after the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) took over from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Mayor Zamzamin Ampatuan of Rajah Buayan town told MindaNews the 40th Infantry Battalion based in his municipality shelled with artillery fire the position of the BIFF, a breakaway group of the MILF.

The military conducted a surgical artillery strike after monitoring the movement of the BIFF, he said.

“The military fired artillery against the BIFF position almost the whole night,” Ampatuan said.

Major Arvin Encinas, spokesperson of the 6th Infantry Division, said a fire mission was launched against the BIFF members positioned somewhere in Datu Piang town.

There were no reported casualties as of this time, he said shortly past 11 a.m.

Encinas also said there was also no civilian displacement caused by the artillery fire.

Von Alhaq, spokesperson of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, the armed wing of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), said the shelling against the BIFF fighters was apparently triggered by the killing of two soldiers in Datu Salibo town earlier on Thursday.

The killing of the two soldiers was allegedly a retaliation by the BIFF for the death of a member known as a certain “Boy Native,” Alhaq added.

The slain BIFF member, Boy Native, had a bounty on his head but it was not clear who felled him, Mayor Ampatuan said.

The military’s Encinas failed to give details about the slain soldier and the BIFF member.

Ampatuan noted the artillery offensive against the BIFF on Thursday night came on the heels of the turnover of the ARMM to BARMM.

On Tuesday, MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, who was appointed interim chief minister of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), formally took over the reins of power from ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman during a ceremony at the ARMM regional government compound in Cotabato City.

President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Murad during the oath-taking of the BTA members in Malacanang on Friday.

The BTA will govern the BARMM until the election of the new set of officials in 2022.

The BARMM was established after the enabling law, Republic Act 11054 popularly called the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), was ratified during the plebiscite on January 21.

During the second plebiscite on February 6, 63 of 67 villages in North Cotabato opted to join the BARMM. Lanao del Norte voted against the inclusion of its six towns to the BARMM.

The BOL is anchored on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the final peace deal signed by the government and the MILF in 2014 after four decades of conflict that claimed over 120,000 lives, including civilians.

UN congratulates PH, MILF, BTC in establishing Bangsamoro Transition Authority

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 1, 2019): UN congratulates PH, MILF, BTC in establishing Bangsamoro Transition Authority

United Nations Secretary-General’s Spokesman Stéphane Dujarric on Friday congratulated the Philippine Government, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, civil society groups and local communities on the establishment of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA).

Dujarric reiterated the UN Secretary-General António Guterres' statement that the move to establish a Bangsamoro policy making body by the Duterte administration was a "landmark achievement on the road to lasting peace in the Southern Philippines," as well as “a historic occasion for all people from the Philippines."

The BTA was established on Feb. 22, following the confirmation of the Jan. 21 and Feb. 6 plebiscite on the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The BTA is the body that will serve as the BARMM's government from 2019 to the 2022 elections. It will have the wider powers promised in the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) for the new autonomous region including the administration of its own justice system, fund-raising, alteration of boundaries of municipalities and barangays, and development of culture and education, among others.

He also added that the United Nations will continue to support the Philippines in the implementation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, and to help build the capacity of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority to achieve peace, democratic governance, and respect for human rights.

2 killed, 1 hurt in Zambo Norte town ambush

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 2, 2019): 2 killed, 1 hurt in Zambo Norte town ambush

Two employees of a plywood firm were killed while a militiaman was wounded in an ambush by armed men in the hinterlands of Zamboanga del Norte province, police said Saturday.

The Zamboanga del Norte Provincial Police Office reported that the ambush occurred around 11:30 a.m. Friday in Sitio Lubok, Barangay Pisa Itom, Sirawai town.

Police identified the fatalities as Raymond Basa, driver, and Ian Calunsag, heavy equipment operator of the Dacon Plywood Company.

The identity of the militiaman, who was rushed to the hospital, was not immediately known.

Police investigation showed that the victims were onboard a truck when they were ambushed by a group of bandits.

A team of police and military personnel retrieved the remains of the two fatalities and recovered a fragmentation grenade at the ambush site.

Troops, Abu Sayyaf clash in Basilan

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 2, 2019): Troops, Abu Sayyaf clash in Basilan

Government troops clashed with Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits led by an associate of Isnilon Hapilon Friday, the military said.

Col. Gerry Besana, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) information officer, said no one was wounded among the troops while the bandits,  led by Basilan-based ASG leader Puruji Indama, were believed to have suffered casualties.

Indama was a known associate of Hapilon, the self-declared emir of the Islamic State for Iraq and Syria in Southeast Asia, who was killed in government offensives during the siege on Marawi City by Islamic militants in 2017.

Citing the report from the Army’s 104th Infantry Brigade, Besana said the firefight happened around 10:30 a.m. Friday in Sitio Forestal, Barangay Kamamburingan, Ungkaya Pukan, Basilan province.

Backed by Scout Rangers, Besana said the troops under the 18th Infantry Battalion were on security patrol when they chanced upon Indama's group. The firefight lasted for about 30 minutes.

Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, Westmincom chief, said Indama's group "is trying to reorganize but it is assured that we will not allow them to do so.”

“Intensified operations are currently being conducted to pursue the fleeing bandits,” dela Vega added.

‘Who gets to pay for lives claimed by NPA?’

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 2, 2019): ‘Who gets to pay for lives claimed by NPA?’

A group of former New People's Army (NPA) members are demanding an answer from the leadership of the communist terrorist organization on who would take responsiblity for the lives claimed by their comrades.

Members of the anti-terrorist group Koalisyon ng Mamamayan Laban sa Teroristang Grupong CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines) demanded an answer during a rally in Manila on Friday.

“Paano ang mga biktima sa killing fields ng kilusan na naghihintay ng katarungan? (How about those slain in killing fields of the movement who await justice?),” group leader Ka Dario said.

The CPP-NPA published in 2018 anniversary statements from 1992-2017 where it admits to the torture and murder of more than 950 party comrades, Red fighters, and mass activists, suspected of being deep penetration agents (DPA) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) during the "Kampanyang Ahos" of the movement.

In his report to the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances in February 2019 in Bosnia, Brig. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., AFP assistant deputy chief-of-staff for operations, said these killings committed by members of the communist terrorist were blamed on the Philippine government.

On February 19 this year, President Rodrigo Duterte signaled anew the resumption of the peace talks as he ordered the law enforcement agencies to let National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili return to the country.

The anti-terrorists group backed the President's directive, calling for the accountability of Agcaoili, whom they claimed “acts as the legal defense of the Communist Terrorists Group (CTG)”.

“Dapat ding papanagutin si Agcaoili sa mga nasabing EJK (extra-judicial killing) sa kilusan dahil bahagi siya ng kolektibong pamunuan ng partido (Agcaoili should be responsible of the extra judicial killings in the communist party because he is part of the collective group),” Ka Dario said.

“Actually si Fidel ay anak ng isang mabigat na legal luminary and ‘brad’ ni [former president Ferdinand] Marcos. Si Fidel ay isang Sigma Rhoan, talagang ini-encourage sya ni Joma Sison na magtapos ng pag-aaral to lead the legal team of CTG( Actually Fidel is the son of an influential legal luminary and a comrade to [former president Ferdinand] Marcos. Fidel is a Sigma Rhoan, he is encouraged by Joma Sison [communist leader] to finish his study to lead the legal team of CTG),” he added.

The members of the anti-terrorist group have made the rounds of informing the public about the severity of problems caused by terror group CPP-NPA.

The CPP-NPA-NDF has been tagged as terrorist group by the United States government as well as the European Union.