Monday, March 11, 2019

Philippines: 3 soldiers, 5 Militants Die in Fresh Clashes

From BenarNews (Mar 11, 2019): Philippines: 3 soldiers, 5 Militants Die in Fresh Clashes

Two members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front patrol a flooded section of Datu Salibo in Maguindanao province in the southern Philippines, Sept. 18, 2017.

Two members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front patrol a flooded section of Datu Salibo in Maguindanao province in the southern Philippines, Sept. 18, 2017. Jason Gutierrez/BenarNews                    

Three soldiers and five militants from a group allied with the Islamic State (IS) were killed in fresh hostilities in the southern Philippines on Monday, barely two weeks after former Muslim separatist guerrillas took over an autonomous region in the south.

Government security forces launched air and artillery assault against Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) positions near a militant stronghold in the town of Datu Salibo in Maguindanao province, the military said.

Ground battles that followed left one soldier and five BIFF fighters dead, according to regional military chief Maj. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana. Two other soldiers were killed in a separate clash near Marawi, the southern city destroyed by five months of fighting in 2017.

The BIFF splintered from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), once the country’s largest separatist force that signed peace deal and last month assumed the leadership of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). The BIFF pledged allegiance to IS and has been fighting against troops in parts of Mindanao that are considered MILF areas.

“We lost one soldier but the exchange of fire continues. An air strike started early this morning followed by a ground maneuver,” Sobejana said.

Sobejana said five BIFF fighters killed were under leader Abu Turaife, who has pledged allegiance to IS and is believed to be among the likely successors of Isnilon Hapilon. Intelligence reports indicated the bodies of the BIFF fighters had been retrieved and buried by their comrades.

Hapilon was the IS leader who carried out the attack on Marawi, destroying the area and leaving hundreds dead. He was killed in October 2017, five months after the battle began.

The city is in ruin and the region remains under military control to prevent the militants from regrouping.

Turaife split from the MILF when it signed the peace deal five years ago, saying he would continue with the fight for independence. He is believed to be backed by dozens of fighters.

Intelligence sources said Turaife’s fighters also joined forces with foreign militants who had escaped as troops pushed them out of Marawi or never made it there in the first place.

Turaife’s group did not send fighters to Marawi, but helped by launching attacks that served to divert military attention.

Military officials recently confirmed the presence of foreign fighters in the south, admitting that they have been involved in at least two attacks – a car bomb attack in Basilan island that left 11 dead last year and the January bombing of a church in Jolo island that left 23 dead. Philippine police had claimed that an Indonesian couple worked with Filipino militants in carrying out the Jolo attack, a claim discredited by Jakarta.

Clash near Marawi

The army reported a clash near Marawi between troops and a group led by Humam Abdul Najib (alias Abu Dar), a senior militant who helped plan and carry out the siege of the Islamic city.

Monday’s clash left two soldiers dead and four others wounded. The death toll was likely to go up.

“Fighting is ongoing and we have casualties,” local army brigade commander Col. Romeo Brawner told BenarNews.

Dar is believed to be a cousin of the Maute brothers who helped Hapilon plot the Marawi siege. While Hapilon and the Mautes died in the final days of the siege, Dar and other militants managed to flee as the military closed in.

Murad Ebrahim, who led MILF and serves as the BARMM interim leader, on Monday said the MILF would not hesitate to use force against militants if they continued to refuse to lay down their weapons. In the meantime, he said, MILF leaders on the ground are tasked with reaching out to the militants.

“For now our main strategy is we approach them to convince them in joining us. Maybe later on, if we cannot persuade them, we will have no choice but to use our security structure,” Murad said, adding there is a good chance they can be won over.

Rebel surrenders in Mountain Province

From the Sun Star-Baguio (Mar 11, 2019): Rebel surrenders in Mountain Province

A MEMBER of the communist terrorist (CNT) voluntarily surrendered without a firearm to the joint operatives of the Police Regional Office Cordillera (PRO-COR) and Philippine Army.

Police Brigadier General Rolando Nana, PRO-COR director, welcomed the returnee who realized that his life with the communist New People’s Army (NPA) will lead nowhere.
“We will ensure that, through the E-Clip (Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program), he will be provided with the necessary assistance,” he added.

Nana also called on all armed members of the NPA to surrender and to avail of E-clip program of the government.

The rebel returnee voluntarily surrendered to the joint operatives of Mountain Province and Regional Intelligence personnel, Provincial Mobile Force Company, members of the Philippine Army and Bontoc Municipal Police Station in the afternoon of March 5 at Poblacion Sagada Mt. Province.

The rebel returnee was identified as ‘Ka Bony,’ 28, laborer, native of barangay Belwang, Sadanga, Mountain Province and a resident of Baklingayan, Tubo, Abra.

He entered the Kilusang Larangang Guerilla (KLG) of the Nona Del Rosario Command as member of the group sometime in September 2018, and was allegedly recruited by an amazon whom he admired during the time the rebel group visited Abra.

The returnee decided to surrender because his relationship with the amazon ended and the hardships he experienced in the mountains, aside from being tired of hiding from the government forces who frequently conduct military operations in the area.

The rebel returnee will be turned over to the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office for assessment and processing of his initial assistance and livelihood program.

3 poll candidates receive NPA extortion letters

From Panay News (Mar 12, 2019): 3 poll candidates receive NPA extortion letters

Three candidates for local posts sought the help of the Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6). The New People’s Army (NPA) sent them letters asking for money so they could campaign in rebel-influenced areas.

For security reasons, Chief Superintendent John Bulalacao, regional police director, declined to identify the three candidates but he said the letters came from the NPA’s Southern Front Committee.

The Southern Front Committee operates in the 1st and 2nd districts of Iloilo and portions of Antique.

The candidates showed to Bulalacao the extortion letters. These contained an NPA mobile phone number.

The “permit to campaign fee” that the rebels asked reached as high as P100,000, said the police director.

“We denounce this NPA extortion activity. They are victimizing midterm election candidates. We shall not allow them to continue doing this. The proceeds of their extortion activities will surely be used to procure armaments to kill soldiers, policemen, politicians, businessmen, and innocent civilians,” said Bulalacao.

He ordered PRO-6’s intelligence units and Regional Mobile Forces to coordinate with the Armed Forces of the Philippines to intensify the campaign against the rebels.

 Bulalacao also warned candidates not to give in to the extortion demands of the rebels “otherwise they may face possible disqualification for violation of the Revised Penal Code and other provisions of the Omnibus Election Code.”

Giving money to rebels could be interpreted as supporting their cause, said Bulalacao.

“Public office is a public trust. Criminals and their cohorts have no right to public office,” he stressed.

Data from the Philippine Army’s 61 Infantry Battalion showed that of the 105 rebel-threatened barangays in the region, Iloilo province had the most number at 64, followed by Capiz (37), Antique (three), and Aklan (one).

In Iloilo province, the towns of Leon and Calinog had the most number of NPA-threatened villages at 18 and 17, respectively.

On the other hand, the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) classified 12 barangays in the region as “influenced” by the rebels and eight “less influenced.”

Lieutenant Colonel Ericson Rosana, civil military officer of the 3ID, said, “We will not allow communist terrorists to sabotage and destroy our people’s peaceful exercise of their right to suffrage.”

He then warned candidates against paying so-called “permit to campaign” fees.

It is a form of cheating, said Rosana.

Meanwhile, Bulalacao urged the public to “report to us politicians and candidates betraying our country so that this early they may be disqualified from running.”

“We should not support rebels because they are considered criminals and enemies of the state,” he said.

Another suspected Abu Sayyaf member nabbed for 2001 plantation workers' kidnapping

From the Philippine Star (Mar 11, 2019): Another suspected Abu Sayyaf member nabbed for 2001 plantation workers' kidnapping

The National Bureau of Investigation presents suspected Abu Sayyaf member Salahim Dawani to members of the media on March 11, 2019.
The STAR/Edd Gumban
Authorities have arrested in Taguig a suspected member of the Abu Sayyaf group believed involved in kidnapping several workers in a Basilan plantation in 2001.

The National Bureau of Investigation identified the suspected ASG member as Salahim Dawani, also known as Abu Moadz. He was arrested in Barangay Maharlika, Taguig City on March 6.

In a press statement on Monday, the NBI said Dawani has a warrant of arrest for multiple counts of kidnapping and serious illegal detention from a Basilan court over the mass abduction of plantation workers of Golden Harvest Plantation at Barangay Tairan, Lantawan town, Basilan on June 11, 2001,

The NBI said that two victim-witnesses attested to Dawani’s participation in the 2001 kidnapping and pointed to him as “one of those who torched the plantation chapel and residence of the plantation manager.”

He is also said to have decapitated two of the plantation workers who were kidnapped, claimed the witnesses.

'Trained by foreign terrorists'

“During their captivity, [Dawani] was seen being trained by foreign terrorist fighters in the assembly of improvised explosive devices and he got involved in several encounters with the pursuing government forces,” added the NBI.

Dawani was also believed to have guarded two American nationals, Martin and Gracia Burnham in the Dos Palmas, Palawan kidnapping in 2001.

Another government witness also claimed the arrested suspect also helped augment the ASG forces that kidnapped them at a diving resort in Sipadan, Pulao, Sabah, Malaysia in April 2000.

The operation was carried out by joint forces of the NBI-Counter Terrorism Division, NBI-Death Investigation Division, NBI-Western Mindanao Regional Office and the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force.

CPP/NPA-Cagayan: Hakbang parusa sa sagadsaring mag-amang trader-usurero na Abraham at Sammy Aurelio, ipinatupad ng Henry Abraham Command

NPA-Cagayan propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Mar 11,2019): Hakbang parusa sa sagadsaring mag-amang trader-usurero na Abraham at Sammy Aurelio, ipinatupad ng Henry Abraham Command

Ester Falcon
NPA-Cagayan (Henry Abraham Command)
March 11, 2019

Alas-7 ng gabi noong ika-5 ng Marso sa Baranggay Imurong, Baggao nang tinupok ng apoy ang tatlong makinarya ng sagadsaring mag-amang trader-usurero, sina Abraham at Sammy Aurelio.

Sinunog ng isang yunit ng New People’s Army (NPA) sa ilalim ng Henry Abraham Command ang mga makinarya ng mag-amang Aurelio bilang hakbang-parusa sa kanilang pakikipagsabwatan sa mga ahente-militar upang patindihin ang kanilang pagsasamantala sa magsasaka sa bayan ng Baggao at Peñablanca.

Aktibo ang mag-amang Aurelio sa pakikipagsabwatan sa Military Intelligence Group (MIG) sa ilalim ng 5th Infantry Division (5th ID) ng Philippine Army. Ang ilan sa mga goons ni Abraham ay kabilang sa MIG o mga undercover agent ng militar. Ang kanyang anak na si Sammy ay isang military intelligence. Sa katunayan, magkasanggang-dikit sila ni Dexter Remodaro, isa sa mga nasugatang kasapi ng MIG nang nireyd ng Henry Abraham Command ang kanilang safehouse sa San Jose, Baggao noong 2017.

Tahasang ginagamit ni Abraham Aurelio ang kanyang direktang ugnayan sa MIG upang higit na makapagkamal ng lupa at gipitin nang todo-todo ang mga magsasaka pabor sa kanyang makasarili at mapandambong na interes.

Bilang trader-usurero, ang matandang Abraham ay nagpapautang sa napakataas na interes na humigit-kumulang sa 50%.

Sa mga di na kayang magbayad ng utang, sinasanlan ni Abraham ang kanilang lupang sakahan batay sa kanyang itatakdang halaga. Hindi pababayaran ang interes ng utang pero mananatili silang magbabayad ng prinsipal na utang. Siya rin ang masusunod kung mananatili sa magsasaka ang lupa o ipabubungkal niya sa iba.

Ineembargo rin ni Abraham ang lupa ng nakautang sa kanya. Gagawin niyang kasamak ang magsasakang sapilitang kinuhanan ng lupa at pagbabayarin ng upa sa lupa sa sistemang muerto o fixed-rent, habang pinapabayaran pa rin ang prinsipal na utang.

Sa ganitong di makataong relasyon sa pagitan ng trader-usurero at ng magsasaka, nakakapagkamal ang mag-amang Aurelio ng daan-daang ektaryang lupain partikular sa mga barangay ng Imurong at San Miguel sa Baggao at sa Barangay Nangilatan sa bayan ng Peñablanca.

Noong 2012, si Abraham Aurelio ay dinisarmahan ng NPA. Nakuha sa kanya ang isang ingram, isang backshot at isang baby M16 armalite. Ginagamit niya ang mga ito na panakot sa kanyang mga binibiktimang magsasaka.

Ang hakbang parusang ito ay mahigpit na babala sa mga katulad ng mag-amang Aurelio na sagadsaring trader-usurero at panginoong maylupa.

Hindi magdadalawang-isip ang NPA na magpataw ng karampatang sanction o hakbang-parusa sa balangkas ng rebolusyonaryong hustisya sa sinumang napatunayang may paglabag sa batas at patakaran ng rebolusyonaryong gubyernong bayan.

Itaguyod ang rebolusyonaryong hustisya!

Wakasan ang pagsasamantala sa mga magsasaka!

Magkaisa magsasaka, isulong ang rebolusyong agraryo!

10 Abu Sayyaf members slain in bombardment

From Malaya Business Insight (Mar 11, 2019): 10 Abu Sayyaf members slain in bombardment

AT least 10 members of the bandit group Abu Sayyaf were reportedly killed while scores were injured in last Friday’s bombardment of their lair in Patikul town in Sulu, military official reported yesterday.

Brig. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo, commander of the military’s Joint Task Forc Sulu, said the information on the casualties was based on intelligence information, adding they were not able to recover any body.

Various military aircraft on Friday pounded the Abu Sayyaf lair in Barangay Kabbuntakas where about 200 ASG members were and planning attacks. Ground troops were later deployed to scour the area.

The Abu Sayyaf group included Abu Sayyaf leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan who masterminded the Jan. 27 twin bombings at the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Cathedral in Jolo town that left 23 people dead and over a hundred others injured.

“Some are saying 10 (Abu Sayyaf men died), some are saying nine...There are reports but we have yet to confirm it, there is still no body count,” said Pabayo.

“It’s based on human intelligence, account of the (civilians) but there is still no confirmation to it. We were not able to recover their body because they were taken (by their companions),” Pabayo added.

Earlier military estimates indicated there are about 300 Abu Sayyaf members operating in Sulu. The group is holding five foreign and Filipino kidnap victims in the province.

Pabayo said many Abu Sayyaf members were injured in the aerial bombardment based on their information. He said ground troops are still conducting clearing operations at the bombed lair.

2 BIFF men, soldier dead in Maguindanao assault

From Malaya Business Insight (Mar 12, 2019): 2 BIFF men, soldier dead in Maguindanao assault

MILITARY aircraft and artillery assets pounded a lair of the Daesh-inspired Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Shariff Saydona Mustapha town in Maguindanao on Monday, leading to the death of two BIFF men and a soldier and wounding of six other BIFF members. “It started with a bomb run,” said Maj. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division.

He said the bomb run, which started at 5:50 a.m., targeted a lair of the BIFF in Barangay Inaladan. Sobejana said MG 520 attack helicopters then fired rockets at the lair, followed by shelling, using military howitzers.

“There was demonstration of air power initially then after that, there was a ground maneuver. The ground maneuver resulted to multiple encounters, leading to the death of two and wounding of six on the enemy side initially,” said Sobejana.

Sobejana said a sergeant from the Army’s 61st Division Reconnaissance Company was hit in the head while maneuvering towards the enemy lair across a river. The identity of the soldier was withheld.

As of yesterday afternoon, Sobejan said sporadic firefight were still ongoing against an estimated 100 to 120 BIFF men led by Abu Toraype, Salahudin Hassan and Singaporean Muhamad Ali Abdul Rahiman, alias Mauwiyah. HE said that also in the area was Esmail Abubakar, alias commander Bungos, a leader of a BIFF faction.

Sobejana said Toraype and Abubakar had differences on how to run the organization a few years back. “They’ve established a tactical alliance and they are fighting side by side against us,” Sobejana said.

Sobejana said members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front are ready to come to the aid of the military if necessary. The BIFF is composed mostly of former members of the MILF that signed a peace accord with government in 2014.

DWDD: Military conducts community dialogues in Surigao conflict areas

Posted to Katropa DWDD-CRS Virtual RTV (Mar 11, 2019): Military conducts community dialogues in Surigao conflict areas

TAGBINA, Surigao del Sur – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will continue to conduct dialogues in conflict-affected areas to win the hearts and minds of far-flung villagers in the hinterlands of Surigao del Sur.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (MANILA BULLETIN)

Second Lt. Maricris C. Capilitan, Civil Military Operation Officer (CMO) of the Army’s 75th Infantry (Marauder) Bartallion (75th IB) told The Manila Bulletin on Monday that the units’ Community Support Program (CSP) spearheaded the community dialogue in far-flung villages of Barangay Sta. Juana, in Tagbina town, Surigao del Sur last week.

Close to 200 residents participated in the peace dialogue where government programs were laid down by local government units (LGUs) and government agencies.

The “Dialogue for Peace and Development” (DPD) was held at Sta. Juana Gymnasium, Tagbina town of that same province. Barangay Sta. Juana was a recipient of the Peace and Development Zone (PDZ) program in Caraga region.

“PDZ will promote durable peace by addressing the root causes of conflict through reconciliation, institution building, and social, political, and economic transformation particularly in Conflict Affected Areas (ConAAs),” said 75th IB commander Lt. Col. Jaime R Datuin, who spearheaded the activity.

Among the key personalities present during the occasion were Tagbina town Mayor Generoso Naraiso, Regional Director Dr. Florencio Sunico Jr. of Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Provincial Director Rey Cueva, also of TESDA in Surigao del Sur and other local officials, Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Business Permit Licensing Office (BPLO), Municipal Treasurer’s Office (MTO) and Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office (MENRO).

During the community dialogue, barangay officials and concerned residents raised issues and concerns with the respective government agencies.

Mayor Naraiso said the efforts of the government to reach the grassroots through dialogues only shows its sincerity in facilitating the peace and development concerns of affected communities. “If there is no peace, there is no development,” he added.

“Your Army wants to bring the government closer to the communities through the convergence of efforts by government agencies in addressing socio-economic and security issues thereby uplifting the living condition of the populace here in Barangay Sta. Juana,” Datuin said.

No photo description available.

DWDD: Army trooper’s played friendship game with MILF

Posted to Katropa DWDD-CRS Virtual RTV (Mar 11, 2019): Army trooper’s played friendship game with MILF

CAMP SIONGCO, Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao –Troops of 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion and 63rd Division Reconnaissance Company played friendly basketball game with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Task Force Itihad of MILF in Brgy Old Maganoy, Datu Abdullah Sangki, Maguindanao on March 7, 2019.

The event is a continuing p...eace initiative of 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion to connect people and to show everybody that we are all partners to create friendship.

It can be recalled that on February 18, 2019, a peace dialogue was orchestrated in the said town after fake news and rumors came out, that the military will attack the MILF community that resulted on massive evacuations. Later, it was resolved and agreed for the establishment of military patrol base.

Winning is not the most important part of this event, but by bringing people from different sectors to work together as a team, it leads peace and development in the area,” said Ltc Alvin G. Iyog, Commanding Officer 2nd Mech Infantry Battalion.
The friendship game is our opportunity to exchange thoughts and discover a new friendship to join together with our aspiration to create a peaceful environment with full of love and understanding,” Major General Cirilito E. Sobejana Commander 6th Infantry Division said.


Image may contain: text

1 police dead, 1 hurt in Samar ambush

From the Sun Star-Tacloban (Mar 11, 2019): 1 police dead, 1 hurt in Samar ambush

(Screenshot gikan sa live video ni Furtuito J. Aim)

A POLICE officer was killed and another was hurt in an ambush in Motiong, Samar Monday, March 11.

Police Senior Superintendent Dante Novicio, director of Samar Police Provincial Office, identified the slain policeman as Police Officer 3 (PO3) Glenn Meniano while the wounded was Police Officer 1 (PO1) Jane Abejar.
The ambush incident occurred around 7 a.m. while members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Motiong were onboard their Mahindra Mobile patrol car along the Maharlika highway at Barangay 1 in the town.

Police said a group of still unidentified gunmen onboard another vehicle waylaid them using M16 rifles.

The ambush caused the driver to lose control of the vehicle and crashed into the highway guardrail barrier, followed by the explosion of the mobile patrol car.

Police are conducting a hot pursuit operation against still unidentified suspects.

Troops intensify ops vs communist guerillas

From the Sun Star-Cagayan de Oro (Mar 11, 2019): Troops intensify ops vs communist guerillas

AGUSAN DEL NORTE. Government troops of Army’s 23rd Infantry Battalion (23IB) over the weekend recovered firearms and war material after a clash with the New People’s Army (NPA) in Barangay Lower Olave, Buenavista, Agusan del Norte. (Photo by 4ID)

THE 4TH Infantry Division (4ID) has deployed some 248 Civilian Active Auxilliary in Bukidnon last Friday, March 8.

Combat clothing and individual equipment (CCIE) were also distributed to the newly trained members of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Units (Cafgu).

8th Infantry Battalion commander Lieutenant Colonel Ronald Illana said the new CAFGUS are part of the Integrated Territorial Defense System (ITDS) purposely to protect communities from the New People’s Army (NPA) and secure national flagship projects of the government.

“In behalf of the Philippine Army we are so very thankful that many of our citizens appreciate the duties and responsibilities rendered of our Filipino soldier. So many are called but few are chosen to become a regular soldier,” he said.

The Cafgu are paramilitary units composed largely of volunteer reservists organized into companies of 120 personnel per company which are handled by a squad of regular troops responsible for providing guidance and control.

The military said the Cafgus are the ones giving information since they have access to the different areas, complete knowledge of the terrain, and direct contacts in the community.

The Cafgus also have the advantage in protecting their villages from outside threats as they are more familiar with the people in their respective communities.

All Cafgu members have undergone a 45-day basic training program that focuses on firearms and small unit tactics.

They also received free health care, initial clothing allowance and monthly stipend amounting to P4,500.

They will also be required to wear uniforms and will be armed with M16, M14 and carbines subject to military laws and regulations.

Another encounter

Meanwhile, government troops of Army’s 23rd Infantry Battalion (23IB) over the weekend recovered firearms and war material after a clash with the New People’s Army (NPA) in Barangay Lower Olave, Buenavista, Agusan del Norte.

Lieutenant Colonel Francisco Molina Jr., commander of the 23IB, said some concerned residents reported on the alleged presence of armed men in their area.

Troops proceeded to the area where a five-minute firefight ensued.

While recovering alleged possessions of the rebels, Molina meanwhile thanked the residents of Barangay Lower Olave for providing the information.

“Through the cooperation of the civilian stakeholders, we were able to save lives by thwarting the hostile plans of the CNTs (Communist NPA Terrorists) in using the prohibited anti-personnel mines which can victimize even ordinary civilians,” he said.

“We encourage the CNT members to abandon armed struggle and go back to the folds of the government, live a peaceful life together with their families and loved ones. Our government is open to help you,” he added.

Slain ‘assassin’ identified

From the Visayan Daily Star (Mar 11): Slain ‘assassin’ identified

The suspected member of the New People’s Army Special Partisan Unit, who was killed in a brief shootout with a policeman on March 7 in Manjuyod, Negros Oriental, turned out to be a resident of Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental.

Capt. Oliver Usog, 94th Infantry Battalion Civil Military Operations officer, yesterday identified the slain NPA SPARU unit member as Tachico Salvacion, 23, of Sitio Dawahan, Brgy. Buenavista, Himamaylan City.

The cadaver of Salvacion, a habal-habal driver in Manjuyod town, was claimed by his parents and relatives, Usog said.

Police investigations showed that Usog and three of his companions, at gunpoint, tried to disarm SP01 Humprey Teves of his gun. But the police officer managed to fight back, and was able to shoot two of the four assailants.

Usog, who was killed, was left behind by his fleeing comrades, with one of whom also hit and injured in the leg, Senior Supt. Raul Tacaca, provincial police director of Negros Oriental, earlier said.

Lt. Col. Randy Pagunuran, 94IB commanding officer, in a statement, condemned the recruitment of teenagers and minors by the New People’s Army.

Soldiers, ex-rebels celebrate Women’s Month

From the Philippine Information Agency (Mar 11, 2019): Soldiers, ex-rebels celebrate Women’s Month

CAMP EVANGELISTA, Cagayan de Oro City – Instead of fighting it out in the mountains where lives are at stake, soldiers and former rebels engaged in a military tradition called "boodle fight” to celebrate life.

In line with the nationwide celebration of International Women’s Day, the Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division shared food with four former ranking female New People's Army (NPA) members at the headquarters of the 1st Special Forces Battalion in Brgy. Mampayag, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon on March 3.

Jai-jai, Diding, Jao and Lala (not their real names) were among the recent batches of surrenderees from the CPP-NPA terrorist group of the Sub-Regional Committee and Regional Urban Committee of Northern Mindanao Regional Committee (NCMRC) in Region 10 who turned their backs against their terrorist organization and surrender to the government troops in February this year.

The Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division sharing food with former female NPA members at the headquarters of the 1st Special Forces Battalion in Brgy. Mampayag, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon on March 3, 2019 in line with the nationwide celebration of International Women’s Day. (4ID)

The ex-rebels turned in assorted medical and dental supplies, medicines, cellphone, tablet, and subversive documents.

“I am very grateful to the soldiers and the government agencies for giving us a chance to gain back our normal life and become productive members of the society. We know that women play a significant role in a family and we are critical components in creating a peaceful community. I am more than honored and privileged to be personally visited, conversed and was able to partake sumptuous lunch (boodle fight) with the officers and men of the 4th ID headed by Brigadier General Gacal. They have shown utmost respect and took good care of us contrary to what NPA terrorist leaders told us," said Lala, a former finance officer and political instructor.

Gacal said they recognize the active contributions of women especially in peace building in Mindanao. "These female former rebels have a great role to perform, to reach out to their former comrades and be a worthy example that there is an easy way out from the terrorist organization if they only give peace a chance," he said.

Gacal added that the 4th ID is a gender responsive Army unit and this activity highlights the celebration of Women’s Month with the theme: “We Make Change Work for Women.”

AFP backs PRRD initiative on Freedom of Information

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 11, 2019): AFP backs PRRD initiative on Freedom of Information

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) strongly supports President Rodrigo Duterte's calls for transparency and full public disclosure of information.

“The public has the right to know the right information at the right time. An informed populace is a source of national power, and right information can empower Filipinos of informed decision,” AFP public affairs office chief Col. Noel Detoyato said in statement over the weekend.

In line with this initiative emphasized under Duterte's Executive Order (EO) No. 2, the AFP conducted its Freedom of Information (FOI) Cascading and Leveling Seminar to its respective offices and units at the AFP Commission Officers Club, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City Friday.

Assistant Secretary Kristian Ablan of the Presidential Communications Operations Office discussed the contents of the EO, which is the enabling order for FOI and mechanism to promote transparency in the government’s administrative process.

He also discussed the list of exceptions and the electronic FOI portal.

As the AFP cascaded its FOI Manual to the offices and units, Col. Napoleon de Vera of the AFP Civil-Military Operations or OJ-7 presented the overview and important aspects of the AFP FOI Manual.

On legal matters, Col. Agustin Matavia, AFP’s Deputy Judge Advocate General, discussed the administrative liabilities of the failure to comply with the requirements of the process.

While Noriza Atienza, acting public affairs division chief of the Department of National Defense Public Affairs Service, shared the defense department's experience on the implementation of FOI.

“We must release the information to the people with maximum disclosure and with minimum delay,” Detoyato added. And to ensure compliance to the FOI process, an oath-taking ceremony for the designated FOI Action Officer and Staff was held after the seminar presided by the AFP vice chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Salvador Melchor Mison Jr.

"The AFP understands that the power of the State emanates from the public, and that the public needs and deserve to know all government transactions, decisions, and policies that affect the lives of Filipinos," Detoyato concluded.

Whole-of-gov't approach needed to defeat Reds

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 11, 2019): Whole-of-gov't approach needed to defeat Reds

Only a unified and whole government approach will defeat the threat posed by New People's Army (NPA) communist rebels, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief Col. Noel Detoyato said Monday.

He made this statement when asked what factors can spell defeat for the rebels once and for all.

"We have identified so many factors to eradicate the communist terrorists (and these are) prevent them from accessing funds, counter their mass base recruitment and front organizations," Detoyato said in a message to the Philippine News Agency.

These can only be neutralized effectively only if the government will synchronize its efforts to counter these threats.

"We can only do this effectively if the whole government will synchronize their efforts towards a common goal (which is aimed at containing these factors that responsible for the continued operation of the NPA movement)," the AFP official added.

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

Once this is done, Detoyato expressed confidence that the ideology espoused by Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria "Joma" Sison and his "blind followers" will be defeated once and for all.

Earlier, the AFP official said the NPA attacks, targeting and destroying even civilian targets, highlighted its aimed at pressuring businesses to give in to their extortion plans.

The wanton attacks also highlighted the communist rebels’ terroristic inclinations, he added.

"The burning spree of heavy equipment being perpetrated by the CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army) is meant to continue with their terrorism plans and to pressure the companies to give in to their extortion demands," Detoyato said.

Also, the NPAs target equipment of construction companies because they are soft and undefended, and destroying them will delay and prevent the government from bringing in basic services to rural communities.

Lorenzana, Empedrad to witness launching of BRP Jose Rizal

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 11, 2019): Lorenzana, Empedrad to witness launching of BRP Jose Rizal

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Philippine Navy (PN) flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad are expected to visit South Korea to witness the launching of the country's first-ever missile-armed frigate this May.

The PN chief, in an interview with DWDD Monday, said the visit will be from May 17 to 19.

He, however, did not give specific details on the launching date of the BRP Jose Rizal, the Navy's first-ever missile frigate, which is undergoing construction by Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI).

The second frigate, which will be named BRP Antonio Luna, is also being constructed by HHI.

"Ibig sabihin ng launching ng first frigate is yung barko ay tapos na yung ginagawa sa kanya sa dry-dock, so ibaba siya and mag-float na siya sa dagat from the dock of the shipyard (When we say launching of the first frigate, it means the construction of the ship at the dry-drock is done. So it will be floated in the sea from the dock of the shipyard)," Empedrad said.

BRP Jose Rizal's launching will be followed by the keel-laying of BRP Antonio Luna, the PN chief stressed. He added that this is necessary because the ships will be delivered six months apart.

Also, Empedrad said that the Navy's first two anti-submarine helicopters, the AgustaWestland AW-159 "Wildcat", which will be armed with torpedoes and missiles, will be arriving in the Philippines by May 14.

These will be followed by four amphibious assault vehicles intended for the Philippine Marine Corps.

The Philippines and HHI signed a PHP16-billion contract for two missile-armed frigates with another PHP2 billion set aside for its weapon systems and munitions. Projected delivery date of the first frigate is by 2020 with the second one in 2021.

Abu Sayyaf member nabbed in Taguig

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 11, 2019): Abu Sayyaf member nabbed in Taguig

A suspected member of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) has been arrested by operatives of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Taguig City.

In a statement Monday, NBI Director Dante A. Gierran said Salahim Dawani a.k.a. Abu Moadz was nabbed in an operation last March 6.

Dawani has a standing arrest warrant issued by the Basilan Regional Trial Court (RTC) in connection with the kidnapping of several workers of the Golden Harvest Plantation in Tairan, Lantawan, Basilan in 2001.

Witnesses said Abu Moadz was with the group who burned down houses in the area and decapitated plantation workers Primitivo Falcasantos and Crisanto Suela.

He was among those who served as augmentation force to the ASG brigands who kidnapped victims at the diving resort in Sipadan, Pulao, Sabah, Malaysia on April 23, 2000. He also helped guard the kidnap victims when they were brought to the towns of Talipao and Patikul in Sulu.

Maguindanao resident hands over live explosives to Army

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 11, 2019): Maguindanao resident hands over live explosives to Army

TURNED OVER. The two 60-mm mortar explosives handed over by a civilian to the Army in Guindulungan, Maguindanao. (Photo by 6ID)

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao – The Army’s 6th Infantry Division (ID) on Monday lauded a resident of Guindulungan, Maguindanao, for turning over to authorities two unexploded 60-mm mortar shells he found near his farm.

For security reasons, Major Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, 6th ID commander and head of Joint Task Force Central, only identified the civilian as “Datu”, who handed over the two mortar shells that appear to be new and shiny, to the Army’s 90th Infantry Battalion on Saturday.

“The military’s information campaign against anti-personnel mines is now getting support from the locals,” Sobejana noted.

Datu said he found the explosives in an area near his farm and quickly alerted the soldiers.

The explosives, now under the care of 90th IB, will be turned over to the Army’s Explosives and Ordnance Disposal Team.

Had it not been found and turned over, Sobejana said the explosives could have landed in the hands of lawless elements and convert them into anti-personnel mines.
“I appeal to the public in the countryside to be extra careful when they find unexploded ordnance and other weapons to avoid accidents,” said Sobejana, adding that anyone should immediately report such find to authorities.

Massive military operation launched vs. BIFF in Maguindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 11, 2019): Massive military operation launched vs. BIFF in Maguindanao

Soldiers find empty rifle bullet shells in a site where Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters launched an attack against them in Barangay Tuka, Mamasapano, Maguindanao. (Photo by 6th ID)

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao – The Army’s 6th Infantry Division has stepped up its operation against the Islamic State-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Maguindanao after the terror group's continued attacks against the military and civilians in the province.

“The pursuit operations against the terror group will continue without letup to preempt them from further sowing fear and violence,” said Maj. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, 6ID commander, in an interview with newsmen here Monday.

The latest BIFF attack occurred on March 7 in Barangay Tuka, Mamasapano, Maguindanao, where two soldiers and a civilian were hurt. Sobejana declined to name the wounded soldiers pending notification of their respective families.

He identified the wounded civilian though as Bihamdi Abdulkarim Abdulgani who sustained injuries in his knees. Abdulgani was walking home around 10 p.m. along the village when he noticed about 300 armed men near the Army detachment in the area.

Sobejana said Abdulgani cautioned the armed men not to come near the military base but was fired upon. Other BIFF gunmen fired at the military base that injured two members of 40th Infantry Battalion 3rd Light Armor Company and sparked a 10-minute firefight.

“The BIFF then withdrew towards nearby Liguasan Marsh while the civilian victim was rushed to a hospital in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao,” Sobejana said.

The military official condemned the attack, calling it barbaric and inhuman since the civilian was a non-combatant.

Meanwhile, at least four off-duty Army soldiers were killed--three in Maguindanao and one in neighboring Cotabato City--in separate attacks over the past two weeks. The BIFF claimed they carried out the attacks in retaliation to the series of military airstrikes and artillery bombardment against them in the province.

Sobejana vowed the heightened military operations against the BIFF in Maguindanao will be sustained.

CV execs discuss project implementation in rebel-infested areas

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 11, 2019): CV execs discuss project implementation in rebel-infested areas

JOINT MEETING. Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Assistant Secetary for External and Legislative Affairs Ricojudge Javier Echiverri graces the first joint meeting of the Regional Development Council (RDC) and Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) meeting chaired by Cebu Govenor Hilario Davide III on Monday, March 11, 2019. Also in photo is Police Regional Office (PRO-7) Reigonal Director Debold Sinas. (Photo from Department of Agriculture Regional Director Salvador Diputado's Facebook page)

CEBU CITY — Regional officials in Central Visayas (CV) have discussed ways to construct school buildings in far-flung villages of Negros Oriental, where contractors who have won the bidding are afraid to go because of threats from armed groups.

Regional Development Council (RDC)-7 (Central Visayas) Chair Kenneth Cobonpue on Monday said among the agreed means of implementing the projects is allowing the Philippine Army Engineering Battalion in Negros Oriental to undertake the construction.

He admitted that school building projects have not been implemented in said province due to the resurgence of the New People's Army (NPA) in the hinterlands.

Cobonpue said the concern was raised during the joint meeting of the RDC and the Regional Peace and Order Council in the region headed by Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III.

Some of the project sites of those school-buildings are situated in rebel-infested areas, he said in an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

According to him, contractors who have won the bidding are afraid to go up to the project sites.

“It was resolved in the meeting that DepEd (Department of Education) should look for alternative means of constructing those school-buildings,” Cobonpue said.

“The joint body will inform DepEd of what we come up to ensure that education for the school-children in Negros Oriental are not hampered,” Cobonpue said.

Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH-7) Assistant Regional Director Mario Montejo, in a separate interview with PNA, confirmed there are “few” school-buildings which are left unconstructed due to the insurgency situation in Negros island.

“Gamay ra nuon na (It’s just a few of them). But we need to see how many (school) buildings were due for implementation but na-stall (being stalled),” Montejo said, adding that he could not, as of press time, secure exact data of the number of school-building projects left unimplemented in Negros Oriental, reiterating that “they are a few.”

He said there are school building projects that can no longer be implemented due to lack of sites or areas where they can be built.

He said he supports the view that DepEd needs to find alternative way of carrying out the project.

Montejo, however, urged proponents of the plan to turn over the project to the Army’s engineering unit to ensure its completion within the time frame.

He explained that the funds from DepEd will be transferred to the Department of National Defense (DND) which, in turn, will transfer it to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), then to the Philippine Army before it can reach the engineering battalion for project implementation.

PNP condemns attack that killed, hurt Samar cops

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 11, 2019): PNP condemns attack that killed, hurt Samar cops

The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Monday denounced the attack in Motiong, Samar allegedly launched by the New People’s Army, killing a policeman and wounding his comrade.
“The police regional office deeply condemns such act of violence. Thus, the public is encouraged to be of help and be cooperative to the authorities in reporting unusual movements in their places,” the PNP said in a statement.
The two police officers were on board the patrol car of Motiong town police station around 7:15 a.m. on Monday when armed men detonated anti-personnel mine and attacked the two police officers. The incident occurred within the national road in Barangay (village) 1.
Killed on the spot was Police Staff Sergeant Glenn Meniano. On the other hand, Patrolwoman Jane Abejar was hit by shrapnel but managed to escape from the gun attacks. 
Armed rebels also burned the police vehicle.
The two police officers were heading back to Motiong police station after fetching water from the nearby police station in Paranas town. 
Silvestre Igdalino, a civilian, was also injured.  
Probers recovered empty shells of M16 rifle in the crime scene.
PNP Eastern Visayas Regional Director, Brigadier General Dionardo Carlos went to the area to lead the investigation.
“We are now assisting the bereaved family of Meniano and pray for the recovery of Abejar. The police and military are conducting hot pursuit operation to bring the terrorist-killers before the bar of justice,” Carlos said in a statement sent to reporters.
The NPA in Eastern Visayas admitted the attack and torching the police car in a social media post Monday afternoon. 
Both the United States and European Union have declared the CPP-NPA as a terrorist group.