Monday, March 25, 2019

AFP-CRS: Photo/slide - Show sincerity and stop fighting

From the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook page (Mar 25, 2019): Photo/slide - Show sincerity and stop fighting

Image may contain: 1 person, text

AFP-CRS: Photo/slide - JASIG is revoked

From the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook page (Mar 25, 2019): Photo/slide - JASIG is revoked

Image may contain: 1 person, text

Duterte: Useless to talk to NPA

From the Manila Bulletin (Mar 25, 2019): Duterte: Useless to talk to NPA
President Duterte said that he has now given up on trying to talk peace with the New People’s Army (NPA),

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his speech during the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) campaign rally at the University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines in Cagayan de Oro City on March 24, 2019. (JOEY DALUMPINES/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)
Duterte made the statement days after he formally announced the dissolution of the government peace panel created to negotiate with the communist rebels.

In a speech in Cagayan De Oro Sunday evening, Duterte said that talking to the Communist rebels was useless since they continue to sow terror despite negotiating for peace with the government.

“Ang NPA, ako na’y ni-surrender (With the NPA, I am the one who surrendered). I said I will stop talking to them because it is really useless,” he said.

“We have been talking for the last 30 years. And they have been trying to destroy the legitimate government since 53 years ago. Wala gyud ta’y ma — wala gyud ta’y ma… (We will never achieve anything out of it),” he added.

According to Duterte, people can still continue to dream that there will be peace in Mindanao with respect to the Communist rebels. However, he said the failures of the peace talks over the last year qwre proof that nothing will ever be achieved.

“It could be a dream nga naa pay pag-asa (that we still have hope). Fifty-three years would tell you that it amounts to nothing,” he said.

“So ana akong gisulti sa mga sundalo, sulti nako sa mga pulis, ‘Tapuson ta nalang ni. Either kitay musurrender or silay musurrender. Either kitay mahurot o hutdon gyud nato sila’ (So I told the soldiers and the police, ‘Let’s finish this. It’s either we surrender or they do. It’s either they’ll defeat us or we’ll defeat them’),” he added.

“Ang ilang gusto (They want) armed struggle. The word itself or the words — the two words connote violence,” he continued.

Over the weekend, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that despite Duterte’s pronouncements, the government will not be giving up on peace in Mindanao.

“The administration still seeks peace. We are just trying a different tact by localizing the peace talks as the concerns of rebel groups vary from one locality to another especially so that Mr. Sison appears not to have control over the communist forces on the ground,” he said.

While acknowledging that the peace talks could still be revived under a different administration, Panelo said that it will not prosper unless the Communist rebels begin to show more sincerity in the negotiations.

“The CPP/NPA/NDF must first demonstrate genuine sincerity in the peace process by laying down their arms and shun its acts of violence, which include murder, rape, extortion, and destruction of public infrastructure and private properties,” he said.

“Until such demonstration of sincerity, the localized peace talks shall be given impetus,” he added.

President Duterte canceled the peace talks with the Communist rebels in November 2017 via Proclamation No. 360, citing the Reds’ insincerity to the ensure the success of the process.

AFP finding probable cause to charge Joma Sison, cohorts

From CNN Philippines (Mar 25, 2019): AFP finding probable cause to charge Joma Sison, cohorts

Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Tuesday it is working with other government agencies to find probable cause to file charges against Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison and his cohorts.

"Insofar as the AFP is concerned, we are, together with other government agencies under the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict is working for the indictment of Mr. Sison and his cohorts," according to a statement from AFP spokesperson BGen. Edgard Arevalo.

The AFP said Sison must be held accountable for the reported murder of "thousands of their comrades" on suspicion of being military informants.
"The number of their victims, to include non-combatant civilians, children, and the elderly reached more than 80,000 during CPP's 50 menacing years," Arevalo said. "Sison should be charged, convicted, and jailed for the crimes he and his minions have committed."

He added the AFP is gathering evidence to prove to the European Union that some of the groups it is financing are "fronts" of the the CPP and its armed wing, the New People's Army.

Arevalo also said they want to debunk narratives shared by these organizations to European countries.

"We will show that the information they are presenting to the European countries were fabricated. And such depiction of tyranny, murder, suppression of freedom, and persecution is untrue," he said.

AFP Central Command backs localized peace talks

From the Manila Bulletin (Mar 25, 2019): AFP Central Command backs localized peace talks

The Armed Forces of the Philippines-Central Command (AFP-CentCom) fully supports localized peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

Lieutenant General Noel S. Clement, who heads the AFP-CentCom, said even with the termination of the peace negotiations between the government and the CPP-NPA-NDF, the Central Command, along with other government agencies will strongly pursue the localized peace talks.

“This is to show that the government is sincere towards the attainment of a just and lasting peace,” Clement said.

Clement said the localized peace talks will serve as an avenue for the NPA members to negotiate directly and receive assistance from the government.

He said that through direct negotiations with the local NPA members, the government will be able to directly address the problems, thereby justly and objectively terminating the irrelevant NDF-schemed peace process, and finally putting an end to the longstanding armed conflict in the country.

“We have the strong support of the local government units and agencies. We expect that the general public will support this endeavor as peace-loving citizens of the country,” Clement said.

“The Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) does not only provide firearm remuneration but an overall financial, livelihood and employment opportunities for the benefit of the former rebel and his/her family. We will facilitate your return to the mainstream society and help you live normal and productive lives,” he added.

Philippines: Mindanao Humanitarian Situation as of 25 March 2019

Posted to Relief Web (Mar 25, 2019): Philippines: Mindanao Humanitarian Situation as of 25 March 2019

Infographic from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 25 Mar 2019

Download PDF (3.28 MB)


Renewed armed conflict erupted between the AFP and a faction of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) on 9 March in four areas in Maguindanao: Salbu, Pagatin, Mamasapano, and Shariff Aguak, causing the cumulative displacement of more than 35,200 people, of which over 27,900 are inside 19 evacuation centres or staying with host families. Government authorities are leading the response, with support from the Philippine Red Cross and the Mindanao Humanitarian Team (MHT).


In Lanao del Sur, armed encounters south of Lake Lanao, particularly in the municipalities of Tuburan and Pagayawan were reported between the AFP and the remnants of the Maute armed group on 11 and 14 March which caused the displacement of more than 8,900 people from two municipalities. Displaced people in Lanao del Sur are sheltered in schools, madrasahs or are staying with host families. The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) government’s humanitarian response team, BARMM-HEART together with the MHT member agencies will conduct rapid needs assessment in the affected municipalities on 26 March.


In the island provinces of Mindanao, the AFP continues to engage the Abu Sayaff Group in Sulu following the bombing of Jolo cathedral in January 2019. A spike of encounters in February led to displacements of more than 5,000 people in the municipalities of Patikul, Tongkil, Jolo, Indanan and Maimbung. According to the IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix needs assessment, the primary and most urgent needs expressed by the IDPs are food and relief items such as blankets, water containers, kitchen sets and hygiene kits.


Nearly two years after the Marawi conflict, over 66,000 people remain displaced, mostly staying with host familes while more than 900 families (an estimated 4,500 people) are still sheltered in four evacuation centres. The government plans to transfer 364 families to the Boganga temporary shelter before end of March. Task Force Bangon Marawi continues to conduct the IDP profiling in the most affected areas in Marawi City. The Task Force conducted a two-day consultation for residents of the most affected areas on 18 March. During the consultation, IDPs were updated the rehabilitation of Marawi City, and were given an opportunity to air their sentiments and concerns.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit

Number of poll hotspots now 941: PNP

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 25, 2019): Number of poll hotspots now 941: PNP

The number of election hotspots in the country rose to 941 from 701 in February, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said on Monday.

In a press briefing in Camp Crame, PNP chief, General Oscar Albayalde said based on the latest validated information, the election hotspots comprise 57.60 percent of the country's 1,634 cities and municipalities.
Of this number, 131 towns and cities are classified as areas of concern (Category Yellow), 238 are classified as areas of immediate concern (Category Orange); 570 are categorized as areas of grave concern (Category Red), and two areas are now under control of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) -- Cotabato City and Daraga, Albay.

“With the recent declaration by Comelec of the entire Mindanao under the “Red” category of election hotspots, all 454 cities and municipalities of 27 provinces in the six regions of Mindanao are now listed as Election Areas of Grave Concern. Across the country, there are 570 areas under the “Red” category. As such, the Comelec may, upon further evaluation of the prevailing security situation, place any of these areas under its control,” Albayalde told reporters in a press briefing on Monday.

The places tagged as areas of concern means that there was a history of election-related incidents there in the last two elections and intense political rivalry and that it had been previously declared under Comelec control.

Meanwhile, areas of immediate concern are those where there is serious armed threat posed by the New People’s Army (NPA), Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and rogue elements of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and other lawless elements.

Areas of grave concern exhibit the combined factors under the yellow and orange categories such that it may warrant the motu proprio declaration of Comelec control.

Under the law, the Comelec may place any political subdivision under its immediate and direct control and supervision if, among other things, there is a history of -- or current -- intense political rivalry among contending parties, as such rivalries could motivate people to engage in violent acts.

As of March 20, Albayalde said that 118 Red areas were identified in ARMM, 93 areas in Northern Mindanao, 73 areas in Caraga Region, 72 Zamboanga Peninsula, 49 areas each in Davao Region and Soccsksargen, 45 areas in Eastern Visayas, 28 areas in Cordillera Amdinistrative Region, 21 areas in Bicol Region, five areas in Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon), four areas each in Central Luzon and Western Visayas, two in Cagayan Valley Region and one in Central Visayas.

He added there are no Red Areas in the National Capital Region (NCR) and Ilocos Region.

While stressing that more cops are stationed in Camp Crame, Albayalde said these are deployed to different critical areas where they are also tasked to be a part of special operations task groups headed by a senior officer.

“This is probably just to ensure the deployment of personnel there are enough. It doesn't necessarily mean that there is really violence in red areas or areas of grave concern, especially now, we all know that the BOL (Bangsamoro Organic Law) plebiscite just concluded. We want to ensure peaceful elections because we still do not know, there are some who opposed the BOL and I think this was considered by the validation committee,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, Albayalde said focused police operations will be intensified against private armed groups, criminal gangs, wanted persons, gun for hire groups and loose firearms as the campaign period for local level starts on Friday.

“Based on historical data of previous elections, election related incidents resulting from intense political rivalry are expected to escalate during this period,” he said.

Earlier, the PNP chief pointed out that aside from the mandated responsibilities of the PNP as a deputized agency of the Comelec, police law enforcement and public safety duties for election security operations is contained in the following 8-point SIDEPLAN:

-Strict implementation of gun ban

-Intensified focus law enforcement operations

-Dismantling of private armed groups

-Early preparation of security and contingency plans

-Provide security to vulnerable candidates

-Limited reshuffle of PNP personnel

-Accounting of loose firearms

-Neutralization of gun for hire and criminal gangs

He also reminded the PNP personnel to ‘remain apolitical’ to ensure clean and honest elections.

“We will ensure to remain apolitical and to protect the will of the electorate by ensuring honest, orderly and peaceful elections in May,” he said.

CPP/CPDF-Mt. Province: Northern Luzon Command, spin doctors of fake news

Cordillera People's Democratic Front-Mt. Province propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Mar 25, 2019): Northern Luzon Command, spin doctors of fake news

Cordillera People's Democratic Front - Mt. Province
Simon 'Ka Filiw' Naogsan
Cordillera People's Democratic Front

March 25, 2019

Attempts of spin doctors of the Northern Luzon Command of the AFP and its organic divisions to portray the NPA as a declining force has taken desperate turns as they vainly try to concoct fake stories and innuendoes about the revolutionary movement. The latest fake news circulating in the social media is the mock battle in the boundary of Brgy. Buaya and Brgy. Mabaca, both of Balbalan, Kalinga last March 20, 2019 and the subsequent alleged capture of Arnold Tumbali.

According to Comrade Tipon Gil-ayab, Spokesperson, Lejo Cawilan Command of the NPA-Kalinga, the mock battle lasted for about an hour, causing fear and alarm among the peasant masses especially the children.

Comrade Tipon Gil-ayab clarified that Arnold Tumbali had long ceased as a member of NPA-Kalinga. He surrendered to the 50th IB last August 2018. Clearly, this is another case of recycling surrenderees. The recycling of surrenderees and forum cum surrender photo shopping are typical dirty tactics of the AFP since the darkest days of Marcos martial rule up to the present to conjure a declining scenario of the revolutionary movement and to prop up a favorable accomplishment report of the AFP at the same time line up the pockets of bounty hunting generals. Despite all the rhetorics, it is undeniable that bounty hunting and promotions are the main motivation of this surrender campigns.

Since the implementation of E.O. 70 creating their pipedream Task Force to crush the CPP/NPA last year, saw the intensification of this fake surrender campaigns in the Cordillera region.

In Ifugao, several farmers in Tinoc and Asipulo were falsely accused of being NPA supporters. They were forced to attend a “peace forum” called by the military only to be bombarded with anti-insurgency propaganda and coerced to sign “clearance” documents and paraded for photo ops to be presented later as surrenderees by the 54th IB.

In Mt. Province, a 14 year old girl was hoodwinked by the military to be used as a fake surrenderee. Spin masters and psywar experts of the 54th IB and PNP coached her to present a make believe story as an NPA recruit from Eastern Mt. Province who ran away while attending a military training in Isabela. Thereupon, even with an uncertain status, she alleged that while gallivanting, she was given an instruction by the commanding officer of the NPA through a text message to carry a sensitive mission to singlehandedly assasinate the PNP Provincial Commander. The story goes that while at the gate of the barracks, she collapsed for no apparent reason. To make the story short, these spin masters alleged that she carried a shoulder bag containing the cellphone with the said preposterous mission order text into it, subversive documents and some cash. Then, they changed the plot of her story. Actually, they alleged, she was going to the barracks to surrender. But again, her bag contain a loaded handgun. Such make believe story was scoffed at by the reading public of Mt. Province. Only the military and the PNP would appreciate such false stories.

In Brgy. Aguid, Sagada, Mountain Province, the 54th IB ordered the community to participate in their fake ‘peace forum’, knowing that it is taboo for the local community to be doing another thing while a wake is ongoing. Later in the day, they forced two farmers to surrender in the flimsiest of reason. In Tubo, Abra, youth leadership seminars and similar elders forums were called for only to be turned as surrender activity and presented later as surrenderees.

All of these incidents show the lengths they would go through just to vilify the revolutionary forces. But the more they try to defame the revolutionary movement’s name, the more they show that they really fear the influence and prestige gained by the legitimate armed struggle of the people. In the vast countryside, the exploited and oppressed peoples know the truth. The NPA, as the armed instrument of the people’s war, has consistently stood up for the people’s interests against the imperialist plunder, unsatiable greed of foreign and local profiteers and landgrabbers. The NPA implement its punitive actions against notorious foreign and domestic companies and entities who plunder and destroy the people’s communities, land and their livelihood.

The so-called ‘peace’ posturing of the reactionary government is vilification and aiming for the capitulation of the revolutionary movement. This absurd notion of ‘peace’ is only favorable for the unbridled greed of foreign capitalists, big landlords and compradors seeking to further plunder the rich natural resources of the Cordillera and the whole country. But as long as the historical social injustices brought about by imperialism, bureaucrat capitalism and feudalism persists, as well as national oppression of the national minorities and Moro people likewise persist, peace based on justice will never be attained. The oppressed and exploited people will always assert their democratic rights and will fight back the oppressors.

The CPDF, as an allied member of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), stands for the achievement of a just and lasting peace. If the US-Duterte regime ultimately closes its door for national peace talks with the NDFP to address the root causes of the raging civil war, and lay the basis for a political settlement, then the CPDF joins the revolutionary forces and the Filipino people to carry on the national democratic revolution till final victory. No amount of fake news, peace posturings of the US-Duterte regime to advance its unpeace agenda and tyrannical rule will deter our resolve to persist in moving forward through people’s war.

The CPDF joins the call for the people to fight more and expose the deceptions of the AFP and the whole US-Duterte regime! We have stood our grounds and frustrated every sinister schemes of previous regime from the Dictator Marcos to the US-Aquino II regime. We are confident to frustrate the present US-Duterte regime who have expanded its puppetry not only to its US imperialist masters but to China as well.

Expose the cheap lies and deceptions of the AFP/PNP!

Overthrow the US-Duterte tyranical regime!

Oppose the sell out of our rich natural resources by the US-Duterte regime to his imperialist masters!

FETAD! Rebolusyon Kayet!

NDF/NDF Negotiating Panel: NDFP Strongly Condemns the Unjust Arrest of Frank Fernandez and Companions and Demands Their Immediate Release

NDF Negotiating Panel propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Philippines (NDFP or NDF) Website (Mar 25, 2019): NDFP Strongly Condemns the Unjust Arrest of Frank Fernandez and Companions and Demands Their Immediate Release

Fidel V. Agcaoili
NDFP Negotiating Panel
Press Statement

March 25, 2019

NDFP Panel Chair Fidel V. Agcaoili

Frank Fernandez is a publicly known consultant of the NDFP in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations as NDFP spokesperson in Negros. He holds Document of Identification Number PP 978544 as provided for in the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

The JASIG is an agreement between the two Parties in armed conflict. It has been duly approved by their respective Principals. And there is a required protocol for its termination. So, no matter how many times President Rodrigo Duterte unilaterally flip-flops from resuming and then terminating the peace talks, the JASIG remains in full force and effect unless otherwise terminated according to the terms of the agreement. In fact the immunity guarantees of Frank Fernandez extends even after the actual termination of the peace talks.

Moreover, Frank Fernandez, who is 71 years old and has been ill for some time, had to come down from Negros for medical treatment, accompanied by his wife, Cleofe Lagtapon, and a companion, Gee-Ann Perez. For humanitarian considerations alone, he should not have been arrested and allowed to receive unhampered medical treatment. With his unjust arrest, the Duterte regime runs the risk of adding another detainee to the list of three political prisoners who died in prison from June 2016, in violation of international humanitarian law and the minimum prison standards recognized by civilized nations.

Frank Fernandez and his companions were reported to have been arrested last Sunday in Nagcarlan, Laguna. However, details of where they are incarcerated are still unclear. This poses grave danger to their health and lives. Its incumbent upon their custodial units to forthwith present Frank Fernandez and his companions to their relatives and lawyers in order for him to receive his medicines and assure that their rights and well-being are respected.

We demand that Frank Fernandez and his companions be released immediately as a matter of principle, justice and humanity.

SOLCOM: Catholic Priest Turned Top NPA Terrorist Falls in Laguna

Posted to the Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) Facebook page (Mar 25): Catholic Priest Turned Top NPA Terrorist Falls in Laguna
Party Wife Also Apprehended

Camp Capinpin, Tanay Rizal-​Combined elements from the AFP’s Intelligence Units, Philippine National Police and National Intelligence Coordinating Agency apprehended a fugitive NDF consultant, who is also the most ranking NPA terrorist operating in Negros Island, during a law enforcement operations at around 5:16 a.m. Sunday in Brgy Calumpang, Nagcarlan, Laguna.

​According to Brigadier General Arnulfo Marcelo B Burgos Jr, Commander of the 202nd Infantry (UNIFIER) Brigade which has operational jurisdiction over the area, the government’s security forces apprehended Frank Fernandez alias Ago, of the NPA’s Komiteng Rehiyon Negros, together with Cleofe Lagtapo alias Guia, Regional Deputy Secretary for Communications and Education, and Geen-Ann Canedo Perez alias Angie, a Regional Communications Staff during a raid of an NPA safehouse in the area.

​“They were the principal targets of the government troops who were there to serve their warrant of arrest”, said General Burgos.

He added that “the law enforcement operation was triggered by the information given by one of their NPA comrades as to their current location which was subsequently validated by locals from Nagcarlan who became suspicious of their actions.”

Lt Col Jonathan Manio, Commander of the 1st Infantry Battalion, said that the joint operations resulted to the confiscation of three caliber .45 pistols, three hand grenades, 35 cellular phones, numerous technical gadgets, various war materiel and voluminous enemy documents with high intelligence value.

“The arrest is a product of our people’s increasing vigilance against the NPA terrorists and a realization that, indeed, security is a shared responsibility,” said LTC Manio.

He added that “the people in the area reported their presence to the authorities because of their unusual behavior – staying in an abandoned and dilapidated house located in the outskirts of the town and always moving by foot with their backpacks during unholy hours.”

Per government records, Frank Fernandez is a Catholic priest who was radicalized by NPA ideology in the 1980s and has since been active in the killing of soldiers and Cafgu Active Auxilliaries through SPARU operations particularly in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.

“Father Frank” is also allegedly primarily responsible in the ambush that resulted to the death of Guihulngan’s chief of police sometime July 2017 as well as the ambush perpetrated against soldiers early this year.

The intelligence community is currently validating reports that among those apprehended was the priest’s party wife which is a clear violation of the Church’s “vow of celibacy” and a betrayal of every priest’s devotion to his Catholic flock.

Major General Rhoderick M Parayno, Commander of the Philippine Army’s 2nd Infantry Division, said that the arrest is a result of the government’s “whole of nation approach” in putting an end to communist armed conflict which will speed-up the process of defeating insurgency across the country.

​“The government will be unrelenting in our pursuit for peace and prosperity whoever, whatever and wherever the threat may be” said General Parayno.

​He added that “we have been hitting them at all fronts and keeping them on the run, thus, I urge the few remaining members of the NPAs to give up their arms and return to mainstream society because sooner or later we will catch them. This arrest is a loud and clear reminder that no one can escape the long arms of our country’s law.”

The military expressed their gratitude to the people who provided the information which led to the arrest and urged others to follow their lead in the name of lasting peace, prosperity and development.

Image may contain: 2 people, hat

Opinion: The tragedy of the Philippine Left

Opinion piece by Rigobert D. Tiglao posted to the Manila Times (Mar 23, 2019): The tragedy of the Philippine Left

Captured Communist Party chairman Benito Tiamzon and his wife Wilma Austria, also a high-ranking cadre, are the embodiment of the Philippine left that was once a hope for the country, but has turned out to be a tragedy.

I knew the two, as they were members of the Communist Party’s eight-man Regional Committee for Metropolitan Manila and Rizal province that I headed in the early 1970s until our arrest and imprisonment in 1974.

Tiamzon headed our labor union operations, while Wilma headed a sub-regional organization covering Pasig and other Rizal eastern towns, and later on the regional committee’s “education bureau”—i.e., the unit in charge of educating the organization into Marxist worldview and strategy.

Benny and Wilma were exemplars of the core of the Left revolution (or attempted revolution) that emerged in the 1970s: lower and middle-class students just out of their teenaged years, disgusted over Philippine oligarchs and politics and the brazen social injustice of our country, and whose coming of age was in a period when the Left seemed on the verge of creating a new world.

Benny and Wilma were socially committed intellectuals. He was taking up political science while she took up sociology before they dropped out to become full-time activists.

It was Marcos’ martial law that drove thousands of students, including the best and the brightest, into the Communist Party. Those Marxist claims that the state was a violent instrument of the ruling class all of a sudden appeared at that time to be so true.

It would only be later that we—including Tiamzon—would learn that Party chairman Jose Sison in fact, and ironically, played a crucial role in the imposition of martial law: He ordered the Plaza Miranda bombing of Liberal Party leaders in August 1971. That created what Sison termed as another “revolutionary flow”, much needed when that which broke out in 1970 seemed to be dying out like some youthful fad.

That convinced Marcos about a year later to impose martial law which allowed him to remain in power beyond his second, and last term. The bombing gave him a good excuse that politics in the country had become too violent and anarchic that it needed strongman rule —as our neighbors in Southeast Asia had.

Benny didn’t come from a rich family, but he certainly wasn’t poor. His family either had a small business or a farm in Marikina. Wilma, thin as Mia Farrow at that time, I thought, was more well off, and lived in a middle-class neighborhood in Pasig. As is the story of many middle and upper class couples, they met as students at the University of the Philippines.


Benny and Wilma wandered into the Revolution through the Samahang Demokratikong Kabataan (SDK), which in the late 1960s consisted of mostly U.P. anti-establishment intellectuals, the Pinoy version of hippies, and even well-off bums claiming “existential angst” who got into Marxism since their idol Jean Paul Sartre had also embraced leftist politics. It was also a kind of imported fad. The “SDK” acronym alluded to the radical American SDS (Students for a Democratic Society), that rattled the US Establishment.

The SDK was totally different from the purportedly more militant Kabataang Makabayan. Sison organized the KM as the task given him as head of the youth bureau of the pro-USSR Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas. That was before he broke away from it to embrace “Mao Tse Tung Thought” and establish his own Party—not coincidentally in 1969 when Sino-Soviet relations broke down.

After the massive student demonstrations of 1970, which became the political debut of Sison’s party, the KM would be the recruitment organization for the CPP, with wide-eyed teenagers gradually convinced that it was only US imperialist propaganda that made communism seem so bad. There wasn’t an Internet at that time to check those claims.

It was after the SDK leadership in 1970 became Party members and took orders from the Party’s Youth and Students Bureau that there was a mass recruitment of their full-time activists, including Benny and Wilma, into the communist ranks organization.

Most of us in the regional committee, including Benny and Wilma, were arrested in July 1974.

Benny and I had a falling out days after our arrest, which turned out to be a permanent one. A few days in the cramped cell in Camp Crame, I started doing some yoga exercises and even sat in the lotus position —to keep my wits. Benny made fun of it, and even comically assumed the lotus pose. I got mad, jumped from my second-level cot, shouted at him with so many “p’ words. In my rage, I can’t even remember now if I did hit him.

A silly, juvenile brawl? Precisely. We were in our early twenties, pretending to be Che Guevarras with one comrade even idolizing Ilich Ramirez Sanchez (“The Jackal”) so much that he named his son after the Venezuelan terrorist.

Idealistic, gullible

That was what our Party and the Revolution mostly consisted of: Young men just out of their teens, so idealistic that, after the ruling class is overthrown, we will create society without poor people, but so gullible we believed Albania led by Enver Hoxa was a Maoist paradise in Europe.

That was a lifetime ago, and many of the Maoist revolutionaries have taken different paths.

The dear leader Sison is in the Netherlands, together with National Democratic Front head Luis Jalandoni, enjoying the lifestyle of the most liberal country on earth. His right-hand man, Jose Luneta, reportedly for some queer reason lives in Germany, while his finance man is a Spanish citizen. I wanted an academic life, but had wandered into journalism. Some of the third-generation of revolutionaries—the likes of Teodoro Casino—are enjoying the perks and power of being a congressman.

Many of my comrades then, such as my close friend Ferdie Arceo, were killed in firefights with the military. Some couldn’t adjust to a normal life, becoming alcoholics until their cirrhosis killed them in some urban poor house. One of Sison’s closest operatives and propagandist lives now very comfortably in Canada, but still ranting against US imperialism.

Some are still high-ranking cadres, claiming to represent the masses, but who go home in the evening to their upper-middle class homes. Others have stayed on, and now are in their 60s, toothless because there are no communist dentists with them in the mountain guerilla zones, and with utterly no plans and finances for their twilight years on earth.

And after more than three decades, the Philippines continue to be poor. Social equity and injustice are still as prevalent, even worse today.

The cigarette vendor you see through your car window, the domestic help in your house, your gardener will never get out of their godforsaken class, and so will their children and their children’s children. Overseas work—our nation’s escape valve—isn’t available to them, as they haven’t even finished high school.

Although their efforts didn’t totally make theirs egalitarian societies, unarmed socialist, or just even just trade union movements in the US, Europe (especially Scandinavia), and Great Britain were successful in enacting laws to force capitalism to devote more of its output for the masses’ welfare.

If not for such leftist movements, there wouldn’t be such things as universal, free medical care and education, huge unemployment and retirement benefits, cheap mass transit systems, high taxation rates for the rich, in most advanced countries today.


There is the tragedy of the Left in the Philippines. What it tried to wipe out in our country, poverty and inequality, have become worse after three decades. The Left hadn’t changed that a bit.

The Left has even made us poorer: Why would both local and foreign businessmen do business in “communist-infested areas?

The best—or worst—example of this was the NPA’s kidnapping of Japanese Mitsui executive Nobuyuki Wakaoji in 1987.

That was the period during which Japanese capital—for various reasons such as the yen depreciation—invested abroad in such massive scale as never before seen. It was the flood of Japanese capital into Malaysia and Thailand that triggered their amazing economic growth in the 1980s and 90s. But at that time, because of the Wakaoji kidnapping, Japanese companies evaded the Philippines like there was a plague here.

People like Benny and Wilma devoted their lives for a cause they believed would end poverty and the cruel exploitation of man by man. Now, Benny and Wilma aren’t charged with subversion, but for multiple murder and attempted murder, very unfairly putting him in the category of the Ampatuans charged for the Maguindanao massacre. The Philippine ruling class even refuses to recognize their struggle, as all ruling classes all over the world and in history have branded revolutionaries as bandits — now terrorists .

The ruling class of the 1960s are richer now, included in listings of the world’s billionaires —and foreign businesses are raking it in here because the price of labor continues to go down, as it would in a poor society.

The tragedy of the Left is that of our country. and

WESCOM: Joint Task Force Malampaya (JTFM) Change-of-Command

Posted to the Western Command (WESCOM) Website (Mar 25, 2019): Joint Task Force Malampaya (JTFM) Change-of-Command

VADM RENE V MEDINA AFP, Commander WESCOM visited Joint Task Force Malampaya (JTFM) last Saturday, 23 March 2019 and presided the Change of Command Ceremony of JTFM.

Military Officers, civic leaders, and enlisted personnel witnessed the remarkable event to honor BGEN LAURO N TIANCHON AFP, the Outgoing Commander and to welcome CAPT RENATO P DAVID PN (GSC) the newly posted Commander.

VADM MEDINA recognized the sterling accomplishments and service of BGEN TIANCHON during his term... as C,JTFM. Likewise, he expressed his confidence in the leadership of CAPT DAVID to bring the unit to new pinnacles of excellence in securing peace and progress in the AOR.

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, sky and outdoor

Image may contain: 1 person, standing

Image may contain: 3 people, people standing

WESCOM: PH-US Navy Seabees Receive Military Civic Action Medal and Ribbon

Posted to the Western Command (WESCOM) Website (Mar 25, 2019): PH-US Navy Seabees Receive Military Civic Action Medal and Ribbon

VADM RENE V MEDINA AFP personally awarded the Military Civic Action Medal and Ribbon to US and Philippine Navy personnel for their meritorious achievement in the field of civic action through the conduct of Humanitarian Civic Assistance Project of the Construction Civic Action Detail -- as part of the continuing PH-US Bilateral activities.

The troops displayed utmost professionalism, competence and dedication t...o duty in the construction of one unit, two-classroom school building at Ramon Magsaysay Elementary School, Brgy Magsaysay, Aborlan, Palawan that will help the faculty and students to have more comfortable learning facilities conducive for quality education.

Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and outdoor

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, outdoor

WESTMINCOM: 3 Abus killed in continuous military offensives in Sulu

Posted to the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) Website (Mar 25, 2019): 3 Abus killed in continuous military offensives in Sulu

Troops of the Marine Battalion Landing Team 3 clashed with undetermined number of Abu Sayyaf Group members under sub leader Najir Arik in Simisa Island, Banguigui, Sulu at 7:58 am yesterday (March 24).

The exchange of fires that lasted for 5 minutes resulted to 3 enemies killed (based on human intelligence) while no casualty was reported on the government side.

Pursuit operation was immediately conducted to go after the fleeing bandits.

While conducting pursuit operation at 8:02 am today, troops of the Marine Battalion Landing Team 1 chanced upon the fleeing bandits few meters away from the first encounter site.

Intermittent firefight lasted for about twenty minutes.

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

“The Joint Task Force Sulu continues to intensify the conduct of offensives against the Abu Sayyaf,” said Lieutenant General Arnel B. Dela Vega, commander of the Western Mindanao Command.

“We are certain that all measures are now being undertaken, in accordance with the rules of engagement,” he added.

WESTMINCOM: Commander of deactivated JTF Ranao awarded in Zambo City

Posted to the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) Website (Mar 25, 2019): Commander of deactivated JTF Ranao awarded in Zambo City

Brigadier General Generoso Ponio, deputy chief for operations of the Western Mindanao Command, was awarded for his meritorious and valuable service as commander of the deactivated Joint Task Force Ranao in a ceremony held in this city today (March 25).

Lieutenant General Arnel Dela Vega, WestMinCom Commander, conferred the Distinguished Service Medal on Brigadier Ponio for “his initiatives and innovations that propelled the JTF Ranao in the accomplishment of its mandated mission.”

During the initial phase of the post-war rehabilitation efforts in Marawi City, Brigadier General Ponio “successfully synergized” the efforts of ground units and transformed his unit into a strategic and dynamic body, capable of addressing the complex demands of Task Force Bangon Marawi.

“We have to deactivate JTF Ranao because we deemed it necessary and feasible to give the commander of the 1st Infantry Division a chance to command all the forces under his joint area of responsibility,” said Brigadier General Ponio.

Lieutenant General Dela Vega lauded the WestMinCom deputy for operations for all his accomplishments during his stint as commander of the JTF Ranao.

“He is an epitome of an officer and gentleman, and he had, no doubt, accomplished the mission,” he said.

The awarding was held in Camp Navarro, Calarian at around 7am today.

EASTMINCOM: "Persona non Grata" place NPAs on the run

Posted to the Eastern Mindanao Command (EASTMINCOM) Website (Mar 24, 2019): "Persona non Grata" place NPAs on the run

NSFA, Panacan, Davao City - The New People’s Army are on the run after more and more communities and Local Government Units (LGUs) are declaring them "persona non grata" in their respective communities denying them of space to hide and maneuver from the long arm of the law and pursuing troops.

From January 1, 2019, to March 21, 2019, troops figured in a total of 59 armed encounters in different instances all-over Eastern Mindanao.

These resulted in the death of 16 Communist NPA Terrorist (CNT) and the capture of 22 others. This further resulted in the reduction of their armed capability with the capture and surrender of firearms totaling to 181 (116 HPFAs , 65 LPFAs) and 63 International Humanitarian Law banned landmines.

In the morning of March 21, 2019, troops from the 30th Infantry Battalion encountered CNT members along Upper Sangay, Barangay Anomar, Surigao City, Surigao Del Norte. The incident resulted in the death of one CNT member, the capture of one M16 rifle, recovery of three International Humanitarian Law banned anti-personnel landmine, landmine paraphernalia, and other CNT belongings.

The afternoon of the same day, another encounter transpired at the outskirts of Sitio Bulak, Barangay Lower Olave, Buenavista, Agusan Del Norte between the patrolling troops of 23IB under Ltc Francisco Molina and an undetermined number of CNT members.

No casualty was reported during the said skirmish.

In Davao City, troops from 3rd Infantry Battalion (IB) encountered an undetermined number of the CPP-NPA Terrorist Group (CNTG) members along the periphery of Barangay Tambobong, Baguio District in the morning of March 22, 2019.

This came after the Ovu-Manuvu tribe in the said Barangay declared the NPAs "persona non grata" in their ancestral domain on February 25, 2019,

For the first quarter of 2019, 12 resolutions from Barangays, Municipalities, Provinces, and Tribal Councils were already passed declaring the CPP-NPA in their respective localities and areas as "persona non grata" while another three resolutions were passed on the late part of December 2018.

The Province of Davao Oriental also prohibited the CPP-NPA-NDF and declared them as undesirable in the whole province, after the Provincial Peace and Order Council passed a resolution on February 19, 2019, to that effect.

On February 15, 2019, villages in Surigao del Norte particularly Camam-onan and Gigaquit, both villages that are known where the NPA thrive for the past years, banned the CPP-NPA-NDF when they declared them as "persona non grata" on February 15, 2019.

Compostela Valley Province likewise passed a resolution condemning and declaring the CPP-NPA-NDF as persona non grata in the whole province last January 25, 2019.

In the same manner, the Ovu-Manuvo Tribe in Kinarum, Magpet and Datu Ladayon, Arakan both of North Cotabato declared the NPAs as "persona non grata" on December 19, 2018 l, while 21 Barangays in Malaybalay, Bukidnon and the whole Municipality of Sibagat, Agusan Sur declared the same on October 23, 2018, and December 21, 2018, respectively.

The obtaining situation also resulted to the surrender of regular CNTG members, Militia ng Bayan members and the collapse of different underground mass organizations as its members continuously dissociate themselves from the CNTG.

For the period, a total of 130 NPA regulars and 79 Militia ng Bayan surrendered along with 88 mass supporters and members of the underground mass organizations who denounced their affiliation and support to the CNTG.

Meanwhile, Lt. General Felimon T. Santos Jr., recognized the effort of the different communities in pursuing their own respective efforts.

"The military cannot do this alone. Peace can be achieved if we put our acts together. Let us continue working together to bring peace in our communities and encourage those who continuously embrace the armed struggle to join us," Lt. Gen Santos Jr. said.
Source: Public Information Office, Eastern Mindanao Command

EASTMINCOM: Exodus of NPA Surrender in Eastern Mindanao continues

Posted to the Eastern Mindanao Command (EASTMINCOM) Website (Mar 25, 2019): Exodus of NPA Surrender in Eastern Mindanao continues

NSFA, Panacan, Davao City - A massive number of Communist NPA Terrorist Group (CNTG) members continuously turning themselves to the government over the week, signifying their intention to once again abide by the fold of the law.

On the evening of March 22, 2019, 27 NPA regular members together with 13 Militia ng Bayan yielded to the Community Support Team of 36th Infantry Battalion (IB) and Barangay Officials of Mampi, Lanuza, Surigao Del Sur (SDS). 24 Supporter/Couriers who are currently residing at Sitio Ibuan of the same barangay also dissociated and denounced their membership and support with the CNTG.

The 27 CNTG Regulars is composed of two Team Leaders and 25 members. Twenty three are from Guerilla Front (GF) 30 while three came from GF 21 and one from GF 16.

Accordingly, they went inactive prior to their surrender after losing trust with the CNTG and realizing the futility and contradiction of the NPA's propaganda.

In a separate instance on March 20, 2019, two CNTG Leaders (one Vice Commander and one Squad Leader) and a medic yielded to Ltc. Roy Anthony O. Derillo, Commander of 58IB at its Headquarters in Barangay Migbantay, Claveria, Misamis Oriental.

The surrenderees who are only identified through their aliases (@Jun Jun, @Shooter, and @Em-em) are part of the CNTG that is being monitored in Misamis Oriental yielded after their former comrades together with the community members reached out and encouraged them to surrender.

They are now undergoing debriefing before they will be subjected to the E- CLIP processing.

Meanwhile, Lt. Gen Felimon T. Santos Jr., Commander of Eastern Mindanao Command welcomed this milestone of peace and security and encouraged other stakeholders to join in ending the communist insurgency peacefully.

"Let us all be ambassadors of peace by letting those who were lost understand the effort of the government to bring change in the lives of every Filipino, particularly those in Conflict-Affected Areas," Lt. Gen. Santos Jr. said.
Source: Public Information Office, Eastern Mindanao Command, AFP

Ex-rebel survives slay try

From the Visayan Daily Star (Mar 25, 2019): Ex-rebel survives slay try

A rebel returnee managed to survive the attempt on his life by suspected New People’s Army rebels Saturday night in Brgy. Caradio-an, Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental.

Supt. Ervin Glen Provido, Himamaylan City police chief, said yesterday that Wilfredo Buenaflor, a rebel returnee, managed to jump from the window of his house, while three armed suspects were entering his residence.

Provido said Buenaflor, was shot but was not hit by the one of the suspects.

While the armed suspects, estimated by Thelma Buenaflor, at about 30, did not harm her and their children, they robbed them of P26,000 in cash and P70,000 worth of jewelries, Himamaylan police investigation showed.

The suspects,who were Cebuano-speaking introduced themselves as members of the NPA, before leaving the residence of Buenaflor, Provido said.

An empty cartridge of an M-16 rifle was recovered at the scene of incident by the Himamaylan City police.

Ka Frank, wife caught

From the Visayan Daily Star (Mar 25, 2019): Ka Frank, wife caught

Two top communist rebel leaders in Negros have been arrested.

Frank Fernandez, secretary of Komiteng Rehiyonal (KR)-Negros, and his deputy and wife, Cleofe Lagtapon, were arrested Saturday by police and military intelligence operatives in Purok 2, Brgy. Calumpang, Nagcarlan, Laguna.

The arrests were confirmed yesterday by two ranking state security officials, who requested anonymity, pending the formal announcement of their captivity today by the top brass of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and National Police.

Fernandez, who is also known by his aliases Ibarra, Kanor, Suilo and Ago, is wanted for four counts of murder and attempted murder.

Lagtapon reportedly headed the KR-Negros Finance Commission.

The military has earmarked an P8 million reward for the capture of Fernandez, whose last appearance to the local media in Negros, was in December 2016, while the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army were observing a unilateral truce.

The ailing Fernandez, who is now in his 70s, was among the seven Negros priests who joined the communist movement during the Martial Law years.

In the middle of 1990s, the rebel priest accepted former Army general Raymundo Jarque, who defected to the revolutionary movement.

Fernandez, who eluded captivity for more than four decades, was trailed by government agents from Negros to Laguna, where he and his wife were arrested on Saturday, a DAILY STAR source disclosed last night.

According to the military, Fernandez supervises the operations of at least four guerrilla fronts of the New People’s Army in Negros Island, that has more than 300 fighters.

Fernandez and Lagtapon are scheduled to be presented to the Department of Justice in Manila by their arresting police and military men today, the DAILY STAR source added.

NDF consultant Frank Fernandez, wife arrested in Laguna

From Rappler (Mar 25, 2019): NDF consultant Frank Fernandez, wife arrested in Laguna

The 71-year-old communist leader is the 6th National Democratic Front consultant arrested since talks between the Duterte government and communist insurgents broke down

ARRESTED. National Democratic Front consultant Frank Fernandez and his wife Cleofe Lagtapon are arrested for illegal possession of firearms and explosives in Laguna. PNP photo

ARRESTED. National Democratic Front consultant Frank Fernandez and his wife Cleofe Lagtapon are arrested for illegal possession of firearms and explosives in Laguna. PNP photo

MANILA, Philippines – Francisco "Frank" Fernandez, a National Democratic Front (NDF) consultant and spokesperson of NDF Negros, was arrested by cops and soldiers on Sunday, March 24, in Barangay Calumpang, Liliw, Laguna.

According to the police report, the veteran communist leader was arrested based on a warrant for possession of illegal firearms.

Fernandez, 71, was arrested with his wife 66-year-old Cleofe Lagtapon, alleged deputy regional secretary of education komite rehiyon-Negros Cebu Bohol Siquijor (KR-NCBS), and 20-year-old Gee-ann Perez, a regional communications staff of KR-NCBS.

Fernandez is the 6th NDF consultant arrested by cops and soldiers ever since peace talks between the PhIlippine government and communist insurgents fell apart.

Just 4 days earlier, NDF consultant Renante Gamara was arrested in neighboring province Cavite.

Police said they were able to recover the following from the 3:
3 .45-caliber pistols
3 magazines of .45-caliber pistol
15 pieces of live ammunition
3 hand grenades

Cops also said they recovered 3 mobile phones and a cache of "subversive documents, articles, and notes."

They have been placed under the custody of the Military Intelligence Group of Calabarzon and are set to face illegal firearms and explosives possession charges.

In a statement on Monday, human rights group Karapatan accused the police and military of depriving the 3 of access to lawyers as they have not been transparent about where the 3 have been detained.

"Karapatan insisted that lawyers and paralegals should have access to those arrested, particularly the elderly couple aged 71 and 66. Fernandez and his wife are reportedly in Laguna to seek medical treatment," the group said.

It added: "Karapatan raised the possibility that the 3 might be subjected to physical and psychological torture, which has been a practice of state forces during arrests. Access of lawyers to the victims on time and ascertaining the responsible units and officers are a deterrent to the ill treatment of arrested persons."

Ebrahim wants ‘moral governance’ for Bangsamoro

From MindaNews (Mar 25, 2019): Ebrahim wants ‘moral governance’ for Bangsamoro

The head of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) on Saturday declared he will push for an Islamized governance for the new region.

“If we cannot do it then our jihad has failed, I am pushing for a moral governance,” BARMM Interim Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Ebrahim (Al Haj Murad Ebrahim) told his audience in Barangay Gambar here which he said was his hiding place during critical times when he was still leading Moro Islamic Liberation Front at the height of their revolutionary struggle for self-rule.

Ebrahim, speaking in Maguindanao, said the people are clamoring to change a system marked by corruption, discontent and failed governance.

Among the issues raised by residents during the “listening session” were related to infrastructure, additional teachers and medical workers.

Ebrahim also highlighted in his speech the use of money by politicians to woo votes and other wrongdoings, which he said the people must avoid if they want to prove that change can start with them.

Villagers from Kabuntalan and Pagalungan towns joined the event, which coincided with a medical mission and tree planting activity.

“He listened to the reports and concerns of the people and urged everyone to work for the betterment of the people,” Local Government Minister Atty. Naguib Sinarimbo said.

Sinarimbo added the new leader wants to treat the government as “our government” which will work for the interest of the people by observing transparency and consultative process.

“He sought everyone to help him end the malady of corruption,” he said.

After several postponements the interim Bangsamoro government will hold its inauguration on March 29. President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to attend the event.

A ceremonial Bai A Qur’an (Oath to the Qur’an) by BARMM’s appointed officials will highlight the inauguration.

“We started the jihad with an oath before the Qur’an. This time we will also take an oath before the Qur’an as we start our governance,” Ebrahim stressed.

Troops clashed with Sayyafs in South

From the Mindanao Examiner (Mar 25, 2019): Troops clashed with Sayyafs in South

Government troops clashed with Abu Sayyaf militants on the southern Philippine island of Simisa where security forces are hunting the pro-ISIS terror group, officials said Monday.

Citing intelligence report, officials claimed that 3 militants were killed in Sunday and Monday’s clashes, but soldiers failed to recover bodies of the slain gunmen. No soldiers were reported wounded or killed in the fighting on Simisa Island.

Marines were tracking down the group of Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Najir Arik on the remote island when it ran into a band of militants, sparking gun battles in two sites.

“The exchange of fires that lasted for 5 minutes resulted to three enemies killed based on human intelligence, while no casualty was reported on the government side. Pursuit operation was immediately conducted to go after the fleeing bandits.”

“While conducting pursuit operation at 8:02 am today, troops of the Marine Battalion Landing Team 1 chanced upon the fleeing bandits few meters away from the first encounter site. Intermittent firefight lasted for about twenty minutes,” said Lieutenant General Arnel Dela Vega, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, adding, the anti-terror Joint Task Force Sulu continues to intensify the conduct of offensives against the Abu Sayyaf, whose leaders have pledged allegiance to ISIS.

The Abu Sayyaf is still holding nearly dozen mostly Malaysian and Indonesian fishermen kidnapped for ransom off Sabah and has recently threatened to executive 3 captives if ransoms running into tens of millions of pesos are not paid by Jakarta or Kuala Lumpur. No deadline has been set for the execution of 2 Indonesians and a Malaysian fisherman.

Army tracing source of medicines recovered from NPAs in NegOcc

From the Philippine New Agency (Mar 25, 2019): Army tracing source of medicines recovered from NPAs in NegOcc

Troopers of the Philippine Army’s 79th Infantry Battalion check several boxes of medicines amounting to almost PHP300,000 recovered by their team after an encounter with the New People’s Army rebels in Barangay Mabini, Escalante City, Negros Occidental on the night of March 21. (Photo courtesy of 79th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army)

BACOLOD CITY -- The Philippine Army’s 303rd Infantry Battalion (303IB) is tracing the source of the medicines worth almost PHP300,000 seized by government troops from communist rebels they encountered in Escalante City, Negros Occidental on Thursday night.

Brig. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, commander of the 303IB based in Murcia town, said it was his first time, in his long years in the military service, to see such a huge volume of medicines recovered following a clash with the New People’s Army (NPA).

“’Yan ngayon ang aming tinutu-unan ng pansin dahil mukhang may pinanggalingan na kailangan nating malaman sino at ano at paano nakaabot ‘yang ganyan karaming gamot (We’re looking into this. We need to know the source and how these huge volume of medicines reached (the NPA),” Arevalo said in the 303rd Brigade Hour radio program here on Sunday.

During the clearing operations, troopers of the 79th Infantry Battalion (79IB) recovered several boxes containing various types of branded over-the-counter medicines manufactured by a popular Filipino pharmaceutical company.

They also found a logbook containing an inventory of all the medicines. The first list showed a total amount of PHP207,850 and below it, was written PHP272,850. In the lower part of the page, a list of four medicines had a total worth of PHP26,800.

Arevalo said the Army can only guess what the communist rebels would do with all the medicines.

“Pamimigay ba nila? Magce-celebrate ba uli sila ng anniversary at hikayatin ang mga taong bayan pumunta sa kanilang pagpulung-pulong at sasabihin mamimigay ng gamot para dumami ang mag-a-attend (Will they give these away? Will they again celebrate their anniversary and tell the people they are distributing medicines to convince them to attend their meetings),” the Army official added.

Arevalo said it is possible because that has always been the modus operandi employed by the NPA, just like what they did during the 50th anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) last December.

They told the people that there is a wedding ceremony and a party in the barangay to convince them to come, he added.

Aside from the medicines, the 79IB troopers also recovered several boxes of canned goods.

Abu Sayyaf dead in ongoing Sulu military offensive

From the Philippine New Agency (Mar 25, 2019): Abu Sayyaf dead in ongoing Sulu military offensive

Three Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members were killed in the continuing military offensives against the bandits in Sulu province, military officials said Monday.

Col. Gerry Besana, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) information officer, said the latest firefight broke out around 7:58 a.m. Monday on Simusa Island, Banguingui, Sulu.

Besana said that troops from the Marine Battalion Landing Team-3 (MBLT-3) were on combat patrol when they clashed with ASG bandits led by sub-leader Najir Arik. The firefight lasted for about five minutes that resulted in the death of the three ASG bandits. The troops suffered no casualty.

Another gunfight occurred around 8:05 a.m. and lasted for about 20 minutes as the MBLT-1 troops caught the fleeing ASG bandits several hundred meters away from the previous clash site, Besana said.

No casualty was reported on the government side.

Last week, an ASG bandit was also killed while another was captured following a firefight, also on Simusa Island.

“The Joint Task Force Sulu continues to intensify the conduct of offensives against the Abu Sayyaf,” said Lt. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega, commander of Westmincom.

“We are certain that all measures are now being undertaken, in accordance with the rules of engagement,” dela Vega said.

Westmincom deactivates Task Force Ranao

From the Philippine New Agency (Mar 25, 2019): Westmincom deactivates Task Force Ranao

Lt. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief (left), congratulates Brig. Gen. Generoso Ponio, his deputy, for a job well-done as commander of the Joint Task Force Ranao, which was deactivated on Monday in a ceremony held at the Westmincom headquarters. (Photo courtesy of Westmincom Public Information Office)

ZAMBOANGA CITY -- The Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) has deactivated one of its special task forces, commending its commander for "meritorious and valuable service."

Lt. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega, Westmincom chief, spearheaded the deactivation ceremony of the Joint Task Force (JTF) Ranao on Monday at Camp Basilio Navarro, which houses the Westmincom headquarters in this city.

“We have to deactivate JTF Ranao because we deemed it necessary and feasible to give the commander of the 1st Infantry Division a chance to command all the forces under his joint area of responsibility,” dela Vega explained.

Brig. Gen. Roberto Ancan, the Army’s 1st Infantry Division commander, is also the commander of JTF Zampelan (Zamboanga Peninsula and Lanao provinces).

Brig. Gen. Generoso Ponio, Westmincom deputy chief for operations, was recognized for his service as commander of the deactivated Joint Task Force Ranao during the ceremony.

Dela Vega conferred the Distinguished Service Medal on Ponio for “his initiatives and innovations that propelled the JTF Ranao in the accomplishment of its mandated mission.”

Dela Vega noted that Ponio has “successfully synergized” the efforts of ground units and transformed his unit into a strategic and dynamic body, capable of addressing the complex demands of Task Force Bangon Marawi during the initial phase of the post-war rehabilitation efforts in Marawi City.

“He (Ponio) is an epitome of an officer and gentleman, and he had, no doubt accomplished the mission,” dela Vega said.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has activated the JTF Ranao to replace the defunct JTF Bangon Marawi, which was dissolved a few days after October 27, 2017 when the conflict in Marawi City ended.

The activation of the JTF Ranao and dissolution of the JTF Bangon Marawi marked the start of full-scale rehabilitation of Marawi City.

9 NPA rebels surrender in Sultan Kudarat

From the Philippine New Agency (Mar 25, 2019): 9 NPA rebels surrender in Sultan Kudarat

Nine communist rebels surrendered over the weekend to authorities in Senator Ninoy Aquino town of Sultan Kudarat, police said Monday.

In a report, Brig. Gen. Eliseo Tam Rasco, Police Regional Office -12 chief, said the surrenderers are members of the New People’s Army’s (NPA) Guerilla Front 73 operating in the area.

“The surrenderers sent feelers of their surrender around 4 a.m. Sunday after growing tired of fighting for a futile cause,” Rasco said.

Mayor Randy Ecija, together with town police chief Capt. Jayson Baynosa, accepted the NPA surrenderers in the remote area of Sitio Blagkasi, Barangay Midtungok.

They were identified as Edwin Manguda Dalimbang alias John, 26; Jay-ar Manguda alias TamTam, 21; Abila Manguda Dalimbang, 21; Adog Dafo, 39; Daniel Digan, 22; Inta Ugba, 38; Tansyong Dafu, 32; Palti Dafu, and Rot Damasio, all of Midtungok village.

The former NPAs also yielded one M14 rifle, one M16 magazine, one 12-gauge shotgun, one 12-gauge shotgun bandolier, and one Ingram machine pistol with a magazine.

Once fully validated, Rasco said the surrenderers will be enrolled and granted the privileges under the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).

“The E-CLIP gives former rebels the opportunity to rebuild their lives with their respective families,” the police official said.

On March 21, police operatives of the same town nabbed four NPA members after a five-minute firefight in Barangay Banali.

The arrested NPA combatants were identified as Roger Denglas, 49; Gaudencio Sabarle, 40; Laneboy Dingla, 18, all of Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat, and Rey Tungkilan, 22, of Senator Ninoy Aquino, Sultan Kudarat.

All four are members of the NPA Guerilla Front 73 operating in the peripheries of Palimbang and Sen. Ninoy Aquino towns. Seized from them were one Garand rifle, one M14 rifle, one .45-caliber pistol, and two fragmentation grenades.

Both the United States and European Union governments had labeled the NPA as a terror group.

President Rodrigo Duterte has recently terminated all peace negotiations with the NPA until the end of his term in 2022.

NegOr on full alert to foil possible NPA atrocities

From the Philippine New Agency (Mar 25, 2019): NegOr on full alert to foil possible NPA atrocities

FULL ALERT. Police personnel guard a seaport in Negros Oriental in anticipation of attacks by the New People's Army in time for its 50th founding anniversary on March 29. (Photo by Judy Flores Partlow)

DUMAGUETE CITY -- The province of Negros Oriental is under full alert status beginning Monday in anticipation of possible attacks by the New People's Army (NPA) in line with its 50th founding anniversary on March 29.

Colonel Raul Tacaca, Provincial Police Director, confirmed this, after having received a directive from Police Regional Office 7 (PRO7) director, Brig. Gen. Debold Senas.

During a staff conference at the Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office (NOPPO), Tacaca said they discussed concerns regarding the full alert status with police chiefs instructed to review and undertake target hardening measures to foil possible atrocities by the NPA.

"Alam naman natin na may presence tayo ng NPA dito at active sila (We know that there is NPA presence in the province and they are active," he said.

Tacaca cited a recent incident where alleged NPA hitmen shot a policeman in Manjuyod and "so we are undertaking preventive measures".

The NOPPO director also confirmed the deployment of additional troops to areas that are deemed critical or those with strong presence of the NPA but declined to elaborate, saying these are "operational details".

He said that part of the security measures is securing the ports of entry and exit, such as sea ports, bus terminals and other areas of convergence.

Due to the full alert status, all police personnel are on standby and no one is allowed to go on leave or secure a pass, Tacaca said.

The full alert status remains in effect indefinitely until further notice.

Meanwhile, the Provincial Joint Task Force on Security will also be meeting soon to discuss security measures in the wake of the NPA's anniversary, according to its head, Bimbo Miraflor.

Localized peace talks working well despite Joma rants

From the Philippine New Agency (Mar 25, 2019): Localized peace talks working well despite Joma rants

Despite the rants of Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chair Jose Maria "Joma" Sison against the localized peace talks, this approach seems to be working well as the number of New People's Army (NPA) fighters and supporters who have surrendered to government forces since last year continue to rise.

"Alam po ninyo, nakakatawang, nakakainis na nakakaawa ano po si Ginoong Sison sapagkat lahat po yan ay sinasabi nya, sabi nya pagsasayang lang daw po ng panahon, pagsasayang daw po iyan ng pondong bayan, ang ginagawang peace negotiation na iyan sa local, sapagkat iyan daw po ay hindi magtatagumpay. Alam po niya na nagtatagumpay kaya nga po ganyan ang kanyang ginagawa at patuloy niyang sinisiraan ‘yang programang iyan (You know, it's funny, annoying and pitiful to hear Mr. Sison because he always say that local peace talks are just a waste of time and people's money because it won't succeed. The mere fact that he continues to speak ill of this kind of peace negotiation just shows that this is bearing fruits)," Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, said in an interview over DWIZ radio Sunday.

"Pero ang mga numero ay hindi magsisinungaling, sabi nga natin lampas nang labing-isang libo ang sumuko umpisa pa lamang ng January of 2018 (The numbers do not lie. As we have said, over 11,000 of their comrades have surrendered since January of 2018)," he added.

Also, Arevalo added that for the first three months of 2019, around 600 NPA fighters and supporters have voluntarily surrendered to government troops.

"So ibig sabihin nararamdaman niya na malapit na ang pagtatapos ng kanilang grupo (it only means he is starting to feel that their group is about to crumble)," he disclosed.

“They have realized that they have been deceived and have descended from their mountain hideouts to rejoin their families, avail of government benefits, and live normal lives,” the AFP spokesperson said.

Government efforts to aid rebels and supporters who surrender are contained in the government's Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).

The E-CLIP, which was institutionalized by President Rodrigo R Duterte on April 3, 2018, provides a complete package of assistance and interventions to former communist rebels and their immediate families to prepare them for integration to mainstream society.

These include skills development training from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, PhilHealth enrolment, housing, livelihood and legal assistance, among others.

AFP deputy chief-of-staff for civil-military operations, Brig. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., earlier said the government is ready to finally end the communist threat through Executive Order 70 (EO 70) signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on December 4, 2018. EO 70 provides for a whole-of-nation approach in defeating the local communist terrorist groups.

The EO created the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), chaired by the President, “to synchronize the utilization of the government's instrumentalities of power with the capabilities of private sector stakeholders to finally end the 50-year long deceit, lies and atrocities committed by the communist terrorists against the people.”

“The NTF-ELCAC will finish this terrorist menace once and for all, and with that comes real government service, not tokenism, livelihood for the poorest especially in conflict-affected areas, legal action for those who support this terrorist group, an entire bureaucratic convergence to address issues exploited by dissidents and a determined leadership. With President Duterte himself leading the charge, how can we go wrong?” Parlade said.

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

Troops ready to thwart NPA attacks

From the Philippine New Agency (Mar 25, 2019): Troops ready to thwart NPA attacks

Troops in the countryside are more than ready to face any attacks by remnants of the New People's Army (NPA), who are now desperate due to the government's decision to permanently terminate the peace talks with their political leaders.

"Yes, our troops are already given instructions and we are actually in the offensive in running after their armed group and their fronts organizations," Armed Forces of Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief Col. Noel Detoyato said Monday in a message to the Philippine News Agency (PNA) when asked if military units in far-flung areas are ready for any surprise attacks by the communist rebels.

Despite these operations, Detoyato said the AFP is more than willing to accept the surrender of NPA fighters and sympathizers who want to return to mainstream society.

"While we are on it, the offer for them to abandon the armed struggle is always given emphasis," he stressed.

Surrendering rebels can avail of the benefits offered by Task Force 'Balik Loob' and the counterpart benefits from the local government units (LGUs), he added.

Task Force "Balik Loob" is the government body tasked with implementing the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP), a flagship program of the Duterte administration that seeks to effect social healing and national unity through a whole-of-nation approach, towards the higher objective of having just and lasting peace.

It also provides social equity to former members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front and the Militia ng Bayan by devising a different modality of providing benefits and services to the former rebels, in order to reintegrate them into mainstream society.

Detoyato stressed that Executive Order (EO) 70, which institutionalized a whole-of-nation approach in attaining peace and created a National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, will help address the void left by the termination of the so-called "peace talks" with the communist rebels.

"EO 70 or the whole of government and whole of nation approach will address the void that will be left in the abrogation of the supposed to be 'peace talks'. The local and international sources of funds fueling the armed rebellion and the groups fronting for them are now being addressed. With this, we are confident that this 50-year-old (Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria 'Joma') Sison-induced insurgency is nearing its irreversible downward trend going towards irrelevance," he added.

The CPP-NPA is listed as terrorist organization by both the United States and the European Union.

Another NDF consultant, 2 others nabbed in Laguna raid

From the Philippine New Agency (Mar 25, 2019): Another NDF consultant, 2 others nabbed in Laguna raid

Authorities arrested another consultant of the National Democratic Front (NDF) and his two companions in raid in Laguna on March 24.

In a press briefing in Camp Crame, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Gen. Oscar Albayalde, said Francisco Fernandez, 71, was arrested in Barangay Calumpang in the town of Liliw around 5:16 a.m..

Hernandez has four standing arrest warrants over murder charges, one of which includes the killing of his wife.

“The operation that led to their arrest is part of our aggressive campaign against crime, terrorism and wanted persons. The subject of the operation, Francisco Fernandez, has standing arrest warrant for murder,” Albayalde told reporters.

Also nabbed were Cleofe Lagtapon, 66, reportedly a partner of Fernandez, who reportedly heads the Regional Deputy for Communications and Education of the New People's Army (NPA) operating in Negros provinces and Gee-Ann Perez, 20, a member of the NPA Regional Communications Staff in Negros Island.

“The arrest of the Two of the Most Wanted Persons (national level) holding key position of CPP-NPA-NDF specifically Kilusang Rehiyon Negros (KRN) Committee will greatly affect the leadership aspect of the communist terrorists’ group,” he said.

“In addition, it shows genuine support and serious campaign to eliminate or neutralize the 50 long years existence of CPP-NDF-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front) that brought terror and problems to the Filipino people and its government,” the PNP chief added.

Seized from the suspects were three handguns with ammunition, three hand grenades, various documents, cellular phones, a laptop, and several USBs (Universal Serial Bus).

The PNP chief said the arrested persons will also be charged for violation of Comelec Resolution 10429 in relation to the Omnibus Election Code; violation of RA 10591 (Illegal possession of firearms); and violation of RA 9516 (Illegal possession of explosives).

Albayalde said all the documents and other items seized from Fernandez will be turned over to the military to check on their intelligence value.

“The military intelligence will check on them. We also would like to find out if they have connections with some candidates based on the documents that would be extracted from the laptop and USBs,” Albayalde said.

For his part, Brig. Gen. Edward Carranza, director of the Police Regional Office 4-A (Calabarzon), confirmed that Fernandez used to be a priest in Negros Island before he joined the NPA.

“In the past, we had a lot of operations to get him but he would always evade arrest. There were several people arrested before but they were just look-a-like,” Carranza told reporters.

Carranza said Fernandez is currently confined at an Army hospital after he complained of chest pains after the arrest.

“He is an old man so we understand his situation. But the arrest warrants will be returned to the court that issued them,” said Carranza.

Fernandez also serves as spokesman for the NPA operating in Negros and the deputy secretary for the organization.

Hernandez was among the NDF consultants who were temporarily released to take part in the peace negotiations between the government and communist leaders in Oslo, Norway in 2016.

Of the 23 NDFP consultants who were released, six have already been re-arrested including Hernandez.

Earlier, the PNP also arrested CPP key leaders Rafael Baylosis, Vicente Ladlad, Rey Claro Casamber and Renante Gamara over illegal possession of firearms.

Support for local peace talks

While stressing the need to further address insurgency following the scrapping of peace negotiations with the communist movement, the PNP remains fully supportive of the government's move for localized peace talks.

"This policy of government to reach out the hand of friendship in a grand gesture of peace, augurs well to the community-policing mandate of the PNP based on the principle that local problems are best resolved in the community level by all members of the community themselves which include among others, families, barangays, LGU, churches, NGOs, police, etc.," Albayalde said.

He noted as part of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict under Executive Order 70, and as a member of the Provincial Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) Committee, all Police Provincial Offices (PPOs)are ready and capable of responding to circumstances, needs and special concerns of former rebels who want to abandon the armed struggle and become productive members of society through provision of financial assistance and half-way houses by the DILG-DND, and other government agencies.

AFP supports PNP

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), meanwhile, said that it is ready to assist the police in arresting individuals, who were earlier released to help in the negotiation process in the recently-terminated peace talks with the communist rebels.

"Meanwhile, we will vigorously support the efforts of the PNP in bringing back to the bar of justice, those who were temporarily released for reasons in connection with the terminated peace talks," Col. Noel Detoyato, AFP public affairs office chief, in a message to the Philippine News Agency Monday.

AFP spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, in an interview over DWIZ Sunday, said the termination of peace talks by President Rodrigo Duterte last week has effectively negated the safe conduct passes issued to rebel consultants.

He said these individuals should immediately surrender themselves to authorities or be arrested openly.

Last week, authorities arrested Renante Gamara, a peace consultant of the National Democratic Front (NDF) for the National Capital Region and his companion, retired priest Arturo Joseph Balagat in Imus, Cavite.

The CPP-NPA is listed as terrorist organization by both the United States and the European Union.