Sunday, April 7, 2019

Filipinos must always be ready to defend PH vs. all threats

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 8, 2019): Filipinos must always be ready to defend PH vs. all threats

Defense and military officials said Filipinos from all walks of life must be able to defend the country from all forms of threats if called upon.

"As we remember our heroes, let us not forget that they put their lives on the line when they were needed and we must always prepare, just as we are doing in these exercises with our allies, for the day when our nations call us to action during disasters or when our freedom is threatened," Department of National Defense (DND) spokesperson, Arsenio Andolong, said in a statement Monday, ahead of the country's commemoration of Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor).

Andolong added that this year's "Araw ng Kagitingan" observance is made more meaningful as it coincides with the annual "Balikatan" exercises.

"This year's 'Balikatan' is more meaningful because it coincides with our 'Araw ng Kagitingan', which commemorates the courage and sacrifice of Filipino veterans and our Allies, who valiantly fought side-by-side to defend the Philippines during World War II," he said.

Some 4,000 Filipino, 3,500 American and 50 Australian troops are participating in the annual military maneuvers, which formally started April 1 and will end on April 12, while acting as observers are military personnel of the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Meanwhile, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief, Col. Noel Detoyato, said the annual "Day of Valor" observance signifies the shared sacrifices of Filipino and American troops in World War II.

"It signifies the shared sacrifices the Filipino and American soldiers during World War II. That was the start of the infamous Bataan Death March (140 km. from Bataan to Capas). Thousands died before reaching Capas, Tarlac," he said.

While honoring the sacrifices of these fallen troops, Detoyato said that Americans and Filipinos will be together again in this year's "Balikatan" exercises.

"Filipino and American soldiers will be together again in a different situation that is, delivering basic services, training together to prepare for calamities and shoulder to shoulder in the rigors of exchanging skills in anti-terrorism training and exercises," the AFP public official said.

"Times have changed, but the camarederie is still as warm as ever, exemplifying the best of military diplomacy while remembering the heroism of our forefathers who gave the best of soldiery," Detoyato pointed out.

Meanwhile, AFP spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, said this year's "Balikatan" exercises is a good tribute to Filipino and American troops who have fallen in defense of Bataan.

"This comes as a gesture to pay tribute to the heroism and indomitable courage of Filipino and American soldier-patriots as they fought side by side, shoulder tobshoulder, against seemingly insurmountable odds," he said.

"To date, the friendship and the fight continues alongside one another in combating contemporary challenges of terrorism and in capacitating one another towards resilience to natural and human-induced disasters among other events of significance covered in the exercise," Arevalo added.

Earlier, AFP Chief-of-Staff, Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr., said the 35th iteration of the "Balikatan" is a testament to the Philippines and US' enduring defense partnership.

"It was in this crucial moments of insurmountable odds when our forebears, the forebears of our great nation, our soldiers have truly embodied, understood and experienced the real meaning of 'Balikatan', carrying the load together on our shoulder, however heavy the load, however huge the obstacle, and at whatever the cost," he added.

Underequipped and meagerly supplied American and Filipino forces, fighting in the Bataan front lines, were forced to surrender on April 9, 1942 after 93 days of gallant resistance against the superior Japanese force.

Some 60,000 Filipino and American troops were made prisoners of war by the Japanese.

They were made to walk some 140 km. from Mariveles, Bataan to Capas, Tarlac under the scorching heat of the sun with no food and water for days in what is known the world over as the “Death March”.

Russian Pacific Fleet ships make 2nd PH goodwill visit

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 8, 2019): Russian Pacific Fleet ships make 2nd PH goodwill visit

PNA photo by Joey O. Razon

Ships of the Russian Pacific Fleet made their second goodwill visit to the Philippines after docking at Pier 15, Manila South Harbor Monday morning.

Admiral Tributs and Vinogradov, classified as "large submarine ships" by the Russian Navy, and the large sea tanker, Irkut, was provided the customary meeting point procedure by BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16) off Corregidor Island and afterwards escorted to their docking area.

Captain Jonathan Zata, Philippine Navy (PN) spokesperson, said Admiral Tributs and Vinogradov made their first visit to the country in January 2018.

The visit of the three Russian vessels will last until Friday.

The arrival of the naval ships took place a month after the visit of Russian Navy commander-in-chief, Admiral Vladimir Korolyov, last March.

Zata said the head of the Russian delegation, Captain Sergey Alantiev, was welcomed by Captain Constancio Arturo Reyes Jr., PN staff officer for education and training.

Alantiev and the three Russian ship commanders are expected to pay a courtesy call to PN flag-officer-in-command, Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad.

A series of confidence building exercises is scheduled between Russian and Filipino naval personnel in the coming days.

Massacre suspect nabbed in Cotabato

From the Philippine Star (Apr 8, 2019): Massacre suspect nabbed in Cotabato

An alleged member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) tagged in the killing of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao in 2015 was arrested in Cotabato City on Saturday.

Maj. Gen. Amador Corpus, chief of the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, said Tamano Esmail Sabpa was arrested at the parking area of the Cotabato Regional and Medical Center in Barangay Rosario Heights at around 2 p.m.

The suspect was arrested based on a warrant issued by Judge Alandrex Betoya for direct assault with murder.

A card identifying Sabpa as a member of the MILF was found in his person, authorities said.

Sabpa was reportedly one of the gunmen who engaged the SAF commandos in an encounter in Barangay Tukanalipao on Jan. 25, 2015.

Aside from the 44 commandos, Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, was killed in the firefight.

SAF 44 suspect arrested in Cotabato City

From the Manila Times (Apr 8, 2019): SAF 44 suspect arrested in Cotabato City

A suspect in the bloody Mamasapano clash that left 44 elite police officers dead in 2015 was arrested by the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Cotabato City over the weekend.

The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in the Bangamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), led by the Cotabato City police, apprehended Tamano Esmail Sabpa or Tamano Sabpa Esmael at 2 p.m. on Saturday at the parking area of a regional hospital in Cotabato City, according to a police report.

Police said the suspect was arrested on a warrant issued by Cotabato City Regional Trial Court Branch 15 presiding judge Alandrex Betoya, dated Jan. 25, 2017.

This was effected over charges of direct assault with murder of the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) policemen in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, in January 2015, while the troops were serving an arrest warrant against terrorist Zulkifli Abdhir in the same town.

According to the police, the case of Esmail was not recommended for bail and the arrest was also under the PNP’s nationwide “Oplan Pagtugis.”

Authorities recovered from him one identification card.

Fierce AFP campaign forces BIFF, faction to forge alliance

From the Business Mirror (Apr 7, 2019): Fierce AFP campaign forces BIFF, faction to forge alliance

THE sustained operations of the military in Central Mindanao against Islamic State-allied local terrorists and outlawed Moro groups—resulting in the killings of their key leaders—have forced the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and its remaining faction to enter into a tactical alliance as they attempt to recover lost ground.

But Major Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said he will never allow the terrorists to recover even an inch of the areas formerly considered as strongholds of the groups which have been captured by soldiers, particularly in Maguindanao, and even sounded positive that he could send the BIFF to its demise within this year.

“We will uphold our focused military operation against the peace spoilers in the Liguasan Marsh, SPMS [Shariff Aguak-Pagatin, Mamasapano and Datu Salibo] and other parts of the area of responsibility to ensure a peaceful and secured community,” said Sobejana, who was personally overseeing the operations against the BIFF and its faction led by Esmail Abdulmalik, alias Abu Toraife.

The teams under Sobejana, a medal of valor awardee who had led in hunting the Abu Sayyaf Group members in Sulu “like rats,” has already cleared most parts of Liguasan and is now clearing the SPMS Box of BIFF, terrorists and other outlawed groups.

The Liguasan Marsh and the SPMS Box have been considered territories of outlawed Moro groups for years and no military official has ever succeeded in rooting them out there. It was in Mamasapano where more than 40 police commandos perished in 2015 while operating against Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan.

On Thursday last week, soldiers clashed again with terrorists at Barangay Tina, Shariff Aguak, and the troops recovered an M-203 grenade launcher, a Barret sniper rifle, assorted antipersonnel mines components. They also discovered a gunsmith with assorted parts of firearms and equipment. Two soldiers were wounded.

Sobejana said the sustained operations against the group of Toraife and the main BIFF under Esmael Abubakar, alias Kumander Bungos have forced the two groups to enter into a tactical alliance, the first in years since the BIFF broke away from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and since the Toraife faction allied itself with the IS in 2014.

The same operations have also forced the other remaining faction of the BIFF, led by Imam Minimbang, alias Kumander Kagi Karialan, to abandon the two groups, collaborate with Sobejana and his men, and rejoin the MILF.

Sobejana launched the operations against the main BIFF group and the Toraife faction in early March, beginning at Barangay Inaladan in Shariff Saydona Mustapha, Maguindanao. Here, several terrorists were killed, including an Arab identified as Rahman and Toraife’s two deputies, Salahuddin Hasan and Commander Bastardo.

“We are taking the operations against them altogether, [doing it simultaneously so as to end it],” Sobejana said. They were also looking for a shred of evidence that would suggest Singaporean terrorist Mauiyah had survived their operation.

The soldiers have also killed Alih Abdulmalik, Toraife’s brother, during an operation at Barangay Pamalian, Datu Unsay in Maguindanao.

Nearly 18 months after ‘liberation,” Marawi has yet to rise from the ashes of war

From MindaNews (Apr 8, 2019): Nearly 18 months after ‘liberation,” Marawi has yet to rise from the ashes of war

ISLAMIC CITY OF MARAWI — As the afternoon sun flared up to its scorching glory, internally displaced persons (IDPs) — mostly women since the men were away eking out a living — huddled under the shade of trees in the filthy “tent city” evacuation site in the village of Bito Buadi Itowa.

Like the city’s Ground Zero that is bereft of residents save for some stray dogs and cats, the tents, many of them tattered due to their exposure to the elements for almost two years now, are empty of people who sought comfort in a tree-shaded tent nearby.

“When it rains here, it leaks. When the sun is high, it is very hot inside. The heat is intolerable,” Norphia Dipatuan, mother of six lamented. The Dipatuans lived in Barangay Dagubduban until they were forced to flee in May 2017 – 22 months ago.

Evacuees get out of their tents to seek refuge from the shade of a tree at the tent city evacuation center at Barangay Bito Buadi Itowa. BONG SARMIENTO

On October 17, 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte declared military victory against the Islamic State-aligned Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups which laid siege on the country’s lone Islamic City on May 23, 2017, after government’s failed attempt to arrest Abu Sayyaf Group leader Isnilon Hapilon, the Emir of the IS in Southeast Asia.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I hereby declare Marawi City liberated from the terrorist influence that marks the beginning of rehabilitation for the people,” the country’s first and only president from Mindanao, who claims to have a Meranaw bloodline, said.

Infographics by ZAKI C. SARMIENTO

However, it took over a year and several postponements later, for the Task Force Bangon Marawi (TBFM) to finally hold on October 30, 2018 its groundbreaking rites for the rehabilitation of Ground Zero.

As of end of March 2019, however, some 12,700 families or around 70,000 individuals out of 360,000 who were forced to flee Marawi in May 2017, continue to suffer in squalid evacuation sites like the Dipatuans, in transitional shelters, in relatives’ houses.

Still piled up in ruins nearly18 months after “liberation,” the 250-hectare Ground Zero, the former main battle area — now referred to as MAA or Most Affected Area – remains a horrific sight and the horizon offers little hope for the devastated city to rise quickly from the ashes of war.

As of posting time, the MAA continues to be a restricted area for its 27,000 residents across 24 villages , including the “renters and sharers” of commercial and residential properties.

To recall, the TFBM had negotiated with two different consortiums led by state-owned Chinese companies, to become the single developer for Marawi’s rehabilitation using the Swiss Challenge, a method where an unsolicited proposal for a public project is chosen and offered for matching by other proponents.

The negotiations did not succeed.

Drieza Lininding, chair of the Marawi-based civic organization Moro Consensus Group, blamed the negotiations with the Chinese firms partly for the delay in efforts to bring back the lost glory of the lakeside city.


“Months after the liberation of Marawi, no groundbreaking happened because they (TFBM) were busy talking with the Chinese-led consortium to rehabilitate the city through a joint venture agreement…It consumed a lot of time (that delayed the start of rehabilitation at Ground Zero),” Liningding said in an interview on March 20, at the sidelines of the first ever Congressional inquiry by the Lower House Committee on Disaster Management, Sub-Committee on Marawi Rehabilitation.

A tricycle maneuvers at a portion of Ground Zero that authorities already cleared for passage to all kinds of vehicles. BONG S. SARMIENTO

The first proponent, Bagong Marawi Consortium (BMC), was selected in March 2018 and three months later in June, the TFBM terminated negotiations with the group due to its “inability to submit legal, technical, and financial documents in proper form, to prove the Consortium’s Legal Capacity, Technical Capacity, and Financial Capacity — all requisites to participate in the Joint Venture Activity as prescribed in the JV Guidelines.”

Led by China State Construction Engineering Corp. Ltd. (CSCEC), which is owned by the Chinese government, BMC is also composed of China Geo Engineering Corp. (CGC), Anhui Huali Construction Group Co. Ltd., TBEA Co. Ltd., and Shandong Jinyuan Homes Industry Development Co. Ltd.

In 2009, the World Bank disclosed it had blacklisted CSCEC and CGC for allegedly conspiring with Philippines companies in rigging the bidding of road projects in the country partly financed by the international lender.

Local firms in the consortium were Future Homes Philippines Inc., A Brown Company Inc., H.S. Pow Construction and Development, and SDW Realty & Development Inc.

BMC filed a motion for reconsideration but the Bangon Marawi Selection Committee, the bids and awards body of TFBM, did not issue a final ruling, TFBM Field Office Manager Felix Castro, Jr., also an assistant secretary at the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, told MindaNews in a text message on March 27.

“The motion of BMC is moot and academic with the shift of procurement (to public bidding). (We will) no longer (entertain a) single developer. But they could compete in the regular bidding process,” he added.

After BMC was disqualified, TFBM started negotiations with a consortium led by Power Construction Corporation of China Ltd. (PowerChina), another Chinese government owned company. The task force, officials said, terminated talks with PowerChina as the sole developer to avoid legal problems in pursuing the entire rehabilitation of Marawi by way of a joint venture agreement.

Even if the two Chinese-led consortiums are now out of the equation as a single developer for Marawi’s delayed rehabilitation, sentiments against China’s involvement to rebuild the city continue to drift in the air.

“No way. We don’t want Chinese involvement, especially state-owned Chinese corporations,” said civil society’s Lininding, when asked if they will still welcome Chinese contractors in the rehabilitation of their war-torn city.

Long wait

Lininding lamented the long wait to return to their houses in MAA, and lashed out at the snail-paced efforts to reconstruct Ground Zero. The debris management of Sector 1 — out of the nine sectors in the MAA — was awarded to FINMAT International Resources, Inc, a Filipino firm, which was suspended last December after it allegedly demolished houses without the consent of the owners.

Plants have grown tall at damaged infrastructures in a portion of Ground Zero still restricted to residents. BONG S. SARMIENTO

To be sure, China had responded to calls to help Marawi recover from the scars of war, donating heavy equipment worth $3 million that have been deployed in the construction of transitional shelters outside Ground Zero. Beijing also committed a grant of P1.1 billion ($20.84 million) during the pledging session for the Bangon Marawi Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Program (BMCRRP) in Davao City last November.

In June 2017, China also donated firearms and ammunition worth around P370 million ($7 million) to help Filipino troops fight the Islamic militants in Marawi, besides the P15 million ($284,546) donation for relief assistance to the victims of the siege.

Lininding thanked Beijing for her “heartily given assistance” to Marawi, which administration officials attributed to be one of the results of the warming up of relations between China and the Philippines after Duterte’s pivot to the former as part of his pursuit of an “independent foreign policy” during his first year in office.

Heavy equipment donated by China are used to build transitional shelters such as this one in Barangay Rorogagus. BONG S. SARMIENTO

Further stressing opposition to Chinese involvement in the rehabilitation of Marawi, Lininding cited that China has built a “notorious reputation” in terms of investing in other countries, referring to Sri Lanka, which was struggling to pay over $8 billion it owed to state-owned Chinese firms. It was touted as a “debt trap.” In December 2017, Sri Lanka handed over the strategic Hambantota port to a Chinese firm on a 99-year debt-for-equity settlement. The deal was valued at $1.1 billion.

“We are afraid, especially we have Lake Lanao as a resource. We don’t want to see Chinese firms taking control of (the lake) if we can’t repay the cost they will incur in rebuilding our city,” Lininding told MindaNews.

“A gift from the Chinese government”

Lake Lanao is the second largest lake in the Philippines and the largest in Mindanao. It is a major source of hydropower in the south.

But Li Lin, consul general of the recently-opened Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Davao City, said Beijing wants to help rebuild Marawi in a bid to strengthen their improving ties with Manila, laughing off the anti-Chinese sentiments in Marawi as “baseless.”

“The support from China to participate in post-war Marawi… is a gift from the Chinese government. Apart from that, probably there would be some cooperation projects plus private sector and state-owned companies that will invest in Marawi. That will be a win-win cooperation. It’s not money that will be lent to Philippines but Chinese companies coming in to invest (in Marawi)” he told MindaNews on April 2 at the Chinese consular office in Davao City.

For one, China will donate a fund for the construction of a bridge inside Ground Zero, Li said, wondering — in response to anti-Chinese sentiments in the Islamic city — how such a project from China would put Marawi at risk.

He lamented that China or state-owned Chinese companies are being made the scapegoat for the delay to rehabilitate Marawi.

“I hope this is from a small number of people misled by Western media, or stories told by opposition parties. It sounds very strange to me. (Even) if it is a general public opinion, that you have this kind of worries, or even this strong sentiment against (China), this is “groundless,” Li said.

He reiterated the help for Marawi to rise from the ashes of war from the Chinese government and people “is very sincere.”

72.2 billion pesos

Data from the Department of Finance (DoF) estimated that P72.20 billion ($1.39 billion) is needed for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Marawi.

Of this amount, P47.20 billion ($901 million) is needed for the Bangon Marawi Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Program (BMCRRP); P17.20 billion ($328.3 million) that will be 100 percent sourced from local funding will be spent to rehabilitate the MAA; and P1.25 billion ($23.9 million) will be spent for livelihood assistance, which would also be fully sourced from local funds. The overall financing requirement also includes the P6.9 billion ($130.64 million) in humanitarian assistance required during the early stages of the recovery program for Marawi.

During the pledging session in November in Davao City, P35.1 billion ($665.20 million) were raised for BMCRRP, of which 32.7 billion ($619,73 million) or 93 percent is in the form of concessional loans from international lenders and foreign governments. The rest, P2.4 billion ($45.50 million), are grants from China (P1.10 billion or $20.84 million) and Japan (P928.38 million or $17.59 million).

The P35.10 billion in loans and grants generated during the pledging session in Davao City last November would cover around 75% of the BMCRRP funding requirement.

So far, the global community contributed humanitarian assistance worth at least P6.9 billion ($130.64 million) for relief operations, DoF data showed.

Lininding lamented the lack of progress at Ground Zero and the fact that at least 27,000 people have not been allowed to return to their homes there nearly 18 months after “liberation.”

On March 20, residents, including students, peacefully marched in the streets of Marawi to demand that they be allowed to return to their homes ravaged by the urban warfare that left 1,100 people dead, mostly Islamic militants.

The protest action was held in time for the first ever Congressional inquiry by the Lower House Committee on Disaster Management, Sub-Committee on Marawi Rehabilitation.

The hearing, attended by hundreds of residents, gave the locals the venue to ventilate their dissatisfaction, anger and frustration, among others, over the slow pace of rehabilitation.

Abdul Hamidullah Atar, the Sultan of Marawi, chided the government for failing on its promise to expedite the rehabilitation of their city, stressing that thousands of families are still languishing in various evacuation and transitional shelter sites that have ”dehumanized” them for the past two years.

Stakeholders as decision-makers

“We wanted to see stakeholders’ actually taking part in decision-making to chart the rehabilitation and reconstruction of their respective homes and the city,” Atar said in a manifesto submitted to the legislative inquiry.

In a separate interview, the sultan lamented the lack of consultation on the master development plan for the MAA, a claim that TFBM officials denied in several public occasions.

“What happened was a presentation and not consultation of the MAA rehabilitation plan to the public,” he told MindaNews, pointing out TFBM’s MAA master development plan was the same as the one crafted by the Chinese-led Bagong Marawi Consortium.

The master plan was rammed into our throats because there was “no real consultation” with the locals, he said, asking, “Did they consult with the landowners, for instance, where the studio or the museum will be built?”

TFBM now refers to the MAA master plan as the Marawi RISE Plan, with R standing for resilience, I for identity, S for sustainability, and E for evolution.

MAA residents listen during the “Consultation Dialogue with the IDPs (internally displace persons) within the MAA (24 barangays) in Marawi City” on March 19, 2019 at the provincial capitol gymnasium.

Atar said local contractors should undertake the rehabilitation of Marawi, and not foreigners.

Like Lininding, Atar worries over Chinese involvement in the rehabilitation of Marawi.

“Many Meranaws (or the people of Marawi) refuse to have Chinese contractors (take part in the reconstruction of the city),” the sultan said.

He feared that if contractors from China will bag the rehabilitation project, they will bring in Chinese workers, citing the rush of Chinese workers to the country employed in offshore gaming operations, that might render local construction workers jobless.

The traditional leader appealed that Marawi residents be given the priority in the hiring process once rehabilitation work goes full throttle to help them get back on their feet.

Consul General Li said construction workers “would be majority Filipinos in case Chinese firms would undertake construction projects in Marawi.”

But when can Ground Zero residents go back to their homes?

Infographics by ZAKI C. SARMIENTO

Home by September?

Secretary Eduardo del Rosario, TFBM chair and the country’s housing czar, set the deadline for the clearing of debris and unexploded ordnance this August 30.

Speaking on March 19 before hundreds of residents attending the “Consultation Dialogue with the IDPs (internally displace persons) within the MAA (24 barangays) in Marawi City,” the retired military general said that MAA residents will be allowed to return by the “first week of September” to repair their destroyed properties.

Residents of the least affected areas of the MAA might even be allowed to return “as early as July,” but they need to get permits first from the city government before they can repair their properties, he added.

Del Rosario set the completion of Marawi’s total rehabilitation “by December 2021,” even if reconstruction works at the MAA is not yet in full swing.

An estimated three million tons of debris were left by the Marawi siege at Ground Zero.

As of March 20, 49 unexploded ordnance (UXOs) have yet to be recovered from the 70 UXOs dropped by military aircraft, the main reason why, according to del Rosario, residents are not allowed to return back to their homes at Ground Zero.

Doubts were also raised for the return of the IDPs to Ground Zero in September since of the 6,861 structures, only 610 owners, or less than 10%, have given their consent for the demolition of their structures as of March 15.

But for Norphia Dipatuan, the mother of six who continues to suffer the harsh life at the “tent city” evacuation site especially as food rations are getting scarce and the basic necessities are lacking, she prays they can, indeed, return to their village by September so that she can return to selling cooked food and start rebuilding their broken lives.

NPA fighter surrenders following death of two comrades

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Apr 7, 2019): NPA fighter surrenders following death of two comrades
DIGOS CITY, Philippines – An alleged supply officer of Front Committee (FC) 51 of the New People’s Army (NPA) gave himself up to the Army’s 39th Infantry Battalion (IB) past 9 p.m. on Saturday in a hinterland village of this city, some 50 kilometers from Davao City.

Lieutenant Colonel Rhojun Rosales, 39th IB commander, on Sunday said a local rebel leader identified only as “Ricky,” 38, decided to surrender following the death of two of his comrades in a clash with soldiers in Sitio Lanan, Barangay Goma, Digos City in the morning of April 5.

Ricky, of Sta. Cruz town in Davao del Sur, said he and his comrades were overpowered by soldiers who were backed by a helicopter, forcing them to scamper to different directions at the height of the gun battle.

“I decided to surrender after I learned that my leader was killed during that encounter. His fate has come to an end and I was afraid I’ll meet mine,” he told the Inquirer in the vernacular.

Rosales said his men encountered some 30 rebels in the hinterland sitio of Lanan, leading to the deaths of two suspected NPA leaders, one of whom was a woman.

The fatalities were later identified as Roberto Castellote, the alleged commander of FC 51, and Lesly Pulido alias Camille, allegedly the secretary of the front.

Brigadier General Mario Lacurom, officer-in-charge of 10th Infantry Division (ID), commended the 39th IB’s leadership and troops for the successful operation.

“Carry on Agila troopers. With people supporting our campaign against communist insurgency in the area of responsibility, we will continue on protecting them and secure their communities. Peace and development will follow,” he said in a statement. /

70 former rebels get free housing in Bukidnon

From the Manila Bulletin (Apr 7, 2019): 70 former rebels get free housing in Bukidnon

BUKIDNON – Around 70 former rebels (FRs) who surrendered to the Eighth Infantry Battalion (8th IB), Fourth Infantry Division (4th ID), were among the beneficiaries of the housing project undertaken by the National Housing Authority (NHA) as part of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) benefits here at Brgy. Poblacion, Impasugong, Bukidnon on April 4.

(Photo courtesy of 4th ID)

Capt. Reggie Go, 4th ID spokesperson, said the NHA, in partnership with 8th IB and 403rd Brigade, conducted an orientation for the 70 FRs regarding the housing units that they will be receiving.

Go said the former rebels were given options whether to avail of the house and lot in Malaybalay City or be given a total amount of P450,000 for the renovation of their houses if they opt to stay in their places of origin prior to their involvement with the New People’s Army (NPA).

He said, based on the directive issued by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), E-CLIP seeks to contribute towards achieving the goal of permanent and peaceful closure of all armed conflicts with non-state armed groups, and mainly focuses on the facilitation of the mainstreaming of ex-rebels and Militia ng Bayan (MB) as productive citizens.

“FRs and MBs are qualified to avail of the program, they will be entitled to safety and security guarantees, including relocation,” he said.

Go said the E-CLIP provincial committee in Bukidnon, in partnership with the Task Force Balik Loob and the Army, was doing its best to reach out to other rebels in Bukidnon by delivering the promised services to those who have already surrendered, so that this could serve as a strong message to them that there would be life after they turn their backs on the NPA.

Anti-NPA town councilor, 2 others killed in Agusan Sur ambush

From the Manila Bulletin (Apr 7, 2019): Anti-NPA town councilor, 2 others killed in Agusan Sur ambush

A town councilor, his wife and a companion were killed in an ambush in San Luis, Agusan del Sur, Saturday.

Caraga Region Director P/Brig. Gen. Gilbert Cruz identified the slain victims as San Luis councilor Franklin Mandumuotan, his wife Susan and their companion Maricel Quezon. Mandumuotan’s son Charles and another companion Norie Coguit were in the same vehicle and were wounded. They were taken to the hospital for treatment.

According to Cruz, Mandumuotan was one of the authors of a resolution that declared the New People’s Army (NPA) “persona non grata” in Barangay San Pedro in San Luis town.

“The NPA carried out the attack on him because we have a move here in the region (CARAGA) to declare the NPA as persona non grata,” Cruz told The Manila Bulletin in an interview.

“He (Mandumotan) is one of the ardent supporters of that move,” he added.

Cruz said the victims were on board a car and were heading towards the town proper of San Luis when armed men started shooting at the vehicle at around 8:30 a.m. in Barangay San Pedro.

Probers ruled out politics as the motive since Mandumotan was not seeking any elective post in the midterm elections next month.

CARAGA region is one of the areas with high presence of Communist rebels.

The government earlier cancelled the peace talks with the communist rebels and even recalled the appointment of government negotiators. Six of the consultants of the NPA, through the National Democratic Front (NDF) were earlier arrested.

The NPA has been waging five decades of armed struggle against the government. Following the cancellation of the peace talks, the rebels further escalated the attacks on the government and initiated moves to block the localized peace talks now being pushed by the government.

AFP-EastMinCom chief calls on remaining NPAs to ladown arms

From the Manila Bulletin (Apr 7, 2019): AFP-EastMinCom chief calls on remaining NPAs to ladown arms

The chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Eastern Mindanao Command (AFP-EastMinCom) has again called on the remaining leaders and members of the New People’s Army (NPA) to lay down their arms and heed the call of the people for a peaceful community.

Lt. Gen Felimon T. Santos Jr., made the call even as two Communist insurgents, one of which was a woman, were killed in an encounter against government troops in Digos, Davao del Sur on Friday.

According to Santos, the cooperation they got from communities was of great help in neutralizing the two NPAs, who are said to be top leaders of the group. He added that the support they were getting from the people was a clear sign that they already want to end the conflict once and for all.

He said Communist leaders and their members must heed the call to turn themselves in so that lasting peace could be achieve.

“The people with their information is sending the message for you to abandon the arm struggle and this is what we want to re echo, surrender and avail of the integration program and let us bring together peace to the communities,” Santos said.

“We should reciprocate it with our sustained operations to protect their right to live free from coercion from any terror group,” he added.

Santos’ call was made as the two NPA leaders were killed in the encounter against troops of the Army’s 39th Infantry Battalion in the hinterlands of Sitio Lanan, Barangay Goma, Digos City, Davao del Sur, on Friday, April 5.

It was learned that troops from the 39th IB under Lt. Col. Rhojun Rosales were on combat operations when they clashed against an undetermined number of rebels.

The CNTGs scampered to different directions after a 45-minute exchange of fire leaving their two members killed. An M4 rifle was also retrieved in the area.

Santos said with the help of former rebels and rouges gallery of the 39th IB, they identified the two communist leaders as Lesly Pulido, alias Camille, secretary of the Guerrila Front 51; and Roberto Castellote, alias Enoy, commander of the guerilla unit of GF51.

Col. Adonis Bajao, commander of the 1002nd Infantry Brigade who oversees the security efforts in the Province of Davao Del Sur, disclosed that troops were responding to the information and complaint of the farmers on the presence of Communist terrorists who were disturbing their farming activities when they were fired upon.

Maj. Gen. Jose Faustino Jr., the Commander of 10th Infantry Division, said sustained security operations are being conducted in the Division’s area of responsibility as the terrorists are already on the run after more communities have shunned them off and have been tipping off their presence to authorities.

Seven rebels avail themselves of gov’t reintegration services

From Panay News (Apr 8, 2019): Seven rebels avail themselves of gov’t reintegration services
ILOILO City – This first quarter of 2019 seven members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Iloilo province voluntarily surrendered to authorities.

They used to operate in the mountains of the municipalities of Calinog, Bingawan, Lambunao, Janiuay, and Maasin, and the adjacent Capiz town of Tapaz, said Lieutenant Colonel Sisenando Magbalot Jr., commander of the Philippine Army’s 61st Infantry Battalion (61IB).

Yesterday, Magbalot presented to Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr. at the Iloilo provincial capitol the firearms that these rebels turned over to the Army upon surrender.

The rebels wanted to live peaceful lives and gladly availed themselves of the national government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP), said Magbalot.

The E-CLIP included P60,000 livelihood assistance and P15,000 immediate assistance.

Magbalot urged other rebels to come down from the mountains and live peaceful lives. The government would help them start anew through E-CLIP, he stressed.

“Nasa stage kami ngayon ng information dissemination about the E-CLIP. Kahit na may nag-avail na nito, many other members of the NPA are not aware of this government program, said Magbalot.

E-CLIP seeks to provide social equity to former rebels. It offers a wide array of benefits based on the particular needs of the former rebels and their families such as financial assistance, shelter, education, skills training, healthcare and legal assistance through a convergence of various national and local government agencies.

These benefits are not the “end” but rather the means or tools to aid the former rebels while in the process of transitioning into the mainstream society.

The implementation of E-CLIP by provincial E-CLIP committees is being monitored and assessed by Task Force Balik Loob (TFBL), an interagency task force headed by Defense undersecretary Reynaldo Mapagu.

Established pursuant to Administrative Order No. 10 of President Rodrigo Duterte, the TFBL includes the Department of Interior and Local Government, Office of the President, National Housing Authority, and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process as primary members, and other government agencies and instrumentalities that may be tapped to provide additional benefits and services to former rebels.

‘WE HAVE TREATED YOU TOO WELL FOR TOO LONG’//Military dares militants to debate on live TV

From the Manila Times (Apr 8, 2019): ‘WE HAVE TREATED YOU TOO WELL FOR TOO LONG’//Military dares militants to debate on live TV

THE ARMED Forces of the Philippines on Sunday hit back at militant groups under the Makabayan bloc, daring them to a television debate over the latter’s supposed links to communist rebels.

Maj. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., the military’s deputy chief of staff for civil-military operations, was responding to pronouncements of Senate candidate Neri Colmenares and of Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate, accusing the military of “setting up” attacks against their group and the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), think tank IBON Foundation, Gabriela women’s group, rights group Karapatan and labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno.

“Makabayan, take the challenge. See who are propagandizing. Let’s see who is on the side of truth. [On] Monday, choose your TV station. That’s how simple it is,” Parlade said in a text message.

“We have treated you activists too well for too long. We don’t attack and maltreat activists and even capture NPA (New People’s Army) members as you claim,” he added.

Parlade said former Bayan Muna Rep. Saturnino “Satur” Ocampo was aware this.

Ocampo, he claimed, was “surprised” after finding out that NPA members captured in Batangas were being fed fried chicken and ice cream for dessert.

“They were brainwashed to believe the [Philippine] Army will skin them alive when captured and it didn’t happen. Since then, these former rebels have been helping the government win over the NPA,” Parlade said.

Zarate on Sunday said: “Progressive people’s organizations have done a lot to serve our people. NUPL has represented impoverished farmers like the victims of the Sagay massacre and the Negros massacre, as well as victims of the ‘Tokhang’ (anti-drug) operations. Bayan Muna, on the other hand, led the fight against unwarranted power rate hikes and the increase in pension for senior citizens, among other issues,” Zarate said.

Colmenares said Parlade and President Rodrigo Duterte tended to make rash statements when embarrassed or offended by their critics.

“If they have real proof against these organizations, then file a case against them,” he said.

The government has asked the European Union and the Belgian government to review funding given to a number of progressive groups, claiming these organizations were “fronts” for the communist rebellion.

NPA owns up to abducting 3 people in Oriental Mindoro

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Apr 8, 2019): NPA owns up to abducting 3 people in Oriental Mindoro
CITY OF CALAPAN – The New People’s Army (NPA) assumed responsibility for the brief “arrest” of three people, including a village chief, in Bansud town in Oriental Mindoro province on Friday evening.

On Sunday, Madaay Gasic, spokesperson of Lucio de Guzman Command of NPA-Mindoro identified Peter Delos Santos, Malo village chair, and village police chief Rocky Bueta as “military assets” whom their members arrested.

Delos Santos and Bueta were released at about 6:00 a.m. Saturday, just a few hours after they were allegedly abducted by armed men at around 8 p.m. Friday in Malo.

The third victim was Raymundo Malupa, an active member of the Citizen’s Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu).

Gasic denied they took the wife of Delos Santos, Ruth, as earlier reported by police.

He clarified their operation against persons suspected of being assets of the military and police was not related to the May 2019 elections.

“The three were accountable for counterrevolutionary activities, putting at risk civilian’s security and fundamental human rights,” Gasic said.
This includes the arrest of civilians whom they suspect to have connections with communist rebels who enter their village and data-gathering.

Gasic said they released Delos Santos and Bueta after investigation, as they admitted to what they had done and paying fees for their violation.

Meanwhile, Malupa is still being held and will undergo a judicial process, he added.

Gasic assured they would respect Malupa’s rights as a prisoner of war.

AFP-CRS: AFP unmasks CPP fronts, networks

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook page (Apr 6, 2019): AFP unmasks CPP fronts, networks

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AFP-CRS: AFP rescues Malaysian hostage shot by ASG

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook page (Apr 6, 2019): AFP rescues Malaysian hostage shot by ASG

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AFP-CRS: 2 NPAs Neutralized in Surigao Norte clash

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook page (Apr 6, 2019): 2 NPAs Neutralized in Surigao Norte clash

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NDF/Sison: On Duterte’s Urging the Police and Military to Carry Out Assassinations or Extra-Judicial Killings

Jose Maria Sison propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Philippines (NDFP or NDF) Website (Apr 7,  2019): On Duterte’s Urging the Police and Military to Carry Out Assassinations or Extra-Judicial Killings 

Comment by Jose Maria Sison
NDFP Chief Political Consultant
April 7, 2019

In his speech before a motorcycle association in Iloilo City yesterday, Duterte once more incriminated himself before the International Criminal Court by publicly inciting and ordering his military and police minions to engage in the murder of supposed suspects, as in the killing of 14 farmers in Negros on the mere suspicion that they belong to or support the NPA.

By openly urging his armed minions to engage in assassinations, he cannot escape command responsibility. His only possible defense before the ICC is that he is mentally deranged. But serial killers are convicted because they use whatever lucidity they have to cover up their crimes.

It is only when the serial killers have committed too many killings and become addicted to a pattern and become careless that they seem to completely lose every shred of their sanity. As a psychopath, Duterte has apparently reached the point of being totally crazed by his serial killings, his power and Fentanyl.

He is absolutely wrong in comparing his armed minions to the revolutionary squads of the New People’s Army who need to give battle to those they seek to arrest but who resist arrest because they have abundant arms and are clothed with the authority of the exploiting classes and oppressive regime.

NDF/Sison: Comment on Duterte Getting Tired of His Own Corrupt Regime

Jose Maria Sison propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Philippines (NDFP or NDF) Website (Apr 7,  2019): Comment on Duterte Getting Tired of His Own Corrupt Regime 

By Jose Maria Sison
NDFP Chief Political Consultant
April 7, 2019

Duterte is trying to pull our legs. He is playing weak to spring a surprise attack. The point is to keep on struggling to oust him and make sure that he does not go beyond his term or pick his successor through chacha to bogus federalism.

He is obviously faking. How can he be tired of corruption. He and his family thrive on it. He is the top plunderer and is making money on everything, including shabu, casi nos, pork barrel and the sell-out of sovereign rights to China.

He has gotten the plunderers out of prison,has put Arroyo back in power and has made so many of them senatorial candidates of his Hugpong ng mga Ulupong. These plunderers in the first place put him in power with their money and bailiwick votes in the 2016 elections.

NDF/NPA-FSMR: NPA defies AFP’s intensified campaign in Daguma range

NPA-Far South Mindanao Region (FSMR) propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Philippines (NDFP or NDF) Website (Apr 7,  2019): NPA defies AFP’s intensified campaign in Daguma range 

Valentin Palamine Regional Operations Command
Far South Mindanao Region, NEW PEOPLE’S ARMY
Press statement

06 April 2019

On the occasion of the 50th founding anniversary of the New People’s Army, the revolutionary forces in Daguma range are concretely carrying out an enduring yet triumphant resistance against the reactionary state’s unrelenting aggression.

The AFP’s intensified operations in the region that started in January is a continuance of its series of futile campaigns in the past. The peasant and Lumad masses in the area are keenly aware that the incessant attacks of the reactionary forces in their territory are meant to suppress their struggle for land and to protect the mining and logging encroachment.

On the latter part of January, successive actions against the enemy forces were carried out by the NPA-Sultan Kudarat at the onset of the AFP operations. The series of offensives set off with the harassment of a Marine detachment in Maat community in Sangay village, Kalamansig town on January 22. Two soldiers were wounded in the attack.

An ambush was set up to foil enemy reinforcements. On January 24, the NPA effectively pinned down a Marine convoy traversing the highway in Kabukbukan, Kipungot village in Palimbang town. Command detonated explosives were employed, causing sizable damages at the enemy at once. One of the vehicles was badly smashed while the other one lose control and fell into a ravine. The fascists were unable to put up a fight. Villagers reported that at least 20 soldiers were killed and a number were injured.

A separate ambush incident carried out by a group of NPA Red fighters happened on January 25 in Paril village, Kalamansig town. The NPA’s command detonated explosive hit the rear portion of a military truck carrying Marine troops. Two soldiers were killed and another two were wounded.

Towards the end of January, additional forces were deployed by the AFP in the remote villages of Kalamansig, Sen. Ninoy Aquino and Palimbang towns. A Philippine Navy ship and military choppers were used to deliver their reinforcements that include troops and military machineries, equipment and provisions for a sustained operation in the mountains.

The recent campaign concentrated mainly in the mountainous areas of Kalamansig surrounding DMCI’s (D. M. Consunji Incorporated) forest plantations and projected mining site.

On February 3, an enemy column was ambushed by a sapper team of the NPA in Kiblis community, Hinalaan village in Kalamansig. Five enemy soldiers were wounded in the firefight.

A separate armed encounter between a group of NPA fighters and MBLT-2 troops took place on February 5 in Kapuyan Blag, Datu Wasay village in Kalamansig town. Twenty-eight Marine elements were killed and a number were injured in the aftermath of the incident. According to reports, the fascists have had a misencounter while maneuvering against the Red fighters and subsequently were caught in a shelling mishap.

While the Philippine Marines maintain its enduring campaign in west Daguma, the 33rd IB-PA conducted its periodic operation in the east last month. On March 10, a sapper team of the NPA ambushed 33rd IB soldiers aboard a military truck. The clash happened in Titulok village, Bagumbayan town while the enemy forces were on their way to the operations. At least 23 military men were injured in the event.

Even as the fascist AFP is strengthening its brutal campaign, the people’s army and the revolutionary masses in Daguma are unfaltering in waging the people’s war. The NPA is firm in upholding people’s interests while the Lumads are dauntless in their vow to fight for their land to the very end. They are determined and prepared to fight the escalating counterrevolutionary violence, and defy and overthrow the fascist dictator US-Duterte regime.

(Sgd) Ka Gary Angeles

Spokesperson, VPROC-NPA

UBJP: Secretary General and Minister of Local Government Atty. Naguib Sinarimbo visits 6th Infantry Division Commander General Cirilito Sobejana

Posted to the MILF-associated United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP) Facebook page (Apr 7, 2019): UBJP Deputy Secretary General and Minister of Local Government Atty. Naguib Sinarimbo visits 6th Infantry Division Commander General Cirilito Sobejana

UBJP Deputy Secretary General and Minister of Local Government Atty. Naguib Sinarimbo visited 6th Infantry Division Commander General Cirilito Sobejana and AFP officers to optimize the presence and performance of Local Chief Executives in the Bangsamoro region.

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MILF: Sec. Galvez appeals to security forces to be prudent during law enforcement operations

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Website (Apr 6, 2019): Sec. Galvez appeals to security forces to be prudent during law enforcement operations

Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao-Four (4) members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) were killed during a law enforcement operation in Barangay Ilian, Madamba, Lanao del Sur, on Thursday, April 4.

Luwaran was told that police failed to coordinate with the MILF despite knowing that the village is a recognized MILF controlled area.

Butch Malang, chair of the MILF panel in the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH), said police did not inform his group about their operation at Barangay Ilian.

“There was no coordination with the CCCH and clearly this is a violation of the ceasefire agreement, Malang told the Inquirer in an interview. The clashes could have been prevented if there was coordination,” Malang added.

According to him, the village is an MILF-populated community, the Inquirer also said in its reeport.

The clashes occurred while a police team was serving warrants of arrest against several suspects in the murder of a village official.

Von Al Haq, spokesperson for the BIAF, said the government troops involved in the operation should have coordinated with the CCCH to prevent the clash.

As of this posting, the MILF had already filed a protest against the police for allegedly violating the ceasefire agreement signed between the GPH and the Moro Front.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Daily Inquirer said in its report yesterday that Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. described the incident as “an isolated case.”

Nevertheless, he appealed to government security forces to be prudent in conducting law enforcement operations in the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) to avoid jeopardizing the peace process in the South.

SOLCOM: NPA terrorists abduct 3 civilians and 1 CAFGU in Mindoro; release 3

Posted to the Southern Luzon Command (SOLCM) Facebook page (Apr 6, 2019): NPA terrorists abduct 3 civilians and 1 CAFGU in Mindoro; release 3
Camp Capinpin, TANAY, RIZAL- The New People’s Army (NPA) Communist Terrorists Group (CTG) abducted yesterday evening (around 8 o’clock) a barangay chairman, two (2) civilians, and a member of Civilian Active Auxiliary (CAA) in Barangay Malo, Bansud, Oriental Mindoro.

Colonel Marceliano V Teofilo, Commander of the 203rd Brigade who has operational jurisdiction over Mindoro Island identified the victims as MaloChairman Peter Delos Santos (52 years old), Louie Medinilla (47), Ricky Capillo (40) and CAA Reymond Malupa (55). “They were forcibly taken from their houses by more or less ten (10) NPAs under Kilusang Larangan Gerilya-Ignacio Clafero Magadia (KLG-ICM) clad in military uniform. They were brought to Sitio Pay-pay which is two hours walk from their barangay”.

“We strongly condemn the desperate actions of the CPP-NPA. The abduction only shows how weak these NPA terrorists are, they do not spare even the innocent civilians. They threatened, extort money and if they refused, they will kidnap”, said Col Teofilo.

Refusal to support the NPA terrorists group is one of the motives the police are trying to look into. Accordingly, the abducted barangay captain is a well-known supporter of Bansud re-electionist Mayor Angel Saulong who refused to give in to the extortion demand (permit-to-campaign) of the NPA.

Malo residents also said the victims are of good reputation in their community and they were wondering why the NPAs abducted them.

More than a week ago, same incident happened in Bongabong, Oriental Mindoro wherein four (4) civilians were also abducted by the NPAs. They were forced to join the terrorists; however, they managed to escape and reported the incident. There identities are withheld due to fear for their lives and for their families.

Meanwhile, reports reaching this headquarters this morning (April 6, 2019), three (3) of the kidnap victims were already released by the NPAs, while the CAFGU is still held hostage. The released victims are now with their families after debriefing with the local police and the social workers.

The wife and the four (4) children of the remaining kidnap victim now fear for their father’s life; and they are appealing to the NPA to release their father and not to hurt him.

Troops of the 203rd Brigade and the Oriental Mindoro Police already sent troops to hunt down the NPA kidnappers. “This forced the NPA terrorists to release other victims. I already alerted all camps and patrol bases as these terrorists may attack soft targets to divert and disrupt the joint Army-PNP operations”, Col Teofilo added.///

WESTMINCOM: BIFF’s firearms, explosive components seized after clash in Maguindanao

Posted to the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) Website (Apr 7, 2019): BIFF’s firearms, explosive components seized after clash in Maguindanao

Military troops seized firearms of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters following a clash in Maguindanao on April 4.

Soldiers from 1st Mechanized Infantry Battalion, 37th Infantry Battalion, and 64th Division Reconnaissance Company engaged 10 BIFF members in Barangay Tina, Shariff Aguak at 1pm on Thursday.

The gunfight resulted in the seizure of an M203 40mm Grenade Launcher, a Barret, and components of Anti-Personnel Mines.

Despite of danger and rigid terrain, the troops were able to get closer with the enemy position, resulting in a 15-minute exchange of gunfire.

The sustained offensives that started last April 3 resulted in the neutralization of four BIFF/DITG members and the wounding of 11 others.

Meanwhile, two soldiers got wounded in the recent clash in Barangay Tina town of Shariff Aguak at around 7:40am on April 5 .

“We will continue our focused military operations against peace spoilers in the Liguasan Marsh, the SPMS Box, and other parts of the area of responsibility to ensure a peaceful and secured community,” said Major General Cirilito Sobejana, Joint Task Force Central Commander.

“Deliberate operations and pursuit on BIFF factions continue on the ground. Our forces heavily engage terrorists, who are weakened by the losses they incurred from the series of armed engagements,” said Lieutenant General Arnel Dela Vega, Western Mindanao Command chief.

WESTMINCOM: Operating troops recover another cadaver of Sayyaf on Simisa Island

Posted to the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) Website (Apr 7, 2019): Operating troops recover another cadaver of Sayyaf on Simisa Island

While conducting clearing operations, combined elements of the Marine Battalion Landing Teams 1 and 3 recovered cadaver of one ASG member identified as a.k.a Andot in the mangrove area of Simisa Island, Banguigui, Sulu at 4:30 pm yesterday (April 6).

Troops also recovered 1 M14 rifle, 1Garand rifle, 5 clips with 50 rounds of Caliber .30mm ammunitions hidden under the vast mangrove area.

“The recovered cadaver and high-powered firearms are believed to be hidden and left behind by the evading ASG members during an encounter on Thursday (April 4),” JTF Sulu Commander Brigadier General Divino Rey Pabayo said.

The remains of a.k.a Andot was immediately burried observing the Islamic burial rituals while the recovered items were put under the custody of MBLT-3 for proper disposition.

Meanwhile, on April 4, 2019, Marine troopers of the MBLT-3, seized an indigenous boat called “bote” which was reportedly used by the bandits as means of transportation and carrier of their firearms and other war materials while traversing riverine in the mangrove area of Simisa Island.

The recovered boat contained 1 backpack, 1 PNP lousy cap, 1 jogging pants, and assorted cooking and eating paraphernalia.

The boat was subsequently destroyed so as not to be utilized by remaining bandits anymore.

“Our troops are gaining grounds and so we intensify our operations further so as to neutralize the remaining bandits in the area,” WestMinCom Chief Arnel Dela Vega said.

“We continuously seek prayers for the safety and protection of our soldiers on the ground,” he added.

Pursuit operations are still being conducted to destroy the remaining ASG in the island.

WESTMINCOM: Army troopers facilitate Rido settlement in Lanao del Sur

Posted to the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) Website (Apr 7, 2019): Army troopers facilitate Rido settlement in Lanao del Sur

The 6th Infantry (Redskin) Battalion led by Lieutenant Colonel Clairemont Pinpin, in coordination with the local government unit and the PNP, facilitated the rido settlement between two warring clans in Balabagan, Lanao del Sur yesterday (April 6).

The formal settlement was held at the Municipal Hall of said municipality and was witnessed by Municipal Mayor Edna Ogka Benito.

“The absence of peace and order in the community is one of the reasons why the efforts of the government toward progress may be considered wanting,” Hon Benito said.

The 6th Infantry Battalion through the Bravo Company under 1st Lieutenant Elvis Dela Cruz recognizes the commitment and support of the Local Government Unit in the campaign towards peace and development in the said municipality.

The Redskin troopers continue to perform its mandate of providing internal security and establishing good relationship with the populace.

WESTMINCOM: CNT’s lair overran, materiel seized by troops following clash in Iligan City

Posted to the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) Website (Apr 7, 2019): CNT’s lair overran, materiel seized by troops following clash in Iligan City

Troops of the Charlie Company, 51st Infantry Battalion engaged in a 45 minutes firefight with 50 fully armed members of the communist terrorist group in Sitio Lemon, Barangay Kalilangan, Iligan City at 12:50 pm yesterday, April 6.

Engaging troops were instantaneously reinforced by the 3rd Field Artillery Battalion personnel.

Heavy firefight ensued that led to the recovery of the withdrawing enemy’s lair and war materiel.

Seized materiel include one empty bandoleer, one 5.56mm aluminum magazine, one 5.56mm plastic magazine, 2 empty Ctgs of 40mm Ball, approximately 150 assorted empty Ctgs of 5.56mm Ball, Ctgs of 7.62mm Ball and an AK47.

Also recovered were subversive documents, cooking utensils, eight liters salt, empty gallons, 5 kgs rice, and several personal belongings.

Engaged troops immediately cordoned the area.

The pursuit operation was conducted following the focused military operation last April 2 whereby joint elements of the 51IB and the PNP discovered an abandoned enemy encampment that can accommodate 60 to 70 individuals in the same barangay.

“The military continuously assists the police and the local government units in the intensified conduct of law enforcement operations to expedite the neutralization of the Communist NPA Terrorists in the Western Mindanao Command’s Joint Area of Operation,” said Lieutenant General Arnel Dela Vega, WestMinCom Commander.

Troops continue to scour the area.

EASTMINCOM: Two NPA Commanders Killed in a sustained security operations

Posted to the Eastern Mindanao Command (EASTMINCOM) Facebook page (Apr 7, 2019): Two NPA Commanders Killed in a sustained security operations

NSFA, Panacan, Davao City - Two NPA leaders, one is a female were killed during an encounter between the troops of 39th Infantry Battalion under Ltc Rhojun Rosales against an undetermined number of Communist NPA Terrorists Groups (CNTG) In the morning of April 5, 2019, in the hinterlands of Sitio Lanan, Barangay Goma, Digos City, Davao del Sur.

The CNTGs scampered to different directions after a 45-minute exchange of fire leaving their two members killed and one M4 rifle.

With the help of former rebels and rogues gallery of 39IB, the two cadavers were identified as that of Lesly Pulido @CAMILLE, Sec, GF51 and that of Roberto Castellote @ENOY, Commander of the guerilla unit of GF51.

Col.Adonis Bajao, Commander of 1002nd Infantry Brigade who oversees the security efforts in the Province of Davao Del Sur, stated in his report that the troops were responding to the information and complaint of the farmers on the presence of Communist Terrorists who are disturbing their farming activities when they were fired upon.

Earlier, the same unit of the 39th Infantry Battalion chanced upon CNTGs in the mountainous area of Sitio Latel, Barangay. Colonsabak, Matanao, Davao Del Sur on April 1, 2019, during a security patrol in the area after an information received from the tribal community on the presence of CNTG thereat.

There was no reported casualty on both sides during the brief skirmish.

In a report made by MGen Jose Faustino Jr, Commander of 10th Infantry Division to Lt. Gen Felimon T. Santos Jr. sustained security operations are being conducted in the Division's area of responsibility as the CNTGs are on the run after more communities are keeping them off and tipping their presence to authorities.

On April 3, 2019, community information also guided the sustained operations in Compostela Valley which led to another encounter between the pursuing troops of 71st Infantry Battalion under Ltc Estevyn Ducusin and an undetermined number of CNTG at Sitio De Oro, Barangay New Barili in the town of Maco.

The group was the same group that was encountered by the same unit of 71IB on March 28 and 31 in the boundary of Maco and Mabini, all of Compostela Valley.

The twenty-minute firefight led to the capture of a damaged M16 rifle, one homemade shotgun, ammunition, four International Humanitarian Law banned landmine, landmine paraphernalia, subversive documents, and personal belongings.

However, it also caused the wounding of one personnel who was evacuated to Davao City for medical attention.

Lt. General Santos, Jr. urged the troops to take the cooperation of the communities as a call to end the insurgency and to continuously coordinate with them.

"This cooperation we are receiving from the communities is a message that they want to end the conflict once and for all. We should reciprocate it with our sustained operations to protect their right to live free from coercion from any terror group," Lt Gen. Santos Jr in his directive.

He likewise calls on to the CNTG to lay down their arms and heed the call of the people for a peaceful community.

"The people with their information is sending the message for you to abandon arm struggle and this is what we want to re-echo, surrender and avail of the integration program and let us bring together peace to the communities" Lt Gen. Santos said.

Smashers Battalion
1002nd Bagwis Brigade
Kaibigan Battalion
10th Infantry Agila Division Philippine Army
1001st Pag-asa Brigade
4th Infantry "Diamond" Division, Philippine Army
Task Force Balik-Loob
Davao del Sur

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