Wednesday, April 24, 2019

AFP-CRS: PNP to secure former CPP-NPA-NDF members

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook page (Apr 24, 2019): PNP to secure former CPP-NPA-NDF members

AFP-CRS: 12,000 MILF armed members for demobilization

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook page (Apr 24, 2019): 12,000 MILF armed members for demobilization

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AFP-CRS: 1200 Former CPP-NPA-NDF members get government assistance

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook page (Apr 24, 2019): 1200 Former CPP-NPA-NDF members get government assistance

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Philippines To Join Russia's Int'l Army Games Again In 2019 - Defense Undersecretary

From Urdu Point (Apr 24, 2019): Philippines To Join Russia's Int'l Army Games Again In 2019 - Defense Undersecretary
Philippines to Join Russia's Int'l Army Games Again in 2019 - Defense Undersecretary

The Philippines intends to join the International Army Games, held by the Russian military, in 2019, just as it did last year, the country's national defense undersecretary, Cardozo M. Luna, told Sputnik in an interview.

MOSCOW (UrduPoint News / Sputnik) The Philippines intends to join the International ArmyGames, held by the Russian military, in 2019, just as it did last year, the country's national defense undersecretary, Cardozo M. Luna, told Sputnik in an interview.

Cardozo Luna is currently on a visit to Russia for the eighth Moscow Conference on International Security. The undersecretary has already held talks with RussianDeputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin to discuss what he described as "blooming" bilateral relations.

"We are now even engaged in the Army games. Our armypeople joined the competition of snipers last year. This year we plan to join again," Cardozo Luna said.

The International Army Games 2019 will be held from August 3-17. As of April 11, as many as thirty countries have confirmed their participation.

Cardozo Luna went on to note that the dialogue between Manila and Moscow relations had never been so strong.

"But since our president, President [Rodrigo] Duterte, took over, he has some kind of a change of the foreign policy. And his direction is that we become closer to the former non-traditional friends. One of them is Russia of course," he clarified.

The undersecretary recalled that the Philippine president described Putin as his "idol," noting that Duterte's visit to Russia in 2017 marked the start of a deeper relationship.

Duterte had to cut short his May 2017 visit and return to the Philippines due to clashes with Islamist militias that broke out on the Mindanao Island. The sides focused on cooperation in political, military and economic spheres as well as discussed the possibility of Manila buying Russian-made advanced weapons to fight terrorism.

Factbox: After 'caliphate' defeat, Islamic State is down but not out

From Reuters (Apr 24, 2019): Factbox: After 'caliphate' defeat, Islamic State is down but not out

Driven from its self-styled caliphate in Iraq and Syria, Islamic State is down but not out.

Where once they confronted armies, the extremist Islamist group’s adherents have now staged hit-and-run raids and suicide attacks. In some cases, the group has claimed responsibility for atrocities, including the bombings of churches and hotels in Sri Lanka that killed at least 359 people.

Its involvement is not always proven, but even if the link is ideological rather than operational, Islamic State still poses a security threat in many countries.


After defeat by U.S.-backed forces, Islamic State has reverted to the guerrilla tactics it was once known for.

Sleeper cells have regrouped in provinces including Diyala, Salaheddin, Anbar, Kirkuk and Nineveh, where they carry out frequent attacks, including kidnappings and bombings aimed at undermining the Baghdad government.

In February, two people were killed and 24 wounded when a car bomb went off in Mosul, once the group’s Iraqi capital.

The Pentagon said in January that IS was regenerating faster in Iraq than in Syria. Analysts estimate that about 2,000 active combatants now operate in Iraq.


After serious military setbacks, Islamic State slipped into the shadows, staging suicide bombings and ambushes.

IS has carried out bomb attacks in towns and cities of northeast Syria in recent months, including some targeting U.S. forces.

Syrian Kurdish forces, which control the region and crushed the jihadists with U.S. help, have sounded the alarm about the group’s new tactics.

They believe sleeper cells have mushroomed across eastern Syria and expect guerrilla attacks to escalate. They also warn of the risk posed by holding thousands of militants in prison camps.

IS fighters still hold some ground in Syria’s remote central desert, where they have staged attacks in recent days.


Nigerian group Boko Haram has carried out attacks in the northeast since 2009 in pursuit of an Islamic caliphate. It has killed 30,000 people and forced 2 million to flee their homes.

The group split in 2016 and one faction pledged allegiance to IS.

Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP) has focused on attacking military bases in raids over the last year. It has become the dominant militant group in the region as a result of these raids.

ISWAP’s activities are concentrated around Lake Chad, which borders Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

IS claims attacks in the Lake Chad region through its Amaq news agency. However, the extent of support provided by Islamic State to ISWAP is unclear and many security experts say the relationship is mainly in name rather than direct funding and logistical support.

Exact numbers are hard to pin down, but analysts put ISWAP’s strength at between 5,000 and 18,000.

ISWAP raises money through taxes on traders, smugglers and fishermen in the Lake Chad region. Inducements such as seeds and fertiliser have also been offered to locals.


Egypt has seen no large attacks over the past year, but smaller incidents persist and the military is mounting a campaign against Islamist insurgents, mainly on the Sinai Peninsula.

The military says several hundred militants have been killed since it launched a major campaign in February 2018 to defeat fighters linked to Islamic State in Sinai.

Three civilians and four police personnel were killed this month by a suicide bomber in the North Sinai town of Sheikh Zuweid, the interior ministry said. Claiming the attack, Islamic State said 15 people were killed or wounded.

In November, gunmen killed seven Christians on a bus in Minya province, south of Cairo. IS claimed responsibility.

“ISIS remains a threat within Egypt, via two main avenues: primarily within the Sinai peninsula, where a part of the Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis group pledged allegiance to ISIS some years ago, but also in terms of sporadic cells in the rest of the country, made up of more recent recruits and possibly returnees that fought in Syria or Iraq,” said H.A. Hellyer, senior associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) and the Atlantic Council in London.


Islamic State militants have carried out deadly bombings and shootings in Saudi Arabia against security forces and minority Shi’ite Muslims, after the authorities crushed an al Qaeda insurgency over a decade ago.

Saudi security forces said they foiled an attack by four Islamic State militants north of Riyadh on Sunday, and arrested 13 others on Monday in connection with planning other attacks.

The security forces also raided a house they said the militants were using as a bomb factory, and seized suicide vests, homemade bombs, rifles and Islamic State publications.

On Tuesday, the interior ministry said it had executed 37 people “for adopting extremist terrorist ideologies and forming terrorist cells to corrupt and disrupt security as well as spread chaos and provoke sectarian strife”.

Kamran Bokhari, a director at Washington-based think-tank the Center for Global Policy, said Islamic State does exist in the kingdom but the Saudi security forces and intelligence service are “pretty much on top of things”.

“At end of the day, from an ISIS point of view, Saudi Arabia is the grand prize,” said Bokhari, because of the kingdom’s oil wealth and its prominent position in the Islamic world.

Michael Stephens, research fellow for Middle East Studies at London’s RUSI think-tank, said the Saudi security forces are tracking a few hundred people, including some who have been to Syria, but there is no evidence that they have become operational.


Islamic State in Khorasan (ISIS-K), which took its name from an historical region that covered much of modern-day Afghanistan and parts of Central Asia, appeared in late 2014 in the eastern province of Nangarhar, where it retains a stronghold. It announced its formation in January 2015.

The group’s leadership has pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of IS, but it is not clear that ISIS-K has direct operational links with the main movement.

It has claimed attacks on civilian targets in cities including Kabul and fought the Afghan Taliban for control of a number of rural districts. U.S. commanders say its forces number fewer than 2,000.

The movement is little understood and many Afghan officials in Kabul doubt the veracity of some of its claims of responsibility.


Islamic State claimed its first attack in Congo on Thursday, and declared it the “Central Africa Province” of the “Caliphate”.

Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi said the defeat of IS in Syria and Iraq meant the group might come to Africa and take advantage of poverty and chaos in an attempt to set up a caliphate.

A spokesman for the U.S. Africa command said the Allied Democratic Forces, a local militant group, had meaningful ties to Islamic State, to which it claimed allegiance in 2017.

Yet analysts see scant evidence for this. Marcel Heritier Kapiteni, a Belgian-based Congolese researcher, said there were no clear links between ADF activity and “international terrorism”.

He said it was likely that Islamic State was taking false credit for the Congo attack. “ISIS is losing battles in the usual bastions, which is pushing it to embark on a media war. But the DRC’s terrain is not socially favourable to radical Islam.”


Islamic State claimed the Easter Sunday bomb attacks on churches and hotels and released a video showing eight men declaring loyalty to Baghdadi.

IS claims the men in the video, released on Tuesday by its Amaq news agency, carried out the suicide bombings.

One man in the video is Mohamed Zahran. Sri Lankan intelligence officials believe that Zahran, a Tamil-speaking preacher well-known for his militant views, may have masterminded the attacks.

Sri Lankan officials have blamed two domestic Islamist groups with suspected ties to Islamic State. The scale and sophistication of the attacks suggested the involvement of an external group such as Islamic State, said Alaina Teplitz, the U.S. ambassador to Sri Lanka.


Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country and most people practise a moderate form of Islam. But there has been a resurgence in militancy and authorities have said they believe thousands of Indonesians draw inspiration from Islamic State, while about 500 Indonesians are thought to have gone to Syria to join the group.

A court sentenced a cleric, Aman Abdurrahman, to death last year for masterminding deadly attacks. Abdurrahman is considered the ideological leader of Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) - a loose grouping of Islamic State sympathisers in Indonesia.

Suicide bombings in May last year in Surabaya that killed more than 30 were linked to JAD cells.


The Philippines fears that extremists fleeing Iraq and Syria could find a safe haven in the jungles and remote villages of Muslim areas of Mindanao, where there is a long history of lawlessness, clan rivalry and separatist and Islamist rebellion.

Several splinters of the myriad armed groups in the southern Philippines have pledged allegiance to Islamic State, although none are known to have been endorsed as its Southeast Asian affiliate.

Islamic State often claims responsibility for bombings and rebel clashes with government troops in Mindanao, but their veracity is often disputed.

Security experts are concerned Islamic State could, through offers of money or through radical teachings, find fertile recruitment ground among disenfranchised youth in Muslim Mindanao.

UBJP: Privilege speech of MILF Secretary and Bangsamoro Parliament Member Haron M. Abas, aka Muhammad Ameen,

Posted to the MILF-affiliated United Bangsamoro Justic Party (UBJP) Facebook page (Apr 24, 2019): Privilege speech of MILF Secretary and Bangsamoro Parliament Member Haron M. Abas, aka Muhammad Ameen, delivered on April 24, 2019 during the First Parliamentary Regular Sessions at SKCC, BARMM Compound.


Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

Honorable Speaker Atty. Mohammad Ali Pangalian Balindong, Bangsamoro Parliament

My distinguished colleagues in the Central Committee of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), honorable members of the Bangsamoro Parliament and staff members, my brothers and sisters – mujahideen and mujahidaat, energetic media people in attendance, enthusiastic observers , ladies and gentlemen. Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatulllahi wa barakatuhu and good afternoon to everyone.

Alhamdulillah. Wassalaatu wassaalamu ala Rasulillah. Wa ba’d. Allah (SWT) says in the Glorious Qur’an, Surah Al-Shuurah, Verse 38-39:

“And those who answer the call of their Lord and establish worship, and whose affairs are a matter of counsel, and who spend of what we have bestowed on them. And those who, when great wrong is done to them, defend themselves”.

Today is indeed historical for the Bangsamoro Transition Authority to have its first three day Parliamentary regular sessions, April 22, 23 and 24, 2019. And being historical likewise brings us back to the historicity of this occasion. For what has brought us forth here today and at this far abounds with historical antecedents even replete with annals of sacrifices and exemplary forbearance.

For without the blood of our martyrs, without the tears of the widowed mothers and orphaned children, and without the pains of families all sent to the evacuation zones and environs more scorching than the battlefield, more dehumanizing than prison camps, we would never come this far. We all owe to them, at whose expense we obtained what is today for the Bangsamoro.

The late Ameerul mujahideen and MILF Chairman, SHEIKH SALAMAT HASHIM (Allaho Yarhamoh) said “I have deep admiration for the faithful and courageous mujahideen who have never wavered and faltered in spite of all odds, and those whose tasks, as it were, exposed them to unimaginable danger. I know you will be ready for the momentous event we all covet. So stand firm, rearm your spirit, marshal your strength, your share of victory is awaiting us.”

But this is far from victory, or what we call as such, in as much as this is far from where our ultimate objective ends i.e. “to make supreme the WORD of Allah (SWT)”. However, this can also be deemed as so pyrrhic one though, because at where we are now is still embraceable, and through which we can express what we have been espousing as regards our age-old aspiration to live our own way. This is from rationalization and rationalizing as there remain discontented – and whose discontentment is reasonable, thus understandable. Hence seeing things constructively today, this occasion heralds a new day for the Bangsamoro.

The late Chairman Sheikh Salamat Hashim stated during his first press conference in the Bangsamoro Homeland on December 18, 1977, “The objective of the MILF is to regain the illegally and immorally usurped freedom and self-determination of the Bangsamoro people through peaceful means. The MILF will use all possible peaceful means to achieve its objective. Many countries in the world gained independence through peaceful means like Maldives, Brunei and Singapore. The MILF believes that there is no viable and lasting solution to the centuries-old conflict between the Bangsamoro people and their persecutors except to give way to the aspirations to the native inhabitants of the area – the Bangsamoro people and the Highlanders, and this is no other than the restoration of their usurped legitimate rights to freedom and self-determination”.

About fifty (50) years ago, we were brought in to a situation where there is no choice but grab and espouse the proposition of liberation than helplessly embrace the proposition of colonization the rest of our lives. When both historicity and legalism come to our backing, the zeal of emancipation and the passion for freedom is the call of the day. Besides, none in the vocabulary of our forefathers something that entertains submission upon colonization nor acquiescence to any hint thereof.

Almighty Allah says in Surah Al-Baqarah Verse 193:

“And fight them on until there is no more tumult and oppression, and there prevail Justice and Faith in God, let there be no hostility except those who practice oppression”.

Or, about five hundred (500) years ago, our forefathers were beset with the same call to tread on in defense of what Abraham Lincoln the first President of the United States of America, had called as dedication to “the proposition that all men are created equal” when the tide of Spanish colonization and American Imperialism swoop the shores of the Moroland. The same dedication bequeathed upon our shoulders, which also compelled us to embark upon a protracted struggle, offering our lives and our properties, as well as our thoughts and skills.

Allah (SWT) says in Surah Hujuraat Verse 10, “The Believers are but a single Brotherhood”.

Now, our struggle toward that same end has transformed into another form where our former enemies before are now our present partners in treading the road to peace and development. Far from being the end, but our struggle has changed into a different scheme, yet towards the same course, where the enemy is ourselves: We are now in Jihad al-Nafs or Jihad Akbar. This is the sophistry, let alone the challenge, of being victorious in some way: we are now at the edge of our time when the course of struggle is not in proving what we fought for is worth-dying, but whether or not we are worth it. We then register our utmost gratitude to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte for giving us the opportunity to prove our worth again. Ours is but an incremental step and continuous leap, which goes back to where our brethren- in-arms have left.

Allah (SWT) says in the Holy Qur’an, Surah Al-Hujurat, Verse 13:

“O mankind! We created you a single pair of a male and female. And made you into Nations and tribes, that you may know each other. Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is he who is the most Righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted with all things”.

At this juncture, this regional legislature is now mandated to double its efforts for the passage of laws for the Bangsamoro Transition Authority to attain grand success of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao as the years go by, InShaaAllah.

But, as we assume the mantle of Authority, being one of the resultant imperatives of the GPH-MILF peace agreement enshrined both in the Framework Agreement for the Bangsamoro (FAB) and in the Comprehensive Agreement for the Bangsamoro (CAB), a blizzard, nay, but lumped bulks of previous workloads are blitzed upon us instead than sailing toward immediate phasing in.

These, we take as part of those challenges in proving our worth. And to the eighty (80) members of this parliament invested of the tasks, I wish you good luck. With due respect, but the task loaded upon us – the appointed parliamentarians, today during this entire transition period is even greater than the legislative task of them – those elected parliamentarians, comes 2022.

May I conclude by quoting the late Sheikh Salamat Hashim, “We would like to remind the Ummah of the promise of Almighty Allah and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) that Islam will prevail and that the Islamic Ummah will have to assume the responsibility for leading and guiding humanity to the Right Path, whether the world likes it or not. And whether the world likes it or not, HAQQ (Righteousness) will prevail over BAATIL (innovation, injustices, and evil deeds). However, this promise of the Creator of the Universe and His Messenger, peace be upon him, can be realized only after an intense and long Jihad in the Way of Allah which carries with it much sacrifice, suffering and adversity on the part of the Ummah.

Wassalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh and a pleasant day to everyone.

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MILF: BMN hosts Talk Show on Strengthening Women’s Role Against Violent Extremism

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Website (Apr 24, 2019): BMN hosts Talk Show on Strengthening Women’s Role Against Violent Extremism

The Bangsamoro Multimedia Network (BMN) hosted a talk show program entitled: "Strengthening the Role of Women Against Violent Extremism" in partnership with the Gagandilan, with support from The Stabilization Network (TSN) at Jehan Hall, Mall of Alnor, Cotabato City, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), Philippines on April 14, 2019.

The program was generally aimed to empower women’s role in preventing or countering violent radicalism and extremism through women advocacies, initiatives, efforts and programs that they can used as a tool in promoting peaceful approaches in resolving conflicts.

The actual conduct of the show was originally set last month that corresponds to Women’s Month Celebration, however it was moved due to the inability of Gagandilan to come to Cotabato City, and some concerns on logistical arrangement.

The guests who are knowledgeable and experts on issues pertaining to violent Radicalism and Extremism were BARMM Ministry of Local Government Minister Atty. Naguib Sinarimbo, from the religious group was Ustadza Anisa Taha, representing CSOs Ms. Ruby Andong, and Ms. Wafa Esmail from the youth.

Ms. Wahida Abdullah talked on the Women Against Violent Extremism or WAVE program. She said that there was already similar activity in Zamboanga City but in different form. The launching of WAVE program in that city was through a public forum.

In the talk show program, there was a time allotted for the question and answer portion.

Appreciations and positive feedbacks from the participants and netizen were made during the program. They appreciated the medium of communications used, saying is it quite unique. It is lighter to absorb the inputs of the speakers compared to the typical forum.

There was netizen viewing the program sent a message directly to BMN admin page “requesting to extend partnership with them for implementation of the Talk Show” in General Santos City and in the Province of Sarangani as they see the necessity to expand the program in their communities.

Appreciation from invited guests especially from the BARMM Ministry of Local Government who spoke in the talk show was overwhelming.

Atty. Sinarimbo said that the program is a perfect platform for peace advocacy.

The audience was thankful for having been given the opportunity to interact with the speakers that they considered the program more alive and meaningful to them.

To reach a much broader audience, the audio of talk show was aired over FM radio station in Cotabato City at the DXJC 99.0 Voice FM Cotabato and in its social media page the Prime Radio on April 20. It was replayed in Mindanao Peoples’ Da’wah Association Television Channel (MPDAtv).

The BMN as a service provider is a group of talented and skillful young Moro professionals that are knowledgeable on Multimedia work organized themselves and established a platform of communication system.

It will sustain the utilization of social media in disseminating correct information about the Bangsamoro Peace Process and its development and other initiatives that will serve education and advocacy platform for the betterment of the Bangsamoro people.

WESTMINCOM: Troops launch intensified operations against abus in Basilan

Posted to the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) Website (Apr 24, 2019): Troops launch intensified operations against abus in Basilan

Supported by air assets and artillery fires, troops of the 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion, 64thInfantry Battalion, 18th Infantry Battalion and 12th Division Reconnaissance Company under the Joint Task Force Basilan led by Brigadier General Fernando Reyeg, launched focused military operations against the Abu Sayyaf Group under sub-leader Furuji Indama at Sitio Gipitan, Barangay Bohe Pahu, Ungkaya Pukan, Basilan Province in the wee hours today (April 24).

Said operation resulted in four (4) ASG killed (bodycount), and recovery of the following: 3 High-Powered Firearms (1 – M14, 1 – M16 and 1 – R4); one (1) M16 handguard; IED components; six (6) magazines for M14; sixteen (16) rounds 7.62mm link; seventeen (17) rounds 7.62mm ball; one (1) Samsung cellphone; and several food supplies.

“The military offensive is yet another strong message against the ASG and other lawless elements in the province that they cannot escape the full force of the government. On the other hand, peace is offered to those who are willing to surrender, unconditionally, and embrace the opportunity to leave a peaceful, normal life currently experienced by those ASG surrenderors, under the province’s PAVE program,” Brigadier General Fernando Reyeg said.

Troops continue to scour the area.

“The sustained military operations of JTF Basilan manifest the commitment of the AFP in fulfilling its mandate of bringing internal peace and security in the province of Basilan,” said WestMinCom Chief Lieutenant General Arnel Dela Vega.

“Rest assured that we will continue to abide by the rules of engagement and contain the Abu Sayyaf Group with the assistance of the local government and the community,” LtGen Dela Vega added.

WESTMINCOM: Troops clash anew with Sayyaf in Sulu

Posted to the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) Website (Apr 24, 2019): Troops clash anew with Sayyaf in Sulu

Operating troops of the 2nd Special Forces Battalion encountered undetermined number of Abu Sayyaf Group members under sub-leader Apoh Mike in Barangay Manilop, Indanan, Sulu at 2 o’clock this afternoon (April 24).

Apoh Mike is involved in numerous kidnapping of foreign nationals.

Firefight still ongoing as of this report.

WESTMINCOM: ‘Remain apolitical’- WestMinCom chief to JTF Central troops

Posted to the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) Website (Apr 24, 2019): ‘Remain apolitical’- WestMinCom chief to JTF Central troops

Lieutenant General Arnel Dela Vega, Western Mindanao Command chief, reminded ground commanders and soldiers under the Joint Task Force Central to remain non-partisans, during the command conference held at the headquarters of the 6th Infantry Division in Maguindanao on April 23.

“We are bound and committed to be non-partisans. The only activity where we can manifest our partisan duties, on our own volition, is when we cast our votes,” said Lt. Gen. Dela Vega.

He said soldiers deployed should prevent election fraud activities of unscrupulous candidates.

“It goes with our intent to ensure the credible, orderly, and peaceful conduct of elections in the area of operations. In our intent to be non-partisans, we should not be involved in any election frauds,” added Dela Vega.

Colonel Ismael Mandanas, Jr., WestMinCom’s Assistant Chief of Unified Command Staff for Operations, discussed the preparations for the forthcoming national and local elections.

Present during the command conference were Major General Sobejana, JTF Central Commander, and heads of military units under the operational control of the WestMinCom.

WESTMINCOM: Soldiers awarded for successful neutralization of Abu Dar

Posted to the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) Website (Apr 24, 2019): Soldiers awarded for successful neutralization of Abu Dar

Lieutenant General Arnel Dela Vega, Western Mindanao Command chief, recognized four soldiers for their successful operations that led to the neutralization of Dawlah Islamiya leader Owaydah Marohombsar, alias Abu Dar, in a ceremony held in Zamboanga del Sur this morning, April 24.

The WestMinCom chief conferred the Gold Cross Medal on 2nd Lieutenant Jophet Orbeta and the Military Merit Medals on Sergeant Jayar Penetrante, Sergeant Arcee Formanes, and Private Romy Villamor, of 49th Infantry Battalion.

Said soldiers were awarded for the successful conduct of focused operations against Dawlah Islamiya fighters under Abu Dar, leading to the death of said Dawlah Islamiya leader and the recovery of several high-powered firearms and grenades in Tubaran, Lanao del Sur on March 14.

“I commend members of Team Tabak and Joint Task Force ZamPeLan for your continuing dedication and professionalism in the conduct of our focused military operations. I’m taking this opportunity to congratulate you specifically on the neutralization of Abu Dar,” said Lt. Gen. Dela Vega.

“Let this (recognition) be an added, not a primary, motivation in our efforts to quell terrorism in the area of operations. We should remain focused on the task at hand and, for sure, we will never go wrong in as far as each and every responsibility of the personnel of JTF ZamPeLan is concerned.”

“Sa abot ng makakaya ng WestMinCom, we will always be extending to you the necessary support na kakailanganin ng task force at division,” he concluded.

Lt. Gen. Dela Vega also reminded ground commanders under JTF ZamPeLan to maximize and allow personnel to exercise their right of suffrage during the command conference held at the JTF ZamPeLan headquarters in Labangan today.

“We must ensure that there will be no failure of elections in any polling centers; otherwise, it will reflect on us that we are incapable of ensuring the conduct of an orderly, peaceful, and credible election,” the WestMinCom chief told military officials.

“We need contingency plans to promptly address any situation and proceed with the elections,” he added.

Lt. Gen. Dela Vega said the AFP’s role during the elections were emphasized during the national joint security control center meeting, where the Comelec chairman thanked and commended security forces.

He likewise reminded JTF ZamPeLan personnel to remain apolitical.

“The only activity where we can manifest our partisan duties is when we cast our votes,” he said.

Army slams Gabriela allegation that slain female guerrilla was tortured

From the Mindanao Times (Apr 25, 2019): Army slams Gabriela allegation that slain female guerrilla was tortured

Authorities yesterday clarified that the death of Cindy Terado, reported NPA secretary general, was a result of a legitimate operation on April 15 in Tagum City.

This, as Gabriela group claimed that she was tortured and shot through her crotch resulting in her death.
Speaking in yesterday’s AFP-PNP press briefing held at The Royal Mandaya Hotel, Maj. Jason Baria, the spokesperson of Police Regional Office XI, said that Gabriela quoted the mother of Terado.

He said that Gabriela quoted the mother as saying that the alleged rebel bore a bullet wound on her vagina and her arms were fractured.

Baria said the 71st Infantry battalion, Tagum City Police Station, Criminal Investigation and Detection Team- Davao del Norte, Provincial Intelligence Branch and Provincial Mobile Force Battalion served the warrant of arrest for the crime of murder against Jane Mendoza and Cindy Terado.

They were reportedly acting on a tip from civilians who pointed to the whereabouts of Cindy Terado, who was the secretary of Guerilla Front 2 of the Sub-Regional Committee 2, Southern Mindanao Regional Committee operating in parts of Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental, and Tagum City.

But Terado and her group allegedly fired at the law enforcers resulting in a five-minute gunfight. Other NPAs, including Mendoza, were able to escape while Terado was killed in the exchange.

Report said the leader was found in a prone position at the encounter site, still clutching and aiming her M16 rifle. Terado’s mother, Emma, insisted that her daughter was tortured despite signing a waiver on the conduct of an autopsy.

The medico-legal result of Terado revealed that she was hit twice, one on her neck and the other on her lower stomach with the bullet exiting her thigh.

The government troops were able to recover one rifle, two improvised explosive devices, one rifle magazine loaded with ammunition, and one mobile phone. There were also subversive documents found in the safe house.

He said the mother and sister claimed the body of Terado as stated on the Gabriela’s statement. But they waived the request for an autopsy.

“Also, we have an actual picture where she was hit on the body but we cannot release it so it’s for them if they would file a criminal case against the operating troops,” Baria said.

Anti-Terrorism Cluster holds series of security awareness seminars

From the Philippine Information Agency (Apr 24, 2019): Anti-Terrorism Cluster holds series of security awareness seminars

The Inter-Agency Task Force Cebu Anti-Terrorism Cluster (IATFC-ATC) continues to hold series of Security Awareness seminars on Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (PCVE) for tourism stakeholders in Lapu-Lapu City and Oslob, Cebu.

Following the issuance of the travel ban in southern Cebu by the Embassy of United Kingdom in January, IATF-ATC has done three major PCVE seminars already.

Task Group Cebu Commander Col. Noel Baluyan of the Infantry General Staff Corps of the Philippine Army, said that the IATFC-ATC would not mind doing the same activity in any part of Central Visayas, until stakeholders are fully aware on how to counter terror groups and their activities.

Philippine Army Technical Sergeant Rockson Oberez (2nd from left) discussing the types of improvised explosive device to the participants of the Security Awareness on Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism Seminar in Oslob, Cebu. (PIA7)

Determined to surpass last year’s tourist arrivals amidst terror attacks in and out of the country, these seminars by the IATFC-ATC aim to increase the stakeholders’ awareness on terrorism and to educate and capacitate them on their roles on preventing violent extremism.

Speakers of the seminars were officials from the Cebu provincial police and tourism offices, Department of Tourism (DOT), National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), Coast Guard District Central Visayas (CGDCV), Philippine Navy, PNP-Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), and the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) of Central Visayas.

Baluyan said this initiative will empower the communities on PCVE that will later on create a culture of vigilance resulting to peace and order.

According to the Senior Operations Head of the DOT-7, Marlon Barrientos, safety and security are the top concerns of tourists when they travel.

Last year, DOT recorded over 8 million tourist arrivals in the region, which injected P44.2 billion into the economy.

Barrientos added this is an indication that when violent extremism is not present in an area, it translates to more economic activities that benefit the government and various enterprises.

Over 60 security personnel and managers of accommodation and restaurant establishments in Lapu-lapu City convened at the Waterfront Mactan to hear inputs from the speakers.

Meanwhile, around 100 participants attended the Oslob leg of the PVCE seminar, who were a mix of hotel, restaurant and inn owners, habal-habal drivers, motorbanca operators, tourism officers, and Sangguniang Kabataan chairpersons.

The attendees learned about the standard operating procedures in case they witness suspicious activities by suspicious persons from the NICA and the police, DOT discussed the value of accreditation of tourism enterprises and its corresponding benefits, and PIA tackled the importance of responsible sharing of information and use of social media.

Barrientos encouraged the attendees to continue to participate in PVCE-related activities and initiatives as it greatly benefits not just the tourism industry but the country as a whole.

Ahmadiyya Muslims commit to support gov’t peace efforts in Zambo

From the Philippine Information Agency (Apr 24, 2019): Ahmadiyya Muslims commit to support gov’t peace efforts in Zambo

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The Ahmadiyya Muslim Association, Inc. formally signed a commitment to “always abide by law and to support the government’s efforts in establishing peace” in the city.

According to Talha Ali, National President of the association, this organization was founded in 1889 and has tens of millions of followers in over 200 countries.

During its annual convention held April 20 in the Harmony Village in Sinunuc, hundreds of Ahmadiyya community members gathered to sign the commitment in support to the government’s peace efforts.

Agencies that were represented and witnessed the commitment signing include the Philippine National Police (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), City Government of Zamboanga, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) and representatives from sectoral groups and other national and local government officials.

70 former rebels, supporters receive E-CLIP benefits

From the Philippine Information Agency (Apr 24, 2019): 70 former rebels, supporters receive E-CLIP benefits

Seventy former New People’s Army (NPA) and Militia ng Bayan (MB) members received more than P1 million-worth of assistance and benefits from the government for joining anew mainstream society.

The beneficiaries received the incentives during the mass awarding of Enhanced-Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) assistance and provincial grants last week at the 54th Infantry Battalion’s headquarter in this town. It was witnessed by officials and representatives government and non-government agencies.

Three former NPAs received Php 65,000.00 each as immediate cash and livelihood assistance while Php 15,000.00 each for the MBs. Firearm remuneration ranging from Php 45,000 to Php.100,000.00 were also given for the surrendered firearms.

“I am very grateful that it came to your minds to surrender and leave the chaotic life and choose a peaceful and harmonious life in the community with your families,” Governor Pedro Mayam-o said.

Former members of the New People's Army and Militia ng Bayan who have decided to return to mainstream society receive government assistance undet the Enhanced-Comprehensive Local Integration Program for them to start new life.

Other government officials also praised the former rebels and supporters for surrendering and availing the benefits through the E-CLIP. They expressed hope that this would be the start of their new life in the mainstream society and no turning-back to the old ways.

54th IB Commander Lieutenant Colonel Narciso Nabulneg, Jr. encouraged the surrenderees to continue convince other active NPA and supporters to lay their arms and join the mainstream society for a peaceful life.

“The government has all the best programs to offer peace and enjoy progressive lives for the former rebels. We have the localized peace talk and the E-CLIP which actually offers a complete package of integration and livelihood/education program. We have already witnessed the sincerity of the government in this matter,” Nabulneg added.

Thousands flee as troops, NPA clash in NoCot

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 24, 2019): Thousands flee as troops, NPA clash in NoCot

An Air Force Huey helicopter airlifts the injured infantrymen in Barangay Badiangon, Arakan, North Cotabato to a hospital in Poblacion Arakan following a clash with communist rebels on Tuesday (April 23, 2019) . (Photo courtesy of Alex Casicas – Arakan LGU)

Clashes erupted between government forces and communist rebels in the border of two towns in North Cotabato Tuesday morning, prompting thousands of civilians to flee to safer grounds.

The firefight between elements of the Army’s 19th Infantry Battalion and communist New People's Army (NPA) rebels in the boundary of Antipas and Magpet towns also left two soldiers and a civilian slightly wounded.

Captain Jose Marie Molina, the Arakan town police chief, said the injured soldiers, Corporals William Agno, and Jerome Sarayno, were airlifted by Huey helicopters from the battlefront in Sitio Tiwayan in Barangay Badiangon of Arakan to a local medical center.

A civilian farmer, Jonel Bayaan, was hit by stray bullets when the firefight erupted at about 9 a.m. Tuesday and is now confined at the Amas provincial hospital in Kidapawan City.

Molina said the rescue vehicle of Arakan that carried the wounded soldiers were also ambushed by communist rebels in Sitio Anuling, Barangay Badiangon at about 9:30 a.m. that triggered another firefight.

Molina added that the rebel group have suffered many casualties as evidenced by blood stain in their escape routes.

He said personnel of the Department of Social Welfare and Development are now on the ground and started providing emergency relief assistance to affected families.

“The total number of displaced families is still being validated,” he said, adding that sporadic fighting continued overnight in the periphery of Arakan and Magpet.

Under election laws, the local government could not extend relief assistance to displaced families during the campaign period for May 13 mid-term polls.

North Cotabato police spokesperson, Lt. Col. Bernard Tayong, said the police across the province have been placed on heightened alert for possible diversionary attacks by the communist rebels.

The United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines have declared the Communist Party of the Philippines together with the NPA, its armed wing, as a terrorist organization.

Abu Sayyaf subleader killed in Sulu clash

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 24, 2019): Abu Sayyaf subleader killed in Sulu clash

Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Hapidz Abdurahman was killed in a clash Tuesday (April 23) against the Marine Battalion Landing Team-3 (MBLT-3) troops in the island town of Pata, Sulu. (Photo courtesy of MBLT-3)

ZAMBOANGA CITY -- An Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) subleader was killed in a clash with Philippine Marine troops as the focused military operations continue against the ASG bandits in Sulu, officials said Wednesday.

Col. Gerry Besana, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) information officer, identified the slain ASG subleader as Hapidz Abdurahman, who is based in the island town of Pata, Sulu.

Besana said Abdurahman was killed in a 10-minute firefight Tuesday in Barangay Tambulian, Pata municipality.

He said the troops from the Marine Battalion Landing Team-3 (MBLT-3) were on a focused military operation when they clashed with the group of Abduhraman, whose remains were recovered by the troops.

Abdurahman's remains were buried according to Muslim rites. He had a standing warrant of arrest for murder and illegal possession of firearms.

Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, Westmincom chief, said the ASG bandits suffered another setback with the death of Abdurahman.

“We are building up our focused and intelligence operations to pursue, pressure, and defeat Abu Sayyaf militants in Sulu,” Dela Vega said.

“While we are gaining a foothold with our persistent offensives, the military will continuously exert all efforts to reach out and work with the Suluanons to pave the way for peace and development in the province,” he added.

4 Abu Sayyaf bandits killed in Basilan air strike

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 24, 2019): 4 Abu Sayyaf bandits killed in Basilan air strikes

Four Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits were killed in a focused military operation, coupled with air strikes, in the hinterlands of Basilan province, officials said Wednesday.

Brig. Gen. Fernando Reyeg, Joint Task Force Basilan commander, said the operation was launched early Wednesday in Sitio Gipitan, Barangay Bohe Pahu, Ungkaya Pukan municipality.

Reyeg, who is also the Army’s 104th Infantry Brigade commander, said the target of the offensive was the group of ASG subleader Furuji Indama.

Reyeg said a heavy firefight ensued as the joint forces of the Army’s 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion, 64th Infantry Battalion, 18th Infantry Battalion, and 12th Division Reconnaissance Company (12DRC) swooped down into Sitio Gipitan, Barangay Bohe Pahu.

He said the air strikes were launched as the Indama-led ASG bandits fled to different directions.

“Our troops are currently on the ground to pin down the Abu Sayyaf who are on the run and are evading military forces,” he said.

He said the troops of the 12DRC recovered the remains of the four slain ASG bandits and three high-powered firearms consisting of an M-16 Armalite rifle, one M-14 rifle and one R4 rifle during the clearing operation.

“The sustained military operations of JTF (Joint Task Force) Basilan manifest the commitment of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) in fulfilling its mandate of bringing internal peace and security in the province of Basilan,” said Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief.

“Rest assured that we will continue to abide by the rules of engagement and contain the Abu Sayyaf Group with the assistance of the local government and the community,” dela Vega added.

Army, PNP join hands vs. insurgency in North, Central Luzon

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 24, 2019): Army, PNP join hands vs. insurgency in North, Central Luzon

FORT MAGSAYSAY, Nueva Ecija – Military and police authorities on Wednesday started to draw up collective strategic plans and programs that could effectively counter the insurgency problem in North and Central Luzon.

The 7th Infantry (Kaugnay) Division (7ID) of the Philippine Army, together with the Philippine National Police (PNP), kicked off a three-day action plan workshop with an objective to realign the direction of programs and activities of the government that could address the issues being exploited by the communists.

The participants are the Civil Military Operations (CMOs) officers from 7ID brigades and battalions and Police Civil Relations Officers of the PNP provincial police offices from Region 1, Region 3 and Abra.

Major General Lenard T. Agustin, commander of 7ID, who was the keynote speaker during the opening ceremony here, said he is prioritizing the efforts of the CMO than any other forms of operations of their division.

Agustin cited the significant contribution of the intelligence and combat operations of the CMOs.

He said the recent accomplishment of 7ID on the recovery of 18 firearms and the surrender and capture of 18 Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) terrorists in the first quarter of the year can be attributed to CMO.

Agustin told the participants it is now the right time to formulate plans against the CNTs as the government is more aggressive in countering insurgency problems.

He particularly cited the government’s programs such as the implementation of Executive Order No. 70 and the creation of Task Force Balik-Loob that have been formulated to end the 50 years of war being waged by the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) against the government.

"I really look forward to the tangible results that will be delivered by our line units and our PNP counterparts after this workshop. I believe I have already challenged them and emphasized that we should really end insurgency in our area of responsibility,” Agustin said.

"Solving the issues exploited by the CTGs is one of the important approaches on how to counter insurgency. There are so many concepts that can be applied to solve the country's insurgency problem that have existed for five decades now. That's the beauty of CMO, the ways are limitless,” he added.

AFP on alert vs. Reds' attacks in aftermath of Luzon quake

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 24, 2019): AFP on alert vs. Reds' attacks in aftermath of Luzon quake

The military remains on alert against possible attacks by communist rebels in the aftermath of the magnitude 6.1 earthquake that jolted parts of Luzon on Monday.

"We are mindful of the security considerations in this regard, owing to the fact that the terrorist NPA (New People’s Army) take advantage of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) personnel performing humanitarian missions. We cannot, in this respect, but take appropriate steps to secure our personnel. We would not want a repeat in our past experiences of our personnel treacherously waylaid by this callous and merciless terrorists CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines)," AFP spokesperson, Marine Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, said in a message to the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Wednesday.

Arevalo, however, said the AFP does not see any serious concern on the matter of security vacuum.

"Our rescue groups, while deployed and engaged in an ongoing incessant search, rescue, and retrieval operations in Pampanga, do not adversely affect our judicious deployment of troops and the efficacy of our security operations," he added.

The military's Joint Task Force-National Capital Region (JTF-NCR) has alerted two platoons from its disaster response task units (DRTUs) for any eventuality following Monday's earthquake.

"In Metro Manila, JTF-NCR alerted two platoons of DRTU with complete equipment. The AFP has disaster response task groups that are pre-organized and pre-tasked for possible deployment in any eventualities of disaster," he said.

The AFP spokesperson further cited the ongoing efforts of the military to train civilian rescue groups and procure equipment that would enhance its disaster response readiness.

"Included in our training are those had with other armed forces in the region to ensure interoperability and readiness," he said.

Arevalo said the Tarlac-based Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom), led by Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Salamat, has already deployed a composite team of disaster rescue groups of 67 personnel (consisting of seven officers and 60 enlisted personnel) to help in the ongoing search-and-rescue operations in the collapsed Chuzon Supermarket in Porac, Pampanga.

Salamat has also instructed all of Nolcom’s disaster response rescue units to be on standby-alert for rescue operations.
Meanwhile, there will be no change in troop positioning in Luzon despite Monday's earthquake.

"Troops committed to SAR (search and rescue) in Porac (Pampanga) are not directly engaged in ISO (internal security operations), so there will be no changes in current troop disposition and location," AFP public affairs office chief, Col. Noel Detoyato, said in a separate message to the Philippine News Agency.

'Reds-linked' orgs dared to seek justice for victims of NPA killings

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 24, 2019): 'Reds-linked' orgs dared to seek justice for victims of NPA killings

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Deputy Chief-of-Staff for Civil-Military Operations, Major Gen. Antonio Parlade, Jr.,

A ranking official of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) on Wednesday dared the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers (NUPL) and human rights group Karapatan to seek justice for the families of two people who were shot dead by suspected Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) terrorists in Butuan City on April 18 and 23. 

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Deputy Chief-of-Staff for Civil-Military Operations, Major Gen. Antonio Parlade, Jr., said now is the proper time for these progressive groups to prove themselves as "defenders of human rights and of poor victims of injustice."

The military official was referring to the April 18 killing of a former rebel belonging to the Higaunon tribe, identified as 19-year-old Reynante Cabungan Lloren, who was gunned down by communists inside his home in Sitio Causwagan, Barangay San Mateo, Butuan City. On April 23, Joel Canatoy, another Higaunon tribe member, was shot in the head by suspected NPAs wearing Army uniforms in the same locality.

Parlade said Lloren was a former member of the NPA Front Committee 4A, who along with two others surrendered in July 2018 after realizing that they were only being exploited by the CPP-NPA.

The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

Cabungan was just waiting to be processed at the government-provided halfway house, and be integrated to the CAFGU when he was killed.

"So to the CPP-front organization NUPL and Karapatan, how can you help seek justice for Cabungan (Lloren) and his family? (and Canatoy). You profess to be the defender of human rights and of poor victims of injustice. How do you explain to your foreign donors from European Union and Viva Salud of Belgium that you cannot provide them assistance because they were killed by the NPAs who are your allies?" he added.

Parlade also challenged NUPL chair, lawyer Neri Colmenares, who is running for senator in the May 13 polls, and NUPL president, lawyer Edre Olalia to do something on the killing of the two victims.

"For those who are oppressed 'Call Me Neri', you said. So calling Atty. Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna and Atty. Edre Olalia of NUPL do something. Do not wait for Cristina Palabay of Karapatan because we have already established Karapatan's link to the NPAs, and ergo, the CPP-NDF (National Democratic Front)," he added.

The NTF ELCAC official said he seriously doubts the NUPL will go to the Supreme Court (SC) and seek a writ of amparo for the two other surrenderers who are clearly terrified for their lives.

"The two other surrenderers now fear for their lives. Should you go to the SC and represent them for another writ of amparo? Of course you won't because clearly it’s not part of your oath to the CPP. You are cadres of the underground mass organization 'LUMABAN' or 'Lupon ng mga Manananggal ng Bayan', hiding under the CPP front NUPL. It’s not a typo, these are true blood-suckers who cannot denounce the CPP and the NPAs for their terroristic acts," he added.

Parlade also scored Colmenares for joining the democratic process and using the same to destroy democracy.

"You are running for national office and aspire to be a senator of the land. Whose interest will you represent? Why don't you explain to the people this duplicity of yours? You join the democratic process through the party-list and then destroy democracy. You join the legislative, get elected and use your funds to destroy your country," he added. “How do you reconcile your oath to this democratic state with that of the CPP Constitution's establishment of a 'proletarian dictatorship'?”

PRRD merely looking after tourists' safety: Lorenzana

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 24, 2019): PRRD merely looking after tourists' safety: Lorenzana

President Rodrigo R. Duterte is merely concerned over the safety of tourists visiting the Philippines, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Wednesday.

"The President’s statement cautioning foreigners from travelling to Zamboanga is his way of looking out for the safety of tourists visiting the Philippines. While we assure the public that government security forces are always on the alert to prevent and respond to incidents, it is better for everyone to take personal measures to ensure their security," Lorenzana said in a statement forwarded to reporters.

In his speech at the opening ceremony of the 7th Union Asia Pacific Regional Conference on Tuesday, the Chief Executive warned tourists against visiting Zamboanga City due to security threats posed by Abu Sayyaf terrorists and Islamic State-linked terror groups.

"But there is a certain place which I would not recommend to anybody to go there, not just as yet --- is Zamboanga. I still [unclear] the problem because some Europeans go there for a bird-watching. And they are captured; and eventually they are decapitated even after the payment of ransom. It’s the ISIS actually. It used to be the Abu Sayyaf (Group) --- it’s a band of brigands but now it’s an Abu Sayyaf territory," Duterte said.

The Abu Sayyaf is an Islamist militant group operating in the southern part of the country engaged in kidnap-for-ransom and terrorist activities.

Some of the group's notorious acts include the Sipadan kidnappings in Malaysia in 2001, the kidnapping and beheading of some hostages at the Dos Palmas Resort in Palawan in 2001 and the bombing of the Superferry 14 in 2004.

"We also encourage the public to work closely with the authorities to make our communities safer for everyone," Lorenzana added.

AFP vows justice for 2 murdered rebel returnees

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 24, 2019): AFP vows justice for 2 murdered rebel returnees

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will do everything it can to ensure that justice will be given to two rebel returnees who were shot to death by Communist Party of the Philippines-News People's Army (CPP-NPA) terrorists on April 18 and 23.

"We will exhaust all resources of the AFP to protect and find justice for those who have decided to turn a new page in their lives after being cheated and misguided by the CPP-NPA cadres," said AFP spokesperson, Marine Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, in a message to reporters Wednesday.

Arevalo was referring to the Maundy Thursday shooting of Reynante Cabungan Lloren, 19 and a member of the Higaunon tribe and the April 23 slay of Joel Canatoy, also a Higaunon, by communist rebels clad in Army uniforms, both in Butuan City.

"Both committed no crime. But both were victims of butchery by the CPP-NPA terrorist group whom the duo had to abandon for the sake of peace and brighter future they rightly aspired for their families. Both were victims of consummate injustice and criminal predisposition of this abhorred group," Arevalo said.

The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

"The AFP and the PNP will seek justice for their deaths. While we have challenged Karapatan, National Union of People’s Lawyers, and other self-styled human rights advocates and legal stalwarts in the defense of the oppressed like senate-wannabe Neri Colmenares to act for and on behalf of the victims and their families, we do not expect any of them to pick up the cudgels for these lowly and downtrodden IP (Indigenous Peoples)," the AFP spokesperson stressed.

He added that the AFP will not renege with its commitment to protect the people — especially those who only wanted a life that is free from fear, hunger, and deceit by returning to the folds of government.

5 'Otso Diretso', other bets slammed for supporting NPA

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 24, 2019): 5 'Otso Diretso', other bets slammed for supporting NPA

Members of the Liga Independencia Filipina peace group chant "Do not vote for #ShamefulNine" during a rally in Mendiola, Manila on Wednesday (April 24, 2019). (Photo by Christine Cudis)

Former New People’s Army (NPA) rebels, who are now members of the peace group Liga Independencia Filipina, urged the public to refrain from supporting candidates who are “allies” of communist terrorist groups.
Members of the peace group made this call as they staged a rally at the Mendiola Bridge on Wednesday, condemning opposition senatorial candidates and other politicians being endorsed by the Makabayan Bloc, which is branded as a legal front of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA).
“Hindi naman lingid sa kaalaman ng #ShamefulNine na ang Makabayan Bloc ay isang legal front ng National Democratic Front (NDF). Sa milyun-milyong pera muli nilang binigyan ang NDF ng tulong na maghasik ng terorismo sa bansa (It’s no longer a secret to the #ShamefulNine that the Makabayan Bloc is a legal front of NDF. With millions of cash paid in exchange for their endorsement, they seemed to support NDF in sowing terror),” Liga Independencia Filipina spokesperson, Ka Dario Bolivar, said in an interview.

The peace group is referring to Otso Diretso opposition bets Mar Roxas, Bam Aquino, Chel Diokno, Samira Gutoc, Erin Tañada, along with Grace Poe, Nancy Binay, Serge Osmena III and Neri Colmenares as the #ShamefulNine.

Bolivar explained that the Makabayan Bloc has long deceived Filipinos by claiming that it has been fighting against poverty yet its members are the ones working to prolong it to make way for the 50-year old revolution, which he claims is generating huge money from local politicians and overseas sponsors.

“Ano ba ang mahalaga sa #ShamefulNine, bayan o pansariling interes? Wala silang pakialam sa pagiging outcome ng pagtanggap nila ng endorsement sa kilusan (Which is really important for the #ShamefulNine? The country or their personal interests? They do not seem to care for the outcome of financing the revolution),” Bolivar said.

“Huwag natin silang iboto kasama ng mga kaalyado nilang partylists (Let’s not vote for them and their party-list allies),” he added.

Protesters wear masks of Neri Colmenares, Mar Roxas and other opposition bets during a rally in Mendiola, Manila on Wednesday (April 24, 2019).

The group also said the NPA only impedes the country’s progress, as they urged Filipinos to be "one with the government" instead.

The CPP-NPA is listed as terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

In previous reports, Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año had already warned candidates not to yield to the extortion demand of communist rebels.

Año said supporting these candidates and party-list groups would only make the government efforts of ending the insurgency more difficult to attain.

Año stressed though that the information was not enough to file the necessary cases against them.

“We now have a watch list, we know you. So if you are supporting communist rebels in any way, you ascertain yourself as a supporter of terrorism and an enemy of the state, you establish yourself as an accomplice to their cause,” Año told a news briefing at the Philippine National Police national headquarters in Camp Crame.