Saturday, April 27, 2019

For U.S. Commandos in the Philippines, a Water Pump Is a New Weapon Against ISIS

From the New York Times (Apr 27, 2019): For U.S. Commandos in the Philippines, a Water Pump Is a New Weapon Against ISIS

It has taken two months, an American Special Operations civil affairs team, three nonprofit organizations and a platoon from the Philippine Army to bring a water pump to Padas, in the southern Philippines. Credit Jes Aznar for The New York Times

PADAS, Philippines — While neither guided bomb nor armored vehicle, a gray oblong water pump sticking out from the brush along a remote dirt road is intended to be just as clear a sign of the United States’ efforts to stop the spread of the Islamic State.

It has taken two months, an American Special Operations civil affairs team, three nonprofit organizations and an entire platoon from the Philippine Army to bring the pump to Padas, a village of about 3,000 people in the Mindanao chain of islands in the country’s south. If all goes to plan, water from the pump will help impoverished farmers establish trust in the government, and, in turn, seek to undermine the militants’ influence.

“Whatever the international community gives us, we’ll accept,” said Macaraya Ampuan, an influential leader in the village. “But first thing to address is security. Eliminate ISIS so our livelihoods can be stable.”

The contest between the Philippines government and shadowy insurgents in one small village in the Pacific Ocean carries familiar echoes of the United States’ long wars and counterinsurgency campaigns against Islamist extremists since the terrorist attacks of 2001. But the project in Padas is also linked to the defeat of the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate in Iraq and Syria and the Pentagon’s race to stop its resurgence in other parts of the globe.

American soldiers after military exercises on Lubang Island in the Philippines. Credit Jes Aznar for The New York Times

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for twin bombings in Januaryat a Catholic cathedral on the Philippine island of Jolo, killing 23 people. They were an eerily similar prelude to coordinated bombingson Easter Sunday targeting Christian churches and tourist hotels across Sri Lanka that killed at least 250 people — another attack claimed by the Islamic State.

Years ago, the Pentagon identified the Philippines as a remote locale where the Islamic State could expand and flourish. The American military’s focus on Padas was fueled by concerns about a backlash among local residents, and a possible regrouping by insurgents after the bloody battle for a nearby city, Marawi, in 2017.

The monthslong siege there left hundreds dead, displaced thousands more and plunged much of the city into ruin. What remained of the Islamic State affiliate fled to the south and to other islands, and they started to rebuild and recruit around villages like Padas.

The Philippines is a majority Christian country with a minority Muslim population in the south. A November report to Congress put the number of Islamic State fighters in the Philippines at around 500.

The monthslong siege in Marawi left hundreds dead, displaced thousands more and plunged much of the city into ruin. Credit Jes Aznar for The New York Times

The American military has deployed about 250 troops to the southern Philippines. They are part of a counterterrorism campaign that has existed in some capacity since 2002, but was officially restarted by the Pentagon in 2017 under the name Operation Pacific Eagle.

The mission is rarely promoted because of sporadic political tensions between Washington and Manila, the Philippine capital. President Rodrigo Duterte has previously threatened to eject American forces from the country.

During the battle for Marawi, the Pentagon played down the American military’s role, stating that troops there provided only support and assistance. However, officials said Marine commandos helped break the siege by training Philippine snipers who were struggling to defeat expert marksmen among the extremists who proved difficult to target within the city’s concrete buildings.

Now, Marine Special Operations units work quietly alongside Philippine troops spread throughout the country’s southern isles. The United States Army’s only Special Operations civil affairs team in the Philippines is also helping the villages around Marawi, where security concerns prevent State Department officials from traveling.

The American military’s focus on Padas was fueled by concerns about a backlash among residents, and a possible regrouping by insurgents after the bloody battle for Marawi in 2017.

The American military’s focus on Padas was fueled by concerns about a backlash among residents, and a possible regrouping by insurgents after the bloody battle for Marawi in 2017. CreditJes Aznar for The New York Times

At the tip of that effort is the $58,000 water pump in Padas.

The project to bring it to the village was started by Capt. Angela Smith, the leader of the four-person civil affairs team, after residents told her of their two-mile trek to get water. The machine, and the solar panels that power it, was donated by two nonprofit organizations: the U.S.-Philippines Society and Spirit of America.

“One water pump, one classroom that we help build, those things make a difference,” Ambassador Sung Yong Kim, the American envoy to the Philippines, said in a recent interview. “So we want to do as much as that as possible.”

The State Department and the United States Agency for International Development have funded nearly $60 million for reconstruction efforts around Marawi.

Captain Smith’s team, whose soldiers wear civilian clothes and are often escorted by a Marine Special Operations unit based in Marawi, is the military’s latest embrace of a trademark American counterinsurgency strategy of winning over local populations.

American and Philippine special forces during a military exercise on Lubang Island.

American and Philippine special forces during a military exercise on Lubang Island. CreditJes Aznar for The New York Times

In the lake region between Marwai and Padas, “internally displaced persons and their communities are vulnerable to violent extremist recruiting and influence,” Captain Smith said in an email. “Our goal is to work with our Philippine partners to facilitate assistance in areas of greatest need.”

Similar efforts were taken in Afghanistan and Iraq, including by American troops who worked with and paid Sunni militias known as the Sahwa, or the Awakening, at the height of the Iraq War. That mission was largely credited with turning the tide against the insurgency in Iraq, before American forces withdrew in 2011 and the Islamic State swept across much of the country three years later.

Broadly, the American military’s practice of counterinsurgency since 2001 has been plagued by frustration and failure. Many of the places where it was deployed are now under the influence or control of militants, either because the insurgents were never defeated, residents were hostile or noncommittal or the Western troops left.

In Padas, officials said it is a gamble to ensure that the extremist group does not regain the strength it mustered before the siege of Marawi, which caught the Pentagon almost entirely off guard.

During the battle for Marawi, the Pentagon played down the American military’s role. However, officials said Marine commandos helped break the siege by helping train Philippine snipers.

During the battle for Marawi, the Pentagon played down the American military’s role. However, officials said Marine commandos helped break the siege by helping train Philippine snipers. CreditJes Aznar for The New York Times

“This village used to be controlled by the Islamic State,” said Cpl. Jumar Dayanan, a soldier with the Philippine Army platoon who was sent to live in Padas. “But now we’re trying to win the hearts and minds.”

Last month, Philippine troops killed Abu Dar, the nom de guerre of the third and last surviving Islamic State leader who was responsible for planning and carrying out the battle in Marawi. Mr. Dar was shot roughly 500 yards from the water pump in Padas in a gunfight with Philippine Army forces who were supported by Marine commandos, villagers and American officials said.

The Philippines’ southern islands have long been a home for insurgents. Thick jungle, porous borders and little government presence have bolstered a range of extremist groups with money, weapons and militants arriving by sea from Indonesia and Malaysia.

But in Padas, and the other villages around Marawi, the United States is fighting just as much against economics as it is against a creeping ideology.

Wooden labels mark a mass grave of bodies recovered from Marawi.

Wooden labels mark a mass grave of bodies recovered from Marawi. CreditJes Aznar for The New York Times

Wages as low as $6 a day are the market compensation for untrained construction workers in the Marawi area, said Alikman Niaga, who runs a small contracting company around the city. Residents can be paid triple that amount by joining groups that have pledged loyalty to the Islamic State, according to villagers and American officials.

In 2017, the Islamic State’s leadership in the Middle East funneled tens of thousands of dollars to its Philippine counterparts to recruit fighters and help seize territory.

Mr. Ampuan, the village leader who once commanded the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Padas, is afraid there are Islamic State fighters who have been recruited from his community but have yet to surrender or be killed.

“They know people in the community,” Mr. Ampuan said. “ISIS offers money and guns to the young people. Young people are not aware of the reality when they join.”

Macaraya Ampuan, an influential leader in Padas and a former commander in the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, meeting with villagers, contractors and nongovernmental organization workers about the newly installed pump.

Macaraya Ampuan, an influential leader in Padas and a former commander in the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, meeting with villagers, contractors and nongovernmental organization workers about the newly installed pump. Credit Jes Aznar for The New York Times

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front is a separatist militia that signed a peace deal with Manila in 2014. While Muslims in the southern Philippines gained more autonomy last year under a new law, Mr. Ampuan said government officials in Manila still have not given the people of Padas the necessary authority to stop the Islamic State from infiltrating the village.

The government’s presence in Padas also makes residents skittish, he said.

That tension is mirrored by the 30-member Philippine Army platoon living in a few abandoned farming sheds in Padas, some of whom warily eye the villagers as possible Islamic State sympathizers.

Trying to mediate from the middle are the American civil affairs soldiers and employees of Impl. Project, a nonprofit group based in Virginia that works on development and stabilization in conflict zones. They are working in tandem in Padas to install the four-gallon-a-minute water pump and help form a local council to manage it.

For the water pump to work, the Philippine military must provide enough security to protect the people who, in turn, need to learn how to keep it running.

“The water pump becomes the vehicle for them to learn how to govern themselves again,” said Justin Richmond, the founder of Impl. and a former Army Special Operations soldier.

BRP Andres Bonifacio arrives in South Korea

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 28, 2019): BRP Andres Bonifacio arrives in South Korea

The BRP Andres Bonifacio (PS-17), one of the country's most capable offshore patrol vessels, has arrived off Busan, South Korea Saturday afternoon for this year's ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting – Plus (ADMM-Plus) Maritime Security Field Training Exercise 2019.

Navy spokesperson, Captain Jonathan Zata said the ship, along with the contingent consisting of Naval Task Group 80.6 headed by Capt. Roy Vincent Trinidad, docked at the Busan Naval Base Pier.

"This is considered the second time in recent memory that a Philippine Navy vessel went to South Korea, the first being the historic visit held last October 2018 in Jeju Island," the PN spokesperson said.

BRP Andres Bonifacio departed Pier 13, Manila South Harbor for the said drill on April 23.

Zata said the ship and all personnel aboard were warmly received by the Republic of Korea Navy.

Trinidad, in his arrival statement, said the PN's participation in this year’s iteration of the ADMM-initiated exercise demonstrates the Command’s commitment to work with other ASEAN and partner navies in multilateral environment.

He said the deployment of the country’s ships overseas is part of our major effort in naval diplomacy, and that the contingent is looking forward to another successful mission, following the more recent sorties in Hawaii, Australia, and Russia.

Opinion: Islamic State's three tactics that will bring terror closer to home

Posted to ABS (Apr 26, 2019): Opinion: Islamic State's three tactics that will bring terror closer to home (by Lydia Khalil)

A woman with her right eye and hand bandaged spreads her arm wide and yells while people hold her arms and hug her

The devasting Easter bombings in Sri Lanka are one of the deadliest ever attacks claimed by Islamic State (IS).

The attacks shocked many because Sri Lanka was not an obvious location for IS activity and the group was hobbled after the collapse of its caliphate project in Syria and Iraq. The lack of appreciation of this threat, led to multiple compounding intelligence and security failures by the Sri Lankan authorities, which resulted in these deadly bombings.

Yet the attacks in Sri Lanka should not have been all that surprising. While the territorial defeat of Islamic State was an important counter-terrorism win, the attacks in Sri Lanka are a stark reminder of what counter-terrorism officials have been stating for years — IS does not need to hold territory in order to remain a lethal global threat.

Increasingly that threat is presenting itself in Asia.

PHOTO: Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks via its AMAQ news agency. (AP: Aamaq news agency)

Thinking beyond the caliphate

The collapse of the caliphate and the retreat of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has not diminished the appeal of jihad as a solution to injustice, corruption and poor governance.

PHOTO: Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. (Reuters)

Growing sectarianism, disinformation and extremism provide openings for the ideology to take hold in people's hearts and minds.

Sri Lanka, and other regions in Asia, fit into Islamic State's broader strategy of gaining a foothold in countries and regions where there is a history of communal violence, where there are weapons and explosives readily available, where political and security structures are weak or weakening.

But practically speaking, how does IS manage to maintain its global reach even while losing its base in Iraq and Syria?

There are three ways:

1. Reliance on its regional networks and affiliates

IS is increasingly relying on its affiliate organisations and networks around the world to maintain its relevance via mayhem and to serve as vectors for its ideology.

IS began preparing for the eventuality of the caliphate's collapse since at least 2015. Instead of calling its followers to travel to Iraq and Syria, it reversed its instruction and told its supporters to migrate to its affiliate organisations or to remain in their home countries and conduct terrorist attacks on their behalf there.

IS has invested resources and energy in developing affiliates and networks in Asia — such as incorporating local groups like Abu Sayyaf and the Ansar Khalifa Philippines in the Philippines under its banner, establishing Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) in Central Asia with operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and nurturing networks in India, the Maldives and Bangladesh.

IS supporters in Asia are also increasingly networking among themselves with some reports of Maldivians and Sri Lankans training with ISKP.

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.

2. Use of remote-controlled operations

Islamic State is using a modus operandi known as "remote-controlled operations". These types of operations pair IS expertise in operational management and security, explosives and networking with local knowledge of a country, its rhythms and its targets.

IS operatives act as handlers for local individuals, guiding their attack plotting, helping identify targets, maintaining their motivation and remotely organising logistics.

Who are the National Tawheed Jamaath? Questions are being raised regarding an alleged warning by the Sri Lankan Foreign Intelligence services prior to the attack, and whether enough was done to prevent it.

The group fingered for the Easter attack, National Tawheed Jamaath, was a small, little-known group whose only previous activity was defacing Buddhist statues.

It stretches credulity that they could have conducted synchronised, sophisticated attacks of this magnitude alone. They needed outside management to pull off this highly coordinated operation.

We do not yet know the exact role Islamic State had in the Sri Lanka attack, but there are indications the Easter bombings where not just inspired by IS but in some way directed.

India's National Investigation Agency passed intelligence to the Sri Lankan's that IS sympathisers in Tamil Nadu indicated an attack in Sri Lanka was likely, suggesting IS-connected individuals in India had advance knowledge of the attack planning.

The ring leader of the Sri Lanka attacks, Zahran Hashmi aka Mohamed Zaharan, was known to have travelled to neighbouring Maldives, a country with known IS supporters, where he could have been in contact with individuals who could have assisted in planning the attacks.

There are also at least 32 Sri Lankans who were known to have travelled to IS territory in Syria and Iraq. Authorities have acknowledged some could have returned to Sri Lanka at some point or gone to neighbouring countries and there is a possibility one or more of them could have served as a connection between NTJ and IS.

Moreover, IS has used this strategy before, most clearly in organising a failed cell in Hydrabad, India. And it will likely use this strategy again in the region.

3. A propaganda machine in multiple languages

The IS media and propaganda machinery is alive and well and fuelled by a global network that can release messages across times zones and in multiple languages.

IS still maintains a sophisticated strategy of targeted outreach through speaking directly in local languages.

When IS claimed the Sri Lanka attacks, it released statements in Arabic and English, as is its wont, but it also did so in Tamil and Malayalam, two languages spoken in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, India, where it has a number of supporters.

IS has still not made major inroads among the Muslim population in those areas, but the fact it is putting in so much targeted effort reveals its persistence in seeking to establish its presence throughout Asia.

[Lydia Khalil is a research fellow in the West Asia Program at the Lowy Institute.]

Military condemns NPA’s ambush of rescue vehicle as proof of plain banditry

From the Manila Bulletin (Apr 26, 2019): Military condemns NPA’s ambush of rescue vehicle as proof of plain banditry

The Philippine Army (PA) on Friday said that the recent ambush perpetrated by Communist New People’s Army Terrorists (CNTs) on a rescue vehicle of the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO) in North Cotabato, is further proof that they are plain bandits.

Army Spokesman Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, made the remark after one of the personnel of the MDRRMO who was inside the vehicle transporting two wounded soldiers at Sitio Tiwayan, Badiangon, Arakan, North Cotabato on Tuesday, April 23, 2019, was hurt as a result of the attack.

The victim, identified as Jonel Bayaan, a resident of Sitio Lake Sagan, Barangay Meocan, Arakan, was brought to a hospital after he sustained bullet wounds to his right thigh and arm.

Zagala said base on a report he received from the field, Bayaan was among the civilians who were caught in the crossfire following the attacked by CNTs belonging to the Guerrilla Front 53.
The attackers are said to be led by one alias “Joel” whom soldiers of the 19th Infantry Battalion encountered a few hours before the ambush.

The ambush eventually led to a firefight which lasted for about 25 minutes.

“This (ambush) is further proof that the NPA are just plain bandits who have no respect for human rights and the International Humanitarian Law,” Zagala said in a statement.

“Contrary to their claims of being pro-people, they (CPP-NPA) are further reduced to recalcitrant who does not discriminate a combatant from a helpless civilian,” he added.

Zagala, at the same time, said the ambush staged by Communist terrorists should serve as a reminder to the people and foreign neighbors of how their seemingly harmless donations are being used to fuel terror.

“Only an inclusive local and international cooperation is necessary to stop them,” Zagala said.

Zagala said the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) or the law of armed conflict protects persons who are not or no longer participating in hostilities and restricts methods of warfare.

“It also prohibits parties to the conflict from harming civilians,” he said.

Ex-military comptroller seeks to avoid prison 5 S

From the Philippine Star (Apr 27, 2019): 
Ex-military comptroller seeks to avoid prison

Former military comptroller Jacinto Ligot, who was recently convicted of perjury, has asked the Sandiganbayan to instead place him on probation instead of having him serve a prison term of up to six years.

In his application for probation filed before the anti-graft court’s First Division, Ligot said he is “not among those disqualified offenders” as enumerated in Section 9 of Presidential Decree 968 or the Probation Law of 1976.

Under Section 9 of PD 968, the following offenders shall be disqualified from availing of probation: those who are sentenced to serve a maximum prison term of more than six years; those convicted of any offense against the security of the state; those who have been previously convicted by final judgment of an offense punished by imprisonment of not less than one month and one day and/or a fine of not less than P200; those who have been once on probation; and those who are already serving their sentence before the application of PD 968.

Early this month, the First Division convicted Ligot of six counts of perjury over his failure to declare his ownership of several properties in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALNs) for 1998 to 2003.

He was sentenced to one year’s imprisonment for each count.

Ligot maintained that he does not belong to the types of offenders disqualified from probation system.

He also informed the court that he no longer intends to file an appeal on his conviction.

Ligot, who is out on bail, became controversial after being implicated in the Armed Forces of the Philippines 2011 scandal involving P1.5 billion in AFP funds allegedly pooled for distribution as send-off money or “pabaon” for generals about to retire. 

Water Wars: South China Sea Situation Normal, All Fouled Up

From the Lawfare Water Wars blog (Apr 26, 2019): Water Wars: South China Sea Situation Normal, All Fouled Up

A U.S. Marine works with a Philippine Marine during the annual Balikatan exercises, April 2019 (Source: Wikimedia/(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Isaiah Campbell)

Despite a diplomatic row between China and the Philippines, U.S. and Philippine military officials denied that their recent military exercise was a response to Chinese threats. Philippine presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo insisted on April 15 that U.S.-Philippine naval drills were part of the long-scheduled Balikatan 2019 exercise and not due to “the so-called present conflict between China and the Philippines.” Balikatan is an annual U.S.-Philippine exercise that concluded its 35th iteration on April 12. This year’s exercise included a scenario in which U.S. and Philippine forces repelled a foreign power that had captured a Philippine island. It also coincided with increased tensions around the contested island of Thitu (Tagalog: Pag-asa; Chinese: Zhongye).

Since January, around 275 Chinese maritime militia boats have gathered near Philippine-controlled Thitu in the Spratly Islands (Tagalog: Kapuluan ng Kalayaan; Chinese: Nansha). Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte told Beijing on April 4 to “lay off” Thitu or else face “suicide missions” by his soldiers. With Philippine midterm elections approaching in May, several hundred Filipinos protested China’s actions on April 9 in Makati City, east of Manila. Protestors also criticized the Philippine government for not responding to Chinese activities that were “almost an invasion” of the country’s territory in the West Philippine Sea—the Filipino name for the South China Sea.

In response to the Thitu tensions, former Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario urged the Duterte administration to “unshelve” and implement the 2016 Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling that invalidated much of China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea. President Duterte’s spokesman denied accusations that the Duterte administration had ever “shelved” the 2016 arbitral ruling. He said that it only remains unenforceable because “no foreign force seems persuaded to help us enforce it.” He added that del Rosario himself was responsible for the loss of Scarborough Shoal (Tagalog: Panatag; Chinese: Huangyan) to China in 2012. These comments appear to be the first time a senior Philippine official admitted that Manila is no longer in control of Scarborough Shoal.

Meanwhile, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin said on April 16 that the Philippines will take legal action against China over mass harvesting of giant clams in Scarborough Shoal. Philippine media had reported that the Chinese Coast Guard have been driving away Philippine fisherman from the shoal. Manila has filed diplomatic protests, with the presidential spokesman saying the Philippines is ready to do something “more aggressive” if negotiations with China fail. Yet, President Duterte reiterated on April 17 that armed conflict with China would be devastating for the Philippines.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang responded to Philippine assertions by stating that there is “sufficient historical and legal basis” for China’s territorial claims over the Spratly Islands, which includes Thitu.

President Duterte landed in Beijing on April 24 for a forum on China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Speaking to the press in Beijing, the Philippine ambassador to China stated that the Philippines has called for “mutual self-restraint” in the South China Sea to avoid a conflict.

Other foreign warships also appear to be in the vicinity of the Spratlys. The amphibious assault ship USS Wasp may still be in the South China Sea after Balikatan 2019, while Russian destroyers recently visited Manila. Russian media reported that the Russian ships were scheduled to head back out into the South China Sea on April 13, with joint Russia-China naval drills scheduled at the end of April and early May.

In Other News…
Elsewhere Around the South China Sea

The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) has joined the U.S. Navy in the Asia-Pacific, increasing U.S. presence in the region. The USCG cutter Bertholf pulled into Hong Kong on April 15, with the Seventh Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge arriving in Hong Kong on April 20. The Bertholf recently participated in international efforts in the East China Sea to prevent illicit ship-to-ship transfers of fuel and coal that skirt U.N. sanctions against North Korea. The Bertholf’s Hong Kong port visit was also the first time a Coast Guard vessel has visited the Chinese territory in 17 years. The Coast Guard’s increasing role in the Asia-Pacific comes as the U.S. Navy continues to respond to Chinese activities with two fewer Japan-based destroyers due to 2017 collisions. One of those destroyers—the USS Fitzgerald—left its dry dock on April 16, following two years of repairs from a collision that killed seven sailors.

Vietnam has been slowly adding buildings and self-defense fortifications on 10 of its islets in the South China Sea. While China’s island reconstruction receives significant coverage from international media, Vietnam’s islet improvements have been incremental. Vietnam also avoids using large construction ships that might garner international attention.

In the Western Pacific

Taiwan’s military spokesman announced on April 15 that the military budget would increase from $11.34 billion to over $13 billion by 2027. Although a paltry sum compared to Beijing’s $177.5-billion military budget in 2018, the increase serves mainly to counter the growing military threat from mainland China, according to the spokesman.

On the same day of this announcement, Taiwanese military aircraft and ships shadowed five Chinese warplanes flying south of Taiwan en route to the Western Pacific for military drills. The fly-by occurred two weeks after two People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) Jian-11 fighter jets crossed the Taiwan Strait median on March 31. Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had called the median crossing an “intentional, reckless & provocative action.” The incident was the first time Chinese jets had crossed the median since 2011, making it the first such incursion under Chinese President Xi Jinping’s administration.

To the north, an official at Japan’s National Institute of Defence Studies said that Japan scrambled its fighters 999 times in the last financial year to intercept foreign aircraft—nearly two-thirds of which were Chinese military planes. The intercept figure is the second highest on record for Japan, only behind the 2015-2016 financial year, in which Japanese fighters intercepted planes 1,168 times. A majority of both years’ intercepts were in response to Chinese military plane incursions close to Okinawa and nearby Senkaku Islands (Chinese: Diaoyu) in the East China Sea. Japan’s National Institute of Defence Studies believes China is testing Japanese air-defense and fighter response times.

From India to China

From April 2 to April 14, several warships from the Indian and Australian navies participated in AUSINDEX-19, a maritime exercise in the Bay of Bengal. Submarines, helicopters and long-range reconnaissance aircraft from both navies also participated.

China commemorated the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN) 70th anniversary on April 23 with a naval parade in the eastern Chinese port of Qingdao. President Xi Jinping kicked off the parade, stating in his speech, “The Chinese people love and long for peace.” The parade featured 32 Chinese ships and 39 aircraft, along with vessels from 13 foreign countries. PLAN Vice Admiral Qiu Yanpeng said that the PLAN Liaoning aircraft carrier, new nuclear submarines and new destroyers were to make their “public debut.” A naval symposium in Qingdao continued through April 25 with delegations from 61 countries.


South China Morning Post writer Richard Heydarian calls the events surrounding Thitu a “Scarborough Shoal-like crisis” that could derail President Duterte’s attempts to build a strong relationship with China. Reuters’s Peter Apps draws similar conclusions, noting that U.S. and Russian warships are also sailing in the vicinity of the Spratlys. The stage appears set for another tense fishing season in the South China Sea.

In the Diplomat, Steven Stashwick writes that the U.S. Army’s major Pacific exercise in 2020 will focus on China-based scenarios in the South and East China Seas. The 2020 Defender Pacific exercise will deploy a U.S. Army division to operate in the Philippines and Thailand, while also coordinating with forces from Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. Stashwick thinks the geography and multinational component of the exercise is part of a U.S. Army shift to new domains, such as assisting the U.S. Navy in targeting enemy ships and exercising sea control in the South China Sea.

Retired PLAN Captain Liu Xiaobo—not to be confused with the deceased Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo jailed for subversion—writes about how China can resolve deadlock around freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) in the South China Sea. Liu blames U.S. FONOPs for turning the South China sea into “a political battlefield with a legal façade.” He argues that if China makes only verbal protests against continued U.S. FONOPs, the United States will win by undermining China’s “maritime rights” and national credibility. But China responding to FONOPs with military force would also unlikely stop the FONOP program. Liu cited Soviet rammings and their failure to stop U.S. warships from exercising innocent passage in the Black Sea during the Cold War. Liu recommends that, rather than focus on territorial disputes, Beijing should negotiate with Washington on the U.S. FONOP program. He argues the United States might consider rolling back its FONOP activities if China amends its domestic law and policies on innocent passage and military activities in China’s exclusive economic zone. Such a policy shift could also meet China’s long-term interest in exercising freedom of navigation far from Chinese shores, as Chinese projects like those under the Belt and Road Initiative continue to grow.

There is finally a smart U.S. response to the Belt and Road Initiative, argues Erin Dunne in the Washington Examiner. To help countries avoid debt-traps from Chinese loans, teams of U.S. lawyers, economists and diplomats have been helping scrutinize international contracts for lopsided conditions and outright bad deals. A U.S. team helped improve the Myanmar government’s multibillion-dollar deal with China for a deep-water port. Dunne says that rather than compete directly with China in infrastructure financing, the United States should continue to help other governments negotiate deals that will actually benefit their respective countries.

CPP/Ang Bayan: Mga misengkwentro ng AFP

Propaganda article from the Tagalog language edition of Ang Bayan posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Apr 21, 2019): Mga misengkwentro ng AFP

Dalawang misengkwentro sa pagitan ng mga tropa Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) habang nanghahalihaw ang kanilang mga yunit sa mga komunidad ng magsasaka ang naiulat kamakailan.

Noong Abril 10, alas-3 ng madaling araw, nagsalpukan ang dalawang pangkat ng Bravo Coy ng 85th IB sa Sityo Labrahan, Barangay Butanguiad sa San Francisco, Quezon. Ang isang pangkat ng naturang yunit ay nagbihis-sibilyan at nagpanggap na mga Pulang mandirigma habang naka-unipormeng sundalo naman ang isang grupo. Isang sundalo ang nasawi sa engkwentro habang hindi mabilang ang sugatan.

Para pagtakpan ang kanilang kapalpakan, ibinalita ng 85th IB na nagkaroon ng labanan sa pagitan ng kanilang tropa at ng BHB. Pinalabas din ng mga sundalo na Pulang mandirigma ang sundalong nasawi, sa kabila ng pagkakakilanlan sa kanyang bangkay nang dalhin sa punenarya sa San Francisco.

Samantala, hindi bababa sa 20 elemento ng Marine Battalion Landing Team-2 ang natamaan ng kanilang sariling bomba habang nagmamaniobra matapos magkaroon ng engkwentro sa pagitan nila at ng BHB noong Pebrero 5 sa Kapuyan Blag, Barangay Datu Wasay, Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat.

[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and views on current issues. Ang Bayan comes out fortnightly and is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Ilokano, Waray, Hiligaynon and English.]

CPP/Ang Bayan: Pekeng engkwentro, panakip-krimen ng AFP

Propaganda article from the Tagalog language edition of Ang Bayan posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Apr 21, 2019): Pekeng engkwentro, panakip-krimen ng AFP

Sa tangkang itago ang dumaraming krimen sa mamamayan, walang tigil ang paghahabi ng AFP ng mga kwento upang palabasing mga kasapi ng Bagong Hukbong Bayan (BHB) ang pinapaslang at dinadakip nitong mga sibilyan.

Sa Masbate, pinalabas ng AFP na nagkaroon ng labanan sa pagitan ng BHB at mga elemento ng 2nd IB, 9th ID at PNP sa Barangay Buri, Mandaon, Masbate noong Abril 8. Ito ay para itago ang kanilang pagpaslang sa kanilang mga aset na pinamumunuan ng isang Rolando Bajera Epil. Si Epil at kanyang grupo ay dating mga Pulang mandirigma na matagal nang sumuko sa AFP.

Ayon sa BHB-Masbate, walang yunit ng BHB sa nasabing erya sa nabanggit na panahon. Ang totoo, anito, nasa lugar ang 2nd IB at PNP RMG, kasama si Epil at anim pa niyang kagrupo. Sa pekeng engkwentrong ito, pinatay ng AFP si Epil at tatlo niyang kasamahan.

Si Epil at kanyang grupo ay matagal nang kinakanlong ng 2nd IB at mga elemento ng pribadong armadong grupo na pinamumunuan ng notoryus na upisyal paniktik ng AFP na si Sgt. Rico Amaro. Sangkot ang grupong ito sa di mabilang na krimen sa taumbayan, kabilang na ang pagpaslang kay Randy Masamoc noong Disyembre 2018.

Pekeng engkwentro rin ang inimbento ng 31st IB at Sorsogon Police Provincial Office sa naganap sa Barangay Lajong, Juban, Sorsogon noong Abril 1 para pagtakpan ang pagsalbeyds ng mga sundalo at pulis kay Michael Ismer, isang sibilyang inakusahang kasapi ng BHB.

Ayon sa pahayag ng BHB-Sorsogon, walang yunit ng BHB sa lugar sa nasabing petsa. Ang totoo, nagpaalam si Ismer noong Marso 29 na may aasikasuhin siya sa labas ng Magallanes kung saan siya nakatira. Noong Abril 1, nakita siyang bumaba sa isang puting sasakyan na may kasunod na sasakyan ng pulis sa Barangay Lajong. Pagkababa ni Ismer, agad siyang binaril hanggang mapatay ng mga lalaking galing sa puting sasakyan. Matapos nito ay kinuha ng mga pulis ang kanyang bangkay idineklara siyang Pulang mandirigma na napatay sa isang engkwentro.

Pinagkalat naman ng mga pulis ng San Remigio, Antique ang kasinungalingang binigo nila ang paglusob ng BHB-Panay sa kanilang istasyon noong Marso 31. Kinundena ito ng mga Pulang mandirigma dahil, anila, ginagamit itong dahilan ng pulis para higit pang imilitarisa ang mga komunidad at palabasing humihina ang BHB.

Bago nito, Marso 17, ipinamalita ng AFP at PNP ang pekeng labanan sa Barangay Mulangan, Igbaras, Iloilo. Walang humpay na nagpaputok ang 61st IB sa komunidad. Matapos nito, tatlong magsasaka ang inaresto at iprinisintang mga kasapi ng BHB. Ganito rin ang pinalabas ng 61st IB nang hulihin nito sa Barangay Masaroy, Calinog noong Abril 16 ang isang Tumanduk.

Mariin namang pinasinungalingan ng BHB-Camarines Norte ang pinalabas ng AFP na labanan sa pagitan ng PNP at mga Pulang mandirigma sa Barangay Tuaca, Basud noong Marso. Ayon sa BHB-Camarines Norte, hindi engkwentro sa pagitan ng BHB at PNP ang naganap kundi sagupaan sa pagitan ng mga pulis at ng armadong sindikato na hawak ng militar at sangkot sa mga kaso ng pangingikil sa mga bayan ng Mercedes, San Vicente, San Lorenzo, Daet at Basud. Nasawi sa sagupaang ito si Jonathan Brondia, kasapi ng sindikato. Malaon nang naglalabas-masok-masok si Brondia sa kampo ng 22nd IB sa Barangay Guinatungan, San Lorenzo. Ayon sa imbestigasyon ng BHB, sadyang pinatay si Brondia para pagtakpan ang koneksyon ng kanyang grupo sa militar. Matagal nang inirereklamo ng mga residente ang presensya ng sindikatong ito na gumagamit sa pangalan ng BHB sa kanilang mga kriminal at anti-sosyal na aktibidad.

Bago nito, pekeng engkwentro din ang hinabi ng mga elemento ng AFP at PNP-MIMAROPA sa pagkakasawi ng magsasakang si Roland Sibulan sa Bongabong, Oriental Mindoro noong Marso 1. (Basahin ang kaugnay na balita sa Ang Bayan, Abril 7, 2019).

[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and views on current issues. Ang Bayan comes out fortnightly and is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Ilokano, Waray, Hiligaynon and English.]

CPP/Ang Bayan: Lider Manobo, pinaslang

Propaganda article from the Tagalog language edition of Ang Bayan posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Apr 21, 2019): Lider Manobo, pinaslang

Pinaslang si Datu Kaylo Bontulan, lider Manobo at upisyal ng Pasaka at Salugpungan, ng mga elemento ng 3rd IB na walang patumanggang naghulog ng mga bomba at namaril sa Barangay Kipilas, Kitaotao, Bukidnon noong Abril 7. Bumibisita noon si Datu Kaylo sa lugar para alamin ang kalagayan ng mga nagbakwit doon na mga Manobo mula sa Talaingod. Kilala siya bilang isa sa mga lider ng Talaingod na matagal nang lumalaban para ipagtanggol ang kanilang lupaing ninuno.

Samantala, pitong sibilyan ang iligal na inaresto ng mga pwersa ng estado nitong Abril sa Iloilo, Bulacan at Cagayan Valley.

Sa Iloilo, inaresto ng mga elemento ng 61st IB si Remy Diaz, kasapi ng Tumanduk Panay, sa Barangay Masaroy, Calinog noong Abril 16, alas-12 ng hatinggabi. Ipinrisinta ang biktima na kasapi ng BHB. Pinaputukan ng mga sundalo ang mga upisyal ng barangay na nagtangkang saklolohan ang biktima.

Sa Bulacan, dinukot ng mga elemento ng 48th IB sina John Griefen Arlegui at Reynaldo Remias, mga organisador ng Kadamay sa Pandi, noong tanghali ng Abril 13 habang nagdidikit ng mga poster ng Bayan Muna at ni Neri Colmenares sa Angat-Pandi Road. Natagpuan kinabukasan ang mga biktima sa kulungan ng CIDG Malolos. Sinampahan sila ng gawa-gawang kasong illegal possession of firearms.

Sa Cagayan, inaresto ng mga pulis sina Ariel Madriaga, Felix Madriaga, Jovito Madriaga at Adrian Panturgo sa Barangay Dafunganay, Amulung noong Abril 15, dakong alas-5 ng umaga. Bago nito, dakong alas-3, pinalibutan ng mga armadong lalaki na nakatakip ang mukha ang mga bahay ng mga biktima. Pagkatapos nito ay pinasok, iligal na hinalughog at tinamnan ng mga salarin ng ebidensyang mga baril, bala at bomba ang mga bahay.

Samantala, hinarang ng mga sundalo sa isang tsekpoynt ang grupo ng Bayan Muna na magdidikit sana ng mga poster sa Abatan, Bauko, Mt. Province noong Abril 4. Walang pahintulot na kinuhaan ng litrato ang sasakyan at mga kasapi ng grupo. Hinalughog din ang kanilang sasakyan at pinaratangan silang nagtatago ng mga armas.

[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and views on current issues. Ang Bayan comes out fortnightly and is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Ilokano, Waray, Hiligaynon and English.]

CPP/Ang Bayan: Pananalasa ng terorismo ng estado sa unang kwarto ng taon

Propaganda article from the Tagalog language edition of Ang Bayan posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Apr 21, 2019): Pananalasa ng terorismo ng estado sa unang kwarto ng taon

Ang ulat na ito ay halaw sa mga ibinalita ng Ang Bayan na mga kaso ng paglabag sa karapatang-tao na isinagawa ng Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police at iba pang mga armadong ahente ng reaksyunaryong rehimeng US-Duterte sa buong bansa nitong unang kwarto ng taong 2019.

Sa inisyal na tala ng Ang Bayan, umabot na sa 772 (o siyam kada araw) ang naging biktima ng iba’t ibang tipo ng paglabag mula Enero 1 hanggang Marso 31. Hindi pa kabilang dito ang puo-puong libong nagbakwit sa iba’t ibang bahagi ng bansa dulot ng sustenidong mga operasyon at kampanyang militar sa kani-kanilang mga komunidad.

Sa abereyds, kada tatlong araw ay may isang pinapatay at dalawa ang iligal na inaaresto. Kada araw naman ay may pitong nagiging biktima ng pagbabanta, panggigipit at intimidasyon.

Ang matinding unang kwartong opensiba laban sa mamamayan ay direktang resulta ng malawakang pagpapatupad ng National Internal Security Program (NISP) at Oplan Kapayapaan ng rehimen.

Pagpaslang, bigong pagpaslang at tortyur. Sa loob lamang ng tatlong buwan, umabot na sa 32 ang mga sibilyang biktima ng pampulitikang pamamaslang sa buong bansa. Siyam (28%) ang pinaslang sa Luzon, 16 (50%) sa Visayas at pito (38%) naman sa Mindanao. Samantala, nakapagtala rin ang Ang Bayan ng tig-limang kaso ng bigong pagpaslang at tortyur.

Bagamat katumbas ng kabuuang bilang ng pinaslang ngayong unang kwarto ng 2019 ang sangkapat ng kabuuang bilang ng mga biktima (106) noong 2018, mahalagang bigyang pansin ang dami ng mga biktima sa Negros Island. Nananatiling pinakamataas ang bilang ng naitalang kaso ng pagpaslang sa rehiyon. Sa Negros Oriental pa lamang, 15 na ang mga magsasakang pinaslang sa ilalim ng SEMPO (Synchronized Enhanced Managing of Police Operations) o Oplan Sauron, ang umiiral na kampanyang panunupil sa isla.

Iligal na pag-aresto at arbitraryong detensyon. Umabot na sa 65 ang naging biktima ng iligal na pag-aresto at arbitraryong detensyon sa nakalipas na tatlong buwan. Dalawampu’t dalawa (34%) ang inaresto sa Luzon, 18 (28%) sa Visayas at 25 (38%) sa Mindanao.

Nakapag-ulat ng pinakamaraming kaso ng iligal na pag-aresto sa Northern Mindanao Region o NMR (14 biktima) na sinundan naman ng Negros Island (11) at ng Davao Region (8). Tampok na kaso ang iligal na pag-aresto ng mga elemento ng 65th IB at PNP-CIDG sa dalawang bata, isang menor-de-edad at apat na kasapi ng Misamis Oriental Farmers’ Association noong Enero 13.

Pambobomba, istraping at militarisasyon. Hindi bababa sa anim na kaso ng istraping at pambobomba ang inulat ng Ang Bayan sa parehong panahon. Dagdag dito ang 42 insidente ng okupasyon at pang-aatakeng militar sa mga komunidad kung saan isa ang naiulat sa Luzon, 23 (55%) sa Visayas at 18 (43%) sa Mindanao.

Pinakamarami ang naiulat na kaso ng militarisasyon sa Negros (13 insidente), NMR (12) at Eastern Visayas (9). Resulta ang mabangis na mga operasyong militar sa Negros at Eastern Visayas ng de facto na batas militar na umiiral sa nasabing mga rehiyon sa bisa ng Memorandum Order 32 ni Duterte na direktang nagtambak ng dagdag na mga batalyon sa mga ito.

Pagbabakwit. Nagresulta ang walang puknat na mga operasyong militar sa pagbabakwit ng 19,936 katao mula sa iba’t ibang komunidad sa buong bansa. Pinakamarami ang nagbakwit sa Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (16,300 bakwit) dahil sa walang patumanggang pambobomba at pag-istraping ng militar sa mga komunidad sa Maguindanao at Sulu. Hindi naman bababa sa 1,614 ang nagbakwit mula sa Eastern Visayas, 900 sa NMR at 831 sa Caraga.

Pagbabanta, panggigipit at intimidasyon. Kabilang sa mga biktima ang 646 indibidwal na isinailalim sa pagbabanta, panggigipit at intimidasyon. Kalakhan ng mga biktima ay mula sa Negros (452) at Davao Region (153).

[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and views on current issues. Ang Bayan comes out fortnightly and is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Ilokano, Waray, Hiligaynon and English.]

CPP/Ang Bayan: Pasistang propaganda, sangkap sa todo-gera

Propaganda article from the Tagalog language edition of Ang Bayan posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Apr 21, 2019): Pasistang propaganda, sangkap sa todo-gera

Kasabay ng matinding pang-aatake sa mamamayan at rebolusyonaryong kilusan, pinaiigting ng rehimeng US-Duterte ang pasistang propaganda laban sa Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas (PKP), Bagong Hukbong Bayan (BHB), lahat ng rebolusyonaryong pwersa, at sa mga pwersang ligal at demokratiko.

Kinakasangkapan ng rehimen ang pasistang propaganda para ihanda at hubugin ang opinyong publiko para bigyang katwiran ang pagsupil nito sa lehitimong mga pakikibaka ng masang anakpawis. Partikular na katangian ng kampanyang ito ang pagdedeklarang “teroristang organisasyon” ang PKP-BHB at na “walang-saysay” ang rebolusyonaryong pakikibaka. Tahasan ding binabansagan ang hayag at ligal na mga progresibong institusyon at organisasyong masa bilang “mga prenteng komunista.”

Tampok na halimbawa nito ang pagpapakalat ng mga pekeng balita ng engkwentro para pagtakpan ang laganap na mga kaso ng pagpaslang sa mga aktibistang magsasaka; pagbansag sa mga paaralang Lumad bilang mga “paaralan sa pagsasanay ng BHB;” pagpaparada sa mga sibilyan bilang mga “sumurender” na kasapi o tagasuporta ng BHB; pagpwersa sa mga lokal na gubyerno na maglabas ng mga deklarasyong “persona non grata” (mga taong di tinatanggap) ang BHB; at iba pa.

Direktang ipinapailalim ng AFP ang mga lokal na gubyerno mula antas prubinsya hanggang barangay sa tangkang ipagkait sa rebolusyonaryong kilusan ang baseng masa. Halos araw-araw, bukambibig ni Duterte at mga tagapagsalita ng mga ito ang mga kasinungalingan at paninira sa PKP, BHB at buong rebolusyonaryong kilusan. Ginagamit ng AFP kapwa ang tradisyunal at social media para padaluyin ang kanilang propaganda, habang kinokontrol ang daloy ng impormasyon mula sa mga lugar na inaatake ng kanilang mga tropa. Pinagbabantaan at ginigipit ng mga ito ang mga mamamahayag na nangangahas magsiwalat sa mga abuso at krimen ng militar at pulis.

Ginagamit din ng AFP ang mga sustenidong operasyong peace and development (PDT o COPD) para magkalat ng disimpormasyon at takutin ang mamamayan para busalan ang kanilang mga paglaban at gawin silang pasibo.

[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and views on current issues. Ang Bayan comes out fortnightly and is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Ilokano, Waray, Hiligaynon and English.]

CPP/Ang Bayan: Rebolusyonaryong paglaban ng Kaigorotan

Propaganda article from the Tagalog language edition of Ang Bayan posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Apr 21, 2019): Rebolusyonaryong paglaban ng Kaigorotan

Kung hindi dahil sa matibay at maalab na paglaban ng pambansang minorya sa tulong ng hukbong bayan upang ipagtanggol ang lupaing ninuno, matagal na sanang nawala ang Cordillera.

Ito ang pahayag ni Simon Naogsan (Ka Filiw), tagapagsalita ng Cordillera People’s Democratic Front (CPDF) sa di-maitatatwang papel ng Bagong Hukbong Bayan (BHB) sa pakikibaka ng mamamayang Igorot para sa pagpapasya-sa-sarili at demokrasya, at para sa pagpapalaya ng bansa.

Sa kanyang pahayag noong Marso 21, kinilala ni Ka Filiw ang pagsisikhay ng BHB sa gawaing masa, panlipunang pagsisiyasat at pag-aaral sa partikular na kalagayan ng iba’t ibang tribu sa Cordillera. Pagsapit ng huling bahagi ng dekada 1970, nakapag-ugat na ang rebolusyonaryong kilusan sa anim na prubinsya ng Cordillera. Nailuwal ang mga dokumentong bumaybay sa pambansang pang-aapi sa Cordillera na siyang partikularidad ng kanilang pakikibaka.

Kabilang ang mga paglaban sa Chico Dam at Cellophil sa mga unang bumasag sa tiraniya ng diktadurang Marcos. Pinagtibay ng mga labang ito, at ng sumunod pang mga laban ng masa na umabot sa hangganan ng Ilocos Sur, ang kapasyahan ng mga Igorot na ipagtanggol ang kanilang lupaing ninuno at yamang rekurso. Kalakhan ng mga pakikibakang masa ay laban sa mga mina, para sa pagbawi sa lupaing ninuno at laban sa pagdistrungka sa sistemang sosyo-pulitikal ng mamamayang Igorot.

Rumurok ang rebolusyonaryong armadong pakikibaka ng mamamayang Igorot sa pagkatatatag ng CPDF noong 1989. Ang CPDF ang kongkretong anyo ng rebolusyonaryong pakikibaka ng mga Igorot. Ito ay alyansa ng lahat ng mga demokratikong uri at sektor sa rehiyon, at tumatayong rebolusyonaryong nagkakaisang prente o NDF ng Cordillera. Naging susi ang CPDF sa pagtatayo ng unang mga organo ng kapangyarihang pampulitika hanggang sa mga pwerang bahagi ng Cordillera. Sa pagkakabuo ng mga Konseho ng mga Lider sa mga komunidad hanggang antas munisipyo, nailagay sa unang pagkakataon sa kamay ng mamamayang Igorot ang tunay na demokratikong kapangyarihang pampulitika. Sinuklian ito ng matinding karahasan ng reaksyunaryong estado na suportado ng mga imperyalistang bansa na may malalaking interes sa mina sa kabundukan ng rehiyon.

Hamon ngayon sa mamamayang Igorot ang patuloy na labanan ang mga mapaminsalang mina at proyektong dam at enerhiya sa Cordillera. Kasabay nito ang matinding militarisasyon at saywar upang supilin ang paglaban ng mga komunidad at buwagin ang kanilang pagkakaisa. Inuudyukan ang mga magsasaka at kabataang Igorot na maging sundalo at paramilitar, at sinasalaula ang katutubong mga sistemang sosyo-pulitikal tulad ng mga dap-ay at bodong upang gamitin sa “kontra-insurhensya.”

Hamon din ang itinutulak ng mga pulitiko sa Cordillera na pekeng awtonomiya sa rehiyon. Samantala, nananatili ang pagkaatrasado ng agrikultura na pinalala ng kapabayaan ng gubyerno. Ginagawa ring komersyalisado ang katutubong kultura at tradisyon, at pinalalaganap ang dekadenteng kultura habang pinapawi ang militanteng tradisyon ng mamamayan ng Cordillera.

[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and views on current issues. Ang Bayan comes out fortnightly and is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Ilokano, Waray, Hiligaynon and English.]

CPP/Ang Bayan: 54, kaswalti ng AFP sa Sultan Kudarat

Propaganda article from the Tagalog language edition of Ang Bayan posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Apr 21, 2019): 54, kaswalti ng AFP sa Sultan Kudarat

Hindi bababa sa 54 sundalo ng Marine Battalion Landing Team (MBLT)-2 at 33rd IB ang naiulat na kaswalti sa limang opensiba ng Bagong Hukbong Bayan (BHB) sa Sultan Kudarat mula Enero 22-Marso 10. Sa Negros, umaabot sa 24 ang kaswalti ng AFP sa isang ambus ng BHB.

Noong Marso 10, inambus ng BHB ang mga sundalo ng 33rd IB na nag-ooperasyon sa kabundukan ng Daguma. Sakay ng trak ang mga sundalo nang pasabugan sila sa Barangay Titulok, Bagumbayan, Sultan Kudarat. Sugatan dito ang 23 elemento ng AFP.

Ang ambus na ito ay bahagi ng serye ng mga taktikal na opensibang inilunsad ng BHB-Sultan Kudarat upang labanan ang kampanya ng kaaway sa kabundukan ng Daguma. Ang MBLT-2 at 33rd IB ay nagsisilbing gwardya ng DM Consunji Incorporated na nang-aagaw ng lupaing ninuno ng mga Lumad upang gawing mga plantasyon at minahan.

Sinimulan ng BHB ang serye ng mga opensiba noong Enero 22 sa pamamagitan ng operasyong haras sa detatsment ng Marines sa komunidad ng Maat, Barangay Sangay, Kalamansig kung saan dalawang sundalo ang nasugatan. Kasunod nito ang ambus noong Enero 24 sa dalawang trak ng Marines sa haywey sa Sityo Kabukbukan, Barangay Kipungot, Palimbang. Pinasabugan ang komboy ng kaaway na nagresulta sa pagkawasak ng isang trak. Nahulog naman sa bangin ang isa pang trak matapos mawalan ng kontrol ang drayber nito. Hindi bababa sa 20 sundalo ang namatay, maliban sa ilan pang sugatan.

Kinabukasan, isa pang ambus ang isinagawa sa kalapit na Barangay Paril sa parehong bayan. Dalawang sundalo ang napatay at dalawa pa ang nasugatan nang pasabugan ng BHB ang trak na sinasakyan ng mga pasistang tropa.

Noong Pebrero 3, inambus ng BHB ang isang kolum ng kaaway sa komunidad ng Kiblis sa Barangay Hinalaan sa Kalamansig kung saan limang sundalo ang nasugatan.

[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and views on current issues. Ang Bayan comes out fortnightly and is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Ilokano, Waray, Hiligaynon and English.]

CPP/Ang Bayan: 31 sundalo, kaswalti sa mga atake ng BHB sa Abril

Propaganda article from the Tagalog language edition of Ang Bayan posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Apr 21, 2019): 31 sundalo, kaswalti sa mga atake ng BHB sa Abril

Napataya ang 24 sundalo nang tambangan ng Bagong Hukbong Bayan (BHB)-Negros ang 62nd IB noong Abril 1 sa Barangay Quintin Remo, Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental. Noon namang Abril 9, pinasabugan ng BHB ang parehong yunit ng kaaway sa Sityo Asaran, Barangay Buenavista, Himamaylan City. Pitong sundalo ang nasugatan.

Compostela Valley. Tinambangan ng BHB ang tropa ng 71st IB sa Sityo Bagong Silang, Barangay Teresa, Maco noong Abril 3, alas- 6:45 ng umaga. Apat ang kumpirmadong napatay na sundalo. Kabilang sa nasugatan ang kumander ng yunit na si 1Lt. Serwin E. Matas. Bago nito, tatlong sundalo ng 66th IB ang napatay noong Marso 30, alas- 9:30 ng umaga, sa Sityo Dasuran, Barangay Golden Valley sa Mabini.

Matapos ang mga labanang ito, paulit-ulit na nanganyon at naghulog ng bomba ang mga yunit ng AFP.

Masbate. Dalawang pulis ang pinarusahan sa magkahiwalay na operasyong partisano ng BHB sa Barangay TR Yangco, Dimasalang at Barangay Bugang, Pio V. Corpuz. Ayon sa BHB-Masbate, aktibo sa mga operasyong “kontra-insurhensya” at kontra-mamamayan ang dalawang pulis. Nakuha mula sa kanila ang mga pistolang kalibre .45 at 9mm.

Samar. Dalawang sundalo ang napatay matapos paputukan ng BHB ang 543rd Engineering Construction Battalion sa kahabaan ng kalsadang umuugnay sa mga barangay ng San Antonio, Aguinaldo at San Isidro sa Las Navas, Northern Samar. Isinagawa ang opensiba noong Abril 15, alas 11:20 ng umaga habang nag-iinspeksyon ang mga sundalo sa kanilang proyektong kalsada sa ilalim ng PAMANA.

SA ORIENTAL MINDORO, inaresto ng BHB sina Peter Delos Santos, Rocky Bueta at Remando Malupa sa Barangay Malu, Bansud noong Abril 5. Gamit ang kanilang mga pusisyon sa barangay, arbitraryong dinadakip ng tatlo ang mga sibilyang pinaghihinalaang may kaugnayan sa rebolusyonaryong kilusan. Naniniktik din sila sa galaw ng BHB sa lugar. Nakumpiska mula sa kanila ang isang pistola, mga bala at dalawang radyo.

Pinalaya sina Delos Santos at Bueta habang nananatili sa kustodiya ng BHB si Malupa bilang bihag-ng-digma.

[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and views on current issues. Ang Bayan comes out fortnightly and is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Ilokano, Waray, Hiligaynon and English.]

CPP/Ang Bayan: Editorial - Labanan ang dominasyong militar ng US at panghihimasok ng China

Propaganda article from the Tagalog language edition of Ang Bayan posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Apr 21, 2019): Editorial - Labanan ang dominasyong militar ng US at panghihimasok ng China

Ipinapakita ng mga pangyayari nitong nagdaang mga linggo ang kalunus-lunos na kawalang-kalayaan ng Pilipinas at pangangailangang makibaka para sa pambansang soberanya. Ang bansa’y nagmistulang palaruan ng malalaki’t makapangyarihang siga para ipangalandakan ang kanilang lakas sa militar at ekonomya, habang asal-alipin at inutil ang rehimeng US-Duterte sa pagtaguyod ng pambansang patrimonya at soberanya ng Pilipinas.

Sa isang banda, ipinusisyon ng China sa palibot ng Spratly Islands ang daan-daang pangisdang barko, na pinaniniwalaang may kargang mga armado. Mistulang sinakop nila ang pangisdaan at iba pang rekurso sa saklaw ng teritoryong-dagat ng Pilipinas. Dagdag pa, patuloy ang pagsira ng mga bahura sa kanilang mga operasyong reklamasyon para magtayo ng mga pasilidad pangmilitar at patatagin ang kanilang presensyang militar.

Sa kabilang banda, sa mas hayagan at aroganteng pagpapakita ng superyor na lakas-militar, hambog na pumasok sa bansa ang 3,500 tropang Amerikano na malugod na sinalubong ng kanilang mga alagad sa AFP. Ipinarada nila ang kanilang mga armas tulad ng mga barkong de-nukleyar, fighter jet at sasakyang panlusob mula sa dagat kaugnay ng mga pagsasanay na Balikatan noong Abril 1-12. Sa tabing ng mga pagsasanay, ginamit ng US ang bansa bilang lunsaran para sa paglalayag ng USS Wasp at pagpapalipad ng mga F-35B sa Panatag Shoal na nagdulot ng takot sa mga Pilipinong mangingisda. Layunin ng pagpapakitang-lakas na ito ang lalong palakasin ang kontrol ng US sa bansa, at igiit ang kapangyarihan sa South China Sea at buong Pacific.

Kumpara sa China, mas marami at mas malalaki ang agresibo at mapanghimasok na operasyong militar na inilunsad ng US sa tabing ng tinaguriang “freedom of navigation operation” at mga kasunduang militar sa Pilipinas.

Dahil sa ganitong pagpapakitang-gilas ng malalaking kapangyarihan, lumalaki ang banta ng gera sa Pacific at niyuyurakan ang pambansang soberanya ng Pilipinas. Bahagi ito ng umiigting na labanan para sa superyoridad sa militar at ekonomya sa pagitan ng malalaking kapangyarihan. Interesado lamang sila sa pagsulong ng kanilang mga magkatunggaling layuning kontrolin ang mga ruta sa kalakalan, pagkukunan ng hilaw na materyales, murang lakas-paggawa, lugar ng pamumuhunan, pamilihan ng mga eksport, at mga kampong militar.

Nagpapaalipin at lumuluhod sa dalawang siga ang sakim na si Duterte. Ipinagkakanulo niya ang patrimonya at soberanya ng bansa para ibayong mapalawak ang kanyang burukrata-kapitalista at pasistang interes.

Isinuko ni Duterte sa China ang teritoryong dagat ng bansa na kinikilala maging sa UN Convention on the Law of the Seas. Pumasok din siya sa pabigat na kasunduan sa pautang at mga kontrata ng gubyerno kung saan ginawang kolateral ang patrimonya ng bansa, kapalit ng malalaking kikbak para sa kanya at kanyang mga kroni.

Sa kabilang banda, kasabwat ni Duterte at ng AFP, todo-todo ang pamamayagpag ng militar ng US sa bansa. Tinanggap niyang gamitin ng US ang Pilipinas bilang base ng Operation Pacific Eagle-Philippines. Pumayag siyang magtayo ng mga sikretong pasilidad at mag-imbak ng armas ang US sa loob ng mga kampo ng AFP, maglunsad ng paparaming mga pagsasanay sa gera, magtayo ng mga radar at maniktik gamit ang mga drone, maglayag sa karagatan ng mga barkong pandigma at gamitin ang mga daungan, at magsanay at kontrolin ang mga operasyon ng mga yunit ng AFP. Nananatiling nakatali ang Pilipinas sa di pantay na mga kasunduang militar. Kapalit nito, nagbigay ang US ng ayudang militar para sa todo gera ni Duterte at sinusuplayan ito ng mga riple, kanyon, kinumpuning mga helikopter, drone at iba pang kagamitan.

Kaibigan at alyado raw ng mga makapangyarihang siga na ito ang mamamayang Pilipino. Ang totoo, sariling mga estratehikong interes ang kanilang isinusulong. Anang China, ginagamit niya ang kanyang kapangyarihan sa ekonomya para umunlad ang ibang bansa. Ang totoo’y tinatakam ng mga monopolyo kapitalistang Chinese ang rekursong mineral ng bansa para ipantustos sa kanilang mga industriya. Nagpapautang ito ng malalaking halaga para mailuwas ang kanyang labis na kapital at maibenta sa ibang bansa ang kanyang labis na asero.

Deklarasyon naman ng US ang “balot-sa-bakal na komitment na ipagtanggol ang Pilipinas” laban sa “pananakop ng China.” Ang totoo, ang US ang matagal nang sumasaklot sa Pilipinas. Patuloy ang paghaharing militar ng US para ipagtanggol ang sarili nitong ultra-nasyunal na interes, at hindi ang soberanya ng Pilipinas.

Kaaway, hindi kaibigan, ang imperyalismong US. Matagal na nitong nilupig ang bansa sa isang siglo ng kolonyalismo at neokolonyalismo gamit ang armadong pananalakay at panunupil. Nagpataw ito ng mga kasunduan sa kalakalan at patakaran sa ekonomya upang sapilitan tayong paasahin sa mga import, pautang at dayong pamumuhunan. Dinambong at sinimot ng malalaking korporasyong Amerikano ang mga kagubatan at natural na rekurso ng bansa, inagaw ang malalawak na lupaing agrikultural, sinamantala ang murang paggawa at hinigop ang dambuhalang tubo. Binansot nito ang ekonomya ng Pilipinas, pinigilan ang industriyalisasyon at itinali sa pagluluwas ng hilaw na materyales at malamanupaktura.

Kumpara sa imperyalismong US, na matagal nang dumambong at nagwasak sa Pilipinas, huli nang dumating ang China na kumakahig sa natitirang yaman ng bansa.

Nananatili ang bansa sa ilalim ng imperyalistang dominasyon ng US. Ang naghaharing estado sa Pilipinas ay estadong-kliyente ng US, at nagsisilbing pinakamatibay na haligi nito ang AFP na sinanay at indoktrinado ng US. Si Duterte ang kasalukuyang pinuno nito. Armado ng mga sandatang ibinigay ng US, ginagamit at itinutuon ng pasistang rehimen ang karahasan ng estado laban sa mamamayang Pilipino at lahat ng kanilang mga pwersang patriyotiko at demoktratiko.

Ang mga pwersang ito, kabilang ang Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas, ay matatag at militanteng tumitindig para sa pambansa at panlipunang pagpalaya. Pangunahin nilang iginigiit na wakasan ang imperyalistang dominasyon ng US at kundenahin ang pagpapakatuta ng gubyerno ng Pilipinas. Isinisigaw nila ang pagbasura sa mga tratadong militar ng US-RP at panghihimasok militar ng US at nakikibaka para mapalaya ang bansa mula sa pang-ekonomya at pampulitikang mga tanikala.

Bilang mga makabayan, kinukundena rin nila ang pambabraso ng China, presensyang militar at okupasyon nito ng teritoryong dagat ng Pilipinas sa South China Sea at pagdambong ng mga rekursong dagat at binabatikos ang kainutilan ng rehimeng Duterte na magsagawa ng mga kinakailangang diplomatiko at pampulitikang hakbang upang igiit ang mga karapatan ng bansa. Nilalabanan din nila ang mabibigat na pautang at maaanomalyang mga kontratang imprastruktura sa China.

Habang tinutuligsa ang panghihimasok at pang-ekonomyang pang-aapi ng China, hindi nila kinakaligtaan ang mas malaking kaaway at itinutuon ang mas mariing pagkundena sa imperyalismong US, na patuloy na sumasaklot sa Pilipinas gamit ang pwersang militar, kumukontrol at nag-aarmas sa neokolonyal na estado ng Pilipinas at tumatayong pinakamalaking hadlang sa adhikain ng mamamayang Pilipino para sa pambansa at panlipunang paglaya.

[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and views on current issues. Ang Bayan comes out fortnightly and is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Ilokano, Waray, Hiligaynon and English.]

Army endorses 9 rebel returnees to DSWD, DILG for reintegration

From Mindanao Times (Apr 28, 2019): Army endorses 9 rebel returnees to DSWD, DILG for reintegration

Nine former rebels who surrendered to the units of the Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) were formally turned over to the Department of Social Welfare (DSWD) and the Development and Interior of Local Government (DSWD) on Thursday.

Lt. Gen. Felimon Santos Jr., EastMinCom commander, personally endorsed them over to DSWD representative Karen Gayonan and DILG representatives Carl John Mahinay and Edwin Mayormita during a simple ceremony at the Army headquarters in Naval Station Felix Apolinario, Panacan.

One of the surrenderee was identified as alias Alem, 21, a resident of Malabon City and former political guide of the NPA in the tri boundary of Davao del Norte, Agusan Sur, and Compostela Valley.

In her revelation during the press briefing, she said that she was a 3rd year BS Architecture student of Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) in Sta. Mesa, Metro Manila. She was an active organizer of several left-leaning youth organizations such as the League of Filipino Students in PUP, Anakbayan in Caloocan City and Pandi, Bulacan, and Samahan ng Kabataang Demokratiko sa Asyenda Luisita (Sakdal) in Hacienda Luisita, Tarlac City.

She further said that, together with other 24 students from Manila, she joined the participants of Manilakbayan protest march on their return to Mindanao on September 2017. They then joined the protest rally of Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association Incorporated in Tagum City, Davao Del Norte before their immersion and eventual integration into the New People’s Army in Mindanao.

Together with her live-in partner alias Jinggoy, the former commander of the unit of the armed group in the tri-boundary of Compostela Valley-Davao del Norte and Agusan del Sur, whom she met in the organization, they surrendered on April 22, to Lt. Col. Jaime Datuin of the 75th Infantry Battalion in Bislig, Surigao del Sur.
Their wish to surrender was further boosted when they were encouraged by the parents of alias Jinggoy. They brought with them their four-month-old baby boy.

The other seven former rebels surrendered in two batches to the troops of the 39th Infantry Battalion last April 19 and April 21.
The surrender of these seven NPAs was facilitated by the different government agencies and the barangay council of Colonsabak, Matanao, Davao del Sur. With them were one Bushmaster rifle, one M203 Grenade Launcher, one Baby Armalite, on M16 rifle, M14 rifle, one Garand rifle, and ammunition.

During the turnover, the DSWD and DILG representatives committed to assist the surrenderees as part of their mandate to implementation of Enhanced-Comprehensive Local Integration Program.

Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. Santos gave emphasis on the case of alias Alem as proof that students continue to be deceived by the NPA.

“Alias Alem is a classic example of how NPA recruit students,” Santos said.

“They deceptively indoctrinate students using social issues to mask their real objective until they become student activists, joining and organizing rallies and undergo exposure and immersion with the armed group before finally integrated,” he added.

Soldiers, cops, civilians recognized in campaign vs. ASG bandits

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 27, 2019): Soldiers, cops, civilians recognized in campaign vs. ASG bandits

Lt. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief, awards medal to soldiers, policemen and civilians for their contribution in focused military operation against the Abu Sayyaf Group bandits in Sulu Friday ,April 26. (Photo courtesy of Westmincom Public Information Office)

The Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) has honored 24 individuals--including two policemen and five civilians--for their contribution in the campaign against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits in Sulu.

Lt. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega, Westmincom chief, led the awarding ceremony held Friday at the headquarters of the Joint Task Force Sulu in Camp Gen. Teodulfo Bautista in Barangay Bus-bus, Jolo, Sulu.

Col. Gerry Besana, Westmincom information officer, said Westmincom conferred the Gold Cross Medal to 1Lt. Rhoy Lanzar, Sgt. Winston Bunag, and Cpl. Romie Sumopang, all of the 2nd Special Forces Battalion.

Besana said they were recognized for the successful special reconnaissance operation against five ASG bandits under sub-leader Angah Adjih on March 19 in Barangay Upper Binuang, Talipao, Sulu.

Besana said that Gold Cross Medal was also awarded to Sgt. Junnel Cionelo of the Marine Battalion Landing Team-3 (MBLT-3) and Cpl. Noriel Dela Cruz of the MBLT-1 for gallantry in action.

He said an intelligence operative was also conferred with Gold Cross Medal for his active participation in a special operation on February 24 to April 5 that led to the rescue of two Indonesians and a Malaysian hostage in Simisa Island, Banguigui.

Gold Cross Medal was also awarded to Capt. Michael Jameson Constantino, Cpl. Leojun Amante, and Cpl. Ariel Sanchez while Silver Cross Medal was conferred to Lt. Col. Jooney Jay Businos, Sgt. Ronie Ebcas and three intelligence personnel for the successful conduct of offensives against 10 ASG bandits led by sub-leaders Angah Adjih and Jaber Susukan on March 9 in Barangay Upper Binuang, Talipao.

Dela Vega also awarded the Military Merit Medal with Bronze Spearhead Device to 1Lt. Jhon Karl Cabello of the Army’s 3rd Scout Ranger Company and two policemen namely; Senior Master Sergeant Windsol Aguell and Patrolman Sherwin Garcia.

Plain Military Merit Medal was awarded to Capt. Delfin Bolla and 2Lt. Yrral Bautista.

Three members of the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team (BPAT) and two civilian employees of Joint Task Force Sulu were also given certificates of appreciation.

Dela Vega commended the men and women of Joint Task Force Sulu for their "relentless efforts in the conduct of focused military operations" against the ASG bandits.

Police deny shooting NPA front officer in crotch

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 27, 2019): Police deny shooting NPA front officer in crotch

The Police Regional Office-11 (PRO-11) has dismissed as a lie the claim of leftist group Gabriela that a secretary of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) Guerilla Front was shot in her crotch during a law enforcement operation in Tagum, Davao del Norte, last week.

“It was a legitimate operation,” said Police Maj. Jason Baria, PRO-11 spokesperson, on Gabriela's allegation that NPA leader Cindy Terado bore a bullet wound on her genitals and that her arms were fractured following a shootout with policemen on April 15.

Baria said Thursday that Gabriela was basing only from the statement of Terado's mother and did not offer any medical examination findings to back up its claim.

Terado was killed when police swooped down on a safe house in Barangay Canocotan, Tagum City, Davao del Norte, to serve a warrant of arrest against Jay Mendoza, the executive commander of Guerrilla Front 2 and alleged live-in partner of Terado.

Baria said authorities were acting on a tip from civilians who pointed to the whereabouts of Mendoza and Terado.

Terado and her group allegedly fired at the law enforcers, resulting in a five-minute gunfight. Other NPAs, including Mendoza, managed to escape.

A police report said Terado was found in a prone position at the encounter site, still clutching 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.

“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.

Government troops recovered a rifle, two improvised explosive devices, a rifle magazine loaded with ammunition, and a mobile phone at the encounter site. They also found subversive documents in the NPA lair.

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

NegOcc guv, security body seek Comelec control of violence-hit town

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 27, 2019): NegOcc guv, security body seek Comelec control of violence-hit town

APPEAL TO THE COMELEC. Provincial Election Supervisor Salud Milagros Villanueva (center), with Brig. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, commander of 303rd Infantry Brigade (left), and Col. Romeo Baleros, director of Negros Occidental Police Provincial Police Office, informs reporters of their recommendation to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc to place the town of Moises Padilla under its control, in a press briefing at the Hall of Justice in Bacolod City on Friday afternoon (April 26, 2019). Two factors -- violence by private armed groups and the presence of the New People’s Army -- were considered for the municipality to be placed under Comelec control. (Photo courtesy of Glazyl Masculino)

The Provincial Joint Security Control Center (PJSCC) in Negros Occidental has recommended to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc to place Moises Padilla under its control amid the volatile peace and order situation in the central Negros municipality.

Provincial Election Supervisor Salud Milagros Villanueva said on Friday afternoon her office, along with the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office and the Philippine Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade, agreed to make the recommendation in a meeting earlier in the day.

“It’s the Commission en banc which will decide on the matter. We already sent our recommendation through email.

It is more prudent for us to wait how the events will unfold. I would like to stress though that there is a need, urgency and necessity. I trust it will be acted upon immediately,” she said.

Villanueva pointed out that two factors -- violence by private armed groups and the presence of the New People’s Army -- were considered for the municipality to be placed under Comelec control.

The move of the PJSCC, led by Villanueva with provincial police director Col. Romeo Baleros, and 303rd IB commander Brig. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, came a day after two family members of Moises Padilla Vice Mayor Ella Celestina Garcia-Yulo, who is running for mayor, were killed on the campaign trail.

The fatalities were her nephew, reelectionist Councilor Jose Antonio “Michael” Garcia; and her brother, former Association of Barangay Captains president, Jose Marcelino “Mark” Garcia.

Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr., an ally of the Garcias under the United Negros Alliance, himself sent a letter to Commissioner Al Parreño, head of the Committee on the Ban on Firearms and Security Personnel, on Friday requesting to place Moises Padilla under Comelec control to restore peace and order, and ensure public safety during the election period in the town.

Villanueva said she included the request of Marañon in the recommendation submitted by the PJSCC to the Comelec en banc.

Currently, Moises Padilla is under Category Red, which means it is an “area of grave concern”, with a history of election-related incidents in the past two elections and intense political rivalry, and there is serious armed threat posed by the NPA and other lawless elements.

On Friday afternoon, the Moises Padilla Municipal Police Station headed by Capt. Junji Liba filed criminal complaints against 30 persons, including reelectionist Councilor Agustin Grande III, believed to be involved in the ambush that led to the death of the two Garcias.

Baleros said charges included double murder, murder, attempted murder, and frustrated murder, depending on the participation of the perpetrators.

He added that seven suspects have been identified, two of whom were detained -- Grande and Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team member, Joe Cezar. They underwent an inquest at the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office here on Friday afternoon.

In the evening, Grande was released by the police upon the order of Associate Prosecution Attorney II Ken Furuyama, who stated in a two-page inquest resolution that “this office finds insufficient the legal and factual basis of the arresting police officers in effecting a warrantless arrest against his person.”

In a related development, the reward offered to anyone who can provide information on the identities of the perpetrators in the Garcia family ambush has increased to PHP2 million.

After Marañon offered an initial PHP1 million on Thursday, 3rd District Rep. Alfredo Benitez, said on Friday that his local party Love Negros also put up the same amount as a reward.

Actor Guidicelli urges youth to join AFP reserve corps

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 27, 2019): Actor Guidicelli urges youth to join AFP reserve corps

With the money that television and movie star Matteo Guidicelli is reaping, he could just be partying but instead, he volunteered to join the reserve corps of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

“When I came back to the Philippines I started my career and just a few months back, I associated myself a lot with the PNP (Philippine National Police), with the Army,” Guidicelli, who has a rank of Private in the reserve corps, said on Friday.

A panelist at the Sangguniang Kabataan national convention here that was organized by the National Youth Commission (NYC), Guidicelli said it has been his dream to be part of the armed forces ever since he was in college in the United States.

Guidicelli, whose father is a foreigner but holds a Philippine passport, said he joined the Army Reserve Force two weeks ago to realize that longtime dream.

“At first, it was intimidating to hear the reserve force are gonna go to war but there are also different things a reserve can do,” he said.

Guidicelli said he has a lot of projects for youths like him, which he will be proposing to the command.

He said it is the responsibility of every Filipino to share something to the country and joining the reserve command as a volunteer would allow him to give back to the country.

For a start, he has been invited to talk to young people in the country, encouraging youth leaders to join the AFP reserve force.

“It is my advocacy and something I’m doing for the Filipino people and for the country,” he said.

He said joining the reserve force as a volunteer can be a great help, especially during calamities.

Guidicelli, who is also an athlete, said he will undergo a one-month training for rangers in June.

He said being in the reserve force does not require him to report every day, allowing him to continue doing his full-time job in the entertainment industry.

Meanwhile, NYC chairperson and chief executive officer, Undersecretary Ronald Gian Cadema, said they invited Guidicelli to the event to encourage youth leaders and other elected SK officials to be part of nation-building.

“In other countries like Singapore and South Korea, the youth are mandated to give military service and we can see that they have a strong country, a developed nation and strength of their society,” Cardema said.

The NYC is supportive of the move to bring back the reserve officer training corps (ROTC) but focused on preparing the cadets to respond to emergencies and securing the country when called upon by the Commander-in-Chief.

President Rodrigo Duterte has pushed for the revival of the ROTC that will capacitate the youth to be ready for any eventuality.