Saturday, June 8, 2019

Duterte: no U.S. troops in WPS

From the Manila Standard (Jun 8, 2019): Duterte: no U.S. troops in WPS

President Rodrigo Duterte has assured Chinese President Xi Jinping that no American soldier will be allowed to set foot on Pag-asa island in the West Philippine Sea.

In a television interview, Duterte recalled telling Xi not to waste gasoline in sending ships to Pag-asa island.

“‘Why are you surrounding my island with so many ships? You’re wasting your gasoline.’ That’s my exact words. ‘You’re wasting your gasoline. You might as well give it to us,’” the President said.

“I told you I will not allow, as long as I am President, any American to set foot on that Pag-asa. Because I know that it will create really trouble. And I will not allow their arms. If it’s a Philippine government arms given to us by America, well that’s another story. If you want, you can give us a better one,” he added.

The President did not state when the meeting was held, but he last met with the Chinese leader in April for the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing.

Duterte clarified he was “not angry” when he called Xi’s attention over the Chinese maritime flotilla in the West Philippine Sea.

“I told him, ‘Did I not tell you, Mr. President (Xi), that I will never allow the Americans to set foot on any of the islands controlled by the Philippines? That we will not start any war and that I will never allow American weapons to be stationed in that island?’” he said.

“Do not deprive them [Filipino fishermen] because you know we are poor. You prohibit us, you will just create the inflation to go higher,” Duterte added.

Earlier, US military’s top general accused Xi of reneged on his promises not to militarize the South China Sea and called for “collective action” to hold Beijing responsible.

Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he was not calling for military action, but stressed that there was a need to enforce international laws.

“The fall of 2016, President Xi Jinping promised President Obama that they would not militarize the islands. So what we see today are 10,000-foot runways, ammunition storage facilities, routine deployment of missile defense capabilities, aviation capabilities, and so forth,” he said in a talk on US security and defense at the Brooking institution.

“So clearly they have walked away from that commitment...When we ignore actions that are not in compliance with international rules, norms and standards, we have just set a new standard,” Dunford added.

Washington has been frustrated by an inability to stall China’s aggressive military colonization of the South China Sea, which rejects conflicting territorial claims by five other countries: Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Philippines.

The US has sent navy vessels through the areas claimed by China as “international freedom of navigation operations,” but otherwise has found responding difficult.

Hanjin shipyard offers ‘perfect’ opportunity for US Navy return to PH: ex-officer

From ABS-CBN (Jun 9, 2019): Hanjin shipyard offers ‘perfect’ opportunity for US Navy return to PH: ex-officer

MANILA—A retired US Navy official said Washington should collaborate with a private American firm to assist debt-laden Hanjin shipyard in Subic.

Retired US Navy Capt. Brian Buzzel said at least one US company is interested in the facility and noted that the Chinese companies seeking to buy it have raised a red flag on the Philippine's national security.

As gov’t eyes Hanjin strategic investor, ex-Navy chief frets over national security

"The confluence of all these factors gives the US Navy a perfect opportunity to return to Subic Bay, except this time as an equal partner respecting the laws and sovereignty of the Philippines and benefiting the Filipino people and economy," he said in an article published by the US Naval Institute Journal this month.

"It also would send a strong message to Beijing that, despite its efforts, the alliance between the United States and the Philippines is strong and unbreakable."

In January, Hanjin Philippines filed for court rehabilitation proceedings as it grappled with a slump in the global shipping and shipbuilding industry.

Buzzel, who served as the US Navy’s political-military officer in the Philippines from 1991 to 1992, said US authorities must immediately inform Manila of their interest in the shipyard.

"The Philippine government needs to indicate it is willing to enter into a public-public-private partnership with the United States," he said.

Buzzel said the Navy "needs to gauge the interest of US private shipbuilders in a public-private partnership to run Hanjin, including committing to sending work there."

"The party with the most to lose in a US return to Subic will be the Chinese. And they know it," he said.

Subic Bay, located in Zambales, was the largest overseas naval facility of the US military until 1992.

Negros army’s new spokesman is an ex-radio anchor

From Politiko Visayas (Jun 8, 2019): Negros army’s new spokesman is an ex-radio anchor

It isn’t every day that a former media practitioner would turn out to be a spokesman for the military.

Capt. Cenon Pancito III is now the new face and voice of the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division and chief of the Division Public Affairs Office (DPAO).

Pancito, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class 2006, was a Mass Communications student at Asian Development Foundation College in Tacloban City.

“I love the broadcasting industry and by this new task is still another paradigm shift in my career,” he said.

While he was a student at PMA, he did radio hosting during Saturdays in Baguio City. He is a member of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP).

Pancito said he looks forward to be working with the media, who he said will bridge the gap between the Philippine Army and the public.

He succeeded Capt. Eduardo Precioso Jr., who was reassigned to the 3ID Civil Military Operations (CMO).

Pancito said he was surprised to be given such a task since he was just assigned at the 3ID headquarters on October 2018.

Before his current assignment, he served as assistant chief of staff of the 3ID’s Communication, Electronics and Information System.

Military honors Bulalacao for improving peace and order in Western Visayas

From the Manila Bulletin (Jun 8, 2019): Military honors Bulalacao for improving peace and order in Western Visayas

In a rare expression of gratitude, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) honored the top police official in Western Visayas for his contribution in improving the peace and order in the region.

Police Brigadier General John Bulalacao (PNP / MANILA BULLETIN)

Maj. Gen. Dinoh Dolina, commander of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, said the testimonial review and retirement ceremony held by the military for a police official is a way of honoring the good deeds done in the performance of duty.

Dolina said Police Brig. Gen. John Bulalacao, Director of the Western Visayas regional police, has been a good partner for the military in peace and security efforts in the region.

“For and in behalf of the Command and the Philippine Army, I express my deep gratitude for the remarkable partnership made by General Bulalacao with the 3rd Infantry Division,” said Dolina.

“I thank him for maintaining the strong collaboration of the Philippine National Police and [the] Army in serving and safeguarding the people of Western Visayas,” he added.

A member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class 1988, Bulalacao is known for improving the peace and order in Western Visayas through compelling war against illegal drugs and other forms of criminality.

During the midterm elections last month, Bulalacao has also implemented various security measures that reduce the election violence in the region, particularly of warring politicians who are allegedly maintaining goons.

Dolina also recognized Bulalacao’s military-like discipline of personnel and for strengthening the monitoring of police officials and personnel.

“I only have a few days left in the service and I can say that I am finishing strong,” said Bulalacao in a speech during the ceremony held at the 3rd ID Parade Ground in Jamindan, Capiz.

Bulalacao is set to retire on June 27.

“You too can do it if you keep these reminders: Protect your service reputation; maintain discipline; be dedicated to your duties and believe in the power of prayers,” he said.

Before his stint as Western Visayas police regional director, Bulalacao served as a spokesman of the Philippine National Police.

He also served as Chief of the Regional Directorial Staff of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) and provincial director of Cavite.

Ex-Civilian Army Auxiliary member slain in Samar

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jun 9, 2019): Ex-Civilian Army Auxiliary member slain in Samar

ORMOC CITY – A former member of the Philippine Army’s Civilian Army Auxilliary (CAA) was shot dead Saturday afternoon in Barangay Quirino Poblacion, Las Navas, Northern Samar.

Police Lt. Col. Bella Rentuaya, spokesperson of the Eastern Visayas Police Regional Office, identified the victim as Amancio Perez.

Initial investigation showed that Perez was doing work in a drainage canal when he was shot by the unidentified gunman.

The killer sped off on a motorcycle after the attack.

Further investigation and pursuit operations against the suspect are ongoing. 

3 charged for murder of Navy colonel

From the Manila Times (Jun 9, 2019): 3 charged for murder of Navy colonel

ZAMBOANGA CITY: Three brothers were recently charged with murder for the gun slaying last May 12 of a Philippine Navy official along Veterans Avenue here, police said.

City Police Office chief Col. Thomas Joseph Martir identified the accused as brothers Monjhier Omar, Roslyn Omar and Nico Omar, all residents of Southern Command village in Barangay Calarian.

The suspects, onboard a motorcycle, shot dead Navy Col. Nestor Tinorio Yapit after he visited an apartment building he was constructing on a land that was allegedly being claimed by the Omar siblings.

Martir said Yapit, a native of Pamplona in Cavite, was assigned as a provost marshal at the Philippine Navy Headquarters in the Western Mindanao Command in Barangay Upper Calarian.

He said a police report revealed that Yapit was walking near the exit gate of the Zamboanga City Medical Center (ZCMC) before 8 p.m. when the motorcycle-riding suspects suddenly stopped beside the him.

One of the back-riders immediately pulled out a handgun and fired several times at Yapit, hitting him on the head and several parts of his body.

Concerned bystanders rushed Yapit to the ZCMC, where he was declared dead on arrival.

Martir noted that the suspects, who were earlier apprehended in their Southern Command village residence, are now detained at the Zamboanga City Jail and are facing murder case.

ICRC vows to continue helping improve lives of post-conflict Marawi in southern Philippines

From Xinhua (Jun 9, 2019): ICRC vows to continue helping improve lives of post-conflict Marawi in southern Philippines

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has vowed to help thousands of victims of 2017 Marawi conflict in the southern Philippines, especially those who continue to languish in the temporary evacuation centers, ICRC President Peter Maurer told the people of Marawi during his visit to the city this week.

Between May and October 2017, Marawi City in Lanao del Sur province was the scene of heavy fighting between Philippine government security forces and the Maute terrorist group, forcing thousands of residents to flee. The five-month armed conflict killed more than 1,200 people and reduced the city to rubbles.

Two years on, many of those displaced people are still waiting in temporary shelters.

But for decades, many more communities in the southern provinces of Maguindanao, Basilan, Sulu and portions of eastern Mindanao have been forced to flee their homes multiple times.

"Sporadic clashes deeply affect these families' livelihoods, their ability to put food on the table, and their ability to send their children to school," Maurer said.

"In my visit to Marawi City this week, I saw a community dealing with the physical and psychological impact of conflict. I met a family of a missing person that hasn't lost hope that news about their relative will arrive soon," Maurer told reporters after his visit.

He said local Red Cross volunteers he met have been unrelenting in their support to the displaced people.

Around 100,000 displaced people, staying with relatives or in transition sites, are uncertain when they will be able to return as their homes are not rebuilt yet. Many lack sources of income, while access to basic services such as healthcare and potable water remains a challenge in displacement sties.

"One group of persons severely traumatized by the conflict continues to suffer in silence," the ICRC said.

The Philippine government said it will complete the rehabilitation and rebuilding work of the city by December 2021.

"In my discussions with high-ranking officials, I felt a commitment and resolve to find effective, long-term solutions to humanitarian issues of concern, despite considerable constraints they deal with," Maurer said, adding "the people need to be able to count on the authorities to be responsive to their needs."

Though responding to humanitarian needs due to conflict is the work of the ICRC, he said he believes equally that all members of society have a shared responsibility to provide reprieve to those affected by fighting.

"We all need to do more in our respective roles. We need to do better at addressing the consequences of conflict, but also, we need to do better in preventing or reducing those consequences," Maurer said.

Malaysia Confirms US Aid Package In Shape Of Aerial Drones

From Eurasia Review (Jun 9, 2019): Malaysia Confirms US Aid Package In Shape Of Aerial Drones (By Hadi Azmi and Imran Vittachi)

File photo of a A Scan Eagle Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. Photo Credit: US Navy

File photo of a Scan Eagle Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. Photo Credit: US Navy

Malaysia said Friday it would receive a U.S. $19.3 million package of American-made aerial drones through a Washington aid program, but underscored that it would collaborate with any country, including China, to improve its security and maritime intelligence-gathering capabilities.

Kuala Lumpur is to acquire 12 ScanEagle drones through the U.S. government’s Maritime Security Initiative (MSI), the Malaysian Ministry of Defense said in a statement.

“As a maritime nation, it is essential for Malaysia to have intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities to monitor its strategic waterways in the Strait of Malacca, South China Sea and Sulu Sea,” the ministry said.

“This program is fully funded by the United States and did not incur any cost to Malaysia,” it said, adding it expected to take delivery of the first six ScanEagles by mid-November.

The drones, to be built by Insitu, a subsidiary of the Boeing Co., are part of a package of 34 ScanEagles that the U.S. is supplying to Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam, according to contract information released by the Pentagon last week.

Production and delivery of all 34 drones is scheduled for completion by March 2022, the U.S. Defense Department (DoD) said.

On May 31, the Pentagon announced that it had awarded a contract to Insitu to build the drones for the four Southeast Asian countries. The total contract is worth $47.9 million, the DoD said via a contract announcement on its website.

“This order combines purchases for” the governments of Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia “under the Foreign Military Sales program,” the announcement said. Under the contract, the Philippines and Indonesia will each get eight ScanEagles, while Vietnam will be supplied with six.

The program “is a form of security assistance authorized by the Arms Export Control Act,” according to information from the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA).

According to the Malaysian defense ministry, the United States “through its Maritime Security Initiative (MSI), provided assistance in the form of assets and training to friendly nations including Malaysia to enhance the Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) in the Southeast Asian region.”

The initiative, framed under the National Defense Authorization Act, aims to build up the capacity of American partner nations in the South China Sea region. The act specifically targets five countries – Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam – for assistance and training paid for by American funding, according to information from the DSCA.

“Aside from the Malaysian Armed Forces, other enforcement agencies will also benefit from the MSI program to enhance their capabilities to monitor the maritime region and information sharing among the enforcement agencies and the armed forces,” the ministry said.

The ScanEagle drones will have a temporary role in helping to carry out surveillance of Malaysia’s waterways until the government procures two patrol aircraft and three unmanned aircraft through its 12th Malaysian plan, defense officials said.

The statement from Malaysia Ministry of Defense also appeared to be carefully worded to not create a perception that Malaysia was siding with the U.S. on the hot-button issue of the South China Sea, amid tensions between Beijing and Washington in the disputed maritime region.

Beijing claims most of the mineral-rich sea region, including areas that reach the shores of its smaller neighbors. China has been expanding and militarizing structures it built in the sea, despite earlier agreements to halt all construction activities. The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan also have territorial claims in the strategic waterway.

“In line with Malaysia’s stance to not pick sides and to build friendly relations with everyone, Malaysia welcomes defense cooperation with all interested parties, including the U.S. and China, to ensure the safety and stability of the Southeast Asian region,” the Malaysian ministry’s statement concluded.

Duterte says Philipines to continue honoring alliance with US

From Business News (Jun 8, 2019): Duterte says Philipines to continue honoring alliance with US

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte discusses matters during his guesting in the show "Give Us This Day" hosted by Kingdom of Jesus Christ founder and lead pastor, Apollo C. Quiboloy, at the Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) Studio in Davao City on June 7, 2019. ACE MORANDANTE/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte assured the United States that his government will honor the country’s alliance with the world superpower despite efforts to forge closer relations with China and Russia, according to a report published by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).

The Philippines has an enduring Mutual Defense Treaty with the US agreed in August 1951.

“I’m just saying it because I like Trump and I would like to assure America that we will not do anything to hinder, hamper or whatever. We will go along with our alliances,” President Duterte said Saturday in an interview with Kingdom of Jesus Christ founder Pastor Apollo Quiboloy in his television program “Give Us This Day.”

China and Russia are not enemies of the Philippines and they helped the country when it needed arms while battling ISIS-backed Maute group in Marawi City, the President said.

Despite their defense assistance to the Philippines, both countries have not demanded for a military alliance or basing arrangements with the Philippine government, he noted.

The President also discussed wide range of domestic issues during his television appearance Saturday from illegal narcotics and corruption to education and healthcare.

Discussing the provision of basic social services, President Duterte underscored the need for the implementation of an effective population control program.

The country’s rapidly booming population, one of the highest in Asia, has been putting too much stress on government’s ability to provide the needs of the people particularly education, he stressed.

He called on health officials with conflicting beliefs with government population policy to step aside for the state to carry out effective population control initiatives.

“Sabi ko nga ito…itong mga health officials. If you cannot follow the family planning law of the government, you better resign if you have the scruples to fight with,” he said.

“You are not performing? You do not follow government policy? It gets into your religious beliefs? Then step down.”

The Catholic Church is a major force hindering the government’s efforts for family planning, he said.

Also Read: Philippines is 20th most complex place to do business in the world: TMF Group

In infrastructure development, he said the Department of Transportation has built many airports and Metro Manila will be decongested of heavy traffic.

“Si (Secretary) Villar is spectacular. You just wait. Ayaw ko mag-ano…but things will improve maybe God willing, December smooth sailing na. You don’t have to worry about traffic. Cubao and Makati is just about five minutes away,” he said.

Duterte says to reconsider purchasing US weapons

From ABS-CBN (Jun 8, 2019): Duterte says to reconsider purchasing US weapons

President Rodrigo Duterte chats with US President Donald Trump during the gala dinner hosted by the Philippines for leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member-states and dialogue partners at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, November 12, 2017. Karl Norman Alonzo, Malacañang Photo/File

President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday said he would reconsider purchasing weapons from the United States, since he "likes" US President Donald Trump.

This after he said earlier this year that Manila would no longer procure weapons from its traditional ally after Washington threatened to impose sanctions on countries buying military equipment from Russia.

The Philippines had announced plans of defense procurement from Russia. 

PH mulls buying aircraft, submarine from Russia - Defense chief

"In the purchase of arms, we have a bad experience but they have a new policy now. We are going to reconsider," Duterte said in an interview on Sonshine Media Network at dawn Saturday.

"We'll buy if we think we need that kind of particular [item]," he said.

Duterte vows to avoid US arms purchases

Days before he announced his reconsideration, Duterte lambasted the US for not keeping its word that it would sell weapons to the Philippines.

Duterte tells US: Wala kayong word of honor

Now, Duterte said Manila would continue to honor its traditional alliance with the US under Trump. The Philippines and the US have a nearly 68-year-old Mutual Defense Treaty.

"I like Trump and I would like to assure America that we will not do anything to hinder, hamper or whatever," he said.

"We are ready to cooperate, but this I have to say: I will not go to war with anybody," he said.

Duterte underscored that the Philippines would not distance itself from China and Russia, two countries that are engaged in tensions with the US.

"We will go along with our alliances but to me, China and Russia are not enemies because 'yung hindi dineliver ng Americano (what the Americans failed to deliver), that was the time I went to Russia, only to ask President Xi Jinping to give me a credit line ke wala akong pera (because I have no money)," he said.

In 2016, the US State Department halted the planned sale of some 26,000 assault rifles to the Philippine National Police after US Sen. Ben Cardin said he would oppose it over concerns about human rights violations in the Philippines.

US stopped Philippines rifle sale that senator opposed - sources

"When we needed in the hour of our need, Russia and China gave it to us practically free," Duterte said.

"To this day, they have not even asked for even one penny as payment," he said.

"They have not asked a military alliance. They have not asked for special favors to operate in this country, unlike the Americans," he said, noting that the country's alliance with the US has allowed American troops to have several bases in the Philippines over the years.

Duterte said his gratefulness to Russia and China would not go beyond contracts.

"I'm a Filipino. I have to have a sense of gratitude, at least honor the contract. Nothing else," Duterte said.

"You do not have to praise China and side with [them vs] America," he said.

The US and China are pitted in a trade war, while several American politicians and groups alleged that Russia meddled with the results of the 2016 presidential elections that catapulted Trump into power.

Duterte has established closer ties with the two US rivals as part of his foreign policy pivot.

In particular, he has sought to enhance the country's ties with China despite the unresolved dispute over the South China Sea, where Beijing has stepped up militarization and island-building activities, encroaching into the Philippines' exclusive economic zone. 

Filipino war vets to be awarded with US Congressional Gold Medal

From GMA News (Jun 7, 2019): Filipino war vets to be awarded with US Congressional Gold Medal

At least 19 Filipino veteran soldiers of World War 2 will be awarded with United States Congressional Gold Medal on Monday, June 10, the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) said Friday.

Defense department Undersecretary and PVAO Administrator Ernesto Carolina was referring to the Filipino soldiers who fought alongside their American counterparts to liberate the Philippines from its Japanese Imperial Army colonizers in 1945.

“The awarding of the recognition will be led by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim, to be held here in Camp Aguinaldo,” Carolina told reporters.

Apart from the 19 surviving Filipino war veterans, Carolina said that 21 other Filipino war veterans will be conferred the US Congressional Gold Medal distinction posthumously.

Based on the United States House of Representatives website, the US Congressional Gold Medal is US Congress’ “highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions” of an individual, institution or event.

Past recipients of the honor include war veterans as well as actors, authors, entertainers, musicians, pioneers in aeronautics and space, explorers, lifesavers, notables in science and medicine, athletes, humanitarians, public servants, foreign recipients, among others.

Aside from shared war experience, the Philippines has a standing 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States, a pact wherein both parties agreed that an armed attack in the Pacific Area on either the Philippines and US would be dangerous and that they would act to meet the common dangers in accordance with its constitutional processes.

Under the MDT, the treaty will remain in force indefinitely and “either Party may terminate it one year after notice has been given to the other Party.”

In 2015, the Philippines also inked an Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the United States—an agreement that allows US forces, contractors, vehicles, vessels and aircraft to conduct activities on agreed locations inside the Philippine military bases such as training, transit, support and other related activities; refueling of aircraft, bunkering of vessels, temporary maintenance of vehicles, vessels and aircraft; temporary accommodation of personnel; communications, prepositioning of equipment, supplies and material and deploying forces and materials.

Lorenzana renews call to review mutual defense treaty with U.S. after latest tension in PH sea

CNN Philippines (Jun 8, 2019): Lorenzana renews call to review mutual defense treaty with U.S. after latest tension in PH sea

The country's Defense secretary reiterates the need to review the mutual defense treaty with the United States, following a recent apparent near collisionbetween U.S. and Russian warships in the Pacific.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana previously warned that the sustained U.S. operations in the South China Sea could drag the Philippines into a conflict not of its own doing.

On Friday, U.S. and Russian warships came somewhere between 50 feet and 165 feet of each other, according to the two opposing reports, with both sides alleging their ships were forced to perform emergency maneuvers to avoid a collision, which can be seen in video and a picture of the event obtained by CNN.

Both Navies are giving conflicting reports on where the incident happened.

The U.S. Navy said the incident occurred in the Philippine Sea while the Russian report said it happened in the East China Sea.

When asked to comment on the incident, Lorenzana told CNN Philippines in a message, “Problema nila yan [That is their problem].”

But when pressed to give further comment whether the incident could impact on the Philippine security, Lorenzana reiterated the need to review the defense treaty with the U.S., which was signed in 1951.

“Kaya nga dapat reviewhin yung MDT (Mutual Defense Treaty) kasi ang forecast ko yung U.S. ang unang makikipagbakbakan, hindi tayo,” Lorenzana said.

[Translation: That’s the reason why the MDT needs to be reviewed because my forecast is that it’s the U.S. that will be engaged in a conflict first, not the Philippines.”]

This is the second incident in less than a year that the U.S. Navy figured in a tense encounter with a military superpower near Philippine maritime borders.

Last October, a U.S. Navy ship had an "unsafe" interaction with a Chinese warship while the U.S. vessel was conducting a freedom of navigation operation near the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

In March, Lorenzana said he would meet with a senior U.S. defense official to hold exploratory talks to discuss the “ambiguities” of the MDT.

Asked whether the meeting has been pushed through, Lorenzana said, “We will have that in July.”

IDP Protection Assessment Report - Displacement due to Clan Feud in Midsayap, Cotabato (IDPPAR No. 08, Issue No. 01, 2019)

Posted to Relief Web (Jun 6, 2019): IDP Protection Assessment Report - Displacement due to Clan Feud in Midsayap, Cotabato (IDPPAR No. 08, Issue No. 01, 2019)

REPORT from UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Protection Cluster
Published on 06 Jun 2019 —View Original

Download PDF (816.19 KB)


On 01 May, around 211 families (approximately 1,055 persons) were forced to flee their homes in Barangays Kapinpilan and Tumbras, in the municipality of Midsayap, Cotabtato province due to a firefight between two parties. The incident was rooted in a clan feud (rido) between these parties, both of which are allegedly led by commanders of armed groups. The displaced population took refuge in the center sitio (sub-village) of Barangay Tumbras. The Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO) of Midsayap distributed food packs to the IDPs during their stay at the evacuation site. The displaced families were able to return to their habitual residences after two or three days.

On 23 May, another firefight took place involving the same parties. This resulted in the displacement of around 273 families (approximately 1,365 persons) from the same barangays Tumbras and Kapinpilan, in Midsayap municipality. They sought refuge in the center sitios of Barangay Tumbras and Barangay Kapinpilan. The incident also disrupted the observance of the Muslim holy month of Ramadhan, as the firefight erupted only a few minutes before the iftar meal (breaking of the daily fast during Ramadhan).

IDPs are temporarily sheltering in different locations: (1) Barangay hall of Tumbras, (2) Tumbras Covered Court, (3) Kapinpilan Covered Court, and (4) Kapinpilan Mosque.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) intervened immediately to help stabilize the situation. However, according to the local authorities, further negotiations between the parties are required in order to fully settle the issue and prevent further displacement.


More than a week after the latest incident, most of the IDPs still opted to stay in the identified evacuation sites. Although the firefights have stopped, the security situation remains volatile in the absence of complete settlement between the parties.

The IDPs shared that they have not received assistance from the Local Government Unit (LGU) in the host area after this most recent displacement. This is due to the national policy restricting disbursement of government funds before and after elections.

The IDPs expressed the need for food assistance, as well as non-food items such as kitchen utensils, solar lantern, tarpaulins, blankets, and mats.

A number of children reportedly have fever and colds, while some elderly persons are experiencing attacks of high blood pressure. Available medical support from the host barangay and municipality is currently very limited.

While waiting for the authorities to declare their area of origin as safe for return, the IDPs appealed to the local authorities and humanitarian organizations for immediate and appropriate intervention, especially in response to the needs of vulnerable groups.

Rappler Talk: Magdalo’s Manuel Cabochan on his new role as party-list representative

From Rappler (Jun 8, 2019): Rappler Talk: Magdalo’s Manuel Cabochan on his new role as party-list representative

Rappler sits down with one of the Magdalo group’s core leaders, Manuel Cabochan, as he steps out of the shadows of his more famous mistahs in his new role as an opposition lawmaker

Bookmark to watch the interview with Manuel Cabochan on Saturday, June 8, at 3 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Former Navy intelligence officer Manuel Cabochan is a virtual unknown compared to his Philippine Military Academy (PMA) classmates and fellow Magdalo leaders, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and Representative Gary Alejano.

Since the 2003 Oakwood mutiny, Cabochan has been content working behind the scenes. He’s the incumbent vice chairman of the Magdalo’s executive committee and president of the Magdalo para sa Pagbabago, the group’s socio-political movement.

But Cabochan is now the lone Magdalo member holding an elective post in a Congress dominated by President Rodrigo Duterte’s allies. Trillanes completed his term as senator and Alejano failed to get a Senate seat along with the rest of the Otso Diretso slate.

Cabochan knows he has his work cut out for him, but vows to pick up where Trillanes and Alejano had left off.

Rappler contributor Nikko Dizon talks to Cabochan about his new role and why he thinks the Magdalo remains relevant nearly 20 years since the Oakwood mutiny.

Task force to be created to fight insurgency in Leyte

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 8, 2019): Task force to be created to fight insurgency in Leyte

LIVELIHOOD PROJECT. Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla (center) visits a community in Merida, Leyte, identified as beneficiary of livelihood project of the local government. Leyte’s provincial government is in the process of creating a local task force to come up with mechanisms to completely wipe out insurgency in the province, Petilla said on Friday (June 7, 2019). (Photo courtesy of Leyte provincial government) 

TACLOBAN CITY -- Leyte’s provincial government is in the process of creating a local task force to come up with mechanisms to completely wipe out insurgency in the province.

Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla said on Friday that they are preparing documents for the creation of the task force and are looking into legal considerations before issuing a local executive order.

The formation of the new task force operationalizes Executive Order 70 issued by President Rodrigo Duterte on Dec. 4, 2018. The directive also institutionalizes a “whole-of-nation approach” in attaining an “inclusive and sustainable peace.”

“The task force will not just focus on conflict-stricken areas, but also communities vulnerable to insurgency as well. If an area has a high poverty rate, it should be a concern of the local peace and order council. If people are impoverished, they blame the government and sometimes support the New People’s Army (NPA),” Petilla told reporters.

The governor said efforts to eradicate poverty will be linked with existing livelihood projects of the local government that have reached nearly 300 farmers’ organizations in poor communities.

Patterned after the national task force, the local body will be composed of heads of local offices of the departments of the interior and local government, justice, defense, public works, budget, finance, agrarian reform, social welfare, and education, as well as the military, police and local communication office.

Also listed as members are regional or provincial heads of the National Economic and Development Authority, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, and National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, as well as two representatives of the private sector.

The task force is expected to formulate and start implementing a peace framework. It will also evaluate, modify or integrate policies, programs, and activities contained in the framework.

Intensified operations against the NPA have weakened the communist terrorist organization in Leyte this year, the military reported on Thursday.

Despite the absence of violent activities, government forces have stepped up their operations as the enemy is expected to continue recovery efforts on former guerrilla zones and bases in Leyte Island.

The NPA, which has been waging a five-decade armed struggle against the government, is considered as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

Southern Luzon voters’ support for left-leaning groups wanes

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 8, 2019): Southern Luzon voters’ support for left-leaning groups wanes

LEFT-LEANING GROUPS LOSE VOTERS' SUPPORT. Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) Election Analysis which shows a dramatic drop of support by voters from Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), MIMARO (Mindoro Oriental/Occidental, Marinduque and Romblon) and Bicol Region (Camarines Norte/Sur, Masbate, Catanduanes, Albay and Sorsogon) to left-leaning Makabayan bloc, during a media briefing at Solcom Clubhouse in Camp Gen. Nakar, Lucena City on June 5, 2019. (PNA Photo by Saul E. Pa-a)

CAMP GEN. NAKAR, Lucena City – The support of the electorate from the Southern Luzon provinces for left-leaning party-list groups has waned, according to a poll analysis by the Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) on Wednesday night.

Lt. Gen. Gilbert I. Gapay, Solcom Commander who has operational jurisdiction over the Calabarzon Region (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), Mimaro (Mindoro Oriental/Occidental, Marinduque, Romblon) and Bicol Region (Camarines Norte/Sur, Masbate, Catanduanes, Albay and Sorsogon), presented data showing that voters' support has dramatically dropped based on a comparison of combined votes during two electoral exercises in 2016 and 2019 in the three regions.

In an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA), Gapay attributed the big drop among the left-leaning Makabayan blocs due to the lost cause of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) and for perpetrating terror acts and extortion activities.“They have lost the support of the people in the Southern Luzon areas because of their terroristic acts, extortion activities and burning of heavy equipment hamper development projects that would have redound to benefit the people,” Gapay said.

Based on Solcom’s election comparative analysis, the left-leaning Makabayan group suffered a huge drop from their 2016 vote count to the 2019 poll results in Calabarzon, Mimaro and Region 5, where ACT Teacher party-list 235,337 votes in 2016 has dipped to 91,389 in the 2019 polls.

Gabriela, from 309,724 to 11,527; Anakpawis from 74,663 to 40,212; Kabataan from 59,971 to 47,460; while other partylists organizations --Piston, Migrante, Katribu, Akap-Bata, Aking Bikolnon-- were found to have totally lost support from the voters in the three regions during the May 13 mid-term elections.

Only Bayan Muna has increased from 114,310 in 2016 to 266,909 votes in 2019.

“The truth is that poverty has been used by these rebels and leftist groups to agitate the people into joining their cause. People in the hinterlands only want to live in peace, but these communist-leftist groups provoke them using poverty as an issue to go against the government,” Gapay said.

He also noted zero-election related violent incident (ERVI) in the regions on election day, citing Solcom’s prepositioning of various assets as preemptive plans especially in the island provinces of Masbate, Catanduanes, Marinduque, Mindoro and Romblon.

He pointed to their election preparations where more than 10,000 soldiers were deployed for poll duties and combat operations due to rebels’ threats, attributing the polls “resounding success” to early preparation of the Commission on Elections, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police and various stakeholders to secure the elections.

Gapay said their preemptive plans through both the Joint Task Forces (JTF) “Katagalugan” and “Bicolandia” have resulted in 24 armed encounters, prevented sabotage or violent incidents, with a record low of only 10 election-related violent incidents (ERVIs) this year compared to 25 ERVIs in the 2016 polls.

He said the Camplan “Kapayapaan: Timog Luzon” was formed to combat the Communist Terrorist Groups– Southern Tagalog Regional Committee and the Bondoc Peninsula Regional Committee until the latter reach their breaking point and collapse, and move to sustain the regions’ internal stability by yearend.

“Development projects are taking place, but it’s the insurgents who are conducting their extortion activities preying on contractors and construction firms, and engage in arson that destroy properties and affect innocent people,” he said.

“The election analysis only proves these left-leaning groups have lost track in the populace,” he said, citing their 35 tactical engagements from January to early June have neutralized around 246 enemy forces and recovered 101 various firearms.

Solcom’s JTF “Katagalugan” has processed around 47 surrendered rebels while JTF Bicolandia has 21 or a total of 68 now placed under the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP).

Army settles ‘rido’ between 2 Maguindanaoan families

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 8, 2019): Army settles ‘rido’ between 2 Maguindanaoan families

FEUD SETTLEMENT. Mando Tabungalan (left) and Datu Tamano Mamalapat shake hands after their “rido” (family feud) settlement by the Army’s 1st Mechanized Infantry Battalion in Maguindanao on Friday, June 7, 2019. (Photo courtesy of 1st MIB)

The military in Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao on Friday successfully brought two warring Muslim families to a “peace table” inside its battalion headquarters to end a long-running conflict.

Lt. Col. James Fernando, commander of the Army’s 1st Mechanized Infantry Battalion (1MIB), said it took a while to convince the Muslim families locked in a “rido” (clan war) to settle their dispute peacefully.

Fernando said he was thankful that their persistence paid off when they managed to convince the warring families of Datu Mando Tabungalan and Datu Tamano Mamalapat to sit down at the Army headquarters in Barangay Salbu, Datu Saudi Ampatuan.

Locked in a bloody “rido” for several years now, the families engaged in several armed confrontations at the boundary of Barangay Kitango and Barangay Kitapok, where they reside.

Fernando said the clan war resulted in the wounding and death of some of clan members.

“This ‘rido’ has created anxiety among residents of the Kitango and Kitapok villages,” he said.

Prior to the settlement, he said the 1MIB initiated a series of coordination and dialogues to the warring parties and Muslim religious leaders.

To formalize their reconciliation, the elders of the Tabungalan and Mamalapat families signed a peace covenant that compels them not to use violence in settling misunderstanding but through diplomatic means.

Mamalapat said he was glad the other party (Tabungalan family) agreed to a peaceful settlement. Tabungalan, for his part, said he was happy and welcomed the Army's initiative.

Centcom cascades nat’l task force plan vs. insurgency

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 8, 2019): Centcom cascades nat’l task force plan vs. insurgency

ENDING INSURGENCY. Military and police officials listen to the presentation on the national plan of the National Task Force-Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict in a cascade session in De Goma Hall, Headquarters of Central Command, Camp Lapu-Lapu, Cebu City on Friday (June 7, 2019). Lt. Gen. Noel S. Clement said the Centcom spearheaded the cascade session. (Photo contributed by Maj. Abel Potutan/Centcom PIO)

More than 50 military and police officials on Friday attended the cascading of the national plan to be implemented through the national task force created by President Rodrigo Duterte to end local communist armed conflict.

Lt. Gen. Noel S. Clement, chief of Centcom, said his command, which covers the three regions in the Visayas, spearheaded the cascade session of the National Task Force on Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) at the De Goma Hall of the Centcom headquarters in Camp Lapu-Lapu, Lahug here.

“This undertaking is a timely intervention to highlight the necessity and importance of addressing the insurgency problem by means of employing the 'whole-of-nation approach' in consonance with the national objectives,” Clement said in a message sent to the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

According to him, the sectors under the task force see the need “to synchronize, integrate and align the programs, activities, and projects (PAPs) of all government agencies and other stakeholders in the Visayas to address the insurgency problem.”

Last December, Duterte issued Executive Order 70 creating the task force with the mandate to provide an efficient mechanism structure for the implementation of a "whole-of-nation" approach institutionalized as a government policy in attaining inclusive and sustainable peace.

The technical working group members of the Peace, Law Enforcement and Development Support inter-agency cluster from higher headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police (PNP), led by Army Col. Efren Morados, elaborately presented the NTF-ELCAC “national plan”.

Clement himself attended the session, along with the so-called “triad staff” of Centcom, PNP operations division chief, Col. Florante Camuyot, Directorate for Integrated Police Operations (DIPO) Visayas, Brig. Gen. Rolando Felix, representatives of the Philippine Coast Guard, and officials of different police and military units in the Visayas.

The participants discussed the task force’s plan to end insurgency in the Visayas, through an open forum, Centcom spokesperson Maj. Abel Potutan said.

“The conduct of this endeavor is also a timely development since these plans will be implemented in collaboration with the newly elected local chief executives who will soon occupy their respective positions on June 30,” Clement said.

Solcom launches interactive website for info-sharing

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 8, 2019): Solcom launches interactive website for info-sharing

INTERACTIVE WEBSITE LAUNCH.Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) Commander Lt. Gen. Gilbert I. Gapay leads the launching of the command’s official website during the media fellowship SOLCOM hosted for the officers and members of the press corps from Camp Nakar, 9th Infantry Division (9ID) from the Bicol Region, 2nd Infantry Division (2ID) based in Tanay, Rizal and Police Regional Office (PRO4A)-Calabarzon based in Calamba City, at the camp’s Executive Lounge and Clubhouse, Camp Gen. Nakar, Lucena City on June 5, 2019. (Photo by Saul E. Pa-a)

CAMP GEN. NAKAR, Lucena City – The Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) based in this camp now has its official website to boost its link to the media and the general public on its “need to share” information for a more engaging and pro-people 27/7 interaction.

Solcom commander, Lt. Gen. Gilbert I. Gapay, who led the launching Wednesday night, assured the website could generate a 24/7 interaction for a very engaging social media platform where they could upload their activities, photos and other events.

"Gone are the days that information is ‘need-to-know basis’ and we confine the information among ourselves,” he said.

“If the activity were not uploaded (through the website) or through the media, it is as good as that did not happen. If we were not able to document it, no matter how good we have accomplished, if that was not picked up by our media friends, it’s as if the activity did not happen at all,” Gapay said.

Before the website, he said the stakeholders, military partners and local chief executives were unaware of Solcom activities, including various community support projects.

He said they have established the website because of “the need to share” information and its key role where the media platform could now disseminate their mission accomplishments and the realization of their campaign objectives for a more peaceful, progressive Southern Luzon.

Solcom’s area of operational jurisdiction covers the Calabarzon Region (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), Mimaro (Mindoro Oriental/Occidental, Marinduque and Romblon (excluding Palawan) and the Bicol Region (Camarines Norte/Sur, Masbate, Catanduanes, Albay and Sorsogon).

“We consider the media as very important partners in accomplishing our mandates and mission. If not for your (media) support, the public would not know what the military organization is doing,” Gapay said, referring the media as the Armed Forces of the Philippines' (AFP) staunch partner.

He also thanked the media as “force multipliers” as he assessed the “best ever” collaborative partnership of the Philippine National Police and AFP in Southern Luzon, from their internal security operations, election duties and other focus military operations.

“There is no other time than this recent survey when the Armed Forces enjoy a very high level of satisfaction and trust rating at 75 percent and that is simply because our partners are the media,” he said.

He underscored the importance of where the military organization enjoys the high level of trust and confidence from the stakeholders.

He also considered the media reportage “as deterrent to our enemies, those whom we confront as security challenges and threats, because media has reported how prepared we were, how ready we were in the security preparations especially during the elections.”

Gapay described the May 13 mid-term polls “a resounding success” as the Solcom experienced a 50 percent reduction in terms of election related violent incidents (ERVIs) prior to the elections and achieving a zero ERVI on election day across Southern Luzon.

Lt. Col. Dennis S. Caña, who heads the team of information and communications and telcom group that manages the website, said the website would be the fastest way to communicate with them and the general public through its web contents of articles for public consumption, photos, data, reference and the Solcom contacts.

He also assured they have set up links where the inquiries and other information could be obtained through the public information office and as important channel to him being the People’s Freedom of Information (PFOI) officer of Solcom, except for highly-sensitive information and national security matters.

Rapporteurs call for probe interference on PH sovereignty: Palace

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 8, 2019): Rapporteurs call for probe interference on PH sovereignty: Palace

The United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteurs' call for an independent probe into alleged human rights violations in the country is an interference on Philippine sovereignty, Malacañang said Saturday.

"'The 11 UN Special Rapporteurs' act of peddling a biased and absolutely false recital of facts, adulterated with malicious imputations against the constituted authorities, smacks of unpardonable intrusions on our sovereignty," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

"Let the enemies of the state and their supporters from foreign soil be forewarned that no amount of destructive narratives against this government will envelope it with the appearance of pretended truth to hoodwink the Filipino people in embracing it," Panelo said.

Panelo, also Chief Presidential legal counsel, said the Philippines is a working vibrant democracy not needing foreign intervention.

"It (Philippines) has demonstrated strength and resilience in exercising the democratic rights outlined by the Constitution through the various institutions, with their respective allocation of power, geared toward the promotion of general welfare," he said.

"The Judiciary sees to it that the law is applied equally to all, bar none," he added.

Panelo also cited the need and obligation of the government to combat illegal drugs.

He said the Duterte administration's campaign against illegal drugs "is pursuant to the primary duty of the state to preserve and protect the people. Law enforcement authorities operate on strict protocols. Any deviation from it is met with the unyielding strong arm of the law with no transgressors immune from it."

Panelo said the information presented by the UN Special Rapporteurs come from the detractors of the Duterte administration.

"All these special rapporteurs can present are general allegations culled from false information emanating from the purveyors of status quo ante the Duterte presidency. Lest these foreign propagandists, masquerading as human right protectors, forget, allegations are not proof," he said.

Panelo said the reasons cited by the UN Special Rapporteurs for the investigation "have been discredited and repudiated by the very nation they pretend to care about."

He added that positive survey and election results show negative propaganda against the Duterte administration is not working.

"Survey after survey, however, has demolished this false if not adulterated news. The Filipino people have spoken anew, via the just concluded elections. Those who have spoken against the campaign on illegal drugs and human rights record of this President have been overwhelmingly rejected by the Filipino electorate. They have been resoundingly beaten in the polls," he said.

"These special rapporteurs should by this time realize that they, who believed in the untruthful advocacies of the electorally vanquished pretenders, have likewise been demolished, beyond redemption," he added.

UN human rights experts on Friday cited a sharp deterioration in the situation of human rights across the country, including sustained attacks on people and institutions defending human rights as the reason for calling an independent investigation.

ACT’s claim baseless, misplaced: DILG chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 8, 2019): ACT’s claim baseless, misplaced: DILG chief

Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año

Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año on Saturday described the claim of left-leaning group Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) that President Rodrigo Duterte favors the police and military over public school teachers as "misplaced" and baseless.

In a statement, Año said the Duterte administration "recognizes the contribution of our teachers as stewards of our youth's future as much as we take cognizance of the hard work of our uniformed sector in protecting and securing our communities."

He said the President's concern and committment to government employees, including teachers, is without question, noting the Chief Executive's late mother was also a public school teacher.

"The salaries of our police and uniformed personnel were raised first simply because it was an election promise of the President as part of his platform of government. It’s also a recognition of the daily sacrifice of our police officers who place their lives on the line 24 hours every day in the war against criminality, illegal drugs, communist insurgency and other threats to peace and order and national security," he said.

Although he supports the clamor for a pay hike for government teachers, the DILG chief said it would be difficult for the government to grant salary increase to teachers because of their sheer number which now stands at 830,000 as opposed to the 170,000 police officers.

"Nonetheless, the President has spoken and the administration is committed to deliver a pay hike to our public school teachers but it cannot be done overnight as claimed by the ACT. The Cabinet is now studying and looking for potential fund sources for the salary increase as directed by the President," Año added.

The government, he said, is committed to the plight and welfare of soldiers and the police "as we are to teachers, public health workers, and to each and every Filipino."

"But no matter how committed the President is, he cannot oblige to the clamor of each sector all at the same time because of budgetary limitations," he added.

Año also called on ACT officials and members to join hands with the government in finding ways and means to improve the delivery of education to the youth.

"Let us mold them to become responsible citizens away from the deceit and machinations of communist-led student organizations that only want them to rise up in arms against the government. We also urge ACT to monitor its ranks and be vigilant against the infiltration of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)through the Katipunan ng Gurong Makabayan (KAGUMA) who seeks to overthrow our duly constituted government and our democratic way of life," Año said.

AFP support

Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said the pay hike for the military personnel has been long overdue, noting that the organization's modernization and salary increase materializing only in the last eight years.

In a separate statement issued Saturday, the AFP also noted that the proceeds of the sale of its military bases in 1995 went to the health and education departments.

"We support the wage increase of teachers but we should watch out for KAGUMA members destroying your ranks in ACT. Help the PNP [Philippine National Police] and AFP in preventing the recruitment of youth to prolong this insurgency. If we are able to end this insurgency immediately then we may be able to contribute to DepEds' needs, with half of DND [Department of National Defense] budget possibly going to them," the AFP said.

New NCIP head, a legitimate IP

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 8, 2019): New NCIP head, a legitimate IP

Newly-appointed National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) chairperson Allen Capuyan dismissed on Saturday news reports that cast doubts on his qualifications to lead the agency on claims that he is not a bonafide member of any IP group or indigenous cultural community (ICC).

In a statement, Capuyan said he is an IP by blood as he comes from the Manobo Tribe of Agusan Del Sur, contrary to some media reports which questioned his legitimacy as an IP member.

"I am an IP by blood from the Manobo Tribe of Agusan Del Sur," the NCIP head said.

He added that he has the lineage and certification to prove that he is a legitimate IP member as he even became a Commission of National Integration College Scholar prior his entry to the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) in 1979 and graduation in 1983.

The Commission of National Integration is the forerunner of NCIP.

In response to claims that Capuyan and his commissioners must "come from one of the seven ethnographic/cultural areas", the NCIP official said he went through this process to be selected as NCIP Ethnographic Region Commissioner for Regions 11 (Davao Region) and 13 (Caraga) last May 27.

Capuyan resigned as Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) assistant general manager for security and emergency services in April 2018 to heed President Rodrigo R. Duterte's request for him to join his brethrens from the ICCs and IPs and liberate them from poverty and terrorism caused by the communist terror groups (CTGs).

"I resigned from MIAA, heeding to a call from President Duterte sometime February 2018 when he told me, 'for the last time, as your patriotic duty and love of country, join your brethren ICCs/IPs and liberate them from poverty and terrorism by the CTGs," he added.

This led to his appointment as Presidential Adviser On Indigenous Peoples' concern, with the rank of Undersecretary in April 2018.

Despite not having any position connected to any agencies or offices related to IPs and ICCs, Capuyan said he served the Indigenous People Advocacy from 1999 to the present.

"I also served in the IP Advocacy from 1999 to 2019 but went fulltime from 2008-2015," he added.

He retired eight years ahead from the mandatory military retirement age of 56 in 2010 in line with efforts to help the IPs in Mindanao regarding their struggles.

Regarding his appointment as Executive Director of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC) in March concurrent with his post and primacy as NCIP chair, Capuyan believes that this is due to the President's desire to have someone who will work hard to implement Republic Act No. 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples' Right Act (IPRA) of 1997.

"The wisdom I hold both position is the President desire to have a laser focus actions for the ICCs/IPs full implementation of the intent and spirit of IPRA," he added.

The NCIP chief believes that the IPRA law can be only be implemented to the fullest if the ICCs and IPs are liberated from their almost 50 years of infiltration, destruction, influence and control brought by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) and total exposure for the National Democratic Front (NDF) and and its allies who are behind the so-called revolutionary dual tactics, extortions, mass killing and corruption of the IP culture.

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

He also challenged the CPP-NPA and NDF to send representatives and witnesses to discuss every detail of the communist rebels' 17 major atrocities against the country's IPs for the last 50 years.

"Don't hide in your own propaganda machinery and organization. Just like Satan, you are in this world to steal, kill and destroy (and) trying to appear like an angel championing human rights," he added.

The time of reckoning for communist terrorists and their allies for crimes committed against the ICCs and IPs will come and will be revealed in due time, with the truth setting the country free, Capuyan said.

With the NTF ELCAC gaining momentum, thanks to the multitude of approaches, the government, as Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin earlier said, now has a clear framework and basis for national convergence which they can even tell and expound to CPP founding chair Jose Maria "Joma" Sison to convince him to join and implement the plan, he said.

"Lastly the NTF ELCAC is taking off from the environment of whole-of-government, whole-of-nation (approach), enhanced good governance, pro-people and culture/human rights sensitive and more involvement of civilian agencies in the 12 lines of efforts/clusters with the AFP/PNP going back to its core competencies," he said.

The NTF ELCAC was created through Executive Order 70 signed by President Duterte on Dec. 4, 2018.

This provides for a whole-of-nation approach in defeating the local communist terrorist groups.

Earlier, the Mindanao Indigenous Peoples (IP) Council of Elders and Leaders (MIPCEL) said it will never support efforts to discredit Capuyan.

The group issued the statement Thursday following leftist group Sandugo's strongly-worded protest to the former military officer's appointment to the NCIP which was made public Tuesday.

"The appointment of Capuyan speaks loudly of the NTF (National Task Force) to End Local Communist Armed Conflict that in fact targets the Indigenous Peoples organizations and leaders. These attacks against us with Capuyan at the helm of the NCIP will further intensify as if we are the enemies. The appointment of another soldier in a civilian post shows that the Duterte government is mustering all its agencies against. This is the core of the 'Whole of Nation Approach' in the government’s Oplan Kapayaan counter-insurgency program. These are instruments that Capuyan and Duterte’s other military minions will use hand in hand with direct military actions," the group said.

MIPCEL claimed there is nothing original with the statement issued by Sandugo as it merely parroted it from Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.

Such allegations, the group said, will never be supported by the IPs and the public in general.