Thursday, June 20, 2019

AFP vice chief-of-staff Mison retires

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 21, 2019): AFP vice chief-of-staff Mison retires

After more than 39 years of service, Armed Forces of the Philippine (AFP) Vice Chief-of-Staff, Lt. Gen. Salvador B. Mison, Jr., formally retired from the military - during a joint change-of-command and retirement ceremony in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City on Thursday.

AFP Chief-of-Staff, Gen. Benjamin Madrigal, presided the ceremonies, where Mison formally turned his post to former The Deputy Chief of Staff (TDCS) of the AFP, Vice Admiral Gaudencio Collado Jr.

“As my primary adviser and collaborator, General Mison Jr. closely worked with me in the administration and management, specifically policy formulation, implementation, and oversight of the overall conduct of AFP operations, as well as AFP capability development objectives,” he said.

“He (Mison) provided effective functional supervision over the major services, unified command, and AFP-wide support and separate units, with skill full employment of a systems approach and improvement of processes in providing innovative and cost-effective solutions in support of our mission accomplishments,” Madrigal added.

Mison, a member of the Philippine Military Academy “Maharlika” Class of 1984, completed a total of 39 years, three months, and five days of active military service. Prior to his retirement, he previously held the following positions: TDCS of the AFP; Commander, Air Education Training and Doctrine Command; Chief of Air Staff, Philippine Air Force (PAF); Inspector General, Headquarters Service Support Group; Deputy Commander, 1st Air Division; Wing Commander, 220th Airlift Wing; and flew as an Instructor Pilot.

He also served as a member of the PAF Education and Training Board, member of the PAF Board of Senior Officers, and Vice Chairman of the PAF Military Pilot Training selection board.

Mison was also a recipient of various awards, decorations, and commendations, including the PAF Gold Wings, Outstanding Achievement Medal, Distinguished Service Star, Award of the Chief of Staff, Commendation Medal and Ribbon, Military Merit Medal, Silver Wing Medal, Presidential Citation Badge, and numerous letters of commendations, plaques of appreciation, and merits.

He has a reputation for being a forthright disciplinarian with a sense of duty and responsibility that few in the organization can match.

During the ceremony, Mison was presented with the Philippine Legion of Honor Award with the Degree of Commander for meritorious and exceptional service rendered to the country and the Filipino people.

The event also saw the first ever recital of the “Pagpupugay sa Kawal Pilipino” (Salute to Filipino Soldier), a narrative performance giving due honor to retiring soldiers, by Major Aristides Galang, Jr.

Meanwhile the new AFP Vice Chief-of-Staff, Collado is an accomplished Navy officer.

He previously commanded four Navy ships, including BRP Ang Pangulo, and held various sensitive staff and leadership positions in the Philippine Fleet. He is known in the Navy to be an experienced, no-nonsense, but down-to-earth, diligent team player whose attention to detail inspires peers and subordinates to accomplish their tasks with distinction.

These are the attributes he brought with him to the General Headquarters.

Collado's perspectives, as a sea-going Navy Officer, compliment that of Madrigal (who is an Army officer) and that of Mison (from the Air Force) to complete the views from the lens of the three AFP Major services in many respects of command, leadership, and management of the AFP.

“I am confident that the newly posted vice chief of staff, Vice Admiral Collado Jr., will be able to deliver as expected being the former deputy chief of staff," Madrigal said.

Alberto visits PH Army reserve training school

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 21, 2019): Alberto visits PH Army reserve training school

Photo courtesy: Office of the Army Chief Public Affairs

With military reserve units being eyed to play a larger role in the country's defense, the Army Reserve Command (ARESCOM) Training School at Camp Region De Dios, Tanza, Cavite showcased its war-fighting facilities and capability to Philippine Army (PA) head, Lt. Gen. Macairog S. Alberto Thursday.

"The Army Reserve Component is a significant sector in nation building, thus we recognize their contributions alongside our regular forces in promoting peace and development. They are our silent partners in ensuring that we have a pool of volunteers who will respond especially in national emergencies," Alberto said.

Also, the event was part of a three-day Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (ROTC) forum which aims to set a standard and monitoring system for the proper implementation of all reservists and retirees affairs training, PA spokesperson Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said Friday.

Students, pre-deployment trainee students, drillmaster training students and ARESCOM personnel took part in the demonstration.

ARESCOM personnel also showed how mortars are used as well as its other firearms, all-terrain vehicles and how to drive and operate it.

Zagala said the training school provides a base expansion for the regular force in the event of war, invasion, and rebellion and renders humanitarian assistance and disaster relief during calamities.

It also assists in socio-economic development initiatives, including protection to government facilities and vital installations.

ARESCOM has also extended its training to public and private organizations that ought to train its members on disaster response and security operations. It even serves as a venue for team-building activities that promotes discipline, service, and unity.

PRO-9 steps up surveillance vs foreign terrorists

From the Philippine Star (Jun 20, 2019):
PRO-9 steps up surveillance vs foreign terrorists

Police have stepped up surveillance in the region in response to the arrest in Zamboanga City of a Pakistani man with alleged links to Dawlah Islamiyah.

Police Brig. Gen. Froilan Quidilla, director of Police Regional Office 9, has directed local police to work with other law enforcement agencies to track down foreign terrorists who may be in the Zamboanga Peninsula, Police Maj. Helen Galvez, regional spokesperson said.

Quidilla also commended the regional police intelligence division for assisting the Bureau of Immigration in the arrest of Waqar Ahmad earlier this month. Ahmad had been working at his uncle's appliance center along Alejo Alvarez Street.

Ahmad was initially arrested for being an undocumented foreigner, which is a violation of immigration law. He has been turned over to the bureau's central office in Manila.

Ahmed's arrest was announced Tuesday after he had gone through "tactical interrogation". The BI said Ahmad admitted to an alleged link with Dawlah Islamiyah, which is also known as the Maute local terror group.

According to intelligence reports, Ahmad was reportedly planning to meet with the Abu Sayyaf group in Basilan to conduct suicide bombings.

The military has said the meeting might not have pushed through because the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan are already in hiding due to constant military operations.

Ahmad will be deported and will not be allowed to return to the country.

Abus snatch, kill retired gov’t employee in Sulu

From the Philippine Star (Jun 21, 2019): Abus snatch, kill retired gov’t employee in Sulu

Suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits killed a retired government employee they seized in Patikul, Sulu on Sunday.

The bandits also reportedly ransacked the house of
Kirah Tiblan in Sitio Lingon Gitung, Barangay Igasan before setting it on fire.

Brig. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo, Joint Task Force Sulu and 11th Infantry Division commander, said soldiers of the 13th Special Forces Company recovered the body of Tiblan 100 meters away from his house.

He said a man identified only as Edwin, who was also snatched by the bandits, was released and is now under the custody of the 6th Special Forces Battalion.

Pabayo said the bandits were reportedly wearing military uniforms and speaking in Tagalog when they went to the house of the victims.

Probers are eyeing a personal grudge as the motive for the killing of Tiblan, whom the bandits suspect as a military informant. 

Pabayo said pursuit operations for the bandits are ongoing.

Philippine Naval Modernization Under Duterte in the Spotlight with Anniversary Celebrations

From The Diplomat (Jun 20, 2019): Philippine Naval Modernization Under Duterte in the Spotlight with Anniversary Celebrations (By Prashanth Parameswaran)

A recent event provided a closer look at what lies ahead for Manila’s maritime capabilities.

On June 17, the Philippine navy held another iteration of celebrations tied to its annual founding anniversary. The engagement once again highlighted the mix of opportunities and challenges that remain for the Philippines’ naval modernization under President Rodrigo Duterte.

As I have noted before in these pages, as Philippine military modernization continues under Duterte, with a mix of continuity and change and amid a range of trends and developments, observers have been looking to get a sense of how the Philippines, which remains one of the weakest militaries in the Asia-Pacific, is looking to further boost its capabilities and address a spectrum of maritime challenges.

This week, the state of Philippine naval modernization was in the headlines again with the commemoration of the Philippine navy’s 121st founding anniversary. While the backdrop to the anniversary celebrations, held in Sangley Point in Cavite, were far from ideal given that the Philippines was still contending from the fallout from a collision by a Chinese ship that left 22 Philippine fishermen at sea, the event, which was attended by top Philippine officials including Duterte himself, was nonetheless notable and closely watched.

While the anniversary itself comprised several components, among them was the focus on new developments in Philippine naval modernization that came from Philippine navy chief Robert Empedrad. In his remarks, Empedrad reiterated that the acquisition of several naval assets was in the pipeline in line with ongoing modernization efforts and priority areas for Manila’s defense policy going forward for the rest of Duterte’s single six-year term.

Some of these were updates with respect to current acquisitions already underway. For instance, Empedrad gave updates on the state of the frigates from South Korea, which have been key for Manila and Philippine-South Korea defense collaboration, announcing that new frigates will be delivered earlier than previously announced dates. The commemoration was also an opportunity to integrate new equipment into the Philippine military, including new anti-submarine warfare helicopters.

Others were newer. For instance, Empedrad made reference to the approval of two corvette warships costing 28 billion pesos (roughly $535.87 million) that were more capable than two new South Korean frigates, which would also be part of Philippine capabilities. He also mentioned other line items, including eight fast attack interdiction craft missile for which a budget of 10 billion pesos had been allocated, shore-based missile systems, and, notably, the acquisition of two submarines which had been in the headlines previously as well.

Unsurprisingly, given the Duterte administration’s priority areas for defense policy, Empedrad focused most of his remarks on domestic issues such as countering terrorism and insurgencies, despite the fact that Manila faces a wide spectrum of threats and new equipment can be used for a range of purposes. For instance, he noted that the addition of missile capabilities would help “easily destroy” the enemy in another Marawi-type war, making reference to the crisis that the Philippines had experienced following a siege by Islamic State-backed rebels in the country’s south. He also framed the delivery of a donated Pohang-class corvette by South Korea, expected soon, in a similar way, noting that total control of maritime waters in Mindanao would help the country fight a decades-old communist insurgency by denying them transportation links and disrupting logistics or supply lines during a future conflict.

That said, Empedrad did not shy away from addressing other aspects of Philippine security policy, even though they highlighted divergences between Duterte’s own public stances. For instance, when addressing the recent China-Philippine collision, for instance, Empedrad said that contrary to initial Chinese claims, this was far from a “normal maritime accident.” This was a much stronger statement compared to Duterte’s remarks where, after days of silence, he had called it a “maritime incident.”

Overall, while nothing wholly new was disclosed, the anniversary celebration did give a sense of the state of play of some ongoing and newer acquisitions for the Philippine navy. As we move into the rest of 2019 and into 2020, it will be interesting to watch the extent of continuity and change with respect to what we have heard from Philippine officials.

NPA continues to lose members in Davao City

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 21, 2019): NPA continues to lose members in Davao City

The New People's Army (NPA) continues to lose its members in Paquibato District here as another ranking political officer surrendered and handed over explosives to the 16th Infantry battalion under the 1003rd Infantry Brigade.

Capt. Erick Wynmer Calulot, the Civil-Military Operations Officer of 1003rd Infantry Brigade, said that Epifanio Blas, 49, married, and a resident of Barangay Malabog, Paquibato District, abandoned the NPA days before he surrendered on Thursday.

Calulot said Blas acted as assistant secretary of the NPA’s underground mass organization known as “Hingpit Organisadong Masa” or Local Party Branch in Barangay Malabog, which is one of the recently declared insurgency-free areas in this city.

Paquibato is the city's pilot area of the Peace 911 -- a peace and development initiative of the city government.

Calulot said Blas also surrendered nine Improvised explosive devices designed as anti-personnel mines. Blas surrendered after seeing the sincerity of the peace-building efforts of the 16th Infantry Battalion troops in the area, he added.

Col. Nolasco Mempin, the commander of the 1003rd Infantry Brigade, welcomed Blas' surrender as an indication that the peace and development efforts of the government are drawing more NPA insurgents back to the folds of the law.

He said it is also a result of the military's continuing efforts to completely clear the barangays from NPA influence.

"Paquibato is transforming into a more peaceful state largely due to the combined peace and development efforts of the unit with Davao City Peace 911," Mempin said.

Reds offer to help solve Besao killings

From the Sun Star-Baguio (Jun 19, 2019): Reds offer to help solve Besao killings

CORDILLERA. Members of the New People’s Army in the Cordillera region undergo firearms training. Just recently, four NPA rebels surrendered to the government in Ifguao province. (Contributed photo)

A SPOKESPERSON of the Cordillera People’s Democratic Front (CPDF) has offered to help solve the killing of three farmers in Besao, Mountain Province in May.

Simon “Ka Filiw” Naogsan, Sr., spokesperson of the CPDF, reached out to elders of the Agawa, Baclingayan and entire Besao community to prevent a tribal war.

“The Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army and the Cordillera People's Democratic Front are more than willing to intercede in this case in order to bring it to its just and peaceful resolution. We enjoin all parties concerned to cooperate to ensure that due process for both the victims’ families and the suspect’s is observed. We urge our elders to do their part to the attainment of justice for the victims without further bloodshed,” Naogsan said.

The CPDF urged elders to make a firm stand to ensure that the conflict would not escalate into a full-blown tribal war.

“We entreat our esteemed elders to be a portrait of reason and a beacon of justice. Dialogue and due process to mete out justice to the victims and aggrieved parties have proven to be effective in dispute resolution among our people and between tribes. Tribal wars only lead to unnecessary loss of countless lives, not to mention wastage of time, energy and resources. Ultimately, the people will suffer without genuinely addressing the roots of the conflict,” Naogsan added.

The CPDF said it recognized these are troubled times for the people of Besao, Tubo and adjacent municipalities.

“As you may well know, a few weeks ago, a dire incident occurred along the ridges bridging the Provinces of Abra and Mt. Province which led to the death of Pedro Sauyen, Ivan Gabaen, and Ronnie Macayba, all of Agawa Tribe in Brgy. Nabanig, Besao, Mt. Province. We have received reports that the alleged perpetrator is a resident of Sitio Baclingayan, Brgy. Tabacda, Tubo,” added Naogsan.

Gabaen, Macayba and Sauyen went fishing on May 24 for eels in a river in the forest at the boundary of Mt. Province and Tubo in Abra. They failed to return.

On May 28, responders from the local government of Besao found the three men with multiple hack wounds and the other two villagers with gunshot wounds. Another was found naked in the river.

“Tension and anxiety between and among the concerned communities consequently arose from the incident. Some went as far as to call for retribution: blood for blood or tribal war. While we recognize the urgent need for swift justice on this matter, we, as servants of all oppressed and down-trodden, are duty- bound to prevent the intensification of the brewing conflict,” the CPDF spokesperson said.

Philippine security forces monitor southern provinces to track down fishermen snatched off Lahad Datu

Posted to the Malay Mail (Jun 20, 2019): Philippine security forces monitor southern provinces to track down fishermen snatched off Lahad Datu

Philippine security forces are closely monitoring its remote southernmost provinces of Tawi-Tawi and Sulu after reports that the 10 Malaysian fishermen kidnapped last Tuesday by suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen from waters off Sabah in eastern Malaysia were taken to the bandits’ jungle lair in southern Philippines, Xinhua news agency reported.

Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said yesterday that Philippine troops have been alerted.

“We have directed our troops to be very vigilant,” Lorenzana said, adding that he gave the marching orders immediately after receiving reports about the abduction.

“(The kidnappers) are reportedly on the way to Tawi-Tawi and Jolo (with their hostages),” he said, referring to the remote islands in the Sulu Archipelago.

Col. Gerry Besana, the spokesperson for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Mindanao Command, said troops have been on “extensive monitoring” since Tuesday.

However, he said, “there is still no update based on our 24/7 monitoring in the area.”

According to Malaysian news reports, the 10 fishermen were kidnapped off Borneo island on Tuesday and took to the southern Philippines.

The Abu Sayyaf bandits operate in the waters off the western part of Mindanao in southern Philippines, including the island province of Basilan, the Sulu Archipelago and the southern Sulu Sea.

According to the military, Basilan and the outlying islands of Sulu and Taw-Tawi are known hideouts of the Abu Sayyaf, a radical insurgent group in the Philippines that carry out kidnappings, bombings, piracy attacks, and beheadings in western Mindanao.

The bandits usually prey on foreign tourists, businessmen and fishermen not only from the Philippines but also from Indonesia and Malaysia and hide them in Philippine jungles or remote islands.

A Dutchman hostage, Ewold Horn, held since 2012 was shot dead on May 31 while trying to escape during a rescue operation launched by Philippine security forces in the jungles of Patikul town in Sulu province. The military said Horn was the last known kidnap victim in the hands of the group.

The Duterte government formed an entire army division to hunt down the Abu Sayyaf militants blamed for a series of kidnapping and bombings in the southern region, including the Jan 27 twin bombings in a church in Jolo, Sulu that killed 26 and injured more than 100. — Bernama

Sinking Sparks Debate Over China's Clout in South China Sea

Posted to the Maritime Executive (Jun 19, 2019): Sinking Sparks Debate Over China's Clout in South China Sea


The Chinese vessel Yuemaobinyu 42212 struck and sank the Philippine fishing boat Gem-Vir 1 near Reed Bank on June 9, then departed the scene without helping the stricken vessel's crew. The area is home to long-simmering disputes over land claims and fishing rights, and some politicians in the Philippines have accused the Chinese vessel of carrying out an intentional ramming; however, Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte has downplayed the sinking as a "little maritime accident."

"Do not allow a little maritime accident . . . [make us] go to war," Duterte said in address to the Philippine Navy on Monday, making his first comments on the casualty. “Maritime incident is a maritime incident. It is best investigated. And I do not now issue a statement because there is no investigation and there is no result."

Duterte's comments appeared to contradict initial assessments from the Armed Forces of the Philippines. "According to our report, its far from accidental. If it's accidental, it's SOP they should stop, they should rescue these fishermen. But when they hit [the boat], they didn't stop," said Lt. Col. Stephen Penetrante, a spokesman for AFP's Western Command, speaking to media on June 12. "It's like a hit and run."

Chinese foreign ministry maintains that the incident was an accident, and on Friday, China's embassy to the Philippines said that it was not a hit and run, either: by its account, the Yuemaobinyu 42212 fled because it was "suddenly besieged by 7 or 8 Filipino fishing boats." The statement was published on the embassy's Facebook site but was later taken down.

On Wednesday, Philippine defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that Manila would pursue charges against the Chinese boat's crew for failing to assist seafarers in distress, a violation of UNCLOS. However, he echoed Duterte's suggestion that the allision was an accident, citing "information we got from some of the crew."

The 22 survivors from the Gem-Vir 1 will receive direct compensation and assistance from multiple Philippine agencies, according to Duterte's administration. Agriculture secretary Emmanuel Piñol has been assigned to lead the effort to provide them with relief, and on Wednesday he promised to release aid of $500 per person and to provide new fiberglass boats for each of the survivors.

The captain of the Gem-Vir 1, Junel Insigne, initially told media that the incident was an intentional ramming. After a personal visit from Piñol on Wednesday, Insigne told GMA News that he was not so sure.

Senator Risa Hontiveros, an opponent of the Duterte administration's authoritarian domestic policies, has been outspoken in her criticism of his approach to the Reed Bank incident. In a widely-cited statement on Twitter, she accused him of a "feckless and spineless" approach to dealing with China:

OPAPP: BARMM youth ensured of key participation in Bangsamoro governance

Posted to the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Website (Jun 18, 2019): BARMM youth ensured of key participation in Bangsamoro governance

DATU ODIN SINSUAT, MAGUINDANAO, June 18, 2019 – More than 100 youth leaders from the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) converged here over the weekend and crafted a five-point youth peace and security agenda to ensure that their interests are well-reflected in the policies of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), as well as incorporated into the National Action Plan on Youth, Peace and Security.

In a Youth Peace and Security (YPS) Consultation organized by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), BARMM youth leaders were given an avenue to discuss key concerns and submit recommendations to promote the youth sector’s agenda relative to the ongoing transition of the Bangsamoro interim government and the implementation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

Hamida Paglas, a participant and a member of MyPeace Boses ng Kabataan, said through this activity, the various narratives on the youth will be highlighted.

“’Yong mga negative narrative tungkol sa kabataan mawawala na po, ngayon po mabibigyan na kami ng boses, malaya na po naming maipapahayag ang mga opinyon at beliefs as an individual, as youth.”

(Negative narratives about the youth will end. Our voices are heard, and our opinions and beliefs are acknowledged.)

Nasserudin Dunding, a representative of the Youth Political Reform and Peacebuilding Advocate of Young Centrists Union during the activity, noted the workshop is a chance for the BARMM youth to voice out their needs, saying, “Malaki ‘yong magiging tulong nito lalong lalo na sa mga kabataan. (The output for the YPS consultation is a big help for the youth).”

“Sa consultation na ito malalaman natin kung ano ba talaga ang gusto ng mga kabataan na nasa Bangsamoro at hindi lang yung theory ang naririnig natin,” he added.

(We get to know the concerns and needs of the youth in the Bangsamoro straight from them, not from the theories we just hear.)

Under the BOL, there is one reserved sectoral seat for the youth sector in the Bangsamoro Parliament. The rights of the youth is also enshrined in Article IX: Basic Rights of the BOL, which specifically recognizes the vital role of the youth in nation-building.

The passage and ratification of the BOL and the subsequent establishment of the BARMM is part of the political track of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

Another component of the CAB is the Normalization track, which covers the decommissioning of MILF fighters and their weapons, the dismantling of Private Armed Groups, as well as the transformation of several camps into progressive and resilient communities, and runs in parallel with the political track.

The CAB is the peace agreement between the national government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed on March 27, 2014.

Five-point youth peace and security agenda

The consultation-workshop sessions focused on the role of the youth in governance and their representation in institutions; the promotion and protection of human rights; youth’s participation in the implementation of transitional justice and reconciliation initiatives; prevention of violence, promotion of a culture of peace; and rehabilitation and development efforts that address the needs of the youth affected by armed conflict.

From these main concerns, the participants proposed five immediate action points: (1) Empowering the youth through capacity building and in partnership with different stakeholders; (2) Proper research, documentation, validation of data narratives of the Bangsamoro and integration the same in the basic to tertiary education; (3) Strengthening social enterprise for the youth by the BARMM; (4) Policies and mechanisms in peace education should prioritize culture, religion, faith and formal institutions; and (5) Establish a BARMM youth grievance office that will support youth initiatives for rebuilding Marawi.

Among the participants is Arham Kamensa, a member of the Bangsamoro Youth Model Parliament (BYMP). BYMP is an OPAPP-led activity which simulates the Bangsamoro Parliament. The BYMP was launched during the celebration of National Peace Consciousness in 2018.

Kamensa said he looks forward “to the intervention of the Bangsamoro youth not just on political empowerment but also in education and business investments.”

“[These activities] will open eventual employment opportunities [in] major areas that have been directly affected by the [peace and security situation] in Muslim Mindanao throughout the years…I think, then, that platforms for these areas must be given [to] young Bangsamoro,” he added.

In his message which was delivered by OPAPP Director Jana Gallardo, Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito G. Galvez Jr. lauded the youth’s active participation as he stressed the importance of having their voices heard.

“I’d like to guarantee that we hear you, loud and clear. It is imperative that the inputs, concerns and insights that you have crafted will be reflected in the policies and actions,” he said.

The secretary also reaffirmed the national government’s commitment to support the BARMM youth in pushing forward their initiatives.

“Nandito kami para sa inyo dahil malaki ang tiwala namin sa inyo at naniniwala kami sa kakayahan ng mga kabataan sa Bangsamoro,” he said.

(We are here for you because we trust and believe in the potential of the youth in the Bangsamoro.)

Galvez also emphasized that the participation of the youth is crucial in sustaining peace in BARMM, as he said

“…sa kamay ninyo nakasalalay ang papataguyod sa mga hakbang para masiguro na makakamit natin ang pangmatagalang kapayapaan dito sa Bangsamoro,” he added.

(The power is in your hands to sustain the peace gains we have achieved here in the Bangsamoro.)

BTA Member of Parliament (MP) Atty. Anna Basman underscored the importance of establishing a mechanism that would guide the youth in resolving peace and security challenges in their community.

“The youth’s idealism is both a boon and a bane to the issue of peace and security. This laudable character makes some vulnerable to ideologies that purport to represent their belief system or their desire to advocate for the oppressed.

“Because of this, it has become crucial to provide a mechanism so that this same idealism is channeled to resolve emerging peace and security challenges in our communities,” she said.

Meanwhile, BTA MP and Executive Director of the Office on Bangsamoro Youth Affairs (OBYA) Marjanie Macasalong committed to that the output of the youth leaders will be incorporated in the local policies:

“…we commit to include these outputs to our Comprehensive Bangsamoro Youth Development Agenda which the OBYA is currently drafting. Rest assured that we, in our office, will do our best to address those issues within our bounds,” Macasalong said.

Response to UNSCR 2250

The activity also allowed the youth delegates to formulate and submit recommendations that would be incorporated into the youth peace agenda, which in turn, will be included in the crafting of a national action plan adopting the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security.

This is the first resolution to acknowledge the legitimacy of the youth’s role in upholding and promoting international peace and security.

In response to the UNSCR resolution and the government’s all-inclusive peace and development agenda, OPAPP initiated three major island-wide Youth Peace Table (YPT) consultations which became a platform for the youth to support the Bangsamoro and CPP/NPA/NDF Peace Processes, as well help in the promotion of the culture of peace.

After gathering 117 key youth leaders from across the country, the YPT was able to help establish 76 youth networks. The YPT has launched its Youth Peace Agenda, as well as implemented various peacebuilding initiatives in their schools and communities.

The BARMM YPS Consultation was conducted in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme, Generation Peace Network, Ateneo de Zamboanga University, Office of the Bangsamoro Youth Affairs, 1st Infantry Tabak Division, 6th Infantry Kampilan Division, 11th Infantry Alakdan Division, 37th Infantry Brigade, and 104th Infantry Brigade. ###

Kalinaw News: 75th Infantry Battalion welcomes new soldiers

Posted to Kalinaw News (Jun 20, 2019): 75th Infantry Battalion welcomes new soldiers

BISLIG CITY, Surigao del Sur- Camp Jaime N Ferrer Sr, Brgy Maharlika, Bislig City (Stn) – The 75th Infantry (Marauder) Battalion, 4ID, PA celebrated the Father’s Day with the newly assigned privates at the Home of the Marauders at around 5:30 in the morning, June 16, 2019.

Newly assigned privates composed of Class-571 consists of CAFGUs, Former Rebels and IPs with their class name “TAGASUPIL” generally means “Tagasugpo at tagalipol na mga komunista ng Bayan” and the quota of regular Class-572 with their class name “PANGIL” which signifies their pride stating “Pangako sa isang Layunin sa batas ng Bayan.”

Prior of entering the military service, these ITDS soldiers were former members of Weakened Guerrilla Front 14 and Guerrilla Front 19 which confronted by the Marauder troopers that also surrendered to 75IB.

As part of the military traditions, Captain Marlon L Bagara, the Battalion Operations Officer, staff officers and enlisted personnel lead off the traditional Reception Rites of the twenty-nine (29) new breed of soldiers in order to embrace the camaraderie and esprit de corps of being a Marauder troopers.

​Moreover, after the traditional reception rites, Marauder Troopers celebrated the Father’s Day and enjoyed the Boodle Fight held at PICOP, Mangagoy, Bislig City that manifested the morale and strengthened the ties of solidarity and comradeship of the personnel.

“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”- quoted by an American poet Robert Frost in his poem and as the father of the Marauder troopers, congratulations and welcome to the Home of the Marauders. “I am very happy that some of you before fought against us but now you are one with us in accomplishing our mission, bring peace and fulfill our mandate of serving the people and securing the land.” Ang pagsusundalo ay hindi biro, marami pong sakripisyo and inyong matatamasa dito. He also reminded the troops that discipline is an individual responsibility. You are very lucky that you are in the noble profession of soldiery. Love your profession and love your job,” LTC DATUIN ended.

75th Infantry Battalion 4th Infantry Division Philippine Army
Cpt Edwin Leo Francisco
CMO Officer, 75IB, 4ID, PA
Bislig City, Surgao del Sur

[Kalinaw News is the official online source of information on the pursuit for peace by the Philippine Army. It provides information on the activities of Army Units nationwide in the performance of their duty of Serving the People and Securing the Land. This website is a property of the Civil-Military Operations Regiment, Philippine Army located at Lawton Avenue, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.]

Kalinaw News: One Milisyang Bayan, mass supporter surrender to Army

Posted to Kalinaw News (Jun 20, 2019): One Milisyang Bayan, mass supporter surrender to Army

Mawab, Compostela Valley – On 9:00am of June 18, 2019 one (1) Milisyang Bayan nine (9) other mass supporters voluntarily surrendered to Lieutenant Colonel Esteveyn E Ducusin, Commanding Officer of 71 st Infantry (Kaibigan) Battalion MB) at Headquarters of 71IB at Purok 8, Brgy. Nueva Visayas, Mawab Compostela Valley.

While A certain A.K.A Jun, 48 years old, married and a resident of Brgy. Manipongol, Maco, CVP, member of Milisyang Bayan (MB) under Weakened Guerilla Front 2 (WGF 2), Sub-Regional Committee 2 (SRC 2), Southern Mindanao Regional Command (SMRC) voluntary surrendered with caliber .38 pistol with defaced serial number.

On the same day, A.K.A Tisoy 17 years old, A.K.A Tata 56 years old, A.K.A Jovi 52 years old, A.K.A Berto 57 years old, A.K.A Lie 51 years old, A.K.A Mayang 38 years old, A.K.A Dodo 56 years old, A.K.A Totonan 43 years old and A.K.A Jeffrey 29 years old, all residents of Brgy. Manipongol, Maco, CVP who are supporters of New People’s
Army, also surrendered.

Based on history, their Barangay was organized into Komiteng Rebolusyonaryo sa Baryo (KRB) and was dismantled by 71 st Infantry Battalion last 2017. A.K.A Jun revealed that the CNTs would like to reorganize the people to gain support. Having fear of being exploited again, mass chose to coordinate to the unit in order to divulge the plan. Hence, surrendered to Lieutenant Colonel Esteveyn E Ducusin.

“I am glad that you had learnt from your past experiences. The government will always be ready to help. CNTs should not be given any chance to exploit people. Further, avoiding to help them means giving them no chance to accomplish hostilities,” Ducusin said.

“It is a clear manifestation that the populace are now resistant to communist group and sincere to their commitment to have brand new life with their family”, Ducusin added.

71 ST Infantry (Kaibigan) Battalion will be coordinating to Local Government Units and Line Government Agencies for the necessary assistance be given to the Former Rebels.

Division Public Affairs Office 7th Infantry Division Philippine Army
Cpt Catherine H Jubas
Chief, Division Public Affairs Office, 7ID
Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija

[Kalinaw News is the official online source of information on the pursuit for peace by the Philippine Army. It provides information on the activities of Army Units nationwide in the performance of their duty of Serving the People and Securing the Land. This website is a property of the Civil-Military Operations Regiment, Philippine Army located at Lawton Avenue, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.]

WESTMINCOM: MBLT-3, GMA launch outreach program for students in Sulu

Posted to the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) Website (Jun 19, 2019): MBLT-3, GMA launch outreach program for students in Sulu

Marine Battalion Landing Team-3 and GMA Kapuso Foundation, Inc. launched the Balik Aral Program, dubbed as “Unang Hakbang sa Kinabukasan”, benefiting students from different schools in Sulu yesterday, June 18.

Marine troops and GMA Kapuso Foundation distributed bag and food packs and provided free haircut service during the program.

About 700 learners from Panglima Agga Central School, Asin Elementary School, Kulay Kulay Primary School, Kan-Ukol Elementary School, Bud Seit Kindergarten, Parang Duyan Kindergarten, Pandacan Elementary School, Pang Elementary School, Kambing Elememtary School, and Kanlagay Elementay School were beneficiaries of the said program.

Lt. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega, Western Mindanao Command chief, said, “The command supports all civic engagements that aim to deliver basic services to the marginalized in far-flung and conflict-affected areas in Mindanao.”

“This is one way of showing that we value education, and that we empower children in far-flung areas to study for their future.”

WESTMINCOM: AFP cascades nat’l task force plan to end local communist armed conflict

Posted to the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) Website (Jun 19, 2019): AFP cascades nat’l task force plan to end local communist armed conflict

Security forces in Western Mindanao attended the cascading of the National Task Force’s implementing plan to end insurgency at Western Mindanao Command headquarters in Zamboanga City today, June 19.

President Rodrigo Duterte issued Executive Order No. 70, providing for the creation of a national task force and the adoption of a national peace framework to end local communist armed conflict in the country.

Under E.O. No. 70, the national task force is tasked to formulate and implement a national peace framework anchored on the whole-of-nation approach to address insurgency.

Complementing the peace efforts of local government units and national agencies, the framework pushes for inter-agency convergence and addresses insurgency through sector participation and peaceful mechanisms.

The AFP, through Colonel Arnulfo Bajarin, of the AFP Peace Development Office, presented the implementing plan in a meeting held in Camp Navarro, Calarian this morning.

Lt. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega, WestMinCom chief, said: “Synchronizing all efforts is an effective mechanism to combat insurgency. The framework is there to ensure that counter-insurgency actions reflect the local governments’ approach, and a unified and inclusive solution is employed to resolve insurgency.”

Present were Police BGen. Joselito Salido, of the Directorate for Integrated Police Operations; Police BGen Eugenio Paguirigan, of the Directorate for Operations; and other military, coast guard, and public officials.

WESTMINCOM: WestMinCom troops conduct lecture on cultural sensitivity in Zambo City

Posted to the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) Website (Jun 19, 2019): WestMinCom troops conduct lecture on cultural sensitivity in Zambo City

In partnership with the Muslim Student Association Council of Elders Foundation, the 74th Infantry (Unbeatable) Ranger Battalion conducted lectures on cultural sensitivity awareness in Zamboanga City on Tuesday, June 18.

The program was conducted in line with the Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism and Terrorism initiatives of the military.

The activity was attended by the Unbeatable troops at the headquarters of the 74thInfantry Battalion in Barangay Pasonanca yesterday.

Lt. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega, Western Mindanao Command chief, said military troops sustain not only their focused operations but also their programs to end violent extremism and terrorism in the joint area of operations.

Army seeks closer ties with farmers

From Panay News (Jun 21, 2019): Army seeks closer ties with farmers

BACOLOD City – Bringing services closer to the people. This was the goal of a two-day tripartite seminar-workshop recently held at Balay Kauswagan in Sagay City, Negros Occidental.

The event, organized by the Philippine Army’s 79th Infantry Battalion (79IB) and the Philippine National Police, gathered 113 farmer-leaders from 28 farmer associations in Negros Occidental.

Slated June 17 to 18, the event aimed to align government plans with the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program in Escalante City, Negros Occidental.

“We are just trying to bridge the gap in terms of basic social services. We are bringing government services closer to the people,” said Lieutenant Colonel Emelito Thaddeus Logan, commanding officer of the 79IB.

He added: “As we introduce a collaborative approach, we let the people on the grassroots level identify their own issues.”

This collaborative approach aims to make farmers trust government processes and programs, especially on land reforms, according to Logan.

The activity also aimed to empower farmers to avert exploitations of communist rebels and to uplift their socioeconomic well-being, he added.

256 Army recruits kick off training

From Panay News (Jun 21, 2019): 256 Army recruits kick off training

A total of 256 recruits of the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Battalion (3ID) have started their training at Camp Peralta in Jamindan, Capiz.

They will compose the Candidate Soldier Course (CSC) Class 606 and 607 – 2019 after completing the Jungle Warfare Mountain Operation Course.

According to Captain Cenon Pancito, 3ID spokesperson, the recruits went through a comprehensive selection process that included written, physical and medical exams, among others.

There were 839 applicants but only 256 made the cut. They took their oath of service in Camp Peralta Capiz on June 9.

Pancito said the Army division had expectations on the new recruits such as having a “sense of service to the Filipinos.”

“The government has improved the living conditions of soldiers thus it is just fitting that soldiers, especially the new ones, render excellent service,” Pancito said.

There will be another set of recruitment between June 24 to 28, he revealed.

The Army Recruitment Mobile Team will conduct the Armed Forces of the Philippines Service Aptitude Test (AFPSAT) at West Visayas State University’s main campus in La Paz district.

The recruitment is open for Officer Preparatory Course, Officer Candidate Course, and Candidate Soldier Course.

“Young individuals willing to serve the country through the Philippine Army are most welcome,” said Pancito.

3 rebels surrender firearms, explosives

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jun 20, 2019): 3 rebels surrender firearms, explosives

Three former communist rebels surrendered four firearms and three explosives to the 62nd Infantry Battalion in Brgy. Libas, Isabela, Negros Occidental.

Maj. Michael Victoria, 62IB Executive Officer, yesterday said the three
disgruntled former New People's Army rebels surrendered an M-1 carbine rifle, an improvised M-16 rifle, a garand rifle , a 12 gauge shotgun, two rifle grenades and a fragmentation grenade.

The surrendered firearms and explosives were endorsed yesterday by the 62IB to Carmelo Orbista, provincial director of the Department of Interior and Local Government, so the former rebels could avail of cash assistance from the national government, in exchange for the firearms they had surrendered, in the presence of PCol. Romeo Baleros, provincial police director of Negros Occidental.

Victoria said many other NPA rebels in the 4th and 5th districts of Negros Occidental, are also planning to abandon the armed struggle, based on the surrender feelers they have received.

Orbista said the rebels will also avail of several benefits under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program of the DILG, aside from cash they will receive, in exchange for firearms the will surrender.

Last month, 25 former rebels also surrendered 27 high-powered firearms to the 79th Infantry Battalion in Sagay City.

Orbista also said that DILG will provide P21,000 each as re-integration assistance to former rebels, to be given to the concerned Army or police unit where they surrendered, for their food and other basic personal needs.

He added that they are now processing the papers of seven of the 25 former rebels, who surrendered to the 79IB, for their inclusion in the government E-CLIP program.

But Orbista said they have yet to be updated on the status of the surrendered firearms.

Baleros said the 27 surrendered guns should be turned over to the PNP Regional Civil Security Unit 6 for documentation, before former rebels can be given the amount corresponding to the firearms they had surrendered.

NPA officer yields 9 IEDs

Posted to the Mindanao Times (Jun 21, 2019): NPA officer yields 9 IEDs

A ranking political officer of the New People’s Army (NPA) surrendered and turned over several explosives to members of the 16th Infantry Battalion based in Barangay Malabog, Paquibato District on Tuesday.

Epifanio Blas, also known as Ka Blas, yielded nine Improvised Explosive Devices (IED), designed as anti-personnel mines, to the battalion under the 1003rd Infantry Brigade.

Capt. Erick Wynmer Calulot, the Civil-Military Operations Officer of 1003rd IB, said Blas, 49, married, of Barangay Malabog, is the assistant secretary of the NPA’s underground mass organization, Hingpit Organisadong Masa, a local party branch in Malabog. 
Blas, Calulot said, surrendered after “realizing the sincerity of the peace-building efforts of 16th Infantry Battalion troop in the area.”

Blas is now undergoing process to avail of the Enhanced-Comprehensive Local Integrated Program (E-CLIP) in which NPA surrenderer gets livelihood and other assistances from the government.

Col. Nolasco Mempin, 1003rd IB commander, said “such welcome development in Paquibato is a result of our continuing effort to completely clear the barangays from NPA influence.”

“Paquibato is transforming into a more peaceful state largely due to the combined peace and development efforts of the unit with Davao City Peace 911,” Mempin said.

Paquibato, composed of 13 barangays in the second congressional district, is once a stronghold of the communist movement.

In Bukidnon, three regular NPA members surrendered to the Community Support Program team of the 8th Infantry Battalion.

Lt. Col. Ronald Illana, the 8th IB commander, said the three also surrendered five anti-personnel mines and a garand rifle in Barangay Kalabugao, Impasugong on Tuesday.

Illana identified the returnees as Ka Lakap, 45, a Militiang Bayan courier; Ka Alimokon, 33, a medic; and Ka Jake, 26, a combatant, all members of the NPA’s Sub-Regional Command 2 (SRC2) under its North Central Mindanao Regional Command (NCMRC).

The NPA group is operating in the towns of Impasugong, Cabanglasan San Fernando, Quezon and the cities of Valencia and Malaybalay in Bukidnon.

Illana said the rebel surrenderers are natives belonging to the Higaonon tribe in the boundary of Bukidnon and Agusan del Sur.

In his statement, Brig. Gen. Edgardo de Leon, the commander of the 403rd Infantry Brigade based in Bukidnon, said “These surrenderers were enlightened by the government troopers.”

“I am again calling all agencies to deliver all services, especially in conflict-affected areas. A whole-of-nation approach is the best approach to end insurgency,” de Leon said.

3 NPA fighters captured

Posted to the Mindanao Times (Jun 21, 2019): 3 NPA fighters captured

Three communist rebels under a certain Kidlat were captured during a combat operation launched by the troops of the 27th Infantry Battalion in Sitio Pangi, Barangay Lunen, Tupi, South Cotabato on Sunday, June 16.

1Lt. Efren James Halawig, the Civil-Military Operations officer of the 27th IB, said the three fighters were abandoned by their leader. They also directed the troops to the location of their camp, which resulted in a death of another rebel on the midnight of June 17.

Halawig said successive operations yielded one M14 rifle, one M653 rifle, one caliber .45 pistol, homemade Uzi, a rifle grenade, and subversive documents.

“These clearly manifest the unremitting efforts of these communists terrorist of misleading innocents to bear arms and leaving them in the height of a military offensive,” Lt. Col. Jones Otida, the 27th IB commander, said.

“Time and again, these desertions show that these so-called leaders have only caused death and pain to those who have decided to follow them,” Otida said.

Tribal community declares NPA as ‘persona non grata’

Posted to the Mindanao Times (Jun 21, 2019): Tribal community declares NPA as ‘persona non grata’

Another tribal community in Surigao del Sur has declared the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army, as persona non grata.

“We can no longer tolerate and just close our eyes on the rampant killings, threat, and intimidation being perpetrated by the CPP-NPA,” the tribal leader of Ominugra to Banwa said to Pabukada-a group of Lumad.

1Lt. Jonald Romorosa, the Civil-Military Operations officer of 36th Infantry Battalion, said the Lumad are residing in the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title Number 238 (CADT 238)–a 70-hectare site covering the boundaries of Carrascal, Cantilan, Madrid, and Carmen, all in Surigao del Sur.

Romorosa said the tribal leaders convened last May 23, 2019 at Antonio’s Beach Resort, Barangay San Pedro, Cantilan, Surigao del Sur.

The council passed Resolution No. 1 series of 2019 declaring the communist group and other leftist organizations such as Sidlak, Kasalo, Katribu, Act, Karapatan, Anakpawis, Anakbayan, Bayan Muna, Gabriela, League of Filipino Students, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas as persona non grata.

Aside from denouncing the NPA, he said the resolution prohibits any Lumad from accepting or extending assistance to the NPA and their cohorts. A stiff penalty will also be imposed on any of their members who violate the community rule.

The tribal leaders decried the decades of abuse and exploitation that they suffered from the CPP-NPA. They said their community used to be peaceful and free of any violence before NPA started recruiting their fellow Lumad.

“We were deceived. We were made to believe that they will help us improve our lives. Instead, we lost our identity as Lumad.

They destroyed our cultures and traditions,” one of the leaders said.

Another provision of the resolution requires any and all legal organization to pay a courtesy call to the Tribal Council before they will be allowed to conduct any activity within the ancestral domain areas.

In a statement, Engwan Ala, the tribal chieftain of Pabukada, said he is a witness to the suffering of his people in the hands of the CPP-NPA for many years.

“This resolution is the best way that I can protect my people from threat, intimidation and recruitment of these terrorists. I urge my fellow leaders and Lumad of CADT 238 to support this resolution for the sake of our future generation,” Ala said.

Lt. Col. Xerxes Trinidad, commander of the 36th Infantry Battalion, lauded the move of the tribal leaders. “I admire their courage for rising against the dreaded terrorists and extortionists,” he said.

“It is about time we get rid of these parasites that prey on the poor and innocent. We cannot allow the CPP-NPA to continuously destroy our communities especially our brother Lumad,” Trinidad said.

3 NPAs surrender to soldiers in Bukidnon

Posted to the Mindanao Times (Jun 21, 2019): 3 NPAs surrender to soldiers in Bukidnon

Three regular NPA members yield to the 8th Infantry Battalion at Barangay Kalabugao, Impasugong, Bukidnon bringing along with them five Anti-personnel mines and Garand rifle on Tuesday, June 19.

Lt. Col. Ronald Illana, the 8th IB Commander
identified the returnees as alias Alimokon 33, medic; Alias Lakap, 45, Militiang Bayan/courier and Alias Jake, 26, a regular member of the squad.

Illana said the former rebels revealed that they belong to Sub-Regional Command 2, North Central Mindanao Regional Command (NCMRC) currently operating in the area of Impasugong, Malaybalay, Cabanglasan, and northern part of San Fernando, Quezon, and Valencia City, all in Bukidnon.

Also, he said the former rebels claimed that they came from the boundary of Bukidnon and Agusan Del Sur and they belong to the Higaonon tribe, one of the seven Lumad communities in the area.

They yielded five improvised explosive devices and a Garand rifle.

Based on their record, the recent explosion of an anti-personnel mine in Barangay Kalabugao was on May 30, 2019 when a group of foreign observers visited the place for an activity.

In an interview with soldiers, alias Lakap, said “We want to live free in the hands of the NPA.”

“They are always threatening us if we opt to run from their group, they will kill us. They will force us to battle the soldiers who are doing community service,” he added.

Also in his statement, Brig. Gen. Edgardo Y. De Leon, the commander of the 403rd Infantry Brigade based in Bukidnon, said “This surrenderers were enlightened by the government troops and they need the presence of our government in their community.”

“I am again calling all agencies to deliver all services especially in conflict affected areas,” he said.

Peace, security IEC set June 20 in MSU Naawan

Posted to the Philippine Information Agency (Jun 20, 2019): Peace, security IEC set June 20 in MSU Naawan

Featured Image

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Jun. 16 (PIA)--An Inter-Agency Committee will launch an Information and Education Campaign (IEC) on Peace and Security at the Mindanao State University (MSU)-Naawan Campus in the municipality of Naawan, Misamis Oriental, June 20.

There will be two sessions to be conducted during the IEC and each session will be attended by about 500 Fourth Year High School students of the university.

Resource persons will be coming from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA)-10, 4th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, Police Regional Office 10 of the Philippine National Police (PRO-10, PNP) and National Intelligence Coordinating Agency Regional Office (NICA, RO)-10.

The conduct of the IEC is part of the advocacy of the various government agencies to enhance the awareness of the student and youth sector on various peace and security concerns and spare them from the ill-effects of these problems.

Among the topics that will be discussed include Drug Abuse Prevention Education, Community Policing, Preventing/Countering Violent Extremism, Recruitment Strategy of the NPA.

There will also be some sharing of experiences by former rebels to serve as encouragement for the students not to get involved in any militant organizations and illegal activities.

The 4ID will also set up their LED Van to showcase the programs and activities of the Philippine Army while an Accordion Board containing photo exhibits will also be posted outside the venue for other students to see and become aware of the ongoing activity.

Moreover, PDEA will distribute reading materials/pamphlets on how to prevent getting hooked in illegal drugs. (NICA/PIA10)

Duterte honors soldiers killed, hurt in bloody Samar clash

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 20, 2019): Duterte honors soldiers killed, hurt in bloody Samar clash

COMFORT FOR THE GRIEVING. President Rodrigo Duterte condoles with a family member of one of the slain soldiers during his visit to Camp Lukban Station Hospital in Catbalogan City, Samar on Wednesday night (June 19, 2019). Duterte awarded the Order of Lapu-Lapu to the soldiers killed and wounded in a clash with New People's Army in Calbiga, Samar on April 23. (Presidential photo by Karl Alonzo)

President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday night led the awarding of the Order of Lapu-Lapu to the soldiers killed and wounded in a clash with communist terrorists in Calbiga, Samar two months ago.

In a simple ceremony, the commander-in-chief pinned the Rank of Kampilan medals to nine wounded in action soldiers at the Heroes Ward of the Camp Vicente Lukban Station Hospital in Catbalogan City and handed over the Rank of Kalasag medals to the family members of the five soldiers killed during the bloody encounter.

“I salute our brave soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice during an ambush by communist terrorists last April. Their sacrifice for our country will never be forgotten and their needs, including those of their families, will be taken care of,” Duterte said.

He said the bravery of these soldiers has motivated the government to step up support for the Philippine Army as they fulfill their duty of securing the people.

“This administration will work hard to meet all of your needs and that of your families, and all that I ask is that you perform your responsibilities to the best of your abilities. It is now, more than ever, that we need to work hard and work together, if we are to bring real, lasting peace and meaningful change for our country,” he added.

The recipients of the Order of Lapu-Lapu Rank of Kampilan were Cpl. Eduardo Vigilia Jr., Cpl. Mark Lester Amparo, Pfc. Joseph Salonga, Pfc. Mark Louie Lantecsi, Pfc. Mark Kevin Frigillana, Pfc. Joemar Glenn Seligbon, Pvt. Delio Amaro, Pvt. Joseph Renel Gentalian, and Pvt. Rex Español.

The Order of Lapu-Lapu is given to persons in the government or private sector who have rendered extraordinary service or have made exceptional contributions to the success of the President’s campaign or advocacy.

The Kampilan medal is conferred on persons who were seriously wounded or suffered a great loss of property as a direct result of their participation in such activities.

The President also led the handover of the Order of Lapu-Lapu Rank of Kalasag to the dependents of the soldiers who died during the April 23 clash.

The Kalasag medal, on the other hand, is awarded to officials and personnel of the government and private individuals who lost their lives as a direct result of their participation in an activity pursuant to a campaign or advocacy of the President.

The soldiers, killed-in-action and posthumously given the Order of Lapu-Lapu, were Cpl. Robert Bueno, Cpl. Alix Saliwan, Pfc. Danilo Constantino Jr., Pfc. Arthur Garcia, and Pvt. Elben Lagrimas.

On April 23, an undetermined number of New People’s Army rebels detonated a bomb around 2:45 a.m. when they spotted patrolling soldiers in the upland village of Beri, some 12 kilometers from Calbiga town center.

After the blast, soldiers of 46th Infantry Battalion engaged the terror group in several hours of fierce gun battle, which lasted until daytime.

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