Friday, July 5, 2019

6-Month Update: Explosive Violence Monitor (January – June 2019)

Posted to the Relief Web (Jul 5, 2019): 6-Month Update: Explosive Violence Monitor (January – June 2019)

REPORT from Action on Armed Violence
Published on 05 Jul 2019 —View Original

In the first six months of 2019, Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) has recorded over 12,900 casualties from explosive violence, as reported in English-language news media. Of these, over 63% have been civilians (8,169).

This points to a further decline in the number of reported civilian casualties from explosive weapons globally, with 14,103 civilian casualties reported in the same period of 2018 – amounting to a 42% decrease in 2019. This reduction, for the most-part, occurred across all major weapon types and in most of the worst impacted countries.

Nevertheless, 92% of civilian casualties (7,510) occurred in populated areas, such as towns and cities. AOAV has consistently shown that when explosive weapons are used in populated areas, civilians are likely to account for over 90% of the casualties. A trend that continued this year.

When explosive violence was used in populated areas 90% of casualties were civilian. This compares to 15% in areas not reported as populated.

While the overall downward trajectory is welcomed, AOAV continued to observe some worrying trends from the data.

Non-state explosive violence, despite seeing an overall decrease, accounted for 58% of all civilian casualties. Some key groups in particular have seen rises in civilian casualties. AOAV saw a 39% increase in civilian casualties from ISIS’s use of explosive weapons in Iraq and Syria in 2019, compared to the same period last year (from 304 to 424). This could suggest a regrouping of the organisation.

ISIS and their affiliates are also making their influence felt elsewhere, including in Sri Lanka, where over 750 civilian casualties were recorded from the suicide bombings on Easter Sunday, and in the Philippines, where ISIS-affiliates, Abu Sayyaf, targeted a church service on Jolo Island in January, leaving over 120 civilian casualties.

Civilian casualties from Houthi rebel use of explosive violence increased by 218% (from 92 reported civilian casualties in the first half of 2018 to 293 in 2019). While Al Shabaab’s use of explosive violence saw civilian casualties from its terrorism increase by 50% (from 238 to 356).

In Somalia, Sri Lanka and the Philippines this had led to increases in the overall numbers of civilian casualties. (Somalia saw civilian casualties from explosive violence increase by 34%, from 311 in the first half of 2018 to 416 in 2019; Sri Lanka saw a rise of 6745%, from 11 to 753; and, in the Philippines there was a rise of 170% from 66 to 178.)

However, in some states, while not seeing drastic changes in the casualty levels, they are seeing changes in the type of violence causing the casualties. For example, in Libya, casualties from IEDs decreased significantly, from 276 to 22, while civilian casualties from airstrikes and shelling increased, from 19 to 121 and from 43 to 80, respectively. While ISIS groups in Libya seem to be carrying out less explosive attacks, the use and impact of explosive violence by Libyan government forces and those under General Haftar has increased, particularly since Haftar’s forces launched an offensive to seize the Libyan capital in April.

Similarly, in Pakistan, while a decrease in shelling by India has contributed to the overall decrease in civilian casualties, civilian casualties from IED incidents have more than doubled, increasing by 157% (from 106 to 272); with most of the casualties recorded in each year occurring in Jammu and Kashmir region.

While in Afghanistan, casualties from IEDs have decreased by 49% in 2019, compared to the same period last year. Despite the fall in IED use increases have been recorded in civilian casualties from both air-launched (6%) and ground-launched weapons (69%).

Further key findings from 2019 can be seen below:

Key findings


When explosive weapons were used in populated areas, 90% of those killed and injured were civilians. This compares to 15% in other areas. In total, 7,510 civilians were killed and injured in populated areas. AOAV recorded 12,902 deaths and injuries by explosive weapons in 1,720 incidents in the first half of 2019. Of these, 8,169 were civilians – 63%. In total, 6,137 people were killed (of which 2,972 were civilians), and 6,765 were injured (of which 5,197 were civilians) by explosive weapons globally. This means 48% of all people killed and 77% of all people injured by explosive violence were civilians. Civilian deaths and injuries in populated areas represented 92% of all reported civilian deaths and injuries. Globally, state use of explosive violence has caused 2,736 civilian deaths and injuries in the first six months of 2019; 33% of all civilian casualties. Non-state use of explosive violence caused 4,740 civilian deaths and injuries, accounting for 58% of civilian casualties. The number of total casualties from explosive violence has decreased by 31% in the first six months of 2019, compared to the same period last year. Civilian casualties have decreased by 42%. Incidents caused by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) killed and injured more civilians than any other weapon type. IEDs were responsible for at least 49% of all civilian casualties from explosive violence in the first half of 2019. Air-launched explosive weapons were responsible for 23% of all civilian deaths and injuries. Ground-launched explosive weapons were responsible for 22%. The remaining casualties were caused by incidents using multiples types of explosive weapons, mines and naval-launched explosives. Syria, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Yemen and Somalia have seen the highest numbers of civilian deaths and injuries so far in 2019 with 3,116, 1,327, 753, 537 and 416 civilian casualties respectively. Four countries have already seen over 500 civilian deaths and injuries in 2019. Incidents were recorded in 49 countries and territories around the world; one less than recorded in the same period in 2018.

Marine forces beef up hunt for Sulu terrorists

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 6, 2019): Marine forces beef up hunt for Sulu terrorists
Their mission: Destroy Abu Sayyaf, establish peaceful, stable environment

ZAMBOANGA CITY— A Marine battalion was deployed in Sulu to beef up government’s security presence in the province that was rocked by recent bombings in a military camp, and grappling with a long-running bout with terrorists.

Their mission: “Destroy the Abu Sayyaf … and establish a peaceful and stable environment in Sulu,” said Rear Adm. Erick Kagaoan, commander of Naval Forces Western Mindanao.

The deployment came amid the twin attacks on an Army camp in Indanan, Sulu, that killed eight people, including the two bombers, and wounded 12 soldiers and 10 civilians.

Led by Lt. Col. Allan Tolentino as commander, the Marine Battalion Landing Team 8 (MBLT 8) is composed of 461 troopers, including 19 officers.

It replaced the MBLT 3, which sailed to a new assignment in Palawan province on June 27, a day before the twin bombing attacks.

“This unit is not new here, it has been deployed in Mindanao before. They are needed in Sulu now,” Kagaoan said on the sidelines of send-off rites at the Port of Zamboanga on Tuesday.

Kagaoan said he was confident the forces would be up to their task, saying the MBLT 8 troopers were fresh from retraining in Cavite.

“This battalion has been newly refurbished and is now ready for redeployment,” he added.

Kagaoan reminded the troops to “remain fearless in combat, vigilant in peace and a reliable partner of our people and community.”

Tolentino said a number of his men were “well-versed on Sulu hence ready to face the challenges in the province.” “Our primary mission is to destroy the Abu Sayyaf, IS (Islamic State) and other terror groups in Sulu,” he said.

NPA rebels disarm 2 Isabela cops

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 5, 2019): NPA rebels disarm 2 Isabela cops

CITY OF ILAGAN –– At least 25 heavily armed men, believed to be New People’s Army rebels, held up and disarmed two policemen at Sitio Laguis in Sindon Bayabo village here on Friday morning.

Investigators said Police Capt. Francisco Dayag, Divilacan police chief, sent Police Master Sergeant June Luis Baribad and Police Cpl. Brian Balis to the provincial police office to deliver classified documents.

Baribad and Balisi were on board a motorcycle when armed men intercepted them and took their 9-mm caliber pistols. The armed men headed to the Sierra Madre mountains.

Police have been tracking down the armed men. Villamor Visaya Jr.

Three liquidated in Guihulngan

From the Negros Chronicle (Jul 6, 2019): Three liquidated in Guihulngan

VICE MAYORS LEAGUE TACKLE ISSUES—VICE MAYORS LEAGUE President VM Frnanklin Esmeña of Dumaguete city , Thursday led in the review of major undertakings of the league in cluding concerns in the matter of LGU legisltations and their legislative advocacies. Vice Mayor League directors attending were : Ernesto A. Reyes( Guihulngan), Anna Jay o. Mariot (Amlan), Sol B. Benton ( Tayasan), Eniego Jabagat ( Bindoy), Ben Bumanlag(City of Tanjay), Marcela G.Bartoces ( Sibulan), Romeo T. Alviola ( Valencia),Prince Carl Baga( Dauin) representative, Vincent Emil T. Arbolado Siaton) Felipe T. Elmido( Zamboanguita).(Kring photo credit)

Apparently, young men with intent to kill, have been committing murder impunity targeting persons with links to the government in Guihulngan City unchallenged by authorities. In a recent spate of shootings, three men died in a series of extra judicial killings committed in broad daylight.

On June 27, Chief Tanod of Barangay Buenvista identified as Lito Itao was in a conversation outside the village’s store with his neighbors when two men on motorcycle appeared and the backrider opened fire on Itao who was hit in different parts of his body. He tried to escape but eventually succumbed to his wounds.

Three days after, a former CAFGU, Eleuterio Tabanao Solis was shot to death late afternoon while he was playing cards in a store situated in Barangay Mabunga when four unidentified male persons repeatedly shot the victim, who died on the spot. Recovered from the scene are 12 empty shells of calibre .45 pistol and 5 empty shells of caliber 9mm.

And again after three days, 5 male suspects believed to be members of the New People’s Army ambushed a former soldier who went AWOL since 2009.

The victim, was on his way home when he was fired upon by the suspects in Barangay Magsaysay Wednesday morning. Based on the recovered fire cartridges and slugs, the perpetrators used 9mm and .45 caliber pistols.

Despite the heavy presence of police and military in Guihulngan City, the killings continue unabated as the suspects grow bolder as if taunting the authorities. The killing spree did not only victimize ordinary citizens, but also policemen, local government officials, soldiers, CAFGUs and barangay officials.

NPA owns killing of Isabela environment checkpoint exec

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 6, 2019): NPA owns killing of Isabela environment checkpoint exec

CITY OF ILAGAN, Isabela — The New People’s Army attacked and killed a member of Task Force: Kalikasan who was manning an anti-illegal logging checkpoint on Friday (July 5) at Sitio (subvillage) Laguis in Barangay Sindon Bayabo here.

In a statement, the NPA Reynaldo Piñon Command admitted staging the attack on Celso Asuncion, for his supposed ties with the Philippine Army as well as unlicensed loggers who transport timber from the Northern Sierra Madre mountain ranges.
Spokesman Vic Balligi said the attack was in retaliation for the reported demolition of Sindon Bayabo settlements, which have existed before the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park was classified as a protected area in 2001.
These houses lie in the buffer zone of the protected area, according to the government.

Army tightens Guihulngan security

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jul 6, 2019): Army tightens Guihulngan security

The Philippine Army has tightened its security on New People’s Army “soft targets” in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental, following the deaths of four civilians within a week.

Brig. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, yesterday raised the possibility that the
recent series of killings in Guihulngan City, with four victims, including two barangay tanods, an ex-Army soldier and a civilian, may have been an attempt to divert their attention.

On Wednesday, five suspected NPA members shot and killed Andy Castor in Brgy. Magsaysay, Guihulngan City.

Castor was declared dead on arrival from multiple gunshot wounds at the Guihulngan City District Hospital.

Arevalo disclosed that they have been intensifying their operations in the hinterlands, and the rebel perpetrated killings in the lowlands may have been a diversionary effort.

The 94th Infantry Battalion was ordered by Arevalo to look into their networking in the lowlands, to prevent more atrocities initiated by the New People’s Army.Arevalo urged those who received threats from the NPA to be extra conscious of their security.

Last week, a farmer accused of being a military informant was also shot dead by 12 suspected NPA rebels in Brgy. Canlamay, Ilog, Negros Occidental.

3 soldiers awarded

From the Mindanao Times (Jul 6, 2019): 3 soldiers awarded

The three soldiers wounded in the Kiblawan encounter in Davao del Sur last Monday received the Wounded Personnel Medal on Thursday afternoon.

“We appreciate your display of the finest tradition of soldiery,” said Lt. Gen. Santos Jr., the commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom), who bestowed the medal during his visit at Camp Panacan, Station Hospital, Naval Station Felix Apolinario Thursday afternoon.

The honored soldiers were identified as Sgt. Kenneth Balicot, Cpl. Melgar Requiron, and Cpl. Randy Bacarro.

“You courageously and unselfishly responded to the call of duty to ensure the safety of our communities. With these, you brought honor not only to your self and the Armed Forces but also to the communities whom we are serving,” Santos said.

Lt. Col. Ezra Balagtey, the EastMincom spokesperson, said the three soldiers were among those who encountered an undetermined number of communist rebels in Barangay Abnate, Kiblawan on July 1 at 9:45 a.m.

The soldiers, part of the combined 1002nd IB force from the 39th Infantry Battalion and 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion, responded to the reported extortion activities by the armed men in Abnate.

Balicot and Requiron sustained injuries caused by an M203 splinter: Balicot on his foot and Requiron on his head. Bacarro sustained gunshot wound on his shoulder.

Balagtey said the NPA rebels left an M16 rifle, an International Humanitarian Law-banned landmine and subversive documents.

Son of ex-Maguindanao gov, 4 others killed in military checkpoint

From MindaNews (Jul 5, 2019): Son of ex-Maguindanao gov, 4 others killed in military checkpoint

A son of a former Maguindanao Governor and four others were killed in in an alleged encounter in a checkpoint in Barangay Ingu-ug, Pikit, North Cotabato on Friday night.

Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said what happened at around 8:45 p.m. Friday was an encounter between troops manning a checkpoint and suspected gunmen inside a gray Nissan Patrol car.

Relatives confirmed that one of the slain men was Datu Hasheem Matalam, son of former Maguindanao Governor and long-time Pagalungan town mayor Norodin Matalam, and a resident of Barangay Layug. Also killed were Buton Bacocol, a resident of Matina, Pangi, Davao City.

Their bodies were immediately claimed by their relatives. One of the three unidentified victims was later identified as Abdullah Mamalumpong, a fugitive from the provincial jail in Amaas, North Cotabato.

The bullet-riddled Nissan Patrol vehicle. The military said the occupants of this vehicle did not stop at the military checkpoint in Barangay Inug-ug, Pikit, North Cotabato at around 8:45 p.m. Friday, July 6, 2019. Photo courtesy of NHOR GAYAK

Recovered from the scene are high-powered firearms consisting of an M-16 riffle, two M-653, one 1911 pistol, one riffle grenade, one hand grenade, three sachets of suspected shabu paraphernalia, cellphones and 15,000 pesos cash.

Brig. Gen. Alfredo Rosario, chief of the 602nd Infantry Brigade covering Maguindanao and North Cotabato, said reports reaching them indicate the men inside the car did not stop at the checkpoint but fired their guns at the troops instead.

“The troops manning the checkpoint tried to stop them for inspection but they opened fire first which led our men to fire back”, Rosario said in a telephone interview.

Rosario added that his men, especially the troops under 7th Infantry Battalion, are on red alert status because of the clashes the whole day on Friday from the factions of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) engaged in a rido (clan war).

“We will sustain our effort against the lawless groups, campaign on loose firearms and rido settlement,” Sobejana said.

13 Tarlac towns condemn communist terrorist groups

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 5, 2019): 13 Tarlac towns condemn communist terrorist groups

Tarlac Police Provincial Office Acting Provincial Director Police Colonel David Nicolas Poklay discloses that 13 towns in Tarlac have passed resolutions condemning and denouncing the terrorist actions of anti-government groups. (TPPO File Photo)

CAMP MACABULOS, Tarlac City -- A total of 13 towns in the province have passed resolutions condemning and denouncing the terrorist actions of Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

Tarlac Police Provincial Office (TPPO) record shows that the municipality of Moncada was the first to issue Municipal Resolution No. 58-2019 condemning the acts of CPP-NPA-NDF against government troopers and has declared them “persona non grata.”

“The resolution recalls that there are no reports of Communist Terrorist Groups (CTGs) atrocity in the municipality and the people of this town strongly desire to maintain peace and order,” TPPO Acting Provincial Director Police Colonel David Nicolas Poklay said.

In Anao, the municipal council approved Resolution No. 2019-045 denouncing the atrocities perpetrated by CTGs in the different areas of the country.

Moreover, Anao declared that they have not encountered any movements of CTG atrocities and vowed to not allow the presence of lawless elements in their town.

“Anao Municipal Police Station is continuously conducting in-depth monitoring and validation of any planned threats posed by the terrorists groups through facilitation of Barangay Information Network in every barangay,” Poklay noted.

Aside from Moncada and Anao, Capas Municipal Council has also passed Resolution No. 047-2019 series of 2019 condemning and rejecting the activities and presence of the NPA in the municipality.

“The resolution states the need to denounce the CTG atrocities in the municipality because of the fear and restlessness they have instilled to the residents of western barangays in Capas where there were occasional sightings of purported group of insurgents,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Mayantoc municipal council in Resolution No. 234 series of 2019 strongly condemn the CTG’s indiscriminate killing of civilians and police officers.

Resolution No. 012-2019 of Ramos also denounces the presence and activities of CTGs within the vicinity of their municipality.

On the other hand, the towns of Bamban, Gerona, Paniqui, Pura, San Clemente, San Jose, San Manuel and Sta. Ignacia have also issued their respective resolutions condemning and rejecting the presence and activities of anti-government groups in their areas. (CLJD/TJBM PIA-3)

Sultan’s federation, AFP Civil Relations Service sign pact for peace, dev’t

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 5, 2019): Sultan’s federation, AFP Civil Relations Service sign pact for peace, dev’t

Featured Image

A federation of the sultanate in Maguindanao has recently inked a peace and development covenant with the office of the Civil Relations Service Armed Forces of the Philippines (CRSAFP) during a forum held at Al-Masher Hotel and Restaurant in Maguindanao, Cotabato City.

Present during the Royal forum held last June 22, 2019 were roughly 70 leaders and members of the World Federation of Traditional Kings Sultanate of Mandanaue Darus-salam, Maj. Gen. Bienvenido R. Datuin, Jr. Commander of CRSAFP, Mrs. Marissa G. Datuin, President of the AFP Officers’ Ladies Club, and Col. Jose Victor L. Vargas, Jr., Group Commander of 4th Civil Relations Group (4th CRG) based in Zamboanga City.

As the highlight of the day long forum entitled “Sultanate Advocacy Forum on Federalism, Anti-Drugs and on Preventing Violent Extremism” the leaders of the federation of the sultanate together with the MGen. Datuin, Mrs. Datuin and Col Vargas symbolically signed the “peace and development” covenant.

The covenant read “We hereby declare our commitment for peace and development to our Mindanaoans. We commit to treat all lives with the loving-kindness and compassion. We respect the diversity of ways people pursue their individual ideals. We reject the distortions of religious, nationals and radical prejudices, which are used to violate golden rule to treat others as we wish to be treated."

“We challenge the misuse of beliefs, rights, rituals, practices, philosophies, and traditions used to degrade anyone or which lead to violence. We affirm the necessity of bringing loving-kindness and compassion into action. We call upon all people of goodwill to join this pledge. We pledge that in all we intend, think, and do, we shall strive to bring loving-kindness and compassion into action and into the lives of all we meet,” the covenant read.

MGen. Datuin underscored that the presence of the military in the forum and signing of the covenant organized by the Sultanate of Maguindanao is their way of showing that the government is supporting such move to advance peace and development in the region.

“The AFP supports the advocacy of the sultanate in their efforts to scrap the illegal drugs and violent extremism,” he said.

He added that they are glad to see that the Sultanate is “involved in the peace process and in ‘Rido’ (clans feud) settlement in the area. Aside from that, they have actively displayed their support in the efforts of the government in countering violent extremism in the island province of Mindanao.”

“For many years now, the hinterland of Maguindanao has become lairs of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a splinter group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The former is known for their terroristic acts such as attacking military installations, staging ambushes, planting explosives in public places and conducting extortions,” MGen. Datuin added. (EDT/4th Civil Relations Group – Civil Relations Service Armed Forces of the Philippines/DIS/PIA9-Zamboanga City)

Army foils recruitment plans of rebels in Capiz

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 5, 2019): Army foils recruitment plans of rebels in Capiz

ARMY RECOVERIES. The 61st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army recovered several items from the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) after a strike operation at President Roxas, Capiz on Friday morning (July 5, 2019). Lt. Col. Joel Benedict Batara, commanding officer of the 61IB, said the plans of the rebels to recruit minors were thwarted following the army operation. (Photo courtesy of 3rd Infantry Division PAO)

The 61st Infantry Battalion (61IB) of the Philippine Army foiled the recruitment plans of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) after an armed encounter in President Roxas, Capiz on Friday morning.

Lt. Col. Joel Benedict Batara, commanding officer of the 61IB, said the government troops conducted a strike operation after the civilian populace reported presence of rebels in the area.

Batara said the troops
encountered around 15 rebels believed to be under the Sangay sa Partido sa Platoon (SPP)-East, Komiteng Rehiyon – Panay of CPP-NPA led by a certain “Guning”.
After a brief firefight, the rebels fled towards Barangay Badiangon of the same municipality. “No casualty was recorded on our side,” Batara said.

He stressed the rebels in the area aim to recruit minors to become their “child soldiers.”

The rebel group plans to put up temporary encampment on the site purposely for their recruitment activities. “They are in the process. They are clearing the area and in fact, they have already put up posts there. This site is already a high ground area that is ideal for their encampment,” he said.

Batara noted they had recovered from the site one portable generator and one multi-media projector believed to be used for persuading minors in joining their group.

Also, among those recovered were two hand grenades, one anti-personnel mine, eight rifle grenades, four back-packs, two cellular phones, one container of gasoline, two sacks of rice, other personal belongings and subversive documents.

The recovered documents contain “valuable” information that will lead the Army on more operations to end atrocities by the rebel group, he said.

Batara also stressed that the newly-installed local chief executives, particularly in Capiz, are one with the Army’s fight against the rebels.

“They have given their support in the mandate of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to prevent the encroachment of the rebels that ruin the future of our youth,” Batara said.

He assured that the conduct of operations of the Army will be continuous to prevent the mobile rebels from committing atrocities.

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

Westmincom troops ordered to work closely vs. terror

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 5, 2019): Westmincom troops ordered to work closely vs. terror

Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief (right), receives full military honors following his promotion to three-star rank on Thursday (July 4, 2019). Sobejana assumed the command last June 28. (Photo courtesy of Westmincom PIO)

ZAMBOANGA CITY -- Troops under the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) have been ordered to work closely with each other to attain positive results in the fight against terror.

Newly-promoted Westmincom chief, Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, issued the order during the full military honors accorded him by the officers, enlisted personnel and civilian employees upon his arrival Thursday afternoon from Maguindanao.

Sobejana presided Thursday's turnover of command ceremony at the Army’s 601st Infantry Brigade in the town of Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao.

“We should converge our effort in a very coordinated manner, so that our effort would not be a waste of energy and other resources that we have,” he said.

Sobejana reminded the troops of President Rodrigo Duterte's order to finally to put an end to the menace of terrorism, particularly by the Abu Sayyaf Group in Sulu.

Sobejana was accorded the military honors following his promotion to three-star rank, where no less than President Rodrigo Duterte donning his insignia on Wednesday night.

'Undesirable' Jordanian nabbed in Zamboanga City

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 5, 2019): 'Undesirable' Jordanian nabbed in Zamboanga City

Authorities have arrested a Jordanian in a law enforcement operation in this southern port city for being an undesirable alien, a police official said Friday.

Maj. Helen Galvez, Police Regional Office (PRO-9) information officer, identified the arrested Jordanian as Mahd Afif Abdeljalil Alkar, who was arrested around 4:12 p.m. Thursday at a hotel in Barangay Zone 3.

Galvez said Alkar's arrest was ordered by Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente on July 1, 2019 for illegal entry, as well as for being an undocumented and undesirable alien.

Galvez did not say how long has Alkar been staying in the city, or if he was involved in any illegal activity.

She said Alkar is reportedly married but it was not immediately known whether his wife is a Filipino national.

Akbar was turned over to the custody of BI for proper disposition.

PH gets Sokor's highest medal for bravery

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 5, 2019): PH gets Sokor's highest medal for bravery

The Philippines is second among 21 Allied Forces to receive two “Taegeuk Medals” (Medal for Valor), South Korea’s highest military decoration given to a soldier for bravery in combat during the Korean War.

Only 15 allied troopers were awarded the coveted “Taegeuk Medal” during the three-year war that broke out on June 25, 1950.

The United States topped the list with eight “Taegeuk Medals". The Philippines was second with two, and one each for Belgium, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and Canada.

The two Filipino soldiers who were recipients of the coveted “Taegeuk Medal” were retired Maj. Maximo Young and the late Capt. Conrado D. Yap, both members of the famed 10th Battalion Combat Team (BCT) of the Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea (PEFTOK).

Young received the award during the anniversary of the Korean war last week.

According to historical record of the Korean Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs (KMPVA) about the Korean War made available to the Philippine News Agency (PNA), Young and Yap and their men stood their ground against all odds when they fought a numerically superior force of Chinese soldiers in the fierce battle at Yultong that lasted for two days on April 22-23, 1951.

In an interview, Kim Taehoon, KMPVA director, cited the heroism of the Filipino soldiers during the two-day fierce battle that stopped the invasion of thousands of Chinese communist forces at the outset of the war.

Despite the huge disparity in numbers, the 900-man 10th BCT clashed with the numerically superior 40,000 Chinese and North Korean troops that forced the latter to back track.

Exactly 61 years ago, from April 22-23, 1951, 900 Filipino soldiers of the 10th Battalion Combat Team (10th BCT) of the Philippine Expeditionary Force To Korea (PEFTOK) successfully defended and threw back the numerically superior elements of the Chinese People's Volunteer Army (CPVA)'s 44th Infantry Division and the North Korean People's Army (NKPA) numbering about 40,000 in non-stop fighting that drew widespread admiration --- even from the enemy.

The Chinese and North Korean invasion caught the South Korean and Allied Forces by surprise.

The Chinese 44th Division attacked the U.S. 65th Infantry Regiment of the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division near Yeoncheon on the night of April 22 that trapped the 10th BCT and lost contact with the main PEFTOK headquarters.

Nevertheless, the Filipinos stood their defensive position and continued fighting, and forced the enemy to retreat and allowed U.S. 3rd Division to withdraw.

It was the battle at Yultong that the Filipinos once again proved their bravery in combat that made real the words of Gen. Douglas McArthur during the fighting in Bataan in the Second World War when he said: “Give me 10,000 Filipino soldiers and I will conquer the world.”

At the height of the gun battle in Yultong, the Filipinos were pinned down but still managed to launch a counter-attack driving the Chinese and North Koreans away.

When Yap learned that some members of the 10th BCT were killed and wounded a few distances from where he and other troopers held their position, he went to the area to rescue his comrades trapped in the war zone.

He was told not to proceed because of the very dangerous situation, but still, Yap insisted that he cannot leave his men behind.

Yap ahead and fought the Chinese in a close quarter fighting.

Unfortunately. Yap was killed in the close-quarter fighting.

On the other hand, Young, now 97 years old, but still strong and healthy like he is only 70, was invited by the South Korean government to visit South Korea in connection with the 69th anniversary of the Korean War, together with Undersecretary Nesty G. Carolina, administrator of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) who headed the group.

In his Korean War memoirs, Young wrote how the 10th BCT defeated the Chinese during the epic Battle at Yultong 69 years ago.

Young, who saw action in World War II, narrated his combat experience in the Korean War.

“I have fought for the defense of freedom and democracy which are precepts that have been dear to our motherland, against foreign enemies in three wars: World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War,” Young told the PNA.

“I have been shot at and shelled. I have seen my friends die in battle and have killed my country’s enemies, in turn,” he said, adding that “I have seen the worst of human nature in war. And my experience has taught me that there is nothing redeeming about war. War is only gruesome death and senseless destruction. And it involves tremendous remorse.”

“But…by the grace of God, I am still here,” Young said.

He thanked God that in all his battles during the Second World War against the Japanese and the Korean War against the Chinese and North Koreans, “I was never wounded.”

Young said he almost died in World War II when the boat, the M/V Legaspi he was a crew member of was sunk by the Japanese and captured them.

The ship was carrying supplies and Filipino soldiers from the Visayas to Luzon when it was intercepted and sank by Japanese naval forces off Puerto Gallera, Mindoro.

But Young and other Filipinos luckily managed to escape and rejoined the guerrilla forces.

After World War II, Young continued his military career in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

When the Korean War broke out in June 1950, Young volunteered to go to Korea and was a member of the 10th BCT of PEFTOK.

“PEFTOK, to me, is the embodiment of Filipino patriotism,” Young said in his war memoirs.

The 10th BCT was the first PEFTOK unit that saw action in the brutal Korean War and was the only Philippine Army tank battalion for which he was a tank commander.

The Filipino troops arrived in Busan, South Korea on Sept. 15, 1950, after four days of rough sea voyage aboard a U.S. Navy ship.

It was winter when they arrived in Busan and was shocked to see “frightened and thin Korean refugees, many of them children, begging us for food.”

“One of my enduring memories of my first month in Korea was the seemingly unending stream of Korean refugees fleeing the fighting. And there seemed to be so many parentless children among those refugees (and) there were almost no young men to be seen,” he recalled with sadness.

When the 10th BCT arrived in Korea, it was attached to the U.S. 25th Infantry Division in the city of Waegman.

Heavy fighting was raging when the battalion arrived. The battle was in North Korea.

Young said it was at the outskirts of the town of Miudong, North Korea that the 10th BCT fought its first pitched battle against North Korean forces.

The Filipinos defeated the communist North Koreans in “the Battle of Miudong, the first battle fought, and won, by the Philippine soldiers in foreign soil.”

A proud Young said: “At the time of this victory, I was a First Sergeant and a Tank Commander of the Reconnaissance Company.”

He was the commander of five M24 Chafee light tanks each armed with a 75mm gun. It was also equipped with a .50 caliber heavy machine gun mounted atop a turret.

The task of the 10th BCT “was to clear and secure the town of Singye inside North Korea just above the 38th Parallel, the line that divides North and South Korea,” Maj. Young said.

The battalion moved towards Singye in a long column in the early morning when as “my tank platoon had just cleared a bend of a winding mountain road leading to the town of Miudong when an explosion disabled the track leading the column,” Young recalled.

In an instant, this was followed by a heavy volume of fire coming from the North Korean forces dug along the slopes of the hills on the right flank of the Filipino troops.

“The sudden storm of fire drove our men to seek cover. We were pinned down and managed to fire back with desultory fire.”

They were expecting an attack in waves, but fortunately, no mass attack came.

“I could not see the enemy positions from inside the tank. My gunner was yelling at me to tell him where to aim the tank’s 75mm cannon. There was only one thing to do,” Young said.

“I flung open the turret hatch, clambered out of the turret, braced my feet against the metal hull and fired the big .50 caliber machine gun at the enemy positions. The machine gun had no gun shield and I was fully exposed to enemy fire that continued to strike my tank," he said.

He said as the North Koreans ran, their men chased the retreating enemy forces into Singye, whose defenders, two battalions, fled before the attack.

As the fighting ended, there were 42 North Koreans killed, body count, and some 100 others were wound.

Young said that one Filipino soldier was killed and a few others were wounded.

He learned later that during the fighting, American soldiers of the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division and some foreign officers witnessed the fighting atop a hill from a distance.

“They (Americans) congratulated me for my part in the combat,” Young said.

Col. Mariano Azurin, the 10th BCT Battalion Commander, and Maj. Delfin Argao, the battalion’s Executive Officer, congratulated Young for his heroism.

When the UN Command launched a counter attack in February 1951, the 10th BCT again went into action.

The battalion captured hill after hill in a series of fighting in March and April 1951.

Without fear, the 10th BCT pushed northward to the 38th Parallel and defeated the Chinese forces in fierce gun battles along the way.

“By April 14, 1951, the 10th BCT was the northernmost of all UN Command units. We were exhausted after close to two months of non-stop fighting, but we were in high morale. The battalion was down to 900 men. Mose of our casualties, however, were non-battle in nature,” Young said.

After scoring victory after victory, came the great Battle of Yultong where the 10 BCT again displayed its bravery in combat against all odds.

“The Battle of Yuldong was the greatest Filipino victory in the Korean War,” Young wrote in his memoirs.

“It was one of many battles fought by the UNC in an effort to repel the biggest offensive of the Korean War: the communist’s ‘Great Spring Offensive of 1951.’”

Some 40,000 Chinese soldiers struck with vengeance the 900-man 10th BCT, which had only occupied the areas a day before.

For several hours, the savage close-quarter fighting continued without let-up, but “we prevented the Communist Chinese from overrunning our positions, thereby putting a fatal brake on the communist’s advance.

Hundreds of Communist Chinese fell to the rifles, machine guns and mortars of the battalion.

“By 6 a.m. of 23 April, the 10th BCT was only one of the only two UNC units on the Western Front not overran or wiped out by the tremendous Chinese assault,” Young said.

“The Communist Chinese Army – which we kept at bay, and which we even counter-attacked, could have given the communist the extra strength they needed to carry the greatest communist offensive of the Korean War to final victory, (but) as it turned out, the defeat of their Great Spring Offensive forced the communists to open peace talks with the United Nations Command,” Young said.

TESDA-11 to strengthen intervention in conflict-affected areas

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 5, 2019): TESDA-11 to strengthen intervention in conflict-affected areas

The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority in Region 11 (TESDA-11) plans to strengthen its intervention in conflict-affected areas, an official said on Thursday.

TESDA-11 director Lorenzo Macapili said the agency's intervention must not only end on skills training provision.

"It (intervention) has to be sustainable. We need the support and inputs of other agencies, NGOs (non-government organizations and the LGUs (local government units), down to the barangay level, to achieve this," Macapili told the Philippine News Agency in an interview.

According to Macapili, there were many places in the region that were declared peaceful by the military.

"But when the military left, they are back to (being inharmonious) because there was no sustainable intervention," he said.

TESDA-11 has identified 331 barangays it considers conflict-affected. The agency is currently doing the profiling of these barangays, according to Macapili.

He said TESDA-11 held a meeting with different agencies, NGOs and Davao City LGU and oriented them with its "Indicative Action Plan" for July to December. A joint regional poverty reduction livelihood and employment cluster and provincial task force cluster meeting on Executive Order 70, on the other hand, is scheduled Thursday in Davao Oriental.

"Under EO 70, government agencies' programs are harmonized depending on the needs of the communities," Macapili said.

In an earlier statement, Macapili said TESDA will anchor all its programs on the needs of the affected communities in a holistic approach to come up with a doable action plan composed of programs and activities “that will be implemented by us with all resources being harmonized”.

He told the PNA it is important to assess first the communities, for TESDA and partners to know the proper intervention, adopting the value chain programming approach to be implemented by cluster agencies.

Meanwhile, Macapili said convergence meetings are also slated on July 9, 11, 19, 23 and 25.

"We will assess the community needs, will have community dialogues, community profiling, and identify problems from July 5-27," he said.

Macapili added that the Department of Social Welfare and Development, teachers, and trainers will join TESDA's provincial task force.

The results of assessments will be presented to the Provincial Capitol, and the designing of the value chain policy programs will be set in August. The program design will then be presented to the communities for enhancement and finalization.

Implementation of programs and policies is expected in September, according to Macapili.

Fil-Am students to engage youth on rebels’ abuses vs. IPs

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 5, 2019): Fil-Am students to engage youth on rebels’ abuses vs. IPs

RAISING THE DISCOURSE. Filipino-American students Roderick Perez (left) and Carsyn Fisher (right) share a light moment before a discussion on tribal leaders’ stories of struggle amid threats posed by the CPP-NPA, in Fordham University on Wednesday (July 3, 2019). They expressed commitment to engage Filipino-American youth organizations on the plight of indigenous people’s communities in the Philippines. (Photo by Mac Villarino/PCOO)

In a sea of news agenda hugely dominated by the mainstream media, stories like the struggles of indigenous people’s (IP) communities in conflict-torn Mindanao get drowned in the narrative.

That’s why for Filipino-American (Fil-Am) student Roderick Perez, president of the Filipino-American student club in Fordham University, hearing the stories of sufferings endured by tribal leaders, in a conference here on Wednesday, was an eye-opener, something the Filipino diaspora here has never heard about.

“We only hear everything else coming from the mainstream media, and all these other outlets. But when it comes from first-hand sources just like them, it really provides a different perspective on all information that I didn’t know before,” he said, after listening to the stories of tribal leaders who were in New York to inform the international community about the atrocities and human rights abuses committed by communist rebels against IP communities back home.

“It’s really good as a Filipino-American student to expose myself to what they have to say because it was very informative and i learned a lot more about the indigenous Filipinos,” added Perez, a senior marketing student.

Engage Fil-Am youths

Meanwhile, Fil-Am junior economics major Carsyn Fisher, said the tribal leaders’ visit served as an “opportunity to learn about their experiences and their struggles, and the violence in their communities.”

Fisher said as a huge community in New York, Fil-Am youth organizations should start engaging themselves on discussions about the plight of IP communities in the Philippines.

“As students, we really have an important voice, especially in New York. In the tri-state area, the collegiate Filipino community is so strong here, and this opens a lot of opportunities for us to educate each other, not only within our universities, but also in the greater young Filipino community in New York,” she said.

For his part, Perez said given the lack of media coverage on this type of issue, Fil-Am youth organizations here should take an active role in raising the discourse on the true stories in the tribal communities.

“We could help through dialogue in communities, inter-collegiate conversations between all these universities, because there’s a lot of stuff going on that’s hard to cover because of lack of media coverage on these types of issues,” he said.


During their visit in Fordham, the tribal leaders rallied the student community to help disseminate their stories in America — how members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) try to control and manage their ancestral domains, killing tribal chieftains who would go against their will.

Datu Jacob Lanes, who was once a cadre of the NPA, the CPP’s armed wing, said he was assigned to organize different sectors in Southern Mindanao to rally against government.

“I have seen so much death and destructions. This is not the way of indigenous peoples just like the other indigenous people in the world. We are a peaceful people, our culture requires it,” he said.

Meanwhile, Joel Dahusay, IP teacher and community organizer, shared how the Salugpungan school served as a venue of the Reds to deceive and corrupt the IP culture, saying it has “radicalized the young children” in Mindanao.

“After I graduated in public school, I noticed that the Salugpungan school did not follow the Department of Education’s curriculum, it became a school of deception among the youth, teaching them to become activists,” he said.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Undersecretary Lorraine Marie Badoy said the youth should be more discerning in joining school organizations, saying leftist groups have been using academic institutions as a recruitment ground for future rebels.

“They’re very vulnerable because when you’re young, you’re very idealistic. That’s fertile ground for brainwashing,” she said.

“The academe is a world of ideas, and this is where the CPP-NPA (tries to get in). The academe is a fertile ground for radicalization. If you love your country, don’t stay in the world of ideas, go beyond. Don’t join organizations that will leave you astray,” Badoy added.

The tribal leaders are making their way across the United States — from New York to Chicago, California and Washington DC — to call on the international community to hear their plight back home.

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

AFP, DSWD ink pact on peace, countering communist threat

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 5, 2019): AFP, DSWD ink pact on peace, countering communist threat

JOINING HANDS. DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista (left) and AFP Chief-of-Staff Gen. Benjamin Madrigal shake hands after the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) seeking to enhance the cooperation of the two agencies in Camp Aguinaldo on Thursday (July 4, 2019). The MOU includes the formulation of peace-building programs and ending the threat posed by the conflict with the communists. (Photo courtesy: AFP Public Affairs Office)

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that seeks to enhance the cooperation of the two agencies, especially in peace-building programs and ending the threat posed by the conflict with the communists.

Military public affairs office chief, Col. Noel Detoyato, said AFP Chief-of-Staff, Gen. Benjamin Madrigal, signed the MOU together with Social Welfare Secretary Joselito Bautista at the General Headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

"The MOU complements efforts to institutionalize Executive Order (EO) No. 70 that adopts the Whole-of-Nation approach, directing all government agencies to collaborate in ending the communist armed conflict," Madrigal said in a statement Friday.

It also formalizes an ongoing partnership in the effective and efficient delivery of social services to the public, especially those that are affected by calamities and conflict and are vulnerable to radicalization.

EO 70, signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in December last year, mandates the creation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and directs all government agencies to render all the necessary support to peace-building programs, plans, and activities for the campaign.

During his assumption as AFP chief, Madrigal committed the AFP's support to the task force, stressing the need for government agencies to come together to eradicate the root causes of conflict and violence.

"We have made significant progress and have made headways in our campaign to end insurgency. But to reach what we can call a complete victory, we need to create communities that are conflict-resilient and we need local and national government agencies to attain this," he added.

35 cadets to join ROTC Challenge 2019

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 5, 2019): 135 cadets to join ROTC Challenge 2019

Around 135 Reserve Officers Training Corps cadets will participate in the Ultimate ROTC Challenge 2019, which will be held at the headquarters of the Air Force Reserve Command in Clark Air Base, Pampanga, from Friday to Sunday.

"The participants will be composed of cadets from ROTC of the Major Services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), cadets from the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), Philippine Merchant Marine Academy (PMMA), Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific (MAAP), and cadets from United States ROTC of the University of Guam (UOG)," said AFP public affairs office chief, Col. Noel Detoyato, in a statement Thursday.

The exercises include Marksmanship Firing using .45 caliber pistols, Endurance Firing using M16 rifles, Obstacle Course, and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response Exercises.

"They will be grouped into nine teams that shall be composed of a total of 15 cadets, two from each of the major services, two each from the PMA, PMMA, and MAAP, and three from UOG," Detoyato added.

Cadets from the University of Guam, USA will participate in the Ultimate ROTC Challenge 2019 as part of their activity during their Cultural Understanding and Leadership Program in the Philippines.

These interactive activities among the ROTC cadets aim to showcase their skills and proficiency in terms of marksmanship, physical endurance, and camaraderie. It is also to assess the basic knowledge gained by the cadets from the universities and military academies from their training.

Detoyato said the event will be spearheaded by the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Reservist and Retiree Affairs, J9 as part of its focus and thrust that advocates the restoration of mandatory ROTC and sustaining the enhancement of the AFP Reserve Force.

This is also in line with the Commander-in-Chief, President Rodrigo Duterte’s guidance to strengthen the ROTC Program and instill the love of country and good citizenship.

"ROTC envisions to instill discipline and sense of purpose; respect for the laws and the authorities; and obedience to rules and regulations to students in a military training environment. The AFP has been a consistent advocate of a military training program that shall form part of the school as this will help nurture nationalism and patriotism to the youth," the military official added.

MILF: Minister Iqbal clarifies on allegations of ‘Work force of MBHTE LDS 1’ on the designation of Mangata-Noor as Focal Person

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Website (Jul 3, 2019): Minister Iqbal clarifies on allegations of ‘Work force of MBHTE LDS 1’ on the designation of Mangata-Noor as Focal Person

COTABATO CITY – In a media advisory released Monday, July 1, Minister Mohagher Iqbal of the Minster of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE) clarified the issues surrounding the designation of Aleida Nameera P. Mangata-Noor as Focal Person of Lanao del Sur Division 1 without observing the merit base on her appointment

In a statement posted on social media, a group who claimed to be “Work Force of MBHTE LDS 1” questioned Mangata-Noor designation as being unqualified because she is a holder of Teacher 1 item, thus did not met the qualification to become “the new Focal Person or Schools Division Superintendent in Lanao del Sur 1”.

They claimed that based on their record, “Mangata-Noor is a daughter-in-law of Mam Soraidah Noor which is the current focal person; She is a nurse by profession who worked in abroad, but she took Magna carta”.

Other information they disclosed was “Mangata-Noor is the daughter of board member Alico Mangata, a traditional politician who has a long and very strong connection with the traditional politicians in Taraka and the Adiong family in Lanao del Sur.”

This group said that they are Teachers, School Principals, Supervisors and individuals of Lanao del Sur Division 1.

However, upon re-validation of the post in the social media the same has already been deleted with no one claimed responsibility for the allegations, nor an official communication sent to the Office the Minister.

To make straight and clear, Iqbal released a Media Advisory on July 1, 2019.

In the advisory Iqbal clarified that Lanao del Sur School Division 1, pursuant to memorandum No. 112 date April 23, 2019 issued by the Office of the Chief Minister, Lanao del Sur Schools Division 1 was placed under Management Take-over.

In this case, the management shall be exercised directly by the Minister of MBHTE, Iqbal pointed out.

“Considering the distance of LDS 1, and in order not to tie our hands with trivial matters, there is a need to designate a focal person”, it added.

Iqbal said the designation of Mangata-Noor mere temporary in nature, and so the focal person. Her designation was issued by Chief Minister Hon. Ahod B. Ebrahim with the recommendation of Iqbal with conscientious deliberation of the pros and cons.

Iqbal told that the qualifications for a person to be qualified a Focal person do not necessarily require meeting the qualifications of a Superintendent. Hence both designation and work are different.

“Superintendent is the top executive in the school district that implement’s the school board’s vision trough educational programs and other concerns”, he continued.

“A focal person holds a position that is fiduciary in nature. It requires utmost trust and confidence to the person’s credibility and capabilities, while high academic standards may be part of the factors but it cannot be only the basis for the appointment”, Iqbal said in the advisory.

Contrary to the academic record of Mangata-Noor presented by the “Work Force of MBHTE LDS 1”, she finished her Master’s Degree and earned units in PhD and she is also designated by Sec. Atty. Rasol Mitmug Jr. as Division Supervisor for Kindergarten at Division of Lanao del Sur 1 on December 18, 2018.

The MBHTE said that they will conduct evaluation to its workforce including the focal persons so that it could assess the quality of work that Mangata-Noor performs throughout her term.

The BARMM Ministry of Education assured the public to promotes transparency within its workforce and gives opportunity for every concern to be heard towards the attainment of Moral Governance.

Iqbal asked the general public for benevolence and support and reminded individuals not to allow personal interest to prevail over and above public service.

MILF: “We are committed to assist authorities in pursuing Sulu blasts suspects”-CM Ebrahim

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Website (Jul 3, 2019): “We are committed to assist authorities in pursuing Sulu blasts suspects”-CM Ebrahim

BARMM Interim Chief Minister Ahod “Al-Haj Murad” Ebrahim (FILE PHOTO / JANSEN ROMERO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao–Chief Minister Ahod “Al-Haj Murad” Ebrahim of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao vowed to help authorities in going after the suspects behind the recent attacks in Sulu that left eight dead and 22 wounded.

In a report by Manila Bulletin on Tuesday, Ebrahim said he was “committed to assist our law enforcement agencies in pursuing the perpetrators of this atrocious incident and similar violence over the past few months in the Province of Sulu.”

“I strongly urge the local leaders to be united in the fight against violent armed groups in their respective places,’ Ebrahim said as quoted by the Manila Bulletin.

Ebrahim said he was “personally outraged by the supposed suicide bombing incident in Indanan, Sulu last June 28.”

“It was a senseless act of terror since the attack inflicted multiple casualties and injuries to innocent civilians. We condemn that act as contrary to cherished human values such as the sanctity and protection of lives, properties and peaceful living,” said Ebrahim.

According to published reports, eight were killed while 22 others were wounded in the June 28 noon twin bomb attack on a military camp in Indanan town in Sulu on Friday, June 28.

The two bomb carriers were killed in the blasts, along with 3 soldiers and 3 civilians, Western Mindanao Command (WMC) spokesperson Major Arvin Encinas.

The first improvised explosive device went off at a military checkpoint outside the camp of the 1st Brigade Combat Team (BCT), while the second IED exploded inside the camp as the other bomb carrier ran to enter the camp, initial reports said.

Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, the newly-appointed Commanding General of Western Mindanao Command announced at the Peace and Order Council meeting in Maguindanao on Sunday that one of the slain bombers was identified as a Moroccan.

MILF: NCMF sends advance supervisory/medical team to Saudi Arabia to assist Filipino pilgrims

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Website (Jul 2, 2019): NCMF sends advance supervisory/medical team to Saudi Arabia to assist Filipino pilgrims

Photo courtesy of NCMF

The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) has sent seventeen 17 staff today, July 2, 2019, to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with the mission to assist Muslim Filipino pilgrims for this year’s hajj.

In a post at facebook, the Public Relations and Information Division of the NCMF stated, “These employees will be staying in Saudi for two months assisting Muslim Filipinos on their annual pilgrimage, leaving behind their families for the sake of service to their fellowmen and to Allah swt.”

“These are the unsung heroes that we rarely hear about, the staff who suspend their lives for 8 weeks in order to help Filipinos, especially those who are first-time visitors to Saudi Arabia,” it stated.

Filipino pilgrims will start leaving the country on July 10.

Performing hajj in Mecca at least once in a lifetime is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is obligatory for able-bodied Muslims, men and women, who can afford to perform this religious ritual.

Every pilgrim should prepare more than two-hundred thousand pesos to cover his/her pilgrimage expenses.

The first outbound flight of Filipino pilgrims will be leaving on July 10.

NCMF Secretary Saidamen B. Pangarungan, the appointed Amirul Haj for 2019, will head the Filipino pilgrims.

MILF: Editorial - Banning single-use plastics in BARMM complex is laudable

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Website (Jul 1, 2019): Editorial - Banning single-use plastics in BARMM complex is laudable

Who does not need plastics? We use plastics extensively. At home, we have plastic tables, chairs, stools, among other things. Our computers, televisions and mobile phones contain plastic parts. They are ubiquitous and indispensable.

Useful as they are, these plastics pose environmental challenges as they are non-biodegradable. It is for this reason that some countries, cities and towns ban, or at least, strictly regulate the use of single-use plastics.

In September 2018, Dr. Bradnee Chambers, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention on Migratory Species, in his ‘The Planet's Pernicious Plastic Plague Peril, wrote:

“Some countries are acting: Kenya has introduced a total ban on plastic bags, while in the UK the leading supermarket chains have made a pledge to reduce plastic packaging. And just last month, the European Union announced that it was joining the fray by prohibiting a range of plastic products for which greener alternatives exist.”

Meanwhile, Ahod B. Ebrahim, the Interim Chief Minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim (BARMM), issued Memorandum Order dated June 17, 2019 declaring ‘as a policy to ban single-use plastics in all offices of the BARMM effective immediately.’ The Memorandum Order was premised on the Bangsamoro Autonomous Government’s being ‘mindful of its role and mandate to protect the environment and promote the right of the people to a balance and healthful ecology.’

“Single-use plastics such as plastic bags, straws, cups, plates, spoon and forks, polystyrene (such as styrofoam) containers and similar items are no longer allowed in all offices of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region,” Ebrahim said in the Memorandum Order.

“Food concessionaires/caterers are also advised to place food in containers either made of paper, plant-based wrappers or reusable plastic containers,” Ebrahim said.

Ebrahim enjoined all officials and employees to use reusable containers, tumblers, mugs and/or biodegradable food packs.

The Interim Chief Minister tasked the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Energy (MENRE)-BARMM to supervise the effective implementation of the Order.

This way the BARMM can help mitigate the pernicious impact of single-use plastics on human lives and the environment. It is a laudable move.

NDF/Sison: Note on the Jueteng and Drug Networks

Jose Maria Sison propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Philippines (NDFP or NDF) Website (Jul 5, 2019): Note on the Jueteng and Drug Networks

By Jose Maria Sison
NDFP Chief Political Consultant

July 4, 2019

‘Jueteng’ a lesser evil compared to drugs: Dela Rosa

Since several decades ago, the drug problem has spread through the jueteng networks under the protection of governors and generals. The drug and jueteng networks have become usually concurrent.

Now, Duterte, his dynasty and his national, regional, provincial and municipal agents lord over and rake in money from both the jueteng and drug networks.

It is absurd that Duterte’s top butcher Bato is now offering to the public a false choice between jueteng and drugs. This means that the Duterte ruling clique is maintaining the concurrent use of the drug and jueteng networks.

CPP/Ang Bayan: Mga tinipong artikulo tungkol sa US (2016-2019)

Tagalog language Ang Bayan article posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Jul 3, 2019): Mga tinipong artikulo tungkol sa US (2016-2019)

CPP/NPA-East Camarines Sur: Pagkundena sa brutal na pagpaslang kay Norberto “Ka Obet” Balcueva ng tropa ng 83rd IBPA

NPA-East Camarines Sur propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Jul 4, 2019): Pagkundena sa brutal na pagpaslang kay Norberto “Ka Obet” Balcueva ng tropa ng 83rd IBPA

JULY 04, 2019

Iginagawad ng Tomas Pilapil Command ng Bagong Hukbong Bayan Camarines Sur ang pinakamataas na pagpupugay at parangal kina Norberto “Ka Obet” Balcueva at Salvador “Ka Cardo” Huwe na nasawi sa naganap na labanan sa pagitan ng yunit ng BHB at 83rd IB PA noong nakaraang Hunyo 28, 2019. Ganap na 5:00 ng umaga nang patraydor na umatake ang tropa ng 83rd IB PA sa yunit ng Bagong Hukbong Bayan na pansamantalang nakahimpil sa sityo Map-id , barangay Mampirao, bayan ng Caramoan , Camarines Sur. Ang yunit ng BHB na nasa lugar ay gumagampan ng mga gawain sa rebolusyon sa piling ng masang pinagsisilbihan nito.

Kinukundena ng TPC ang hindi makataong pagpaslang ng mga elemento ng 83rd IBPA kina Ka Obet at Ka Cardo . Sa kabila ng wala na sa kakayahang lumaban si Norberto Balcueva ay walang awa itong pinagtataga at binalian pa ng braso ng mga berdugong militar. Halos hindi makayanan tingnan ng mga kapamilya ang bangkay ni Norberto Balcueva sa pinagdalhang Funeraria nang makita ang kalunos-lunos na kalagayan at hitsura ng bangkay ni Ka Obet.

Ang ganitong pangyayari ay hindi iba sa mga ginawang karumaldumal na pagpatay ng mga militar kagaya kamakailan sa matandang mag-asawang Aragdon sa Caramoan noong Setyembre 11, 2018 na nilaslasan ng leeg at pinagsasaksak ang kamay. Ang mga karumaldumal na pagpaslang ng mga militar ay labag sa CARHRIHL na kapwa nilagdaan ng reboludyonaryong kilusan at ng reaksyunaryong gubyerno. Ang hindi pagsunod ng AFP sa batas ng digma ay pagpapatunay ng hindi pagkilala nito sa karapatan pantao, sa inilulunsad na gera ng rehimeng Us-Duterte sa mamamayan sa pagpapatupadd ng MO 32, EO 70 at ang madugong kampanya kontra-insurhensya na Oplan Kapanatagan. Mas titindi pa ang karahasan at brutalidad ng AFP sa pagsasakatuparan ng OPLAN KAPANATAGAN.

Ipinapaabot ng Tomas Pilapil Command ang marubdob na pakikiramay sa mga naiwang pamilya at kamag-anak ng dalawang martir na kasama sa naganap na labanan . Ang pagkakapaslang ng mga militar kina Ka Obet at Ka Cardo ay hindi kailanman tagumpay ng mga berdugong AFP kung hindi dagdag mantsa ng dugo at pagkamuhi ng mamamayan sa rehimeng US-Duterte at sa AFP. Sa bawat pagkabuwal ng mga pulang mandirigma, laksang mamamayan ang handang tumangan ng armas para ipagpatuloy ang laban.

Ang bagong programa ng rehimeng US-Duterte , Oplan Kapanatagan ay lalo lamang magpapatigas sa tindig ng mamamayang lumalaban para makamit ang minimithing tagumpay.

CPP: End seven decades of semicolonial yoke

Propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Jul 4, 2019):  End seven decades of semicolonial yoke

After almost half a century of suffering colonial subjugation, the Philippines was “granted” independence on July 4, 1946 by the United States government. More than seven decades hence, the country remains under US economic, political, military and cultural domination.

The US imperialists have perpetuated semicolonial rule in the country through successive puppet governments–from Roxas to Duterte, which invariably carried out the policy impositions of the US imperialists, as well as through armed suppression through the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Under US imperialist rule, the Philippine economy failed to develop productive capacity and remains under the yoke of American big corporations, banks and US-controlled financial institutions. The Philippine mode of production remains semicolonial and semifeudal.

For more than a century now, American monopoly capitalists have siphoned trillions of dollars of superprofits by plundering the country’s timber and mineral resources, extracting cheap agricultural produce and exploiting cheap and oppressed labor. The country has been relegated as a backwater exporter of cheap resources and low-value added good demanded by US industries.

Agricultural production remains primarily small-scale and backward, with large-scale production limited to export crops and under the control of feudal estates or multinational corporations. The Philippines remains without independent industrial capacity, with production linked to and geared towards the so-called “global value chain” of US and other international monopoly capitalists, producing or assembling mostly electronic components, but incapable of producing steel, basic machineries and tools necessary for steady expansion of production.

Local manufacturing capacity is limited largely to food processing. Because of lack of productive capacity, the Philippines remains dependent on importing electronic components for semiprocessing, vehicles and vehicle parts for assembly, cellphones and communications equipment, computers, basic steel, capital goods, machineries, construction materials, hand tools and so on. Practically everything is imported or is dependent on imported components. As a result, the country suffers from chronic trade imbalance and perpetual dependence on loans to bridge deficits and finance production and infrastructure.

The great majority of the Filipino people suffer from ever worsening conditions forms of oppression and exploitation under semicolonial and semifeudal conditions. They suffer from low wages and salaries, oppressive working conditions, job insecurity, massive unemployment, landlessness, rural dispossession and displacement and military abuses. Their grievous conditions remains largely unchanged under US semicolonial rule, deteriorating more rapidly in during the past four decades under the neoliberal policy regime.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the country was subjected to “structural adjustment” during which the International Monetary Fund and World Bank pushed the country to borrow large amounts of loans to fund large dams, energy plants and infrastructure projects under extremely onerous terms including tax packages, raising fuel prices and cutbacks in government spending for health, education and other social services in the name of “belt-tightening” and prioritizing debt repayments.

The people’s social conditions have worsened at an unprecedented pace since the 1990s under so-called “globalization” during which US controlled financial institutions and multilateral agencies pushed for all-out liberalization of trade and investments policies, dismantling of policies protecting national industries, privatization of state assets, foreign ownership and corporatization of key utilities, deregulation of labor and environmental standards, and other oppressive measures.

US corporate and financial interests continue to influence and direct Philippine economic policies primarily through World Bank- and IMF-trained technocrats who head and run the National Economic Development Authority, the Department of Finance, the Central Bank and economic agencies.

In addition to economic leverage, the US imperialists use military pressure to ensure perpetuation of US hegemony. The AFP is the principal pillar of US imperialist power in the country. It continues to be trained, indoctrinated, funded and armed by the US government. Key officers of the AFP have been schooled in the US, and many serve as active agents of the US security and defense establishment. They are zealots of US counterinsurgency doctrine in their aim to suppress the patriotic forces. The AFP remains dependent on US military funding for its “modernization.”

American military advisers and hundreds of troops are permanently stationed in the country, direct counter-guerrilla operations and often deploy their troops and equipment in the field. It has trained and maintains operational control of special units of the AFP including the Light Reaction Regiment and the 1st Combat Brigade Team. US military forces maintain a heavy presence in Western Mindanao to the Sulu islands both as a laboratory for “counter-terrorism” and base to project power in the South China and Malacca trade routes.

Through the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty, the 1998 Visiting Forces Agreement, the 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and other unequal military treaties, the US continues to use the country as a large military base to serve as platform for foreign intervention and power projection (so-called “freedom of navigation” operations) in Asia. In particular, the US military uses the Philippines as a springboard for military operations of the 7th Fleet in the South China Sea to protect US economic interests and assert military superiority against rising imperialist rival China.

Under the EDCA, the US maintains at least five key military facilities within AFP camps to serve as camp for its troops and store and deploy its materiél. It also maintains a network of radars both in the Western and Eastern coastlines of the country. In complete disregard of the ban on nuclear weapons in the Philippine constitution, the US military docks its nuclear-capable warships and submarines in Philippine ports. The US is eyeing to regain control of facilities of its former naval base in Subic by planning to take over the shipbuilding facilities left by the Hanjin Shipping Company.

Ruling class political parties in the Philippines have long been under US tutelage. Its key officers have finished schooling in the US and many are in the payroll or sit in the boards of US multinational corporations operating in the country. They typically act in accordance with US economic, military and geopolitical interests.

Still, by having absolute command of the AFP, the US government exerts immense political pressure on the ruling Philippine government to ensure that it serves American geopolitical interests. Furthermore, US embassy officials, officers of the US Pacific Command, US State Department and Pentagon officials pay regular visits to confer with Malacañang and other government officials to impress US agenda on its puppet officials.

Through control and influence over the Philippine mass media, the internet and social media, schools and other cultural institutions in the Philippines, the US continues to exercise cultural hegemony in the Philippines. One generation of Filipinos after another have been indoctrinated with the US imperialist “freedom” rhetoric. In line with its systematic promotion of its “friends and allies” propaganda, the US government returned the Balangiga Bells last year but downplayed the brutalities perpetrated by US colonial forces in the Philippines for which the US remains unrepentant and unpunished.

The US imperialists are working double-time to strengthen its economic, political, military and cultural hegemony in the Philippines and across the world in the face of continuing international capitalist depression, intensifying inter-imperialist competition and rising contradictions over trade routes and spheres of investment and influence. The US is particularly wary of China and its effort to exert economic, political and cultural influence in the Philippines as well as its build-up of military strength and presence.

China is already making headway under the US-Duterte regime in terms of gaining a military foothold in the South China Sea and strengthening its economic presence in the country. It has also been carrying a campaign to influence public opinion through the Philippine mass media by flooding it with stories and advertisements depicting Chinese economic growth and strengthening its influence among columnists and opinion makers. It is using both economic pressure, bribery and corruption in connection with large amounts of onerous loans to get favors from Philippine officials. However, China remains a far secondary imperialist country in the Philippines compared to US imperialism.

The Philippines is presently in the middle of a gathering inter-imperialist storm which provides opportunities for asserting the country’s national sovereignty. However, starting from a policy of subservience and sellout of patrimony, the US-Duterte regime has succeeded only in worsening the country’s state of economic dependence and debt bondage, strengthening foreign military domination and putting the country in danger of being caught in the middle of superpower armed conflict.

Under the US-Duterte regime, the Philippines status as a US semicolony continues to worsen. The Filipino people must continue to strengthen their patriotism and unite to wage national democratic struggles to end seven decades of semicolonial subjugation and achieve national and social liberation.

CPP: Resist DILG pressure to declare Left forces “persona non grata”

Propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Jul 5, 2019):  Resist DILG pressure to declare Left forces “persona non grata”

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) denounces the AFP-instigated publicity campaign of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for putting undue pressure on local government units to compel them to declare the CPP and New People’s Army (NPA), as well as “Left-wing groups” as persona non grata. If they refuse, these officials are under threat of themselves being red-tagged or accused of being supporters or sympathizers of the revolutionary movement.

The campaign of the DILG, currently headed by former armed forces chief Eduardo Año, is forcing local government officials to be party to the bloody and brutal crimes perpetrated by military and police forces in its counterinsurgency operations which cause grave hardships to their constituents, especially in the far-flung rural villages.

The CPP is aware that many local government officials, especially at the town levels, are sensitive to the plight of the poor people in their areas. Many of them are aware of the social and economic roots of the armed conflict. They are more interested in addressing the issues of poverty, landlessness and joblessness through reforms and extending economic support to the masses, than in the AFP’s military solution. They are keenly aware how the military has been causing grave harm to their constituents who the AFP arbitrarily tag as “supporters” of the armed movement.

Many town mayors and councilors, even elected officials at the higher levels, have relatives, friends or personally know NPA Red fighters and commanders and Party cadres. Many of them confer with the NPA and revolutionary forces in helping address the daily plight of the people, from high land rent, landlessness, high loan interests, low farm-gate prices of palay, copra and other produce, as well as stark social problems such as illiteracy, epidemics and so on. Many local officials are aware how the programs of the revolutionary forces address these problems.

According to AFP press releases, the DILG issued a memorandum last year telling local government units, from the regional to the barrio level, to “prohibit support to communists and Left-wing groups.”

The CPP urges officials of the local government to resist the pressure of the DILG to declare themselves against the revolutionary movement. Their constituents expect them more to carry out substantive reforms to help improve the people’s conditions rather than be pawns in the AFP’s self-serving propaganda. The CPP, however, clarifies that issuing any such public declaration against the Party or the NPA does not in itself constitute a punishable crime against the revolution.

Actually, many local officials are keenly aware that there is no legal basis for the DILG memorandum compelling them to issue persona non grata declarations against “Left groups.” They know that under the 1987 constitution, they cannot prevent any Filipino for being merely “Leftist” or otherwise to reside in their place or carry out their activities. Some have also taken note of the fact that the case proscribing the CPP and NPA as “terrorists” have yet to be acted upon by Philippine courts.

The high-level publicity campaign does not have real effect on the ground. Despite the effort since last year, including actively supporting their candidates during the previous elections, the AFP and DILG have failed to muster enough support for its publicity campaign. As of our last count, the AFP has succeeded only in getting less than 0.1% of the total number of barrios and less than 0.5% of towns nationwide to issue such declarations. This number represents less than 1% of the total number of barrios which are covered by the NPA’s area of operations.

Many of these declarations were issued under duress by officials in villages that are occupied by the AFP’s so-called “peace and development” teams. This is far from the “overwhelming support” the AFP wants to project. Indeed, in many of these villages, the NPA continues to operate, help the people in their daily concerns and in turn enjoy the deep support of the people in myriad forms.

CPP: Duterte is persona non grata to the Filipino people

Propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Jul 5, 2019): Duterte is persona non grata to the Filipino people

Rodrigo Duterte, consummate reactionary, chief drug protector and overlord of drug syndicates, number one terrorist butcher and fascist murderer, national traitor, US lackey and sell-out to China, friend of the oligarchs and foreign capitalists, model and patron saint of corrupt big bureaucrats, and scourge and enemy of workers, peasants and ordinary people, is persona non grata to the Filipino people.

Because of Duterte’s innumerable crimes and gross abuse of power, the broad masses of workers and peasants, together with the middle-class sectors, as well as decent-minded elite personages and groups, demand his removal from Malacañang, through parliamentary impeachment or by exercising their extra-parliamentary power in the streets to kick him out or force him to resign. They encourage big business as well as elements and officers of the military and police who are embarrassed for having Duterte as their chief, to withdraw support for his criminal regime, and side with the people. For all the international negative flak Duterte generates, Xi Jinping and Donald Trump or their wiser advisers, would sooner or later drop Duterte like a hot potato.