Friday, July 19, 2019

CPP-IB: By closing Lumad schools, Duterte is teaching Lumads to join NPA

Propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Information Bureau (IB) blog site (Jul 19, 2019): By closing Lumad schools, Duterte is teaching Lumads to join NPA

The CPP joins the Lumad people and their organizations, human rights advocates and other groups in condemnding the order to close 55 Lumad community schools. For years, these schools, supported by various civic organizations, are known to provide basic education services to children in Lumad communities long neglected by the Philippine government, and have earned widespread acclaim for their work.

According to the Department of Education, its order to close these schools was made upon the recommendations of the AFP and Duterte’s national security officers. Military officers have repeatedly made the baseless claim that these Lumad schools serve as “training schools” for the New People’s Army (NPA).

This shows how the policies of the civil bureaucracy are now being hijacked by the military under Duterte’s National Task Force and its obsession with the so-called “whole of nation” counter-insurgency.

However, contrary to the aims of the military, the order to close the community schools will only succeed in further inciting the Lumad people to join the people’s resistance against the tyrannical and fascist Duterte government. It adds to Duterte’s already oppressive anti-Lumad policies such as military occupation of communities, grabbing ancestral lands to pave the way for mining operations and expansion of plantations, and incessant red-tagging of their organizations.

By ordering the closure of these community schools, the Duterte regime is teaching the Lumad people and youth by negative example why the armed struggle is just and why joining the NPA is necessary in their quest for democracy and social justice.

Administrative Note: CPP website down/Using CPP Info Bureau blog as alternative

Administrative Note: Checked out CPP Twitter Account. Post to Twitter says CPP Website is down and refers potential visitors to the PRWC Blog site.

 Pinned Tweet
Good day! Our website: is down at the moment. We are working on fixing the problem as soon as possible. In the mean time, you may visit for updates. Thank you!

PRWC Newsroom
Blog site of the CPP Information Bureau

NDF/CPP: Denounce sedition cases against Robredo et al

Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Philippines (NDFP or NDF) Website (Jul 19, 2019): Denounce sedition cases against Robredo et al 

Communist Party of the Philippines
July 19, 2019

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) denounces the sedition cases filed by the Duterte government against Vice President Leni Robredo, Sen. Leila de Lima, Bishop Soc Villegas and at least thirty other individuals identified with the political opposition.

Charging the forces of the political opposition with sedition is a clear case of harassment and intimidation by the Duterte regime which aims to force them to accede to Duterte’s self-serving drive to amend the 1987 Constitution, suppress their protests against mass killings and human rights violations, and silence their opposition to Duterte’s treachery with regards to his sell-out to China.

The Party calls on the political opposition to stand up to Duterte’s schemes and join the broad masses of the Filipino people in resisting through mass protests the regime’s tyranny, terrorism and national treachery.

Kalinaw News: Skills and livelihood training for the former rebels in Can-avid

Posted to Kalinaw News (Jul 20, 2019): Skills and livelihood training for the former rebels in Can-avid

Skills and livelihood training for the former rebels in Can-avid 1

Skills and livelihood training for the former rebels in Can-avid 2

Skills and livelihood training for the former rebels in Can-avid 3

Skills and livelihood training for the former rebels in Can-avid 4

Brgy Dao, Oras, Eastern Samar – The TESDA-Arteche National Agricultural School (ANAS) in partnership with the Local Government Unit of Can-avid and 14 th Infantry (Avenger) Battalion successfully conducted a 3-Day Raise Organic Chicken Skills and Livelihood Training to the Former Rebels (FRs) at Multipurpose Hall, Can- avid, Eastern Samar last 16-18 July, 2019.

The 3-Day training aims to strengthen our reach and skills training provision for the FRs and give them a chance to earn a decent livelihood in order to become productive member of the society. Said training benefited twenty-six (26) FRs from the upstream barangays of Can-avid. Each FRs beneficiaries received twenty-five (25) heads of chicks and one (1) month allocation of feeds.

During the opening ceremony, Hon Gil Norman “Toytoy” P Germino, Municipal Mayor of Can-avid encouraged the FRs to cooperate and internalize the knowledge and skills that they will be learning from the said livelihood training. Likewise, during the closing ceremony, LIEUTENANT COLONEL PECSON said, “After a 3-day livelihood training, I wish that every one of you gained the needed knowledge and skills for the raised organic chicken livelihood training. And to the different agencies present, let us continue to do our job in helping the FRs and other people who needs our services.”

The activity is a collaboration of different agencies in addressing the issues and concerns raised by the affected farmer sector most especially the FRs who were influenced by the CPP-NPA-NDF.

The unit expressed its gratitude to the TESDA-ANAS in collaboration with the LGU of Can-avid for the successful conduct of the livelihood training, which contributed to the sustainment of peace through the efforts of the different stakeholders in the province of Eastern Samar.

14th Infantry Battalion, 8th Infantry Division, Philippine Army
Civil-Military Operations Officer
CP # 09662865180/09299796612

[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: 6th Infantry Division Facilitates orientation on executive order no. 70

Posted to Kalinaw News (Jul 20, 2019): 6th Infantry Division Facilitates orientation on executive order no. 70

6th Infantry Division Facilitates orientation on executive order no. 70 1

6th Infantry Division Facilitates orientation on executive order no. 70 2

6th Infantry Division Facilitates orientation on executive order no. 70 3

6th Infantry Division Facilitates orientation on executive order no. 70 4

6th Infantry Division Facilitates orientation on executive order no. 70 5

CAMP SIONGCO, Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao – The Department of National Defense together with OPAPP, NTF-ELCAC, NICA, NSC facilitated an Orientation on Executive Order No.70 (INSTITUTIONALIZING THE WHOLE-OF- NATION APPROACH IN ATTAINING INCLUSIVE AND SUSTAINABLE PEACE, CREATING A NATIONAL TASK FORCE TO END LOCAL COMMUNIST ARMED CONFLICT, AND DIRECTING THE ADOPTION OF A NATIONAL PEACE FRAMEWORK) at Kampilan, Clubhouse in 6th Infantry Division Headquarters on July 18, 2019.

The activity was graced by the Secretary of National Defense Secretary Delfin N Lorenzana with OPAPP Secretary Carlito G Galvez Jr and Interim Chief Minister of BARMM Honorable Ahod Balawag Ebrahim. Also in attendance were USec Yano of DND, DDG Vicente Agdamag of the NSC, Mr. Wencelito Andanar, the Special Envoy to Malaysia, the Local Chief Executives of the five provinces and two cities under BARMM, the Ministers and Heads of Agencies of the BARMM Government and the members of the BARMM Transition Authority, the military leadership headed by Commander Western Mindanao Command LTGen Cirilito Sobejana, COMMANDER 6ID MGen Diosdado C Carreon, Commander 11ID MGen Corleto Vinluan, BGen Romeo Brawner Jr representing Commander 1ID, the Brigade Commanders under WestminCom and PBGen Marni Marcos Jr the RD of PRO BARMM and other senior Police and Military Officers.

Discussed were the Presidents’ Guidance on Security and Development and Security Situation in BARMM relative to communist terrorist group, Local Terrorist Groups, and other threat groups, Countering Violent Extremism, the National Action Plan to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (Executive Order no. 70) and NTF Organizational Structures Salient Features, BARMM Socio-Economic Updates and Challenges, updates on the Interim Office of BARMM Government and Updates on the Bangsamoro Transition Authority.

The activity aimed to inform the BARMM Leadership, Local Chief Executives of the BARMM Provinces and Cities, Military and Police Commanders and other agencies about the salient points of EO 70 and its implementation with the goal of crafting a similar framework in a regional context to address the security issues in BARMM involving the different stakeholders in the region.

BARMM Interim Chief Minister during his speech said “We know that you know that we are still at the infancy in the BARMM with very high challenges we are facing. We hope that we will succeed. And with the support of the security sector, with the support of the local government and with the support of our national country, we are hoping that we will succeed as our failure will be the failure not only of the bangsamoro people but the failure of the region and the failure of the country”.

The 6th Infantry Division will support the BARMM Government in crafting their regional security framework to address the different security issues in 6ID AOR so that peace and development can already be achieved in the 6ID AOR. MGen. Carreon, Commander 6ID said.

Division Public Affairs Office 6th Infantry Division Philippine Army
Maj Arvin G Encinas
Chief, Public Affairs Office, 6ID, PA
Camp Siongco, Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao

[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: 52 NPA Members and supporters surrender in Bislig, Surigao del Sur

Posted to Kalinaw News (Jul 20, 2019): 52 NPA Members and supporters surrender in Bislig, Surigao del Sur

52 NPA Members and supporters surrender in Bislig, Surigao del Sur 1

52 NPA Members and supporters surrender in Bislig, Surigao del Sur 2

52 NPA Members and supporters surrender in Bislig, Surigao del Sur 3

52 NPA Members and supporters surrender in Bislig, Surigao del Sur 4

52 NPA Members and supporters surrender in Bislig, Surigao del Sur 5

52 NPA Members and supporters surrender in Bislig, Surigao del Sur 6

BISLIG CITY,Surigao del Sur- Camp Jaime N Ferrer Sr, Brgy Maharlika, Bislig City (Stn) – Hunger, exhaustion and despair induced the Fifty-Two (52) NPA members and supporters to surrender at headquartes, 75 th Infantry “Marauder” Battalion in Bislig City, Surigao del Sur on July 18, 2019.

Through the Community Support Program (CSP), government services rendered by the Executive Order No. 70. Otherwise known as “Institutionalizing the Whole Of Nation Approach in attaining inclusive and sustainable Peace and creating the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) in bringing insurgency to its conclusion and the intensified/relentless pursuit operation, undeniably, would be the reason why the members and supporters condemn and have turned their back from the group they had once knew could be the answer from the poverty they have gone through.

The Fifty-Two (52) NPA members composed of Six (6) Milisya Ng Bayan (MB) members, two (2) Sangay ng Partido Sa Lokalidad (SPL) members and Forty (40) Underground Mass organization (UGMO) members of Balangay sa Rosario, Agusan del Sur (RADS), Weakened Guerilla Front 14, North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee (WGF14, NEMRC) together with five (5) firearms (1high powered firearms and 4 low powered firearms) voluntarily surrendered at Headquarters, 75IB. The troops identified the MB members by their NPA aliases as Winston, Lawaan, Boy, Agui, Brad and the 2 SPL members as Pipol and Dongkoy.

The firearms surrendered by the NPA members were one (1) AK47 CZ858 with three (3) magazines and eighty-nine (89) live ammunitions, three (3) improvise cal. 22, one (1) cal. 38, one (1) rifle grenade and one (1) hand grenade M67.

In connection with the activity, the troops prepared a simple boodle fight as a bid of appreciation and to welcome them back. On the other hand, the 52 members and supporters took their Oath of Allegiance after they decided to repudiate the CPP-NPA.

Alyas Lawaan, 44, member of Team Abe, Squad 3, Platoon SMART, MB, WGF14, NEMRC said, “Nagpasalamat mi na kami nakalingkawas sa kalisud sa kinabuhi sa pag-uban-uban sa pagdumala sa NPA kay grabe gyud among natagamtaman nga kalisud, gutom ug kahadlok sa prinsipyong among gipaglaban batuk sa gobyerno. Sila misaad kanamu nga ila kaming tabangan sa among panginabuhi ug suportahan among pamilya, unya wala kami nadawdaw. Swerte lang namo kay natagaan gyud mi ug panahon nga makaduol balik sa gobyerno. (I am thankful that we have escaped the life we had under the NPAs. We suffered from hunger, fear and exhaustion along the way for the principles contrary to the law that we are fighting for. They promised they will help us from poverty and oppression and they will provide support to our families, but we ended up nothing. Thank you to all the soldiers who helped bringing us back to the folds of the law.),” Lawaan said.

According to Lieutenant Colonel Jaime R Datuin, Commanding Officer of 75IB, in conjunction of efforts of the peace stakeholders and the local government units to suppress Communist NPA Terrorists (CNTs) terrible act will truly produce good result and therefore decreasing in number of the NPA Terrorists. “Our mission will be your mission, too. As our troops perform their tasks, the LGUs and other agency also performed the tasks given to them. That is why we must work in convergence to accomplish the mission. For the members and supporters of this Terrorists group who surrendered themselves to the government and lay their firearms, I could say that it’s the best and the right choice they’ve made. And they must also encourage their comrades to surrender to the government and start a new life with their families. Hindipa huli ang lahat, sumuko na kayo at kayo’y aming tutulongan para sa pagbabagong hinahangad ninyo.” Datuin said.

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.]

64 ex-rebels from MisOr, Lanao areas get livelihood aid

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 19, 2019): 64 ex-rebels from MisOr, Lanao areas get livelihood aid

LIVELIHOOD AID. Sixty-four former rebels based in Lanao del Sur and Misamis Oriental receive on Tuesday (July 16, 2019) livelihood starter kits from the Army's 103rd Infantry Brigade and Department of Labor and Employment. (Photo courtesy of Western Mindanao Command/Army's 103rd Infantry Brigade)

ZAMBOANGA CITY--The Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) distributed livelihood starter kits to 64 former rebels, officials said Friday.

Maj. Arvin John Encinas, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) spokesperson, said the beneficiaries are
former members of the “local terrorist group” based in Lanao del Sur and Misamis Oriental.

Encinas did not elaborate as to which group the former rebels used to belong.

Encinas said the livelihood package was distributed in a ceremony Tuesday at the headquarters of the Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade in Marawi City.

The former rebels received farming livelihood grants, six cellular phone accessories business starter kits, 35 sacks of vulcanizing equipment, and 36 sari-sari store business starter kits.

“We are fulfilling our commitment to the FRs (former rebels) for them to fully reintegrate to the mainstream society,” said Criste Perpekto, Supervising Labor and Employment Officer of DOLE Region 10.

Alinor Montic, one of the former rebels, was quoted as saying: “Masaya kami at sa pag-uwi namin ay mayroon na kaming panimula sa bagong buhay (We are happy because we have something to start with to live a new life when we go home).”

Brig. Gen. Romeo Brawner, Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade commander, said he hopes to see the small businesses of the former rebels prosper.

“Mas masarap mabuhay nang normal at maging partner sa kapayapaan at pag-unlad sa komunidad kung saan kayo nakatira (It is great to live a normal life and be a partner of peace and development in the community that you live),” Brawner added.

The joint activity of Marawi City government and the military is part of the government's peace-building effort to prevent and counter violent extremism.

Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Westmincom chief, said he was "grateful to the overwhelming support of other government agencies in our quest for peace in Western and Central Mindanao."

“We call on the rest of our brothers and sisters who are still contemplating to come out and take advantage of the livelihood programs implemented by the government,” Sobejana added.

Peace in Bangsamoro region achievable but Sulu remains volatile, says expert

From the Freee Malaysia Today (Jul 20, 2019): Peace in Bangsamoro region achievable but Sulu remains volatile, says expert

Institute for Autonomy and Governance Development Consulting Inc’s chief operating officer, Ishak Mastura.

KOTA KINABALU: The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim-Mindanao (BARM) is expected to stabilise politically and socially within the next five years, judging by the way the Philippine government and the BARM transitional government are handling the peace building efforts.

Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) Development Consulting Inc’s chief operating officer, Ishak Mastura, said it is crucial for both sides to handle the peace process safely.

“The situation is delicate and can easily deteriorate if outside elements come in to disrupt it or if one side feels there are broken promises or that the people’s expectations remain unfulfilled,” Ishak said.

He believes the people in the region long for peace and, except for the 2017 Marawi siege, things have been quite peaceful in the largely violent region with its history of armed fighting and domestic terrorism.

Ishak said the only fear now is that some groups may feel they are being left out of the peace process and, with their military capabilities, could start fresh disturbances and plunge the region into another domestic chaos.

At the moment, the government is waiting for the various armed groups, reportedly numbering about 12,000 fighters, to surrender their guns as scheduled by the end of this year.

Once the decommissioning is completed, the government security forces will take over the security in the region, long filled by the two main factions – the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

There are many who questioned the Philippine government’s rationale in holding talks with MILF instead of MNLF but Ishak said such opinion is unfounded as the MNLF has already signed the peace agreement in 1996.

The real fear, he said, is the fact that one of the region’s most powerful and influential leaders, Nur Misuari, did not join BARM.

“However, I believe the problem will be minimal because President Rodrigo Duterte talks directly to Misuari and has promised an arrangement to accommodate him in the Sulu archipelago.

“I don’t know how he would do it because we already have BARM. But that is his promise to Misuari. Duterte must resolve this problem and I think that is in the pipeline,” he said.

Ishak said the problem is Misuari never clarified what he really wants for Sulu although he is said to have preferred federalism to BARM.

He said if things are not resolved in the Sulu archipelago, any disturbances in the area would have a direct impact on Sabah’s security as happened in the past.

“The problem in central Mindanao does not affect Sabah. But the ones in the Sulu archipelago and the Sulu sea will. Currently, this problem has not been resolved by the peace process with MILF. So, things are still hanging right now,” he said.

Nevertheless, he said there is hope for lasting peace since Duterte is popular – an important trait in the Filipino society – and the people also want peace.

5 ASG bandits surrender to Zambo police

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 19, 2019): 5 ASG bandits surrender to Zambo police

ABU SAYYAF SURRENDERERS. Brig. Gen. Froilan Quidilla, Police Regional Office 9 (Zamboanga Peninsula) director (2nd from left), formally welcomes five Abu Sayyaf surrenderers during a ceremony held at Camp Col. Romeo Abendan on Thursday (July 18, 2019). The surrenderers also yielded high-powered firearms. (Photo courtesy: PRO-9 Public Information Office)

ZAMBOANGA CITY -- Five members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) have surrendered and turned over high-powered firearms to government authorities here, police officials said Friday.

Brig. Gen. Froilan Quidilla, Police Regional Office 9 (Zamboanga Peninsula) director, said
the five surrenderers were from Jolo and Patikul, Sulu; and Tipo-Tipo, Basilan.

Quidilla said the surrenderers yielded high-powered firearms, including four M-16 Armalite rifles, two of which had attached M-203 grenade launchers.

He said the surrender of the five ASG bandits was realized through the joint efforts of Lt. Col. Parson Asadil, the Zamboanga del Sur Provincial Mobile Force Company commander, and intelligence personnel of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division.

Maj. Helen Galvez, PRO-9 information officer, said the five surrenderers were formally welcomed by police and miitary officials in a ceremony held Thursday at Camp Col. Romeo Abendan that houses the PRO-9 headquarters in Barangay Mercedes, this city.

Col. Jose Randolf Cino Cruz, deputy commander of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division, and Col. Leonel Nicolas, Task Force Zamboanga commander, witnessed the ceremony.

Quidilla said the five ASG surrenderers will be placed under the government rehabilitation program “to ensure that they will not go back to their old ways.”

Meanwhile, Quidilla called on the remaining ASG bandits to surrender and to avail of the government’s program to live a new life.

NPA attacks militia camp in Cagayan

From the Manila Bulletin (Jul 19, 2019): NPA attacks militia camp in Cagayan

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan – A group of New People’s Army (NPA) fighters attacked the detachment of the Civilian Active Auxiliary in Barangay Balanni, Sto. Niño, Cagayan on Monday.

New People’s Army (MANILA BULLETIN)

Lt/ Col. Jesus Pagala, the commander of the Army’s 17th Infantry Battalion, said Friday the soldiers and volunteers repulsed the rebels.

“No casualty reported on the troops and civilian volunteers as they fired back at their attackers, who were using M-16 Armalite based on the rifle bullets found at the site the next day,” Pagala said.

Pagala said the attack by at least five heavily armed rebels appears to have been spurred by the declaration of the NPA as persona non grata by the Barangay Balanni’s Peace and Order Council last April 13.

“The strafe case is considered as an act of desperation of the rebels as they have already lost their battle in the area of Sto Niño, Cagayan wherein the community abhors the terroristic actions of these rebels resulting to the attackers to forcefully take revenge on the innocent troopers and civilian volunteers who are performing their duties of guarding the peace and security of the area,” he said.

Pagala said the troops of the Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) were continuously working with different local government units and agencies in isolating and disabling the communist insurgents from pursuing their terroristic objectives.

No shootout, 4 cops summarily executed: PRO-7 chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 19, 2019): No shootout, 4 cops summarily executed: PRO-7 chief

'BRUTALLY MURDERED'. Brig. Gen. Debold Sinas, Director of the Police Regional Office PRO-7, on Friday (July 19, 2019) says the four slain policemen were 'set up' and their movements were monitored. Sinas added in a press conference that the police officers were 'brutally murdered'. (PNA photo by Judy Flores Partlow)

DUMAGUETE CITY -- The four police intelligence officers ambushed by suspected members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) on Thursday afternoon in Sitio Yamot, Barangay Mabato in Ayungon, Negros Oriental were "brutally murdered".

In a press conference on Friday, Police Brig. Gen. Debold Sinas, director of the Police Regional Office 7 (PRO-7), said Police Cpl. Relebert Beronio; Pat. Raffy Callao; Pat. Roel Cabellon; and Pat. Marquino de Leon, all intelligence officers of the 704th Provincial Mobile Force Company of the Regional Public Safety Battalion 7 assigned in Negros Oriental, were “summarily executed”.

Sinas described it as “cold-blooded” murder.

Sinas said based on early police investigation plus results of the post-mortem examination and the autopsies on the bodies, there were strong indications that they were captured, hogtied, mauled, and shot dead.

He personally visited the crime scene earlier in the day, accompanied by Negros Oriental Provincial Police Director, Col. Raul Tacaca, Ayungon Police Chief, Capt. Romel Luga, and other police officers as part of the ongoing investigation into the deaths of the four policemen.

Each of the four victims bore a single gunshot wound but also showed bruises and other wounds that had caused their instant deaths, he said.

Based on the medico-legal report, the victims might have been on their knees when they were shot on the head from behind, based on the trajectory of the bullet. It appears they never got to fire back and defend themselves, he added.

Sinas said he believes the four were victims of a “set-up” and their movements were already being monitored.

He said the four intelligence operatives were on their way to verify the alleged presence of an armed group, as well as looking at “possible supporters of the NPA there.”

An earlier report said the policemen, wearing civilian clothes and carrying only short firearms, were on board motorcycles and were on their way to the house of Victoriano alias Oto Anadon at Sitio Ilaya Yamot in Barangay Mabato at around 2:30 p.m.

However, before reaching the house of Anadon, an undetermined number of armed men believed to be NPA rebels closed in on them, beat them up, hogtied them, butt-stroked them and later shot them, said Sinas.

Authorities are now questioning the barangay captain, Sunny Caldera, after investigation showed that he had prior knowledge of the operation of the four policemen.

Ayungon police has also taken in for questioning Anadon, now considered a “person of interest”, Sinas said.

Investigators are now piecing together information that would help them uncover leads on who might be behind the “set-up” that led to the murder of the four policemen, he said.

Sinas said he does not believe this was just an ordinary ambush because indications showed bloodstains and perhaps a scuffle that took place in the trail leading to the house of Anadon, where the four victims’ bodies were found.

An ambush would usually entail an exchange of gunfire but in this case, there appears to be none, Sinas said.

The issued firearms of the victims were also taken by the perpetrators, he added.

Anadon claimed he was made to tie the hands of the policemen behind their backs and afterward left the crime scene, but the police were uncertain if this was the case, the PRO-7 chief said.

“We are not sure if he (Anadon) is their agent or contact,” Sinas said.

“If evidence warrants it, we will be filing appropriate charges against Anadon,” he said.

Sinas also disclosed that at least 20 households in the vicinity of the crime scene are now being monitored for their alleged ties to the NPA.

PNP Chief, General Oscar Albayalde, is expected to arrive here Saturday morning to pay respects to the deceased, Sinas said.

The bodies of the police officers will be brought Friday night to the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Officer Headquarters in Sibulan for the wake.

On the other hand, Sinas declined to comment on reports that President Rodrigo Duterte will also be arriving this weekend to visit the wake of the policemen.

Lorenzana spearheads BARMM meet tackling communist insurgency

From the Manila Bulletin (Jul 19, 2019): Lorenzana spearheads BARMM meet tackling communist insurgency

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana led a meeting with top officials of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) in a bid to address the region’s years-long problem on the communist insurgency.


Lorenzana, who was designated by President Duterte as the BARMM’s Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security (CORDS), said the meeting centered on the RTF-ELCAC’s orientation on Executive Order No. 70 — which institutionalizes the “whole-of-nation” approach in attaining an inclusive and sustainable peace — and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

According to Lorenzana, the meeting opened communications among stakeholders to align and fortify all peace efforts in the region with the national peace, security and development agenda of the government.

“Central to the national peace agenda is the strong belief that the armed conflict is not only a military and security concern as it is deeply rooted on broader social, economic and historical injustices,” the Defense Chief stated during the meeting held at the military’s 6th Infantry Division Headquarters, Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao on Thursday.

“Thus, it is only through social healing, reconciliation, and national unity that we can finally end armed conflict that has brought death and extreme suffering to our brothers and sisters — regardless of religion, ethnicity, creed and political belief,” he added.

EO 70 was signed by President Duterte on December 4, 2018, after he formally terminated with finality the peace negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDFP).

EO 70 institutionalizes the whole-of-nation approach in the fight against communist insurgency by harmonizing the delivery of basic services and social development projects, facilitating societal inclusivity and ensuring the active participation of all sectors of the society in the pursuit of the country’s peace agenda.

The BARMM RTF-ELCAC is part of the NTF-ELCAC which was then created by virtue of EO 70.

Lorenzana was joined by Defense Undersecretary for Defense Operations Cesar Yano; Bangsamoro ministers and heads of agencies led by BARMM Chief Minister Murad Ebrahim; representatives from regional planning and development agencies including the Mindanao Development Authority and Southern Philippines Development Authority; and military and police commanders.

C. Visayas cops undergo internal security ops training

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 20, 2019): C. Visayas cops undergo internal security ops training

INTERNAL SECURITY OPS TRAINING. A total of 97 police officers of Police Regional Office 7 (Central Visayas) are welcomed by the Philippine Army's 3rd Infantry Division at Camp Peralta, Jamindan, Capiz, on Tuesday (July 16, 2019). Capt. Cenon Pancito III, 3ID Public Affairs Office chief, said the police officers will undergo Internal Security Operation training to help combat insurgency. (Photo courtesy of 3ID)

ILOILO CITY -- A total of 97 police personnel from Police Regional Office 7 (Central Visayas) are undergoing the Philippine National Police (PNP) Internal Security Operations (PISO) training conducted by the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) Training School at Camp Peralta, Jamindan, Capiz.

Capt. Cenon Pancito III, 3ID Public Affairs Office chief, said the training is meant to equip police personnel with the right way in handling Internal Security Operations (ISO).

“This is a joint effort between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the PNP as part of ISO operations that pertain to the terrorism and atrocities caused by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army,” Pancito said in a phone interview Friday.

The 45-day ISO training will specifically equip the police personnel with the right attitude, knowledge, skills, and capability on public safety in order to secure the people against criminality, violence, terrorism, and threats of insurgency.

Policemen are trained by “competent and skilled” training personnel by the 3ID, he said.

The trainees were welcomed by 3ID officers and enlisted personnel during the opening ceremony on Tuesday.

Last May 3, a total of 317 police personnel from the Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) were also provided with the same training. They are now deployed in different areas in Panay.

“This batch from PRO 7 will also be deployed in their area of operation,” Pancito said.

The 3ID expects the 97 police officers from PRO 7 will help combat insurgency problem through clearing villages from rebels.

Although there were parts of Region 7 that are already “relatively peaceful”, Pancito said there are remaining areas that call for intensified ISO.

“They will be given skills and anything that has been added to a person can help him or her in accomplishing tasks,” he said.

He recalled the killing of four policemen by alleged members of the CPP-NPA on Thursday afternoon at Ayungan town, Negros Oriental.

Cpl. Relebert Beronio, Patrolmen Raffy Callao, Ruel Cabellon, and Marquino de Leon were onboard two motorcycles when they were taken and executed by suspected rebels.

“This just shows that we have to intensify our ISO efforts in this area,” he said.

Aside from the police personnel undergoing the ISO training, Pancito said around 250 new soldiers and some enlisted personnel were also trained under the 3ID’s training school.

Renewed Tensions Between the Philippines and China in the South China Sea

Posted to the Global Security Review (Jul 18, 2019): Renewed Tensions Between the Philippines and China in the South China Sea (By Jumel Gabilan Estrañero & Maria Kristina Decena Siuagan)

Three days before the 121st Independence Day of the Philippines—June 12th, 2019—a Chinese-flagged vessel rammed a Filipino fishing boat in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the West Philippine Sea. 

When news of the incident broke, Filipinos took to social media to express their outrage. According to a report published by Business Insider, “The Philippines has accused China of ramming a Philippine fishing vessel, sinking it, and then abandoning the crew to drown in open waters […] The crew of the sunken Philippine vessel was ultimately rescued by a Vietnamese ship operating nearby.”

The Turkish news outlet TRT World reported that Filipinos were angered after a Chinese vessel seemingly rammed a fishing boat in the South China Sea and left its crew to fend for themselves. The New York Timesnoted that the 22 Filipino fishermen were at sea before being rescued by a Vietnamese boat. The fishermen returned to the Philippines on board the Philippine Navy patrol ship BRP Ramon Alcaraz.

Left: Filipino fishermen rescued in the waters off Reed Bank after their fishing boat was hit by a Chinese vessel. Right: The damaged stern of the F/B GEMVIR. (Philippine Navy photo as published in Philippine Star)

The incident occurred around midnight on June 9th, 2019 in Reed Bank (Recto Bank), 500 kilometers off from the coast of the Philippines. Reed Bank is considered to be a traditional fishing ground for Filipino fishermen and is frequented by fishermen from other countries like Vietnam, China, and Taiwan.

The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) boat detection (VDB) located near the province of Occidental Mindoro revealed that at approximately 1:08 am local time (approximately an hour after the ramming incident), the Yuemaobinyu 422212 detected and allegedly berthed. Meanwhile, the borne-out F/B GEMVIR was transported towards the Caminawit, San Jose port. It also says that five months ago, around January 25th, the Chinese vessel was seen in the area.

Department of National Defense of the Philippines Press Release issued on June 12th, 2019

A few hours after the news went viral, the Department of National Defense of the Philippines released the following statement:

“A collision between a Chinese and Filipino vessel was reported by Filipino fishermen near the Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea on the evening of June 9, 2019. The collision sank the Filipino vessel. This is not the expected action from a responsible and friendly people.”

On June 13th, the Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro “Teddy” Locsin stated that the Philippines issued a diplomatic protest over the ship-ramming incident in the West Philippine Sea. The country’s top diplomat also described the collision on social media as “contemptible and condemnable.” Locsin’s statement was echoed up by an assessment from the Philippine military’s western command (WESCOM), and Alexander Pama, a former chief of the Philippine Navy, said that there was no doubt that the Chinese vessel had intentionally hit the Philippine boat. Subsequently, the mayor of the town of San Jose in Occidental Mindoro expressed his belief the Chinese vessel had intentionally collided with the Filipino boat.

China released a press release admitting that a Chinese vessel from the province of hit a Filipino vessel in the vicinity of Reed Bank on June 9th. Interestingly, it claimed that the Chinese fishing boat Yuemaobinyu 42212 was “berthed” in the area when seven or eight Filipino fishing boats “besieged” it. Beijing stated that China regards its relationship with the Philippines relationship and the safety of life at sea with high importance and that it would continue to properly handle this issue with the Philippines seriously and responsibly.

China maintained its claim that there was no such thing as a “hit-and-run.” Furthermore, on June 13th, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang called the incident “an ordinary maritime traffic accident” and said that China was still investigating the matter. “If the relevant reports are true, regardless of the country from which the perpetrator came from, their behavior should be condemned,” the Chinese official said. Intriguingly, statements were removed from the Chinese Embassy’s social media pages the Friday after the incident but were reposted on the Chinese Embassy’s official Twitter page one day later.

Press Release issued by the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines
(Screenshot of the Facebook page of the Chinese Embassy Manila Facebook Page on June 14th, 2019)

Philippine Navy chief Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad confirmed that the Chinese vessel which came into contact with a Filipino fishing boat and caused it to sink was no accident, but a deliberate maneuver to ram the smaller craft. Also, Gemvir 1 crewmembers had made it clear that it was a Chinese vessel that rammed their boat and not a Vietnamese vessel, as some officials had insinuated.

According to Junel Insigne, captain of the Filipino vessel, “Umikot muna sila, binalikan kami, sinindi yung maraming ilaw, nung nakita kaming lubog na, pinatay yung ilaw ulit bago umatras, bago tumakbo palayo (They circled us, went back, switched on their lights. When they saw us sinking, they switched off their lights and hurriedly left),” adding he could tell they were Chinese because of the type of ship lights. “Kung wala dun yung Vietnam, baka mamatay na kaming lahat (If the Vietnamese weren’t there, we would have died).”

Moreover, the Navy Chief said at the Maritime Symposium held at The Manila Hotel on June 14th that “The Filipino vessel was anchored. So when based on the International Rules of the Road, it had the privilege because it could not evade […] the ship was rammed. This is not a normal incident. The boat was anchored.” In similar instances, the Armed Forces of the Philippines may assist the relevant government agency in conducting a formal inquiry on the incident, given that it caused the fishermen and the boat owners over 2 million Philippine pesos worth of damages. It included about three tons of fish with an estimated worth of P1 million; P500,000 in capital, and P700,000 for the fishing boat.

Financial assistance was provided one week after the incident occurred. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, through the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC), released P25,000 for each of the 22 fishermen under the Survival Response (SURE) Loan Program to help them recover losses incurred. Aside from financial assistance, the government, through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resource (BFAR), committed to grant the fishermen 30-footer fiberglass boats fully outfitted with engine and nets, in addition to 11 boats—each of which would be shared by two fishermen—in order for them to have a source of additional income while the F/B GEM-VIR 1 is being repaired.

The government also tapped the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) for additional funding. The funding will not be limited to assisting the 22 fishermen, but will also be used to buy ice-making machines and cold storage for fishing grounds nationwide. Meanwhile, Vice President Leni Robredo gave P50,000 in financial assistance (under the Angat Buhay Program) to fisherman as she visited them in Mindoro.

Strategic Analysis

The 1951 San Francisco Treaty failed to assign possession of the Spratly Islands when Japan lost its title to them following its defeat in the Second World War. Article 2 states that “Japan renounces all right, title and claim to the Spratly Islands and to the Paracel Islands.”

The Spratly Islands constitutes the chain of 200 islets, coral reefs, and seamounts. Its northern extension, the Paracel Islands, spreads across 250,000 square kilometers of the South China Sea, a vast continental shelf that constitutes a potentially rich source of oil and natural gas. It went further into an international conflictwhen several claimants began extracting resources from the seabed contiguous to their Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) in the mid-70s. China, Taiwan, and four ASEAN states − Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam − all laid claim and occupied part of the islands in the South China Sea. The contested ownership over the Spratly Islands continues to be a key point of contention.

Meanwhile, a significant aspect of the territorial dispute in the South China Sea concerns China’s construction in the area. China has engaged in large-scale land reclamation activities in seven reefs (Fiery Cross Reef, Johnson South Reef, Cuarteron Reef, Gaven Reef, Hughes Reef, Mischief Reef, and Subi Reef) in the disputed Spratly Islands. In other words, China’s act from the past two weeks shows uncertainty from the previous records of reclamation and actual tension over its bid to resolve the issue. While the issue is no longer a dispute, it begs the question of sincerity and managing the maritime area, given that it has been decided since July 12th, 2016 in the Hague Ruling on Arbitration Case.

As for the recent event, it very clearly shows the strategy of China’s psychological operations (PsyOps). For the first time, The United States Department of Defense dragged this paramilitary force (People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia/PAFMM under Paramilitary Forces) out of the shadows in 2017 in its annual report on Chinese military power. The Pentagon said the maritime militia is used to “enforce maritime claims and advance China’s interests in ways that are calculated to fall below the threshold of provoking conflict.” In the 2018 report, the department said that the maritime militia (Chinese Yuen Tai Yu) plays a significant role in coercive activities to achieve China’s political goals without fighting. They live up to Sun Tzu’s statement in the Art of War: “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”

Organizational Structure of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army with the Maritime Militia under Paramilitary Forces (U.S. Department of Defense)

On the other hand, the Supreme Court’s Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio says it’s highly likely that a Chinese maritime militia vessel rammed the Filipino fishing vessel F/B Gimber 1 in the West Philippine Sea on June 9th. Carpio stated, “this may signal the start of a new “gray zone” offensive by China to drive away Filipino fishing vessels in the West Philippine Sea, in the same way, that China is driving away Vietnamese fishing vessels in the Paracels.” Whether this claim by the lead magistrate bids for the verity of the maritime militia of China, it also yields the expectation that Vietnam also has militias. If other Asian countries can do so, this is also another avenue for the Philippines to develop among its citizens, like its Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) or Civilian Armed Forces.

Meanwhile, it would be much easier to probe the incident in the said area of operation if there was a vessel monitoring system put in place just like the lighthouses located nearby Benham Rise. The Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing Enforcement (IUUF) Act of 2015 required countries to closely monitor foreign vessels through inspections and enforcement. This could be through satellite or non-satellite-based ship monitoring systems with installed transponders in every fishing boat. If this is enabled, this will transmit speed, location, proximity, and a faster tracking measure by passers or the vessels in real-time.

In support the IUUF, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) would have the authority to make more vessel inspections, deny port entry to vessels that illegally fish, and share the inspection data with other countries. The hope is that this will strategically communicate to the rest of the world that the Philippines is serious about cracking down on IUU fishing too, where maritime crimes are also being taken advantage of by poachers and intruders. To avoid such confrontation in the maritime domain, as said in international rules, stationary vessels should be avoided. Thus, the crew-members of oceangoing vessels, as well as commanding officers of warships, should be knowledgeable of the International Rules of the (maritime) Road. And lastly, the Philippine Coast Guard’s Maritime Safety Services Command shall exhaustively investigate the case.

In time, the prosecution must pursue the actual perpetrators who not only violated the rule of law but also committed economic sabotage on the Filipino fishermen whose livelihoods are dependent on fishing. According to Ian Storey, a senior fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore and an expert on the geopolitics of the South China Sea, “if the Chinese vessel had deliberately rammed a stationary Filipino boat, it would be a clear breach of international norms.” Gregory Poling, Director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, said that a large number of Chinese fishing vessels had been discovered in the Subi and Mischief Reefs of the Spratly Islands in 2018. He also noted at one point that all claimants must “find the path forward to manage these disputes before something breaks.”

If China is indeed found to be the responsible party after a “joint investigation,” despite efforts by those opposed to probing the incident, then China shall be held liable. China will continue to analyze the situation as it waits for feedback from the Philippines. China may also expand more in the West Philippine Sea as part of its regional strategy while engaging in a balancing act with the Philippines to maximize benefits from surpluses caused by trade tensions with the U.S. and at the same time trading with the Philippines and strengthening ties using silk roads.

Mr. Lucio Pitlo III of Ateneo De Manila University and a Research Fellow to Asia Pacific Pathways for Progress Foundation Inc. says that the South China Sea dilemma still allows competition and cooperation among China and ASEAN. He said that “the Philippines plays its best despite being small. Small states’ curse is usually impacted by big states (whether they make love or make war). There is always an impact, but we can implore them not to engage in war.”

In sum, renewed tension creates challenges in many ways: trust and confidence among parties involved, forging alliances for stronger maritime cooperation (i.e. ASEAN-U.S., ASEAN-Japan, ASEAN+3, and Philippines-PRC), strategic policy and direction for ASEAN to push for a Code of Conduct sooner or later, semantics and narratives of various media mileage exploiting the masses and social media through news and propagandas on the side (i.e. President Duterte’s usage of “little maritime accident”), legal and diplomatic luminaries with different stands, political vis-a-vis decision making from the top-level, crisis communication systematized strategy, the balancing act among states in trade while the issue at hand is being exploited by interest groups abroad, how reliable the rules-based approach and multilateralism that the two countries have not been in-sync in previous negotiations, and the domestic politics affecting how political proponents react and implement.

The Way Forward

While this incident may have impaired the diplomatic relations of the two states, the Philippines needs to maintain open lines of communication given the robust economic ties and high-dense investment that both states have already engaged in since 2016. Simultaneously, the Philippines has to be increasingly cautious with its actions since any miscalculation may result in more coercive tactics by China in the South China Sea.

Technically speaking, the situation is far from open conflict, since bilateral economic cooperation has been improved under the current administration. It will and should always be China seeking closer partnership with the Philippines—not the other way around. The Philippines will always present China with a dilemma and an opportunity. on China’s dilemma and opportunity. Though others view the diplomatic protest of the Department of Foreign Affairs as hypocritical, even if China ignores the protests (as it often does), the Philippines still stands to benefit. We do not want to repeat the 2012 Scarborough Shoal Stand-off and the 2015 encounter of Filipino fishermen in the same area. During that time, the Philippines also lodged diplomatic protests with China over two alleged fishing-related incidents at Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea.

We also have to be consistent in not tolerating such lies or fabrication for that matter (reversing the issue against Filipino fishermen), like the way China used as a pushback in 2013 Arbitration Case when they said that the tribunal (Permanent Court of Arbitration/PCA) debunked China’s claim of ownership to over 85.7% of enclosed water claimed by China using “nine-dash line,” which has no factual or legal basis.

In the long run, the Philippines has to push for and completely support the strict implementation of the Code of Conduct which has been overdue since 2017, when it was first discussed at the ASEAN Summit in the Philippines with other member-states. Despite President Rodrigo Duterte expressing concern and disappointment over the delay in the negotiations for a Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea last 34th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit Retreat on June 23rd, it still has to be supported by member states as an integral policy to push forward. Domestically, the Philippines needs to initiate fishing boat modernization programs, since the majority of the fishing boats being used in the Philippines are made from wood. Of course, Manilla needs an updated crisis communication system to be established with effective strategic communication from government agencies like DND, AFP, NSC, NICA, and the Office of the President. They have to formalize dialogue before issuing a press release to the public to avoid changing words from time to time.

In short, the June 9th incident is a wake-up call not only for the political and security sectors. Most of all, however, it is vital for the security of the commercial fishing industry, environmental protection, and especially human capital (in this case, Filipino fishermen). This is not just about those 22 Filipino fishermen; the entire population of the Philippines is dependent on maritime and food security as well.

Indeed, the Philippines has consistently presented grievances through multilateral forums, while China prefers bilateral negotiation. In other words, China has always opted for one-on-one talks about managing tensions in the absence of external actors. For us, China’s international security activism coupled with maritime gray zone operation, will continue in a multipolar regional security order. The most optimal way to manage this is to adhere to the rule of law while expanding economic connections with reliable trade partners to sustain national security based on national sovereignty and reducing hegemonic dependency. The Philippines must make use of all mechanisms at its disposal before asking for help.

[Jumel Gabilan Estrañero is a defense and security analyst and a university lecturer in the Philippines. He has completed the Executive Course in National Security at the National Defense College of the Philippines and has participated in NADI Track II discussions in Singapore (an ASEAN-led security forum on terrorism). His articles have appeared in Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippine Star, Manila Times, Malaya Business Insights, Asia Maritime Review, The Nation (Thailand), Southeast Asian Times, and Global Politics. His specialties include the geopolitics of the South China Sea, counter-terrorism/insurgency, cybersecurity, peacebuilding, strategic policy, and intelligence.]

[Maria Kristina Decena Siuagan is a licensed nurse and former lecturer in the Philippines. She has worked for the Armed Forces of the Philippines and for Department of National Defense. Her articles also appeared in Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippine Star, Malaya Business Insights, and Southeast Asian Times along with her independent platform The Open Concavity. She is currently a senior law student and specializing in criminal and civil law, terrorism and insurgency, policy analysis and geopolitics, and universal health.]

US, Philippines conduct their second counterterrorism exercise this year

From the Stars & Stripes (Jul 19, 2019): US, Philippines conduct their second counterterrorism exercise this year

An MV-22 Osprey assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262 in Okinawa, Japan, trains at Crow Valley Gunnery Range, Philippines, July 15, 2019.  MADELINE JONES/U.S. MARINE CORPS

The second phase of a counterterrorism exercise between U.S. and Philippine armed forces is underway in the Philippines, according to the Japan-based 1st Marine Aircraft Wing.

The semiannual Marine Aviation Support Activity also focuses on mutual defense and disaster relief and allows the armed forces to improve their ability to work together, a Marine statement said. The exercise is scheduled to conclude Thursday.

This phase of the exercise involves Philippine troops working alongside approximately 120 Marines from Okinawa-based Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262 and 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment. Drills include air lifts, air raid rehearsals and fast-rope training.

An MV-22 Osprey assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262 in Okinawa, Japan, trains at Crow Valley Gunnery Range, Philippines, July 15, 2019. MADELINE JONES/U.S. MARINE CORPS

“MASA 19.2 is an opportunity to amplify the proven alliance between armed forces of the Philippines and U.S. armed forces,” 2nd Lt. Alyssa Morales, a 1st Marine Aircraft Wing spokeswoman, told Stars and Stripes Friday via email.

The Marine air exercise is based around a fictional scenario that is not related to any current event, Morales said.

However, in 2017, hundreds of militants linked to the Islamic State occupied the southern city of Marawi, forcing Philippine government forces – assisted by the U.S. military – to fight a bloody five-month battle to liberate the city.

On Thursday, the United States contributed $4.5 million toward relief efforts and other assistance for those affected or displaced by the conflict, according to the U.S. Embassy in Manila. The U.S. donation total now stands at $63.2 million.

The State Department announced in May that the U.S. plans to build new antiterrorism training centers in Southeast Asia and East Africa. One of the new facilities, in the Philippines, would train elite counterterrorism units from across the region, including Malaysia and Indonesia, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The first phase of this year’s Marine aviation exercise took place Jan. 16 to Feb. 8 at Basa Air Base, Naval Education Training Center and Marine Base Gregorio Lim.

AFP-CRS/PCOO-GMA: The Indigenous Peoples’ leaders from Mindanao hand over to the U.S. Department of State the documentary evidence containing the 17 atrocities committed by the CPP-NPA.

From PCOO Global Media Affairs posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook Page (Jul 19, 2019): The Indigenous Peoples’ leaders from Mindanao hand over to the U.S. Department of State the documentary evidence containing the 17 atrocities committed by the CPP-NPA.

Image may contain: 7 people, people standing

WESTMINCOM: WestMinCom facilitates orientation on E.O. 70

Posted to the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) Website (Jul 19, 2019): WestMinCom facilitates orientation on E.O. 70

Security officials and heads of various agencies discussed the implementation of Executive Order No. 70 in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in a meeting held at 6th Infantry Division “Kampilan” headquarters in Maguindanao on July 18.

Led by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, BARMM and military officials talked about salient provisions of E.O. No. 70 (Institutionalizing the Whole-of-Nation Approach in Attaining Inclusive and Sustainable Peace, Creating a National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, and Directing the Adoption of a National Peace Framework).

The meeting was held to orient the BARMM leadership, local chief executives of BARMM provinces and cities, and security officials in crafting a similar framework in a regional context to address the security issues by involving the different stakeholders in the region.

BARMM Interim Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Ebrahim said: “You know that we are still at the infancy and we are facing enormous challenges in the BARMM. With the support of the security sector, local government units, civil society, and our country, we hope that we will succeed, as our failure will be the failure of the region and our country, too.”

Key officials tackled the guidance of President Rodrigo Duterte on security and development situation in the BARMM, the national task force structure, and updates on the Bangsamoro Transition Authority.

OPAPP Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr., Deputy Director General Vicente Agdamag of the National Security Council, Special Envoy to Malaysia Wencelito Andanar, Western Mindanao Commander Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana, and local officials of five provinces and two cities under BARMM graced the said meeting.

“I find this approach befitting in addressing the root causes of insurgencies in the BARMM and the entire western and central Mindanao,” said Lt. Gen. Sobejana. “With a common vision of eradicating the communist terrorist and other threat groups in our respective communities, we are certain that peace and development in the region will soon be attained.”

“Rest assured that WestMinCom will never be above you, will never be below you, but will always be beside you,” added Lt. Gen. Sobejana.

Escalante gov’t declares Reds persona non grata

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jul 19, 2019): Escalante gov’t declares Reds persona non grata

The stigma on Escalante City in Negros Occidental as an alleged stronghold of the New People’s Army in northern Negros is expected to be erased, after it declared the CPP-NPA as persona non grata and denounced the atrocities perpetrated.

Capt. Rowell Dairocas,79th Infantry Battalion Civil Military Operations officer, said yesterday that the adoption of a resolution by the Peace and Order Council of Escalante, by the Sangguniang Panglunsod of Escalante, declaring the CPP-NPA as persona non grata marked a milestone in the history of a concerned local government unit, whose residents have finally awakened from the nightmares and evils of terrorism where a culture of violence perpetuated by the terrorist group has spreading been continuously for several decades.

Dairocas also said that the declaration as Persona Non-grata by Escalante City is a manifestation of the LGUs and their populace support in the campaigns against terrorism and criminalities of the Philippine Army and the PNP.

Escalante City is the second LGU in northern Negros and Western Visayas, next only to Toboso town, to declare the CPP-NPA persona non-grata, with the city of San Carlos also denouncing the atrocities perpetrated by the terrorist groups.

A resolution approved by the Escalante POC and concurred in by its city council, states that there is need for a united and concerted effort with the police, military and civilian population for the prevention and deterrence of any terrorism, insurgency, and highly organized crimes in its 21 barangays.

The resolution added that a safe and secured environment is an important factor in foresting investment and economic growth, stressing also that peace and order unites religions and culture, incorporating values of security and harmony together with justice and respect for human dignity.

Lt.Col. Emelito Thaddeus Logan, 79IB commander, commended the Escalante City officials led by Mayor Melecio Yap for their appropriate action against the communist terrorist group.

Logan said their Community Support Program operations played a vital role in the realization of the insurgency affected local folk against the CPP-NPA, stressing also that this will certainly made an impact on the communities and triggered their support for the government.

Logan said that the cohesive display of moral courage and bravery of the people of Escalante will encourage other LGUs in Western Visayas, specially in Northern Negros, to declare the same, and to continue to support the peace initiatives of the government.

The ceremonial declaration of CPP-NPA as persona non-grata was initiated during the regular flag raising ceremony on July 15 at the Escalante city public plaza headed by Mayor Yap, who furnished copies of the resolution to Lt. Col. Logan and PMaj. John Mocyat, acting commander of the Special Action Battalion 6 of the PNP.

4 Negros Oriental cops were set up for ambush, says regional police chief

From Rappler (Jul 19, 2019): 4 Negros Oriental cops were set up for ambush, says regional police chief

(UPDATED) Central Visayas police chief Brigadier General Debold Sinas says the victims, who were intelligence officers, were set up by a contact with links to the New People's Army

SITE INVESTIGATION. Regional police probers check the ambush site at Barangay Mabato in Ayungon town, Negros Oriental, on July 19, 2019. Contributed Photo

SITE INVESTIGATION. Regional police probers check the ambush site at Barangay Mabato in Ayungon town, Negros Oriental, on July 19, 2019. Contributed Photo

NEGROS ORIENTAL, Philippines (UPDATED) – The 4 policemen who were killed in an ambush on Thursday, July 18, were set up for the attack, according to the regional police chief.

In a press conference at the Negros Oriental Police Provincial Office on Friday, July 19, Police Brigadier General Debold Sinas, director of Police Regional Office in Central Visayas, said the victims were intelligence personnel of the Regional Mobile Force Battalion in Region VII.

They were supposed to meet their contact, identified as Victoriano Anadon, who was later found to have an alleged link with the New People’s Army

Sinas, who went to the ambush site at Barangay Mabato in Ayungon town on Friday, said the 4 cops disguised themselves as foresters on board 3 motorcycles. They were waylaid by the 30 to 40 armed suspects on their way to Anadon's house, and were quickly disarmed.

There was a scuffle, but the policemen were subdued by the rebels, he said. “In a sense, it was an ambush, but there was no exchange. They were overpowered,” he added.

He said the 4 policemen were then brought to Anadon's house.

It was Anadon who tied the policemen with nylon, as ordered by the rebels. He was then asked to leave.

Sinas said the 4 policemen were summarily executed. Each of them sustained a lone gunshot wound to their head, he added.

“They were either sitting down or kneeling when they were shot at the back. The trajectory of the bullet was from above. It was cold-blooded,” he said.

Extending assistance

The PNP said in a statement from Crame, released to the press on Friday, that they would extend assistance to families of the police officers killed in the ambush.

They also called on the NPA fighters in the region to “sever ties” and withdraw its support for the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and National Democratic Front (NDF).

They asked the rebels to “embrace the police-church backed localized peace talks in order for them to lead normal and peaceful lives with their families.”

The administration of President Rodrigo Duterte formally ended peace talks with the communist party in 2017, but later proposed localized peace talks with communist fronts in the region in 2018. The CPP has rejected these peace talks, calling it a “sham.” (READ: CPP rejects localized peace talks).

PA Special Forces train ‘Descendants of the Sun’ actors

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 19, 2019): PA Special Forces train ‘Descendants of the Sun’ actors

Actors who will play roles in the local remake of South Korean drama series 'Descendants of the Sun' underwent two-day training by the members of the Philippine Army's Special Forces Regiment (Airborne) (SFRA) at Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija on Monday.

In a statement Friday, Army spokesperson, Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said the unit SFRA granted the request of the production team last June to let the cast immerse with the soldiers and provide them with military training in preparation for their portrayal of the role of Special Forces soldiers.

"We thank the artists and their team for their desire to portray the lives and sacrifices of our soldiers as accurately as possible. Their willingness to undergo training with us will allow them to comprehend what each individual soldier goes through. Their portrayal will bring about public awareness on what motivates us to continually serve the people and secure our land," he added.

After the training, the actors -- Dingdong Dantes, Rocco Nacino, Paul Salas, Prince Clemente, Jon Lucas, and Lucho Ayala-- expressed their respect for the troops.

They also thanked the soldiers for maintain the peace and security of the country which they say, enables Filipinos enjoy their everyday lives in freedom.

"Gusto namin mabuksan ang mga mata ng mga tao na grabe pala ang ginagawa ng mga sundalo ng Pilipinas para sa atin (We want to open the eyes of the people for them to know that the soldiers are extremely doing everything to secure the country)," Nacino said.

The Special Forces Regiment provided the participants with basic military training, jungle warfare, immediate action drills, obstacle course and reception rites, among others.

“We highly appreciate these artists for portraying our troops. What they do does not only uplift the morale of our soldiers, but to express patriotism to our country even if the show is technically an adaptation of a Korean drama,” Special Forces School Commandant, Lt. Col. Gaspar Panopio, said.

“The industry where they belong is a strong platform where we can tell stories of the gallantry of our men and women,” he added.

The unit will also provide military advisers during the shoot to guide the actors and the production team in the development of the story.

The South Korean military romance drama, starring Song Joong-ki and Song Hye Kyo, aired over GMA-7 in July 2016.

AFP lauds dismissal of 'Morong 43' raps vs. cops, generals

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 19, 2019): AFP lauds dismissal of 'Morong 43' raps vs. cops, generals

AFP public affairs office chief, Col. Noel Detoyato. (File photo)

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday welcomed the Sandiganbayan's dismissal of illegal detention charges filed by health workers collectively known as the "Morong 43" against seven military and police officials in 2010.

"The decision is a welcome development and will serve as an inspiration to our officers and men in the field that being true and passionate in their tasks will protect them from unscrupulous groups and personalities whose objective is to slow down the momentum towards peace in order to push through their own selfish agenda with the ultimate aim of bringing down the government and change our way of life while destroying the future of our children," AFP public affairs office chief, Col. Noel Detoyato, said in a message to reporters.

Named as respondents in the case were retired Lt. Gen. Jorge Segovia, retired Maj. Gen. Aurelio Baladad, Maj. Gen. Joselito Reyes, and Brig. Gen. Cristobal Zaragoza; and police officers Marion Balonglong, Allan Nobleza, and Jovily Cabading.

Detoyato also thanked those who offered their prayers and manifested their support for the military officers and men who were the subject of “the CPP-NPA-NDF-initiated propaganda”.

He was referring to the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People's Army - National Democratic Front.

"It’s just unfortunate that some of those who were released from detention went back to join the armed group and eventually met their death defending a false ideology. Our prayers go for those lost souls. We are calling on our peace-loving fellow Filipinos to help the government once and for all put a stop to these groups identified with the CPP-NPA-NDF in recruiting the students and sowing intrigue in the labor sector," he said.

On Friday, the anti-graft court's 7th Division cleared the police and military officials as it granted their demurrer to evidence.

A demurrer to evidence is a document that seeks to dismiss outright a case due to insufficiency of evidence presented by the prosecution.

Each of the seven officials was charged with eight counts of violation of Republic Act 7438 or the Rights of Persons Arrested, Detained or Under Custodial Investigation.

In a 39-page ruling penned by Associate Justice Zaldy Trespeses and concurred by Associate Justices Maria Theresa Dolores Gomez Estoesta and Georgina Hidalgo, the court held that the prosecution failed to prove that the health workers had a lawyer at the time of their arrest.

The case stemmed from the military and police officials' act of turning away private lawyers from the National Union of People's Lawyers (NUPL) who tried to talk to the “Morong 43” members at the time of their detention.

In siding with the police and military officials, the court said the NUPL members were not lawyers whom the health workers chose to represent them in the case.

The “Morong 43” members were detained for 10 months after they were arrested for allegedly holding an explosives training at a house in Morong, Rizal.

In December 2010, the Department of Justice dropped the criminal charges against the “Morong 43”.