Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Lumads account for 70 percent of NPA’s fighting force

From the Manila Bulletin (Aug 27, 2019): Lumads account for 70 percent of NPA’s fighting force

About 70 percent of Communist rebels fighting the government come from the indigenous peoples (IP) community.

The Communists collect as revolutionary tax some P1.2 billion per year in region 11 (the Davao provinces).

New People’s Army (MANILA BULLETIN)

These were revealed Tuesday in an interview by The Manila Bulletin, and during a public hearing conducted by the Senate Cultural Communities Committee chaired by Senator Imee R. Marcos on the closure of 55 lumad (IPs) schools in the Davao region.

The so-called “Salugpungan Centers” were reportedly closed because they were already being run by elements of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (NPA).

Three former NPA fighters, one of whom was recruited when he was just five years old, testified before the Marcos committee with two of them admitting having participated in NPA-government firefights.

One of them, Bai Magdalena Iligan, testified that in one such skirmish, she saw a University of the Philippines (UP) student killed.

Iligan said she was recruited at the age of 13, underwent Communist teachings, including military tactics, and joined rallies in Manila.

She escaped from the NPA in 2016 after witnessing the killing by the NPA of her uncle.

Datu Joel Darusay, a former teacher, said many foreigners have gone to the mountains, and later went abroad for financial help.

Datu Awing Apuga, recruited at the age of 5, said those who had been recruited by the NPA used air guns for target shooting practice when they reach the age of seven, and when they reach the age of 10, shift to using M16 rifles.

He said he was first wounded in an encounter when he was 15 years old.

The government will lose if it does not address the needs and concerns of the lumads, warned National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.

Allen Capuyan, chairman of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), said the NPA collected the revolutionary taxes in Region 11, which has been experiencing exceptional economic growth.

Capuyan, a retired Army colonel, said he was not sure whether the estimated P1.2 billion revolutionary tax was collected in Region 11 alone.

He, however, said that the scale of government-NPA fighting has been reduced as a result of the government’s cooperation with the community.

Esperon, a former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff, said the IPs’ ‘’Salugpugan,’’ a tribal social grouping, had to be stopped to stop the entry of the NPA into schools for IPs.

The Department of Education (DepEd) should be able to reach these schools that are located in the mountains, he pointed out.

Efforts to contain the decades-old Communist insurgency are being conducted by President Duterte who is chairman of this Cabinet-level campaign with Esperon as vice chairman.

The containment campaign includes the infusion of livelihood projects, infrastructure, basic services, TESDA training, education, and health, he said.

He said the government must enter the mass base of the Communists, and face off with those who give financial help to the rebels.

Esperon said nuns and lay leaders have gone to the United States and Europe to solicit funds for the IPs by showing pictures of IPs in not so appealing situation.

Another organization in Brussels had given 15 million Euros to this group of missionaries, he added.

Read more: Fate of child warriors: IP groups march forward for the ‘truth’

Take up cudgels for grieving mothers, Parlade to Gabriela

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 27, 2019): Take up cudgels for grieving mothers, Parlade to Gabriela

Major General Antonio Parlade, Jr., Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Deputy Chief-of-Staff for Civil-Military Operations

Dismayed by the baffling silence of militant women's group, Gabriela, over the cases of missing minors reportedly recruited by Anakbayan in various schools in Metro Manila, a ranking official of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC) on Tuesday urged the group to take up the cudgels for grieving mothers.

Major General Antonio Parlade, Jr., who is also Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Deputy Chief-of-Staff for Civil-Military Operations, said this lack of response from the group that claims to advocate women's rights and welfare is hard to understand considering that many of them are mothers themselves.

"Amidst this controversy on the missing children recruited by Anakbayan from schools in Manila, Gabriela is surprisingly so quiet. You are mothers too. Say something about the exploitation of these children recruited at ages 16 or even younger. You are showing your true color as allies of Anakbayan and the CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army) by not standing up in protest, together with the children's grieving mothers," he said in a statement sent to the Philippine News Agency.

If they are really championing the cause of all Filipino women, Parlade said, then it is high time for Gabriela to stand up for 8,635 mothers grieving over the disappearance of their children so that they can all be safely returned home.

"You claim to defend the rights of women. What happened to you? With your timely intervention maybe you can convince your colleagues in Anakbayan and the NPA to return the children alive. It's not too late, I hope," he added.

Parlade added that the AFP and government will do everything it can to return these children safely to their loved ones and provide a better life even if they are already full-time communist rebels.

"They are just kids and they are simply victims of your exploitation. We will offer them safe-conduct passes if they reach out to the nearest parish, barangay official, school official or wherever they will feel safe," he said.

To accomplish this, he made the request that militant human rights group, Karapatan, keep its hands off government efforts to recover the missing minors.

"Our only request is for Karapatan not to intervene, again, like you always do when NPAs get in trouble. Instead, we urge (Karapatan secretary general Cristina) Palabay and Karapatan to look into the summary execution of three non-combatants in Kitaotao, Bukidnon by the NPAs. The three were abducted by the NPAs in 2017 and were recently exhumed,” he said.

He expressed disgust that Karapatan remains mum about the extra-judicial killing of retired policeman Joel Rey Miqu Galendez, Army Sgt. Reynante Havana Espana, and tribal leader Datu Dionisio Camarullo Havana.

He also lambasted members of the Makabayan bloc for not condemning these extra-judicial killings but have the temerity to complain of being "red-tagged" by the government during the budget hearings in Congress.

“It’s your act or inaction that gives away your affiliation with the Reds. It's not us who red-tagged you,” he said.

He added that no one believes the fake advocates of human rights and defenders of justice.

“That is why they target our gullible children aged 13, 14 and 15. How inhumane can you be, Ms. (Sarah) Elago (Kabataan party-list representative) and Mr. (Carlos) Zarate? (Bayan Muna Party-list representative),"
he added.

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


Alleged leftist leader recruited students — Eduardo Año

From the Philippine Star (Aug 28, 2019): Alleged leftist leader recruited students — Eduardo Año

A woman identified as the secretary general of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), who was arrested at a condominium in Quezon City on Monday, was allegedly leading the recruitment of students for the communist movement in Metro Manila, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said yesterday.

He claimed that
60-year-old Esterlita Suaybaguio was handpicked by the CPP central committee to revitalize student, youth and labor recruitment activities for Metro Manila.

“She is one example of a CPP-NPA (New People’s Army) leader masquerading as a peace advocate. She is a party member, NPA rebel yet at the same time an NDF (National Democratic Front) consultant for the failed peace talks,” Año said in a statement.

The police and military arrested Suaybaguio at her safehouse in Escalades Condominum Tower 5 in Cubao, Quezon City. A 9mm pistol, a hand grenade and subversive documents were found in her possession. She was charged with violating Republic Act 10591 for illegal possession of firearms and RA 9516 for illegal possession of an explosive.

According to Año, Suaybaguio was the secretary of the rebel group’s Southern Mindanao Regional Party Committee and Komisyon Mindanao (KOMMID) before she transferred to Metro Manila.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde said the rebel leader has been staying at the condominium building for two months, renting a unit for at least P30,000 a month.

Karapatan vice chairperson Reylan Vergara said Suaybaguio’s arrest is an example of the government’s militarist campaign to subvert the country’s laws.

Meanwhile, only Bayan Muna chairman Neri Colmenares, Kabataan party-list Rep. Sarah Elago and former Akbayan party-list representative Tomasito Villarin personally appeared in yesterday’s preliminary investigation on the recruitment of student Alicia Jasper Lucena to join Anakbayan.

Six others—Charlie del Rosario, Bianca Gacos, Jayroven Villafuente Balais, Anakbayan president Vencer Crisostomo, Anakbayan national secretary general Einstein Recedes, Anakbayan party-list Rep. Alex Danday—were represented by their lawyers during the hearing conducted by Assistant State Prosecutor Christine Perolino.


Delfin Lorenzana, Makabayan face off at House

From the Philippine Star (Aug 28, 2019): Delfin Lorenzana, Makabayan face off at House

The DND chief stressed that only then will the government stop from tagging the left-leaning party-list groups as communist fronts.  KJ Rosales

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana yesterday defended in Congress the inclusion of several militant organizations among targets of the government’s anti-insurgency campaign.

Confronted by party-list lawmakers belonging to the Makabayan bloc during the hearing on the budget of the Department of National Defense, Lorenzana turned the tables and challenged them to condemn the terroristic acts of the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

The DND chief stressed that only then will the government stop from tagging the left-leaning party-list groups as communist fronts.

“When (the NPA) burn down equipment, you remain silent. How can we now dissociate you from this communist group?” Lorenzana asked.

“Condemn the CPP-NPA, stop these atrocities. Condemn yung armed struggle and we will also stop what we’re doing,” he said.

Lorenzana made the challenge after Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate slammed the Armed Forced for red-tagging their groups. Aside from the Bayan Muna, the party-list groups Gabriela, Kabataan, and Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) have been linked by the government to the CPP-NPA.

“These statements are very dangerous, Mr. Chair, because when we go to our constituents in the regions, because authorities have been spreading rumors that the Bayan Muna and Makabayan bloc are terrorists, we are vulnerable even if we are members of this House,” Zarate said in Filipino.

While the government’s move seeking to classify communist rebels as terrorists is still pending before a local court, Zarate challenged Lorenzana to present evidence to support defense and security officials’ claims that members of the Makabayan bloc have been stirring up trouble in anti-government rallies.

“When are you going to stop this? We are responsible members of this House. Have you seen us cause any trouble?” Zarate argued.

In response, Lorenzana clarified that it was the exiled communist leader Jose Maria Sison who first identified the left-leaning groups as the front organizations and “backbone” of the CPP-NPA.

He also revealed that his agency has evidence that the Makabayan groups are being used by the CPP-NPA to strengthen their ranks.

Members of the Makabayan bloc did not respond to Lorenzana’s claims during the hearing, which was cut short as DND officials were invited to a luncheon with Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.


Philippines: Third Communist Party Negotiator Arrested

From BenarNews (Aug 27, 2019: Philippines: Third Communist Party Negotiator Arrested

A man holding a rosary raises his fist during a rally in Manila to denounce a wave of killings targeting leftist activists in the central island of Negros Occidental, Aug. 21, 2019.  Jojo Rinoza/BenarNews

Philippine police arrested a third peace negotiator for the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) as part of a crackdown ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte, after four police were killed last month in an ambush in central Negros Oriental province, officials said Tuesday.

Esterlita Suaybaguio, 59, a peace consultant for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), was taken into custody before dawn Monday from her apartment building in Quezon City, a northern Manila suburb, officials said.

Two other consultants, Winona Birondo, 60, and her husband Alexander Birondo, 67, were arrested in July. The three are peace-panel members of the NDFP, the political wing of the CPP, which has been waging a rebellion for the past 50 years.

Metro Manila police director Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar alleged that Suaybaguio was the rebel group’s secretary who was wanted in connection with the killing of a police officer last month.

A handgun with seven bullets, a grenade and subversive documents were recovered from the suspect, according Eleazar. He said the authorities acted on a tip.

“We are thankful to our fellow Filipinos who informed the authorities about (her) activities which prompted us to apply for a search warrant,” he said. “Their role is vital in curbing all kind of crimes as well as terror activities.”

NDFP chairman Fidel Agcaoili denounced the latest police action and called on the government to free the three, saying they were covered by an immunity agreement because of their roles on the peace panel.

“Suaybaguio’s arrest is another obstacle to the peace talks which the Duterte regime wants to bury,” Agcaoili said in a statement.

“The Duterte regime remains on a fascist rampage that adds more and more obstacles to the resumption of the peace negotiations with the NDFP,” he said.

President ordered crackdown

Last month, Duterte ordered a nationwide crackdown against communist rebels following the death of four police during a July 18 ambush in Negros Oriental province. The Binondos were taken into custody five days later.

Police arrested the couple after going to their apartment to search for a murder suspect, national police spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said in July.

“During the operation, the couple interfered, assaulted and physically prevented the police officers from arresting a suspect who has a standing warrant of arrest for murder,” Banac said.

The Birondos were brought to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit headquarters, where authorities determined that they allegedly were tied to previous cases of illegal possession of firearms and explosives. Officers returned to the couple’s apartment and found weapons, ammunition and grenades, officials said.

Suaybaguio’s arrest was reported two days after soldiers killed a rebel leader during an encounter in the city of Ozamiz in the southern Philippines that saw the arrests of seven New People’s Army rebels. The NPA is the armed unit of the communist movement.

Shortly after taking office in 2016, President Duterte, a self-described leftist, opened peace talks with the CPP and released dozens of detained insurgent leaders as a goodwill measure.

The relationship soured months later when the rebels were accused of continuing their attacks in remote areas of the country, despite the peace talks.

Opinion: Duterte must outlaw Communist Party, now!

Opinion piece by Rigoberto D. Tiglao posted to the Manila Times (Aug 28, 2019): Duterte must outlaw Communist Party, now!

A MOUNTAIN of evidence has been piling up that the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), through its front organizations like Anakbayan, has continued to dupe our gullible youth, barely out of adolescence, to join their long- discredited project to topple our democratic system.

Simply put, they want to install — to be quite frank about it — the mass murderer Jose Ma. Sison as the Filipino “Dear Leader,” or some NPA commander who has spent his adulthood in jungles, the kind of milieu that created the genocidal Khmer Rouge of Cambodia.

Isn’t it such a no-brainer that it is high time this violent organization is outlawed?

With his coalition’s control of Congress and his immense popularity, President Duterte — because of his long stint as Davao City mayor, the only president to have a deep insight into the insurgency and its record of brutality and treachery — would default on his sworn duty to defend the Republic if he cannot get the legislature to reimpose the Anti-Subversion Law, which the opportunist President Fidel Ramos got Congress to repeal in September 1992, three months after he assumed power.

“Opportunist” as Ramos’ overarching interest was for his regime to be politically stable, even at the cost of the Republic’s future.

Nearly three decades after that “experiment” of letting a violent organization be shielded by our own laws, allowing it to continue its killings, why are we so stupid as a nation not to do anything about it?


A window of opportunity has opened for our country to bring an end to this violent rebellion which has resulted in at least 100,000 Filipinos killed, who weren’t even divided — as in the cases of the civil wars in Indonesia and Malaysia in the 1960s and say, Myanmar in this era — by the more intractable problems of ethnicity or religion.

It is mostly Sison’s demagoguery and Machiavellian maneuvers — such as his Plaza Miranda bombing operation — that has resulted in so many of our idealistic youth killed, mostly with little military training, in some forgotten rice field or jungle.

I’m sick of reading leftist and naïve bleeding-heart Facebook posts that so and so gave his life to fight the Marcos dictatorship, and to struggle with “workers and peasants” — with no mention at all that they were high-ranking communist cadres or NPA commanders.

Latest issue of Communist newspaper: And they claim they’re not in the schools?

I can give you names of scores of young people who did that, but are now alive and well, and enjoying their grandchildren in middle-class subdivisions: They didn’t join the Communist Party, much less the New People’s Army.

What did they expect the Armed Forces of the Philippines — led by such distinguished generals as Gen. Romeo Espino and even Philippine Constabulary chief Fidel Ramos during Martial Law — to do, that their soldiers would just use tear gas or rubber bullets in confronting in a battlefield NPAs with AK-47s and the Chinese-copied M-14s?

The primordial duty of any nation-state is to defend its existence. This is the reason why all nations in the world each have an army. The communists are threatening our nation-state’s very existence.

CPP Constitution

The CPP’s Constitution very categorically declares that its goal is to overthrow our democratic, republican system using the weapons of “revolutionary armed struggle and the national united front.” Its program declares that this is to be done by building guerrilla fronts “to encircle the cities from the countryside… until it becomes possible to seize power in the cities.”

And what will replace the Philippine Republic, its Congress and Constitution? “The Party as the ruling party, in representation of the working class, shall form the government,” the CPP program declares.

Last year the communists even had the gall to issue a statement — carried by all newspapers — ordering the NPA to attack, that is, to kill without provocation our soldiers and policemen. The statement declared: “ The CPP calls on the NPA to mount tactical offensives across the country in response to the extension of martial law in Mindanao. All NPA units must exert all possible effort to punish the worst fascist units and officers of the AFP…”

Have we become a nation of masochists that we don’t have a law to ban an organization that has declared war on our way of life?

Most countries in the world facing insurgencies led by communists have banned these organizations, as a means of defeating them. Even India declared illegal 10 Maoist parties in 1990. Even former members of the dissolved communist-ruled USSR, such as Ukraine, have criminalized communist parties in their nations. Indonesia’s total ban on the Indonesian Communist Party in 1965 helped it demolish what was then the second biggest communist party (after China’s) in the world. Thailand’s ban on its communist insurgency in the late 1970s, coupled with an amnesty to those who surrendered, defeated the rebellion in a few years.

Many countries even impose criminal penalties on the display — and publishing in media — of the communist hammer-and-sickle symbol.


What would such a law banning the CPP accomplish? A lot.

First, laws reflect the national consensus. A law criminalizing the CPP would mean that we as a nation have become so fed up after 50 years of this terrorist organization’s existence and its dragging down of our country’s development, that we want it obliterated from this land.

Second, an anti-communist law would make the incarceration of the CPP’s ranking leaders and even its rank-and-file easier, as it would make it a de facto crime to be a party member. Since the emergence of the Maoists in the 1970s, authorities had to prove that communist leaders and even NPA commanders were involved in homicide and murder, in order for them to be arrested and jailed.

If Sison can be proven here to be a Maoist party member, and therefore in violation of the anti-communist law, the Philippine government can request his extradition from the Netherlands.

The Maoists extensively use the world wide web for its propaganda efforts, as Islamic jihadists do, mainly but not exclusively through the website Philippine Revolution Web Central (https://www.philippinerevolution.info).

If we have a law criminalizing Sison’s party, the government can ask the website’s servers (the outfit that hosts the website for global access) to desist from providing the criminal organization web services, just as most servers in the world have stopped hosting website of Islamic jihadists. That would go a long way in cutting off the party’s propaganda reach, especially to the youth.

And third, a law criminalizing Sison’s party could be part of a broader strategy to finally end this useless, bloody insurgency. It could offer an amnesty to those who admit their membership in the party and register with the government within a specific period of time. That in fact was one of Thailand’s key strategies to defeat its communist insurgency in the 1970s.

It is time for Filipinos to unite against this curse that has been bringing our nation down, which has killed over 100,000 policemen, soldiers and innocent civilians.

Is there any doubt at all that Sison’s CPP has been a criminal organization for 50 years now?

Email: tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com
Facebook: Rigoberto Tiglao
Twitter: @bobitiglao
Book orders: www.rigobertotiglao.com/debunked

NegOcc students urged: ‘Be critical of NPA’s deception’

From Panay News (Aug 28, 2019): NegOcc students urged: ‘Be critical of NPA’s deception’

BACOLOD City – Students must be critical thinkers to distinguish activism from supporting terrorism, Brigadier General Benedict Arevalo, commander of the Philippine Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade (303IB) said.

Arevalo underscored this during a forum at the University of St. La Salle Coliseum here on Aug. 24.

He said that this is part of their awareness campaign against the recruitment strategies of the New People’s Army following reports of student organizations across the country being “infiltrated” by the communist rebels.

The government, according to Arevalo, respects the academic freedom and allows students to express what they want and critic the flaws they see in the society.

“However, when a person starts to take up arms or support terrorist organizations that is already against the law and the government will act upon it,” he said.

Invited by the said university as one of the speakers in a security forum, Arevalo showed to the students a 3-minute animated film “Pindoy”, which portrays how the communist rebels encroach universities; mislead, enrage students; and eventually turn them to become NPAs.

“Sadly, statistics tell us that many youth – who joined the NPAs – only perished during encounters with the military,” he said.

Arevalo added the true exercise of academic freedom starts when the military is also heard by the students and faculty about the lies, deceptions and manipulations of the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

Negros Occidental is considered a hotbed of insurgency, with the continued presence of the CPP-NPA cadres mainly in the first, fifth and six districts of the province; although the military said their number has dwindled in recent years.


NDF consultant top Red recruiter in Metro

From the Manila Times (Aug 28, 2019): NDF consultant top Red recruiter in Metro

A peace consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), who was arrested late Monday in Quezon City, headed the recruitment operations of the communist movement in Metro Manila, the police claimed on Tuesday.

BIG FISH Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde presents Esterlita Suaybaguio Espinosa.

Esterlita Espinosa Suaybaguio — alias “Nali,” “Loida,” or “Ester” — 60, is a “big” leader of the Communist Party of the Philippines-NDF-New People’s Army (NPA), according to National Capital Region Police Office Director Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar.

Suaybaguio headed the NPA’s Regional Party Committee in Metro Manila, the police official said.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Oscar Albayalde said more NPA leaders would fall as the government presses its campaign against the communists to stamp out insurgency.

“The President said gusto niya tapusin itong insurgency (he wants to end insurgency),” he told reporters in a press briefing.

Albayalde said the PNP was monitoring other NPA leaders hiding in Metro Manila, especially its top officials.

“Malilikot ‘yung mga ‘yan (These leaders are hard to catch),” Albayalde said.

A joint team of the military and police arrested Suaybaguio at Escalades Condominium on the strength of a warrant issued by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 89 on charges of illegal possession of firearms. Seized from her were a 9 mm pistol, a grenade and subversive documents.

“Malaki ito, remember she was the secretary of Metro Manila Committee, mataas na party leader, malaking tao ito, especially dito sa Metro Manila na ‘white area’ (She is big, she is a high-ranking leader, especially in Metro Manila),” Albayalde said.

White areas are urban centers where the NPA actively recruits new members.

The human rights group Karapatan condemned the arrest of Suaybaguio, saying the firearms seized by authorities were planted.

Quezon City Police Director Joselito Esquivel Jr. dismissed the allegations.

“Lagi naman ‘yan kini-claim nila kapag may nahuhuli (They always claim that when someone’s arrested),” Esquivel said.

Esquivel said the NPA’s goal was to “overthrow the government using violence.”

The police said a concerned citizen tipped authorities on the whereabouts of Suaybaguio, whose arrest was witnessed by village officials.

Duterte, Misuari eye ‘bigger’ meetings –­ Go

From the Manila Times (Aug 27, 2019): Duterte, Misuari eye ‘bigger’ meetings –­ Go

President Rodrigo Duterte met anew with Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari to advance the peace process in Mindanao, his former top aide Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said on Monday.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte chats with Moro National Liberation Front Founding Chairman Nur Misuari at a meeting at the Malacañan Palace on March 19, 2019.

The meeting between Duterte and Misuari took place in Davao City on Friday night. The two agreed to meet again with “bigger groups” to further discuss the peace agenda, Go said.

“Siguro parang panel na ‘yung makikipag-usap on both sides kung papaano ipagpatuloy ‘yung kapayapaaan sa Mindanao. Tutulong po si Nur Misuari (Maybe panels from both sides will hold talks on how to sustain peace in Mindanao. Nur Misuari will continue to help),” he added.

It was Duterte’s fourth meeting with Misuari this year. They met in Malacañang on February 25, March 19 and July 9.

The Duterte administration is exploring the possibility of creating a regional government in areas under the influence of the MNLF.

The President had repeatedly expressed hope of reaching an agreement with Misuari, who warned of war should government fail to pursue a shift to federalism.

Early this month, Duterte said he was hoping that Misuari would accept “the same terms” given to Murad Ebrahim, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chairman and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) interim chief minister.

BARMM was created through the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, a product of peace negotiations between the government and MILF.

The MILF split from the MNLF in the 1980s over leadership disagreements.

Lorenzana ‘rattled’ when quizzed about Balikatan budget — Gabriela solon

From Politiko (Aug 27, 2019): Lorenzana ‘rattled’ when quizzed about Balikatan budget — Gabriela solon

Gabriela party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas quizzed Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Tuesday about the budget spent by his department in the Balikatan military exercises with the United States.

But the Makabayan lawmaker was not pleased with Lorenzana’s answers, saying he appeared “rattled” by the question.

Brosas had asked Lorenzana if the DND spent any funds for the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) with the US.

“None, your honor. The funding there is the sole responsibility of the United States,” Lorenzana said.

Brosas then asked how many exercises the Philippines and the US military engaged in. Lorenzana said there were 250 exercises, including small tabletop exercises.

Lorenzana said the DND did not spend much on the US-Philippines military exercises, as the US shouldered much of the cost.

Brosas said it was a shame Lorenzana “failed to answer even the most basic questions on the department’s budget breakdown for foreign engagements and peace support operations.”

“It is even more alarming that Sec. Delfin Lorenza seems to be rattled when asked about the Balikatan exercises’ fund which was conducted last April 2019,” she said.

“He said that the government did not spend a single centavo which is impossible considering that Balikatan 2019 is one of the biggest in the project’s history,” Brosas said.


This beauty queen just joined the Army reserve force

From ABS-CBN (Aug 27, 2019): This beauty queen just joined the Army reserve force

Zahra Bianca Saldua is crowned Miss Air Philippines during the finals night of Miss Earth Philippines in May 2018. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

Zahra Bianca Saldua, who was crowned Miss Air Philippines in the national Miss Earth pageant in 2018, has joined the Philippine Army reserve force.

Saldua shared the personal achievement in a Facebook post on Monday, saying she is now a 2nd lieutenant in the Army Reserve Component.

“Since I was in college being part of ROTC, I always wanted to serve our country. I always wanted to help the people and I wanted to be a part of the future of the Philippine Army being its representative to the public.

“I have been with the Army for 3 years as their host for many events and saw the love they have for the country and its people. This a dream come true for me and I hope I can influence more of our youth to serve the people as well,” she wrote.

Zahra Bianca Saldua
on Sunday
Happy 123rd National Heroes Day!
Allow me to re-introduce myself.
2nd Lieutenant Zahra Bianca Saldua of the Philippine Army. 🇵🇭🇵🇭🇵🇭
See More
Image may contain: 1 person, outdoor
Image may contain: 2 people, outdoor
Image may contain: 1 person, outdoor

According to Saldua, she made her first steps to become part of the Army in 2016, when she was tapped to host the Senior Leaders’ Conference of the group.

She went on to thank Army officers who “helped me throughout this process and all those who are welcoming me as well and pushing me to make better contributions to our society.”

“I am honored and humbled by this experience,” she wrote.

Saldua’s announcement coincided with National Heroes Day. In light of the occasion, she also paid tribute to the “brave men and women, the unsung heroes of our nation” in the Armed Forces of the Philippines.


Philippine military vows to crush Abu Sayyaf militant group this year

From Xinhua (Aug 26, 2019): Philippine military vows to crush Abu Sayyaf militant group this year

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) vowed on Monday to crush the Abu Sayyaf group by December this year, saying it is about time to wipe out the armed group which has been sowing terror in the southern Philippines for decades.

Army Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the AFP's Western Mindanao Command based in Zamboanga City, said Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte "has issued an order to finish the Abu Sayyaf problem" before the end of 2019.

Sobejana said a "substantial" number of troops, and air and naval assets have been deployed in Sulu over the past months to crush the Abu Sayyaf, a terrorist group that carried out deadly bombings, ransom kidnappings and beheadings in the southern Philippines.

However, Sobejana did not give the exact figures of the troops and assets.

The Abu Sayyaf terrorist group bases in the waters off the west coast of Mindanao island in the southern Philippines, but has also conducted cross-border operations into eastern Malaysia.

The group, which has been terrorizing the Philippine southern region since the 1990s, preys on foreign tourists, businessmen and fishermen not only from the Philippines but also from Indonesia and Malaysia and hide them in Philippine jungles or remote islands.

To fight the elusive Abu Sayyaf terrorists, Sobejana said the troops are collaborating with local government officials and residents to hasten the defeat of the Abu Sayyaf.

"We're getting (the people's) support. Hopefully, before the end of the year, we're going to wipe them out or we can solve the Abu Sayyaf problem which started in 1990," he added.

On Aug. 8, Duterte ordered the Philippine National Police to recruit and train up to 10,000 elite special action forces to fight the growing threat of Islamic State-affiliated terror groups that are trying to establish a front in the Philippines.

Kalinaw News: Army discovers CNT arms cache, yield four high powered firearms

Posted to Kalinaw News (Aug 26, 2019): Army discovers CNT arms cache, yield four high powered firearms

CAMP SANG-AN, Labangan Zamboanga del Sur – After the two separate encounters between the Joint Army/PNP and Communist NPA Terrorist (CNT) in Ozamis city on Sunday, the Army’s 10th Infantry (STEADY…ON) Battalion, 1st Infantry (TABAK) Division, discovered a CNT’s arms cache with four (4) high powered firearms in Brgy Pelukuban, Tambulig, Zamboanga del Sur 8:00 a.m. today, August 27, 2019.

“The valuable information from the residents in the area on the whereabouts of the CNT arms cache led to the successful discovery of these four high powered firearms,” said Lt. Col. Ray Tiongson, 10th Infantry Battalion commander.

The arms cache were consists of two (2) M16 and two (2) M14 assault rifles together with eight (8) empty magazines of M14.

On Sunday, a Guerilla Front Committee secretary of the Communist NPA Terrorist (CNT) was killed and seven ranking members were apprehended during the joint law enforcement operation of the 10IB and the PNP of Misamis Occidental.

Recovered during the encounter were one M16 assault rifle, four caliber .45 pistols, seven hand grenades, three motorcycles improvised explosive components, extortion money worth 50 thousand pesos and foodstuffs.

“This is another big blow to the CNTs of the Western Mindanao Regional Party Committee. The residents of the communities, whom they’ve terrorized are now against them and now supportive to our troops”, said Col. Leonel Nicolas, commander of 102nd Infantry (IGSOON) Brigade which has operational jurisdiction over Zamboanga del Sur.

“This is another big blow to the CNTs of the Western Mindanao Regional Party Committee. The residents of the communities, whom they’ve terrorized are now against them and now supportive to our troops”, said Col. Leonel Nicolas, commander of 102nd Infantry (IGSOON) Brigade which has operational jurisdiction over Zamboanga del Sur.

“Peace and security is a shared responsibility. We recognized the bold move of the residents who choose to seek serenity in their community despite their dark experience with the CNTs”, Ancan said.

“We encourage our fellowmen, stakeholders, local government units and government agencies in our area of responsibility to report any threat groups who continue to intimidate or terrorize the communities. Rest assured that your Tabak troopers will be more motivated in fulfilling our mandate of ensuring the peace, security and development in Zamboanga Peninsula, Misamis Occidental and Lanao Provinces,” Ancan concluded.

Division Public Affairs Office 1st Infantry Division Philippine Army
Chief, Division Public Affairs Office, 1st Infantry Division
E-mail: tabakdpao@gmail.com
Mobile Number: 09177938341

[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.
Contact us: contact@kalinawnews.com]

Kalinaw News: NPA killed and Firearm captured in a Series of Clash in Maragusan

Posted to Kalinaw News (Aug 26, 2019): NPA killed and Firearm captured in a Series of Clash in Maragusan

New Bataan, Compostela Valley Province – More or less thirty (30) NPA terrorists believed to be members of Guerilla Front (GF) 2 were confronted by the troops of 66 th Infantry Kabalikat Battalion and yielded to the death of one (1) NPA member, capture of one (1) M16 Rifle with attached M203 Grenade Launcher and assorted war materials at vicinity Aircon, Brgy Talian, Maragusan, CVP on August 24, 2019.

Information from an asset revealed the presence of CPP-NPA Terrorists (CNTs) encroaching in the mountainous part of the barangay and were plotting a tactical offensive against nearby government facilities and construction equipment. The intelligence team of 66IB tasked to confirm the report was sent to the area and conducted reconnaissance. Approaching the high ground of the suspected enemy location, the troops clashed with the advance post of the enemy in a meeting engagement.

The troops who were outnumbered and confronted by heavy volume of fires from the enemy’s main group managed to sustain the firefight and successfully extricated from the kill zone after sustaining minor injuries.

Immediately after the enemy encounter, the Scout Platoon led by 2LT RODANTE C VALIETE (AGS) PA was deployed for pursuit operation successfully engaged the enemies not distant from the previous location after failing to seek a safe withdrawal. The troops captured from the encounter site one (1) High Power Firearm, war materials and personal belongs and rescued a wounded NPA member whom they immediately applied with first aid while awaiting casualty evacuation.

However, due to the fatal wound sustained from the firefight, the NPA initially identified as @Eric died due to severe blood loss. The body was turned over to the local government of Maragusan and subsequently brought the cadaver to St. Peters Funeral for proper disposition.

“This encounter is a failed attempt of the CPP-NPA Terrorists to re-infiltrate the community. This is a manifestation that the people are already awaken from the lies and deception of these Communist Terrorists Groups (CTGs) and refused to be victims of their exploitation and violence,” LTC ROMAN S MABBORANG INF (GSC) PA said.

He added, “Your soldiers are not just peace keepers but also agents of human rights that adheres to the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) who understands that the wounded whether an enemy or an ally must be given first aid and be treated fairly. Regardless if you are a soldier, a rebel or a terrorist, we are all part of the humanity who deserves to be respected and be given a decent death.”

Currently, the local government of Maragusan has been extending all its effort to identify the cadaver and reach out to the family of the deceased NPA to claim the said cadaver.

66th Infantry Battalion 10th Infantry Division
Email address: kabalikat_66@yahoo.com
cell phone number:09367026207

[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.
Contact us: contact@kalinawnews.com]


WESTMINCOM: NPA rebel neutralized, 7 nabbed in Ozamiz

Posted to the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) Website (Aug 25, 2019): NPA rebel neutralized, 7 nabbed in Ozamiz

Military and police forces neutralized a communist rebel and arrested seven more in two separate clashes in Ozamiz City at dawn today, August 25.

Elements of 10th Infantry Battalion and 2nd PNP Mobile Force Company jointly operated against said communist group in Barangays Bagacay and Cogon at 5:50am today.

10IB Commander Lt. Col. Ray Tiongson said government troops recovered one M16 rifle, four caliber .45 pistols, seven hand grenades, and improvised explosive components.

The first firefight ensued when the troops responded to the report of residents in Barangay Bagacay of the presence of communist terrorists in their community while the second firefight ensued following a pursuit made by troops in Barangay Cogon.

Two wounded soldiers were brought to the nearest hospital for medical treatment.

Six wounded rebels also received medical treatment before they were turned over to the police for the filing of appropriate charges and proper disposition.

“The Tabak troopers will continue to work with the police in their law enforcement operations to protect the people and communities against the communist group,” said Maj. Gen. Roberto Ancan, Joint Task Force ZamPeLan Commander.

Additional troops currently pursue evading rebels while personnel of the Scene of the Crime Operatives investigate said encounter site.

“This score is an offshoot of the cooperation among security forces, local officials, and communities. The same effort will be sustained to accomplish more operational objectives to end local communist armed conflicts in the area,” said Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of Western Mindanao Command.

WESTMINCOM: Troops, private org aid Madrasah school in Maguindanao

Posted to the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) Website (Aug 27, 2019): Troops, private org aid Madrasah school in Maguindanao

Soldiers and non-government organizations delivered basic and social services to 170 students of Madrasatul Ittihadiyah Al-Islamiyah in Upper Capiton, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao on August 25.

Soldiers from 90th Infantry Battalion, Taga COTABATO ka kung Incorporated, Social Climbers, Inc., and Kutawato Kamera Klab distributed school supplies, dental kits, slippers, and learning materials to Madrasatul students.

Parlor games and supplementary food feeding were also conducted.

This is the first time for Madrasatul students to benefit from a joint outreach program.

“We yearn to help agencies and organizations across the country in reaching their goals towards national development efforts by alleviating poverty and by helping children in conflict-affected and far-flung areas in Mindanao,” said Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of Western Mindanao Command.

“This is all towards our common goal of realizing sustainable peace and development in Mindanao,” he added.

WESTMINCOM: No. of PMA walk-in applicants high despite “militarization” clamor

Posted to the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) Website (Aug 27, 2019): No. of PMA walk-in applicants high despite “militarization” clamor

The number of PMA walk-in applicants is relatively high despite militarization clamors and protests against the proposed military presence in state universities and colleges.

At least 500 out of 1000 who took the PMA entrance exam at Western Mindanao Command headquarters on August 25 were walk-in applicants, according to the PMA.

“Clearly, the protests against the proposed military presence in state colleges and universities do not represent the majority view. We are confident that the student population is on our side,” said WestMinCom Commander Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana.

“As a proud product of the PMA, I am also elated to see that many of our youngsters are interested to join the prestigious academy, a premiere institution in molding responsible military leaders,” he added.

PMA cadets will earn, through full government scholarship, a Bachelor of Science degree and will be commissioned as 2nd Lieutenants or Ensigns in the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Successful applicants will compose the PMA Class 2024 and will take their oath on June 1, 2020.

Source: PIO Western Mindanao Command


WESTMINCOM: Troops pay homage to fallen soldiers on Heroes’ Day

Posted to the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) Website (Aug 27, 2019): Troops pay homage to fallen soldiers on Heroes’ Day

As the country commemorates the National Heroes’ Day on August 26, 2019, troops from the different units under the operational control of the Western Mindanao Command honored the heroism of the fallen soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice during operations against the different threat groups in the area.

In Marawi City, a wreath-laying activity was spearheaded by the 103rd Infantry Brigade to pay homage to the 168 fallen heroes who were killed during the Marawi siege.

The Philippine government lost 168 government forces (soldiers and police) in the battle against the ISIS-inspired Maute Group, a notorious group whose religious adventurism turned more than 200,000 innocent settlers into internally displaced people and left dozens of historic, centuries-old Meranao dwelling enclaves in ruins.

“We honor and cherish the valorous deeds of all those who have made great contributions for the betterment of our country,” said WestMinCom Commander Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana.

“We also commemorate the heroism of our fallen soldiers who made the whole struggle of humanity worthwhile,” Lt. Gen. Sobejana added.

Meanwhile, troops of the 1st Mechanized Infantry (Maaasahan) Brigade, led by Deputy Brigade Commander Colonel Pedro Balisi, Jr., graced the unveiling of the exhibit, “Putong, Hibla, Kultura Filipina,” organized by the city government of Tacurong.

The activity, spearheaded by Tacurong City Mayor Angelo Montilla, was initiated to give recognition to the arts and crafts that depict the giftedness of human hands of the different tribes and the abundance of the culture and heritage of Mindanao.

A wreath-laying activity then followed at Dr. Jose Rizal’s Monument, City Hall Compound to commemorate the National Heroes’ Day.

It was attended by representatives from the different government and private agencies.

WESTMINCOM: Armor officer leads Task Force Zamboanga

Posted to the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) Website (Aug 27, 2019): Armor officer leads Task Force Zamboanga

An Armor-trained officer formally assumed his post as the new Task Force Zamboanga Commander yesterday, August 26.

Col. Antonio John Divinagracia succeeded Col. Leonel Nicolas, who took post as the commander of 102nd Infantry (Igsoon) Brigade based in Sanito, Ipil Zamboanga Sibugay last week.

A proud member of the Philippine Military Academy, Class of 1991, Divinagracia is an airborne, armor, and well-rounded military officer with expertise in operations, intelligence, and managerial acumen.

Divinagracia commanded the 1st Armor Battalion, Mechanized Infantry Division during the height of Zamboanga Siege in 2013.

He expressed his commitment in keeping the city secured and in promoting the city as one of the country’s tourist destination by partnering with and assisting the local government units and agencies.

Maj. Gen. Roberto Ancan, Joint Task Force Zampelan Commander, presided over the turnover ceremony held at the TFZ headquarters in this city.

“I have confidence in the leadership and capability of Col. Divinagracia. I know he will continue the accomplishments of his predecessors,” said Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of Western Mindanao Command.

WESTMINCOM: Troops seize NPA’s armory in Zambo del Sur

Posted to the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) Website (Aug 27, 2019): Troops seize NPA’s armory in Zambo del Sur

Military troops seized an arms cache of communist rebels in Zamboanga del Sur today, August 27.

Said armory was discovered by troops of 102nd Infantry Brigade through the 10th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Pelukuban, Tambulig, Zamboanga del Sur at 8am today, following operations made on the basis of information tipped by the community in the area.

Two M16 rifles, two M14 rifles, and magazines were found in the arms cache, said 10IB Commander Lt. Col. Ray Tiongson.

On Sunday, a Guerilla Front Committee secretary and seven ranking members were neutralized in a military-police operation in Ozamiz.

Government troops recovered one M16 assault rifle, four caliber .45 pistols, seven hand grenades, improvised explosive components, and extortion money during Sunday’s clash.

This is another setback to the communist terrorist of the Western Mindanao Regional Party Committee, said Col. Leonel Nicolas, commander of 102nd Infantry Brigade.

The operation was initiated, after local community tipster reported the presence of communist terrorist, Col. Nicolas added.

Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Roberto Ancan, 1st Infantry Division commander, commended the troops involved.

“Peace and security is a shared responsibility. The accomplishment is also attributed to the community who reported the location of CNT’s arms cache,” Major General Ancan said.

“The communist group is now losing its mass support with people backing our offensives in condemnation of the communist’s deceit and caprice,” said Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of Western Mindanao Command.

“It is about time that we continue our fight for those who fell prey and for the coming generations. Let us end local communist armed conflicts for lasting peace and development in Mindanao,” he added.

Source: PIO Western Mindanao Command


CMP forum organized in Negros

From the Visayan Daily Star (Aug 27, 2019): CMP forum organized in Negros

To promote and respect human dignity, and to achieve sustainable and peace and development in Negros.

That is the ultimate aim of the four Negros Island dioceses, Armed Forces of the Philippines and National Police in the establishment of the Church-Military-Police (CMP) Forum Negros.

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed yesterday between Church leaders and top military and police officials in Negros Island to establish the CMP Forum, which will serve as an institutional platform for dialog in the island, also as an action mechanism to address issues and concerns that may emerge in the field.

CMP Forum –Negros was patterned after the Church-Military-Police Advisory Group that was established in 2018 to serve as a venue for forgiving harmonious relationship and cooperation between the four Roman Catholic Dioceses of Negros Island, AFP and PNP.

The revitalization of CMPAG to CMF Forum also came in the wake of the spate killings in Negros, that had claimed the lives of 50 persons from October 20 last year to July this year that, the four Negros bishops, described as staggering, citing the killings of 21 individuals within a period of over a week.

Fr. Chris Gonzales, Social Action Center director of the Diocese of Bacolod, said yesterday that military is not the solution to the decades old insurgency problem in Negros Island, and that it needs the cooperation of every sector of society.

Gonzales, who spoke in behalf of CMP Forum- Negros after the signing of MOU and initial dialogue at the Bishop’s House in Bacolod City, said military and police officials were happy about the initiative being undertaken.

Maj. Gen. Dinoh Dolina, 3rd Infantry Division commander, lauded the signing of the MOU, and expects that this will be the start of a closer and more amiable relationship between the Church, military and police.

“Rest assured that the military leadership is really serious in our mandate to facilitate peace in Negros. In every undertaking that we do, and as what I have learned in my childhood days, we always invoke the presence of God. With the blessings of God, we hope we will be able to finish our job in Negros,” Dolina said.

PBrig. Gen. Rene Pamuspusan, regional police director of Western Visayas, said yesterday that CMP Forum-Negros will help them immensely in the law enforcement campaign and public safety.

Pamuspusan added that the CMP Forum-Negros is taking a step forward in forging and strengthening a strategic partnership to bring peace and order, as well as promote human rights in Negros.

CMP Forum – Negros can expect our full cooperation and support in ensuring an open line of communication and capability enhancement program between the four dioceses of Negros Island and the AFP, he said.

The newly-signed MOU also serves as the baseline document for the Church, AFP and PNP to govern their engagements regarding realities on security, peace and order affecting Negros Island.

The CMP Forum MOU was signed yesterday by Bacolod Bishop Patricio Buzon, San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, Kabankalan Bishop Louie Galbines, Military Bishop Oscar Jaime Florencio, Dolina, Pamuspusan, Brig. Generals Benedict Arevalo and Ignacio Madriaga, P/Colonels Ildebrandi Usana ,Romeo Baleros, Rizalito Gapas and Henry Binas.


Church supports local peace talks

From the Visayan Daily Star (Aug 27, 2019): Church supports local peace talks

The localized peace talks being pushed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and National Police, in an attempt to end the 50-year-old insurgency problem, got the support of Catholic Church in Negros.

Fr. Chris Gonzales, Social Action Center director of the Diocese of Bacolod, said yesterday that the Church is more than willing to facilitate the peace talks between the government and the New People’s Army.

As long as we are talking, we don’t think we resort to violence, Gonzales, who spoke in behalf of the revitalized Church Military Police (CMP) Forum- Negros, said yesterday.

Maj. Gen. Dinoh Dolina, Army’s 3rd Infantry Division commander, who was among the signatories of the CMP Forum- Negros memorandum of understanding, said yesterday that the forum could serve as a venue in the pursuit of localized peace talks in Negros.

The help of the Church is crucial in pursuing peace in Negros, Dolina said.

The prospects of localized peace talks with the communist New People’s Army, in consonance with the “whole of nation” approach to end local communist armed conflict, was also recently discussed by PNP chief General Oscar Albayalde with to Manila Archbishop Antonio Cardinal Tagle.

But Gonzales said “ I don’t know if they are willing to listen to the voice of the Church”. But he said the Church is offering services, especially in the intervention on how to achieve peace in Negros.

What we are asking is that both sides ( government forces and NPA) should be sincere in talking peace, Gonzales said, noting that both sides trading accusations of insincerity in the pursuit of lasting peace.

Gonzales also said that he is hoping for an end to extra-judicial killings in Negros.

The four Negros dioceses denounced the spate of killings in Negros, with 21 killed from July 18 to 27 this year.

In the past three weeks of this month, Dolina said murder incidents has significantly dropped, especially in Guihulngan City.

Col. Rizalito Gapas, newly-installed officer-in-charge of the Negros Oriental Police Provincial Office, who was among the signatories of the MOU, said that the peace and order situation in the province is back to normal.

We have not heard of any incident similar to the past, Gapas said.

But he added that NORPPO is doing its best to investigate the incidents, and not to leave a single stone unturned.


Duterte warns communist rebels of 'trouble' in coming months

From Rappler (Aug 27, 2019): Duterte warns communist rebels of 'trouble' in coming months

'I'm serving [a] notice to everyone that in the coming months – not really bloody – but there will be a little trouble. We have to finish it. This will make us a magnet to criticisms,' says President Rodrigo Duterte

NPA. Armed members of the New Peoples Army-Melito Glor Command gather on a clearing in the lower Sierra Madre mountains in Quezon province, south of Manila, to celebrate the 50th year founding of the Communist Party of the Philippines on December 26, 2018. File photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday, August 27, warned that "there will be trouble" for communist rebels "in the coming months," as the govenment ramps up its crackdown against the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People's Army (NPA).

Speaking at the 31st anniversary of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, Duterte said that there will be a "very radical change" in the behavior of the government towards communist insurgents. He said he has asked the military to end it soon.

"You cannot win a fight for social justice or for a better life in your country if you go to revolution. It won't work. 'Di nga kayo makahawak ni isang barangay(You can't even take control of a barangay). In the coming days, there will be a very, very radical change in the behavior of the government," Duterte said.

"I'm serving [a] notice to everyone that in the coming months – not really bloody – but there will be a little trouble. We have to finish it. This will make us a magnet to criticisms," he added.

The President, who had blamed the communists for the spate of killings in Negros Island, said that the government is fighting the insurgency for a "saner Philippines." The President has ruled out martial law in the island, for now. (READ: Negros Oriental Bloodshed: State-sponsored or insurgency-related?)

"You know I am not challenging you because you might win or you may lose. But it is something to be seen…. We cannot go on this way. We have been fighting for 53 years. Maawa kayo sa (Have mercy on the) coming generation," Duterte said.

Land is at the heart of Asia's longest-running communist insurgency. To solve it, Duterte said that he will order the distribution of lands.

"It's not really about arms. It's not only about gaining a foothold in those areas…. Bantay tayo dyan sa Negros na 'yan. Kunin mo na ang initiative sa komunista. What they're parlaying is land. Eh 'di unahan na natin. Bigay na natin [ang lupa]," Duterte said.

(It's not really about arms. It's not only about gaining a foothold in those areas. Keep an eye on Negros. Get the initiative from the communists. What they're parlaying is land. So let's work ahead of them. Let's distribute the land already.)

The President also said that even without communists, agrarian reform will always be a program of the government.

"Even if you didn't exist, land reform will really be the program of any government, even without the element of violence and armed struggle," he said.

Early in his presidency, Duterte had initiated peace talks with the Left, with a plan of distributing land to farmer beneficiaries.

But this ended in November 2017 after the President fumed over ambushes of military and police by the NPA. 

Duterte orders creation of MNLF, gov't coordinating committee

From Rappler (Aug 27, 2019): Duterte orders creation of MNLF, gov't coordinating committee

The committee will convene in the second week of September in Davao City, says Malacañang

DUTERTE AND MISUARI. President Rodrigo Duterte and Moro National Liberation Front chairman Nur Misuari in Malacañang on February 25, 2019. Malacañang file photo

President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the creation of a "coordinating committee" with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) to boost peace efforts in Mindanao and the fight against the Abu Sayyaf.

Malacañang announced this on Tuesday, August 27, or 4 days after Duterte proposed the committee during his meeting with MNLF chairman Nur Misuari in Davao City.

"The President relayed to Mr Misuari his desire to immediately form a Coordinating Committee between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the MNLF," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement on Tuesday.

Duterte instructed the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity to convene the committee by the second week of September in Davao City "for agenda setting and for the start of discussions," added the spokesman.

It is not clear if the committee will be used to thresh out a new agreement with the MNLF on a new territory for them, as Duterte has floated in several occasions.

But Panelo said the committee would be "a venue to seek...the cooperation of the MNLF to achieve immediate peace in Sulu," including "helping in combatting the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and convincing MNLF relatives to return to the fold of the law."

Mindanao continues to be a hotspot for violence due to the presence of terror and bandit groups like the ASG and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. Some of the members of these groups used to be part of the MNLF.

During their meeting last Friday, August 23, Misuari asked for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to be included in the discussions, as was the case during peace talks between the MNLF and the government during the Ramos administration.

Misuari wants the committee to determine how the government can comply with the 1996 Peace Agreement inked with the MNLF during the Ramos administration, the culmination of 4 years of negotiations. It was designed for the implementation of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement signed during the Marcos years.

A faction of the MNLF, the Jikiri faction, is part of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, the interim government of the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). This new government is led by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a breakaway group of the MNLF.

The creation of the BARMM is considered a major achievement of the Duterte administration.


Lawmakers alarmed over 14 Lumad defenders killed in Bukidnon this year

From the often pro-Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) online publication the Davao Today (Aug 26, 2019): Lawmakers alarmed over 14 Lumad defenders killed in Bukidnon this year

Bayan Muna Party-list condemned the killing of another Lumad activist in Bukidnon, bringing the count of killings in this province to 14 this year alone.

Bai Leah Tumbalang, a member of Kaugalingong Sistema Igpapasindog Tu Lumadnong Ogpaan (KASILO) and organizer of Bayan Muna in her town in San Fernando during the last election, was shot dead by suspected elements of the military in Valencia, Bukidnon on August 23.

Witnesses said Tumbalang was shot by motorcycle riding gunman in the forehead which killed her instantly.

“This dastardly act is highly condemnable, happening as a result of the continuing Martial law in Mindanao,” said House Deputy Minority leader and Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate in a statement.

The murder of Tumbalang is linked to her group’s strong opposition against mining interests in their ancestral domain.

Zarate blamed the military which has red-tagged activists including Tumbalang.

“Human rights activists in the province suspected that elements of the army’s 88th Infantry Battalion or their agents are responsible for the killing, as she was vilified and red-tagged before for her staunch defender of their ancestral lands,” Zarate said.

“This madness; this cowardly killing of our hapless, innocent Lumad fighting only for their ancestral lands and their survival must stop!” the Davao-based lawmaker said.

Bayan Muna 3rd Representative Eufemia Cullamat, a Surigao Manobo, said these killings must push the Lumad more to defend for their rights, especially to their ancestral lands.

“Mindanao has been under martial law for three years already. Now, they[State] want it to become more brazen by the repressive policies they’re pushing,” Cullamat said.

“This will only deprive the people, critics, legal organizations, and human rights defenders to their basic rights. It wants to oppress and control the lives of the citizens, but we will not allow it,” the Manobo leader added.

Human rights group Karapatan said the spate of killings in Bukidnon is linked to the state’s “repressive policies” such as Martial Law in Mindanao and the counter insurgency campaign, Oplan Kapanatagan.

Martial Law, declared by President Rodrigo Duterte in 2017, is in effect until the end of this year.

“Tumbalang was clearly targeted for her active involvement in various community campaigns and struggles. We live at a time when any form of resistance &mdash even to defend one’s ancestral domain and demand a clean and safe environment — will earn the ire of this regime. We grieve the loss of another environmental defender, a mother, and a leader who stood for future generations,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.

Palabay added: “Martial law remains a tool in aggravating the violations directed and funded by counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapanatagan. Typical of fascist regimes, this government sees defense of our democratic rights, of our collective right to a healthy environment and of our cultural, social and economic rights as threats, immediately responding with repression and human rights violations.”


NDFP slams arrest of Mindanao peace consultant

From the often pro-Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) online publication the Davao Today (Aug 27, 2019): NDFP slams arrest of Mindanao peace consultant

NDFP peace consultant Esterlita Suaybaguio

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) condemned the arrest of one of their peace consultants for Mindanao, calling this another obstacle to the peace talks.

A joint military and police operation arrested Esterlita Suaybaguio, whom the NDF identified as second consultant for Mindanao, in a raid of a condo unit in Quezon City on Monday, August 26.

Suaybaguio is arrested on a warrant issued by Quezon City Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert of QC RTC Branch 89 and is charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives, which the authorities claimed were seized in her condo unit.

NDF peace panel chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili called Suaybaguio’s arrest “another obstacle to the peace talks”.

Agcaoili said Suaybaguio is covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) with Document of Identification (DI) Number ND 978447 as second consultant for Mindanao.

The NDFP added, a copy of Suaybaguio’s DI is deposited in the safety deposit box under the name of Archbishop Joris A.O.L. Vercammen of the Old Catholic Church of the Netherlands.

The JASIG “provides safety and immunity guarantees that protect the rights of negotiators, consultants, staffers, security and other personnel who participate in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations, in order to facilitate the peace negotiations, create a favorable atmosphere conducive to free discussion and free movement during the negotiations, and avert any incident that may jeopardize the peace negotiations.”

Suaybaguio’s arrest follows that of other NDFP personnel and peace consultants who were arrested in recent months, including Vic Ladlad, Adel Silva, Rey Casambre and the couple Alexander and Winona Birondo.

The NDFP called for the immediate release and dropping of false charges against Suaybaguio and other detained NDFP consultants and personnel, saying these arrests are “based on trumped up criminal charges.”

Agcaoili said the arrests and other policies made by Duterte has made the resumption of peace talks difficult.

“The Duterte regime remains on a fascist rampage that adds more and more obstacles to the resumption of the peace negotiations with the NDFP,” Agcaoili said.

“Instead of creating the conditions to enable the resumption of the negotiations, the Duterte regime has unleashed fascist attacks all over the country, especially in Mindanao under martial law as well as in Negros, Bicol and Samar under de facto martial law. To date, Duterte’s Executive Order No. 70 has resulted in the murder of over a hundred activists from different sectors in Negros,” he added.

Duterte “terminated” peace negotiations with the NDF on November 2017 on what the president claims are impossible demands from the NDF.

The peace process was then formulating the drafts for the socio-economic reforms, which is the second agenda of the peace negotiations.


Karapatan rebuffs general: our mandate is to probe your violations

From the often pro-Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) online publication the Davao Today (Aug 27, 2019): Karapatan rebuffs general: our mandate is to probe your violations

The human rights group Karapatan rebuffed a general’s challenge to investigate alleged “extrajudicial killings” against state personnel made by the New People’s Army (NPA) in Bukidnon.

The group declined the challenge, saying that the mandate of Karapatan is to investigate abuses carried out by agents of the government including the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

The challenge was raised by 403rd Brigade Commander Brigadier General Edgardo de Leon, after army personnel discovered “mass graves” and recovered four bodies in various parts in Bukidnon on August 22.

Three bodies were recovered in Barangay Digongan in Kitaotao, Bukidnon, and were identified as retired police officer Joel Rey Galendez, Army Sergeant Reynante España, and tribal leader Dionisio Havana.

The three were alleged be taken by NPA fighters who set up a road blockade in Barangay Kalagangan, San Fernando, on Aug. 22, 2017, according to Army reports.

Another body was exhumed in a grave site in Barangay Matupi in San Fernando town in Bukidnon, and was identified as Remon Manoos, 24, single, a resident of Barangay Balagunan, Santo Tomas, Davao del Norte.

Manoos, police said, was a former communist rebel who was executed by his comrades on Jan. 28, 2019, when it was found out that he surrendered to the government.

“The exhumed cadavers and the revelation of the eyewitnesses prove that the NPAs are the one perpetrating extra-judicial killings (EJK), contrary to allegations by militant groups,” de Leon said.

“I call on [Karapatan], the self-declared watchdog of [International Humanitarian Law], to investigate this case and release its findings to the public,” de Leon challenged the group.

The army commander claimed the NPA killed non-combatants including Havana, a violation of the IHL.

“Moreover, the datu [Havana], who was a civilian, should not have been held captive because he has no direct participation in the armed conflict,” he said, adding that the “NPAs are really terrorists, worthy of public condemnation and be declared by communities as ‘[personae non gratae].’”

But Karapatan national secretary-general Cristina Palabay said in a statement that their mandate is to monitor human rights violations of the state security fores.

“Time and again, we have repeated the core of our mandate, which is to monitor, document, and seek accountability for State-perpetrated human rights violations,” Palabay said.

Palabay explained why they focus on the military and police. “We again remind them that the government is the primary duty bearer in upholding and protecting human rights.”

Karapatan pointed out that it is their concern that the AFP have been held accountable for extrajudicial killings especially in Mindanao under Martial Law.

“As we condemn the continued killing of individuals critical of the government, we likewise remind the Duterte government — alongside its bloodthirsty state forces — that they have the foremost duty to uphold and protect human rights,” Palabay said.

“They (government) have billions at their disposal and yet, these are used to discretionary funds and policies that tear communities apart, sanction and reward killings, worsen impunity, and further violate people’s rights,” she added.

Meanwhile, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) issued a statement on August 24, denying any hand in the AFP’s claim that they executed the four people.

“The stories weaved by the [Armed Forces of the Philippines] around the so-called ‘mass graves’ are faulty at best. The more details the AFP reveals, the more incredulous the critical observer becomes,” their statement said.