Tuesday, September 10, 2019

PH, Japan armies vow mutual support vs. unconventional threats

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 11, 2019): PH, Japan armies vow mutual support vs. unconventional threats

Ranking officials of the Philippine Army (PA) and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) have expressed the collective need to support each other in responding against unconventional threats.

This came about during the Indo-Pacific Conference 2019 held in Bangkok, Thailand on Monday.

Both PA chief, Lt. Gen. Alberto S. Alberto and JGSDF commander, Gen. Goro Yuasa made this conclusion during the bilateral meeting, Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said in a statement Tuesday.

In the same meeting, both Army chiefs recognized the need for both armies’ support especially in responding to unconventional threats and other security challenges.

Alberto and Yuasa also agreed that the PA and JGSDF must collaborate in answering to future natural disasters and calamities since both countries are within the Pacific Ring of Fire.

“Our national and security threats emerge in different forms and the Philippine Army’s advancement in mutual cooperation with Japan and other forces are vital in preparing the command to continue to serve the people and secure the land,” Zagala added.

The JGSDF chief also mentioned his entity's desire for Subject Matter Expert exchange for special operations forces.

Alberto, on the other hand, talked about the multinational engagement on several fields, such as in logistics, that serve as an opportunity for both countries to participate.

The PA chief recalled Japan’s assistance in the Marawi Crisis and extended his gratitude to Yuasa and the JGSDF.

Meanwhile, Yuasa also thanked Alberto for the training exchanges on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response and in the Command and General Staff Course.


Task force created to counter Reds activities in NCR

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 11, 2019): Task force created to counter Reds activities in NCR

COUNTERING REDS. (From left) National Intelligence Coordinating Agency-NCR Rufino Mendoza, AFP JTF-NCR commander Brig. Gen. Alex Luna, MMDA chair Danilo Lim, DPWH Secretary Mark Villar, NCRPO chief Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, DILG Usec. Ricojudge Janvier Echiverri, and National Security Council assistant director Ray Roderos hold a press conference following the creation of the NCRTF-ELCAC which aims to counter activities of left-leaning groups in the capital through non-violent means. (Photo by Raymond Carl dela Cruz)

MANILA — Two regional councils in Metro Manila adopted on Tuesday a resolution creating the National Capital Region (NCR) Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NCRTF-ELCAC).

Metro Manila’s Regional Development Council (RDC) and Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) unanimously adopted the resolution during their first joint meeting at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City.

The task force aims to counter the activities of left-leaning groups in the capital, through the improved delivery of basic services to the poor, informative dialogues with vulnerable groups such as college students, and addressing the concerns of people exploited by groups under the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

In a press conference following the meeting, NCR Police Office (NCRPO) chief Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said the task force would focus on the delivery of basic services.

“It’s about the delivery of basic services. No armed conflict here but their fronts are here, we will focus on that,” said Eleazar, who also serves as the RPOC’s interim chairperson.

He identified the poorer areas of Camanava as one of their targets for increased delivery of basic services since people living in these areas are exploited by groups under the CPP.

“Naco-convince nila to join rallies which become their basis for their fronts,” Eleazar said.

Aside from addressing the CPP activities in marginalized areas, Eleazar said they would also address the recruitment activities of communist groups in schools, not through an increased presence of uniformed personnel, but through dialogues and other forms of engagement with colleges and universities.

“We’ll engage with them in dialogues 'yung mga estudyante na papayag sa amin (those students that will allow us). Kung alin ang accommodating na schools, pupuntahan namin (Schools that are willing to accommodate us, we’ll visit),” Eleazar said.

Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Usec. Ricojudge Janvier Echiverri said educating Filipinos against fallacies used by communist groups in their recruitment activities would greatly minimize their number.

Included in these educational efforts are infomercials.

“The ELCAC has already drafted and crafted infomercials--magcre-create ng infomercials na medyo hindi naman heavy -- na pang-masa, pang-kabataan, para mas lalo nila maintindihan 'yung fallacies (we will create infomercials that are not that heavy—made for the people, for the youth, so these fallacies will be more easily understood),” Echiverri said.

Among other issues to be addressed by the NCRTF-ELCAC and the DILG are labor disputes, support for displaced impoverished Filipinos, and those whose livelihoods were affected by the recent drive of the government to clear roads of all obstructions, he added.

Brig. Gen. Alex Luna, commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Joint Task Force-NCR, said from the height of 25,000 members in 1986 of the CPP, it is now down to 3,600 but has yet to decrease because of a support system made up of CPP’s legal fronts, Luna said.

He said these groups conduct extortion activities against telecommunications and mining companies, among others, which they use to fund their activities.

“They want to increase activities here para ma-sustain ang activities nila,” Luna said.

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chair Danilo Lim said the MMDA also made efforts against communist insurgency through the creation of monitoring units in partnership with local government units (LGU).

“We involve 'yung mga LGUs para mag-ipon ng data para magkaroon tayo ng (the LGUs so we can gather data and create a) database,” said Lim, who also serves as chair of the RDC in NCR.

In 2018, President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed Executive Order 70, which created the NTF-ELCAC and enabling a whole-of-nation approach in ridding the country of communist insurgency.

The NTF-ELCAC focuses on inclusive and sustainable solutions to the communist problem such as the creation of Enhanced Comprehensive Localized Integration Program, which encourages rebels to return to the folds of the law through livelihood support.


BRP Ramon Alcaraz concludes Vietnam port visit

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 11, 2019): BRP Ramon Alcaraz concludes Vietnam port visit

Philippine Navy ship BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16) successfully wrapped up its four-day port visit in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on Tuesday.

The ship arrived in Vietnam on the afternoon of September 7, Naval Task Group (NTG) 80.5 public affairs office chief Lt. Ryan Luna said in a statement.

BRP Ramon Alcaraz and its 200-man contingent composing NTG 80.5 also attended the just-concluded and first-ever Asean-US Maritime Exercise which took place off Gulf of Thailand last September 2 to 6.

NTG 80.5 personnel, headed by Captain Hilarion Cesista, were accorded a welcome ceremony by their counterparts from the 2nd Naval Region of the Vietnam People’s Navy (VPN) upon their arrival.

They later paid a courtesy call on 2nd Naval Region deputy commander Captain Dinh Van Thang.

Luna added that Cesista and his party also visited Ha Phuoc Thang, head of office of Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee, and counterparts at the Vietnam Navy Technical College.

A series of confidence-building engagements between the Philippine Navy and VPN personnel were also conducted and these included shipboard tour, reception, and friendly games.

BRP Ramon Alcaraz's visit marks the third time a PN ship has visited Vietnam.

"(The visit) becomes an avenue for sustaining and enhancing the relationship between the two navies and will further intensify such understanding in the areas of security and defense, economic matters, regional and international cooperation," Luna said.


6 nabbed in joint Army, police operation in NoCot

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 11, 2019): 6 nabbed in joint Army, police operation in NoCot

ARRESTED. A team of military and police personnel arrested Wednesday (Sept. 11) six persons believed to be members of a gun-for-hire and carnapping syndicate during a predawn raid in Barangay Inug-ug, Pikit, North Cotabato. Six high-powered firearms, grenades, and bladed weapons (inset) were also seized from the suspects, police said. (Photo courtesy of 6ID)

Military and police authorities arrested Wednesday six suspected members of carnapping-cum- gun-for-fire group during a pre-dawn law enforcement operation in Pikit, North Cotabato.

Maj. Gen. Diosdado C. Carreon, Army’s 6th Infantry Division commander, said the operating troops from Army’s 7th Infantry Battalion and police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) - North Cotabato Field Unit served search warrants against the gang in Barangay Inug-ug, Pikit town, at around 2:00 a.m.

“The gang is believed responsible for the series of murders, carnapping and highway robberies in the area,” Carreon said. Surprised by the raid, the suspects did not resist arrest.

The CIDG identified the arrested individuals as Toto Pañares 34, Ibrahim Guimalan, 33, Jonathan Batunga, 19, Ibrahim Katogan, 20, Bohari Katogan, 20, and Kus Minga, 59, all of Barangay Inug-ug.

Confiscated from the suspects were two M16 Armalite rifles, one M1 Garand rifle, a homemade .30 caliber rifle, two M19 pistols, hand grenades, bolos, knives, and ammunition, police said.

“These men belonged to armed lawless groups sowing fear among the people of Pikit and nearby towns,” Carreon, the concurrent head of the Joint Task Force Central (JTFC), said.

He added that the neutralization of the gang will help in the ongoing investigation on the increasing number of shooting incidents and other forms of criminalities in the area.

“I commend our government troops involved in the operation for their dedication in working to squeeze out criminal activities in the JTF Central area of responsibility,” the military official said.


Ex-NPA member bares communist fronts harassing industrial sector

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 11, 2019): Ex-NPA member bares communist fronts harassing industrial sector

ADDRESSING LABOR UNREST IN ECOZONES. Calamba City Mayor Justin Marc SB Chipeco (center), chair of the City Peace and Order Council (CPOC) and City Development Council (CDC), presides over the joint council meeting, where a resolution was passed for the creation of the City Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (CTF-ELCAC), to address labor unrest agitated by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) terrorist group’s urban “legal fronts” in economic zones and industrial parks. Joining Chipeco during the joint council meeting at Dinghao Restaurant, Calamba City, Laguna on Sept. 10, 2019 are (L-R) City Councilor Angelito Lazaro, chair of the City Council’s Committee on Appropriation; and City Planning and Development Office (CPDO) head Dennis Lanzanas. (PNA photo by Zen Trinidad)

CALAMBA CITY, Laguna – A former member of the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), on Tuesday said communist-terrorist rebel fronts are infiltrating union workers and sow unrest in the industrial sector.

Ka Dada, whose name has been withheld for security reasons, is now a member of the government’s National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC). He urged village officials and residents in this city to be watchful of organizers of the legal fronts of the CPP-NPA in their bid “to primarily strengthen the mass movement.”

Ka Dada was a guest resource speaker in the joint meeting of the City Development Council (CDC) and City Peace and Order Council (CPOC) presided over by Mayor Justin Marc SB Chipeco at the Dinghao Restaurant here.

She said the city is among those covered under the CPP-NPA’s special “White Area”, where the communist-terrorist group complements its “Red Area” or the armed operations because of the economic zones that employ a vast number of workers who could be potential recruits or supporters.

“The organizers may not be able to penetrate easily inside the economic zones since they are not employees but they will be present in the villages, live with the workers and organize,” she warned.

She added that the CPP-NPA uses “legal fronts” in promoting urban-based mass movement under their Regional Trade Union Bureau and the White Area Committee.

“We need to protect our workers. We need to unite our locators in our industrial zones, in our economic zones to conduct labor awareness,” she urged.

She said these workers cannot survive a prolonged strike or labor unrest themselves without the support of the legal fronts of the CPP-NPA, which aim to paralyze company operations.

“The industrial workers and economic zone laborers have been vulnerable to recruitment in their struggle that lasted 50 for years now,” she noted.

The former NPA organizer also assessed that the presence of other organizations in labor unrest has been causing much harm than a solution to the problem raised by legitimate workers.

In steering the joint council meeting, Chipeco endorsed the unanimously approved CDC and CPOC Joint Resolution No. 2019-01 calling for the creation of the City Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (CTF-ELCAC) to ensure industrial peace and job security in the city.

Records from the City Planning and Development Office (CPDO) showed that Calamba City is home to some nine economic zones and industrial parks where scores of various companies and manufacturing industries are located.

Chipeco said the CTF-ELCAC is in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order No. 70, which mandates the institutionalization of the whole-of-nation approach in attaining inclusive and sustainable peace in the country.

The mayor, who chairs both councils with three vice-chairpersons and various clusters headed by the city government department heads and concerned government agencies, also endorsed the joint resolution which created a special committee which would engage the city's legitimate and duly-accredited civil society organizations (CSOs).

He pointed out that in Region 4A (Calabarzon), the issue is not only the armed conflict but the legal organizational network infiltrated by the leftist groups in the labor sector, civil societies, and schools, among others.

“As much as possible I want industrial peace in Calamba,” he said, citing recent labor unrests in a manufacturing company operating in Canlubang Village and in another firm at an adjacent village of a nearby city.

He said he respects the right of employees to a legitimate strike to be resolved by the labor group, management and the proper government agency, but noticed that these agitators, who are neither city residents nor company workers, are joining the rank of the strikers.

“May apoy na, tinataponan pa ng gasolina (It's like adding gasoline to the fire),” Chipeco described, noting that these agitators trigger unrest among the workers.

Chipeco also proposed a thorough review of former Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila de Lima’s memorandum, which requires certification from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) when labor unrest erupts.

He said this is to avert a situation, which might deter police action for illegal acts committed by the strikers and put the blame instead on the police for “arbitrary detention.”

He also urged the members of the CDC and CPOC to craft a policy to prevent labor unrests in the industrial firms, based on recent incidents, and enjoined village officials to work closely with the police for proper action in the maintenance of peace and order. (


Soldier assisting DENR wounded in NPA attack

From the Business World Online (Sep 9, 2019): Soldier assisting DENR wounded in NPA attack

MILITARY TROOPS assisting Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) personnel in Brooke’s Point, Palawan were attacked on Monday by suspected members of the communist New People’s Army (NPA), leaving one soldier wounded. 

In a statement, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said the soldiers were conducting security operations in an area being monitored by the DENR for reported “rampant illegal logging.” 

The AFP said, “it was unfortunate… that the Communist Terrorists have chosen to disrupt the enforcement of environmental laws by government authorities.” 

The attack was carried out by five NPA members at around 10:20 in the morning, according to AFP. 

More troops have been deployed to the area to pursue the NPAs who fled in “different directions” following the 10-minute exchange of fire. 

The wounded soldier is already in stable condition, the military said.


1 dead in Isulan shooting; IED found near crime scene

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 11, 2019): 1 dead in Isulan shooting; IED found near crime scene

Google map of Isulan, Sultan Kudarat

Police and military authorities are investigating the discovery of a suspected improvised bomb following the shooting of two men, one of them killed, by riding-in-tandem suspects in Barangay Kenram, Isulan, Sultan Kudarat on Tuesday evening.

Lt. Col. Modesto Carrera, newly designated police chief of Isulan, said two men were earlier seen sitting on a parked motorbike beside the highway in Purok Don Juan, Barangay Kenram at 10 p.m. when two men onboard a separate motorbike arrived and fired at them.

Responding policemen found one of the two victims lying dead by the roadside while the other one was injured and brought to a local hospital.

Carrera said police also found an improvised explosive device (IED) near the crime scene, which members of the military’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit safely deactivated.

“We are still determining if the IED was carried by the two shooting victims,” Carrera said in a radio interview here Wednesday. He declined to identify the victims pending an ongoing investigation.

“We would like to know if there is a connection between the shooting victims and the IED found nearby,” he added.

The incident came in the heels of the Sept. 7 explosion in the town that injured eight persons. The incident was believed to be the handiwork of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

Before the bombing, Mayor Marites Pallasigue received a phone call from the group demanding from the local government PHP250,000 monthly protection money.


WestMinCom: 2 suicide bombers in Sulu target military installations

From the Manila Times (Sep 10, 2019): WestMinCom: 2 suicide bombers in Sulu target military installations

TWO suicide bombers in Sulu are now the subject of “intensified” operations, the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) said on Tuesday, amid reports that they have set their sights on military installations.

“The two are in Sulu and we are monitoring them. We won’t let them get out [from Sulu] because they will have an opportunity in other areas,”
Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana told reporters in a phone-patch interview at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

“But the good thing about this is they don’t have support outside Sulu that is why I think they cannot launch hostilities,”
Sobejana said.

Sobejana said the two may be targeting military installations but did not elaborate.

Sobejana said five bombers were originally “blessed” to carry out the suicide attacks.

The most recent was Sunday’s failed attack at a military detachment in Indanan, Sulu, where an unidentified woman strapped a pipe bomb around her body and blew herself up. She was the lone fatality.

Norman Lasuca, the first Filipino suicide bomber, and his companion were responsible for the twin explosions in June at the Philippine Army’s 1st Brigade Combat Team (BCT) also in Indanan town where eight people died, including the suspects.

The military also tagged the first three bombers as being under the command of Abu Sayyaf leader Hajan Sawadjaan, who was identified as the alleged mastermind of the twin explosions at a Roman Catholic church in Jolo in January.

“It seems they [the two bombers] are trying to seek vengeance because there have been setbacks on their part with our relentless focused military operations,” Sobejana said.


Editorial: A growing threat

From the Philippine Star (Sep 11, 2019): Editorial: A growing threat

Last Sunday, a suicide bomber approached a military checkpoint in Indanan, Sulu. Fortunately, the bomb went off before the target was reached by the bomber, believed to be a foreign woman.

It was not the first time that a woman was involved in such an attack in this country. Unfortunately for national security, it was also not the first time that suicide bombers have launched an attack in the Philippines. Earlier this year, an Indonesian couple blew themselves up in front of the Mount Carmel Cathedral in Sulu’s capital Jolo.

Reports from Sulu said the military is currently hunting down two more potential suicide bombers who escaped from security forces. The two, said to be among five suicide bombers recruited by the terrorist Abu Sayyaf group, are believed to be preparing for an attack on military installations in the conflict-torn province.

In Iraq, Islamic State terrorists are reportedly running out of militants to send out as suicide bombers. Instead the IS has weaponized cows, strapping the animals with bombs, according to recent reports.

In the Philippines, on the other hand, the suicide bombing threat is just starting to emerge. Filipino terrorists have long preferred homicide to suicide, but foreign influence might be changing this mindset.

In July last year, a Moroccan was believed to be responsible for a suicide attack on an Army checkpoint in Lamitan, Basilan. Last June 28, two suicide attacks were launched on the Army’s brigade headquarters in Indanan, Sulu. It marked the first time that a Filipino, Norman Lasuca, perpetrated a suicide bombing. His still unidentified cohort was reportedly a foreigner.

Lasuca was said to be just 19 years old. What drives a person – especially one so young – to blow himself up, and drag with him to death as many others as he can? Any effort to confront the threat of suicide attacks must include answering this question, and providing solutions.


AFP hunting down 2 suicide bombers in Sulu

From the Philippine Star (Sep 11, 2019): AFP hunting down 2 suicide bombers in Sulu

Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Western Mindanao Command chief, said the bombers, who have yet to be identified, are plotting to attack key military installations in the province.  File

Government security forces are working around the clock to prevent two suicide bombers, who were trapped in Sulu, from escaping.

Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Western Mindanao Command chief, said the bombers, who have yet to be identified, are plotting to attack key military installations in the province.

“As per our monitoring, they’re contained in Sulu... we are not giving them any opportunity to escape,”
Sobejana said.

He said ground security have been beefed up to secure military installations in the province.

“We are closely guarding all possible exit points as we intensify our manhunt operations,” Sobejana said.

He said the two suicide bombers are among the five recruited by Abu Sayyaf bandits.

Sobejana said three died in suicide bombings in Sulu and Basilan.

Two suicide attacks targeted the Army’s headquarters in Indanan on June 28. One of the bombers was identified as 19-year-old Filipino Norman Lasuca. The identity of the other bomber has yet to be ascertained.

An Army checkpoint in Lamitan, Basilan was targeted by a suicide bomber, believed to be a Moroccan, in July last year.

Earlier this year, an Indonesian couple blew themselves up in front of the Mt. Carmel Cathedral in Jolo.

On Sunday, a foreign-looking woman detonated a bomb attached to her body near a military checkpoint in Barangay Kajatian also in Indanan. Her head and face were blown to pieces.
DNA test

Philippine National Police chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde said the PNP Crime Laboratory took DNA samples of the suicide bomber.

“The result will come out probably in three days to one week,” Albayalde said.

However, the PNP said identifying the suspect is a difficult task unless they could get DNA samples from her relative.

PNP offers help

The PNP said it would also help the military track down the remaining suicide bombers in Mindanao.

Albayalde ordered the police Intelligence Group to coordinate its efforts with the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“Yung intelligence fusion, usually ang involved dyan is the intelligence community,” he told a press conference at Camp Crame.

Meanwhile, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said President Duterte is concerned over reports that terrorist groups in Mindanao are using suicide bombers.

”Anything that will show a rise in terrorism in any area... is always a matter of concern... We hope our security will improve... to stop this,” Panelo said.

Washington Designates Philippine IS Leader as a Global Terrorist

From BenarNews (Sep 10, 2019): Washington Designates Philippine IS Leader as a Global Terrorist

Police investigators and soldiers examine the scene where two bombs exploded outside a Roman Catholic cathedral in Jolo, Jan. 27, 2019.  AP

The United States declared the leader of the Islamic State’s militant branch in the Philippines as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist and placed him under U.S. sanctions, the state department announced on Tuesday.

Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, the leader of IS-Philippines, is blamed for masterminding the Jan. 27 church bombing in Jolo that killed 23 and injured more than 100. He is one of 12 militants linked to international terrorist organizations added to the state department list.

“Today’s expansion of our counterterrorism authorities enables us to more effectively sanction the leaders of terrorist organizations, as well as those who participate in training to commit acts of terrorism,” Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said in a news release announcing the designations.

“Today’s actions ensure that no effort is spared to preserve the security of the United States, modernize our tools and authorities to counter terrorism, and deny terrorists the resources to plan and carry out attacks.”

The White House called the executive order signed by President Trump the most significant update of terrorist designation authorities since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. It said the order would enable the United States to “more effectively sanction the leaders of terrorist organizations and those who train to commit acts of terrorism.”

According to the State Department, the designation given to Sawadjaan and the 11 other militants listed on Tuesday aims to “deny these terrorists the resources to plan and carry out attacks.”

“All of their property and interests in property subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with them,” the department said Tuesday.

As recently as July, officials reported that little was known about Sawadjaan, except that he was a senior member of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), which in the early 2000s was known to have joined in planning and carrying out of kidnap-for-ransom raids.

Sawadjaan replaced Isnilon Hapilon as the IS head in the Philippines, after Hapilon was killed two years ago near the end of the five-month siege of the southern city of Marawi. Hapilon, joined by other militants including the Maute brothers, planned and carried out the May 23, 2017, siege.

In February 2017, the U.S. government placed the special terrorist tag on two Philippine militant groups, the Maute group and ASG, along with Bangladesh militants Neo-JMB.

Malaysian national and IS militant Muhammad Wanndy Mohamad Jedi, who was killed in 2017, was tagged with the designation as well.

Myrna Mabanza (alias Myrna Ajijul Mabanza), a former Filipina teacher received the designation in April 2018 after she allegedly facilitated the transfer of funds to Hapilon and helped Indonesian militants acquire firearms.

The U.S. declared Malaysian Mohamad Rafi Udin, Indonesian Mohammed Karim Yusop Faiz and Filipino Mohammad Reza Lahaman Kiram as Specially Designated Global Terrorists in August 2018, alleging that they had recruited foreign fighters to pledge their allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), an Indonesian extremist group that also pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr, received the classification in January 2017. JAD was founded in 2015 by Aman Abdurrahman, who was sentenced to death in 2018 for his role in a series of deadly terrorist attacks.


Bicol rebel fighter tapped to head Army’s Central Luzon anti-insurgency driveraft

From the Business Mirror (Sep 10, 2019): Bicol rebel fighter tapped to head Army’s Central Luzon anti-insurgency driveraft

Col. Andrew D. Costelo (left) receives the symbolic flag of the 703rd Infantry “Agila” Brigade from Maj. Gen. Lenard T. Agustin, commander of the Army’s Seventh Infantry Division. Costelo assumed the leadership of the 703rd Brigade from Brig. Gen. Rowen S. Tolentino.

The counterinsurgency campaign in Central Luzon has taken a new shift with the assumption of a new regional military commander who has vowed to adopt a new approach in the government’s drive to finally end the communist-inspired rebellion being waged by the New People’s Army (NPA).

“We will tirelessly offer and extend the hand of peace, but we will also be fearless and relentless in running after those who will choose to stick to terror in furthering their beliefs,” said Col. Andrew D. Costelo as he assumed the leadership of the Army’s 703rd Infantry “Agila” Brigade based in Bongabon, Nueva Ecija.

“This communist madness propagated by Jose Ma. Sison and his local group of old, tired and weary communist apparatchik must be stopped. As this ideology gasps for breath, it’s time to send this demagoguery to its death bed,” Costelo added, whose operational area covers the whole of Region 3.

Costelo, a Cebuano and a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1990, was a former chief of staff of the Ninth Infantry Division (Ninth ID) based in Bicol region before he was tapped to take the helm of the 703rd Infantry Brigade, succeeding Brig. Gen. Rowen S. Tolentino.

With the Ninth ID, Costelo lent his expertise in the crafting of “Trangkilo,” the division’s five-year campaign plan against the rebels beginning in 2017 that degraded the capability of the Bicol Regional Party Committee of the NPA, including the declaration of Sorsogon as a “conflict-manageable and ready for development” province.

A veteran intelligence officer having served with the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP), he also oversaw numerous combat and intelligence-driven operations, resulting in the neutralization of top-level officials and members of the communist movement in Bicol region.

Costelo had also served as the commander of the Second Infantry Battalion and the 22nd IB in Bicol in his junior years.

In assuming the reign of the 703rd Brigade, Costelo said he will carry out the military’s holistic approach in ending the communist-inspired insurgency at the intersection of left-hand and right-hand approaches, but with more lethal effect.

“We will seek peace and we will encourage rebels to join us in this undertaking, but for those who wanted to sow terror, we will be unrelenting in our campaign against them,” he said, adding he would further intensify the brigade’s partnerships with Central Luzon residents, local officials and nongovernment organizations.

“We will be servant warriors and thinking warriors,” Costelo said.

ACLED Regional Overview – Asia (10 September 2019)

Posted to the Relief Web (Sep 10): ACLED Regional Overview – Asia (10 September 2019)

Published on 10 Sep 2019 —View Original

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Last week, in South and Southeast Asia, key trends included: high levels of organized violence and reported fatalities as peace negotiations regarding the conflict in Afghanistan were called off; ongoing clashes between the Myanmar military and ethnic armed groups in Rakhine and Shan states; a wave of mob lynchings in India.

Intense fighting continued between state forces and the Taliban in Afghanistan last week. While the number of reported violent events decreased significantly compared to the prior week, the number of reported fatalities was the second-highest of any week in 2019. The Taliban claimed attacks on pro-government forces in typically quiet areas of the country, such as Bamyan province. Meanwhile, military forces conducted persistent campaigns against the militant group in several districts of northern Badakhshan province. Kunduz city, a key hub in the north, was at least briefly seized by the Taliban before the military launched a counter-offensive operation and recaptured the city on Sunday. Kunduz has previously been a site of major contest between militants and state forces in 2001 and 2015.

On Thursday, an explosion rocked a neighborhood in Kabul city near the American Embassy and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Resolute Support mission office (AP, 5 September 2019). The suicide bombing, which was claimed by the Taliban, killed an American and a Romanian soldier as well as eight other people. American President Donald Trump cited this attack as one factor behind his decision to cancel secretly planned negotiations with the Taliban and the Afghan president at Camp David in the United States; this comes after months of negotiations between the United States and the Taliban were potentially reaching a conclusion (New York Times, 9 September 2019). Following this sudden development, the possibility for a political settlement to the nearly two-decade-long war in Afghanistan remains unclear.

In Pakistan, violence perpetrated by domestic armed groups increased last week following a brief lull in attacks for the previous two weeks. Unidentified assailants launched two coordinated improvised explosive device (IED) attacks in Balochistan’s capital Quetta. An IED attack on security forces was also reported from Lower Dir district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. This is the second such attack since the Pakistan army handed over administrative powers to civil authorities in April last year after concluding its military operation to flush out militants who had taken control of some areas in 2009 (Frontier Post, 5 September 2019).

In India, relatively low numbers of riot and protest events continue to be reported from Jammu & Kashmir (J&K). The flow of information has been severely affected by the stringent security measures put in place. This coincides with the central government’s decision to repeal Article 370 of the Constitution which granted special status to J&K. Last week, Indian security forces forcefully interrupted several attempted Muharram processions by the Shiite community in J&K. Cross-border violence between Indian and Pakistani troops continued last week, reportedly killing one Indian soldier. Meanwhile, demonstrations against the Indian government and in support of Kashmir continue to be reported from the region, mainly in Pakistan but also in Bangladesh and Malaysia.

Last week, in Myanmar, the Brotherhood Alliance — comprised of the Palaung State Liberation Front/Ta’ang National Liberation Army (PSLF/TNLA), Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), and Arakan Army (AA) — and the Myanmar military continued to clash across Shan state. The alliance has since announced that they will hold themselves to a unilateral ceasefire for one month; the Myanmar military has extended its unilateral ceasefire to 21 September (Irrawaddy, 9 September 2019). Fighting also continued in Rakhine state where the military’s unilateral ceasefire does not apply. A member of the Brotherhood Alliance, the Arakan Army (AA), has clashed with the military in Rakhine state continuously since the start of the year.

Despite fears that violence would escalate following the recent death in military custody of a man linked to separatists in Thailand (Al-Jazeera, 27 August 2019), no political violence events concerning separatist groups were recorded last week.

In the Philippines, battles between the New People’s Army (NPA) and Philippine state forces continued last week. Also, an explosion at a public market in Sultan Kudarat left seven people injured; authorities have yet to identify the perpetrators of the violence.

Riot and protest events over the West Papua issue in Indonesia declined last week, though a handful of demonstrations were reported. They come amid growing calls for an investigation into the deadly demonstrations and attacks on Papuan protesters in recent weeks (Human Rights Watch, 7 September 2019).

Meanwhile, in India, mob lynchings of suspected criminals have significantly spiked in the past two weeks. Like during previous waves of vigilante violence, suspicions of “child lifting”, typically fuelled by rumors spread on social media or via messaging services, are the main reason for the outbreak of violence. People with intellectual or mental health issues are disproportionately more likely to fall victim to mob justice.


Communists favor Camanava area for recruitment – NCRPO chief

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Sep 10, 2019): Communists favor Camanava area for recruitment – NCRPO chief

Communists favor the Camanava area of Metro Manila — composed of Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, and Valenzuela — for recruitment, according to Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, chief of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO).

“On the presence of the mass base, we can see the urban poor more in the Camanava area. That’s where they are,” Eleazar, speaking partly in Filipino, said at a press briefing on Tuesday, following a joint meeting between the Metro Manila Regional Development Council (RDC) and Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) in Pasay.

Eleazar serves as the interim chair of the RPOC.

According to him, these groups go to Camanava to convice people there to join rallies — which will form part of “front activities” supporting their armed component.

During the meeting, the National Capital Region Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NCRTF-ELCAC) was formally created as a part of President Rodrigo Duterte’s 2018 order for a “Whole of Nation” approach for sustainable peace.

The special task force seeks to counter the recruitment of groups such as the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army and their “deceitful propaganda” in schools and poor communities in Metro Manila.

The task force also seeks to ensure direct delivery of social services to the poor, whom the authorities said were the preferred targets for recruitment.

“That’s why one of the efforts we are doing is to engage the different sectors that may be easy or vulnerable to the recruitment of the CPP-NPA,” Eleazar said. “And these are the workers of different companies and business establishments that may be penetrated by these groups. And eventually what they are after is to make their economic activities collapse.”

He noted that the recruitment of students was “no longer a secret.”

“Even those who were students before that were recruited by the NPA, they themselves become recruiters and return. It becomes their turn to speak. We know what’s happening,” he said.

“These things now, more than ever, we see that awareness of the public is there,” he added. “We started this, and the momentum is ongoing. So with the objective of the creation of the task force to end the local armed conflict, we will pursue this in Metro Manila and all regions of the country.”

For his part, Interior Undersecretary Ricojudge Janvier Echiverri stressed that “to curb the problem is to address the real issues” — notably, poverty and labor disputes.

“On the part of DILG, we were tasked to monitor specific activities and programs for which the local program should follow. Number one, if the city is identified as having many urban poor people who are left-leaning, they should set a dialog at least with them,” Echiverri said.

This, he said, would be achieved in coordination with local governments.

At the moment, Echiverri said, they had been reaching out to vendors and tricycle drivers and asking local governments if they already have alternative sources of income for these people.

Raps vs. leftist groups to prove ‘recruitment scheme’

From Philippine Canadian Inquirer (Sep 10, 2019): Raps vs. leftist groups to prove ‘recruitment scheme’

Before the proceedings, Topacio led parents in a street protest against the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) and leaders of its front organizations. (PNA Photo)

The counsel of the parents of children, who were allegedly recruited by communist front groups, said Tuesday he is confident that the criminal complaints they filed will prove how these groups recruit minors and lure them to their illicit cause.

“We’re very confident because this case clearly shows a pattern. The pattern of how they recruit: poisoning the minds of children. Legally speaking, the consent of the children is ruined. They do not consent. They do not allow. It is against their will,” lawyer Ferdinand Topacio said in an interview on the sidelines of the hearing on the case filed before the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Before the proceedings, Topacio led parents in a street protest against the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) and leaders of its front organizations.

The parents also burned posters of key militant leaders and lawmakers, including Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary general Renato Reyes, former Bayan Muna party-list representatives Neri Colmenares and Teodoro Casiño, Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate and Kabataan party-list Rep. Sarah Elago.

Originally summoned to appear before state prosecutors were Anakbayan members Charie del Rosario, Bianca Gacos, Jayroven Villafuente Balais, Vencer Crisostomo, and Einstein Recedes.

“We will be given a copy of their reply. We will then know what their defense arguments are,” Topacio said.

Based on the complaint filed by the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG), Anakbayan is “an organization advocating violence in order to overthrow a legitimate government.”

Among those present during the hearing were Colmenares and Elago.

The respondents submitted their counter-affidavits.

The charges were for violation of Republic Act 10364 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003; kidnapping; the laws on special protection of children in armed conflicts; and laws prohibiting child abuse.

Among the witnesses were rebel returnees Ma. Rebecca Pecayo and Edison Villanueva, who said they were recruited into the initial indoctrination by front youth groups.

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


Joma on Duterte's all-out war threat vs. Reds: 'Nothing new'

From GMA News Online (Sep 10, 2019): Joma on Duterte's all-out war threat vs. Reds: 'Nothing new'

Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Maria “Joma” Sison shrugged off President Rodrigo Duterte's latest threat to declare an all-out war against communist insurgents.

"There is nothing new," Sison told GMA News Online, when asked for comment on Wednesday.

He said President Duterte "has always been engaged in all-out war even in 2016 and 2017 when he pretended to be for peace negotiations, but he has always failed to realize his pipe-dream of destroying the revolutionary movement."

Sison got back at Duterte, saying that the President's "chief interest" is "scapegoating the CPP and the NPA [New People's Army] as pretext for taking repressive measures against the people and imposing fascist dictatorship on them."

Earlier, Sison mocked the Duterte administration's announcement that it has coordinated with the INTERPOL for the communist leader's arrest by saying the disclosure smacks of "ignorance of the law."

At an event in Malacañang on Tuesday, Duterte said he will mobilize state forces to go all-out against the communist rebels.

Asked if this meant he has declared an all-out war against the communists, he said "Yes."

"Walang hintuan. Magpalit-palit ang mga batallion. ‘Yung walang masyadong gamit, walang masyadong kalaban…’dun naman sa kabila,” Duterte said.

Also, the President reiterated his commitment to eradicate the communists within his term which ends on June 30, 2022.

To recall, Duterte terminated the peace talks with the communist rebels in November 2017 through Proclamation 360.


AFP-CRS: PH asks EU to revoke Jose Maria Sison's refugee status.

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook Page (Sep 10, 2019): PH asks EU to revoke Jose Maria Sison's refugee status

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AFP-CRS: NPA member with P1-M bounty nabbed

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook Page (Sep 10, 2019): NPA member with P1-M bounty nabbed

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AFP-CRS: Peace-keeping team: New role for Ex-MILF fighters

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook Page (Sep 10, 2019): Peace-keeping team: New role for Ex-MILF fighters

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AFP-CRS: Remembering 'Zamboanga Siege'

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook Page (Sep 10, 2019): Remembering 'Zamboanga Siege'

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AFP-CRS: Decommissioning of Ex-NPA combatants set this week

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook Page (Sep 10, 2019): Decommissioning of Ex-NPA combatants set this week

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AFP-CRS: IS claims Sultan Kudarat bombing

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook Page (Sep 10, 2019): IS claims Sultan Kudarat bombing



AFP-CRS: Parlade: 'Makabayan lips zipped tight

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook Page (Sep 10, 2019): Parlade: 'Makabayan lips zipped tight

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AFP-CRS: Army to create more brigade combat teams

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook Page (Sep 10, 2019): Army to create more brigade combat teams

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AFP-CRS: Manila moves to junk Jose Maria Sison's refugee status

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook Page (Sep 10, 2019): Manila moves to junk Jose Maria Sison's refugee status



AFP-CRS: War veterans' tales to teach children to defend Philippines

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook Page (Sep 10, 2019): War veterans' tales to teach children to defend Philippines

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AFP-CRS: Peace-keeping team: New role for ex-MILF Fighters

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook Page (Sep 10, 2019): Peace-keeping team: New role for ex-MILF Fighters

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Kalinaw News: Five NPA in Zambo Norte surrenders, yields firearms and explosives

From Kalinaw News (Sep 11, 2019): Five NPA in Zambo Norte surrenders, yields firearms and explosives

CAMP SANG-ANG, Labangan, ZDS – Five members of Communist NPA Terrorist (CNT) surrendered to Army’s 97th Infantry Battalion at their Headquarters in Manukan, Zamboanga del Norte Tuesday, September 10, 2019.

“The five surrenderees also yielded one Browning automatic rifle, one M1 Garand rifle and eight anti-tank improvised explosives”, said Lt. Col. John Andrada, Battalion Commander of 97IB.

“The surrender of the five CNTs is a product of the fruitful information dissemination that encouraged them to return to folds of the law and we will help them enroll and benifit with the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) of the government”, he added.

Col. Leonel Nicolas, Commander of 102nd Infantry (IGSOON) Brigade who operationally controlled the 97th IB said that, “We are gaining grounds and our relentless military operation in our area pressured them to surrender”.

“With their surrender, we hoped that they can encouraged some of their comrades to follow their path for them to benefit the programs of the government”, Nicolas added.

Custodial debriefing is still ongoing as of this posting.

For his part, Maj. Gen. Roberto Ancan, the 1st Infantry Division and Joint Task Force Zampelan (Zamboanga Peninsula and Lanao Provinces) commander, lauded the troops and the local government for the successful surrender of the CNTs.

“The stern leadership of the RTF-ELCAC 9 and PTF-ELCAC of Zamboanga del Norte resulted into this successful surrender,” Ancan added.

“Your Army together with all the government instrumentalities and stakeholders will continue to work together in order to defeat the CNTs and to attain just and sustainable peace in Western Mindanao,” added Ancan.

[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: LGU, Army-PNP conduct joint send-off ceremony to community support program teams in SurNor

From Kalinaw News (Sep 11, 2019): LGU, Army-PNP conduct joint send-off ceremony to community support program teams in SurNor

PLACER, Surigao del Norte – Fourteen Community Support Program (CSP) teams under the Army’s Community Support Program have been deployed to the different barangays of Surigao del Norte (SDN).

A send-off ceremony for the composite CSP teams of the Army’s 30th Infantry Python Battalion (30IB) and Philippine National Police – SDN held at Provincial Convention Center, Surigao City, September 09, 2019, signaled the start of the deployment of the CSP teams in the province.

The ceremony was graced by the provincial government of SDN led by governor Francisco “Lalo” Matugas represented by vice governor Geed Gokiangkee, 402nd Infantry (Stingers) Brigade deputy brigade commander Col. Cerilo C Balaoro Jr. and Surigao del Norte Police Provincial Office led by the Officer-in-Charge PCol. Adolph C Almendra.

Also present during the activity were Provincial Board Members, Sanguniang Bayan Members representing the LCEs of Bacuag, Alegria, Placer, Malimono and Mainit all of Surigao del Norte.

The deployment of the CSP teams is in line with the Development Support and Security Plan “Kapayapaan” of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to conduct development support operations; sustain peace efforts; ensure security; and help maintain public order to foster the foundation for economic and human development.

The Send-off Ceremony is an activity symbolizing that the LGU, PNP, AFP and other stakeholders are one in achieving disaster and conflict resilient communities.

Lt. Col. Jeffrey A Villarosa Acting Commanding Officer of 30IB said, “CSP operation is one of our means to help our local government units in addressing the peace and security concerns of the communities and to deliver basic government services especially in the far-flung and conflict-affected areas. It also aims to bring our government closer to the people.”

Meanwhile, Col. Balaoro Jr. in his statement said that the success of every peace-related undertaking lies in the unity of all members of the community. It is imperative that we undertake a Whole-of-Nation-Approach to end local communist armed conflict, as stipulated in Executive Order 70. Let us, as one big team, focus our efforts towards Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDAs), Conflict-Affected Areas (ConAAs) and Conflict-Vulnerable Areas (CVAs). Attainment of genuine peace and development in said areas will immensely help us achieve peace and development in our beloved Surigao del Norte.”

“Let me also commend the Provincial Local Government Units, partner agencies and stakeholders in Surigao del Norte for their trust and support to the AFP and PNP in the conduct of peace and development mission in the province. Let us continously work hand-in-hand in combatting insurgency for the betterment of the province,” Col. Balaoro Jr. ended.

30th Infantry "Python" Battalion 4th Infantry Division Philippine Army
Civil-Military Operations Officer
Contact Number – 0939-804-4369
Email Add: python.troopers@gmail.com

[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]

NDF/Sison: Duterte’s threat of Interpol arrest bares ignorance of international law

Jose Maria Sison propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Philippines (NDFP or NDF) Website (Sep 10, 2019): Duterte’s threat of Interpol arrest bares ignorance of international law

On the false charge against me and the postwar that I am subject to extradition

By Jose Maria Sison
NDFP Chief Political Consultant

Interpol cannot arrest me because I am a recognized political refugee. I am protected by the Refugee Convention and by the European Convention on Human Rights. There is also no extradition treaty between the Netherlands and the Philippines, not to mention the Europe-wide bad standing of the Duterte regime as human rights violator and mass murderer.

The charge is invalid and cannot pass the test of due process in the Netherlands. I have my rights to be informed of the charge, to have counsel and to ask for judicial review. My lawyers can easily debunk the charge which refers to a fabricated incident in 1985. I was then under maximum security detention and had no authority in the CPP and NPA.

My points here are sustained by previous court decisions in the Netherlands at the highest level of the judicial system. Duterte and his military nincompoops are just doing psywar about something that they do not know anything about. They merely expose their ignorance of international law by repeatedly yakking that I am subject to extradition by Interpol.

CPP: Larab | September 7, 2019

Propaganda publication posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Sep 11, 2019): Larab | September 7, 2019

SEPTEMBER 11, 2019
2019 Larab Publications

WESTMINCOM: Peace advocates contextualize ‘PVE’ initiatives in Basilan

Posted to the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) Website (Sep 10, 2019): Peace advocates contextualize ‘PVE’ initiatives in Basilan

A Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) initiative meeting was held in Isabela City, Basilan yesterday, September 9.

It was spearheaded by Basilan Provincial Governor Jim Hataman-Salliman together with OPAPRU’s Special Assistant Ariel Hernandez; Joint Task Force Basilan Commander Brigadier General Fernando Reyeg; and representatives from the different NGOs, CSOs, and religious organizations in the province.

The meeting was held to contextualize “Preventing Violent Extremism” initiatives in Basilan, complement “PVE” initiatives, develop other action points, create and strengthen working mechanism, and clarify the roles of each stakeholder in order to sustain the PAVE program and further improve the peace and order situation in Basilan.

Gov. Hataman suggested for the productivity of the returnees. “They should be kept busy in any livelihood activity so as to prevent them from going back to the armed struggle. Returnees should be introduced in the productive areas in order to persuade them to engage in farming”.

It is also important to note that one of the government’s program that greatly contributed in the prevention of violent extremism is the introduction of Community Support Program (CSP) in the province.

“Military troops conducted CSP activities in identified influenced-areas that subsequently gained public trust and support,” said Brig. Gen. Reyeg.

“This engagement exemplifies the strong collaborative efforts of the government agencies and key stakeholders in the quest for peace in Basilan,” said Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Western Mindanao Command.

Negros marks 74th Victory Day

From the Visayan Daily Star (Sep 10, 2019): Negros marks 74th Victory Day


REMEMBERING. Members of the Veterans Federation of the Philippines-Negros Occidental Chapter and their families, provincial officials, non-government organizations, and government agencies attended the celebration of the 74th Negros Island Victory Day at the Provincial Capitol Park in Bacolod City yesterday.

Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson and Vice Gov. Jeffrey Ferrer led the celebration of the 74th Negros Island Victory Day held at the Provincial Capitol Park yesterday, attended by the members of the Veterans Federation of the Philippines-Neg. Occ. Chapter and their families, provincial officials, non-government organizations, and government agencies.

The activity started with a wreath-laying ceremony at the Monument of the WW II Veterans, Volley of 21 Gun Salute by the 303rd Brigade Philippine Army, followed by the traditional flag raising ceremony, and parade and review spearheaded by the Negros Occ. High School CAT Ceremonial Troop, a press release from the Capitol said.

A commemorative program followed at the Neg. Occ. Multi-Purpose Activity Center where Lacson and Ferrer gave their messages.

Lacson thanked the veterans and their families, and said that the provincial government is not only here to support them but also to listen.

“Our fallen fellow Negrense and our veterans were just like us, people who never wished for war, people who would choose peace and freedom, had they been given the choice. However, war broke out and they chose to fight so that the freedom and peace,” Lacson said.

“To the present-day Negrense, it is our obligation to give back in gratitude, not in words but through our actions by being conscientious, active and responsible members of our community and society,” the governor added.

Ferrer also thanked the war veterans and their families. He said that their sense of patriotism is more than enough to provide safety not only to their own homes but the whole province as well.

The yearly event is a tribute to the gallantry and patriotism of Negrense veterans who liberated the island after fighting against the Japanese Imperial Army in World War II, the press release said.

The theme for this year’s celebration is “For our Victory, for the Liberation and Freedom…Our Veterans, We Owe Them!”, it added.


RPA-ABB closure pact eminent

From the Visayan Daily Star (Sep 10, 2019): RPA-ABB closure pact eminent

The closure of the peace agreement between the Rebolusyonaryong Partidong Manggagawa–Pilipinas - Revolutionary Proletarian Army - Alex Boncayao Brigade - Tabara Paduano-Group (RPM-P/RPA/ABB-TPG) and the Philippine government is now imminent.

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process reported yesterday that the launching of the disposition of arms and forces of RPM-P/RPA/ABB-TPG is scheduled between Sept. 16 and 18. However, the venue has not been revealed yet.

About 300 high-powered and short, as well as explosives were brought Sunday to Camp Macario Peralta in Jamindan, Capiz, for inventory by the Philippine Army and National Police.

OPAPP said in a statement that the disposition of firearms of the
RPM-P/RPA/ABB-TPG, also known as Kapatiran and Progresibong Lipunan, forms part of the agreements stated in the Clarificatory Implementing Document (CID) signed by the group and the Philippine Government in July 19, towards the completion of the commitments in the 2000 peace agreement.

Members of the RPA-ABB from cities of San Carlos and Cadiz, EB Magalona, Talisay City and Cauayan in Negros Occidental, were escorted by policemen and Army soldiers, who also secured the surrendered 300 firearms and explosives.

Maj. Edison Garcia, spokesperson of the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office, yesterday said that the demilitarization of RPA-ABB forces is a prelude to the National Task Force-Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict of President Rodrigo Duterte, that aims to end the more than 50 years of insurgency problem in the country.

The CID, which serves as the final and absolute settlement of the 2000 peace deal, has five components that includes Disposition of Arms and Forces (DAF) as well as security arrangements, social and economic reintegration of the RPM-P/RPA/ABB-TPG, release of the remaining alleged political offenders, transformation of the armed group into a civilian organization engaging in socio-economic and political activities; and Community Peace Dividends.

“This undertaking is a testament to the commitment of the KAPATIRAN to continue their journey on the path of peace despite the challenges and the continuing threats to their security,” Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. said in a statement.

OPAPP also disclosed that part of the preparatory work for the disposition of arms and forces of the RPM-P/RPA/ABB-TPG is the 45-day candidacy training for 267 personnel of the Community Defense Unit.

Capt. Cenon Pancito III, Public Affairs Office chief of the Army’s 3 rd Infantry Division, disclosed on Monday that former RPA-ABB combatants will undergo basic military training, similar to that of Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU), and will be issued with government-owned firearms, to defend their respective communities, under the supervision of the Philippine Army.

OPAPP also said that the demilitarization of RPA-ABB combatants came in the wake of the successful launching of the decommissioning of the 1,060 Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters and 920 weapons on Sept. 7 in Mindanao, which was attended by President Rodrigo Duterte.


Dela Rosa urges Comelec to cancel registration of party-list groups with CPP 'links'

From Rappler (Sep 10, 2019): Dela Rosa urges Comelec to cancel registration of party-list groups with CPP 'links'

Senator Ronald dela Rosa claims Bayan Muna, Gabriela, ACT Teachers, Kabataan, and Anakpawis 'are using democracy to destroy democracy'

ANTI-INSURGENCY DRIVE. Senator Ronald dela Rosa asks the Commission on Elections what can be done to address party-list groups with supposed links to the CPP and NPA. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

Senator Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa on Tuesday, September 10, asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to help end the communist insurgency in the country by canceling the registration of party-list groups with supposed links to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

Dela Rosa made the appeal during a discussion on amendments to Republic Act No. 7941 or the Party-List System Act at a Senate hearing on Tuesday, September 10.

The senator was questioning Comelec Commissioner Antonio Kho on what could be done to parties that were "obviously supporting" the CPP and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA).

"Sana, Comelec, magtutulungan tayo matapos ang problema na ito dahil itong mga party lists na ito, they'. Ginagamit nila ang pagpasok sa gobyerno para sirain ang gobyerno," Dela Rosa alleged  (Comelec, I hope you can help us end this problem because these party lists, they're using democracy to destroy democracy. They're entering the government to destroy the government.)
Among the party-list groups Dela Rosa that referred to were progressive groups Bayan Muna, Gabriela, ACT Teachers, Kabataan, and Anakpawis.

Together, the groups make up the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives that have served as an opposition voice in the Duterte-dominated House. (Anakpawis failed to gain enough votes to get a seat in the 18th Congress.) 

(READ: Bayan Muna, 3 other Left groups defy red-tagging, keep House seats)

Kho, however, answered that if such allegations were true then a case can be filed before the poll body.

"Senator, if they are already a registered political party, anybody can file – I'm not encouraging to file – but there is a remedy provided under our rules to seek the cancellation of registered party list organizations if they violate certain provisions of the party List law," Kho said.

"If the petitioner can prove the grounds, Comelec will act on it," he added.

Dela Rosa then asked if the Comelec was acting on a petition filed last February seeking the cancellation of the registration of the 5 parties under the Makabayan bloc.

"Humihingi ako ng tulong sa inyo. Sana matapos natin na 'yung mga petition na finile na ito (I'm asking for your help. I hope we can resolve these petitions filed)," he said.

Kho said petitions for cancellation of party list registrations were filed but he was not at liberty to disclose if they involved the groups that Dela Rosa mentioned. Despite this, he gave assurances that groups facing such complaints will "be given opportunity to defend themselves...and dispute allegations raised by the petitioner in that case."

Members of the Makabayan bloc earlier decried the “vilification campaign” against them, saying security officials have yet to present evidence of their accusations.

Dela Rosa had earlier requested the Commission on Human Rights to ask the NPA to “release” minors they allegedly recruited since the two groups were "closer."

President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to end the communist insurgency but attempts at peace talks with the communist party’s political arm, the National Democratic Front (NDF) broke down two years into his term. Since then, Duterte and the government have resumed calling them "terrorists."


Police, military heighten security in Iligan

From MindaNews (Sep 10, 2019): Police, military heighten security in Iligan

ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews/10 September) – Proactive security measures have been put in place for the 28th Mindanao Business Conference (MinBizCon) and the tourism month celebration in the city, a military official said.

Lieutenant Colonel Edward Jasper Obar, commander of the 51st Infantry Battalion said such measures were already there even before the bombings in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat and in Indanan, Sulu over the weekend.

St. Michael the Archangel battles it out with the minions of Lucifer in this classic battle of good versus evil as portrayed by participants of the street dancing contest in Iligan City on Thursday (27 September 2018). The event is part of the Diyandi Festival that will culminate on Sept. 29, feast day of St. Michael. MindaNews photo by BOBBY TIMONERA

MinBizCon will take place on September 12-14, at the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology, while the city’s tourism month dubbed Diyandi Festival will run until the first week of October.

Obar said they are monitoring not just the city proper but also its hinterland villages as well as its boundary with Talakag town in Bukidnon.

He appealed to residents and commuters to bear with the inspections at checkpoints in Iligan City.

He assured they would treat persons equally at checkpoints.

The previous MinBizcon in Iligan took place 20 years ago, said Reggie Punongbayan, chair of the Iligan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation Inc.

Iligan will celebrate the feast of St. Michael the Archangel, the city’s patron saint, on September 29.


Mixed messages at decommissioning: put guns beyond use, give gun as token, will give better guns

From MindaNews (Sep 10, 2019): Mixed messages at decommissioning: put guns beyond use, give gun as token, will give better guns

Saturday’s event at the gym of the old provincial capitol in Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, was supposed to have ended with a key message: the 1,060 combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) are decommissioned and will now live “productive and peaceful lives” as civilians, and the 940 guns turned over to the Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB) would be “put beyond use.”

“Under the normalization track of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the decommissioning process will enable the MILF combatants to return to mainstream society as productive and peaceful citizens, and put their weapons beyond use,” Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez said Friday in Cotabato City, during the Media Forum on Decommissioning.

Ahod “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim, chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and interim Chief Minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao hands over an Isreali-made Tavor assault rifle as the MILF’s token of appreciation for what the President has done for the Bangsamoro, during the decommissioning of 1,060 combatants and 940 firearms at the gym of the old provincial capitol in Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao on 7 September 2019. MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

The narrative on Saturday night, however, changed from “put guns beyond use” to “give gun as token,” to “will give you better guns.”

After thanking President Rodrigo Duterte and other institutions for their help in the peace process, Ahod “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim, MILF chair and interim Chief Minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) addressed the combatants and the Bangsamoro youth: “the cause will live on in each and every single one of you. Our time in the battlefield is over but (for) our youth, it is now your time to face the battle of achieving greatness from the things that you are passionate of and out of the opportunities that the sacrifices of your elders have created for you. These fruits are what our forefathers would have wanted to see: a community flourishing, a bangsa that is thriving and a peaceful region existing.”

Before leaving the podium, Murad announced they were giving President Duterte a “token,” as manifestation of their “sincere appreciation” and goodwill.

“This token represents our appreciation, our very strong appreciation for what he has done to the Bangsamoro people and the Bangsamoro homeland,” he said.

He handed over to President Rodrigo Duterte a pelican case containing an Israeli-made Tavor assault rifle. CNN Philippines quoted Senator Bong Go, who was present in the Simuay event, as saying the gun was a Tavor 5.56 mm assault rifle.

Addressing the now former combatants, Duterte said “do not be sad” for handing over their weapons.

President Rodrigo Duterte checks out some of mortars that were decommissioned along with the 940 firearms owned by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front at the gymnasium of the old provincial capitol in Simuay, Sultan Kudarat in Maguindanao on Saturday, September 7, 2019. MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

“Huwag kayo — do not be sad na ang armas ninyo binigay ninyo sa gobyerno. Kasi kayo gobyerno na. Eh kung kailangan talaga ninyo ng armas para idepensa ninyo ang gobyerno dito sa BARMM. Walang problema. Bigyan ko kayo mas bago. Kasing bago nung binigay ni Kagi sa akin. (Do not be sad that you gave your guns to government. Because you are now government. But if you really need arms to defend your government here in the BARMM, no problem. I will give you newer ones. As new as what Kagi (Murad) gave me). The crowd applauded.

“Magbili pa ako mas bago, mas maganda (I will buy newer ones, better ones). So do not be disheartened na nag-surrender ka ng armas” (that you surrendered arms), the President said.

“No symbolism”

On Sunday morning, Murad told MindaNews that there was no symbolism attached to gifting Duterte a gun on the day the BIAF’s guns were turned over to be “put beyond use.”

“Actually it was an instant decision,” he said, adding that somebody suggested to him that if he had a special gun, he might want to give it to the President who, he was told “is fond of collecting special types of weapons.” He declined to name the “somebody” who made the suggestion.

He said he consulted their Mufti and was told it was alright as it was a “gesture of appreciation, expression of gratitude.”

Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr. (right), Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity, inspects weapons from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that were decommissioned as part of the peace process between the Philippine Government and the MILF in Simuay, Sultan Kudarat on September 7, 2019. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

“Wala namang symbolisnm doon kung bakit armas binigay” (There was no symbolism as to why we gave a gun), Murad, the BARMM’s top government official, told MindaNews during a sitdowin interview last Sunday in Camp Darapanan, where the BARMM Chief Minister spends his weekends.

He admitted the Tavor rifle was an expensive “token.”

“Medyo mahal” (Quite expensive), Murad said.

The gun costs at least 2,000 US dollars or at least 100,000 pesos. Sources in the security sector gave several estimates on the cost of the gun in the Philippines – from 150,000 to 300,000 pesos.

Last month, Duterte was criticized for saying it was okay for policemen to accept gifts.

In his speech at the 118th anniversary of the Philippine National Police on August 9, Duterte said: “Well, basta kung bigyan kayo, eh tanggapin ninyo. (Well, if you’re given, accept it). It is not bribery because — it cannot be bribery because it is allowed by law. What I mean if there is generosity in them, sabi ng anti-graft (the anti-graft law says) you cannot accept gifts. Kalokohan ‘yan” (That’s crazy).

“Feeling of gratitude”
“I know that, especially the police, if you are able to solve a crime and you guys from Davao, alam man ninyo ‘yan (you know that). If you are able to solve a crime and the family would like to be generous to you or would nurture a feeling of gratitude for what you accomplish, then by all means, accept it. Wala akong ano” (I have nothing against that), he said.

Section 7 of RA 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, provides that “public officials and employees shall not solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any gift, gratuity, favor, entertainment, loan or anything of monetary value from any person in the course of their official duties or in connection with any operation being regulated by, or any transaction which may be affected by the functions of their office.”

RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act prohibits government workers from requesting or receiving gifts but with an exception under Section 14, that “unsolicited gifts or presents of small or insignificant value offered or given as a mere ordinary token of gratitude or friendship according to local customs or usage, shall be excepted.”

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo cited this exemption on gifts of “small or insignificant value.” He said government personnel should not accept “expensive” gifts and that it is the court that will decide on what is “small or insignificant.”

“Common sense will tell us what is nominal or insignificant. If it goes beyond common understanding, then the court will decide,” he added.

On August 19, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra asked the Civil Service Commission (CSC) to set guidelines on gifts that may be received by government workers.

“If I may suggest (to) the CSC commissioners, baka they may have to set specific guidelines para ang duda kung a government or public officer is exceeding the bounds of ethics, (they may have to set specific guidelines to clearly delineate when a government or public officer is exceeding the bounds of ethics),” the state-run Philippine News Agency quoted him as saying.