Saturday, September 21, 2019

Gov’t forces apologize for Escalante massacre//As 2,510 former NPA allies surrender

From the Visayan Daily Star (Sep 21, 2019): Gov’t forces apologize for Escalante massacre//As 2,510 former NPA allies surrender

The commemoration yesterday of the Escalante massacre that took place 34 years ago and claimed the lives of 20 persons, took a twist as state security forces apologized for the mistakes of their former colleagues in the service.

At the same time,
2,510 former allies of the New People’s Army in northern and central Negros towns and cities surrendered and turned in 41 assorted firearms. This also highlighted the Northern Negros Peace Summit hosted by Mayor Melecio “Beboy” Yap that was held at a coliseum in Escalante City, in line with the marking of the Escalante massacre.

Brig. Gen. Eric Vinoya, commander of the newly-formed Joint Task Force Negros, yesterday described the activity as one of the milestones in achieving peace for today that turned the “Escalante massacre tragedy into a peace summit miracle”.

Vinoya said the tragic massacre that took place in Escalante was used by left-leaning organizations to fuel hatred and disgust against the government to push for their wicked agenda.

“This is now time to move on and transform the lesson of the past into our jumping board to a better future. We have been down before, but starting today there is no way to go but up”, he said.

Col. Romeo Baleros, provincial police director of Negros Occidental, expressed his sympathy to the families of the massacre victims, said in a prepared statement that the Philippine National Police apologized for what had been done by their former members in the service.

It is difficult to remove the pain. We are not perfect, as well as our government that also commit mistakes, Baleros said.

The apology was accepted by Janet Patuan-an, one of the injured massacre survivors, during the highlight of the three-day Northern Negros Peace summit, that was the essence of the massacre commemoration.

“This will serve as a signal for everybody to move on and work together towards the attainment of genuine peace and progress”, Capt. Cenon Pancito III, spokesman of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, said.

Pancito said that the Army is not in any way involved in the massacre, but they do accept the fact that the government failed to address the social issues being raised by peasants and the marginalized sector, which prompted them to revolt that time.

He added that the massacre could have been prevented if government forces did not fail to secure and maintain the peace and order, hence, they are asking for forgiveness to lighten the burden of the Filipinos,especially the victims and their families.

“In that way, we can release the load of the past, prevent this from happening again and move forward to a more harmonious and progressive future,” Pancito said.

Stressing that the event is not about forgetting the Escalante massacre, Pancito said it will also serve as a peaceful venue for reconciliation of the various sectors, former rebels and families of the massacre victims, who agreed to move forward by working together to realize a common vision of a violence-free and progressive community.

In the same peace summit, Ka Joros, a self-confessed NPA assassin, also apologized to the families of the victims, that he and his colleagues killed, as ordered by their former superiors in the revolutionary movement.

Rolyn Cabus, Executive Assistant IV/Center for Collaborative Solutions of Escalante City, said that the city government under the leadership of Mayor Yap is doing everything in can.

The Negros Occidental Task Force - ELCAC (End Local Communist Conflict) is also bringing today multiple government services to the 2,510 former NPA allies, through a one-stop-shop of government services dubbed “Dagyawan ng DILG” , to be participated in by various government agencies.

Dagyawan ng DILG aims to deliver basic services of the government closer to the people, address the root causes of insurgency, and bring the armed struggle to its conclusion, Pancito said.

On Thursday, the former NPA allies and their families also availed of medical services from government doctors, and other medical practitioners as well as free medicines and health-related services.

Two suspected NPA rebels killed in clash with gov't troops in Catanduanes

From GMA News (Sep 22, 2019): Two suspected NPA rebels killed in clash with gov't troops in Catanduanes

Government troops clashed with suspected New People's Army rebels in Catanduanes on Sunday, resulting in the death of two NPAs, according to the military.

The encounter occurred in Barangay Taopon in the municipality of Panganiban, a statement from the Philippine Army's 9th Infantry Division said.

Troops from the 83rd Infantry Battalion (83IB) and Police Mobile Force Company (PMFC) were conducting combat operations in the area at 1:20 a.m. when at least seven armed men appeared.

The groups exchanged gunfire for 10 minutes leading to the death of the two unidentified rebels.

No one was hurt among the military.

Government troops recovered one AR15 rifle.

The military is conducting a hot pursuit operation to go after the suspected NPAs who fled in different directions.

The Joint Task Force Bicolandia (JTFB) headed by Major General Fernando Trinidad is using full military force against suspected communist rebels to prevent their extortion activities among civilians.

Trinidad however said the government will welcome members of the armed movement who will surrender under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).

Army still open to accept Quezon youth activist as ‘rebel returnee’

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Sep 22, 2019): Army still open to accept Quezon youth activist as ‘rebel returnee’

Alexandrea Pacalda (Photo from her Facebook account)

LUCENA CITY – Despite the filing of criminal charges against Quezon youth activist Alexandrea Pacalda on Saturday, the military is still open to accept her as communist rebel returnee, Lt. Col. Dennis Cana, spokesman of the Armed Forces Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) said.

“We can still accept her as a rebel returnee. There are others who already have an arrest warrant, others were fugitives but now they are reaping benefits under E-Clip and at the same time helping us to end this deception by the enemies,” Cana said in an online interview Sunday.
Under the E-Clip, the reintegration program of the government, the communist rebels returning to the fold of the law may avail of livelihood, medical, educational, housing, and legal assistance from the government.

On Saturday, the military slapped Pacalda with criminal charges before the Regional Trial Court in Lucena City.

After the filing of cases, Cana said Pacalda will still remain under the custody of the Army’s 201st Infantry Brigade based in Calauag town.

“It is still status quo. We’re waiting for the court order,” Cana said

While still under the military custody, Pacalda will continue to undergo “surrender proceedings,” according to Cana.

The process includes “her identification by other former rebels, where and when they together during encounters with government forces, what is her position in the armed group and what has she been doing.”

Cana said the procedures aim to establish her New People’s Army (NPA) membership to make her qualify as a surrenderer.

Pacalda was met at the court by her father and brother accompanied by leftist activists who demanded her immediate release.

Human rights group Karapatan said Pacalda was an active member of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines and Gabriela Youth.

But the military presented several pictures and videos showing Pacalda holding a rifle and in the company of NPA rebels inside a guerilla camp.

Lawyer Maria Sol Taule, Pacalda’s counsel, strongly assailed the filing of “trumped-up case of illegal possession of firearms and explosives after they failed to shake Alexa’s spirit to force her to surrender.”

“If Alexa really committed a crime, they should have filed charges against her on the day of her arrest on September 14,” Taule said on her Facebook post after the filing of criminal cases against her client.

She added: “But they did not, and it was only after seven days when they decided to charge her, because they wanted Alexa and her family to join families who despise progressive organizations and activists and parrot the military’s red-tagging narrative through constant interrogation and showing of insincere goodwill.

“Sorry, you cannot buy Alexa’s family nor break Alexa’s principles. She will always be a brave woman and youth who stands for the people,” Taule said.

Pacalda has been staying inside the Army’s camp since Sept. 14 after her supposed voluntary surrender in Barangay Magsaysay in General Luna town as an alleged NPA member operating in Quezon.

Cana said it was Pacalda’s father who encouraged her to apply for surrender.

But Pacalda — a former campus journalist from a local university in Lucena City — herself in a short video message refuted the military report and denied that she had surrendered.

2 rebels killed in Catanduanes clash 2 rebels killed in Catanduanes clash

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Sep 22, 2019): 2 rebels killed in Catanduanes clash
2 rebels killed in Catanduanes clash

Two suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels were killed in a Sunday morning armed encounter with government troops in a hinterland village of Panganiban town in Catanduanes province, an Army report said.

Lt. William Hiponia, company commander of Philippine Army’s 83rd Infantry Battalion, said combined elements of soldiers and policemen were on combat operation at around 1 a.m. when they
encountered a 7-man NPA group in Barangay (village) Taopon.

A 10-minute firefight ensued that led to the death of two still unidentified rebels.

The fleeing rebels left behind their dead companions and an AR15 assault rifle.

As of press time, Army and police troopers are still tracking down the rebels that fled towards the mountainous area of the said town.

Top Abu Sayyaf bandit, two others surrender in Basilan – military

From CNN Philippines (Sep 21, 2019): Top Abu Sayyaf bandit, two others surrender in Basilan – military

Three members— including a top leader— of the Abu Sayyaf Group surrendered to authorities in Basilan province on Saturday, the military said.

Khadaffy Kalitut, together with Aliman Langkasan and Jiyad Arabin
, surrendered to troops of the 18th Infantry Battalion in Route Perez, Ungkaya Pukan in Basilan, the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) said in a statement.

The surrenderees also yielded several high powered firearms to the government, including an M16 rifle, one Garand rifle, and an M1 carbine.

"With all the programs and projects we implemented to assist our brothers and sisters who decided to return to the mainstream of society, we expect for more surrenderors in the coming days, " Westmincom Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said.

600 residents in Lanao Sur MILF camp get basic services – Bangsamoro gov’t

From Politiko Mindanao (Sep 21, 2019): 600 residents in Lanao Sur MILF camp get basic services – Bangsamoro gov’t

The Bangsamoro government has conducted an outreach program, benefiting 600 residents inside a camp of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Lanao del Sur.

The regional government said the “Project TABANG” was held in Camp Bilal Poctan in Barangay Baret, Balindong town Tuesday, September 17.

“The residents have benefitted from free medical and dental check-ups, medicine prescriptions, livelihood orientations, and others,” it said.

The Project TABANG was spearheaded by the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM)-Ministry of Interior and Local Government (MILG), Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform (MAFAR), Ministry of Trade, Investments, and Tourism (MTIT), Rapid Emergency Action on Disaster Incidence of the Bangsamoro (READI), Health, Education, Livelihood, Peace and Governance and Synergy (HELPS), and the local government of Balindong, Lanao del Sur.

Project TABANG or the “Tulong Alay sa Bangsamorong Nangangailangan” is an initiative of the Office of the Chief Minister (OCM) aimed at facilitating the direct and immediate extension of basic services and assistance to the Bangsamoro people, specifically on health and education services.

It will be conducted regularly in the different areas across the Bangsamoro region, most especially in the poverty and calamity-stricken communities, the regional government said.

MNLF training director, 4 high-value targets nabbed in Basilan buy-bust

From Politiko Mindanao (Sep 21, 2019): MNLF training director, 4 high-value targets nabbed in Basilan buy-bust

An alleged training director of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and four high-value target drug personalities were arrested in a buy-bust operation in Basilan.

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron N. Aquino said a drug den was also dismantled during the operation in Purok 5, Tupay Village, Barangay Tabuk, Isabela City on September 17.

He identified the suspects as Abdulhaber Arok Lakkian, alias Amaon, MNLF training director and drug den maintainer; Abesamer Aldam Paradji, alias Dex, drug den maintainer; Abdulbasa Astian Lakkian; Omar Mustafa Hasim; and Nur-Hussin Hasim Wahab; all high-value target drug personalities.

The joint elements of PDEA Regional Office IX, Station Western Mindanao 3012nd Air Intelligence, and local police confiscated 17 pieces of plastic sachet containing alleged shabu weighing about 17 grams, with an estimated value of P115,600.00, assorted drug paraphernalia, cash amounting to P720.00, and buy-bust money.

The suspects would face charges for alleged violation of Republic Act No. 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

Air Force stages campus peace forum

From the Philippine Information Agency (Sep 21, 2019): Air Force stages campus peace forum

Stuents of Isabela State University - Cauayan Campus join in the Campus Peace and Security Forum
spearheaded by the Philippine Airforce - Tactical Operations Gorup 2. (PIA photo)

CAUAYAN CITY, Isabela - - As part of the effort to educate and keep the students vigilant on the recruitment activities of the red groups, the Philippine Air Force - Tactical Operations Group 2 (PAF-TOG2) spearheaded the conduct of a Campus Peace and Security Forum at the Isabela State University this city.

Lieutenant Colonel Randy G. Buena, group commander, said the forum which was participated in by over a thousand of tertiary students aimed at informing them the different activities of left-leaning organizations taking into consideration their vulnerability to be persuaded to join the communist terrorist groups.

Major General Pablo M. Lorenzo, commander of the 5th Infantry Battalion based in Gamu, Isabela, also presented the tactics of the left-leaning organizations in recruiting students to join street rallies against the government and eventually teaching them to engage armed conflicts versus the states’ troops.

“You have to focus on your studies and pursue your dreams in life. Never attempt to join the left leaning groups as they will just destroy your studies, your life and your families,” Lorenzo said.

Oliver T. Baccay (the writer), information center manager of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) -Cagayan Information Center, discusses to the youth-participants responsible sharing of information and PCOO's 'dismiss disinformation' campaign during the forum. In his talk, he also highlighted how young netizens turned victims of fake news proliferation. (MDCT/PIA-2 File Photo)

A former rebel, known as “Lola”, shared how she became a member of the New Peoples’ Army (NPA) and her experiences in the mountains to include armed conflict with government forces for several years.

“At first, they will befriend you. They will offer a helping hand in your studies and assistance in your problems. And if they won your trust, they will slowly inflict in your minds the negative things in the government until you will be persuaded to join them,” Lola said.

She also discussed the deceptive tactics of the left-leaning and progressive groups in recruiting young targets, especially in schools.

She said the commanders or the guerillas of the NPA do not go down to recruit, instead they use progressive groups to conduct massive recruitments on the ground.

For his part, Reymel Resposo, youth development officer of Isabela province, discussed the province's different programs for the development of youths’ skills and capabilities to prevent them from joining any anti-government activities.

He also discussed how important are the roles of the youth in nation-building and societal development. (MDCT/OTB/PIA 2-Cagayan)

OPAPP chief urges LCEs to implement EO 70

From the Philippine Information Agency (Sep 21, 2019): OPAPP chief urges LCEs to implement EO 70

CITY OF ILAGAN, Isabela - - - Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr urged Local Chief Executives (LCEs) in the country to lead in the implementation of Executive Order No. 70 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte toward ending the 50-year old insurgency problem.

Galvez made the call when he visited the 5th Infantry Division, Philippine Army based in Gamu town on Monday where he served as the keynote speaker during the celebration of National Peace Consciousness month.

He said LCEs should form a local task force to end local armed conflict in the country emphasizing the President's goal of ending the insurgency problem during his term.

“I urge Local Chief Executives to lead in the formation of task force to end local armed conflict in their respective places,” Galvez said.

He said LCEs should coordinate with all government line agencies to ensure that all government programs, projects and services are delivered to the people especially those in the far-flung and insurgency-influenced areas.

Galvez added that one manifestation to show support to the EO is to pass a resolution declaring New People’s Army (NPA) as 'persona non grata' in their areas.

The secretary also reminded the governors, mayors and barangay officials that they could be removed from their office once they failed to implement the EO in their areas of jurisdiction.

On the other hand, Galvez, together with the camp's army officials and officials from the Cordillera Administrative Region, led the wreath-laying in honor of fallen state troopers who paid the ultimate sacrifice for the nation's peace and freedom.

Galvez also led the unveiling of the Cordillera People's Liberation Army (CPLA) marker in honor of the gallant contribution of the fighters who fought with government forces against the communist group. (MDCT/MGE/PIA 2-Isabela)

AFP awards outstanding reservists, units

From the Philippine Information Agency (Sep 21, 2019): AFP awards outstanding reservists, units (By AFP PAO)

The AFP hosted the closing ceremony of the 40th National Reservists Week on Saturday, September 21 at the Lapu-lapu Grandstand in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City. Among the highlights of the ceremony were the awarding of outstanding reservists and reservist units, and the parade of troops and capabilities. Photos by Cpl Joel Manzano PA of PAOAFP. (AFP PAO)

CAMP AGUINALDO, Quezon City --The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) awarded outstanding reservists and reserve units in the country during the closing ceremony of the 40th National Reservists Week (NRW) on Saturday, September 21 at the Lapu-lapu Grandstand, here.

Among the recognized reservists were Navy Commander Danilo G Espela, the AFP Reservist Officer of the Year for field grade level; Army Captain Raida B Maglangit, the AFP Reservist of the Year for company grade level; and Army Technical Sergeant Renato D Escolano, the AFP Enlisted Reservist of the Year.

The recognition of the reservists signifies the active and strong interchange of support between civilians and military. While they do not receive compensation, reservists continue to carry out support operations especially in nation-building and humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

The recognition of the reservists signifies the active and strong interchange of support between civilians and military. (AFP PAO)

The outstanding reservist units of the year were Naval Forces Reserve-Eastern Visayas, 51st Naval Group Reserve, and Leyte College Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) Unit. Meanwhile, the 704th Reserve Communication Center Incorporated Communication Battalion and 60th NARG-YL Fishing Corp were recognized as AFP Affiliated Reserve Units of the Year.

Department of Public Works and Highways Undersecretary Roberto Bernardo who represented Secretary Mark Villar as the guest of honor personally awarded the outstanding reservists and reservist units. He was assisted by AFP Vice Chief of Staff, Vice Admiral Gaudencio Collado Jr. Also present in the ceremony were Colonel Fernando Fraginal, Commander of AFP Reserve Command, and Commodore Ramil Roberto Enriquez, the Deputy Chief of Staff for Reservist and Retiree Affairs.

Prior to the ceremony, reservists conducted a capability demonstration at the AFP parade grounds followed by the parade of troops, warfighting capabilities and HADR equipment. This was done to show the present status of the operational readiness and the responsiveness of the AFP reserve force.

From 1995 to 2019, the AFP was able to record a total of 703,648 Reservists while there are 4,384,936 ROTC cadets.

This year’s NRW is anchored on the theme “Laang-Kawal: Makabagong Lingkod Bayang Maaasahan sa panahon ng Digmaan, Sakuna at Kapayapaan.” During the week-long celebration, reservists and ROTC cadets nationwide were tested and evaluated through various activities that include mustering, assembly test, pre-mobilization test, and Senior Leaders Forum and ROTC Summit.

Also known as “Linggo ng Laang-Kawal” under Presidential Proclamation 627 of 1995, it is annually conducted to celebrate the accomplishments of reservists and their incessant support to the AFP in fulfilling its mandate. (AFP PAO)

President Duterte oversees decommissioning of firearms in Capiz

From the Philippine Information Agency (Sep 21, 2019): President Duterte oversees decommissioning of firearms in Capiz

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his speech during the decommissioning of the arms and forces of the 727 Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa - Pilipinas/ Revolutionary Proletarian Army/ Alex Boncayao Brigade - Tabara-Paduano Group (RPM-P/RPA/ABB-TPG) at the Camp General Macario B. Peralta, Jr. in Jamindan, Capiz on September 19, 2019. ALFRED FRIAS/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

JAMINDAN, Capiz -- President Rodrigo Roa Duterte oversaw the decommissioning Thursday of firearms surrendered by former rebels who broke away from the country’s main leftist revolutionary organization and signed a peace agreement with the government nearly two decades ago.

Speaking before the former combatants of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade – Tabara-Paduano Group (RPA/ABB-TPG) or Kapatiran, President Duterte said the occasion marks another step closer towards the building of a peaceful and prosperous nation.

He acknowledged the unwavering dedication and hard work of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP), and all other partners to end years of hostilities between the government and RPA/ABB-TPG.

“I am pleased to note that this peace-building program has also a social and economic reintegration component through which the government will provide support to enable returnees to become productive members of the society,” President Duterte said.

“I encourage all 727 returnees to take advantage of this opportunity to start anew and lead a productive life with your families and loved ones. Be assured of the government’s full support for your reintegration to the mainstream society.”

At the same time, the President urged all stakeholders to continue working together to ensure that the fruits of the years of peace negotiations will not go to waste.

And as the government sustain the gains of the peace-building efforts, he said, “I enjoin all Filipinos to make the Philippines a better place for everyone, where we can all live in harmony and with greater opportunities for an improved quality of life.”

More than 300 firearms from members of the RPA/ABB-TPG were decommissioned and handed over to Camp Gen. Macario B. Peralta Jr., the headquarters of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (3ID).

Aside from the firearms decommissioned on Thursday, less than 12,000 rounds of assorted ammunition and 145 pieces of military ordnance were also disposed.

Mostly from the provinces of Negros, Aklan, Bukidnon, Antique, Capiz, and Iloilo, the 727 Kapatiran members underwent profiling by the OPAPP and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) prior to Thursday’s disposition of firearms.

Also, 267 Kapatiran members were presented to the President. They will undergo training on nationalism, camp defense, disaster response, and rescue operations.

They will also receive socioeconomic assistance packages from the DSWD as part of the government’s commitment under the Clarificatory Implementation Document (CID) signed by the Philippine government and Kapatiran in July this year.

The National Housing Authority (NHA) is in charge of their housing needs.

CID has five components: disposition of arms and forces and security arrangements, socioeconomic reintegration, release of remaining political offenders, transformation of former rebels into a civilian organization engaged in socioeconomic and political activities, and community peace dividends.

A joint enforcement and monitoring committee was created to monitor the implementation of the CID. The monitoring committee is co-chaired by Veronica Tabara and Defense Undersecretary Cesar Yano.

A closure agreement is expected to be signed in 2022, upon the fulfillment of the requirements stated in the CID.

A Securities and Exchange Commission-registered entity, Kapatiran was established in 2013 as the rejectionist group of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) went mainstream. It is currently headed by Veronica Tabara and being represented in Congress by Rep. Joseph Stephen Paduano of Abang Lingkod Partylist.

Earlier this month, President Duterte also witnessed the decommissioning of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) combatants in Maguindanao, promising to honor all the peace agreements entered into by the government. (PND)

69 NPA members, supporters surrender in Bukidnon

From the Philippine Information Agency (Sep 21, 2019): 69 NPA members, supporters surrender in Bukidnon (By 8th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army)

Featured Image

MALAYBALAY CITY -- About 69 militia ng bayan and mass base supporters of the New People's Army (NPA) voluntarily surrendered to the government during a Community Support Program (CSP) Grand “Pulong-pulong”, held Thursday, September 19, at Barangay Kibalabag, this city.

Fourteen (14) of the surrenderees are militia ng bayan members bringing with them five firearms, one homemade shotgun, one cal. 38 revolver, one cal. 22 revolver, one cal. 357 revolver magnum and subversive documents.

The other 55 are supporters from Sangay sa Partido sa Lokalidad (7), Pambansang Kilusan ng Magbubukid (18), Malayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan (13) and Kabataang Makabayan (17).

Accordingly, the members were deceived by NPA organizers using issues arousing, organizing and mobilizing them to go against the Philippine Government. They were infiltrated by the NPA in 2010 with the promise that they will help in peace and development. However, it only turned to chaos and the NPA organizers sow terror in the community.

Enlightened by the truth, they decided to withdraw their membership and support to Guerellia Front 89, North Central Mindanao Regional Command.

The surrenderees took their oath of allegiance to the government during the grand “pulong-pulong” by signing in public the document “Withdrawal of Membership to the National Democratic Front." It was witnessed by officials of city government of Malaybalay and representatives of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Department of Health, City Social Welfare and Development, Department of Environment and Natural Resources- Community Environment and Natural Resources Office,, and other local agencies including stakeholders of Barangay Kibalabag.

Gino Benito, Kalihim of Pambansang Kilusan ng Magbubukid, said in his testimony, “tinuod na miyembro misa organisasyon pero wala mi mahimo kay pobre ra mi unya gisaaran mi ug kaayuhan sa NPA, mao nag apil mi pero bakak man diay ang ilaha; pamaagi ra nila tu aron makarekruit (it is true that we were members of the organization but we could not do something because we are poor, and the NPA promised us good that is why we joined them, but it was all lies, just their way to recruit)."

“Ni anhi mi sa inyong komunidad kauban ang uban nga Government Agencies aron mo tabang ug dili makig giyera aron ipasabot nga aduna tay gobyerno ug National Agencies nga andam mo tubag sa atong mga klase klase nga pangutana (We are here in your community together with other government agencies to help not fight, to show that we have national agencies that are ready to answer to your various questions),” Lieutenant Colonel Ronald Illana, Commanding Officer of the 8th Infantry “Dependable” Battalion said in his speech.

The surrenderees will be assisted by the 8th Infantry Battalion and the city government of Malaybalay to ensure their safety and support from the government

Roberto Flores, the executive assistant to the Mayor of Malaybalay City, underscored in his statement that the army's CSP is a good approach to end local insurgency. He said the city government is willing to participate and adopt the approach. (8th IB)

4ID intensifies socmed operations to combat NPA’s propaganda

From the Philippine Information Agency (Sep 22, 2019): 4ID intensifies socmed operations to combat NPA’s propaganda (By 4th Infantry Division, Philippine Army)

Featured Image

CAMP EVANGELISTA, Cagayan de Oro City – The 4th Infantry “Diamond” Division intensifies its social media operations to combat the Communist NPA Terrorist’s (CNT’s) fake news and deception through the conduct of a 5-day Social Media Product Development and Management Training at the 4ID Headquarters on September 16 – 20, 2019.

The training was attended by 50 participants composed of Civil-Military Operations (CMO) Officers, Assistant CMO Officers and Social Media NCOs of the Infantry Brigades and Battalions, Tactical Operations Group 10, Philippine Air Force and Philippine National Police from regions 10 and 13.

CMO officers of the different brigades and battalions of the 4ID undergo training on social media.

The participants were equipped with the necessary knowledge, skills, and attitude in social media product development and management through in-depth understanding and use of emerging trends and technologies. The training emphasized the importance of social media as an integral part in achieving CMO objectives through effective dissemination of information.

2LT Roselyn Matulac, CMO Officer from the 29th Infantry Battalion said, “We are very grateful to the 4th ID and to the guest lecturers who came all the way from Manila to teach us the necessary knowledge we need in order to enhance our skills as CMO operators. We learned a lot and we will pass our learning to our units.”

Col. Michelle B Anayron Jr, Chief of Staff of the 4th ID as the keynote speaker said “It is my fervent hope that you learn a lot on this training. Remember that each of us in the organization has specific roles that are contributory to the overall success and achievements of our mission and as social media front-liners. You need to further keep in mind that your role is just as equally relevant to our soldiers in the frontlines of the battlefield.”

MGen Franco Nemesio Gacal, 4ID Commander said, “The CNTs are not only operating in the mountains but are also in different social media platforms. We need to effectively counter their lies and deception that are circulating online. Social Media is one platform that will allow us to proactively counter their propaganda by disseminating the true narrative so that we can protect and save our people, especially the youth, from their online recruitment.”

“We also believe that social media will enable us to spread accurate and timely information about the government’s peace and development efforts to end local communist armed conflict," Gacal ended. (4ID)

Town residents happy over ‘2nd on 3ID’

From the Philippine Information Agency (Sep 20, 2019): Town residents happy over ‘2nd on 3ID’

ROXAS CITY, Capiz – Jamindan town residents conveyed their appreciation of Pres. Rodrigo R. Duterte’s second visit to the 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) of the Philippine Army at Camp Gen. Macario C. Peralta, Jr. in Jamindan town, Sept. 19, after the first one in 2016.
In a man-on-the-street (MOS) interview by an online community page in time for the presidential visit, respondents wished to treat the President like a house guest and tour him to a cave and waterfalls of the municipality.

PRRD’s 2nd on 3ID. Pres. Rodrigo R. Duterte, who was at the 3ID camp, is wished by town residents to be part be part of a day in the life of a Jamindanganon so he may experience the local’s hospitality and explore the tourist attractions of the municipality. (PIA Capiz photo/A. Lumaque)

“We will serve the President with native chicken binakol and find a way to include crabs and shrimps in our simple home,” said market vendor Alma Valzado of Brgy. Agcagay, if given a chance to be with the President in a day.

A male senior citizen, Jose Ucag, also expressed his gratefulness to Pres. Duterte who was at the camp to grace the disposition of arms and forces ceremony of the 727 members of the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa - Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade - Tabara-Paduano Group (RPM-P/RPA/ABB-TPG).

“I will also bring him to “Road to Forever,” he added in the interview, referring to a national road built by the national government which is part of the roll-on roll-off nautical highway linking the town as well as cutting travel distance to the municipality of Altavas in Aklan.

The national highway has become an instant tourist attraction of the locality because of the scenic views alongside especially at the elevated stretch of the road.

The MOS interview, which also included youth and students, was intended to know the reactions of Jamindanganons to Duterte’s another visit to the municipality, said Shining Jamindan – AKO Jamindanganon page administrator Louie Vestidas.

“This is how simple and hospitable we are but of course we know how busy the President is,” he added, noting that his co-constituents would love a daytime visit by Duterte to the municipality.

The President was, perhaps, only able to see the forest cover of the town from a chopper view in going to the camp during his August 2016 visit.

It was uncertain, however, if he had a glimpse again in yesterday’s sundown touchdown at the camp.

The local government unit has a lot of tourist attractions to offer to guests and visitors.

Residents discover explosive in Maguindanao town

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 21, 2019): Residents discover explosive in Maguindanao town

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao – Alert civilians prevented what could have been a bloody Friday morning when they alerted authorities about the presence of a powerful anti-personnel mine (APM) in Datu Salibo town in this province.

The APM, fashioned from an 81-mm. mortar projectile with a mobile phone as a trigger mechanism, was recovered by military troops in Barangay Sambulawan, Datu Salibo at about 9 a.m. following the report from civilians.

Soldiers of the Butalo Patrol Base of the 38th Infantry Battalion (IB) were patrolling the vicinity of Barangay Sambulawan when they were informed of what appeared to be a bomb.

Personnel of the Army’s 57th Infantry Battalion (IB) stationed nearby immediately responded and cordoned off the area.

The APM was safely deactivated
and was brought to the 38IB headquarters in Barangay Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat for proper disposal.

“This is a commendable feat attributed to the diligence and vigilance of our forces. I laud our troops for their prompt actions that forestalled another bombing attempt of terrorists in the area,” said the Army’s 6th Infantry Division commander, Maj. Gen. Diosdado Carreon, also Joint Task Force Central chief.

“We take preemptive and decisive actions to counter attacks employed by terrorists to inflict casualties on civilian and military objects,” Western Mindanao Commander Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said in a statement.

“These preventive measures are complemented by the sustained cooperation of communities and the deliberate and mounting counter-operations and intelligence buildup of our forces in terrorist-infested areas,” he added.

Datu Salibo is one of the towns in Maguindanao where the Islamic State-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) mainly operates.

3 persons, 20 others face probe over PMA cadet’s death

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 21, 2019): 3 persons, 20 others face probe over PMA cadet’s death

PROBE INTO PMA CADET'S DEATH. Officials of the Cordillera police and the Philippine Military Academy identify three persons of interest in the death of 4th Class Cadet Darwin Dormitorio, in a press briefing on Friday (Sept. 20, 2019). Autopsy results showed Dormitorio died on September 18 due to trauma caused by a blunt force during hazing. (PNA photo by Dionisio Dennis Jr.)

BAGUIO CITY -- Three persons of interest and 20 others are now the subject of an investigation due to the death of Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Cadet 4th Class Darwin Dormitorio, the Baguio City Police Office (BCPO) confirmed on Friday.
"Three persons of interests will face administrative charges for violation of the anti-hazing (law),"
BCPO director, Col. Allen Rae Co, said in a press briefing.

Co said they include a third class cadet, a second class cadet, and a fourth class cadet.

The third class and second class cadets are now in stockade confinement while the fourth class cadet is at the holding area of the academy.
The other 20, he added, are subject to investigation to find out whether they have knowledge of the incident.
Aside from them, the doctor who diagnosed Dormitorio to be suffering from urinary tract infection after he was confined a day before his death, will also face a probe.

Dormitorio died at 5:15 a.m. on Wednesday, more than an hour after he was rushed to the PMA station hospital after complaining of stomach ache and continuous vomiting.

The PMA reported Dormitorio's death to the BCPO on Wednesday afternoon.

A police report said the academy's physician declared that Dormitorio died of cardiac arrest due to trauma.

The postmortem autopsy conducted by the Philippine National Police (PNP) Crime Laboratory, however, showed a different cause.

"Dormitorio's cause of death was trauma caused by blunt force that led to the untimely demise of the cadet," Co said.

He added that "there was already a maltreatment based on the medico-legal result released last night (Thursday)."

The medico-legal report said there were visible signs of trauma surrounding the navel of the cadet.

Co thanked the PMA administration for allowing the investigators full access to facilities and to the cadets.

Police Regional Office - Cordillera Director, Brig. Gen. Israel Ephraim Dickson, assured Dormitorio’s family of a fair, objective and transparent investigation.

"We believe that justice will be served to the victim and his family," he said.

Meanwhile, PMA Superintendent, Lt. Gen. Ronie Evangelista, said the perpetrators of the crime would face an administrative charge for violation of the Anti-Hazing Law, which carries the penalty of dismissal from military service.

This will be accompanied by a criminal case, the nature of which will depend on the result of the police investigation.

The PMA management has lifted its fingers on the case and has shifted the task of investigating to the police and the National Bureau of Investigation to achieve an impartial result.

‘Escalante massacre turned into peace miracle’: army official

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 21, 2019): ‘Escalante massacre turned into peace miracle’: army official

OATH OF ALLEGIANCE. A total of 2,510 former rebels and supporters of the New People’s Army in northern Negros pledge allegiance to the Philippine government in rites held at the Escalante City Coliseum on Friday afternoon (Sept. 20, 2019). The activity was part of the second day of the three-day North Negros Peace Summit hosted by the Escalante city government with the Philippine Army’s 79th Infantry Battalion. (PNA photo by Nanette L. Guadalquiver)
ESCALANTE CITY -- In what can be considered as the biggest mass surrender in Negros Occidental so far, a total of 2,510 former rebels and members of the New People’s Army (NPA) took their oath of allegiance to the Philippine government here on Friday afternoon.

The surrender took place during the second day of the three-day North Negros Peace Summit hosted by the city government with the Philippine Army’s 79th Infantry Battalion.

“We are very fortunate to witness one of the nation’s milestones in achieving peace today. We will turn the Escalante Massacre tragedy into a peace summit miracle,” said Brig. Gen. Eric Vinoya, assistant division commander of the 3rd Infantry Division (3ID), in his keynote message during the program held at the Escalante City Coliseum.

The event also commemorated the 34th year of the Escalante Massacre, where 20 people died and scores of others were injured after they were shot by paramilitary forces during a protest-rally held a day before the 13th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law.

One of the surrenderers, Janet Pantonial, now in her 50s, was one of those injured in the 1985 massacre and has decided to make peace with the government.

In her testimony, she has expressed willingness to avail of the services of various government agencies.

Vinoya said “the tragedy was used by left-leaning organizations to fuel hatred and disgust against the duly-constituted government to push their wicked agenda.”

“The time is now to move on and transform the lesson of the past to be our jumping board for a better future. With the help of the agencies, organizations, and the whole nation, we will achieve genuine, inclusive and sustainable peace,” the army official added.

Of the 2,510 former rebels who pledged allegiance before Escalante City Local Government Operations Officer Sharon Cadigai, a majority or 997 were from Escalante.

Others were from San Carlos City, 560; Toboso, 382; Don Salvador Benedicto, 217; Calatrava, 171; Sagay City, 63; Victorias City, 54; Cadiz City, 20; Murcia, 18; EB Magalona, 14; Manapla, 13; and Silay City, 1.

Mayor Melecio Yap Jr. of the host-city said the process of surrender of those from Escalante started as early as November last year.

He added that civilian agents, including psychologists and lawyers, assisted the surrenderers during the debriefing to help them cope with their fear of returning to the fold of the law.

During the program, government authorities also apologized for the tragedy brought by the Escalante Massacre. Those who delivered statements of apologies were Executive Assistant Rolyn Cabus; Maj. Win Love Bag-ao, commander of 33rd Civil-Military Operations Company; and Col. Romeo Baleros, director of Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office.

In a statement, the 3ID said the “Army is not in any way involved in the massacre, but we do accept the fact that the government failed to address the social issues being raised by the peasants and the marginalized sector, which prompted them to revolt during that time.”

Former rebel James “Ka Joros" Durimon who surrendered last April, also apologized for the atrocities committed by the NPA.

The 21-year-old, once a member of the Special Partisan Unit or SPARU of the Northern Negros Front, acknowledged that he was part of the hit squad who had gunned down a number of victims.

Durimon also led the turnover of 41 firearms to Vinoya as part of the surrender rites.

The ceremony was also witnessed by Mayors Richard Jaojoco of Toboso, Marilyn Era of Calatrava, Laurence Marxlen de la Cruz of Don Salvador Benedicto, together with former 1st District congressman Julio Ledesma IV; Assistant Secretary Jonji Gonzales of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas; Brig. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, commander of 303rd Infantry Brigade; Land Bank of the Philippines director Jesus Hinlo, who represented Senator Christopher Lawrence Go; and actor Robin Padilla, a reservist captain of the Philippine Army.

Troops discover Dawlah Islamiya hideout in Lanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 21, 2019): Troops discover Dawlah Islamiya hideout in Lanao

ABANDONED HIDEOUT. A soldier stands guard at the hideout of the Dawlah Islamiya that was discovered while troops were in pursuit of the terror group’s members in Barangay Paridi, Piagapo, Lanao del Sur on Thursday (Sept. 19, 2019). The hideout was discovered a day after troops arrested three suspected members of the Dawlah Islamiya, formerly known as the Maute group, also in Barangay Paridi. (Photo courtesy of the Army's 1st Infantry Division)

Troops pursuing remnants of the Islamic State-linked Dawlah Islamiya have discovered a hideout of the terror group in the hinterlands of Lanao del Sur, military officials said Friday.

Maj. Gen. Roberto Ancan, the Army’s 1st Infantry Division commander, said the hideout was discovered while the troops were conducting a clearing operation in Barangay Paridi, Piagapo, Lanao del Sur at about 9:30 a.m. Thursday.

He said the troops have recovered several components of anti-personnel mines (APMs), medicines, medical paraphernalia, foodstuff, and other personal belongings.

Ancan, who also commands the Task Force Zampelan (the Zamboanga Peninsula and Lanao provinces), said the hideout can accommodate about 20 people.

“Troops are in pursuit of terrorists evading our combat operations in the area,” he said.

“We have seized an enemy cache used by Dawlah Islamiya fighters as storage of their explosive components and food supply,” he added.

The hideout was discovered a day after troops arrested three suspected members of the Dawlah Islamiya, formerly known as the Maute group, also in Barangay Paridi.

Brig. Gen. Romeo Brawner, the Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade commander, identified the arrested individuals as Janla Tangolo, 20; Arapat Tangolo, 22; and, Kamarudin Sultan, 20. They were arrested by troops of the Army’s 49th and 82nd infantry battalions in a joint operation in Barangay Paridi at about 5 a.m. Wednesday.

Seized from them were two M-14 rifles, a Bushmaster caliber 5.56 assault rifle, one .38-caliber, magazines, ammunition and bandolier, military authorities said.

Brawner said the three were arrested with the help of a tipster who provided vital information on their whereabouts.

Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief, described the discovery of the hideout as “a substantial gain in as far as our drive to annihilate terrorist groups is concerned.”

“As we constrict local terrorists’ movement and penetrate their previous strongholds, we are confident that gradual progress is made in our anti-terrorism campaign,” Sobejana said.

2 Abu Sayyaf 'bandits' surrender in Sulu

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 21, 2019): 2 Abu Sayyaf 'bandits' surrender in Sulu

Two members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) surrendered amid the focused military operation in the province of Sulu, a top military official said Saturday.

Maj. Gen. Corleto Vinluan, Joint Task Force Sulu commander,
identified the ASG surrenderers as Mukarim Nasilin, 31, and Sahi Hasim, 28, both followers of ASG sub-leader Sibh Pisih.

Vinluan said Nasilim and Hasim surrendered around 9 a.m. Wednesday to the headquarters of the Army’s 41st Infantry Battalion in Sitio Bato Habah, Barangay Matatal, Maimbung, Sulu.

The two turned over two US-made Garand rifles to Lt. Col. Alaric Avelino delos Santos, commanding officer of the Army’s 41st Infantry Battalion, the military official said.
The two were later presented to Col. Antonio Bautista Jr., deputy commander of the Army’s 1102nd Infantry Brigade in Bud Datu, Barangay Tagbak, Indanan, Sulu.

The military is conducting a series of offensives against the ASG bandits in Sulu.

Dismantling of 2 Negros rebel fronts seen by end of 2019

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 21, 2019): Dismantling of 2 Negros rebel fronts seen by end of 2019

RETURN TO THE FOLD. Army officials (from left) Lt. Col. Emelito Thaddeus Logan, commander of 79th Infantry Battalion; Col. Romeo Baleros, director of Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office; Brig. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, commander of 303rd Infantry Brigade, applaud the surrender of a firearm of former communist rebel 'Ka Joros' to Brig. Gen. Eric Vinoya (2nd from right), commander of Joint Task Force-Negros, during the North Negros Peace Summit in Escalante City on Friday (Sept. 20, 2019). Vinoya said they aim to dismantle the NPA’s northern and central Negros fronts by the end of 2019. (PNA photo by Nanette L. Guadalquiver)

The military’s Joint Task Force (JTF) Negros is looking at dismantling the two Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) rebel fronts on the island by the end of 2019.

Brig. Gen. Eric Vinoya, commander of JTF-Negros, said in a press briefing here on Friday the aim is to first take down the communist-terrorist group’s northern and central Negros fronts.

“Our target for the northern Negros front and the central Negros front is up to the end of this year,” he said.

Vinoya, who is also assistant division commander of 3rd Infantry Division (3ID), said the fast-tracked operations for the rest of the NPA’s fronts on the island will follow next year.

“The target given by the President is until the end of his term,” the army official said. With the creation of the JTF-Negros, the Philippine Army is complemented by the assets of the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Air Force.

The Army maintains two brigades in Negros Island. The 303rd Infantry Brigade based in Murcia, Negros Occidental, led by Brig. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, supervises the 94th, 79th, and 62nd infantry battalions (IB).

Under the jurisdiction of 302IB stationed in Tanjay City, Negros Oriental, headed by Col. Noel Baluyan, are the 15th, 11th, and 47th IBs.

Vinoya said as the head of JTF-Negros, he is tasked to expedite the ending of local communist armed conflict in Negros through various efforts, including focused military operations, community support programs, and working with the Provincial Task Force on Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF-ELCAC) in the two provinces.

“With those two provincial task forces, there will be a whole-of-nation approach already. There is a collaboration not only from the security forces but also from local government units and national government agencies,” he added.

In Negros Occidental alone, there is a continued presence of the CPP-NPA cadres mainly in the first, fifth and six districts, although the military said their number has dwindled in recent years.

The forming of the PTF-ELCAC is in compliance with President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order (EO) 70.

Under EO 70, there is a shift from a traditional military-centric approach to a civilian-led way in confronting the communist terrorist groups (CTGs) to a whole-of-nation approach, in which the military solution should be just one of the many components in addressing the communist insurgency.

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

Army foils Red harassment plan in Iloilo town

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 21, 2019): Army foils Red harassment plan in Iloilo town

ARMY-REBEL CLASH. Lt. Col. Joel Benedict Batara, commanding officer of the Philippine Army’s 61st Infantry Battalion (61IB), says on Saturday (Sept. 21, 2019) that the Friday encounter between the Army and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) foiled the rebel's plan to attack a private company. He said the rebels plan to sabotage the operation of the Century Peak Energy Company, a hydro-energy plant based in Igbaras town, Iloilo. (File photo)

ILOILO CITY -- The Philippine Army’s 61st Infantry Battalion (61IB) foiled the harassment plans of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) on Friday.

The government troops encountered
more or less 15 members of the CPP-NPA under the Suyak Platoon, Southern Front, Komiteng Rehiyon Panay at Ongyod village, Miag-ao town.

Lt. Col. Joel Benedict Batara, 61st IB commanding officer, told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Saturday that the brief firefight lasted around minutes.

The operating troops were conducting combat operations at the vicinity in response to the reports from locals regarding the presence of armed communist rebels.

No casualty was recorded on the government side while reliable sources revealed that there are several wounded on the enemy side, he said.

Batara said the Army likely prevented the rebels from attacking the Century Peak Energy Company in nearby Igbaras town.

“Century Peak Energy Company is a hydro-energy plant in Igbaras town. For the previous years, the company had been harassed by the rebels and fortunately, the troops are always there to respond,” he said.

Batara said the company had been receiving extortion letters from the rebels in the past years “but they never gave in to the demand”.

Aside from its planned harassment of a private company, Bara said the CPP-NPA also has plans to attack Army and Philippine National Police (PNP) detachments in the area.

“We are on alert because they might want to highlight their protests especially with the anniversary of the Martial Law,” Batara said.

Meanwhile, Batara said the local government unit of Miag-ao “has initial plans” to declare the CPP-NPA as persona-non-grata.

“Other municipalities are also planning to declare them (rebels) persona-non-grata. In due time, the whole province of Iloilo, Antique and Capiz might declare the CPP-NPA as persona non-grata,” he said.

Towns and cities taking the initiative to declare such is a “good sign” on the anti-insurgency campaign of the government, he said.

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

Honoring the unsung heroes of Korean War

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 21, 2019): Honoring the unsung heroes of Korean War

HONORING KOREAN WAR VETS. Leticia Tamayo Collado and Victoria Tuscano, whose husbands were both veterans of the Korean War, attended the Peace Concert at the Cultural Center of the Philippines last June 25. Rhe concert is an honor to the unsung heroes of the Korean War. (PNA photo by Cristina Arayata)

MANILA -- Sixty-nine years ago, more than 7,000 Filipino soldiers were sent to Korea during the Korean War.

Among them were the late husbands of Leticia Tamayo Collado and Victoria Tuscano. Their husbands, who survived the war, are among those honored for their bravery and sacrifice.

Now at their late stages in life, Collado and Tuscano continue to be treated for what their husbands did in Korea. Recently, they went to the Cultural Center of the Philippines to attend the Peace Concert that the Korean and Philippine government entities organized to honor the unsung heroes of the Korean War.

"The Korean War Memorial Peace Concert" also aimed to inform the youth about the soldiers' sacrifices, that these have contributed a lot to the peace that they are currently enjoying.

The Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra and the Seocho Philharmoniker of Korea share the stage during "The Korean War Memorial Peace Concert". (PNA photo by Cristina Arayata)

"More than 7,000 Filipino soldiers came to South Korea to defend its freedom and democracy. I strongly believe that this Korea will not be enjoying its freedom and economic prosperity without the noble and great sacrifice of the Filipino people and veterans. Indeed, they deserve the title of a hero," said South Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Han Dong-man in his speech.

He said the next generation must know the value of freedom and the nobility of the veterans.

As such, the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the Philippines, National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs, and The Patriotic Cultural Association of Korea organized the Peace Concert last June 25.

Seocho Philharmoniker of Korea (PNA photo by Cristina Arayata)

Han told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) this will be the only time that a Peace Concert would be organized in Manila, also because 2019 marks the 70th year of bilateral relations between the Philippines and Korea.

Collado said the Korean government has been helping the families of Filipino veterans. She said her child graduated dentistry through the support of the Korean government.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra and the Seocho Philharmoniker of Korea shared the stage during the concert. Among their performances included "Bimok", the Korean folk song to commemorate Korean War veterans, as well as the Korean "boating song", "Arirang Fantasy".

PH gets Sokor's highest medal for bravery

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 21, 2019): PH gets Sokor's highest medal for bravery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How this IP teacher risks life, limb to stand up vs. CPP-NPA

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 21, 2019): How this IP teacher risks life, limb to stand up vs. CPP-NPA

HERO. Indigenous people’s (IP) teacher Joel Dahusay narrates his struggle before members of the media in a conference at the Consulate General of the Philippines office in Chicago, Illinois on Monday (July 8, 2019). He lamented how the Salugpungan school has become an institution of deception, radicalization and corruption of IP culture. (Photo by Mac VIllarino/PCOO)

CHICAGO, Illinois — They say teaching is the noblest profession, but indigenous people’s (IP) leader Joel Dahusay went beyond proving that mantra — he risked his life to defend his students from people seeking to craft a movement advocating violence.

Immediately after graduating from college, Dahusay, a member of the Matigtalomo – Manobo Tribe, returned to his community to teach the youth and instill in them the value of education.

But he had no clue that his way of giving back to the community meant bracing for a tough enemy and exposing himself to danger in the process.

“Hindi ko alam na yung komunidad namin, sinasakop na ng mga komunistang terorista. Pinipigilan na nila lahat ng development na galing sa gobyerno. Kaya makikita mo, yung IP communities wala talagang improvement (I didn’t know that communist terrorists were already encroaching on our areas. They were hindering development programs provided by the government. That’s why you see, no improvements are seen in IP communities),” Dahusay said in an inteview.

Going beyond

It was not just his role, he said, but his responsibility, to educate disadvantaged members of his tribe and help build a better future for them.

“Nakita ko na dun sa mga remote areas, parang yung mga bahay kalat kalat, pero nag-effort kami na itipon yung mga bata para ma-edukar (I noticed that in the remote areas, houses are far from each other, but we took the effort to organize them so they can be educated),” he said.

But the guerilla warfare, he said, kept tribespeople divided — young people were indoctrinated of the communist ideology, recruited to join the armed struggle, and transformed them into warriors.

Disguised as teachers

Dahusay said members of the New People’s Army (NPA), armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP), kept pouring into the countryside, some of them disguised as teachers, educating children to rally against the government.

He said the Salugpungan school, for one, is a huge institution run by leftist groups in Southern Mindanao that teach children for free — but comes with a hefty price.

“Yung objective nila, i-brainwash yung mga bata sa ideolohiya ng communist terrorist. Ayaw ng mga NPA na mag-enrol ang mga bata sa ibang eskwelahan, dapat sa Salugpungan lang. (Its objective is to brainwash children in the communist terrorist ideology. NPA members don’t want the children to enrol in other schools, only in the Salugpungan),” he said.

In 2012, Dahusay said when he was absorbed by the local government unit in Davao del Norte as a day care teacher, leftist groups harassed him for supposedly “taking sides.”

“Dinakip ako ng kaliwa, inimbestigahan ako. Sabi nila, saan ka ba panig, sa gobyerno o sa kaliwa? Sabi ko hindi ako pwedeng pumanig, kasi teacher ako, neutral ako. (The Left arrested and investigated me. They asked me, where does your loyalty lie, to the Left or the government? I told them, ‘I cannot take sides, I’m a teacher, I should be neutral),” he said.

Dahusay said members of the NPA harassed parents who would choose to enroll their children in schools operated by the government, killing some of them who would resist their order.

Different curriculum

Braving intimidations posed by the armed group, Dahusay stood up and questioned the “huge difference” in the curriculum imposed by the Salugpungan school to that of the Department of Education.

“Lahat ng nakita ko du’n against sa government. Sasabihin nila, against sila sa illegal logging, sa mining, pero kung tutuusin, sila ang may pinakamalaki ang collection sa mga mining companies (I saw them educate children of anti-government teachings. They would pretend to be against illegal logging and mining, but if you look into it, they are the biggest collectors from mining companies),” he said.

The collected money, he said, is used by the armed group to further their campaign such as launching attacks against government troops while expanding their “schools of deception.”

The NPA, he said, targets businessmen, politicians, mining and logging firms, and even store owners in their extortion activities.

Given the series of harassments posed by the communist rebels, Dahusay still chose to resist, saying working in a climate of fear will not prevent him from “letting the truth out” and making the perpetrators of turning children into warriors accountable of their actions.

“Pitong beses na akong tinambangan ng NPA. Pero nandito pa rin ako. Siguro may plano ang Ginoo (Members of the NPA attempted to kill me seven times. But I’m still here. Maybe God has a purpose),” he said.

Dahusay now joins other tribal chieftains in voicing out the atrocities of communist terrorist groups in the Philippines.

He is among the eight tribal leaders who are making their way across the United States to rally the international community to help end the armed insurgency movement’s narratives.

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

Dahusay said he would risk life and limb to defend his students from oppressors in his community, saying there is no bigger heartache for a teacher than seeing the future of his students stolen from them.

FVR impressed with new Westmincom chief credentials

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 21, 2019): FVR impressed with new Westmincom chief credentials

Former President Fidel V. Ramos (right) and Lt. Gen. Cirilito E. Sobejana 

Former President Fidel V. Ramos has lauded President Rodrigo R. Duterte for appointing Lt. Gen. Cirilito E. Sobejana as the new commanding general of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), citing the army officer’s credentials as a battle-tested officer whom he awarded the Medal of Valor in 1996.

The Medal of Valor is the highest award of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) given to a soldier for gallantry in combat.

Duterte promoted Sobejana as Westmincom commander last week.

Sobejana was formerly commander of the 6th Division of the Philippine Army based in Central Mindanao.

Sobejana made a courtesy call on Ramos at the latter’s Ramos Peace and Development Foundation, Inc. (RPDev) office in Makati City on Tuesday, to thank the former Commander-in-Chief, who pinned the Medal of Valor during the 61st AFP anniversary held in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City on Dec. 21, 1996.

Ramos, or FVR as he is fondly called, vividly remembered the day he pinned the medal on Sobejana, who was then an army captain at that time.

“You are a hero,” Ramos told Sobejana, who now holds the rank of lieutenant general.

When he saw Ramos, Sobejana made a snappy salute which FVR acknowledged and congratulated the army general for a job well done in defending the country against terror groups.

Sobejana got the highest military award for leading a 16-man team of Scout Rangers of the Philippine Army when they encountered more than 150 fully armed Abu Sayyaf terrorists in Sitio Sweet Jackal in the town of Matarling, Basilan on the Friday the 13th of January 1995.

At the height of the close-quarter battle, Sobejana was badly wounded on his right arm, but he and his men continued the fight without retreating.

In an interview with the Philippine News Agency, Sobejana said seven of his men were killed in action.

“But the remaining nine of us, all wounded, continued the fighting without let-up. I had with me an M-16 Baby Armalite assault rifle, and I gathered five other firearms left behind by men who were killed near me. I also had 300 rounds of ammunition,” Sobejana recalled.

“When my right hand was hit, the pain was excruciating. I could hear bullets buzzing just a few inches from where I was lying down. Mortar shells and rockets fell all over,” he said.

With a wounded right hand, he used his left hand to fire his weapon at several Abu Sayyaf militants, who tried to advance towards their defensive line, “but we fired at the terrorists, who were killed one after the other”.

“With our heavy volume of fire, the Abu Sayyaf thought we were many,” he said.

“I glanced at my watch; it was 1430H (2:30 p. m.). My men and I continued fighting and firing at the enemy. I was again hit. This time, it was my right hand,” Sobejana added.

“I applied a tourniquet to stop the bleeding (then) I saw one of my men get hit in the abdomen. His intestines came out and we bandaged him,” he said.

During the gun battle, 42 Abu Sayyaf members were killed, and the wounded were brought along by the terrorist group in their retreat.

On Scout Rangers’ side, seven were killed and all the remaining nine, including Sobejana, were wounded.

Sobejana also thanked FVR for sending him to the United States for medical treatment for his severely shattered right arm to save it from being cut-off.

It was then-Defense Secretary Renato S. de Villa, who recommended to then-President Ramos to send Sobejana to the U.S. for further treatment of his badly wounded right arm.

Today, Sobejana has his right arm intact, but the marks of the bullet wound are visible.

Nonetheless, Sobejana is proud as a soldier who defended the country to preserve the republic at all cost, including his life if need be.

Why Fil-Ams’ voice matter in fight vs. CPP-NPA

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 21, 2019): Why Fil-Ams’ voice matter in fight vs. CPP-NPA

‘BE OUR VOICE.’ Tribal leaders pose with members of the Filipino community, in a forum hosted by the Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco, California on Wednesday (July 10, 2019). They appealed to Filipinos to help expose the atrocities of the CPP-NPA-NDF. (Photo by Mac Villarino/PCOO)

SAN FRANCISCO, California — For Filipinos here, raising the Philippine flag in a country like the United States isn’t just about proving that the Filipino diaspora is worth giving a pat on the back by the diverse American culture, but also giving back to the country by speaking up for marginalized sectors back home.

Bernadette Munoz-Roco, who has been working as a nurse in California for decades, said she has been going around areas in Mindanao not just to push for her health advocacy, but to learn the issues confronting peace and development in the conflict-torn area.

Munoz-Roco was among the Filipinos who trooped to the Consulate General of the Philippines here on Wednesday, in a forum where tribal leaders spoke against the atrocities of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

“They were here to tell the truth. It’s my first time to hear the stories of these indigenous peoples. The issues in the Philippines should matter to us, the Filipino-American (Fil-Am) community, and we should educate each other about this,” she said.

Her husband Carmelo, a medical doctor, said the Filipino community should engage all Fil-Am sectors here about the fight of indigenous people to attain sustainable peace.

“If the Filipino American community knows about this, appreciates the hardships they are going through, there will be future actions to help them, not only in terms of health, but also education and improving their natural resources, preventing their community from destruction,” he said.

As Filipinos, Carmelo said it is every Filipino’s obligation to help the IP community “stay as it is.”

“What important gift the Filipino-American community can give is to help them make sure that their communities are intact, that their standard of living improves in time, and they are able to preserve their culture,” he said.

The tribal leaders, who have been getting death threats for speaking about the deception and harassments posed by the communist terrorist groups before the international community, called on Filipinos to be on the lookout for organizations here asking for donations, saying these might be funneled to groups affiliated with the communist insurgency movement.

Why United States?

Datu Jacob Lanes, of the Mandaya tribe from Davao City, said their speaking tour here is significant not only because communist front organizations receive funds from Fil-Am communities in the guise of pro-poor programs, but also to educate Filipinos on the “real situation” in IP communities back home.

“Yung problema sa NPA is connected doon sa mga organizations ng mga Fil-Ams na nandito. Pero hindi lang siya financial support, we believe na kailangan din namin i-educate yung mga Fil-Am communities because they are being fed with lies (The problem about the NPA is connected to the Fil-Am organizations here. But it’s not only about financial support, we believe that we need to educate Fil-Am communities because they are being fed with lies),” he said.

Lanes called on Filipinos to raise the discourse on the issues hounding tribal communities and resist the narrative given by alliance of progressive organizations abroad.

“Rather than magalit, naaawa kami sa kanila because they are also victims sa mga maling paniniwala, at yun ang nakakaawa (Rather than be angry, we pity them because they are also victims of deception),” Roco said.

On the other hand, Datu Nestor Apas urged Fil-Ams to “research properly” on the issue and “be open to discussions.”

“Mas mabuti mag research sila. Mag-research sila sa mga tao na dapat paniwalaan. Bumalik sila sa Pilipinas, pumunta sila sa mga communities namin. Mag-investigate sila, para makita nila ang totoo (It’s better that they research. They should research on whom to believe. They should go back to the Philippines and visit our communities. They should conduct an investigation, so they will be able to know what’s true),” said Apas, chief of Langilan Manobo tribe of Davao del Norte.

Meanwhile, Deputy Consul General Raquel Solano said the tribal chieftains’ speaking tour in America provides a platform for them to be heard by the greater Fil-Am community.

“This is a good thing because they are providing our people information that they would need in order to properly evaluate the development and happenings in the Philippines particularly in respect to indigenous communities in Mindanao,” she said.

In March, the European Union expressed commitment to probe allegations that its assistance funds were being channeled to the CPP-NPA.

The Philippine government has requested the EU to "immediately cease" its funding coursed through legal fronts of the CPP-NPA.

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

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

Pinoy veteran of 3 wars still strong at 97

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 21, 2019): Pinoy veteran of 3 wars still strong at 97

Maj. Maximo Young (Ret.), before (left) and now (right)

MANILA -- At 97, retired Maj. Maximo Young, one of the few, if not the only living Filipino veteran of three wars – World War 2, Korea and Vietnam – remains strong and healthy despite nearing the century mark.

Young celebrated his 97th birthday with vigor by walking around, smiling and shaking hands with visitors who attended his natal day celebration at the Officers Clubhouse in Camp Aguinaldo on Saturday.

A thanksgiving mass preceded the grand birthday celebration.

During the singing of a birthday song for him, his wife, Mercedes, 68, hugged him to the delight of friends and visitors.

When World War II broke out on Dec. 8, 1941, Young, a cadet at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA,) joined the Filipino forces to fight the Japanese, who invaded the Philippines. He was 19 at that time.

As a guerrilla fighter, Young demonstrated his bravery fighting the Japanese.

At one instance, Young almost got killed when a boat of the guerrillas carrying supplies was intercepted and sank by the Japanese in the Visayan Sea.

He evaded being captured by swimming to the shoreline.

Following the surrender of Japanese forces in 1944, Young continued his military career as a lieutenant of the Philippine Army.

Six years later, when the Korean War broke out on June 25, 1950, Young volunteered to join the Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea (PEFTOK) to fight the Chinese and North Korean communist forces who invaded South Korea.

As a tank commander of the 10th Battalion Combat Team (BCT) of PEFTOK, Young and his troops fought the Chinese and North Korea troops in a two-day close-quarter fighting in what is now known as the Great Battle at Yultong, stopping the enemy from entering South Korea.

It was at Yultong that Young and his troops showed the Filipino gallantry in combat against all odds.

For his heroic action Young was awarded the “Taegeuk Medal”, the highest military award of South Korea given to a soldier for bravery in combat.

Another Filipino trooper who was awarded posthumously the same medal was Capt. Conrado Yap, who was killed during the Battle at Yultong, after he refused to leave his men and courageously fought single-handedly against the Chinese and North Korean forces.

The fighting in Korea ended in 1953 with a divided Korea, with the South as a democratic country and North a communist-ruled nation to date.

The dividing line is called the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).

In 1966 when the Vietnam War erupted, Young found himself in South Vietnam as a military advisor of the South Vietnamese government.

Though he did not fight in Vietnam, he witnessed at close range the heavy fighting in that once war-torn country.

During his 97th birthday bash, Young thanked God for a long life, surviving World War II, Korean War and the Vietnam War without injury.

At age 97, Young looks younger at 70 as he walks without a cane, reads without reading glasses and most of all, plays badminton regularly to keep him fit and young, connoting his family name.

He and his wife are blessed with eight children with the same number of in-laws and 27 grandchildren.

In greeting Young, retired Lt. Gen. Nesty G. Carolina, administrator of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO), said that he will pray that Young would reach the age of not only 100 but 123 years old.

With his good health, Young may reach that age with God’s blessings, nothing is impossible.