Wednesday, September 25, 2019

ASEAN, China complete first draft of COC in South China Sea

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 26, 2019): ASEAN, China complete first draft of COC in South China Sea

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Wednesday reported that the first draft of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) has been completed.

The Filipino top diplomat at a speaking engagement in the Asia Society Policy Institute bared that China has "softened its insistence on controversial provisions" excluding external military presence in the strategic waters.

"We've completed the first draft. That objectionable provisions excluding the Western military presence... they're not holding on to that anymore," he said during a dialogue with former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in the US.

Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. (Photo courtesy of Asia Society Policy Institute)
Locsin said the chief executive himself asked the state parties to rush the negotiations and the talks "went smoothly after".

Earlier reports, citing a draft document between China and the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member-states, said Beijing proposed the creation of a notification mechanism on military activities whenever necessary.

Although the reported text did not specifically mention "Western" military, the said provision sought the exclusion of countries outside the region "unless the parties concerned are notified beforehand and express no objection."

Locsin did not mention what steps will be taken next following the concluded first draft of the COC.

"The first draft is really just the first draft, we won't know what it's like. I do know that many countries like Vietnam, even Singapore will take very strong exception to anything that would remove a counterbalancing military presence in the region, they're very careful about that," he said.

For the Secretary, the outcome of the COC's first draft is a development in the "soon to be effective code of conduct within three years" as it is "shorn of anything objectionable to Western interest".

Legally binding

Prof. Julian Ku, senior associate dean at the Hofstra University School of Law, for his part, believes a legally-binding COC is important to reflect the parties' commitment to its text.

"In general, (making it) legally binding is an important signal of how serious a country takes this commitment," he told reporters during the Reporting on Maritime Issues seminar hosted by the United Embassy in Manila on Wednesday.

"In law, we do have a way of interpretation, if it's not legally-binding then interpretation may say 'well it's not relevant because it's not legally-binding'. If I'm a country worried about the commitment of the other country, I would want it to be legally-binding," he noted.

While the document is not designed to resolve the issues on fishing rights and overlapping territorial claims of China and some claimant states, Ku underscored its significance in preventing outright conflict in the South China Sea.

"It will not actually resolve what drives the disputes, which is fishing rights, etc. The COC is intended mostly to try to manage the disputes by saying 'we agree that we have a dispute but we all agree not to use force,'" he said.

Be vigilant

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, on the other hand, urged ASEAN states to ensure that the COC will not supplant the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) dispute settlement mechanism.

Carpio is part of the Philippine delegation that led the arbitration case against China.

"The code of conduct is only to manage the disputes so that there would be no shooting wars, there would be no skirmishes, (so that) everybody will behave properly," he said in the same seminar.

"We should be careful because if we fall into the trap, we have to settle the merits of the dispute in accordance with the code of conduct and China has a veto power, it's not arbitration, we need the consent of China so we must be very careful that the code of conduct will not supplant the dispute settlement mechanism because that is the best dispute settlement mechanism in the world, proof is we won against China, a nuclear-armed power," he stressed.

Carpio also questioned the three-year timeline of the COC conclusion, timed to conclude before the end of President Rodrigo Duterte's term.

"China has said before, we will sign the COC at the proper time when the time is right. When will the time be right for China? They said three years from now during the term of President Duterte. My take, China needs to reclaim one area: Scarborough Shoal," he said.

Carpio told reporters that China has tried to reclaim the Scarborough Shoal but failed to do so.

"We all know they have a plan and they may do that before the end of the term of President Duterte because that is the time they will also sign the COC after they finished the reclamation, they will say, 'Let's sign the COC, nobody builds anything anymore,' everything will freeze and that will legitimize what they've created: the artificial islands," he said.

AFP services hold live-fire exercises in Tarlac

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 26, 2019): AFP services hold live-fire exercises in Tarlac

Joint components of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) conducted a Combined Arms Live Fire Exercise (CALFEX) in Capas, Tarlac, as part of its ongoing multi-service exercise "DAGIT-PA", Wednesday.

The mission of the scenario-based CALFEX was to retake the Crow Valley Gunnery Range in Colonel Ernesto Ravina Air Base from the occupying enemy, "DAGIT-PA" public affairs office chief Capt. Rhyan Batchar said.

Joint Army, Air Force, and Marine forces utilized their ground maneuver, artillery, mortars, and air elements to successfully carry out the complex live-fire event.

During the exercise, aircraft from the Philippine Air Force's 15th Strike Wing and 5th Fighter Wing provided air cover and attacked enemy artillery to soften their bunkers.

Meanwhile, joint army and marine artillery and mortars delivered indirect fire support to ground troops to destroy the remaining enemy forces.

“The CALFEX underscores the importance of interoperability among our ground and air assets during combined combat operations. It also tested our service members’ maneuver warfare skills and fortified their capabilities in fighting together,” Commodore Adeluis Bordado, AFP Education Training and Doctrine Command head, and "DAGIT-PA" Exercise Director, said in a statement.

Joint exercises such as CALFEX seek to develop a high level of readiness and responsiveness among soldiers.

It also enhances the relationship between the services by enabling troops to work together towards accomplishing a common goal.

The CALFEX was part of a broader series of joint interoperability events under AFP Joint Exercise (AJEX) DAGIT-PA 03-2019 which was launched last September 16.

It involved more than 1,500 soldiers from all major services in events such as Air/Maritime Interdiction, Airfield Retake, Military Operations in Urban Terrain, and Amphibious Operations.

"DAGIT-PA" which stands for “Dagat-Langit-Lupa” aims to enhance interoperability during joint operations of the Philippine Navy, Philippine Air Force, and Philippine Army. It also employed services and expertise from Special Operations Forces, Cyber Group, and Reservists.

Editorial: Is the Islamic State Gaining Ground in Southeast Asia?

Posted to the World Politics Review (Sep 25, 2019): Editorial: Is the Islamic State Gaining Ground in Southeast Asia?

It’s been six months since the Islamic State lost the last slice of its territory in Iraq and Syria, where it once controlled a land mass roughly the size of the United Kingdom. This loss dealt a serious blow to the terrorist group, but not a fatal one. As many different counterterrorism analysts have written, ISIS continues to spread its message and gather adherents who carry out attacks in its name across the globe.

One area where a metastasizing ISIS could seek to establish a greater foothold is Southeast Asia. In recent years, a number of countries in this diverse region, including the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, have had to confront militant Islamist insurgencies to varying degrees, and a number of ISIS-inspired attacks have taken place in the region this year.

For this week’s interview on Trend Lines, WPR’s Elliot Waldman is joined by Zachary Abuza, a professor of national security strategy at the National War College in Washington, to discuss the Islamic State’s encroachment into Southeast Asia. Zach is a leading authority on Southeast Asian politics and security issues, and he recently co-authored an article in Foreign Affairs entitled “The Islamic State Meets Southeast Asia.”

If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up for our free newsletter to get our uncompromising analysis delivered straight to your inbox. The newsletter offers a free preview article every day of the week, plus three more complimentary articles in our weekly roundup every Friday.

NPA owns ambush in Oriental Mindoro

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Sep 25, 2019): NPA owns ambush in Oriental Mindoro

Communist New People’s Army (NPA) rebels claimed responsibility for the ambush of policemen in Socorro town, Oriental Mindoro on Tuesday.

Madaay Gasic, spokesperson of the NPA-Lucio de Guzman command
operating in the island, said on Wednesday that a unit of Red fighters successfully staged the ambush against the police forces in Barangay Pasi 2 around 7 a.m.

He claimed there were about 12 casualties in the ambush.

However, police reported that only three of their troops were wounded.

Gasic said members of the Police Regional Mobile Force Battalion and Public Maneuver Force Company from the Philippine National Police in

Mimaropa, with soldiers from the Army’s 203rd Infantry Brigade have been conducting continued military operations against the communist guerrillas and local residents.

He said Mindorenos have long been complaining of human rights violations under the police and Army Joint Campaign Plan-Kapanatagan.

On Tuesday, Lt. Col. Socrates Faltado, information officer of the Mimaropa police, said a team from the Pinamalayan police were on their way to Calapan City for a radio program, when their vehicle was hit by an explosion, followed by gunshots.

Wounded in the attack were Chief Master Sergeant Ivan Fortus, Senior Master Sergeant Irene Lazo and Corporal Jessica Ivy Carmona.

They were rushed to the Oriental Mindoro Provincial Hospital for treatment.

NPAs try to sabotage mass surrender of comrades in Escalante City – police

From the Manila Bulletin (Sep 25, 2019): NPAs try to sabotage mass surrender of comrades in Escalante City – police

A ranking police official accused the New People’s Army (NPA) of attempting to sabotage the mass surrender of 2,000 former communist rebels and their supporters in Escalante City in Negros Occidental last week.

Photo via Aaron Recuenco

Brig. Gen. Rene Pamuspusan, director of the Western Visayas regional police, said the attempt of the local communist rebels to sabotage the mass surrender and oath-taking of former communist rebels and their supporters was confirmed by eight arrested suspected communist rebels in Escalante City two days before the event.

“Their plan is to inflict harm on some of those who surrendered and make a propaganda out of it. If they succeeded, this may have been used to scare their fellow rebels to surrender,” said Pamuspusan.

Negros Island is considered as one of the remaining major operational areas of the NPA in the country.

On September 20, the government held the mass surrender and oath-taking of communist rebels and their supporters in various parts of the province.

But two days before, a joint police and military operatives arrested eight armed men who were on board a van in Barangay Balintawak in Escalante City.

Arrested were Joel Guillero, 40; Clint Mangayon, 20; Buenvenido Ducay, 55; Aiza Gamao, 32; Jonathan Alcosiva; 21; and a 17-year old minor all from Escalante City; and Kenneth Serondo, 19; and Leon Charito, 60 who are both from the town of Toboso.

Seized from them were six .45 caliber pistols loaded with magazines and ammunitions; one .38 caliber revolver with ammunitions; one KG9 sub-machine pistol with ammunitions; improvised dynamites and bombs and propaganda materials.

Pamuspusan said criminal charges were already filed against them.

“Based on the investigation and analysis of the confiscated firearms and explosives, the arrested suspects are planning to create a scenario to disrupt the holding of mass oath of allegiance of their former members and supporters and accuse the state forces as the one responsible of the incident and eventually use it as a propaganda against the government,” said Pamuspusan.

The government, it was recalled, has shifted to localized peace talks after the peace negotiations with the communist rebels via the National Democratic Front of the Philippines bogged down anew.

This resulted in the surrender of hundreds of communist rebels and their supporters in the past months, and the escalation of attacks of communist rebels.

On Tuesday, suspected communist rebels ambushed a police vehicle in Oriental Mindoro and resulted in the wounding of three cops, two of them are policewomen.

Police Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa, deputy chief for Operations of the PNP, said the localized peace talks is essential in end local communist armed conflict in the timeframe set by President Duterte.

“We are optimistic that the whole of nation approach is truly the effective medicine that will cure the illness of 50 years of insurgency that our country has been suffering”, said Gamboa who was present in a press briefing about the arrest of the communist rebels.

3 suspected NPA rebels surrender in Oro

From the Sun Star-Cagayan de Oro (Sep 25, 2019): 3 suspected NPA rebels surrender in Oro

AT LEAST three suspected members of Militia ng Bayan (MB) of the New People’s Army (NPA) have turned themselves in to authorities in Tignapoloan, Cagayan de Oro City, Tuesday.

Police said the former rebels will be social development packages under the government’s Enhances Comprehensive Integration Program (E-Clip).

The program provides benefits and opportunities to former NPA rebels who decided to return to the folds of the law and live a peaceful life.

Members of Police Station 8 in Lumbia conducted internal security operation and facilitate the surrender of the former NPA members.

Police declined to identify the rebels for security considerations.

The former NPA fighters turned over a Garand rifle with 15 rounds live ammo and two magazines; a Carbine Rifle with 20 rounds live ammo and two magazine; two rifle grenade; a caliber 45 pistol and a hand grenade.

City police director Colonel Henry Dampal lauded the efforts of his men which led to the surrender of the NPA members.

Dampal calls on other NPA combatants to abandon the armed struggle and surrender as the government prepared assistance for their fresh start.

US, Philippine air drills take lofty aim at China

Posted to the Asia Times (Sep 25, 2019): US, Philippine air drills take lofty aim at China (By Richard Javad Heydarian)

US, Philippine air drills take lofty aim at China

A Philippine Marine after fast-roping out of an MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft at Basa Air Field, January 22, 2016. Photo: US Marine Corps via Twitter

Unprecedented joint airborne exercises dropped troops from the sky in simulated rapid deployment to the South China Sea

American and Philippine armed forces held their first ever combined airborne operations on September 22, a show of joint force that will have sent a strong signal to China amid rising tensions in the South China Sea.

The Cesar Basa Air Base, where the historic joint exercises were staged, has been partially opened to Americans under the recently implemented Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). Significantly, the facility is close to the Philippine-claimed Scarborough Shoal, which China seized and occupied after a weeks-long standoff with the Philippines in 2012.

Security analysts see China’s occupation of the feature as crucial to its eventual ability to establish an Aerial Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the sea. The US and Philippines are long-time mutual defense treaty allies but Washington did not intervene in defense of the Philippines’ claim during the 2012 showdown.

That may change in any future China-Philippine confrontation. The joint air drill comes amid Manila’s rising anxiety over China’s harassment of Philippine supply lines in the Spratly islands and increased deployment of Chinese militia vessels to Philippine-claimed waters.

An estimated 500 soldiers of the Philippine Army’s First Scout Ranger Regiment and Special Forces Regiment (Airborne) and US Army’s 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) participated in the drill, which was jointly overseen by Philippine and US commanding officers.

“This training will enhance our troops’ technical expertise in airborne operations, enabling our combat units to better respond to future contingency operations and other security challenges. Likewise, the combat interoperability with our US counterparts will also be strengthened,” said Philippine Lieutenant General Macairog Alberto.

A Philippine flag flutters as the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) anchors off Manila Bay, June 26, 2018. Photo: AFP/ Ted Aljibe

The military drills, which saw troops jump from multiple US C-130 planes to simulate a rapid and massive deployment of troops to combat zones, focused on urban combat operations as well as maritime and territorial defense.

Airborne operations are specifically designed for resupply and operational support during extensive combat operations, as well as confronting conventional threats which are inaccessible to land and naval forces. US military officials have said US Air Force planes fly over the sea on a daily basis to protect freedom of overflight.

China did not immediately respond to the unprecedented airborne drills. In May, however, China deployed two naval vessels near the site of US-Philippine joint sea exercises which saw the US deploy a coast guard cutter to Philippine waters for the first time in seven years.

This week’s air drills coincided with the release of a new Philippine Department of National Defense (DND) report which accuses China of recently harassing a Philippine resupply mission at the Second Thomas Shoal.

Philippine officials have aired their diplomatic grievances over the perceived harassment of a feature where Manila stations troops. “Of course that’s objectionable. They are just ferrying supplies and food, why block them?” said presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo on September 23.

The disputed land feature, which lies within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), has been under Manila’s de facto control since the late 1990s, when the Philippine Navy grounded a dilapidated vessel, the BRP Sierra Madre, in the area.

The contested shoal also lies just 37 kilometers from Mischief Reef, a low-tide elevation situated 217 kilometers from the Philippine island of Palawan.

China has recently transformed Mischief Reef into a massive military complex, with satellite imagery recently revealing the presence of anti-aircraft weapons and a missile defense system. The Philippines maintains a permanent Marines detachment at the Second Thomas Shoal, but China has nonetheless stepped up harassment of Manila’s recent resupply missions.

In 2014, during a months-long Chinese naval blockade of the feature, the Philippines relied on aerial resupply missions as well as American assistance provided by surveillance aircrafts to sustain its military presence at the shoal.

Map: Twitter

Despite improved bilateral relations under the Beijing-friendly Rodrigo Duterte administration, China has stepped up its harassment of Philippine-occupied features, coincident with a rising US commitment to ensure freedom of navigation in the sea.

The US has deployed ships at least 11 times to the South China Sea under US President Donald Trump’s administration. China insists the operations are illegal and violation of its sovereignty; Beijing’s so-called nine-dash line map claims nearly 90% of the sea.

According to the DND report submitted to the Philippine Congress during budget deliberations, a Chinese Coast Guard vessel blocked a Philippine resupply mission in the area in May 14. The Chinese ship reportedly moved as close as 1,460 meters to intimidate the incoming Philippine resupply vessels, the report said.

The armed forces’ Western Command, which is in charge of protecting the Philippines’ claims in the South China Sea, reported the presence of a Chinese Coast guard vessel close to the shoal in August.

The DND report also highlighted China’s growing deployment of maritime militia vessels to Philippine waters and occupied islands. In the first half of 2019, the military spotted 22 Chinese militia vessels within Philippine waters, an estimated 300 of which swarmed the Philippine-occupied Thitu Island in the Spratly islands.

The island’s Rancudo Airfield has a 1,300 meter unpaved airstrip that has seen both ends eroded into the sea. China’s pressure is viewed as an attempt to curb ongoing repairs to the runway, which were set to be completed by the end of 2019 but may not be finished because of the harassment.

The US had previously offered assistance to refurbish the strategic airstrip. The Philippine Navy has floated various strategic designs for the island, including the possible construction of a naval base for training its elite Special Warfare Group and Navy Seals.

The Philippine military claims that Chinese militia vessels serve multiple purposes, including surveillance and information- gathering on rival claimant states.

A satellite image of the Fiery Cross Reef in the South China Sea. Photo: Planet Labs

“There is high possibility that Beijing will continue the employment of these vessels, which could be used for asymmetric warfare of sea control and sea denial, such as swarming tactic and ramming of other claimants’ vessels in the area, enabling it to make advancements in the maritime region without causing tension in the area,” the DND report said.

The DND also warned about the “emerging trend” of Chinese warships being deployed to the Sulu-Celebes Sea area, particularly in Balabac Strait and Sibutu Passage in the southern portions of the Philippines, indicating a possible encirclement strategy.

Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier this year complained about Chinese warships switching off their tracking devices while clandestinely moving through Philippine territorial seas.

The DND has likewise carped about being “persistently monitored” by Chinese warships and vessels in the Batanes Islands in the north, close to Taiwan, which China considers a renegade province and has promised to “reunify” with the mainland by 2020.

Whether the unprecedented US-Philippine joint air exercises will serve as a deterrent and alleviate Chinese pressure in the sea, however, is yet to be seen.

CA panel recommends promotion of 29 AFP officers

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Sep 25, 2019): CA panel recommends promotion of 29 AFP officers

Officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are present during a Commission on Appointments committee on national defense hearing on the confirmation of their ad interim appointments and nominations on Wednesday, September 25, 2019. (Photo by: Daphne Galvez /

A panel of the Commission on Appointments (CA) on Wednesday recommended for confirmation the ad interim appointments and nominations of 29 officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

No one objected to the motion to recommend the appointments and nominations of the following officials during the hearing of the CA committee on national defense headed by Cavite 6th District Rep. Luis “Jon-Jon” Ferrer IV:

Ad interim appointments:

Joselito Ramos to the rank of Major General
Ralph Mamauag to the rank of Brigadier General
Ramiro Manuel Rey to the rank of Lieutenant General
Gregorio Marcelo Azores to the rank of Colonel, Medical Corps (Reserve)
Andres Centino to the rank of Major General
Antonio Parlade Sr. to the rank of Major General
Roy Galido to the rank of Brigadier General
Roberto Capulong to the rank of Brigadier General
Aldrin Cuña to the rank of Captain, Philippine Navy (Reserve)
Roberto Emmanuel Feliciano to the rank of Colonel, Philippine Navy-Marines (Reserve)
Raymundo Acorda to the rank of Brigadier General
Raul Jesus Caldez to the rank of Brigadier General
Adrian Sanchez Jr. to the rank of Major General


Connor Anthony Canlas Sr. to the rank of Major General
Rene Raoul Rommel Honasan to the rank of Brigadier General
Raul Ciño to the rank of Brigadier General
Alberto Carlos to the rank of Rear Admiral
Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr. to the rank of Major General
Adriano Perez Jr. to the rank of Major General
Adelius Bordado to the rank of Rear Admiral
Danilo Fuentes Jr. to the rank of Commodore
Ramil Roberto Enriquez to the rank of Rear Admiral
William Ilagan to the rank of Brigadier General

Ad Interim Appointment
Joselito Vital to the rank of Colonel, Medical Corps (Reserve)

Efren Baluyot to the rank of Brigadier General
Fernando Felipe to the rank of Brigadier General
Royland Orquia to the rank of Brigadier General
Maurito Licudine to the rank of Brigadier General
Joselyn Bandarlipe to the rank of Brigadier General

The panel also approved a motion to waive the appearance and submission of documentary requirements of Ramos.

The panel’s recommendation would then be transmitted for approval at the plenary. /

MILF leader, pals elude anti-drug ops in North Cotabato

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Sep 25, 2019): MILF leader, pals elude anti-drug ops in North Cotabato

KABACAN, NORTH COTABATO — Anti-narcotics agents seized P90,000 worth of shabu (crystal meth) in a raid at two houses here on Monday supposedly to arrest a number of personalities allegedly involved in illegal drug trade.

Director Naravy Duquiatan, chief of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Authority (PDEA) Soccsksargen, said targeted for arrest was Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)’s Unson Baliwan and the couple Paolo and Narcisa Baculodan.

The three fled before the raiding team arrived.

Duquiatan said the operating team that included troops from Kabacan police and the Army’s 602nd Infantry Brigade served the warrants about 4 a.m. Monday against Baliwan and the Baculodan couple.

Baliwan, also known as Commander Omerta, is an MILF official based in Kabacan.

“(But t)hey fled even before the operating units could reach their homes,” Duquiatan said in a statement.

Seized from the house of Commander Omega were seven sachets of suspected shabu worth P40,800.

Another 45 small sachets of suspected shabu, valued at P47,600, were seized from the house of the Baculodan couple believed to be supplying prohibited drugs in Kabacan and in North Cotabato.

Charges for violation of Republic Act 9165 will be filed against the suspects who remained at large.

Fearing boss’ wrath, Filipino gunmen let ex-hostage go

From The Star Online (Sep 25, 2019): Fearing boss’ wrath, Filipino gunmen let ex-hostage go

KOTA KINABALU: An Indonesian fisherman avoided being abducted a second time after Filipino gunmen feared being admonished by their “Abu Sayyaf bosses” for bringing back a former hostage.

It is learnt that the seven gunmen decided to let skipper Lautu Raali, 54, go after learning that he was held hostage on Jolo island in southwestern Philippines for 14 months by the Abu Sayyaf in 2016.

Three of Lautu’s crewmen were also released when they claimed to be Suluk.

Filipino security sources said the gunmen were working for Abu Sayyaf kidnapper Salip Mura when they hit two Sandakan-based fishing trawlers in waters off Sabah’s eastern Tambisan, which borders the Tawi-Tawi chain of islands in southern Philippines.

The sources said the kidnap-for-ransom group had been prowling the sea border areas in search of victims for months before they made a fresh hit at about noon on Monday with the first fishing boat in the waters off Tambisan.

It is learnt that the gunmen, who spoke in Suluk and Malay, decided among themselves not to take Lautu and his fellow “Suluk” crewmen because they felt that Salip might be incensed if they brought back a former hostage to Jolo.

After hauling Lautu and his men – locals Rosman Ahmadun, 43, and Rajiman Kuk Su Tang, 34, as well as a Filipino Suluk named Hashim, 38 – the kidnappers were ascertaining their identities when the crew members led them to believe that they were Suluk as they spoke the language.

When the second fishing boat appeared, four of the gunmen sped towards it and snatched all three Indonesians on board before returning to the first fishing boat, where they let off Lautu and the trio, according to the sources.

In Kota Kinabalu, Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Omar Mammah confirmed that the gunmen had only robbed the first fishing boat skippered by Lautu but took Indonesians Samiun Maniu, 27, Maharuydin Lunani, 48, and Muhammas Farhan, 27, hostage from the second boat across the border.

“We have yet to receive any ransom calls or communication from the gunmen,” he told a press conference here yesterday.

Both fishing trawlers, he added, were operating three nautical miles or 5.5km from the international border with the Philippines when the heavily armed men, who were dressed in military fatigues, raided the first boat and robbed those on board.

Police were still ascertaining why the group only kidnapped the three Indonesians and not the fishermen.

Omar said the kidnappers were using two pump boats and armed with rifles and pistols.

“We believe they are part of the kidnap-for-ransom group,” he said, adding that Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal had also ordered a review of the use of pump boats in the east coast after a ban on their use was lifted last year.

Salip’s kidnap-for-ransom group, linked to Abu Sayyaf commander Indang Susukan, was responsible for the June 18 kidnapping of 10 sea gypsies.

Nine of them were released immediately after they landed in Jolo.

Army taps ‘socmed’ warriors to fight communist propaganda

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Sep 25, 2019): Army taps ‘socmed’ warriors to fight communist propaganda

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Misamis Oriental, Philippines — Saying the virtual world has become a key battleground for fighting enemies of the state, the Army’s 4th Infantry Division (4ID) organized its corps of “social media warriors” who will mainly wage an information war against communist propaganda.

Maj. Gen. Franco Nemesio Gacal, 4ID commander, said communist guerrillas “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 will enable us to spread accurate and timely information about the government’s peace and development efforts to end local communist armed conflict,”
Gacal said.

The 4ID’s area of responsibility covers the five provinces of Caraga region, three provinces of Northern Mindanao and its regional seat, Cagayan de Oro City. The New People’s Army (NPA) is known to operate in six of these eight provinces.

The provinces of Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Sur and Bukidnon also connect to the remaining NPA strongholds in Davao del Norte and Compostela Valley, both of which are under the area of the 10th Infantry Division.

Recently, the Army has been blamed for the string of killings of farmers and activists in Bukidnon, earning stinging criticisms on social media.


The 4ID’s social media corps of 50 people are composed of personnel handling civil-military operations duties, noncommissioned officers based in brigades and battalions, and tactical operations officers from the Philippine Air Force and Philippine National Police. They underwent a five-day social media training, where resource persons emphasized the importance of the technology-driven platform in effective information dissemination.

Gacal stressed social media’s importance in winning the fight “for the hearts and minds of the people,” especially the youth.

Col. Michelle B. Anayron Jr., 4ID chief of staff, reminded the members of the division’s social media team that their work “as social media front-liners … is just as equally relevant to our soldiers in the front lines of the battlefield.”

The 4ID maintains a Facebook page, which was created in December 2015. It has at least 55,000 followers.

AFP-CRS: New AFP chief vowed to hit the ground running especially in the fight against insurgency

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook Page (Sep 25, 2019): New AFP chief vowed to hit the ground running especially in the fight against insurgency

[The Civil Relations Service (CRS) is the unit of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that engages the public through its public information and community relations programs “to create a favorable atmosphere between the community and the AFP. The CRS is the equivalent of the Psychological Operations and Civil Affairs units of the US Army.]

AFP-CRS: Surigao Lumad thankful for government services in the community

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook Page (Sep 25, 2019): Surigao Lumad thankful for government services in the community

Image may contain: 2 people, text

[The Civil Relations Service (CRS) is the unit of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that engages the public through its public information and community relations programs “to create a favorable atmosphere between the community and the AFP. The CRS is the equivalent of the Psychological Operations and Civil Affairs units of the US Army.]

MILF: Regional Messaging Hub for Peace Promotion launched in Cotabato City

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Website (Sep 23, 2019): Regional Messaging Hub for Peace Promotion launched in Cotabato City

COTABATO CITY – The Regional Messaging Hub for Peace Promotion launched on Friday September 20 here in Cotabato City that will promote peace and respond to the alarming instances of violent extremism in Mindanao, a regional hub that aims to be an online and offline platform for positive messages and alternative narratives.

“The Philippines has witnessed the rise of violent extremist ideologies circulating in our communities and in the media for the past few years,” said Equal Access International-Philippines’ (EAI-Ph) Country Director Salic Sharief, Jr.

Sharief emphasized the need to transform these kinds of ideologies to functional parts of the community through the power of a positive and peaceful message.

“We at EAI-PH believes that there is strength in our diversity and if we all come together as partners in peace, we can build community resilience, collaboration on program interventions, and share best practices,” he added.

The Messaging Hub (MH) is a convergence platform for positive social change movements in Mindanao. It seeks to collaborate with stakeholders in the region to create a venue for knowledge- sharing, build an information ecosystem, capacitate peace influencers, and create powerful advocacies for peace.

During the launching, highlights of the planning workshop and road map for the next three years was presented and the official messaging hub (MH) marker was unveiled.

To oversee and manage a regional MH, a host organization and a Technical Working Group (TWG) were established and consulted in each regional node. The Moropreneur Inc. is MH Cotabato’s host organization.

TWG members come from government agencies, non-government organizations, academe, and sectoral representatives from the youth, church, women, media, and the business sector.

The Moropreneur Inc., which is the host Non-government organization is a non-profit organization that provides comprehensive capacity building and empowerment programs to tri-people (Bangsamoro, IPs and settlers), establish & strengthen micro-enterprises through business and product support and development, and create positive networks of communities that will work toward the attainment of sustainable peace and development in the region.

Starting with partners from EAI-Ph’s Formative Research, Stakeholder’s Workshop, including the graduates of the program’s Tech Camps, the messaging hub will bring together collaborators to expand their advocacies and works for peace and development in Mindanao.

CPP/NPA-Mindoro: Bigwas sa JCP-Kapanatagan sa Mindoro NPA Mindoro, matagumpay na inambus ang PNP-MIMAROPA

NPA-Mindoro propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Sep 23, 2019): Bigwas sa JCP-Kapanatagan sa Mindoro NPA Mindoro, matagumpay na inambus ang PNP-MIMAROPA

SEPTEMBER 25, 2019

Matagumpay na inambus ng isang yunit ng Lucio de Guzman Command-New People’s Army Mindoro ang isang military truck ng AFP-PNP na bumabagtas sa highway na sakop ng Brgy. Pasi, Socorro, Oriental Mindoro kaninang alas-7 ng umaga. Hindi bababa sa 12 ang kaswalti ng nasabing ambus. Lulan ng nasabing truck ang mga elemento ng pasistang Regional Mobile Force Battalion (RMFB) at Public Maneuver Force Company (PMFC) ng Philippine National Police-MIMAROPA.

Ang RMFB at PMFC ay kinakasangkapan ng PNP-MIMAROPA at ng mersenaryong 203rd Infantry Brigade ng Philippine Army sa mga inilulunsad nitong operasyong militar laban sa NPA at mamamayang Mindoreño. Kabilang sila sa mga matagal nang inirereklamo ng mga Mindoreño na lansakang lumalabag ng karapatang tao sa ilalim ng Joint Campaign Plan-Kapanatagan ng rehimeng US-Duterte.

Matatandaang ang PNP-MIMAROPA at 203rd Infantry Brigade ng Philippine Army ang walang habas na pumatay sa mga inosenteng sibilyan tulad nina Rustom Sibulan at Frente Guttierrez. Sila rin ang walang pakundangang naglunsad ng strafing at aerial bombing sa mga komunidad ng mga Mangyan sa mga bayan ng Mansalay, Victoria, Soccoro at Bansud. Ang mga operasyong militar na inilulunsad din ng berdugong AFP-PNP ang dahilan ng sapilitang paglikas ng mahigit sa 600 mamamayan ng mga barangay ng San Antonio, Loyal at San Critobal ng bayan ng Victoria, Oriental Mindoro nito lamang Hulyo.

Isang sampal sa ipinagmamalaking mga nakamit ng National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict ng rehimeng US-Duterte ang matagumpay na ambus ng NPA sa PNP-MIMAROPA. Kahit anong gawin ni Duterte, hindi nito mapipigilan ang pagsulong ng armadong rebolusyon sa Mindoro at ang kanyang mga anti-mamamayang patakaran at pakana tulad ng NTF-ELCAC at JCP-Kapanatagan ang higit pang magpapalakas nito.

Nananawagan ang Lucio de Guzman Command-NPA Mindoro sa lahat ng yunit ng NPA sa isla na higit na paigtingin ang paglaban at pagbigo sa JCP-Kapanatagan ng rehimeng US-Duterte. Sa tulong ng mamamayang Mindoreño, ilunsad ang paparami at papalaking mga taktikal na opensiba na bibigwas sa mersenaryong AFP-PNP sa Mindoro at ipagtanggol ang mga tagumpay ng rebolusyon at mamamayan sa isla. ###

CPP/Larab: Isalikway an kampanya nga persona non grata (Ispesyal na Isyu)

Propaganda publication posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Sep 25, 2019): Larab | Isalikway an kampanya nga persona non grata (Ispesyal na Isyu)

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Kalinaw News: AFP-PNP dispose captured IEDs, proof of NPA Terrorists’ violation on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Laws

Posted to Kalinaw News (Sep 25, 2019): AFP-PNP dispose captured IEDs, proof of NPA Terrorists’ violation on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Laws

BAYUGAN CITY, Agusan del Sur (ADS) –3rd Special Forces (ARROWHEAD) Battalion and the Philippine National Police Provincial Office 13 dispose a total of 105 Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) including Bangalore and claymore anti-personnel mines, 526 pieces of Nitro TNT dynamites and 12 blasting caps in the joint AFP-PNP IED Disposal today, September 25, 2019 at 23rd IB, Bomb Disposal Range, Purok 6, Jamboree Site, Barangay Alubihid, Buenavista, Agusan del Norte. The captured IEDs are concrete proof that Communist NPA Terrorists (CNTs) continuously violate the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAHRHIL).

The recovered IEDs are results of focused military operations, Community Support Team immersions and community peace dialogues conducted from the 1st quarter of 2018 to present date in the areas of operations of 3rd Special Forces (ARROWHEAD) Battalion, in the municipalities of Sibagat (former AO), Prosperidad and Bayugan City of Agusan del Sur, municipalities of Lianga, San Agustin, Marihatag, Cagwait and Bayabas of Surigao del sur.

Former rebels reveal that CNTs mix steel round bars or 6 inches nails in IEDs as shrapnel and fragments to provide maximum killing effect to government troops. Further, two (2) of the IEDs were recovered in the National Highway at Brgy Amontay, Marihatag, SDS last January 2019. The most recent was the PNP Regional Mobile Force Battalion’s (RMFB’s) recovery of three (3) IEDs with complete detonating components in Sitio Logdeck, New Salem, Bayugan City ADS last September 9.

Clearly, the NPA terrorists cannot deny the fact that they do not honor the IHL and continuously commit human rights violations through using banned anti-personnel mines landmines that cause severe or long term damage to the environment, superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering to potential victims.

According to the revelation of former rebels, the components of these explosives were made available through commercial purchase and extortion of materials from mining companies.

“We have to be more vigilant and active in reporting the presence of the NPA terrorists. If this method of employing IEDs and their terroristic activities continue, it can cost unnecessary loss of lives from both government troops and civilians,” Lieutenant Colonel Joey B. Baybayan, Commanding Officer of 3SFBn, said.

“Terrorists have no sense of right or wrong, they don’t mind how many innocent lives will be lost just to attain their personal intentions,” he added.

The AFP and PNP, who are members of the Peace, Law Enforcement and Development Support (PLEDS) Cluster of the Executive Order 70’s Whole-Of-Nation approach to end local communist armed conflict urge the public to immediately notify the law enforcement units on the presence of CNTs in their respective areas because peace and safety is not only the government’s sole responsibility, rather, it is everyone’s responsibility.

[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.
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Kalinaw News: New People’s Army bomb expert surrenders in Surigao Sur

Posted to Kalinaw News (Sep 25, 2019): New People’s Army bomb expert surrenders in Surigao Sur

BISLIG CITY, Surigao del Sur-Camp Jaime N Ferrer Sr, Brgy Maharlika, Bislig City (Stn) – New People’s Army (NPA) Bomb Expert of the Weakened Guerilla Front 14, North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee (WGF14, NEMRC) surrenders to Headquarters, 75th Infantry “Marauder” Battalion, yesterday at 09:00 in the morning, September 24, 2019.

The surrender of the said NPA Bomb Expert of WGF14, NEMRC was in line to the recent surrender of the six (6) NPAs to 75IB on September 23, 2019, Monday, under the supervision of Lieutenant Colonel Warren C Munda, Commanding Officer of 75IB. The surrenderee
identified as AKA Junio and brought with him the following war materials: one (1) cal.45 pistol with one (1) magazine loaded with five (5) rounds cal.45 and one (1) 357 revolver with 4 rounds ammunition.

According to AKA Junio, he was convinced by his comrades to surrender to 75IB. And that, the 75IB will assist and help him to live a normal life with his family and children. “Wala na ko gaduha-duha nga mosurrender sa 75IB. Gusto na ko nga magpuyo nga malinawon kauban ang akong pamilya nga wala nay gikahadlukan pa.” AKA Junio said.

Thus, Lt. Col. Warren C Munda, Commanding Officer of 75IB said, “To all the remaining Communist NPA Terrorists (CNTs), so much for this conflict. Let’s all give ourselves, our mind and our heart a space to live with harmony. We are not here to be subdivided, for anything chaotic but we are here as one, to unite in promoting peace and development in the community, in our country as a whole. Let’s help each other to make our country a better and peaceful place to live in.” Lt. Col. Munda ended.

AKA Junio will be enrolled to the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) from the government, as he will be receiving immediate cash assistance, reintegration, and livelihood assistance as well as remuneration for the surrendered firearms and weapons.

75th Infantry Battalion 4th Infantry Division Philippine Army
Cpt Edwin Leo Francisco
CMO Officer, 75IB, 4ID, PA
Bislig City, Surgao del Sur

[Kalinaw News is the official online source of information on the pursuit for peace by the Philippine Army. It provides information on the activities of Army Units nationwide in the performance of their duty of Serving the People and Securing the Land. This website is a property of the Civil-Military Operations Regiment, Philippine Army located at Lawton Avenue, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.
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Kalinaw News: Army thwarts CPP-NPA Terorist plan of sabotaging hydro-power company’s equipment

Posted to Kalinaw News (Sep 25, 2019): Army thwarts CPP-NPA Terorist plan of sabotaging hydro-power company’s equipment

CAMP MONTECLARO, Miag-ao, Iloilo – Troops from the Army’s 61st Infantry (Hunter Battalion) figured in another encounter with CPP-NPA terrorists (CNTs) again in Barangay Igcabugao, Igbaras, Iloilo at around 8:00 in the morning of September 25, 2019.

According to LTC Joel Benedict Batara, Commanding Officer, 61IB, the eyes and ears from the community reported the communist-terrorists’ presence in Igcabugao who are planning to sabotage and burn the equipment of Century Peak Energy Corporation (CPEC) and its hydro-power plant in the area.

LTC Batara said his troops are conducting pursuit operations against the group of communist-terrorists they encountered in Barangay Ongyod, Miagao, Iloilo last September 23 when they received a reliable information about the presence of the terrorists in Igcabugao.

We immediately responded to the said report which resulted to another armed engagement with more or less 10 members led by Melgar Besmanos @ Mar of Sibat (SYP) Platoon, SF KR-P under Nahum Camariosa @Bebong, LTC Batara said.

No casualties on government side. The troops recovered from the encounter site 3 Molotove bombs; 1 Rifle grenade; 1 Hand grenade; 1 Blasting cap; 2 Packs ammonium nitrate; 2 Dynamites and 1 CNT shirt.

LTC Batara also underscored CPEC’s cooperation to the AFP’s campaign against insurgency by nor giving in to the extortion demands of the CNTs.

On September 23, troops of 61IB also encountered CPP-NPA Terrorist of Suyak Platoon under Joven Ceralvo that resulted to the recovery of a dead body of a communist-terrorist identified as Vincent Yovero, and an M16 rifle.

Batara attributed the successful prevention of CPP-NPA’s terror plan to the vigilance of the local populace who consistently providing information to their Army about the whereabouts and activities the communist-terrorist group.

“The troops will continue to safeguard the community against these terrorists and with the help of the people, together we can achieve a peaceful and developed barangays and municipalities,” Batara added.

61st Infantry Battalion 3rd Infantry Division Philippine Army

[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.
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NOLCOM: Did You Know? On the 2017 Martial Law in Mindanao

Posted to the Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) Facebook Page (Sep 17, 2019): Did You Know? On the 2017 Martial Law in Mindanao

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WESCOM: Convergence of the Puerto Princesa City Peace and Order Council and Development Council to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC)

Posted to the Western Command (WESCOM) Facebook Page (Sep 23, 2019): Convergence of the Puerto Princesa City Peace and Order Council and Development Council to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC)

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September 11, 2019 is a momentous day for the people of Puerto Princesa City. The City Government, headed by no less than Mayor Lucilo Bayron, called for a Joint Meeting of their two (2) most powerful councils: the City Peace and Order Council (CPOC) and the City Development Council (CDC) to form the City Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict in the City of Puerto Princesa. These two (2) councils are both chaired by the City Mayor wherein the CDC is the primary institution that coordinates and sets direction of all economic and social development efforts in the City while the CPOC provides a forum for dialogue and deliberation of major issues and problems affecting peace and order. The very important meeting attended by all members of the CPOC and CDC from then on is expected to be regularly and jointly convened to work as a "Whole of Nation Team" to address the primary and secondary issues in GIDAs and conflict-affected areas of the City to finally put an end to the local communist armed conflict. With the City Task Force to ELCAC formally created and operationalized in compliance with Executive Order Nr. 70 of the President, the converged CPOC and CDC formally and jointly adopted Joint Proclamation Nr. 1 establishing the CTF ELCAC of Puerto Princesa City with antecedent function and powers to address the Communist Terrorist Group's menace.

This is parallel to the effort of three (3) Municipalities and 130 Barangays in the Province of Palawan, based on update report to the DILG-Led Clusters MIMAROPA, that already created their respective Task Forces ELCAC through the convergence of their Peace and Order and Development Councils. Same is true with the efforts being made by other remaining municipalities and barangays of the province.

We, in Western Command, are more than hopeful as one of the Cluster Members of the 12-Clusters of ELCAC to work with other lead agencies in providing the needed support to the different Task Forces at various levels in order for the Local Government Units to be empowered in ending the local communist armed conflict in the Province of Palawan.

#TeamWESCOM #OneWESCOM #NagkakaisangPalaweñoParaSaKapayapaan #NagkakaisangPalaweñoKontraTerorismo

Religious groups slam ESCAM ‘distortion’

From the Philippine Information Agency (Sep 25, 2019): Religious groups slam ESCAM ‘distortion’

Religious groups slammed what they call a distortion of historical truths in the celebration of the Escalante massacre, that was organized by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and National Police, in cooperation with local government executives.

The Carmelite JPIC (Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation), Alternative Solidarity Initiative Network (ASIN) and JPIC Franciscan Brothers of Charity, in a joint statement, slammed the authorities for the arrest and detention of progressive groups, especially the Teatro Obrero, who were preparing for the people’s tribute for the ESCAM 34th anniversary on Sept. 20.

A statement signed by Fr. Gilbert Billena, and Brothers Tagoy Jakosalem and Simon Peter Jardinico said they claimed as their own, the sacred ground of the people’s movement by occupying the memorial state of the ESCAM victims; totally insulting both the victims of past and present in what they call a repression and of the continuing people’s struggle.

The arrest of the eight activists tagged as alleged New People’s Army rebels in Brgy. Jonob-Jonob, Escalante City on Sept. 18, yielded Molotov bombs, explosives, and eight assorted firearms.

The marking of the ESCAM also coincided with the three-day Northern Negros Peace Summit hosted by the City of Escalante, headed by Mayor Melecio Yap, and highlighted by the surrender of 2,510 former New People’s Army allies in northern and central Negros, who turned in 41 assorted firearms.

The religious groups called the peace summit a “sham”, that, they claimed, robbed the people of the celebration of the true spirit of ESCAM.

They were also dismayed by the cooperation of mayors in the peace summit, that they said manifested an alliance of local governance with the oppressive state, and defending the interest of the perpetrators of violence rather than the interest of the people.

The National Democratic Front-Negros also issued a statement earlier condemning the sabotage by state forces of the Escalante massacre commemoration.

The religious groups accused the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte of implementing a de facto martial law in Negros, faking the existence of a just peace through the creation of the Negros Occidental Task Force ELCAC (End Local Communist Armed Conflict), of staging the surrender of 2,510 alleged NPA allies, pressuring local government officials to cooperate in the Red-tagging and issuing persona non grata declarations on the rebel groups, militarizing hinterland communities, and victimizing organizers and leaders of progressive organizations.

“In solidarity with the suffering masses, we manifest our intention to protect us from human rights abuses at the hands of state forces, and we are resolved, instead, to pursue the resumption of peace talks to address the root cause of armed conflict,” they said.*

Army hopes for more LGUs to stand vs. terrorists

From the Philippine Information Agency (Sep 25, 2019): Army hopes for more LGUs to stand vs. terrorists (By 61IB CMO-Philippine Army)

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CAMP MONTECLARO, Miag-ao, Iloilo – The Philippine Army looks forward to more localities to stand up against the terrorists.

This came after six municipalities in Antique province have declared the
Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) terrorists as persona non grata.

These include the towns of Anini-y, Belison, Libertad, Culasi, San Jose, and Laua-an.

61st Infantry Battalion commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Joel Benedict Batara lauded this move of the local government units as an expression of their desire to have a communist-free community.

Officials and other stakeholders from the six municipalities have passed their respective resolution that condemned the terroristic activities of the CPP-NPA terrorists, thus, declaring them unwelcome and unacceptable in the society.

“We hope that more LGUs will finally recognize the need to take similar actions against the CPP-NPA terrorist and its front organizations and join the Whole-of-Nation approach to completely end the communist armed conflict,” Batara said.

He said that the signing the resolution was a bold move against the communist-terrorists, thus, “I thank and laud the local officials and the community for standing up against the CPP-NPA terrorist.”

Batara likewise encouraged other barangays and municipalities in Antique to take a strong stand against the CPP-NPA terrorist to prevent the group from conducting recruitment, extortion and casting more threats in their communities. (JBG/1Lt Hazel Joy Durotan)

ZamPen NPAs, gov’t panel meet for exploratory talks

From the Philippine Information Agency (Sep 25, 2019): ZamPen NPAs, gov’t panel meet for exploratory talks

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DIPOLOG CITY, Zamboanga del Norte – Ranking cadres and active members of the Communist Party of the Philippines New People’s Army (CPP NPA) in Zamboanga Peninsula had recently met with a panel from the government's national and regional task force to end local communist armed conflict (ELCAC) held at a local hotel here.

The activity is a part of the local peace engagements in the region where a peace panel from the regional task force will be formed for the conduct of subsequent dialogues.

“We have not committed anything yet. But, a commitment to meet again has already been agreed,” said Atty. Reuben Dasay Lingating of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process speaking before the media in a press conference.

He said the exploratory talk is a first step to truly end insurgency up to its root cause.

“What needs to be done is the institutionalization of addressing the local communist armed conflict. We do not only encourage them to join the ECLIP, but solve the very root cause of the problem,” he emphasized.

Regional Director Ariel Perlado of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA)-9 called on the NPA rebels in the region to trust the sincerity of President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration in solving insurgency through the whole of nation approach.

This was also seconded by DSWD Usec. Rene Glen Paje, undersecretary for inclusive and sustainable peace, who urged the NPA rebels to surrender and lay down their arms.

Governor Roberto Uy of Zamboanga del Norte province have also expressed his support to the initiatives of the government in resolving insurgency especially with his area having 38 barangays identified to have been influenced and threatened by the NPA.

“Sa mga kaigsoonan ko, kami willing mi makig negotiate ninyo basta naa lang mo’y mga lider nga munaog ug muistorya unsa man ang inyong problema kay kami willing gyud mi mutabang,” (To my brothers [NPAs], the government is willing to negotiate with you. If you have a leader who is willing to sit down and talk with us about your issues, we are very much willing to help.)

The Local Peace Engagement is among the 12 clusters created under the Executive Order No. 70 which is headed by the Department of the Interior and Local Government. (EDT/PIA9-Zamboanga del Norte)

Guv lauds whole-of-nation approach to peace

From the Philippine Information Agency (Sep 25, 2019): Guv lauds whole-of-nation approach to peace

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NEGROS OCCIDENTAL --Negros Occidental governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said the Executive Order 70 is a remarkable development in peace process.

During the one-day planning workshop on Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC) at the Negros Occidental Barangay Center (NOBC), he said the Whole-of-Nation Approach (WNA) was reaffirmed by the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Joint Communique as more effective approach to peace as opposed to the pure military option.

“It recognizes that internal socio-political stability rests upon healing the rifts that divide the nation by promoting participatory governance and active participation of all sectors in the pursuit of the country’s peace agenda,” Lacson said.

The E.O. creates a National Task Force (NTF)- ELCAC and adopts a national peace framework.

He said there is a need to refocus government policies for achieving inclusive and sustainable peace, internal threats and other armed conflicts are not only military concerns but are symptomatic of broader social, economic and historical problems such as poverty, historical injustice, social inequality and lack of inclusivity.

The move, he said, is a notable leap for the achievement of lasting and sustainable peace for the country by addressing the roots of the unrest.

“For peace to be real, we must address, preserve and respect the core of humanity and human dignity and it must be the kind that leaves no one behind,” he said.

The governor said he believes that peace can be achieved in the country although it cannot happen overnight.

The approach will ensure an inter-agency convergence in the implementation of the framework in the conflict-affected and vulnerable areas.

Close to 50 government institutions are involved in the program in the national level and several other partners in the local level.

Ad hoc inter-agency and multi-sectoral clusters and councils will be organized to fulfill its mandate.

"With this initiative, I am positive that peace is indeed viable, that peace is not a utopian aspiration for the Philippines and for Negros Occidental,” Lacson said. (JBG/LLJR-PIA6)

Army foils NPA plan to sabotage hydro-power equipment

From the Philippine Information Agency (Sep 25, 2019): Army foils NPA plan to sabotage hydro-power equipment (By 61IB CMO-Philippine Army)

CAMP MONTECLARO, Miag-ao, Iloilo – Reliable information from the community has foiled the plan of terrorists to destroy properties.

Lieutenant Colonel Joel Benedict Batara, Commanding Officer of the 61st Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army, said that because of the report from the people of the presence of New People’s Army terrorists in barangay Igcabugao, Igbaras, Iloilo, the government troop responded to it.

The NPA terrorists, he said, plans to sabotage and burn the equipment of Century Peak Energy Corporation (CPEC) and the company's Hydropower Plant in the area.

Recoveries at the site of encounter in Barangay Igcabugao, Igbaras, Iloilo. (61IB photo/PIA)

This plan resulted in an encounter at around 8 a.m. today, September 25, between the government troop and approximately 10 NPA terrorist members led by Melgar Besmanos alias Mar of Sibat (SYP) Platoon, Southern Front Komiteng Rehiyon-Panay under Nahum Camariosa alias Bebong.

There was no casualty on the government side due to said encounter, Batara said.

Recovered from the encounter site are three Molotove bombs, one Rifle grenade, one Hand grenade, one Blasting cap, two packs ammonium nitrate, two Dynamites and one CNT shirt.

The CPEC supports the Armed Forces of the Philippines drive of not giving-in to the demands of the Communist NPA Terrorists (CNTs) thru their extortion letters, he added.

On September 23, troops of 61IB also had an encounter with the same group that resulted in one terrorist NPA body count and the recovery of M16 rifle.

Meanwhile, Batara thanked the people for their support towards a peaceful and terrorist-free community, urging the public to continue to stand against the terrorist groups by providing information to the government troops. (JBG/1Lt. Hazel Joy Durotan)

Army commander visits Agusan, Surigao troops

From the Philippine Information Agency (Sep 25, 2019): Army commander visits Agusan, Surigao troops (By 3rd Special Forces Battalion, PA)

PROSPERIDAD, Agusan del Sur -- The Philippine Army Special Forces Regiment (Airborne) commander, Brigadier General Lincoln Francisco T. Tagle, AFP made his first official visit to one of his organic units in Mindanao to include the 3rd Special Forces (Arrowhead) Battalion (3SFBn) based in Barangay Noli, Bayugan City, this province from Sept. 11 to 13, 2019.

His visit boosted the morale of the 3SFBn which covers the areas of Bayugan City and municipality of Prosperidad in Agusan del Sur. The 3SFBn areas of operation in Surigao del Sur covers the municipalities of Lianga, San Agustin, Marihatag, Cagwait, Bayabas, and portions of San Miguel and Tago. 3SFBn is composed of the 7th Special Forces Company (SPARTANS) Company, 8th Special Forces (DRAGOONS) Company, and the 9th Special Forces (HOUNDS) Company.

Lt. Col. Joey Baybayan, commanding officer of 3SFBn, expressed his gratitude, “We are thankful for your visit sir because your mere presence as our leader gives us the impression that you care about the morale and welfare of our troops. This alone inspires this unit to do its best towards the accomplishment of our mission here in our area of operations,” he said.

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Upon arrival, BGen. Tagle paid a courtesy call to the 401st Infantry (UNITY) Brigade. Not the casual and usual visit, he made his rounds to all company headquarters and even went up the critical locations of CAA Patrol Bases to include the Mabuhay Patrol Base in Mabuhay, Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur and Janipaan Patrol Base in Janipaan, San Agustin, Surigao del Sur to see the actual conditions of his troops. Further, he participated in the Bayugan City on Wheels in the hinter barangay of Calaitan in Bayugan City to witness the convergence efforts of the local government unit and the 3SFBn in line with the Whole-of-Nation Approach to end local communist armed conflict in their area of operations.

On the other hand, LTC Baybayan presented the former rebels and firearms recovered from the successful combat operations and the influx of surrenders since the start of the year.

BGen. Tagle is proud of the unit’s performance and urged the troops to carry on the good work and continue to improve. “While we accomplish our tasks, let us not forget that this is not the end of the line. We will face far more challenging and more difficult missions that's why we have to be ready at all times. Never stop improving,” he said.

Currently, the Special Forces Regiment (Airborne) battalions of the Philippine Army are strategically based in the critical areas of Mindanao particularly in Bukidnon, Sulu, Basilan, and Cotabato. (1Lt. Krisjuper Andreo J. Punsalan, 3SFBn, PA/PIA-Agusan del Sur)

'All-out' war vs NPAs yields 11 firearms in AgSur

From the Philippine Information Agency (Sep 25, 2019): 'All-out' war vs NPAs yields 11 firearms in AgSur (By 401st Brigade, Philippine Army)

PROSPERIDAD, Agusan del Sur -- The 401st Infantry Brigade, Philippine Army based in Agusan del Sur has recovered 11 high-powered firearms, two low-powered firearms, three anti-personnel mines and two NPA cadavers together with various war materials as its campaign intensifies in the whole province a week after President Rodrigo Roa Duterte called for an all-out war against the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) on Sept. 19, 2019.

In compliance with the directive of the Commander-in-Chief, the Armed Forces of the Philippines also announced on Wednesday an “all-out” war against communist rebels to finally end the five-decade-old insurgency problem in the country.

“With the pronouncement of PRRD, I ordered all commanders under my brigade to double their efforts to hit these NPA terrorists at all costs,” said Colonel Allan Hambala, commander of 401st Infantry “Unite N’ Fight” Brigade in Agusan del Sur.

Col. Hambala added that these significant accomplishments of battalions under his brigade are the results of the implementation of Executive Order No. 70 or the whole-of-nation approach to end local communist armed conflict, and the high state of morale of the troops knowing that the president fully supports the Army’s mission on the ground.

Snowballing Number of Surrender

On Sept. 19, alias “Bong,” a 29 year old NPA medic, surrendered to 3rd Special Forces Battalion in Bayugan City, bringing along with him one Cal.50 Sniper rifle and one Cal. 45 pistol through a joint effort with the Philippine National Police (PNP) Regional Mobile Force Battalion after having been traumatized by an encounter with the government troops, where one of his comrades was killed last December 2018.

This was in addition to the earlier surrender of two NPA elements led by alias “Sion” who disclosed an arms cache in the hinter area of Sitio Hugmakan, San Juan, Bayugan City, leading to the recovery of one M16 rifle and three Caliber 30 Garand rifles. They are all members of the Manobo tribe who decided to surrender because of continuous exploitation of the CPP-NPA in their tribal communities.

“We, the Lumads cannot say 'no' to NPAs when tasked to be their couriers because we will surely be killed. We were always threatened and coerced,” said alias Sion.

Another NPA squad leader and two members of Militia ng Bayan (MB) from Bunawan Brook also laid down their arms to the 75th Infantry Battalion on September 18 after experiencing hardship and demoralization inside the communist movement. They brought with them one M14 rifle, one Carbine rifle, two homemade shotguns, two Anti-Personnel Mines (APM), detonating cords and subversive documents.

These former rebels are now being processed by the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office at Government Center, Capitol, Patin-ay for the immediate release of their financial assistance and psycho-social interventions under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP), in which they are entitled to receive livelihood and housing assistance, educational program and other basic services of the government.

“We at the Provincial Government are delighted of their surrender and hopeful that more will follow. Rest assured that we will provide them the needed services and benefits due to them through ECLIP. We also hope they are committed to do their share and never to return again to rebellion,” said Arlene Sanchez, Provincial Director, DILG, the lead agency on ECLIP and Amnesty Cluster of Agusan del Sur.

Focused Military Operations

Meanwhile, two cadavers of NPAs were left behind after a 30-minute encounter between the 26th Infantry Battalion and an estimated 60 fully-armed NPAs in an uninhabited part of Barangay Mahagsay, San Luis on Tuesday afternoon, resulting to the recovery of two AK 47 rifles, one AR18 rifle attached with M203 Grenade Launcher, magazines with live ammunitions, one APM, medical paraphernalia, foodstuffs, seven back packs and voluminous subversive documents. The government troops also seized the terrorists’ hideout with 50 improvised shelters.

The security operation was conducted after the military received reports from the tribal communities in the area regarding the presence of NPAs roaming around inside their ancestral domains.

Said cadavers were brought to Poblacion, San Luis and received by the local government officials for identification process and proper disposition. (Cpt. Aldim T. Viernes, CMO Officer, 401st Brigade, PA/PIA-Agusan del Sur)

DepEd SurSur orders massive info campaign vs NPA’s recruitment

From the Philippine Information Agency (Sep 25, 2019): DepEd SurSur orders massive info campaign vs NPA’s recruitment (By 3rd Special Forces Battalion, PA)

BAYUGAN CITY, Agusan del Sur -- The Department of Education (DepEd) Surigao del Sur Division based in Balilahan, Mabua, Tandag City, Surigao del Sur, in coordination with the 3rd Special Forces Battalion (3SFBn) has issued an office memorandum order on Sept. 16, 2019 to elementary and secondary schools to reproduce the “CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army – National Democratic Front) Hands-Off Our Children, Save our Youth” advocacy posters in large format to be displayed in all of the schools’ conspicuous areas. The memorandum order was officially made public on Sept. 20, 2019.

This is in line with the DepEd’s continuous commitment to declare schools as peace zones. Anti-government groups discredited this initiative but the DepEd and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) stood firm in their mandate to protect the youth from being victims of the Communist NPA Terrorist deceptive recruitment scheme.

With the implementation of the Executive Order No. 70 (EO 70) institutionalizing the Whole-Of-Nation Approach in attaining inclusive and sustainable peace, various government institutions like the DepEd and AFP along with concerned stakeholders, particularly the parents, took bold steps and trailblazing initiatives to protect their children from being victims of CNT front organizations’ deception.

Lt. Col. Joey Baybayan, commanding officer of 3SFBn, lauded the DepEd-Surigao Sur for their trailblazing initiative. “DepEd Surigao Sur Schools Division is the first in the education sector to officially issue this kind of memorandum in our area of operations. If I’m not mistaken, maybe even in the whole Caraga region and this is worth recognizing and emulating,” he said.

“We are grateful because the military can only do so much. Insurgency cannot be resolved through military solution alone. The recruitment and organizing works of the Communist NPA terrorists comprise 70% of their activities and that should be addressed by the combined efforts of all government agencies and our stakeholders. It can be done through this example by starting from our homes and our schools,” LTC Baybayan added.

Danilo Alcantara of DepEd-Surigao Sur said that all schools will hang the advocacy tarp. "We will monitor the field to ensure 100% implementation,” he added. (1Lt. Krisjuper Andreo J. Punsalan, 3SFBn, PA/PIA-Agusan del Sur)

Army, Church team-up to educate IP Youth vs CPP-NPA-NDF recruitment in Bukidnon

From the Philippine Information Agency (Sep 25, 2019): Army, Church team-up to educate IP Youth vs CPP-NPA-NDF recruitment in Bukidnon (By 8th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army)

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IMPASUGONG, Bukidnon -- Troops from the 8th Infantry "Dependable" Battalion (IB) collaborated with the Diocese of Malaybalay City to educate the Indigenous People (IP) youths of Bukidnon on the Communist NPA Terrorists (CNTs) recruitment during the Diocesan IP Youth Gathering held today at Nuestra Señora del Pilar Chapel, Poblacion, Sumilao, this province.

An 8th IB trooper gives a lecture on CPP-NPA-NDF youth recruitment during the Diocesan IP Youth Gathering.

To widen the knowledge of the IP youth on the deception tactics of the CNTs, army troops conducted lecture to the participants of the gathering. They also clearly answered and clarified issues raised especially on IP being tagged as mass supporters of the NPAs. The army personnel further advised them on how to avoid from being enticed by the left-leaning organizations to join their struggle and bring them to their death.

During the open forum, one student expressed her frustration on the CNTs. She said, “Nganong naa pa man ang mga rebelde? Sila man gihapon ang mangdaot sa atong nasod.” (why are there still NPAs? They are the ones destroying our country). “Mo-undang na unta sila kay hapit na ang pasko. Makauban pud nila ang ilang pamilya (they should now stop because Christmas is coming. They should be with their families), she added.

“We, in the Philippine Army, is serious in our fight against the CPP-NPA terrorist group and its left-leaning organizations. We will not let these young children become their victims. And with every sector of the society backing us up, like the church, we know that we can prevent tragedy on them, Lieutenant Colonel Ronald Illana, 8IB Commanding Officer said.

The Diocesan IP Youth Gathering was held to celebrate the year of the youth in realizing their aspirations. It also aimed to internalize the role of the IP youth in working for the community and cultural integrity and share experiences and approaches on their knowledge system practices and spirituality.

The Philippine Army will continue to collaborate with every sector of the society to ensure that the young ones will not become victims of the CNTs. (8IB, PA)

4 Isulan bombing suspects arrested

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 25, 2019): 4 Isulan bombing suspects arrested

ARRESTED BOMBING SUSPECTS. Four suspects, including a Swedish national, implicated in the Sept. 7, 2019 bombing in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat were arrested Monday (Sept. 23) in Bagumbayan town also in Sultan Kudarat province. Seven persons, including a traffic enforcer and village watchman, were wounded in the incident that took place at a motorcycle-for-rent terminal along the highway of Isulan. (Photo courtesy of AFP-Western Mindanao Command)

COTABATO CITY -- The military here has confirmed the arrest of four suspects, including a Swedish national, linked to the Sept. 7 bombing of the public market of Isulan town, Sultan Kudarat province that wounded seven persons.

In a report, Maj. Gen. Diosdado Carreon, Army’s 6th Infantry Division chief, said the suspects were nabbed during a joint military-police operation on Monday (Sept. 23),
in Sitio Nakan, Barangay Kayaga, Bagumbayan, also in Sultan Kudarat.

The suspects were identified as Hassan Akgun, a Swedish national; Abedin Camsa; Normia Camsa and Norshiya Camsa, all of Kapaya village.

Seized during the operation were an M-16 Armalite rifle, a .45-caliber pistol, a .38-caliber revolver, a shotgun, improvised explosive device, mobile phones, two gallons of suspected gunpowder substance, two pieces of time devices, four batteries, bomb-making components and a backpack with an Islamic State flag.

Speaking over a local radio station Wednesday, Maj. Arvin John Encinas, spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines - Western Mindanao Command, described the arrest of the suspects as a breakthrough in the resolution of the series of bombing cases in Isulan and its neighboring areas.

“This is a big success for our law enforcement units,” Encinas said. “I urge the public to remain vigilant against terror groups out to harm our communities as the AFP is committed to protecting you at all times,” he added.

The suspects were brought to the Sultan Kudarat provincial police office for proper documentation and filing of charges.

On Sept. 7, an improvised bomb placed at a terminal of “habal-habal” (motorcycles-for-rent) along the highway in Isulan went off and injured seven persons, including a traffic enforcer and a village watchman.

MNLF exec nabbed in GenSan, tagged as suspect in Isulan blast

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 25, 2019): MNLF exec nabbed in GenSan, tagged as suspect in Isulan blast

Brig. Gen. Alfred Corpus, Police Regional Office (PRO)-12 director. (File photo courtesy of PRO-12)

Police tagged a Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) official, who was arrested for alleged possession of explosives in a checkpoint here on Monday, as a suspect in the Sept. 7 bomb attack in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat.

Brig. Gen. Alfred Corpus, Police Regional Office-12 director, said in a statement on Wednesday suspect
Kamlon Tongab Camsa, 62, was identified by investigators as among those involved in the bomb explosion at the Isulan public market that wounded seven people.

Corpus said Kamlon is the subject of a search warrant implemented at his home in Sitio Nakan, Barangay Kapaya in Bagumbayan, Sultan Kudarat on Monday.

The suspect, however, was arrested around 2 p.m. Monday, along with his niece Bainoss Camsa, 45, at a checkpoint of the Army-led Joint Task Force GenSan along the national highway in Barangay Apopong here. They were found in possession of a bag containing two fragmentation grenades and an improvised blasting cap. (See related story here)

Corpus said Kamlon is reportedly the vice chairman for military affairs of the MNLF’s Sabiwang State Revolutionary Committee based in Sultan Kudarat province.

He said three of the suspect’s relatives and a Swedish national were arrested last Monday in a joint search operation in Sitio Nakan, Barangay Kapaya that yielded several firearms, explosives, and an Islamic State flag.

Corpus said Kamlon is currently under the custody of the Police Station2 here while awaiting the formal filing of charges for possession of explosives.

The four other suspects are now detained at the Sultan Kudarat Police Provincial Office in Isulan town, he said.

Corpus lauded their units and counterparts in the Armed Forces of the Philippines and other law enforcement agencies for the arrest of the suspects.

“I would like also to recognize the help coming from members of the community who fed us with valuable information leading to the arrest of these suspects,” he added.

Troops nab Basilan-based Abu Sayyaf man

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 25, 2019): Troops nab Basilan-based Abu Sayyaf man

ARRESTED. A team of Marines and policemen arrested a member of the Basilan-based Abu Sayyaf Group in Barangay Mercedes, Zamboanga City on Monday (Sept. 23, 2019). Dala has a standing arrest warrant for murder. (Photo courtesy of Western Mindanao Command PIO)

ZAMBOANGA CITY -- Government troops have arrested an alleged member of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in this southern port city, military officials said Wednesday.

Col. Antonio John Divinagracia, Task Force Zamboanga commander,
identified the arrested ASG bandit as Amran Dala, a follower of Basilan-based bandit leader Furuji Indama.

Divinagracia said Dala was arrested by joint elements of the Marine Battalion Landing Team-11 and Police station 4 in Barangay Mercedes around 9:30 a.m. Monday.

Divinagracia said the troops launched a law enforcement operation when they spotted Dala, who has a standing arrest warrant for murder.

The Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines has been conducting pursuit operations against the ASG bandits in the provinces of Basilan and Sulu and other parts of Mindanao.

President Rodrigo Duterte has given the AFP until December this year to finish off the ASG bandits.

“We are firm in pursuing Abu Sayyaf militants and in encouraging other rebels to surrender to quell terrorism and deliver peace and progress in Mindanao,” Sobejana said.