Thursday, October 17, 2019

Kalinaw News: Another NPA couple surrender to Army in Bukidnon

Posted to Kalinaw News (Oct 18, 2019): Another NPA couple surrender to Army in Bukidnon

IMPASUGONG, Bukidnon, October 17- Another NPA couple voluntarily
surrendered to the Army, unit of the 8th Infantry (DEPENDABLE) Battalion, 4th Infantry (DIAMOND) Division, Philippine Army at the Forward Operation Base Barangay Hagpa, Impasugong, Bukidnon, October 16, 2019.

The couple was identified as @Robert, 32 years old and his legal wife
@Nicole 31 years old both residents of Barangay Kalabugao, Impasugong, Bukidnon. The couples were the former Team Leader and Medic of the Squad 1, Platoon 1, of the Sub-Regional Sentro de Grabidad “PEDLER” Sub- Regional Committee 2 of the North Central Mindanao Regional Command.

Tired of evading the military troops, the couple brought with them their two (2) AK47 rifles with four magazines, 80 live bullets, and turned over to the said unit.

Nicole shared their experience inside the NPA terrorist group, “We are tired and afraid of our security inside and thought of our future if we continue to stay in the group so we decided to yield, Army troops are everywhere, We do not know what to do, where to go and whom to believe since even our leaders inside are financially corrupt.”

“We are happy to hear from the couple realizing that they are only carried away by the propaganda issues exploited by this CPP-NPA Terrorist group and that they had no good future if they remain in the group” said by Lieutenant Colonel Ronald M Illana, Commanding Officer of 8th Infantry (DEPENDABLE) Battalion as he personally accepted the couple. “We are still calling the attention of the remaining members of Sub-Regional Sentro de Grabidad ‘PEDLER’ Sub-Regional Committee 2 to surrender and don’t wait to die for we are serious on our military operations to defeat these terrorists.” He ended.

The fifth couple who surrendered to the Army unit will be provided necessary security assistance and be enrolled in the government E CLIP for their benefits.

Division Public Affairs Office 4th Infantry Division Philippine Army
Cpt Regie H Go

[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: 22 NPAs Surrender 10 firearms in Quezon

Posted to Kalinaw News (Oct 18, 2019): 22 NPAs Surrender 10 firearms in Quezon

CAMP CAPINPIN, Tanay, Rizal – Twenty two communist terrorists belonging to the NPA’s Guerilla Front Cesar decided to return to the folds of law and turned over 10 firearms after negotiations with combined elements of the Army’s 2nd Infantry (Jungle Fighter) Division and Police Regional Office 4A at General Nakar, Quezon on Wednesday.

Per military intelligence, the former rebels used to operate in the Provinces of Quezon, Laguna and Rizal, some of whom were directly involved in terrorist extortion activities perpetrated against the people.

Colonel Alex Rillera, Commander of 202nd Brigade which has operational jurisdiction over the area, said that “the influx of surrenders can be attributed to the ‘whole-of-nation approach’ strategy which the government has adapted to end local communist armed

He added that “since the operationalization of RTF ELCAC 4A, we have already assisted hundreds of former rebels who have signified their intention to put down their arms and return to mainstream society in order to enjoy peaceful lives with their families.”

Most of the former NPAs are now enrolled in the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program or E-CLIP which provides financial and other forms of assistance amounting to almost Php700,000 per rebel returnee to help them start a normal life.

In a statement, BGen Arnulfo Marcelo B Burgos Jr, the Commander of the 2nd Infantry Division, expressed his optimism that the “mass surrender signals the eventual and inevitable collapse of insurgency in Rizal and Quezon similar to what happened in Batangas and Laguna provinces.”

It can be recalled that early this year, the Joint AFP-PNP Intelligence Coordinating Committee declared GF Honda, the NPA unit that used to operate in Batangas and Cavite, as dismantled. This was followed by the 2ID’s declarations of Cavite, Marinduque, Romblon and Laguna as insurgency free areas.

BGen Burgos extended his soldiers’ gratitude to the peace-loving people of CALABARZON “whose unconditional trust and unparalleled support paved the way for the relative peace and massive economic development” that are taking place in the region.

He ended his statement by reassuring the public that “your soldiers, and the members of RTF ELCAC 4A, will remain to be active partners of local government units and different national agencies in addressing all prevailing social issues so that we may finally end the five decades of internal conflict and allow our country to regain its glory as well as to reclaim our rightful place in international community.”

Aside from the 10 firearms, the former rebels yielded ammunition and other war materiel including explosives that they use as landlines which is contrary to numerous internationally accepted conventions in the conduct of war.

For his part, Lt Gen Gilbert I Gapay, Commander of Southern Luzon Command, lauded the professionalism and interoperability of the combined police and military personnel in attaining their common objective of achieving peace across the country.

He added that because of this unprecedented degree of cooperation and trust, “we are in a position to end local communist armed conflict and finally allow progress and prosperity to be enjoyed by the very people whom we have sworn to serve.”

He ended his statement by encouraging the few remaining NPAs in Southern Tagalog “to lay down your arms, return to mainstream society, enjoy the benefits provided under the government’s E-CLIP and, together, let us move forward as a nation.”

A separate presentation of government grants will be scheduled by the AFP and the PNP, something which known left-leaning groups and personalities have blatantly opposed because such undertakings led to unprecedented number of surrenders from CALABARZON.

The former rebels are now undergoing custodial debriefing. It will be followed by DSWD’s needs assessment, profiling and counselling by health professionals.

Division Public Affairs Office 2nd Infantry Division Philippine Army
Chief, DPAO, 2ID, PA
Camp General Mateo Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal

[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: Statement on the shooting incident of a school teacher in Valencia City

Posted to Kalinaw News (Oct 17, 2019): Statement on the shooting incident of a school teacher in Valencia City

PASIG CITY – The Department of Education (DepEd) denounces the shooting of Ms. Zhydee Bitago Cabañelez, an elementary teacher at Dalit Elementary School in Valencia City, Bukidnon on October 15, 2019.

Four (4) unidentified gunmen onboard motorcycles went inside the victim’s classroom and shot the victim and her husband, Mr. Ramil Cabañelez, also a teacher in the same school. The husband managed to escape while the victim sustained serious physical injuries.

Initial police reports forwarded by PNP Chief Zurki Serenas showed that the victim sustained multiple gunshot wounds but is now on stable condition at the hospital and will be provided with psychological first aid as soon as possible.

Schools Division Superindent of Valencia City Roy Angelo E. Gazo confirmed that the local DepEd office has conducted stress debriefing to pupils, parents, and teachers in Dalit ES yesterday, a day after the incident. The Division Office also postponed the conduct of the 2nd Periodical Test scheduled on October 17 and 18, in that school.

During coordination meeting, the Barangay and Sitio leaders committed to assign CVO and purok leaders to serve as security officers during school hours. They will also accompany teachers in coming to school and going home at least until the Pulangi River.

Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones instructed DepEd Regional Office X and the Schools Division Office of Valencia City to submit complete incident reports and to obtain investigation reports from the authorities.

DepEd calls on the authorities to conduct an exhaustive investigation of the gruesome incident and expects results that will bring the perpetrators to justice. DepEd sternly enjoins the community, local officials, and law enforcement agencies to work closely in ensuring the safety of schools, learners, and teachers.

Source: Department of Education

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Kalinaw News: Army gets silver in exercise Cambrian Patrol 2019

Posted to Kalinaw News (Oct 17, 2019): Army gets silver in exercise Cambrian Patrol 2019

FORT BONIFACIO, Metro Manila – A team of Scout Rangers from the Philippine Army was awarded the Silver Medal at the Exercise Cambrian Patrol 2019 (Ex CP 2019) on Wednesday, Oct. 16, at Wales, United Kingdom.

For 51 sleepless hours, the Army’s eight-man team successfully accomplished its mission by performing various military operations along the rugged Cambrian Mountains of Mid-Wales, with loads of logistics and minimal food and water.

This year, around 130 teams from different countries participated in the exercise. They also underwent a 21-day pre-training prior to the exercise proper that started last Oct. 14.

The Ex CP is an annual international military exercise hosted by Headquarters 160th (Welsh) Brigade. It is tagged as the British Army’s premier patrolling event that provides mission-focused and scenario-based exercise in order to enhance each participating unit’s operational capabilities.

“The Philippine Army recognizes the achievement of our Scout Rangers, which is a manifestation of the perseverance and toughness of the Filipino soldier. Their display of character in the international scene reflects our nation’s aspirations to become a truly world-class Army,” said Army Spokesperson Lt. Col. Ramon P. Zagala.

Army gets silver in exercise Cambrian Patrol 2019 1

Army gets silver in exercise Cambrian Patrol 2019 2

Army gets silver in exercise Cambrian Patrol 2019 3

[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: Joins the celebration of Indigenous People rights act day

Posted to Kalinaw News (Oct 17, 2019): Joins the celebration of Indigenous People rights act day

Bancasi, Butuan City – The 402nd Infantry (Stingers) Brigade of the Philippine Army joined the celebration of the 22nd Indigenous People Rights Act (IPRA) Day Celebration with a theme “Strengthening Future Leadership and Management of Ancestral Domains: Entrusting the IP Youths” held at LMX Convention Center, Brgy Bancasi, Butuan City today, October 16, 2019.

Col Maurito L Licudine, Commander of the 402nd Brigade and the highest Army Unit Commander in Caraga, citing the value of the celebration and significance of the IPs as one of the vital piece in attaining long and lasting peace in the region, attended the celebration showcasing the Brigade’s support to the IPs role in nation building, its talent and culture.

With him were personnel of the 23IB under the operational control of the 402nd Brigade who provided free haircut services to more than fifty (50) IPs. Partner stakeholders were also present that also gave free basic services. TESDA Caraga offered Free Massage, DOH Caraga conducted Free Medical and Dental Check-Up and distributed Medicines while the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) conducted profiling and distribution of Seeds to the IP participants.

Director Ferdausi S Cerna, the Regional Director of the National Commission of Indigenous People (NCIP) Caraga spearheaded the celebration attended by more than five hundred (500) IPs coming from the different tribes in Caraga namely: Manobo, Higaonon, Mamanwa, Talaandig, Banwa-on and Mandaya. He said “As we celebrate the 22nd IPRA celebration where we give great emphasis on the youth’s role to manage and keep the Ancestral Domain, we, the present leaders should be steadfast in keeping our culture, customs and traditions. We could only remain free in our lands if we will remain brave in defending it.”

Meanwhile, Col Licudine in his statement said, “Your Army supports and recognizes the inherent right of IPs to self-governance and self-determination and respects the integrity of their values, practices and institutions. We also recognize the IP leaders who continuously advocate peace and stand their ground to defend their people and shun away the influence of the CPP-NPA Terrorist (CNT) in their communities.”

“We call on every IP brothers and sisters to unite with us, your Army, in creating an environment where all our children can live in peace and fulfill their dream of prosperity in life. Let us always be vigilant and alert from the CNT’s scheme of manipulation and deception. We must resist the threat as their ploy to continuously control your people,” Col Licudine added.

402nd Infantry Brigade, 4th Infantry Division Philippine Army
402nd Bde Civil Military Operations Officer
Contact Number:0915-054-3439/0948-641-6783
Add us on Facebook at: RAJAH KULAMBO (Stinger)

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Kalinaw News: Army captures CNT food cache in Sursur town

Posted to Kalinaw News (Oct 17, 2019): Army captures CNT food cache in Sursur town

TAGO, Surigao del Sur – The army’s 36th Infantry (Valor) Battalion captures Communist NPA terrorist (CNT) food cache at the vicinity of Sitio Nakatindog, Brgy Bayogo, Madrid, this province yesterday, October 16, 2019, at around 2 o’clock in the morning.

The said CPP-NPA food cache was found in an unidentified cave through the intervention and revelation of one of the former rebel who surrender to the government.
Troops of 36IB immediately responded and proceeded to the said place. Recovered within the food cache are composed of seven (7) gallons of rice in 20 litres each.

According to the revelation, it was disclosed that the CNT left their food cache for safekeeping and for future purposes and to move away to avoid the operating troops. It was believed that that said food cache was from the Sandatahang Yunit Pampropaganda (SYP), Weakened Guerilla Front 30 (WGF30) of the North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC).

Elements of 36IB are conducting a series of combat operations within the area of operation to thwarts any violent activities of the CNT to the peace-loving communities. The presence of the operating troops in the area preempts the CNT’s to recover their supply cache.

It can be recalled that a supply cache was also seized by the 36IB troopers at Purok Salikot, Sitio Bato, Brgy Bitaugan, San Miguel, Surigao del Sur last April 17, 2019 which were left for safekeeping in their trusted contact/supporter in the barangays purposely to ease some loads carried by CNTs during movement and when conducting harassments or to avoid the operating troops.

In his statement, Ltc Jezreel Diagmel, Acting Commanding Officer of the 36IB said that thep series of disclosure by formerly trusted confidantes of the CNTs adds to the mounting indication that they are losing mass support.

“The captures of said supplies are a significant blow to their compartmentalized and restricted movement. We were able to successfully do this due to the increasing shift of former rebel support in favor of the government,” Army official added.

He further added that people seek peace and abhor violence as a means to create a thriving society. It is very clear that the former rebels itself are cooperating to the army in preventing the CNT’s to continue their futile armed struggle against the government.

The said items were deposited at the Advance Command Post (ACP) of 36IB supply room at Brgy San Juan, Madrid, SDS for safekeeping and to be further turned over to 36IB headquarters.

Division Public Affairs Office 4th Infantry Division Philippine Army
Cpt Regie H Go

[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: 700 IPs received .95 million livelihood assistance

Posted to Kalinaw News (Oct 17, 2019): 700 IPs received .95 million livelihood assistance

MAMPAYAG, Manolo Fortich – Seven hundred IPs benefited the livelihood assistance of nine hundred and fifty thousand pesos (Php 950,000.00) during awarding of Livelihood Grants from Rotary Club of Makati at Alomah’s Place, Dahilayan, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon on October 16, 2019.

1st Special Forces Battalion helped met the ends between concerns and solutions of the people’s organization and the national government and non-government agencies brought by Community Support Program on Conflict-Affected Areas and Geographically Isolated and Disadvantage Areas.

Beneficiaries include people’s organizations and former rebels that are vulnerable to CPP-NPA Terrorists.

With the implementation of EO 70 as an institutionalized whole-of-nation approach in ending local communist armed conflict, the regional banner dubbed as Convergence Areas of Peace and Development launched programs and projects epochal to the community.

The 3K (Kaon, Kalipay, Kalinaw) Program of 403rd Infantry “Peacemaker” Brigade, Special Forces Combined Actions of Re-engineered Efforts and Services (SF CARES) has been the units counterpart to the community development program.

As facets of the core group to sustain the project, Marcos Arbole, Vice President of Rotary Club of Northern Mindanao and Crispulo G. Vidad Jr., Past Assistant Governor of Rotary Club of Northern Mindanao District 3870 of Rotary International pledged to monitor the progress of the three livelihood projects; beads making, textile making, and organic vegetable farming.

Keen with generosity, Rotary Club of Makati President, Vicente T. Mills Jr. set into words his plans for sustainment, “We know that the key problem here is production. The first step to help you is the small effort in passing this pilot program. The second step is refining this program and making it productive and effective in the next cycle. We are making efforts to gather resources to do this again but without you here on the ground, who will tell us the better way on how to refine it and more effective, we cannot do the phase 2 next year.”

Gratified by the spirit of generosity, the unit’s commanding officer, Lt. Colonel Sergio P. Macarandan Jr, bowed his beret to the people behind the Rotary Peace Project, “My applause to the generosity of Rotary Club of Makati. The launching of this phase has created a great impact on the welfare and progress of these IPs. You have provided them avenue to generate income and taught them to value the skills they have acquired to support the financial needs of their family. Furthermore, the sustainment of this project lies not only to the people a-top of the flow chart but also to the people on the ground – the real maneuvers of the cycle. Sustainment comes from your efforts to hold it away from the cliff. Make it work and strive for sustainability.”

1st Special Forces Battalion Philippine Army
E-mail Address:
Contact Nr: ‎(0917) 116 – 2408

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Kalinaw News: LGU-AFP-PNP convergence captures ranking NPAs; induce mass surrender in regions 10 and CARAGA

Posted to Kalinaw News (Oct 17, 2019): LGU-AFP-PNP convergence captures ranking NPAs; induce mass surrender in regions 10 and CARAGA

CAMP EVANGELISTA, Cagayan de Oro City – The Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) continues to disintegrate as sustained LGU-AFP-PNP convergence through the conduct of inter-agency operations resulted in the capture of two (2) high ranking NPAs, induce mass surrender of a total of 549 NPA regulars, MBs and supporters and recovered 20 high and low powered firearms in Regions 10 and Caraga last week.

Based on the records of the 4th Infantry “Diamond” Division, two (2) high ranking NPA personalities identified as Melissa Comiso alias Meli/Melissa and Nore Torregosa alias Johnny were nabbed during the joint law enforcement operation in Butuan City while 66 regular NPA members, 91 Militia ng Bayan (MB) and 392 Underground Mass Organization (UGMO) surrendered and withdrew their support to the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (NPA) – National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) from October 2-13, 2019.

The series of operation and surrender resulted in the recovery of (1) 81mm Mortar, (1) KG9, (3) hand grenades, (3) Garand Rifles, (1) M14 rifle, (3) Homemade shot guns, (2) M16 rifles, (4) cal. 45 pistols, (1) Cal.357 and (1) cal. 38 revolver. There were also gadgets such as (3) laptops, (4) cellular phones, (2) tablets and subversive documents.

MGen Franco Nemesio Gacal, Commander of the 4th ID commends the LGUs, PNP and 4ID Commanders for their dedication and continued efforts to finally end insurgency in Regions 10 and CARAGA. He further said that the effective implementation of the EO 70 or the “Whole of the Nation Approach” is resulting in the influx of surrender and the continues destruction of the CNTs “I urge everyone to continue and sustain our support to EO 70 and together we will attain long-lasting, sustainable and inclusive peace and development. We owe this peace to the next generation, let’s end the insurgency problem and have it done during our time,” Gacal ended.

Division Public Affairs Office 4th Infantry Division Philippine Army
Cpt Regie H Go

[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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WATCH: PH, U.S. marines hold live fire, air defense drills in Tarlac

From Rappler (Oct 17, 2019): WATCH: PH, U.S. marines hold live fire, air defense drills in Tarlac

Osprey aircraft, amphibious assault vehicles, and Howitzer guns rock the Crow Valley Gunnery Range as the two countries' marines engage in joint exercises

OSPREY AIRCRAFT. This was among military assets featured in the live fire and air defense drills of the KAMANDAG 3 joint exercises of the Philippine and US marines on October 17, 2019, in Capas, Tarlac. Photo by Nappy Manegdeg/Rappler

TARLAC, Philippines – The Philippine Marine Corps and the US Marine Corps held live fire and low-altitude air defense exercises in the Crow Valley Gunnery Range inside Colonel Ernesto Ravina Air Base in Capas, Tarlac, on Thursday, October 17.

The simulated territorial defense mission was the final drill of the third Kaagapay ng Mandirigma ng Dagat (KAMANDAG 3) joint exercises between the Philippines and the US, with the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force observing and participating in some activities.

Thursday's exercise featured American amphibious assault vehicles (AAV), Osprey aircraft, Huey and Cobra helicopters, and Howitzer artillery guns firing 155mm rounds.

Filipino troops brought firepower aboard armored personnel carriers (APC) shooting 81mm rounds, joining their US counterparts in launching a ground assault on a besieged target, with close air support from Ospreys bringing in reinforcements and helicopters firing overhead.

An earlier exercise in Ternate, Cavite, on October 12 featured the Philippine Marines' own brand new AAVs working alongside similar assets from the US and Japan.

KAMANDAG 3 will officially close on Friday, October 18, as another series of exercises by the Philippines, US, and Japan navies, the MTA Sama-Sama, continues in Palawan.

Lorenzana: ‘Nothing wrong’ with deal between China-backed telco and military

From Rappler (Oct 18, 2019): Lorenzana: ‘Nothing wrong’ with deal between China-backed telco and military

The defense chief says he 'most probably will sign' the agreement between the military and Dito Telecommunity, but holds off while the Senate reviews its security implications

DEFENSE SECRETARY Delfin Lorenzana at a Senate hearing on the proposed 2020 budget of the Department of National Defense and its attached agencies. September 30, 2019. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

He has yet to sign it, but Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Thursday, October 17, that he did not have a problem with an agreement that would allow the China-backed Dito Telecommunity to build facilities on Philippine military installations.

“Nothing wrong, just the same as Globe and Smart,”
Lorenzana told reporters when asked about his review of the memorandum of agreement between Dito, formerly Mislatel, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

“I most probably will sign it,”
he added.

Lorenzana was on official business abroad when the AFP and Dito signed the deal on September 11. He then said he would review the contract after it drew strong opposition from experts and several lawmakers who warned it could leave the military vulnerable to spying by the Chinese government.

As defense chief, Lorenzana could reject the deal despite it having been approved by the military. However, he has been holding off his decision because the Senate on September 30 asked if it could also review the deal's security implications.

Opposition senators wanted to compare the details of the agreements, as the military said the arrangement with Dito is similar to its existing ones with Globe Telecom and Smart Communications.

Copies of the AFP’s “co-location” agreements with Dito, Globe, and Smart had been with the Senate for two and a half weeks but he had yet to hear back from the senators, Lorenzana said on Thursday.

The country’s first two telcos have set up telecommunication equipment on towers inside military reservations for security. Meanwhile, the military benefits from the arrangement through an exchange of equipment and services equivalent to the rental value of the shared facilities, according to the military.

Controlled by China

However, the problem with Dito is its direct link to the Chinese government, lawmakers and experts argued. Dito, a consortium led by Davao City businessman Dennis Uy, includes China Telecom, which is owned and controlled by the Chinese government.

China’s laws mandate its companies to provide intelligence to the government.

China Telecom has a 40% stake in Dito. Although it is a minority stake, it still affords the Chinese company full access to its daily operations, especially because it will provide the technology and infrastructure for the up and coming telco, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon told Lorenzana on September 30.

Despite this, Lorenzana and other security officials have downplayed Dito’s Chinese connection, saying Dito’s infrastructure would be “separate” from the military’s even though they would be occupying the same towers within military properties.

Although the AFP initially said Dito would be allowed to put its facilities “in military camps and installations,” it later on said the deal did not necessarily include camps but mere reservations and towers atop hills and mountains across the country.

Lorenzana himself said he was worried that the numerous Chinese workers in Philippine offshore gaming operation hubs near military camps could easily turn into spies.

He also reported and protested a series of incursions by Chinese naval and militia vessels in Philippine waters earlier this year, and called out China's "bullying" of Filipinos at Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal off Zambales.

But he insisted there is nothing suspicious about the military’s deal with Dito.

EXCLUSIVE: Sayyaf holds three kidnapped Indonesians in Sulu village

From the Daily Express (Oct 18, 2019): EXCLUSIVE: Sayyaf holds three kidnapped Indonesians in Sulu village

Kota Kinabalu: The three Indonesian fishermen kidnapped in waters off Tambisan island, Kinabatangan on Sept 23, are being held by the Abu Sayyaf group led by a sub-leader wanted by the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) in a village in Indanan town, Sulu, southern Philippines, Daily Express has been able to confirm.

A terrorism researcher at Jakarta-based think-tank Galatea, Ulta Levenia Nababan, said the kidnappers are currently being held by Salip Mura's group.

“They host the fishermen in Kabbon Maas village, Indanan town, Sulu province,” Ulta told Daily Express, citing inside information.

“The group initially consisted of only 10-20 persons but with the arrival of the kidnapped Indonesian fishermen, they increased their manpower to 50-60 fully armed members.”

Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Omar Mammah in previous reports said the kidnappers had contacted one of the fishermen's family member twice to demand ransom.

Daily Express has learned that the notorious group had demanded ransom from their employer also.

“They [Abu Sayyaf] first asked the fishermen's employer to pay the ransom by contacting the fishermen's families,” said Ulta.

“But there is no vivid explanation until now about how the ransom money would be delivered.”

The group holding the fishermen may be subject to Philippine military operations soon.

“The Philippine authorities want to carry out military operations against them.” said Ulta.

Esscom Commander Datuk Hazani Ghazali confirmed to Daily Express that the fishermen are being held in Indanan.

“I can’t say who exactly the kidnappers were,” he said when contacted.

“[But] we know about the Indonesians' location in Indanan, which is definitely an area under Salip Mura.”

Salip is one of 18 men wanted by Esscom for transborder crimes.

People are known to have been abducted by pirates or kidnappers who later sold or handed their captors over to the Abu Sayyaf.

The three Indonesian fishermen - Maharudi Lunani, 48, Muhammad Farhan, 27, and Samiun Maneu, 27 - were kidnapped from a Sandakan-registered fishing trawler by seven masked gunmen travelling in two pump boats.

The gunmen fired at the crew and ordered the three fishermen to board their pump boat before heading towards the Tawi Tawi islands chain in southern Philippines near Sabah waters.

The last time the Philippine military launched operations to rescue kidnapped Malaysian and Indonesian fishermen was in April of this year; however, two of them were killed.

Malaysian Jari Abdullah succumbed to his gunshot wounds while being treated at a private hospital in Zamboanga City after he was shot by his Abu Sayyaf captors during the rescue operation by Philippine marines.

Indonesian Hariadin reportedly drowned during another rescue while his compatriot Heri Ardiansyah survived.

The two Indonesians and their Abu Sayyaf captors were attempting to swim to another island from Simisa island off Sulu in a bid to escape when they were spotted by the pursuing marines.

Philippines: Kidnappers Demand Ransom for British Man and Wife

From BenarNews (Oct 17, 2019): Philippines: Kidnappers Demand Ransom for British Man and Wife

Members of the Philippine Coast Guard’s anti-terrorism unit board a high-speed boat in the southern Philippine province of Zamboanga to search for kidnapped British businessman Allan Arthur Hyrons and his wife, Wilma Paglinawan, Oct. 17, 2019.  BenarNews

The gunmen who abducted a British national and his Filipina wife have demanded 50 million pesos (almost U.S. $1 million) in exchange for their freedom, a Philippine military official said Thursday.

This came as the Philippine Coast Guard announced it had deployed its anti-terror unit and a high-speed boat to beef up the military’s search-and-rescue mission in the porous coastlines of the Zamboanga peninsula in the southern Philippines.

The ransom demand was relayed to the relatives of Allan Arthur Hyrons, 70, who was snatched by armed men at a beach resort in Zamboanga del Sur province two weeks ago along with his wife, Wilma Paglinawan, regional military chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana told reporters.

“There were groups relaying the demand to the family (of the victims) amounting to 50 million pesos,” Sobejana said, adding that the information was intercepted by intelligence operatives.

However, Sobejana said they were taking the information at face value, noting that many militant groups were in the south and could be taking advantage of the confusing situation.

Sobejana said the abductors and their captives are believed to be hiding in the vicinity of Zamboanga peninsula, where troops have fanned out to locate them.

No one has claimed responsibility for the abduction, although military officials had blamed the Islamic State-linked Abu Sayyaf militants for previous kidnappings in the region.

Malaysia: Kidnappers of Indonesian fisherman seek ransom

Meanwhile, the unidentified abductors of three Indonesian fishermen who were snatched off the Malaysian Borneo state of Sabah also demanded ransom, according to the Malaysian police.

Malaysian police earlier reported that seven armed men kidnapped Samiun Maniu, 27, Maharuydin Lunani, 48, and Muhammas Farhan, 27, from their fishing trawler last month. The kidnappers sped away in two pump boats with their hostages toward the Tawi-Tawi islets before heading toward Jolo island, a known stronghold of Abu Sayyaf militants, Malaysian authorities said.

Sabah Police Commissioner Omar Mammah said a man claiming to be one of the seven kidnappers made a telephone call to a family member of one of the Indonesians.

“The kidnappers called the family member of one of the fishermen a few days after the Sept. 23 kidnapping,”
Omar told BenarNews early this month.

“Our Philippine counterpart, who gave us this information, however, did not tell us how much ransom was demanded,” he said. “The kidnappers demanded that the families resolve the matter by paying the ransom soonest possible.”

Malaysian newspapers have described Eastern Sabah as one of the most dangerous areas in the country in which piracy and kidnapping have taken place after the infamous Sipadan island kidnapping incident 19 years ago in which suspected Abu Sayyaf members snatched dozens of people, mostly tourists.

Citing intelligence information, Hazani Ghazali, chief of Malaysia’s Eastern Sabah Security Command, told BenarNews that the fishermen were being held in Indanan town in the southern Philippine province of Sulu.

“I can’t say who exactly the kidnappers were,” he said.

PAF seizes P30-million clams in Cebu

From the Business Mirror (Oct 18, 2019): PAF seizes P30-million clams in Cebu

THE Philippine Air Force (PAF) reported on Thursday that its personnel in the Visayas
seized at least P30 million worth of fossilized giant clams and arrested five suspects during an operation in Cebu.

A statement issued by the Air Force said that elements of the 301st Special Mission Group, joined by personnel of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and agents of the National Bureau of Investigation, seized the fossilized clams on Wednesday.

The operation was carried out on the strength of a search warrant, with authorities citing a violation of Republic Act 10654, or the amended Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998.

During the operation, the raiding team arrested five people, including the couple George and Bebing Oldama, Roweno Tajanlangit and two other suspects, both residents of Barangay Day-as and Barangay Catarman, Cordova, Cebu.

The Air Force said the raiding team took a total of 90 pieces of large-sized, 59 pieces medium-sized, and six sacks of small-sized fossilized giant clams. A kilo of fossilized clams costs about P15,000.

This is the first time that the Air Force, the military’s primary air unit, had been involved in operations enforcing fishery violations.

It has, however, land-based fighting units like the special operations wing that is helping in the campaign against the New People’s Army, and which operates in Southern Tagalog.

Ranking NPA leader arrested in Sarangani

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Oct 18, 2019): Ranking NPA leader arrested in Sarangani

Police authorities in the Soccsksargen region announced the arrest of a ranking communist rebel who led the burning of P35 million worth of construction equipment in Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat in 2015.

Brig. Gen. Alfred S. Corpuz, Soccsksargen police director, said joint operatives of Sarangani police and the Philippine Army collared Jonie Calaba alias Jepoy, a resident of Sitio Tinitipan, Barangay Sta. Clara of Kalamansig town. He was arrested earlier this week by virtue of a warrant of arrest.

Calaba, 25, is said to be vice chair of Platoon Cherry Mobile of Guerilla Front 73 of the New People’s Army’s Far South Mindanao Region.

Police said on Thursday that Calaba’s group is said to be operating in Barangay San Jose, General Santos City and in municipalities of Banga, Tupi, Polomolok, Lake Sebu, and T’boli in South Cotabato, and in Kiamba, Sarangani province.

Police added the suspect was arrested for the crime of arson, as his group was allegedly responsible to the torching of a heavy equipment owned by Silvicultural Industries, Inc. on March 7, 2015 in Barangay Hinalaan, Kalamansig town in Sultan Kudarat.

The arson caused P35 million worth of damage.

Brig. Gen. Alfred Corpus, Soccsksargen police director, said the arrest of Calaba, who was brought to the Sarangani Police Provincial Office, is the fourth accomplishment of the regional police against NPA forces for October.

“The series of apprehension of these CNT members is a great accomplishment for us. This is a result of our Intensified Intel Driven Operations in cooperation with our AFP counterpart coupled with the help of the community towards the aim of weakening the line of the communist terrorist party,” he said.

“We remain steadfast in our mandate to protect our land from internal and external threats,” he also said.

Army uncovers NPA food depot in Surigao Sur

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 18, 2019): Army uncovers NPA food depot in Surigao Sur

RECOVERED. Following a tip from residents in the area, soldiers of the Army's 36th Infantry Battalion recover food supplies belonging to communist rebels in a remote village in Madrid town on Wednesday (October 16, 2019). (Photo courtesy of 36IB)

Government troops belonging to the Army's 36th Infantry Battalion uncovered a food depot of New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in a remote area in Surigao del Sur.

1Lt. Jonald D. Romorosa, 36IB civil-military operations officer, said the food depot was discovered inside a cave in Sitio Nakatindog, Barangay Bayogo, in Madrid town on Wednesday.

Romorosa said the discovery was made possible through the information provided by a former rebel who surrendered to the government and with the support of the civilians in the area.

He said the recovered food supplies consisted of rice and other foodstuffs.

Based on the accounts of residents who helped the Army recover the items, Romorosa said the food cache was stored by the NPAs in the area for future use as they move around to avoid government forces.

He said the food supplies belong to the Guerilla Front 30 of the NPA's North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC), which is considered by the military as a weakened guerilla unit.
Lt. Col. Jezreel Diagmel, 36IB acting commander, said Thursday the support of the civilians to government troopers "indicates the dwindling grip of the NPA (on) the people" in the area.

“The capture of the said supplies is a significant blow to their compartmentalized and restricted movement. We were able to successfully do this due to the increasing shift of former rebel support in favor of the government,” Diagmel said.

DSWD DROMIC Terminal Report on the Armed Conflict in Brgy. San Sebastian, Jones, Isabela

Posted to the Relief Web (Oct 16, 2019): DSWD DROMIC Terminal Report on the Armed Conflict in Brgy. San Sebastian, Jones, Isabela

Published on 16 Oct 2019 —View Original

Download PDF (197.94 KB)


This is the final report on the armed conflict transpired between the Government

Troops and New People’s Army (NPA) in Brgy. San Sebastian, Jones, Isabela on 07 May 2019 at around 10AM.

Source: DSWD-FO II

I. Status of Affected Families / Persons

A total of 26 families or 127 persons were affected by the armed conflict in Brgy. San Sebastian, Jones, Isabela (see Table 1).

II. Status of Displaced Families / Persons

a. A total of 4 families or 23 persons took temporary shelter in Brgy. Hall of San Sebastian (see Table 2).

b. 22 families or 104 persons remain staying with their respective houses (see table 3).

Soldiers, NPA rebels clash in Quezon; high-powered firearm seized

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Oct 17, 2019): Soldiers, NPA rebels clash in Quezon; high-powered firearm seized

Patrolling Army soldiers clashed with an estimated 25 New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Catanauan town in Quezon province on Thursday, a regional military spokesman reported.

Lt. Col. Dennis Cana, spokesman of the Armed Forces Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) said, soldiers from the Army’s 85th Infantry Battalion engaged the rebels in Barangay (village) San Pablo Suha around 10:30 a.m.
Cana said the soldiers recovered an M-16 rifle left behind by the retreating rebels after the brief encounter.

The report said there was no casualty on the government side. “The casualties have yet to be determined on the communist terrorist side,” it said.

The military and police forces chased the escaping rebels and have also established checkpoints to block any mobile communist guerrillas.

Cana said concerned villagers tipped off the military about the presence of an NPA temporary camp in the area.

Last month, the Quezon provincial government declared the Communist Party of the Philippines and NPA, its military wing, as “persona non grata” in the province, once considered as a stronghold of Maoist-inspired guerrillas in Southern Tagalog.

The declaration was part of the renewed campaign by government forces to crush communist insurgents before the end of President Duterte’s term in 2022.

Army claims 22 rebels operating in 3 provinces surrender

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Oct 17, 2019): Army claims 22 rebels operating in 3 provinces surrender

The military on Thursday, Oct. 17, announced what it said was the surrender of at least 22 New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas, lured by a Duterte administration program dangling cash, housing and scholarships launched in the wake of the collapse of peace talks between the government and communist rebels.

Capt. Jayrald Ternio, head of the public affairs office of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division, said
the guerrillas had operated in Quezon, Laguna and Rizal provinces under the NPA’s Guerrilla Front Cesar.

Ternio, in a report, said the 22 guerrillas also turned over 10 firearms, ammunition and materials for making landmines.

The surrender followed negotiations between the rebels and military and police representatives. No details of the negotiations were given but it appeared to be part of the Duterte administration’s tack to initiate localized peace talks in lieu of talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and key rebel leaders.

Ternio said the surrendered rebels were being given “custodial debriefing.”

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is determining the rebels’ needs, profiling and counseling them.

Col. Alex Rillera, head of the Army’s 202nd Infantry Brigade, said in the report that rebels were surrendering as a result of the “whole-of-nation” strategy to bring an end to the insurgency which President Rodrigo Duterte wanted done during his term which expires in 2022.

Brig. Gen. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr., head of the 2nd ID, said rebels continue to surrender which would lead to an end to the insurgency in the provinces of Rizal, Quezon, Batangas and Laguna.

The surrender, Burgos said, “signals the eventual and inevitable collapse of insurgency.”

Reports earlier this year cited military and police intelligence reports as declaring the dismantling of the NPA unit operating in Batangas and Cavite provinces.

The military and local officials had also declared the provinces of Cavite, Marinduque, Romblon and Laguna as “insurgency-free.”

Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, head of the Armed Forces Southern Luzon Command, called on other rebels to lay down their arms and surrender, too.

Gapay said they stood to enjoy the benefits of the government’s E-Clip program which offers livelihood financing, scholarships, housing and free legal assistance to rebels who would give up the armed struggle to bring genuine land reform and justice to remote areas where government presence is hardly felt.

It wasn’t clear how the military arrived at these figures but Solcom said as of the second quarter of 2019, 385 rebels operated in Southern Tagalog region and 314 in Bicol.

Summit charts strategy for insurgency-free Philippines

From the Manila Bulletin (Oct 17, 2019): Summit charts strategy for insurgency-free Philippines

Nearly 200 participants from the National and Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) gathered in Cebu Wednesday for the Visayas leg of the Major Island Group Summits to chart a roadmap for an insurgency-free Philippines by 2020.

NTF-ELCAC Vice Chair Hermogenes Esperon Jr. (REY BANIQUET / Presidential Photo / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

NTF-ELCAC Vice Chair Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said that during the one-day event the task force’s secretariat provided updates on its undertakings and presented guidelines.

“This is the third major island summit. There was one in Mindanao last October 10 and October 14 in Manila with eight task forces in attendance,” Esperon said.

The group conducts the summits in preparation for the upcoming National Summit with President Duterte, he said.

Esperon added that the Regional Task Force through the and the Technical Working Group (TWG) heads presented updates, accomplishments, issues, and concerns in line with the implementation of the ELCAC national/regional/local plans.

Office of the Presidential Assistant for Visayas (OPAV) Secretary Michael Dino has been designated as Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security (CORDS) for Central Visayas and will facilitate the implementation of the programs as contained in the roadmap.

Based on the data from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Visayas Central Command (CentCom), as of last January, there were 322 insurgency-affected barangays in the three regions in the Visayas.

CentCom said it has had 74 encounters with communist rebels; 22 of them were in Negros Island, 15 in Panay Island, 35 in Samar and two in Leyte.

The 10 key leaders of the communist insurgents in the Visayas regions have been neutralized including Frank Fernandez, secretary of the Komite Rehiyon-Negros Cebu Bohol Siquijor (KR NCBS).

CentCom said 520 communist supporters had surrendered and the military has driven out the rebels from 31 barangays.

CentCom commander Gen. Dinoh Dolina said there are about 160 barangays still under the influence of the rebel.

“Our timeline is March 2020 to clear at least eight of the 11 communist rebel fronts in the Visayas area specifically in region 8,” Dolina said.

Karapatan calls for abolition of gov’t legal group tasks to run after progressive groups’ malfeasance

From the Manila Bulletin (Oct 14, 2019): Karapatan calls for abolition of gov’t legal group tasks to run after progressive groups’ malfeasance

Human rights group Karapatan has strongly pushed for the abolishment of the Inter-Agency Committee on Legal Action (IACLA) claiming it has been filing trumped-up charges against activists since October 2017.


Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay alleged that IACLA is also “working hand-in-glove with the National Task Force (NTF) to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ECLAC) that is the main pincer of counterinsurgency campaign called Oplan Kapanatagan’’.

Under the current administration, Palabay insisted the country “has seen an alarming increase in the number of activists and government critics charged with trumped-up cases and subjected to illegal arrests’’.

She asserted this is a systematic maneuver meant to silence those voicing out legitimate issues and the poor’s interests.

Since October 2017, Palabay said the machinery tasked with case build-up for the filing of trumped-up charges has been the IACLA, alongside the devious machinations under the NTF-ELCAC of Oplan Kapanatagan.

Formed on October 9, 2017, Palabay said IACLA is operated by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP.)

“It is the Duterte version of the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG) organized by then-President Gloria Arroyo that was abolished in 2009 after judges and leading legal scholars condemned it as a vehicle for the political persecution of human rights defenders and Arroyo critics,’’ Palabay said.

Palabay noted that for two years now, IACLA is used by the government to intensify its crackdown on activists.

She added that IACLA has been allegedly in the business of planting evidence and producing false witnesses, tag-teaming with prosecutors and courts for the release of defective warrants and the overall concoction of baseless and ridiculous stories to justify illegal arrests.

“One of the most preposterous trends since IACLA is the use of warrants from courts in the Caraga region in Mindanao to invent cases against and cause the arrest of activists in Metro Manila, despite the dire lack of evidence and logic presented by soldiers and police. They have laboratories for testing how far they can go in weaponizing the law and subverting legal processes,” explained Palabay.

She noted that IACLA has contributed to the rapid worsening of the human rights situation in the country.

As of June 2019, Karapatan has documented 545 political prisoners in the country, 285 of whom were arrested under the Duterte government.

Palabay said “many of the victims are peasants and indigenous leaders who are further disenfranchised by the disjointed justice system in the country that favors the rich and powerful. The double standard in our justice system is sickening, resulting to further injustice for the victims of human rights violations.”

She cited the recent case of illegal arrests in Palawan, involving human rights workers and Karapatan’s former secretary-general in its Southern Tagalog regional chapter by the police and the military on October 4.

Palabay claimed that seven human rights workers were arrested without warrants by the PNP and AFP in Puerto Princesa City after they conducted a fact-finding investigation on reports of human rights violations perpetrated by state forces against farmers in Taytay town.

The human rights workers are now set to face trumped-up charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

“The criminalization of human rights workers is nothing new, particularly in the context of repressive governments. Through IACLA and other militarist invention by the Duterte government, repression is desperately justified by this regime through obviously-concocted lies. The use of illegal possession of firearms and explosives, for example, is the easiest and most commonly used trumped-up charge under this government because it is the easiest to manufacture. The police and the military have certainly earned their expertise in planting evidence,” Palabay noted.

“As we call for the immediate abolition of IACLA, we also urge the Duterte regime to free all political prisoners who were detained based on fabricated charges, and to dismiss all trumped-up cases filed against activists. Political persecution is certainly the resort of guilty and repressive regimes who do not want to be called out for their failures and crimes against the people. IACLA is a tool to silence critics and such machinations have no place in a truly democratic society. The existence of IACLA, NTF, and all other bodies mandated to launch witch hunts against critics further reveal the falsities of the so-called democracy under the Duterte government,” Palabay concluded.

Karapatan slams government crackdown against rights activists

From the Manila Bulletin (Oct 15, 2019): Karapatan slams government crackdown against rights activists

Human rights group Karapatan has chided the government for its supposed continued attacks directed against rights activists as illegal arrests and various human rights violations have intensified in the string of the government’s relentless crackdown.

Karapatan (Twitter)

Since October started, Karapatan noted that at least 13 human rights defenders were illegally arrested and charged with trumped-up charges.

Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay said there is an orchestrated attempt, led by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), to criminalize and delegitimize the work of human rights defenders.

Since its inception in December 2018, Palabay said the NTF has incessantly targeted human rights defenders and have blurred the distinction between armed combatants and civilians.

“To the eyes of these bloodthirsty beasts and ruthless criminals, human rights defense is a crime. As a State policy, this has severe implications on the ground as human rights workers continue to be subjected to a wide range of human rights violations, particularly killings, illegal arrests, torture, and harassment,” Palabay said.

Last October 10, 2019, Palabay noted three human rights activists were illegally arrested for trumped-up and fabricated charges meant to harass and threaten individuals and organizations who continue to raise legitimate demands and campaign for genuine societal reforms.

The group said Virgilio “Ka Yoyong” Lincuna, Chairperson of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas in Caraga and Mag-uuma sa Agusan del Norte, was illegally arrested by 30 members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Butuan City based on a warrant for a fabricated case of attempted murder that allegedly happened in Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

In a separate incident, Karapatan noted that Melissa Comiso, a Lumad and headteacher of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines – Northern Mindanao Sub-Region’s Literacy and Numeracy Program, was illegally arrested in Butuan City and is currently detained at the office of the CIDG in the same city. According to reports, Karapatan said her fellow Lumad teacher was also accosted along with her.

Palabay said Lincuna led numerous peasant struggles that gained victories for farmers and residents of rural areas in Caraga while Comiso and her colleagues worked for years to provide education to Lumad children who have suffered continuous government neglect.

She insisted that “defending the right to self-determination is not a crime, nor is amplifying and organizing farmers to fight for genuine agrarian reform’’.

Palabay believed the government “hopes that this series of illegal arrests would instill fear, but the root causes and social ills that necessitate human rights defenders continue to worsen’’.

“Thus, this regime is not solving anything, but merely adding to the outrage and the crimes against the people,” she noted.

Palabay also slammed the recent illegal arrests of human rights activists in Palawan and Eastern Visayas and raised alarm over reports that some of them are being tortured and threatened while under detention.

On the evening of October 4, 2019, at around 8:30pm, Palabay recounted that former Karapatan – Southern Tagalog Secretary-General Glendhyl Malabanan and six other human rights workers were arrested without warrants by combined elements of the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan after they conducted a fact-finding investigation on reports of human rights violations perpetrated by military forces against farmers in Taytay town.

Arrested on October 2, 2019, Christian “Chanchan” Sabado, a peasant organizer under Northern Samar Small Farmers’ Association, including two other farmers, namely, Anton Manoso and Edson Piczon, were likewise illegally arrested by elements of the 20th Infantry Battalion.

US Coast Guard ship joins maritime drills near Spratlys

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Oct 16, 2019): US Coast Guard ship joins maritime drills near Spratlys


A US Coast Guard ship has carried out maritime exercises with Philippine and Japanese forces near the West Philippine Sea.

The USCGC Stratton (WMSL-752) arrived in Palawan on Wednesday for the Sama-Sama exercises, said Philippine Coast Guard spokesperson Capt. Arman Balilo. The Sama-Sama is an annual activity of the Philippines and US designed to undertake complex maritime training.

READ: Japanese navy joins PH-US exercises near WPS for first time

Palawan is an island province in the Philippines closest to the disputed Spratly Islands in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). The resource-rich waterway is being claimed mostly by China, which has built massive military outposts in recent years to strengthen its claims.

This is the second deployment of a US Coast Guard ship in Philippine waters in six months. Last May, the Philippine and US coast guards conducted exercises near Scarborough Shoal.

Aside from its navy, the US has stepped up in using its coast guard to broaden its reach in the South China Sea amid Chinese expansion.

READ: Chinese vessels shadow PH-US Coast Guard drills near Panatag

The exercises are being conducted amid fresh tensions between the Manila and Beijing over the South China Sea.

The Philippines early this month filed a diplomatic protest against China after Chinese coast ships were spotted near Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea, where the Philippine Navy has grounded a ship to serve as its detachment.

US Coast Guard chief to visit Manila

US Coast Guard commandant Adm. Karl Schultz will arrive in Manila next week for a series of engagements, Balilo said.

He is expected to visit the PCG headquarters and the National Coast Watch Center.

READ: US Coast Guard to expand Western Pacific presence to curb Chinese aggression

On Monday, the US Marines and the PCG Special Operations Force launched the 5-day Kamandag (Kaagapay ng mga Mandirigma ng Dagat) exercises which aims “to promote multinational interoperability, readiness and capabilities.”

Participants, which include 8 personnel from Philippine National Police Maritime Group, 12 from PCG, 15 from US Marine Corps and, 18 from Philippine Navy Marine Reconnaissance Group, will undergo rigid board search and seizure training, Balilo said. 

Self-confessed SPARU hitman, coddler yield; bare NPA ‘deception’

From the Manila Bulletin (Oct 16, 2019): Self-confessed SPARU hitman, coddler yield; bare NPA ‘deception’

CAMP AGUINALDO, Quezon City — In April 2019, a spate of killings in Negros Island gripped the nation. In a span of 10 days, a total of 21 people were killed in Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental. Some of the victims were policemen, a lawyer, school principal, a Department of Edu­cation (DepEd) official, city councilor, former mayor, barangay chairman, reb­el-returnee, and a one-year-old child.

Elena Yap (left) and James Durimon (right). (Photo by Martin Sadongdong/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Most of the killings were blamed on cops and soldiers as witnesses claimed that the gunmen involved in the killing spree wore military and police uniforms.

On October 20, 2018, nine sugarcane farmers who were eating dinner in a make­shift tent on a sugarcane plantation were killed by a group of unidentified gunmen in Sagay, Negros Occidental. It was later dubbed as the Sagay massacre.

Police pointed to the local communist group in Negros Island as the possible suspects, and some continue to remain at-large as authorities believe they were being coddled by sympathizers.

Months after the grim killings,
two self-confessed former members of the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), were introduced to select members of the media at the Armed Forces of the Philip­pines (AFP) headquarters on Wednesday, October 14.
They surrendered to authorities, re­vealed the NPA’s alleged hand in the killings in Negros Island, and the group’s supposed deceptive promises that forced them to join the communist group.

One is a son abandoned by his parents and eventually fell prey to the NPA before becoming a hitman for the Special Partisan Unit (SPARU) in exchange for a promised livelihood aid that never came.

The other is a mother who just wanted livelihood support to further her seaweed farming business and provide for her two sons, but eventually got tricked into
becom­ing a coddler of NPA rebels.

This is the story of James Durimon and Elena Yap.


Durimon alias “Ka Joros,” 21, had a troubled past. When he was eight-years-old, his entire family abandoned him. Up until the day his father died, he was still searching for answers as to why they left him.

He was adopted by his uncle and ex­posed to farming to support himself but life was just too hard. Durimon’s uncle was a member of the NPA. He was shown the rebel group’s way of life at a young age.

At the age of 14, Durimon became a “courier” for the NPA, sending letters to certain establishments, companies, and specific people.

He did not know the contents of the letter, but he felt good because he was validated. He found social inclusion.

Add to it the NPA’s promise of livelihood aid for him and his family, if ever they come back. It was too good an offer to pass up, igniting his urge to unite with his family. They never saw each other even as of this writing.

When he reached the age of 18, the now grown Durimon went full time as an NPA member.

He started training “like a military,” slowly worked his way up the ladder, and went on to become a team leader of a SPARU operating under the command of a certain Charity Amacan, the so-called lady leader of the NPA-Northern Negros Front. In his team, Durimon had 11 members, all were trained hitmen.
As a SPARU, their job is to “neutralize” all elements that hinder their advocacy – be it a policeman , a soldier, or a civilian suspected of being a spy. Over the course of three years, Duriman’s group has killed at least six people.
“Kapag may utos ang guerilla front ng Negros, si Charity Amacan, binibigyan nila kami ng mga picture. Dinidispatsa na kasi asset daw sa militar ‘yan. Kung anong de­sisyon sa taas, bumababa sa amin. Kapag may target na, tinatrabaho namin (If there is an order from the guerrilla front of Negros, from Charity Amacan, they would give us pictures. We dispatch [the targets] because they are suspected assets of military. What­ever orders from the higher ups, it would go down to us. If there’s a target, we would work on it),” Durimon said.

“Sa NPA, ang ipinaglalaban ay ekonomi­ya para daw sa taumbayan. Tinatawag kang sundalo ng taumbayan kaya kung sinong sagabal sa kilusan niyo, kailangan walisin niyo para makapagpatuloy kayo sa paglakad niyo (In the NPA, what we were fighting for is an economy for the masses. We were called soldiers for the masses so whoever hinders our group, we need to eliminate them so we could advance our causes),” he added.

The lanky young man claimed they would often wear uniforms resembling that of a soldier, policeman, or a Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) agent during “hits” as part of their “pakana” or tactics to fool the people that the killings were state-sponsored. This reporter could not immediately and independently verify the claims.

Among Durimon’s victims were elderly farmer-siblings where his unit dressed up as soldiers; his friend who was suspected of being a military spy where they acted in the guise of a “Tokhang” operation, or the controversial anti-drug operation by the police that is blamed for the deaths of 6,000 suspects or more; and a farmer that also got suspected of being a spy and shot while on top of a coconut tree.

Durimon said he would often feel nothing after killing their targets because he thought it was for the advancement of their cause.

But it was after one encounter with the military and the discovery of an anomaly within their organization that forced Duri­mon to quit the communist group.

Financial issues

On April 17, 2019, Durimon’s group en­countered government troops in Calatrava, Negros Occidental where three of his mem­bers were killed.

They retreated to their mother base also in Calatrava to report to Commander Amacan, and assess their losses and the next move to retaliate.

At one instance, he saw a document where it was indicated that commander Amacan spent P150,000 for her own ex­penses. He did not know about the com­mander’s huge expenses, it was not properly liquidated, and he did not like it.

This was a big issue for Durimon because aside from being a SPARU team leader, he was also a financial logistics officer (FLO).

As a FLO, he needed to monitor the cash flow of the group to ensure that all three squads in their platoon get equal amount of money for their monthly expenses. Transpar­ency is of equal importance to him as his loyalty to their cause, and he expects the others to do the same.

During a meeting of commanders and leaders in which he was a part of, Durimon raised to commander Amacan the issue that had long been boggling his mind: where did the P150,000 go?

“Pagdating sa meeting, doon ko ipinaabot na ‘Bakit may gastos kayo na P150,000 na hindi naman namin alam? (During the meeting, I asked [Amacan] ‘Why is there an expense worth P150,000 that we did not know about?),” Durimon asked.

Commander Amacan refused to directly answer Durimon and instead, she said that the SPARU team leader would have to become a higher-ranked officer to know “conservative” financial matters such as the expenses of a commander.

“Ang pumasok sa isip ko, walang pu­puntahan ‘yan kundi sa kanila lang (What I thought was that, the money has nowhere to go but into their pockets),” Durimon said.

By May 14, 2019, nearly a month after the confrontation with commander Amacan, Durimon left the camp – feeling betrayed by his own commander – and surrendered to the nearest CAFGU [Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit] detachment in Calatrava town.

He said the 79th Infantry Battalion (79IB) initially suspected him being a bait since he suddenly showed up and raised his arms in surrender to the CAFGU.

But to prove his sincerity, Durimon led the soldiers in a surprise attack at his former unit’s base the following day. Five rebels were killed while three soldiers were wounded in the encounter at Barangay Minautok, Calatrava on May 15, 2019.

‘NPA coddler’

Meanwhile, 48-year-old Yap is a mother of two young men aged 22 and 24. She has a small seaweed farm near their house in Purok Puting Bato, Barangay Washington in Escalante, Negros Occidental.

At times when the business is good, the family has enough to feed themselves. But more often than not, they barely have food on the table.

In hopes of getting a livelihood aid, Yap joined Pamalakaya chapter in Escalante town in 2004. Pamalakaya is a national fed­eration of small fisherfolk organizations in the Philippines.

Her contact person at Pamalakaya was a certain “Eli,” who promised her financial aid to grow her seaweed farm. But conditions were set by Eli before the aid is given.

At first, Eli wanted Yap to accommodate “guests” in her house. Eli would not let Yap know who the guests were, but they would spend the night at her house, sometimes longer than a day.

“Noong tumagal, nagtanong na ako, mga armado na sila, mga NPA (Later on, I started asking who the guests were because they were already armed, maybe NPAs),” Yap said.

Eli would not answer her questions.

Weeks after the Sagay massacre broke out in October 2018, Senior Superintendent Rodolfo Castil, provincial director of the Ne­gros Occidental police, said the cops found one of the suspects and a potential witness in Yap’s house.

On November 16, 2018, Yap confirmed her suspicion that she was already coddling NPAs in her own house.

The guests who spent the night in their house had just left when they encountered a group of soldiers. The air was suddenly filled with deafening gunshots. Yap was rocked to her core.

She was so scared that after the gun battle, she immediately went to the Pamala­kaya office in Escalante town to quit the or­ganization.

That same day, she surrendered to the military.

“Sinabi ko na ayaw ko na kasi baka kung anong mangyari sa amin. Natatakot na po ako. Kapag pumupunta sila doon, minsan gabi. Obligado ako na ipagkape ko sila. ‘Yung ine-expect ko na tulong, nabaliktad po (I told them [Pamalakaya] I no longer want to be part of the group because something bad might happen to us. I was really scared. Sometimes the guests would come to our house at night. I was obliged to serve them coffee. The help that I expected from them did not materialize, instead I was the one helping them),” she said.

In addition, the group allegedly tried to recruit her two sons but after the encounter, she didn’t even want them near the Pamala­kaya office.

Yap claimed that Pamalakaya is a front organization of the NPA. Her allegation is no longer new since even the police and military have been claiming that some cause-oriented groups are being used by the NPA as its front organizations.

Pamalakaya, however, has repeatedly denied accusations of government troops linking them to the NPA. The group said it was foul for the government to red-tag them.

Lives intertwined

Durimon and Yap led extremely dan­gerous lives but their paths crossed after they pledged allegiance to the Philippine government once again — along with some 2,500 others — in a mass surrender of former rebels in Negros Occidental on September 19, 2019.

Southeast Asia in the crosshairs of 'Islamic State'

From Deutsche Welle (Oct 15, 2019): Southeast Asia in the crosshairs of 'Islamic State'

A recent knife attack on the security minister of Indonesia is a reminder of the danger of Islamist extremism in Southeast Asia. Security measures alone are not enough to combat radicalization, say experts.

Last week, Indonesian Security Minister Wiranto was stabbed twice as he was getting out of a car in the city of Pandegland in West Java. He suffered severe injuries and is currently being treated at a military hospital in Jakarta. The minister is said to be in a stable condition.

Wiranto's attacker was 31-year-old Syahril Alamsyah, a member of the terrorist organization Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD).

Read more: Why is radicalism growing among Indonesian students?

JAD is one of the many terrorist groups in Southeast Asia that have allied with the "Islamic State" (IS). Other outfits include Abu Sayaf and the Maute group in the Philippines, along with more than a dozen Islamist terror organizations that are active across Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines.

However, not all of these groups have joined IS. For example, the terror group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) in Indonesia carried out a bombing on the island of Bali, a famous tourist destination, in 2002 that killed over 200 people.

After this attack, security forces were able to get JI mostly under control. But experts say that JI is back, strengthening its network.

Wiranto is currently being treated at a military hospital in Jakarta

Region difficult to control
Zachary Abuza, a Southeast Asia expert at National War College in Washington DC, and Colin P. Clarke of the RAND Corporation recently wrote a report on the security blog Fortuna's Corner concluding that "Southeast Asia may be the newest breeding ground for militant Islam."

After IS lost its territory in Syria and Iraq in March 2019, it transformed itself into a decentralized, global terror organization. Spread over thousands of islands, Southeast Asia is difficult to control and is favorable for infiltration by IS.

After the April 2019 attacks in Sri Lanka, Susanne Schröter, director of the Frankfurt Research Center for Global Islam, said that "jihadist structures" with an international backing are "everywhere in South and Southeast Asia."

Terrorist groups in Southeast Asia have been joining ranks with IS since 2014. Since 2016, IS publishes its newsletter "al-Fatihin" (the conqueror) every week in Malayan and Indonesian. There have been 11 suicide attacks in Indonesia since 2018, and six in the Philippines. Regional newspapers report the arrest of Islamist militants nearly every week. In Malaysia alone, more than 500 terror suspects have been imprisoned in the past six years and the country is expecting more extremists to return from Iraq and Syria. According to the Malaysian newspaper Benar News, 53 Malaysians and 100 Indonesian fighters for the IS are expected back home.

The fighting that occurred around the Philippine city of Marawi in 2017 is a sign of what Islamist militants are capable of

Different approaches

The brutal fighting that occurred around the Philippine city of Marawi on the Mindanao Island between May and October 2017 is a sign of what Islamist militants are capable of. They were able to take over the city of 200,000, and battled the Philippine military for months in a standoff that destroyed most of the city. More than 50,000 people in Marawi still live in emergency shelters.

Experts have varying assessments of the anti-terror measures used by governments in the region. In Indonesia, a new anti-terror law has resulted in the arrest of hundreds of suspects since 2018.

Read more: Why are more Indonesians favoring Shariah?

Wiranto's attacker was known to Indonesian authorities as a radical. Indonesian security expert Stanislaus Riyanta said that the man hadn't been arrested before the attack because he had yet to commit a crime.

"It is not the case that security services aren't aware of what's going on around them. But they can only issue warnings and first intervene when a terrorist attack is imminent," he said. "Terrorists have adapted their strategy to the tighter laws, and are now carrying out individually planned attacks using smaller terror cells. Because of this, it will be more difficult to identify them in time."

Regarding the Philippines, US-based experts Abuza und Clarke point out that security forces committed massive human rights violations during their operations that pushed many people, who were also dissatisfied with the government in Manila, toward the Islamists. Jihadists also used examples of reckless military operations for their own propaganda.

Under the Islamic criminal code in Indonesia's Aceh province, sex out of wedlock and same-sex sexual acts are punishable by up to 100 strokes of the cane

Social problems

To combat radicalization and terrorist structures, security measures alone are not enough, experts say.

Berthold Damshäuser, an Indonesia expert at the University of Bonn, told DW that he has been observing a "growing intolerance” in the region for years.

Younger Indonesians, in particular, are increasingly advocating for a conservative interpretation of Islam, he said, pointing out that populist political parties have been more than willing to fulfill these demands. This, in turn, is leading to increasing Islamization of society, Damshäuser explained.

Religious tolerance is supposed to be one of the five fundamental principles ("Pancasila") guiding the Indonesian state. But observers say this principle has been undermined in recent years, with some regions gaining special rights to enforce their fundamentalist moral concepts.

The stronger emphasis on the interests and rights of the regions in the modernized Indonesian constitution has encouraged the strengthening of fundamentalism, say experts.

According to Susanne Schröter, it would be important to position regional Islamist excesses by strengthening the overarching democratic principles of the constitution.