Monday, October 21, 2019

‘No resurgence of kidnapping in Mindanao’

From the Philippine Star (Oct 22, 2019): ‘No resurgence of kidnapping in Mindanao’

Relentless military operations have prevented the resurgence of kidnapping in Mindanao.

Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief, said
recent reports of kidnapping could be the handiwork of mid-level Abu Sayyaf leaders who are out to make a living.

“These sub-leaders are doing their own way of living. It’s the handiwork of those... who commission their contacts to snatch victims and likely bargain even for a small ransom,” Sobejana said.

He said the incidents have ”significantly reduced” if not prevented in the last three years.

In 2015 and 2016, the number of captives reached 30, most of them foreign fishermen and sailors, who were taken by pirates and handed over the Abu Sayyaf.

“It is sad that most of the kidnappings occurred in the waters off Malaysia and the victims were brought to our place,” Sobejana said.

He said military offensives, particularly in Sulu, have prevented the bandits from making the island as its holding place for their captives.

Sobejana said trilateral maritime operations at the common border of Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines also prevented Abu Sayyaf leaders and their followers from hijacking foreign vessels and taking their crewmembers as captives.

While the kidnapping of three Indonesian fishermen in the waters off Sabah on Sept. 23 were confirmed perpetrated by Abu Sayyaf bandits, the kidnappers of a couple taken in Zamboanga del Sur on Oct. 4 have yet to be determined.

The women recruits of New People’s Army in Philippines

From the News Dehli Times (Oct 21, 2019): The women recruits of New People’s Army in Philippines

The New People’s Army (NPA) is a left-wing, communist-based, revolutionary organization that operates under the direction of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). It was formed on March 29, 1969, primarily as the military fighting section of the CPP, but also with secondary duties in organizing and propaganda. The objective of the NPA is to reverse injustices dealt to the Filipino people by the Philippine government and the capitalist class such as the large landlords/property owners. The three perceived injustices it is primarily fighting against are bureaucrat-capitalism, imperialism, and semi-feudal landlordism. The NPA has been engaged in a five-decade war against the Philippine state.

Of late, the NPA has launched an online campaign for recruitment of more women into its fold. The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), an organisation based in the Netherlands, that negotiates on behalf of the CPP has been playing an active role in this regard through dissemination of messages on social media platforms via its official publication ‘Liberation’.

‘Liberation’ published six profiles of recent women recruit in the NPA. On August 29, 2019, the profile of Ka Maggie was published. It mentioned that “She practically spent her youth in the revolutionary movement, having been part of an activist organization in a Catholic high school at age 15. She is now 39 years old. She is a lesbian. The “awakening” happened at the same time she became conscious of the social issues affecting the country. That was in her elementary years”.

On August 25, the profile of Maya was published. It mentioned: “To leave behind the comfort of life, abandon the lofty dreams, forgo the urge for self-fulfilment is a tremendous challenge. Maya is hopeful she could surmount the challenges as she integrates with the masses, as she gives her best, as she imbibes their culture, immerses in their struggle to rise above the penury of their plight and liberate themselves, liberate all of us, from the fetters of the oppressive and exploitative system. As Maya stood with the Red fighters during the 50th anniversary celebration, fist raised singing the Internationale, she shed off all reservations and like a fledgling that just discovered its wings, she soared to her new life”.

On 11th July, 2019, the profile of Ka Puah was mentioned. It read, “Like the midwife Puah in the Bible, Ka Puah’s life has been dedicated to giving birth to a new social order-even if it means risking her life as she defies what is wrong and not pleasing to God, who is just. She keeps in her heart and mind tasks set during the last Congress of the Christians for National Liberation (CNL) where she was elected first woman Chairperson of the 47 year-old underground organization affiliated with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. The work calls for the increased and deepened participation of the Church people in the armed struggle and to push forward the national democratic revolution towards socialism”.

The story of Selya was mentioned on May 13, 2018. Selya’s daughter Mina was killed. Selva “fought for justice; she went trooping with other mothers and relatives of human rights violations victims to government agencies, demanding state accountability”. On May 10, 2018, an interview with Ka Rio, a millennial was published. She said, “The hardest part is not about the long treks but one’s morale. Mao has said courage stems from one’s consciousness. We have to feed our consciousness, raise our ideological level to overcome hardships. On our consciousness anchors our goal, our principles, our will to fight”.

The story of Pola, “a women tailor turned warrior” was published on March 21, 2018 and described “Pola’s rollercoaster journey into the world of commodity labour, exacerbated by the onslaught of imperialism’s neoliberal globalization as it dashed fumbling for a panacea to its crisis. The woman’s values of good-naturedness, patience and subservience inculcated by a feudal class society were fully taken advantage of.”

Pola worked in a factory but “all along she had been entertaining the thought of leaving her job in the factory which did nothing but extract the workers life blood and sinew to accumulate huge profits for the capitalists. After thinking it over for days, weeks, and on to several months, Pola finally decided to work full time in the movement. This was the most decisive action she took in her whole life. She has the chance now to look at life from a different perspective and open up to new opportunities, best opportunities”.

The Battle for Marawi: Raising the Stakes in a Fractured Land

Posted to the Asia Sentinel (Oct 20, 2019): The Battle for Marawi: Raising the Stakes in a Fractured Land (By: Criselda Yabes)

The five-month battle of Marawi in the heart of the Islamic city in Lanao del Sur Province in 2017 deteriorated into violent extremism that opened more fears for the future in what was an undertaking by mostly a generation of millennial fighters.

The siege would last from May to October and was unprecedented in magnitude. It challenged the Philippine military in doctrine and tactics, prompting daily sorties of airstrikes that reduced Marawi to rubble, as it remains two years later (above).

It was unbelievable that two principal brothers of a family attached to the political and business elite of the Maranaos – the Muslim ethnic tribe of Lanao del Sur – had raised the stakes of Islamism beyond the call for autonomy in a fractured land.

It was the town of Butig, where events led up to the battle, that was put to the vision of creating an Islamic state. The sight of poverty recedes out to the meadow in wide green space, turning into forest trails that lead to a well-hidden encampment, which was an ideal spot to hide and train a rebel army.

It was there where smaller camps around the border and into neighboring Maguindanao that the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) trained in a clandestine military school in the early 1990s, with neophyte fighters from Indonesia and Malaysia who formed ties with Filipino rebels over a period of time in scattered shifts of their ideologies. They developed smaller secret cells for training.

Those who stayed in Butig came into eventual contact with the Maute brothers, whose family was a mainstay in the town politics and linked to the Moro Islamic Liberation (MILF) Front as well.

When the MILF abandoned Camp Darul Iman in Butig after successive military airstrikes later in 2016, the brothers took over what was left of it and held their training there. The army would attack the camp during what it called its Haribon campaign, named after the brigade unit whose headquarters is in Marawi. The campaign was alternately called the Butig campaign.

Omarkhayam and Abdullah Maute belonged a family known popularly as the Maute Group, beginning their jihad in early 2014. The brothers’ graduate degrees from abroad were the shining scepter of their authority. There was a third man in this partnership, an unknown rebel who went by the nom de guerre Abu Dar, the head of the local Khalifa Islamiya Movement. Abu Dar was involved in bombings in the neighboring Christian cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro. He joined the brothers to bring their forces together to form the so-called Maute Group.

In Butig, the supposed center of the soon-to-evolve ISIS community, the Maute brothers and Abu Dar conducted a “seminar” in October 2014 in which the participants, about 40, went through heavy soul-searching, complete with full confessions and weeping. They were supposed to purify themselves of their sins and vices like smoking, drinking and fornication. They were told that this was the way to repent, to atone for their sins as well as intercede on behalf of 70 family members in their lineage.

Was this the beginning of radicalization? Was this a one-way ticket to heaven? Could they erase their sins in the name of jihad, which was going to be the “roof to protect the community?”

Sharia law is rarely practiced by Filipino Muslims. It was only in ISIS and in Pakistan, Brunei, and Saudi Arabia that punishment of stoning for certain instances of fornication was done. By introducing this to a future of the Islamic State, the Maute leaders hoped to turn the world of Filipino Muslims – one that was generally moderate, secular and still adhering to folk mysticism – upside down.

If the recruits felt they knew very little of what true Islam was, in this “seminar” they finally found their true education. The seminars were a hard blow to their conscience and there was no letup to changing minds and hearts until their leaders were convinced of a full conversion.

In the last phase of the seminar, the recruits familiarized themselves with weapons. They were shown a rocket-propelled grenade, an RPG, the kind of weapon that paralyzed military armor in the first days of the Marawi siege. They were told that, by way of hadith, carrying a weapon alone was going to make them blessed, with heavenly reward. They were then made to walk for an hour from their bare lodging to an open field that was to be their training ground.

They went through a ring of fire, they crawled in and out of tunnels, their adrenalin fueled when live bullets rained around them. The training was supposed to give them a sense of how it was like to be in a real firefight. At the end of the training, they marched in a parade like an army that was born. Abdullah led them, riding on a horse and waving a black banner with an Arabic emblem that said “There is no God but Allah. Mohammad is the messenger of Allah.”

By the time they returned to Camp Darul Iman in Butig in December 2014, they had completed their all-around training. It was time to fight, to become martyrs and absolve themselves and their families of their sins. In that meeting, Abdullah did most of the talking while Abu Dar quietly stood at the back.

Omarkhayam was the brother eager for the trigger who would draw first blood. In February 2016, in an operation called Butig 1, he led an attack against an army detachment in Butig’s town hall. Abdullah apparently didn’t know about his brother’s plan to give the young recruits their baptism of fire. When the army fought back, Abdullah was forced to bring in reinforcements of about 50 men in a firefight that lasted for days, this time with bombs and artillery.

Abdullah was upset at his brother for having done such a thing. “The enemy is here,” Omarkhayam was quoted as having told his younger brother, “why do I need to ask permission to launch an attack? The enemy is here, why shouldn’t we fight?” The military believed it was Abu Dar who reinforced Omarkhayam’s unprovoked attack on the military detachment.

Butig 1 yielded political dividends for the Maute Group. A ranking fighter said the group first had a small army of 30 that grew to about 200, and by the time the battle of Marawi started they had about 600 fighting against government forces to gain control of Lanao del Sur’s capital.

A report by Gail Tan Ilagan of the Ateneo de Davao University, “Toward Countering Recruitment to Violent Extremism in Mindanao,” stated that in mainland Mindanao (i.e. Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur provinces), mosques and madrasas, especially funded by money from Saudi Arabia, were places for potential recruits “identified through their devout worship, their regular participation in Islamic seminars, and the kind of earnest questions they ask during such gatherings.” While the boarding schools of the toril essentially confine their students and hold them captive to extremist indoctrinations, “there is little indication of the success of mass recruitment if indeed such is being attempted in the first place.”

In Marawi the torils were known to be the parents’ last resort for delinquent children, but for some who found out that their children were being trained in Butig under harsh conditions and in some extreme cases, were sent to tiny, isolated islands on the lake, they attempted to take them back. The orphans were much easier prey.

Butig 2/Haribon 2 broke out three months after the first one, in May 2016. The military was able to identify four small encampments in the Butig hideout and began firing artillery in their direction. There were those from the Maute group that were training in Piagapo, near west of Marawi. They came to the rescue of the fighters in Butig and they were able to bring the battle back against the military before the start of the Ramadan in June.

The fighters were told that striking during the Holy Month would mean having their heavenly rewards multiplied. But the military bombardment had taken their toll. Many were wounded and escaped to the lake using a banca to seek medical assistance elsewhere. After Butig 2/Haribon 2, the group continued recruiting among close relatives, school children and orphans. Rogue fighters from the MILF and the breakaway Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) also joined, beefing up a force not of ragtag but young solid fighters.

By December 2016, random airstrikes led up to what would become Butig 3/Haribon 3. The rebels were caught off guard, retreating to the Maguindanao hinterland. There they stayed silent. Some had heard that one of the Abu Sayyaf leaders, Isnilon Hapilon, was coming from Basilan island to join them.

The military learned Hapilon had landed by boat along the northwestern coast by Illana Bay with 50 passengers who supposedly included foreign fighters. That was the basis for the third operation, believing that after such a heavy bombardment Hapilon might been killed or wounded. But he actually didn’t arrive in Lanao until the second week of January 2017, according to one of the fighters, when the Maute brothers’ group was already settled in Butig after the military operation. Hapilon had his own team including his son, and was given his own camp where only Abdullah and Omarkhayam could see him.

The young fighters in Butig were in awe of Hapilon, coming face-to-face with a warrior who had been around since the inception of Abu Sayyaf in Sulu in the late 1990s. Following an inspirational speech from Hapilon during a private and personal meeting, the fighters moved to Piagapo, crossing the Lake Lanao and settling by the site near a tower that had once been an American settlement in the colonial days of the early 1900s.

The group stayed there for about a month, during which time there was talk of a big Marawi operation, similar to what they had heard when Hapilon came to Butig. The other fighters, about 100, set up camp surreptitiously and separately in the barangays around Marawi. A big plan was afoot.

In April 2017, the alarmed army brigade commander in Marawi asked for more troops as reports filtered in that there was going to be another attack. When elite special forces moved into Piagapo, fighting ensued. Piagapo was relatively a progressive town compared to others in Lanao del Sur province and the local government more or less cooperated with the military in house searches after the Piagapo operation that took over the rebel camp and dismantled their base.

It took Air Force strikes to stop the rebels and they thought that was the end of it, that it would take time before the rebels could regroup and strike somewhere else. As it turned out, the military was very wrong. Soon after conducting the Piagapo operations, their attention was suddenly diverted to communist rebels operating at the border into Bukidnon on the eastern flank of Lanao del Sur.

The army camp in Marawi was left vulnerable with only about a company on guard. This explains why, despite receiving naval intelligence reports all the way from the Western Command in Zamboanga warning of an impending threat by Hapilon and his comrades, the local command was in no position to prevent the siege that began on May 23.

The result would be the longest urban battle in the modern history of the Philippines, with more than 1,200 rebel combatants dead along with perhaps 300 civilians and more than 100 Filipino military. A full 95 percent of the town was destroyed and largely remains so today.

The battle of Marawi was officially declared over after the military killed Isnilon Hapilon and Omarkhayam Maute in mid-October 2017. Abdullah Maute, too, was believed killed earlier in the siege but there have been no reports of having retrieved his corpse. All seven Maute brothers would be dead.

Abu Dar escaped and tried to put a new army together. His plan was short-lived; he was killed in a firefight with an army platoon in mid-March 2019 in an area a mere 30 kilometers from Butig. Marawi, however, has never recovered. It remains devastated and its residents have yet to receive the government aid promised by President Rodrigo Duterte who later retracted those promises to rebuild Marawi, saying there were enough wealthy Maranao families who could provide the needed help, and blamed the illegal drug trade and corruption as impetus for the violence.

By reducing the causes and aftermath of the Marawi siege to black-and-white, the government thus will likely fail to address the Muslims’ future in nation-building, as previous administrations did to their sorrow.

The Marawi narrative remains incomplete. How does one draw links and connect dots from place to place (rebel strongholds) and people to people (rebel leaders) before the plot was hatched? Was it the clandestine movement of foreign terrorists vis-à-vis the local rebel movement that spelled a change in the trajectory of the insurgency?

Mapping out the links and alliances would be as tough and arduous as unspooling the threads binding the clans and family loyalties, not to mention their place as dynastic families in the sphere of local governance. But it was certainly the call to violence over the years, the inability to stop it at all cost, that made the southern enclaves of Muslim Mindanao a killing field.

In early 2019, roughly two years after the Marawi siege began, a Bangsamoro authority was put in place for a regional election, for a new autonomous government. It is imperative that it forges ahead in its map to define a resurgence of Muslim pride and demand equality among Filipinos. To reel back would no doubt bring Mindanao into a spiral deeper in violence, serving yet again the ingredients for another Marawi in the making.

Criselda Yabes is a regular contributor to Asia Sentinel. This is an excerpt from a case study written for the project, “Violence, Human Rights, and Democracy in the Philippines.” The project is a joint undertaking by the Third World Studies Center, College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, University of the Philippines Diliman and the Conflict Research Group, Department of Conflict and Development Studies, Ghent University.

Kalinaw News: Soldiers recover machine gun, high powered firearms in North Cotobato

Posted to Kalinaw News (Oct 22, 2019): Soldiers recover machine gun, high powered firearms in North Cotobato

MAGPET, COTABATO—Following the surrender of another NPA member, the soldiers from 72nd Infantry Battalion were able to recover a light machinegun, M16 rifles, ammunition and subversive documents in the area of Sitio Family, Barangay Basak here, Sunday, October 20.

It can be recalled that a day before the recovery of the said firearms, a certain @Tonton, 20, surrendered to the government troops stationed at Perez Patrol Base through the help of barangay officials of Perez, Kidapawan City.

The former rebel (FR) was formerly designated as Squad Leader of Guerilla Front 53 operating in the second district of Cotabato. In his surrender, he also turned over an M16 rifle to the authorities.

As a result of the custodial debriefing to the said personality and corroboration on the information of @Harold, another FR who recently surrendered, the 72nd IB conducted follow-up operation in the said area that led to the recovery one M60 machine gun, one M16 rifle, 108 rounds ammunition, various medical items, and subversive documents. In his statement, he disclosed that he was recruited by @Joel in 2015 at the age of 16. He was then designated as courier and later on elevated as a regular member of the said group. He also cited that among the factors that made him return to the folds of the law are the hardships he experienced while inside group and the loss of interest due to the internal rift among the members of his unit.

Meanwhile, Col. Gabriel C Viray III, Commander 901Bde, said that more members of the CTG are heeding the call to surrender because they were able to recognize the true intent of our government to resolve the problem about insurgency. He also lauded the participation of the barangay officials in the successful surrender of the said personality citing that every member of the society should actively partake in this effort. “We are hoping that more CTG members will realize the futility of armed struggle and they are fighting for a lost call. With the implementation of EO 70 and the creation Task Force to End Local Armed Conflict or TF-ELCAC down to the municipal level, the government is already in full swing to deliver the basic services and resolve the issues being exploited by the CTG to lure masses for their communist agenda. What we prioritize in this program are those barangays considered to be geographically isolated and disadvantage areas which are often included in conflict affected areas also”, he said. With recent surrender of significant personalities, the 901st Infantry Brigade through its OPCON units was able to facilitate the surrender of 14 firearms.

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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26 NPA rebels from Dumagat tribe surrender

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 22, 2019): 26 NPA rebels from Dumagat tribe surrender

DUMAGAT IP REBELS SURRENDER. Outgoing Police Regional Office (PRO4A)-Calabarzon Regional Director, Brig. Gen. Edward Carranza, presents the 26 former communist New People’s Army (NPA) terrorist rebels belonging to the Dumagat Indigenous Peoples (IPs), under the NPA Sub Regional Military Area operating in the areas of Rizal, Quezon and Laguna, during a press conference at the regional command headquarters in Camp Gen. Vicente Lim, Calamba City on Oct. 21, 2019. The former rebels are now undergoing a process under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program. (Photo by Saul E. Pa-a)

CAMP GEN. VICENTE LIM, Calamba City -- Some 26 former members of the New People’s Army (NPA) belonging to the Dumagat tribe surrendered to authorities last week.

At a press conference, outgoing Police Regional Office-Calabarzon (PRO-4A) Director, Brig. Gen. Edward Carranza, presented the former rebels and the surrendered firearms, explosives, and ammunition.

He said the rebels surrendered to joint operatives of the Regional Intelligence Division, Police Regional Mobile Force Battalion 4A and 202nd Brigade through the 801st and 1st Battalions of the Philippine Army in coordination with the Quezon police provincial office last Oct. 16 and 17.

The rebels were members of the NPA Sub Regional Military Area operating in the provinces of Rizal, Quezon, and Laguna, he added.

"The indigenous peoples are easy to recruit since they did not feel the government presence in the far-flung areas then. So, we have the Executive Order 70 on the creation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict which identifies problem areas like provision of roads, irrigation, schools, among others," he said.

He said the mass surrender of the rebels is the result of the information operation efforts of the Calabarzon police force and the 202nd Brigade with concerned local government units, RTF ELCAC member-agencies, and the communities.

One of the former rebels, who is a minor, said in Filipino, “Now, we are given this opportunity to change our lives and correct the wrong we have committed due to fear and deception, during the two years that I joined the rebel movement when I was 15 years old."

Carranza also appealed to the other rebels to lay down their arms and surrender to authorities.

“This is now the time to return to us, as your government is here to really take care of you,” he said in Filipino.

He said the 26 surrenderers are now undergoing a process under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) program which provides a holistic package of benefits that they can avail of, such as livelihood, medical, education, housing, and legal assistance.

Some of the former rebels were involved in the burning of a heavy equipment on Sept. 21, 2018 in Barangay Maragondon, Real, Quezon; another burning incident of heavy equipment last April 22 in the Kamagong sub-village of Barangay Magsaysay in Infanta, Quezon; and in clashes with government troops in Barangay Kanaway, General Nakar town last May 1; and another skirmish at Lagmak sub-village in Barangay Pagsanghan in Real, Quezon, said Col. Serafin Petalio II, chief of the PRO4A Regional Investigation and Detective Management Division.

DOLE allots P100-M for livelihood of ex-Moro rebels

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 21, 2019): DOLE allots P100-M for livelihood of ex-Moro rebels

Labor Secretary Silverstre Bello III (File photo)

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has allotted an initial amount of PHP100 million for the implementation of its Integrated Livelihood and Emergency Program (DILEEP) for former Moro rebels.

DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello announced this after he and Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. signed a memorandum of agreement extending the DILEEP for the speedy transformation of former Moro rebels into productive members of the society.

“This partnership is focused on assisting former rebels to transition into civilian lives, and facilitate their transformation and the six MILF camps into peaceful and productive communities through employment facilitation, and sustainable livelihood assistance,” Bello said during the signing ceremonies at the DOLE main office in Intramuros, Manila.

“Ngayon, to transform itong mga (Now, to transform these) combatants to normal lives and their communities into peaceful communities, our department is willing to share with Sec. Galvez, PHP100 million for the implementation of the DOLE integrated livelihood program together with the emergency employment program,” he added.

Bello said the livelihood program is popularly known as Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD).

Under the agreement, the DOLE will assist on the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) Normalization Program through the provision of emergency employment under its TUPAD program.

The DOLE will also provide employment facilitation programs and services to the former rebels under the Government Internship Program and Special Program for Employment of Students.

Bello said the partnership also aims to support the Duterte administration’s agenda of just and lasting peace in Mindanao by providing sustainable livelihood and employment opportunities which are seen as the best solution to end violent extremism.

Galvez said the DOLE and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) are the first government agencies to provide assistance in the implementation of the CAB Normalization Program by transforming six MILF camps into peaceful and resilient communities.

“We hope that through this collaboration, DOLE will continue to provide support during the succeeding stages of the normalization program and bring us closer to our vision of achieving ensuring peace and sustainable development in Bangsamoro,” Galvez said.

He said 5,000 MILF combatants have already been decommissioned and the OPAAP intends that “those 12,000 will be decommissioned this 2019”.

US Coast Guard chief assures continued support for PCG

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 22, 2019): US Coast Guard chief assures continued support for PCG

VISITING US COAST GUARD CHIEF. Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Commandant Admiral Elson Hermogino (middle left), USCG Commandant Admiral Karl Schultz (2nd from right), and other officers from both maritime security groups discuss matters during a courtesy call at the PCG headquarters in Port Area, Manila on Oct. 21, 2019. PCG spokesperson Captain Armando Balilo said the USCG offered continued support to the PCG. (Photo courtesy of PCG Captain Armando Balilo)

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Monday welcomed US Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Karl Schultz, who assured continued support for the PCG.

In a message, PCG spokesperson Capt. Armando Balilo said the discussions -- led by PCG Commandant Admiral Elson Hermogino — with their American counterparts revolved on further support of the US on the training and development of the PCG and the exchange of expertise on law enforcement, especially on anti-drug and anti-terrorism activities.

He said joint patrols were not discussed during the meeting but the US remained consistent in their support to the freedom of navigation in contested waters.

“Wala napag-usapang joint patrol pero consistent 'yung US sa pag-support sa freedom of navigation (There were no discussions on joint patrol but the US is consistent in their support to freedom of navigation),” Balilo said.

After the courtesy call at the PCG headquarters, Balilo said Schultz also went to the National Coast Watch Center to discuss current activities of the maritime agency with its director, Vice Admiral Joel Garcia.

Schultz arrived in Manila for a three-day visit to the country.

On Sunday, Schultz visited the Leyte Landing Memorial Park in Palo, Leyte to celebrate the 75th anniversary of US General Douglas MacArthur’s famous landing on Leyte beach.

He said the ceremony “offered not only an important moment of remembrance with the people of the Philippines, but it is also an opportunity to reflect on the enduring role of the U.S. Coast Guard in the Pacific.”

He was accompanied in the event by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. and US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires John Law.

On Saturday, Schultz visited the USCG Cutter Stratton which is currently in Puerto Princesa City for the maritime drill “Sama Sama”.

In a Facebook post, Schultz said other participants during the maritime training activity included the Philippine Navy, US Navy, and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.

The USGC Cutter Stratton (WMSL 752), Schultz said, was deployed in the region since June to conduct maritime defense and security operations with the US Navy in support of the US Indo-Pacific Command and to “broaden partnerships throughout the region.”

CPP/Ang Bayan: Bitak sa militar sa likod ng pekeng balita

Propaganda article from the Tagalog language edition of Ang Bayan posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Oct 21, 2019): Bitak sa militar sa likod ng pekeng balita

PILIT ITINATAGO NG mga pekeng balita ang matinding bitak at demoralisasyon sa loob ng militar at pulisya. Sa Kalinga, Abra at Ifugao, pekeng balita ang ipinantakip sa mga insidente ng barilan sa pagitan ng mga sundalo at CAFGU, at ng mga pulis.

Noong Agosto 15, dalawang myembro ng CAFGU ang napatay matapos makipagbarilan sa mga sundalo ng 24th IB sa loob ng kanilang kampo sa Sityo Mong-ol, Barangay Maguyepyep, Sallapadan, Abra. Pinag-aagawang ulam na golden kuhol ang dahilan ng insidente. Upang pagtakpan ang kapalpakan, nag-utos ang mga upisyal ng 24th IB na magsagawa ng pekeng labanan upang palabasing inatake sila ng Bagong Hukbong Bayan (BHB).

Pekeng balita rin ang ipinagkalat ni Col. Henry Doyaoen ng 503rd IBde matapos magbarilan ang mga CAFGU at tropa ng 50th IB noong Marso 20 sa Kalinga. Magkahiwalay na nag-ooperasyon ang dalawang pangkat sa hangganan ng mga barangay ng Buaya at Mabaca sa Balbalan nang mag-engkwentro. Isang sundalo ang napatay sa sagupaan. Upang isalba ang reputasyon, ibinalita ng militar na nagkaroon ng labanan sa pagitan ng BHB at AFP, at mayroon pa umanong nasamsam na riple.

Isang elemento naman ng CAFGU ang pinatay ng nag-ooperasyong mga sundalo ng 50th IB sa Barangay Sakpil, Conner, Apayao. Nag-iigib noon ng tubig sa labas ng kanilang kampo ang naturang CAFGU nang paputukan ng mga sundalo. Noon namang Setyembre 29, dalawang pulis ang binaril ng kanilang kapwa pulis sa loob ng kampo ng Regional Mobile Force Battalion sa Banaue, Ifugao.

[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and views on current issues. Ang Bayan comes out fortnightly and is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Ilokano, Waray, Hiligaynon and English.]

CPP/Ang Bayan: 20 sundalo, kaswalti sa mga opensiba ng BHB

Propaganda article from the Tagalog language edition of Ang Bayan posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Oct 21, 2019): 20 sundalo, kaswalti sa mga opensiba ng BHB

SIYAM ANG PATAY at 11 ang sugatan sa Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) sa mga opensibang militar na inilunsad ng Bagong Hukbong Bayan (BHB) sa Masbate, Quezon at Bukidnon simula Oktubre 8 hanggang Oktubre 19.

Magkasabay na pinaputukan ng mga yunit ng BHB-Masbate ang magkakahiwalay na mga pwersa ng 2nd IB sa Sityo Poro, Barangay Talisay, San Fernando, Masbate noong Oktubre 12. Dalawa ang patay at anim ang sugatan sa mga sundalo.

Matagal nang nananalasa ang mga “peace and development team” ng 2nd IB sa mga barangay ng San Fernando. Winawasak nito ang kabuhayan ng mga residente. Tatlong sibilyan naman ang marahas na pinaslang sa Barangay Liong at Buenavista.

Noong Oktubre 17, pinasabugan ng isang yunit ng BHB-Quezon ang nagpapatrulyang mga tropa ng 85th IB sa Sityo Catulin, Barangay Suha, Catanauan, Quezon. Hindi bababa sa anim ang patay sa hanay ng mga sundalo. Samantala, isa ang patay na sundalo sa operasyong isnayp na inilunsad ng BHB sa Barangay Abu-abo, Mauban noong Oktubre 8.

Sa Bukidnon, limang sundalo ang naiulat na kaswalti nang pasabugan ng mga Pulang mandirigma ang nag-ooperasyong tropa ng 401st Ibde sa Sityo Mahan-aw, Barangay Bulonay, Impasug-ong. Isinagawa ng BHB-Bukidnon ang pag-atake noong Oktubre 19 sa alas-10 ng umaga.

[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and views on current issues. Ang Bayan comes out fortnightly and is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Ilokano, Waray, Hiligaynon and English.]

Kalinaw News: 11 CTG members yield in Eastern Mindanao

Posted to Kalinaw News (Oct 21, 2019): 11 CTG members yield in Eastern Mindanao

NSFA, Panacan, Davao City – Four members of the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) surrendered to the government in two different instances on October 19, 2019, in Eastern Mindanao.

At about 9:30 in the morning, a certain alias Tonton, a Squad Leader of the CTG being monitored in the Cotabato- Davao City-Bukidnon tri-boundary, surrendered to the Barangay Government of Perez, Kidapawan City, North Cotobato.

The said surrenderee who is a member of the Manobo tribe from Antipas, North Cotabato brought along with him an M16 rifle and ammunition. He was initially turned over to 72nd Infantry Battalion for custodial debriefing and assessment.

On a separate occasion, three members of the CTG being monitored in Surigao del Sur, through the help of some Barangay Officials in Tandag City surrendered to the elements of the 3rd Special Forces Battalion in the afternoon of the same day.

The three CTG members were identified as alias Kakar, 34 years old, of Brgy. Awisan, Tandag City, a former Squad leader; a certain alias Elmo, 37 years old, of Brgy. Castillo, San Miguel, Surigao del Sur, a former Team Leader; and a certain alias Rosa, 28 years old, a former Supply Officer.

The three who are now undergoing a custodial debriefing and assessment surrendered with them an M4 Bushmaster Carbine Rifle.

Meanwhile, a guerilla unit in Masara lines along Maco and Mawab Compostela Valley continues to weaken, following the surrender of seven of its Militia ng Bayan members (MB) to the 71st Infantry Battalion at Brgy. Nueva Visayas, Mawab on October 17, 2019.

The seven who were identified through their aliases are Bebot/Olbot, Jojo, Tata, Jimmy, Bording, and Oning, 49 years old. They are now undergoing custodial debriefing and assessment.

Meanwhile, Lt. General Felimon T. Santos Jr., Commander of Eastern Mindanao Command calls on different stakeholders to facilitate the surrender of the CTG members to go back to the folds of the law.

“While our troops are busy in the conduct of combat operations to run against the hardcore members who continue to embrace the violent culture of the CTG, we appreciate the effort of our stakeholders particularly the LGUs and BLGUs who are reaching out in behalf of the whole government to those who wanted to surrender. We ask therefore to continue with your noble endeavor and hand-in-hand let us end this insurgency once and for all,” Lt. Gen. Santos said.

Source: Eastern Mindanao Command 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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EJKs resume in NegOr

From the Visayan Daily Star (Oct 21, 2019): EJKs resume in NegOr

The driver of a local government unit rescue vehicle was shot and killed Saturday by four suspected New People’s Army rebels, making him the fifth victim of a shooting incident in Negros Oriental since Thursday last week in Negros Oriental.
The victim identified by the police as Artilano Gomez, 54, succumbed to a bullet wound in the forehead.

Police investigation showed that Gomez was having breakfast at a “karenderya” when the four suspects asked him to come out and gunned him down when he did, in Sitio Panangan, Brgy. Candabong, Manjuyod, Negros Oriental.

Two days earlier, suspected NPA rebels also shot and killed an alleged military informant identified by the police as Rosalina Pagon Elpidal, 49, in Brgy. Napacao, Siaton, Negros Oriental.

The victim was riding a motorcycle driven by her son, Jetro, when they were flagged down by the two armed men. Without any reason, the two suspects shot the victim in the head, causing her death, the police said.

On the same day, three motorcycle riding suspects shot and killed Heide Rio, 60, and a widow, Richard Villalos, 29, and John Anthony Bormelado, 17, in Brgy. Banga, Bayawan, Negros Oriental.

The three victims, who suffered multiple gunshot wounds, were declared dead on arrival at the Bayawan District Hospital, a report of the Negros Oriental Police Provincial Office, said.

Police investigations showed that the three victims were on their way home to Sitio Cabcabon in the barangay, when they were followed and shot from behind by the gunmen, who were also riding on a motorcycle.

As they were lying on the road, the two gunmen disembarked from their motorcycle and shot them again several times, apparently to ensure their deaths, before fleeing, the police said.

Recovered from the scene of incident were nine empty cartridges of a .45 caliber pistol, a bag containing two cellular phones, and P900 in cash, as well as assorted documents and the XR 125 motorcycle of the victims.

Lt. Col. Randy Pagunuran, 94th Infantry Battalion commander, condemned the killings perpetrated by the NPA, who, he said, always claim to be protectors of the people, but do exactly the opposite.

Pagunuran said Gomez, who is the father of seven children, is a public servant, being the driver of the rescue vehicle of the Manjuyod municipal government, who dedicated his life to serving the community, but the NPA took his life without any apparent reason.

The killing spree in Negros Oriental in July, that claimed the lives of more than 20 persons, led to the relief of its provincial police chief, and the creation of the anti-insurgency task force to address the problem in the province.

700 IPs receive P950-T livelihood assistance

From the Mindanao Daily News (Oct 21, 2019): 700 IPs receive P950-T 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.”

Parliament member pushes programs for betterment of MILF ‘mujahideen’

From Politiko Mindanao (Oct 20, 2019): Parliament member pushes programs for betterment of MILF ‘mujahideen’

A member of the Bangsamoro Parliament has urged the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) to pursue programs and policies to improve the plight of the “mujahideen.”

Faiz Alauddin, Parliament member,
in a privilege speech Thursday, October 17, underscored the role played by the mujahideen when the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) was still fighting for the right to self-determination of the Bangsamoro.

He joined the Bangsamoro armed struggle in 1974 and is now the provincial chair of the MILF in Basilan.

He said the Bangsamoro government must not overlook the economic situation of the mujahideen, and must consider them in coming up with development programs and projects “especially those geared towards the promotion of employment and livelihood.”

“Let us enable our mujahideen to reap the benefit of the peace agreement and assist them in every means possible so they may cherish civilian lives,” Alauddin said.

He said he hopes “we will not fail the mujahideen in the trust that they have placed in us as their leaders and as leaders of the Bangsamoro.”

Mass surrender of mass supporters

From the Mindanao Times (Oct 21, 2019): Mass surrender of mass supporters

Thirty-three mass supporters of the New People’s Army (NPA) surrendered to the 71st Infantry Battalion at its headquarters in Mawab, Compostela Valley on Friday.

2Lt. Kim Carlos, the newly designated Civil-Military Operations (CMO) officer of 71st IB, said
the surrenderers were members of the communal farming that the NPA, led by Kumander Roy (Renante Mantos), organized in Barangay Libudon, Mabini, Compostela Valley.

Carlos said the farmers felt exploited because the NPAs required them to participate in other activities that no longer concern them. Hence, they decided to seek help from the military.

Rimboy, 35, said the NPA promised them to have an improved farming system. But it was just a lie, he said.

He said no new farming system was introduced but instead, they were obliged to join mass rallies.

MILF mourns Pimentel’s death; CPP describes him as “patriot”

From MindaNews (Oct 21, 2019): MILF mourns Pimentel’s death; CPP describes him as “patriot”

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 20 October) — The Bangsamoro people are one with the nation in mourning the death of former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. on Sunday, Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and interim Chief Minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) said.

Pimentel, who was among the courageous Mindanawon leaders who fought the Marcos dictatorship, contributed a lot in finding solution to the Mindanao conflict, Ebrahim stressed, as he expressed the group’s sympathies to his family.

“Senator Nene will forever be remembered by the Bangsamoro people for his very significant contribution to the efforts in finding genuine solution to the Bangsamoro problem,” Ebrahim said in a text message.

Former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr., MindaNews filie photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

He added that since the administration of former President Corazon Aquino (1986 to 1992), Pimentel was among those “who worked very hard to attain peace in Mindanao until the recent conclusion of the peace process.”

He was the Cory Aquino’s chief negotiator in the peace talks with the MILF in 1987. No peace agreement was signed under the Cory Aquino administration but a peace agreement was finally signed on March 27, 2014 under the administration of Cory’s son, Benigno Aquino III: the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro which paved the way for the establishment of the BARMM.

The BARMM replaced the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao early this year, with Ebrahim appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte as the new region’s interim Chief Minister.

Ebrahim also expressed the sympathies of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) to the family of Pimentel, founder of the Partiod ng Demokratikong Pilipino and “Father of the Local Government Code.”

The BTA which Ebrahim heads is the body tasked to govern the BARMM until its regular officials are elected in 2022.

In a statement issued on Sunday, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) described Pimentel as “a patriot, a democrat and friend of the Philippine revolution.”

“He locked arms with the Filipino people in their fight against the US-Marcos dictatorship. He was detained several times and accused of helping the underground movement,” the statement read.

It also noted that in Pimentel was among 12 senators who voted on September 16, 1991 against a proposed treaty that would have extended the stay of American forces in Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base.

“He has steadfastly opposed efforts to distort Philippine history and depict Marcos as a hero. The Filipino people and youth thank him for keeping alive memories of past struggles. His lifestory inspires the people in their present resistance to tyranny,” the CPP said.

Heroism of World War II veterans honored during 75th Leyte Gulf Landings

From the Philippine Information Agency (Oct 21, 2019): Heroism of World War II veterans honored during 75th Leyte Gulf Landings

CANDAHUG, Palo, Leyte -- The heroism and sacrifices of the World War II veterans were reminisced on Sunday, October 20 at the MacArthur Shrine and Memorial National Park as the Filipino people particularly the Leyteños commemorate the 75th Leyte Gulf Landings Anniversary.

National Security Adviser Secretary Hermogenes Esperon Jr., who represented President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, delivers a message during the 75th Leyte Gulf Landings Commemoration held at theMacArthur Landing Memorial National Park in Palo, Leyte, Oct. 20, 2019. (Photo by Raul Tiozon Jr./PIA-8)

National Security Adviser Secretary Hermogenes Esperon Jr., the event guest of honor representing President Rodrigo Duterte said that the commemoration is indeed an occasion to be truly sentimental as we remembered the landings of General Douglas MacArthur.

“Let us therefore take this occasion to be grateful for the gallantry of the hundreds of thousands of troops who took part in the historic battle of Leyte Gulf,” Esperon said.

As he read President Duterte’s message, he expressed hope that the sacrifices of the veterans inspire the Filipino people and the future generations to become decisive in confronting the challenges that we now face as a nation.

The challenges referred to are the war not against the imperial forces of the past but against the menace of criminality, illegal drugs, corruption, poverty, terrorism and extensive environmental degradation that hinders the development of the nation and deprived the younger generations of their dreams.

Meanwhile, members of the diplomatic corps and the representatives from various countries such as the United States of America, Australia, Japan and the Philippines who played a significant role during World War II shared their views and reminisced the past as they honored the uncommon valor of the World War II veterans and their descendants.

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In his solidarity message, US Embassy Chargé d'Affaires John C. Law expressed his admiration and appreciation of the invaluable assistance of the Filipino allies that led to the restoration of freedom in the Philippines 75 years ago.

“We can scarcely fathom the enormity of their valor and their sacrifice. We can, but only poorly express the profondere of our admiration and appreciation. Every generation since then owes them, owes you, an immense debt, and it’s a debt that we can only repay by remembering as we do today,” he said.

Law said the world has changed because since that time, former foes are now steadfast friends. Philippines and Southeast Asia, ravaged by that war, have not only recovered but have become the world’s most dynamic region with growing prosperity.

“Challenges remain, of course, there are threats to peace, there are threats to freedom but I believe we can and we will face those challenges and prevail,” he said.

For his part, Ambassador Steven J. Robinson of the Embassy of Australia to the Philippines thanked the veterans with utmost sincerity for the sacrifices they have made as he especially mentioned veterans of the Leyte campaign who were present during the commemoration.

“On behalf of all who now enjoy the peace you helped to win. I thank you with utmost sincerity for your sacrifice. The great battle in the Pacific serves as a timeless reminder that the success of military coalition operation ultimately rests on shared values. It also reminds us that we must always ready to work or fight together whenever and wherever duty calls,” he added.

He likewise expressed his gratitude to the offices of the Veterans Affairs, Armed Forces of the Philippines and the local government of Leyte for ensuring Australia’s part in the allied victory is continuously acknowledged.

Among the liberation forces who fought were 4,000 Australian personnel, some of whom died during the liberation campaign.

Meanwhile, Japanese Minister Yasushi Yamamoto, deputy chief of Mission, Embassy of Japan to the Philippines, expressed his sympathy to all descendants of the veterans who perished during the war.

He urged everyone not to forget that the peace and prosperity we enjoy today was built upon the precious sacrifices of souls.

Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla honors the heroism of the World War II veterans, gives emphasis on his commemorative message the importance to teling the stories of men and women and the country's allies who fought for peace and freedom during the 75th Leyte Gulf Landings Commemoration held at the MacArthur Landing Memorial National Park in Palo, Leyte, Oct. 20, 2019. (Photo by Raul Tiozon Jr./PIA-8)

The official is confident that the event will bring great opportunities and full cooperation with one another since all countries represented share and cherish fundamental values such as freedom, democracy and the rule of law.

For his part, Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla emphasized the importance of yearly commemoration of this significant and historic event.

Petilla said, “We have the duty to keep alive the valor of our WWII heroes. Alive in our collective memory because our veterans both living and fallen deserve to be recognized for their heroism in times of war so that we may all live. We have to do our best to uphold in our own lives the values that they have, were prepared to die for. We have to honor those who carry forward that legacy, recognizing that people cannot live in freedom unless free people are prepared to die for it.”

Meanwhile, Palo Mayor Frances Ann Petilla shared her thoughts of the veterans who, according to her, if not for their courage and bravery, we will not be having a peaceful life today.

To date, there are 105 living World War II veterans in the region and the oldest of them is 104 years old. (LDL/CBA/PIA-8)

Government agencies eye development of Brgy. Basak, Magpet

From the Philippine Information Agency (Oct 21, 2019): Government agencies eye development of Brgy. Basak, Magpet

MAGPET, North Cotabato – “I am totally grateful having finally received the land title that I have waited for so long,” said Noli Tiad in the vernacular as he took hold of his Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) from the Department of Agrarian Reform officials.

“This is a proof that the government is looking for ways to help farmers. I would like to extend my gratitude to all, from President Duterte down to the local government officials, for fulfilling your promise that we will get our own land titles” he said.

Nilo Tiad receives his Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) from the Department of Agrarian Reform during the Serbisyo Caravan in Barangay Basak, Magpet, North Cotabato on October 17. 

Tiad was one of the 35 farmers who received their CLOAs from the Department of Agrarian Reform during the “Serbisyo Caravan” in Basak, Magpet on Thursday, October 17. His farm is a 2.5 hectare-lot, inherited from his late father Antonio, the original farm tenant. The land titling process started in early 1990s, he said.

Hundreds more also enjoyed basic services from different government agencies and departments of the provincial government that converged in Barangay Basak for the Serbisyo Caravan.

Josephine Leysa, regional director of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) XII, earlier explained that the Sebisyo Caravan in identified barangays of North Cotabato jump starts the Retooled Community Support Program (RCSP).

RCSP, she elaborated, is a collaboration of all government agencies with the provincial, municipal and barangay local government units to bring comprehensive government services to villages in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order No. 70 (Institutionalizing Whole-of-Nation Approach in Attaining Inclusive and Sustainable Peace, Creating the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict).

During the Serbisyo Caravan, participating government agencies and local government offices offered medical check up, tooth extraction, immunization, feeding, seedling and planting materials, animal vaccination, beauty care training, livelihood and skills training orientation, scholarships, and many others.

National government agencies that joined the event included the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Reform, Land Transportation Office, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education, Department of Health, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines and many others.

Leysa further explained that after the Serbisyo Caravan, local government units and national government agencies will carry out projects intended to alleviate the conditions of the target barangays of the RCSP.

Among the projects being considered for implementation in Barangay Basak include farm-to-market roads that will connect remote subvillages to Basak and access roads from Basak to other barangays, barangay health center, postharvest facilities, covered court, livestock dispersal, livelihood training and assistance, water system, irrigation system, and others.

Basak is one of the eight barangays in North Cotabato considered for the Retooled Community Support Program.

Other barangays for RCSP piloting starting this year are Balite and Don Panaca in Magpet, Kabalantian and Datu Ladayon in Arakan, Malabuan and Luayon in Makilala, and Batang in Tulunan. (DED/PIA 12)

Benguet ROTC students attend peace dev't forum

From the Philippine Information Agency (Oct 21, 2019): Benguet ROTC students attend peace dev't forum

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- More than 600 Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) students from the Benguet State University and King's College of the Philippines (KCP) here attended the Campus Peace Development Forum which aims to arm the students with the right knowledge as they participate in national conversation on the prospects of peace and development in the country.

"Lola", a former rebel and member of the League of Filipino Students (LFS) and National President of People's Advocacy for Collaboration and Empowerment (PeACE) talked on how the communist terrorist groups (CTGs) recruit students in the different schools.

The targets of infiltration by the CTGs are the students councils, student publication, academic clubs and varsities, other organizations duly accredited by the school. She advised the students from joining organizations that are against the government.

“Your parents send you to school to study and learn, so that you will have bright future and landing on a job or career, it is your responsibility in return to do what is expected of you and not joining organizations that aim to overthrow the government,” Lola emphasized.

“I am telling you now the sad and painful experience I have been going against the government. I was mislead and deceived but I realized the wrongdoings I have done, and now I am standing right here in front of you and telling you- Never, never join a group under the CTGs,” Lola said.

LtCol. Alan Macatingrao, Group Commander, Tactical Operations, Northern Luzon and organizer of the event, is happy of the turnout of the event and that the ROTC students learned to serve and love our country, and be patriotic.LtCol. Alan Macatingrao, organizer of the the peace forum for ROTC students

President Duterte issued in December last year Executive Order 70 establishing a Whole-of-Nation approach in defeating the local communist terrorist groups. The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) was created to synchronize the utilization of the government's instrumentalities of power with the capabilities of private sector stakeholders to finally end the 50-year long deceit, lies and atrocities committed by the communist terrorists against the people.

The whole-of-nation approach gives importance to inclusive and sustainable framework towards attaining peace. (JDP/JBZ- PIA CAR)

Another AgNor town declares NPA persona non-grata

From the Philippine Information Agency (Oct 21, 2019): Another AgNor town declares NPA persona non-grata (By 29IB Philippine Army)

CABADBARAN CITY, Agusan del Norte -- The municipality of Kitcharao in the province of Agusan del Norte heeded President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s call to obtain a lasting peace by recently signing a resolution declaring Communist New Peoples Army Terrorists (CNTs) as persona non-grata (PNG) and created a task force that would End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC) held at the municipal hall, Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte.

The said municipality is one of the Conflict-Affected Areas (ConAAs) in the whole area of operation of the 29th Infantry “Matatag” Battalion.

The said event was graced by Municipal Mayor Aristotle E. Montante together with Vice Mayor Leo D. Galua and attended by other Sangguniang Bayan (SB) members and Barangay Captains of the said municipality. The highlight of the event was the reading and signing of the Joint Municipal Peace and Order Council (MPOC) and Municipal Development Council (MDC) Resolution No.1 for the creation of Municipal Task Force (MTF)-ELCAC and Resolution MG-036 Series of 2019 for the declaration of persona non-grata as duly adopted and attested by the whole members of the board of SB in the said municipality.

According to Vice Mayor Galua, the creation of the task force that would end local armed conflict and the declaration of PNG was anchored on the Executive Order (EO) 70 mandated by no less than President Duterte, an order which must be obeyed. "Just as a soldier who is obliged to follow orders without questions and hesitation, so we must do the same,” he said.

Mayor Aristotle E. Montante thanked his constituents for their support and courage, which they have shown during the recent declaration.

“Dako kaayo akong pasalamat sa gipakita nga suporta sa tanang katawhan nga nagmaisugon sa ilang pagdeklara ug Persona non-Grata ug pagporma niining Task Force- ELCAC. Maninguha kita nga mawala na kining mga kagubot dire sa atong lungsod para atong makab-ot ang kahusay ug kalinaw kay kung walay kalinaw, walay puy kalambuan (I am deeply grateful for the support and courage which you all have shown in declaring (the CNTs) Persona Non-Grata as well as the creation of this Task Force- ELCAC. Let us, therefore, do all we can to end this conflict in our area so that, we can attain peace and development. For assuredly, there will be no development if there will be no peace)," he said. (1Lt Nonette B. Banggad, CMO Officer, 29IB, PA/PIA Agusan del Norte)

Ifugao forms prov'l task force to end communist armed conflict

From the Philippine Information Agency (Oct 21, 2019): Ifugao forms prov'l task force to end communist armed conflict

LAGAWE, Ifugao - - The collective aspirations of the people in the province to attain inclusive and sustainable peace will hopefully be realized with the creation of the Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF-ELCAC)

The Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) and Provincial Development Council (PDC) recently passed Joint Resolution No. 2019-01 forming the PTF-ELCAC that will provide an efficient mechanism and structure for the implementation of Executive Order No.70 or the administration’s whole-of-nation approach to end the long running local armed conflict in the country.

“Whole of the National approach addresses the root causes of insurgencies, internal disturbances and tensions, and other armed conflicts and threats by prioritizing and harmonizing the delivery of basic services and social development packages by the government,” the resolution stated.

The PTF-ELCAC is chaired by the Governor and the commanding officer of the 54th Infantry Battalion as the vice chairperson. Members are the provincial directors/heads of 19 government offices and two non-government organizations in the province.

The task force will take the lead in localization of the 12 clusters/lines of effort and the implantation of provincial plans in coordination with the relevant national government agencies, local government units, civil society and other stakeholders guided by the whole-of-nation approach driven National Peace Framework.

It will ensure compliance to the monitoring and evaluation system provided by the Regional TF and implement the same at the municipal level to help track performance and analyze results for continuity or improvement; provide technical assistance to MTF-ELCAC as needed and to perform other functions.

It is tasked to ensure the creation of Municipal Task Force which will complement E.O No. 70 and organize ad hoc inter-agency and multi-sectoral clusters, councils, committees and groups at the provincial level mirroring the 12 clusters/lines of effort. (JDP/MBL- PIA CAR, Ifugao)

Youth rally vs insurgency in support to EO 70

From the Philippine Information Agency (Oct 21, 2019): Youth rally vs insurgency in support to EO 70

SINDANGAN, Zamboanga del Norte – “Education, not revolution!”

This is the clamor of the youth here during a peace rally held in the province of Zamboanga del Norte that the Kabataang Subanen Western Mindanao spearheaded in support to the implementation of Executive Order No. 70 of President Rodrigo Duterte that aims to end local communist armed conflict in the country.

About 500 Sangguniang Kabataan youth coming from the different barangays in town have participated in the event to show their support to the IP youth organization.

Messages written in placards and streamers show the young people calling out to the CPP-NPA group to stop exploiting the youth and spreading lies and false ideologies against the government especially in far-flung communities that are vulnerable to such acts.

The local government of Sindangan have expressed its support to the initiative, quoting Dr. Jose Rizal's famous line the “youth is hope of the nation”.

Sindangan Mayor Rosendo Labadlabad underscored that education is the key for the youth to achieve their dreams and better future.

“The government will not give you fish, but will teach you how to caught one,” an analogy Labadlabad shared on how the government is addressing issues and concerns to sustain peace and development.

He also pointed out that insurgency is an obstacle that hinders development and progress in the community and one of the major culprits of poverty.

Barangays Titik and Tinaplan in Sindangan town are among the 49 areas identified by the security sector as influenced and threatened by the communist armed group. (RVC/EDT/PIA9-Zamboanga del Norte)

Gov’t implements projects in Kalinga NPA-influenced barangays

From the Philippine Information Agency (Oct 21, 2019): Gov’t implements projects in Kalinga NPA-influenced barangays

PINUKPUK, Kalinga -- Government agencies and local government units through the “Pumiyaan” anti-poverty convergence project continue to pour-in projects and deliver services to the four municipalities infiltrated by the New People’s Army (NPA) in the province.

Improvement of the Catabbogan-Wagod road and the completion of the Wagod vehicular bridge paved way for the introduction of more economic activities for the populace particularly this municipality where
five of its barangays are NPA- influenced.

These infrastructure projects also directly benefit the municipality of Balbalan where six of its barangays are NPA-affected, as the road traverses that direction forming a circumferential road to connect Balbalan and Pinukpuk with Apayao via Conner, Cagayan via Tuao, Abra and the rest of Kalinga.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) earmarked P50 million for the continuation of the concreting of said road by Lower Kalinga District Engineering Office and another P50M also for the same purpose in the Upper Kalinga District Engineering Office side.

The road link is also proposed by Congressman Allen Jesse Mangaoang in Congress as a national highway to be named the Abra-Kalinga-Apayao road to ensure its completion, regular funding and maintenance.

DPWH also implemented two flood control projects in Ammacian, another two are on-going in Wagod while one was completed in Apatan, all in Pinukpuk.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) trained members of the Kalipunan ng Liping Pilipina members in Ba-ay, Pinukpuk on coffee and cacao processing in partnership with the local government unit.

DOST also provided Starbooks to the Balbalan Agricultural and Industrial School (BAIS) and Balbalan Central School where many of the students come from the NPA-affected barangays. A 4-weeks review on science scholarship examination was also conducted at BAIS.

Another kiosk or e-library was also established in Guina-ang, an affected barangay in Pasil. DOST also distributed 120 packs of complementary food to Maling.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources distgributed tilapia fingerlings to 28 indviduals in 7 of the 16 NPA affected barangays in Kalinga. (Photo: BFAR)

The municipalities of Balbalan and Pasil were also awarded each P2.6M under the Department of Labor and Employment’s Tulong Hanapbuhay Para sa Ating Disadvantaged program where residents are employed for 10 days with P320 wage per day.

On the part of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Provincial Fisheries Office, 28 individual small fishpond owners in 7 of the 16 affected barangays were given tilapia fingerlings.
Early next year, TESDA will conduct training on coffee processing, packaging and labeling including provision of equipment. Coffee production is a major livelihood of the people in those insurgency-affected villages.

A training on masonry will also be conducted at Poblacion with some participants coming from those influenced barangays. Coordination is on-going with other barangays to plan out the conduct of some more trainings on other technical-vocational courses.

The municipalities of Balbalan and Pasil were also awarded each P2.6M under the Department of Labor and Employment’s Tulong Hanapbuhay Para sa Ating Disadvantaged program where residents are employed for 10 days with P320 wage per day.

On the part of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Provincial Fisheries Office, 28 individual small fishpond owners in 7 of the 16 affected barangays were given tilapia fingerlings.

To deter NPAs from infiltrating other communities, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) conducted training on manicure, pedicure and basic hair cutting to female members and organic mushroom production to male members of the Ballayangon Farmers Association. Ballayangon is a land-locked barangays in Pinukpuk surrounded by NPA-influenced neighbors.

Early next year, TESDA will conduct training on coffee processing, packaging and labeling including provision of equipment. Coffee production is a major livelihood of the people in those insurgency-affected villages.

TESDA will also conduct training on masonry at Poblacion with some participants coming from those influenced barangays. Coordination is on-going with other barangays to plan out the conduct of some more trainings on other technical-vocational courses.

Plastic crates and net materials will also be given to the Balbalan Orange Growers. Balbalan is famous for its sweet native “gayunan”.

There are 16 NPA-influence/less influence barangays according to the AFP. In Balbalan are Mabaca, Poswoy, Balantoy (Sitio Ligayan), Gawaan, and Ababa-an; Pinukpuk are Ba-ay, Apatan, Ammacian (Bonnong), Wagod (Bonnong), and Limos; Lubuagan are Western Uma, Upper Uma, Lower Uma and Tanglag; in Pasil is Guina-ang; and Tabuk City is Dupag. Influenced are Mabaca, Poswoy and Tanglag. The rest are less influenced. (JDP/PAB-PIA CAR, Kalinga)

Former adversaries unite, work together for peace in BARMM

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 21, 2019): Former adversaries unite, work together for peace in BARMM

UNITY TRAINING. Joint Peace and Security Teams (JPST) members arrive in Parang Maguindanao to attend the internal retooling program which kicked off on Monday (Oct. 21, 2019). The JPST training will be attended by 77 members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, 96 personnel from the Philippine National Police, and 152 members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front-Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces. (Photo courtesy of OPAPP)

PARANG, MAGUINDANAO -- What seemed unimaginable years ago is now a reality as former foes are now working side by side to bring peace to communities in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Seventy-seven members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and 96 personnel from the Philippine National Police (PNP) arrived here to participate in the internal retooling of Joint Peace and Security Teams (JPST).

They will be joined by
152 of their Moro Islamic Liberation Front-Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (MILF-BIAF) counterparts during the JPST training of the second batch of JPST members, which started on Monday (October 21).

Partners in peace

Speaking at the opening of the retooling session, training director P/Lt. Col. Arnold Razote stressed the uniqueness of the JPST training wherein former adversaries on the battlefield will now work together to help maintain the peace and order in the Bangsamoro.

"The JPST training is a unique community policing training where contingents from the AFP, PNP, and MILF-BIAF shall undergo a one-month training program to enable them to acquire knowledge, skills and attitudes to make them a capable and dependable force to protect the gains of the peace process,” Razote said.

Wesmincom deputy commander for administration and chair of GPH-CCCH Brig. Gen. Francisco Ariel Felicidario III talks to JPST members. (Photo courtesy of OPAPP)

The internal retooling will prepare the AFP and PNP members for the JPST training, which will be conducted at Camp General Salipada K. Pendatun, PRO BARMM in Parang, Maguindanao.

Two hundred nineteen MILF-BIAF members completed their basic military training on August 27, 2019, which was held at the AFP’s Camp Lucero in Carmen, Cotabato Province.

Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Director Wendell Orbeso, who heads the secretariat of the Joint Normalization Committee, emphasized the crucial role of JPST in ensuring the safety and security in their communities.

“The establishment and deployment of the JPST are very important in the maintenance of peace and order in the areas where the decommissioning processes and other normalization activities are happening,” Orbeso said.

The 6,000-strong JPSTs will be tasked to support the maintenance of peace and order and stability in areas mutually identified by the GPH and MILF, as the MILF combatants and their camps transition into peaceful and productive civilians and communities

The establishment of JPSTs is part of the Annex on Normalization under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed between the government and MILF in 2014.

Preserving gains of peace

Brig. Gen. Cesar De Mesa, chief of the AFP Peace and Development Office, stressed that government forces and the MILF-BIAF are now peace partners who are bound by the common goal of pushing forward the Bangsamoro peace process

“Ang prosesong pangkapayapaan ang magiging solusyon sa paghinto sa matagal na nating pakikipaglaban sa kapawa natin Pilipino. Ang mga BIAF ay dating nasa kabilang panig pero tapos na ang panahon na ‘yun. Kasama na natin sila ngayon sa pagsulong ng kapayapaan (The peace process would be the solution to stop fighting among Filipinos. The BIAF used to be at the other side but now they are among us pushing for peace),” de Mesa said.

According to Brig. Gen. Francisco Arial Felicidario III, chair of the GPH Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) and Western Mindanao Command deputy commander for administration, the various ceasefire mechanisms have been instrumental in preventing armed confrontations in the area.

Felicidario noted that since the signing of the ceasefire agreement between the government of the Philippines (GPH) and MILF in 1997, there was a significant decline in skirmishes between the two parties which resulted in a more peaceful and stable region.

“Ang laki na ng difference mula nung napirmahan ang ceasefire agreement between Government and MILF noong 1997 hanggang ngayon. Ngayon, malaya na tayong nakakalakad. Isa lang ang ibig sabihin noon, na ang peace process ay nag-work (A big difference has been noted since ceasefire agreement between the government and MILF was signed in 1997. Now, we are free to roam around. It means, peace process works),” he said.

Also present at the internal retooling training were Lt. Col. Merill Sumalinog from the AFP Peace and Development Office who explained the JPST’s functions and structure; OPAPP’s Carl Jerick Sol who facilitated the internal retooling of the JPST members; Ryan Dave Jungco, chief operations officer of the GPH-CCCH, who presented an overview on the activities of the body; Reshiel Sombrio of the GPH Ad Hoc Joint Action Group, who explained the functions and activities of AHJAG; and OPAPP’s Mark Sherwin Bayanito, who gave an overview of the political track of the CAB.

P5.4-M marijuana uprooted along SoCot, SK, DavSur boundary

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 21, 2019): P5.4-M marijuana uprooted along SoCot, SK, DavSur boundary

MARIJUANA HAUL. Joint elements from the South Cotabato Police Provincial Office, the Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion, and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Region 12 burn some of the marijuana plants uprooted on Saturday (Oct. 19, 2019) in an upland plantation along the borders of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and Davao del Sur. The team found around 27,000 hills of marijuana at the site worth an estimated P5.4 million. (Photo courtesy of the Tampakan municipal police station)

Government forces uprooted over the weekend around 27,000 fully grown marijuana plants worth around PHP5.4 million located in an upland area along the borders of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and Davao del Sur provinces.

A report from the South Cotabato Police Provincial Office (SCPPO) said the marijuana plantation was discovered around 11 a.m. Saturday in the area covering portions of Sitio Alyong, Barangay Danlag in Tampakan, South Cotabato; Sitio Lamalis, Barangay Datalblao in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat; and, Sitio Lapla, Barangay Kimlawis in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur.

Capt. Joseph Villanueva, acting chief of the Tampakan municipal police station, said Monday they earlier received reports from concerned residents about the presence of a marijuana plantation in the area.

Villanueva said they immediately coordinated with the SCPPO, Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Region 12.

A composite team from the three units left the town center of Tampakan around 9 p.m. for a joint law enforcement operation in the identified sites, he said.

Villanueva said they arrived at the site around 11 a.m. Saturday and found a vast marijuana plantation, adding they immediately uprooted and burned the plants with assistance from local leaders.

The operatives set aside at least 50 hills as evidence for the filing of charges against its cultivator.

“It was abandoned and the cultivators were no longer in the area at that time but local leaders were able to identify them,” he said.

Blaan tribal chieftain Dot Capion identified the owner of the said marijuana plantation as a certain Gugwelin Macondon, a resident of the area.

The suspect will be charged with violation of Section 16 (cultivation of plants classified as dangerous drugs) under Article II of Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

Manhunt on vs. 3 more suspects in teacher’s kidnapping

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 21, 2019): Manhunt on vs. 3 more suspects in teacher’s kidnapping

FREED. Zamboangueña teacher, Rosina Singua, 58 (left), drinks coffee at a military camp after she was rescued from kidnappers on October 16 from a hotel in downtown Jolo, Sulu. (Photo courtesy: Western Mindanao Command Public Information Office)

A manhunt has been launched to arrest three more people behind the kidnapping of a Zamboangueña teacher, who left this city supposedly to attend a wedding ceremony on September 27 but ended up being abducted.

The teacher, Rosina Singua, 58, was rescued on October 16 from a hotel room in Barangay Walled City, Jolo, Sulu, minutes after her daughter, Soraya Bantongan, handed over some PHP283,000 ransom to a young lady at the port of Jolo.

Maj. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr., Joint Task Force Sulu commander, said Monday that the targets of the manhunt are two women and a man, who were among the five people involved in the kidnapping of Singua.

The two other suspects--all ransom claimants--were separately arrested after the rescue of Singua on October 16.

Col. Pablo Labra, Sulu police director, earlier disclosed that one of the two, Nurina Jura, 22, was arrested before she could board a passenger jeep to the town of Indanan coming from Jolo municipality.

It was Jura who received the ransom money from Bantongan at the port of Jolo.

Labra said that the other one, Nurjia Asakil, was arrested in a follow-up operation.

Asakil was the one who claimed the initial ransom payment, the amount of which was undisclosed, wired on October 13 through telegraphic transfer in one of the money courier services, the police official said.

The kidnappers had reportedly demanded PHP10 million ransom in exchange for the freedom of Singua. The ransom was further lowered to PHP200,000 after the initial payment was made by the victim’s family, police said.

Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief, said the troops, in coordination with the police, are tracking the whereabouts of the remaining suspects.

“We will not stop until we are able to get them,” Sobejana said.

‘Sagay 9’ remembered with mass, outreach for victims’ kin

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 21, 2019): ‘Sagay 9’ remembered with mass, outreach for victims’ kin

DIALOGUE. Maj. Antonio Benitez Jr. (standing), chief of Sagay City Police Station, along with officers of the Philippine Army’s 79IB, meets with the families of the “Sagay 9” victims in the northern Negros City on Sunday (Oct. 20, 2019). The dialogue was part of the activities that commemorated the first anniversary of the massacre that took place on Oct. 20, 2018. (Photo courtesy of 79IB, Philippine Army)

A mass and an outreach were held on Sunday to mark the first anniversary of the killing of nine farmers in Sagay City, Negros Occidental on Oct. 20 last year.

The commemoration activities were initiated by the Philippine Army’s 79th Infantry Battalion (79IB), Sagay City Police Station, City of Sagay, and the Barangay Council of Bulanon.

“We initiated this as we would like to our extend sympathies to the families of the victims. Their innocence should be given justice. They were only promised by insurgents to join their unlawful activities,”
Lt. Col. Emelito Thaddeus Logan, commander of 79IB, said in a statement on Monday.

He added that government institutions commemorated the event to “give value to the innocent lives deceived by the left-leaning parties and militant groups.”

Aside from the mass officiated by Rev. Fr. Erwin Magnanao, other activities included a fun run from Crossing Bulanon going to City Proper joined by some 100 participants, tree-planting at Saint Joseph Parish Church, and a dialogue with the families of the victims.

Maj. Antonio Benitez Jr., chief of Sagay City Police Station, gave an update on the case during the meeting with the victims’ kin, who also received rice and cash assistance from the police.

The nine fatalities -- Eglicerio Villegas, Angelife Arsenal, Rene Laurencio Sr., Paterno Baron, Morena Mendoza, Marcelina Dumaguit, Rannel Bantigue, and minors Marchtel Sumikad and Joemarie Ogahayon -- were killed on the night of Oct. 20 at Hacienda Nene, Purok Firetree in Barangay Bulanon of the northern Negros city after their group occupied the sugarcane field earlier that day to demand for their piece of land in the property.

The victims were also identified as members of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW).

The police had filed murder complaints against those allegedly involved in the massacre, including Rene Manlangit and Rogelio Arquillo, who were identified as NFSW recruiters.

The victims were allegedly enticed to join the NFSW and were manipulated by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

Assistant State Prosecutor Ferdinand Fernandez is handling the case, which is pending before the Department of Justice (DOJ) in Manila.

The case was assigned to Fernandez after the Sagay City Prosecutor's Office and the Western Visayas Regional Prosecutor’s Office recused themselves from handling the preliminary investigation.