Thursday, December 12, 2019

AFP-CRS: EU exec to help halt flow of foreign funds to CPP-NPA

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook Page (Dec 10, 2019): EU exec to help halt flow of foreign funds to CPP-NPA

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Expressing concern over reports about international funding to communist-linked organizations in the Philippines, a member of the European Union (EU) Parliament vowed to help the Philippine government put a stop to the flow of financial support.

“I intend to make a dialogue with the Belgium government about the international financial transferring of money. We will have a great picture on where the money is coming from and to which organization it goes and which, should I say, violate the law,” said Tom Vandrendriesshe, in a meeting here with a Philippine delegation from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) on Dec. 4.


AFP-CRS: Red's duplicity prevents kin from reclaiming body of slain rebel

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook Page (Dec 10, 2019): Red's duplicity prevents kin from reclaiming body of slain rebel

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Further proof of communist rebels' duplicity and deceit is further gleaned from the family of a ranking New People's Army (NPA) leader, killed in a clash with government troops in Antipolo City, Rizal, which cannot recover his body and give it a decent burial as he is known by another name in the rebel movement.

"Days after Armando Lazarte alias Pat 'Romano', secretary of Sub-Regional Military Area 4A was killed in a raid in Antipolo City, his body still cannot be retrieved by the family. It is because he is known by another name in a classic duality of the CPP(Communist Party of the Philippines)-NPA,"

Major General Antonio Parlade, Jr.


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AFP-CRS: No holiday truce with NPA — Lorenzana

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook Page (Dec 11, 2019): No holiday truce with NPA — Lorenzana

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No holiday truce with NPA — Lorenzana

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has rejected the idea of declaring a ceasefire with the New People’s Army (NPA) in the spirit of the Christmas season.

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AFP-CRS: CHR to probe CPP-NPA recruitment of minors

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook Page (Dec 12, 2019): CHR to probe CPP-NPA recruitment of minors

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CHR to probe CPP-NPA recruitment of minors.

In the pursuit of finally ending the recruitment of minors of the Communist Terrorist Groups (CTGs), 4th Infantry “Diamond” Division, Philippine Army welcomes the decision of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to probe the NPAs recruitment of minors.

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AFP-CRS: CPP-NPA Duplicity

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook Page (Dec 12, 2019): CPP-NPA Duplicity


Further proof of communist rebels' duplicity and deceit is further gleaned from the family of a ranking New People's Army (NPA) leader, killed in a clash with government troops in Antipolo City, Rizal, which cannot recover his body and give it a decent burial as he is known by another name in the rebel movement, a ranking official of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC)

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AFP-CRS: CPP-NPA is using Salugpungan Schools to become child warriors

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook Page (Dec 12, 2019): CPP-NPA is using Salugpungan Schools to become child warriors

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63 child combatants of NPA yielded, slain since Jan. 2019

From the Mindanao Times (Dec 11, 2019): 63 child combatants of NPA yielded, slain since Jan. 2019 (By Rhoda Grace Saron)

The 4th Infantry Division recorded a total of 63 child combatants operating in Northern Mindanao and Caraga who have either surrendered or killed since January 2019.

Maj. Regie Go, the spokesperson of 4th ID, said the ages of the
New People’s Army rebels range from 12 to 17 years old.

Data from 2016-2019 revealed that the average age of underage recruits is 17 years old.

He said alias Christine, 17, an NPA medic who surrendered to 23 Infantry Battalion in October 2019 regretted joining the NPA.

“They didn’t allow me to visit my family and they threatened to kill them if we tell the authorities,” she told the soldiers.

Meanwhile, the 4th Infantry Division welcomes the decision of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to probe the NPA’s continued recruitment of minors.

Jacqueline de Guia, CHR spokesperson, said in an interview with CNN Philippines, “Under the International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, even non-state armed groups must respect the prohibition to recruit and use children in armed conflict and hostilities.”

“[The boy] was still in his development years and should be focusing on honing his potentials so he can pursue his goals and dreams but his life was snuffed out and can no longer be taken back,” she added

It can be recalled that a 16-year old NPA member named Litboy Binongcasan was killed in an encounter with the troops of the 23rd IB in the hinterlands of Barangay Manila de Bugabos, Butuan City. He was recruited when he was just 14 years old, his family said.

Maj. Gen. Franco Nemesio Gacal, the commander of the 4th ID, said, “We welcome the decision of the CHR to probe the NPA’s recruitment of minors.

“Their continued recruitment is a clear violation of children’s rights and the International Humanitarian Law,” Gacal said. “The youth is the hope of our nation and the communist terrorist group is destroying our future.”

NPA now down to 598 active rebels, Army says

From the Mindanao Times (Dec 12, 2019): NPA now down to 598 active rebels, Army says (By Rhoda Grace Saron)

The 10th Infantry Division said the New People’s Army (NPA) population in the region continues to shrink, as it estimated that the rebel group only has 598 active guerrillas.

“Not only in Davao region, but also some parts of North Cotabato, South Cotabato and portions of Sarangani province, Agusan Del Sur, Surigao, and Bukidnon,”
Capt. Jerry Lamosao, the spokesperson of the 10th Infantry Division, said during the AFP-PNP press conference held in The Royal Mandaya Hotel yesterday.

From the 11 guerrilla fronts, Lamosao said the NPA is now down to four guerrilla fronts operating in 46 barangays.

“There are many groups that dissolved,” he said. “There are only four guerrilla fronts that were numbered to 20 to 25 members and eight weakened guerrilla fronts composed of 10 to 15 members, ” he added.

He also said that there are only three remaining Pulang Bagani Commands of the Southern Mindanao Regional Committee.

Based also on their record, they estimate that the NPA has a total inventory of 722 firearms.
“Records from operations and Intelligence branch and, at the same time, the report from concerned citizens regarding the validation of the number of casualties because there are some encounters that we’re not able to determine but we can identify after two to three days,” Lamosao said.

He attributed the increasing number of surrenderees and the diminishing number of NPAs to the whole-of-nation approach of the government to pursue inclusive development projects.

Lamosao said they partnered with the local government units and non-government agencies for the implementation of peace and development. He also emphasized that to prevent the rebels from shoring its militant force, the concerned agencies should address the root cause of rebellion.

1,000 arrests, surrenders recorded since Jan. – Army

From the Mindanao Times (Dec 13, 2019): 1,000 arrests, surrenders recorded since Jan. – Army

The Eastern Mindanao Command recorded more than 1,000 arrests and surrenders involving New People’s Army rebels from January to Dec. 10 this year.

Lt. Gen. Felimon Santos Jr., EastMinCom chief, expressed gratitude over the support of the communities, particularly for declaring the communist group persona non grata.

“We are appreciative of these gestures and ask them to continue to implement it in deeds and spirit,”
he added.

He also directed his units to intensify their security operations to allow the communities to celebrate the holiday season peacefully.

“Let our continuous sacrifice with our relentless operations to deny the terrorists the opportunity to carry-out coercion and intimidation to our communities be our gift so that they can peacefully celebrate the holiday season and live peacefully in the next years to come,” he said.

On Dec. 10, at around 5 p.m., troops of the 403rd Infantry Brigade encountered more or less 15 NPA members in Mt. Obulan, Barangay Banglay, Lagonglong, Misamis Oriental.

Lt. Col. Ezra Balagtey, the spokesperson of EastMincom, said the 30-minute firefight erupted after the soldiers responded to the tip given by the community regarding armed men loitering in the area.

The skirmish resulted in the death of one communist rebel, the capture of two M653 rifles; one M16 rifle; one AK47 assault rifle; one Garand rifle; and one .22 caliber rifle.

The body was turned over to the Lagonglong barangay for identification and disposition.

Meanwhile, the troops from the 26th Infantry Battalion encountered an undetermined number of NPA members in Barangay San Pedro, San Luis, Agusan del Sur. A certain Reneboy Rocero was captured while the other rebels escaped.

Seized from him were one .45 caliber pistol, one hand grenade, four cellphones, and subversive documents. He was turned over to the San Luis Municipal Police Station for filing of the appropriate charge.

PH Navy launches web app to monitor procurements

From Rappler (Dec 11, 2019): PH Navy launches web app to monitor procurements (By JC Gotinga)

An online database of the Navy's procurement projects and their progress will 'promote transparency and prevent corruption,' the Navy says

CONTACT POINT. The Philippine Navy launches its web application, the Procurement Information System (PRISM) to promote transparency and prevent corruption in procuring goods and services. Photo from the Philippine Navy

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Navy on Wednesday, December 11, launched a web application designed to help monitor the progress of its projects and procurements in an effort to promote transparency and prevent corruption.

Called the “Procurement Information System” or PRISM (, the web app contains a searchable database of the Navy’s projects and procurements, their contractors, budgets, deadlines, a basic description of each item, and the status of each contract.

The Navy’s bids-and-awards committee and other relevant units would supply the information – real time, the Navy commits – which suppliers, contractors, and the public could view on the website.

Having a website through which contractors and suppliers could check on the status of their transactions with the Navy would help eliminate the need for them to visit the Navy’s offices or seek out its officers to lobby for their contracts. PRISM would be the “point of contact” to check on those projects, said Major General Dante Hidalgo, the Navy’s vice commander.

Hidalgo declined to describe instances in which physical "lobbying" among contractors and officials led to corruption.

Any missing information, or delays in the progress of every project would be easy to spot on PRISM, said Department of National Defense (DND) Assistant Secretary for Logistics and Acquisitions Jesus Rey Avilla.

“We would be able to eradicate so-called corruption and connivance, so that they could find out for certain the status of their proposals or offers. So transparency is the bottomline of all of these things,” Avilla told reporters at PRISM’s launch at Naval Station Jose Francisco at Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City.

The DND would encourage the military’s other service units – the Army and the Air Force – to build similar web applications, Avilla added.

Meanwhile, Hidalgo said PRISM will eventually be linked to the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (PhilGEPS), where most government agencies post their procurement requirements, and interested suppliers check for opportunities to transact with the government.

The last major corruption issue the Navy figured in was in 2018, when it was discovered that President Rodrigo Duterte's right-hand man, Bong Go, now a senator, apparently intervened in the procurement of a Combat Management System, worth P15.5 billion, for the Navy's two upcoming frigates, the BRP Jose Rizal and BRP Antonio Luna, both set to be delivered in 2020.

Human rights activist Brandon Lee now recovering in U.S.

From Rappler (Dec 11, 2019): Human rights activist Brandon Lee now recovering in U.S. (By Frank Cimatu)

The Chinese-American, who was seriously injured after he was ambushed in front of his house in Ifugao, appears in a video and says 'Laban!'

'LABAN.' BAYAN USA uploads a video greeting from Brandon Lee on International Human Rights Day. Screenshot from BAYAN USA YouTube video

BAGUIO, Philippines – The more exciting video to come out on International Human Rights Day, at least to Cordillera activists, is not of U2 singer Bono issuing his "soft message" to President Rodrigo Duterte about not compromising human rights.

Instead, it is a video uploaded by Bayan USA of Brandon Lee, 37, a Chinese-American activist who was seriously injured last August after he was ambushed in front of his house in Lamut, Ifugao.

"Brandon Lee speaks!" said former social welfare secretary Judy Taguiwalo, who shared the video on Facebook.

The short video had Brandon Lee slowly speaking and thanking "those who continue the long journey and fight for human rights around the world, including the Philippines."

It means a lot to most of his friends that Lee is finally speaking. A paralegal volunteer for the Ifugao Peasant Movement (IPM) and a columnist for Northern Dispatch, Lee was shot 6 times during the ambush.

His wounds include shots on his stomach and near his spine which affected his back while recuperating at the Baguio General Hospital and Saint Luke's Medical City. His cheek was also partially torn by a bullet.

Lee came from San Francisco in California and was a member of the League of Filipino Students there even if he wasn't a Filipino. He came to the Cordillera and married an Ifugao native. The IPM where he worked at was particularly targeted and two of his officemates were already assassinated.

After funds were raised for his airlift to the United States, Lee went back to San Francisco in October.

"I've been in this country for some time now," he said in the video.

After acknowledging that he is on a long road to recovery, Lee ended his short video with the Cordillera ending: "Laban! Payt latta (Fight, fight still)!"

Duterte, Joma Sison can’t agree on venue for peace talks

From Rappler (Dec 12, 2019): Duterte, Joma Sison can’t agree on venue for peace talks (By JC Gotinga)

‘Ano siya, sinusuwerte?’ says Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on communist party leader Jose Maria Sison’s insistence on a foreign venue for negotiations

DEADLOCK. The Philippine government and the Communist Party of the Philippines could not agree on where to hold the next possible round of peace talks. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler
It appears the prospect of another round of peace talks between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) encountered its first deadlock, as President Rodrigo Duterte and CPP founder and leader Jose Maria Sison disagree on where to hold the negotiations.

Duterte’s “bare minimum” requirement is to have the talks in the Philippines. Sison wants a “foreign neutral venue.”

Sison, who lives in exile in Utrecht, the Netherlands, worries that he could get arrested once he steps on Philippine soil.

“The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) cannot trust any ‘no arrest’ declaration from the [government] side unless the repressive issuances and campaigns of Duterte are ended, the political prisoners are amnestied and released, the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms and a bilateral ceasefire are already in place,” Sison said in a statement on Wednesday, December 11.

The NDFP, the CPP’s political wing, could not trust Duterte’s government “while it refuses to carry out goodwill measures, such as the release of sickly and elderly political prisoners on humanitarian grounds, and engage in reciprocal unilateral ceasefires during the Christmas season up to the first week of New Year,” Sison added.

On Monday, November 9, Lorenzana said he would not recommend that Duterte declare a ceasefire with the New People’s Army (NPA), the CPP’s armed wing, during the Christmas holidays because the NPA violated past ceasefires by carrying on invading and extorting money from villages even though they refrained from attacking government troops.

Duterte did not declare a ceasefire with the communist insurgents during the Christmas holidays in 2018.

“The regime still retains a militarist and fascist mentality and behavior,” Sison said, adding that the Duterte government “has to prove” that the proposed peace talks are not a mere “trap.”

Holding peace negotiations in neutral territory is standard practice among peace processes in history. In the case of the Philippines, government negotiations with the Moro National Liberation Font in the mid 1970s were held in Libya, while recent talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front were hosted by Malaysia.

There was an attempt to hold peace talks with the NDFP in Vietnam during the administration of President Benigno Aquino III, but it did not materialize.

‘That’s their problem'

Duterte made a surprise announcement on December 5 that he would send labor secretary Silvestre Bello III to talk to Sison in the Netherlands about the possibility of reviving peace negotiations.

Bello, who had led the government panel in earlier attempts at peace talks with the communists, confirmed to Rappler on December 7 that he was in the Netherlands to meet with Sison.

But it appears the communist leader has qualms about the government's offer, and insists on staying away from the Philippines, where he would be under Duterte's power.

“If they do not trust the assurance of the President that they will not be arrested, then that is their problem,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Wednesday, reacting to Sison’s statement.

“Ano siya, sinusuwerte (Does he think himself so lucky)? In the first place, it was they who came to the President to request for the reopening of the talks through Sison’s emissaries,” added Lorenzana in a message sent to reporters.

As far as the defense establishment is concerned, their marching orders is to end the 5-decades-old communist rebellion as soon as possible, or at least before Duterte’s term ends in June 2022.

Early in his term, Duterte welcomed members of the communist movement in Malacañang and even appointed some of them to his Cabinet. Peace talks were initiated with the NDFP in Oslo, Norway, and had a couple of false starts.

Duterte then accused the NPA of double-crossing the government by carrying on their usual activities despite ongoing peace negotiations. The killing of a 4-month-old child in a gun attack on a police car in Bukidnon was the last straw, and Duterte formally terminated the peace talks in November 2017.

In December 2018, Duterte ordered the creation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) to hold “localized peace talks” between local government units and individual NPA fronts.

The government has been enticing NPA guerrillas to defect and return to civilian life, as the police and military ratchet up their pursuit of rebel strongholds. Security forces have broadened their crackdown to include progressive groups that they accuse of acting as legal fronts for the CPP-NPA-NDFP.

NDF/Sison: Safety and immunity guarantees for NDFP personnel and necessary circumstances for peace negotiations

Jose Maria Sison propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Philippines (NDFP or NDF) Website (Dec 12, 2019): Safety and immunity guarantees for NDFP personnel and necessary circumstances for peace negotiations

By Jose Maria Sison
NDFP Chief Political Consultant

If he is truly interested in peace negotiations with the NDFP, President Duterte as political leader and commander-in-chief of the GRP has to reorient his defense, military and police officials and order them to let the peace negotiations proceed and tackle the substantive agenda on social, economic and political reforms under safety and immunity guarantees for the negotiating personnel of both sides and under conditions that the NDFP is secure from the hostile conditions of militarization and fascisation in the Philippines under the current regime.

The most militarist-minded and brutal officers of the AFP and PNP must be reminded to stop pipe-dreaming about entrapping the NDFP negotiating personnel in Metro Manila at the very resumption of formal talks, putting them under their control and surveillance and thereby obtaining by sheer trickery the victory that they cannot obtain in the battlefield and through their use of psywar which consists of fake news, fake community support projects, fake surrenders and fake encounters.

The NDFP negotiating personnel (negotiators, consultants and technical staff) are highly principled and intelligent people, conscious of the dirty strategy and tactics of the reactionary military and police forces and always mindful of how Randy Malayao was murdered, several NDFP consultants have been arrested and detained on trumped up charges and with planted evidence and how all the consultants, resource persons and technical staff of the NDFP are being red-tagged and threatened with arrest and summary execution in violation of JASIG and CARHRIHL.

The peace negotiations cannot be resumed without a formal meeting in a foreign neutral venue abroad to reaffirm the bilateral agreements made since The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992 and to overcome all the repressive issuances that the Duterte regime has made since 2017 to terminate and prevent peace negotiations and to unleash campaigns of red-tagging, abductions, torture, mass murder, looting, arson, bombing and other atrocities against mere suspects and civilian communities.

In my particular case as chief political consultant of the NDFP, I cannot give up the legal protection that I enjoy under the Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights and practically surrender myself to a regime and its armed minions that are notorious for gross human rights violations. I cannot leave the Netherlands without first getting the political and legal guarantees of several pertinent governments to retain my rights to non-refoulement and Article 3 of the European Convention for the noble purpose of talking peace with Duterte in a country near the Philippines.

Certain high military officials have claimed that they are so sure of destroying the armed revolutionary movement of the people and have declared that they do not want any peace negotiations and ceasefire of any kind. Arrogantly, they boast that the NDFP has no choice but surrender in Manila ab initio. They go against the publicly expressed wish of Duterte himself for peace negotiations and a bilateral ceasefire.

In view of the mania of his military officers for war and the continuance of operational plans to destroy the people’s revolutionary movement, there is compelling reason to hold the peace negotiations in a neutral venue abroad until such time that comprehensive agreements on social, economic and political reforms are mutually approved for the benefit of the people. Duterte can remind his own military and police officers that they have embarrassed him enough with their continuing failure to destroy the revolutionary movement with brute military force and psywar.

It is standard practice to hold peace negotiations between two warring parties in a neutral foreign venue to preclude the peace spoilers and saboteurs from having too many opportunities to spoil or sabotage the peace negotiations. Most of the major agreements in the GRP-NDFP peace process were made during the time of Ramos in a foreign neutral venue and under circumstances when the negotiations were carried out while fighting continued in the Philippines. If Duterte cannot yet stop his own military officers from waging war, it is possible to talk while fighting and this is still better than no talk at all, if I may quote some of the peace advocates.

But of course, it is even far better that Duterte’s military and police minions are restrained immediately from taking advantage of the repressive issuances he previously made and from further committing human rights violations against the people and suspected revolutionaries. The broad masses of the people benefit immediately from respect for their human rights, including their civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights. Let CARHRIHL guide both the GRP and NDFP and generate favorable conditions for the comprehensive agreements on social, economic and political reforms. ###

WESTMINCOM: TESDA, WestMinCom to offer courses for surrenderors, jobless

Posted to the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) Website (Dec 12, 2019): TESDA, WestMinCom to offer courses for surrenderors, jobless (By PIO Western Mindanao Command)

Courses will be offered to former rebels and the unemployed through the aid of the military, says an official of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

TESDA Regional IX Director Dan Navarro proposed a tie-up with the Western Mindanao Command as it plans to offer courses to assist former rebels and the unemployed.

“The program should not end with the training but with the employment to prevent radicalism and exploitation of the vulnerable,” said Lt. General Cirilito E. Sobejana in a meeting with Director Navarro held in Camp Navarro, this city at around 10am on December 12.

“This collaboration is a win-win solution to the perennial issue affecting security and stability in Mindanao.

We are confident that more of these peace initiatives will materialize for the cessation of armed conflicts and hostilities in this part of the country,” the commander added.

Suicide Terrorism In The Sulu Archipelago – Analysis

Posted to the Eurasian Review (Dec 13, 2019): Suicide Terrorism In The Sulu Archipelago – Analysis (By By Kenneth Yeo/RSIS)

Two Egyptians and one Filipino were killed recently for attempted suicide attacks in Sulu, the Philippines. This was the first attempted suicide attack by pro-Islamic State (IS) groups in the Philippines after the death of IS’ leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. Such a tactic is still a largely foreign phenomenon.

Two Egyptian nationals and a Filipino were killed on 5 November 2019 in Indanan, Sulu for an attempted suicide bombing. Two suicide vests loaded with explosives, detonators, a loaded pistol, and a grenade were seized from the dead attackers. This suggests that only two of the three perpetrators were prepared to be suicide bombers, and a question mark remains as to whether the sole Filipino was one of the two.

The Egyptians went by the aliases of Abduramil and Yusop. It was also noted that Abduramil’s wife, Reda Mohamad Mahmud Mohamad, was the suicide bomber at a military checkpoint on 8 September 2019 which failed to cause any fatalities. This attack came shortly after the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-declared caliph of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS), on 31 October 2019.

Trend of Suicide Bombings

Al-Baghdadi’s symbolic death by suicide bombing serves as propaganda of the deed, potentially encouraging sympathisers to “martyr” themselves as he did. Coupled with the failing “caliphate” in Syria after IS lost its final stronghold in Syria on 23 March 2019, it is assessed that foreign fighters are expected to relocate into another conflict theatre, such as the Philippines.

Two theories to the localisation of suicide terrorism in the Philippines have been forwarded: the active recruitment of foreign suicide bombers and the local adoption of the tactic. Currently, the former assessment has been more proven as locals continue to resist the adoption of suicide bombing, going by the overwhelming foreign profile of suicide bombers in the country thus far.

To date, there are five suicide bombing attempts/attacks in the Philippines starting from the unintended Basilan Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) attack on 31 December 2018 which killed 10 and wounded 7. This was a serendipitous moment for Hajan Sawadjaan – leader of IS Sulu and mooted emir of IS Philippines – as he recruited two members of the Indonesia-based Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) shortly after for a suicide attack which killed 22 and wounded more than 100 at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral.

Based on those involved in suicide attacks in the country, it appears that suicide bombings still heavily rely on foreign terrorist fighters. Today, while there have been eight individuals who conducted or attempted suicide bombings in the Philippines, only one Filipino was identified as a suicide attacker. The culture of upholding the honour of the warrior – to die during fighting – among indigenous Moro tribes in Mindanao may have prevailed thus far to resist the perceived glory of suicide “martyrdom”.

Moreover, the five suicide bombing attacks and attempts demonstrated that the adoption of this tactic is contained within the Sulu region; four attacks were conducted on Jolo island. These tactics are only actively pursued by IS Sulu which operates in the Sulu archipelago; not within mainland Mindanao. In contrast, recent attacks launched by the Maguidanao-based Turaife-led faction of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) still favour remotely detonated bombs.
Trajectory of Suicide Bombings

We can expect more attempts to introduce suicide bombings along the Sulu Archipelago. However, if local resistance to the adoption of suicide bombings persists, IS Sulu may step up the recruitment of foreign militants into Mindanao if it intends to make suicide bombings a staple in their arsenal. This would allow them to dispense high casualty attacks through foreign suicide bombers while maintaining their trained local fighting force to defend their territorial sanctuaries.

The Sulu route is one of many foreign militants use to travel into Mindanao. It is preferred as smuggling through that route is relatively not difficult. The porous border and troubled waters between Malaysian East Sabah and the Philippines’ Sulu islets create opportunities for human smuggling into Mindanao. Hence, IS Sulu’s mere presence in that region differentiates them from the other militant groups in Southeast Asia as they are able to actively smuggle foreign militants.

This was observed when Indonesian militants Rullie Rian Zeke and Ulfah Handayani Saleh who conducted the Jolo Church suicide attack, were smuggled through East Sabah by IS Sulu. This route is also used by non-regional foreign fighters who see Malaysia as a transit between the Middle East and Southern Philippines.

Coupled with the potential relocation of foreign fighters from Syria after IS lost its territory and leader, the IS East Asia Wilayat (ie. Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar, and Japan) could become one of the recipients of fighters from Syria. Bids to recruit deportees who attempted to fight in Syria and returnees would pose a serious threat to the security of the Sulu archipelago.

Sharing of Intelligence

Given the trend, it is critical that the Philippines government adopt a comprehensive set of policies to harden its borders. This includes intelligence sharing mechanisms which leverages on transnational arrangements to deny entrance of foreign fighters.

Proposals to expand the Trilateral Cooperative Arrangement (TCA) – joint patrols between the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia at the Sulu-Celebes Seas – to improve force coordination and intelligence sharing should be considered. Key also is to monitor the movements of foreign fighters who had fought in Syria and are now eyeing their next battle-ground.

Initiatives to coordinate with the Turkish government and other intelligence platforms such as the “Five Eyes” could also be considered to monitor and deter possible relocation of foreign fighters to the Philippines.

Ultimately, terrorism is a transnational threat which requires a transnational arrangement. Governments must create more platforms for cooperation and intelligence sharing to interdict its transnational networks effectively. This would then allow respective governments to manage and contain the threat locally.

[Kenneth Yeo is a Research Analyst at the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research (ICPVTR), a unit of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore.

RSIS Commentaries are intended to provide timely and, where appropriate, policy relevant background and analysis of contemporary developments. The views of the author/s are their own and do not represent the official position of the S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), NTU, which produces the Commentaries.]

Rebel slain, soldier hurt in clash in Misamis Oriental hinterlands

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 12, 2019): Rebel slain, soldier hurt in clash in Misamis Oriental hinterlands (By Froilan Gallardo) 

A communist guerrilla was killed while a soldier was wounded in a clash on top of a dormant volcano in Misamis Oriental late Tuesday.

Lt. Col. Roy Derilo, commander of the Army 58th Infantry Battalion, said the N
ew People’s Army (NPA) rebels were already surrounded by soldiers and were asked to lay down their arms.

Instead of giving up, the guerrillas fought on, added Derilo.

“My team leader told me he saw the rebels jump into a nearby ravine while firing their guns,” Derilo further said.

Derilo said the soldiers were tracking the rebels after a brief encounter three days earlier.

On Tuesday afternoon, a 10-man Army team managed to sneak near the rebels’ refuge in the 1,245-meter high Mount Obulan in Barangay Banglay of Lagonglong town.

When the Army team leader called out for the rebels’ surrender, they instead responded with gunfires, Derilo said.

The ensuing 30-minute firefight resulted in the death of an NPA fighter and a soldier slightly wounded when a bullet grazed his right arm.

Derilo said the rebel’s body was turned over to Lagonglong officials for burial.

Derilo added that when the rebel camp was scoured, the soldiers seized two M653 rifles; one M16 rifle; one AK47 assault rifle; one Garand rifle; one cal. 22 rifle, and assorted ammunition.

In Zamboanga del Norte, a soldier was killed in a 20-minute clash in Leon B. Postigo town last Sunday.

Major Arvin John Encinas, Western Mindanao Command spokesperson, identified the casualty as Private Alfie Ogao-ogao, who was fresh from training. With a report from Julie S. Alipala

Joma Sison now ‘irrelevent’ as local talks with Reds effective - NICA

Posted to the Relief Web (Dec 12, 2019): Joma Sison now ‘irrelevent’ as local talks with Reds effective - NICA

REPORTfrom Government of the Philippines
Published on 12 Dec 2019 —View Original

ZAMBOANGA del Norte, Dec 11 (PIA) – The third and final Localized Peace Engagement (LPE) in Zamboanga Peninsula resulted to 53 rebels surrendered and willing to be part of the government once again.

National Intelligence Coordinating Agency Regional Director Ariel Perlado emphasized the effectiveness of LPEs, adding that these make the founder of Communist Party Jose Maria Sison irrelevant.

“In the local level we have already made interventions through the Regional Task Force,” he said.

The 53 New People’s Army (NPA) combatants formalized their surrender and turned over their high-powered firearms during the peace negotiation held in Dipolog City on Tuesday (December 10).

The Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) in Region 9 has been very aggressive in pursuing the LPE as one of the most effective means to encourage more NPA members to consider returning to mainstream society.

Department of Social Welfare and Development Undersecretary Rene Glen Paje urged the surrenderees to encourage their former comrades to also lay down their arms and work with the government to attain sustainable development.

Ai-Ai, one of the surrenderees, shared their difficult lives and struggles while isolated in the uplands, and clarified that she was not forced to surrender by the government.

“We were not forced by the government, we surrender voluntarily,” Ai-Ai said. She added that after they surrendered, they were made comfortable and were given immediate support by the government.

Perlado affirms that they are securing the safety of the surrenderees in the process of their reintegration. The RTF-ELCAC 9 will continue the interventions and support to the rebel returnees.

LPEs in the region will continue, Perlado added as this has been shown to be effective in talking with the communists and addressing their concerns through the programs of local governments as supported by other government agencies.

Zamboanga del Norte Governor Roberto Uy highlighted the support of the provincial government to the RTF-ELCAC which he recognizes to play an important role in the peace process. “The peace engagement aims to improve the lives of people, and we are here (the government) to come united with the people (former rebels) who have finally come to join us again,” he said. (NBEMLE/PIA9-Zamboanga City)

Philippines claims new victory over Islamic State

Posted to the Asia Times (Dec 12, 2019): Philippines claims new victory over Islamic State (By Bong Sarmiento)

Government to lift martial law in Mindanao after claiming to capture and neutralize ISIS leaders

Philippines claims new victory over Islamic State

A Filipino soldier uses binoculars during the siege of Marawi City by Islamic State-aligned militants, July 1, 2017. Photo: Twitter

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is set to roll back martial law on the southern island of Mindanao, a move that will relieve residents but one that could open the way for Islamic State (ISIS)-backed militants in the wings.

Martial law, first imposed on May 23, 2017 after ISIS-aligned fighters with the Maute and Abu Sayyaf Groups (ASG) staged a debilitating siege of the island’s Marawi City, will not be extended into 2020, the government announced on December 10.

Marawi’s five-month siege killed some 1,100 individuals, mostly Islamic militants, uprooted over 350,000, and left the core of the country’s only Muslim majority city in ruins that will cost an estimated 72.2 billion pesos (US$1.4 billion) to rebuild.

Martial law has since been in place across 27 provinces and 33 cities, a rights-curbing measure that has perturbed many of the island’s residents but which authorities now say succeeded in weakening ISIS-linked local terrorist groups.

Duterte, the country’s first president to hail from Mindanao, an island of 25 million, declared Marawi liberated from the clutches of ISIS-linked militants on October 17, 2017, attributing the successful military operations against the jihadists to the imposition of martial law.

Meranaws, or the people of Marawi, have since strongly protested against the extended period of martial law as “security overkill.” Those measures have included night-time curfews and greater powers for security forces to conduct warrantless searches.

When martial law was first introduced in Mindanao, some feared Duterte might extend the measure across the entire archipelagic country, in a cynical bid to consolidate more authoritarian powers.

President Rodrigo Duterte fires a few rounds with a sniper rifle in Davao City, March 2018. Photo: AFP/Joel Dalumpines

Martial law in Mindanao was originally scheduled to last for only 60 days, but Duterte later requested Congress to extend it until December 31, 2017. He requested on security grounds and was granted by Congress two additional extensions until December 31, 2019.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo announced the decision during a press briefing in Malacañang, the Philippine seat of power, on December 10, saying that “any incipient major threat will be nipped in the bud even without martial law.”

“[Duterte’s] decision is based on the assessment of the security forces as well as the defense advisers that the terrorists and extremist rebellion have been weakened as a result of the capture or neutralization of their leaders,” said Panelo.

He also said that de facto military rule over the island had resulted in lower crime rates, ranging from murder, homicide, physical injury, car-napping, robbery, theft, rape and even cattle rustling.

Rommel Banlaoi, chair of the Manila-based Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research, said the lifting of martial law does not mean that security threats from extremist groups have been extinguished.

“Terrorist threats have been reduced but they still persist and continue to evolve,” he told Asia Times. He said the military needs to sustain “focused military operations” in particular against the ISIS-linked ASG, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and the Ansar Khilafah Philippines.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana did not call for another extension of martial law, but rather has pushed for passage of amendments to the Human Security Act to give security forces more powers to fight terrorism.

The law currently allows for the detention of terror suspects without a court-ordered arrest warrant for three days, which Lorenzana wants extended up to 60 days to give authorities more time to build cases against and interrogate terror suspects. The proposed amendments are pending at the Philippine Senate.

Human rights lawyers working for the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) have opposed such amendments, noting that some of the proposed provisions violate constitutional rights including freedom of assembly, expression, association, travel, press freedom and due process.

“The proposal will take away your life, liberty and property without giving you a fighting chance to defend yourself,” the NUPL said in a statement.

Lorenzana said the recommendation to lift martial law in Mindanao was based on the military and the police’s joint recommendation. He expressed confidence existing Islamic militants lacked the capability to launch another Marawi-type siege.

Still, Islamic militants have continued to operate with deadly results even with martial law in place, witnessed in recent suicide attacks involving foreign jihadists.

In January, a powerful explosion perpetrated by ASG killed about two dozen people and injured more than 100 others at a Catholic church in Jolo, the capital of Sulu province. An Indonesian jihadist couple orchestrated the suicide attack.

Debris inside a Catholic church where two bombs exploded in Jolo, Sulu province, January 27, 2019. Photo: Westmincom via AFP

In August 2018, a foreigner with links to ASG detonated a van full of explosives at a military checkpoint in Basilan that left 11 people dead, including the suspect. ISIS claimed responsibility for both of the lethal blasts.

Meanwhile, a September bomb attack in Sultan Kudarat province was allegedly carried out by a Swedish national who was arrested and charged along with five others. Authorities identified them all as ISIS sympathizers.

In Marawi, where martial law was strictly implemented even after the defeat of the Islamic militants, war-weary residents welcomed Duterte’s decision to end martial law with cautious optimism.

Drieza Lininding, chair of the Marawi-based Moro Consensus Group, welcomed the move while also calling for vigilance. “We don’t know what’s in the minds of peace saboteurs, both from extremist groups and the government,” he said.

Ironically, Malacañang timed its martial law lifting announcement to coincide with International Human Rights Day, recognized worldwide on December 10.

Human rights and indigenous people’s groups in Mindanao have recorded 162 victims of alleged extrajudicial killings since Duterte assumed power in mid-2016; 98 of those slayings happened after martial law was imposed on May 23, 2017.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (in screen) salutes with soldiers at army headquarters in Manila, March 20, 2018. Photo: AFP/Ted Aljibe

Leon Dulce, coordinator for the People’s Network for the Environment, which had campaigned for lifting of martial law, stressed the draconian measure “restricted the operational spaces, brought a climate of fear and muzzled the opposition of activists in Mindanao.”

When martial law is finally lifted on December 31, 2019, the island would have been under military rule for a total of 952 days.

At the same time, Mindanao will still live under a heavy military presence, with 60% of the estimated 200,000-strong Armed Forces of the Philippines still deployed on the island and no orders in sight for a pullout.

74% of MILF fighters already decommissioned —gov't

From GMA News Online (Dec 11, 2019): 74% of MILF fighters already decommissioned —gov't

The second phase of the decommissioning of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) combatants exceeded its target after 74% of fighters withdrew from service, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) said Monday.

In a statement, the OPAPP said
this figure exceeds their 51% target for December 2019.

“To date, the 74% of the 12,000 MILF combatants and 73% of the 2,100 firearms are already decommissioned,” Joint Normalization Committee (JNC) co-chair Ariel Hernandez said.

“We have over-performed in our decommissioning target. But what we really need to focus on is camp transformation.”

The JNC is a body tasked to carry out normalization, which is the second track of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the product of years of on-and-off peace negotiations between the government and the MILF.

Normalization follows the political track that involved the passage and ratification of the creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

MILF base commanders across Mindanao earlier gathered in Davao City for a two-day orientation workshop organized by the OPAPP.

Presidential peace adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. said the gathering shows that “we are now starting to reap the dividends of peace.”

At the end of the workshop, Hernandez and the MILF base commanders signed a document detailing their major activities for community development planning in 2020.

Some of the activities agreed upon were the formation of a core group; conduct of an area scoping or project briefing; courtesy calls with mayors and barangays councils; secondary data gathering; training of trainers; formulation of a community development plan; and data validation and write-up.

The government and MILF aim to complete normalization with the signing of the Exit Agreement in 2022 right before the term of President Rodrigo Duterte ends.

AFP backs Congress’ move to enact anti-terrorism law

From the Manila Bulletin (Dec 12, 2019): AFP backs Congress’ move to enact anti-terrorism law (By Noreen Jazul)

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said it is “happy” with the receptiveness of the Congress with regard to amending of the Human Security Act by passing an Anti-Terrorism Law.

Philippine Armed Forces Spokesperson Brig.Gen. Edgard Arevalo
(AP Photo/Bullit Marquez / MANILA BULLETIN)

“We are happy in the sense that Congress is receptive with regard to this request from the defense department to amend the Human Security Act,” AFP Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo told CNN Philippines.

Arevalo underscored that an “anti-terrorist law that has more teeth” is needed to be “responsive to the demands of the time.”

“At present, the law is more restrictive on security forces like you cannot detain someone for three days among others,” the AFP spokesperson said.

“You have to pay P500,000 per day of incarceration of withholding of a person if he happens to be acquitted or exonerated for the charges of terrorism,” he added.

Arevalo said such provisions of the Human Security Act “have to be changed.”

Senate Bill No. 1083, sponsored by Senate defense committee chair Senator Panfilo Lacson, is currently being discussed in plenary at the period of interpellation.

The bill clarifies the definition of terrorist acts and prolongs to 14 days, from the current three days, the detention of suspected terrorists without an arrest warrant.

The bill also proposes to penalize those who participate in the plotting of terrorist acts. (With a report from Vanne Elaine Terrazola)

HHI completes trials of Philippine Navy’s BRP Jose Rizal frigate

Posted to Naval Technology Website (Dec 11, 2019): HHI completes trials of Philippine Navy’s BRP Jose Rizal frigate

South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) has successfully completed the first sea trials of the Philippine Navy’s (PN) first-ever guided-missile frigate.
The Philippine News Agency reported that sea trials of BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) were conducted on 23-27 November in Sea State 4 conditions, citing the Philippine Navy public affairs office chief lieutenant commander Maria Christina Roxas.

In Sea State 4 conditions, waves reach a height of four to eight feet. The frigate is designed to operate in conditions up to Sea State 7.

The sea trials were conducted off the coast of Ulsan, Busan, and Mokpo in South Korea to measure the frigate’s seaworthiness and performance.

The trials involved technicians from HHI and Lloyd’s Register of Shipping.

Roxas said: “Another set of sea trials is tentatively scheduled for December 16. The PHP8bn ($157.3m) warship is a big-ticket acquisition of the Armed Forces of the Philippines that is poised to be the benchmark of PN’s transformation journey.”

The sea trials represent the key final step in the construction phase ahead of the delivery of a ship.

BRP Jose Rizal is anticipated to be delivered to the navy in April or May next year, the news agency added.

HHI launched the lead ship of the Jose Rizal class of multi-role frigates in May.

BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151), the second ship in the class, was launched at the HHI Ulsan shipyard last month.

The two frigates are being acquired at a cost of PHP16bn ($314.6m). The procurement of weapon systems and ammunition will cost a further PHP2bn ($39.32m).

The ships will be fitted with surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles, launchers and torpedoes.

The PN will use the ships in support of anti-surface, anti-submarine, and anti-air warfare, as well as electronic warfare.

No term extension for AFP chief — DND

From the Philippine Star (Dec 11, 2019): No term extension for AFP chief — DND (By Jaime Laude)

Clement, who assumed the top AFP post in late September, will bow out of military service on Jan. 5, upon reaching the military retirement age of 56 years.

Newly designated Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Noel Clement’s term will not be extended, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said yesterday.
Clement, who assumed the top AFP post in late September, will bow out of military service on Jan. 5, upon reaching the military retirement age of 56 years.

“No. The President has decided to not extend anymore,”
Lorenzana said in reference to the tour of duty of Clement as AFP chief for more just more than three months.

The defense chief added that unlike former AFP chief and now Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, there is no compelling reason for Clement’s term to be extended.

As then AFP chief, Año’s term was not actually extended as it was about to be cut short following his designation by President Duterte as acting secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) when Duterte fired Ismael Sueño in April 2017 over corruption allegations.

When the Marawi siege broke out a little over a month later, Duterte ordered Año to stay put as AFP chief and only assumed as acting DILG secretary following his mandatory retirement from the service.

Año’s post was later passed on to current Bureau of Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero, whose term as AFP chief was extended by the President.

While Lorenzana remains silent on the possible replacement of Clement, Camp Aguinaldo insiders bared that three strong contenders are now vying for the top AFP post.

While all three star-generals are qualified to be the next the AFP chief, sources said the race for the top AFP post has been narrowed down among Eastern Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Felimon Santos, Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana and newly designated Army chief Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay.

Except for Sobejana, who is a member of Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1987, both Santos and Gapay belong to the PMA class of 1986.
Guilt feelings

Although Duterte did not confront him for “stumbling” on the appointment of former Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde, Sen. Bato dela Rosa admitted feeling guilty for endorsing his mistah, who had to retire early amid accusations of his inactions against suspected ninja cops.

Dela Rosa said he would not make any endorsement again as he expressed belief that the President chose Albayalde to replace him as PNP chief in April 2018, primarily due to his personal endorsement.

Tagalog News: 53 NPAs sa ZamPen sumuko at lumagda ng kasunduan sa pamahalaan

Posted to the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 12, 2019): Tagalog News: 53 NPAs sa ZamPen sumuko at lumagda ng kasunduan sa pamahalaan (By Emmanuel D. Taghoy)

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DIPOLOG CITY, Zamboanga del Norte, Dec. 11 (PIA) - - - Sa ikatlo at panghuling paghaharap ng mga miyembro ng New Peoples’ Army at ng peace panel mula sa gobyerno na ginanap dito sa lungsod, 53 dating mga rebelde sa Rehiyon ng Zamboanga Peninsula (ZamPen) ang opisyal ng sumuko at nagbabalik loob sa pamahalaan. 

Ito ay parte sa ginagawang localized peace engagement ng gobyerno para sa mga miyembro ng NPA na nagnanais tumiwalag sa armadong pakikibaka at mamuhay ng normal bilang pagpapatupad sa Executive Order No. 70 ng Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte.

"Dito pa lang sa lokal, kaya na nating makipag-usap sa mga rebeldeng gustong magbagong buhay. Patunay itong dami ng nagbabalik-loob ngayon sa pamahalaan na may kakayahan tayong resolbahin at wakasan ang armadong pakikibaka lalo na kung magtutulong-tulungan ang iba't-ibang ahensya ng mga gobyerno," ayon kay Regional Director Ariel Perlado ng National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA)-9.

Ang Regional Task Force sa Region 9 ang natatanging rehiyon sa buong bansa na nagkaroon ng epektibong localized peace engagement bilang isa sa mga inisyatibo ng gobyerno upang mahikayat ang mga aktibong miyembro ng NPAs na sumuko.

Sabay ding isinuko ng mga surrendeees ang armas ng mga ito at nagpahayag ng kanilang panata ng katapatan sa watawat ng Pilipinas na pinangasiwaan ni Zamboanga del Norte Governor Roberto Uy.

Nanawagan naman si Undersecretary for Inclusive and Sustainable Peace Rene Glen Paje ng Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) sa iba pang mga NPAs na nagnanais magbalik loob sa pamahalaan na ibaba na ang kanilang mga armas at tulungan ang gobyernong itaguyod ang kapayapaan para sa ikauunlad ng bansa.

Nagpakita naman ng suporta ang grupong National Alliance for Democracy (NAD) sa hakbang ng gobyerno sa pamamagitan ng isang peace rally na dinaluhan ng hindi bababa sa 200 miyembro nito. Nakisali rin dito ang mga miyembro ng Indigenous Peoples Federation at mga reservists ng Philippine Navy. (NBE/EDT/PIA9-Zamboanga del Norte)

Surrender of 33 NPAs, one positive result of Pinabacdao MTF-ELCAC RCSP, summing up meeting reveals

Posted to the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 12, 2019): Surrender of 33 NPAs, one positive result of Pinabacdao MTF-ELCAC RCSP, summing up meeting reveals

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TACLOBAN CITY, Dec. 12 (PIA) - The profound effort of the Pinabacdao MTF-ELCAC has gained very positive results by yielding 33 NPA surrenderees of armed members, Militia ng Bayan (MBs) Sangay sa Partido sa Lokalidad (SPLs), Underground Mass Organizations (UGMOs) and their mass supporters in the area.

This was disclosed when the Pinabacdao, Samar Municipal Task Force-ELCAC headed by Mayor Teodorico Q. Mabag, convened its 2nd Retooled Community Support Program (RCSP) Summing Up meeting on December 9.

The purpose of the Summing Up meeting was to update the MTF-ELCAC on the result of the RCSP team performance during the conduct of initial immersion in the town’s five barangays namely, Barangays Pelaon, Magdawat, Manaing, Layo and Canlobo to address the issues being exploited by Communist Terrorist Groups (CTGs).

The said activity was attended by Hon. Teodorico Q. Mabag, Chairman of the MTF-ELCAC, LGU’s Department Heads, MSWDO, MPDC, BFP, PNP, SB Members, the five Barangay Captains, TESDA, Col. Lenart Lilena, 801st Deputy Brigade Commander and Lt. Col. Rhomel R. Langcauon, Commanding Officer of 46IB.

Lt. Col. Langcauon said that of the 33 surrenderees, four are regular NPAs, eight belong to the Milisyang Bayan (MB) and Sangay sa Partido sa Lokalidad (SPL) and 21 are mass supporters.

Langcauon bared that the surrenderers are being assisted so they may be enrolled to the E-CLIP for former rebels.

“The DSWD and the DILG just finished the profiling last werk,” Lancauon added.

The RCSP Teams of Pinabacdao has commendable performance in delivering the basic social services in its contituents.

To recall, the Pinabacdao Municipal Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (MTF ELCAC) held the first ever Community Support Program (CSP) summing up meeting in Samar sometime in October.

In the meeting, the briefing on Primary and Secondary Issues identified in the barangays resulted to the transcript of their ideas about the dimensions of the issue and what can be done to solve the problems and preserve the strengths that provides the basis for subsequent planning that will yield to a positive result in order to transform these affected areas to a conflict-resilient and develop community. (PIA-8)

Army troopers raid NPA mountain hideout, kill terrorists and seize weapons

Posted to the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 12, 2019): Army troopers raid NPA mountain hideout, kill terrorists and seize weapons (By 403rd Infantry Brigade, PA)

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MALAYBALAY CITY, Bukidnon, Dec. 11 — Government troops raided a bunch of CPP-NPA terrorists who retreated to forested hideout in Mt. Obulan of Misamis Oriental killing scores of terrorists and seizing a number of high powered rifles.

Pursuing troopers of 58th Infantry Battalion and 43rd DRC
found one lifeless body of a terrorist left behind by his cohorts and six firearms that include two M653 rifles, one M16 rifle, one AK-47 assault rifle, one Garand rifle, and one Caliber .22 rifle.
One of the assaulting team members was slightly wounded in the forearm and still among those pursuing the fleeing terrorists.

He reported to his Battalion Commander that they called on the terrorists to lay down their firearms but instead they resisted and fired at the army team.

The incident transpired around 5 o’clock in the afternoon, Dec. 11, and the sun was about to set but he revealed seeing NPA rebels jumping to the ravine while firing their guns without direction.

He believes a number of terrorist NPAs were injured either by gunshot wound or by jumping into the ravine. The wounded soldier refused to be evacuated as he was just slightly brazen by a bullet in his right arm. They are still on pursuit operation as of this report.

"Last month, a former NPA surrendered and revealed an arms cache containing four high-powered rifles that include Armalite and AK-47. We dug and seized those firearms. The same surrenderee led the troops to the NPA’s lair that led to this encounter,” said LtCol Roy Derilo, commander of 58th Infantry Battalion.

403rd Brigade spokesman Captain Ryan Layug said, “former rebels who recently surrendered revealed the growing trend of people’s rejection of the NPA. The people’s open declaration to deny the entry of NPA into barangays, sitios, and purok forced them to take the hills for they worry about being attacked by the army if they stay near the villages. The 'persona non grata' declarations seem to have taken a significant toll on the rebels’ daily activities.”

Following the order of President Duterte to continue offensive operations, the 403rd Infantry Brigade has launched continuing focused military operations against the armed terrorists of North Central Mindanao Regional Committee since the beginning of October 2019.

BGen. Edgardo De Leon, 403rd Brigade Commander said “Patapos na ang panawagan namin sa mga rebeldeng NPA na magbalik loob sa pamahalaan. Marami na po ang nagtiwala at nabigyan ng tulong ng gobyerno. Pero ayon sa mga naunang bumaba, patuloy pa rin daw ang pagpipigil sa kanila ng kanilang mga pinuno. Kaya wala na po kaming magagawa kundi ilunsad na ang tuloy tuloy na opensiba para matapos na ang panggugulo ng CPP-NPA. Katulad ng sinabi ko noong mag-umpisa ang aming kampanya, may hangganan ang Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program or E-CLIP, magpapatuloy ang aming opensiba para sa mga ayaw talaga ng mapayapang pagbabago.” (403rd Inf Brigade, PA)

Cagayan towns declare rebels as 'persona non-grata'

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 12, 2019): Cagayan towns declare rebels as 'persona non-grata' (By Oliver T. Baccay)

PCol. Ariel Quilang addresses his chiefs-of-police in a command conference at the Cagayan Police Provincial Office. (by PIA)

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan, Dec. 12 (PIA) - - In an effort to curb insurgency in the province, all local government units (LGUs) in the whole province have already passed resolutions declaring the CPP-NPA-NDF as 'persona non grata'.

Police Colonel Ariel N. Quilang, provincial director of the Cagayan Police Provincial Office, said all of the 28 municipalities, this city and the provincial government have already inked their desire to put an end the armed conflicts perpetrated by the rebels in the mountains of the province.

“These are manifestations that our local officials are one with us in achieving peace and security in our province. The rebels are unwanted in any part of our land,” Quilang said.

He also urged barangay officials to also craft and pass their respective resolutions declaring the New People’s Army as unwanted citizens in their barangays to allow progress and development in every community.

Recently, there were 17 Militia ng Bayan who surrendered after realizing that they should be on the side of the government to pursue peace and order in the province.

“They are now being assessed for the Enhanced Comprehensive Livelihood Program of the government. We are endorsing them to the appropriate agencies that will give assistance for them to improve their living status,” Quilang said.

The Cagayan’s cops chief also urged rebels and their supporters to surrender and avail of the government programs to improve their living status, and live with peace and harmony.

To further extend assistance to the conflict areas, the police and other organizations, including the local media, initiated the 'Akyat-Aklatan' project, an outreach activity giving books and other assistance to students especially IP schoolchildren in the towns of Rizal and Santo Niño – an identified NPA infested areas. (MDCT/OTB/PIA 2-Cagayan)

Army lauds CHR's probe on NPA's use of child warriors

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 12, 2019): Army lauds CHR's probe on NPA's use of child warriorsArmy lauds CHR's probe on NPA's use of child warriors (By 402nd Brigade, CMO)

BUTUAN CITY, Dec. 12 -- The 402nd Infantry (Stingers) Brigade, Philippine Army in Caraga lauded the bold step of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in probing the continuing use of child warriors by the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People's Army Terrorist (CNT).

In an online article published on Sunday, December 8, 2019, the CHR denounced the CNT’s supposed use of a 16-year-old boy as a soldier, saying the use of minors in combat is a war crime. Likewise, CHR Spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said, “Under the International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, even non-state armed groups must respect the prohibition to recruit and use children in armed conflict and hostilities.”

Brig. Gen. Maurito Licudine, 402nd Brigade Commander, said they welcome the latest pronouncement of CHR condemning the CNT’s use of child warriors and its action to investigate the recruitment of children. "They can interview all the former rebels and know their story. We are very confident that the truth will come out and the CHR can now listen first-hand about the deceptive tactics and the ploys of the CNTs in luring to fight the government," he said.

It can be recalled that a 16-year-old minor, Litboy Binongcasan, was killed during an encounter between the troops of 23rd Infantry Battalion under the 402nd Brigade and CNTs belonging to Sentro de Gravidad (SDG) Caocao, Guerilla Front 4A of the North Central Mindanao Regional Committee (NCMRC) under alias Weds/Patrick on November 30, 2019 at Sitio Salvacion, Barangay Manila de Bugabos, Butuan City.

The unfortunate demise of the said minor was denounced by the different sectors of the society. The social media netizens also condemned the use of children as child warriors and pushed them as a combatant at their young age to be involved in an armed conflict.

BGen. Licudine said, for this year alone, they have recorded a total of 10 minor CNT members (one killed, nine surrendered). "It showed the CNTs continue to violate the rights of the children guaranteed under the International Humanitarian Law and the fundamental laws of our land," he said.

"Without the indoctrination and agitation of the CTGs, these children could be in school or with their families enjoying the Christmas season and not carrying firearms and experiencing a violent life,” added BGen. Licudine. (Maj. Francisco P. Garello, Jr., CMO Officer, 402IB PA/PIA Caraga)

DND lauds Senate commitment to pass tougher anti-terror law

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 12, 2019): DND lauds Senate commitment to pass tougher anti-terror law (By Priam Nepomuceno)

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. (File photo)

MANILA -- The Department of National Defense (DND) on Thursday welcomed the Senate's commitment to pass a stiffer anti-terrorism law.

"I am grateful to the Senate for heeding our call. We at the DND are happy with the reassuring pronouncement of Senate President Vicente Sotto III that they will pass the bill into a law expanding the definition of terrorism among other amendments," Defense Secretary Lorenzana said in a statement.

Lorenzana also lauded the prolonged detention period for suspected terrorists under the proposed measure.

"While we are batting for a 30-day period of detention for suspected terrorists to allow the government to build its case, the period of 14 days in the Senate’s proposed amendment is far better than the maximum three days under the present Human Security Act," he added.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) also lauded the Senate over the matter.

"We thank the Senate for taking concrete steps towards amending the Human Security Act to better capacitate and empower government security forces to combat terrorism," said AFP spokesperson, Marine Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, in a message to reporters.

Arevalo said it is the people who will greatly benefit from the law's passage.

"The Filipino people stand to benefit from the passage of this new law that shall address the myriad, complex, and global threat of terrorism— not only in Mindanao where Martial Law terminates on 31 December 2019– but the rest of the country," he said.

Arevalo added that the AFP will continue to pursue its advocacy towards the amendment of the Human Security Act into an Anti-Terrorism Law that will not be too restrictive to security forces but has more teeth to curb terrorism.

On Tuesday, Senate President Vicente Sotto III assured the passage of a tougher law amending the Human Security Act of 2007.

At present, Senate Bill No. 1083, sponsored by Senate defense committee chair and former Philippine National Police chief Panfilo Lacson, is in the plenary at the period of interpellation.

Army vows to fight terror groups in C. Mindanao sans ML

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 12, 2019): Army vows to fight terror groups in C. Mindanao sans ML (By Edwin Fernandez)

SUSTAINED FIGHT. Major General Diosdado Carreon, the Army’s 6th Infantry Division commander and concurrent head of the Joint Task Force Central, says they will continue the heightened fight against terror groups operating in Central Mindanao even of the martial in the island is lifted after on Dec. 31, 2019. (Photo courtesy of 6ID)

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao – The chief of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division (ID) vowed to continue to impose stricter security measures to prevent lawless elements from sowing terror even without martial law.

“Our campaign against terrorists, against people in possession of loose firearms and criminals, will continue with or without martial law,” Maj. Gen. Diosdado Carreon told reporters here in an interview on Tuesday.

Carreon, who also heads the Joint Task Force Central (JTFC), made the assurance after President Rodrigo Duterte signified he will no longer seek the extension of martial law in Mindanao after it expires on December 31.

The 6ID 6ID commander said their units will maintain its alert status and strengthen strategies to prevent terrorists from inflicting harm to civilian communities.

The JTFC’s area of operation includes Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, parts of North Cotabato, parts of Lanao del Sur and the cities of Cotabato and Tacurong.

Carreon said the JTFC will not waver in its efforts to eradicate and put a stop to terror groups such as the Islamic State-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and Dawlah Islamiyah.

Military visibility will continue in crime-prone areas and zones where the IS groups are operating in the region, he said.

Meanwhile, Cotabato City Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi said that if she had her way, martial law should be retained as it has "helped improve the city’s peace and order situation."

“We, the city officials, want martial law to be retained but will respect the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte,” Guiani-Sayadi added.

The mayor said curfew hours being implemented in the city through a local ordinance has produced good results for the city. The city has been implementing curfew from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Maguindanao local execs surrender loose guns

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 12, 2019): Maguindanao local execs surrender loose guns (By Edwin Fernandez)

FIREARMS TURNOVER. Military and local officials in Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao inspect the firearms to be turned over to government forces during the town's peace and order council meeting on Wednesday (Dec. 11, 2019). The town officials, led by Mayor Edris Sindatok, committed to support the government’s disarmament campaign even after the reported lifting of martial law in Mindanao by yearend. (Photo courtesy of 6ID)

DATU SAUDI AMPATUAN, Maguindanao -- With or without martial law, local officials of this town vowed to support the government’s disarmament campaign by turning over high-powered firearms.

Datu Saudi Ampatuan Mayor Edris Sindatok led other local officials in turning over high-powered firearms collected by village officials from unauthorized gun holders.

“This is our commitment because we believe we are the beneficiary of whatever good results this disarmament campaign will bring,” Sindatok told military officials in the vernacular during a ceremony held after the Municipal Peace and Order Council (MPOC) meeting here on Wednesday afternoon.

Lt. Col. Edwin Alburo of the 57th Infantry Battalion and Capt. Dominador Tagorda of the 14th Mechanized Company of the 1st Mechanized Battalion received the firearms, which included a .50-caliber machinegun.

Maj. Gen. Diosdado Carreon, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division (6ID) and Joint Task Force Central (JFTC), lauded the support provided by the village officials in collecting the unlicensed firearms.

Head of the Western Mindanao Command, Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, welcomed the commitment of Sindatok and other local officials in supporting the disarmament campaign.

The drive against loose firearms in Maguindanao began when Sobejana was still the 6ID and JTFC chief in 2017. At least 4,000 assorted firearms were collected by various units of JTFC since the campaign started in January 2017.

Some of the guns were voluntarily surrendered through the help of local government officials and those seized during military operations in Maguindanao, North Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat.

Only recently, Malacañang announced that President Rodrigo Duterte may no longer recommend the extension of martial law in Mindanao, which ends on December 31.

Eastmincom chief lauds locals for reporting NPA presence

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 12, 2019): Eastmincom chief lauds locals for reporting NPA presence

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY -- The chief of the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) on Thursday lauded community members for reporting the presence of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in their areas.

In a statement, Lt. General Felimon Santos Jr. said the civilian tipoffs have preempted rebel attacks and have contributed to many successful operations by the military against the rebels.

"The confidence of the members of the communities to report the presence of the CTGs (Communist Terrorist Group) in their locality was further boosted with the whole community declaring them as persona non grata. We are appreciative of these gestures and ask them to continue to implement it in deeds and spirit," Santos said.

He further directed his units to continuously intensify their security operations to allow the communities to celebrate the holiday season peacefully.

"Let our continuous sacrifice and our relentless operations to deny the terrorists the opportunity to carry out coercion and intimidation to our communities be our gift so that they can peacefully celebrate the holiday season and live peacefully in the next years to come," the Eastmincom commander said.

Eastmincom cited several military operations that became successful because of civilian cooperation.

One was on December 10, in which Eastmincom said local residents bared the hideouts of CPP-NPA rebels in the upland area of Lagonglong town, Misamis Oriental.

The ensuing military operation resulted in the death of an NPA member after a 30-minute encounter.

The Army's 403rd Infantry Brigade said its troops encountered around 15 rebels who fled, leaving a cache of firearms and ammunition as well as other pieces of evidence.