Thursday, January 2, 2020

Philippines: Mindanao Displacement Dashboard, November 2019 - Issue No. 64

Posted to the Relief Web (Dec 17, 2019): Philippines: Mindanao Displacement Dashboard, November 2019 - Issue No. 64

REPORTfrom UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Protection Cluster
Published on 17 Dec 2019 —View Original

Download PDF (3.22 MB)

As of the 30th of November, a total number of 79,601 families (387,772 individuals) are currently displaced in Mindanao. Those displaced can be classified into three main groups, depending on the length of displacement:

Group A: 6,671 families (32,964 individuals) remain displaced out of 6,696 families displaced within the month;

Group B: 43,355 families (207,929 individuals) remain displaced, and have been protractedly displaced for more than 30 days but less than 180 days; and

Group C: 29,601 families (146,879 individuals) remain displaced and have been protractedly displaced for more than 180 days. Those classified under

Group C are concentrated in five main areas:

Zamboanga City: 524 families (2,620 individuals) still displaced due to Zamboanga siege in September 2013.

Lanao del Sur & Lanao del Norte: 26,257 families (131,285 individuals) still displaced due to Marawi siege in May 2017.

Northern Mindanao: 788 families (3,892 individuals) still displaced due to - Severe Tropical Storm Vinta (Temblin) in December 2017.

Eastern Mindanao: 535 families (2,259 individuals) still displaced due to armed conflict between Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and New People’s Army (NPA) since February 2018.

Central Mindanao and BARMM Provinces: 1,497 families (6,823 individuals) still displaced due to crime and violence since January 2019.

In November 2019, a total number of 6,696 families (33,089 individuals) were displaced in Mindanao due to armed conflict (31,635 individuals), clan feuds (500 individuals) and natural disaster (954 individuals).

Ceasefire violation story is fake news — Army

From the Manila Bulletin (Jan 2, 2020): Ceasefire violation story is fake news — Army (By Mike Crismundo)

CAMP BANCASI, Butuan City – The Communist Party of the Philippines and its military arm the New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in Northeastern Mindanao or Caraga region fabricated stories to play a blame game on the Army’s supposedly violations of the ceasefire last Dec. 23, 2019.

Maj. Gen. Franco Nemesio M. Gacal (PIA / MANILA BULLETIN)

The allegations was made by Nicolas Marino of the North Central Mindanao Regional Committee (NCMRC) that the field unit under the Army’s 4th Infantry (Diamond) Division staged attacks against NPA rebels near the village of San Vicente in Esperanza town, Agusan del Sur province.

The unit in the area belongs to the Army’s 26th Infantry Battalion of the 401st Infantry (Unity) Brigade.

In a statement on Thursday, the command group of the 4th ID said there was no attack that transpired and no soldier of that battalion (26th IB) was involved in the alleged attack as the troops are intact and all accounted at their headquarters in Agusan.

“The allegation made by the NPA was fabricated, purposely to mislead the community and the general public,” stressed 4th ID chief Maj. Gen. Nemesio Franco M. Gacal.

“Our local chief executives there had sent their respective statements denying the allegation of the CPP-NPA in the area,” he said.

“All military units under 4thID will strictly observe and abide the implementation of ceasefire but will remain steadfast on the possible actions of peace-spoilers who would inflict terror and atrocities to the peaceful communities in Caraga region,” Maj. Gen. Gacal said.

Meanwhile, Brig. Gen.Maurito L. Licudine, commander of the 402nd Brigade, said “Our soldiers are disciplined, responsible and professional soldiers. We support whatever the Commander-In-Chief declares as long as it is within the bounds of our constitutional mandate”.

Gamboa remains as PNP OIC with Año’s supervision

From UNTV & Rescue (Jan 2, 2020): Gamboa remains as PNP OIC with Año’s supervision
(By Maris Federez)

PNP officer-in-charge PLtGen. Archie Gamboa

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine National Police (PNP) officer-in-charge PLtGen. Archie Gamboa on Thursday (Jan.2) clarified that he will remain to temporarily lead the national police.

This, after President Rodrigo Roa Duterte directed Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año to supervise the police force until his term ends.

Gamboa explained that Año had always been at the helm of the PNP as chairman of the National Police Commission (Napolcom) which is responsible for its administration and control.

He said he will remain as the officer-in-charge of the PNP.

“Dati naman, mayroon talagang authority ang National Police Commission, through its chairman, to review all my actions given that I only have a limited capacity. It’s within their authority to review it na sabihing ‘mali itong ginawa mo,” Gamboa said.

Gamboa also said he was given additional authorities as OIC such as appointing police lieutenant colonels, being part of the Commission to defend the proposed resolutions by the PNP, and signing procurement contracts of the agency.

Meanwhile, Secretary Año admitted that the President was really disappointed over the controversy involving the PNP last year which was why he is yet to choose the next PNP chief.

“Talagang na-disappoint siya sa nangyari doon. Kasi, sabi nga ng Pangulo, he has given everything to the PNP including doubling the salary of the police officers, and yet, mayroon pa ring mga police na gumagawa nito,” Año said.

The secretary said, as part of his role in supervising the PNP, he will look into the strategies and disciplinary measures that the national police are adopting.

“Ang gusto niya, ang pulis, kapag nakikita ng publiko, nagko-command ng respect at trust, at feeling safe ang mga tao. Hindi ‘yung, pag nakita mo ‘yung pulis, iba ‘yung iisipin mo,” Año added. — (from the report of Harlene Delgado) /mbmf

Suspected Daulah Islamiyah militant arrested in QC (Photo)

From CNN Philippines (Jan 2, 2020): Suspected Daulah Islamiyah militant arrested in QC

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 2) — A suspected member of the ISIS-inspired Daulah Islamiyah was arrested on New Year’s Day for illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Philippine National Police officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa confirmed Thursday the arrest of Datu Omar Palty alias Allan Palte in an entrapment operation by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit in North Fairview, Quezon City.

Palty was arrested at about 1 a.m. on Wednesday for selling firearms, ammunition, and explosives, in violation of Republic Act (RA) 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Law, and RA 9516 or Illegal Possession of Explosives, officials said.

He was a member of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) under leader Esmael Abubakar, alias Commander Bungos, according to authorities.

They said Palty later swore allegiance to the Dawla Islamiyah under Abu Turaife.

Upon investigation, it was found that Palty has existing warrants of arrest for his participation in several atrocities in Mindanao.

“Nag-holiday lang siya sa Manila. Incidentally, minalas. Nahuli,” said Gamboa.

[Translation: He only went on a holiday in Manila. Incidentally, it was not his luck. He was arrested.]

EASTMINCOM: 12 Communist Terrorists yielded while on Ceasefire

Posted to the Eastern Mindanao Command (EASTMINCOM) Website (Dec 30, 2019): 12 Communist Terrorists yielded while on Ceasefire

NSFA, Panacan, Davao City - Localized Peace Initiatives in eastern Mindanao continuously take their gains after 12 Members of the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) and six Miltiang Bayan in Eastern Mindanao surrendered in different instances while ceasefire is in effect.

Fourteen hours after the ceasefire was effected on December 23, 2019 three CTG personalities being monitored in San Fernado, Bukidnon voluntarily surrendered to a local Negotiating Team composed of local officials, tribal leaders and representative from the business sector. They yielded in Matupi, San Fernado, Bukidnon and were turned over to 88IB for the conduct of custodial debriefing.

The Negotiating Team identified the surrenderees as: Alias SAM known to be a Team Leader of a vertical unit in Bukidnon; Alias EN-EN a Supply Officer and the wife of Alias SAM; Alias DANNY another Team Leader of a the same vertical unit.

On the other hand six Milisya ng Bayan (MB) members from Sitio Tambo, Brgy Binicalan San Luis, ADS voluntarily surrendered to 26th Infantry Battalion, San Luis PNP and Municipal Task Force-ELCAC San Luis late afternoon of December 23, 2019.

A CTG Medic in Panabo City identified as ANGEL surrendered in the morning of December 24, 2019 through the initiative of Congressman Allan Dujali and Governor Edwin Jubahib of Davao Norte.

In New Bataan, Davao De Oro, a member of an Organizing Committee in Davao City identified as alias BOBBY yielded to 66th Infantry Battalion in the morning of December 25, 2019 bringing along with him his 9mm pistol.

In the morning of December 26, 2019, three members of the CTG being monitored in Surigao Del Sur were surrendered by Local Officials in Bislig, Surigao Del Sur to 75th Infantry Battalion.

They were identified as: Alias EJ a Political Guide in the CTG; Alias AZAD and Alias Mylyn both elements of the CTG in the said area.

The three surrendered with them the following firearms: two AK47 rifle and one M16A1 rifle.

In a separate instance on December 26, 2019 Community leaders yielded another four CTG members being monitored in Sta Cruz, Davao Del Sur to the joint elements of the Davao Sur Police Office and 39th Infantry Battalion in Sitio Mainit, Brgy Sibulan, Sta Cruz, Davao Del Sur.

They were identified as Alias ABETH, a Medical Staff of the CTG previously being monitored in the said area; Aliases JHAZEN, RAMBO and GOCO all elements of the same group. They brought with them one M14 Rifle; one M1 Garand Rifle and one M16 Rifle; and Medical paraphernalias.

Meanwhile, Lt. General Felimon T. Santos Jr., Commander of Eastern Mindanao Command attributed the cascade of surrender to the effectiveness of the Local Peace Initiatives of the different Local Government Units.

"With this cascade of surrender we see the effectiveness of the local peace initiatives being pursued by the different LGUs. We hope that the academe, the religious sector and other members of the community will channel their initiatives and support these peace endeavors of the different LGUs so that we can all together work for a peaceful environment." Lt Gen. Santos Jr. said.

Source: Public Information Office, Eastern Mindanao Command

Veteran intelligence officer Felimon Santos Jr is new military chief

From Rappler (Jan 2, 2020): Veteran intelligence officer Felimon Santos Jr is new military chief (By JC Gotinga)

(UPDATED) Lieutenant General Felimon Santos Jr is currently the chief of the Eastern Mindanao Command based in Davao City

NEW MILITARY CHIEF. Lieutenant General Felimon Santos Jr, a veteran intelligence officer, will replace General Noel Clement as Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Photo courtesy of the Philippine Army

(UPDATED) – President Rodrigo Duterte has chosen the commander of the military in Davao, Lieutenant General Felimon Santos Jr, to become the new Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea confirmed the President's choice to Rappler on Thursday, January 2.

Santos, a veteran intelligence officer, is currently the commander of the AFP Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) headquartered in Panacan, Davao City. He will replace General Noel Clement, who will retire on Sunday, January 5, after serving just over 3 months as military chief.

Duterte will lead a change-of-command ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City on Saturday, January 4, to officially install Santos as military chief.

In a message to reporters, Santos thanked Duterte for his appointment and said the military under his command would “continue to support all the priority programs regarding peace and security.”

He would lead the AFP in ending the communist insurgency, neutralizing terror groups that have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS) terror network, and would support the police and anti-drug agencies in the campaign against illegal narcotics, Santos added.

As Eastmincom chief since January 2019, Santos is in charge of battling communist rebels in the Davao, Soccsksargen, and Caraga regions.

Before that, Santos was the commander of the Philippine Army’s 7th Infantry Division in Central Luzon based in Fort Ramon Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija from October 2017.

The Army once called Santos an “expert intelligence officer,” having been the AFP Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, J2, from November 2016 to October 2017.

A member of the Philippine Military Academy “Sinagtala” class of 1986, Santos is also a Scout Ranger and a Field Artillery officer. He has a Master’s degree in management.

Santos is a “seasoned combat officer,” according to the Army, and he was awarded numerous service award medals and commendations.

He began his career as an officer in the Army’s 39th Infantry Battalion in Mindanao.

He was also the assistant commander Army’s 6th Infantry Division in Maguindanao, commander of the Army’s 703rd Infantry Brigade in Central Luzon, and group commander of the Army’s Intelligence and Security Group, and the Civil-Military Operations Group.

Santos also once headed the AFP’s 11th Intelligence Service Unit based in Davao City.

Duterte built his reputation as a formidable politician when he became mayor of Davao City after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship in 1986. The city was then caught up in violence from communist rebels, whom he managed to drive out of the metropolis.

As President, Duterte appointed military and police officers with Davao City connections to top posts, with a few exceptions.

As military chief, Santos’ top orders will be to stamp out the communist insurgency, which Duterte wants done by the end of his term in 2022 – unless planned peace negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines lead to a ceasefire beyond the holidays. Besides this, the military must also fend off intruders in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), and terrorists based in parts of Mindanao who pose a threat to the entire country.

Santos will turn 56, the mandatory age of retirement for military officers, on August 3, 2020. – with a report from Pia Ranada/

Current Davao military commander appointed AFP chief

From the Mindanao Times (Jan 2, 2020): Current Davao military commander appointed AFP chief (By Rhoda Grace Saron)

Davao’s current top military officer will be the new head of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Lieutenant General Felimon Santos Jr., who is currently the head of the Panacan-based Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom), will assume the post to be vacated by Gen. Noel Clement
who retires on Sunday after serving as the military chief for less than four months.

President Rodrigo Duterte will preside the command turnover ceremony at the AFP General Headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City on Saturday.

Santos, a member of the Philippine Military Academy “Sinagtala” Class of 1986, is expected to serve the military until Aug. 3, 2020, when he turns 56 years old.

The incoming AFP chief assured to conduct relentless operations to destroy the communist insurgency, neutralizing terror groups that have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS) terror network, support the police and anti-drug agencies in the campaign against illegal narcotics.

In a text message to Mindanao Times, Santos said “in my stint as commander of Eastern Mindanao Command (the whole year of 2019), we have been relentless and focused on our mandate of securing the communities and in contributing to government’s overall objective of ending the local communist armed conflict that resulted in the improved general security landscape in our area of responsibility.”

As EastMinCom chief since January 2019, Santos is in charge of battling communist rebels in the Davao, Soccsksargen, and Caraga regions.

For the past year, he said EastMinCom operatives killed 56 rebels and arrested 85 others. A total of 740 regular NPA members and 5,207 members of the underground mass organization surrendered.

Santos said the military operations led to the destruction of rebels’ formation and “significantly” limited their atrocities.

“We owe this to the initiative and support of the different Local Government Units and their chief executives, national government agencies, non-government organizations, academe, business sector, religious sector, the communities, and other partners and stakeholders,” Santos said.

He is hoping that he can replicate the same feat during his term as AFP head.

“We hope that this relationship, teamwork, and cohesiveness we have developed will continue to work this year,” the army general said.

Santos said he will strictly be implementing programs under Executive Order 70, President Duterte’s order that seeks to institute a “whole of government” approach in addressing communist insurgency. He also supports the National Task Force on Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict to address the non-military dimension of insurgency.

“We will not allow them (armed groups) to destroy the peace gains we have achieved,” he further said.

Before assuming the EastMinCom top post, Santos was the commander of the Philippine Army’s 7th Infantry Division in Central Luzon based in Fort Ramon Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija from October 2017.

Santos, a native of San Rafael in Bulacan, began his career as an officer in the Army’s 39th Infantry Battalion in Mindanao.

The Army called Santos an “expert intelligence officer,” having been the AFP Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, J2, from November 2016 to October 2017.

According to the AFP, Santos is a “seasoned combat officer” and was awarded with numerous service award medals and commendations.

Notorious BIFF terrorist captured in Quezon City

Posted to the Mindanao Examiner Blog (Jan 2, 2020): Notorious BIFF terrorist captured in Quezon City

COTABATO CITY – Police forces captured a notorious Filipino terrorist - whose group was behind the spate of deadly attacks on military targets in the restive southern region of Mindanao – in an operation in Quezon City, about 13 kilometers from the main headquarters of the Philippine National Police. 

Police Chief Archie Francisco Gamboa said Datu Omar Palty Jr alias Allan Palte was captured in the village called Fairview on New Year’s Day and is currently being interrogated. He said Palty is a member of a faction of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters under Esmael Abubakar and allied with the terrorist group Dawlah Islamiyah under Esmael Adbulmalik.

Police Chief Lt. Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa (PNP)

Palty yielded a grenade and a pistol when nabbed by policemen, according to Gamboa, who said that the terrorist also serves as the point man of the BIFF in Metro Manila and coordinates with Dawlah Islamiya militants from Sulu and Basilan provinces.

He also arranged the June 2019 travel to Manila of a pair of militants Arnel Cabintoy and Feliciano Sulayo, both members of Dawlah Islamiyah, but were eventually arrested in Quezon City a day after their arrival from the province. Palty was tagged as behind an attack on a military camp in North Cotabato’s Midsayap town that killed 2 soldiers in 2009, and assaulted an army detachment in the town of Aleosan in 2014, Gamboa said.

Gamboa said Palty and his companion also murdered a couple and a security guard in San Simon town in Pampanga province in 2015.

It was unclear whether Palty and his group were planning terror attacks in the metropolis. Gamboa said they have tightened security in Metro Manila following Palty’s capture. (Mindanao Examiner)

Army, locals hold indignation rally vs NPAs

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jan 2, 2020): Army, locals hold indignation rally vs NPAs (By 3rd Special Forces Battalion, PA)

BAYUGAN CITY, Agusan del Sur, Jan. 2 - “NPA salot sa lipunan.”

This was the drumbeat of citizens from all walks of life during the recently held indignation rally against the New People’s Army (NPA) terrorists in Bayugan City and Lianga Peoples’ Park in Lianga, Surigao del Sur, simultaneously.

The local government unit (LGU) representatives, Indigenous Peoples (IPs), youth organizations with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the 3rd Special Forces “Arrowhead” Battalion (3SFBn) attended the anti-NPA campaign.

Lianga Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative (IPMR) Hawudon Jumar Bucales said the Communist NPA Terrorists (CNTs) are the ones who destroyed their IP culture by disrespecting the IP’s tribal governance system.

“Gusto nilang ipalit na mga lider sa IP ay yung mga kaya nilang kontrolin at gamitin ang tribo para iabante ang political at armadong pakikibaka ng CPP-NPA (They wanted to post leaders for the IPs those that they could easily control and use the IP tribes to pursue the political and armed struggle of the CPP-NPA),” Bucales said.

He also called on the militant groups to stop using the tribe as props to gain sympathy from foreign funding institutions.

“Pauwiin niyo na ang mga katribo naming nasa Maynila, nandyan sa UP Diliman, ginagawa niyo silang kasangkapan para kumuha lang ng simpatya at siraan ang gobyerno at military na tumutugis sa mga teroristang NPA (Release our co-IPs who are now in Manila, particularly in UP Diliman, you are just using them as your instrument to get sympathy from the public and force them to revolt against the government, and prevent the Army from pursuing the terrorist NPA),” Bucales added.

This year, Agusan, Surigao del Sur municipalities and various provinces in Mindanao have declared the CNTs as persona non-grata making them more irrelevant and their cause useless.

Lt. Col. Joey Baybayan, commander of 3SFBn, called on the remaining terrorists to surrender and lay down their arms as the whole nation stands against them.

“With the Task Forces to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, many people became enlightened with their deceitful tactics making them more cautious and concerned because anyone could be a target and a victim of NPA recruitment, extortion and many other atrocities committed by the CNTs,” LTC Baybayan said.

“Filipinos are peace-loving and if you really fight for the people, hear their cry against you. The people want you out. They want you to stop your crimes and atrocities. The people don’t need you (NPAs) because you are a hindrance to attaining lasting peace in the country,” he added.

Meanwhile, Hands off of Our Children, League of the Parents of Philippines, Citizen Crime Watch at Manila NGO Alliance, Bantay Bayan and other concerned citizens rose up against the CNTs, Communist Party of the Philippines and National Democratic Front, who have caused divisiveness, terror and unrest especially in the conflict-affected areas around the country through mass rallies in Metro Manila. (1Lt. Krisjuper Andreo Punsalan, CMO officer, 3SFBn/ PIA-Agusan del Sur)

Abandoned NPA cadaver, brought home by Army

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jan 2, 2020): Abandoned NPA cadaver, brought home by Army (By 23IB Philippine Army)

BUENAVISTA, Agusan del Norte, Jan. 2 -- "Justice for my son." This was an outcry of a mother whose son was abandoned by his comrades in the mountains of Sierra Madre when he got sick and was unable to carry firearms and cannot anymore fight the government forces. This was what Erlinda Cabachete of Nasipit, Agusan del Norte was begging when she saw and received her son, Bertoldo Cabachete.

He was brought home by the government troops from the hills of Sierra Madre in Luzon to their house in Nasipit, Agusan del Norte. It can be recalled that last November 30, 2019 the cadaver of late Bertoldo Cabatchete alias “LJ”, male, 29 years old, and a regular member of NPA’s Komiteng Larangang Gerilya Sierra Madre, Central Luzon Regional Committee (CLRC) operating in the mountain ranges of Sierra Madre was found at the vicinity of Mt. Olong Amot, Barangay General Luna, Carranglan, Nueva Ecija by the elements 84th Infantry (Victorious) Battalion, 7th Infantry (Kaugnay) Division after receiving an information from a former rebel that one of his comrades was left alone by his fellow NPA members.

Alias LJ died due to severe illness and was just abandoned and buried by the CPP-NPA Terrorists at the hinter area of Barangay General Luna, Carranglan, Nueva Ecija. His family was not informed of his situation. He was not even given medication nor brought to a hospital.

The remains of alias LJ was then exhumed by the soldiers after a former rebel gave the information and location of where his dead body was buried. It was then brought to Villamor Airbase, Pasay City and through a C130, he was flown to Languindingan Airport, Cagayan de Oro City on December 29, 2019 where his mother, Erlinda, was waiting.

With great sorrow, Mrs. Erlinda Cabatchete, mother of alias LJ poured out her grievance against the CPP-NPA Terrorists (CNTs) who recruited her son. “We are very saddened by the death of our son. He left our home way back 2016 and said that he will apply for a job in Manila. But then he didn’t communicate with us anymore. We don’t have any idea that he was recruited by the CNTs and what happened to him now really broke me into pieces. It's hard for me to know that I can no longer see my son alive anymore. The heartless NPAs recruited my son, but they never help him when he was sick. They should have brought him to the doctor because we usually admit him to the doctor when his illness attacks. If only the NPAs did not recruit my son, he is still alive up to now because I can take care of him,” said Mrs. Cabatchete.

Moreover, Mayor Enrico Corvera of Nasipit, Agusan del Norte said that "this is another incident that shows the CPP-NPA Terrorists don't care and value life. That is why, we initiate programs to insulate the youth from being recruited by the CPP-NPA.”

Likewise, Lieutenant Colonel Francisco L. Molina Jr, Commander Officer, 23IB covering the area of Nasipit expressed his condolences to the bereaved family of LJ. "Kung hindi sana siya niloko at nilinlang Ng CPP-NPA, marahil ay buhay pa siya ngayon. Everyone must be vigilant from the deceit of the CPP-NPA," he said.

"They take advantage on the weaknesses of the poor people in staging their nonsense business," Molina added. (1Lt. Roel T. Maglalang, CMO Officer, 23IB, Philippine Army/PIA Agusan del Norte)

PRO 12 chief says CPP-NPA-NDF strength weakens

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jan 2, 2020): PRO 12 chief says CPP-NPA-NDF strength weakens (By Nirvana Alpha Vita G. Fruylan)

Featured Image

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, January 2 (PIA)—Police Regional Office (PRO) 12 Director PBGen. Alfred Corpus said the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) is weakening its strength in the region and communist insurgency is nearing its end.

“Malapit nang matapos ‘to, because they are feeling the pressures of the operations of the Armed Forces [of the Philippines] and the Philippine National Police (PNP) at nakikita rin nila yung ginagawang good governance ng ating mga Local Government Units (LGUs) all over the region.”

Although Corpus admitted that there are stil areas where the rebel groups are operating, but he expressed belief that their limited movement in the region weakend their strength.

“Well, there are some areas in North Cotabato na talagang meron pa silang mga activities , but like what I’ve told you a while ago, talagang bawas na bawas na ang kanilang pagkikilos sa buong region 12. At I believe, as evidenced by the number of surrenderees, kasama yung baril, na sinusurrender nila, it will come to end.”

On Thursday, December 26, government authorities led by Joint Task Force (JTF) Gensan, General Santos City Police Office (GSCPO), PRO 12, and LGU-Gensan joined an indignation rally in front of Plaza Heneral Santos to denounce the atrocities committed by the CPP-NPA-NDF.

Task Force Gensan commander Col. Eduardo Gubat noted that because of the strong propaganda staged by the communist terrorist groups (CTG), against the government, many people are enticed to join and support the group.

However, he said, that the best antidote to propaganda is to invite them, have a dilaogue with them, and address their issues in the right forum as “they cannot substantiate with the right data.”

Moreover, Corpus lauded President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order (EO) 70 which seeks to institutionalize a “whole-of-nation approach in attaining inclusive and sustainable peace, and the creation of the national task force to end local communist armed conflict,” as he expressed optimism on the government’s peace initiatives with the CPP-NPA-NDF.

“We all have to be optimistic of this peace talk, with the peace initiative with the CPP-NPA-NDF. This problem has been plaguing us for almost 51 years already, and I think they should already see.... they’re not moving forward, they’re not gaining grounds. And, like what they saw, what you saw, this morning, the community, the people, has spoken; they don’t want CPP-NPA-NDF terroristic activities in their midst,” he added

Meanwhile, Lawyer Edmar Yumang, chair of the committee on public order and safety of the City Council disclosed that although Gensan has declared the CPP-NPA-NDF as “persona non grata,” the city government is ready to provide the necessary assistance, and help them reintegrate in the society in the event they would surrender to the field of law as he considered them as “victims also of the propaganda of those leaders in core.”

“The government is ready to embrace them. The government is ready to help them start anew,” Corpus emphasized. (PGFruylan/PIA-Gensan with reports from Harlem Jude Ferolino)

Kumander Bravo abandons conflict; calls for unity, lasting peace

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 2, 2020): Kumander Bravo abandons conflict; calls for unity, lasting peace

Abdullah Goldiano Makapaar alias Kumander Bravo (Kauswagan LGU photo)

ILIGAN CITY –- A former leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) who led attacks in Lanao del Norte’s Kauswagan town, said he no longer wants conflict and encouraged everyone to work together to bring lasting peace to Mindanao.

"Sumali po ako sa BARMM (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) kasi ayaw ko na po ng away. Wala namang naghahangad talaga ng away, Muslim man o Christian. Kailangan na pong magkaisa ng mga Muslim (I joined BARMM for I do not want conflict anymore. Nobody really wants conflict, Muslims or Christians. As Muslims, we now need to be united),”
said Abdullah Goldiano Makapaar alias Kumander Bravo, during the 23rd Qur'an Reading Competition in Brgy. Delabayan, Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte on Dec. 28.

Macapaar, who was a Brigadier Commander of the MILF and now a member of BARMM Parliament,
said the BARMM government seeks to help communities outside BARMM to promote lasting peace.

"Ang sabi po ng Chief Minister, ang BARMM government, hindi lang po para sa BARMM. Tutulungan din po ang outside ng BARMM para po sa kapayapaan ng Muslim at Kristiyano dito sa Mindanao, lalo na po dito sa Lanao del Norte (The Chief Minister said the BARMM government is not only for BARMM. It will also help communities outside BARMM to ensure peace between Muslims and Christians in Mindanao, especially here in Lanao del Norte),” he added.

Better Muslims-Christians relationship

He acknowledged the efforts of Kauswagan Mayor Rommel Arnado in restoring peace saying the lives of Muslims have improved and that there is now a better relationship between Christians and Muslims in Lanao del Norte.

"Masaya naman ang mga Muslims dito sa Lanao del Norte. Ngayon lang po kami nakaranas ng magandang pamumuhay dahil bumalik si Mayor Arnado. Nawala na po ang gulo. Nagkakaisa na ang mga Muslims at Christians. Iyon din po ang hinahanap namin, na mawala na ang gulo para maibalik na natin ang kapayapaan (The Muslims in Lanao del Norte are happy. We are now experiencing a better life because Mayor Arnado has come back to help us. The conflict has gone away. Muslims and Christians are now united. That is also what we are aiming for, for the conflict to go away so we could restore peace), he added.

He also urged other local government units (LGU) to contribute to the restoration of peace.

"Sana ang gobyerno at mga LGU, tumulong din sa mga Muslim at Christian dito sa community natin sa Lanao del Norte, sa pamamagitan ng pagtatayo at pag-aayos ng aming mga madrasah, mosque, at pagpapabuti ng edukasyon. Iangat natin ang edukasyon, palakihin natin ang sweldo ng mga Alim at Ustad. Gastusan ng gobyerno iyong mga batang hindi makapag-aral at iyong mga nag-aaral ng Arabic (I hope the government and LGU will also help the Muslims and Christians here in Lanao del Norte by building and improving madrasahs, our mosques, and education. Let's improve the quality of education and increase the salaries of scholars and teachers. I hope the government will also fund scholarships for children who can't afford school and those who are studying Arabic),” he said.

Education, he said, is important in ensuring a bright future for Muslim children.

"Maraming mga batang lumalaking magnanakaw at kriminal dahil hindi nakapag-aral. Kaya sana mapabuti pa ang edukasyon para sa kanilang kinabukasan (Many children grow up to become thieves and criminals due to the lack of education. That is why I hope we can improve education for the sake of their future),” he said.

Macapaar is one of the two MILF commanders who led the attacks in Kauswagan town in 2008 due to frustration over the Supreme Court halting of a peace deal with them. Earlier this year, he was one of the 41 MILF nominees to the Bangsamoro interim government, representing Lanao del Norte.

Along with Mayor Arnado, Macapaar was guest in the 23rd Qur'an Reading Competition in Kauswagan, where they both shared their desire for lasting peace in Mindanao.

Militiaman killed in Basilan ambush

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 2, 2020): Militiaman killed in Basilan ambush (By Teofilo Garcia, Jr)

Google map of Tuburan town, Basilan province.

A militiaman was killed while four others survived unscathed in an ambush by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits on New Year’s Day in the province of Basilan, the military reported Thursday.

Maj. Arvin John Encinas, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) information officer, said
the ambush took place around 9:57 a.m. Wednesday in Sitio Pos Agi, Barangay Dugaa, Tuburan, Basilan.
Encinas identified the slain militiaman as Jemar Jalil, who was hit in the head and thigh and rushed to Lamitan District Hospital.

Jalil died at Camp Navarro General Hospital of Westmincom, where he was transferred for further medication.

Encinas said Jalil and his four companions were aboard on two motorcycles traveling from the patrol base in Dugaa to Barangay Tablas Usew, Tuburan, when around seven ASG bandits ambushed them.

He said a firefight ensued as the militiamen managed to seek cover and return fire. The ASG bandits fled upon sensing the arrival of militiamen from Dugaa patrol base.

The ASG bandits involved in the ambush are followers of Indanan Abdullah, the leader of ASG-Tuburan cell, he said.

Government troops have intensified its combat patrol in Tuburan area to locate Abdullah’s group.

Army wins back Agusan community from NPA through basketball

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 2, 2020): Army wins back Agusan community from NPA through basketball (By Alexander Lopez)

WINNING THE COMMUNITY. For Army's 23rd Infantry Battalion troopers, winning a basketball game is not only through numbers but also by earning the trust and confidence of community members. The Army battalion, led by Lt. Col. Francisco L. Molin, Jr. conducted a basketball game and the turnover of a basketball court in Sitio Sampinit, Barangay Malapong in Buenavista, Agusan del Norte Tuesday (Dec. 31, 2019). (Photo courtesy 23IB)

The Philippine Army said it has scored a significant victory over the communist New People's Army (NPA) by winning back residents of a remote community in the town of Buenavista in Agusan del Norte through a basketball game.

On the eve of the New Year’s Day, troopers from 23rd Infantry Battalion (23IB) of the Army “stormed” Sitio Sampinit, Barangay Malapong in Buenavista town not to engage the rebels in a clash but to play basketball with the residents in the area, an Army official old Philippine News Agency on Thursday.

“Sitio Sampinit is an influenced area by the NPA. It was once an encampment site of the rebels and an encounter between our troops took place in the area sometime in July last year,” said Lt. Col. Francisco L. Molina, 23IB commander.

Molina said Sitio Sampinit was adopted by the 23IB and a “Pamaskong Handog” was conducted in the area last December 26 together with the local government unit (LGU) of Buenavista and the barangay council members of Malapong.

During the December activity, dubbed as “Panaghiusa Alang sa Kalinaw ug Kalambuan” (Unity for Peace and Development), the Army and the LGU provided the residents with gifts to include food and slippers for the children.

“What caught our attention was the basketball court that was already dilapidated. I also saw the danger of that basketball court that might harm the children while playing,” Molina said.

Due to the lack of resources from the barangay to repair the basketball court, he said that the 23IB decided to repair it by providing new boards and rings.

“When the materials were already purchased we repaired the basketball court through bayanihan,” Molina said.

The basketball game last December 31 ended with a boodle fight with the residents and the formal turnover of the basketball court to the leaders of the sitio.

“The handing over of the basketball court was symbolized by the formal turnover of the ball that we used during the game,” he added.

Molina said the sports activity on the New Year’s Eve symbolized teamwork and a good relationship between the Army and the residents of Sitio Sampinit.

“Despite the odds, the soldiers and the people in the area are still friends. The friendship was seen the way they interacted with us. Without fear or hesitations, the soldiers and the residents intermingled through the basketball game, cheering and during the lunch that we shared,” Molina added.

He said it was the 23IB troopers that offered friendship to the residents of Sampinit after that armed encounter in July this year.

“We can win back Filipinos who are indoctrinated by the NPA. We offered them friendship and they accepted it. We offered them a basketball game and they agreed and joined,” he said.

Molina also emphasized that there are many forms of engagements in winning back residents who were "once deceived" by the NPA.

He added that the Army will also recommend to the LGU and other government agencies to prioritize programs and services to the residents of Sitio Sampinit.

The presence of the NPA in the area has stalled the development initiatives of the government for a long time, he said.

Molina also noted that the "whole-of-nation" approach initiated by President Rodrigo R. Duterte is already gaining ground in far-flung areas of Agusan del Norte, including Sitio Sampinit.

“We will work hard to facilitate government interventions in Sitio Sampinit so that the people will experience and feel the real presence of the government through the much-needed programs and services of the government agencies and the LGU,” Molina said.

Next AFP chief vows to crush 'armed threats'

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 2, 2020): Next AFP chief vows to crush 'armed threats' (By Rhoda Grace Saron and Che Palicte)

Lt. Gen. Felimon Santos Jr., commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command and the next chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. (PNA file photo)

The next Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff vowed Thursday to "destroy armed threats" while incorporating "non-military" solutions to the country's insurgency problem.

Lt. Gen. Felimon Santos Jr., who serves as Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) chief,
issued the statement hours after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana confirmed the former’s appointment to succeed AFP chief-of-staff, Gen. Noel S. Clement, who is set to step down on Saturday.

"As I assume for higher responsibility, I will be working and support the initiatives and programs under EO 70 and the established National Task Force on Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict to address the non-military dimension of insurgency,"
Santos said in a media interview here.

Col. Ezra Balagtey, Eastmincom spokesperson, described Santos as adept in wide range peace and security programs not only in Mindanao but also in the whole country, having been assigned with AFP’s strategic offices dealing with intelligence, and civil-military operations.

Balagtey said Santos led the 11th Intelligence Service Unit and became the group commander of Intelligence Service Group of the Philippine Army.

"After his graduation in the Philippine Military Academy in 1986 he spent his junior years with the 39th Infantry Battalion, a unit deployed to various provinces in Mindanao," Balagtey told Philippine News Agency.

He said Santos also was a former chief of operations of the Central Command in Visayas, commander of the Army's 703rd Infantry Brigade in Central Luzon, battalion commander of the Army's 63rd Infantry Battalion in Samar Province, and assistant division commander of 6th Infantry Division based in Awang, Maguindanao.

"He also led the 7th Infantry Division, Philippine Army based in Fort Ramon Magsaysay, Laur, Palayan, Nueva Ecija prior to is assumption as Commander of Eastmincom. Aside from experience, Lt. Gen. Santos is also equipped with knowledge and skills gained from his schooling both local and abroad,” Balagtey said.

During Santos’ stint in Eastmincom, Balagtey said the command recorded a total of 740 regular New People’s Army (NPA) members who have surrendered, 85 were arrested, and 56 rebels were killed in encounters.

Balagtey added that a total of 5,207 members of the NPA's Underground Mass Organization (UGMO) severed their ties with the communist terrorist group during Santos' watch.

"In my stint as the commander of Eastmincom, we have been relentless and focused on our mandate of securing the communities and in contributing to government's overall objective of ending the local communist armed conflict which resulted in the improved general security landscape in our area of responsibility," Santos said.

"We owe this to the initiatives and support of the different Local Government Units and their Chief Executives, National and Local Government Agencies, Non-Government Organizations, Academe, Business Sector, Religious Sector, the communities, and other partners and stakeholders," he added.

Palace to Joma Sison: Grab opportunity to talk with Duterte

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 2, 2020): Palace to Joma Sison: Grab opportunity to talk with Duterte (By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos)

President Rodrigo Duterte (Presidential Photo)

Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison should grab the chance to hold a one-on-one meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte, Malacañang said on Thursday.

Sison should be "elated" that the President is still acknowledging him as the leader of the communist movement, despite the fact that the CPP leader has been in self-exile in the Netherlands since 1987, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.

"Joma Sison should be elated by that development because we've been saying na (that) he's no longer in control of the ground forces kasi (because) you talk about peace pagkatapos binabanatan niyo yung mga force ng gobyerno (and yet, you're attacking the government forces),"
Panelo said in an interview with ANC.

"Yet the President wants him. Ibig sabihin (Meaning), the President recognizes him as the leader of the forces. Eh dati nga hindi siya kinikilala (before, he's not been recognized as the leader of the communist party). So he should take that opportunity. Take that opportunity," he added.

On Monday, Duterte reiterated his desire to talk with Sison sans the presence of peace panel from both the national government and the CPP's political wing, the National Democratic Front (NDF).

Duterte's latest stance came even after the CPP's armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA), violated the holiday truce with the government following its series of attacks against the government troops.

The holiday ceasefire, which took effect on Dec. 23, 2019, will end at 11:59 p.m. on Jan. 7, 2020.

NPA rebels reportedly attacked soldiers and policemen in Labo, Camarines Norte; Tubungan, Iloilo; and Quezon province on the first day of the implementation of the temporary ceasefire.

The communist-initiated attacks also came despite the plan to revive the peace talks.

Before the proposed resumption of peace negotiations, Sison should heed the President's call for a one-on-one meeting, Panelo said.

Panelo reassured Sison, who is facing arrest in the Philippines for his supposed involvement in the so-called "Inopacan massacre" in 1980, would not be apprehended upon his return to the country.

"Well, the President, as we have said before, wants Joma Sison to come and to have a one-on-one talk with him. He should come here. If he's really sincere, he should not be afraid of any arrest or [subject] anyone from their panel to be arrested," he said.

"The President has precisely given his personal guarantee na hindi ka magagalaw dito hanggang makaalis ka kahit walang mangyari sa atin (he will not get arrested even if the meeting does not yield positive results). If we talk and then we fail to agree on anything, then you can go freely, walang mangyayari sa 'yo (nothing will happen to you)," Panelo added.

Sison earlier said he was amenable to the proposed meeting with Duterte, on condition that the dialogue will be held in a neutral country "near the Philippines".

Panelo, however, maintained that Sison cannot make any demands.

Duterte, who initially had warm relations with the communists, was forced to sign Proclamation 360 on Nov. 23, 2017, which formally shelved the talks between state peace negotiators and NDF consultants, following the NPA's continued attacks against the government forces and civilians.

The President also signed on Dec. 5, 2017 Proclamation 374, which brands the CPP-NPA as a terror organization.

Panelo could not say whether there is a possibility for Duterte to lift the two proclamations to pave the way for the possible resumption of talks, considering that the communist movement had shown insincerity.

"They want to sit on the table and talk peace and yet, they're assaulting our forces. From the very beginning, iyan ang ayaw ng Presidente (that's what the President doesn't like), they're showing insincerity," he said.

The CPP-NPA has also been listed as a terror group by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

DND chief confirms appointment of Santos as next AFP chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 2, 2020): DND chief confirms appointment of Santos as next AFP chief (By Priam Nepomuceno)

Eastern Mindanao Command head, Lt. Gen. Felimon T. Santos Jr.

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Thursday confirmed the appointment of Eastern Mindanao Command head, Lt. Gen. Felimon T. Santos Jr., as the successor of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff, Gen. Noel S. Clement who will formally step down from his post this coming Saturday.

Lorenzana made the confirmation after formally receiving a letter from Malacañan Palace, which was signed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte, regarding the appointment of Santos as the next AFP chief.

"I wish to inform you that, per your letter endorsement and in accordance with the recommendation of the Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines and Chairman AFP Board of Generals, pursuant to Republic Act No. 8166, as amended, the designation of LIEUTENANT GENERAL FELIMON T. SANTOS JUNIOR 0-9540 ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES as CHIEF OF STAFF, ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES vice GENERAL NOEL S. CLEMENT 0-9265 is hereby approved January 5, 2020," the letter said.

Clement, a member of Philippine Military Academy Class of 1985, will be retiring from the military after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56 on January 5. He was appointed AFP chief last Sept. 24 replacing his classmate Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr., who retired from the service after his 56th birthday.

Santos, a member of PMA Class 1986, commanded the Nueva Ecija-based 7th Infantry Division before his appointment as Eastern Mindanao Command head in January of last year.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte appointed Santos on the basis of factors such as competence, honesty, and administrative ability.

“Every time a government official is appointed by the President, ang palagi niya lang sinasabi (what he always says is) is all I’m asking is competence and honesty in your work,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.

Duterte has repeatedly said he would fire any government official involved in even a “whiff” of corruption.

PNP nabs alleged terrorist in Quezon City

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 2, 2020): PNP nabs alleged terrorist in Quezon City (By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan)

TERRORIST NABBED. PNP officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa shows to the media on Thursday (Jan. 2, 2020) a photo of Datu Omar Palty, who arrested for illegal possession of firearm, during a press briefing at Camp Crame in Quezon City. The suspect is an alleged member of the terror group Dawlah Islamiya. (PNA photo by Lloyd Caliwan) 

Police authorities arrested an alleged member of terror group Dawlah Islamiya in an operation in Quezon City, PNP officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa said on Thursday.

Gamboa said
Datu Omar Palty alias Allan Palte, 26, a vendor, of No.123 Block 4, Ipil-Ipil St. Brgy. Pinagbuhatan, Pasig City, was arrested by authorities in an entrapment operation on Wednesday on Adrian St. corner Banning St., Barangay North Fairview, Quezon City.

The suspect was arrested for illegal possession of firearm and ammunition and illegal possession of explosives based on a tip from a confidential informant.

An undercover cop acted as a poseur buyer and bought a Llama Max-1 Caliber .45 pistol loaded with four ammunition. After the given pre-arranged signal, Palty was arrested.

Police also seized a hand grenade and the PHP10,000 marked money used for the transaction.

Gamboa said Palty was a former member of a faction of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter (BIFF) led by Commander Esmael Abubakar alias "Bungos" and later switched allegiance to terrorist group Dawlah Islamiya in 2018 led by Esmael Adbulmalik alias "Turaife/Turaypi".

According to intel reports, Palty was appointed by Turaypi as the point man or contact person of his group in Metro Manila to coordinate with Dawlah Islamiya operatives from Sulu and Basilan.
In June 2019, Palty has established communication or contact and arranged the travel to Manila of Arnel Cabintoy and Feliciano Sulayo, both members of Dawlah Islamiya and both “Balik Islam”. The two men were arrested on June 15, 2019 in Quezon City, a day after their arrival in Metro Manila.

Palty was also allegedly involved in the attack of a military camp in Midsayap, North Cotobato that resulted in the death of two Army personnel in 2009; and in the attack of an Army detachment in Aleosan, Cotobato in 2014; and the murder of a couple and security guard in San Simon, Pampanga in 2015.

Gamboa said the suspect is now in the custody of Quezon City Police District for further investigation.