Saturday, February 1, 2020

3 NPA guerrillas killed in Sultan Kudarat clash —military

From GMA News Online (Feb 1, 2020): 3 NPA guerrillas killed in Sultan Kudarat clash —military

Three New People's Army insurgents were killed in an encounter with government troops last Friday, the military said Saturday.

Military sources said troops from the 37th Infantry Battalion
clashed with over 20 NPA guerrillas at about 8 p.m. last Friday (January 31) in Sitio Sinuksok of Barangay Bugso of the municipality of Senator Ninoy Aquino, Sultan Kudarat province in Mindanao.

Government troops claimed they clashed with insurgents from the NPA's Daguma Front, Far South Mindanao Regional Command under Commander a.k.a. Rayray.

Three insurgents died in the 30-minute firefight, forcing the rebels to withdraw to unknown direction, the military said.

"A pursuit operation is being conducted for the possible neutralization of the fleeing militants," said Maj. Gen. Diosdado Carreon, commander of Joint Task Force Central.

While scouring the encounter site, troops recovered three cadavers, 1 Caliber 45 pistol, 1 ICOM radio, 5 sacks of rice, and 1 medical kit, the military said.

"Our troops continuously operate to ensure the safety and security of the people and to free the communities from threats of terrorism," said Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Western Mindanao Command. —LBG, GMA News

MILF-CC: Milf-Biaf Inner Guards Get Updates on BARMM Developments

Posted to the Committee on Information, Moro Islamic Liberation Front Central Committee Website (Jan 30, 2020): Milf-Biaf Inner Guards Get Updates on BARMM Developments

In photo- MILF-BIAF Combatants with Resource person, Mr. Tirso S. Tahir during the forum in Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao

COTABATO CITY- Some Combatants of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) were given updates during a forum Monday, January 26, 2020 on the recent development of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

The activity was facilitated by some Officers of BIAF-MILF Inner Guards aimed to provide valuable updates on BARMM as part of sustaining the gains of the peace agreement and become responsive and participative in BARMM Governance in various capacities.

Mr. Tirso S. Tahir, Officer of Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) and BTA-BARMM Parliament Staff gave updates to MILF Combatants on the significance of the peace agreement that paved the way to the establishment of BARMM. They were encouraged to sustain the gains of peace agreement by safe-guarding the BARMM Governance, and avail what is due to them as provided in BOL including those in the normalization aspect.

Tahir further said that BARMM is still in its infancy period and in transitional phase that it needs enough time, support, and understanding by all sectors of the Bangsamoro Region.

“We are fixing the decades deep-seated problems, and we cannot do it overnight, and yield outright results, Tahir stressed to the participants.

“There are legal processes to be followed, and appropriate systems must be in place in accordance with laws. The BTA-BARMM has been exerting extra effort to strengthen the BARMM Governance in order to cope up with the needs of the Bangsamoro people, be responsive to various challenges,” Tahir added.

One commander said that, We the MILF Combatants along with the Bangsamoro people have been the backbone of the Bangsamoro struggle, and we must actively participate in peace-building to ensure that peace in the homeland is sustained. It is imperative upon us to protect, and help the BARMM to realize its programs for the betterment of the people. Above all, we should be thankful to Allah (SWT) at least we have been part of this noble struggle.

During the open-forum, some relevant issues and concerns were raised by the participants and were clarified by the resource person.

The MILF-BIAF Combatants have expressed their optimism, and very confident on the collective wisdom and abled-leadership of MILF, and the members of Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) in dispensing their mandates, and obligations for the betterment of the Bangsamoro people.

MILF-CC: OIC delegation visits BARMM

Posted to the Committee on Information, Moro Islamic Liberation Front Central Committee Website (Jan 31, 2020): OIC delegation visits BARMM

Cotabato City- The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) visited the Philippines, and held meetings with various stakeholders on the Southern Mindanao peace process, particularly the MILF, and MNLF. Foremost they have had meetings with Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP), and the Department of Foreign Affairs as per info received by this medium.

The OIC delegation were composed of El Habib Bourane, Director of Muslim Minorities, Department of Political Affairs; Datuk Ibrahim Abdullah, Special Envoy of the OIC Secretary General for Peace Process in Southern Philippines, and Mr. Hassan Abedin, Adviser to the Office of Muslim Affairs. The delegation was assisted by OPAPP led by USec David Diciano.

Updates on the development of the GPH-MILF peace process were provided to the members of the delegation. Chief Minister Al haj Ahod B. Ebrahim himself briefed them on the current situation, and achievements of Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

BARMM’s incoming programs and challenges were mentioned during the executive meeting as well as during the Cabinet meeting that the delegation attended.

Needless to mention, the OIC delegation was impressed with the BARMM’s accomplishments in a very short period of less than a year of governance. They committed to present their report to the OIC Secretary General, and to the upcoming Conference of Council for Foreign Affairs (CFM).

Before the delegation left for their flight, they visited the Bangsamoro Parliament.

MILF-CC: SWC holds 1st Suara sa Kababayan na Bangsamoro

Posted to the Committee on Information, Moro Islamic Liberation Front Central Committee Website (Feb 1, 2020): SWC holds 1st Suara sa Kababayan na Bangsamoro

In photo- 400 Strong women participants to the 1st Suara sa Kababayan at the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex, Cotabato City

Cotabato City- The Social Welfare Committee of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (SWC- MILF) held its 1st “Suara sa Kababayan na Bangsamoro” Tuesday, January 28 at Shariff Kabunsuan, Cultural Complex (SKCC) in Cotabato City to empower and strengthen the synergy of the united, accountable and resilient Bangsamoro Women in the BARMM Region.

More than 400 women leaders, advocates, and delegates from different provinces of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslium Mindanao (BARMM) attended the big event.

The activity was facilitated by the (SWC-MILF).

Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Chief Minister Ahod "Al Haj Murad" Ebrahim had to attend an equally important event, hence, Executive Secretary, and concurrent Environment Minister, Abdulraof Macacua represented him and delivered his message.

The assembly aimed to advocate and facilitate appropriate social services to the needy Bangsamoro families; promote unity and foster closer relationships among Bangsamoro women organizations and build strategic partnerships in order to increase community access to basic social services; strengthen community awareness on moral values and practices, and ensure support from Bangsamoro local leaders.

Suara Kababayan na Bangsamoro was also graced by Atty. Haron Meling who represented Education Minister Mohagher M Iqbal, Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) member Dr. Safrullah Dipatuan, and representatives of other BARMM ministries.

MILF-CC: OIC Delegation visits Philippines, elated over the developments of the Bangsamoro peace process

Posted to the Committee on Information, Moro Islamic Liberation Front Central Committee Website (Feb 2, 2020): OIC Delegation visits Philippines, elated over the developments of the Bangsamoro peace process

MANILA– Representatives of the influential Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) ended their three-day visit Wednesday in the county, particularly in Mindanao, on a high note, following series of successful meetings with the Philippine government, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao as well as with the leaders of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MNLF).

The delegation was led by El Habib Bourane, OIC’s Director for Muslim Minorities under the Department of Political Affairs; Datuk Ibrahim Abdullah, Special Envoy of the OIC Secretary General for Peace Process in Southern Philippines; and Dr. Hassan Abedin, Adviser and former director of the Muslim Minorities.

Their visit was aimed to facilitate the possible high-level visit of the OIC Secretary General Yousef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen in the country sometime this year.

The OIC has been playing a key role in assisting the Government and the different Moro fronts since 1970s to find common ground to resolve the Bangsamoro armed struggle in Mindanao.

For years, the Islamic block through the Peace Committee on Southern Philippines (PCSP) mediated two peace pacts between the government and the MNLF – The 1976 Tripoli Agreement and the 1996 Final Peace Agreement. Malaysia, an OIC’s member state, also successfully brokered the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro (FAB) in 2012 and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in 2014 with the MILF.

The last visit of the OIC was in 2015 when former Secretary General Iyad Bin Al-Madani also met with the government and the Moro fronts. The trip strengthened the efforts to bridge the gaps between the MNLF and the MILF under the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum (BCF). The visit also helped laid the ground for the successful conclusion of the Tripartite Review Process (TRP) of the Philippine Government, MNLF, and OIC in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2016.

Early this week, the delegation met with Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito G. Galvez, and officials from key government agencies, namely: Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Finance, National Economic and Development Authority, Mindanao Development Authority, and the Southern Philippines Development Authority.

The meeting provided the OIC delegation of the current efforts of the Duterte administration in implementing all the signed peace agreements between the government and the two Moro fronts.

Several milestones have been achieved in the Bangsamoro peace process under Duterte administration. In 2019, President Rodrigo Duterte led the campaign for the successful ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), which created the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Mindanao (BARMM). The new parliamentary-form region enjoys greater fiscal autonomy, and justice system to name a few, which truly reflect the aspirations of the Moro people for a genuine autonomy.

The Duterte administration also up the ante in re-engaging the leaderships of the MNLF through the series of meetings between the leaders of the front and the President which culminated to the establishment of coordinating committees to engage the MNLF groups.

Recently, President Duterte signed the appointment paper of Misuari as the Special Envoy of the President to the OIC in a bid to sustain the gains of GPH-MNLF peace process.

OIC met with MNLF, MILF

Following their meeting with the Philippine government, the delegation flew to the southern cities of Davao and Cotabato to meet with the leaders of the MNLF and MILF.

The leaderships of the MNLF Founding Chairman Nur Misuari and Yusop Jikiri uphold the role of the OIC as a mediator of the Bangsamoro peace process.

Based on the results of the TRP, two commitments have yet to be complied with on the side of the Philippine government.

These include the establishment of the Bangsamoro Development Assistance Fund (BDAF) and the creation of the Tripartite Implementation Monitoring Committee (TIMC).

In Cotabato City, the delegation was briefed on the current developments of the BARMM during their meeting with the Interim Chief Minister Ahod Balawag “Murad” Ebrahim, Al Haj, who is also the chairman of the MILF. They were also given the chance to meet with the members of the BARMM cabinet and the Bangsamoro Parliament.

As representative of the OIC, Mr. Bourane expressed his gratitude to the Philippine government and the Moro fronts for their successful visit, and for giving the OIC a comprehensive understanding of the Bangsamoro context.

“We are not outsiders to the issues of the southern Philippines. We are your partner and you can rely on us. When we go back, we will brief the OIC Secretary General, who is eager to visit the Philippines,” Bourane said.

He said the establishment of the BARMM is a very positive step forward in the peace process, and instrumental in achieving peace and security in the Southern Philippines.

“President Duterte has taken a huge significant step and the OIC has recognized that,” Abedin, who worked with three OIC secretary generals in the past, said.

Abedin said he was elated “to finally see a fully functioning Cabinet [of the BARMM, which] is like a dream come true. The dream of the Bangsamoro has been finally realized. There are many Muslim communities suffering around the world and here in the Philippines, you find communities living in harmony with each other where indigenous peoples, women, youth, and others are participating together.”

“Our heartfelt gratitude to President Duterte for demonstrating a very strong political will in order to move forward for the establishment of BARMM. We know the biases and prejudice in the country but despite all these, the President acted very decisively in order to move forward,” Ebrahim said on behalf of the Bangsamoro Cabinet, the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, the MILF, and the Bangsamoro people.

Abdullah for his part expressed the OIC’s continued commitment in providing support to the Bangsamoro people. He also emphasized that the welfare of all constituents, Bangsamoro people — Muslim and non-Muslims alike, within or outside the territorial jurisdictions of the BARMM — shall be taken into consideration to ensure inclusivity and sustainable peace in the region.

“As everybody is fully aware, the commitment now of the OIC is realizing the objectives in the region especially in the Bangsamoro. We wish to congratulate each and every one for the milestones, the establishment of the BARMM, and the passing of the Bangsamoro Organic Law,” he said.

Former Executive Secretary and now adviser to the GPH coordinating committee, Eduardo Ermita said the BARMM needs a collective support both from domestic and international arena.

Ermita, who is also a former Presidential Peace Adviser, said the implementation of the BOL “would depend heavily on the effective and dedicated political leadership, and sustainable economic assistance that the national government can extend to the BARMM, as well as assistance that can be generated from other sources both domestic and from outside countries with a common cause with our Filipino Muslim community.”

“We are hopeful and optimistic that our continuing engagement and good relations with the OIC countries would result to the successful attainment of the lofty objectives that are embodied in the organic law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao,” he told the OIC officials.

For his part, Galvez said the OIC has been a “big brother to the Philippines, especially during the most crucial stages of its peace journey. For this, we shall forever be grateful.”

He said the President gave him the marching order to implement the remaining commitments of the TRP.

“The Philippine government through the guidance of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, we are committed to bring substantial results within the first quarter of this year to implement the remaining commitments, particularly the establishments of the BDAF and TIMC,” he said.

Galvez said the government is commending the efforts of the OIC to harmonize the Moro fronts in Mindanao.

“The harmonization will help us in the implementation of all the signed Bangsamoro peace agreements,” he said.

He noted as what President Duterte has emphasized, “the BARMM and the BOL will benefit everyone, regardless of tribe, religion or political ideologies.”

“Through the Bangsamoro Coordinating Forum (BCF) and other peacebuilding avenues and mechanisms, we are hopeful to bring the two Moro fronts together, based on the principles of mutual trust, cooperation and most of all, respect,” he said.

“It is our hope that the OIC will continue to support the Philippine government in its quest to achieve long-lasting peace and sustainable development for the Bangsamoro people,” Galvez said.

3 communist terrorists neutralized in Sultan Kudarat

Posted to Kalinaw News (Feb 1, 2020): 3 communist terrorists neutralized in Sultan Kudarat (By Western Mindanao Command)

Camp Navarro, Calarian, Zamboanga City- February 1, 2020

Three communist terrorists were neutralized in an encounter between the government troops and more or less 25 Communist NPA Terrorists at 8pm on January 31, 2020.

Amid the conduct of combat clearing operation, troops of the 37 Infantry Battalion encountered the CNTs from the Daguma Front, Far South Mindanao Regional Command under Commander a.k.a. Rayray in Sitio Sinuksok, Barangay Bugso, Senator Ninoy Aquino, Sultan Kudarat.

Firefight ensued which lasted for 30 minutes after which enemies withdrew towards unknown direction.

“A pursuit operation is being conducted for the possible neutralization of the fleeing militants,” said Maj. Gen. Diosdado Carreon, commander of JTF Central.

While scouring the encounter site, troops recovered 3 cadavers, 1 Caliber 45 pistol, 1 ICOM radio, 5 sacks of rice, and 1 medical kit.

“Our troops continuously operate to ensure the safety and security of the people and to free the communities from threats of terrorism,” said Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Western Mindanao Command.

Kalinaw News: 6th ID sends off new Privates to different units of the Division

Posted to Kalinaw News (Feb 1, 2020): 6th ID sends off new Privates to different units of the Division (By 6th Infantry Division)

Camp Siongco, Maguindanao – The 6th Infantry Division sent off this morning (January 30) new Privates in a ceremony at the 6th ID Grandstand here.

A total of 206 new Privates were sent off to their respective gaining units to become part of the Command’s campaign against various threat groups in Central Mindanao. From the 206, 150 will be assigned to the Infantry Battalions of 6th ID.

Presided by 6th ID Commander Maj. Gen. Diosdado C. Carreon, he reminded the new soldiers to be physically and mentally fit,obey lawful orders and work with sense of duty.

“To the gaining units of these new Privates, the Command expects you to continue to hone them to become more professional and capable soldiers,” Maj. Gen. Carreon said.

The 206 Privates graduated from Candidate Soldiers training last November 28, 2019 at Division Traning School in Brgy. Semba, Datu Odin Sinsuat. One hundred fifty will be assigned to the brigades and battalions of 6th ID, while the remaining 56 will be temporarily assigned to Post Engineer Detachment to facilitate early completion of numerous Command projects.

“To the new Privates, this will be the start of your journey filled with adventures, excitement, and sacrifice,” the Commander added.

[Kalinaw News is the official online source of information on the pursuit for peace in the Philippines This website is a property of the Civil-Military Operations Regiment, Philippine Army located at Lawton Avenue, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City. Contact us:]

Kalinaw News: 4 NPA rebels surrender to Army unit in Malapatan

Posted to Kalinaw News (Feb 1, 2020): 4 NPA rebels surrender to Army unit in Malapatan (By 73rd Infantry Division)

Malapatan, Sarangani Province – Troops of Alpha Company of the 73rd Infantry Battalion welcomed the 4 NPA rebels back into the fold of law this morning, February 1, 2020 in Sitio Lampasak, Brgy Alegria, Alabel, Sarangani Province.

The rebel returnees were identified as Ariel Tumbo @JUSTIN, Roger Fa @BAMBO, Ariel Fa @JASPER, and Larry Campaan @JASIG.

The four (4) returnees have expressed their frustrations over futility in the mountains and struggles in moving from one place into another. Earlier, their commander and political officer, @Yuhan and @Analyn surrendered with two M1 Garand 0.30 caliber.

Lt. Col. Ronaldo G. Valdez, Battalion Commander, 73IB, 10ID, PA, assured that the rebel returnees will be given financial assistance and livelihood package as part of the program of the government for local integration.

“I strongly urge and call other rebels who are victims of deception of the NPA to lay down their arms and go back to the fold of law,” the Commander added.

NPA organizer surrenders to 8th CMO Battalion

From the Philippine Information Agency (Feb 1, 2020): NPA organizer surrenders to 8th CMO Battalion (By PIA 8 and 8CMOBN, 8ID, PA)

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TACLOBAN CITY, Jan. 31 (PIA) -- An active mass organizer of the New People’s Army (NPA) has voluntarily surrendered to the 8th Civil-Military Operations (DANGPANAN) Battalion (8CMOBn) on January 28.

In a report, the 8th Civil-Military Battalion said Alias “JR,” 25, single and a resident of Barangay Canlapwas, Catbalogan City, Samar surrendered to the 8CMOBn headed by Lt. Colonel Edgar Allan B. Orbito, commanding officer in Brgy. San Andres, Catbalogan City.

The Communist NPA Terrorist (CNT) organizer also surrendered one caliber .45 pistol and voluminous documents of the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People's Army - National Demoncratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

In an interview, alias “JR” revealed that he is a member of militiang bayan (MB) or Yunit Militia (YM) of the NPA under Central Front Samar-1 (CFS-1), Sub Regional Committee (SRC) Browser, Eastern Visayas Regional Party Committee (EVRPC).

The surrenderee is also the Provincial Coordinator of ANAKBAYAN, Secretary General of KABATAAN-SAMAR, Spokesperson of People Surge Alliance (PSA) Catbalogan City Chapter and Coordinator of Kahugpungan Han Parag-uma Ha Western Samar (KAPAWA).

Alias “JR” revealed that he was tasked to lure people to join in different mass demonstrations against the government, which are being organized by Alvin Rufo and Lea Sevilla. The target of organizing activities according to him are the youth, students, urban poor, and the victims of typhoons, specifically those of Typhoon Yolanda.

Among the rallies he participated were those in commemoration of Super Typhoon Haiyan “Yolanda” Anniversary held in Tacloban City, Catbalogan City and Calbiga, Samar. He also joined the 15 days “MANILAKBAYAN” program, a nationwide activity of different left-leaning organizations funded by the national organization.

He further disclosed that he personally met KABATAAN Partylist Representative Sarah Elago, who was also present during the protest rally and the over-all facilitator of the MANILAKBAYAN. Accordingly, all the participants were accommodated at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) at Mendiola square area.

Alias “JR” confessed that he already has undergone Basic Rifle and Pistol Orientation, Acupuncture Training, Cupping or Ventosa therapy. He was taught on the NPA courses such as the Espesyal na Kursong Masa (ESKUM) 1 - Para sa Sektor ng Magsasaka; ESKUM II - Para sa Sektor ng Kababaihan; ESKUM III - Para sa Kabataan; Halipot nga Kurso ha Katilingban ngan Rebolusyon Pilipino (HKKRP); Pambansang Demokratikong Paaralan (PADEPA); and Araling Aktibista (ARAK).

LTC Orbito said the Battalion is committed and more than willing to accommodate CNT members who want to go back to their normal lives and take part in peace-building for progress and development.

“The surrender of this NPA organizer is a big blow to the CNTs. It proves that they are reduced as insignificant as they keep on losing their manpower and support. As our unit continues to gain the trust and confidence of the people and former rebels, we will expect more surrenderees in the coming days,” Orbito added.

This also forms part on the efforts and initiatives of the government in the implementation of Executive Order 70 of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Orbito commended the troops for their efforts that led to the surrender of the NPA organizer alias ka “JR,” who is set to be enrolled in the government's Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) to avail of the complete package of assistance for former rebels.

The 8CMO Battalion will remain focused in order to achieve the elusive peace and development in its Area of Operation, Orbito concluded. (PIA 8 /8CMOBn)

2 Army officials, soldier killed in Sulu military camp shooting

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 1, 2020): 2 Army officials, soldier killed in Sulu military camp shooting (By Ely Dumaboc and Teofilo Garcia, Jr.)

Three soldiers, including two officials, were killed in a shooting incident inside the headquarters of the Army's 9th Field Artillery Battalion (9FAB) in the province of Sulu, an official said Saturday.

Maj. Arvin John Encinas, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) spokesperson, said the incident occurred around 11 p.m. Friday in Barangay Liang, Patikul, Sulu.

Encinas identified the fatalities as Maj. Rael Gabot, the executive officer of 9FAB; 1st Lieutenant Ryan Lamoste, Civil-Military Operations (CMO) officer of 9FAB; and Cpl. Jack Indap.

Tasked to provide fire support to operating ground troops, the 9FAB is under the Philippine Army’s Artillery Regiment.

Police investigation showed that prior to the incident, Lamoste confronted Indap when the CMO officer saw the latter pounding the chest of Private Ralph Patongao, a duty steward at the officers’ mess hall.

A heated argument ensued between Lamoste and Indap when the CMO officer reportedly ordered the latter to be relieved from his post after admitting he was drunk.

Further investigation showed that when Gabot was about to intervene, they were fired upon by Indap using his service firearm, an R4A3 rifle attached with M-203 Grenade Launcher.

2Lt. Clint John Cenita, who heads a unit of the Army’s 41st Infantry Battalion, shot Indap after the latter refused to surrender.

The three were rushed to Camp Bautista Station Hospital but the attending physician declared the two officers and the suspect dead on arrival.

Militiamen, former NPAs complete skills training in Agusan Sur

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 1, 2020): Militiamen, former NPAs complete skills training in Agusan Sur (By Alexander Lopez)

NEW SKILLS. A total of 15 government militiamen and five former communist rebels receive their certification for shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) training on Friday in Butuan City. The program is designed by the Army's 3rd Special Forces Battalion, with the support of other government agencies and the private sector. (Photo courtesy of 3SFBn)

At least 15 government militiamen and former communist rebels recently earned their National Certificates I and II (NC I and II) for completing the shielded metal arc welding training.

1Lt. Krisjuper Punsalan, civil-military operations officer of the Army's 3rd Special Forces Battalion (3SFBn) told Philippine News Agency on Saturday the graduates consisting of Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) personnel and former New people's Army (NPA) members received their certificates on Friday (January 31) after 36 days of training.

The skills training, Punsalan said, is a joint undertaking of 3SFBn, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) program of the Father Saturnino Urios College of Sibagat, Inc. (FSUCSI).

During the distribution of certificates, Punsalan said the government militiamen and the former NPA rebels were thankful for the opportunities given to them by the government with the support of the private sector.

“That was the first time they experienced graduation since they have not gone to school, while others only finished certain levels of education,” Punsalan said.

In a separate statement issued on Friday, Lt. Col. Joey Baybayan, 3SFBn commander, lauded the support of government agencies, local government units and the private sector for their support of the program.

“We are grateful for the committed heads of local and national government agencies who answered the call to end insurgency through increasing the economic activities in the conflict-affected areas and capacitating the affected communities to become resilient and productive,” Baybayan said.

In the same statement, Col. Allan D. Hambala, commander of the Army's 401st Infantry Brigade, said that more skills training intended for the FRs and CAFGUs will be conducted in the area.

Hambala added that the CAFGU personnel and former NPA rebels are considered “partners in intensifying our integrated territorial defense system.”

The skills training, he said, is part of the "whole-of-nation" approach of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte to end the local communist armed conflicts.

“The end of insurgency lies in a government that puts premium to the welfare of its citizens. This is why we must have no letup in delivering the necessary government services for those in the conflict-affected areas. We believe that these efforts of the government will induce more rebels to surrender,” Hambala said.

Agusan Norte students join info drive vs. NPA recruitment

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 1, 2020): Agusan Norte students join info drive vs. NPA recruitment (By Alexander Lopez)

RAISING AWARENESS. Lt. Col. Francisco L. Molina, Jr., commander of the Army's 23rd Infantry Battalion (standing in front) leads an information drive against the recruitment effort of the communist New People's Army on Friday (January 31) in Buenavista, Agusan del Norte. The event was participated by more than 600 students in the area. (Photo courtesy of the 23IB)

The local government unit of Buenavista in Agusan del Norte and the Army’s 23rd Infantry Battalion conducted an information drive to students on Friday (January 31).

The activity, joined by more than 600 students from different schools in the area, aims to enlighten the youth and 'save them from the tricks and recruitment" of the communist New People’s Army (NPA), said Lt. Col. Francisco L. Molina, Jr., commander of 23IB.

Molina personally delivered a lecture on the recruitment strategies of the NPA during the activity, attended by Grades 10, 11, and 12 students.

“Saving our youths from NPA recruitment requires thorough information drive. We must inform our youths on the tactics that the communists use to lure them to join the NPA,” Molina told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Saturday.

He also cited the support of the LGU and the parents, saying that concerted efforts are "needed to keep the youths from NPA recruitment."

During the activity, Molina recalled the case of Bertoldo Cabatchete, Jr., a resident of Nasipit town in Agusan del Norte who was recruited by the NPA, brought to Central Luzon to fight the government, and abandoned by his comrades when struck by an illness.

Cabatchete later died and buried in a knee-deep grave.

He said Cabatchete's case was a classic example of how the NPA "lures the youth by promising them of good pay and other benefits, but in truth, would end up nothing and worst, succumb to death."

“The local government units, parents, teachers, and other stakeholders must stand together in protecting our youth to ensure their good future,” Molina said.

He added that the information drive for the youth is part of the "whole-of-nation" approach to end local communist armed conflicts.

During Friday's activity, a former rebel only identified as “Louie” shared his experience while inside the NPA movement.

Louie” said he was recruited by the NPA at a young age and was forced to live in the mountains to fight the government. He said he had endured hardships, hunger, including fear of being killed during armed confrontations with government troopers.

According to Louie, he decided to surrender when he realized that he would "gain nothing from the NPA."

NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

New soldiers deployed to Army units under 6ID

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 2, 2020): New soldiers deployed to Army units under 6ID (By Edwin Fernandez)

PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY FIT. A total of 206 new Army privates, trained and honed to become mentally and physically fit, are deployed to various Army brigades and battalions within the area of operation of the 6th Infantry Division. The send-off ceremonies were held at Camp Siongco, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao on Saturday (Feb. 1, 2020). (Photo courtesy of 6ID)

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao -- Be more professional and capable soldiers.

This was the advice given by Major Gen. Diosdado Carreon, Army’s 6th Infantry Division (ID) commander, during send-off ceremonies Saturday to 206 new Army privates who have just completed training and are now deployed to various Army units in Central Mindanao.

“You will now be part of the command’s campaign against various threat groups in mainland Mindanao,” Carreon, also chief of Joint Task Force Central (JTFC), said.

Of the total new soldiers, 150 will be assigned to the Army battalions under the jurisdiction of the 6ID.
The remaining 56 soldier-graduates will be temporarily assigned to post engineer detachments to facilitate early completion of numerous command projects.

Carreon also reminded the new soldiers to be physically and mentally fit, obey lawful orders, and work with a sense of duty.

“To the gaining units of these new soldiers, the 6ID expects you to continue to hone them to become more professional and capable soldiers,” he said.

The 206 privates graduated from candidate-soldiers training last November 28 at the Division Training School in Barangay Semba, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao.

Army allays fear on mega drug rehab as quarantine site

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 2, 2020): Army allays fear on mega drug rehab as quarantine site (By Marilyn Galang)

PROPOSED QUARANTINE SITE. Photo shows the Mega Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Center (DATRC) in Fort Magsaysay, Palayan City, Nueva Ecija, one of the five proposed quarantine areas for repatriates from China. Maj. Gen. Lenard Agustin, commander of the 7ID, allayed fears of contamination, saying no persons with manifested 2019-nCov symptoms will be quarantined in the place. (Photo by Marilyn Galang)

FORT MAGSAYSAY, Nueva Ecija -- The Philippine Army's 7th Infantry Division (7ID) which manages this vast military reservation, is open to a proposal to make a portion of the Mega Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Center (DATRC) here as quarantine area for repatriates from China.

"Being with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, we will have to obey whatever is the decision of the national government for the better good of our countrymen," said Maj. Gen. Lenard Agustin, commander of the 7ID.

Agustin and his staff met on Saturday with health officials, led by Department of Health' (DOH') Regional Director, Dr. Cesar Cassion who headed the inspection of the proposed area for quarantine activity.

Agustin said they proposed buildings at the fourth phase area, which is located at the back portion of the DATRC.

He said such portion is around one- fourth of the DATRC which can accommodate some 2,500 based on drug rehabilitation usage plan.

Agustin allayed fears of contamination, saying no persons with manifested 2019-nCov symptoms will be quarantined in the place based on their briefings.

"Nothing to be apprehensive about," he said.

Agustin said the Chinese government will not allow people who manifested illness to leave their country.

"Pag okay (If it’s okay), the Chinese government will give the go signal for our government to haul our countrymen there," he said.

Putting them in 14-day quarantine is only meant to erase further doubt.

"So, huwag tayong matakot dun (do not be afraid on that)," he said.

Agustin further said DATRC is only one of five choices to be a quarantine area.

DND welcomes Bacordo as new Navy chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 1, 2020): DND welcomes Bacordo as new Navy chief (By Priam Nepomuceno)

Department of National Defense spokesperson Arsenio Andolong (PNA File photo)

The Department of National Defense (DND) welcomed the appointment of Philippine Fleet commander, Rear Admiral Giovanni Carlo J. Bacordo, as the next Philippine Navy's (PN) flag-officer-in-command effective Monday.

Bacordo, a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1987, will replace outgoing PN chief Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad who will be retiring on February 3 after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56.

Bacordo's appointment was signed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

Empedrad, a member of PMA Class of 1986, served as PN chief since December 2017.

"The Department of National Defense welcomes the appointment of RADM (Rear Admiral) Giovanni Carlo J. Bacordo as Flag Officer-in-Command of the Philippine Navy vice VADM (Vice Admiral) Robert A. Empedrad effective 3 February 2020," DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said in a message to reporters Friday night.

He added that the DND is confident that Bacordo's extensive experience and impeccable service record, and proven naval expertise will help propel the PN forward as it continues to modernize, improve its capabilities, and face maritime security challenges of the country.

Aside from being a Philippine Fleet commander since April 2019, Bacordo also served as head of the Naval Sea Systems Command and Naval Forces Southern Luzon among others.

"We thank the outgoing FOIC, VADM Empedrad, for his service and wish him all the best after his retirement," Andolong added.

Andanar lauds 4th ID for keeping communities safer

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 2, 2020): Andanar lauds 4th ID for keeping communities safer

HAILED 4TH ID. Communications Secretary Martin Andanar congratulates Armed Forces’ Eastern Command Chief, Maj. Gen. Jose Faustino during the 50th Founding Anniversary of the 4th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army in Cagayan de Oro City on Saturday (Feb. 1, 2020). Andanar lauded the Army unit for commitment to facilitating peace and order in the regions of Northern Mindanao and Caraga. (Photo courtesy of PCOO)

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar has lauded the 4th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army (4ID PA) for its commitment to facilitating peace and order in the regions of Northern Mindanao and Caraga.

Celebrating its 50th Founding Anniversary, the unit commemorated its past achievements and honored the selfless service of the men and women in the military on Saturday.

"The 4th ID PA is one of the most respected infantries in the Armed Forces of the Philippines," Secretary Andanar said.

"It has never failed to rise to numerous occasions to save our region from terrorism, natural calamities and in keeping our communities and environment safe and a healthy place for nation-building," he added.

The 4ID is one of the primary stakeholders in the local implementation of the policies under the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

Andanar, who is the designated Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security for Northern Mindanao (CORDS-10), also commended the leadership of 4ID commander, Maj. Gen. Franco Gacal.

"I commend the hard work and sacrifices of Maj. Gen. Franco Gacal, past commanding generals, their officers, and soldiers. Their patriotism has brought the 4th ID PA to its most admired golden year," he said.

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana also attended the celebration and congratulated the unit.

“I hope you will have more successes in the future and we will be successful in our campaign against insurgency,” Lorenzana said.

“We only have two years to do it. Para naman pag-alis ni President ay meron siyang maiwang legacy at masasabi niya na, during his time, he was able to reduce the insurgency (So that when the President ends his term, he can leave a legacy and he could say that, during his time, he was able to reduce the insurgency),” he added.

Lorenzana also expressed his support for President Rodrigo Duterte’s earlier warning of terminating the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States (US).

“Maybe we should start looking for militaries in the neighborhood that we can do our exercises [with],” he noted.

8 ranking cops get new posts

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 2, 2020): 8 ranking cops get new posts (By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan)

Gen. Archie Gamboa, Philippine National Police chief (PNA File photo)

Eight ranking police officials were included in the latest reshuffle ordered by Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Gen. Archie Gamboa, which would take effect on Monday.

Gamboa designated Maj. Gen. Reynaldo Biay as the Director for Personnel and Records Management, while Maj. Gen. Timoteo Pacleb as the new Director for Research and Development.

Biay and Pacleb both belonged in the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Sinagtala Class of 1986, along with Gamboa.

Brig. Gen. Israel Ephraim Dickson will be acting Director for Integrated Police Operations in Visayas, Brig. Gen. Rolando Miranda as Deputy Director for Personnel and Records Management, and Brig. Gen. Rodoldo Azurin Jr. assigned as the Director of PNP Maritime Group.

Other officials designated to new posts were Brig. Gen. R'Win Pagkalinawan who would serve as the acting Regional Director, Police Regional Office–Cordillera; Col. Conrado Gongon Jr. as acting Executive Officer at Directorate for Integrated Police Operations, Western Mindanao; and Col. Erson Digal as acting Executive Officer at Directorate for Human Resource and Doctrine Development.

Gamboa said the latest round of reorganization manifests the continuing reform in the command structure of the 205,000-strong police force under his leadership.

Best cops eyed for Mindanao deployment

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 1, 2020): Best cops eyed for Mindanao deployment (By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan)

Philippine Deputy Chief for Operations, Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar. (PNA File photo)

The practice of assigning scalawag cops to Mindanao may soon become a thing of the past as the Philippine National Police (PNP) looks into deploying tough but smart police officers on the island, a ranking police official said last week.

Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, PNP deputy chief for operations, said the deployment of tough but bright policemen especially in central and western parts of Mindanao is also crucial in the continuity of the implementation of the peace agreement that President Rodrigo Duterte helped pushed and realized with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

“In the past three years, the security landscape here has significantly improved despite some challenges. And it will continue to drastically change now that President Duterte has set the good mood for peaceful and economically-developed Mindanao with the peace agreement with the MILF and the establishment of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region,” Eleazar said in a copy of his speech during his visit at the headquarters of the Zamboanga Peninsula Regional Police Office on Jan. 28.

He said the practice of sending erring cops to Mindanao is now being addressed by the PNP leadership through its aggressive internal cleansing.

“With the aggressive internal cleansing initiated by our Chief PNP, Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa, for instance, the PNP leadership is making sure that if you commit offenses, you have nowhere else to go, but be meted with appropriate punishments as quickly as possible. So the challenge now is to fill Mindanao with both the toughest and the brightest policemen in order to sustain what the President has started to achieve a long-overdue Filipino dream of peaceful and progressive Mindanao,” he added.

One of the major reasons for assigning police scalawags to Mindanao, he said, is for them to prove their toughness there.

He added that over the years, the central and western parts of Mindanao, including Sulu and Basilan provinces, are considered as the scariest assignment for policemen, soldiers and other law enforcement operatives due to the presence of armed men.

Eleazar, however, clarified that Mindanao became an integral part of the good peace and order strategies of the police and military.

"It is here in Mindanao where some of our policemen were able to show the real meaning of courage, it is here in Mindanao where excellence in law enforcement was tried and tested, and it is here in Mindanao where police heroes were made.

He then cited the case of the 44 slain Special Action Force commandos who died in an operation against Malaysian Zulkifli Bin Hir, alias Marwan, an international terrorist who helped train Filipino extremists in urban warfare and bomb-making.

Bulatlat: The many lives of Pido G.

Posted to the pro-Communist Party of the Philippines/National Democratic Front/New People's Army (CPP/NDF/NPA) online propaganda publication Bulatlat (Jan 31, 2020): The many lives of Pido G.
(By Anne Marxze Umil)

An interview with the social activist Peter San Juan Gonzales by Dr. Rainer Werning (January 2020)

1. Can you please briefly introduce yourself and give us a background of your family.
I am known as “Tata Pido” (Father Pido) but my full name is Peter San Juan Gonzales. I was born on April 14, 1944 in Barrio Villa Padua, Gumaca, Quezon Province in Southern Luzon.

My father, Marcial Gonzales, a coconut farmer died of pneumonia when he was 22 years old. My mother, Senen San Juan raised me and my two half-brothers. As a young widow she worked in a small desiccated coconut factory. Later after she separated from her second husband, she took in laundry to wash for other people in the barrio. She washed clothes in the river and when clothes had to be ironed, she used an iron heated by burning charcoal. Later when my brothers and I were young adults, my mother worked as a housekeeper for a rich Chinese family in Manila. She was nearly 80 years old when she stopped working.

2. What were the most intriguing experiences during your childhood and youth that left a strong imprint on you?

My mother had a very big influence in my life. My mother believed that it is very important for each person to work. One must stand on his/her own feet and earn one’s livelihood by honest work.

Once she told me about her life as a factory worker. She said that her co-workers formed a union. She did not want to join because she did not want trouble with her employer. She just wanted a job so she could support herself and me. In the last years of her life, she would change her attitude about unions and workers’ struggles. Then my mother learned to appreciate the importance of revolutionary struggle. This made me happy.

When I was about 11 years old, I would work part-time in traditional small fishing boats. I would go with the fishermen during school summer vacations. Our house was in a coastal barrio so my job was to clean the boat when we were at sea, or when the boat was beached, I was paid to watch the boat – payment was in the form of a share in the fish caught. Because I was a child, I received only one-half of the pay/share of a regular fisherman. Instead of money, I received a few fish as my payment. I was happy to have work, because then I could help my mother.

Pedro Gonzales joins rally to commemorate EDSA 30th anniversary (Photo by J. Ellao /

3. After finishing school what did you do?

I completed elementary education (Grade 6) at the Gumaca Elementary School. I studied my First Year in High School in Cubao, Quezon City – this was through the help of my mother’s relatives. Then I stopped schooling. I wanted to work so I could help my mother. I went back to Gumaca, and took odd jobs – I sold bread to our neighbors very early in the morning; in the afternoons, I went around and sold ice popsicles. I also worked as a shoe-shine-boy in the market place, church plaza and the train station. When I was 15 years old, I went to Manila and worked in a restaurant – first as a dish washer and later as a waiter. After 4 and a half years, I went back to Gumaca and became a full-time fisherman.

I was 21 years old when I got married and by the time Marcos declared Martial Law, I already had (3) children. My family and I were really very hard-up during those times. Often there was not enough money to buy rice and the basic necessities. It was especially difficult when one of my children would get sick. There was no health/medical services available in our barrio and I had no money to buy medicines much less to pay doctors’ consultation fees. I would think –“Why is our life like this? I work hard every day and yet I can never earn enough? And yet I see in the town– the mayor, the politicians and the rich people have so much money.“ I felt very bad and was angry. But I could not explain, even to myself at whom or at what I was angry.

4. How were you politicised?

By 1970, I heard more and more news about the rallies and demonstrations happening in Manila. But since Manila is 200 kms from Gumaca, Quezon, news of political unrest happening there did not have much impact on me. More and more I heard from my friends, the terms – “Activists” and “Kabataang Makabayan”.

One day, my next-door neighbor who was a high-school student approached me and we started to talk. At first we talked about our daily life in the neighborhood. Then he asked about my work as a fisherman, my family, my children. I shared with him – the difficult times when our catch was very small and I could earn barely enough to buy rice. It was particularly hard when someone in my family would get sick. Then in times of bad weather e.g.–typhoons, when we cannot go to fish, I would have to borrow money from the fishing boat owner/operator. There would be months when I was always in debt.

My student-activist-neighbor explained to me – the situation of fishermen is almost the same as that of the farmers, and other low-income sectors of society. He said I will tell you the root cause of your problems. He said the root causes of hunger and poverty are Imperialism, Feudalism and Bureaucrat Capitalism. These words meant nothing to me. But what hit me was – “I will now learn the root cause of my very hard life.” I had so many questions to ask but my fellow-fishermen were calling me. We had to go to sea. So he told me – in your next free time, come to our Kabataang Makabayan (KM) headquarters. We will talk some more. I decided– in the next Full Moon, there would be one week when we will not be going out to sea (we usually spent the time mending our nets, making small repairs in the boat—the engine, the peeling paint etc.) then I would go to see my KM friend.

In the following months, I would go to the KM headquarters when I was free. Whenever we had a good catch, I would bring the Kabataang Makabayan friends some fish.

We would have discussions and they let me read their books. One of the first books I read was “Lipunan at Rebolusyong Pilipino“ (Philippine Society and Revolution) by Amado Guerrero and books by Marx, Lenin, Mao Zedong. Slowly I began to understand—the history of the Filipino people; the reason why the Philippines is a rich country and yet the majority of the Filipinos are so poor. I began to understand the meaning of the words — Imperialism, Feudalism and Bureaucrat Capitalism, activists, and why Filipino revolutionaries like Andres Bonifacio, Gen. Antonio Luna, and Macario Sakay fought against Spanish colonialism and later American imperialism. During this time, my anger and desire to fight grew—because now at last I knew –who are our friends; who are our enemies. I realized it is not enough just to be angry. One must be organized; there is strength in numbers. One must study and one must learn the principles which are the guidelines for the struggle. To be a revolutionary, one must be willing to give time, one must be willing to work, one must be ready for hardships and sacrifices.

From then on, from 1971 to 1994, while I worked as a fisherman I also did organizing work among my co-workers in the Basnig – fishing boat. I also acquired many other skills. I became makinista –engineer of our basnig. I learned how to be an electrician, I acquired carpentry skills. I supported the revolutionary movement in our barrio.

In 1994, when I was 50 years old, I decided to work full-time in the fisherfolk organization PAMALAKAYA (National Federation of Small Fisherfolk Organizations in the Philippines). At this time, I became known as “Tata Pido” since in our group, I was the oldest and the only one with grandchildren.

As a member of PAMALAKAYA I did organizing work in the fishing communities. I helped to explain the laws like the Fisheries Code of 1998 (or RA 8550) to the fishermen and why these laws were actually against their interest. I studied the different issues affecting the lives of not only the fisherfolk but the whole Filipino people. I learned how to be a public speaker, speaking during rallies and demonstrations. I think I am now a fairly good public speaker.

5. What in your personal view were the most annoying and most hilarious moments in life?

I am very angry about the exploitation and oppression of the Filipino people, especially the workers and the peasants; I am very angry at the successive US puppet regimes in the Philippines. I become especially angry whenever I read or hear the government-people say that our economy is improving; that the Filipinos are no longer hungry; that their lives are improving.

A funny episode in my life –When I was young, I often wondered how it felt to ride in an airplane. When I was still a fisherman I would look up and watch an airplane as it traveled above me.

In October 2000, when I was invited by the Deutsch-Philippinischen Freunde (DPF) to go to Germany, I traveled by plane for the very first time. I was alone. I was filled with excitement. I traveled by Malaysian Airlines. The plane left Manila 16.00 hours, and there was a stop-over in Kuala Lumpur. By 20.00 hours we were in the air, bound for Frankfurt, Germany. I kept looking at my watch, and when it was 6.30 hours (Philippine time) I began to worry because when I looked out the window, it was still very dark. I kept wondering – “what happened? When will it be morning?” Finally after a long time, the plane landed at Frankfurt airport and I learned it was 6.00 hours (German time). It was still not very light. It was so strange to me — the time difference. But there was no one to ask. Because immediately, I had another experience I will never forget.

The German immigration authorities asked me where I was going from the airport. I cannot understand and cannot speak English well. I could not understand the question very well. So I showed them my invitation letter from DPF, signed by Dagmar Eberhard. When the authorities asked who and where is Dagmar Eberhard, all I could tell about her is that she is a medical doctor and that she lives in Düsseldorf. Finally after about thirty minutes of questioning which got nowhere, the immigration authorities began announcing my name and Dagmar’s name over the public address system. Then Egon Winkler, a DPF member from Mülheim came to get me from the airport’s immigration office. Ed Sanque, a Filipino from Agusan del Norte, Mindanao, was with Egon. Oh, how relieved I was, and happy to see another Filipino.

6. You became a target of an assassination attempt. What were the concrete circumstances of this attempt? When and how did it happen?
I was the target of an assassination attempt on 12 May 2004.

This was the time of Gloria Arroyo regime. Since the end of 2001 the Arroyo regime had unleashed the torturer and murderer Philippine Army General Jovito Palparan to attack the members of the progressive peoples’ organizations. The attacks started in the provinces of Southern Tagalog region. In December 2001, the leader of the Dumagats and Remontados in Rizal was killed in broad daylight. Then in 2002, more Dumagats in the upland barrios of Rizal and Laguna were killed. Then members of Bayan Muna Party list, Gabriela Women’s organization, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas in Laguna. In the latter half of 2002, Palparan was transferred to Mindoro island. Killings almost weekly, happened. In April 2003, Eddie Gumanoy, the chairperson of the regional Farmers’ organization Kasama-TK (Federation of Farmers’ Organizations in Southern Tagalog) and Eden Marcellana the head of the human rights organization Karapatan-ST were abducted by the Philippine Army soldiers in Mindoro and the next morning they were found dead. Killings in Mindoro were very frequent. In the first half of 2004, PAMALAKAYA provincial leaders became the targets. We received reports that Palparan was transferring his murderous rampage to Quezon.

I was then the provincial Quezon-chairperson of Pamalakaya and the ANAKPAWIS (Toiling Masses) Party list. The headquarters of the ANAKPAWIS Quezon chapter was in Gumaca. My wife, Medy and I moved to Gumaca in February 2004 together with five party-list members from different towns of Quezon to start the election campaign work. Presidential elections was set for 10 May 2004.

Tata Pido speaking in a protest action. (BULATLAT FILE PHOTO)

We were receiving reports from our Party-list members in the upland barrios that they were being harassed by the Philippine Army soldiers and paramilitary groups like the CAFGU (Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit). The ANAKPAWIS party list organization was being branded as New Peoples’ Army (NPA) and the members as NPA supporters. Their membership cards were confiscated by the soldiers. There were incidents when the Philippine Army soldiers stopped them at the checkpoints and took away their farm tools (for copra making) and even the cooked food they had prepared for several days’ work. In March 2004, I went to the Quezon Provincial Board Council to file complaints against the Philippine Army Infantry Battalion stationed in the 4th district of Quezon. The Provincial Board council held (3) hearings on our complaints. The farmers and ANAKPAWIS members from the barrios came to Lucena (provincial capital) to attend the hearings.

In the third and last hearing, the commanding officer of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) Gen. Pedro Cabuay arrived with a group of farmers from Bondoc Peninsula. During the hearing, Gen Cabuay and the other officers openly called me a Communist and an NPA. Gen Cabuay asked me: “What can you say about the reports that you have been in the mountains, in the NPA gatherings?”

I replied: “The agenda in these hearings are not about me. The agenda is about the complaints of the farmers and the ANAKPAWIS members against the abuses of the Phil Army soldiers.” I think we should let the hearings proceed according to the set agenda”. The Provincial Councilors agreed with me; and refused to let General Cabuay derail the discussions. When the army officers persisted in bringing the discussion to my being a member of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP); the provincial councilors refused to back down. The Councilors took turns in explaining that the Anti-subversion law has been repealed in 1992. This is the law during the time of the Dictator Marcos which outlawed the CPP. When the farmers and the other rural folk heard the explanations, they clapped and cheered the councilors.

One week later, the AFP-SOLCOM in a nationwide radio broadcast again called me a communist and an NPA.

During the election campaign we received many reports of harassments of our party list municipal and barangay chapters. The other candidates also warned me that they had received reports that I would be attacked by the government security forces. On 10 May 2004, election day, we decided I should leave Gumaca immediately after casting my ballot. So Medy and I left for Manila. But two days later, 12 May, we had to go back to Gumaca to supervise the post election work –getting reports on the vote counting, the ANAKPAWIS staff had to go back to their own barrios, etc.

We arrived at our office in the afternoon. A while later, around 17.00 hours, I was standing by the little corner store and waiting for a tricycle, to go to town. I suddenly felt something hard hit my head. I fell into a small ditch. Then I opened my eyes and I could see two men shooting me. So I closed my eyes. After a while the shooting stopped. Then I heard my kasama (companion), Ka Rudy, shouting: “Tata Pido has been shot! Help! Help!” Then I felt Ka Rudy and a tricycle driver lifting me out of the ditch. They put me in a tricycle and brought me to the Gumaca district hospital. The hospital is about 500 meters from Camp Natividad police camp. There I was put on a metal trolley bed, in the lobby of the hospital. I could see many plainclothes police standing around. So I got very angry and said in a loud voice, ”You, policemen, you will not hear me begging for my life!” Then I saw my wife and my daughter had arrived. I told my daughter, “I don’t want to see anybody crying. These murderers will be happy if they see us crying.”

The initial diagnosis of the resident physician was: there is a bullet inside the patient’s head, possibly in his brain. Since there is no surgeon here and we do not have the needed equipment. It is best to get an ambulance and bring the patient to Manila at once. The district hospital had no X-Ray machine; also no ambulance. So the kasamas decided to bring me first to the other hospital to rent their ambulance. Then the doctor from the private hospital arrived with the ambulance. He talked to Medy and told her—“I don’t think the wound on the cheek is entry point of the bullet. There are no gunpowder burns around the wound. The patient is losing so much blood, if we bring him to Manila, he might die before we get there.” (Manila is nearly 200 kilometers from Gumaca).“ I want to bring him to the other hospital where there is an X-Ray machine, and I can operate on Tata Pido if necessary,” the doctor told Medy. Medy was asked to sign a waiver/agreeing to the doctor’s plan to operate.

The X-ray report showed that in spite of the nine gunshots I sustained, there were no shrapnel in my brain, or any vital organs. There was shrapnel lodged in the abdominal muscles under my ribs. The doctor decided to operate at once. After the operation I stayed in the hospital for five days and then the doctor said I may leave for Manila and be cared for by the doctors in the progressive medical organization .

After the attack Medy and I discussed what we should do when I recover from my wounds. We decided we should go back to our political work. To stop and in political lingo ”lie low” would mean we gave the fascist Arroyo regime what it wanted—to “silence me”.

By the end of 2004 I decided I was well enough to go back to political work. So Medy and I asked to be given work assignments once more.

7. Did you know who were behind this murder attempt? Were the culprits ever caught and held responsible for their crime?

I am positive that Gen. Pedro Cabuay, Gen. Alfonso Dagudag and the officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Southern Luzon Command in cooperation with Gen. Jovito Palparan were behind the murder attempt.

On 29 June 2004, I filed my formal complaint against them at the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) Monitoring Committee –Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

On 25 September 2006, together with many other victims of human rights violations, I filed my case before the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC).

As far as I know the Gumaca police have made no moves to even identify the two gunmen much less find and arrest them. After sixteen years. I know that justice will come when the Filipino people’s movement achieve national liberation and democracy.

8. I understand you and your wife Medy have been visiting political detainees regularly. How many political detainees are currently behind bars and what about their physical and mental condition?

Medy and I are now in our 70’s and so our political activities have limitations. Aside from going to political demonstrations and meetings, since 2012 we decided that visiting our political prisoner friends can be a regular activity for us.

All the political prisoners are charged with common crimes –murder, multiple murder, robbery in band, arson, illegal possession of firearms, illegal possession of explosives. As of this writing, there are more than 600 political prisoners in jails all over the country. Except for the political prisoners in Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig City, they are mixed with common criminal prisoners in the prison cells.

Physical conditions in the jails are very bad. The jails in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, Metro Davao are very overcrowded. Sunning and physical exercise in the open are limited to one or two hours a week. Water supply is unsafe and limited. The food is very bad. Prisoners must buy their own personal hygiene needs—bath and laundry soap, shampoo, toothpaste, etc.

The corruption is very rampant in the Bureau of Corrections (in charge of prison facilities for convicted prisoners) and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (in charge of jails for detainees still not convicted).

In the Maximum Security Compound in national penitentiary in Muntinlupa, in spite of the pronouncements of the Duterte government, the illegal drug trade continues—conducted by the drug lords confined there.

According to the authorities the Maximum Security Compound can accommodate 6,500 inmates, but now there are more than 19,000 inmates there. There are 45 political prisoners in the Maximum Security Compound, they are confined in a brigada attached to the church building of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente.

In October 2019, the Bureau of Corrections chief Gerald Bantag, ordered that the make-shift shacks of the prisoners in the Maximum Security Compound be demolished. As of this writing, hundreds of prisoners have to stay in the open spaces, with pieces of tarpaulin, or plastic sheets for protection from the sun, rain and now ash fall from the Taal Volcano.

The political prisoners (PPs) have very high morale. Among themselves, they have regular study and discussion sessions – on the economic and political situation in the Philippines, developments in other countries. In many jails the political prisoners conduct literacy-numeracy lessons for the non-political prisoners.

In all the jails, the PPs are regarded with respect by the non-political prisoners, because they are disciplined and they are always ready to help. The non-political prisoners ask the help of the PPs in appealing their cases in court, e.g. writing letters, getting what are the necessary documents and knowing where to get them, etc.

9. Are you in one way or another still active in trade unions or political organizations?

Yes, I am still active in the Fisherfolk organization, Pamalakaya. I am Vice-Chairperson Emeritus. This means I am asked to speak in demonstrations or meetings whenever the other officials cannot attend. I am still active in the Southern Tagalog chapter of Anakpawis .

Even when I am not a speaker, I still attend demonstrations, political meetings whenever I can. Sometimes, student and youth groups invite me to speak in their schools, or in the urban poor communities. I am especially glad to be with the young people because then I can really feel and see the bright future of the revolutionary struggle. In these young people—many of them as old as my own grandchildren– I see the fruit of my generation’s 50 years struggle.

10. How do you personally assess the three and a half years of the Duterte administration?

I agree with Jose Maria Sison: “Conditions are such that Duterte was able to pretend as being patriotic and progressive in order to win the 2016 elections.” But like his idol, Dictator Marcos, Duterte has brought so much misery to the people.

Duterte regime’s fascist drive is a brazen display of force and abuse of state powers. He seeks to terrorize the people and to silence the broad masses against worsening oppression.

In the face of Duterte’s brutal fascist drive, more and more Filipinos, especially young people, are encouraged to join the New People’s Army. To quote Jose Maria Sison: “Duterte, like Marcos, has become the best recruiter for the New People’s Army.”

After three and a half years of the Duterte regime, I can say that Duterte will surely end up in the garbage bin of history. Even now the majority of the Filipino people hate him and speak of him in ridicule.

PH, US soldiers conduct joint counter-terrorism training

From the Manila Bulletin (Jan 31, 2020): PH, US soldiers conduct joint counter-terrorism training (By Martin Sadongdong)

Amid President Duterte’s planned abrogation of the Visiting Forces of Agreement (VFA), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) looks to further strengthen its the military ties with the US.

The Philippine Army is currently hosting the first iteration of its counter-terrorism training with the United States Army dubbed as Balance Piston 20-1 from January 26 to February 23.


Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala, Army spokesperson, said the Balance Piston 20-1 is one of the annual training exchanges between the two countries.

Participants include personnel from the US Army’s 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) and the Philippine Army’s 18th Special Forces Company, Special Forces Regiment (Airborne).

The training is being held at the Philippine National Police Maritime Group Training Facility in Puerto Princesa, Palawan and at the headquarters of the 18th Special Forces Company in Rizal, Palawan.

Zagala said the Balance Piston training exercise aims to “strengthen the counter-terrorism capabilities” of the Army and “enhance” its interoperability with American counterparts.

“The Philippine Army [continues] to support and conduct trainings with its foreign counterparts as it helps ensure that our troops get necessary exercise to enhance their capabilities in various field,” Zagala said.

“It also helps develop and strengthen our cooperation with other armies in training and information exchange,” he added.

The training happened amid Duterte’s threat more than a week ago to scrap the 21-year-old military pact with the US.

Established on February 10, 1998, the VFA exempts US military personnel from passport and visa regulations upon entering and departing the Philippines. It came into force the following year.

It is regarded as among the foundations of the Philippines and US military trainings with the two countries’ over 70 years shared history of strategic alliance.

But Duterte warned to throw it all away if America fails to “correct” the cancellation of the US visa of close political ally and long-time friend, Senator Ronald dela Rosa, reportedly due to allegations of human rights violations.

Prior to being a lawmaker, Dela Rosa was the chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in 2016 when it spearheaded the anti-drug campaign Oplan Tokhang that was blamed for the death of thousands of drug suspects.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier said the process to terminate the VFA has already started.

Soldier hurt, rebel slain in Mindoro town clash

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jan 31, 2020): Soldier hurt, rebel slain in Mindoro town clash (By Madonna T. Virola)

A soldier was wounded in an armed encounter with suspected New People’s Army (NPA) members Friday morning in Socorro town, Oriental Mindoro, police said.

Lt. Col. Imelda Tolentino, Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan police information officer, said Corporal Froilan Yakak, a member of Philippine Army’s 203rd Infantry Brigade, suffered a bullet wound on his right shoulder after his platoon
encountered some 15 rebels in Sitio (sub-village) Panakan in Barangay Happy Valley at 8:55 a.m.

Tolentino said the soldiers were conducting combat operations when they encountered the NPA rebels. The Army received reports of NPA guerrillas camping in the village.

An unidentified man was also found dead in the area after the 15-minute firefight.

Found in the clash site were a caliber .45 gun, two magazines for caliber .45, three magazines for M16, 200 rounds of ammunition for M60, 100 rounds for M16, two pieces improvised explosive devices, personal belongings, and anti-government documents.

'5 Indonesian hostages guarded by 30 Sayyafs in Sulu village'

From the Daily Express (Feb 1, 2020): '5 Indonesian hostages guarded by 30 Sayyafs in Sulu village' (By: Zam Yusa)

Map of Sulu's Maimbung municipality (Photo: Google Maps).

KOTA KINABALU: The five Indonesian fishermen kidnapped in Lahad Datu waters in January were recently seen in a Sulu village guarded by some 30 armed Abu Sayyaf men led by a sub-leader wanted by the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom), a Filipino terrorism expert told Daily Express.

The Chairman of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research, Prof Rommel Banlaoi, on Friday said the five were seen on Jan 21.

“They were sighted together with some 30 armed Abu Sayyaf members led by Apo Mike in Barangay (Village) Tambaking, Maimbung municipality, Sulu,”
Rommel said, citing tips from official intelligence sources he had obtained.

“The Indonesians, identified as Arsyad Dahlan, La Baa, Riswanto Hayono, Edi Lawalopo and Syarizal Kastamiran, are reportedly being fed once a day.

“Suspected Abu Sayyaf members kidnapped the Indonesians in waters off Tambisan Island in Lahad Datu, Sabah.”

Apo Mike is the alias used by Majan Sahidjuan, who is among 18 cross-border Filipino criminals on Esscom’s last wanted list issued in January 2019.

The Philippine military’s Western Mindanao Command spokesperson Maj Arvin Encinas, when contacted, could not confirm the information.

Daily Express is still awaiting a response from the Philippine military whether there is a pursuit or rescue operation in Maimbung.

However, the Philippine armed forces usually do not confirm or deny information Daily Express obtain on the locations of ongoing hostage rescue operations.

Last year, Daily Express reported Apo Mike to have been among four Abu Sayyaf sub-leaders who handled three previous Indonesian hostages.

The trio, who were snatched from their shrimp boat in September last year also in Tambisan Island waters, were reportedly rescued by the Philippine military in December and January.

However, Daily Express earlier in January reported that the Indonesian government had paid ransom for the release of the three Indonesians which emboldened kidnappers to snatch the latest five fishermen, citing information from a government source close to the ransom negotiation that took place with the Abu Sayyaf for the release of the trio.

The other three hostage handlers are Mokong (most probably an alias), Sibih Pisih and Salip Mura, the last two of whom are also wanted by Esscom but Sibih was killed in a military operation in Indanan, Sulu last November.

Mokong is the son of Hatib Hajan @ Sawadjaan, who is also on Esscom’s wanted list and was identified as the “acting emir” of the Islamic State terror group in the Philippines in a 2018 report by the US Department of Defence.

This came after another Abu Sayyaf leader, Isnilon Hapilon, the Islamic State’s emir-designate in Southeast Asia, was killed towards the end of the 2017 Marawi siege by his group and the Maute militant group.

Sawadjaan, whose stronghold is reportedly in Patikul, Sulu was also tagged as the mastermind in the January 2019 cathedral suicide bombing by a married Indonesian couple in Sulu’s capital city Jolo.

He was also reported to be harbouring foreign terrorists including Malaysians and Indonesians.

The Abu Sayyaf, which has a faction that pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, has been blamed by Malaysian and Philippine authorities for previous kidnappings in the Sulu Sea which is shared by both nations.