Saturday, February 8, 2020

Terror At The Border: Why ESSZone Is Still Around 7 Years After Lahad Datu?

From the Rikyat Post posted to MSN News (Feb 7, 2020): Terror At The Border: Why ESSZone Is Still Around 7 Years After Lahad Datu? (By Hakim Hassan)

The Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZone) is an area marred by kidnappings and murders over the years, so much so that Malaysian authorities have beefed up the border to ensure the safety of civilians and tourists.

ESSZone is an area located in the eastern half of Sabah which borders the southern tip of the Philippines.

Initiated after the Lahad Datu incident in 2013, ESSZone was established to increase the security at the eastern border against militant threats.

Although the invasion ended after around a month, acts of violence continued at the border, such as a 2014 shootout between marine police and Filipino terrorists in Pulau Mabul, prompting a curfew that has been on-going since 2014.

The curfew covers Tawau, Semporna, Kunak, Lahad Datu, Kinabatangan, Sandakan, and Beluran.

Everyone is required to stay indoors, and people are not allowed to be out on the water between 6pm and 6am.

Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) said the extension is to ensure researchers, as well as foreign tourists at the resort islands, are safe from terrorist threats.

Why is there a security zone near the Sabah border in the first place?

The incident that gave birth to ESSZONE

The enforcement of ESSZone came after the Sulu invasion at Lahad Datu in 2013 which claimed 68 lives – 56 invaders, 9 from the Malaysian authorities, and 6 civilians.

Initially, the government was willing to negotiate the issue before a skirmish broke out between the Filipino Sulu invaders and the police.

14 casualties were reported – 2 Malaysian policemen and 12 invaders.

Following the incident, then Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZone) in 10 areas in the state.

At the time, ESSZone included the districts of Kudat, Kota Marudu, Pitas, Beluran, Sandakan, Kinabatangan, Lahad Datu, Kunak, Semporna and Tawau.

© Provided by The Rakyat Post Picture Credit: Wikipedia

The border is monitored by the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCom) which patrols the waters between the Sabah-Southern Philippine border.

ESSZone and ESSCom were established after Putrajaya realised that several settlements allowed for easy entry of illegal immigrants and stateless persons in Sabah which enabled the Sulu invasion.

Although the Sulu conflict has ceased – mainly after Jamalul Kiram III passed away due to multiple organ failures and Malaysian police flushing out remaining insurgents – the border was still under the threat of terrorists from the southern Philippines.

Since 2018, security forces have thwarted 40 kidnapping attempts in the waters off seven districts in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZone).

Terrorist threats at the border

Although the threat from the Sulu has subsided, ESSZone’s curfew is still enforced due to another militant group wreaking havoc in the area – the Islamic extremists Abu Sayyaf.

Abu Sayyaf is a terrorist organisation based in the Philippines founded in the early 1990s to create an independent Islamic state in the southern Philippines and was responsible for multiple acts of violence.

The group has been notorious for kidnappings since 2000 with multiple incidents happening for close to 20 years.

© Provided by The Rakyat Post Picture Credit: Borneo Post
In 2014, the country was rocked by the Mabul Island incident which saw one casualty (Corporal Rajah Jamuan) after a band of terrorists ambushed unsuspecting law enforcers.

One of the policemen, Constable Zakiah Aliep, was kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf during the incident but was released after continuous negotiations that lasted for 8 months.

After that, the terrorists continued their reign of terror with the kidnapping of 39-year-old Sarawakian engineer Bernard Then and 50-year-old Sabahan restaurant owner Thien Nyuk Fun from her restaurant in Sandakan in 2016.

Thien was released 6 months after but Bernard was murdered and decapitated, his head was discovered by a street sweeper in a sack near a municipal council building on Jolo Island in the Philippines.

From 2014 to 2016, ESScom managed to cripple 15 kidnap attempts – 6 of them during the first half of 2016 alone.

In January 2020, the authorities confirmed that 40 cases have been thwarted due to the close cooperation between the Royal Malaysia Police, Malaysian Armed Forces and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency.

However, the curfew was still extended up to February 20, 2020.

New Philippine navy chief keeps US ties afloat

Posted to the Asia Times (Feb 7, 2020): New Philippine navy chief keeps US ties afloat (By RICHARD JAVAD HEYDARIAN)

Naval commander’s message and tone at stark odds with President Duterte’s anti-US rhetoric and threats

New Philippine navy chief keeps US ties afloat

Rear Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo, the Philippine Navy’s newly appointed chief, is so far marching to the beat of the military establishment’s drummer. Photo: Presidential Office

Rear Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo, the Philippine Navy’s newly appointed chief, is not clearly taking his early command orders from President Rodrigo Duterte.

Bacordo, who took up the navy’s top post on February 3, vowed at his appointment ceremony to “continue to maintain the nine occupied features in the [South China Sea]. We will continue to replenish and rotate our personnel in the [area],” he said.

“At all times, we will show the flag in the [sea],” he told reporters, in remarks that likely pleased the United States and potentially irked China, which lays claim to some of the sea features Bacordo swore to defend as Philippine territory.

Bacardo’s appointment, made with Duterte’s approval, comes against the backdrop of fast-fraying US-Philippine ties.

In recent weeks, Duterte has vowed to abrogate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) – a pact that allows the US to station troops on Philippine soil on a rotational basis – in diplomatic retaliation for a US travel ban imposed on certain of his top political allies accused of human rights abuses.

Duterte also declined a recent White House invitation to attend a US-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Leaders Summit to be staged with President Donald Trump as host next month in Las Vegas.

US President Donald Trump and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte at the ASEAN Summit in Manila, November 2017. Photo: Twitter

The Philippine leader has given the US a one-month deadline to reverse the travel ban, according to Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar.

“So we are observing and we are waiting for the decision of the United States and after that we shall cross the bridge when we get there,” Andanar said in reference to Duterte’s tit-for-tat threat to scrap the VFA.

Andanar said it is Duterte’s “choice” and “prerogative” if he wants to downgrade strategic ties with the US and build strategic relations with US rivals China and Russia, as his administration has done in recent years.

“If he wants to open our country to being friends with other superpowers like the People’s Republic of China and Russia, then so be it,” Andanar said amid the spiraling diplomatic spat.

Those statements, however, are at odds with the Philippine military establishment, which in recent days has underscored its commitment to maintaining robust ties with the US to defend national interests, including in the South China Sea.

“We will continue to engage [the US]. We will continue to exercise with them,” said Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad, the navy’s outgoing chief, in late January.

US and Philippine troops at a joint exercise event in a file photo. Photo: Twitter

Despite Duterte’s lean towards China, the AFP has remained suspicious of the Asian powerhouse’s intentions as it has expanded its coast guard and paramilitary presence in Philippine waters in recent years.

China has also recently deployed warplanes, including nuclear-capable bombers, deep into the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the South China Sea.

The Philippines currently controls nine land features in the Chinese-claimed Spratly island chain.

Locally known as the Kalayaan (freedom) Group of Islands, they include Thitu (Pagasa Island), Second Thomas Shoal (Ayungin), Nanshan (Lawak Island), Northeast Cay (Parola Island), Flat (Patag Island), Loaita (Kota Island), Commodore (Rizal Reef), West York (Likas Island), and Lankiam (Panata Island).

The land features have been defended for decades by Philippine military attachments, with each rotating group of Navy and Marine troops serving three-to-six-month tours in the hotly contested maritime area.

The biggest Philippine-controlled land feature is Thitu Island, the second largest naturally-formed island in the area which serves as host to its own civilian community, an airstrip and a number of Philippine military personnel since the 1970s.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has also maintained a presence since the late 1990’s over the Second Thomas Shoal, a low tide elevation close to the energy-rich Reed Bank area through a rusty, grounded transport ship known as BRP Sierra Madre.

Beginning in the mid-1990s, China started to consolidate its control over the nearby Philippine-claimed Mischief Reef.

In 2012, after a months-long naval standoff, China also seized control of the contested Scarborough Shoal, a crucial feature in any future Chinese bid to establish an Aerial Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the South China Sea. Both land features fall within the Philippines’ EEZ.

More recently, China has tightened a naval noose around the Philippine outpost at the Second Thomas Shoal by harassing the AFP’s supply lines and surveillance missions in the area.

Last June, tensions between the two countries reached new heights, when a suspected Chinese militia vessel rammed a Filipino fishing vessel, nearly drowning its 22 fishermen. Throughout 2019, China deployed an ever-larger armada of paramilitary forces close to Philippine-occupied islands in the sea.

The AFP has also opposed China’s attempts to penetrate strategic Philippine infrastructure.

Having successfully blocked Chinese inroads into strategic bases in Subic Bay and Fuga Island, the Philippine Navy has also raised concerns about the US$10 billion Sangley Point International Airport project, which is expected to be developed by China Communications Construction Company Limited (CCCC).

“If ever there are Chinese facilities there, one of the challenges is the Navy could get spied on because it’s nearby. We need to boost our information technology, cyber-capability so we can keep track of them,” said Empedrad in a press briefing on February 5.

A Philippine naval officer stands guard during the arrival of American missile destroyer USS Chung Hoon before US-Philippine joint naval military exercises. Photo: AFP/Noel Celis/Getty Images

The US, which in recent months has ramped up so-called freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) in the South China Sea, is likely to welcome new navy chief Bacordo’s hard stance and tough rhetoric.

Speaking at an event at the University of Santo Tomas on February 3, US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim emphasized the importance of a sustained US military presence in the Philippines to guard against shared strategic threats, likely meaning China.

His military-focused speech, some noted, came just two days before Bacordo officially took over his new post as navy chief.

“The alliance remains as important today as it was 75 years ago, as we work together to respond to humanitarian disasters, counterterrorism, and keep the Indo-Pacific region free and open for all nations,” the US envoy said, indirectly questioning Duterte’s call to abrogate the VFA.

“The profound importance of our alliance became evident to me shortly after my arrival in the Philippines three years ago, when crisis broke out in Mindanao. As ISIS-inspired terrorists took over the city of Marawi, our alliance didn’t skip a beat,” he said.

Kim also highlighted the VFA’s centrality to joint humanitarian assistance and disaster-relief operations, seen most prominently during the 2013 Typhoon Haiyan disaster, when the US dispatched 13,400 US troops, 66 aircraft and 12 ships to storm-devastated areas.

US Ambassador Sung Kim (L) and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (R) in a file photo. Photo: Facebook

More significantly, perhaps, Kim has also suggested that the US would come to the Philippines’ defense if its troops or vessels ever came under deliberate Chinese attack, including by paramilitary forces, as outlined in the two sides’ 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty.

The US likely hopes that diplomatic support will translate into more naval cooperation under Bacordo.

According to a report by the South China Morning Post, last year saw the largest ever number of US FONOPs, most staged in direct challenge to China’s wide-reaching claims, in the South China Sea.

While previous US president Barack Obama’s administration launched more irregular FONOPs within 12 nautical miles of Chinese-occupied islands, recent years have seen a steady increase from six in 2017 and seven in 2019, a significant rise from only three in 2016 and two in 2015.

‘End that son of a bitch’: Philippine president says he will scrap military pact with US

From the Washington Examiner (Feb 7, 2020): ‘End that son of a bitch’: Philippine president says he will scrap military pact with US (By Joel Gehrke)

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will end the Visiting Forces Agreement that underpins U.S. military training exercises with the country's troops, one of his top advisers announced Friday.

“The president said he is terminating the VFA,”
Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Friday. “I asked for clarification, and he said he is not changing his decision.”

That choice is another blow to the relationship between the United States and the Philippines, which has suffered for years from disputes over Duterte’s human rights record. The belligerent president announced a plan to terminate the deal, which provides legal protection to U.S. troops who visit the island for military drills, after the State Department reportedly canceled the visa of a political ally and former police chief who is suspected of involvement in extrajudicial killings.

"I'm warning you ... if you won't do the correction on this, I will terminate the ... Visiting Forces Agreement,”
Duterte said late last month. “I'll end that son of a bitch.”

Lorenzana argued against scrapping the agreement in a legislative hearing on Thursday, emphasizing that the pact is “more beneficial” to the Philippines “compared to any benefits” that might seem to come from ending it.

"Our contribution to regional defense is anchored in our military alliance with the world's last superpower,” he told lawmakers.

Any weakening of the U.S.-Philippine alliance is a cause for celebration in Beijing, as U.S. officials believe that China is pursuing a plan to dominate the Indo-Pacific region and ultimately challenge the U.S. as a global power.

The Philippines have an important role to play in countering that effort because they are one of the countries with the legal standing to contest China’s claim to sovereignty over the South China Sea, a vital international shipping lane.

The end of the Visiting Forces Agreement would not scuttle the U.S. alliance with the Philippines immediately, as the two nations are bound by a Mutual Defense Treaty and an Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo affirmed Washington’s commitment to those pledges last year.

“China’s island-building and military activities in the South China Sea threaten your sovereignty, security, and therefore economic livelihood, as well as that of the United States,” Pompeo said in Manila. “We remain committed to supporting not only the Philippines in that effort — and the Philippines will need to do its part as well — but all the countries in the region so that these incredibly vital economic sea lanes are open and China does not pose a threat to closing them down.”

That relationship has been undercut by Duterte’s drug war, a campaign that is central to his political identity but that he has prosecuted with a brutal disregard for human rights, according to a recent State Department report.

“My only sin is the extrajudicial killings,” Duterte said in 2018.

The Philippine leader is taking aim at the 20-year-old Visiting Forces Agreement in defense of Sen. Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa, a former police chief who oversaw anti-drug operations that left at least 4,000 suspects dead over a two-year period. The visa cancellation “might be related” to his conduct as police chief, dela Rosa acknowledged at the time.

Lorenzana testified Thursday that he fears that the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement might lead the U.S. to limit other military ties or cut various forms of financial aid to the country. Still, he struck a loyalist note after Duterte’s directive.

“The president, as the ultimate authority on foreign relations, has decided. And whatever he decides on this matter has my unqualified support,”
the defense chief said. “What I think becomes irrelevant.”

DND chief: Study of mutual Defense pact on

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Feb 8, 2020): DND chief: Study of mutual Defense pact on (By Melvin Gascon)

The Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between the Philippines and the United States has been put under a “low-level” review by the governments of both countries, in the light of threats from President Duterte about canceling defense agreements with the United States.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said “low-level” staff were currently conducting an “exploratory study” on how both sides could “move forward.”

“A low-level review is ongoing on both sides and the result will be discussed in the next [Mutual Defense Board and Security Engagement Board meeting],”
he said.

Lorenzana made the statement in the light of his pronouncements during Thursday’s Senate hearing of the committee on foreign relations on the impact of the imminent cancellation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

The Department of National Defense earlier said it had begun assessment on the possible impact of the scrapping of the VFA, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement and the MDT.

He told senators that the US government objected to his proposal last year to review the 1951 MDT.

Under the treaty, the Philippines and the United States shall come to each other’s defense in case of an armed attack on either country.

The defense chief, however, clarified reports quoting him that the United States had “rejected” his MDT review proposal.

“I did not say that they [US] rejected it. Initially, they said they prefer that we do not touch the document,” he said in a Viber message to reporters.

Lorenzana said he had wanted a review to clarify what was really covered by the MDT, due to a “disconnect” in both countries’ interpretation of coverage of the treaty.

“For them Scarborough Shoal is not part of the metropolitan Philippines. For us, ever since the Spanish time, it’s part of our territory,” the defense secretary said during the Senate hearing.

Peace process adviser: CPP-NPA-NDF becoming irrelevant

From the Manila Bulletin (Feb 7, 2020): Peace process adviser: CPP-NPA-NDF becoming irrelevant (By Argyll Cyrus Geducos)

Peace Process Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. said the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) was starting to become irrelevant given the number of rebels surrendering to the government.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Carlito Galvez Jr. (Screenshot / RTVM / PCOO / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

In a statement, Galvez said the communist rebels are against the government’s plan to intensify the implementation of socio-economic interventions in conflict-ridden communities because the organization is fast losing its clout and relevance.

“The number of rebel returnees grows day by day because they have realized that the government already has programs and policies in place that aim to address their needs and general welfare. Hence, there is no more reason for them to bear arms and pursue armed struggle,” he said.

“The armed struggle has no legitimacy in a civilized society. Armed violence is an anathema of peace and development, and the CPP-NPA should be disbanded.”

Galvez believes that CPP founder Jose Maria Sison’s continued attacks on the government’s peace agenda are a response to the successful implementation of Executive Order No. 70 which institutionalized a “whole-of-nation approach” implementation of good governance and promotion of social justice to end the decades-long communist rebellion.

“Sison and company are working overtime to sabotage the implementation of EO No. 70 because their organization will be rendered irrelevant. Obviously, they are hurting because of the government’s successes in its current inclusive peace and development efforts,” Galvez said.

On Thursday, President Duterte said he believed peace in Mindanao will be achieved sooner than later because of the number of rebels surrendering.

“At the rate that the NPAs are surrendering, mukhang (it looks like) I think that we’d be able to realize peace much earlier. But the most important thing is to come up and comply with the promise to the rebels,” Duterte said.

Localized peace engagements

Meanwhile, Galvez said Sison must understand that EO 70 is “people-centered and community-based” in finding lasting solutions to the root causes of social divides and conflict, and is not about military security operations, as Sison tried to label and demonize it.

“EO 70 has nothing to do with military combat operations, but more on how to harmonize our government instrumentalities and services in addressing the needs of our people. EO 70’s ultimate objectives are on the attainment of social justice and equitable service to humanity through the LPEs,” Galvez explained.

The localized peace engagements (LPE), one of the clusters created under EO 70, aims to empower people, make communities conflict-resilient, and provide a safe and direct line of communication between the government, the people, and rebels who want to give up armed struggle.

Claims debunked

Galvez likewise debunked Sison’s claim that the P21 billion in funds for conflict-affected barangays will only be a kind of racket for military officers to pocket the money.

“Maybe Sison is talking to himself, because their financial system is being controlled by only a few and mostly their ‘party wives’ are acting as finance officers. Their management system is dictatorial wherein ‘financial opportunism’ and corruption are very prevalent,” he said.

Galvez explained that the funds will not be released to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), but directly to the local government units, communities, and people’s organizations. The implementation of the different projects will likewise follow stringent finance regulations on accounting and auditing procedures.

“Sison is so far away from what is actually happening on the ground, in which case he is either unaware or just ignoring the positive developments that are happening to these communities. Sison has no moral high ground and is not in the right mind to judge and prevent what is good for the Filipino people,” Galvez said.

Military officers worry about loss of US surveillance aid

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Feb 7, 2020): Military officers worry about loss of US surveillance aid (By Froilan Gallardo, Julie Alipala)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Field-based officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has expressed worry over the possible cut in the United States government’s assistance for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) activities should President Duterte proceed with terminating the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

The officers, who asked not to be named, said US support is crucial in running after Islamic State (IS)-linked militants.

Without US support, one officer said, it would be like
“fighting the militants with blurry eyes or a hazy vision.”
“Some of our operations will be affected,” the officer further said.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, in a recent visit here, has said the country stands to lose US support for ISR operations without the VFA.

Lorenzana said the support is made possible through the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) which was inked in 2014. It allows the United States to rotate troops into the country for extended stays, and to build and operate facilities on AFP bases.

“I think EDCA will become useless if there is no more VFA. Who will man these bases,” said Lorenzana, referring to the US military facilities that’s providing the intelligence and surveillance support, one of which is in Zamboanga City.

Along with the Zamboanga US facility, Lorenzana said the surveillance flights provided by Dyne Corporation, a service provider of the US Department of Defense, will also stop its operations in Southern Philippines.

Another military officer has told the Inquirer the Zamboanga facility was instrumental in the recent successful operation that led to the killing of a local IS affiliate in Lanao del Sur.

“We have to look elsewhere for that kind of support soon,” said Lorenzana, who is vice chair of the body overseeing implementation of the VFA on the Philippine side.

In Zamboanga City, Lt. General Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Western Mindanao Command, said the US support “complements our existing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.”

Sobejana attributed the US support to the successful rescue of the British-Filipino couple who was kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf in Zamboanga del Sur last year, and the three Indonesian fishers who were snatched, also last year, in waters off Sabah, Malaysia.

These kidnap victims were brought to Sulu where they were also rescued.

Sobejana also acknowledged the role of US surveillance support in tracking Lanao IS affiliate Jarir Usman who was killed in an armed encounter with government troops in Balindong town last Jan. 24.

According to a military officer, the troops were fed information about Usman’s whereabouts from the US surveillance facility in Zamboanga City, coursed through the AFP’s chain of command.

Once the defense deals are terminated, the temporary facility operated by U.S. forces in southern Zamboanga City will also shut down, Lorenzana said.

“That DyneCorp [surveillance] will have to go, too, because it is attached to the U.S. Department of Defense,” Lorenzana added.

Lorenzana said the Philippine military would then have to build its own aerial surveillance capability.

Surveillance aircraft operated by DyneCorp helped government troops defeat in 2017 IS militants who laid siege on Marawi City.

Apart from aiding the AFP in war-fighting, some other AFP officers pointed to logistical assistance from the US military towards rescue and relief operations in times of disasters like after typhoons Sendong, Pablo and Yolanda.

But the Philippine National Police (PNP) said the abrogation of the VFA will not impact the agency.

“We are not totally affected and we are not totally dependent from the United States,” PNP spokesman Brigadier General Bernard Banac has said.

Some units of the PNP, like the Special Action Force, receive specialized training from US forces.

“We have other partners in the region like Japan and Korea, including Interpol. The SAF gets some trainings, but we have many options in the region,” Banac said.

AFP-CRS: 5-taong plano ng CPP-NPA para sirain ang Pilipinas

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook Page (Feb 6, 2020): 5-taong plano ng CPP-NPA para sirain ang Pilipinas

Issue 1.5 Series of 2020

Bumuo ng makapangyarihang kilusan para sa libreng pamamahagi ng lupa na wala namang basehan ng pag-aari. Mag-organisa ng mga grupong manggugulo upang mag-kontrol at mang-himasok sa mga kumpanya at sa mga imbestor na nagbibigay trabaho sa mga tao. Lahat ng ito ay upang linlangin ang mamamayan sa totoong hangarin ng mga totoong terorista sa ating bayan.

#AFPyoucanTRUST l

[The Civil Relations Service (CRS) is the unit of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that engages the public through its public information and community relations programs “to create a favorable atmosphere between the community and the AFP. The CRS is the equivalent of the Psychological Operations and Civil Affairs units of the US Army.]

AFP-CRS: High Ranking Officer of Communist Terrorist Group Arrested in Tacloban City

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook Page (Feb 8, 2020): High Ranking Officer of Communist Terrorist Group Arrested in Tacloban City

“Sinasabuhay na po natin ang whole-of-nation approach. Ipagpatuloy lang po natin ito at siguradong marami pa tayong mahuhuli at ma-neutralize na miyembro ng Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) at sama-sama nating ma-aaccomplish ang ating mission to end local communist armed conflict
dito sa Eastern Visayas.”

Commander, 8th Infantry Division, PA

Image may contain: 3 people

[The Civil Relations Service (CRS) is the unit of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that engages the public through its public information and community relations programs “to create a favorable atmosphere between the community and the AFP. The CRS is the equivalent of the Psychological Operations and Civil Affairs units of the US Army.]

AFP-CRS: High-ranking CTG officer, members arrested in joint AFP and PNP law enforcement operations

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook Page (Feb 8, 2020): High-ranking CTG officer, members arrested in joint AFP and PNP law enforcement operations

“Ang pagkakaaresto kay Frenchie Castro Cumpio at ng kanyang mga kasamahan ay resulta ng ating pagtutulungan – impormasyon mula sa ating mga kababayan, teamwork ng ating security forces at suporta ng ating local na pamahalaan at mga ahensiya.”

Commander, 8th Infantry Division, PA


Image may contain: 6 people

[The Civil Relations Service (CRS) is the unit of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that engages the public through its public information and community relations programs “to create a favorable atmosphere between the community and the AFP. The CRS is the equivalent of the Psychological Operations and Civil Affairs units of the US Army.]

AFP-CRS: Repatriation mission ships arrive in Oman

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook Page (Feb 7, 2020): Repatriation mission ships arrive in Oman

Three weeks after leaving Manila and a brief stop in Sri Lanka, the two Philippine Navy ships tasked to help repatriate overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the Middle East have arrived in Oman.

#AFPyoucanTRUST l

Image may contain: 5 people

[The Civil Relations Service (CRS) is the unit of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that engages the public through its public information and community relations programs “to create a favorable atmosphere between the community and the AFP. The CRS is the equivalent of the Psychological Operations and Civil Affairs units of the US Army.]

AFP-CRS: Top CPP-NPA leader neutralized in Butuan City

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook Page (Feb 6, 2020): Top CPP-NPA leader neutralized in Butuan City

Bancasi, Butuan City – A Joint Law Enforcement Operation conducted by the Philippine Army together with the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) 13, and Philippine National Police Regional Office 13 resulted to the killing of a top CPP-NPA Terrorist (CNT) leader around 11 o’clock in the morning, February 5, 2020 at Rosales St., Brgy 15, San Ignacio, Butuan City.


#AFPyoucanTRUST l

Image may contain: one or more people, possible text that says '06FEBRUARY 2020 TOP CPP-NPA LEADER NEUTRALIZED IN BUTUAN CITY "They can run but they cannot hide for long. It is tragic that they take up arms against the government. reiterate once again the government's call for the CNTs to avail the E-CLIP, surrender and go back to their families." O CRSAFP BGEN MAURITO LICUDINE AFP Commander, Infantry Brigade, PA ©crsaip CiviRelationsServiceAFP #AFPyoucanTRUST'

[The Civil Relations Service (CRS) is the unit of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that engages the public through its public information and community relations programs “to create a favorable atmosphere between the community and the AFP. The CRS is the equivalent of the Psychological Operations and Civil Affairs units of the US Army.]

AFP-CRS: Community information helps eliminate CPP-NPA presence

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook Page (Feb 6, 2020): Community information helps eliminate CPP-NPA presence

Three CPP-NPA members were neutralized while firearms and various equipment were also recovered in an encounter at Senator Ninoy Aquino, Sultan Kudarat.

The encounter was a result of information and continuous help provided by the locals which manifest that the CPP-NPA terrorists are slowly losing their gains in the community.

The locals, together with the LGUs, are joining hand in hand to eliminate the terrorist NPA problem in the area.

#AFPyoucanTRUST l

Image may contain: one or more people

[The Civil Relations Service (CRS) is the unit of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that engages the public through its public information and community relations programs “to create a favorable atmosphere between the community and the AFP. The CRS is the equivalent of the Psychological Operations and Civil Affairs units of the US Army.]

MILF-CC: BARMM Chief Minister Ebrahim hopes reforming the Bangsamoro education to ensure high quality education

Posted to the Committee on Information, Moro Islamic Liberation Front Central Committee MILF-CC Website (Feb 8, 2020): BARMM Chief Minister Ebrahim hopes reforming the Bangsamoro education to ensure high quality education (By Muhammad Musa)

COTABATO CITY – Ahod ‘Al Haj Murad’ Ebrahim, BARMM Chief Minister on his message delivered by his Executive Staff during the 1st Bangsamoro mass signing and oath taking ceremony of the newly appointed teachers for Maguindanao 1 and 2 Schools Division on February 6-7 held at SKCC, Cotabato City, said that reforming the MBHTE was one of their immediate actions to ensure the region has “credible teachers on the ground to provide a high quality of education to our students.”

ICM said, the licensed teachers were given the chance to reshape the region and re-engineering the educational system of the Bangsamoro.

“More than the opportunity to work, our dear teachers, you are now given the chance to reshape the region and we believe it is true all of you that we can truly instill real change for the region not because of political propaganda but because of decency of your profession,” Ebrahim said in his message.

Ebrahim is hoping that beyond the basic ABCs of teaching, teachers embed the importance of moral values in their classes.

“We hope to raise a Bangsamoro that is not just intellectually apt, but morally guided, especially with our shared values as a people,” he said,

“You have the rare opportunity of shaping an entire generation who will eventually succeed in the direction of the Bangsamoro,” Ebrahim stressed.

To attain the reform in the Bangsamoro government, and elevate the quality of the educational system in the Bangsamoro region, the Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE) of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) hired a total of 1, 156 licensed teachers for the two districts of Maguindanao province.

The 569 newly-hired elementary and secondary teachers for Maguindanao 1 and 586 newly hired teachers for Maguindanao 2 Schools Division are expected to deliver quality of teaching in their respective schools.

For his part MBHTE Minister Mohagher M. Iqbal said “our goal is to have a balanced, inclusive, relevant, and quality Bangsamoro Educational System for our children. The vision is possible if we have quality teachers.”

“Teachers are perhaps the most influential role models for young people,” Iqbal noted, reminding the teachers to uphold the regional government’s advocacy of moral governance.

This month, the MBHTE-BARMM is slated to conduct a selection and screening process for aspiring teaching applicants in the divisions of Basilan and Tawi-Tawi, while the selection process schedule for the divisions of Sulu, and Lanao del Sur is yet to be announced by the ministry.

CPP/NDF-Negros: NDF Negros joins condemnation of Leyte 5 arrest

NDF-Negros propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Feb 7, 2020): NDF Negros joins condemnation of Leyte 5 arrest

FEBRUARY 08, 2020

National Democratic Front (NDF)-Negros in a statement expressed unity with the country’s outrage over the arrest of five activists in Tacloban City early today, February 7.

At around 2:00 in the morning, five activists, along with a one year old baby, awoke to simultaneous police raids of offices of progressive groups and were arrested based on trumped-up charges and planted evidences.

Arrested were Mira Legion of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan-EV), Marissa Cabaljao of People’s Surge with her one year old child, Alexander Abinguna of Katungod EV, Marielle Domequil of Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-EV and Frenchiemae Cumpio of Eastern Vista.

“This sounds eerily familiar to Negrosanons as this AFP/PNP modus operandi was first implemented here in Bacolod City and Escalante City last October 31, 2019 victimizing 57 innocent civilians,” said Ka Bayani Obrero, spokesperson of NDF Negros.

According to Obrero, this worsens the human rights situation in the country with the PNP manipulating the legality of planted evidences and trumped-up charges.

“While everyday news is swamped with narratives of the Duterte regime’s inutile response to the novel coronavirus, state agents are treacherously attacking activists, blatantly displaying Duterte’s fascist decrees as implemented through Memorandum Order 32 and Executive Order 70,” he added.

Leyte’s neighbour province, Samar, is one of the provinces under Memorandum Order 32 along with Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental and Bicol region wherein the AFP was ordered to send more troops on the basis of lawless violence.

“The NDF Negros calls on all Negrosanons to stand as one with the people of Eastern Visayas in denouncing the increasing human rights violations and fight the climate of terror caused by state-sponsored attacks,”

“The struggle against Duterte’s fascism and tyranny must be intensified with the perpetrators made to answer for crimes committed against the Filipino people,” he ended.###


Kalinaw News: CTG high ranking officers, arrested in Getafe

Posted to Kalinaw News (Feb 8, 2020): CTG high ranking officers, arrested in Getafe (By 47th Infantry Battalion)

CARMEN, Bohol – Executive Order 70’s Joint AFP-PNP law enforcement operations led to the arrest of Rey Camacho @JEBOY/TEDDY/CHAD/VAL, 51 years old, National Finance Commission Staff and his wife Carmelita Camacho @ MAUREEN/INDAY, 48 years old, Head of the National Commission Special Operations Group (SOG) today, February 8, in Brgy. Tulang, Getafe, Bohol.

The Joint Forces reported that at 5:30 am of February 8, a search warrant was executed in
the house of two (2) identified Communist Terrorist Group at Tulang, Getafe by the Joint Force AFP-PNP. The warrant of arrest for Murder with Case Number 20652 issued by Regional Trial Court of Bohol, 7th Judicial Region Branch 47, Tagbilaran City Bohol was served as well at the time of the incident.

Incidental to the lawful search and the arrest of the CTG personalities,
it was confirmed that alias Jeboy, from being the Secretary of KR-CENVIS RCOM; CENVIS ROC Commander; KR-NCBS Regional Finance Tax Implementing Group; Staff of the NOC, became a National Finance Commission Staff. His wife “Maureen” was found out to be a KR-CENVIS Regional Finance Staff before becoming the Head of the National Commission Special Operations Group (SOG) for the Visayas.

The simultaneous execution of the warrants steered the recovery of two (2) laptop computers, three (3) pistols and ammo (2 cal38 & 1 cal45), two (2) hand grenades, one (1) hard case of various explosives, detonating cords and blasting caps, fifteen (15) cellular phones, several Flash Drives, subversive propaganda documents, sacks of butane and other camping paraphernalia.

Following the arrest, in one of the interviews, Jeboy admitted to being a part of the CTG core group involved in the negotiation and in facilitating the procurement and distribution of the over 1, 000 AK47. While the two are under the custody of the PNP and the headquarters is still waiting for further reports.

Meanwhile, LTC ALLAN J TABUDLO, 47IB Battalion Commander in his message said that the arrest of Camacho and his wife was a result of the merging efforts of the security forces and the locals who reported the latter’s whereabouts.

” We are materializing the mandate of this whole of the nation approach to erradicate these insurgents and likewise, we are urging the public to continue your support in sustaining peace and order in the province. Together, we will accomplish our mission in ending this local communist armed conflict in Bohol.” -Tabudlo

[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:]

No mercy for NPA rebels engaged in atrocities: Army

From the Visayan Daily Star (Feb 8, 2020): No mercy for NPA rebels engaged in atrocities: Army (BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN)

There will be no mercy for members of the New People’s Army who continue their armed revolution and criminal activities.

The statement was made by Col. Inocencio Pasaporte, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, during his recent visit to the headquarters of the 79th Infantry Battalion in Sagay City, Negros Occidental.

In a statement issued by the 303rd IB Civil Military Operations, Pasaporte told the 79th IB troopers that they should let the communities feel that the Armed Forces of the Philippines and local government units are one and united in the implementation of EO 70, that aims to end the local communist armed conflict in Negros Occidental.

“With the Whole of Nation Approach, we must work hand-in-hand with the LGUs, especially in assisting their Retooled Community Support Programs (RCSP) that will be activated and immersed in their respective areas, in facilitating the delivery of basic services in their communities,” he added.

Pasaporte, who also recently visited the 94IB headquarters in La Libertad, Negros Oriental, and the 62IB in Isabela, Negros Occidental, said his recent visits to the infantry units supervised by 303IB, are aimed at ensuring that their efforts are aligned with the mission of the Brigade to prevent extortion and other terroristic activities of the NPA who continuously sow fear in communities.

In his recent dialog with 62IB troopers, he also encouraged them to keep up the good work, and continue their high standard of professionalism in performing their duties.

"Let us sustain the gains we had in our area of operations. We will continue our efforts and use all our might to hunt down the CPP/NPA/NDF, the foremost criminal syndicate here in Negros,” Pasaporte added, as he vowed to unmask the fake revolutionaries who continue to deceive the people of Negros.

‘Rebel couple’ nabbed in NegOr

From the Visayan Daily Star (Feb 8, 2020): ‘Rebel couple’ nabbed in NegOr (BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN)

A couple alleged to be members of the New People’s Army, and are facing rebellion charges, were arrested yesterday by police and Army soldiers in Sitio Guitalaokan, Brgy. Talalak, Santa Catalina, Negros Oriental.

Nabbed by virtue of an arrest warrant issued by Judge Marie Rose Inocando-Paras were
Luis Ragay, 53, and his wife, Lenie, 49, both residents of Sitio Kakha, Brgy. Talalak, Santa Catalina.

Paras has recommended P200,000 bail for the couple, now facing rebellion charges, Capt. Cenon Pancito, 3rd Infantry Division spokesman, said yesterday.

The arrest of the couple was a joint effort of the Regional Mobile Force Battallion 7, 11th Infantry Battalion, 1st Provincial Mobile Force Company of the Negros Oriental Police Provincial Office, Santa Catalina and Bayawan City police stations.

The arrested suspects are now detained at the Santa Catalina Police Station.

Lt. Col. Ramir Redosando,11IB commander, reported that the son of the rebel couple was dismissed from the military service as a member of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit in 2008, on suspicions of being a spy of the NPA.*

Army to extend aid to victims of truck accident

From the Philippine Information Agency (Feb 7, 2020): Army to extend aid to victims of truck accident (By Rey Anthony H. Chiu)

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TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, Jan. 31 (PIA) -- The Philippine Army assured that they would take all necessary actions to prevent the occurrence of similar incidents and extend assistance to the victims of the wayward military transport that plowed into a busy roadside diner (carinderia) at Katipunan Carmen at about noontime of Jan. 29, 2020.

According to a spot report issued by the Carmen Police Station through Police Major Jodel Torregosa, initial investigation show that a drab green KIA truck troop carrier registered to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and is based at the 47 Infantry Batallion in Carmen, driven by Private Jay dela Torre, lost its brakes while approaching a bend and smashed into a roadside restaurant.

The wayward truck rammed into a group of students having lunch and at least one died in the incident.

Carmen police identified the fatality as Roda Mae Niera, 18, a resident of Buenavista Carmen and Grade 12 student of Katipunan National High School (KNHS).

Also severely injured were Nelson Doroy, 18, resident of Montesuerte Carmen and Grade 12 student of the KNHS; Ria Mae Garcia, 18, resident of Pilar Bohol and Grade 11 student of KNHS; and Jomel Sarmiento, 18, resident of Montesunting and Grade 11 student of KNHS who sustained serious physical injuries and had to be rushed to Governor Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital in Tagbilaran for proper medical care.

Also sustaining minor injuries and were brought to Congressman Simeon Toribio Memorial Hospital were Mary Grace Buñao, 18, resident of Poblacion Norte Carmen and Grade 12 student of KNHS; Laiza Jamil, 18, resident of Nuevafuerza Carmen and Grade 12 student of KNHS; Jessa Baluca, 18, resident of Lapaz Carmen and Grade 12 student of KNHS; as well as Sgt. Roniere Parpan, 33, and a resident of Surigao del Norte.

Over this, 47IB Batallion Commander Lt. Col. Allan Tabudlo, in a statement, said, “We would like to express our sincerest condolences to the family of the student who died because of what happened earlier.”

“Aside from her, unintentional harm has been brought to five other students. We are aware that our apologies would never suffice to console the grieving hearts of the families. Justifying the accident would only add insult to the injury. Nonetheless, we from the 47IB, would like to say we are very sorry for the unfortunate circumstances the accident caused," the commanding officer added.

Carmen Police Station has filed charges against the truck driver for reckless imprudence resulting to homicide, multiple serious physical injuries, and damage to property.

Not shrugging off from the responsibility, the army commander said, “In this dire moment, we are taking necessary actions and taking all the responsibilities. We are doing our best to extend assistance and support to those victims especially the expenses."

"Rest assured that we will do our best to prevent this incident in the future," he added. (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol)

TFBM continues to pour livelihood assistance to IDPs

From the Philippine Information Agency (Feb 7, 2020): TFBM continues to pour livelihood assistance to IDPs (By Lou Ellen L. Antonio)

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Some of the products of Kawiyagan beneficiaries.

MARAWI CITY, Feb. 7 (PIA ICCC) -- The Subcommittee on the Business and Livelihood of Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) here together with partner organizations continues to pour livelihood opportunities to the internally displaced persons (IDPs) of Marawi through the 16th Kawiyagan (livelihood).

TFBM Field Office Manager Assistant Secretary Felix Castro Jr. shared that Kawiyagan showcases the convergence of the different government agencies and private organizations to aid the IDPs to recover through livelihood assistance.

“Ipinapakita ng Kawiyagan na ang gobyerno at partner agencies ay nagkakaisa na matulungan ang mga IDPs Marawi City,” said Castro. (This showcases that the government and partner agencies are united in helping the IDPs of Marawi City.)


Mohammad Birua a recipient of carpentry toolkit from the Department of Trade Industry expresses his gratitude that he can finally continue his job before the siege happened. (Photo by Gian Raman/ PIA ICCC)

Speaking on behalf of Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr, Deputy Presidential Peace Adviser Isidro Purisima emphasized that the government will continue to support the affected communities.

“Ang gobyerno ay mananatili sa inyong likuran at aaalayan kayo sa inyong pagbangon. Naway mas pagbutihin ninyo ang inyong gawain, upang makamit ang inyong pangarap na mapayapa at maunlad na Marawi,” said Purisima. (The government continues to support and guide you in your recovery. We hope that you better your work so that you will achieve your dreams of a peaceful and progressive Marawi.)

Meanwhile, Mohammad Birua a recipient of carpentry toolkit from the Department of Trade Industry (DTI) is thankful that he can finally continue his job before the siege happened.

“Nagpapasalamat po kami sa kanila dahil hindi kami iniwanan,” said Birua. (We thank them for not leaving us.)

Below is the distribution list of the agencies for the 16th Kawiyagan.

Launched on August 24, 2018, the Kawiyagan is a monthly distribution of livelihood assistance spearheaded by TFBM for the IDPs of Marawi. (LEA | PIA ICCC)

Cases filed vs high-ranking CTG official, 4 others in Tacloban City

From the Philippine Information Agency (Feb 8, 2020): Cases filed vs high-ranking CTG official, 4 others in Tacloban City (By PIA8/RTF-ELCAC8 Stratcom)

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TACLOBAN CITY, Feb 8 (PIA) -- The five CTGs who were arrested in two separate raids early morning of February 7 in Tacloban City, were formally charged before the City Prosecutors Office through inquest proceedings late afternoon of February 7.

Two cases were filed against them, violation of R.A. 10591, an Act providing for Comprehensive law on firearms and ammunition, and violation of R.A.9516 for the recovery of explosives.

The Joint CIDG RFU8, PNP PRO8 and AFP operatives served the search warrant issued on Feb. 3, 2020 by the Executive Judge Eligio Petilla of the RTC Branch 44 of the Hall of Justice in Tacloban City.

The respondents, who are now detained at the Palo BJMP for security reasons, include:

1. Frenchie Mae Castro Cumpio @PEN, 20 years old, secretary, Regional White Area Committee - Eastern Visayas Regional Party Committee (RWAC-EVRPC);

2. Marielle Alvez Domequil @Maye, 22 years old, a member of RWAC-EVRPC and Finance Officer of Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Eastern Visayas (RMP-EV);

3. Alexander Philip Dizon Abinguna @Chakoy, 24 years old, a member of RWAC-EVRPC and Secretary General of Alyansa han Pagpanalipud han Tawhanon nga Katungod-Sinirangan Bisayas (KATUNGOD-SB);

4. Marissa Abayare Cabaljao @Harupay, 33 years old, a member of RWAC-EVRPC and Secretary General of People Surge Alliance-Eastern Visayas (PSA-EV); and

5. Mira Dalla Destura Legion @Lira, 21 years old, an EXECOM Member of KAGUMA-EV and Chairperson, Anak Bayan – Eastern Visayas.

Seized items during the search and seizure operation conducted in the safe house at Calanipawan Street, Brgy. 96, Calanipawan, Tacloban City, where Cumpio and Domiquil were arrested, were: one (1) unit cal 45 pistol, Taurus with Serial Number 125373; one (1) unit cal 45 pistol, Colt with Serial Number 825631; two (2) magazine assembly for cal 45; fourteen (14) live ammo for cal 45; two (2) fragmentation hand grenades; oe (1) pc colored red flag with CPP-NPA symbol; and cash amounting to Php557,360 for safekeeping as witnessed by barangay officials.

On the other hand, seized items during the search and seizure operations conducted in the safe house at Gumamela St., Bañezville II, Fatima Village, Brgy. 77, Tacloban City, Leyte yielded two (2) Cal 45 pistols; one (1) KG9 rifle; one (1) improvised claymore mine; two (2) mag assay for cal 45; one (1) mag assay for kg9; fifteen (15) rounds live ammos for cal 45; and 17 round live ammos for 9mm. (PIA8/RTF-ELCAC8 Stratcom)

Facility to support E0 70 launched in Agusan Sur

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 8, 2020): Facility to support E0 70 launched in Agusan Sur (By Alexander Lopez)

NEW FACILITY. Assistant Secretary Alexander Macario of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (2nd from left) and Bayugan City Mayor Kirk Asis (2nd from right) grace the opening of the Kalinaw Building at the Headquarters of the Army's 3rd Special Forces Battalion in Barangay Noli, Bayugan City, Agusan del Sur. The facility primarily aims to provide support to the initiatives of the "whole-of-nation" approach to ending local communist armed conflict in the Caraga region. (Photo courtesy of 3SFBn)

A facility that will provide support to the continuing implementation of Executive Order (EO) 70, which seeks to institute a "whole-of-nation" approach in addressing communist insurgency, has been formally opened in Agusan del Sur.

In a statement on Saturday, 1Lt. Krisjuper Andreo Punsalan, civil-military operations officer of the Army’s 3rd Special Forces Battalion (3SFBn), said Thursday's launch of the Kalinaw Building was led by Assistant Secretary Alexander L. Macario of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

The Kalinaw Building is located inside the 3SFBn headquarters in Barangay Noli, Bayugan City, Agusan del Sur.

“The Kalinaw Building is the first inter-agency facility that will provide support to the initiatives of the whole-of-nation approach to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC) in Caraga region,”
Punsalan said.

The three-story building will serve as the venue of different activities designed to help former members of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) renew their lives in preparation for their reintegration to their families and communities, he said.

The facility will also host future collaborations among government agencies to plan out developmental programs that will contribute to the implementation of EO 70 in the area.

“This will also be an instrument of good governance as this will house the conduct of various stakeholders’ capability and capacity
building through training and education, such as the Retooled Community Support Program orientation to further implement EO 70 in the city,” Punsalan added.

Macario was joined by Bayugan City Mayor Kirk Asis; Brig. Gen. Lincoln Francisco Tagle of the Special Forces Regiment; Brig. Gen. Maurito Licudine, commander of 402nd Infantry Brigade; Col. Allan Hambala, commander of 401st Infantry Brigade Commander; and Lt. Col. Joey Baybayan, commander of 3SFBn during the activity.

In his message, Macario pledged to share the concept of the Kalinaw Building to the National Task Force ELCAC to challenge other local government units (LGUs) in the country to replicate it in their areas.

“The LGUs, through their political will and commitment, can put an end to the insurgency problems in their areas,” he added.
Macario also commended the Bayugan City LGU for the support provided for the completion of the Kalinaw Building.

Female ROTC cadet gets scholarship from AFP chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 8, 2020): Female ROTC cadet gets scholarship from AFP chief (By Christine Cudis)

SCHOLAR. After qualifying for the Chief of Staff Armed Forces of the Philippines (CSAFP) scholarship, Cadet 2nd Class Kricia Bico (right) receives a PHP50,000 financial aid from Region 6 (Western Visayas) Community Development Council Commander Col. Reyes Alcon Magdamit. Aside from scholarship grants, ROTC cadet officers are also provided with a PHP2,500 subsistence allowance of 15 days per semester. (Contributed photo)

With her good performance in academics and the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC), Cadet 2nd Class Kricia Bico’s efforts paid off when she received financial aid worth PHP50,000 from the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (CSAFP).

Bico, a student of St. Anthony’s College in San Jose, Antique, applied for the grant when her Community Development Council (CDC) director learned that her general average for the semester was 94 percent. They recommended that she try as they observed that she managed her time to study even with the reservist training on the side.

In an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Friday, Bico bared that she keeps her grades higher than 88 percent so she could maintain the academic scholarship offered in her school.

She added that joining the ROTC did not come off as a distraction, but it inspired her to be goal-oriented and persevering.

“Both of my parents do not have stable jobs, so I give my best. I manage my time attentively. I always bear in mind that I should excel in school through any possible ways,” Bico said.

Last January 11, Region 6 (Western Visayas) CDC Commander Col. Reyes Alcon Magdamit turned over the cash grant to Bico for the school year 2019-2020.

Along with Cadet Bico, 13 others were accepted for the grant -- Cadet Maj. John Baliaran of the University of the East; Cadet 2Lt. Arnel Ancheta of Isabela State University; Ara Jane Morta of Bicol State University; Cadet 2Lt. Jessa Bansuelos of Pagadian Capitol College; and Christine Albore of the University of Mindanao from the Army.

The Air Force, on the other hand, named Cadet. Lt. Col. Alvin Collarin of Cronasia Foundation College, Inc.; Cadet Col. Angela Decale of Western Mindanao State University; Cadet Maj. Ella Geanga of South East Asian Institute of Technology; and Loui Umpad of the Philippine State of College of Aeronautics.

Meanwhile, the Navy offered Cadet Commander Joshua Mellarpis of John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University; Cadet Commander Beatrix Castillote of the Iloilo State College of Fisheries; Cadet Lt. Junior Grade Eljane Ponce of Iligan Capitol College; and Cadet Midshipwoman Jessica Telan of the University of Makati.

ROTC cadet officers are eligible for scholarship grants if their grades average 88 percent or higher. Those with an average of 94 percent or higher are awarded the CSAFP Scholarship.

Aside from scholarship grants, ROTC cadet officers are also provided with a PHP2,500 subsistence allowance of 15 days per semester.
Bico encouraged the incoming college freshmen to choose ROTC so they can avail of these benefits and to develop their potentials as dynamic leaders.

“This will serve as a stepping stone so that I can reach my goals in life. I'm hoping that one day, I will be a successful officer or military. If it is my destiny, I will accept it wholeheartedly,” she said.

ROTC is a way of life, Bico said.

“It is not just about marching and drills. We have to prove that ROTC officers are academically competitive, that we can be the best of what we can be. I have proven that. You can, too", she added.

DND gets biohazard suit donation

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 8, 2020): DND gets biohazard suit donation (By Priam Nepomuceno)

BIOHAZARD SUIT DONATION. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (4th from right) and AFP Chief of Staff, Gen. Felimon Santos Jr. (3rd from right), receive the biohazard suit donation from a representative of the LT Group and PMFTC in a ceremony in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City on Friday (Feb. 7, 2020). The donation contains 200 pieces of biohazard suits, boots, and goggles. (Photo courtesy of DND Public Affairs Service)

The Department of National Defense (DND) formally received an initial donation of biohazard protection equipment from business tycoon Lucio Tan's LT Group and its affiliate, tobacco firm PMFTC, on Friday.

In a statement released on Saturday, DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said the items, such as EN14126:2003+AC:2004 certified biohazard suits, EN ISO 20344:2011 certified footwear, and goggles, were turned over to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for the use of its emergency responders and medical teams who will be tasked to handle hazardous and contaminated materials.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana received the donation on behalf of the agency.

The donation came as the government gears up its efforts to contain and prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the country.

"The donation will enhance the department's efforts to continuously strengthen the readiness of the AFP as first responders during disasters and crisis situation(s)," he added.

The DND, as part of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council with Lorenzana as chair, provides first responders and logistical support to the government's disaster and emergency response operations.

Andanar expects effective program implementation vs. insurgency

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 8, 2020): Andanar expects effective program implementation vs. insurgency (By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos)

ANTI-INSURGENCY INITIATIVES. Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar, during the launch of the City Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict in Cagayan de Oro City on Friday (Feb. 7, 2020), says he remains optimistic that the government can deliver its promise to bring peace and development to the country through its anti-insurgency programs. He expressed confidence that local government units’ participation would help the national government boost its fight against insurgency. (Photo courtesy of PCOO)
MANILA -- Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar on Friday expressed confidence that the government would be able to effectively implement policies and programs that aim to put an end to insurgency in the country.

During the launch of the City Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (CTF-ELCAC) in Cagayan de Oro City, Andanar was elated that local government offices in Northern Mindanao are ready to participate in the national government’s integrated approach to addressing insurgency in the region.

He said the Convergence Areas for Peace and Development (CAPDev), the enabling program to operationalize Executive Order (EO) 70, would help deliver the government’s promise to attain “inclusive and sustainable” peace in the country.

“It is my hope that we can effectively roll out and implement CAPDev in all the region’s focus areas, continue to work together for our expected results, and fulfill our shared agenda of inclusive and sustainable peace and development in Northern Mindanao,” said Andanar, who also leads the National Task Force (NTF) ELCAC’s communications team.

Signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on Dec. 4, 2018, EO 70 creates the NTF-ELCAC and orders local peace bodies to hold negotiations with communist insurgents in their respective localities.

The CAPDev, on the other hand, is a program that seeks to address the root causes of insurgencies, internal disturbances and tensions, and other armed conflicts and threats.

The CAPDev program also promotes the establishment of durable peace and development and empowers communities in priority areas through peace-building and reconciliation, good governance and institution building, and socio-economic transformation.

Andanar, who is also designated as Region 10 (Northern Mindanao) Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security, likewise lauded Cagayan de Oro City’s local government offices for its “whole-of-nation” approach to insurgency problems.

He noted that participants have a stake in building “peaceful and resilient” communities.

“Hence, I am congratulating the city government of Cagayan de Oro, led by Mayor Oca Moreno, and Barangay Tignapoloan, Barangay Mambu-aya, and Barangay Tuburan, for working together to make sustainable peace possible,” Andanar said.

During the event, about 32 adult learners who have recently completed the Department of Education’s 800-hour literacy program for former communist rebels and their families were also recognized.

The local government department’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) also highlighted the distribution of checks to former rebels for firearms remuneration.

Benefits under the E-CLIP include cash assistance, education, livelihood training, housing, and employment assistance, as well as loan processing for business capital.

Andanar said the government is on the right track for peace and development in the country.

“I am grateful (for) the valuable support of our national government agencies, the security sector, the private sector, and other peace and development partners. Such unity of purpose gives us a sense of hope that we can finally do things right,” he said.

PRRD order for VFA termination not fake news: Panelo

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 8, 2020): PRRD order for VFA termination not fake news: Panelo (By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos)

Malacañang on Saturday maintained that there is an official order from President Rodrigo R. Duterte to send a formal notice to the United States (US) about the Philippines’ termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo issued the latest statement after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana branded as “fake news” the President’s fresh directive.

Duterte has instructed Executive Secretary (ES) Salvador Medialdea to inform Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. of his latest order to notify the US about the revocation of the 22-year-old VFA, Panelo announced on Friday night.

In a text message on Saturday, Panelo said the Chief Executive personally told him about his latest decision.

“I was quoting PRRD (President Rodrigo R. Duterte) of what he told me,” he said.

Panelo also said there was “no inconsistency” in the President’s stance on the VFA.

He explained that Lorenzana only meant that Medialdea has yet to formally receive the Chief Executive’s instruction.

“What (Lorenzana) meant is ES has yet to receive the instruction. That is what ES also told me last night — that he has not received the instruction yet from PRRD. There is no inconsistency,” Panelo said. “If he (Duterte) has not given the instruction yet to ES, it does not mean the (information) I shared with media is untrue. It only means ES has not yet gotten the directive from PRRD.”

In a separate text message, Medialdea said he has yet to receive any instruction from Duterte to relay any message to Locsin.

The VFA, signed between Manila and Washington DC in February 1998, governs rules on the conduct of visit of US forces to the Philippines.

The agreement exempts American troops from visa regulations and authorizes them to use their permits and licenses in the Philippines.

Duterte was prompted to scrap the VFA after the US canceled the visa of his ally, Senator Ronald dela Rosa.

The deal will be deemed terminated 180 days after the Philippines issues formal notice to the US.

On Thursday, Locsin warned that the Philippines may suffer due to the termination of the VFA.

Saying that the President’s decision is “studied”, Panelo earlier bared that the Philippine government had already started the process of terminating the agreement.