Friday, February 28, 2020

Kumander Bilog’s arraignment reset to March 17

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Feb 28, 2020): Kumander Bilog’s arraignment reset to March 17

MANILA, Philippines — The arraignment of former Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) chair Rodolfo Salas was rescheduled for March 17.

This, after a Manila court agreed to postpone the proceedings until the Supreme Court has issued a response to the petition for a writ of habeas corpus submitted by Salas’ son, Jody, through the assistance of Free Legal Assistance Group.

The younger Salas told the Inquirer that the defense asked the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 32 Judge Thelma Bunyi-Medina to reschedule the arraignment because Salas did not undergo preliminary investigation.

Salas, 72, also known as “Kumander Bilog,” was among those charged with 29 counts of murder for the Inopacan, Leyte, massacre allegedly committed by New People’s Army rebels.

GUIHULNGAN FIREFIGHT//Suspected NPA members, troops clash; 2 rebels killed

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Feb 29, 2020): GUIHULNGAN FIREFIGHT//Suspected NPA members, troops clash; 2 rebels killed (By: Florence Baesa)

DUMAGUETE CITY, Negros Oriental —Two suspected NPA (New People’s Army) members were killed in an encounter between the government troops at 6:10 p.m. of February 28, 2020 in Sitio Agpapatao, Barangay Binobohan, Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.

Lieutenant Colonel Egberto Dacoscos, commanding officer of the 62nd Infantry Battalion, told CDN Digital in an interview that the bodies of the two men, suspected to be NPAs, had remained unidentified.

Dacoscos said that these two bodies would be turned over tomorrow (February 29) to the barangay officials for proper disposition.

Armed men

“May mga concerned citizens na nagreport sa presence ng mga armado sa area. Mukhang may pinaplano na naman sila na mga liquidations, atrocities and our assessment may connection ito sa NPA anniversary this coming March 29,” Dacoscos said. (We received reports from concerned citizens about the presence of armed groups in the area. It seemed that they were planning liquidations, atrocities, and according to our assessment this is connected to the NPA anniversary this coming March 29.)

The armed encounter between the government troops and the NPA happened on the day that combat troops from Panay Island tasked to hunt down NPAs in Negros Island arrived in Camp Major Nelson Gerona in Murcia town in Negros Occidental.

Read more: More combat troops from Panay arrive in Bacolod

The combat troops that arrived were Philippine Army soldiers from the 33rd Division Reconnaissance Company (DRC) and they were placed under the operational control of the 303rd Infantry Brigade led by Colonel Inocencio Pasaporte, the brigade’s commander.

Pasaporte also said earlier that he would assess if more combat troops would be deployed to Negros Oriental, which was under his jurisdiction.
How it happened

Meanwhile in Guihulngan town, Dacoscos said that the Alpha Company of the 94th Infantry Battalion led by Lieutenant Joshua Lodriguito under his operational control were conducting combat operations in the area when they encountered more or less 10 suspected members of the NPA.

Dacoscos said that the firefight lasted 12 minutes.

Government troops continue to pursue the fleeing armed men.

Whereabouts of abducted Jolo physician remains unknown

From the Manila Bulletin (Feb 26, 2020): Whereabouts of abducted Jolo physician remains unknown (By Nonoy Lacson)

“Where is Dr. Daniel Moreno?”

This was the nagging question that has confronted authorities in Sulu after reports spread that r
elatives of the Jolo, Sulu internist have already paid the P4.5-million ransom being demanded by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in exchange for his release.

Moreno was kidnapped in Jolo last February 4.

Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Chairperson Yusop Jikiri confirmed Wednesday that his group had received a similar report about the payment of ransom last Sunday, February 23.

But he said the front also received information that P2 million out of the P4.5-million ransom went “missing (that is why) Dr. Moreno is also missing”.

Jikiri added the missing amount was reportedly taken by a negotiator operating under the MNLF-Misuari group.

“I suspect Dr. Moreno is no longer in Sulu. The ASG has already moved him out of the province considering that the people of Sulu has failed to see him after the kidnapping incident,” Jikiri said.

He said that most of the people living in the forested and far flung areas of the province claimed they have not seen Moreno, since the time he was kidnapped by the ASG.

Jikiri said the MNLF anti-kidnaping and terrorism task force which he organized was closely monitoring the whereabouts of Moreno to facilitate any rescue operation that could be launched by the military.

Jakiri also pointed out that there were inconsistencies as to how much the ASG actually demanded in exchange for Moreno’s release.

“We have heard that the negotiators were earlier plan to demand P150 million, some were P50 million, I don’t know which is which is correct, the front is also confused,” he said.

Nevertheless, Jakiri said MNLF was already working hard “to locate Dr. Moreno and identify the group holding him captive, so the military could mount a rescue operation to free the internist physician”.

Abu Sayyaf demanding P30M for 5 Indonesian fishermen

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Feb 28, 2020): Abu Sayyaf demanding P30M for 5 Indonesian fishermen (By: Julie S. Alipala)

The homegrown terror group Abu Sayyaf is demanding P30 million in ransom for five Indonesian fishermen being held captive by the group for more than a month now.

Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Western Mindanao Command chief, said government troops in Sulu have intercepted this information about the ransom demand.
Sobejana said the captors called up the fishing company, where five Indonesians worked, to relay the demand.

Sobejana said even the Filipino who serves as the fishing company’s liaison here is also aware of the captors’ demand.

The five Indonesians were snatched in waters off Lahad Datu in Sabah, Malaysia last Jan. 15 by a group reportedly led by a certain Bong.

They were brought to Sulare Island, part of Sulu’s Parang town. The island is located some 16 kilometers from the Sulu mainland.

There, the captives were handed over to another group, reportedly led by a certain Abu Mike.

The five Indonesian captives have been identified as Riswanto Bin Hayono, Edi Bin Lawalopo, La Baa, Arizal Kastamiran and Arshad Bin Dahlan Juragan.

Sobejana said the military would stick to the long standing policy of no ransom.

“The no ransom policy should be upheld,” Sobejana said.

“We will do our best to safely rescue the kidnap victims. That is the assurance we can give to the families and loved ones of the victims,” he added.

A sixth victim in the hands of the group is Dr. Daniel Moreno, a Jolo-based physician who was abducted last Feb. 4.

The Abu Sayyaf is notorious for kidnapping, often inflicting harm on its captors if its ransom demands are not met. The group is able to stay alive despite massive offensives by the military

40 alleged MILF members nabbed in Bukidnon for illegal possession of guns, explosives

From GMA News Online (Feb 25, 2020): 40 alleged MILF members nabbed in Bukidnon for illegal possession of guns, explosives

Bukidnon police have arrested 40 suspected members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Talakag town on Monday afternoon for illegal possession firearms and explosives. (Bukidnon PPO)

Forty persons, believed to be members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), were arrested on Monday in Talakag, Bukidnon for illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Bukidnon police chief Police Colonel Roel Lami-ing said simultaneous aggressive police operations were conducted in Barangay Tikalaan on Monday afternoon which led to the arrest of the individuals.

Police said the personalities were allegedly involved in a shooting incident in Talakag town on February 21.

Seized from the suspected MILF members were one M-14 US rifle, a fragmentation grenade, one black bandolier of M-14, a black handheld radio, six magazines of M-14, 50 live ammunition and various identification cards.

Lami-ing hailed the security forces who had implemented the operation against the suspected MILF members.

He also vowed to continue various operations to eradicate all forms of crime in the area.

Meanwhile, the suspects will be facing charges for violation of Republic Act No. 10591 (Illegal Possession of Firearms and Ammunition) and Republic Act No. 9516 (Illegal Possession of Firearms and Explosives).

Wanted MILF man nabbed in hospital

From the Philippine Star (Feb 28, 2020): Wanted MILF man nabbed in hospital (By John Unson)

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — A ranking member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) wanted for the death of 44 police commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao was arrested in a hospital on Wednesday.

Agents of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region arrested Abu Halil Sabpa at the Cotabato Regional Medical Center, where the suspect was being treated for an illness.

Sabpa and his followers were tagged in the attack on a contingent of the Special Action Force commandos in Barangay Tukanalipao in January 2015.

The encounter, known as the Mamasapano massacre, left 44 commandos, 15 MILF guerrillas and five villagers dead.

The warrant for Sabpa’s arrest was issued by Judge Alandrex Betoya of the Regional Trial Court Branch 15.

Reports said that residents of Mamasapano informed the police of the suspect’s confinement at the hospital.

The commandos were retreating from the nearby Pidsandawan town after killing in an encounter Malaysian terrorist Zulkfili bin Hir, alias Marwan, when gunmen belonging to the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters attacked them from different directions.

AFP gets new chief engineer

From GMA News (Feb 27, 2020): AFP gets new chief engineer (By Martin Sadongdong)

Brig. Gen. William Ilagan formally assumed the position of 43rd Chief Engineer of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in a ceremony held at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City on Friday.


AFP Deputy Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Erickson Gloria presided over the assumption ceremony at the AFP Commissioned Officers Country (COC).

“With his credibility and character, along with the proficiencies and skills that he developed through the years in service, especially during his various assignments in different army engineer brigades, I am certain that he is the perfect fit to lead the Office of the Chief Engineer [OTCE],” Gloria said.

Prior to his assumption, Ilagan had held the same position in an acting capacity since Jan. 27. He took over from Col. Arnfin Arce who served as the acting chief engineer after the retirement of Maj. Gen. Felipe Bejar on Dec. 27 last year.

One of the most crucial roles that the OTCE took part in was during the Marawi siege in 2017.

The office was critical in rebuilding the communities affected by the siege, as well as those destroyed by natural disasters and calamities. During the Marawi siege, the office provided combat support to the troops through mobility, counter-mobility, and survivability operations.

With Ilagan at the helm of the office, Gloria expressed his confidence that the AFP will be able to achieve its goal of protecting and serving the country and the people.

AFP records showed Ilagan has extensive experience in infrastructure management.

He had been assigned chief of the Army Housing Office where he supervised numerous housing projects for Philippine Army personnel nationwide.

He had also served as the deputy and acting chief of the AFP Real Estate Office, chief of the Architectural and Engineering Division of the OTCE, and commanding officer of the 546th Engineering Construction Battalion.

Ilagan, in his assumption speech, committed to continue delivering excellent and dedicated service to the nation.

“Let us be ready to make proactive contributions to community development and nation building, keeping in mind the importance of stakeholder cooperation, and engagement in consonance with the principles of whole of nation approach,” he said.

Passing of Anti-Terrorism Act empowers, capacitates military, says AFP spox

From GMA News (Feb 27, 2020): Passing of Anti-Terrorism Act empowers, capacitates military, says AFP spox (By ANNA FELICIA BAJO)

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday welcomed the Senate's passing of the Anti-Terrorism Act, noting that it is a way to empower and capacitate the military in protecting and securing the nation.

"The AFP is grateful to the Senate that they heeded our call for a more stringent law that confronts and defines terrorism and what constitutes it, among other new and amendatory provisions it contains,"
AFP spokesperson Brigadier General Edgard Arevalo said in a press statement.

Authored and sponsored by Senator Panfilo Lacson, Senate Bill 1083 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2019 was approved on third and final reading on Wednesday.
Lacson claimed that with the passage of Senate Bill 1083, the Philippines will be at par with other countries in the campaign against terrorism.

Arevalo also said that the military recommits its fidelity to the promotion of human rights as well as international humanitarian law, and added that sufficient safeguards are already enshrined in the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2019 and the Bill of Rights embedded in the 1987 Constitution.

AFP-CRS: 2 Sayyafs neutralized in Sulu clash

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook Page (Feb 23, 2020): 2 Sayyafs neutralized in Sulu clash

Military troops neutralized two Abu Sayyaf militants following an intense clash in Brgy Bakong, Patikul, Sulu on February 23.

Elements of the 15th Scout Ranger Company engaged in a ferocious gunfight with the group of Abu Sayyaf leader Radullan Sahiron and sub-leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan at 1pm on Sunday.

Two brave soldiers were also slightly wounded in a fierce of gunfire.

Mortar teams immediately delivered fire support to the engaged troops.

As of this press time, clearing operation is ongoing.

"Pursuit and deliberate offensives continue to pressure and pound down Abu Sayyaf fighters, constricting their movement and preempting terror ploys in the ZamBaSulTa area," said Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Western Mindanao Command.

"We build up combat and intelligence operations to debilitate the militants in Sulu," he added.


6th Infantry Division - Kampilan 601 Infantry - Unifier Brigade
602nd "Liberator" Brigade 603 Persuader Brigade
1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade Unang Marinong Brigada
Team Tabak Joint Taskforce Basilan Team Igsoon
Magbalantay Cmo 11 Infantry Division "Alakdan Troopers"
Gagandilan Siete 1102 Infantry "ganarul" Brigade 1st BCT Aegis
Kwatromarinobrigada Sulu Jtf Tawi Tawi Indomalphi
Joint Task Force Zamboanga Virtual Center Unbeatable Ranger Battalion
Matatag Battalion Tow Westmin Cmo Tow Westmin Pio
Naval Forces Western Mindanao Cmou Western Mindanao
Katapatan Pangkatihan-Dagatan Onlyourbest MbltFive
Arvin John Gullos Encinas Breathe Heart Ruel Casanes Ar-ar Galvez Afman Rosales Jr. Antriosanjh Espenida Nenea Sancus Princy Necessitas La Independencia Filipinas 33rd Infantry Makabayan Battalion

Image may contain: one or more people

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: Decommissioned BIAF combatants undergo Trainers Training ILF:

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Website (Feb 29, 2020): Decommissioned BIAF combatants undergo Trainers Training 

Cotabato City-More than 30 combatants of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (BIAF-MILF) have undergone Training of Trainers (ToT) conducted at Eden Nature Park, Toril, Davao City on February 22-24.
The participants came from the 111th, 112th, 107th and 104th Base Commands; National Guard, General Headquarters, and Bangsamoro Women Auxiliary Brigade (BWAB) of the BIAF.

Among the topics discussed during the training were the History of the Bangsamoro and the MILF, the Bangsamoro Organic Law, Moral Governance, Islamic Values and Leadership, Qualities of a Leader, Conflict Resolution, and Managing the Package of the Decommissioning.

The activity was spearheaded by the School of Peace and Democracy – Bangsamoro (SPD-B) with the help of the United Nation Development Program (UNDP).

Ms. Shadia Marhaban, the founder of the SPD in Aceh, Indonesia who played a role in transforming the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) combatants into a productive political group in Aceh, supervised the facilitators.

Toks Ibrahim, the Administrative Officer of the BIAF, and Chetan Kumar, Peace Outcome Lead, UNDP, graced the event.

The facilitators were selected staff from the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) and the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), and the BWAB-BIAF.

Ms. Marhaban said “Education for the former combatants is very important because they are leaders in their community, because people look up to them. So, if we equip them with some knowledge, if we give them some kind of tools and instrument to enhance their leadership skills and management in the villages, I am sure this will be a big thing.”

The SPD gives them a space to have the knowledge about what is the peace agreement, what are they getting from ARMM to the BARMM Government. MILF is known for their courage during the war, so I am sure now the courage for peace is there, she continued.

For his part, Mr. Kumar said “Our hope is the school will enable the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and other major armed groups to make transition to civilian life, to civilian roles and also play leadership roles and ensuring that BARMM can be more than just a new province , or a new autonomous region , the BARMM can actually establish a new model for governance in the Philippines which is accountable , transparent and delivers (services) effectively for the people.”

Mr. Aliudin Haron, a facilitator, said “They (MILF former combatants) will tell us how they joined the BIAF, their history in the BIAF, all of these are part of the program for the former combatants.”

“We are victims of oppression and aggression, painful, (so) we don’t want that our children will experience our experience before”, according to Dennis Ode Francisco, Training and Education Chief, 111th base command, BIAF, MILF.

Mr. Ibrahim extended his gratefulness to the SPD for educating the former MILF combatants which they can use in their next generation.

The activity is one of the requisites of the decommissioning under the Annex on Normalization of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed by the government and the MILF on March 27, 2014. The completers of the training will handle the succeeding trainings of the would-be decommissioned BIAF combatants.

Meanwhile, on February 25, the School of Peace and Democracy - Bangsamoro was launched at Waterfront Hotel, Davao City, which was attended by different international donor entities and representatives from the office of the Interim Chief Minister, BARMM.

CPP/NDF-Ilocos: NDF-Ilocos: Oppose the Anti-Terror Act 2020!

NDFP-Ilocos propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Feb 28, 2020): NDF-Ilocos: Oppose the Anti-Terror Act 2020!

FEBRUARY 28, 2020

Resist Duterte’s brand of terrorism and advance the revolution!
In a society riddled with economic and political issues, where the people justifiably resort to rising together in protest, the mere right to be able to participate in a legitimate struggle is already a struggle itself. And such right is what the Anti-Terror Bill of 2020 aims to single-handedly repress.

Progressive and revolutionary forces have seen similar efforts before with the Human Security Act of 2007 (HSA). More so, each administration’s counter-insurgency program is an attempt to hinder the people from the revolutionary path using deceit and violence. But so far, nothing comes close to the Duterte regime’s version of political repression.

Rodrigo Duterte and his rubber stamp Senate disavow any pretension of respect for human rights or recognition of the legitimacy of the people’s struggles. Thus, once Senate Bill 1083 is consolidated with a version from the Lower House, the 81st Infantry Battalion (IB) and other police and military forces in the Ilocos region will have an easier job ahead of them.

Activists Are Not Terrorists

Not that the police force or the units of the Philippine Army (PA) in the region has slacked off in their counterrevolutionary efforts. On the contrary, civil and human rights violations against legal democratic organizations remain rampant.

For example, even under the relatively timid HSA, they actively and arbitrarily tagged legitimate organizations as terrorists. Afterwards, they used the malicious label to vilify the organizations and its campaigns while harassing the members and the communities that support them. This includes military encampment among civilian communities where there are organized groups, such as in the second district of Ilocos Sur and in some barangays of Ilocos Norte. Fishing communities in La Union suffer from Red-tagging and intimidation as well.

Their endgame is to terrorize mass leaders and activists into submission, backing them up into a corner until they are forced to sign documents of supposed surrender. In Ilocos Sur, they also expressly included unarmed activists into their Order of Battle. When the Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict was established last year, it reinforced the PA’s program of targeting legal activists in the name of counter-terrorism.

Open Season vs Activists

If the HSA was criticized for its overly broad definition of terrorism and terrorist acts, then the 2020 version which is set to replace it, takes the definitions to a whole new level of expansive. It undermines the right to speech and to assembly because even the participation in a protest action, or the mere planning of such, is considered terrorist. Extending support, knowingly or not, to an alleged terrorist earns one a similar label.

The period of surveillance could last for as long as 90 days, without informing the individual. There are vague references to a ‘special facility’ and the use of ‘violent extremism,’ leaving their interpretation and implementation to state agents. It also did away with penalties for law enforcers found violating the rights of a suspected terrorist.

It’s basically open season against leaders and members of legal democratic organizations. Unbridled infringement on an individual’s privacy, long-term detention in undisclosed locations and torture could replace the 81st IB’s program of forcing activists to ‘surrender’ in the name of pacification.

The enactment of this Anti-Terror measure is meant to spread widespread terror among progressive and revolutionary forces. State terrorism, or fascism, is a bullet that all freedom-loving activist and revolutionary have to bite in order to continue their work for the masses, for a socialist future.

But history has taught the Filipino nation a number of invaluable lessons. Firstly, there is strength in numbers and this alone should embolden any individual to continue to resist Duterte’s brand of terrorism. He is but a poor copy of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos and the Filipino people has already ousted the original from power some thirty years ago. Secondly, it has often been said that revolutionaries could fall but revolutionary ideals will always persist. Such is why the national democratic organization continue to advance despite successive counter-insurgency plans and despotic dictatorships, declared or not.

Lastly, all roads lead to the countryside where a peasant war is being waged. The National Democratic Front – Ilocos calls on all allied organizations to unite and oppose Senate Bill 1083. The parliamentary struggle to junk this bill and the HSA before it will gain momentum as more and more Filipinos suffer under the yoke of Duterte’s economic incompetence and personal greed. It will not take long before such conditions motivate hundreds of Ilocanos, especially amongst the youth and the working class, to take up arms and reclaim their right to struggle. ###

CPP/NDF-Christians for National Liberation: Living Out the Faith : A Revolutionary Challenge

NDF-Christians for National Liberation propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Feb 28, 2020): Living Out the Faith : A Revolutionary Challenge

FEBRUARY 28, 2020

With utmost pride, the Christians for National Liberation [CNL] unite with other faith believers in celebrating its forty-eight years of its foundation anniversary . We salute all church martyrs who lived out their faith in the revolution. They broke the barriers of church conservatism, counter-revisionist and petty-bourgeoisie tendencies in journeying with the basic sectors for a ”new heaven and a new earth”. They were church leaders : bishops, priests, women religious, pastors deacons, church lay workers whose blood and struggle permeated into the national consciousness and collective pursuit for genuine democracy, social justice and freedom.

We look back and draw lessons as we are again confronted with another dictatorship represented by the US-Duterte regime. The apparent success in the anti-dictatorship campaigns and mobilizations, in the past was not complemented by a systemic study off correct revolutionary principles, hence many Church people were trapped.

After the 8th Congress members were challenged and have conducted regional and provincial congresses as well as chapter assemblies and discussed burning societal issues together with the basic sectors, planned and acted appropriate responses. We are now present in almost all the dioceses and regions of the country.

CNL is proud that there are church people who rendered invaluable service to the basic masses of farmers, workers, the national minorities including disaster victims. They who helped advance the journey of the farmers and workers for genuine land reform and better labor conditions. President Duterte betrayed the people by promoting an unholy alliance of neo-liberal economic policies that contributed the worsening crisis in the country.

We call on Christians and faith believers to put into action your faith to contribute to the democratic revolution, as the ground is fertile to arouse, organize and mobilize the basic sectors towards the “new heaven and new earth” as described in Scripture. Organize the youth and lay church people, and immerse them to the realities of the basic sectors and the countryside. We must take this opportunity as the fertile ground to sum-up, learn from past mistakes, and aim ever higher to fulfil the requirements to help usher the people’s war towards the strategic stalemate phase and bring the nation ever closer to its glorious socialist future.

Long live CNL- Actively Live out your Faith – as a Revolutionary Challenge !

Long live the National Democratic Revolution with Socialist Perspective !

CPP/NPA-Southern Tagalog: Postura ni Duterte kontra-US, hindi sinsero

NPA-Southern Tagalog propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Feb 28, 2020): Postura ni Duterte kontra-US, hindi sinsero

FEBRUARY 28, 2020

Ehersisyong militar ng US at AFP, pagsasanay laban sa rebolusyonaryong kilusan

Sa kabila ng pasabog ni Duterte na tapusin na ang Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) sa US, magpapatuloy ang paglulunsad na magkasamang pagsasanay at ehersisyong militar ng pwersa ng US at AFP. Ang mga pagsasanay na ito ay nasa balangkas at bisa ng VFA at iba pang hindi pantay na tratadong militar sa pagitan ng gubyerno ng US at Pilipinas. May natitira pang 180 araw bago ganap na mapaso ang bisa ng kasunduan sa VFA at sa natitirang mga araw, magpapatuloy ang mga joint exercises na alinsunod sa Counter-Insurgency Guide ng US at paglaban sa “terorismo” at armadong kilusang rebolusyonaryo.

Sa kasalukuyan, dalawang malaking pagsasanay ng AFP at pwersang militar ng US ang naganap sa TK nitong unang kwarto ng 2020. Nauna nang nagdaos ng ehersisyong panghimpapawid ang Philippine Air Force at tropang US sa San Fernando Air Base sa Lipa, Batangas mula Enero hanggang unang linggo ng Pebrero. Ang ikalawa at nagpapatuloy na pagsasanay hanggang sa ngayon ay ang Balance Piston 20-1 na isinasagawa sa sa bayan ng Rizal at Puerto Princesa City kapwa sa Palawan. Kalahok sa Balance Piston ang US Army Special Force-Airborne at tropa ng AFP kabilang ang 18th Special Force Company ng Philippine Army na nakatalaga sa Timog Palawan.

Hinahabol ng mga pro-US na Senador at Kongresista kabilang ang matataas na upisyal militar at pulis na isalba ang VFA. Ibinabando ng militar na mas malaki ang pakinabang ng Pilipinas kaysa US sa VFA at ayon mismo sa pag-amin ng hepe ng AFP na si General Felimon Santos, Jr.—ang pagpapawalambisa sa VFA ay makapipinsala sa kooperasyon sa depensa sa US.
Sa nakaraang dalawang dekada, natanggap ng Pilipinas ang humigit-kumulang sa US$ 1.3 bilyon na estratehikong tulong kasama ang pinakamalaking paketeng tulong militar sa rehiyong na US$219 milyon noong 2017.

Kinilala ni Lorenzana at matataas na upisyal ng AFP ang kritikal na tulong sa kontra-terorismo kabilang ang pagdeploy ng US Special Forces at drone na pangsarbeylans sa panahon ng pagkubkob sa Marawi City ng Maute at mga grupong kaanib ng ISIS noong 1917. Gayundin ang sarbeylans sa ginagawang reklamasyon ng mga Chino sa Scarborough Shoal. Walang kahihiyan ang mga upisyal na itong ipagmalaki pa sa publiko ang interbensyon militar ng US sa mga panloob na usaping pambansa at ginagawang pagyurak sa soberanya at teritoryal na integridad ng bansa.

Nagkokoro ang mga pro-US na elemento sa loob at labas ng reaksyunaryong gubyerno na ang mga joint exercises sa ilalim ng VFA ay pag-eensayo sa mga operasyong relief tuwing may sakuna o kalamidad, na sa totoo’y palusot lamang para bigyang katwiran ang panghihimasok ng tropang US sa bansa.

Hindi kaya ni Duterte na talikuran ang US dahil dito siya nakasandig para sa pagpapatupad ng kanyang todo-gera laluna ang pinabangis na mga kampanyang supresyon laban sa rebolusyonaryong kilusan. Ang mga joint exercises ng AFP at US ay sanayan ng mersenaryong AFP sa mga taktika at estratehiyang kontra-insurhensya ng US. Malaki rin ang inaasahan ng AFP na kagamitang militar gaya ng mga drone at ayuda sa pinansya mula sa US. Ginagamit ang mga ito sa mas masinsing paniktik at mas malulupit na operasyong militar na pangunahing puntirya ang CPP-NPA-NDFP at mamamayang sumusuporta sa rebolusyon.

Ang nagaganap na ehersisyong Balance Piston ay patunay ng ugnayan ng Balikatan at kontra-rebolusyonaryong gera ng reaksyunaryong gubyerno. Ang 34-araw na pagsasanay na nagsimula noong Enero 26 ay idinisenyo upang sanayin ang 18th SFC sa operasyong kontra-insurhensya na may tutok sa katutubong Palaw’an. Bahagi ng programa nito ang pakikipamuhay ng mga sundalo sa mga Palaw’an na sa katunaya’y tabing para sa pagkuha ng paniktik laban sa mga itinuturing ng kaaway na base ng rebolusyon. Pagkatapos ng Balance Piston ay ilalarga nang buong lakas ang focused military operation sa Rizal at iba pang bayan sa Timog Palawan—ang test mission ng mga nagsasanay na tropa ng 18th SFC laban sa NPA-Palawan.

Nakahanda ang NPA-ST na sagupain ang mga sundalo ng AFP na sinanay pa ng US. Paulit-ulit na patutunayan ng NPA na kailanman, hindi magagapi ng pinagsanib na pwersa ng AFP at imperyalismong US ang makaturungang layunin ng rebolusyon para sa tunay na kalayaan at demokrasya. ###

CPP/NPA-Mindoro: Ikatlong Bugso ng FMO ng 203rd Brigade sa Mindoro, Patuloy na binibigo ng LdGC! 5 kaswalti natamo ng AFP sa 2 magkasunod na aksyong militar ng BHB!

NPA-Mindoro propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Feb 28, 2020): Ikatlong Bugso ng FMO ng 203rd Brigade sa Mindoro, Patuloy na binibigo ng LdGC! 5 kaswalti natamo ng AFP sa 2 magkasunod na aksyong militar ng BHB!

FEBRUARY 28, 2020

Matagumpay ang dalawang magkasunod na isnayp ng isang tim ng LdGC-NPA-Mindoro laban sa nag-ooperasyong dalawang kolum na may bilang na sitentang (60) pwersa ng 4th IB at PNP sa Brgy. Monteclaro, San Jose Occidental Mindoro ganap na alas 3:30 ng hapon, Pebrero 19, 2020, sa Sityo Ibanig. Isinagawa ang operasyong isnayping na tumama sa pasistang kaaway. Sa limang pinakawalan na putok ng mga pulang mandirigma nagresulta ito ng apat na malubhang sugatan sa 4th IBPA-PNP. Bandang alas-5 ng hapon inilabas ng AFP ang kanilang kaswalti. Sa kasunod na araw Pebrero 20, 2020, ganap na alas-2:00 ng hapon ay muling na-isnayp ng tim ng LdGC ang mga kaaway sa sityo Balingaso na patuloy na nambubulabog sa mga pamayanan ng mga katutubong Mangyan. Sa isang putok ng pulang mandirigma ay isa ang kumpirmadong malubhang nasugatan sa pwersa ng 4th IBPA.

Ligtas namang nakaatras ang mga pulang mandirigma nang walang anumang pinsala.

Sampung araw ng nag-ooperasyon sa sityo Elya, Taganop, Mantay, Ibanig, Tikyan, Banligan, Balingaso, Mabanban at Saliding ng Barangay Monteclaro ; mga sityo ng Dulis, Dayaga, Dalalo ng Barangay Naibuan ng San Jose, Manoot ng Rizal ng Occidental Mindoro; mga sityo ng Abalya, Masay, Buswak ng Lisap, Bongabong, San Vicente sa Roxas at Panaytayan sa Mansalay ng Oriental Mindoro ang mahigit sa 300 pwersa ng 4th IBPA at PNP. Matatandaan na ang mga sityo at baranggay na ding ito ang biktima ng mga pambobomba, pang-iistraping, panununog at iba pang mga paglabag sa karapatang pantao ng 203rd Brigade sa nakaraang taong 2019.

Ito na ang ikatlong bugso ng inilunsad na Focus Military Operation at Retooled Community Support Program-Operation (FMO-RCSPO) ng 203rd Brigade at PNP-Region IV-B sa loob lamang ng unang isang buwan at kalahati ng taong 2020.

Matapos ang kabiguan na ito ng 4th IB-PNP, binalingan ng kanilang galit ang mga sibilyan. Nilapastangan ang karapatan tao ng dalawang katutubo at walang awang binugbog ng mga pasista ang walang kalaban-laban na dalawang katutubong Mangyan. Binawalan din na lumabas ang mga nakatira sa pamayanan ng Ibanig at Balingaso sa loob ng 3 araw.

Tugon ito ng LdGC-NPA Mindoro sa hinaing ng mga biktima na mabigyan ng rebolusyunaryong hustiya ang mga paglabag at krimen na ginawa ng pasistang 203rd Brigade-PNP-Region IV-B sa mamamayang Mindoreño. Dulot ng nagpapatuloy na FMO ng kaaway, paparami ang madugong listahan ng pagpaslang sa mga Mindoreño. Sa nakaraang buwan, dalawang sibilyan na sila Jay-ar Mercado at Mark Ederson Valencia de los Santos ang walang awang pinaslang ng mga pwersa ng 203rd Brigade.

Mabibigo ang 203rd Brigade sa kanilang Focus Military Operation dahil wala sa kanilang panig ang suporta ng mamamayan. Patuloy na susuportahan at pakakamahalin ng mga Mindoreño ang LdGC-NPA Mindoro dahil nauunawaan nilang ito ang tunay nilang Hukbo, tagapagtanggol at sandigan. Tanging sa paglahok sa digmang bayan matitiyak at matatamasa ng mamamayan ang hustisya, tunay na kapayapaan, demokrasya, kalayaan at kasaganahan.##

CPP/NPA-Southern Tagalog: 5 kaswalti ng AFP-PNP sa aksyong militar ng LdGC – NPA Mindoro

NPA-Southern Tagalog propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Feb 28, 2020): 5 kaswalti ng AFP-PNP sa aksyong militar ng LdGC – NPA Mindoro

FEBRUARY 28, 2020

Taas-kamaong pagbati ang ipinapaabot ng Melito Glor Command sa dalawang magkasunod na aksyong militar ng Lucio de Guzman Command (LdGC) – NPA Mindoro laban sa mga nag-ooperasyong 4th IBPA-PNP sa ilalim ng 203rd Brigade.

Limang putok ang pinakawalan ng mga Pulang mandirigma na nagresulta ng apat na malubhang sugatan sa AFP-PNP noong Pebrero 19 sa Sitio Ibanig, Brgy. Monteclaro, San Jose, Occidental Mindoro bandang alas 3:30 ng hapon. Kagyat na kinuha ng dalawang helicopter ang mga sugatan bandang 5:00 ng hapon. Kinabukasan, Pebrero 20, alas dos ng hapon, isa ang malubhang sugatan sa isang putok ng sniper team ng LdGC – NPA Mindoro sa Sitio Balingaso ng parehong barangay. Samantala, ligtas na nakaatras ang mga kasama nang walang anumang pinsala.

Ang aksyong militar ng LdGC – NPA Mindoro ay tugon sa Focused Military Operations (FMO) ng 4th IBPA-PNP na dumagan sa mga sityo Elya, Taganop, Mantay, Ibanig, Tikyan, Banligan, Balingaso, Mabanban at Saliding ng Brgy Monteclaro, San Jose; mga sityo Dulis, Dayaga at Dalalo ng Brgy. Naibuan, San Jose; at mga sityo Abalya, Masay, Buswak ng Brgy. Lisap, Bongabong, Oriental Mindoro. Dinaganan ito ng 300 pwersa ng 4th IBPA-PNP na naghahasik ng karahasan at teror sa mga nasabing lugar. Ikatlong bugso na ito ng FMO ng 203rd Brigade sa isla sa taong ito.

Ang mga aksyong militar ng NPA laban sa mga nag-ooperasyong sundalo at pulis ay paggawad ng rebolusyonaryong hustisya sa lahat ng mga krimen ng mersenaryong tropa sa mamamayan ng Mindoro. Matatandaang malaking krimen ng 203rd Brigade ang inilunsad nilang pambobomba, pang-iistraping, panununog at iba pang mga paglabag sa karapatang tao sa mga katutubong Mangyan at magsasaka sa mga nabanggit na lugar noong 2019.

Nagsisilbing babala ito sa mga nag-ooperasyong pwersa ng AFP-PNP sa mga lugar na saklaw ng larangang gerilya ng NPA. Hindi maaaring mamayagpag at puminsala pa ang AFP-PNP sa buhay at kabuhayan ng mamamayan sa kanayunan. Bibiguin ng NPA sa rehiyon at buong bansa ang mga FMO sa ilalim ng NTF-ELCAC at JCP-Kapanatagan. Patuloy na isusulong ng NPA sa mas mataas na antas ang pakikidigmang gerilya upang ibagsak ang pasistang rehimeng US-Duterte.###

Can PH defend itself without U.S. help? We can, we will, we should – AFP

From Rappler (Feb 27, 2020): Can PH defend itself without U.S. help? We can, we will, we should – AFP (By JC Gotinga)

The die is cast, says the military

TREATY ALLIES. Filipino and American soldiers during the annual Balikatan joint military exercises. Rappler file photo

Counting down to a mass exit of American troops from the Philippines, its armed forces said the country can survive without help from the US military.

A day after President Rodrigo Duterte defended his decision to scrap the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the US, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) issued a statement on Thursday, February 27, backing up its Commander-in-Chief.

"Can we survive militarily without the US?…. It bears repeating: We can survive; we will; we should," said AFP Spokesperson Brigadier General Edgard Arevalo.

"We – soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines – are toeing the line of the Commander-in-Chief and President Rodrigo Duterte towards self-reliance," Arevalo added, noting the "relatively and modestly modern AFP we have now."

Besides, "the die is cast," the marine general quipped. Duterte's order on February 11 giving the US government notice of his decision to repeal the VFA had set off the mandatory 180-day countdown to US troops' exit.

We've been there before

"We struggled but survived the period from 1991 to 1998, when the Military Bases Agreement was no longer renewed," Arevalo pointed out.

The lapse of the bases deal meant the US no longer had legal cover for their presence on Philippine soil, and forced them to vacate the Subic Naval Base and Clark Air Base in 1991.

What followed was a period of minimal US military presence in the Philippines, albeit the two countries' treaty alliance continued.

In 1995, China moved in and occupied Panganiban (Mischief) Reef in the West Philippine Sea, reviving the generations-old territorial dispute among countries surrounding the South China Sea. (The West Philippine Sea is the Philippines' exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.)

In 1999, the Philippines and the US signed the VFA to give US troops a legal basis to enter and move around the Philippine territory.

The agreement paved the way for yearly series of joint military exercises and trainings, and cooperation in counterterrorism, humanitarian aid, and disaster relief operations.

With the VFA out, these trainings and other activities between the two militaries will cease, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said days after the deal's repeal.

A number of senior officers of the AFP had told reporters of their opposition to the VFA's termination, but in the end they would follow the chain of command.

"With the abrogation of the VFA, we assure our countrymen that we will again, as our forebears did in their time, valiantly face contemporary threats to national security, terrorism, and other transnational crimes," Arevalo said on Thursday.


"Do we need America to survive as a nation?" Duterte posed the question on Wednesday afternoon, February 26, as he defended scrapping the VFA.

Although Duterte revived his longstanding threat to withdraw from the deal following the cancellation of his ally Senator Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa's US visa – an apparent sanction for human rights violations in his war on drugs – Duterte insisted on Wednesday that it was a "deliberate" move and not merely a "knee-jerk reaction."

Downplaying the importance of the military alliance with the US, Duterte said the Philippines might as well become a "colony of the Americans or a province of China" if it cannot secure itself with just its own military.

His decision to withdraw from the VFA contravened recommendations from lawmakers and even members of his own Cabinet to thoroughly review the agreement and the consequences of its termination before deciding whether or not to keep it.

For instance, Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr said the rotational presence of the US military in the Philippines has served as a deterrent to China's aggressive, expansionist plans in the West Philippine Sea.

In 2019, the Philippine Navy (PN) faced a tough challenge from Chinese vessels, including warships, criss-crossing Philippine territorial waters. Outmuscled by China's navy and outnumbered by its militias, the PN now races to acquire new warships and train its sailors and marines to achieve a credible naval defense posture.

On Thursday, Arevalo echoed an earlier statement by AFP chief General Felimon Santos Jr – that the Philippines can "move on" without the VFA, because anyway, the AFP is modernizing – slowly but surely.

Hope for VFA? 'Door is not totally shut,' says PH envoy to US

From Rappler (Feb 28, 2020): Hope for VFA? 'Door is not totally shut,' says PH envoy to US (By Carmela Fonbuena)

'We cannot ignore a country like the US,' says Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez

SORTING IT OUT. Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez in a forum in Makati on Friday, February 28, 2020. Photo by Carmela Fonbuena

The Philippine Ambassador to the US said there might be hope to keep the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) of both countries as they continue to discuss the future of their relationship.

"From what I'm told, the door is not totally shut," said Ambassador Jose Manuel "Babe" Romualdez on Friday, February 28, in a forum on PH-US alliance in Makati ."Let's see where it (VFA) can be polished,"
he said.

The Philippines sent on February 11 a notice to the US that it is terminating the VFA. It is effective after 180 days. US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said it was the "wrong direction," but US President Donald Trump welcomed it, saying it would save US some money.

Romualdez said talks are ongoing to "come up with something." If it isn't to keep VFA, it is to have similar agreements with other countries like Japan, he explained.

Romualdez said these options will be presented to Duterte.

Romualdez said government is also considering asking US officials to come over to the country to discuss these issues. Duterte has rejected a US invitation to attend a summit there.

"We cannot ignore a country like the US. At the end of the day, the US is a major country. No one can ignore the US, including China," he said.

"Having that in mind, VFA is not the end all and be all of our relationship with the US," he said.

The Philippines has made repeated calls to review VFA in the past, following controversies over its implementation, but the US appeared to show no interest.

"The bottomline is sovereignty," he said. "I'm confident that our relationship with the US will continue," the enyoy added.

Romualdez conceded the Philippine military will lose critical assistance from the US if VFA is terminated. He cited the presence of US special forces in the Mindanao to help fight radical extremism.

Romualdez hinted that Duterte's move was a response to calls from US senators' support for detained opposition Senator Leila De Lima. He said he also warned the senators of "consequences" if they pushed it.

"That is why we are where we are," Romualdez said.

Duterte names MILF founder's son as BTA member, completing Bangsamoro gov't

From Rappler (Feb 28, 2020): Duterte names MILF founder's son as BTA member, completing Bangsamoro gov't (By Sofia Tomacruz)

Abdullah Hashim's appointment to the Bangamoro Transition Authority completes the interim government's required 80 members nearly a year after it was formed in March 2019

NEW GOVERNMENT. Bangsamoro Transition Authority members gather for the region's inauguration in March 2019. Malacañang file photo

Abdullah Hashim, son of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) founder Hashim Salamat, was named the final member of the Bangsamoro interim government, bringing its composition to 80 as required by the Bangsamoro Organic Law.

Hashim's name appeared in a new list of presidential appointees released by Malacañang on Friday, February 28. The documents showed Hashim was officially named a member of the Bangamoro Transition Authority (BTA) last February 11, while his appointment papers were released on February 17.

Hashim completes the MILF's nominees to the BTA. Out of the total 80 target BTA members, 41 were nominated by the MILF and named by Duterte, while the government nominated the remaining 39.

(READ: Who's who in the Bangsamoro Transition Authority)

His appointment likewise completes all seats in the BTA, nearly a year after it was formed following the ratification of the Bangsamoro Law.

Since the names of the first batch of BTA members were released in March 2019, two BTA members nominated by the MILF have died – MILF leader Ghazali Jaafar and lawyer Abdul Dataya. Jaafar's seat was given to his son Mudjib Abu, while Hashim is Dataya's nephew.

The MILF had long planned to nominate Hashim, BTA Interim Chief Minister Murad Ebrahim earlier told Rappler.

New ambassadors

Also in the list released Friday was Rodolfo Robles, the Philippines' former Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN) in New York, who will now serve as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Canada. His appointment was signed Monday, February 24.

Robles was a former member of the committee tasked with drafting a federal constitution. Aside from this, he was also a nominee to the Supreme Court prior to the Duterte presidency.

Replacing Robles as Permanent Representative to the UN is Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Policy Enrique Manalo.

Duterte: PH can survive sans US military aid

From Panay News (Feb 28, 2020): Duterte: PH can survive sans US military aid (By Adrian Stewart Co)

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte witnesses the program proper during the Presidential Security Group (PSG) Change of Command Ceremony at the PSG Compound in Malacañang Park, Manila on February 25, 2020. PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Rodrigo Duterte said the military and police have assured him that the Philippines could boost its defense capabilities even without the assistance of the United States.

“Sila maraming mga sophisticated intelligence, gadgets. Tayo wala, mano-mano lang ito. But we are doing it. And the military and police said, ‘Sir, kaya natin,’”
President Duterte said Wednesday.

“Kasi ‘pag hindi natin kaya, we have no business being a Republic. You might as well choose. We can be a territory of the Americans or we can be a province of China. Kung hindi natin kaya, ganun lang,”
he added.

President Duterte recently ordered the termination of the Philippines’ Visiting Forces Agreement with the US, a move that some senators planned to question before the Supreme Court over constitutional issues.

Duterte’s decision to end the VFA, which governs the conduct of visiting US personnel holding military exercises in the Philippines, stemmed from the US’ alleged interference in domestic affairs, particularly on opposition Senator Leila De Lima’s drug-related case.

The Chief Executive has protested the cancellation of the visa of his close ally Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, who once oversaw the war on drugs as national police chief.

“Why would I allow the criminals to take charge of the mobility of the people at night or day na hindi sila makapasyal sa sarili nilang bayan?” Duterte said. “You might call me brutal. Alam mo naman kung hindi ako naging abogado, hindi ako naging Presidente, baka gun-for-hire rin ako, lalaban sa mga droga.”

NegOcc Army official dismisses NPA claim on peace fund use

From Panay News (Feb 28, 2020): NegOcc Army official dismisses NPA claim on peace fund use

Philippine Army 303rd Infantry Brigade commanded Colonel Inocencio Pasaporte dismisses the claims of the New People’s Army’s claims over the use of peace and order fund allocated by the provincial government during Media Night in Talisay City on Feb. 25. He believes that the province is transparent in the use of it. PNA

BACOLOD City – A top official of the Philippine Army in this province has dismissed the New People’s Army’s (NPA) claims over the use of peace and order fund allocated by the provincial government.
According to Colonel Inocencio Pasaporte, commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade (303 IB), the condemnation of the said communist-terrorist organization is just aimed at discrediting the support provided by the province to former rebels, projects and programs that are intended to alleviate the lives of the Negrenses in underdeveloped areas.

“The use of funds can be checked. We believe that the Negros Occidental provincial government is transparent regarding this,” the Colonel said on Feb. 25.

For him, NPA’s Apolinario Gatmaitan Command spokesperson Juanito Magbanua, who claimed that the peace fund is being used for intelligence and psywar operations, should instead explain to his own group the corruption in the use of funds of the rebel group in this province instead.

“I encourage him to answer and explain it. I know they have problems over their own funds,” he added.

Pasaporte also refuted the rebel movement’s claims over the use of the people’s money to militarize the services of the local government in relation to the implementation of the whole-of-nation approach that aims to end the local communist armed conflict and the Retooled Community Support Program (RCSP).

“The peace and order fund is not used for the RCSP, which is being funded by the local government units themselves and supported by the national government agencies,” he added.

For his part, Provincial Administrator Rayfrando Diaz said that the allocation of such funds is based on the initiative of the Provincial Peace and Order Council, which is chaired by Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson.

“We cannot question that. (The process) of drafting the budget is participatory. It’s founded really on good projects. One of them involves helping people affected by the armed conflict. Those who want to return to the fold of the law receive financial and livelihood assistance,” he said.

“Let’s respect each other’s opinion and we hope that the law-abiding Negrenses will see that this is for lasting peace in the province,” Diaz added.

Tubungan launches scheme to reintegrate former insurgents

From Panay News (Feb 29, 2020): Tubungan launches scheme to reintegrate former insurgents

ILOILO – The municipal government of Tubungan has launched a reintegration program that assists former rebels to start a new and normal life.

Project ROKIT (Reintegration Oplan Kabalaka for deserving Individuals in Tubungan) provides livelihood and job opportunities to rebel returnees.

These opportunities include formal employment both local and abroad through skills training, livelihood projects and values formation.

“The municipal government is sincere in improving the lives of former rebels by giving them financial assistance and sustainable source of livelihood for them to support their families. With this program, we are hoping that more rebels will return to the fold of law and seek a peaceful and productive life,” said Mayor Roquito Tacsagon.

On Feb. 9 three former members of the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) who surrendered to the Philippine Army’s 61st Infantry Battalion (IB) on Dec. 26, 2019 received P30,000 financial and livelihood assistance from the local government of Tubungan, Iloilo through Project ROKIT.

The said financial and livelihood assistance that included P5,000 cash and P25,000 worth of livestock (carabao and cattle) were received by the former rebels on top of the benefits they can avail themselves of through the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).

Aside from these assistance, they will also undergo skills training and other employment opportunities that will be facilitated by the Tubungan Public Employment Service Office (PESO).

Lieutenant Colonel Joel Benedict Batara of the 61IB lauded the local government of Tubungan in addressing the root causes of insurgency. He said this will help the concerted efforts of all government agencies in ending local communist armed conflict.

Project ROKIT can be considered as one of the best practices of the town in terms of implementing the programs and services for former rebels. With this project, I am renewing my call to the remaining members of the CPP-NPA especially Tubunganons who are still waging the armed struggle to avail themselves of this program. Your local government is sincere in helping you start new and productive lives. Come down, go back to the folds of the government, and be the next beneficiaries of this project,” said Batara.

3 Kalinga FRs receive E-CLIP benefits, lure comrades to follow

From the Philippine Information Agency (Feb 28, 2020): 3 Kalinga FRs receive E-CLIP benefits, lure comrades to follow (By Peter A. Balocnit)

“At the end of the day, it is government with the help of its citizens that provides answers to our problems and not through armed struggle.”

This is the realization of three former rebels (FR) who finally mustered the courage to leave the New People’s Army to live normal life in mainstream society.

On February 24, 2020 at the Kalinga Provincial Capitol, the three former rebels- two men and a woman- received a total of P1.2 million in financial assistance under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).

The awarding was jointly administered by the Provincial Local Government Unit headed by Gov. Ferdinand Tubban, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government led by Regional Director Marlo Iringan. It was witnessed by other E-CLIP Committee members.

E-CLIP, a complete package of assistance

The E-CLIP is a complete package of assistance to former members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), NPA and National Democratic Front (NDF), Militia ng Bayan, and their immediate families in order to become productive citizens.

Covered in this program are FRs who joined the CPP-NPA-NDF before December 31, 2018 and surrendered to government authorities from July 1, 2016.

Qualified beneficiaries are entitled to benefits and other forms of assistance from the government.

Among the financial assistance for FR include immediate assistance of P15, 000.00 and livelihood assistance of P50, 000.00 per FR. Additional funds are provided for firearms surrendered. Remuneration is based on the type of firearm the FR turned over.

FRs thank gov’t for opportunity for new life

The FRs expressed their gratitude to the government for accepting them saying they are now one with government in helping invite the remaining rebels to join mainstream society and live peaceful life.

The woman FR said “there is no reason to rebel against government since we did not find the solutions to the country’s woes from the CPP-NPA-NDF”.

DILG Cordillera Regional Director Marlo Iringan and Kalinga Gov. Ferdinand Tubban listen to the female former rebel expressing gratitude to the government for giving them opportunity to reform and become productive members of the community .

“At the end of the day, it is government with the help of its citizens who provides answers to our problems and not through armed struggle”, she said hoping for her family to gain impact from the assistance, and to also serve as inspiration for other rebels to abandon the revolutionary organization.

Both the male FRs thanked the g government for accepting them and providing them the opportunity to live normal lives. They also asked forgiveness for the wrongdoings they inflicted to their fellowmen.

Government committed to support FRs

“Just imagine living with no more arm conflict, we can talk on how to help each other make Kalinga a better and peaceful place to live in,” Gov. Tubban, the E-CLIP Committee Chairman said as he, thanked the three for coming back to the fold of the law.

He assured that the provincial government is committed to render support to former rebels. He extended the invitation for other rebels still in the mountains to come down and avail of the re-integration program of government.

Answers to project proposals may not be immediate but with the increased budget in the General Appropriations Act for E-CLIP, we can sustain through the “whole of nation approach” livelihood activities intended to your group, he said.

On the other hand, Iranian told beneficiaries this is how government treats its constituents- that no one will be left out in the quest for lasting peace.

“By embracing this caring government through this program (E-CLIP/ELCAC), this will give meaning to that dream for change and one milestone for FRs. We make you feel how government cares for you, how it embraces you as brother Filipinos,” he said.

“We are looking for that day when there will be no more conflicts - when government will save on resources. Instead of spending on law enforcement and military operations, the money can be used for health services,” he stressed.

“We need the cooperation of everyone - there is always a way to come to peace if we keep faith on our government and look for that day when harmony reins instead of division”, Iringan said as he also urged FR beneficiaries to use the benefits they received for livelihood and small business. (JDP/PAB-PIA CAR, Kalinga)

Cebuano News: Lain’g 5 ka kanhi rebelde, may P50 mil pangkapital

From the Philippine Information Agency (Feb 28, 2020): Cebuano News: Lain’g 5 ka kanhi rebelde, may P50 mil pangkapital (By Rey Anthony H. Chiu)

Featured Image

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, Feb. 27 (PIA) -- Singkwenta mil nga abag sa kagamhanan alang sa kapanginabuhi-an ang una-una nga nadawat sa lima ka mga kanhi sakop sa kalihukan nga walhon ug karon mingtabok na sa kagamhanan human nila matagamtam ang kawalay kasegurohan sa ilang kinabuhi sa bukid.

Gawas sa tabang salapi alang sa pangkapital sa ila na unya nga pamuhunan isip nagpuyo nga malinawon, may daghan pa nga bugkos sa abag nga gimandu ni Presidente Rodrigo Roa Duterte alang sa programa kanila nga buot na nga mahibalik sa patag aron manginabuhi nga luwas sa kakuyaw.

Ang bugkos sa mga tabang, nahasukip sa gitawag karon nga Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) nga naghiusa na sa mga tabang pinansyal gikan sa kagamhanan ug sa Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) nga nagtutok usab sa tabang pangkomunidad sa mga lugar nga gisamot sa rebolusyonaryong kalihukan.

Ang 50 mil sa matag usa sa lima ka mga kanhi rebelde, gtunol sa kagamhanan sinaksihan ni Gobernador Arthur Yap didto sa HEART Caravan sa Tabu-an Antequera Bohol, niadtong mi-aging semana.

Ang mga kanhi rebelde, nagagikan sa Antequera, Calape ug Loon, segun pa ni 47IB Civil Military Operations Officer 1Lt Elma Grace Remonde.

Pinaagi ni Yap, nasaksihan sa tanan ang pagpanumpa og balik sa mga rebelde ngadto na sa kinabuhi nga malinawon.

Didto sa pagtugyan sa abag-panginabuhi-an, gibutyag ni Remonde nga niini, hinay na nga napatinuod ang kahiusahan sa paningkamot sa kagamhanan pinaagi sa nagkadaiyang mga programa nga nagasakwat niadtong mga sakop sa katilingban nga nahisalaag.

Ang E-CLIP, usa na niini nga nangandaoy nga sa katapusan, putlon nga ug undangon ang local nga armadong pagpakigbisug o End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC).

Gawas sa P50 mil nga pangkapital sa negosyo sa matag sakop sa kalihukan nga mibalik sap anon sa kagamhanan, ang ECLIP nagamandu usab sa kasegurohan nga ang mingtahan sa kagamhanan dili dakpon sa kapolisan ug kasundalohan sulod sa tulo ka tuig sa pag-apply niya sa programa sa kagamhanan.

Samtang nagpaabut ug nagproseso ang kanhi rebelde alang sa programa, may P15 mil usab siyang madawat agi og panggasto ug pamilete samtang nag-apply sa programa.

Sa ila usab nga pagtapon balik sa kagamhanan, obligado usab ang local nga Social Welfare and development Officer nga tabangan sila aron mamabaton og identification cards, aron opisyal na nga makabalik sa panon.

Kon pananglit delikado alang kanila ug sa ilang banay nga mobalik og puyo sa ilang balay, may programa usab sila nga madawat alang sa relokasyon ngadto sa lugar nga walay nakaila kanila.

Gawas pa, sa ilang opisyal nga pagkadawat sa ECLIP, magbukas usab kini sa mga tabang nga gikan sa nagkadaiyang ahensya sa kagamhanan sama sa kapanarbaho-an sa Department of labor and Employment, bansay sa katakus manarbaho sa Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, kapanarbaho-an sa Department of Public Works and Highways, mga pabalay sa National Housing Authority, pagpasakop sa kapunungan sa Cooperative Development Authority ug sa bisan asa nga ahensya ngamakapadali sa ilang pagtapon isip malinawon nga molupyo, subay sa probisyon sa ECLIP, panapos ni Remonde. (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol/Grace Remonde)

Army upbeat on Samar bishops leading peace talks

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 28, 2020): Army upbeat on Samar bishops leading peace talks (By Sarwell Meniano)

BISHOP FOR PEACE. Diocese of Calbayog Bishop Isabelo Abarquez (center), Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, Philippine Army commanding general (right), and Philippine Army 8th Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Pio Diñoso III check firearms recovered by soldiers before the demilitarization ceremony in Camp General Vicente Lukban on Wednesday (Feb. 26, 2020). Diñoso has expressed optimism to attain peace in conflict-stricken Samar province after the three Roman Catholic bishops in Samar Island accepted the challenge to lead the localized peace talks with the New People’s Army. (Photo courtesy of Philippine Army)

A top official of the Philippine Army expressed optimism to attain peace in conflict-stricken Samar province after the three Roman Catholic bishops of Samar Island accepted the challenge to lead the localized peace talks with the New People’s Army (NPA).

Maj. Gen Pio Diñoso, commander of the Philippine Army’s 8th Infantry Division, said on Friday the participation of Catholic bishops is proof that the goal to end the decades-long armed struggle needs a whole-of-nation approach.

“Church leaders are deemed neutral people. They are wise and smart enough to feel if the NPAs are really sincere because of their exposure, knowledge on social issues, and spiritual maturity,” Diñoso said in a phone interview.

He noted that bishops play an important role in localized peace engagement with spiritual guidance from the Almighty.

On February 20, key government, church, and civil society leaders passed a resolution designating three Catholic bishops to lead localized peace engagements with members of the communist group operating in the region.

Officials approved the resolution during the 43rd assembly of the Samar Island Partnership for Peace and Development (SIPPAD) held in Borongan City, Eastern Samar.

The SIPPAD is a multi-sector organization composed of government, church, and civil society representatives coming from the three provinces of Samar Island.

In the resolution, Bishop Crispin Varques of the Diocese of Borongan, Eastern Samar; Bishop Emmanuel Trance of the Diocese of Catarman, Northern Samar; and Bishop Isabelo Abarquez of the Diocese of Calbayog in Samar were tasked to lead a panel that will hold peace dialogues with rebels who have expressed their willingness to return to the fold of the law.

Localized peace engagement is one of the 12 clusters of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, the multi-agency body created under Executive Order 70 or the “Whole-of-Nation Approach in Attaining Inclusive and Sustainable Peace”.

Established in January 2006, SIPPAD is convened quarterly by the Catholic Bishops of Samar Island together with the governors of the Samar provinces.

The group became a platform for collective action by the church, government, and civil society in addressing pressing issues and concerns relative to peace and order, good governance, and development and the environment across the Samar Island.

Some Samar areas are considered as NPA strongholds in Eastern Visayas due to poor road network, thick forest, high poverty incidence, and low level of education in upland communities.

The NPA, which has been waging a five-decade armed struggle against the government, is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

Nat'l gov't urged to set deadline for mayors to finish NPA

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 28, 2020): Nat'l gov't urged to set deadline for mayors to finish NPA (By Roel Amazona) 

NO TO NPA. Matuguinao, Samar Mayor Aran Boller. The mayor of this conflict-stricken town on Thursday (Feb. 27, 2020) urged the national government to set a deadline for local governments to dismantle the New People’s Army. (PNA file photo)

MATUGUINAO, Samar – The mayor of this conflict-stricken town called on the national government to set a deadline for local governments to dismantle the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Mayor Aran Boller said solving the problem within a timetable would show the sincerity of local government units to support the goal of ending the armed conflict before the end of President Rodrigo Duterte’s term.

“Just like when they gave us the deadline in the road-clearing drive, an ultimatum should also be given to us to end this insurgency problem,”
Boller told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Thursday.

“If only I would be given a chance to talk to the President, I will appeal to him to give us ultimatum until December this year,”
he said.

Boller said the advocacy to end insurgency should not only be implemented by one town but must be done simultaneously to limit the movements of rebels.

“Why should we be afraid, we are receiving a salary from the government? You’re a useless mayor if you got easily be threatened by rebels,” he said.

Because the national government is seriously ending the armed conflict by 2022, Boller said this is the right time for local officials to exert all efforts.

Wiping out the decades-old insurgency here has been identified as the top priority of the local government.

Boller said development has been elusive for Matuguinao because of the NPA’s presence in villages and their constant threat to residents.

It is a 5th-class town with a population of almost 8,000 people from 20 villages and was only connected to the national road in 2018 after the completion of 21-kilometer Gandara-Matuguinao Road. It was funded by the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process’ Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (Pamana).

In the past few months at least 150 former rebels and die-hard supporters have surrendered to local authorities. About 92 of them have already been processed for verification.

The local government offers PHP50,000 for each rebel and their supporter who will surrender before the end of March 2020.

The amount is on top of the cash assistance from the provincial government and from the national government through the enhanced comprehensive local integration program.