Thursday, May 21, 2020

24 NPA rebels killed in May clashes: Army

From the Mindanao Times (May 21, 2020): 24 NPA rebels killed in May clashes: Army (BY RHODA GRACE SARON)

Seventy-seven members of the New People’s Army, including top leaders, were neutralized by the different units under the Eastern Mindanao Command as it intensified its security operations in May.

Lt Col Ezra Balagtey, the EastMinCom spokesperson, said
the NPA suffered a series of defeats in less than a month as 24 rebels were killed, 11 captured, and 42 have surrendered in the past four weeks.

This also includes the capture and surrender of 83 and 13 firearms, respectively, and the discovery of guerilla hideouts in the different parts of the command’s area of responsibility.

To mention a few of EMC’s successful operations, an NPA front was earlier decimated after 10 NPAs were killed and five high-powered firearms were captured on May 10, in a series of encounters with soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division in Misamis Oriental and Agusan del Norte.

On May 12, the 1st Special Forces Battalion also captured a machine gun in Sitio Kimutya, San Rafael, Talakag, Bukidnon.

In Davao Oriental, elements of the 28th Infantry Battalion recovered two Garand rifles, one M16 rifle, one AR15 rifle, and one Ultimax MK3 machine gun in an arms cache in Barangay Maragatas, Lupon on the evening of May 16 during a pursuit operation after the unit figured in an encounter on May 13.

In a separate incident, elements of the 36th IB discovered a guerrilla hideout at the vicinity of Cabangahan, Cantilan, Surigao Del Sur, and confiscated one IHL banned landmine, two-way radio, personal belongings, and subversive NPA documents.

Likewise, operating troops of the 26th IB discovered an NPA lair in Guibonon, Esperanza, Agusan Del Sur, and were able to confiscate one tablet, four containers of gasoline, ammunition, and subversive documents.

On May 18, 2020, at 11:30 AM, other troops of 36th IB, while conducting security operations, encountered an undetermined number of rebels in Barangay Siagao, San Miguel, Surigao del Sur.

The said encounter lasted for 45 minutes, which led to the death of one NPA. It also resulted in the recovery of AK47 rifles, land mines, and medical supplies.

Lt. General Jose C. Faustino Jr., commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command, directed all units under EMC to intensify their implementation of security operations to prevent the NPAs from committing atrocities and harassment on communities already reeling from the pandemic.

“While most of us are busy fighting COVID-19, we do not want to give the NPAs space and time to take advantage of the situation to carry out their evil plans and atrocities that will add misery to our communities,” he said.

Army thinks 4 NPA leaders among dead in clashes

From the Mindanao Times (May 22, 2020): Army thinks 4 NPA leaders among dead in clashes (BY RHODA GRACE SARON)

A former teacher and activist was believed to be among the New People’s Army rebels encountered by the soldiers in a series of clashes in Andap Valley in Surigao del Sur from May 14-19, 2020.

Capt. Al Anthony Pueblas, the Division Public Affairs Office chief of the 401st Infantry Brigade, told TIMES that
four of the top leaders they believed were at the encounter site were Alvin Luque, alias Joaquin Jacinto, the spokesperson of Komisyon Mindanao (KOMMID), and Myrna Sularte, alias Maria Malaya, the secretary of North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC).
Luque, the spokesperson of Komisyon Mindanao, was a former Ateneo de Davao University student who went on to teach at the Assumption College of Davao and was a prominent leader of several left-leaning organizations before becoming an NPA.

“They were believed to be killed because of the two laptops recovered that were owned by Ma. Malaya and Alvin,” he said.

The spokesperson said the two bodyguards of Sularte were present during one of the encounters. They were identified as Alfie Masinatao, alias Kumander Momoy, the vice commanding officer of the Regional Headquarters, NEMRC, and Lorna Pamutongan Gomez, alias Ka Momay, the medical staff of RHQ, NEMRC.

He said that two never left the side of Sularte.

“That’s our basis because where Ka Momoy and Ka Momay were, you could expect the two to be there also,” Pueblas said, adding that they are still sorting out the documents and belongings found at the encounter site for identification purposes.

He claimed that the four top-ranking leaders were believed to be fatally wounded as they withdrew in different directions. However, the Army did not recover any of the bodies to confirm its suspicions.

According to the military, 11 NPAs were killed in a series of clashes in Andap Valley.

The 401st Infantry Brigade, under the 4th Infantry “Diamond” Division, foiled an impending attack by the North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC) forces in a series of clashes.

He credited the help of the tribal communities in the Andap Valley Complex, a known NPA hideout in the province of Surigao del Sur, who tipped off the soldiers on the presence of the rebels.

“They are to take advantage of the outbreak as security forces are focused on mitigating the effects of the deadly virus,” he added.

The spokesman said the security operation resulted in 11 killed, the recovery of five firearms, two laptops, one overhead projector, flash drives, external hard drives, two anti-personnel mines, hand grenades, bandoleers, assorted ammunition and magazines, handheld radios, personal belongings, assorted food and medical supplies, and subversive documents with high tactical value.

The operating troops overran the NPAs hideout that could accommodate more or less 120 individuals. The military recorded five total clashes with the same group of NPAs in Andap Valley.

The rugged terrain and the unpredictable weather made it difficult for the soldiers to pursue the rebels and possibly recover the bodies.

Maj. Gen. Franco Nemesio M. Gacal, the 4th ID commander, commended the troops for the successful operations with no major losses on the government side.

“The determination and sacrifices of our troops and the bravery and confidence of the locals had paved the way for the restoration of peace,” Gacal said. “I urged the local communities to continue supporting the government efforts for maintaining peace in the province.”

Last May 10, the 402nd IB under this command had launched security operations in the boundaries of Agusan del Norte and Misamis Oriental resulting in the death of 15 NPAs, including four top-ranking leaders of the North Central Mindanao Regional Committee (NCMRC).

PH Navy’s missile-capable frigate sets sail for Philippines

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 21, 2020): PH Navy’s missile-capable frigate sets sail for Philippines (By PNP)

Representatives from Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI )and Hanwha Systems donated COVID-19 relief supplies for the Philippine Navy (PN) which were received by Defense and Armed Forces Attaché to Republic of Korea, Capt. Armil M. Angeles. (Photo from PN)

NAVAL STATION JOSE ANDRADA, Manila, May 21 -- In a sail-off ceremony conducted in Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) shipyard in Ulsan, South Korea, the Philippine Navy’s missile-capable warship, which will be christened BRP Jose Rizal (FF150) during its commissioning, finally sets sail for the Philippines t May 18, 2020.

The sail-off for the departing ship was conducted through a simple ceremony attended by delegates from the Philippine Navy (PN), HHI’s Special and Naval Shipbuilding Division and Hanwha Systems, while adhering to the South Korean government’s measure to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease. During the ceremony, representatives from HHI and Hanwha Systems also donated COVID-19 relief supplies for the PN which were received by Defense and Armed Forces Attaché to Republic of Korea, Capt. Armil M. Angeles.

The frigate is expected to arrive in Subic Anchorage Area, Zambales on May 23 where its crew will first undergo the 14-day mandatory quarantine period prior the ship’s technical inspection and low-key acceptance ceremony.

PN with the arrival of said vessel will have its first ever multi-mission capable frigate capable of conducting anti-air warfare, anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, and electronic warfare operations. With a maximum designed speed of 25 knots and a cruising speed of 15 knots and a range of 4,500 nautical miles, the frigate has successfully undergone sea trials and sea acceptance test.

The first of the two frigates contracted under HHI was supposed to be delivered by third or fourth week of April this year but was extended due to travel restrictions as result of the pandemic. The second frigate, to be christened BRP Antonio Luna (FF151), is expected to be delivered by end of this year.

The Philippine Navy, through its strategic sail plan, has identified this 2020 as its banner year for being a strong and credible Navy manifested through the arrival of its brand new and first ever multi-mission capable warship that, truly, our maritime nation can be proud of. (PN)

‘NPA supply courier’ nabbed in Surigao Su

From the Philippine News Agency (May 21, 2020): ‘NPA supply courier’ nabbed in Surigao Sur (By Alexander Lopez)

NPA COURIER. Police and Army operatives arrest Eric G. Enriquez, allegedly a courier for the communist New People's Army, in a law enforcement operation in the vicinity of Barangay Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur on May 19, 2020. Military and law enforcement officials said the area is a known enclave of the communist rebel group. (Photo courtesy of PRO-13 Information Office)

Authorities arrested an alleged militiaman of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) in a law enforcement operation in the Surigao del Sur town of Lianga.

Brig. Gen. Joselito T. Esquivel Jr., Police Regional Office (PRO) 13 (Caraga) chief, said Thursday Eric G. Enriquez, 33, who also reportedly served as a supply courier, was arrested on Tuesday through a warrant of arrest issued by a regional court in Lianga for murder and attempted murder.

Enriquez is a member of the Militia ng Bayan (MB), a trusted contact and supply courier of the Weakened Guerrilla Front 19 (WGF-19) of Northeastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NMRC) of the NPA, Esquivel said.

He was arrested in Diatagon in Lianga by elements of the 3rd Special Forces Battalion (3SFBn), Regional Mobile Forces Battalion 13 (RMFB-13), Surigao del Sur Provincial Mobile Force Company, and Lianga municipal police station.

“Based on the intelligence report, Enriquez is also an active member of Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (Mapasu), an alleged CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines) affected organization in Surigao del Sur,” Esquivel said.

NPA enclave

In a separate statement on Thursday, 1Lt. Krisjuper Andreo J. Punsalan, the civil-military operations officer of 3SFBn, said the area where Enriquez was arrested is a known rebel enclave.

Punsalan was specifically referring to the boundary between Sitio Han-ayan (Km. 16) in Diatagon, Lianga and Sitio Kabulohan, Barangay Buhisan, San Agustin, where Enriquez was arrested.

“An Indigenous People (IP) witness, who requested anonymity, said that wanted and terrorist personalities – to include communist-linked and militant group Mapasu leaders with standing warrants of arrests – are allegedly seeking refuge in Sitio Han-Ayan (Km. 16) and Sitio Kabulohan and are using civilians as human shields to evade government forces through 'taktikang bakwit' (evacuation tactic),” Punsalan said.

He noted that last March 19, Mapasu leader Gloria Campos Tumalon, who has standing warrants of arrest for arson, kidnapping, and serious illegal detention, was also arrested in the same area by a team of Army and PNP personnel.

Punsalan said Tumalon is the sister of Pablito Sinzo Campos and Imelda Campos Belandres, the NPA leaders who were arrested by authorities in Sibagat, Agusan del Sur back in 2018.

Brig. Gen. Allan D. Hambala, commander of the Army's 401st Infantry Brigade, said several NPA personalities linked to Mapasu have been arrested following tipoffs received from residents in the area.

Tribal leader Hawudon Jomar S. Bucales, the Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative (IPMR) of Lianga, also lauded the arrest of Enrique.

"We, in the IP tribal council fully support the government's operations against Communist NPA Terrorists and their front groups within our ancestral lands to stop their abuse, exploitation, and killings of innocent IPs who refuse to give in to their violent armed struggle and ideology," Bucales said.

Meanwhile, Punsalan said the military and other law enforcement agencies involved in the arrest of Enriquez and other NPA leaders in the area are expecting Bayan Muna Rep. Eufemia Campos Cullamat and her leftist allies to appeal to various media platforms to gain public sympathy.

“Expect that they will come out and accuse government forces with lies, such as an attack on the IPs and their communities. This tactic is one of their old playbooks to cover up their members when in fact that the arrest was conducted based on a legal and constitutional basis,” he said.

The NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

NPA eyed in killing of ex-CAFGU in Guihulngan City

From the Philippine News Agency (May 21, 2020): NPA eyed in killing of ex-CAFGU in Guihulngan City (By Mary Judaline Partlow)

Negros Oriental provincial police director Col. Julian Entoma. (File photo)

A farmer and former member of the government’s paramilitary group was gunned down by suspected members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental on Wednesday night.

Provincial police director, Col. Julian Entoma, in an interview Thursday afternoon, said the perpetrators in this latest shooting incident in Guihulngan
are believed to be members of the same group operating in the northern Negros area and also responsible for previous shooting incidents in that city.

A report from the Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office identified the victim as Joseph Redocto Bitonga, 41, married, a resident of Sitio Budlasan, Barangay Trinidad in Guihulngan.

Bitonga, a former member of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), was shot while sitting outside his house in Sitio Budlasan by two unidentified male suspects.

He died of multiple gunshot wounds.

Entoma said the rebels operating in Guihulngan now appear to have split into smaller groups so that they would not be easily spotted by government troops as they are allegedly going around, asking for food from residents in the hinterland areas.

There seems to be a pattern that they are out to target civilians or former members of the AFP who they believe are feeding information to law enforcement authorities about the alleged NPA rebels' movements and presence in their communities, Entoma said.

Bitonga was said to have been among those targeted in Oplan Sauron, a massive police operation in late 2018 and early 2019 against illegal possession of firearms, he said.

One Oplan Sauron operation alone left at least 14 peasants and suspected NPA members dead, and several others arrested.

Based on police investigation, Bitonga was suspected to have been an “informant” of the military and barangay officials afterward which is eyed as the possible reason he was gunned down, Entoma said.

Just last week, Elpedio Julwar dela Cerna Mahinay, a village councilman of Sitio Maambog, Barangay Planas in Guihulngan was also killed allegedly by NPA rebels, he said.

The suspects were overheard as saying that Mahinay had allowed himself “to be used by the Army and the government”.

Entoma said he has advised those who believe they are targets of the NPA, especially the ones living in remote and hinterland villages, to transfer residence for now, preferably to areas where a military detachment is present.

Parents of 2 Zamboangueñas proud of daughters' PNPA feat

From the Philippine News Agency (May 22, 2020): Parents of 2 Zamboangueñas proud of daughters' PNPA feat (By Teofilo Garcia, Jr. and Salvador Santiago)

WOMEN POWER. Two Zamboangueñas, Cadettees First Class Lei Anne Palermo and Zandra Tabar land on the Top 10 of the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) Mandayug Class of 2020. The graduation is set to be held Friday (May 22, 2020) at Camp Mariano Castañeda in Silang, Cavite. (Photo grab from PNPA file video)

The parents of the two Zamboangueña Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) cadets who will graduate on top of their class said they are proud of their daughters' achievements, although they cannot attend the graduation rites amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

The graduation of the PNPA Mandayug Class of 2020 is set to be held Friday, at Camp Mariano Castañeda that houses the PNPA campus in Silang, Cavite.

The two Zamboangueñas who landed on top of the Mandayug Class of 2020 are Cadette First Class Lei Anne Palermo, who is top of her class, and Cadette First Class Zandra Tabar, who is the top 3.

Palermo, who belongs to the Hawk Company, is a resident of Barangay Calarian, while Tabar of the Charlie Company is from Barangay Curuan, both in this city.

Palermo is the youngest daughter of Army 2Lt. (ret.) Norberto Palermo, 64, and Lilia Palermo, a retired nurse of the Dr. Jose Maria Torres Memorial Foundation Hospital, Inc in Lamitan City, Basilan.

Noberto said he is proud and honored by his daughter's achievement and would have loved to attend the graduation ceremony if not for the prevailing health crisis.

“We are proud of you when you complete the course as number one. You made true of your promises to exert everything to reach the top,” Norberto said.

Tabar is the eldest daughter of Roselie and Alexander Tabar, who are into the transport business.

Roselie said they did not expect Zandra to be in the top 10 considering there are 227 cadets in the Mandayug Class of 2020. She said Zandra, who graduated as valedictorian both in elementary and secondary, has been wanting to become a soldier since she was little.

Zandra took and passed twice the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) entrance examination but failed to qualify the quota limit.

“So she decided to take the PNPA entrance examination and passed, and the rest is history,” Roselie said.

She also expressed regret that they won't be able to attend the graduation rights because there are still no flights to Manila due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Anyway, the graduation will be live on the PNPA Facebook page and on PTV-4. Doon na lang kami maghintay,” Zandra’s mother said.

Aside from Palermo and Tabar, six other Zamboangueños will graduate tomorrow, Friday, from the PNPA.

They are Cadets First Class Al-Shadat Abdurajak and Joseph Bryan Alberto of Barangay Sangali; Cadette First Class Judilyn Bardago of Sta. Catalina; Cadette First Class Brain Hull Sakkam of Sinunuc; Cadette First Class Rain Simyunn of Pasonanca; and Cadette First Class Khomeni Sulaiman of Recodo.

The PNPA Mandayug Class of 2020 has 227 cadets coming from all over the country. They started training and schooling on May 1, 2016.

The PNPA management said 202 of the graduates will join the police service, 59 will join the Bureau of Fire and Protection (BFP), and 16 will go to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).

Female cadet tops PMA 2020 class

From the Philippine News Agency (May 22, 2020): Female cadet tops PMA 2020 class (By Liza Agoot)

A female cadet of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) topped the graduating class this year.

Cadet First Class (C1CL) Gemalyn Deocares Sugui, of Echague, Isabela topped PMA Class Masidlawin 2020.

Cadet First Class (C1CL) Gemalyn Deocares Sugui, of Echague, Isabela topped PMA Class Masidlawin 2020. (Photo courtesy of PMA)

She will also receive the Presidential Saber Award for graduating valedictorian of Class 2020. Her other awards include academic excellence, Philippine Army Award, Joint United States Military Assistance Award, Social Sciences Plaque, Management Plaque, Spanish Armed Force Award, and the Rule of Law Award.

Other female cadets in the top 10 are Rojes Gaile Bacud Jamandre of Lamut, Ifugao (4); Vanelyn Angel Zipangan Tabao of Tuguegarao City (7), Cagayan; June Giel Anne Lacuesta Factor of Piddig, Ilocos Norte (8); and Dencel Aina Mendoza Bayaca of Floridablanca, Pampanga (10).

At second is C1CL Jade Campo Villanueva of Tacloban City.

Villanueva will receive the Philippine Army award, vice presidential saber award, association of general flag and officer award, academic group award, the Australian defense best all performance award, General Juan Antonio Luna, the Army Service Professional Courses Plaque, the Department of Leadership Plaque and the Humanity plaque.

The others in the top 10 are:

3. Jefferson Yamson Salazar of Zamboanga City. He will receive the Philippine Navy award, secretary of national defense saber, Philippine Navy Saber, the Australian best all performance award, and mathematics plaque.

5. Jeb Belting Bay-an of Kabayan, Benguet;

6. Catabay Gummawa Ladyong of Lubuagan, Kalinga;

9. Rubenson Prajes Abgao of Lanao del Norte; and

Brigade Commander C1CL Marionne Cortez Cordova of Nagcarlan, Laguna who is joining the Philippine Air Force will get the Chief of Staff Award and Leadership Award.

This year's graduation will not have the usual fanfare and families around due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

Capt. Cherry Tindog, PMA information officer, earlier said the commencement exercises this afternoon would not be open to the public and without media coverage.

PMA closed its doors as early as February, following the cancellation of the annual Flower Festival, as a protective measure for the cadets from possible Covid-19 infection.

Tindog said the graduation ceremony would be streamed live via PMA's official Facebook page.

BRP Bacolod City back in Sangley Point after PPE mission

From the Philippine News Agency (May 21, 2020): BRP Bacolod City back in Sangley Point after PPE mission (By Priam Nepomuceno)

BACK HOME. Philippine Fleet commander, Rear Adm. Loumer Bernabe (left), welcomes officers and enlisted personnel of the BRP Bacolod City during its arrival in Sangley Point, Cavite City on Wednesday (May 20, 2020). The ship was tapped by the government to transport the PPE sets acquired from China for Department of Health personnel in their ongoing efforts to contain the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) outbreak. (Photo courtesy of Philippine Fleet)

Philippine Navy (PN) logistic support vessel, BRP Bacolod City (LS-550), has arrived in Sangley Point, Cavite City on Wednesday after completing its mission of picking up personal protective equipment (PPE) sets in China and delivering it to Davao City.

The ship is now docked at the Commodore Rudiardo A Brown Beaching Area, Cavite City, said Philippine Fleet public affairs office chief, Lt. Vanessa Layco, in a statement Thursday.

Officers and enlisted personnel of BRP Bacolod City were welcomed home by Philippine Fleet commander, Rear Admiral Loumer P. Bernabe, in a simple ceremony.

"Arrival honors were accorded to the vessel in order to recognize the laudable efforts of the officers and crew who undergone the said transport mission," Layco said.

The BRP Bacolod City was tapped by the government to transport the PPE sets acquired from China by the Department of Budget and Management earlier this year for use of the Department of Health personnel in their ongoing efforts to contain the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) outbreak.

This shipment consisted of 700,000 KN95 face masks and 200,000 sets of PPE, comprised of goggles, coverall suits, head cover, gloves, shoe covers, surgical masks, and surgical gowns.

The Philippine Fleet also acknowledged its stakeholders, the Naval Reserve Command and the Pacific Roadlink Logistics Incorporation (PRLI), through their chief executive officer, Bennet Go, for their support and generosity in lending some 33 container vans, which was used to store the PPE sets while aboard the ship.

“I am proud that along with the imminent threat of Covid-19, you were able to overcome the rough seas and strong winds of the open sea, traversing surely and safely to equip our men and women in the front-lines. I commend you all for the smooth execution of this mission without any injury, sickness or casualty," Bernabe said to the BRP Bacolod City's crew.

The ship departed Sangley Point last April 21 and arrived in Zhangzhou Harbor, Port of Xiamen, China on April 25.

BRP Bacolod City left China on April 30 after completing the loading of the PPE sets and arrived in Davao City on May 8 where it unloaded all of its medical supplies.

It left Davao City on May 14 for Zamboanga City before heading back to Cavite City.

Repairs on BRP Ramon Alcaraz to be completed May 27: PH Navy

From the Philippine News Agency (May 21, 2020): Repairs on BRP Ramon Alcaraz to be completed May 27: PH Navy (By Priam Nepomuceno)

BRP Ramon Alcaraz. (File photo)

Repairs on the offshore patrol vessel, BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16), which was forced to return to the Port of Cochin in India after a fire damaged its main engine room as it sailed to the Philippines on May 7, are slated to be completed on May 27.

"So far, they initially (gave an) ETC (estimated time of completion) on May 27 for the repairs of PS-16. There are still no other details," Philippine Navy (PN) public affairs office chief, Lt. Commander Maria Christina Roxas, said in a message to the Philippine News Agency on Thursday.

When asked where the parts needed for the repair of the damaged sections of the vessel came from, Roxas said, "What I have heard, everything was sourced (from) India."

After the repairs, the crew of the BRP Ramon Alcaraz will conduct sea testing and trials before proceeding home with BRP Davao Del Sur (LD-602), which was also forced to return to the Port of Cochin to seek shelter from Cyclone Amphan that battered eastern India and neighboring Bangladesh.

"The estimated time of completion of all the repairs aboard PS-16 is on 27 May. Today (Thursday) or tomorrow (Friday), (it) will already conduct sea trial to test (its) main and auxiliary engines," Navy chief, Vice Adm. Giovanni Carlo Bacordo said in a text message.

The BRP Davao Del Sur was earlier projected to reach the Philippines by May 23 after sailing alone on May 9.

"Upon reaching Colombo, Sri Lanka last 11 May, (BRP Davao Del Sur) had to remain at anchor because of weather disturbances that manifested in the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea. After about two days at anchor and the winds were becoming stronger and the seas rough, (it) sailed back to Cochin Port to seek shelter," he added.

The BRP Davao Del Sur is currently docked at the Port of Cochin anchorage area and will leave with the BRP Ramon Alcaraz on May 27.

The two ships, which composed PN Naval Task Force 82, were deployed to Oman last February as a contingency measure should a large evacuation of overseas Filipino workers be needed following tensions between the United States and Iran.

They sailed from Sultan Qaboos, Oman last April 21 and arrived in India on April 29 to fetch a donation of 200,000 pieces of face mask from a Filipino businessman based in the country, as well as 18 Filipino tourists who were stranded due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

AFP turns over 2 patient care centers to Tondo school

From the Philippine News Agency (May 21, 2020): AFP turns over 2 patient care centers to Tondo school (By Priam Nepomuceno)

PATIENT CARE CENTER. AFP Chief-of-Staff, Gen. Felimon Santos Jr. and Manila Mayor Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso (in white polo shirt) grace the turnover of two emergency quarantine facilities (EQFs) at Tondo High School in Manila on Thursday (May 21, 2020). The EQFs have a 44-bed capacity and will accommodate suspect and probable coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) patients. (Photo courtesy of AFP Public Affairs Office)

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday turned over two of six emergency quarantine facilities (EQFs) completed by its engineering units to Tondo High School in Manila.

In a press statement, Navy Capt. Jonathan Zata said the two EQFs have a 44-bed capacity and will accommodate suspect and probable coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) patients.

AFP Chief-of-Staff, Gen. Felimon T. Santos and Manila Mayor Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso graced the turnover ceremony along with William Ti Jr. of the WTA Architecture + Designs Studio who leads the EQF project.

Also present were Dr. Patrick Gitonga of the Samaritan’s Purse who partnered with WTA for the EQF project and school principal Sonny Valenzuela.

“It is the AFP’s great hope that these newly constructed Emergency Quarantine Facilities here in Tondo shall serve its purpose of aiding hospitals to accommodate the increasing number of suspected and probable Covid-19 cases,” Santos said.

The facilities were built through the efforts of the AFP Office of The Chief Engineer led by Maj. Gen. William Ilagan and the 51st Engineering Brigade commanded by Brig, Gen. Emmanuel Anthony Ramos.

Other completed EQFs were located at the Batangas Healthcare Specialist Medical Center; The Medical City, Batangas; Perpetual Help Las Piñas; and Caloocan City North Medical Center.

Each EQF was built by 20 soldiers within five to six days using power tools and around four truckloads of materials. Meanwhile, the sites for completion are in Novaliches District Hospital, Quezon City; Rosario Maclang Bautista General Hospital, Quezon City; two in Barangay Sucat, Parañaque; and two in Taguig-Pateros District Hospital.

Previously, 78 EQFs were completed by AFP in partnership with various organizations.

Under the WTA project, 10 were built by all-soldier construction teams while 52 were constructed by composite military and civilian teams.

A total of 10 were completed under the San Miguel Foundations Projects; one was made possible in partnership with a generous group from Davao; two were built in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City; and three were constructed under the AFP Health Service Command initiative.

“With the aid of the ingenious creations of professionals from the private sector, your soldiers will continue to fulfill their duty to the state and the citizens amidst this war against an unseen enemy,” Santos said.

Gapay joins virtual conference with Indo-Pacific armies

From the Philippine News Agency (May 22, 2020): Gapay joins virtual conference with Indo-Pacific armies (By Priam Nepomuceno)

Philippine Army commander, Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay. (File photo courtesy of the Army Chief Public Affairs Office)

As the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) put a halt to all physical meetings and exercises, Philippine Army (PA) commander, Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, participated in the virtual Indo-Pacific Landpower Conference hosted by the United States Army Pacific (Usarpac) from Wednesday to Thursday.

In a statement Friday, Army spokesperson, Col. Ramon Zagala, said the virtual conference was conducted in place of the Land Forces Pacific (Lanpac) Symposium and Exhibition 2020 in Hawaii, which was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Usarpac commander, Gen. Paul J. LaCamerahas, invited military and government senior leaders across the Indo-Pacific theater in the virtual conference with the theme “Preserving a Free and Open Indo-Pacific While Operating During and Post Covid-19”.

“While the world is reeling from the effects of the pandemic, it is imperative that the resulting security challenges be discussed by countries in the Indo-Pacific region to learn from each other's best practices and allow us to respond properly," Gapay said.

The two-day videoconference focused on the present-day security challenges and ways forward within the Indo-Pacific region amid the pandemic crisis.

Keynote speakers composed of senior general officers of the US Armed Forces and British Army discussed pressing security issues, which were further elaborated by a panel of experts coming from various military and civilian organizations.

"The PA values international cooperation more than ever as the organization, along with the entire Filipino nation, adapts to the new normal," Gapay added.

Militant groups ordered to answer suit filed by recruit's parents (

From the Philippine News Agency (May 22, 2020): Militant groups ordered to answer suit filed by recruit's parents (By Benjamin Pulta)

The Supreme Court (SC) has required members of militant groups to answer the suit filed by the parents of an 18-year-old girl, who was recruited when she was still a minor two years ago, to campaign for a party-list group and recruit members for a left-leaning organization.
In a notice dated May 19, the SC en banc through Clerk of Court Edgar O. Aricheta, directed Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Elago, Anakbayan national spokesperson Alex Danday, lawyer Maria Kristina Conti and Anakbayan members Chary Delos Reyes, Bianca Gacos and Jayroven Villafuente to "show cause" within 10 days why the writs of amparo and habeas corpus sought by the parents of Alicia Jasper "AJ" C. Lucena should not be issued.

In their petition for writs of habeas corpus and amparo, AJ's parents Relissa and Francis Lucena, asked the high court to compel the Anakbayan and Kabataan party-list to produce their daughter and place her in their parents' custody and comply with the Bayanihan To Heal as One Act.

Lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, who represents the Lucena couple in the petition, said it is imperative that AJ be produced in court and she is returned to her parents.

"Until then, her life, liberty, and security, which was violated when she was a minor, will continuously be violated and abused. Aggravated by the occurrence of Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic, AJ's life and safety are in great danger. AJ is without any financial resources since she is an out-of-school youth, She has no gainful employment. She has no means of protecting and providing for herself. She needs to stay home, and be with her family." Topacio added.

The Lucena couple is seeking a temporary protection order for the protection of AJ as well as their family members against the groups and prohibiting the latter "from recruiting, influencing, indoctrinating, immersing and threatening the life, liberty, and security of Alicia Jasper Lucena".

The suit likewise sought a court order directing and ordering the immediate placement and custody of AJ to the care and custody of the petitioners and her family in compliance with the Bayanihan Act, compelling everyone to stay at home.

"The measure of the state's protection guaranteed by the Constitution over the basic social institution of our nation should not be rendered useless when its members reach the age of majority," the petitioners said.

"How can a family be the foundation of our nation if its members are being encouraged to abandon and neglect their own family? How can a family be strengthened and its solidarity promoted for total development if its members, especially children, are being mentally conditioned to leave their family abode and disregard the sanctity of their own family," they added.

AJ was a student at the Far Eastern University (FEU) when she was recruited by the group, and went missing in July 2019.

She had since been photographed in a number of protest rallies.

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

On Aug. 14, 2019, AJ and another missing student, Lory Caalaman, were seen in a press conference held by progressive lawmakers in Congress.

The Anakbayan, in pleadings submitted to prosecutors, justified as "voluntary" AJ's decision to campaign for the group during the elections.

In March, a video footage on the Anakbayan social media page showed AJ participating in a mass demonstration.

Embassy slams critics opposing US arms sale to PH

From the Philippine News Agency (May 22, 2020): Embassy slams critics opposing US arms sale to PH (By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora)

The Philippine embassy in Washington D.C. on Friday slammed groups opposing the possible sale of American military equipment to the Philippines.

"It is unfortunate that certain groups seek to take advantage of this issue to advance their own political agenda, even to the detriment of the long-standing alliance between the Philippines and the United States," its statement read.

The State Department on April 30 notified the US Congress of its "determination approving" two possible foreign military sales to the Philippines.

These include six AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters and support equipment valued at USD450 million while the other are six AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and related equipment at about USD1.5 billion.

Some groups, including the Human Rights Watch, opposed the said sales, citing the Philippine government's campaign against illegal drugs and counter-insurgency operations.

The embassy, meanwhile, said that Manila's defense modernization program has been pursued not only by the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte but also by previous leaders.

"The program is critical to national security and necessary to achieving a credible defense posture," it said.

In addition, it positions the Philippines as a "more robust and effective security partner" for countries in the Asia Pacific and Southeast Asia regions.

READ: DND chief says PH budget for US attack helicopters 'too tight'

While the government acknowledged the State Department's approval, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier said Manila's current budget for the attack helicopter program is only PHP13 billion or approximately USD256 million by the current exchange rate.

The Philippine Air Force is considering the acquisition of Turkish Aerospace Industries T-129 helicopters.

IDP Protection Assessment Report - Displacement in Pikit, North Cotabato due to Clan feud (IDPPAR no. 05, Issue no. 01, 2020)Sources

Posted to Relief Web (May 20, 2020): IDP Protection Assessment Report - Displacement in Pikit, North Cotabato due to Clan feud (IDPPAR no. 05, Issue no. 01, 2020)Sources 

Download report(PDF | 585.91 KB)


On 24 March 2020, a firefight has ensued in Barangay Balongis, Municipality of Pikit caused by a long-standing dispute between two Commanders that are affiliated with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The incident forced approximately 395 families to flee their homes and have sought refuge in the neighboring villages in Barangay Galakit and Barangay Linandangan, all in the Municipality of Pagalungan, Province of Maguindanao.

On 12 April 2020, another fighting incident between the warring parties has erupted in Barangay Talitay, Municipality of Pikit and in Barangay Bagoinged, Municipality of Pagalungan, Province of Maguindanao. There are undetermined number of families forced to flee their homes.

On 07 May 2020, a firefight has erupted again in Barangay Balongis, which has escalated in barangays Nunguan and Balatican, all in Pikit Municipality. Approximately 965 families were forced to flee their homes and sought refuge in Barangay Galakit of Pagalungan Municipality and Barangay Batulawan of Pikit Municipality. Recurrence of fighting incidences continue to affect the people as the dispute remain unresolved.


On 11 May 2020, the community-based monitors of the Community and Family Services International (CFSI) have conducted an assessment at the IDP sites in Barangay Galakit of Pagalungan Municipality and Barangay Batulawan of Pikit Municipality. Based on the assessment conducted, there are 965 families from Barangay – Balongis, Nunungan and Balatican, all in Pikit Municipality that are still displaced: 45 families at Batulawan Elementary School; 31 families at Batulawan covered court; 93 families at Cotabato Foundation College; and 796 families are in host families in Barangay Galakit and Barangay Batulawan, all in Pikit Municipality.

Mga dating BIFF Combatants nakabiyaya ng Farm Equipments mula Maguindanao Government

From Radio Mindanao Network (RMN) (May 21, 2020): Mga dating BIFF Combatants nakabiyaya ng Farm Equipments mula Maguindanao Government (By Dennis Arcoon)

Muling namahagi ng Farm Machineries ang Provincial Government ng Maguindanao sa mga dating rebelde na nagbalik loob sa pamahalaan.

Kinabibilangan ito ng mga Bao-Bao at Kuliglig bukod pa sa mga vegetable seedlings at fertilizers.

Kabilang sa mga napagkalooban ng Farm Equipments ay mga dating myembro ng Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter, 59 ay mula sa aor ng 601st Brigade habang 9 naman mula 602nd Brigade

Isinagawa ang turn-over sa Provincial Capitol sa Buluan, na sinaksihan ng mga matataas na opisyales ng Militar at Kapulisan.

Kaugnay nito, umaasa si PNP BAR Regional Director Manuel Abu na magagamit ng mga rebel returnees sa kanilang pagbabagong buhay ang ipinagkaloob ng gobyerno ,habang lubos namang nagpapasalamat ang pamunuan ng 6th ID sa tiwala ng kanilang mga dating nakakaengkwentro sa mga liblib na bahagi ng probinsya at ngayoy kaisa sa pagpapalaganap ng kapayapaan sa buong lalawigan.

Pinasalamatan din ng mga opisyales ang naging Suporta sa kanilang mga Programa ng Administrasyon ni Maguindanao Governor Bai Mariam Sangki Mangudadatu. Ito na ang ikatlong pagkakataon na nagsagawa ng kahalintulad na programa sa ilalim ng Administrasyon ni GMSM para sa mga dating rebelde

Matatandaang, nauna ng inihayag ni Gov. Mariam na isa sa kanyang hangarin na magkakaroon ng pangmatagalang kapayapaan sa Maguindanao, at mangyayari lamang ito kung ang lahat ay nagkakaisa.

Nanawagan rin ang gobernadora lalo na sa mga patuloy na nakikibaka sa pamahalaan na bigyang daan ang Kapayapaan at Kaunlaran.

Bukas rin aniya ang kanyang Administrasyon para bigyan ng tulong ang mga ito.

Noong nakaraang mga buwan, nauna naring pinagkalooban ng mga payong-payong bukod pa sa mga farm equipments ang rebel surenderees.

BIFF men kill soldier in Maguindanao

From the Philippine Star (May 21, 2020): BIFF men kill soldier in Maguindanao (John Unson)

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines — An Army soldier was killed in a gun attack by members of the Dawlah Islamiya or Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Radjah Buayan town on Tuesday.

Pfc. Jerome Tahad of the 33rd Infantry Battalion (IB) and his colleagues were on their way to their command post in Barangay Zapakan after manning a quarantine checkpoint when they were attacked.

Tahad suffered multiple gunshot wounds and died at the scene. His companions were unhurt.

In Datu Saudi town, Lt. Melvin Laguting, Datu Saudi police chief, said BIFF men attacked two detachments of the 57th IB in Barangays Elian and Salbo.

No one was reported hurt among government troopers, but the attacks triggered panic among villagers.

NPAs surrender, reunite with families amidst COVID-19 pandemic

From the Manila  Bulletin (May 21, 2020): NPAs surrender, reunite with families amidst COVID-19 pandemic (By Mike Crismundo)

Tired and weary regular members of the communist-New People’s Army (NPA) voluntarily gave up themselves to the operating unit of the Philippine Army’s 71st Infantry (Kaibigan) Battalion (71st IB) so they can be with their families during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement sent to The Manila Bulletin on Thursday, Lt. Kim S. Carlos, Civil Military Operations (CMO) officer said the terrorist rebels gave themselves up to the field unit and emotionally reunited with their respective families on Saturday, May 16.
The four rebel returnees were members of the Weakened Guerrilla Front 2 (WGF2) of the CPP-NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Command.

“After the custodial debriefing, they went home and reunited with their respective families,” Carlos said.

The identities of the rebel returnees were temporarily withheld for their safety.

One of the rebel returnees returned to be with her four children and was able to throw a simple birthday celebration to her son with the help and generosity of the 71st IB.

“Our ground troops helped to celebrate her son’s birthday,” the 71st CMO officer said.

Members of the 71st IB chipped in for the birthday cake, spaghetti, bread, and other food, Carlos added.

The four former NPA members sought the help of their local officials for them to return to the folds of the law.

Lt. Col. Sonny Gonzales, 71st IB commander, thanked the provincial, municipal, and barangay officials who helped facilitate the surrender of the rebels.

“Truly, EO 70 which institutionalizes the whole of government approach to end local armed conflict is the answer to finally attain genuine and sustainable peace. With the help of the local officials and populace, I am confident we can put an end to insurgency in our area,” Gonzales added.

2 ranking NPA rebels in NegOcc surrender

From the Panay News (May 21, 2020): 2 ranking NPA rebels in NegOcc surrender (BY DOMINIQUE GABRIEL BAÑAGA)

Two high-ranking members of the New People’s Army (NPA) surrendered to the Philippine Army’s 15th Infantry Battalion (15IB) in Hinoba-an, Negros Occidental.

Lieutenant Colonel Erwin Cariño, 15IB commander,
identified the two as 45-year-old Hermosilla Villamor, a front committee member of the NPA’s South West Front in Negros; and 27-year-old Teody Manorte, a squad leader of the SYP platoon of the NPA’s South West Front.

Cariño said Villamor was the former finance and medical officer of the insurgents, and also previously served as Party Committee in Bohol, before becoming a political guide to the SYP platoon.

The two surrendered through the efforts of the Community Support Program of the 15IB in Barangay Sangke in the town Hinoba-an in Negros Occidental.

When questioned by the army as to why they surrendered, both have stated they have become increasingly dissatisfied with the NPA’s ideological hopes and dwindling leadership.

Both have also stated that they missed being far away from their loved ones.

Cariño added, the 15IB is now in the process of filing their documents, enrolling them to the government’s Enhanced-Comprehensive Local Integration Program, which would help them in reintegrating them back into the society.