Friday, May 29, 2020

Ex-rebels abducted by former comrades

From the Manila Bulletin (May 29, 2020): Ex-rebels abducted by former comrades (By Marie Tonette Marticio)

Three former rebels were reportedly abducted by their former comrades in the New People’s Army (NPA) in Barangay Canvais, Motiong, Samar.

The victims were identified as Cosme Cabangunay and his two sons Jevie and Jason, all former rebels who surrendered to authorities, and were working as members of the Motiong Peacebuilders, an organization of former rebels working for peace and development.

According to Barangay Chairperson Vilma Gabane,
about five suspects wearing bonnets and armed with long firearms barged inside the victims’ house and forcibly took them at gunpoint.

The victims’ family and the whole community was appealing for the safe release of the Cabangunay family.

“They have been living in peace and just wanted to have normal lives away from violence. We will hold them (NPA) responsible if our relatives will be harmed,” one of their relatives said.

“We vehemently condemn this barbaric act of the NPA terrorists. They have victimized non-combatants. They abducted people who are working for peace in the locality,” said Lt. Colonel Reynaldo Balido Jr., battalion commander of the 87th Army Infantry Battalion.

Moro groups blame military for deaths of two children in Eidl Fitr

From the often pro-Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) online publication the Davao Today (May 28, 2020): Moro groups blame military for deaths of two children in Eidl Fitr (By KEN E. CAGULA)

Moro human rights group hold the military accountable for the reported mortar shelling during Eidl Fitr celebration Sunday in a village in Datu Saudi Ampatuan town in Maguindanao that killed two children and injured several others.

The incident happened around 3:15 on May 24, which hit the house of Sayyid Tambak in Barangay Kitango that caused the deaths of his children Aslamiya Tambak age 10, and Asnaida Tambak 7. Their mother was injured as well as twelve other relatives.

Kawagib Moro Human Rights reported that at least four 81 millimeter mortar shells landed in the village, as villagers reported that the military was conducting shelling to “flush out” the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in communities in Maguindanao.
Kawagib also cited a report from the Ministry of Social Service and Development in Maguindanao province that more than 6,000 individuals were forced to evacuate due to a series of mortar shelling in the town of Datu Saudi Ampatuan.

The AFP’s 6th Infantry Division denied conducting military operations on May 24 in observance of Eidl Fitr that marked the end of the month-long Ramadhan.

But another Moro group, Suara Bangsamoro, condemns the long history of military operations that have targeted civilians instead in Moro communities.

“Even though [the military] says that they are pursuing what the government called terrorist elements of BIFF, however, it is the civilian Moro that is widely hit due to the use of airstrikes and mortar shelling in communities claiming to have [BIFF’s] presence,” Suara Bangsamoro spokesperson Jun Naga said.

“The Moro people were expecting that the establishment of Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) under the MILF leadership and the peace talks between the Philippine government and MILF will pave way for peace. But last year, military operations in communities with MILF presence in Maguindanao and North Cotabato never ceased and operations also intensified in other provinces within BARMM,” the group added in their statement.

Kawagib urges the Bangsamoro government to act on this issue.

“We hope that the Bangsamoro government helps the families pursue justice and hold accountable the military for the death of the two girls and violating the rights of the community in Brgy. Kitango,” they said.

Acting on the directive of Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr., the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities, together with the International Monitoring Team, has started the investigation on the incident.

“We are saddened by what transpired on Sunday. We would like to assure our Moro brothers and sisters that we shall leave no stone unturned as we seek justice for the victims,” Galvez said in a press release.(

PNP alert vs. NPAliquidation activities

From the Visayan Daily Star (May 29, 2020): PNP alert vs. NPAliquidation activities

Police personnel in Negros Occidental have been advised by provincial police director Col. Romeo Baleros to be extra careful and vigilant, in the wake of reports that newly-recruited Special Partisan Unit members of the New People’s Army may conduct liquidation activities.

Baleros also reminded police chiefs and commanders to enhance their security measures, especially vulnerable detachments and police stations.

“We do not know when they will attack or conduct hostile activities against our personnel and vital installations,” he said.

To thwart any violent activity of the rebel group, Baleros also ordered the conduct of small patrol operations, and he also goes around visiting in various police stations and outposts to determine if his commanders are implementing his instructions.

Baleros is retiring from the police service on June 6 as he will reach the mandatory age retirement of 56. There is no word yet on his successor as provincial police director of Negros Occidentalas of this time.

NPA blamed for burning chapel, four houses in Opol hinterlands

From MindaNews (May 29, 2020): NPA blamed for burning chapel, four houses in Opol hinterlands (By FROILAN GALLARDO)

CAGAYAN DE ORO (MindaNews / 29 May) — Suspected communist rebels torched four houses and a small chapel in a hinterland village in Opol, Misamis Oriental on Thursday morning.

Opol town Mayor Maximino Seno condemned the attack and called on the military to protect the residents of Zone 2, Barangay Limonda.

“Most of them are poor, I don’t know the reason why the NPA (New People’s Army) attacked them,” the mayor said.

Residents of the village are mostly farmers

“The villagers saw two of the rebels pour gasoline at the chapel and houses,” Capt. Rene Belmonte Jr., spokesperson of the Army’s 403rd Infantry Brigade, said.

The chapel that the rebels burned, Belmonte said, was used by “Born Again Christians.”

He identified the perpetrators as NPA rebels led by a certain “Decoy” of the Guerilla Front 12 that operates near the border of Misamis Oriental and Iligan City.

Belmonte said the rebels figured in a clash with Army soldiers in Barangay Rogongon in Iligan City on Tuesday.

He said the rebels proceeded to Zone 2 but residents turned them away by telling them they do not have food to spare.

Belmonte said early Thursday morning, 14 rebels, mostly armed with M14 rifles came back and burned the chapel and houses.

He said the rebels shouted “Mabuhay ang NPA” (Long live the NPA) when they left the village. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)

Tingguian community of Lacub seeks justice for young recruit allegedly killed by NPAs

From the Philippine News Agency (May 29, 2020): Tingguian community of Lacub seeks justice for young recruit allegedly killed by NPAs (By PIA Abra)

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BANGUED, Abra, May 29(PIA) - - The Tingguian Community of Lacub seeks justice for a New People’s Army(NPA) recruit who was allegedly killed by NPA members after he wanted to leave the group and return to mainstream society.

The body of 20 -year old Jeffrey G Reyes, single, a resident of barangay Talampac, Lacub and alleged member of the KLG (Kilusang Larangang Guerilla) North Abra was retrieved at Sitio Sap-al, Brgy Buneg in Lacub on May 19. It bore wound on the head.

Aka "JefJef" was allegedly recruited by the rebel group in December 2019. He was reportedly planning to leave the movement due to the hardship he was experiencing.

The Council of Elders of Lacub has sought the help of the Philippine Army in preparing the necessary charges against the perpetrators as the Tingguian community of Lacub cries for justice and expressed indignation against the unjust acts of rebel groups in their municipality.

“The death of Jefffrey G. Reyes proves the vulnerability of our youths to various threats that may be caused by various lawless elements. This incident has further called our concerted efforts to fight against any form of illegal activities such as terrorism,” stated Abra Provincial Police Office Officer-in-Charge, PCol Clarence C Casilio.

He directed all concerned units to intensify information dissemination activities to heighten community awareness on the anti-terrorism campaign of the PNP and the AFP.

Likewise, community engagement activities involving the vulnerable members of the community such as the youths have been enhanced to protect them from the misleading propaganda of the CPP/NPA and prevent same incident to happen.

He also urged parents to take good stewardship over the members of their family to protect the youths at all cost.(JDP/PIA CAR-Abra)

Tagalog News: Mga guro, sundalo naghatid ng tulong sa mga katutubo sa DRT

From the Philippine News Agency (May 29, 2020): Tagalog News: Mga guro, sundalo naghatid ng tulong sa mga katutubo sa DRT (By Vinson F. Concepcion)

LUNGSOD NG MALOLOS, Mayo 29 (PIA) -- Hinatiran ng tulong ng mga guro mula sa Department of Education Indigenous Peoples Education Program at Army 48th Infantry Battalion ang mga mag-aaral na Dumagat sa Donya Remedios Trinidad.

Personal na hinatid ang 22 sako ng bigas at iba pang relief goods sa Pinag-anakan Elementary School, Basyo Elementary School at Anuling Elementary School bilang ayuda habang nasa krisis ng COVID-19.

Hinatiran ng tulong ng mga guro mula sa Department of Education Indigenous Peoples Education Program at Army 48th Infantry Battalion ang mga mag-aaral na Dumagat sa Donya Remedios Trinidad. (Army 48th Infantry Battalion)

Ayon kay Army 48th Infantry Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Felix Emeterio Valdez,ang aktibidad ay nagpapakita na hindi lamang limitado sa loob ng silid aralan ang maaring gawin ng mga guro kung hindi maari rin sa ganitong klase ng relief operation.

Isa rin itong istratehiyang nakapaloob sa government approach to end local communist armed conflict na maibigay ang mga pangunahing serbisyo ng pamahalaan nakalaan sa mga katutubo. (CLJD/VFC-PIA 3)

NorMin RTF-ELCAC’s projects, activities continue amid COVID-19

From the Philippine News Agency (May 29, 2020): NorMin RTF-ELCAC’s projects, activities continue amid COVID-19 (By Recthie T. Paculba)

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During the NorMin RTF-ELCAC meeting, May 28, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar says the Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security (CORDS)-X has already highlighted the efforts of nine Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic through the Laging Handa Network Briefing. (NEDA 10)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, May 29 (PIA)—Targeting to respond to the needs of 1.5 million poor families in the region to eventually attain peace and development, the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) continues to implement projects, programs and activities in the midst of the coronavirus disease (COVID)-19 pandemic.

During the NorMin RTF-ELCAC meeting, May 28, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security (CORDS)-X has already highlighted the efforts of nine Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic through the Laging Handa Network Briefing.

The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) also coordinated with the regional directors and local chief executives particularly the governors of the five provinces and some mayors of the region to discuss locally initiated programs and projects against COVID-19.

“It is my concern to let the people know what the local leaders are doing during this pandemic. The entire region has been harmonizing its efforts, we bring these together to heal as one, recover as one, and rise as one,” Andanar said.

Meanwhile, MGen Franco Nemesio Gacal, 4th Infantry Division (4ID) commander, said about 84 percent of the Convergence Areas for Peace and Development (CAPDev) are ongoing and some were already completed in the first quarter of 2020.

The previously approved projects, programs and activities will be funded and resumed in the later part of 2020.

“In the first year of the RTF-ELCAC, our operations resulted in the surrender of 274 regular communist NPA terrorists and sympathizers and 531 Militia ng Bayan members. We have uncovered 1,612 underground mass organizations, seized high-powered firearms, and overall, helped enhance investor confidence in Mindanao,” Gacal said.

For her part, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA)-10 Regional Director Mylah Faye Cariño proposed the creation of a funding window to sustain the implementation of Executive Order No. 70 in working towards lasting peace and sustainable development.

In the said meeting, the 4ID led the virtual launching of the RTF-ELCAC 10 Operations Center located at 4ID, Camp Evangelista, Patag, here. (RTP with reports from NEDA10/PIA10)

108 NPA rebels yield in SoCot, Sarangani in 2 weeks

From the Philippine News Agency (May 29, 2020): 108 NPA rebels yield in SoCot, Sarangani in 2 weeks (By Richelyn Gubalani)

SURRENDER. The flags of the New People’s Army (NPA), doctrinal documents, and weapons surrendered by some 44 combatants from parts of Sarangani in a ceremony on Thursday, May 28, in Kiamba town. A total of 108 NPA rebels under Guerilla Fronts 72 and 73 have surrendered in the last two weeks to police and Army personnel in South Cotabato and Sarangani provinces. (Photo courtesy of the Police Regional Office-12)

A total of 108 more New People’s Army (NPA) rebels operating in South Cotabato and Sarangani provinces surrendered to government authorities in the last two weeks, the most number for the area in recent years.

Brig. Gen. Michael John Dubria, Police Regional Office (PRO)-12 director, said Friday the rebels yielded voluntarily to police and Army personnel starting May 15 following a series of negotiations.

Dubria said the series of surrenders were done in coordination with concerned local government leaders, through the Task Forces to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (TF-ELCAC).

Some 21 NPA rebels under Guerilla Fronts 72 and 73 surrendered last May 15 in Tupi and Banga towns, 36 on May 22 in Lake Sebu and seven on May 26 in Tantangan town, all in South Cotabato province.

On Thursday, 44 more rebels from parts of Sarangani formally yielded in Kiamba town.

Dubria said the series of surrenders show that the government’s efforts to win back the trust and confidence of people who had lost their faith in the system have been gaining ground.

“It also manifests that more and more CTG (communist terrorist group) members now gradually realize the bitter reality of being captives of the wrong cause,” he said in a report.

Dubria, who joined the presentation of the surrenderers in Sarangani on Thursday, said NPA units in the area were “continuously weakening as some of (their) leaders are returning to the folds of the law.”

The 44 returnees in Sarangani, who were led by a certain “Tiger,” surrendered over a dozen high-powered firearms, assorted ammunition, explosives, NPA emblems, and subversive documents.

During the ceremony facilitated by the joint Provincial and Municipal TF-ELCAC, the surrenderers burned an NPA flag and other rebel documents.

“Tiger”, whose identity was withheld for security reasons, said they decided to surrender after realizing the “senselessness of their armed struggle,” especially amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

He apologized to the government for the offenses and unlawful activities they made in the past and vowed to start a “brand new and peaceful life.”

The provincial government of Sarangani said it has released initial financial assistance to the returnees. The mayors of Maitum, Kiamba and Maasim also said they will include the former rebels in the housing programs of the National Housing Authority.

Lt. Col. Lino Capellan, PRO-12 spokesperson, said in an interview the returnees will be enlisted into the flagship Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program.

Under the program, qualified former rebels will receive financial and livelihood assistance and other support packages from various government agencies.

Army condemns abduction of 3 Samar peacebuilders

From the Philippine News Agency (May 29, 2020): Army condemns abduction of 3 Samar peacebuilders (By Sarwell Meniano)

ABDUCTION. The map of Motiong town in Samar province. The Philippine Army on Friday (May 29, 2020) condemned the New People’s Army (NPA) over the abduction of three former rebels turned “peacebuilders” in the town's upland community early Wednesday. (Google map

The Philippine Army has condemned the New People’s Army (NPA) over the abduction of three former rebels turned “peacebuilders” in an upland community in Motiong, Samar early Wednesday.

Lt. Col. Reynaldo Balido Jr., commander of the Army’s 87th Infantry Battalion said the abduction of a father and his two sons is a heinous crime and against the International Humanitarian Law.

"We vehemently condemn this barbaric act of the NPA terrorists. They have victimized non-combatants. They abducted people who are working for peace in the locality," said Balido in a statement issued on Friday.

The communist terrorists abducted Cosme Cabangunay and his sons Jevie and Jason around 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday in Canvais village in Motiong, Samar.

The trio are members of Motiong Peacebuilders, an organization of former rebels who joined the peace and development efforts of the government.

Citing accounts of village officials, the Philippine Army reported that about five bonnet-clad men armed with long firearms barged inside the victims’ house and forcibly took them.

Col. Camilo Ligayo, commander of the Army’s 801st Infantry Brigade demanded the unconditional and safe release of the victims.

"It is with deep regret that the NPA terrorists have once again showed their evil ways by oppressing the ordinary people who want to live in peace. We assure the relatives that our soldiers will do everything necessary to pursue the perpetrators and bring them to justice,” Ligayo said in a statement.

Ligayo challenged left-leaning organizations that claimed to be human rights advocates such as Karapatan and Katungod Sinirangan Bisayas to condemn the incident.

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

NPA combatant in NegOcc yields after 11 years in armed struggle

From the Philippine News Agency (May 29, 2020): NPA combatant in NegOcc yields after 11 years in armed struggle (By Nanette Guadalquiver)

SURRENDER. Former rebel Albert Yanong Alon, alias “Butsoy” (center), with Lt. Col. Erwin Cariño (right), commander of the 15th Infantry Battalion, and 2nd Lt. Weann Sandag, civil-military operations officer. Alon surrendered to troops in Cauayan, Negros Occidental on May 22, 2020, after 11 years as a combatant of the New People’s Army. (Photo courtesy of the 15th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army)

A 27-year-old man, a New People’s Army (NPA) combatant for 11 years, has voluntarily surrendered to Philippine Army troops in Cauayan, Negros Occidental, the 15th Infantry Battalion (15IB) reported on Friday.

The former rebel, identified as Albert Yanong Alon, alias “Butsoy”, was a platoon leader of the North Negros Front (NNF) and a squad leader of SYP/SDG Platoon of the southwest Front (SWF), operating in the area of Barangay Sangke in his hometown of Hinoba-an.

He yielded on May 22 as a result of the 15IB’s Community Support Program campaign and triad operations to further pressure the communist-terrorists and their supporters in Negros Occidental to end the armed struggle.

Lt. Col. Erwin Cariño, commanding officer of 15IB, welcomed Alon’s decision to choose the right path towards peace by returning to the fold of the law.

“After many years, he has realized that the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) only used him for their vested interests. He has no respectable future if he continues to stay, and like the previous surrenderers, it is not too late for him to live peacefully with his family,” Cariño said.

According to the 15IB, Alon was recruited by the CPP-NPA in 2009 when he was only 16.

He joined the armed group, believing that being part of the organization would resolve his social concerns, particularly land issues.

Alon’s experience as a seasoned combatant made him a platoon leader of an independent unit operating in northern and southern Negros in 2012.

“During my years in the struggle trying to destroy the government, I have not seen freedom, equality, and peace. When our comrades die, their families do not receive any assistance and benefits from the organization,” he said.

Alon added that with the assistance of the 15IB, he could start over with his family without fear.

He urged his former comrades still fighting in the mountains to give up the armed struggle.

Meanwhile, Hinoba-an Mayor Ernesto Estrao thanked the former rebel for deciding to surrender.

"I call on the other members of CPP-NPA to lay down your arms and live a peaceful life with your respective families. Your local government unit, together with the 15IB, are willing to help those who will give up their armed activities,” he added.

Westmincom gets 2 new senior officers

From the Philippine News Agency (May 29, 2020): Westmincom gets 2 new senior officers (By Teofilo Garcia, Jr.)

Two senior officers have assumed key positions at the headquarters of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) in this southern port city, a military official said Friday.

They are Col. Antonio Rafael Abundabar and Lt. Col. Reymondo Delgado, who were installed in their new positions by Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Westmincom chief, in a ceremony held Thursday in Camp Basilio Navarro here.

Maj. Arvin John Encinas, the Westmincom spokesperson, said Abundabar replaced Col. Clarence Abellera as the Westmincom’s assistant chief of the Unified Command Staff for Plans.

Encinas said Abellera has been reassigned as deputy inspector general of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) in Villamor Airbase, Pasay City.

Delgado, meanwhile, was appointed assistant chief of the Unified Command Staff for Education and Training.

Delgado took the helm from Col. Miguel Ceballos, the assistant chief of the Unified Command Staff for Civil-Military Operations of Westmincom.

Sobejana led the conferment of awards on the outgoing officers in recognition of their invaluable service and contributions to the command.

“We once more recognize the service and accomplishments of Colonel Abellera and Colonel Ceballos. You are one of the reasons why we continue to accomplish our goals and meet our objectives,” Sobejana said.

“I know the challenges that come with assuming new responsibilities, but you have my trust and confidence. Your commitment, talent, and competence will help in translating our goals into reality,” he added.

Suspected BIFF courier killed in Sultan Kudarat drug bust

From the Philippine News Agency (May 29, 2020): Suspected BIFF courier killed in Sultan Kudarat drug bust (By Noel Punzalan)

SEIZED. The shabu drug paraphernalia, hand grenade, and .45-caliber pistol recovered from slain drug suspect Al Rashed Sungan Layao following a shootout with lawmen during a drug sting operation in Lambayong, Sultan Kudarat on Thursday (May 28, 2020). Police and military intelligence reports say the suspect doubles as bomb courier for the Daesh-inspired Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters operating in Maguindanao and other parts of Central Mindanao. (Photo courtesy of PRO-12)

A drug suspect, who allegedly doubled as an improvised explosive device (IED) courier for the Daesh-inspired Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), died in a shootout with the police in Lambayong, Sultan Kudarat on Thursday.

Brigadier Gen. Michael John Dubria, director of Police Regional Office-12,
identified the slain suspect on Friday as Al Rashed Sungan Layao, an alleged drug pusher and bomb carrier of the BIFF–Abu Toraife faction operating in Central Mindanao.

“The suspect was killed after shooting at the arresting team of police and military personnel around 3:30 p.m. at Barangay New Cebu in Lambayong town,” Dubria said.

He said members of the Regional Police Drug Enforcement Unit (RPDEU) were backed by personnel of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA-12) in the operation.

During the entrapment, Dubria said the poseur-buyer was able to buy a sachet of suspected shabu from the suspect.

“Layao, however, sensed that he was dealing with a police agent so he drew his gun and fired at the lawmen who closed in on him,” he said.

The arresting team fired back, hitting Layao who was rushed to the hospital but was declared dead on arrival by doctors, police said.

Recovered from the suspect were the PHP500 marked money, a .45-caliber pistol, a fragmentation grenade, and 10 pieces of suspected shabu sachets, police said.

Dubria said police and military intelligence reports indicated that Layao had also served as a close aide of a foreign terrorist identified only as certain Mauwiya, a Singaporean national and wanted bomb maker now hiding in the marshlands of Maguindanao province.

The terrorist group is blamed for the Roxas Night Market bombing in Davao City in September 2016 and also the Isulan bombing in April 2019.

'Balik Probinsya' to help address insurgency: Or. Mindoro mayor

From the Philippine News Agency (May 29, 2020): 'Balik Probinsya' to help address insurgency: Or. Mindoro mayor

Bongabong, Oriental Mindoro Mayor Elgin Malaluan (Contributed photo)

BONGABONG, Oriental Mindoro – The municipal government here is now laying down its plans to guarantee that the "Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa" program or BP2 will be effective and give returning locals a good livelihood.
Mayor Elgin Malaluan said he is fully supporting the program, which could help end the insurgency problem by encouraging rebels to return to the community.

“Personally, I want this Balik Probinsya Program to be the avenue for rebels to surrender and be a part of the community again," he said in an interview on Friday.

According to him, there are some local governments that lack livelihood projects for surrenderers, the reason some of the rebels go back to the mountains. "To address that issue, our local government is preparing some jobs for them. We are collaborating with the Department of Trade and Industry and with the Department of Science and Technology,” Malaluan said.

Meanwhile, the mayor remains on guard after the lifting of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and travel ban on the island of Mindoro and continues to address the different challenges caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic by helping his constituents not just financially but also by ensuring their overall well-being.

Just recently, Malaluan again donated at least PHP900,000 from his own pocket to help the 36 barangays of his municipality in their efforts to fight Covid-19.

The 36 barangays received PHP25,000 each, which they can utilize for their operations to fight the spread of the virus in the province.

To date, Malaluan said, they have already dispensed more or less PHP90 million for the relief operations, which benefited at least 21,000 households. Each family for the food supplies distribution received at least 75 kilos of rice, vitamins, milk, canned goods, dried fish, among others.

The senior citizens, meanwhile, were given one cavan (50 kilos) of rice, vitamin C, and organic milk for the fourth wave of relief operations.

Malaluan also led the distribution of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) barely a week after the announcement of President Rodrigo Duterte regarding the assistance. His municipality was the first to distribute the financial aid in the entire Mimaropa Region.

Malaluan said for the SAP, they have released more than PHP49 million for almost 10,000 beneficiaries.

Aside from the funds coming from the local government, Malauan said they also received cash donations from private individuals, which totaled PHP2.6 million, of which more than PHP600,000 came from the mayor's personal donation. At least 350 cavans of rice were also donated to the municipality's residents.

“We never made any announcement soliciting money or a campaign to raise funds for our efforts to send supplies to barangays. I, personally was amazed and proud that the people of Bangabong have generous hearts. Families who have extra funds to share came to my office and voluntarily donated money – from PHP2, 000 to as big as PHP100, 000 while others donated sacks of rice and other produce, and it’s overwhelming. Even those who are working abroad and have been away for many years sent their donations,” he said.

Some LGUs in Mindoro have replicated the system and programs that the municipal government here has been applying and using to address the current health crisis.

New military commander in Bicol assumes office

From the Philippine News Agency (May 29, 2020): New military commander in Bicol assumes office
(By Connie Calipay)

BICOL'S NEW MILITARY CHIEF. Brig. Gen. Henry A. Robinson Jr. delivers his message during the turnover ceremony marking his official assumption of post as the new commander of the Army's 9th Infantry Division in Pili, Camarines Sur on Wednesday (May 27, 2020). He replaced Maj. Gen. Fernando T. Trinidad who retired May 29, 2020. (Photo courtesy of 9th ID, Philippine Army)

The new commander of the Philippine Army's 9th Infantry Division (9ID), Brig. Gen. Henry A. Robinson Jr., has assumed post as the top military officer of Bicol region.

Army Captain John Paul Belleza, 9ID spokesperson, said in an interview on Friday that Robinson replaced Maj. Gen. Fernando Trinidad who retired Friday (May 29), capping off more than 37 years in military service.

Belleza said Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, Commanding General of the Philippine Army, presided over the change of command ceremony at the Spear Division's Multi-Purpose Gym in Pili, Camarines Sur on Wednesday.

"In his retirement speech, Maj. Gen. Trinidad recognized the dedicated workforce of the Spear Division, saying that if not for them, he will not be retiring as an accomplished military officer," he said.

Belleza added that Gapay thanked Trinidad for his remarkable contribution in advancing the region’s peace and development efforts.

"He expressed his confidence to the new Commander of 9ID with the hope that the Division will continue to thrive with its vision towards a world-class army that is a source of national pride while securing and attaining a peaceful and progressive Bicolandia," he said.

Gapay also gave guidance to Robinson on supporting the Army’s momentum in capacitating its field and combat units toward delivering effective assistance to the communities in the fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Prior to the turnover ceremony, the 9ID conducted demilitarization of the captured, confiscated, surrendered, and recovered (CCSR) firearms from February 15, 2018 to May 7, 2020. The activity aimed to ensure that all CCSR firearms are destroyed to avoid pilferage, resale or being used in illegal activities.

A road roller from the 565th Engineering Construction Battalion ran over the 59 weapons.

Trinidad said the volume of CCSR firearms only proves that the Army in Bicol is winning the fight against insurgency.

"With the new division commander, the Spear Division is sturdy and ready to soar higher in resolving the armed conflict in Bicolandia while delivering excellent military service to the Bicolanos," he added.

Sara tags left-leaning IP group members as ‘murderers’

From the Philippine News Agency (May 29, 2020): Sara tags left-leaning IP group members as ‘murderers’ (By Che Palicte)

Davao City Mayor Sara Z. Duterte (City Information Office photo)

Mayor Sara Z. Duterte on Thursday tagged members of an indigenous people’s rights group as murderers and responsible for the death of two infants housed at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) Haran Mission Center here.

“If you are going to ask me? They were murdered by
Pasaka. Their death will not happen if they only provided them enough food, essential health services like vaccines and deworming or anything that a growing child needs,” she said, referring to the Pasaka Confederation of Lumad Organizations in Southern Mindanao (Pasaka-SMR).

In an interview over Davao City Disaster Radio 87.5 FM, an irate Duterte lamented the death of an eight-month-old baby and a three-month-old infant inside the facility on May 11 and 18, respectively.

She earlier said she was informed that the eight-month-old baby, who was buried in the adjacent Madapo Cemetery, died of pneumonia prompting authorities to exhume the body on May 13 for autopsy.

The three-month-old infant was reportedly cremated.

Meanwhile, Datu Mintroso Malibato, Pasaka-SMR vice-chair, in an earlier statement said the allegations disseminated by the media that the cause of death of the two babies was due to coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) were false.

Malibato said though the infant tested negative for Covid-19, the baby’s parents were quarantined inside the Haran compound to avoid transmission.

“As far as I remember, I did not say that these infants died due to Covid-19. The doctor told me that there is something wrong in the facility because in a span of 10 days two babies already died,” Duterte said.

Malibato added that it is impossible for them to contract Covid-19 since no one was allowed to go outside the compound because they were not issued with Food and Medicine passes by the City Government since the implementation of Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).

“You did not go out? Somebody from your facility went to the market and bought five sacks of rice. You only provided five sacks of rice to all the people that you hide in there. So do not wonder if people will die because you are not even planning what’s good for them. All you did was babble and babble,” Duterte said in the vernacular.

She added: “You better believe in me. I saw some of your allies who have spent their lives trying to bring down the government. They are all gone now and our government remains. Maybe you should rethink of other ways that can contribute to the future of the children you put in prison in Haran.”

Santos assumes as Army Aviation Regiment head

From the Philippine News Agency (May 29, 2020): Santos assumes as Army Aviation Regiment head (By Priam Nepomuceno)

NEW AAR CHIEF. Philippine Army commander, Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay (left) leads the live-streamed change-of-command ceremony of the Nueva Ecija-based Army Aviation Regiment (AAR) on Thursday (May 28, 2020). Col. Andre Santos took over the AAR's helm, replacing Col. Jesus Rico Atencio. (Photo courtesy of the Army Chief Public Affairs Office)

Col. Andre B. Santos formally took over the command of the Nueva Ecija-based Army Aviation Regiment (AAR) on Thursday.

Santos replaced Col. Jesus Rico D. Atencio in a "live-streamed" change-of-command ceremony presided by Philippine Army commander Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay.

"Let us sustain the momentum in capacitating the service towards mission effectiveness. Let us work towards operational and organizational excellence, closely working with our partners and stakeholders, and uplifting the well-being of our personnel," Gapay said in his speech.

Santos, a member of Philippine Military Academy Class (PMA) 1992, previously served as Director of Land Warfare Center, Training and Doctrine Command; and as commander of the Army Aviation Battalion, the precursor unit to the Aviation Regiment.

He also served as Chief of the Governance and Strategy Management Office of the Armor Division.

Meanwhile, Atencio, who led the AAR since its activation on October 2, 2019, is a member of PMA Class of 1991. He also completed the Advance Aviator Course at the Masters Flying School, and the Aviation Safety Officer Course at Fort Rucker, Alabama in 1998.

The AAR has been instrumental in conducting aerial reconnaissance in the 1st Infantry Division, 4th Infantry Division, 7th Infantry Division, Central Command, and Southern Luzon Command; and in the conduct of maritime patrols over Northern Luzon Command; implementation of aviation modernization; and contribution to the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) containment efforts

Beaching ramp on Pagasa Island 97% complete: DND

From the Philippine News Agency (May 29, 2020): Beaching ramp on Pagasa Island 97% complete: DND (By Priam Nepomuceno)

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. (File photo)

The beaching ramp on Pagasa Island is almost complete, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Friday.

"Ninety-seven percent finished na 'yung beaching ramp (The beaching ramp is 97 percent finished). For all intent and purposes, it’s complete,"
he said in a message to reporters.

The construction of the beaching ramp, which began in 2018, would allow the Philippines to bring in shallow-draft vessels or those with roll-on/roll-off capability that is essential for landing engineering equipment and other construction materials needed for the upgrade.

Lorenzana said after the completion of the beaching ramp, the next step for the improvement of Pagasa Island would be the repair and upgrading of the Rancudo Airfield, which sustained erosion damage.

"The next phase is for the repair and concreting of the runway and we expect this to be complete in a year’s time from the time the contract is signed. Separate project kasi 'yung runway (The runway is a separate project)," he added.

The 1.2-km. Rancudo Airfield can accommodate medium-sized military aircraft. It was constructed out of packed sand and coral debris during the 1970s.

Lorenzana noted that plans to develop Pagasa Island into a tourism and fishing destination would have to wait pending the completion and improvement of its facilities.

"We’ll see after the facilities are complete if the plan to make it a tourist destination is viable. Fishing has always been done in the waters adjacent to Pagasa. To support this industry, the BFAR (Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources) constructed a shelter for our fishing ships where they can shelter in inclement weather. This shelter is likewise finished," he said.

Lorenzana earlier said the government is allocating PHP1.6 billion for the improvement of Pagasa Island.

Out of the seven islands and three reefs being controlled by the Philippines in the Spratlys, Pagasa is the largest, measuring 37.2 hectares.

The other Philippine possessions in the area are Likas Island which measures 18.6 hectares; Parolo Island, 12.7 hectares; Lawak Island, 7.93 hectares; Kota Island, 6.45 hectares; Patag Island, 0.57 hectare; Panata Island, 0.44 hectare; and the Rizal, Balagtas and Ayungin Reefs.

AFP turns over 2 patient care centers to QC hospitals

From the Philippine News Agency (May 29, 2020): AFP turns over 2 patient care centers to QC hospitals (By Priam Nepomuceno)

PATIENT CARE CENTER. Military officials, private sector partners, and Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte (2nd from left) lead the turnover of an emergency quarantine facility (EQF) to the Rosario Maclang Bautista General Hospital in Batasan Road, Quezon City on Friday (May 29, 2020). The AFP and its partners also turned over another EQF to the Novaliches District Hospital. (Photo courtesy of AFP Public Affairs Office)

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) together with the WTA Architecture + Design Studio turned over two emergency quarantine facilities (EQFs) to two hospitals in Quezon City on Friday.

The AFP's 69th and 70th EQFs were constructed at the Novaliches District Hospital (NDH) and the Rosario Maclang Bautista General Hospital (RMBGH) respectively, said AFP public affairs office chief, Navy Captain Jonathan Zata.

The 12-bed capacity EQF for the NDH was funded by the Samaritan’s Purse International Relief and constructed by the Army's 51st Engineering Brigade. On the other hand, the 15-bed capacity EQF for RMBGH was financed by Task Force Ican: A Sisterhood Project and built by the Navy's 3rd Naval Combat Engineering Battalion.

“The AFP expresses its gratitude to all the people who cooperated and contributed to the success of this initiative, the WTA, Samaritan’s Purse Philippines, Task Force Ican, the different engineering units of the AFP, and the Quezon City Government. We hope that the cooperation between the private and public sector continues and the Bayanihan spirit lives on as we collectively face the threat of this unseen enemy, Covid-19,” said AFP chief-of-staff General Felimon Santos, Jr.

The EQFs are designed to treat and isolate coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) patients with mild or no symptoms to help decongest hospitals and increase the country’s capacity to contain the pandemic.

Present during the turnover ceremony were Architect William Ti Jr of WTA and project lead of EQF Team; Maj. Gen. William Ilagan, Chief Engineer of AFP; Quezon City Mayor Maria Josefina "Joy" Belmonte; and Dr. Maria Rosela Espinar, RMBGH officer-in-charge.

House panels approve anti-terror bill

From the Philippine News Agency (May 29, 2020): House panels approve anti-terror bill (By Filane Mikee Cervantes)

Two committees at the House of Representatives on Friday approved a measure providing more teeth to the law against terrorism and effectively repealing the Human Security Act of 2007.

The House Committee on Public Order and Safety and Committee on National Defense and Security, chaired by Masbate Rep. Narciso Bravo Jr. and Iloilo Rep. Raul Tupas, respectively, approved the still-unnumbered substitute bill, which seeks to prevent, prohibit, and penalize terrorism.

Bravo said the House bill is similar to the Senate version that was approved in February to fast-track its passage and avoid convening a bicameral conference.

“We have to approve today a bill that is similar to the Senate bill to avoid the necessity to convene a bicameral conference committee," he said.

The proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 would provide a strong legal backbone to support the country's criminal justice response to terrorism, provide the law enforcers the much-needed tools to protect the people from the threat of terrorism and, at the same time, safeguard the rights of those accused of the crime.

The Senate version introduced provisions imposing life imprisonment without parole on those who will propose, incite, conspire, and participate in the planning, training, preparation, and facilitation of a terrorist act; as well as those who will provide material support to terrorists, and recruit anyone to be a member of a terrorist organization.

Under the bill, any person who shall threaten to commit terrorism shall suffer the penalty of 12 years. The same jail term will be meted against those who will propose any terroristic acts or incite others to commit terrorism.

Any person who shall voluntarily and knowingly join any organization, association, or group of persons knowing that such is a terrorist organization, shall suffer imprisonment of 12 years. The same penalty shall be imposed on any person found liable as an accessory in the commission of terrorism.

The measure not only establishes Philippine jurisdiction over Filipinos who may join and fight with terrorist organizations outside the Philippines but also ensures that foreign terrorists do not use the country as a transit point, a safe haven to plan and train new recruits for terrorist attacks in other countries.

The bill also removed the provision on payment of PHP500,000 damages per day of detention of any person acquitted of terrorism charges. But the number of days a suspected person can be detained without a warrant of arrest is 14 calendar days, extendible by 10 days.
A new provision, designating certain Regional Trial Courts (RTCs) as Anti-Terror Courts, was also introduced to ensure the speedy disposition of cases.

The use of videoconferencing for the accused and witnesses to remotely appear and testify will also be allowed under the measure.

The amendments also provide for the police or the military to conduct 60-day surveillance on suspected terrorists, which may be lengthened to another non-extendable period of 30 days, provided that they secure a judicial authorization from the Court of Appeals (CA).

To allay concerns of possible excesses by the authorities, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) shall be notified in case of detention of a suspected terrorist.