Thursday, June 18, 2020

Ustaz Mamay, on Esscom's wanted list, shot dead in Philippines

From The Star (Jun 18, 2020): Ustaz Mamay, on Esscom's wanted list, shot dead in Philippines (By STEPHANIE LEE)

KOTA KINABALU: One of the 21 people on Sabah’s cross-border crime wanted list has been shot dead by Philippines security forces last week.
Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) commander Deputy Comm Datuk Hazani Ghazali said this success is due to the close rapport and information sharing between Esscom and the Philippines-Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom).

He said the person - Ustaz Mamay - was shot dead on June 8.

“Ustaz Mamay is the chief of the Zamboanga De Norte group, and he was believed involved in the shooting of a Malaysian Customs vessel in Semporna last December, ” he said on Thursday (June 18).

DCP Hazani said security forces from both sides of the borders are always working together to curb cross-border crimes.

Prior to this, Esscom had arrested three Filipinos in waters off Kinabatangan, who are believed to be spotters for kidnap-for-ransom groups on June 6.

The three suspects were handed over to the Philippines' security forces.

DCP Hazani said this handover was to, among others, prevent overcrowding in temporary detention centres amid the Covid-19 outbreak in Sabah.

He said they also foiled an attempted kidnapping recently, making the total number of foiled bids to three as of June this year.

The others in Esscom’s wanted list are Basaron Arok dan Alvin Yusof @ Arab Puti, Abu Sayyaf leaders Salip Mura dan Hatip Hajan Sawadjaan and Idang Susukan, said to have been behind the beheading of Sarawakian Bernard Then Ted Fen who was snatched from a seafood restaurant in Sandakan in May 2015.

Also in the list are Apo Mike @ Majan Sahidjuan; Al Munjir Yadah; Raden Abuh; Marajam @ Manajan Asiri; Sangbas @ Anjang; Hamsan Pakkan @ Black Cobra; Sabri Madrasul @ Salip Jul; Ben Tatoh Quirino; Titing Alihasan @ Iyot Panday; Jul @ Jun Hasan; Jul Aksan Abdurajan @ Halimaw; Tampi @ Bunju; Long Sahirin; Halip Ibrahim and Haibin Mubin @ Apo Kuhambo.

Kalinaw News: Government troops clashed with NPA

Posted to Kalinaw News (Jun 18, 2020): Government troops clashed with NPA (By 3rd Infantry Division)

CAMP LEON KILAT, Tanjay City, Negros Oriental – Troops of 11th Infantry Battalion under 302nd Infantry (ACHIEVER) Brigade together with Regional Mobile Force Battalion 7 (RMFB7), 94IB, and Mabinay Police encountered more or less thirteen (13) Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) members at Sitio Talingting, Brgy Luyang, Mabinay, Negros Oriental on 00:45 am June 18, 2020 (Thursday).

A joint operation conducted by the Army and the PNP resulted into a firefight for about ten (10) minutes after which, they scampered to different directions leaving the dead bodies of their five (5) comrades and seizured the following war materials: Three (3) M16 Rifles; One (1) AK47 Rifle; One (1) Cal. 45 Pistol; Four (4) Rifle Grenades; One (1) Improvised Explosive Device (IED); Eight (8) M16 Magazines; One (1) Cal 45 Magazine; Two Hundred Thirty Nine (239) M16 Ammunitions; One Hundred Seventy Six (176) AK47 Ammunitions; Five (5) Cal. 45 Ammunitions; Two (2) commercialize radio sets; Three (3) cellphones; Five (5) backpacks; Four (4) Bandoliers; Two (2) CPP/NPA Flags; Personal Belongings and Subversive documents.

Ltc Redosendo said “I would to like to commend the residents of Barangay Luyang for reporting the presence of the above armed men in their area, and I urge the people of Negros Oriental to continue reporting the presence of these NPA terrorists in their communities for us to prevent their terroristic activities. Likewise, we extend our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of those killed communist-terrorists. Taking up arms against the government and the Filipino people will never address and resolve conflict and issues.”

Meanwhile, Col Noel T Baluyan, the Commander of the Army’s 302nd Infantry (Achiever) Brigade lauded the AFP and PNP element for the feat and the heroism they demonstrated in this accomplishment.

Col Baluyan went on to say; “You can hide but u can’t run away forever. The long and strong arms of the law will catch on you. The incident is unfortunate but we have no choice, we have to protect the community and the people from the hands of the terrorists-the CNTs. This is certainly a big blow on the part of the CTGs. Not only that they have lost their comrades and High Powered Fire Arms (HPFAs) but moreso on the fact that the civilian populace in the areas themselves fed the information on the presence of these CTGs-an indicator the people are already fed up, sick and tired of the CTGs schemes. We call on the other members of the CTGs to come down. We in the PLEDS and the whole NOR TF-ELCAC welcome you with an open arms, avail of the livelihood assistance offered you under the ECLIP and live normal lives. You are just victims of exploitation and the duplicitous schemes of the communist terrorist movement”.

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

2 soldiers killed, 2 wounded in ambush in Occidental Mindoro

From Rappler (Jun 18, 2020): 2 soldiers killed, 2 wounded in ambush in Occidental Mindoro (By JC Gotinga)

Unidentified attackers waylay military personnel on an SUV and run away with cash meant for CAFGUs' subsistence allowances, says the Armed Forces of the Philippines Southern Luzon Command

Unidentified gunmen attacked military personnel onboard an SUV in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, on Wednesday afternoon, June 17, killing two soldiers and wounding two others, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) said on Thursday, June 18.

The soldiers led by Major Ephtaem Domingo were driving through Sitio Naitan, Barangay Batasan, on a black Ford Everest at around 4:30 pm when they were waylaid by the attackers on a white van, according to reports from AFP Solcom spokesperson Colonel Dennis Caña and Philippine Army 4th Infantry Battalion commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Arbolado.

The two vehicles were driving in opposite directions, but the suspects' van turned around after it came across the military's SUV and tailed it, Arboleda said in a media interview. The soldiers were on their way to inspect patrol bases of Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) and to distribute subsistence allowances to CAFGU Active Auxiliary (CAA) personnel.

The attackers alighted from the van and opened fire at the soldiers and one CAA member onboard the SUV. The soldiers fired back, but the attackers were able to take the cash meant for CAA allowances, and then sped away.

Military reports did not mention the amount of cash stolen by the attackers.

An Army sergeant and an Army corporal were killed in the encounter. Domingo and CAA Willy Gregorio were wounded. They were brought to the San Jose District Hospital and are in stable condition, Arbolado said.

The police and military are investigating the incident. Witnesses said the suspects were 4 or 5 men whom investigators have yet to identify. Arbolado said their motive was "possibly robbery."

Intelligence operatives are on the hunt for the attackers, and all patrol bases in the area have been alerted, said Caña.

At least 5 NPA rebels killed in Negros Oriental clash

From Rappler (Jun 18, 2020): At least 5 NPA rebels killed in Negros Oriental clash (By Ryan Macasero)

A suspect in the killing of 4 police officers in a 2019 ambush is killed in the encounter

CLASH. Police inspect the site of a clash between armed rebels and the Philippine military. Photo from Armed Forces of the Philippines

At least 5 members of the New People's Army were killed in an encounter with the joint military and police forces in Mabinay, Negros Oriental on Thursday, June 18, at around 12:45 am.

One of the rebels killed, Isaias Rabilista, was wanted in connection with a July 2019 ambush that killed 4 police officers in Ayungon town.

(READ: Duterte orders charges filed vs suspects in Negros Oriental police ambush)

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines' in Negros confirmed through Twitter direct message the 5 killed were members of the New People's Army.

According to a a press statement from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the 11th Infantry Battalion, with the Regional Mobile Force Battalion and the Mabinay police said they were called by residents to houses in Sitio Taligting, Barangay Luyang, that were reportedly being occupied by armed rebels including Rabilista.

The joint forces went to the area to serve the arrest warrant issued by Judge Rosario Cariaga of Bais, Negros Oriental, when they were allegedly fired upon by the rebels.

According to the AFP's account, the two camps exchanged fire for nearly 30 minutes, before the government troops overpowered the NPA.

A number of M-16 rifles, one AK47, one .45 caliber pistol with a defaced serial number, 3 AK47 magazines, 4 rifle grenades, one Improvised Explosive Device (IED), assorted magazines and ammunition, and documents were retrieved from the site of the clash.

Lieutenant Colonel Ramir J Redosendo, Commanding officer of the 11th Infantry (LAPU-LAPU) Battalion, Philippine Army, said the residents' reporting of the rebels was "crucial" to the operations.

"I would to like to commend the residents of Barangay Luyang for reporting the presence of armed men in their area," Redosendo said.

"Taking up arms against the government and the Filipino people will never address and resolve conflict and issues,” he added.

The encounter comes after a spate of killings on the island, where 10 were shot dead in the span of 6 days from June 12 to 17.

Bangsamoro Parliament has yet to act on resolution expressing “grave concern” over proposed Anti-Terrorism Act

From MindaNews (Jun 19, 2020): Bangsamoro Parliament has yet to act on resolution expressing “grave concern” over proposed Anti-Terrorism Act (By CAROLYN O. ARGUILLAS)

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 18 June) – The interim Bangsamoro Parliament has yet to act on a proposed resolution expressing “grave concern” over the passage of the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

The proposed resolution states that they view the proposed law with “grave concern” because “stories and experiences of the Bangsamoro People, particularly on their decades-long struggle for peace, provide evidence that counter-terrorism strategies with no or limited regard for human rights cannot win the ideological battle against terrorism, nor can it suppress violent extremism.”

The Parliament in session under the “new normal” at the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex. Photo courtesy of the Bangsamoro Government
The proposed resolution was initiated by Member of Parliament (MP) and Minority Leader Laisa Maluhud but it mustered a mixed authorship of six majority and six minority members when filed and numbered as Proposed Resolution 239, with Cabinet Ministers Mohagher Iqbal and Abdulraof Macacua among the authors from the majority.

The four other co-authors from the majority are MPs Eddie Alih, Muslimin Jakilan, Jamel Macaraya and Abdulmuhmin Mujahid while those from the minority aside from Alamia are Rasol Mitmug, Baintan Adil-Ampatuan, Rasul Ismael, Don Mustapha Loong and Amilbahar Mawallil.

Iqbal was chair of the peace panel of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front who signed a peace pact with the government — the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro — on March 27, 2014 after 17 years of negotiations. He is now Minister of Basic, Higher and Technical Education of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and co-chair with Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, in the Inter-Governmental Relations Body.

Macacua, now Minister of Environment and Executive Secretary, was Chief of Staff of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) who was then known by his nom de guerre, Sammy Gambar. Decommissioning of the BIAF’s firearms and combatants is ongoing, in accordance with the peace agreement and RA 11054, the Organic Law for the BARMM.

Alamia was former Executive Secretary of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the BARMM’s predecessor, and was its first chair of the Regional Human Rights Commission.

Concerns of the Moros

The proposed resolution states that the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), the 80-member body that serves as the Bangsamoro Government during the three-year transition period until June 30, 2022, “represents the concerns of the Moros, especially in the conflict-affected population, who have fallen victim to terrorist attacks and human rights violations.”

It said it supports the national government’s initiative to strengthen the law to prevent, prohibit, counter and penalize terrorism but noted that an effective counter-terrorism law “must be evidence-based and intended to respond to the actual evil sought to be prevented or penalized with provisions that do not encroach on fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Constitution.”

It added that the proposed law must also “clearly establish conduct that is lawful from unlawful to avert any misinterpretation and arbitrary, and discriminatory enforcement in its implementation, giving individuals adequate notice of their legal obligations so that they can govern their behavior accordingly.”

The proposed resolution notes that what Congress passed not only contains provisions that could easily be questioned for constitutionality, overbreadth and vagueness “but also lacks adequate measures to ensure its insusceptibility to abuse and/or human rights violations.”

It cited the following provisions: sanctioning warrantless arrests outside of the limitations allowed by the Rules of court and allowing wire-tapping of private conversations/communications upon ex parte application before the Court of Appeal and without an opportunity for the “suspect” to prevent counter-veiling evidence at any stage of the proceedings; detention of suspects for 14 to 24 days without a valid commitment order from the courts, and unilateral designation of persons or groups “as terrorist” by the Anti-Terrorism Council, consisting of members appointed by the executive and lack of remedies to question such designation before the courts.

“Such provisions, once enacted, could be counterproductive as it could instill fear or compound resentment among our peoples,” the proposed resolution states.

Order of Business

Proposed Resolution 239 was included in Thursday’s Order of Business and it was supposed to be the second resolution to be discussed in the plenary but the body agreed to discuss first proposed Resolution 240 to amend the rules to allow the conduct of plenary sessions and committee hearings through teleconference, video conference, or other reliable forms of remote or electronic means.

The resolution would allow MPs who were not present in the session hall at the Shariff Kabungsuan Cultural Complex in Cotabato City, to participate in the sessions from where they are in their respective areas.

The proposed Resolution 240 was passed with amendments. The other measure passed was proposed Resolution 223 with amendments and in consolidation with 241, commending frontliners in the Bangsamoro region “for their altruistic services in the fight against COVID-19.”

The next session is on Tuesday, June 23.

The enrolled bill on the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, was sent to Malacanang on June 9. The bill awaits the President’s signature. He has 30 days to sign or veto it. If no action is taken within this period, it will lapse into law.

Chief Presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo on June 12 said that after a “careful and thoughtful review of the Anti-Terrorism Bill,” he recommended to the President to sign the bill into law, after a “careful and thoughtful review of the Anti-Terrorism Bill,”

The Department of Justice on Wednesday submitted its review of the Anti-Terrorism bil to Malacanang.

“We have scrutinized the enrolled bill line by line and analyzed the substance of each provision in relation to the whole, always keeping in mind for whom and against whom the anti-terror bill was crafted,” CNN Philippines quoted Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra as saying.

“To the extent possible, we have considered the operational needs of the government in dealing with terrorism as well as our international commitments, without losing sight of the legal and constitutional parameters within which all state actions should be circumscribed,” Guevarra said. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)

Ensuring stability of peace and development in Leyte, Southern Leyte

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jun 18, 2020): Ensuring stability of peace and development in Leyte, Southern Leyte (By PIA-8)

MAHAPLAG, Leyte, June 18 (PIA) -- The 14th Infantry (Avengers) Battalion of the 8th Infantry Division, Philippine Army, is moving to a new home in order to ensure the stability and sustainability of peace and development in Leyte and Southern Leyte.

Lt. Col. Roberto Obaob told the Philippine Information Agency that the Battalion is transferring to a more strategic location in Mahaplag, Leyte.

The groundbreaking ceremony of the new Main Command Post was held on June 16, 2020.

The guest of honor, Major General Pio Diñoso III, said the transfer from Burauen to Mahaplag is to ensure that peace in the area is maintained. Leyte, he recalled, was declared insurgent-free in December.

“This does not mean that there are no more NPAs in the area,” General Diñoso said. “It means that the insurgency problem is manageable and that Leyte is ready for further development,” he added.

Diñoso disclosed that the 14IB, the 93IB and the 802nd Infantry Brigade will remain in Leyte, Southern Leyte and Biliran.

During the occasion, the ceremonial signing of the Plans and Newspaper of the Day was done by Gen. Diñoso, Col. Zosimo Oliveros of the 802 Infantry Brigade, Lt. Col. Roberto Obaob, Gov. Leopoldo Dominico L. Petilla represented by Ms. Gwendolyn Malate, Gov. Damian Mercado represented by BM Jonathan Lee Moraon and Mahaplag Mayor Daisy A. Lleve.

This was followed by the placing of the plans and newspaper in the time capsule and the lowering of capsule and covering with sand by all the guests who also included the owner of the land, Dr. Felicisimo Abuyabor Jr., Barangay Chair Arente Ciscon, and PIA-8 Director Erlinda Olivia P. Tiu.

Among the highlights was the tree planting by all the guests.

TESDA Leyte’s Vilma Arteche and Marites Asistol delivered toolkits for the carpentry trainees of the 14th IB. (PIA-8)

2 high-ranking Negros NPA officers surrender

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jun 18, 2020): 2 high-ranking Negros NPA officers surrender (By Lorenzo O. Lambatin, Jr.)

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ISABELA, Negros Occidental, June 18 ( PIA) –- Two-high ranking New People’s Army (NPA) officers in Central Negros Occidental recently surrendered to the Philippine Army and the Philippine National Police.

"Ka Dodong,” political instructor of Sentro de Grabidad (SDG) platoon, Central Negros 2 (CN2) and “Ka Lara,” NPA medical officer voluntarily surrendered to 62nd Infantry (Unifier) Battalion, 3ID, Philippine Army Acting Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Melvin N. Flores and the Isabela town PNP head Captain Joseph B. Partidas.

"The return of the Communist Terrorist rebels to the folds of the law is the outcome of right information provided to the populace and in collaboration with civil authorities," Flores noted.

"We assure that the rebel returnees will be given financial support, legal assistance, and livelihood package as part of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) of the government to former rebels, ’’ he added.

"Ka Dodong" turned over a .45 caliber pistol, two magazines and 25 serviceable ammunitions.

The couple decided to surrender upon learning of the government’s (E-CLIP) and their desire to live a peaceful life with their child.

They were disgruntled with the NPA’s false promise that they will be given land, as well as the absence of medical assistance and growing suspicion within their ranks.

According to Colonel Flores the surrender is the gradual result of the Whole-of-Nation Approach of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

He offered to work hand-in-hand with NPAs who choose peace to successfully end the insurgency and to achieve an inclusive and lasting peace here in Negros Island.

“Once again, I call upon the members of the NPAs to lay down your arms and embrace the true meaning of peace. Armed struggle is not a solution to the problem. Let us work hand in hand, I know that you are tired and you are longing to be with your family and lovedones. Let the government help you on your quest for peace and to be with your family,” Flores added. (JSC/LLJR/With report from 62IB, 3ID, PA)

DTI Abra gives PGB assistance to entreps in conflict-affected areas

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jun 18, 2020): DTI Abra gives PGB assistance to entreps in conflict-affected areas (By Christian Allister G. Tubadeza)

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LAGANGILANG, Abra, June 17(PIA) -- Sixty beneficiaries from three conflict-affected municipalities were awarded with livelihood assistance under the “Pangkabuhayan sa PagBangon at Ginhawa” program of the Department of Trade and Industry.

Seven from Lacub municipality, eight from Tubo and 45 from Malibcong were provided with Php 10,000 worth of livelihood kits individually to empower and re-enable their businesses as they have experienced loss due to the presence of Communist-Terrorist Groups (CTGs) in their areas.

Governor Marfia Jocelyn Bernos(left), DTI-Abra Director Samuel Gallardo(3rd from left) and representatives from partner agencies awrd livelihood kits to beneficiaries in conflict-affected areas in the province.

These three municipalities were listed by the Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF-ELCAC) as top-priorities in the implementation of President’s Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order No. 70 Institutionalizing a “Whole-of-Nation” approach in ending local communist armed conflict.

The livelihood kits given to the beneficiaries are assorted grocery items for their sari-sari stores, kitchen utensils for food business owners and poultry feeds for farmers.

The DTI-Abra Provincial Office led by Provincial Director Samuel Gallardo earlier held an Entrepreneurial Development Seminar and lectures among the participants.

Gallardo stated that one of DTI’s primary mandates now is to empower businesses in local communities which are on the verge of shutting down due to problems of peace and order.

“We give hope and support to micro, small and medium enterprises who are experiencing distress and now we are prioritizing entrepreneurs in areas where there is communist presence,” Gallardo said.

Ms. Carolin Ortega from Lacub expressed her gratitude to the help extended by the government to them.

“We are grateful for the assistance you have given us and we hope that you never get tired in uplifting our businesses especially in the far-flung barangays,” she said.

LtC. Ulysis Lauded, 24thInfantry Battalion Commander, reported that some of the beneficiaries were former rebels who returned to mainstream society to start their business. Due to the crisis brought by the Corona Virus Disease (Covid-19), some of them are facing difficulty in managing their businesses.

Abra Governor Maria Jocelyn Bernos said that this support extended by the government is very timely in response to the crisis brought by Covid-19 pandemic. Moreover, she appeals to them for their cooperation in order to end this battle against CTGs once and for all.

“We have shifted our focus to you as our priority municipalities and we are ready to help your businesses grow in order to spark development in your barangays,” Bernos assured.

Partner agencies like the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources were also present during the awarding. (JDP/CAGT – PIA CAR, Abra)

NPA weakens with mass surrender of 71 CTGs in Northern Samar

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jun 18, 2020): NPA weakens with mass surrender of 71 CTGs in Northern Samar (By PIA-8)

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TACLOBAN CITY, June 17 (PIA) -- The Communist Terrorists Group in Northern Samar further weakens with the mass surrender of 71 CTG members and supporters to the 43rd Infantry Battalion on June 15 in Northern Samar.

Reports coming from the 43rd IB stated that the surrenderees included 45 Yunit Militia, 13 Batahang Organisasyon sa Partido (BOP) and 13 Communist Terrorist Group supporters, at Barangay E Durian, Bobon, Northern Samar.

Lt. Col. Raymundo Picut Jr., commanding officer of the 43rd IB said the mass surrender is a result of the convergence efforts of all government agencies, local leaders, and peace-loving people in Northern Samar.

Picut called on the remaining CTG members to return to the folds of the law saying, “To those NPAs who are still in the armed struggle, let’s give peace a chance.”

“Come and lay down your arms and return to the comfort of your homes, your families and friends, so that you may live peacefully,” Picut added.

The military troops will continuously collaborate with concerned government agencies and other civil society organizations for the necessary interventions and other assistance under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) for surrenderers, if qualified, to become productive citizens. (PIA-8)

Caraga RTF-ELCAC intensifies efforts vs insurgency amid pandemic

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jun 18, 2020): Caraga RTF-ELCAC intensifies efforts vs insurgency amid pandemic (By NEDA Caraga)

Cabinet Secretary Karlo A.B. Nograles is joined by NTF-ELCAC Vice-Chairperson and National Security Adviser Sec. Hermogenes C. Esperon Jr., NSC Deputy Director General Usec. Damian L. Carlos, and Caraga region’s local leaders.

BUTUAN CITY, June 18 (PIA) -- The Caraga Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) continues the fight against insurgency amid the limitations posed by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

During its 5th (Second Quarter 2020) Meeting last June 16 presided by Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security (CORDS) for Caraga region, Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) Co-Chairperson, and the task force chairperson Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexis Nograles, member agencies reiterated their counterinsurgency initiatives during the health crisis.

On the issue concerning the closure of the remaining Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS) and Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV) schools in the region, Department of Education (DepEd) Caraga regional director Francis Cesar Bringas bared that the department has already issued final notices of closure to the said schools, which are allegedly used as training grounds of the communist-terrorist groups (CTGs) in Caraga.

Director Bringas also apprised the body that the construction of makeshift classrooms for the affected Indigenous People (IP) students in Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur and in Mahaba, Marihatag, Surigao del Sur are already in progress, which were made possible through the funding from the concerned local government units (LGUs) and assistance from the Engineering Brigade of the Philippine Army.

The heads of the regional offices of the DILG, NEDA, PNP, DepEd, DOH, and the Commanding Officer of the 4th ID provide updates concerning developments in the region.

Regional Task Force for COVID-19 One Caraga Shield (RTF-COCS) Chairperson and Agusan del Norte Provincial Governor Dale B. Corvera also presented the accomplishments and milestones of the RTF-COCS, highlighting the region’s proactive efforts in developing harmonized policies and guidelines relative to the implementation of enhanced and general community quarantines (E/GCQ) by LGUs in the region such as setting-up of regional border controls to shield the region from its high-risk neighbors; establishing proposed local COVID-19 laboratory testing centers; on-time and full implementation of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) in the region; and formulating the Caraga Regional Recovery Program (RRP), among others.

The task force was also able to cover key issues and concerns such as the pending request to be recognized by the IATF-MEID and NTF COVID-19 as the regional policy-making and coordinating body concerning COVID-19 in Caraga Region; the pending accreditation of the proposed COVID-19 laboratory testing centers; and the request to include the region on in the second tranche of the SAP distribution.

In addition, DOH Caraga, Police Regional Office 13 (PRO 13), and the 4th Infantry Division, Philippine Army (4ID, PA) provided updates on the health, peace and security, and insurgency situation in the region.

Relative to the region’s fight against insurgency, the body also passed the Caraga RTF-ELCAC Resolution No. 12-A, S. 2020, entitled “Supporting the Passage of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.”

The Inter-Regional Task Force of Joint Regional Task Force (JRTF)-ELCAC 9, 10, 11, 12, Caraga, and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) is scheduled to convene on June 25 via teleconference to discuss on the current security updates and efforts in Mindanao. (DMNR/Amethyst Joy A. Galos, NEDA Caraga/PIACaraga)

ARMY, LGU assist returning LSIs

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jun 18, 2020): ARMY, LGU assist returning LSIs  (By 58IB)

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CLAVERIA, Misamis Oriental, June 18-- The 58th Infantry "Dimalulupig" Battalion in coordination with the local government unit of Claveria provided transpotation assistance 35 returning locally stranded individuals (LSIs) from Cagayan de Oro City Port last June 13.

Ten of these LSIs are residents of Barangay Mat-i, six are from Barangay Bulahan and 19 from Barangay Minalwang. They were all fetched from Cagayan de Oro City Port by two KM450 trucks and two municipal rescue vehicles with strict observance of the health protocols set by the IATF-MEID.

Prior to returning home, the LSIs underwent rapid COVID-19 testing and they were all tested negative for the virus. But they would still comply with the 14-day quarantine at their hometown.

A nurse from the LGU also joined the team featching the LSIs from the port to ensure that the protocols were strictly followed.

One of the LSIs, Danilo Dawatan, expressed his gratitude for the transportation assistance extended by the government. "Nagpasalamat gyud ko sa gobyerno ug kasundaluhan sa tabang nga ilang gihatag sa amo. Dili mi maka-uli sa among mga panimalay kung wala gyud sila."

(I am thankful for the assistance given us by the government and the military. Were it not for their help, we could not have returned home.)

In expressing his support to the LGU, Lt Col Ricky L Canatoy, commanding officer of the 58IB said: "Seeing our fellow Filipinos return home and be with their families is a triumph for us in the performance of our collective efforts. Together with your LGU, we will not deny you of our support. As we are mandated by the constitution to serve the Filipino people, we will not fail to do our duty." (58IB)

Army community support teams deployed in Jasaan town

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jun 18, 2020): Army community support teams deployed in Jasaan town (By 58IB)

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JASAAN, Misamis Oriental, June 18 -- The local government unit of Jasaan and the 58th Infantry (Dimalulupig) Battalion gathered in a simple ceremony to send-off the Community Support Teams (CSTs) to three conflict-affected Barangays here on June 15, 2020.

The event was attended by the municipal officials led by Mayor Redentor S. Jardin, 58IB Commanding Officer Lt.Col. Ricky L. Canatoy, barangay captains of the three conflict-affected barangays and heads of offices of the municipal government.

The CSP teams will be deployed in barangays Danao, I.S. Cruz, and San Nicolas in line with the development support and security plan “Kapayapaan” of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for development support operations, peace efforts, security, peace and order as well as economic and human development.

Sending-off of the Community Support Teams (CSTs) to three conflict-affected Barangays. (58IB)

In his message, Mayor Redentor S. Jardin underscored the importance of proper and adequate coordination between and among the militaty, police and government agencies to win the war on insurgency.

Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Canatoy said: “CSP operations are one of the Philippine Army’s means to help our local government unit in identifying the issues and concerns of the local populace in the far-flung areas. Through CSP, we can address the peace and security concerns of the communities and in collaboration with the LGUs we can deliver effective basic government services. Also, we can bring the government closer to the people.”

“This activity symbolizes our unity in the attainment of genuine peace and development of our country and making it as conflict resilient community,” Lt.Col. Canatoy stressed. (58IB)

22 former rebels in Agusan del Norte receive financial aid

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jun 18, 2020): 22 former rebels in Agusan del Norte receive financial aid  (By Nora C. Lanuza)

BUTUAN CITY, June 18 -- At least 22 former rebels (FRs), who surrendered in Agusan del Norte, received a total of P2.8 million cash assistance under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP) and firearm remuneration.

According to Provincial Director Ellen Vee Chua of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Agusan del Norte, each FR received P86,000 comprising government's livelihood, immediate and reintegration assistance that can be used to start a new and peaceful life with their families far from chaos and abuses.


In an interview with one of the former rebels, Alyas Karla, who was recruited when she was still 14 years old, said the terrorists took advantage of her innocence by giving her false hope that they will help her finish her studies. She expressed thanks to the government for the new life she has now.

Alias Boyka, one of the FRs, also cited that living a peaceful life with his family is the main reason why he left the Communist New People's Army Terrorist (CNT) group.

Meanwhile, 10 FRs received firearms remuneration during the activity. Director Chua said the cash incentives that they received depend on the type of firearms surrendered.

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Among the firearms they have surrendered included two .45 caliber pistols, two M16 rifles and three carbine rifles. The firearms the former rebels also surrendered to the 29th Infantry Battalion included one M14 rifle, one .38 caliber pistol, one AK-47 rifle, one carbine rifle, and one shotgun.

Agusan del Norte Governor Dale B. Corvera, Agusan del Norte Representative Ma. Angelica Rosedell M. Amante-Matba, DILG Caraga Regional Director Lilibeth Famacion, BGen. Maurito Licudine, and PCol. Ramir Perlito Perlas led the distribution of the assistance and witnessed by the Provincial Peace and Order Council members held in Butuan City.

Also, during the meeting, Rep. Matba expressed her full support for the passage of the anti-terrorism bill.

“Let’s support the Anti-Terrorism Bill to completely end terrorism and wipe out the CNTs and its supporters," she said.

"Let us not forget the sacrifices that our military and police are doing for us,” she added. (NCLM/PIA Agusan del Norte)

Anti-Terror bill to address armed conflicts: Maguindanao leaders

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 18, 2020): Anti-Terror bill to address armed conflicts: Maguindanao leaders (By Edwin Fernandez)

FULL SUPPORT. Acting Mayor Bai Zandria Ampatuan of Shariff Saydona Mustapha, Maguindanao expresses full support for the anti-terror bill in a statement on Wednesday (June 17, 2020). Two other town mayors – Datu Pax Ali Mangudadatu of Datu Abdullah Sangki and Mamatanto Mamantal of Sultan sa Barongis – also backed the proposed measure to end threats of terrorism in their respective home turfs. (Photo courtesy of Shariff Saydona Mustapha LGU) 

Three more municipal mayors of Maguindanao on Thursday expressed full support for the proposed anti-terrorism bill, saying this would address conflict in their communities.

Acting Mayor Bai Zandria Ampatuan of Shariff Saydona Mustapha municipality said she believes the bill, once enacted into law, would put an end to armed conflict not only in her town but in other communities in Maguindanao as well.

“We manifest our full support to the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 in order to put an end to the perennial armed conflict brought about by the lawless armed groups inspired by international terrorist organizations that promote violent extremism,” Ampatuan said in a statement on Wednesday.

Mayor Datu Pax Ali Mangudadatu of Datu Abdullah Sangki town, meanwhile, said the proposed law would greatly improve the peace and order situation in the country, especially in Maguindanao.

“The intention and reason for the law are pure. It is for the Filipino people as long as the principles inspired in the Constitution and the most statutory and inherent rights of the people are protected and upheld, there’s nothing to worry about,” Mangudadatu said in a separate statement on Wednesday.

On the other hand, Mayor Mamatanto Mamantal of Sultan sa Barongis, Maguindanao said he and other elected town officials are giving their “all-out and unconditional support” for the bill.

“We ask that through this bill, terrorism will end in our town and that genuine peace will reign in Maguindanao and the country,” Mamantal said.

Early on, Mayor Yacob Ampatuan of Rajah Buayan said he backed the proposed legislation since it would benefit his people.

Maguindanao Governor Bai Mariam Sangki-Mangudadatu has also expressed full support for the anti-terror bill, saying it will put an end to violent extremism in her province.

Maguindanao village official, son slain in NoCot gun attack

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 18, 2020): Maguindanao village official, son slain in NoCot gun attack (By Edwin Fernandez)

MUTE WITNESS. The motorcycle that ambush-slay victims Paitin Lando, 53, and his son Naron Mulod, 18, boarded lie in the middle of the highway in Barangay Lower Glad, Midsayap, North Cotabato on Wednesday (June 17, 2020). Police are pursuing the angle of a long-drawn feud by the victim’s family with another clan as a possible motive behind the incident. (Photo courtesy of Midsayap MPS)

A Maguindanao village official and his son were killed while another was wounded in an ambush in the North Cotabato town of Midsayap on Wednesday.

Lt. Col, John Miridel Calinga, Midsayap municipal police chief, said police and elements of the Army’s 34th Infantry Battalion have launched a manhunt to get the perpetrators of the the incident.

Calinga identified the victims as Paitin Lando, 53, a village official of Datu Piang, Maguindanao, and his 18-year-old son, Noron Mulod. They both instantly died from multiple gunshot wounds.

Injured was Sued Kalambo, 21, driver of the motorbike hired by Lando and his son.

Responding police found empty shells from M-16 and M-14 assault rifles at the crime scene in Barangay Lower Glad in Midsayap.

“The attack could be related to a ‘rido’ involving the village official’s family and that of the ambushers,” Calinga said.

Police said the victims were heading to Midsayap at about 5 p.m. when flagged down and strafed by gunmen beside the highway in Barangay Lower Glad.

Citing witnesses, police said the gunmen fled toward Datu Piang, Maguindanao following the incident.

2 ex-rebels in NegOcc get P15-K cash aid

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 18, 2020): 2 ex-rebels in NegOcc get P15-K cash aid (By Nanette Guadalquiver)

ASSISTANCE TO FORMER REBELS. Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson (standing) leads the turn-over of immediate assistance of PHP15,000 each to two former rebels from the sixth district of the province. The ceremony, held at the Capitol Social Hall in Bacolod City on Wednesday (June 17, 2020), was witnessed by officials of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, military, and police. (Photo courtesy of 79th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army)

Two former members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in Negros Occidental received PHP15,000 cash aid each from the government’s Enhanced-Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) on Wednesday.

The recipients were Raymart Lariosa, 18, a former Militia ng Bayan; and Rondy Rebenito,17, previously a medical staff of Squad 1, Platoon 1 of the NPA’s South West Front in Negros Island.

The former rebels from the province’s sixth district received the checks from Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson in a ceremony held at the Capitol Social Hall here witnessed by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) provincial director Ferdinand Panes, and military and police officials.

“I’m happy to witness this initial assistance given to you. I hope that through this you can start anew with a livelihood that can help your family. We hope that your former comrades who are still fighting the government will follow your example and also return to the fold of the law,” Lacson said.

Col. Noel Baluyan, commander of 302nd Infantry Brigade, said he welcomes the decision of the former rebels to leave the armed struggle so they can avail the benefits from the government.

Lt. Col. Erwin Cariño, commander of the 15th Infantry Battalion based in southern Negros, said that through, E-CLIP the government’s anti-insurgency efforts are sustained.

“The program also highlights the effective collaboration among the different government agencies,” he added.

The E-CLIP, a strategic flagship program of the national government to achieve peace and development agenda, is implemented through the DILG in coordination with the local government to help the former rebels reintegrate back to the community.

Under the E-CLIP, a former rebel is entitled to receive immediate assistance of PHP15,000; livelihood assistance, PHP50,000; firearms remuneration, PHP12,000 to PHP500,000; half-way house assistance; PhilHealth enrollment and medical assistance; education assistance; housing assistance; legal assistance; and healing and reconciliation initiatives.

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

Army warns of massive terrorism recruitment in Antique

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 18, 2020): Army warns of massive terrorism recruitment in Antique (By Annabel Consuelo Petinglay)

MASSIVE RECRUITMENT. Philippine Army 61st Infantry Battalion commander, Lt. Col. Joel Benedict Batara, warns about the communist terrorists’ massive recruitment in Antique during a mayors' meeting last June 16. Batara said on Wednesday (June 17, 2020) that mayors should strengthen their municipal task force to end the local communist armed conflict. (PNA photo by Annabel Consuelo J. Petinglay)

SAN JOSE DE BUENAVISTA, Antique – The Philippine Army’s 61st Infantry Battalion (61IB) said the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People’s Army Terrorists (CNTs) are trying to regain some areas in Antique by conducting massive recruitment and extortion.

Lt. Col. Joel Benedict G. Batara, commander of 61IB under the 3rd Infantry Division, said in an interview on Wednesday that the CNTs are taking advantage of the time while military forces are busy in the campaign against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

“We have monitored massive recruitment, especially of minors, in Antique province,” Batara said, adding that this is intended to reclaim some areas in the province that were declared as insurgent-free in 2015.

“Massive recruitment is particularly happening in the municipalities of Sibalom, San Remigio and Hamtic,” he said, adding that CNTs’ extortion activities are also being done simultaneously to beef up their logistical strength.

Batara noted that during their encounter with CNTs in Barangay Cabalaunan, Miagao in Iloilo last April 18, they were able to capture five minors who are residents of barangays Igpanolong and Tordesillas in Sibalom.

“The minors from Sibalom were turned over to the Sibalom municipal social welfare and development office for psycho-social counseling,” he said.

Antique’s provincial social welfare and development office also assisted in the conduct of psycho-social counseling.

Meanwhile, during the meeting of the League of the Municipalities in the Philippines - Antique chapter on June 16, Batara appealed to the local chief executives (LCEs) of the 18 municipalities to strengthen their Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (TF-ELCAC).

“I appeal to the LCEs to support the TF-ELCAC by bringing basic services to the people,” he said.

Countering the CNTs’ massive recruitment is not only through military patrol or combat but through convergence efforts to bring basic services to the people, especially in the remote areas, Batara added.

10 NPA rebels surrender in South Cotabato

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 18, 2020): 10 NPA rebels surrender in South Cotabato (By Richelyn Gubalani)

Lt. Col. Lino Capellan, spokesperson of the Police Regional Office-12 (Photo courtesy of PRO-12)

Ten more New People’s Army (NPA) rebels, including three unit leaders, have surrendered to government authorities in South Cotabato following a series of negotiations.

Lt. Co. Lino Capellan, the spokesperson of the Police Regional Office (PRO)-12, said Thursday
the rebels decided to yield voluntarily along with their firearms after reportedly getting tired of their uncertain cause.

He said the returnees initially signified to surrender last Monday in Sitio Datal Kadi, Barangay Tasiman, Lake Sebu town in South Cotabato.

“They were processed and later received by personnel from the South Cotabato Police Provincial Office through assistance from concerned local officials,” Capellan said in a statement.

It was supported by the PRO-12’s intelligence unit, Philippine National Police intelligence group and Special Action Force, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, and the Army’s 5th Special Forces Battalion.

Capellan said the former rebels comprised three-unit officers, a community teacher, and six members of field units under the NPA’s Guerilla Front 73 (Musa)-Far South Mindanao Region.

They surrendered an improvised M203 grenade launcher loaded with a 40mm rifle grenade, a homemade M16 rifle, three caliber .357 revolvers, a Springfield caliber .45 pistol, a caliber .22 revolver, a homemade single-shot caliber .45 pistol and a homemade single-shot caliber .357 pistol.

Brig. Gen. Michael John Dubria, PRO-12 director, said the latest accomplishment was part of their continuing efforts to address internal insurgency through peaceful means.

He said these were in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s “whole-of-nation” approach, which seeks to “end local community armed conflict” by addressing the needs of local communities through convergence programs.

The official said they have endorsed the inclusion of the surrenderers into the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).

Under the E-CLIP, the former rebels will receive financial and livelihood assistance, remuneration for the surrendered firearms, and other support packages from various government agencies, he added.

5 'rebels' killed in clash with troops in NegOr town

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 18, 2020): 5 'rebels' killed in clash with troops in NegOr town (By Mary Judaline Partlow)

SEIZED ARMS. Five suspected members of the New People's Army were killed in a clash with government troops in Sitio Talingting, Barangay Luyang in Mabinay, Negros Oriental on Thursday (June 18, 2020). Shown in photo are high-powered firearms, ammunition and subversive documents recovered by police and military from the clash site. (Photo courtesy of the Philippine Army's 3rd Infantry Division)

Five suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) – the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) – were killed in an encounter with government troops early Thursday in Sitio Talingting, Barangay Luyang in Mabinay town, Negros Oriental.

Joint elements of the 11th Infantry Battalion and the 94th Infantry Battalion, the Regional Mobile Force Battalion 7 of the Philippine National Police and the Mabinay Police clashed with the group at around 12:45 a.m. as they were about to serve a warrant of arrest against one of them, a media release from the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division said.

The government forces received a report from barangay officials and concerned residents of the presence of a wanted person, who was with the armed men occupying two houses in the area, it said.

While the government troops were approaching the area, they were fired upon by an undetermined number of suspected NPA members.

A heavy exchange of gunfire that lasted for about 30 minutes ensued, after which the armed group fled, leaving behind its slain members inside the houses.

The bodies were recovered, as well as three M16 rifles, an AK47 rifle with a defaced serial number, a caliber .45 pistol with a defaced serial number, three AK47 magazines, four rifle grenades, an improvised explosive device (IED), assorted magazines and ammunition, and subversive documents.

One of the dead, believed to be Isaias Villamor Rabilista, alias Sayas Ribilista, was the subject of the warrant of arrest for alleged violation of Republic Act 10591, the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act.

The troops launched operations to secure the perimeter of the encounter site while waiting for the forensic experts to process the evidence at the site.

“This is a clear manifestation that the local residents do not want to be deceived again by the lies of these NPA terrorists,” Lt. Col. Ramir Redosendo, 11th Infantry Battalion commander, was quoted as saying.

“It also shows that EO 70 and the Negros Oriental Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NOTF-ELCAC) is up and running,” he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order No. 70 embodies the Whole-of-Nation Approach in ending the country’s long-running insurgency problem and attaining inclusive and sustainable peace.

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

Ex-MILF leader vows to help gov’t attain peace

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 18, 2020): Ex-MILF leader vows to help gov’t attain peace (By Edwin Fernandez)

PEACE PARTNER. Former Moro Islamic Liberation Front commander Sambutuan Sanday (in striped long sleeves) hands over his rifle to Brigadier Gen. Roberto Capulong, the Army’s 602nd brigade commander, during a surrender ceremony on Wednesday (June 17, 2020) in Pikit, North Cotabato. Sanday vowed to work with the government to attain peace in troubled Moro communities. (Photo courtesy of 602Bde)

A former Moro rebel leader who ignited a two-month clan war in the border of Maguindanao and North Cotabato provinces vowed on Thursday to help the government maintain peace in Moro communities.

In a statement released by the Army’s 602nd Infantry Brigade (Bde), former Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) brigade commander Sambutuan Sanday said he will assist the military and the local government units how to put a stop to clan wars.

Sanday and his followers stormed the villages near the boundary of Pagalungan, Maguindanao, and Pikit in North Cotabato in early April that forced more than 1,000 families of Muslim civilians to evacuate and live in cramped evacuation sites for the past two months.

The displaced families returned to their respective communities early this month.

Sanday is at loggerheads with another MILF official, identified as Richard Kusain. Both are locked in an ownership dispute over a vast tract of land in the marshy area of Pikit and Pagalungan municipalities.

Voluntarily presenting himself to the military on June 16, Sanday handed over his rifle and ammunition to Brig. Gen. Roberto Capulong, Army’s 602Bde commander.

His intentional submission was made possible through the intervention of Pikit Mayor Sumulong Sultan.

“I am more than willing to help the government restore normalcy in Muslim villages,” Sanday said.

Major Gen. Diosdado Carreon, Army’s 6th Infantry Division commander and chief of Joint Task Force Central (JFTC), lauded the military and local officials’ efforts in bringing Commander Sanday to the government side.

"With this challenging situation brought about by pandemic crisis, your JTFC will continue to sustain the peace and order in the area," Carreon said, adding that government efforts to put a stop to clan wars in the 6th ID area of responsibility will be intensified.

Army reservists urged to be role models in fight vs. Covid-19

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 18, 2020): Army reservists urged to be role models in fight vs. Covid-19 (By John Rey Saavedra)

ROLE MODEL. An Army reservist checks the temperature of a passerby in a quarantine control point in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu, in an undated photo. Lt. Col. Rowel Gavilanes, director of the 701st Community Defense Center (CDC) of the Army Reserve Command, on Thursday (June 18, 2020) said reservists in Cebu City where Covid-19 cases are rising can help the city government in enforcing health and safety protocols by monitoring compliance with health and safety protocols in their own community. (Photo courtesy of 1Lt. Ronald Cabiles)

CEBU CITY – An official of the Army Reserve Command on Thursday pressed Cebuano reservists to help the city government in the enforcement of rigid health and safety protocols by becoming role models in their own community in the observance of quarantine measures.

Lt. Col. Rowel Gavilanes, director of the 701st Community Defense Center (CDC) of the Army Reserve Command, said reservists who are residents here may not be called again to man road checkpoints now that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has reverted the city to enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) status.

But reservists, he said, are directed to help law enforcement agencies like the Philippine National Police (PNP) and barangay officials in monitoring compliance with safety protocols such as the “stay-at-home order” of Mayor Edgardo Labella, physical distancing, and mandatory wearing of face masks.

Labella issued stricter policies under Executive Order No. 24 which he signed on Tuesday, to arrest the increasing number of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in the city.

“Even if we are not part of the enforcement team in arresting violators, but as good citizens of this republic, we can do our share by helping our duly-constituted authorities even in monitoring efforts,” Gavilanes told the Philippine News Agency.

He said that reservists can politely ask neighbors to observe the health and safety standards so that Covid-19 transmission can be prevented right in their sitio or barangay.

Before they can ask their neighbors to stay inside their home, maintain social distancing and wear face masks, the reservists can be a model by religiously following those protocols.

“To serve a role model is, I think, the best assistance that we can do in the city. Ipakita nato nga puede ra gyud di ta mo-violate sa (Let’s show to them that it’s good not to violate the) protocols. There's no need to be deployed, just help your community,” Gavilanes said.

The 701st CDC deployed more than 100 officers and enlisted-ranked reservists in the towns of Alegria, San Fernando and Minglanlla in the south, towns of Compostela and the ciy of Lapu-Lapu in the metro and the city of Toledo in the western corridor of Cebu province.

“Prior to the deployment of reservists, our unit conducted seminar and practical exercises to handle critical scenario in relation with the Covid-19 pandemic. So the reservists are equipped with ample knowledge about the virus and the methods to prevent infections as established by the health authorities, especially the WHO (World Health Organization) and the DOH (Department of Health),” he said.

The 701st Cebu Ready Reserve Battalion headed by Lt. Col. Antonio Esmero, a university professor, along with the CDC, coordinated with local government units (LGU) in the deployment of able-bodied reservists.

Esmero said they are also taking precautions in volunteering themselves to serve the front-line to ensure that reservists will not be infected with coronavirus.

The LGUs, he said, provided them with personal protective equipment (PPE) and other paraphernalia for the protection of the organized reservist teams.

Esmero said a team of reservists from his battalion also helped repack family food packs at the Department of Social Welfare and Development in Mandaue City during the province-wide ECQ last April and May.

PH Navy sends home Pinoy repatriates from India, Sri Lanka

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 18, 2020): PH Navy sends home Pinoy repatriates from India, Sri Lanka (By Priam Nepomuceno)

ON THE WAY HOME. Navy personnel help carry the luggage of a repatriate while disembarking from the BRP Davao del Sur at Pier 15, South Harbor in Manila on Wednesday (June 17, 2020). The Navy has started transporting some of the OFWs and tourists who were repatriated from India and Sri Lanka back to their hometowns after they have completed the mandatory quarantine and have tested negative for Covid-19. (Photo courtesy of the Naval Public Affairs Office)

The Philippine Navy (PN) on Wednesday started transporting home some of the 30 Filipino tourists and overseas workers it earlier repatriated from India and Sri Lanka, where they were stranded due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

Lt. Commander Maria Christina Roxas, PN public affairs office chief, said in a statement that the repatriates have already completed the required quarantine period aboard the BRP Davao Del Sur (LD-602) and have been found negative of Covid-19 in swab tests conducted upon their arrival last week.

"The transportation of some repatriates from LD-602 moored at Pier 15 in South Harbor, Manila was in coordination with their local government units. One of the repatriates was brought to Villamor Airbase in Pasay City to take the sweeper flight of (the) Philippine Air Force’s C-130 aircraft to Davao City while another one was taken to the airport for a commercial flight, also to Davao. Others were fetched by their relatives,” she said.

The 30 repatriates – 18 from India and 12 from Sri Lanka -- were given a ride home after the BRP Davao Del Sur and the offshore patrol vessel BRP Ramon Alcaraz fetched a donation of 200,000 pieces of face mask from a Filipino businessman based in India.

The two ships comprise the Naval Task Force 82 (NTF 82) deployed to Oman last January as a contingency measure in case a massive evacuation of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) would be needed following tensions between the United States and Iran.

The tension eventually eased off but the Covid-19 contagion that began to sweep across the globe prompted the NTF 82 to go on another mission of transporting the donation of face masks and the stranded Filipinos.

The NTF 82 arrived in Manila Bay on June 12 in time for the celebration of the 122nd anniversary of Philippine independence.

US earmarks P126-M to support learning continuity in PH

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 18, 2020): US earmarks P126-M to support learning continuity in PH (By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora)

The United States government, through its aid agency, is providing PHP126 million (USD2.5 million) to help the Philippines in its learning continuity plan amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) is partnering with the Department of Education (DepEd) to provide teachers with instructional strategies and learning materials designed for use in both school and home learning environments.

USAID will also assist DepEd in developing rapid, easy-to-use assessment tools for teachers to gauge and support students’ literacy skills once they can return to school.

“The US government, through USAID, remains committed to ensuring young students have the opportunity to continue to learn despite the challenges that COVID-19 has created,” USAID Mission Director Lawrence Hardy said.

The aid agency will partner with the private sector and the media to disseminate advice through radio broadcasts as well as assist parents by designing learning activities that can be done at home.

The US embassy in Manila said more than 27.7 million Filipino children and youth are at risk of significant learning loss due to extended school closures and disruptions during the pandemic.

"Students in early grades are particularly vulnerable to learning loss because they need significant support from their parents, teachers, and caregivers. This is also a critical stage in young children’s education as they develop literacy, numeracy, and social-emotional skills, which are foundations for lifelong learning," it said.

The embassy said since the outbreak began, USAID and DepEd have been cooperating to ensure teachers could continue teaching and that children still learn while schools are closed.

PH troops world-class despite lack of equipment: Army chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 18, 2020): PH troops world-class despite lack of equipment: Army chief (By Priam Nepomuceno)

WORLD-CLASS TROOPS. Army commander, Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay (center) leads the 13th anniversary celebration of the Army Artillery Regiment (AAR) at Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija on Wednesday (June 17, 2020). In his speech, Gapay said Filipino troops are among the best fighters in the world despite lacking modern equipment. (Photo courtesy of the Army Chief Public Affairs Office)

The lack of modern equipment has not hindered Filipino troops from fulfilling their mandate to protect the country from various threats, the chief of the Philippine Army said on Wednesday.

"As former CGPA (Commanding General of the Philippine Army) and chief-of-staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Gen. Eduardo Año once said, 'Filipinos are considered as one of the best fighters in the world because we have the values and resolve.' Kahit parating pa lang ang mga kagamitan, parang sinasabi ni Gen. Año na tayo ay panalo na sa laban. At yan ay makikita natin sa mga cañoneros (Even if our equipment has yet to arrive, Gen. Año said we have already won the battle. That is the spirit being demonstrated by our artillerymen)," Army commander, Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, said in his speech during the 13th anniversary of the Army Artillery Regiment (AAR) in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija.

Gapay said that while it has yet to get more modern equipment, the AAR has been effective in carrying out its mandate and assisting the government in ongoing efforts to contain the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

Meanwhile, he urged all AAR personnel to continue honing their skills and maintain their professionalism.

Gapay also lauded the AAR for its strong support for its military and civilian stakeholders, particularly in the ongoing efforts to contain the disease.

The AAR is an Institutionalized Philippine Army Major Unit at the forefront of the Army modernization in line with its Land Maneuver Concept to address external, internal, and hybrid threats.

Scheduled to receive new armaments that would strengthen its capabilities, the AAR recently created additional batteries intended to man soon-to-be-delivered multiple-launch rocket and land-based missile systems, and air defense and field artillery.

This is consistent with its mandate to organize, train, equip, develop, and sustain artillery units in providing timely and accurate fire support to maneuver units.

Persona non grata resolutions show Pinoys tired of Reds' abuses

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 18, 2020): Persona non grata resolutions show Pinoys tired of Reds' abuses (By Priam Nepomuceno)

2nd Infantry Division commander, Maj. Gen. Arnulfo Burgos. (File photo)

Every resolution declaring the communist rebels persona non grata is a collective proclamation that Filipinos have grown tired of their atrocities and abuses, a ranking military official said Thursday.

Maj. Gen. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos, Jr., 2nd Infantry Division commander, made this remark after Occidental Mindoro’s Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict has officially declared the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) as persona non grata through Provincial Council Resolution No. 159.

Occidental Mindoro Governor Eduardo Gadiano formally signed the resolution on Tuesday together with Resolution No. 171 authorizing him to “conduct local peace engagement” with the communist terrorists.

“The enemy of the state’s eventual demise is near since they are running out of space to evade our forces who are slowly but surely closing in on their few remaining fighters,” Burgos said in a statement sent to reporters.

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

These initiatives, Burgos said, show that the political will and cooperation of elected leaders in all levels of the government is a great helps fulfill the challenging task of "applying the finishing touches to this insurgency".

AFP fully securing SAP 2nd tranche distribution

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 18, 2020): AFP fully securing SAP 2nd tranche distribution (By Priam Nepomuceno)

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday said it has beefed up troop deployments to prevent communist terrorists and other lawless groups from interfering with the distribution of the second tranche of the social amelioration program (SAP) which aims to support low-income families affected by the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

AFP public affairs office chief, Navy Capt. Jonathan Zata, said the military will continue to provide technical, administrative, and logistical assistance; utilizing land, air, and sea assets to transport Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) personnel and goods as needed.

"The AFP joins the DSWD, Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Local Government Units (LGU) in a whole of the nation approach to complete the distribution of the emergency subsidy for the 2nd tranche," Zata said in a statement.

The distribution of the second tranche of the SAP started on Wednesday and will benefit poor families from the National Capital Region; Central Luzon except for Aurora province; Calabarzon; the provinces of Benguet, Pangasinan, Iloilo, Albay, and Cebu; and the cities of Bacolod, Zamboanga, and Davao.

Based on Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) No. 2 dated June 9, the Department of National Defense through the AFP was tasked to lead the agencies in security and coordination with local government units (LGU) with regard to the distribution.

AFP chief-of-staff, Gen. Felimon T. Santos Jr. said the AFP is fully complying with President Rodrigo Duterte's directive for the timely and effective distribution of assistance. "The AFP treats the Social Amelioration Program with the same importance as the other duties we have on hand. We join other government agencies in a collaborative effort to “heal as one” in the battle against Covid-19,” he said.

Together with DSWD special disbursing officers (SDO), the military will aid in the actual distribution and handling of funds in identified Conflict-Affected Areas (CAA) and Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDA).

The AFP will also join DSWD personnel in responding to grievances including public turmoil and irregularities.

OPINION: The US must maintain its defense agreement with the Philippines

Posted to the Marianas Variety (Jun 18, 2020): OPINION | The US must maintain its defense agreement with the Philippines (BY MICHAEL FUMENTO - NATIONAL REVIEW)

FILIPINO President Rodrigo Duterte has just breathed new life into his nation’s Visiting Forces Agreement or VFA with the United States.

That’s excellent news, because you don’t have to believe that China designed the Covid-19 virus to see that it’s been taking advantage of it — and showing us the future if the U.S. and its allies don’t stand strong. That includes the Philippines, America’s oldest ally in the region.

We all know that China took advantage of the world’s pandemic to declare an end to the more than two decades of what was essentially Hong Kong autonomy. Beijing has been flexing its muscles elsewhere as well during that time. Specifically with the Philippines, it just edged further into the disputed Spratly Islands, by creating two new districts on artificial islands as well as by designating an administration center.”

That’s why it was strange that Duterte in February announced that within six months the Philippines would abrogate the treaty with the United States unless the two countries renegotiated it — and just as strange that President Trump responded by saying that would be “fine” because “we’ll save a lot of money.”

Under the VFA, U.S. military aircraft and vessels are allowed free entry into the Philippines. U.S. military personnel are subject to relaxed visa and passport policies. Abrogating the agreement would put at risk roughly 300 joint military exercises and engagements, says R. Clarke Cooper, U.S. assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs.

The VFA is not the entire Mutual Defense Treaty, signed in 1951, but it’s the “nuts and bolts,” Derek Grossman, senior defense analyst with the RAND Corporation told Voice of America. The Mutual Defense Treaty would be severely weakened, and the Chinese regime would be delighted.

China has been fairly open about its aim to take over the world within a generation. Economically, that is. But it sees staking a military claim to anything nearby as a step toward that goal — especially in the South China Sea, where the Philippines lie.

That’s where the regime has been aggressively seeking to expand against not only the Philippines but many other countries, including Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei. Indeed, those islands that China has just pushed further into were awarded to the Philippines four years ago by an intergovernmental arbitration panel.

Without allies, the U.S. cannot contain the fast-growing nation of 1.4 billion. Yet relations with South Korea have cooled so much that last year it signed a defense agreement with China — ironic given that the U.S. is technically at war with China because of Korea. Guam with its naval and airbases is vital, but also vulnerable. Of 11 U.S. supercarriers, only three or four are available at any one time and may be called on to defend Taiwan.

Further, the Philippines’ 7,000 islands covered with thick jungle canopies have long been refuges for terrorists and other subversives, now including ISIS. U.S. troops aren’t allowed to engage them directly, but noncombat aid is necessary to keeping them in check. ISIS anywhere is a threat to the U.S. and the world.

Duterte first announced his intention to abrogate the treaty under President Obama, who did nothing about it. But it was Duterte’s 2018 trip to China — during which he received promises of aid for building infrastructure (possible) and sharing the disputed islands (highly doubtful) — that really led to this. Again, taking advantage of Covid-19, China is sending goodies to the Philippines such as medical equipment and supplies.

Given events in Syria and Ukraine, Duterte could also be worried about the strength of the U.S. commitment. When America gives some allies reasons to mistrust it, the others notice.

But this sudden Duterte turnaround, even though it’s just a suspension of what’s technically a still-intended move, indicates that the Filipino president is rethinking the whole thing. There’s no other explanation. He knows the Chinese government never does anything out of the goodness of a heart it doesn’t have.

It gives more time for him and Trump (or possibly Trump’s successor, depending on the outcome of the November election) to negotiate a deal to preserve the VFA. And a lot of people are urging them to use what Trump has called “a great relationship” between them to get the job done.

Current and former officials in both countries want to keep the VFA. U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper called abrogating the agreement “a move in the wrong direction.” Albert del Rosario, a former foreign-affairs secretary for the Philippines, says that abrogation would be a “national tragedy.” The Philippines shouldn’t be “casting aside a long time reliable ally in favor of an aggressive neighbor that has been blatantly demonstrating its lack of respect for international law,” he said in a statement.

Del Rosario isn’t the only Filipino who feels this way. After all, Americans and Filipinos have strong historic ties: They fought side by side from 1941 to 1945, shedding blood and losing lives to throw out brutal Japanese invaders. Filipinos haven’t forgotten. Indeed, the nation to which they still feel closest couldn’t be farther away geographically, and English is one of the two official languages of the country.

Neither Duterte nor Trump may intend to end this needed relationship. But if they’re not careful, those hard-won ties can unravel. Today the Philippines, those 7,000 islands, and its over 100 million people are still vital to American interests. And this time, if we lose them, to paraphrase Gen. Douglas MacArthur, we shall not return.

[Michael Fumento is an attorney, author, and journalist who writes frequently on military issues and is a current resident of the Philippines]

America Should Stop Defending the Philippines Like It Was a Vital Interest

Posted to the Cato Institute (Jun 17, 2020): America Should Stop Defending the Philippines Like It Was a Vital Interest (By Doug Bandow)

[This article appeared on Anti​war​.com on June 15, 2020]

After threatening to divorce America and rush into China’s arms, the Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte, as coarse, myopic, and impulsive as President Donald Trump, reconsidered. Predictably but unfortunately, he decided that the onetime U.S. conquest and dependent should remain on America’s defense dole. Washington is still expected to go to war to protect not only the recognized archipelago, but also any disputed territories claimed by other states, most notably China.

Washington should say no thanks. The Philippines always has been a geopolitical booby prize. It is time for Manila to do its own defending.

The US gained its independence during the age of empires. Americans created what Thomas Jefferson called an Empire of Liberty, overspreading the North American continent while killing and displacing native peoples along the way. However, the early Americans eschewed “salt water imperialism,” that is, conquering foreign peoples. That principle was sorely tested by proposals to annex all of Mexico after the latter’s defeat in 1848-“like the Sabine virgins, she will soon learn to love her ravisher,” argued imperialist‐​minded James Gordon Bennett of the New York Herald. But Washington ended up sated with merely half of Mexico, its lesser‐​populated northern possessions.

The US should give Manila notice that it is time to renegotiate the defense treaty into a looser pact allowing military cooperation when in both nations’ interests.

The Civil War awakened the latent American military giant. As the 20th Century approached American presumptions and ambitions burgeoned. Business imagined profiting from the supposedly illimitable markets of Asia. The Philippines was an obvious way station toward the commercial conquest of China, which attracted American attention even then. Indiana Sen. Albert Beveridge was one of the most persistent apostles of imperialism. In a speech entitled “The March of the Flag” he denounced those who opposed seizing Pacific territories: “Hawaii and the Philippines not contiguous! The oceans make them contiguous.”

The sensationalist Yellow Press, most dramatically Joseph Pulitzer, whose name adorns today’s most prestigious journalistic award, and William Randolph Hearst, helped turn this vision into a military reality. They were early creators and propagators of “fake news,” demonizing admittedly harsh Spanish rule in Spain. Indefatigable imperialist and racist Theodore Roosevelt, who served as assistant secretary of the navy, pushed America toward the conflict. In 1898 Congress declared war on Madrid in the name of liberating the Cuban people.

However, the imperialist lobby saw the Philippines as within America’s grasp as well. Spain’s forces there were quickly defeated, but the Filipinos, already organized and fighting for their freedom, refused to accept new colonial masters from America. Washington was determined to rule, leading to three years of increasingly bitter irregular combat. US soldiers compared the campaign to fighting, and often exterminating, American Indians. The military was unable to hide its manifold war crimes as 200,000 or more Filipino civilians died. In some majority‐​Muslim territories, such as on Mindanao, opposition never fully disappeared‐​and fighting continues today.

The US finally granted the Philippines independence in 1946, after its liberation from wartime Japanese occupation. The country suffered through poverty, inefficiency, and corruption. Incompetent democracy gave way to dictatorship which eventually shifted back to a succession of ineffective democratic governments. Through it all the US was committed to protect the Philippines by the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty. However, that commitment faded once America lost Clark Airfield and Subic Bay, returned in 1991 and 1992, respectively. A volcano ruined the former while domestic political opposition closed the latter.

Military relations revived with the 1998 negotiation of a Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) that enabled US personnel to visit and act in the Philippines. In 2002 the US sent special operations forces to advise the Philippine military in combat operations against Islamist insurgents. In 2003 the US labeled Manila a major non‐​NATO ally, a comical honorific given the state of the Filipino military. Over the years the US participated in military exercises with and provided arms and training to Filipino forces.

In 2014 the two governments penned the Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation. The pact provided for the transfer of military equipment and provision of financial grants. However, the Obama administration pushed for more, sending surveillance aircraft through Filipino airspace, initiating military exercises, and adding other military activities. “The US and Philippine governments have always found ways to liberally interpret the provisions of the existing agreements,” opined security consultant Jose Antonio Custodio, who accused Washington of “an obvious bending” of the agreement.

The Obama administration also continued to affirm the misnamed “mutual” (Manila’s sole apparent role was to be helpless) defense pact. Alas, the result could be war with China at Manila’s behest. The Philippine government is ever ready to borrow the US military to confront the PRC in their multiple territorial disputes.

The best publicized controversy is Scarborough Shoal (Panatag Shoal to Filipinos and Huangyan Dao to Chinese), a roughly 60‐​square‐​mile group of rocks and reefs, worthless except for the water and resource authority that goes with territorial control. It was administered by the Philippines until 2012, when the PRC sent naval vessels to oust Filipino fishing ships. America’s sensible refusal to intervene then led to the charge of being an “unreliable ally”-from a country unwilling to invest in a military capable of defending its claims. (Also at issue is the appropriately named Mischief Reef, occupied by China in 1995. China has augmented the atoll, within the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone, with an artificial island and airfield.)

Bilateral relations became less stable after Duterte, who makes Trump look civil and rational, assumed the Philippine presidency in June 2016. Relations with the US immediately tanked. The Obama administration criticized his lawless violence against drug users and sellers; he responded by calling President Barack Obama “a son of a whore.” Duterte, probably the most overtly anti‐​American president ever elected in the Philippines, criticized US military operations alongside the Filipino military in Mindanao and harkened back to America’s initial, murderous counterinsurgency campaign against the indigenous independence movement.

Duterte briefly declared his nation’s “separation” from America and proclaimed himself an acolyte of Xi Jinping, visiting China in search of investment dollars. However, most Filipinos, especially those in the country’s security establishment, strongly favored the US and remained highly suspicious of Beijing. And Duterte returned from China with little more than empty promises. The People’s Republic of China would have liked to pull Manila away from America but the PRC would not accept the Philippines’ territorial claims, even rejecting a ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Manila’s favor. China continued to occupy Scarborough Shoal, giving the Duterte government little in return.

Although his Chinese gambit failed, Duterte’s relationship with the US even after Obama’s departure varied from uncomfortable to hostile. That did not stop the Trump administration from embracing Manila, however, promising to “back the Philippines” against China in any naval confrontation.

Indeed, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who appears to be permanently at odds with the president’s occasional desire to disentangle the US from potential foreign conflicts, announced: “Any armed attack on Philippine forces, aircraft or public vessels in the South China Sea will trigger mutual defense obligations.” Pompeo was responding to Philippines Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana who, concerned about Washington’s sometimes ambiguous pronouncements on its view of Filipino disputed territories, demanded clarification. Indeed, Lorenzana threatened to terminate the bilateral defense relationship unless Washington affirmed its willingness to send Americans to defend, and perhaps die in the process, Filipino land of no importance to the US

The right response would have been to tell Lorenzana to go pound sand. Instead, Pompeo made America look like the supplicant. Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. affected generosity in accepting America’s word. He said he interpreted US policy as “we have your back.”

That was then, however. In February the old Duterte was back, complaining that Americans were rude and took their weapons home after they visited. But what most bothered Duterte was Washington’s revocation of a visa for Ronald dela Rosa, who served as police chief under the Filipino president and was responsible for the murder of drug dealers and users. Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo pointed to “a series of legislative and executive actions by the US government that bordered on assaulting our sovereignty and disrespecting our judicial system.”

So Duterte announced the end of the VFA, which governed US military personnel on the islands and working with the Filipino military. The pact would expire six months hence, after which Americans would be sent home and future military cooperation would be limited. Any future event or activity would require individual negotiation over the terms of America’s presence.

The defense treaty would remain formally in force, but Washington would not likely rush troops where they are not welcome. Warned the RAND Corporation’s Derek Grossman: “By not having the ability for US troops to move freely into the Philippines, to operate there and to move military equipment into the Philippines makes it much more difficult for the US to make good on its obligations under the mutual defense treaty.” Filipino Senator Panfilo Lacson predicted that killing the VFA would reduce the defense agreement “to a mere paper treaty as far as the US is concerned.”

What of the Chinese who the Philippine president no longer seemed so eager to engage? “They do not mean harm,” he announced, as long as “we do not also do something that is harmful to them.” As for America, Duterte insisted that he would neither “entertain any initiative coming from the US government to salvage” the VFA nor accept a summit invitation from Trump‐​which had not been extended.

Four months on, however, Locsin said that all was forgotten if not forgiven “in light of political and other developments in the region.” Probably meaning that China’s XI did not offer boatloads of cash to buttress the weak Philippines economy. Duterte suspended his notification for six months, halting the pact’s expiration. If he gets irritated again, he could allow the countdown to proceed. Alas, Washington maintains its supplicant attitude. Said the embassy in Manila: “Our longstanding alliance has benefited both countries, and we look forward to continued close security and defense cooperation with the Philippines.” It would have been hard to genuflect much lower to Duterte.

Why should the US make military guarantees to such a nation and government?

There always have been costs and risks to the commitment, but they were modest in the past. The dangers have risen dramatically as China’s government, under XI Jinping, has become more aggressive and the Philippines government, under Duterte, has become more erratic. Last June, a Chinese naval ship hit and sank a Filipino fishing boat: China said the waters were territorial seas while the Philippines claimed the area was its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Perhaps recognizing his military weakness‐​the navy’s flagship is an American Coast Guard cast‐​off constructed decades ago‐​Duterte uncharacteristically leveled with his people: “A shooting war is a grief and misery multiplier. War leaves widows and orphans in its wake. I am not ready or inclined to accept the occurrence of more destruction, more widows and more orphans should war‐​even at a limited scale‐​break out.”

Alas, he could only contain his bluster so long. He soon called on Washington to launch a crusade against the PRC: “I’m calling now, America. I am invoking the RP-US pact, and I would like America to gather their Seventh Fleet in front of China. I’m asking them now.” Perhaps he recently watched the movie Dr. Strangelove since he appeared to channel Maj. T.J. Kong, ready to sit atop an American bomb on its way down onto the Chinese aggressors: “When they enter the South China Sea, I will enter. I will ride with the American who goes there first. Then I will tell the Americans, ‘Okay, let’s bomb everything’.”

Thankfully, the US rejected Duterte’s invitation to war, despite Pompeo’s ill‐​considered promises. But serious risks remain. American Ambassador Sung Kim later said that the defense treaty covered “any armed attack,” including by any “government‐​sanctioned Chinese militia,” even in disputed areas. The good news is that the defense pact does not itself trigger war. Rather, Washington promised to “meet the common dangers in accordance with its constitutional processes,” meaning with a congressional declaration of war. Alas, recent presidents have tended to dispense with such legal niceties.

The time for such one‐​sided “mutual” defense treaties has passed. The original security guarantee for the Philippines reflected fear of a Japanese military revival‐​which Manila now desires‐​and the emergence of the Soviet Union as a global threat. However, Russia has essentially written off Asia and especially the Pacific militarily. Today it is the People’s Republic of China which worries the US and China’s neighbors, including the Philippines. At least sometimes, anyway, depending on Duterte’s mood.

However, Beijing is a dubious substitute threat for the U.S.S.R. The former is ideologically bankrupt, more fascist than communist. Its military ambitions are regional rather than global and pose no direct threat to the US, whether the latter’s people, territory, or liberties. China is determined to confront Washington’s seeming assumption that the Monroe Doctrine applies to Asia and America is entitled to intervene militarily against China in the latter’s neighborhood. No doubt it is convenient for the US to treat the Asia‐​Pacific as an American sphere of interest, but over the long‐​term that policy is unsustainable at any reasonable cost, given how much more it costs to project power than to deter intervention.

What if China’s increased assertiveness becomes dangerously aggressive? The PRC’s territorial ambitions so far seem concentrated on areas that are historically or plausibly Chinese‐​Hong Kong and Taiwan most obviously, as well as nearby islands. There is no indication of plans to conquer neighboring lands to create a vast, new, and expanded empire. Even without American involvement such regional hegemony would be difficult for Beijing, which is surrounded by nations with which it has been at war during that last 75 years: India, Japan, Korea, Russia, and Vietnam. Other important states also hope to limit Chinese influence, such as Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.

Manila may be weaker than the others, but the Philippine people always resisted foreign occupiers, including Americans, Japanese, and Spaniards. Filipinos should make clear that they would meet any threat from China with similar vigor. Moreover, the Philippine government should expand defense ties with nearby states.

For instance, Manila took an important step forward in recent years by encouraging Tokyo’s growing role. India also is playing a larger naval role in Southeast Asia and nearby waters. Indonesia and Vietnam are confronting similarly expansive Chinese territorial claims. Canberra has taken a sharper tone toward Beijing of late, targeting the PRC’s attempt to influence domestic Australian politics and criticizing Beijing’s role in spreading the COVID-19 pandemic.

In extremis, Washington could backstop the Philippines’ survival, which is not threatened and is not likely to come under attack. However, the archipelago is of little security significance to America. Washington desires to have bases everywhere, but Manila is unlikely to allow the US to use Filipino territory against Beijing unless the Philippines is under threat. Even a Philippine president better disposed toward America than Duterte would not want to make his nation into a permanent enemy of China.

The US might prefer that Manila rather than Beijing control fisheries and energy deposits, but that is only a peripheral interest. More important is America’s commitment to navigational freedom. However, the Philippines plays only a modest role in that regard. As a practical matter, the PRC isn’t likely to interfere with navigation in peacetime, irrespective of sovereignty claims. In wartime all that would matter is naval superiority, which would be difficult for America to maintain so close to the Chinese mainland. The Pentagon is spending heavily to counter China’s growing anti‐​access/​area‐​denial capabilities, but Beijing will always have the advantage in the Asia‐​Pacific.

The Philippines is a dubious partner. The US should stop treating allies like Facebook Friends, collecting as many as possibility irrespective of their relevance or value. The Duterte presidency is the perfect opportunity to start treating the Philippines like a mature state capable of protecting itself. After all, as Duterte’s office explained when justifying his decision to end the VFA, he “believes that our country cannot forever rely on other countries for the defense of the state.” America should adopt the same position.

Trump seems to understand. He is ordering home some US troops from Germany and might do the same in Korea. Asked about Duterte’s original decision, Trump answered: “I really don’t mind, if they would like to do that, that’s fine.” After all, he noted: “We’ll save a lot of money.” Even more important, the US might save lives as well.

The US should give Manila notice that it is time to renegotiate the defense treaty into a looser pact allowing military cooperation when in both nations’ interests. No more faux mutuality with America expected to automatically defend the Philippines, including all its disputed territories, and against China. Let Filipinos upgrade their military, develop regional allies, and accept responsibility for their own future.

[Doug Bandow is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute. A former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is author of Foreign Follies: America’s New Global Empire.]