Sunday, June 21, 2020

NPA terrorist in MisOr on downfall

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jun 20, 2020): NPA terrorist in MisOr on downfall (By 58th Infantry Battalion)

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Alias Dino the Platoon Leader of Platoon Ryan, SRC1 together with his party wife alias Dina who is also the platoon medic together with alias Jegs surrendered their one M653 and one AK 47 rifle. (58IB)

CLAVERIA, Misamis Oriental, June 20 – Three combatants from Subregional Committee 1 (SRC1) of North Central Mindanao Regional Command (NCMRC) surrendered to the 58th Infantry "Dimalulupig" Battalion last June 19.
Alias Dino the Platoon Leader of Platoon Ryan, SRC1 together with his party wife alias Dina who is also the platoon medic together with alias Jegs surrendered their one M653 and one AK 47 rifle.

According to Alias Dino, he decided to return to the folds of the law because he cant see the future of his family in the armed revolution. The New Peoples Army (NPA) propaganda of equal rights to all is just a decisive way to gain more members and supporters. "Di na gyud namo makaya ang kagutom sa bukid. Gsto nako atimanon akong pamilya. Dili tinuod ang gi ingon sa mga kumander nga pantay pantay. Sila gani kay gacorrupt sa amo” said Dino.

The surrenderees also brought with them seven long magazines for M16, seven magazines for AK47 rifles, assorted several ammunitions, one Microsoft tablet and other subversive documents. (58IB)
The surrenderees also brought them Seven long magazines for M16, Seven magazines for AK47 rifles, assorted several ammunitions, One Microsoft tablet and other subversive documents.

Alias Dino also called on his former group, "kabalo man mo nga dili tinuod ang tumong sa atong rebolusyon, mas maayo nga mubalik ta sa sabakan sa gobyerno nga mau ang maghatag sa atong maayo nga kaugmaon. Ayaw namo pag-antos sa kalisod sa atong walay ayo nga tumong nga armadong pakigbisog." (You already knew that you're headed nowhere with the armed struggle. I suggest that you return to folds of the law.)

The surrender of the Communist NPA terrorist leaders has been a strong indication that the NPAs organization is on the brink of collapse. It can be recalled that four high ranking NPA terrorist leaders along with six others perished on the running gun battle in the boundaries of Misamis Oriental and Agusan Norte.

The launching of Development Security Support Plan "Pagkab-ot Mis Or," which aims to sustain the peace and development of the Province of Misamis Oriental and the all-out support to the President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s Whole-of-Nation Approach to End Local Communist Armed Conflict has gained results and positive feedbacks all over the region.

"Alias Dino and two others will be enrolled in the Enhanced Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) to receive some benefits from choosing the road to peace," said Lt. Col. Ricky L Canatoy, Commanding Officer, 58th Infantry Battalion." (58IB)

Joint military-police team neutralizes notorious CNT extortionist, his aide, in N. Samar

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jun 21, 2020): Joint military-police team neutralizes notorious CNT extortionist, his aide, in N. Samar (By 20IB, 8ID, PA)

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PALAPAG, Northern Samar, June 20 -- A notorious Communist NPA Terrorist (CNT) who was responsible in various extortion activities targeting the government infrastructure projects and business establishments in the pacific towns of Northern Samar, and his aide, were neutralized by the combined elements of Team Peacemaker and the Northern Samar Police Mobile Force Company while conducting an inter-agency law enforcement operation on Saturday, June 20, at vicinity of Brgy. Bagacay, Palapag, Northern Samar.

The fatalities were identified as Zaldy Meraya @Podyot/Bato, finance officer of Sqd 1, FC15, SRC Arctic and his aide Bebe Tobino @Kidlat/Lawin, member of Sqd 1, Sandatahang Unit Pampropaganda (SYP) Platoon, FC15 CN: M3, SRC Arctic.

The government troops were about to serve a warrant of arrest issued by Judge Decoroso M. Turla dated May 11, 2020 with Criminal Case Number 5712 for multiple attempted murder, when the CNTs fired their gun which triggered a brief armed engagement.

The said law enforcement operation was launched as an offshoot to the encounter between 20IB and NPA at vicinity of Sitio Cag-anibong of same barangay on June 14, 2020 wherein combat tracking conducted by the pursuing troops led them towards the safe house of @Podyot.

Seized from the encounter site were the following: two (2) Cal .45 pistol; one (1) Acer laptop; 12 assorted cellular phones; three (3) flash drive (USB); and subversive documents.

Colonel Lowell Tan, commander of the Army’s 803rd Infantry (PEACEMAKER) Brigade said that the neutralization of @Podyot will lessen if not totally stop the extortion activities and resource generation of CNTs in the pacific towns. (20IB, 8ID, PA)

PPOC-Southern Leyte shares P500K to build Army’s new camp nearer to province

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jun 21, 2020): PPOC-Southern Leyte shares P500K to build Army’s new camp nearer to province (By Erna S. Gorne)

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MAASIN CITY, June 21 (PIA) -- The Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) of Southern Leyte will share some amount in the construction of the Philippine Army’s new camp in Mahaplag, Leyte which is now nearer to the province.

“We would like to share some financial assistance, in the amount of P500,000.00, for the construction of the new military camp,” said Governor Damian Mercado, PPOC chairperson.

Governor Mercado felt relieved upon learning about the construction of the new barracks in Mahaplag.

“At least, when we will request for your presence, you are already nearer in our province now,” Governor Mercado said.

Lt. Col. Roberto Obaob, 14th Infantry Battalion commander, said the move to establish military camp in the municipality of Mahaplag, Leyte as their new command base will make them easier to respond to counter-insurgency campaign efforts in Leyte and Southern Leyte provinces.

Obaob presented the program of works for the said camp construction during the second quarterly meeting held recently in Maasin City where he disclosed their need to construct nine barracks, mess hall, among others.

He also looks forward to continue more counter-insurgency activities with the Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF-ELCAC) in prospected hinterland barangays including Sogod town. (ldl/esg/PIA-8 Southern Leyte)

Iloilo former rebels get P130K gov’t assistance

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jun 21, 2020): Iloilo former rebels get P130K gov’t assistance (By Lilibeth A. French)

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ILOILO CITY, June 21 (PIA6) - - Two former members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Iloilo province who have chosen to start to live normal lives again were provided financial assistance worth P130,000.00 by the government.

Each of the former rebel received P15,000 immediate assistance and P50,000 livelihood assistance under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) administered by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Governor Arthur Defensor turned over the checks to the former rebels who are from the municipalities of Calinog and Tubungan during the meeting of the Provincial Peace and Order Council held June 19.

The event was also witnessed by Philippine Army 301st Brigade Commander Col. Marion Sison, DILG - Iloilo Provincial Director Teodora Sumagaysay and other members of the Provincial E-CLIP Committee like Iloilo Police Provincial Office's PLt. Col. Bonifacio Ancajas and PSWD Officer Dr. Neneth Pador .

Sumagaysay said the two forms of assistance are part of the E-CLIP package or intervention provided by the government to members of NPA and Militia ng Bayan who decide to go back to the folds of the government and to be transformed and mainstreamed in society.

She said E-CLIP is also a means to help address local armed conflict under the Whole-Of-Nation Approach.

“As evidenced by the assistance given to them, the government is serious in looking into solutions to help our rebel returnees while they are in the process of returning their lives to normalcy and eventually, to achieve that genuine and lasting peace across the country without violent acts,” said Sumagaysay.

The former rebels will also get remuneration for the firearms they have given up.

Sumagaysay said rebels who would like to avail of the government assistance can contact their local government unit, the Philippine Army or the Philippine National Police so that they will be assisted in their enrollment in the program.

Other benefits under the E-CLIP include education, skills training and access to other government services and programs. (JSC/laf/PIA6 Iloilo)

DOE assures exploration in West PH Sea won’t compromise Philippine sovereignty

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jun 21, 2020): DOE assures exploration in West PH Sea won’t compromise Philippine sovereignty  (By DOE)

Malampaya Onshore Team is helping power up Luzon grid. Malampaya is a deep-water gas field located in the West Philippine Sea. (File photo from DOE)

TAGUIG CITY, June 21 -- Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said the Department of Energy (DOE) is working together with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) so that exploration activities in the West Philippine Sea could finally proceed.

In updating the members of the Regional Peace and Order Council (ROPC) of Region IV-B MIMAROPA (Mindoro-Marinduque-Romblon-Palawan) recently, Secretary Cusi assured the body that exploration and development of resources within the area will not compromise the country’s sovereignty.

“While we are protecting our territories, the DOE is trying to work together with the DFA on how we can continue exploration in the area,” Secretary told the RPOC members.

The body is chaired by Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez, while Secretary Cusi is the designated Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security (CORDS) for Region IV-B.

“We are doing this without compromising our sovereignty. That’s one thing we can assure you as we progress in our exploration on how to develop and utilize the resources there at the West Philippine Sea,” the Secretary said.

“We need it to attain energy security,” he stressed.

He commended the Western Command (WESCOM) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), headed by Lt. General Erickson Gloria, for keeping watch over the Philippine territories in the area.

“We thank our uniformed people, the WESCOM, for keeping watch in that area and for protecting our territories,” Secretary Cusi said. (PIA-IDPD/DOE)

The VFA And Philippine-American Alliance Amidst The COVID-19 Pandemic – Analysis

Posted to the Eurasia Review (Jun 21, 2020): The VFA And Philippine-American Alliance Amidst The COVID-19 Pandemic – Analysis (By Rommel C. Banlaoi, PhD, PIPVTR)

When the Philippine government suspended the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), US Defense Secretary Mark Esper expressed his utmost gratefulness to President Rodrigo R. Duterte. Esper gave his statement during his telephone conversation with his counterpart, Philippine National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, on 12 June 2020.
An Independent Philippine Foreign Policy

The conversation between the two defense officials was very momentous as it occurred during the commemoration of the 122 years of Philippine independence from Spain. The timing of the telephone conversation between two defense leaders has delivered a strong message that the US, as an erstwhile colonial master, should respect the Philippine independence and that the Philippines, as a former US colony, deeply cherishes its hard-fought independence from colonial powers. The termination, and eventual suspension of the termination, of the VFA also conveys a strong message to the US that the Philippines can pursue an independent foreign policy.

The suspension of the VFA termination, on the other hand, is very timely as both countries celebrate their friendship day on 4 July 2020. This indicates that the Philippine government continues to value its security alliance with the US amidst Manila’s simultaneous effort to promote “comprehensive strategic cooperation” with China.

In Light of Political Developments in the Region

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin announced the suspension of the VFA termination based on a diplomatic note submitted to the US Embassy on 1 June 2020. The Diplomatic Note, with reference number 2020-2622, states:
“In light of political and other developments in the region, the termination of the Agreement between the (Philippine and United States governments) regarding the treatment of United States Forces Visiting the Philippines contained in Note No. 20-0463 dated 11 February 2020 is hereby suspended.
“The suspension shall start on even date and shall continue for six months which period is extendible by the Philippines for another six months, after which the tolling of the initial period in Note Verbale No. 20-0463 dated 11 February 2020 shall resume.”

What compels the Philippine government to suspend the VFA termination? 

As the Diplomatic Note aptly states, it has something to do with “political and other developments in the region”. This “political and other developments in the region” may refer to the geopolitical consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic arising from increased US-China tensions in the South China Sea (SCS).

Increased US-China Rivalry in the Time of the Pandemic

The global impacts of the COVID-19 should have encouraged US and China to cooperate in order to overcome the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has put the two major powers in a blame game situation that accuses each other of mishandling the pandemic and even finger pointing at each other for spreading the coronavirus fear mongering. Rather than jointly solving the problem for the benefit of the whole world, the pandemic sadly caused the US and China to engage unnecessarily in a bitter and even counter-productive smear campaign against each other’s reputation as global leaders.

Thus, the pandemic is seemingly creating a global divide for states to be either pro-China or pro-US in addressing the current global crisis. This perceived divide is creating the nasty illusion of emerging cold war between the US and China because of the worsening major power rivalry between them.

US-China Military Competition in the SSC

Increased US-China rivalry during the pandemic is clearly manifested in the SCS where the Philippines find itself in between two competing powers. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic wrecking havoc to the whole world, US-China competition in the SCS has recently intensified as both powers expand their sphere of military influence in a highly strategic maritime domain being viewed as one of the major flashpoints of armed conflicts in Asia.

Thus, the US is pleased with the suspension of the VFA termination as it can give the Pentagon renewed access to Philippine territories to resume its military activities that aim to promote President Donald Trump’s security strategy towards the Indo-Pacific.

The VFA termination being suspended for six months, with the possibility of being extended for another six months, can allow the US to implement its more than 100 planned military activities in the Philippines for 2020. These military activities are in the form of joint military exercises and capacity-building trainings in the following key areas: Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HADR), Counterterrorism Cooperation (CTC), and Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA).


In this time of the pandemic where terrorist threats persist in the Philippines, HADR and CTC can offer the US and the Philippines mutual benefits to confront their common security concerns.

Effective HADR activities during the 2013 Typhon Haiyan in the Philippines gave the US a very strong track record of being a reliable Philippine ally. HADR activities to address the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines can provide the US another golden opportunities to prove its worth as a strong ally of the Filipino people.

Successful CTC activities during the 2017 Marawi Siege also gave the US another exemplary practice of being an effective security ally of the Philippines. Through the Pentagon’s Operation Enduring Freedom-Philippines (OEF-P), the US provided the Philippines counterterrorism assistance and advice that became essential for the October 2017 liberation of Marawi against terrorist groups in the Philippines aligned with the Islamic State (IS). With the suspension of the VFA termination amidst the continuing threats from pro-IS groups operating largely in the Southern Philippines during the pandemic, the US can implement its planned CTC activities with the Philippines in 2020. The Philippine government needs these CTC activities as it pushes for its new anti-terrorism law.

Maritime Domain Awareness

The MDA is the most controversial and the most sensitive aspect of US military activities in the Philippines as it is associated with the SCS disputes.

Though the MDA has counterterrorism objectives, it allows American military access to Philippine waters to build the capacity of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to promote maritime security in two major problematic maritime domains: the Sulu Sea and the West Philippine Sea (WPS). The MDA can also cover the waters within the Philippine Benham Rise.

The Philippines and the US have greater security interests to implement MDA activities in the WPS because of China’s growing presence in the area, particularly in geographic features where China conducted massive land reclamation activities. During the pandemic, claimants have not stopped their usual military and paramilitary activities in the SCS. Vietnam, China, and Malaysia have even intensified their unilateral patrols in the SCS.

The Philippines also continued its routine patrols and rotation missions in the WPS, particularly in Pag-Asa (Thitu) Island where it recently inaugurated the construction of a docking port. Amidst the pandemic, the Philippines announced its long-delayed plan to start the rehabilitation of the runway in Pag-Asa Island.

The Philippines even facilitated the entry of American ships passing through the WPS in order to conduct freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) in the SCS. With the suspension of VFA termination, the US can implement its planned MDA activities with the Philippines, particularly in WPS, where the US can cover in its FONOPs in remaining months of 2020.

Philippine-US Security Alliance: Business As Usual?

In other words, suspending the VFA termination has brought Philippine-American security alliance in business as usual. Despite some dramas created by the notification of VFA termination on 11 February 2020, its recent suspension has allowed the Philippines and the US to kiss and make-up to sustain their security alliance.

However, the stability of Philippine-American security alliance remains on uncertain ground under Duterte Administration as the Philippine government can still resume the VFA termination after the suspension period.

Playing the US Card

Apparently, the Philippine government is currently playing the US card because of China’s recent activities in the SCS. The indefinite postponement during the pandemic of the negotiation between China and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on the Code of Conduct (COC) in the SCS is also creating renewed regional security uncertainties requiring an American presence to balance China. Thus, the Philippines can utilize its existing security alliance with the US in order to balance China’s growing presence in the SCS.

Playing the China Card

But being an ally of the US does not make the Philippines the enemy of China. The Philippines continues to value its centuries old friendship with China. Under Duterte Administration, the Philippines government is still interested to pursue “comprehensive strategic cooperation” with China.

In fact, the Philippines and China just commemorated on 9 June 2020 the 45 years of their diplomatic relations where both countries agreed to boost ties and to “embrace a better future” of their bilateral friendship and partnership. The Philippines still needs to be friendly with China to have another card to play when dealing with its only security ally, the US.

Friendly to All, Enemy to None

The Philippine government’s decision to suspend the VFA termination while remaining friendly with China is an exercise of Duterte’s independent foreign policy. It is a foreign policy that is anchored on the pragmatic principle of being “friendly to all and enemy to none”. This principle serves only one purpose: the effective advancement of Philippine national security interests amidst regional security uncertainties in the time of the pandemic.

Source: This article was published by PIPVTR

[About the author: The author is a Professorial Lecturer at the Department of International Studies, Miriam College. He has a PhD in International Relations at Jinan University, Guangzhou China and a BA and MA in Political Science at the University of the Philippines, Diliman. He is the Chairman of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research (PIPVTR) and the President of the Philippine Association for Chinese Studies (PACS).]

[The Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research (PIPVTR) aims to promote the principle of non-violence by conducting rigorous investigative studies and peace research to understand the pathologies of terrorism in the Philippines.]

MILF man injured in Maguindanao clash with MNLF group

From the Philippine Star (Jun 21, 2020): MILF man injured in Maguindanao clash with MNLF group (John Unson)

Members of the Moro National Liberation Front wounded a Moro Islamic Liberation Front member in a brief clash on Sunday morning in Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao.

Sulaiman Mingkot Macauyag of the MILF's 128th Base Command
sustained bullet wounds in the upper torso and has been brought to a hospital.

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In an initial report to the Maguindanao provincial police office, Police Maj. Julhamin Asdani of the Sultan Kudarat municipal police said Macauyag was shot and wounded by MNLF gunmen led by a certain Commander Samad.

He said followers of Samad shot with assault rifles the houses in a farming community in Barangay Macaguiling in Sultan Kudarat, sparking a gunfight that left Macauyag wounded.

The gunmen escaped before police and personnel of the 2nd Marine Battalion arrived.

The incident, which caused panic among residents of Barangay Macaguiling, was preceded by a series of deadly encounters last month between rival MILF and MNLF forces in Matalam and in Pikit, both in North Cotabato, and in interior barangays in Guindulungan, Maguindanao.

Most serious were the hostilities in Pikit, which displaced no fewer than 2,000 impoverished Moro families.

More than 50 houses were looted and set on fire by the feuding groups in one encounter after another in three barangays in Pikit, located in the first district of North Cotabato.

Indonesian boy kidnapped from L Datu waters escaped, says source

From The Daily Express (Jun 21, 2020): Indonesian boy kidnapped from L Datu waters escaped, says source (By: Zam Yusa)

KOTA KINABALU: A boy, who Daily Express reported in March was among five Indonesian fishermen kidnapped in Tambisan Island waters off Lahad Datu in January, had escaped his Abu Sayyaf captors in Sulu, an Indonesian source told the paper.

Ulta Levenia Nababan, a terrorism researcher at Jakarta-based think tank Galatea, said three sources told her the boy’s current whereabouts was unknown.

Two Abu Sayyaf men including one wanted by the Eastern Sabah Security Command are holding the Indonesian hostages, said Ulta.

Daily Express' report on the boy ran contrary to official reports that five adults had been grabbed in the latest Sulu Sea kidnapping.

2 rebel returnees in Iloilo get livelihood cash aid

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 20, 2020): 2 rebel returnees in Iloilo get livelihood cash aid (By Gail Momblan)

AID TO EX-REBELS. Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. (2nd from right) turns over financial aid to "Aguila", a former rebel, on Friday (June 19, 2020). Two former rebels have received cash and livelihood aid via the government's Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program. (Photo courtesy of Philippine Army's 61st Infantry Battalion)

Two former members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in Iloilo have received livelihood cash aid via the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).

In a statement Saturday, the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) said “Aguila” and “Carol” received PHP15,000 cash and PHP50,000 worth of livelihood assistance from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Iloilo provincial government.

Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. and DILG-Iloilo provincial director Teodora Sumagaysay turned over the assistance to the two former rebels in a ceremony during the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) meeting at old provincial Capitol here on Friday.

Based on the information of the Army, “Aguila” was a former Team Leader of Special Partisan Unit, Central Front, Komiteng Rehiyon-Panay while “Carol” was a former Political Officer of Squad 2, Suyak Platoon, Southern Front, also of Komiteng Rehiyon-Panay.

The two also turned over to the government three firearms.

The former rebels said the cash assistance from the government can help them start their new peaceful life far from the hardship and hunger they experienced while under the communist group.

Lt. Col. Joel Benedict Batara, Army’s 61st Infantry Battalion (61IB) commander, said the surrender of the two is another indication that the CPP-NPA is only good at terrorism and breaking their promises to their members.

"I encourage the remaining NPAs to surrender, be responsible citizens and instruments of peace,” Batara said.

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.

UNHCR Philippines CRI Report (May 2020) Issue No. 6

Posted to the Relief Web (Jun 19, 2020): UNHCR Philippines CRI Report (May 2020) Issue No. 6

Download report(PDF | 477.89 KB)

Amidst the ongoing crisis and profound challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, UNHCR is in close coordination with the government and Protection partners in the provision of essential goods and services to the frontliners and displaced families in Mindanao. As of reporting, UNCHR has delivered and distributed Core Relief Items (CRIs) to 7,040 beneficiaries in the municipalities of North Cotabato and Lanao del Sur.

On 15 May 2020, UNHCR delivered specialized persosal protective equipment (PPEs) comprised of N95 masks, disposable masks and patient care gloves to Ministry of Social Services and Development (MSSD) BARMM for 12,152 key government staff who are at the frontline of delivering relief goods and essential services to the communities at risk of contracting the pandemic as well as distributing the emergency subsidy under the Social Amelioration Program. 

On 18 May 2020, through the support of Community and Family Services International (CFSI), sleeping mats, blankets, hygiene kits, mosquito nets, plastic sheets and solar lamps were provided to 64 families of Pikit, North Cotabato, while plastic sheets, mosquito nets and solar lamps were provided to 901 IDP families who fled their places of origin due to a recurring firefight between two commanders affiliated with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). 

On 29 May 2020, in coordination with the MSSD-BARMM, plastic sheets, solar lamps and mosquito nets were also provided to 55 displaced families in Malabang, Lanao del Sur. This assistance is in support of MSSD’s work in assisting vulnerable persons on the ground and in enhancing its response to IDPs during the corona virus pandemic.

Military honors late AFP Chief Arnulfo Acedera Jr.

From the Manila Bulletin (Jun 21, 2020): Military honors late AFP Chief Arnulfo Acedera Jr. (By Martin Sadongdong)

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) rendered traditional military funeral honors to its former Chief of Staff, retired General Arnulfo Acedera Jr., on Saturday at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City.


Acedera, a veteran pilot, passed away on Monday, June 15. He was 78 years old. He served as the 24th AFP Chief of Staff from November 28, 1996 to December 31, 1997.

General Felimon Santos Jr., current AFP Chief of Staff, led top military officials who witnessed the final honors rendered to Acedera including the 21 gun salute, and the taps and volley of fire during his interment.

The military also provided necessary services during his burial such as bugler and drummer, firing party, military host or pallbearers, escort and transportation, and arrival and departure honors to the late general.

Before he was laid to rest, Acedera was accorded necrological rites at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City during the last day of his wake on Friday, June 19. He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Stella Acedera, his son Arnulfo Jose, and daughter Ana Marie.

“The Armed Forces of the Philippines extends its condolences to the family and loved ones left behind by General Arnulfo Acedera Jr. He will always be remembered as one of the great leaders that piloted the AFP towards greater heights in military might,” Santos said.

Acedera was born in Cardona, Rizal on December 18, 1941. He entered the Philippine Military Academy in 1959 where he graduated in 1963. He further studied Military Pilot Training at the Philippine Air Force Flying School in Lipa City, Batangas where he graduated in 1965.

Prior to holding the top military rank, Acedera was the 23rd Commanding General of the Philippine Air Force. He held the position from December 26, 1995 to November 29, 1996.

In a statement, the PAF said Acedera “led the service unit to its peak” with the acquisition of additional MG-520 attack helicopters, C-130B transport planes, and F-5 aircrafts, thus, boosting the capabilities of the force.

Various memoranda of agreement on defense cooperation between the Philippines and allied countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, and the United Kingdom had also been signed under his command, it noted.

Being the PAF Chief, it was during Acedera’s tenure that the PAF Officer Candidate School was established as a primary source of officers of the organization.

It was also during his time that the Tactical Operations Command, Air Defense Command, and the Air Logistics Support Command were activated, the PAF said.

He also held numerous significant positions in the AFP such as Commander of the Air Force Research and Development Center from July 1988 to July 1990; Wing Commander of the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing from November 1991 to January 1994; Wing Commander of the 205th Helicopter Wing from January to June 1994; Division Commander of the 1st Air Division from June to November 1994; and Deputy Chief of Staff, AFP from November 1994 to December 1995.

In his military career, he completed various intelligence trainings and flight crew courses both here in the Philippines and abroad.

He was also a decorated military officer being a recipient of various awards and decorations.

Among them were the Distinguished Service Stars, Distinguished Aviation Cross, Bronze Cross Medal, Silver Wing Medal, and AFP Combat Commander’s “Kagitingan” Badges.

Lieutenant General Allen Paredes, current PAF Commanding General, led the air force officers, enlisted personnel, and civilian human resources in mourning the passing of Acedera.

“His legacy that he has embedded to the men and women of the PAF will never be forgotten as we are forever grateful to have a leader like General Acedera,” he said.

2 NPAs slain in clash with gov’t forces in Northern Samar

From the Manila Bulletin (Jun 21, 2020): 2 NPAs slain in clash with gov’t forces in Northern Samar (By Marie Tonette Marticio)

Two members of the New People’s Army (NPA) were killed in a clash with military and police operatives in Barangay Bagacay, Palapag, Northern Samar on Saturday, June 20.

The fatalities were identified as Zaldy Meraya, alias Podyot and Bato, believed to be a finance officer of Squad 1, Front Committee (FC) 15, Sub-Regional Committee (SRC) Arctic, and his aide Bebe Tobino, alias Kidlat and Lawin, a member of Squad 1, Sandatahang Unit Pampropaganda (SYP) Platoon, FC15, SRC Arctic.

Information disclosed that while the government troops were on patrol and were approaching Barangay Bagacay when they encountered about six armed rebels led by Meraya.

A brief gun battle ensued at around 3:10 a.m. as the operatives were about to serve a warrant on Meraya for charges of multiple attempted murder. Authorities also seized two caliber .45 pistols.

The law enforcement operation was also launched as an offshoot of an encounter between 20 soldiers and the NPA in the vicinity of Sitio Cag-anibong of the same barangay six days before, wherein combat tracking was conducted by the pursuing troops that led them to the safe house of the accused.

Northern Samar Police Provincial Director Col. Reynaldo Dela Cruz lauded the determination and bravery of the troops that resulted in the successful operation against the NPA, which has continuously disturbed the lives of the poor families in the province.

“I urge the local communities to continue supporting the government’s endeavors to suppress all forms of terrorism in order to maintain peace in the province of Northern Samar,” Dela Cruz said.

New coast guard chief aims to strengthen agency’s capacity

From the Manila Bulletin (Jun 21, 2020): New coast guard chief aims to strengthen agency’s capacity (By Hanah Tabios)

Newly installed Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Commandant Vice Admiral George Ursabia, Jr. is aiming to reach the agency’s 10,000 recruitment goal before the year ends, amid increasing demands for their service, especially now that the rainy season is fast approaching.

Philippine Coast Guard (MANILA BULLETIN)

In an interview over DZBB on Sunday, June 21, the new coast guard chief said he is still appealing to President Rodrigo Duterte to approve the remaining 8,500 slots from his target number, as 1,500 coast guard job opportunities have already been approved.

As the rainy season looms, Ursabia said the agency’s capacity must also be improved as they are also one of the leading personnel who battles with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

As of June 21, he said 49 coast guard personnel have already tested positive for COVID-19—30 have already recovered, while the remaining 19 remains under observation.

The PCG has been in charge of taking swab samples from repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to be tested for COVID-19.

Aside from that, the agency continues to respond to the demands of the pandemic, including the transport of locally stranded individuals (LSIs) on top of their preparation for the wet season.

“While we are focusing our efforts in fighting this COVID-19 pandemic, hindi naman namin binitawan yung isa rin sa importante naming mandato at ito ay preparing for the typhoon season. Andyan pa rin yung mga DRGs namin o yung mga disaster response groups namin in place (we are not setting aside our important mandate and that is to prepare for the typhoon season. We have the disaster response groups in place),” he said, citing that all 76 stations of PCG and 380 substations are equipped with necessary tools in case of a weather disturbance.

But with some unprecedented events, such as the common search and rescue missions of missing fisher folks, he said capacitating the PCG by means of adding its personnel number is very important.

“Paramihan talaga ang coast guard kasi kailangan (We should add more coast guard personnel because what we need is) one coast guard for every kilometer of a coastline. Since our coastline is 37,000 kilometers in total length, more or less the coast guard should be 37,000 strong,” he added.

Meanwhile, Ursabia said he is also eyeing to acquire two more offshore patrol vessels and a RoRo-type commercial vessel for faster crisis response. This, as many LSIs have been trapped in the metropolis amid the sudden border closures. Majority of them have now resorted to sell their belongings just to aid hunger or worse, a few have died or have been critically ill while waiting to be reunited with their families in their respective provinces.

Ursabia said they are now in talks with the French government for the acquisition plans, and hoping to get in touch with the US government as well.

“Kailangan natin magtransport, hindi lang ng mga tao, pati yung mga relief goods saka yung medisina. At least meron tayong sariling barko sa gobyerno through the coast guard para magtransport nito kaagad agad ‘pag merong mga krisis (We need to transport, not only people, but also relief goods and medicines. With this, at least the government has its own vessel through the coast guard to transport all of these immediately during a crisis),” he said.

Once the whole of metropolis transitions into a modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), the PCG commandant also said sea operations will also resume, but on a 50 percent operational capacity. Strict health and safety protocols would also be implemented to prevent a potential COVID-19 outbreak.

Soldiers foil ASG bomb plot on Rizal’s birthday in Basilan

From the Manila Bulletin (Jun 21, 2020): Soldiers foil ASG bomb plot on Rizal’s birthday in Basilan (By Martin Sadongdong)

A bomb plot supposedly set to target a village in Ungkaya Pukan, Basilan on Dr. Jose Rizal’s birthday last Friday, June 19, has been foiled by security forces through the help of the residents.

In a press statement on Sunday, Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana, commander of Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom), said elements of Joint Task Force (JTF) Basilan recovered various bomb components in a law enforcement operation in Barangay Bohe.

He said the task force acted on reliable information from villagers who tipped them of the terror plan.

The plot was attributed to the remnants of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) faction led by Furuji Indama who are still being hunted by the military in Basilan.

“While our troops continuously operate to disrupt the enemy’s ploys, we urge everyone to be more vigilant,” Sobejana said.

“Let us continue to help one another to prevent the terrorists from sowing terror in the communities,” he added.

The troops seized three 60mm mortar unexploded ordnances (UXOs) with wires, an improvised blasting cap, and a commercial radio converted into a remote control switch.

The recovered bomb components were turned over to the 39th Explosive Ordnance Division Team based in the province for proper disposition.

Meanwhile, Brigadier General Fernando Reyeg, commander of JTF Basilan, extended his appreciation to the people of Basilan for helping the military fight terrorist and local threat groups.

“Truly, the participation of the populace is very vital in our efforts against the local terrorist group and other lawless elements,” Reyeg said.