Friday, July 17, 2020

Body of Negrense rebel discovered

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jul 17, 2020): Body of Negrense rebel discovered

The decomposing body of a Negrense, who had joined the New People’s Army, was discovered on Wednesday near a rebel camp seized by 47th Infantry Battalion soldiers in Sitio Tubod Soso, Brgy. Rizal, Batuan town in Bohol, its Civil Military Operations officer 1Lt. Elma Grace Remonde said yesterday.

identified him only through his aliases as Ka Willy, Dax and Ar- Ar, 43, through the revelation of his former comrade, Crisologo “Sam” Guimaras, who was captured in an encounter with 47IB troopers on June 26 in Brgy. Rizal, Sevilla town of Bohol.

Guimaras told Remonde that Ka Willy served as the vice-squad leader of Squad 3, Bohol Provincial Party Committee.

Since Ka Willy was not allowed by his immediate superior, Ka Compoc or Kumander Cobra, to take a leave to visit his family in Negros, whom he had not seen for nine years after joining the NPA, he had killed himself on August 9 last year out of desperation, Remonde said.

The decomposing body of Ka Willy, whose true identity has yet to be established by authorities, was exhumed by the SOCO (Scene Of the Crime Operatives) of the Bohol Police Provincial Office who were assisted by the 47IB and troopers of the Bohol PNP Provincial Mobile Force Company.

The 47IB is under the supervision of the 302nd Infantry Brigade stationed at Camp Leon Kilat in Tanjay City, Negros Oriental.

2 NPA members surrender in Benguet on Cordillera Day

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 17, 2020): 2 NPA members surrender in Benguet on Cordillera Day (By Redjie Melvic M. Cawis)

Featured Image

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet, July 17(PIA) -- The Benguet Provincial Police Office presented two rebels who surrendered to government authorities at the Benguet PPO Headquarters at the Camp Bado Dangwa here on July 15 as the Cordillera Administratove Region commemorated its 33rd foundation anniversary.

Benguet PPO Director PCol. Elmer Ragay, Police Regional Office – Cordillera Deputy Regional Director for Operations PCol. John Chua and Department of the Interior and Local Governemnt -Benguet Director Rufina Fegcan
presented “Ka Rebo” and “Ka Kababayan” who returned back to the folds of the law thru the programs of the Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.

Benguet Provincial Police Office Director PCol. Elmer Ragay, Police Regional Office – Cordillera Deputy Regional Director for Operations PCol. John Chua and DILG-Benguet Director Rufina Fegcan presented “Ka Rebo” and “Ka Kababayan” who returned to the folds of the law on July 15, 2020 as the Cordillera Region celebrated its 33rd foundation anniversary.(RMC- PIA CAR)

“Ka Rebo” was an active member of the New People’s Army who became a team leader under the Kilusang Larangan Guerilla (KLG) BAGGAS operating in the areas of Upper Tabuk, Lubuagan and Tanudan in Kalinga and eventually moving to the KLG AMPIS operating in Tubo in Abra, Tadian in Mountain Province and Quirino in Ilocos Sur. He turned over a caliber 45 pistol.

“Ka Kabayan” who was also a team leader under the KLG MARCO operating in the areas of Mountain Province particularly in Sadanga and Bontoc. He also turned over an M14 rifle.

The two said that they decided to surrender due to the hardships, hunger and exhaustion they experienced in the hinterlands of the Cordilleras.

“We decided to go down the mountains and surrender since we have been experiencing hardships and hunger. We are exposed to various elements such as mosquitoes, the heat of the sun and also being soaked under the rain. Life in the mountains being a rebel is very hard,” Ka Rebo said in the vernacular.

Ragay said the two were encouraged by their former comrades who have earlier surrendered. He added they are among the four rebels who surrendered this month.

The surrender of the two rebels was thru the efforts of the Regional and Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, the Benguet PPO, PRO-Cor, Armed Forces of the Philippines, NICA and the different barangay and municipal local government units.

Fegcan thanked the rebel returnees for returning back to the folds of the law and doing it in time for the 33rd Foundation Day celebration of the Cordillera Administrative Region on July 15.

“We are celebrating the Cordillera Day meaningfully because we have our brothers from the mountains who are coming down and leaving their old ways and now they are back to the mainstream society,” Fegcan said.

Chua said the recent surrender of the rebels in the different provinces of the Cordillera shows the efficiency of ELCAC or the whole-of-a-nation approach against the communist terrorist groups in the region.

This is one of the effects of the recent surrender to the government of Anne Margarette Tauli, an alleged high ranking member of the Communist Party of the Philippines. The rebels are affected and now they are surrendering to government forces, he said.

The rebel returnees will be processed under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) in order to receive welfare assistance, livelihood assistance, and incentives for the surrendered firearms. (JDP/RMC- PIA CAR)

Chief of new Army brigade in Surigao Norte vows to crush NPA

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 17, 2020): Chief of new Army brigade in Surigao Norte vows to crush NPA (By Alexander Lopez)

NEW COMMANDER. Col. George L. Banzon assumes his post as new commander of the Army's 901st Infantry Brigade in a ceremony on Wednesday (July 15, 2020) in Barangay Sta. Cruz, Placer, Surigao del Norte. The brigade was assigned to Caraga from Soccsksargen in June to intensify the government's fight against the communist guerillas. (Photo courtesy of 901Bde)

The chief of the newly-assigned 901st Infantry Brigade (901Bde) in Surigao del Norte has vowed to "decisively address" the threat of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) in the region.

In a statement to the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Friday,
Col. George L. Banzon said the recent deployment of the brigade to the Caraga region is "attuned to the President’s (Rodrigo R. Duterte) marching order to end the local communist armed conflict in the country."

Based in the Surigao del Norte town of Placer, 901Bde welcomed Banzon as its new commander in a turn-over ceremony on Wednesday.

Banzon replaced Brig. Gen. Gabriel C. Viray III in a ceremony presided by Maj. Gen. Henry A. Robinson Jr., commander of the Army's 9th Infantry Division.

The 901Bde was deployed in Caraga region last month from Region 12 (Soccsksargen) to strengthen the government's drive in ending the local communist armed conflict in the area.
The brigade covers the provinces of Surigao del Norte including Siargao Island, part of Surigao del Sur, part of Agusan del Norte, and Dinagat Islands.

Two battalions of the Army are now under the operational control of 901Bde: the 29th Infantry Battalion based in Cabadbaran City, Agusan del Norte, and the 30th Infantry Battalion based in Sta. Cruz, Placer, Surigao del Norte.

Banzon underscored the importance of EO 70, saying it promotes participatory governance, "the synergy of government development efforts and enhancing the participation and responsibilities of local government units."

“It is along that context that I humbly submit myself to the challenges, responsibility, and accountability of being the brigade commander of the 901Bde,” Banzon said, as he thanked Viray for “safely bringing the 901Bde to its new home in Placer, Surigao del Norte.”

He also told the brigade servicemen that all orders and directives issued by the former commander will remain in effect, "unless later rescinded," even as he asked for their support.

He also urged the leaders of Surigao del Norte and the rest of the provinces under the jurisdiction of the brigade to support all the efforts and initiatives of the Army.

Likewise, he called on the remaining NPA combatants in the area to surrender and avail of the programs and services being offered by the government.

Banzon is a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Tanglaw Diwa Class of 1992 and once served as the Chief of Unified Command Staff of the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) in Panacan, Davao City and the commander of the 58th Infantry Battalion in Misamis Oriental.

He was born and raised in Surigao del Norte.

NorMin police apologizes over 'terror tag' of activists

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 17, 2020): NorMin police apologizes over 'terror tag' of activists (By Nef Luczon)

TERROR TAG GONE WRONG. The now-deleted infographic made by the Malaybalay City Police in Bukidnon that was posted on its Facebook page. The Northern Mindanao police on Friday (July 17, 2020) issued a public apology following an outcry from activists and journalists. (Image courtesy of the Malaybalay City Police Office)

The Police Regional Office (PRO) 10 (Northern Mindanao) on Friday issued an apology over an infographic posted by the Malaybalay City Police Station (MCPS) on its Facebook page claiming that the activists are supporters of terrorism.

Lt. Col. Mardy Hortillosa, PRO-10 spokesperson, said the regional police has already ordered the MCPS to delete the controversial post, which showed faces of activists holding placards calling for the junking of the Anti-Terror Law and not to shut down the ABS-CBN media network.

Hortillosa said the police office was also asked to explain why they made the infographic, which caused a stir among activist groups and prompted criticisms from community journalists.

"We have already issued a directive not to touch that issue since it's not under our power. We ask apology to ABS-CBN employees since we know how hard for them to think when they will settle for a living in the coming days. Airing grievances is not a crime. Doing something bad during the rally against the properties and individuals can be considered a crime. Again, our sincere apology to our friends from ABS-CBN and the whole media in general. We will always protect your press freedom," he told local reporters in an online interview.

ABS-CBN employees and supporters, including media practitioners, reacted to the message as they believed it insinuated that the police are targeting those who are against the network's closure.

In a follow-up statement on the same day, PRO-10 reiterated its public apology and assured that the MCPS would be held accountable.

"As a member of the police force, we really respect the right of expression of the people and the press freedom and we stand by it to protect such freedom. No media in the region was deprived of the said right, including the rallyists, even without permits. This action of our personnel will be investigated and let them explain what's their main message of the said post," the statement read.

"Rest assured that our regional director will always protect the press freedom, that is why the media Viber group was implemented under his leadership. We are not perfect, some of us made mistakes but it was corrected on the spot. Again, PRO-10 is committed to protecting the right of every citizen," it added.

Suporta sa Kapamilya, a newly created Mindanao media support group for ABS-CBN colleagues, issued a statement of condemnation, calling the post "deplorable" and reeks of red-tagging.

"Red-tagging does not serve and protect civilians but instead endanger(s) them and their families. It would do well for Northern Mindanao police to review the 1987 Constitution. Practicing our right to free speech is neither an act of rebellion nor terrorism," the group said.

Suporta sa Kapamilya is composed of 155 journalists and media workers, based in the cities of Davao, General Santos, Iligan, Zamboanga, Dipolog, and this city, including the provinces of Basilan, Zamboanga-Sibugay, and Lanao del Norte.

53IB fetes personnel for 'exemplary combat' feat

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 17, 2020): 53IB fetes personnel for 'exemplary combat' feat (By Teofilo Garcia, Jr.)

HONORED. Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera, commander of the 53rd Infantry Battalion, poses with one of the soldier-awardees during a ceremony honoring a squad of the battalion's Bravo Company on Friday (July 17, 2020) for their "heroic achievement" in the fight against the communist New People's Army in Zamboanga del Norte. The soldiers managed to recover high-powered firearms and an improvised explosive device during a firefight with communist guerillas in Siayan town, Zamboanga del Norte on July 11, 2020. (Photo courtesy of 53IB)

The Army’s 53rd Infantry Battalion (53IB) on Friday commended a squad of its Bravo Company for their “heroic achievement” in a clash against the communist New People’s Army (NPA) in Zamboanga del Norte.

Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera, 53IB commander, said the nine-man squad managed to recover high-powered firearms and an improvised explosive device (IED) during a firefight with the rebels in Barangay Macasing, Siayan, Zamboanga del Norte on July 11.

For security reasons, he was unable to release the identities of the soldiers, who received certificates of recognition and letters of commendation.

Herrera led the ceremony in Camp Sabido that houses the battalion headquarters in Guipos, Zamboanga del Sur.

Among the high-powered firearms recovered were a caliber .50 sniper rifle (Barrett), a rocket-propelled grenade, an improvised shotgun, an M-16 rifle, and a 15-kg. IED fashioned out as a landmine.

Herrera said the "communist terrorists" involved in the clash belong to the NPA's Main Regional Guerilla Unit (MRGU) under the Western Mindanao Regional Party Committee (WMRPC).

He said the squad, headed by a sergeant, demonstrated "outstanding performance and dedication to duty."

AFP med units can care for Covid-19 patients: Lorenzana

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 17, 2020): AFP med units can care for Covid-19 patients: Lorenzana (By Priam Nepomuceno)

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. (File photo)

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) can activate field hospitals and deploy medical units to augment public and private hospitals treating people infected with the coronavirus virus disease (Covid-19) should the need arises.

"We can but we may need additional personnel. Our hospitals are also now treating Covid-19 patients and we have also fielded two teams to Cebu," Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a message Thursday night when asked if the military can lend a hand should the number of Covid-19 patients continue to rise.

As of July 16, Covid-19 cases in the country have reached 61,266, with 21,440 recoveries and 1,643 deaths.

Last June 28, the AFP deployed a military medical team composed of nine doctors, 10 nurses, and 13 medical aides in Cebu to help in ongoing efforts to contain the spike of Covid-19 cases in the city.

Should the situation call for it, then Lorenzana said the AFP can respond to the situation immediately.

"Yes, we can," he added.

The AFP has already deployed 405 medical personnel in various emergency quarantine facilities nationwide, including the Ninoy Aquino Stadium, World Trade Center, and Rizal Memorial Coliseum in Metro Manila.

Over 1,500 doctors, nurses, and military medical auxiliary are also deployed in military treatment facilities in the country.

Army holds 'virtual' meet on ops, organizational goals

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 17, 2020): Army holds 'virtual' meet on ops, organizational goals (By Priam Nepomuceno)  July 17, 2020, 2:29 pm

VIRTUAL MEETING. Army chief, Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay (in screen) leads the virtual command conference of Army officials in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City on Thursday (July 16, 2020). The command conference discussed measures to achieve operational and organizational excellence, pursue the Army modernization program, and work closely with partners and stakeholders. (Photo courtesy of the Army Chief Public Affairs Office)

Despite the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, ranking Philippine Army (PA) leaders met and discussed operational and organizational matters in a "virtual" command conference on Thursday.

During the virtual meeting, PA chief, Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay instructed senior leaders on how to achieve operational and organizational excellence, pursue the Army modernization program, and work closely with partners and stakeholders, aside from uplifting the well-being of their personnel.

Also presented were the accomplishments of the PA for the past six months and other goals that the service seeks to attain before the end of the year.

"As one Team Army, let us continue sustaining our gains in our internal security operation campaigns. Together, we will work with unwavering resolve to attain our strategic direction of sustaining the momentum incapacitating the Army towards greater mission effectiveness,” he said.

Present "virtually" during this meeting made possible by video teleconferencing were the commanders and chiefs of the Functional Commands, Ground Operating Units, Specialty Enablers, Army-wide Service Support, Service Units, and Headquarters Philippine Army Chiefs of Offices.

Anti-terror law takes effect July 18: DOJ

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 17, 2020): Anti-terror law takes effect July 18: DOJ (By Benjamin Pulta)

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Friday said Republic Act 11479, or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, will take effect on Saturday.

In a message to reporters, Guevarra said the effectivity clause of the law states that it shall take effect 15 days after its publication in the Official Gazette or in at least two newspapers of general circulation.

"Considering that the law was published on July 3, it will take effect on July 18, which is the 15th day. This is in accordance with the ruling of the Supreme Court in 'People vs Nicolas', among others. We rectify our earlier statement that the law will take effect after the 15th day, or on July 19," he said.

RA 11479, which seeks to give the country more teeth in curbing terrorism, amends RA 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007.

The Supreme Court (SC) earlier consolidated the petitions challenging the constitutionality of the law.

Cases were filed by the former head of the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel Rudolph Philip B. Jurado, Christian S. Monsod, Felicitas A. Aquino, and the Ateneo Human Rights Center, two labor groups represented by the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) and the Pro-Labor Legal Assistance Center (PLACE), and the Sanlakas party-list.

The first four cases were filed by the group of lawyers Howard Calleja and former education secretary Armin Luistro, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, the group of law dean Mel Sta. Maria and several professors of the Far Eastern University (FEU), and the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives led by Bayan Muna Party-List Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate.

The SC earlier required the Office of the President, several agencies under the executive department, and both houses of Congress to comment on the last four petitions seeking to stop the enforcement of the law starting July 19.

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) which will file the comments for the Office of the President and the agencies under the executive department has reportedly received the SC resolution requiring comment on the first four cases.

However, it is not known yet whether the OSG would file a motion for extension of time to file the comment because of the filing of the four other petitions.

313 PCG frontline personnel infected with Covid-19

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 17, 2020): 313 PCG frontline personnel infected with Covid-19 (By Raymond Carl Dela Cruz)

WORKING IN THE FRONTLINES. An officer of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) takes temperature readings of locally-stranded individuals (LSI) upon their disembarkation from BRP Cape EngaƱo in Bohol on July 13, 2020. The PCG reported on Friday (July 17, 2020) that 313 of its frontline personnel have been infected with the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). (Photo courtesy of PCG) 

A total of 313 officers and other frontline personnel of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) have tested positive of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), according to a ranking official on Friday.

In a radio interview over DZBB, PCG Spokesperson, Commodore Armando Balilo, said the number of cases was reported on Thursday with most of those infected involved in the government’s response against Covid-19.

“Karamihan sa kanila ay mga swabbers sa airport, bus drivers sa ‘Libreng Sakay’ program ng DOTr [Department of Transportation], mga crew ng barko na naghahatid ng LSIs [locally stranded individuals], maski mga personnel sa quarantine control checkpoints at dito sa headquarters (Most of them were swabbers at the airport, bus drivers for the DOTr’s ‘Free Ride’ program, part of ship crews who were bringing LSIs home, as well as quarantine checkpoint personnel and some were working here at the PCG headquarters),” Balilo said.

He said that while the PCG exercised care and precautions to avoid infections among its personnel, the possibility for its personnel to get infected was high due to the PCG’s presence in numerous fronts against Covid-19. Out of the 16,912 PCG personnel, 1,776 are commissioned officers.

“Maingat naman tayo. Lahat ng personnel natin sumusunod sa health protocols at laging naka-PPE [personal protective equipment]. Hindi lang talaga maiwasan ang exposure dahil nasa front line tayo (We were cautious. All of our personnel followed health protocols and were wearing PPEs. But exposure is unavoidable because we’re working in the front lines),” Balilo said.

While most of those infected are asymptomatic, he said two are in critical condition while the rest are recuperating at designated quarantine facilities for front line workers.

“Malalakas ang katawan ng tropa, kaya karamihan sa mga nag-positive, asymptomatic. Pero hindi po tayo nagpapakampatante (Our troops are strong, so most of those infected are asymptomatic. But we’re not going to get reckless),” Balilo said.

He said the health and welfare of PCG personnel continue to be the priority of PCG Commandant Vice Admiral George Ursabia, Jr., with support from DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade.

“Kami ay nanalangin na tayo ay ingatan at hindi na madagdagan pa yung mga nahahawa para patuloy tayong makapaglingkod sa bayan (We’re praying that we’ll be blessed and that the number of infected will not increase further so we can continue serving),” Balilo said.

Currently, he said the PCG is bolstering its ranks and has recruited more health practitioners—most of whom were recent graduates.

“Naka-standby sila kung kakailanganin ng dagdag na manpower para tuluy-tuloy ang ating serbisyo sa kasagsagan ng pandemiya (They are on standby, so, if we’re going to need more manpower, we can continue our service in the midst of the pandemic),” Balilo said.