Tuesday, August 11, 2020

India and the South China Sea: What the Philippines can Expect

From the Geopolitical Monitor (Aug 10): India and the South China Sea: What the Philippines can Expect (By Joshua Bernard B. Espeña)

On 2 July 2020, Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenza said that India intends to increase its Freedom of Navigation (FON) activities in the South China Sea (SCS). This adds to the pushback against China’s dominance of the disputed waters of the South China Sea. Lorenzana welcomes Indian presence in the SCS as the Philippines tries to carve diversified actions to prevent China from dominating the said area.

But what should the Philippines actually expect from India’s desire for increased FON in the SCS?

India’s ‘Act East’ policy was primarily inspired to balance against China. Yet, Prime Minister Modi has maintained reservations over the costs and benefits of the endeavor. But following the June 2020 border clash between India and China at the Line of Actual of Control (LAC) of the Ladakh region, India has formed a game-changing resolve against the Chinese threat. One result has been its gravitation toward the United States and its Japanese and Australian allies through the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue – or the Quad.

The United States has become increasingly assertive against Chinese revisionism in the Indo-Pacific. On 13 July 2020, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that the United States would not allow China to treat the South China Sea as its “maritime empire,” thus casting Washington as the leading defender of the 2016 Arbitral Tribunal decision. On July 17, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs stated that the South China Sea is “part of the global commons” and that the Indian government stands for FON. Under the Quad format, India has entered into deeper intelligence-sharing and intensified naval exercises to challenge Chinese activities in the Indo-Pacific.

Aside from its support for FON and ongoing sea lane access, India has vested interests in the South China Sea, notably its oil exploration project with Vietnam in the Spratly Islands since 2013. China has repeatedly rejected this exploration arguing for its historic rights. Since then, India and Vietnam have maintained close contact in monitoring Chinese incursions in the area.

With India leaning toward the Quad and its stand for the South China Sea, Southeast Asia, including the Philippines, cannot expect a free lunch from India. The Philippines can expect both benefits and costs concerning its interests in the South China Sea.

On the one hand, the Indian stance in favor of FON provides a legal multiplier for Manila concerning the 2016 Arbitral Ruling. But this is difficult for the meantime as long as Duterte remains in office. The Philippines has set aside the 2016 Arbitral Ruling for a promised joint oil and natural gas exploration with China. But this prospect, as well as other investments, have yet to materialize.

On the other hand, India’s interest in joint exploration with Vietnam puts the Philippines at a disadvantage. While the 2016 Arbitral Ruling is an exclusive award given to Manila over Beijing, other states have adopted it for their own self-interests, thanks to Duterte’s ongoing appeasement of China.

Even the ASEAN Code of Conduct (COC) is unlikely to work out for the Philippines since China remains the most powerful state at the negotiating table. Meanwhile, the Philippines’ Malampaya Gas Field is yet to yield optimum results in securing national energy interests. The energy security plan became yet more endangered when Duterte’s China-friendly ally Dennis Uy seized a forty-five per cent ownership stake of said gas field.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) remains relatively weak in terms of defending Manila’s sovereign claims in the SCS against harassment directed at vessels and Filipino fishermen, despite the arrival of its new vessels. Moreover, Duterte’s command guidance has made things worse by disseminating defeatist narratives toward China. In this regard, the AFP’s external defense mission would be rendered nearly useless – in spirit – given the prevalence of Chinese grey zone operations.

In spite of this, all is not lost for the Philippines. For such a time, the Philippine defense concept is tied with its security alliance with the US. Even though Duterte has made remarks about ending the alliance, the AFP has expressed disapproval. Duterte’s threat to end the 1997 Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) has also been suspended in the meantime due to ‘developments’ that occurred in the region.

As for India’s increased FON activities, their effect would be negligible for now as India is already spread thin in its own backyard. But these limits can be mitigated by the Quad’s involvement – and the Philippines would have to watch for such a development. While the Quad is yet to conduct FON in the SCS, the possibility is nevertheless there.

To avoid the tragedy of Chinese revisionism and complex Indian entanglement in the South China Sea, the Philippines would have to affirm its relations with the Quad – especially its US ally – in the post-Duterte era. Manila’s National Security Policy (NSP) 2017-2022 insists that the defense of Philippine claims in the South China Sea includes developing capability and increasing its network with allies and partners. Accordingly, the Quad can provide Manila with equibalancing against Beijing while limiting any potential interference from Quad powers.


CPP/NPA-Eastern Visayas: On the NPA defensive in San Jose de Buan, Western Samar

Propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Aug 8, 2020): On the NPA defensive in San Jose de Buan, Western Samar

AUGUST 11, 2020

The New People’s Army in Eastern Visayas (Efren Martires Command or EMC) today reports that an NPA unit was raided by troops under the 87th Infantry Battalion last July 29 near Sitio Salvacion, Barangay San Nicolas, San Jose de Buan, Western Samar.

The said NPA unit was able to retaliate with gunfire. The firefight lasted for 30 minutes before Red fighters retreated to safety, with only one suffering slight injuries. Enemy troops confiscated three M-16 rifles, two KG rifles, and electronic gadgets, among others.

The enemy’s strike operation is part of the massive combat operations by up to seven combat units of the 8th Infantry Division in San Jose de Buan and nearby towns of Matuguinao, San Jorge, Motiong, Paranas, and Can-avid in Eastern Samar, which began since the last week of May. Fascist AFP troops have been encamped inside dozens of barrios including Sitio Salvacion to conduct combat-intelligence-psychological warfare operations against the masses. They have illegally arrested peasants, harassed and forced residents to surrender as members of the NPA, and let their speakers blare with anti-communist propaganda. In less than a month, they fired at least 88 bullets of mortar towards the local peasants’ farmlands without hitting a single Red fighter and risking injuring individuals and damaging civilian property.

The 8th ID was also enlisted to conduct clearing operations for a large-scale mining project for bauxite by companies under Marcventures Holdings Incorporated. Dozens of barrios within the militarized towns are part of this project. The large scale miners enlisted the military’s help because they know that the residents can launch a mass campaign to prevent the project from causing irreversible ecological destruction and displacement of their livelihood.

In this light, the EMC vehemently denies the allegation of the AFP that the NPA unit was “extorting money and food supply” at the time of the raid. This malicious and oft-recycled lie is an attempt to try and cover up their intensified military operations and human rights violations in the area. Commanders Lt. Col. Reynaldo Balido Jr. of the 87th IB and Maj. Gen. Pio Diñoso III of the 8th ID must be denounced for this regurgitation and for twisting and exaggerating the details of the military action.

This latest defensive will not deter the NPA in Western Samar and elsewhere in Eastern Visayas from continuing to defend the people from the fascist attacks of the AFP and from upholding the policy of the revolutionary movement against large-scale and destructive mining.#

WESTMINCOM: 5 LTG supporters nabbed in Sulu

Posted to the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) Facebook Page (Aug 11, 2020):  5 LTG supporters nabbed in Sulu

Combined elements of the 35th Infantry Battalion and the PNP apprehended five local terrorist group supporters in Busbus, Jolo, Sulu at 1:09 a.m., August 11, 2020.

“Troops were acting on a report received of the presence of Mundi Sawadjaan roaming around in Busbus accompanied by armed group,” said Maj. Gen. Corleto Vinluan, JTF Sulu Commander.

While conducting clearing operations on the said barangay, operating troops apprehended Alsamer Kasim, 26; Kasmer Kasim, 18; Kerwin Asjada, 25; Denrasher Ahadan Avestruz, 18; and Sulmeser Kasim, 22.

Seized from said personalities were one G1 rifle, one Cal. 45, one shotgun, one M14 rifle, one Cal. 30mm LMG, and nine M4 long empty magazines.

“This accomplishment is attributed to the troops of JTF Sulu, Metro Jolo Interagency Task Group, barangay officials of Busbus, and the peace-loving Joloanos,” said Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, WestMinCom Commander.

“This is a clear manifestation that if we work together, we will surely reap better results. Rest assured that we will never stop supporting other law enforcement agencies in all their endeavors,” Lt. Gen. Sobejana added.

Apprehended individuals were properly turned over to Jolo MPS for proper disposition.


6th Infantry Division - Kampilan 601 Infantry - Unifier Brigade 602nd "Liberator" Brigade 603 Persuader Brigade 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade Unang Marinong Brigada Team Tabak Joint Task Force Basilan HARIBON TEAM Magbalantay Cmo11 Infantry Division "Alakdan Troopers" 2MBde Red Shield Gagandilan Siete 1102 Infantry "ganarul" Brigade 1st BCT Aegis Kwatromarinobrigada Sulu Jtf Tawi Tawi IndomalphiJoint Task Force Zamboanga Joint Task Force Zamboanga Virtual Center Unbeatable Ranger Battalion Matatag Battalion Tow Westmin Cmo Tow Westmin Pio Naval Forces Western Mindanao Cmou Western Mindanao Katapatan Pangkatihan-Dagatan 33rd Infantry Makabayan Battalion 57th Infantry Masikap Battalion 1st Mechanized Lakan Battalion 90th Infantry Bigkis Lahi Battalion Seventh Infantry Tapat Battalion Reliablecmo R Section BlackHawk Redskin 37IB - Conqueror Battalion 40 Infantry "Magiting" Battalion 2nd Mechanized Infantry-MAKASAGBattalion OnlyOurBest MbltFive 38th Infantry We Clear Battalion @Arvin John Gullos Encinas Breathe Heart Ruel Casanes Ar-ar Galvez Afman Rosales Jr. Antriosanjh Espenida NeneaSancus Princy Necessitas La Independencia Filipinas

Image may contain: text that says 'Jolo Patikul Indanan Maimbung Capua Omar Talipao OldPanamao Parang tuuk Kalingalan Caluang Pata Island Photo courtesy of facebook .com/afpwestmincom Jolo, Sulu'

AFP-CRS: Army rescues abandoned female NPA in Zamboanga del Norte clash

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook Page (Aug 11, 2020): Army rescues abandoned female NPA in Zamboanga del Norte clash

ABANDONED FEMALE NPA. An 18 year old, female member of the Communist NPA Terrorist (CNT) was rescued by the Army’s 97th Infantry KALASAGLAHI Battalion (97IB) after being wounded during an armed clash at Sitio Kasong, Barangay Midatag, Leon B Postigo, Zamboanga del Norte.

#AFPyoucanTRUST | www.afpcrs.com

Image may contain: 1 person, text that says '08AUGUST2020 ARMY RESCUES ABANDONED FEMALE NPA IN ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE CLASH "This isa manifestation that our troops is on the ground have high regards in the protection of human rights to include the lives of our enemies. Rest assure that the Tabak Division close coordination with the Local Government Units will provide necessary medical assistance to the rescued CPP-NPA." CPP-N PONIO MGEN GENEROSO PONIO PA Commander, Infantry Division, RTF ELCAC NTF ELCAC 口照照只 #AFPyoucanTRUST CRSAFP'

[The Civil Relations Service (CRS) is the unit of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that engages the public through its public information and community relations programs “to create a favorable atmosphere between the community and the AFP. The CRS is the equivalent of the Psychological Operations and Civil Affairs units of the US Army.]

AFP-CRS: Army, ELCAC Team Intensify CSP in IP, Tribes, Villages in CARAGA

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook Page (Aug 11, 2020): Army, ELCAC Team Intensify CSP in IP, Tribes, Villages in CARAGA

IP COMMUNITIES, STRENGTHENED. The 402nd Infantry (Stingers) Brigade supports the strengthening of IP communities in Caraga during the Inter Agency Visitations to Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples (ICCs/IPs) within its area of responsibility at Brgy Simbalan, Buenavista, Agusan del Norte and Brgy Salug, Esperanza, Agusan del Sur.

The visit aimed to gain first-hand knowledge on how the ICCs/IPs are coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, food security programs and progress in their ancestral domain management and the violence and human rights violations being perpetrated against the ICCs/IPs by the CPP-NPA Terrorists (CNTs).

#AFPyoucanTRUST | www.afpcrs.com

Image may contain: 1 person, text that says '09AUGUST2020 ARMY, ELCAC TEAM INTENSIFY CSP IP TRIBES, VILLAGES IN CARAGA "The strengthening communities will definitely prevent the presence CPP-NPAS ancestral domains. were deceived manipulated one major sources of recruits the CPP-NPA while their ancestral domains being utilized guerrilla bases and became safe haven for the CPP NPAS due ideal terrain and presence of mineral BGEN MAURITO LICUDINE PA Commander 402 Infantry Brigade,7ID RTF ELCAC NTF ELCAC #AFPyoucanTRUST CRSAFP'

[The Civil Relations Service (CRS) is the unit of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that engages the public through its public information and community relations programs “to create a favorable atmosphere between the community and the AFP. The CRS is the equivalent of the Psychological Operations and Civil Affairs units of the US Army.]

AFP-CRS: 17th Infantry Battalion responds to reports of CNTs in Brgy Masi, Rizal, Cagayan

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook Page (Aug 11, 2020): 17th Infantry Battalion responds to reports of CNTs in Brgy Masi, Rizal, Cagayan

CAMP MELCHOR F DELA CRUZ, Gamu, Isabela – The 17th Infantry Battalion, 5th Infantry (Star) Division, Philippine Army encountered more or less ten (10) CNTs on July 29, 2020 at 12:20 PM when they responded to the report of extortion activities of the Communist NPA Terrorists (CNTs) from a concern civilian in Brgy Masi and adjacent Barangays of Rizal, Cagayan.

Initial report of the incident disclosed that the firefight between the troops of 17IB and CNTs lasted for about ten minutes. There are no casualties on government troops while undetermined number of CNTs were seen withdrawing from the encounter site carrying wounded casualties with them.

LTC ANGELO C SAGUIGUIT (INF) PA, Commanding Officer of 17th Infantry Battalion, said that a hot pursuit operation is being conducted at the moment to capture these CNTs. He assured that they will exert all effort to destroy these terrorists to stop them from terrorizing the populace and protect the community against their extortion activities.

BGEN LAURENCE E MINA PA, Commander of 5th Infantry (Star) Division, expressed his sincere gratitude to the civilian populace who reported the presence of NPA extorting in their barangay. He also lauded the troops of 17IB who bravely faced the NPA terrorist in their desire to protect the community from NPA extortion.

“We are calling for the remaining NPAs to lay down their arms and give their families a chance to live with them in genuine peace. The government is more than willing to help those deceived NPAs thru E-CLIP. And for those who refuse to yield, the government forces are trained, equipped and motivated enough to stop them by all means necessary” BGEN MINA added.


[The Civil Relations Service (CRS) is the unit of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that engages the public through its public information and community relations programs “to create a favorable atmosphere between the community and the AFP. The CRS is the equivalent of the Psychological Operations and Civil Affairs units of the US Army.]


Kalinaw News: Weakened NPAs in Panay continue to suffer debacles

Posted to Kalinaw News (Aug 11, 2020): Weakened NPAs in Panay continue to suffer debacles

CAMP PERALTA, Jamindan, Capiz ⁠— Military recovers significant war material in an encounter against New People’s Army’s Central Front in the 3rd District of Iloilo morning of August 8.

The NPAs continue to lose ground against the 12th Infantry Battalion. The government forces recovered an M16 rifle, an Ak47, and a carbine among other materials.

The Communist Terrorists were extorting communities and were recruiting minors to join their ranks. Fed-up locals continue to report the unwanted presence of communist terrorist. This

Major General Eric Vinoya, the Commander of the 3rd Infantry (Spearhead) Division lauded the troops of the 12IB. He also cited the support of the local populace for giving accurate and timely information on the enemy’s illegal activities in the area.

“The NPAs in Panay are further weakened after the series of debacles against their movement. Their looming defeat is loud more than ever after the people’s realization of their lies and deception,” Maj Gen Vinoya stressed.

“Let us continue to protect our communities, our people and our homes from the true menace of the society and mutually pursue the peace-making endeavors towards long and lasting peace in Western and Central Visayas,” Vinoya added.

[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: kalinawnews@cmoregiment.com]


Kalinaw News: Training Championship Teams to Defeat NPA Terrorists

Posted to Kalinaw News (Aug 11, 2020): Training Championship Teams to Defeat NPA Terrorists

Guipos, ZDS – Military underwent physically and mentally rigorous leadership training at the 53rd Infantry Battalion Headquarters last August 9.

Sergeant Parame led the 10-man squad who took the Small Unit Leadership Development Training (SULDT).

The SULDT trained the Matapat Troopers and the small-unit leaders to provide effective Command and Control. They were also trained to be physically fit and mentally tough. It is important to be physically and mentally fit for the efficient and effective conduct of command and control.

Last July 11, the same squad successfully captured a .50-caliber Sniper Rifle (Barrett), Rocket-Propelled Grenade, improvised shotgun, one M16 Assault Rifle, and an estimated 15-kilogram Improvised Explosive Device (IED).

The said IED was used as a landmine in a firefight against the communist New People’s Army (NPA) terrorists’ Main Regional Guerilla Unit (MRGU) and HQ “KALAW” of Western Mindanao Regional Party Committee (WMRPC) in the boundary of Sitio Tumanong, Brgy Macasing and Sitio Lacnapan, Brgy Pange, both in Siayan town, Zamboanga del Norte.

In his inspirational message, 53rd IB Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera reiterated that the best weapon to defeat the enemy is a well-trained and well-motivated soldier.

Small Unit Operations utilizing squads, the smallest unit of the military organization, intends to accomplish missions where larger units may be ineffective and uneconomical.

[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: kalinawnews@cmoregiment.com]


Kalinaw News: 304 exploited local residents pledged support to the government

Posted to Kalinaw News (Aug 11, 2020): 304 exploited local residents pledged support to the government

BALER, Aurora- At least 304 Exploited Local Residents withdraw their support and membership to the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) in Nueva Ecija and pledge to support the government on Friday, August 7, 2020 in Barangay Siclong, Laur, Nueva Ecija.

Lt. Col. Reandrew P. Rubio, commander of 91st Infantry (Sinagtala) Battalion, Philippine Army based in Barangay Calabuanan, Baler, Aurora said that the mass surrender was facilitated by combined elements of community support program (CSP) of Alpha Company 91IB, 1st Provincial Mobile Force Company (1PMFC) of Nueva Ecija police provincial office (NEPPO), Laur Municipal Police Station, 303rd MC-RMFB3, and 22nd SAC, 2nd Bn SAF-PNP.

The mass surrender is also a result of a relentless and continued conduct of Community Support Program (CSP) and relentless focused military operations in the different CPP-NPA terrorists threatened areas in Nueva Ecija and Aurora.

The government troops facilitated the withdrawal of support and membership of three hundred four (304) Exploited Local Populace to CPP/NPA/NDF and its Communist Front Organizations (CFOs) at the said place at 2:30 p.m. today.

Rubio said that the voluntary surrender of said personalities will reduce the resource generation of the Komiteng Larangang Guerilla Sierra Madre (KLG) Sierra Madre of NPA amounting to Php10,000 and ten (10) sacks of rice on a monthly basis.

He added that the series of withdrawal of support and membership of exploited local residents, Alyansang Magbubukid na Nagkakaisa (ALMANA), Panlalawigang Alyansang Magbubukid ng Aurora (PAMANA) and other legal front organizations are strong evidenced that the implementation of National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC) is effective and working.

It is with great appreciation that Rubio welcomes the surrenderers and their oath of allegiance to the government.

“This very significant moment is a great contributory factor in our bid to finally attain peace in our communities. Through the joint operations with the PNP and the delivery of basic services by the local government units (LGUs) and non-government agencies (NGAs), the communist terrorist group (CTG) recruitment and recovery works are indeed affected and will eventually lead to the dismantling of KLG Sierra Madre,” Rubio said.

The activity was also witnessed by PNP, and Barangay Officials of the said Barangay.

After the activity, army 1st lieutenant Jun Niǹo Espora led the pledge of support and signing of commitment to the government followed by Burning of NPA flag, Peace Rally, and giving of food packs andEnhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP)leaflets, a complete package of assistance to Former Rebels (FRs).

Mr. Randy Caraan, who is one of the surrenderers said that the CPP-NPA-NDF promise them to give land but redowned to lies and deception.

“Pinangakuan kami na bibigyan ng lupa subalit wala kaming napala. Ginamit na propaganda ng CPP-NPA-NDF ang isyu sa lupa upang makapaglinlang at makapagrecruit ng masa,” Caraan said.

[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: kalinawnews@cmoregiment.com]


PNP also detains bodies of 4 slain rebels in Laguna, says rights group

From Rappler (Aug 11, 2020): PNP also detains bodies of 4 slain rebels in Laguna, says rights group (By RAMBO TALABONG)

The bodies of 4 dead New People's Army rebels have not been returned to their families days after they were killed

The remains of 4 slain New People's Army (NPA) rebels have not been returned to their families at least 3 days after their deaths, rights group Karapatan - Southern Tagalog said on Tuesday, August 11.

"Police elements from the PNP Police Regional Office 4A (PRO4A) and PNP Laguna have yet to give the remains of four slain rebels in Kalayaan, Laguna to their families, despite their presence and documentary proof solidifying their claim as immediate family,"
the group said in a statement.

Who are they?

Dubbed the "Kalayaan 4" for being killed in Kalayaan town, Laguna, the slain rebels were identified as:
  1. Dioscorro Cello,
  2. Rey Masinas,
  3. Alex Perdeguera, and
  4. Mario Caraig.
Cello, Masinas, and Perdeguera were killed in a clash with cops on August 2.

Caraig was killed by police during the serving of a search warrant on August 8. Police said he tried to shoot them. Witnesses said Caraig could not do that because he was recovering from a wound.

DEMAND SUBMITTED. Floriza Caraig-Abanico, the mother of Mario Caraig, ask police to release the body of her son. Photo from Karapatan 
Civilians also detained

Meanwhile, 3 civilians were detained by Laguna police for allegedly harboring Caraig.

They were identified as Virgilio Asedillo, Chloe Asedillo, and Chloe's husband. Karapatan said the 3 were held by police. The rights group said they were last seen in the Kalayaan Municipal Police Station.

Alarm over detentions

The detention of the bodies of the dead rebels in Laguna came even before the current controversial handling by police of the remains of slain Anakpawis chair Randall "Randy" Echanis.

"Has the PNP adopted a new role as undertakers of slain rebels, with their camps now turned as cemeteries? From the experience of the families of Kalayaan 4 to Randy Echanis, these are disturbing hostage-takings by the PNP," said Kyle Salgado, the spokesman of Karapatan - Southern Tagalog.


In Duterte’s Mindanao, journalists get threats and terror tag

From the periodically pro-CPP/NPA/NDF online publication the Davao Today (Aug 11, 2020): In Duterte’s Mindanao, journalists get threats and terror tag (By KATH M. CORTEZ)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – “Can’t remember the number of times,” says Julie Alipala, a veteran journalist based in Zamboanga about the threats she experienced for covering sensitive issues on human rights in Zamboanga, Sulu and Basilan areas.

“(There were) death threats verbally and through phone calls, an attempted abduction of my son, surveillance, phone bugging, banning me in coverages, online trolls attacking me , doxing, bullying, death threats, robbery at home (all my gadgets taken), and offering settlement money, etc.”

Alipala, who writes for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, has received these constant stream of threats since 2016. Covering issues such as peace, security and human rights in the region has earned her both trust and distrust.

It was one of her story in 2018, where she uncovered that the seven alleged Abu Sayyaf armed group killed by the military in Sulu were actually farmers, which made her a target online as she was accused as a paid propagandist of the ASG.

One Facebook page called “Huwag Tularan” (Don’t Emulate) even posted the photo of Alipala and labeled her a “terrorist”.

Alipala still remains unfazed, as she also takes to social media to engage the public on many issues.

Under siege since 2016
But the role of media as watchdog has been more under siege in President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration since 2016.

In the fourth year of the administration, the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Act and the attacks on members of the press from the shutdown of ABS-CBN and the libel conviction against Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, shows the authoritarian course of the president that includes attacking the free press which has been critically reporting issues in his administration.

“It is not easy to be a journalist in the Philippines, much less be a good one. Even to be a niggling journalist requires self-confidence and courage,” says Nonoy Espina, chairperson of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), which has been at the forefront of defending members of media and their institutions.

Despite the commitment of the administration to ensure the safety of journalist by establishing the Presidential Task Force on Media Safety; Philippine journalists are less than convinced.

NUJP’s Safety office has now recorded 16 killings of media workers all over the country with most cases happened in Mindanao.

READ: In 2019, attacks vs journalists continue

CDO journalists tagged
The attacks on journalists went too far for Vicente “Cong” Corrales, associate editor of the Mindanao Gold Star Daily, the longest running local daily in Cagayan de Oro.

Corrales and even his family were subject to online attacks in Facebook pages that labeled him and even his family as leaders or members of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

It even went far to claims that there is a P1 million bounty for the death of Corrales and false information that he is facing a criminal case of rape with murder of a child.

“It would be hypocritical of me to say it hasn’t affected the way I report. When I was red-tagged, at first, I felt what the veteran reporters have been talking about – the chilling effect. As an editor, I would shy away from any reports that deal with the peace process in general and any news stories that report on either the state forces or the armed insurgents,” Corrales admitted.

Current and past officers of the NUJP Cagayan de Oro were also tagged in flyers and posters posted last year in the city and other towns in Northern Mindanao, which branded them as CPP members.

The NUJP chapter along with other local rights defenders who were also red-tagged held dialogues with the city mayor and councilors, demanding local government action against those spreading misinformation.

Another dialogue was held with military officers from the 4th Infantry Division who denied any involvement in this propaganda.

Repression during pandemic

Even during the pandemic, the attacks on the media community had not stopped.

Erwin Mascariňas, a photojournalist based in Butuan City, received a subpoena in June from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for a cyber-libel case complaint. The complainant was not identified except the law firm that filed the petition was the Uy Cruz Lo Associates Law Firm in Davao City.

The law firm is linked to similar subpoenas sent to other social media users. It was believed the complaint on Mascariňas stemmed from a Facebook post showing the senator with three celebrities distributing assistance to fire victims in Butuan City last March that did not follow quarantine protocols. The subpoena was bothersome for Mascariňas that he stopped his social media news blog for a month.

Media freedom is still threatened with a law granting the president ad-hoc emergency powers which resulted to charges against journalists. Two community journalists in Luzon, Mario Batuigas, owner of Latigo News TV, and Amor Virata, a vlogger were accused of spreading “false information on the Covid-19 crisis” and alleged violation of section 6(6) of Republic Act No. 11469 or the ‘Bayanihan to Heal as One Act’.

They are facing the possibility of two month imprisonment and paying a P1 million fine.

Committed journalists
The government has also gone after alternative media or the independent media groups in the regions exposing more human rights issues.

Online news outfits Bulatlat, Altermidya Network and Kodao Productions have come under numerous cyber-attacks for carrying critical sectoral stories under the current administration. Recently, police seized copies of the alternative Filipino language paper Pinoy Weekly in the urban poor community in Pandi, Bulacan and deemed it as “subversive”.

The attacks on alternative media in Mindanao include the abduction of Davao Today columnist Gingging Valle, the online harassment and red-tagging of another Davao Today columnist Leo XL Fuentes and the online news outfits Kilab Multimedia and Breakaway Media.

“To be a committed journalist means you also have to survive the risks presented by a corrupt and intolerant government and its agencies, and other enemies of press freedom,” says Espina to journalists who want to strive in this field.

NUJP continues to battle for the media people’s protection from attacks. It is one of the petitioners to the Supreme Court on the Anti-Terrorism Act for its provisions that stifle media and people’s freedom of expression. Corrales and other journalists are also individual petitioners.


Detained Higaonon leader among petitioners vs Anti-Terror Law

From the periodically pro-CPP/NPA/NDF online publication the Davao Today (Aug 11, 2020): Detained Higaonon leader among petitioners vs Anti-Terror Law (By KEN E. CAGULA)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – One of the petitioners to the Supreme Court to declare the Anti-Terrorism Act is a lumad leader in Bukidnon who is detained and facing trumped-up charges and was previously charged with committing “acts of terrorism” under the Human Security Act.

Datu Jomorito Goaynon, chairperson of the Kalumbay Lumad Organization in Northern Mindanao, was arrested with peasant leader Ireneo Ubarde while aboard a jeep in Cagayan de Oro on January 28, 2019.

Goaynon, a Higaonon leader who has vocally stood up against militarization, mining, and plantation plunder in Northern Mindanao, was charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives, along with charges of attempted murder, frustrated murder, and rebellion. He was tagged as a “top leader of the New People’s Army”.

READ:Lumad,peasant leaders abducted,not arrested by CIDG,group claims

He was also charged for violation of the Human Security Act, the law that is now replaced by the Anti-Terrorism Act.

All the charges were later dismissed by the court for lack of merit, but Goaynon still remains in jail in Malaybalay, Bukidnon facing other charges of kidnapping, robbery, and arson, charges that his counsel, the Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in Mindanao said are trumped up to silence Lumad leaders.

Goaynon’s case shows how the extent of red-tagging by the military and the Anti-Terrorism Act makes legitimate struggles of the indigenous peoples become “illegal”.

“Calling us terrorists or criminals discredits our struggles’ legitimacy and undermines our right to self-determination to participate and voice our opinion ini matters that affect us,” said Beverly Longid, a Cordillera leader.

Longid is also a global coordinator of the International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) and is among the indigenous and Moro leaders who filed a petition before the Supreme Court last August 7. (link story)

Longid’s organization, the IPMDSL, noted that “human rights violations and criminalization of dissent is at its worst in the Philippines, which ranked as the worst place in Asia for land and environment defenders, and second in the world.”

“Aside from criminalization and trumped-up charges, many of our comrades have been extra-judicially killed and forcibly disappeared. Our cases you’ll hear today cannot overemphasize the terror law’s danger to our safety and security,” said Longid.

Longid herself has been tagged as a terrorist in smear campaigns by the state. She was among the 600 persons tagged in a petition by the Department of Justice to be declared as members of the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army as terrorists. The case against her and other indigenous leaders were later dropped.

With the recent commemoration of the International Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples on August 8, the petitioners demand the government to uphold the rights of the indigenous and justice for victims of discrimination and attacks.(davaotoday.com)


Pakistani national not being treated as a ‘terrorist’ case

From Palawan News (Aug 10, 2020): Pakistani national not being treated as a ‘terrorist’ case (By Jayra Joyce Taboada)

P/Lt. Col. Aristotle Castillo, officer-in-charge of the Puerto Princesa City Police Office (PPCPO), said in a press briefing Friday that they are not “labeling” Basher as a bomb maker with possible terrorism links.

Pakistani national Haroon Basher || File image

City police officials clarified they have not determined Pakistani national Haroon Basher to be a “terrorist”, after his arrest for alleged unlawful possession of a gun and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) on August 6 in Barangay San Jose.

P/Lt. Col. Aristotle Castillo, officer-in-charge of the Puerto Princesa City Police Office (PPCPO), said in a press briefing Friday that they are not “labeling” Basher as a bomb maker with possible terrorism links.

“Wala naman po kaming binabanggit na ito ay involved sa terrorism o terorista siya kasi, ang sabi ko nga ang treatment natin sa kanya sa ngayon ay ordinary violator ng batas. Nakunan siya ng explosives sa possession niya doon lang po tayo, wala pong iba, nasa investigation pa rin po tayo,” he said.

Castillo said his case is being treated as an “ordinary” violation of the law. However, they are still investigating why he would have a handgun and IEDs in his possession.

Declining to give more details about Basher and what led the police to seek authority to search his home for IEDs, Castillo said what is important for the public to know is that the Pakistani is not a threat to the peace and security in the city and province.

Further speculating that he is a terrorist without basis should be stopped as it will only sow fear amongst residents.

“Yong threat na sinasabi, sa ngayon wala po kaming nakikitang threat sa Puerto Princesa. That’s why hindi pa kami makapunta doon sa mas detalyado dahil sa validations na kinukuha namin at sa investigations. Generally, walang dapat ikatakot ang Puerto Princesa,” he said.

Anti-Crime Task Force (ACTF) chief Richard Ligad said they also do not want to speculate about what Basher will do with the IEDs.

“Sa atin una, nagulat tayo noong unang malaman natin pero ganoon pa man nagpapasalamat tayo sa efforts ng kapulisan at ibang mga kasali sa team na ito at least nalaman natin na may ganoon although sabi nga natin hindi pa natin alam kung ano ang purpose kung bakit meron siyang ganoong gamit,” he said.

“Ayaw nating mag-speculate… na pangunahan na kung ano ba yan siya member ba siya ng kung anong grupo? Ano ba yan or sariling palo niya yan or what… hindi natin pangungunahan ang kapulisan,” Ligad added.

‘Protracted war takes its toll’

From the Visayan Daily Star (Aug 11, 2020): ‘Protracted war takes its toll’

The “protracted war” of the New People’s Army is taking a toll on the lives of killed innocent civilians in Guihulngan City and some parts of Negros Island, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Col. Inocencio Pasaporte, the Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, said.
Pasaporte reported that seven civilians had been killed by the NPA in the cities of Himamaylan and Kabankalan, Negros Occidental, and Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental, since June up to this time, aside from the robbery and killing of Army Cpl. Mark Antony Quiocson, which he described as barbaric, merciless and inexcusable.

He identified the seven civilians killed by NPA rebels as Gilbert Garlit in Brgy Carol-an, Kabankalan City; Joelito Hilacio in Sitio Lunoy, Brgy. Carabalan and Randy Rociano in Sitio Asaran, Brgy. Buenavista, all in Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental, Deopanis Pacunla and Eldeson Martonillas in Brgy Luz, Guihulngan City, swine dealers Jimmer Fundador and Romeo Dungoan at Sitio Mandi-e, Brgy. Magsaysay also in Guihulngan City.

Pasaporte said that the killings sparked outrage and condemnation from the local officials led by Guihulngan City Mayor Carlo Jorge Joan Reyes, Vice Mayor Ernesto Reyes and Brgy. Luz Capt Emelia Same, who denounced the wanton violent killings and called on their constituents to stand up against the CPP-NPA.

He also said that the killings were quickly justified by the CPP-NPA through its sweet-coated propaganda statements to cover up the reality that innocent civilians were unjustly killed.

It is also in blatant violation of Human Rights, the Rule of Law and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), as well as a violation of the Anti-Terrorism Law, Pasaporte said.

The rebels justified the killings with fabricated lies while putting the blame on the AFP instead, Pasaporte said in a statement issued by the 303rd Infantry Brigade.

NPA vows more tactical offensives

From the Visayan Daily Star (Aug 11, 2020): NPA vows more tactical offensives

The New People’s Army Apolinario Gatmaitan Command has vowed to continue launching tactical offensives against the Philippine Army and the National Police in Negros Island.

This is in response to alleged illegal arrests and planting of evidence against civilians, who, the NPA claims, are victims of widespread militarization in the countryside.

Rebel spokesman Ka Juanito Magbanua claimed in a statement that they have recorded at least five cases of extra-judicial killings, 27 illegal arrests and planting of evidence, cases of physical torture of at least 50 enforced surrenders, and harassments in Negros island, since June.

Magbanua said these human rights violations perpetrated by the AFP/PNP are against innocents, mostly farmers, in their crackdown spree under the Executive Order 70, and the recently passed Terror Law despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

He added that the violent acts are in retaliation to the successful tactical offensives mounted by the NPA, most recently the ambushes in Himamaylan City and Ilog, Negros Occidental, and a partisan operation in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.

Magbanua also dismissed as baseless propaganda the claims from the military that the revolutionary movement about to fall in Negros Island. He said the NPA continues to operate at five guerilla fronts in Negros Island.

Samar Island Partnership for Peace and Development (SIPPAD) now member of RTF8-ELCAC TWG

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 11, 2020): Samar Island Partnership for Peace and Development (SIPPAD) now member of RTF8-ELCAC TWG (By Olive P. Tiu)

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TACLOBAN CITY, Aug. 10 (PIA) -- The Samar Island Partnership for Peace and Development known as SIPPAD and led by the three bishops in Samar Island, is now a member of the Technical Working Group (TWG) of the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF ELCAC).

This after Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Eduardo Del Rosario who is the Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security for Eastern Visayas and the Chairperson of the Regional Task Force 8-ELCAC, approved Resolution No. 1 Series of 2020 “A Resolution for the Inclusion of the Samar Island Partnership for Peace and Development (SIPPAD) as Regional Task Force 8- End Local Communist Armed Conflict Technical Working Group Member.”

To recall, during the July 7 meeting of the RTF8-ELCAC TWG, it passed a resolution for the SIPPAD to be considered to get one slot of the private sector representative in the Regional Task Force.

There are two slots for the private sector representative (PSR) in the RTF8-ELCAC TWG.

The guidelines in the creation of TF-ELCAC provide that in order to ensure the inter-agency convergence in the implementation of Programs, Projects and Activities in conflict-affected and vulnerable areas from the national down to the local levels, there is a need to create a similar task force in the region composed of members of the 12 clusters and with participation of the private sector.

Earlier, on February 21, 2020, during the 43rd Samar Island Partnership for Peace and Development (SIPPAD) meeting held at the St. Mary Academy in Borongan City, Eastern Samar, the three bishops of Samar Island accepted the challenge to become the lead convener of the localized peace talks with members of the New People’s Army (NPA).The prelates vowed to help end insurgency in the presence of Human Settlements and Urban Development Secretary Eduardo del Rosario, the Eastern Visayas cabinet officer for regional development and security, and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Carlito Galvez Jr.

SIPPAD is a partnership composed of different sectors – church, government, academe, civil society organizations, youth and media – in the provinces of Northern Samar, Eastern Samar and Samar headed by the three bishops in the Diocese of Borongan, Calbayog, and Catarman, who oversee the church in Samar provinces. (PIA-8)


E-CLIP poster-making contest promotes significance of peace, development

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 11, 2020): E-CLIP poster-making contest promotes significance of peace, development (By Freddie G. Lazaro)

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SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union, Aug. 11 (PIA) - - A poster showcasing the significance of peace for countrywide development bagged the first place of the maiden poster making contest spearheaded through the Enhanced - Comprehensive Livelihood Integration Program (E-CLIP) cluster of the Regional Task Force – Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) of Region 1.

The contest administered by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) in Region 1 gathered a total of 15 entries submitted by the local artists from the provinces of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, and Pangasinan.

DILG Region 1 Director James F. Fadrilan said that the poster-making contest on E-CLIP was launched to entice the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels to go back to the government.

“We initiated the conduct of the first poster making contest through the E-CLIP cluster of the RTF-ELCAC to effectively convey the sincerity of the national government on welcoming the return of the NPA rebels to the fold of law for achieving the lasting peace and development,” said Fadrilan.

The poster making contest was anchored on a theme: Nag-iisang adhikain para sa makabuluhan at progresibong kapayapaan.

“This contest is also an avenue to convey the message of the national government in its pursuit for genuine reconciliation and nation building,” he added.

The first place poster is a masterpiece of Christine Joy D. Visco, a fine arts student at the University of Northern Philippines (UNP) and resident of Laoag City, Ilocos Norte.

Visco’s poster represents the CPP-NPA-NDF and the Philippine government restoring allegiance for peace building. The dove symbolizes peace while the scale represents equality and balance of both for the rebels and the Philippine government for peacebuilding and whole of nation progress.

Other winners are the poster-entry of Joven Aaron D. Miguel of San Fernando City, La Union – second place; and the poster of Alvin P. Cendaña from Mangaldan, Pangasinan – third place.


The three winning entries of the first poster making contest administered by the DILG Region 1 through the E-CLIP cluster of the RTF-ELCAC. (From left) The first place poster entry of Christine Joy D. Visco, the second-place entry of Joven Aaron D. Miguel, and the third-place entry of Alvin P. Cendaña. (Photo by: FGL, PIA 1)

The first placer bagged a P10,000.00 cash prize; P6,000.00 cash prize for the second placer; and P4,000.00 for the third placer. (JCR/FGL, PIA 1)


Bayanihan—AFP’s inspiring way of building makeshift schools for IPs

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 11, 2020): Bayanihan—AFP’s inspiring way of building makeshift schools for IPs (By Ruby Leonora R. Balistoy)

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SAN FERNANDO, Bukidnon, August 11 (PIA) — In far Sitio Laburon, Matupe village in San Fernando town, teams of soldiers and parent volunteers who did the carpentry and masonry works of the makeshift schools recently witnessed the turnover of seven school buildings to the Department of Education (DepEd).

In a simple turnover ceremony, 89th Infantry Battalion (89IB) commander Lt. Col. Silas Trasmontero shared that they were sent on a very challenging mission of building schools for the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) in the hinterlands and fulfilled it through “Bayanihan (unity and cooperation).”

He explained that Bayanihan’s new example in the conduct of operations is ‘winning the peace’ by giving weight to the long-term and equally important effects of military operations on the people’s way of life and their well-being.

"It pains us to see grade schoolchildren walking more than three kilometers from home to school, more so during rainy days because they need to cross creeks and streams. These structures could help lighten our IP children's daily struggle just to be schooled. We want to send a stark message that the government is here for them,” Lt. Col. Trasmontero said.

He also announced that five of these seven makeshift schools were built in Sitio Balao, Sitio Malungon, and Sitio Lugawon in barangay Kalagangan; Sitio Binasalan in barangay Cabuling; and Sitio Laburon in barangay Matupe, all in far-off areas of San Fernando town. The other two are in Kitaotao municipality situated at Salumayag and Kalinawan sub-villages of barangay Digongan that border the two adjoining towns.

Lt. Col. Trasmontero also pointed out the help of local government units (LGUs), civil society organizations, private sector, and even communities, which is vital in working smoothly on the project in the hinterlands where insurgency thrives.

While describing that in the past, fine soldiery meant firing the guns of war and making a body count of enemies who fell in combat, 89IB civil-military operations officer Capt. Milbert Bonzato said the Philippine Army’s “Bayanihan spirit” measures a soldier’s success based on peacekeeping and peace building works being done on the ground.

"There are real needs here and we are doing our best to try to meet them. There are vulnerable people here," Capt. Bonzato said.

Brigadier General Nolasco Mempin, commander of the 1003rd Brigade in his keynote message clarified that the newly established IP schools are made of wood and cement, with galvanized iron roofs and aggregate footings. Each structure has two classrooms big enough to accommodate 25 to 30 learners per classroom, he indicated.

“Things will change, and change again. But we must try to remember that no matter how substandard the facilities and resources of the location are, this is what the locals have and they are doing their best with what they have. And we must keep in mind that they [IPs] will continue to do the Bayanihan after we, as missionaries, leave because they got by before we showed up. Peace cannot be kept by force. It can be achieved by understanding,” BGen. Mempin said.

He disclosed that these schools will replace those built by some left-leaning groups that have already been closed.

Troops of the Philippine Army’s 89th Infantry Battalion and parent volunteers build this makeshift school for indigenous peoples community in Sitio Laburon, Matupe, San Fernando, Bukidnon. (BGE/PIA Bukidnon)

Consequently, tribal chieftain Datu Lito Gambay lauded the government for putting up the said tribal schools.

“We are very happy with the construction of these custom-tailored Lumad schools because our children will no longer have to hurdle the day-to-day hardships especially when it rains. Besides, we don’t want our children to be deceived by the NPA’s ‘fake’ schools. We want our children to have a bright future with the government under President Duterte,” the tribal chief said in dialect.

Similarly, Vice-mayor Edwin Abucayan who represented the mayor of Kitaotao town commendably thanked the 89IB soldiers and the parents who worked with no pay just to build the IP schools.

Bukidnon Schools Division Superintendent Randolph Tortola, meanwhile, reported that DepEd has registered more than 400 IP learners from the said far-flung areas. “Though classroom learning is yet to resume due to COVID-19, still, students will have something to look forward to, especially that these children are more than eager and ready to attend classes,” he shared.

San Fernando mayor Levi Edma, for his part, thanked the Philippine Army for the inspiring triumph of the troops and the residents who volunteered to build such schools.

Edma urged the beneficiaries in each community to give their full support to the government because in return, he said “the local government commits to take care of the schoolchildren’s needs, including the salaries of teachers as schools open on August 24.” (RLRB/PIA Bukidnon)

Whole-of-nation approach at work in assisting families of Inopacan Atrocities victims

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 11, 2020): Whole-of-nation approach at work in assisting families of Inopacan Atrocities victims (By Olive P.Tiu)

BARANGAY AMGUHAN, Baybay City, Aug. 10 (PIA) -- The hinterland Barangay of Amguhan, in Baybay City, Leyte, home to some families of Inopacan Purging victims, was the venue of a convergence activity, a tangible manifestation of the whole-of-nation approach, on August 10, 2020.

After what seemed to be a very long and winding travel, several government agencies, Local Government Units, Government Military forces and victims’ families from seven barangays of Baybay, Inopacan and Mahaplag, reached the Amguhan Barangay Covered Court for the opening ceremonies for various livelihood trainings, granting of financial assistance and other benefits, a continuation of the support being given to the families of the Inopacan Purging victims.

This convergence effort started since the RTF8-ELCAC Special Convergence Mission on October 29, 2019 which was attended by Secretary Hermogenes Esperon Jr., National Security Adviser and Vice Chairperson of the National Task Force-ELCAC, and Secretary Eduardo Del Rosario, Cabinet Officer for Regional Development in Eastern Visayas and Chair of the Regional Task Force 8-ELCAC.

Baybay City Mayor Jose Carlos L. Cari warmly welcomed the guests and the beneficiaries.

Baybay City Mayor Jose Carlos L. Cari during answers questions from the media during the convergence activity in Brgy. Amguhan, Baybay City., August 10. ((Raul Tiozon/PIA-8)

He disclosed that the City of Baybay fully supports the President’s EO 70 and the Task Force-ELCAC.

“The City Government of Baybay has been giving assistance to the survivors who are situated in four barangays, Amguhan, Monterico, Kabunga-an and Ampihanon,” Mayor Cari said.

For Amguhan, the City Government has provided fishpond, cacao, vegetables and jackfruit production, goat dispersal, all for the livelihood of the beneficiaries who were formed into associations. The City Government is about to start the P3 million concreting of barangay road so that the barangay will be more accessible.

For Monterico, the City Government provided grass cutter, fishpond, swine dispersal, bigasan, feed retailing and sayote production for the livelihood of the beneficiaries. Also, about to start is the concreting of road project in the amount of P3 million.

The beneficiaries from Kabunga-an were given fishpond, swine production and sayote production for their livelihood. Another P3 million road concreting project is about to start in this barangay.

For the beneficiaries from Barangay Ampihanon, the City Government provided fishpond, land preparation using 4-wheel tractor, for the planting of rootcrops and vegetables, bigasan livelihood project in the amount of P100,000, water pump, and hand tractor for the rice fields. The City Government will soon start road concreting in this barangay in the amount of P3 million.

It was learned that the beneficiaries were formed into associations so they can access government assistance.

TESDA Regional Office 8 thru TESDA Leyte awarded skills training to the beneficiaries who were represented by their association presidents and barangay chairpersons.

Awarded to Monterico beneficiaries are skills trainings on Production of High-Quality Inbred Rice, Seed Certification, and Farm Mechanization; Organic Agriculture Production NCII; Bread and Pastry Production NC II; and Electrical Installation and Maintenance NC II.

The beneficiaries from Kabunga-an may avail any of the trainings they are qualified like Organic Agriculture Production NC II; Small Engine Servicing Leading to Motorcycle/Small Engine Servicing NC II; and Production of High-Quality Inbred Rice, Seed Certification, and Farm Mechanization.

The Barangay Amguhan beneficiaries were awarded scholarships for BPP NC II; Production of High-Quality Inbred Rice, Seed Certification, and Farm Mechanization; and Organic Agriculture Production NCII.

For Ampihanon beneficiaries, they were awarded trainings on Small Engine; OAP NC II; and Production of High-Quality Inbred Rice, Seed Certification, and Farm Mechanization.

For the Caulisihan, Inopacan association members, they may avail of any of the trainings they are qualified like Organic Agriculture Production NC II; Production of High-Quality Inbred Rice, Seed Certification, and Farm Mechanization; or Cookery NC II.

For the San Juan, Mahaplag association members, they were awarded the Organic Agriculture Production NC II training.

TESDA Region 8 Director Dante Navarro said the training cost is more than P3 million and will be facilitated by four partner tech-voc schools. TESDA leads the government agencies included in the PRLEC Cluster which is in charge of poverty reduction and livelihood.

TESDA-8 Regional Director Dante Navarro. (Photo by Raul Tiozon/PIA-8)

The Department of Labor and Employment conducted the ceremonial distribution of Financial Assistance to the Amguhan Association in the amount of P997,350 for egg-laying livelihood project; Monterico, P990,600 for farm machineries project; Ampihanon, P478,000 for egg-laying project; and Kabunga-an, P997,250 for swine production. DOLE Regional Director Yahya Centi said the other barangays have not completed their requirements yet.

The Department of Trade in the Region has opened credit facilities without interest and payable in 10 years, Assistant Regional Director Larry Sultan said. The Department of Agriculture (DA) has already distributed 1,400 certified seeds, 500 hybrid seeds and 1,000 corn seeds plus 1500 fertilizers to include urea and complete fertilizer to the farmer beneficiaries.

On August 12, DA will turnover a water pump, genset and water tank to Barangay Monterico.

On August 11, DA will turnover combined harvester for rice and corn to Barangay Kilim Farmers Association.

It will also turn over to the City, two (2) heads of cows and some 10 heads of goat for breeding and distribution to various barangays.

Moreover, DA has provided 500 native chicken which were distributed at 50 each to various barangays. This is in addition to seeds of high value commercial crops and vegetables, jackfruit planting materials, ube and coffee production and planting of lakatan variety of bananas.

The beneficiaries expressed their gratitude to the government for initiating projects for the families of the victims of NPA atrocities in Inopacan during the 1980s. They truly feel that the government cares for them, they said. (PIA-8)