Monday, August 17, 2020

New AFP WestMinCom acting chief named

From the Manila Bulletin (Aug 17, 2020): New AFP WestMinCom acting chief named (By Martin Sadongdong)

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Monday identified Major General Corleto Vinluan as the acting commander of the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom), succeeding now Philippine Army commanding general, Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) (MANILA BULLETIN)

Major General Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesperson, said Vinluan has been recommended by the Board of Generals for the post but his appointment paper has yet to be signed or released by President Duterte.

“Kaya acting pa lang dahil mayroon na silang recommendation pero hindi pa lumalabas ang kanilang paper na pinirmahan ni President (There is already a recommendation but the paper signed by the President is not yet released),” Arevalo said.

Prior to the post, Vinluan was the commander of the Joint Task Force Sulu and the 11th Infantry Division (11ID) where he spearheaded combat operations that led to the neutralization of several Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) militants and other foreign terrorists operating in the hinterlands of Sulu.

Brigadier General William Gonzales took over from Vinluan’s vacated post at the 11ID.

Among the most recent accomplishments of the 11ID and JTF Sulu under Vinluan’s command was the killing of two alleged Egyptian bombers in November 2019, who were about to execute a planned suicide bombing in Metro Jolo in Sulu.

Vinluan had also led a joint task force which helped in the liberation of the Marawi City from the Maute terrorist group during the siege in 2017.

He had also strategized various combat operations against terrorist groups from Zamboanga Peninsula to Central Mindanao.

Meanwhile, Arevalo said Gonzales “is a true blue Scout Ranger” as he expressed confidence the officer will be able to fill in the gaps left by Vinluan in the 11ID.

Gonzales is a graduate of both Scout Ranger Training School in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija and the US Ranger School at Fort Benning in Georgia, USA.

He served as the commander of the First Scout Ranger Regiment and 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion that operated in Basilan Province. He was also a former Chief of Unified Command Staff of the WestMinCom.

“These significant posts gave him a vital grasp of the WestMinCom areas of operation,” Arevalo said.

“Both Maj. Gen. Corleto Vinluan and Brig. Gen. William Gonzales are seasoned military commanders whose leadership abilities borne of acquired education and training, wealth of experiences, and exposure to combat operations are remarkable,” he added.

Kalayaan LGU names 6 sandbars, reefs in West Philippine Sea

From the Philippine Star (Aug 17, 2020): Kalayaan LGU names 6 sandbars, reefs in West Philippine Sea (By Romina Cabrera)

Kalayaan LGU names 6 sandbars, reefs in West Philippine Sea

A municipal ordinance signed last week named the six sandbars and coral reefs as Pag-asa Cay 1, 2, 3 and 4 from nearest to farthest while the reefs were Pag-asa reef 1 and 2.

In a move to assert sovereignty over the country’s territory, the municipal government of Kalayaan islands in Palawan has officially named sandbars and reefs in the West Philippine Sea.

A municipal ordinance signed last week named the six sandbars and coral reefs as Pag-asa Cay 1, 2, 3 and 4 from nearest to farthest while the reefs were Pag-asa reef 1 and 2.

They were named after Pag-asa island, the nearest feature close to the cays and reefs and the seat of government of the municipality.

These cays and reefs have served as fishermen’s shelter during bad weather in the area, noted by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) as traditional fishing grounds of local residents, according to officials.

Maurice Philip Albayda, Kalayaan municipal officer, said the naming of cays and reefs is “a proactive approach that is a giant leap for our nation’s cause,” amid territorial disputes with China over the waters.

“We do not intend to stir any situation in the area. However this measure is an example of a brave move that, through we as a local government, with our limited mandates, can do a giant leap for our nation’s cause, sovereignty over our territory,” Albayda said in a text message.

“On a national implication, the naming means putting our ground more established in the disputed areas where we know we have already won in the 2016 PCA ruling,” he said.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana recently visited Pag-asa island as the government completed a ship beaching ramp, which makes it easier for more infrastructure projects to push through. President Duterte has yet to visit the island.

Ranking NPA with multiple arrest warrants falls in Gingoog City

From the Manila Bulletin (Aug 17, 2020): Ranking NPA with multiple arrest warrants falls in Gingoog City (By Mike Crismundo)

An alleged official of the New People’s Army (NPA), who had standing warrants of arrest, was arrested by the joint police and Army forces in a manhunt operation conducted in Barangay Agay-ayan, Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental province.

“The suspect has several standing warrants of arrest and completely surprised when arresting police and Army forces arrived in said targeted area,”
police regional information chief Maj. Renel E. Serrano told The Manila Bulletin on Monday.

He added that the suspect was jointly arrested by the Caraga Police Regional Office 13 (PRO 13), Gingoog City Police Station and Army’s 23rd Infantry Battalion (23rd IB).

PRO 13 Regional Director Brig. Gen. Joselito T. Esquivel, Jr., i
dentified the arrested suspect as Venacio Y. Idpalina, alias Bembem, 38, and a resident of Purok-6, Barangay Agay-ayan, Gingoog City.

The suspect was said to be an official of Sandatahang Yunit Pampropaganda (SYP) Kingdom, Guerilla Front 4-A (GF4-A) of the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines)-NPA Northeastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC).

Esquivel said the suspect was charged with kidnapping and serious illegal detention, multiple attempted murder, frustrated murder, and attempted murder.

The joint operation was also participated in by the Butuan City Police Office (BCPO) City Intelligence Branch, Butuan City Mobile Force Company and intelligence operatives of the 23rd IB.

“The operation that led to his arrest was part of our aggressive and more intensified campaign against insurgency and wanted persons,” Esquivel said.

“I am encouraging all our remaining brothers and sisters who are deceived by the CPP-NPA terrorists to surrender and return to the folds of the law,” he said.

“The government is offering an E-CLIP (Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program) which provides several benefits like financial assistance and livelihood program to former rebels and militiamen who surrendered to the government,” Esquivel added.

AFP seeks custody of Abu Sayyaf leader

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Aug 17, 2020): AFP seeks custody of Abu Sayyaf leader (By: Jeannette I. Andrade)

Security forces will jointly seek the transfer of Abu Sayyaf group (ASG) subleader Abduljihad “Idang” Susukan to military custody, Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said on Sunday.

Arevalo said the AFP Judge Advocate General’s Office and the Philippine National Police Intelligence Group (PNP-IG) would file a joint motion to transfer custody of Susukan to the AFP from the PNP which transferred him to the PNP Custodial Center in Quezon City after he was arrested on Thursday at the residence of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founder Nur Misuari in Davao City.

“We subscribe to the rule of law,” Arevalo said. “Susukan must be made to answer for a score of heinous crimes he has committed—23 gruesome cases of murder, five charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention, and six complaints for frustrated murder.”

He said, “The ball is now with the Department of Justice for the prosecution of cases.”

AFP chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay described Susukan’s arrest as a “major blow” to the Abu Sayyaf group leadership.

He directed military field unit commanders in Mindanao to “further intensify focused military operations to prevent possible retaliation by Idang’s followers and to force them to surrender or face demise.”

The PNP assured that it remains on high alert, along with the military, “to prevent and respond to any reprisal attack.”

The Susukan-led ASG subgroup is allegedly responsible for the 2012 kidnapping of several people from Negri Sembilan, Malaysia; a Taiwanese national from Pompom island in 2013; and of Malaysian national Bernad Then whom the group beheaded in 2015. He was also believed to have been behind the kidnapping of a Malaysian and two Indonesians in waters off Sabah in 2018.

DND marks 75th anniversary of end of WW2

From the Manila Bulletin (Aug 15, 2020): DND marks 75th anniversary of end of WW2 (By Martin Sadongdong)

The Department of National Defense (DND) on Saturday commemorated the 75th anniversary of the end of World War 2 (WW2) which is regarded as the bloodiest human conflict in the history of mankind.

In a statement, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana also paid homage to Filipino soldiers who fought to defend the country against foreign invaders.

“Today (Saturday), we mark the 75th anniversary of the end of World War 2 — the bloodiest conflict in the history of humankind wherein tens of millions lost their lives and countless more suffered. We also remember those who fought in defense of our freedom and pay homage to their sacrifice and heroism,” he said.

Lorenzana assured that living Filipino war veterans and the widows of those who have departed will continuously be taken care of by the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO).

“Let us honor the memories of those who are no longer with us by emulating their spirit of patriotism in our daily lives,” Lorenzana said

Further, the Defense Chief hopes that the event will be a reminder to all nations “to continue to work for peace, settle differences amicably, and reject war as an instrument to further their national interests.”

The WW2 was a global war which began in 1939 after a power struggle broke out between leading countries that wanted to invade other nations, historical records said.

It resulted to the creation of two opposing parties: the “Allies” and the “Axis.” The Philippines, which was at the time under the colony of United States, became part of the Allies.

In December 1941, Japan, which was part of the Axis, launched various coordinated attacks against US-controlled nations including the Philippines as it tried to establish an empire in the Pacific region.

Joint American and Filipino soldiers resisted the Japanese invasion in the Philippines until Tokyo conceded on August 15, 1945 after suffering massive defeat. It signaled the complete victory of countries associated with the Allies in Asia.

EDITORIAL - Jetsetting with Nur

Editorial posted to the Philippine Star (Aug 17, 2020): EDITORIAL - Jetsetting with Nur

EDITORIAL - Jetsetting with Nur

It pays to take up arms in this country. You extort, pillage, set off bombs, kidnap and kill, and the government kneels in surrender, handing you the reins of any piece of Philippine territory that you want to rule like a gangster warlord, outside the reach of the national government except in the provision of funding support.

There have been several such privileged militants in this country. The public can only hope Abu Sayyaf commander Anduljihad Susukan, alias Idang, is not added to the list.

According to the military, Susukan needed to see a doctor for a checkup of his prosthetic arm. He had lost the arm in an encounter with government forces. So he traveled in style from Sulu to Zamboanga City, reportedly using an assumed name, on a private jet together with Moro National Liberation Front chairman Nur Misuari. Where does the MNLF chieftain get the funds for such luxury?

Susukan was part of the MNLF team that laid siege to Zamboanga City in 2013, amid Misuari’s opposition to the government’s peace negotiations with the rival Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The government placed the death toll from the siege at 140, with 268 wounded. Other reports, however, said up to 300 people died as an indirect result of their displacement due to the siege, including children who succumbed to illnesses in cramped relocation centers.

Misuari has denied involvement in the siege, for which he was later arrested. After Susukan was spotted in Davao last week together with Misuari, it was announced that the Abu Sayyaf bandit had decided to surrender through the MNLF chairman. Susukan was picked up by police in Davao on Thursday last week.

Defense and military officials aren’t buying the story of surrender, with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana saying Misuari could face charges under the new Anti-Terrorism Act for coddling Susukan. There are unconfirmed reports that Susukan was seeking an audience with President Duterte in Davao City. How many other Abu Sayyaf bandits are jetsetting with Misuari?

China’s PAFMM Grey Zone Maritime Challenge To The Philippines – Analysis

Posted to Eurasia Review (Aug 16, 2020): China’s PAFMM Grey Zone Maritime Challenge To The Philippines – Analysis (By Christian Vicedo)

China's aircraft carrier the Liaoning (formerly the Russian ship Riga and subsequently renamed the Varyag before being sold to China) being refit in 2011. Photo Credit: Yhz1221, Wikipedia Commons.

China's aircraft carrier the Liaoning (formerly the Russian ship Riga and subsequently renamed the Varyag before being sold to China) being refit in 2011. Photo Credit: Yhz1221, Wikipedia Commons.

China’s People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia (PAFMM) is key to understanding Beijing’s grey-zone operations in the South China Sea (SCS). The PAFMM is organised and linked to the People’s Liberation Army chain of command through the People’s Armed Forces Districts. PAFMM members are trained in maritime claims enforcement, logistics support, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and sabotage. Operating about 84 large vessels with reinforced hulls and water cannons, the PAFMM serves as China’s third force in the SCS.

The Philippines currently occupies nine features in the SCS. But through its PAFMM, China can prevent the Philippines from exercising sovereignty within and surrounding these features. Given precedents such as the seizure of the Paracels in 1974 and the occupation of Mischief Reef in 1995, the PAFMM may be employed to seize any of the Philippine-occupied features and to construct artificial islands and facilities on them.

The PAFMM also presents a challenge for the Philippines–US alliance. Under Article V of the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), ‘an armed attack on either of the Parties is deemed to include an armed attack on the … territory of either of the Parties’.

Although the United States has clarified that ‘any armed attack on Philippine forces, aircraft, or public vessels in the SCS will trigger mutual defense obligations’, attacks from the Chinese Coast Guard and the PAFMM might not qualify as armed attacks that warrant US intervention in view of their purported civilian nature.

If the alliance cannot address the security challenge posed by the PAFMM, it might be ineffective in preventing a future fait accompli that could undermine the regional security status quo. Consequently, the PAFMM would weaken the alliance by showcasing US strategic ambiguity and forcing the Philippines to choose quiet diplomacy over deterrence in the SCS.

In addressing the PAFMM challenge, the Philippines may consider unilateral, bilateral and multilateral responses. Unilaterally, the Philippines may enhance the capacity of its National Coast Watch Center in terms of connectivity, interoperability, data aggregation, data visualisation and cross-domain information-sharing among its navy, coast guard and other concerned agencies. It may elevate its satellite partnership with Japan to develop a synthetic aperture radar (SAR)-equipped microsatellite for a more self-reliant approach to maritime domain awareness (MDA) in contrast to its current SAR data-sharing arrangement with the United Kingdom.

The Philippines could establish a maritime command and control centre in the SCS, equipped with coastal surveillance radars and electro-optical sensors on its occupied features for more comprehensive MDA coverage. This initiative would not violate the principle of self-restraint under the 2002 ASEAN–China Declaration on the Code of Conduct of Parties in the SCS.

The Philippines may also fast track the development of the Naval Detachment Oyster Bay in Palawan, which could host a refuelling facility to extend the maritime security operations of its navy and coast guard. Manila could equip its current and future high-endurance patrol vessels with non-kinetic weapons such as water cannons, long-range acoustic devices (LRAD) and active denial systems for a proportional response to PAFMM activities.

Bilaterally, Manila and Washington must seek a shared understanding of how the PAFMM challenge affects Philippine national security and the credibility of US extended deterrence. Given a shared understanding of the PAFMM’s role in China’s ‘people’s war at sea’ and ‘three warfares’ strategy, an MDT review must be geared towards enhancing interoperability and capacity-building rather than constraining future joint responses by terminating the Visiting Forces Agreement.

To sustain capacity-building gains from the previous US administration’s Maritime Security Initiative (MSI), Manila and Washington must ensure that enhancing Philippine MDA will remain a priority under the Indo-Pacific MSI of future US administrations. The Philippines and the United States must also clarify what constitutes armed attacks and SCS red lines during an MDT review, as well as in future Bilateral Strategic Dialogues and Mutual Defense Board–Security Engagement Board Meetings.

Based on the converging points of these red lines, the two countries must define their shared objectives in deterring grey-zone coercion in the SCS and develop applicable rules of engagement for dealing with maritime scenarios involving the PAFMM.

Multilaterally, the Philippines could cooperate with ASEAN member states and ASEAN dialogue partners (like the United States, Japan and Australia) in building a regional consensus on how to prevent unexpected incidents involving maritime militias. This initiative may be pursued through multilateral mechanisms such as the ASEAN Regional Forum Inter-Sessional Meeting on Maritime Security, Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum, ASEAN Navy Chiefs Meeting and Heads of Asian Coast Guard Agencies Meeting.

Manila may reassert the proposal for ASEAN dialogue partners — including China — to observe the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Guidelines for Maritime Interaction and may propose to widen the scope of such guidelines to cover coast guard vessels and maritime militias. The Philippines could also raise security issues relating to maritime militias during the ASEAN–China negotiations for the Code of Conduct of Parties in the SCS.

Through these policy actions, the Philippines can address the PAFMM challenge by enhancing its maritime security capabilities, supporting the Philippines–US alliance as it adapts to the evolving geopolitical environment and strengthening regional cooperation for a rules-based maritime order.

[Christian Vicedo is an independent security analyst based in Manila.]

[East Asia Forum is a platform for analysis and research on politics, economics, business, law, security, international relations and society relevant to public policy, centred on the Asia Pacific region. It consists of an online publication and a quarterly magazine, East Asia Forum Quarterly, which aim to provide clear and original analysis from the leading minds in the region and beyond.]

Deadly Stockpile

From the Business Mirror (Aug 16, 2020): Deadly Stockpile (By By Rene Acosta & Recto Mercene)

After the massive, deadly explosion of an abandoned stockpile in Beirut, the Philippine Navy chief assures the public steps are being taken to rid Caballo Island of its stockpile of vintage ordnance, munitions.

In this drone picture, the destroyed silo sits in rubble and debris after an explosion at the seaport of Beirut, Lebanon, August 5, 2020. The massive explosion rocked Beirut, flattening much of the city’s port, damaging buildings across the capital and sending a giant mushroom cloud into the sky.

FOLLOWING the August 4, 2020, massive explosion from a huge stockpile of ammonium nitrate at the Beirut port in Lebanon, the flag officer in command (FOIC) of the Philippine Navy has confirmed the existence of a storage site for vintage unexploded ordnance and munitions on Caballo Island, a rocky islet at the entrance of Manila Bay.

Navy FOIC Vice Adm. Giovanni Carlo Bacordo, however, asserted that the dumps are being tightly secured and maintained to preclude any untoward incident, or worse, an explosion similar to, or as powerful as, the Beirut blast that killed more than a hundred people and injured more than a hundred more.

Caballo Island, as seen from the tailside of Corregidor Island, March 2019.

“The Philippine Navy has in its inventory old stockpile of ordnance and munitions on Caballo Island supervised by the Naval Ordnance depot,” he confirmed in reply to a query by the BusinessMirror. The inquiry was triggered by a BBC report listing the Caballo Island among sites around the world that still host potentially deadly stockpiles.

“The Philippine Navy assures the public that the stockpile of ordnance and munitions are properly handled [and] stored,” the top Navy official added.
Moved out to Crow Valley

A highly placed source from the military who requested not to be named, however, said some of the potentially deadly inventory stored on the island, which has remained strictly off limits to civilians and unauthorized individuals, have already been transported to Crow Valley in Tarlac and disposed of by controlled detonation.

Crow Valley was the main bombing range of the United States Armed Forces in the Western Pacific when the US still held exclusive control over its sprawling military bases at Clark and Subic. It is currently under the control of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and has been renamed Col. Ernesto Ravina Air Base in 2016.

12-inch (305mm) mortars at Fort Greble, Rhode Island, during World War I, similar to those of Battery Craighill used on Fort Hughes. Below, map of the recapture of Corregidor, February 1945.
Heap of bombs

The presence of a huge cache of ammunition on Caballo Island was flagged in a report by the BBC News, in an article on August 12, 2020, titled: “Beirut Blast: The Other Countries with Dangerous Dumps of Explosives.”

Writer Frank Gardner quoted Simon Conway, a senior director with the British mine-clearing charity Halo Trust, as saying: “In the Philippines, Ukraine, Georgia, Libya and Guinea-Bissau there are dangerous dumps of munitions left over from both past and present conflicts, some of them perilously close to residential areas.”

Conway visited Caballo Island and found “a store of deteriorating US munitions dating back to World War II.”

“Rusting shells, depth charges, mortar bombs and other projectiles litter the floor of a bunker, while crates of explosives and propellant charges are stacked all the way to the ceiling,” he observed.

Halo Trust estimates that on Caballo Island and at another site nearby, there are a total of 1.6 million explosive items—enough, it is feared, to potentially destroy the nearby airport in Corregidor and threaten passing ships on Manila Bay.

Conway, accompanied by members of the military, said there are two sheds containing 200,000 anti-aircraft rounds. “If those sheds went up, it would definitely affect the nearby airport,” referring to the tiny airstrip on Corregidor 4.7 kilometers away.

Conway said the horror of what happened in Beirut port has not been lost on local authorities and “within days, the Philippine Navy called Halo to discuss how best to dispose of all this ammunition safely.”
Rich history

Caballo Island has a rich history. It is a twin island of Corregidor that the Americans turned into impregnable defenses, arming them with huge guns pointed toward the mouth of Manila Bay to discourage the entry of enemy battleships.

It is about 1.2 kilometers long and 381 feet high at the highest point.

The whole island was formerly occupied by Fort Hughes, a US defense fortification before World War II. It was heavily bombed during the war.

Japanese soldiers occupied Caballo Island in 1942, until returning American forces, three years later, flushed them out by pouring gasoline and diesel in their hiding places, detonating the gasoline by dynamite. Some 70 Japanese soldiers died in the ensuing inferno.

Remains of the old fortifications, batteries and structures were left rusting in the open after it was abandoned at the end of World War II.
‘Daily monitoring’

Bacordo said the condition of the stored bombs and ordnance is regularly monitored by Navy personnel so they would not pose any risk to the island and the surrounding areas.

“Our personnel on Caballo Island are conducting daily monitoring and inspection on the status of munitions in order to ensure that these items are stable and safe from any hazard and secured from intruders,” he said.

Bacordo confirmed that the Navy is also coordinating with US military officials for the disposal of the stored bomb items.

“Currently, the Philippine Navy is constantly coordinating with the Jusmag [Joint US Military Advisory Group] personnel on how we are going to clear all the explosive remnants of war on Caballo Island. The removal of said items needs special equipment for handling. However, it was put on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” Bacordo explained.

The Navy chief assured they are working to avoid an accident similar to the Beirut blast.

“We ensure that safety measures are employed to avoid such incident. Our Navy ordnance personnel are aptly trained and equipped to respond to and properly handle any eventualities especially in ensuring such incident will not happen,” he said.

Amnesty eyed for Abu Sayyaf leader worries military brass

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Aug 15, 2020): Amnesty eyed for Abu Sayyaf leader worries military brass (By: Julie Alipala, Karlos Manlupig, Nestor Corrales)

Armed Forces chief Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay on Friday lauded the arrest of notorious Abu Sayyaf leader Anduljihad Susukan as “a major blow” on the leadership of Sulu-based terror group, but the incident also bared serious differences of opinion on the country’s security policies.

The bone of contention, military sources said, was the presidential amnesty that allegedly underpinned a surrender deal brokered by Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chair Nur Misuari, President Rodrigo Duterte’s special economic envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

Susukan, also known as Idang, Edang or Indang, was initially spotted in Davao City in the company of Misuari. Gapay immediately demanded that the MNLF founder explain why he was accompanying a known Abu Sayyaf leader with 34 outstanding warrants of arrest.

Late on Thursday, the police arrested Susukan at Misuari’s residence. It turned out that Misuari brought him to the city on Sunday so that he could get a prosthetic replacement for his left arm which was amputated due to a clash with the military last year.

Gapay claimed he was not made aware of Susukan’s trip to Davao and so did Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who told GMA News Online: “Nobody knew that Susukan arrived in Davao… until his picture appeared in the media the other day.”

Philippine National Police chief Archie Gamboa also denied knowledge of Susukan’s arrival and said, in a statement, that local police “initiated the negotiation after finding out that Susukan was brought to Davao City to seek medical attention.”

But a day after three of the country’s top security officials claimed to have been kept out of the loop, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, the President’s daughter, revealed that security officials knew all along about Susukan’s journey to Davao City.

“We were aware, including law enforcement groups, that he is coming to Davao City. In fact, we were informed by those from his point of origin,” the mayor told reporters on Friday afternoon.

Abduljihad Susukan —PNP-PIO PHOTO VIA AP
Conflicting statements

Confronted with the conflicting statements and eyewitness accounts, Army chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, who used to head the Western Mindanao Command which includes Sulu, admitted that the Aug. 9 flight of Misuari and Susukan from Sulu to Davao City was known to Sulu and Davao authorities.

The Jolo Municipal Police Station, in a statement, said that a private Bombardier jet with tail number RP-C7588—the same number of a plane that the President rode to Singapore in 2018 for a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations—arrived in Jolo at around 8:30 in the morning of Sunday.

Witnesses said Misuari and Susukan then arrived at Jolo Airport in a convoy of heavily armed escorts wearing MNLF uniforms. Misuari even chatted with military and police officials at the airport’s departure area before enplaning with eight others, including Susukan.

Hours later, the Bombardier jet landed at the old Davao International Airport. The airport’s old terminal shares the same space with the Philippine Air Force, including the Presidential Airlift Wing.
‘We trust Misuari’

Nur Misuari

When asked how Misuari could travel to Davao with the fugitive Susukan, Lorenzana said: “Nakalusot dahil [Slipped through because] first, we trust Misuari. At any rate, mabuti na rin at nahuli siya.”

Sobejana agreed that the military considered Misuari a partner in the peace effort and that officials had already heard of rumors that Susukan surrendered to the MNLF leader in April but they did not receive any word from Misuari.

Nonetheless, Sobejana welcomed Susukan’s arrest: “We [were] able to reduce the threat from the Abu Sayyaf without firing a shot. He is one of the key figures in the organization.”

Aside from being a top Abu Sayyaf leader Susukan is the son of one of the deceased rebel Agga Susukan, one of Misuari’s most trusted aides during the early days of the Moro rebellion, and Misuari promised Susukan his late father’s position if he would surrender, military sources said.

But the surrender deal worried security officials, the sources added, because of its international implications and a provision that Susukan and his Abu Sayyaf followers would be integrated into Misuari’s MNLF forces.

Susukan was involved in high-profile crimes that also victimized Malaysian nationals.

Of the 34 cases that the Abu Sayyaf leader is facing, 23 were murder cases; six, frustrated murder; and five were kidnapping and serious illegal detention.

Among these cases was the abduction of Chinese tourist from Shanghai Gao Huayun, 28; and her Filipina companion Marcy Dayawan, 40, in Singamata Reef Resort of Sabah on April 2, 2014.

He also figured out in the Eid’l Fit’r ambush that killed more than 20 people in Talipao, Sulu on July 28, 2014. —WITH A REPORT FROM INQUIRER RESEARCH

63 IB: CPP/NPA Terrorists with Rewards (Eastern Visayas)

Posted to the 63rd Infantry "Innovator" Battalion Facebook Page (Aug 12, 2020): CPP/NPA Terrorists with Rewards (Eastern Visayas)

Mga wanted nga mga Terorista nga NPA, kun kamo may-ada impormasyon hini nga mga personalidad, pagtext ngan tawag hini nga mga numero.


Image may contain: 8 people, text that says 'CPP/NPA TERRORISTS WITH REWARDS Authority: DND-DILG JOINT ORDER ON REWARD Alternate 800,000.00 REWARD BENIG /ZUSETE SECRETARY 250.000.00 REWARD @PRUDING Santiago AMOS/LABAN Secretary EMPORIUM 900,000.00 REWARD 450.000.00 REWARD Adelantar AOC, @BUTIL SPPC,E 2,900,000.00 REWEARD Name: Gavino Guarino@ ABBA Position: SEF, P2, 600,000.00 REWARD @ERNING Ernesto PAYONG osition: Member, 550,000.00 REW.A.RD Name: GAGOY Position Spokesperso Arnulfo Command 550,000.00 REWAR:D Text or Tawag ha Globe 09062412939 Smart 09617961092'

CENTCOM: Local Chief Lauds Troops on the Deployment of RCSP Team in Basey, Samar

Posted to the Central Command (CENTCOM) Facebook Page (Aug 17, 2020): Local Chief Lauds Troops on the Deployment of RCSP Team in Basey, Samar

The creation of Retooled Community Support Program (RCSP) Teams aids in the identification of the basic needs and concerns of every community that will further the Government’s desire to end local communist armed conflict. #WholeofNationApproach #GivePeaceAChance #AFPyoucanTRUST — with Centcom Pio, Leviresa Getigan, Vicente Lukban, Central Command, Camp Lapulapu, Cebu City, 63rd Innovator Battalion, Civil Relations Service AFP, 20th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army, 14th Infantry "Avenger" Battalion, Philippine Army, 43rd Infantry We Search Battalion, Basey, Samar and 8th Infantry Division, Philippine Army.

Image may contain: 1 person, text that says '613 INF BN 13 August 2020 LOCAL CHIEF LAUDED TROOPS ON THE DEPLOYMENT OF RCSP TEAM IN BASEY SAMAR "I would like to express my gratitude for the help rendered by the RCSP Teams to attain safe and peaceful community The team will ensure that the peace and order be maintained and all cocerns of the people will be referred to appropriate local government agencies." 3CRG CRSAFP SAMUEL TABUCAO Chairman Barangay Burgos,Basey Samar RTF-ELCAC VIlI NTF-ELCAC #AFPyoucanTRUST'

AFP-CRS: Former rebel exposes CPP-NPA arms cache in Misamis Oriental

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) Facebook Page (Aug 17, 2020): Former rebel exposes CPP-NPA arms cache in Misamis Oriental

ARMS CACHE RECOVERED. Acting on information provided by a former CPP-NPA rebel, government troops recovered a firearms cache belonging to the communist guerillas in the Misamis Oriental town of Claver.


Image may contain: 1 person, text that says '58 DIXALULUPIO 4AUGUST 2020 2018 FORMER REBEL EXPOSE CPP-NPA ARMS CACHE IN MISAMIS ORIENTAL "This proves that the former rebels are disappointed and tired of the CPP-NPA atrocities. Likewise, this indicates that they shifted their support from the CPP-NPA to the government. Now, they want to return and live with their families in peaceful and harmonious community." LTC RICKY L CANATOY INF (GSC) PA Commander, 58th Infantry Battalion, 4ID PA CANATOY 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.]

CPP/News: After preying on civilians, fascist soldiers ambushed by NPA

Propaganda news story posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Aug 17, 2020): After preying on civilians, fascist soldiers ambushed by NPA

AUGUST 17, 2020

At least ten soldiers of the 62nd IB were killed in an ambush by the New People’s Army (NPA) in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental hours after preying on five civilians in the same village.

In the morning of August 14, in Sityo Maluy-a of Barangay Sandayao, operating troopers of the 62nd IB encircled the residence of Delia Tenianu, ransacked her belongings and destroyed her corn harvest. The military also aimed their rifles at the victim and fired next to her ear.

Also, three minors who were using their cellphones at Tenianu’s residence were roughed up and accosted. The victims were merely taking advantage of the strong signal in the area. They were later detained in the military camp nearby.

On top of this, 24-year old Reken Remasog had both legs broken before being shot and killed by the soldiers. The victim left behind a 9-month old child.

The 62nd IB is under the command of Lt. Col Melvin Flores.

Later at 11:30 a.m. in Sityo Tabago of the same barangay, the same military unit was met with blasts of command-detonated explosives and gunfire from the NPA.

In a statement by Ka JB Regalado of the NPA-Central Negros, the spokesperson said that the 33 soldiers were unaware that they were advancing towards an NPA encampment. Ten troopers were killed in the firefight. Regalado added that two helicopters were dispatched to the area to transport the casualties.

The NPA slammed the Philippine Army’s 303rd Brigade, which directs the 62nd IB, for attacking civilians and fabricating encounters to hide their crimes. Ka Juanito Magbanua of the NPA-Negros Island meanwhile assailed brigade commander Col. Inocencio Pasaporte for hiding their true number of casualties. According to Magbanua, this would later on result to trauma and disgust among the rank-and-file.

CPP/NPA-Southeast Negros: Notorious Army Intel, Land-grabber and Extortionist Meted Revolutionary Justice

Propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Aug 17, 2020): Notorious Army Intel, Land-grabber and Extortionist Meted Revolutionary Justice

AUGUST 17, 2020

A partisan unit of the NPA in Southeast Negros under the Rachelle Mae Palang Command (RMPC) successfully carried out the death verdict issued by the People’s Court against a prominent local military intel agent last Friday in Sitio Tamlang, Barangay Talalac, Sta. Catalina, Negros Oriental.

Elmo Cardinas, in his late 40s, was convicted in an impartial and democratic judicial proceeding by a local People’s Court last March for espionage, land-grabbing and extortion. Thereafter, his case was reviewed by the higher judicial authority in the guerilla front and the verdict promulgated by the local court confirmed.

Cardinas served as guide in military operations especially in the last 5 focused military operations conducted by the 11th IB since last quarter of 2019 to July this year. He was also engaged in the surveillance and monitoring of civilians and leaders of progressive legal organizations targeted by military death squads for assassination.

Numerous cases of land-grabbing and farm encroachment were filed by the masses against him. Cardinas used his military connections and issued-weapon to threaten and coerce the masses.

He also amassed thousands by misrepresenting the NPA in collecting “revolutionary tax” to business enterprises in Pamplona and Sta. Catalina in which all the proceeds went to his pocket and his cohorts in the military.

RMPC calls on all military/police intel assets or agents to cease and desist from their counter-revolutionary and anti-people activities. Or face the full extend and long hand of the uncompromising and incorruptible revolutionary justice. ###

Released by:
Ka Estrella Banagbanag
Spokesperson, RMPC-NPA Southeast Negros

CPP/NPA-Central Negros: Pagharas sang NPA sa Brgy. T-hill Detatchment, pagpangandam sa mga masupog nga pasistang tropa

Propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Aug 17, 2020): Pagharas sang NPA sa Brgy. T-hill Detatchment, pagpangandam sa mga masupog nga pasistang tropa

AUGUST 17, 2020

Agosto 15, alas 8:30 sang gab-e gintigayon sang isa ka yunit sang NPA ang pagharas sa Brgy. T-hill CAFGU detachment sakop sa Guihulngan City nga naga boundary sa mga baryo sakop sa banwa sang Lalibertad, Negros Oriental. Ini nga aksyon, bilang pagpaandam sa mga masupog nga tropa sang 62nd IBPA kag CAFGU nga nagahimo sang mga kalapasan sa mga sibilyan sa palibot nga mga baryo. Sadtong katapusan nga bulan sang Hulyo tub-tub sa una nga semana sang Agosto Ang CAFGU sa T-hill detachment upod sa 62nd IBPA may ara sang 2 ka kaso sang pagpangkastigo kag isa ka kaso sang pagpangransak sang pamalay kag 7 ka kaso sang pagpamahog sa pumuluyo ang nakarecord base sa pagmonitor sang LPC-NPA sa palibot nga mga baryo sini.

Sabat man ini sa pagtago sang kamatuoran sang eksperto sa kabutigon nga propagandista sang militar kag sa ila mga disperado nga panawagan sa pagpasurender sa NPA. Ang matuod ang ila lamang masarangan nga pasurenderon amo ang mga madugay na nga nagpahuway sa hublag, mga sibilyan kag ila mismo mga aset para mapangkwartan kag mahimo nga rason sa pagrelease sang pundo sa E-CLIP pakadto sa korapsyon. Sa ila paglaway sa daku nga pundo sang E-CLIP ang mga sibilyan nga indi magpasugot nga mahimo nga surenderes ila ginainitan paagi sa pagplanted sang armas, iligal nga pagpang-aresto kag ginapasakaan sang mga hinimo-himo nga mga kaso kag ginabansagan nga NPA.

Makita sa ila pagka disperado ang ila ginhimo kay Forperio Landesa nga isa ka mangunguma nga iligal nga gin aresto kag ginkastigo nga saksi mismo ang mga pumuluyo sang Brgy. Trinidad. Gintudluan sang iya ipahayag sa ila programa sa isa FM station sa Negros Oriental. Ginpaako sya nga myembro sang NPA kag nagapahayag sang pagpanawagan sa iya mga kaupdanan nga mga serender kay bisan kusi wala sya nakaagi sa kamot sang militar kag ang iya ginpang mensyonar nga pangalan amo ang iya mga kasilingan nga pareho man niya nga mga mangunguma. Sa mga tawo nga mag-analisa sang maayo, bisan sin-o man nga ordinaryo nga tawo nga ara sa kamot sang mapintas nga militar kag kapulisan wala sang mahimo kundi magsunod-sunod sa ila gusto kabaylo sa seguridad sang iya kabuhi kag sang iya pamilya.

Ang ining mga kalakasan sang pasistang militar kag paggapos sang hustisya magatulod sa pila ka libo mga pumuluyo kag pamatan-on nga magasubay sa banas sang pagbag-o sang sosyedad paagi sa rebolusyonaryo nga paghimakas sa armado man kag dili armado nga porma. Wala sang paglaum sa sosyedad nga ginaharian sang pasismo, tiraniko kag terorismo sang estado.

Mabuhay ang Sahing anakbalhas!
Ipakig-away ang matuod nga kalinong nga naka bae sa hustisya Sosyal!

CPP/NPA-Cerntral Negros: 62nd IBPA Terorista sa Kaumahan, Perwesyo sa Pumuluyo!

Propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Aug 17, 2020): 62nd IBPA Terorista sa Kaumahan, Perwesyo sa Pumuluyo!

AUGUST 17, 2020

Ginakondina sang Kabataang Makabayan Central Negros ang sobra-sobra na nga paglapak sa tawhanon nga kinamatarung sang pumuluyo. Ang ila pagpatay sa wala sang ikasarang magbato nga si Requem Remasog paagi sa pagpaantus kag pagbali-bali sang iya mga tiil antes sya ginpatay nga wala sang ikasarang magbato kag pag dakop sang tatlo ka mga menor de edad nga hasta subong wala nahibaluan sang pamilya kon diin ini nila gindala.

Ang KM-CN upod sa bug-os nga rebolusyonaryong pamatan-on sa Central Negros nagakangil-ad sa kabutigon ni Col. Pasaporte kag sang 62nd IBPA nga ila ginpagwa nga engkwentro ang natabo sa Sitio Maluy-a nga ang matuod sadto isa ka terorista nga buhat ang ila pagpangransak sang puluy-an sang isa ka mangunguma, wala kaluoy nga pagkastigo kag pagpatay, pagdala sang mga menor de edad nga gintago pa sa pamilya. Sa pandemya nga ginaatubang subong sang pumuluyo, masobra pa sa virus ang ginhatag nga perwesyo sang 62nd IBPA sa pumuluyo kag nagatublag sa mga paminsaron sang mga kabataan nga nagatalang-talang kon diin sila padulong sa pagbalhin-balhin tungod sang kahadlok sa presensya sang militar sa komunidad sang mga mangunguma.

Ang indi na maisip nga mga paglapas sa tawhanon nga kinamatarung sang pumuluyo magatulod sa brigada nga pamatan-on sa Central Negros nga mag-intra sa NPA para depensahan ang komunidad batok sa mga terorista nga pagpang-atake sang militar sa sibilyan. Ang ginahimo nga kapintas sang militar magatudlo sa mga pamatan-on sang banas padulong sa armadong rebolusyon kag uyatan ang makasaysayanon nga papel sini nga mangin matuod nga paglaum sang pungsod.

Sa tanan nga myembro sang Kabataang Makabayan, maghanda para sa pagdepensa sa masang anakbalhas kag sa tanan nga nag edad deseotso (18) anyos magparehistro na sa NPA. Kita ang paglaum sang pungsod, kita ang buasdamlag kag magpanday sang palaabuton. Tipunon ang rebolusyonaryo nga kusog batok sa pasismo kag terorismo sang estado.

Dampigan ang tawhanon nga kinamatarung!
Ipakig-away ang hustisya kag matuod nga kalinong!
Sukton ang gin-utang nga dugo sang mga berdugong militar!

Kalinaw News: Army, LGU send off CSP Team in SurSur Town

Posted to Kalinaw News (Aug 16, 2020): Army, LGU send off CSP Team in SurSur Town
SAN MIGUEL, Surigao del Sur — A military Community Support Program (CSP) team was sent to radicalized areas in San Miguel last 13 August 2020.
The Local Government Unit of San Miguel and the 75th Infantry “Marauder” Battalion (75IB) deployed the CSP Team to stop New People’s Army from exploiting, radicalizing, and extorting Indigenous People’s (IP) communities in the area.

“This will greatly assist the LGU to identify the concerns of the community, to help deliver the government services in the far-flung areas, and stop the exploitation of IP by preventing NPA recruitment in the community,” said San Miguel Municipal Mayor Hazel H Elizalde.

Meanwhile, 75IB Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Villarosa said, “Your Philippine Army will be working on your areas to address peace and security concerns. They will also help facilitate the safe delivery of local government agencies’ services in distant and conflict-affected sitios. Our aim is to bring the government closer to the people.”

The CSP Team’s Send-Off Ceremony was attended by San Miguel Indigenous People Mandatory Representative Hawudon Rico Maca, local government agencies, Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection and Barangay Captains of the municipality.

“This Send-Off Ceremony of our CSP Team is our way of showing our noble intention and respect to the local government units, and tribal leaders of San Miguel,” said Lt Col Villarosa.

The deployment of the CSP Team will bridge the gap of government services to far-flung communities in order to foster the foundation for economic and human development in the area.

[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:]

Kalinaw News: Another batch of Former Rebels Receive PhP 1.7M worth of E-CLIP Benefits in Bukidnon

Posted to Kalinaw News (Aug 16, 2020): Another batch of Former Rebels Receive PhP 1.7M worth of E-CLIP Benefits in Bukidnon
IMPASUGONG, Bukidnon ⁠— PhP 1.7M worth of financial aid were given to 38 former rebels at Kaamulan Folk Theater, Malaybalay City, Bukidnon last August 13, 2020.
Each Former Rebel received an immediate financial assistance worth PhP 15,000.00 and livelihood assistance worth PhP 50,000.00. Ten of the 38 FRs voluntarily surrendered to the 8th Infantry “Dependable” Battalion (8IB). Of the 10, seven are members of the New People’s Army (NPA) while three are members of the Militia ng Bayan.

One of the FRs identified as “Jer,” is now a part of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit Active Auxilliary (CAA).

He said, “Sobra akong kalipay ug pasalamat sa gobyerno sa ilang kinasingkasing nga pagdawat ug paghatag og daghang suporta. Kani-adto nga ako anaa sa armado nga nagatuo sa sayop nga idolohiya, sa sayop nga pamunuan, karon, usa na ako ka hingpit nga CAA nga naga serbisyo sa among komunidad sa atong nag inusarang gobyerno, ang gobyerno sa Pilipinas.”

[I am very happy and thankful to the government for providing me utmost support. I was struggling when I was part of the armed group. I believed in the wrong ideology and the wrong leadership. Now, I am proud to be part of the CAA. I am proud to serve our community and the only true government; the Philippine government]

Hon. Jose Ma Zubiri Jr, Provincial Chairman of E-CLIP Committee and Provincial Governor of Bukidnon said, “Malipayon ako nga kamo nakadawat na sa pinansyal na tabang nga inyong magamit para mag sugod sa bag-ong kinabuhi. Kini nga probinsya padayon nga maghatag sa mga interbensyon nga kinahanglan nimo aron masuportahan ang imong pamilya.”

[I am glad that you’ve received the assistance that you will use to start a new life. This province will continue to provide interventions that you need to support your families.]

8th Infantry Battalion Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Edgardo V Talaroc Jr said, “Ug sa makausa pa, kami nagahangyo sa mga nahibilin nga mga membro sa Communist New People’s Army Terrorists (CNTs) nga mu surender na, buhii na ang inyong mga armas ug magpuyo nga malinawon kauban ang inyong pamilya. Ang gobyerno adunay E-CLIP nga maghatag og kumpleto na tabang para sa mga rebelde ug ilang mga pamilya nga gusto na mobiya sa armadong pakigbisog ug mobalik na sa sabakan sa balaod.”

[Once again, we urge all remaining CNT members to surrender. Lay down your arms, and live peacefully with your families. The government has E-CLIP for those who decide to abandon the armed struggle and return to the folds of the law. This program provides a complete package for rebels and their families to start a new life.

Last July 20, 2020, a total of 67 FRs received a total of PhP 2.5 M worth of financial aid in Bukidnon. Twenty-two of the 67 FRs surrendered to the 8IB.

[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:]

Randy Echanis laid to rest as tension escalates in probe

From Rappler (Aug 17, 2020): Randy Echanis laid to rest as tension escalates in probe (By RAMBO TALABONG)

The funeral march is imbued with protest as mourners wear shirts demanding justice for slain Anakpawis chair Randy Echanis

Slain Anakpawis chair Randall "Randy" Echanis has been laid to rest on Monday morning, August 17, at the Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina City.

A mass was held in La Funeraria Paz, Quezon City, then a funeral procession brought him to his final resting place.

The walk was imbued with protest as mourners wore shirts and carried banners that called for justice for Echanis amid rising tensions between the police and Echanis' colleagues and family members.

Echanis was killed with former prisoner Louie Tagapia early Monday morning, August 10, inside his rented apartment in Novaliches, Quezon City.

Echanis is known for leading causes for agrarian reform. He is credited for his work in helping craft the the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB).

Echanis also served as political consultant for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). He is the 4th NDF political consultant to be killed, after Sotero Llamas, Randy Malayao, and Julius Giron.

Why the conflict in the probe?

From the beginning of the probe into his death, Echanis' colleagues and the police have had escalating tensions.

It began with the tug of war over the custody of Echanis' body. After his widow, Erlinda, claimed it, police took it again, claiming that Echanis needed to be identified with a laboratory test because the identification card found with him after death was named "Manuel Santiago."

The police's own fingerprint test confirmed the body was Echanis. The police released his remains for autopsy and burial on August 12.

On August 10, police claimed there was no forcible entry into Echanis' residence, suggesting that Echanis knew his killers or he left his front door unlocked.

Echanis' colleagues from Anakpawis disputed the claim, after dispatching a team that saw the door of his apartment with missing parts.

Anakpawis and the National Union of Peoples Lawyers have called for the PNP to stay out of the investigation and pass it instead to other agencies for a independent probe.
Law enforcers and family members are currently waiting for autopsy results to push the investigation forward.

Human rights activist shot dead in Bacolod City

From Rappler (Aug 17, 2020): Human rights activist shot dead in Bacolod City (By MARCHEL P. ESPINA)

Police say Zara Alvarez, 39, was shot dead by unidentified perpetrators

Human rights activist Zara Alvarez was gunned down along Sta Maria Street in Eroreco, Barangay Mandalagan, Bacolod City on Monday night, August 17.

identified the victim as a certain Sarah Rebuton of Cadiz City, Negros Occidental.

Julius Dagatan, media liaison of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan)-Negros, confirmed that the fatality was Zara Alvarez.

The police report said that Alvarez was shot dead by unidentified perpetrators.

Karapatan, in a statement, said they are in "deep grief and indignation."

"Today, we laid to rest Ka Randy Echanis, one of those who helped [establish] Karapatan and staunch peace-builder and land rights defender. Tonight, we learned of the sad news that our former campaign and education director and paralegal in Negros, Zara Alvarez, was killed in Bacolod City," the group said.

Alvarez, 39, was imprisoned for nearly two years. After her release, she continued to work as Karapatan's paralegal and as research and advocacy officer of the Negros Island Health Integrated Program, the group said.

Alvarez was among the more than 600 people that the Department of Justice wanted to declare as terrorists in a proscription case filed in February 2018.

The list has been trimmed down to only two – exiled Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Maria Sison and alleged Mindanao Commission Secretary Antonio Cabanatan – in a still pending case.

"We extend our condolences to Zara's family and friends, as we and many other colleagues mourn the killing of a beloved human rights and health worker. We will never relent in pursuing justice for Zara, Ka Randy, and all victims of extrajudicial killings," Karapatan said.

They added, "we will honor Zara’s legacy as a passionate, selfless and dedicated human rights worker, by continuing the struggle for the realization of people's rights." –

2 NPA minor recruits rescued

From the Visayan Daily Star (Aug 17, 2020): 2 NPA minor recruits rescued

The Philippine Army reported yesterday the rescue of two New People’s Army female recruits, who are minors, while a suspected NPA red fighter facing attempted murder charges was apprehended, following two encounters in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.

Lt. Col. Melvin Flores, 62nd Infantry Battalion commander, yesterday identified the captured NPA member as Rennel Remasog, 20, resident of Sitio Compound, Brgy Luz, Guihulngan City. Remasog belongs to the SYP Platoon of the Leonardo Panaligan Command, the report said.

Flores, however, withheld the identities of the two female NPA recruits, who are minors, for security reasons.

Remasog is facing attempted murder charges, he added.

Guihulngan City Mayor Jorge Joan Reyes said he was saddened by the continued recruitment of minors by the NPA, stressing that they are being recruited to fight a battle that they do not even fully understand.

“They (NPA) have ruined our children’s future,” Reyes said, as he also strongly condemned the terroristic activities and fabricated lies of the NPA.

Their sanctioned use of Improvised Explosive Device (IED) just proves that this is how they value the lives of their people whom they use as sacrificial lambs, he added.

Ka JB Regalado, spokesman of the Leonardo Panaligan Command, issued a statement dismissing the encounter in Sitio Maluy-a, Brgy. Sandayao, Guihulngan City. He denied that they have a casualty among their ranks.

He claimed that the alleged recovery of war material was fake news, despite identification of the slain rebel by the military.

Regalado even further claimed that they have inflicted 10 casualties on the AFP side as a result of their staged ambush in Sitio Tabago of the same barangay, with no casualty on their side.

Prior to the two encounters, 62IB soldiers also figured in a clash with about 15 NPA rebels in Sitio Uway-uway, Brgy Quintin Remo, Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental.

The encounters in Sitios Maluy-a and Tabago in Brgy, Sandayao, Guihulngan City,on Aug. 13 and 14, led to the death of Rikkim Marosino,21, and the recovery of two 45 caliber pistols, a 12 gauge shotgun, a caliber 22 Carbine rifle, 140 live ammunition of M-60 machinegun, three 40mm high explosives, a commercial radio, a magazine of M16 rifle with 22 ammunition, five back packs with personal belongings, a solar panel, 20 meters of electrical wire for IEDC (Improvised Explosive Device) and half a sack of rice, Flores said.

Despite the propaganda and denials of the NPA, Flores said that the recruitment of minors and the use of landmines by the LPC-NPA just prove that they are clear violators of human rights and the International Humanitarian Law.

“These terrorists are experts in deceiving innocent civilians for their selfish purpose and nonsense ideology,” he added.

Top Army, ex-MILF commanders trained on disaster response

From MindaNews(Aug 17, 2020): Top Army, ex-MILF commanders trained on disaster response (By FERDINANDH B. CABRERA)

They used to be enemies, the brains behind the attacks and the counter attacks and the grand plan to defeat each other.

But now things are different, over a year after the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) has been created with the ratification of Republic Act No. 11054 or the Bangsamoro Organic Law during a plebiscite last year.

To sustain the gains of the peace process, elements of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division and
field commanders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) completed a two-day executive course and simulation training on Incident Command System (ICS) on Sunday.

The program, dubbed as “Sindaw nu Kalilintad” (Light of Peace), aims to build a stronger partnership, management and cooperation in the Bangsamoro region and capacitate the participants to save lives and properties during man-made and natural calamities.

The former archenemies ate and slept together inside the military camp, sharing notes and experiences — the exact opposite for decades before BARMM was created last year as an offshoot of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, which was forged in 2014.

During the training, the participants were given tasks and underwent simulation exercises on what to do during terror attacks, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis and pandemic like the COVID-19.

Lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, BARMM interior minister, said they can use the members of both sides to enhance disaster response in the region.

“They showed good cooperation and if we can build and sustain their rapport, we can be more effective in responding to natural and man-made disasters, including COVID-19 and our perennial flooding problem,” he said in Filipino.

Providing training support were members of the BARMM Rapid Emergency Action on Disaster Incidence or BARMM READi and the BARMM’s Ministry of the Interior and Local Government.

Major General Diosdado Carreon, 6th ID chief, said that with the training, he sees “a well-equipped disaster responders.”

“We have seen how you worked shoulder to shoulder during our joint peace and security training and deployment, this is a testament of how the Bangsamoro peace agreement has become,” Carreon said.

Abdulraof Macacua, BARMM executive secretary and the MILF’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) chief, said that before the training was materialized, BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim, popularly known as Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, had envisioned that one day the government forces and MILF members will be working together for the common good.

Toks Ebrahim, MILF Joint Normalization Committee secretariat head, said he learned a lot from the training, aside from the camaraderie they established with the top military officials in the region.

“Because of the training, we can coordinate with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the local government units, no matter the magnitude of the incident,” he said in Filipino.

NPA’s high-powered guns, war materials recovered in Ilocos clashes

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 17, 2020): NPA’s high-powered guns, war materials recovered in Ilocos clashes (By Freddie G. Lazaro)

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SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union, Aug. 17 (PIA) - Operating troops of the army’s 702nd Infantry Brigade have recovered at least 10 high-powered guns and other paraphernalia from the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels during the two clashes in Ilocos Sur on August 8 and 14.

During the latest encounter between government troops and communist rebels that happened along the boundaries of Gregorio del Pilar and San Emilio, both in Ilocos Sur, on Friday, August 14, assorted medicines, an AM/FM transistor radio, a magazine assembly of an AK47 rifle, and personal belongings were recovered.

A platoon of soldiers from the army’s 702nd Infantry Brigade encountered more or less 7 communist rebels from the Komiteng Larangang Gerilya - Southern Ilocos Sur (KLG - SIS) under rebel leader “Ka Nero” that resulted to the recovery of one M16 rifle.

The said NPA rebels were remnants of the KLG-SIS encountered by the soldiers on August 8 in Barangay Suagayan, Santa Lucia, Ilocos Sur.

During the clearing operation after the encounter in Santa Lucia town on August 8, the government troopers recovered the cadavers of the five killed NPA rebels and nine high-powered guns and other war materials. These include four M16 Armalite rifles, two M14 rifles, one caliber .45 pistol, one 9mm pistol, and one shotgun. Other items seized from the site were six Improvised Explosive Devices, 15 blasting caps, five detonating switches, two rolls of 25 meters wire, three hand grenades, 15 cellphones, subversive documents, personal belongings, and assorted medicines.

Army Brigadier General Audrey L. Pasia, the commander of the army’s 702nd Infantry Brigade, said the recovery of the firearms and other war materials had caused a big blow on the capability of the NPA bandits.

He said that pursuit operation against the fleeing remnants of the KLG- SIS headed by AKA Nero is continuing.

“It is only a matter of time before we can corner them (NPA rebels) again, and deliver the final blow for their complete decimation. Before that happened, I was encouraging the remaining members of the KLG-SIS to surrender to the authorities for safety and to avoid casualty and injury,” he said.

As part of the initiative of the Duterte administration for the whole of the nation's approach to end the local communist’s armed conflict, each rebel surrenderee will get a package of livelihood benefits through the Enhanced Comprehensive Livelihood Integration Program (E-CLIP). (JCR/FGL, PIA1)

Ex-NPA supporters get livelihood aid from Candon City

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 17, 2020): Ex-NPA supporters get livelihood aid from Candon City (By Freddie G. Lazaro)

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SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union, Aug. 17 (PIA) - - At least 96 former supporters of the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels received livelihood assistance from the city government of Candon City, Ilocos Sur.

Lieutenant Colonel Rodrigo A. Mariñas Jr., the commander of the army’s 81st Infantry Battalion (IB), said on Monday that these former NPA supporters, who renounced their support for the rebels, were residents of Barangays Tablac and Bugnay, both in Candon City.

Each supporter received P8,500.00 livelihood assistance from the Candon City Task Force in Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (CTF-ELCAC), in coordination with the army’s 81st IB and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Candon City Mayor Ericson G. Singson, together with the police and the army officers distributed the assistance at the city’s multi-purpose hall on July 17.

"This endeavor is one of the initiatives of the government to help the former NPA supporters, who pledged their loyalty to the government, through giving a small amount to start with income-generating activities," said Mariñas.

Mayor Singson expressed optimism that the aid given to the beneficiaries will be used for a venture that will help them earn more income.

Singson challenged the beneficiaries to propagate the livelihood assistance they received and be an epitome for the others who are still supporting the NPA bandits.

He said that the assistance given to the former NPA supporters was the city government’s continuing commitment to the whole of nation’s approach to end the local communist armed conflict.

“I am appealing to each and everyone to cooperate in ending the problem of local insurgency in order to achieve a lasting peace and development, as we can do it for Candon,” said Mayor Singson.

Army Brigadier General Audrey L. Pasia PA, the commander of the army’s 702nd Infantry Brigade, lauded the leadership of Candon City in contributing to the efforts of the national government and the security sector in coming up with a positive action to end the local armed conflict.

“I am confident that this endeavor will encourage other NPA supporters to return to the folds of the government,” said Pasia. (JCR/FGL, PIA 1)

Army gives assistance to the families of slain NPA rebels

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 17, 2020): Army gives assistance to the families of slain NPA rebels (By Freddie G. Lazaro)

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SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union, Aug. 17 (PIA) - - The army’s 7th Infantry Division headed by Major General Alfredo V. Rosario Jr. extended financial assistance to the bereaved families of the slain New People’s Army (NPA) and civilian during the encounter in Barangay Santa Lucia, Ilocos Sur on August 8.

Army Brigadier General Audrey L. Pasia, the commander of the 702nd Infantry Brigade, said that Lieutenant Colonel Rodrigo A. Mariñas Jr., the commander of the 81st Infantry Battalion (IB), visited the wake of the three slain NPAs, who are residents in Ilocos Sur to hand-over the cash aid to the grieving families.

The three killed NPAs were identified as Edgar Justo AKA Nardo and Rolando Marvil AKA Eugene, both residents of Barangay Bugnay, Candon City; and Rogelio Capulas AKA Asiong and Witiwit, a resident of Sitio Linggawa, Barangay Pidpid, Sta. Cruz, Ilocos Sur. All of them were members of the Komiteng Larangang Guerilya – Southern Ilocos Sur (KLG-SIS).

The two other slain NPAs were residents in Cordillera Administrative Region. They were identified as Pamela Peralta AKA Maymay from Asin Road, Baguio City, the alleged political officer of the KLG-SIS and Marxes M. Dazon, 22, of Barangay Kayan, Tadian, Mountain Province.

“They may be on the other side but still they are Filipinos who fell victims to the deception of the communists led by Jose Maria Sison who is leading its way from home and in the comforts of Europe,” said Pasia.

“We set aside a small amount from the army fund to extend help to the bereaved family of the slain NPAs,” he added.

The army also visited the wake of Diosdado Valdez Jr., 36, in Barangay Parioc 1st, Candon City and provided also assistance to the mourning family. Valdez, a businessman who was engaged in buy and sale of vegetables, was allegedly hit by a bullet from the NPAs during the encounter.

Meanwhile, the slain soldier during the encounter was identified as Private First Class Wilfredo N. Doctor Jr., a member of the army’s 91st Brigade Reconnaissance Company and a resident of Pangasinan.

“The army is mourning the death of the seven Filipinos whose precious lives were taken by the evils of communism,” he said.

Pasia said that the army sympathizes and feels the pains inflicted on the wounded individuals and commiserate with those who were displaced from the encounter site.

“Once again, I’m reiterating that security is a concern of everybody; that we should all work together, the security forces and the community, to put an end to the local communist armed conflict, Pasia said.

For his part, Ilocos Sur Governor Ryan Luis V. Singson also expressed his deepest sympathy to the families of the slain NPAs and a civilian during the encounter.

“To my dear province mates, the encounter happened between our soldiers and the NPA is a manifestation of obstacles that we should overcome to achieve our lasting peace. I ask you to pray for our troops, and, we pray for the anti-government side to raise their arms and return to the folds of our government,” said Singson.

“We are all Filipinos. Let us join hands and pray that in the shortest possible time this will be over. Let us stay alert, cooperate and follow our authorities and we offer our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family of all the casualties,” Singson added. (JCR/FGL,PIA 1)

Government welcomes 72 rebel returnees in Pangasinan

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 17, 2020): Government welcomes 72 rebel returnees in Pangasinan (By Venus May H. Sarmiento)

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SAN QUINTIN, Pangasinan, Aug. 17 (PIA) - The government welcomed 72 rebel returnees and supporters from the eastern town of San Quintin in a simple ceremony during the launch of "Oplan Panagsubli" 2.0 on Wednesday.

"Oplan Panagsubli," is one of the programs of the Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF-ELCAC) which aims to convince rebels to support and take side with the government and to sustain Pangasinan’s present situation as insurgency-free.

Said rebel returnees and supporters were affiliated into two groups: the Carayungan South Farmers Association led by their President Mr. Eddie Lacasandile and the South Farmers Association led by Mrs. Leticia Aban.

During the event, Police Brigadier General Rodolfo Azurin Jr., regional director for Police Regional Office 1, extended his appreciation to the rebel returnees and supporters who returned to the government side.

“Bilang mga makabayang mamamayang Pilipino, ating pakatandaan na ang pagkakaisa at kapayapaan ng sambayanan ang daan tungo sa maunlad na kinabukasan ng bayan. Naniniwala ako na mananatili ang kapayapaan kung tayo ay magkakaisa at makikipagtulungan sa pamahalaan. Gamitin ninyo ang pagkakataong ito upang magbagong-buhay, magtrabaho ng malinis at sumunod sa batas,” he said.

OPLAN PANAGSUBLI. The government welcomes 72 rebel returnees and supporters from the eastern town of San Quintin, Pangasinan in a simple ceremony during the launch of ‘Oplan Panagsubli’ 2.0 on Wednesday. (photos courtesy of San Quintin PMS)

Governor Amado Espino III, who was represented by Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) Chief Rhodyn Luchinvar Oro, said the program is the start of the inclusive integration for the former rebels to live normal lives in the community.

“Nais ipabatid ng ating Gobernador na taos puso ang kanyang suporta sa ating mga kababayan na nagsusulong ng mga program upang maging produktibong mamamayan ng Pangasinan,” said Col. Oro

The activity was highlighted by the granting of benefits and commitment of local government units and national government agencies to the rebel returnees and supporters which include: agricultural equipment (two units hand tractors, water pumps, 20 backpacks of farm liquid sprayer); 20 trays of assorted vegetables; pasteurized milk; 30 sacks of rice; livelihood provisions such as fertilizers, tilapia fingerlings, hybrid seeds, fruit-bearing trees; and personal protective equipment against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

They also received financial assistance on top of the scholarship grants on livelihood programs, PhilHealth membership and the privileges of free men.

Former rebel and now Carayungan South Farmers Association President Lacasandile expressed his gratitude and support to the government.

“Kami ay nangangako na kami ay tutulong sa lahat ng programa para sa kaayusan at kapayapaan sa Pangasinan,” said Lacasandile.

Also present during the event were 6th District Rep. Tyrone Agabas, several mayors, and regional and provincial directors of various government agencies.

"Panagsubli" is an Ilocano term which means "return."

The first "Oplan Panagsubli" was held in November 2019 where 26 former rebels from western Pangasinan returned to the government. (JCR/AMB/ VHS/PIA Pangasinan with reports from Philippine Army and provincial government)

83rd IB subdues CTGs in Lagonoy town, high powered firearms seized

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 17, 2020): 83rd IB subdues CTGs in Lagonoy town, high powered firearms seized  (By Ana-Liza S. Macatangay)

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CAMP ELIAS ANGELES, Pili, Camarines Sur, Aug. 16 (PIA) -- Joint elements of 83rd Infantry Battalion (83IB) and members of the Philippine National Police (PNP)-Lagonoy subdued members of the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) and killed two Communist NPA terrorists (CNTs) in a firefight at Brgy. Olas, Lagonoy, Camarines Sur, Aug. 15, Saturday.

The encounter took place at 8:20 in the morning after the government troopers responded to a tip from a barangay resident informing them of the presence of an armed group.

Seized high-powered guns from the encounter site at Brgy. Olas, Lagonoy, Camarines Sur, Aug. 15, 2020, Saturday. (Photo courtesy of 9ID DPAO/PA. 

The troops immediately conducted security operations in the said area and chanced upon 15 CTGs. A firefight ensued resulting to the killing of two CNTs. The enemies fled to an unknown direction while the troopers were able to seize high-powered firearms which include two M16 rifles, one M653 rifle, one AK47 and propaganda materials from the fleeing CNTs.

In a press statement issued by the Division Public Affairs Office (DPAO) Spokesperson, CPT John Paul Belleza, he stated that this is another triumph on the part of the government, citing the cooperation being extended by the community.

“It can be recalled that last week of July, a CNT member was also killed and one M60 machine gun, M16 rifle, anti-personnel mine, cellphone, assorted ammunitions, roll of electric wire, propaganda materials and other personal belongings were seized in an armed clash in Sorsogon. This triumph will not be possible without our community helping us,” Belleza added.

Joint Task Force Bicolandia (JTFB) under MGEN HENRY A ROBINSON JR PA stressed that the operation foiled the attempt of the CTG to carry out their terroristic acts in the fourth district of the province.

"Our top priority is to safeguard the civilians and their communities by preventing the CTG from hampering the peace efforts of the government. Our string of accomplishments is a proof of how sincere your Army in Bicol to attain genuine peace and sustainable development,” the 9ID Commander said.

He then called on the Bicolanos to be part of the solution to end decades of insurgency in the region.

“To all the Bicolanos, we are in this together. Tulong-tulong tayong tapusin ang armadong tunggalian," MGen Robinson stressed. (LSMacatangay, with reports from 9ID DPAO JPBelleza- PIAV/Camarines Sur)