Monday, November 16, 2020

6ID hails 'persona non grata' declaration vs. terror groups

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 16, 2020): 6ID hails 'persona non grata' declaration vs. terror groups (By Noel Punzalan)

The Regional Peace and Order Council -12 during a recent meeting. (File photo courtesy of 6ID)

COTABATO CITY – The military here has lauded members of the Regional Peace and Order Council-12 (Soccsksargen) for declaring all local terrorist groups (LTGs) operating in Central Mindanao "persona non grata" or unwelcome.

This came after RPOC-12 released on Sunday a resolution urging all local government units in the region to support the government’s campaign against loose firearms that is seen as a great help in the reduction of crime and violence in the communities.

“Saboteurs of peace are not welcome here,” Maj. Gen. Juvymax Uy, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division (ID) and member of the RPOC-12, told reporters here on Monday.

In particular, Uy was referring to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, the Dawlah Islamiya, and the communist New People’s Army that have all been involved in various atrocities in the region, especially in remote areas.

Last week, a combined unit of police and military troopers neutralized a Dawlah Islamiya sub-leader and five of his followers in Polomolok, South Cotabato.

In a statement, RPOC-12 head Sultan Kudarat Governor Suharto Mangudadatu lauded the government troops for a job well done on the particular operation.

“We are in support of this program because we shun violence and extremism,” Mangudadatu said.

Uy said the military, as part of the regional security sector, also urged all barangay officials to issue village-level resolutions unwelcoming the LTGs in their respective areas.

The 6ID covers the provinces of Maguindanao, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato, and parts of Sarangani and Lanao del Sur in its area of operation.

Mindanao journos refresh skills in conflict-sensitive reporting

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 16, 2020): Mindanao journos refresh skills in conflict-sensitive reporting (By Divina Suson)

PEACE JOURNALISM. Seven journalists and a peace worker in Iligan City and Cagayan de Oro City complete a three-day training on Conflict Sensitive Journalism course organized by the Nonviolent Peaceforce and DW Akademie on Saturday (Nov. 14, 2020) in Libertad town, Misamis Oriental. The participants are (seated, L-R) Bonita Ermac of Manila Bulletin, Roxanne Arevalo of ABS-CBN News, Rigine Clyr Arraz of, Divina Suson of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Merlyn Manos of GMA 7, (standing, R-L) Ghiner Cabanday of DXIC RMN Iligan, Nef Luczon of the Philippine News Agency, Elnathan Brant Ermac of Pakigdait, Inc., and resource person Ryan Rosauro of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. (Photo courtesy of Nonviolent Peaceforce/DW Akademie)

LIBERTAD, Misamis Oriental--Seven journalists covering the Bangsamoro region as well as a peace worker in Lanao del Norte have completed a three-day training on Conflict Sensitive Journalism (CSJ) course here over the weekend.

Saturday's training, organized by the non-government organization (NGO) Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP) and supported by the DW Akademie, aims to further expand the proficiency of the media practitioners in writing and handling conflict-sensitive stories, especially in covering conflicts inside the Bangsamoro regions, NP Communications Officer Marlon Dedumo said Monday.

Dedumo said another group of journalists will undergo the same training this week in Cotabato City.

“The workshop also wants to help the journalists to positively influence the outcome of the conflict, through understanding its nature and dynamics, and learn the various ways to analyze it,” Dedumo said.

He said the NP has been following the peace process in Mindanao for 13 years and was the first international NGO invited to become a member of the civilian protection component, tasked with monitoring and reporting the situation of civilians and assets in conflict-affected communities in the Bangsamoro.

According to Dedumo, the CSJ course introduces participants to the concept of conflict-sensitive journalism as a pathway for media to positively influence the outcome of conflicts in society.

He said the course also provided an in-depth view of the Bangsamoro transition, which resulted from the landmark peace deal between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 2014.

“I’m grateful to the NP for organizing this event. As a peace worker and content writer of Pakigdait, learning to properly cover an event in the lens of a conflict-sensitive perspective would prove beneficial because how news and stories about conflict are written directly and indirectly affects the peace situation in Mindanao”, said Brant Ermac, a content writer for peace advocacy group Pakigdait. (

Army’s 91st IB donates food packs to Aurora typhoon victims

 From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 16, 2020): Army’s 91st IB donates food packs to Aurora typhoon victims (By Jason De Asis)

FOOD DONATION. The Army’s 91st Infantry “Sinagtala” Battalion (91st IB) celebrates its third founding anniversary by distributing 200 food packs to Typhoon Ulysses victims in Baler, Aurora on Monday (Nov. 16, 2020). Lt. Col. Reandrew P. Rubio, commanding officer of 91st IB, said they decided to celebrate the occasion by serving the people. (Photo by Jason de Asis)

BALER, Aurora – The Army’s 91st Infantry “Sinagtala” Battalion (91st IB) on Monday celebrated its third founding anniversary by distributing 200 food packs for Typhoon Ulysses victims in this capital town.

Lt. Col. Reandrew P. Rubio, commanding officer of 91st IB, said that instead of formally celebrating the occasion, the troops initiated the giving of relief aid to 200 individuals affected by the typhoon in Purok 5, Barangay Sabang, here.

“This is one way of helping our constituents and the local government units (LGUs) amid the onslaught brought by typhoon Ulysses. We would like to celebrate our anniversary with our families, friends, stakeholders, other friendly forces, among others in order for us to let the public know our organizations and to give a simple thank you for their overwhelming support to us. However, we decided to celebrate it by serving the people,” Rubio said in an interview.

He said that what the people need most during this time of calamity is the outpouring of the "bayanihan" spirit.

“Thus, in response, it is gratifying experience for us in the battalion to extend our hands to the community through act of kindness such as provision of foods and other relief good to less fortunate individuals in the locality,” Rubio said.

He also said the move is part of the Army’s message of hope to the typhoon victims that soldiers are always there for the people’s welfare and safety aside from being the guardians of peace.

Major Alexander I. Dawa, 7th Infantry “Kaugnay” Division command chaplain, recited a short prayer in the presence of the residents prior to the distribution of food packs.

The Sinagtala troopers and personnel of 307th Community Defense Group of the Aurora Ready Reserve Infantry Battalion also participated in a clean-up drive activity at Sabang Beach, Barangay Sabang here.

The 91st IB was activated on Dec. 4, 2017 and was deployed at Camp Jaime Bitong, Barangay Calabuanan, this town.

The troops are currently conducting internal security within the whole province of Aurora and three municipalities of Nueva Ecija particularly Gabaldon, Bongabon and Laur.

Reelected MNLF chair vows for peace collaboration in BARMM

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 16, 2020): Reelected MNLF chair vows for peace collaboration in BARMM (By Edwin Fernandez)

Reelected Moro National Liberation Front Central Committee Chairman Muslimin Sema. (Photo from Sema FB page)

Reelected Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Central Committee (CC) chair Muslimin Sema vowed to continue working with his counterparts to achieve peace in the Bangsamoro areas of Mindanao.

Sema was reelected and positioned anew as chair of the MNLF–CC, one of the two factions of the MNLF, after his predecessor, Yusoph Jikiri, died of cancer last month.

The other faction of the MNLF is headed by Prof. Nur Misuari, its founding chair. Sema is a Maguindanaon, while Jikiri, like Misuari, was a Tausug.

The MNLF-CC meeting was held on Sunday at a hotel in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao.

"We assure of our dedication to work, along with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, in the spirit of convergence and collaboration, in establishing a genuine, lasting peace in the Bangsamoro homeland,” Sema said in a statement Monday.

Sema played major roles, along with Misuari, in the peace negotiation with the Philippine government that led to the signing of the 1996 GPH-MNLF peace accord.

Sema, who also served as Cotabato City mayor for nine years, said his group will continue to support all the peace initiatives of MalacaƱang in the Southern Philippines.

During Sunday’s election, his younger brother Romeo Sema, labor minister of the Bangsamoro Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), was also elected as MNLF-CC’s vice chairman for political affairs.

63 NPA rebels yield to Army in Sultan Kudarat

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 16, 2020): 63 NPA rebels yield to Army in Sultan Kudarat (By Edwin Fernandez)

SURRENDERED FIREARMS. Some of the firearms turned in by 63 New People’s Army rebels in Sen. Ninoy Aquino, an upland town in Sultan Kudarat. The surrenderers, who are currently undergoing tactical debriefing at the Army’s 6th Infantry Division headquarters in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao, will be sent back to Senator Ninoy Aquino town to be reunited with their families. (Photo courtesy of 7IB)

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao – Saying they want to live normal lives with their loved ones, 63 communist rebels surrendered to the military and pledged allegiance to the government over the weekend, the Army here said Monday.

The 63 NPAs are from Senator Ninoy Aquino town in Sultan Kudarat,” said Maj. Gen. Juvymax Uy, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division (6ID).

The former rebels also turned in 32 assorted firearms and explosives
on Sunday afternoon to officials of the 7th Infantry Battalion (7IB) under the 601st Infantry Brigade (601st IBde).

Brig. Gen. Roy Galido, Army’s 601st IBde commander, lauded the local officials of Sen. Ninoy Aquino for helping the Army convince the rebels to surrender.

Galido said the rebels claimed they were tired of running away from government forces and decided to surrender to be with their families this Christmas.

“We were duped, and we just want to go home and be with our families again,” Ka Rex, one of the surrenderers, said in a short interview by reporters in this camp Monday.

Uy had earlier urged local officials in the Soccsksargen Region to declare communist New Peoples’ Army (NPA) and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter (BIFF) persona non grata or unwelcome in their communities.

The 6ID commander also vowed to eradicate the communist movement in Central Mindanao before yearend.

“While we are ready to use force, that is our last option when all diplomatic means shall fail,” Uy said, adding that he ordered all Army camps to open their doors for NPA members and supporters who wish to live normal lives.

The former rebels will be enrolled under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program of Sultan Kudarat province, the Army official said.

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

More AFP, PNP equipment sent to Cagayan for disaster response

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 16, 2020): More AFP, PNP equipment sent to Cagayan for disaster response (By Priam Nepomuceno and Christopher Lloyd Caliwan)

MILITARY EQUIPMENT. The communications van is capable of air-to-ground, ground-to-ground, sea-to-ground, and long-range communications. It is now deployed at the Cagayan Provincial Capitol. (Photo courtesy of PAF)

The military and police have mobilized more equipment for use in the ongoing disaster response efforts in Region 2 (Cagayan Valley), one of the areas that suffered heavy flooding due to the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses last week.

In a statement Sunday night, Philippine Air Force (PAF) spokesperson, Lt. Col. Aristides Galang, said a communications van and an air traffic controller are now deployed at the Cagayan Provincial Capitol.

The communications van is capable of air-to-ground, ground-to-ground, sea-to-ground, and long-range communications while the air traffic controller is responsible for coordinating with inbound and outbound PAF aircraft conducting aerial search-and-rescue operations over the affected areas.

"The deployment of the communications van and air traffic controller will further capacitate the SAR teams and other ground troops to expedite rescue operations to those affected by the heavy floods caused by Typhoon Ulysses," he said.

Meanwhile, two UH-IH helicopters from the PAF's Tactical Operations Group 2 are transporting relief goods and other essential items to thousands of families affected by the typhoon, he added.

As of Sunday, 3,500 pounds of cargoes had been transported from Cagayan Provincial Capitol to the inaccessible areas in the towns of Alcala, Amulung, Lal-lo, Solana, and Enrile in Cagayan.

Also, 11 rubber boats and two fiberglass rescue boats arrived in Tuguegarao City Saturday night and used for rescue operations on Sunday morning.

The rubber boats came from the Philippine National Police's National Capital Region Police Office, Police Regional Office 1, Police Regional Office 3, Maritime Group and Baguio City.

Some three PNP ambulances with a complement of doctors and nurses also arrived d in Cagayan Valley and deployed to evacuation centers. Two platoons of search-and-rescue personnel from PNP-Special Action Force were also deployed to Cagayan Valley to assist in the operations.

Some 400 police disaster response personnel were deployed to Cagayan Valley to join the rescue and relief efforts. Two PNP helicopters are also in Cagayan Valley to assist and direct ground operations and possible medical evacuation.

Heavy-lift troop carriers also transported assorted medical supplies, rice, water, and food packs to the affected areas.

Rescue chopper flies septuagenarian in need of dialysis

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 16, 2020): Rescue chopper flies septuagenarian in need of dialysis (By Priam Nepomuceno)

MED EVAC. Cleofina Abad, 78, was airlifted on board a military rescue chopper Monday morning to get to a hospital in Tuguegarao City, Cagayan for her dialysis. (PAF photo)

A 78-year-old woman who is in need of urgent dialysis was airlifted on board a military rescue chopper Monday morning.

Philippine Air Force spokesperson, Lt. Col. Aristides Galang said the patient, Cleofina Abad from Gonzaga town in Cagayan, was airlifted to the Divine Mercy Medical Center in Tuguegarao City on board a Sikorsky S-76.

Galang said Abad's request for a medical evacuation was forwarded to Joint Task Force Tala as several areas are still inaccessible for land transport.

Many areas in Cagayan province are submerged in floodwater due to the spilling of dams following weeks of rains from a number of typhoons that hit the country.

"And since our helicopters are also tasked for medical evacuation missions, the PAF responded," he said in Filipino.

The patient was accompanied by her husband, Rosendo, 82, in the flight to the hospital.

Meanwhile, a UH-IH helicopter of the PAF also conducted relief operations on Monday from the Cagayan Capitol grounds in Tuguegarao City to Alcala, Amulung, and Solana towns.

A total of 1,587.3 pounds of assorted relief goods were distributed to most affected areas in Alcala town, Galang said.

AFP rescues over 265K persons affected by Typhoon Ulysses

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 16, 2020): AFP rescues over 265K persons affected by Typhoon Ulysses (By Priam Nepomuceno)

RESCUE MISSIONS. Philippine Air Force aircraft and personnel prepare for rescue missions in Cagayan Valley in this undated photo. The province was heavily affected by the massive flooding caused by Typhoon Ulysses. (Photo courtesy of PAF)

Different military units have so far rescued a total of 265,339 individuals in the areas severely hit by Typhoon Ulysses, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Monday.

Through continuous search, rescue, and retrieval (SRR) operations, the AFP units have saved 1,078 lives from the massive flooding in Northern Luzon including the Cagayan Valley while 263,444 individuals were rescued in Southern Luzon following the onslaught of "Ulysses".

The AFP SRR teams also helped 817 persons in the National Capital Region (NCR). The AFP is leading the SRR cluster of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC).

“Our soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines have switched their firearms with ropes, life rings, and life jackets to respond to the cries for help during heavy and widespread flooding that affected our people. The AFP leads the SRR cluster and continues to work with other government agencies to save more lives amidst the challenges brought by natural calamities and a global pandemic,” said AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Gilbert Gapay in a statement.

Among SRR cluster members are the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of Health–Health Emergency Management Staff (DOH-HEMS), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Office of Civil Defense (OCD), and the Philippine Red Cross (PRC).

The AFP has so far deployed a total of 83 SRR teams nationwide to help local government units (LGUs) in their disaster response efforts. It also deployed 83 land assets, nine aircraft, and 18 water assets.

Meanwhile, a total of 145 teams remain on standby for possible deployment and augmentation along with 268 land assets, nine aircraft, two vessels, and 25 rubber boats.

In its latest efforts, the AFP sent 32 SRR teams in the provinces of Cagayan and Isabela which were heavily flooded due to the cumulative effects of the recent typhoons and release of water from Magat Dam.

It also deployed three water search-and-rescue (WASAR) teams with three boats while two UH-1H, two Bell-412, and two C-295s aircraft are carrying out disaster response and relief missions in Tuguegarao City. An air ambulance is also on standby at the Northern Luzon Command (NolCom) for possible deployment.

Three more WASAR teams from the Army Engineers are coming from Villamor Air Base in Pasay and two more from the Naval Forces Northern Luzon departing from San Fernando, La Union.

The AFP also launched the "Tulong Bayanihan" program, a civil-military operations initiative that turned military camps into donation drop-off centers for those who wish to donate and send help to affected individuals.

The military is likewise assisting in the distribution and transportation of food and non-food items in affected communities in Northern and Southern Luzon.

A total of 9,110 relief goods were distributed by personnel from NolCom while 2,579 were handed out by Southern Luzon Command (SolCom).

Most recent relief operations conducted were in Cagayan as SRR teams from the Marine Battalion Landing Team-10 together with the local government unit of Aparri, Cagayan distributed food packs to 400 families of Barangay Bisagu as of Sunday.

Also transported to Tuguegarao City via C-130 aircraft were 1,000 boxes of relief goods, 14 boxes of personal protective equipment and 20,000 boxes of face masks and face shields from the Philippine Air Force (PAF) headquarters in Pasay City.

“While the AFP has started to shift to relief efforts in some areas, our responding teams continue to brave heavily flooded communities to conduct search, rescue and retrieval operations in the hopes of rescuing more individuals. Our resilience and 'Bayanihan' have allowed us to hurdle obstacles. We call on everyone to hold on to safety as help is on the way and help will come,” Gapay said.

Esperon takes witness stand on Inopacan massacre

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 16, 2020): Esperon takes witness stand on Inopacan massacre (By Benjamin Pulta)

National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. 

A time of reckoning long overdue has started for alleged members of communist terrorist groups (CTGs) behind the mass killings of individuals suspected of being embedded government spies in the rebel group in Inopacan, Leyte.

National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. the government’s 29th and final witness in the case, was called by government prosecutors to the stand on Monday.

“It is high time that the CPP-NPA be held accountable for the atrocities they have committed against our people, through the application of the judicial process,” Esperon said in a statement.“ Their acts only serve to reinforce the true criminal and terrorist nature of the CPP-NPA masquerading under the guise of a revolutionary armed movement."

Esperon, a former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff, had filed the case against fugitive Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) leader Jose Maria Sison and others in 2006.

The proceedings were held before the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 32 under Judge Thelma Bunyi-Medina.

Virtually present were accused Vicente P. Ladlad, Rafael Baylosis, Adelberto Silva, Luzviminda Orillo, Presillano Beringel, Muco Lubong also known as Venancio Lubong, and Felix Dumali.

Outstanding warrants were also issued against Sison, Benito E. Tiamzon, Wilma A. Tiamzon, and Randall Echanis.

Likewise, originally named in the charges were Saturnino Ocampo, Norberto A. Murillo, Oscar P. Belleza, Dario B. Tomada, Exuperio Lloren, and Lino Salazar also known as Felomino Salazar.

Warrants of arrest were issued on August 28, 2019 against the respondents in connection with the discovery of a mass grave in Inopacan town, Leyte in 2006.

From 1984 to 1986, the CPP-New People’s Army launched a nationwide purging of their ranks.

In the Visayas, the purge was named Oplan Venereal Disease where 300 suspected government assets within the organization were arbitrarily sentenced and executed in Leyte province alone.

The 8th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army’s 802nd Infantry Brigade in 2006 unearthed the skeletal remains of 67 individuals in Mt. Sapang Dako, Inopacan town.

The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United Nations Security Council under Resolution No.1373.

NFNL troops augment massive rescue and relief operations in

From the Philippine Information Agency (Nov 15, 2020): NFNL troops augment massive rescue and relief operations in Cagayan (By Freddie G. Lazaro) 

SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union, Nov. 15 (PIA) - - Personnel of the Naval Forces Northern Luzon (NFNL) of the Philippine Navy has augmented the ongoing massive rescue and relief operations to the submerged towns and cities in Cagayan on Saturday.

NFNL’s Spokesperson Lieutenant Jaypee B. Abuan said that on Sunday morning, some of the deployed Disaster Response and Rescue Teams (DRRTs) of the Naval Task Group Fleet Marine Cagayan (NTG-FMC) helped in the distribution of food packs for at least 2,686 flood-affected families in the different towns and cities of Cagayan.

“In participation to other national government agencies, our DRRTs have primarily distributed bottled waters and food packs comprised of rice, noodles, and canned goods,” said Abuan.

Upon the instruction of Commodore Caesar Bernard Valencia, the NFNL’s commander, Abuan said the NFNL closely coordinated with the Local and Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils (DRRMCs) of Region 2 for the possible deployment of more personnel and more assets on the ground for relief and rescue operations to the flood-affected areas in Cagayan.

“At present, we already deployed at least 100 marine soldiers and sailors to Cagayan, and we also have standby teams ready for deployment,” he said.

Aside from personnel, the NFNL had earlier brought to Cagayan four trucks - one KM250 and three KM450, two rubber boats, and various rescue and life-saving equipment.

The marine personnel and the sailors are currently augmenting the ongoing Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HADR) operations in Tuguegarao City, Aparri, Claveria, Sanchez Mira, Sta Ana, Sta Teresita, and Gonzaga, all in Cagayan province.

“Our two deployed Water Search and Rescue (WASAR) teams are from the Naval Special Operations Group-Northern Luzon (NAVSOG-NL) that has the expertise on WASAR operations,” said Abuan.

According to Abuan, the two WASAR teams are performing search and retrieval operation after receiving reports that there are fatalities in the flooded areas of the province. (JCR/FGL, PIA 1)