Monday, January 25, 2021

Remains of rebel leader unearthed in Cagayan town, says Army

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jan 25, 2021): Remains of rebel leader unearthed in Cagayan town, says Army (By: Villamor Visaya Jr.)

The remains of Justine Bautista, a reported rebel leader, are being unearthed at a site in Barangay Bitag Grande, Baggao, Cagayan on Saturday. Photo courtesy of the Army’s 5th Infantry Division

Army soldiers and police unearthed the remains of a suspected rebel leader in Baggao town, Cagayan province on Saturday, Jan. 23.

In a belated report, the military on Monday identified the body as that of Justine Bautista alias “Aira,” a medical officer and political guide of the New People’s Army (NPA)-Northern Front Komiteng Rehiyon-Cagayan Valley.

Bautista was a former student of the Cagayan State University, and a member of the College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines.

His remains were found at Sitio Kapanisuwan in Barangay Bitag Grande.

Citing a former rebel, who served as the guide in going to the gravesite, the Army said Bautista was buried after he died in an encounter between the NPA-Northern Front and Army soldiers in a failed attack at a military detachment in San Jose, Baggao on June 25, 2017.

Major Gen Laurence Mina, 5th Infantry Division commander, said Bautista should have been given a decent burial since he was the son of an alleged rebel commander operating in Cagayan.

List of AFP chief contenders sent to Duterte

From Malaya Business Insight (Jan 25, 2021): List of AFP chief contenders sent to Duterte (By Victor Reyes)

DEFENSE Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has furnished President Duterte a list of senior military officials for the post of ninth Armed Forces chief under the Duterte administration.

Gen. Gilbert Gapay is reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56 on February 4.

Lorenzana did not say when the list was submitted and how many names are in the list.
“It’s an open race yet. Maybe next week we will know,” he said.

Gapay is bowing out of the service after serving as AFP chief for six months. Gapay, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class 1986, was Army chief prior to his assumption as AFP chief in August last year.

A senior military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Army chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, of the PMA Class 1987, is among the front-runners. Sobejana is due for retirement in August this year. He is a recipient of the Medal of Valor, the highest military decoration in combat, “for acts of conspicuous courage, gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty” during a firefight with about 150 Abu Sayyaf men in Isabela City in Basilan in 1995.

Kalinaw News: 701st Brigade Recognize changing of leadership and personnel awards and promotion

 Posted to Kalinaw News (Jan 25, 2021): 701st Brigade Recognize changing of leadership and personnel awards and promotion

Mati City, Davao Oriental – The 701st Brigade once again recognizes the changing of the leadership of its army backbone and recognition to key personnel. On January 25, 2021, TSg Ely Anecito D Avila (CAV) PA was given with a Certificate of Recognition for graduating number 2 on the recently concluded Sgt Major Course conducted by the Philippine Army. Also the outgoing First Sgt of the Brigade TSg Jake V Gesta (Inf) PA , awarded with Military Commendation Medal for his invaluable and exemplary performance during his stint as Brigade First Sgt.

Meanwhile, Donning of Rank to the Brigade Sgt Major SMS Peter Pio J Caparroso (QMS) PA recognizing his achievements of his military career at Sambisig Hall, Headquarters 701st Infantry (Kagitingan) Brigade, 7ID, Phil Army, Sitio Magay, Brgy Don Martin Marundan, Mati City Davao Oriental.

The event highlighted by a turn-over of First Sgt of the Brigade between TSg Jake Gesta (Inf) PA and TSg Richard L Luz (Inf) PA presided by Col Oliver C Maquiling INF (GSC) PA, Deputy Brigade Commander. Col Maquiling during his message emphasizes the two considerations of a leader while he lead; the Mission Accomplishments and Morale & Welfare of his men.

“In doing so, there are tasks to undertake such as; Relationship to others, Spiritual enlightenment, Happiness in doing it, Financial Management to be financially stable, Physical Fitness to maintain the daily duty, Education, continuously educating ourselves and Preservation of Nature”, Col Maquiling added.

[Kalinaw News is the official online source of information on the pursuit for peace in the Philippines This website is a property of the Civil-Military Operations Regiment, Philippine Army located at Lawton Avenue, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City. Contact us:]

Kalinaw News: PRRD Visits Troops of JTF-SULU, commends Militarty Accomplishments in FIGHT AGAINST TERRORISM

Posted to Kalinaw News (Jan 25, 2021): PRRD Visits Troops of JTF-SULU, commends Militarty Accomplishments in FIGHT AGAINST TERRORISM

January 25, 2021, Kuta Heneral Teodulfo Bautista, Jolo, Sulu – On the afternoon of January 22, 2021, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, visited the troops of Joint Task Force-Sulu and commended their accomplishments in the government’s fight against terrorism.

President Duterte, personally conferred the Order of Lapu-Lapu with the Rank of Kamagi to the troops of the Joint Task Force-Sulu led by its commander MGen William N Gonzales in connection with the success of the Perfect Storm 2, a special operation that led to the neutralization of seven Abu Sayyaf Group – Kidnap for Ransom Group (ASG-KFRG) members near Sulare Island in Parang twon, Sulu in November 2020.

The twenty-four (24) awardees, comprised of thirteen (13) military officers and eleven (11) enlisted personnel, came from the different branches of military service who form part the JTF namely, the Philippine Army, Philippine Navy, and Philippine Air Force.

In his speech, the president said that he is deeply honored to recognize the extraordinary heroism of the officers and enlisted personnel of the AFP. “They will be conferred with the order of Lapu-lapu with the rank of Kamagi which I hope will further inspire the rest of men and women in the AFP to continue serving our country no matter the cause.”

“Let me take this opportunity to commend the brave men and women of the Joint Task Force Sulu and the 11th Infantry Division for their recent gains against the Abu Sayyaf Group. Your determination has greatly reduced their strength in the past year,” the president added.

The President also remembered soldiers who have sacrificed their lives fighting for peace. “I see this is as a very opportune time since we are about to mark the second year of the bombing of Mount Carmel Cathedral on January 27. Our presence here is assurance that we will not just honor those who have perished in this tragedy we also do everything within our power to prevent similar acts of violence in this country so that people will not experience it again.”

The ceremony was also witnessed by Defense Secretary Delfin N Lorenzana, Chief of Staff Armed Forces of the Philippines, the three major service commanders, and Sulu Governor Abdusakur M Tan.

For his part, MGen Gonzales expressed his gratitude to the President and vowed to continue the JTF-Sulu’s mandate in pursuit of peace in the region. “This recognition inspires us to remain steadfast in our mission to eliminate the ASG and clear the path toward peace and development here in Sulu. More than this, the President’s assurance of support really uplifts the morale of our troops, who bravely risk their lives every day to protect our nation and fellowmen. We are very privileged that this is the first official visit of the president to a military unit,” said MGen Gonzales.

The Order of Lapu-Lapu is usually given to government officials/personnel and private individuals in recognition of their exemplary service in significantly advancing the campaign of the president. Aside from the award, President Duterte also gave a check that was received by CSAFP Gen Gilbert Gapay in support of the military’s offensive operations against the ASG in Sulu.

[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:]

Case junked vs ex-NPA supporters

From the Mindanao Times (Jan 25, 2021):  Case junked vs ex-NPA supporters (BY RHODA GRACE SARON)

LAW ENFORCERS released last week 10 individuals who were former supporters of the New People’s Army after investigators concluded that there was insufficient evidence to file a murder case against them.

The 27th Infantry Battalion facilitated the release of the 10 in coordination with the Peace 911, municipal government of Sto Tomas in Davao del Norte, Paquibato Police Stations, Barangays of Malabog, Mapula, Paquibato Proper and Lumiad and other government agencies.

First Lieutenant Gen Adrian Gautane, Civil- Military Operation (CMO) officer of the battalion, said the 10 were released after dialogues were conducted to ensure that they would resist arrest and voluntary surrender so they could be helped in facing the case.

The military unit turned over the 10 Davao City Police Office on January 10 so the investigation on the case against them could proceed.

Lt Col Victorino Seño, commander of the battalion, turned them over to City Police Director Kirby John Kraft and Aileen Mabanding, focal person of Peace 911.

As they were staying at the Malabog Police Station, Mabanding and Atty Elisa Evangelista-Lapiña, Sto. Tomas municipal administrator, in coordination with Paquibato Police Chief Marvin Hugos provided helped so the case against them could be immediately resolved.

During their release, members of their families welcomed them as they expressed their gratitude to those who helped them in facing the case.

6 years on, MILF maintains Mamasapano carnage due to PNP-SAF’s lack of coordination

From MindaNews (Jan 25, 2021): 6 years on, MILF maintains Mamasapano carnage due to PNP-SAF’s lack of coordination (By BONG S. SARMIENTO)

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 25 January) – Exactly six years ago today, 25 January, the Mamasapano carnage during the previous Aquino administration shocked the nation, which the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the families of the 44 fallen commandos of the elite Special Action Forces (SAF) commemorated anew with a candle-lighting and wreath-laying ceremony.

PROBING MAMASAPANO. Commission on Human Rights Chair Etta Rosales, during her office’s conduct of investigation, visits the corn field in Mamasapano, Maguindanao where 44 operatives of the PNP-SAF died in a clash with Moro rebels on 25 Jan 2015. MindaNews file photo by Ferdinandh Cabrera

Six years on, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) continued to blame the PNP- SAF for the Mamasapano clash that left dead what have now been known as the “SAF 44.”

Butch Malang, chair of the MILF’s Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH), said Monday the PNP-SAF violated the government and MILF’s ceasefire agreement and the Implementing Guidelines of the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group for failing to coordinate the operations through the established protocols of the ceasefire mechanisms.

“If there was proper coordination of the police operation, that deadly incident would not have happened,” he told MindaNews on the phone.

While sympathies poured for the SAF 44, Malang noted that the MILF’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), the front’s armed wing, also lost 18 fighters in the clash with the police commandos.

Members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, who were familiar with the terrain just like the MILF fighters, joined the fighting and pounded the operating troops with high-powered firearms. Five BIFF members were reportedly killed in the gunfight.

At least seven civilians were also reportedly killed during the police operation in Barangay Tukanalipao, Mamasapano, a fifth class municipality in Maguindanao province.

Dubbed Operation Exodus, the police commandos were out to capture Malaysian national Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan, who was on the US government’s list of most wanted international terrorists with a bounty of $5 million.

Marwan was later confirmed killed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation though DNA testing and photographs taken on the man killed by the operating troops.

The BIFF, a splinter of the MILF, was allegedly coddling Marwan, a known bomb-making expert, in Mamasapano town.

CANDLES FOR PEACE. Students, faculty members and civil society organizations light candles not only for the 44 fallen PNP-SAF operatives but also to call for peace and justice during a prayer rally on 4 Feb 2015 at Rizal Park in Davao City. MindaNews file photo by Toto Lozano

Malang said the MILF has submitted their formal complaint against the PNP-SAF to the GPH-MILF Peace Implementing Panels, which was constituted in March 2017.

“But until now, we are still waiting for the result of our protest,” he said in Filipino.

A press release during the 18th Congress from the office of Senator Grace Poe, chair of the Committee on Public Order, dated January 27, 2016 on the Mamasapano probe stated: “The clear conclusion was that ‘inadequate Intelligence, poor planning and lack of coordination’ resulted in ‘fatal mistakes’ that cost the lives of 44 SAF officers, 23 Moro fighters and 5 civilians and gravely affected the peace process.”

On Monday, the Maguindanao police command paid tribute to the SAF 44 by lighting candles and a wreath laying ceremony at their provincial headquarters in Shariff Aguak.

The 44 SAF fighters killed in the Mamasapano clash was the biggest single loss in the history of the elite police command.

Six years after the Mamasapano clash, Malang said the BIAF maintained a “friendly relation” with government security forces, including the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Since 2019, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim (BARMM) is governed by the MILF-led Bangsamoro Transition Authority.

President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed Ahod Ebrahim as interim chief minister of the Bangsamoro government.

Ebrahim is also the chair of the MILF. He is popularly known as Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, his nom de guerre.

The creation of the Bangsamoro region is the key component of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the final peace deal signed by the government and the MILF in 2014 after 17 years of negotiations.

Youth groups in Sison advocate against insurgency

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jan 25, 2021): Youth groups in Sison advocate against insurgency (By Venus L. Garcia) \

SURIGAO CITY, Surigao del Norte, Jan. 25 (PIA) -- With the continuing armed attacks and threats by the communist terrorist groups (CTGs) that affect communities especially the most vulnerable sectors including the youth, the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) of the municipality of Sison in this province is relentless in pushing for activities and creating a holistic approach aimed at weakening the insurgents.

In his guesting during the Laging Handa Network Briefing on Friday, Warren Maitel, SK federation president, emphasized the significant role of the youth in nation-building and in the fight versus insurgency.

“Patuloy po ang SK ng Sison sa pagpapatupad ng iba’t ibang aktibidad para sa mga kabataan para hindi sila ma-recruit ng New People’s Army (NPA) at hindi nila maramdaman na left behind sila. Kasama rin diyan ang malawakang information drive laban sa droga at terorismo,” Maitel said.

He said that getting them involved in the local community can boost their confidence and self-esteem and would help them to become empowered to assert and claim their human rights out from knowing the legal and social implications.

Maitel also urged the young individuals in their locality to continue with what they have started doing as a contribution to the community or even in enriching themselves. “Ipagpatuloy natin ang ating nasimulan sa pamamagitan ng pagtutulungan. Sa mga mag-aara, laban lang. Kung mayroon kayong gusting sabihin o tulong, just contact SK Sison sa mobile phone at FB page/messenger ko para matulungan kayo lalo sa panahon ngayon,” he said.

The SK federation of Sison also plans to carry on the programs that were not implemented in the previous year primarily of health and education.

“Nariyan po yung provision of school supplies. Gagawa rin tayo ng Youth Leadership Summit at sports activities kung ma-lift na ang pandemic. Mahalaga rin ang pagsasagawa seminar on mental health,” said Maitel.

The SK members are also thankful to the local government unit of Sison for the scholarship grants and other assistance to the students.

Maitel recounted the efforts of the LGU led by Mayor Karissa Fetalvero-Paronia in keeping their area safe and secure despite the presence of the CTG.

For her part, Mayor Paronia expressed her gratitude to the Philippine Army and Philippine National Police. “Last week. We had our community support program in Brgy. Ima and they have been cleared. This time, kailangan paigtingin at pagbutihin talaga yung sevices naming and bring them to the grassroots level," she said.

Mayor Paronia further said that in her two consecutive terms in leading the municipality, the main issue they continually encountered is the problem of insurgency.

She said that the presence of the CTGs in the area has even taken the lives of the uniformed personnel serving in the communities and the atrocities have a frightening effect among locals. But the LGU, she said, has been active in implementing the activities, programs and projects set forth by its local task force to end local communist armed conflict (ELCAC) such as the declaration of New People's Army as 'persona non grata' in the said municipality. (VLG/PIA-Surigao del Norte)

Agusan del Norte town villagers denounce, abandon NPA terrorists

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jan 25, 2021): Agusan del Norte town villagers denounce, abandon NPA terrorists (By 23rd Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army) 

BUENAVISTA Agusan del Norte, Jan. 26 -- The members of the Milisya ng Bayan (MB) and Underground Mass Organization (UGMO) in Las Nieves town in Agusan del Norte have withdrawn their support from the Communist New People's Army (NPA) Terrorists (CNTs) and pledged their allegiance to the government. The withdrawal of support to the CNT movement was done during the mass surrender ceremony conducted on January 21, 2021, in Barangay Casiklan, Las Nieves.

The MB and UGMO members decided to abandon the cause of the CNT and return to the fold of the law after the series of peace consultation and dialogues made by the troopers of the 23rd Infantry (Masigasig) Battalion (23IB) with the support of the local government unit (LGU) and different line agencies of the government. The series of dialogues started on December 12, 2020, where residents were asked to ventilate the main issues in their communities, especially on the concerns of peace and order and the presence and recruitment of the CNT members in their communities.

Five members of MB and 448 CNT mass supporters under the existing UGMO in Barangay Casiklan have withdrawn their support to the communist movement and pledged allegiance to the government of the Republic of the Philippines during the said activity last Thursday. The residents said they could no longer endure the harassment, extortion, and recruitment of the CNT members in their community. Aside from the daily dose of terrorism, the residents said the CNTs blocked the development programs and projects of the government that resulted in the underdevelopment of their community. The absence of development initiatives, they said, caused privations and poverty among the residents.

Alias “Berto”, a former rebel who hails from Casiklan shared his experiences and difficulties when he was still supporting fully the communist movement.

“Nag sige ko og balhin ug puy-anan ug kanunay nagdagan dagan ug tago tungod sa kahadlok nga madakpan sa mga kasundalohan. Mao pag abot sa mga sundalo diri sa barangay, nag desisyon gyod ko nga mag surrender na sa sabakan sa atong gobyerno. Dako ang akong kalipay nga ang atong gobyernmo nia na mitabang pagsulbad sa kalisod sa atong barangay. Mao nga magtinabay ug maningkamot kita sa pagsalikway sa mga dautang binuhatan sa mga NPA kay dako kaayo ang kahasol nga ilang gidala sa atong komunidad (I don’t have permanent address to stay, we keep on running, because we are afraid that the miitary will caught us, that’s why I have decided to surrender. I am happy that our government is helping us to start a new life)," Berto said.

Provincial Director Rey Cueva of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority in Agusan del Norte (TESDA-ADN) witnessed the mass surrender on Thursday and extended his compliments to the residents for reaching such a decision. Cueva said TESDA, in partnership with the 23IB and the LGU, provides support to the residents in the area, particularly in the field of honing their technical skills for increased productivity.

“Part of our mandate is to develop self-reliant, resilient, productive, and sustainable communities through the implementation of harmonized and culturally responsive development training programs. TESDA, as the head office on Poverty Reduction Livelihood Employment Cluster (PRLEC) of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), in partnership with LGU of Las Nieves and the 23IB, commits several livelihood training in your barangay to uplift the lives of the residents,” Cueva said.

Las Nieves Mayor Avelina S. Rosales cited the courage of the residents of Casiklan in condemning the CNT and making a turn to the right path for the good future of their community.

“As you chose to start living a new life, I am sure that you will never regret the decisions you made today because in the coming years, you will reap the good fruits of progress and development not only for your family but including your whole community and our nation. You were just victims of the CNTs who destroyed your future and your families. No one will be responsible for solving our own problems, we need to make a move in order to get away from poverty,” Rosales said.

Jerry S. Laurito, the provincial administrator of Agusan del Norte who represented Gov. Dale B. Corvera during the activity also recognized the bravery and resolve of the residents to cut their ties from the terrorist movement and embrace new lives with the government.

“This activity is not only for the AFP, PNP, the LGU, and the line government agencies. This activity is designed for you, for the people of this barangay, who wished to live normally and peacefully. Armed conflict is a hindrance to development and progress because it disturbs our daily livelihood activities,” Laurito said.

He added that the government is always ready to find solutions to the problems of barangays through the provisions of programs and services.

“With the help of TESDA, who works with the 23IB and the LGU, we will develop livelihood projects in your barangay, especially agricultural production in order for you to have a sustainable livelihood and help our government in recovering the status of our economic system. Kay kung walay kalinaw, walay kalambuan," Laurito said.

Lt. Col. Julius Cesar C. Paulo, the commander of 23IB thanked the members of the council of Casiklan for the trust and cooperation they bestowed to the Army and the line agencies of the government. He also commended the local residents for their help in ending the local communist armed conflicts in Casiklan.

“For over 52 years, thousands of villagers were seduced by and recruited by the NPA. But what accomplishment or contributions, especially in terms of economic development, the NPA had brought and implemented in Casiklan? Nothing. Wala sila'y naitabang kaninyo sulod sa pipila ka tuig nga pasalig ug pagpangilad,” Paulo said.

He emphasized that the 23IB is thankful that finally, the people of Casiklan realized the grand deceit and trickery of the NPA movement.

“Dako ang among pasalamat kay gisalikway na ninyo ang mga teroristang NPA ug boluntaryong mibalik sa sabakan sa panggamhanan,” Paulo said.

The mass surrender of the residents of Casiklan will also push down the NPA movement in the area given that they have lost a community where they extort support for food and finances.

“The NPA will suffer more from hunger and exhaustion as the people will no longer welcome them in this community. They can no longer extort money and ask food supplies to support their daily needs,” Paulo said.

Without the support of the local populace, politicians, business owners, and other supporters, the CNT will eventually die in Agusan del Norte, Paulo emphasized. (1Lt. Roel T. Maglalang, CMO Officer, 23IB PA/PIA Agusan del Norte)

CDO hinterlands benefit from 4ID’s outreach program

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jan 25, 2021): CDO hinterlands benefit from 4ID’s outreach program (By 4ID)

CAMP EVANGELISTA, PATAG, CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Jan. 25 -- Close to 2,000 families from two hinterland barangays in the city benefited from the outreach program held at Barangay Tignapoloan Covered Court, Cagayan de Oro City, January 23.

The activity, which was a convergence effort of the 4th Infantry “Diamond” Division, Philippine Army and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), was a part of the division’s upcoming celebration of its 51st founding anniversary on Feb. 1.

Food packs and clothings were distributed to more than 1,300 households in Barangay Tignapoloan. (4ID)

Food packs and clothings were distributed to more than 1,300 households in Barangay Tignapoloan and to some 300 families in Barangay Besigan.

Barangay Tignapoloan Chairperson Nancy Aban expressed her gratitude to the 4ID and DSWD saying "the gifts are already of great help to the people who are much affected by the pandemic."

MGen. Andres Centino, 4ID commander, said that the outreach program was a way of giving back to the people for their support to the division over the years.

It can be recalled that Barangay Tignapoloan was a pilot barangay where the Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict in the city was launched last year.

He also encouraged the people to continue supporting the programs and projects of the government and withdraw their support to Communist Terrorist Groups (CTGs) by not giving in to extortion activities to end the insurgency problem of the country.

A tree planting activity preceded the outreach activity which was participated in by the Diamond troopers, PNP personnel and barangay officials and staff. (4ID)

Lanao del Norte PTF-ELCAC revitalizes efforts to end insurgencies

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jan 25, 2021): Lanao del Norte PTF-ELCAC revitalizes efforts to end insurgencies (By PIO-LDN) 

TUBOD, Lanao del Norte, Jan. 25 (PIA) - The Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF-ELCAC) in Lanao del Norte convened here on Jan. 21 to tackle revitalized efforts to address armed threats and conflicts in the province.

The meeting was spearheaded by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the provincial government of Lanao del Norte and attended by representatives of regional and national government agencies, the security sector, and civil society organizations.

Updates on the status of projects and activities of member-government agencies as well as future projects that can vitally help in addressing the root causes of insurgencies and armed conflicts in the province were discussed.

The Halfway House for former rebels of DILG was also tackled during the meeting.

Lanao del Norte Governor Imelda Quibranza-Dimaporo presides over the meeting of the Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict. (PIO-LDN)

The Provincial Government also gave commitment updates and status on the Infrastructure, Economic, Social, and Administrative Developments as Governor Imelda Quibranza-Dimaporo is strongly supportive of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s Executive Order No. 70 which institutionalizes a Whole-of-Nation Approach in attaining inclusive and sustainable peace.

“The peace and order in Lanao del Norte have been satisfactorily sustained. The collaborative efforts of all government instrumentalities and civic organizations are essential in paving the way to attain lasting peace and development," the Governor said.

Also present during the meeting were Provincial Vice Governor Maria Cristina Atay and Lanao del Norte 2nd District Representative Abdullah Dimakuta Dimaporo.

“There are so many ways to help alleviate the lives of our constituents. In order to unite the people, the officials and the different government offices must be united, must plan and implement together," said Congressman Dimaporo. (PIO-LDN/PIA ICIC)

JTF Bicolandia backs Sec. Lorenzana's move to abrogate DND-UP Accord

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jan 25, 2021): JTF Bicolandia backs Sec. Lorenzana's move to abrogate DND-UP Accord (By Philippine Army) 

CAMP ELIAS ANGELES, Pili, Camarines Sur (Jan.25 ) - Driven by its desire to protect the youth, the Joint Task Force (JTF) Bicolandia expressed its all-out support to the abrogation of DND-UP accord.

JTF Bicolandia underscored that abrogating the said agreement is for the greater good of the students and their future as it preempts any attempt of the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) from making the University of the Philippines (UP) a possible venue of their recruitment scheme.

Meanwhile, MGEN. HENRY A ROBINSON JR PA, Commander of JTF Bicolandia emphasized that they have nothing against UP. However, he pointed out that the military will not tolerate any alleged underground maneuvers of the CTG inside the campus to target and recruit students by deceiving and corrupting their young and innocent minds.

"Our full support in the abrogation of the DND-UP accord implies one message, there are more people who care for the youth—the hope of our motherland. The decision to do away with the agreement is not aimed to break the wings of academic freedom but to give it more strength to soar higher.

Sa una, akala natin hindi maganda pero buksan natin ang ating mga mata sa katotohanan. Kung ating pagtatagpi-tagpiin ang mga pangyayari, marami na ang mga nakaraang insidente na magpapatunay na posible ngang may mga estudyante sa UP na isinasama ng CTG at ng legal front nito sa kanilang mga inoorganisang rally o kaya naman kinukuha ng armed wing nito upang gawing komunistang terorista. (We fight first thought its ok but let us open our eyed to the reality. We cannot just turn a blind eye to UP students being influenced to join the CTG and make them part of the legal front , including those rallies being organized by the CTG or take them to the armed wing to male them a coomunist terrorist.)

We cannot allow this scheme to continue. We have to stop it if we want to preserve the youth sector, their future and the future of our country. These young ones are the future leaders thus, it is but right to protect them. Ang kabataan ay dapat nasa paaralan at nag-aaral, hindi nakikidigma para sa maling ideolohiya (Our youth should be in school, nurturing themselves and not waging a war for a wrong ideology)," MGen. Robinson said.

Just recently, a list of UP students who were killed in armed encounters against the government troops circulated online, exposing the truth that students from UP are one of the targets of CTG's deceptions. (Press release: c/o DPAO Chief CPT John Paul Belleza/encoded with minor transcription LSMacatangay-PIAV/Camarines Sur )

DOST-Isabela, 95IB to provide livelihood trainings to former rebels, IPs

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jan 25, 2021): DOST-Isabela, 95IB to provide livelihood trainings to former rebels, IPs (By Mark Djeron C. Tumabao) 

SAN MARIANO, Isabela, Jan. 25 (PIA) - - - Former rebels under the custody of the 95th Infantry Battalion including Indigenous People (IPs) in this town will soon benefit from the livelihood training of the Department of Science and Technology – Isabela.

Mr. Lucio G Calimag, provincial director of DOST-PSTC Isabela said that the livelihood training is part of the department’s Community Empowerment through Science and Technology (CEST) program.

The program aims to reach out and empower former rebels and IPs to become self-reliant and make a living in their own way.

The IP-beneficiaries are residents of either former lair of the CPP-NPA-NDF.

Lt. Col. Lemeul Baduya, acting commander of 95IB this early expressed his appreciation for the implementation of the pipeline live livelihood trainings.

Baduya said that through these livelihood trainings, people who belong from the marginalized sectors will soon be equipped with the proper knowledge and skills which will consequently uplift the status of their lives. (MDCT wirth reports from 95th IB/PIA-2)

PNP marks National Day of Remembrance for SAF 44's 6th death anniversary

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jan 26, 2021): PNP marks National Day of Remembrance for SAF 44's 6th death anniversary (By Nonette N. Castillo) 

CALOOCAN CITY, Jan. 26 (PIA) -- The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Monday marked the National Day of Remembrance and 6th anniversary of the botched police operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last January 25,2015, which killed 44 members of the Special Action Force (SAF), the families of the slain government troopers continue to hope that justice will finally be served.

The PNP held an honoring program and a wreath lying ceremony at its General Headquarters located in Camp Crame in Quezon City,

A Mass was also celebrated at the chapels of PNP camps today to commemorate the 6th anniversary of their death in the hands of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

"Nakikiisa ang Pambansang Pulisya ng Pilipinas sa buong bansa sa ika-anim na taon ng pagpupugay at paggunita sa Sakripisyo at Kabayanihan ng SAF 44," the PNP said on Facebook.

Dubbed as SAF 44, their families have received educational aid and livelihood assistance from the government.

But they continue to call on President Rodrigo Duterte to make good on his promise to grant all 44 members of the elite police force, a Medal of Valor and increase their family’s monthly pension.

A Medal of Valor would mean a full scholarship, from grade school to college, for the children of the 44 policemen.

In November 2017, the Office of the Ombudsman filed graft and usurpation of authority charges against former President Benigno Aquino III before the Sandiganbayan in connection with the Mamasapano incident.

The anti-graft office said Aquino allegedly conspired with former PNP chief Alan Purisima, who was then under preventive suspension, and PNP-Special Action Force (SAF) chief Getulio Napeñas in implementing Oplan Exodus that led to the deaths of 44 police commandos, dubbed as the SAF 44.

It said Aquino “allowed himself to be persuaded, induced, or influenced” to violate the PNP chain of command and the Ombudsman’s preventive suspension order against Purisima. (PIA NCR)

NTF-ELCAC grants P20-M dev’t fund for 215 villages in Region 11

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 25, 2021): NTF-ELCAC grants P20-M dev’t fund for 215 villages in Region 11 (By Che Palicte)

DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS. National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. (right) and Department of Budget and Management Secretary Wendel Avisado. Esperon said Saturday (Jan. 23, 2021) some 215 barangays in the Davao Region will be given PHP20 million worth of funds for the Barangay Development Program under the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict. (PNA photo by Prexx Marnie Kate Trozo)

A total of 215 barangays in the Region 11 (Davao) will be given PHP20 million worth of funds for the Barangay Development Program (BDP) under the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

In a press conference here on Saturday, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said of the 215 identified barangays, 82 are from this city, 65 in Davao de Oro, 32 in Davao Oriental, 23 in Davao del Norte, eight in Davao del Sur, and five in Davao Occidental.

Under the NTF-ELCAC, BDP is the flagship program of the Duterte administration for poverty alleviation and development in the context of addressing the root causes of insurgency, he said.

“We will fine-tune the rules of implementation and our target rollout date is on March 15 or even earlier than that,” he added.

The identified barangays have previously been cleared of the threat and influence of the communist terrorist group (CTG) from 2016-2019 through security operations and are ready for a package of development projects contained in the BPD.

“The concept of this program was approved in January last year as it was presented to the President and the members of his Cabinet. The fact that no less than the President himself chairs the NTF-ELCAC underscores the importance of this undertaking,” he said.

Esperon further said the program was intended to curb the recruitment of the New People’s Army (NPA) through holistic development projects that bridge the gap between the needs of the communities and accessibility.

“It intends to eradicate the root causes of insurgency, poverty, disease, lack of education and opportunities, and finally, social injustice. Allow me to reassure the public that the barangay recipients of the programs under the BDP were consulted and vetted through our stringent measures,” Esperon added.

The barangay recipients will spend the PHP20 million fund through the following programs and activities: farm to market roads by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Department of Public Works and Highways -- PHP12 million; school buildings by the Department of Education -- PHP3 million; water and sanitation systems by Department of the Interior and Local Government --PHP2 million; and reforestation and national greening program of Department of Environment and Natural Resources and for health stations by the Department of Health -- PHP1.5 million each.

“It shall be implemented by the regional offices in coordination with the local chief executives. It will demonstrate a collaborative effort between various stakeholders both the national and local level,” he added.

Meanwhile, Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado said the budget will be downloaded to the barangays as soon as his office receives the complete documents with the requirements.

“President Duterte ordered me to fast-track the release of the fund so that the barangays can start implementing the projects,” he said.

Davao Oriental Governor Nelson Dayanghirang said they will adhere to the guidelines of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on the utilization of the fund.

“There will be barangay consultations as to what are their priority projects based on the guidelines given by DBM for the utilization of PHP20 million. We will make sure to prioritize what the community needs because we are focusing to address the insurgency problems,” Dayanghirang added.

Reservists battalion activated to boost Sulu security force

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 25, 2021): Reservists battalion activated to boost Sulu security force (By Teofilo Garcia, Jr.)

RESERVES. The Philippine Army is organizing a battalion of reservists to boost the community-based security forces against the Abu Sayyaf Group bandits in the province of Sulu. A total of 195 Tausug volunteers (in photo), who graduated Saturday (Jan. 23, 2021) from a 45-day Basic Citizen Military Training, will compose the first batch of the first-ever Sulu Ready Reserve Battalion. (Photo courtesy of the Army's 11th Infantry Division Public Information Office)

The Philippine Army is organizing the first-ever battalion of reservists to boost community-based security forces against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits in Sulu, military officials announced Monday.

“We are going to form the first-ever Sulu Ready Reserve Battalion. The ROTC (Reserve Officer’s Training Course) graduates would also form part of upcoming unit,” said Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr., commander of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom).

The battalion with come from 195 Tausugs who have graduated last Saturday from a 45-day Basic Citizen Military Training (BCMT) conducted by the Philippine Army Reserve Command.

The graduates, which compose the BCMT Class 01-20, came from different areas of Patikul town in Sulu.

The BCMT is an entry-level training course undertaken by Filipino citizens, who intend to enlist in the reserve force of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Maj. Gen. William Gonzales, 11th Infantry Division commander, said the activation of a Ready Reserve Battalion in Sulu was based on guidance from Department of National Defense (DND) Sec. Delfin Lorenzana, who wanted to strengthen security in the province.

“We have personnel from the police and regular army soldiers that are Tausug - now we are proud that we have a reserve force that consists of purely Sulu residents. I thank Maj. Gen Peale Jon Bondoc, Army Reserve Command chief, for all the support he continues to pour in,” Gonzales said.

“The residents of Patikul are very lucky to be the first reservist batch in Sulu,” said Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan, who is a reservist with a rank of major.

Bondoc thanked the local chief executives of Sulu for the support that led to the success of the BCMT in the province.

The duties and responsibilities of the reservists are to assist in disaster relief and rescue operations, socio-economic development, and operations of critical utilities of affiliated reserve units; and as a base expansion of regular force in the event of war, rebellion, or natural emergencies.

NPA mass organizer yields to military in S. Kudarat

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 25, 2021): NPA mass organizer yields to military in S. Kudarat (By Noel Punzalan)

SURRENDER. Ka Gorio, a mass organizer of the communist New People's Army, stands ready to turn over his firearm to officials of the Army’s 38th Infantry Battalion in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat before his surrender on Sunday (Jan. 24, 2021). The surrenderer said he just wanted to be with his family once more after being duped into joining the futile communist movement several years ago. (Photo courtesy of 6ID)

A mass organizer of the communist New People’s Army has yielded to the military in Sultan Kudarat province, the Army’s 6th Infantry Division (6ID) said Monday.

Maj. Gen. Juvymax Uy, the 6ID commander, only
identified the surrenderer as a certain “Gorio” due to security reasons.

He said Gorio is an organizer-leader of the Kisasabanay Dulangan Manobo (Kiduma) and a former member of Platoon Telego, NPA Guerrilla Front 73 under the Far South Mindanao Region.

“He voluntarily yielded to the Army’s 38th Infantry Battalion headquarters in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat,” Uy told reporters here in an interview.

He said the former NPA member also turned over an M1A Garand rifle, six magazine clips, 43 rounds of ammunition, and one bandolier to the military following his surrender on Sunday.

“The heightened military operation against the NPA had forced him to abandon his group and return to the folds of the law,” Uy added.

The surrenderer, when asked by reporters said he just wanted to be with his family again. “I miss my family very much. I will never leave them again,” he said in the vernacular.

Uy said the surrenderer will be enrolled in the government’s Enhanced-Comprehensive Local Integration Program for former rebels for livelihood opportunities with the help of the Palimbang local government unit.

The NPA, together with the Communist Party of the Philippines and National Democratic Front, is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

E. Visayas ELCAC sustains efforts to end NPA recruitment

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 25, 2021): E. Visayas ELCAC sustains efforts to end NPA recruitment (By Sarwell Meniano)

STOP NPA RECRUITMENT. A local official in Leyte expresses opposition to the New People's Army (NPA) recruitment in the province in this Nov. 12, 2020 photo. The Eastern Visayas Regional Task Force on Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict on Monday (Jan. 25, 2021) says it is stepping up efforts to end online and campus-based recruitment of the NPA. (Photo courtesy of Philippine Army 802nd Infantry Brigade)

TACLOBAN CITY – The Eastern Visayas Regional Task Force on Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) is stepping up efforts to end online and campus-based recruitment of the New People’s Army (NPA).

The movement restrictions prompted the NPA to resort to webinars, inviting students to participate in discussions on government flaws, said Col. Noel Vestuir, deputy commander of the Philippine Army’s 802nd Infantry Brigade based in Leyte, on Monday.

"The NPA has been taking advantage of poverty by agitating and mobilizing students to fight the government. It starts with student activism," Vestuir told reporters in a press briefing here.

National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) regional director Eustacio Bacabac said current talks on the termination of the Department of National Defense-University of the Philippines (DND-UP) accord has strengthened the regional task force resolve to stop the NPA's recruitment drive.

The government terminated the agreement in a bid to end the NPA’s deceptive recruitment in schools, taking advantage of academic freedom.

The NICA official confirmed that there have been efforts by NPA to recruit students of the UP Visayas Tacloban College and the University of Eastern Philippines in Catarman, Northern Samar.

“Some NPA leaders and organizers captured in military operations are former students of these two schools. We have to step up our campaign to make our students and their parents aware of the NPA’s real intention,” Bacabac said.

Insurgency will be completely eradicated if the communist terrorist group will not be able to recruit new members, according to regional task force members.

NICA believes that insurgents resorted to other tactics as the health crisis hindered their regular recruitment efforts, organizing and mobilizing activities, as well as raising funds for logistics.

Among the left-leaning groups active in social media recruitment are the League of Filipino Students and Kabataan Partylist, according to Bacabac.

“They are taking advantage of the unfavorable economic condition to fan discontent against the government and to entice recruits to join their ranks,” he added.

The NICA official has asked task force members and journalists to help the government counter these strategies by spreading the truth using social media accounts.

Established in 1971 to 1973, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-NPA’s Eastern Visayas Regional Party Community has collapsed from 1993 to 2014 due to the massive drive of the government to eliminate insurgents.

The collapse prompted rebels to recruit new members starting in 2015, Bacabac said in his presentation during the press briefing.

As of mid-2020, the NPA in Eastern Visayas has 384 fighters with 363 firearms, influencing 162 villages, a small fraction of the 4,390 villages in the region’s six provinces.

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

Cops hunt down 2 men of slain armed group leader in Maguindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 25, 2021): Cops hunt down 2 men of slain armed group leader in Maguindanao (By Edwin Fernandez)

COTABATO CITY – Police have launched a province-wide manhunt against two wanted persons who escaped during law enforcement operations that left a police officer and 12 wanted men dead in Maguindanao.

Brig. Gen. Samuel Rodriguez, police director in the Bangsamoro Region in Muslim Mindanao (PRO-BARMM), said the police and Philippine Marine forces are hunting down Hazer Mama and Jason Guiabel, henchmen of slain ex-village chair Pendatun Talusan of Limbo in Sultan Kudarat town.

Talusan died together with 11 of his men during a five-hour firefight with policemen in Barangay Limbo on Saturday.

A police team was serving Talusan with warrants ranging from murder, illegal drug trading, carnapping, robbery, and extortion when fired upon by the armed group around 3 a.m.

A police officer, identified as Staff Sergeant Elenel Pido of the Special Action Force unit of PRO-BARMM, died after being hit in the neck in the initial exchange of gunfire.

A fierce firefight ensued in the area from 3 a.m. to 8 a.m., sending many villagers fleeing their homes. “Manhunt had been ongoing,” said Maj. Esmael Madin, head of Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group–Maguindanao.

Aside from Pendatun Talusan, the other slain crime suspects were identified as Datu Abdullah Talusan, Datu Bembi Talusan, Ranny Talusan, Datu Abdul-Mubarek Talusan, Kadapi Esran, Ayot Began, Abdul Patah Buday, Samsudin Ali, Bulod Adam, Buto Minandang, and Sangkupan Minandang.

Abdulkarim Kamal Usop, another follower of Pendatun, was arrested.

After the bloody law enforcement operation, police found six M16 rifles, an M-14 rifle, a FAL rifle, a .22-caliber rifle, two. 45-caliber pistols, an improvised .50-caliber Barret sniper rifle, and ammunition from the slain armed group members.

Motorist killed, another hurt in Maguindanao roadside blast

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 25, 2021): Motorist killed, another hurt in Maguindanao roadside blast (By Edwin Fernandez)

SEALED OFF. Police and military authorities seal off a section of the highway in Barangay Poblacion Romongaob, South Upi, Maguindanao, following a roadside explosion on Tuesday morning (Jan. 26, 2020). A motorcycle driver was killed while his back-rider was hurt as the roadside bomb went off as they were passing through the area. (Photo courtesy of Radyo Bida Cotabato)

A motorcycle rider was killed and another was hurt in a roadside bombing in Maguindanao’s upland town of South Upi on Tuesday morning.

Mayor Reynalbert Insular said the explosion, triggered by an improvised explosive device (IED), occurred at 5:45 a.m. along the highway in Barangay Poblacion Romongaob.

Insular, quoting a police report, said the victim was riding on a motorbike with a back-rider heading toward Cotabato City when the explosion occurred.

Police identified the victim as Alberto Delos Santos of Lebak, Sultan Kudarat province.

“I urge my town mates to refrain from going out unless necessary as authorities have set up strict checkpoints around town,” Insular said.

No one has claimed responsibility for the bombing and police and Army bomb experts are still determining the IED composition.

Recently, more soldiers have been deployed in the town after a series of violence and harassment, including an ambush against Insular and a town councilor.

Palace calls on nations not to escalate tensions in SCS

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 25, 2021): Palace calls on nations not to escalate tensions in SCS (By Azer Parrocha)

Malacañang is urging nations to exercise restraint after China recently passed a law giving power to its coast guard to fire on foreign vessels and demolish structures built in the South China Sea (SCS).

In a press briefing on Monday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque called on nations, particularly claimants to the contested sea, not to escalate tensions as it could worsen the ongoing maritime dispute.

“Sana po walang gagawin ang kahit na anong bansa dito sa usaping West Philippine Sea na magpapalala pa po ng sitwasyon (I hope countries would not to anything in relation to the West Philippine Sea issue which could make the situation worse),” he said.

He reiterated President Rodrigo Duterte’s call to pass the Code of Conduct for the SCS.

“Ang deklarasyon po ng ating Presidente tapusin na po natin ang ating code of conduct at lahat po sana ng mga claimants sa West Philippine Sea ay sumunod sa code of conduct (The declaration of the President is to finish a code of conduct and that all claimants of the West Philippine Sea follow this code of conduct),” he added.

In 2019, the Asean and China completed the first reading of the draft of the Code of Conduct that was announced at the Asean Ministerial Meeting in Singapore a year earlier.

The Code of Conduct is expected to be finalized by 2021 to resolve conflicts in the resource-rich sea.

Meanwhile, Roque pointed out that all laws passed to safeguard a nation’s sovereignty will have to comply with their obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

“Habang meron pong kapangyarihan ang bansa dahil sa siya’y soberenya na magpasa ng batas na iiral sa kanyang teritoryo, ‘yang mga batas po ‘yan ay kinakailangan sumunod pa rin sa mga obligasyon sang-ayon sa United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea kung saan kasapi po ang Tsina (While countries have the power as a sovereign state to pass laws asserting territory, these laws have to follow obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea where China is a signatory),” he said.

Citing international law, he said the use of force is also prohibited except by way of self-defense or under the auspices of a United Nations Security Council authorization to use force.

“Under general international law po, yung paggamit po ng dahas ay (the use of force is) generally prohibited except for two well-defined exceptions by way of self-defense at kinakailangan po merong (and it’s necessary that there is) sending of armed troops into the territory of China at kinakailangan ang paggamit po ng dahas ay (and the use of force is) necessary at (and) proportional at (and) when authorized by the UN Security Council,” he said.

Reports showed that China's top legislative body, the National People's Congress standing committee, passed the Coast Guard Law last Friday.

Under the draft bill, the coast guard is allowed to use “all necessary means” to stop or prevent threats from foreign vessels.

The bill allows coast guard personnel to demolish other countries’ structures built on Chinese-claimed reefs and to board and inspect foreign vessels in waters claimed by China as well as create temporary exclusion zones “as needed” to stop other vessels and personnel from entering.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the law is in line with international practices.

China has long-standing SCS disputes with the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Taiwan.

On July 12, 2016, the Philippines won its arbitration case filed against China when the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that Beijing has “no legal basis” to claim historic rights over almost the entire SCS.

No gov’t communication plan to red-tag groups, individuals

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 25, 2021): No gov’t communication plan to red-tag groups, individuals (By Azer Parrocha)

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque (File photo)

Malacañang on Monday denied claims there is a government-led communication plan to accuse people, including students, of joining the communist movement.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this statement after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana assured that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will apologize to people wrongly included in a list of supposed members of the New People's Army (NPA).

“Secretary Lorenzana has apologized for mistakes, let’s leave it at that. But there is no overall communication plan on red-tagging. We leave that to the defense establishments, sila po ‘yan (that’s just them),” he said in a press briefing from Samal Island, Davao del Norte.

Roque said he had no jurisdiction to advise military officials against red-tagging but suggested they be more careful in making such accusations.

“They’re out of my jurisdiction; I can only speak for the President. I can only suggest that they be more prudent para hindi na po napapa-apologize ang ating Secretary of National Defense (so the Secretary of National defense won’t have to apologize),” he said.

On Sunday, Lorenzana said that AFP would apologize for its "unpardonable gaffe" specifically to Free Legal Assistance Group member Raffy Aquino, who was one of those included in an NPA list published on social media.

Lorenzana, however, said he does not know why the military came up with such a list.

Lorenzana earlier drew flak from activist groups, students, faculty members, former students and even government officials following the termination of the 1989 accord that bars unauthorized entry of security forces into campuses of the University of the Philippines.

He has so far expressed willingness to discuss the matter with UP President Danilo Concepcion.

Meanwhile, Roque said he would refer to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) reports that a graphic posted in the Facebook page of the City of Batac Police Station which said joining protests, helping relief drives that aren’t state-sanctioned, and retweeting memes as grounds to classify someone as a terrorist.

“Malinaw po ang batas tungkol diyan. Tingin ko kung ‘yang mga gawain lang ‘yan ay hindi po sapat (The law about that is clear. I think those activities are not enough grounds to classify someone as a terrorist) but we will refer that to the DILG and the PNP leadership,” he said.

Republic Act 11479, also known as the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, states that acts intended to cause death or serious injury to any person, extensive damage to a government facility, and extensive interference with destruction to critical infrastructure are likewise considered as terror acts.

It also states that individuals who either use weapons, explosives, and chemical weapons or release dangerous substances causing fire, floods, or explosions are considered terrorists.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the anti-terror law on July 3, 2020.

Heroism of SAF 44 ‘cannot be repaid’: Duterte

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 25, 2021): Heroism of SAF 44 ‘cannot be repaid’: Duterte (By Azer Parrocha)

PNA photo

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday remembered the heroism of the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) troops who were killed in a botched counterterrorism operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao six years ago, saying that the country owed their families a debt of gratitude that cannot be repaid.

In a message during the observance of the National Day of Remembrance, Duterte described the death of the 44 SAF troops as a “painful yet necessary reminder” that the struggle to rid the country of militants come with negative consequences.

“Today, we honor the memory of the 44 troops of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (SAF) who offered their lives defending our nation six years ago in Mamasapano, Maguindanao,” he said. “An enduring testament to the unyielding commitment of our uniformed personnel to fight all threats to our national security, this heartbreaking incident serves as a painful yet necessary reminder to all of us that the struggle for lasting peace comes with a very heavy price.”

Duterte said the country lost more than just police officers, but also family and friends during the deadly clash with Moro rebels and their armed allies.

“Let us all remember that we have not just lost valiant police officers who made the ultimate sacrifice defending our nation. On that day, there were also some of us who lost their husbands, fathers, sons, brothers, friends and colleagues whose memories will forever be in their hearts,” he said.

Addressing their families, he expressed appreciation for the sacrifices made by the 44 SAF troopers.

“To their families and loved ones left behind by the 44 brave SAF personnel who perished on January 25, 2015, please know that we owe you a debt of gratitude that cannot be repaid, and that you have the love and respect of a grateful nation,” he added.

On Jan. 25, 2015, SAF commandos carried out a law enforcement operation against two high-value targets, Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and terrorist Abdul Basit Usman.

The SAF commandos were able to kill Marwan but failed to get Usman, who was later killed in another operation.

On their way out, a firefight occurred which eventually trapped 45 SAF commandos, with only one surviving after swimming on a creek and hiding on bushes on his way out.

In February 2017, Duterte, through Proclamation No. 164, declared January 25 of every year as the day of national remembrance for the heroic sacrifice of SAF 44.

Eight months later, the Office of the Ombudsman, then led by Conchita Carpio-Morales, filed graft and usurpation of authority charges against former President Benigno Aquino III for allowing then Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Alan Purisima to play a major role in the operation despite being under preventive suspension.

However, in June 2019, Ombudsman Samuel Martires moved to withdraw the cases filed against Aquino, saying he found no sufficient ground and evidence to charge him for graft and usurpation of official functions.

Changes made to prevent another Mamasapano incident: SAF chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 25, 2021): Changes made to prevent another Mamasapano incident: SAF chief (By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan)

REMEMBERING SAF-44. Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar (3rd from left), and Special Action Force (SAF) Director Police Major General Bernabe Balba (left), salute SAF troopers during the arrival honors for the "Day of National Remembrance for the Gallant SAF 44" held in Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan in Taguig City on Monday (Jan. 25, 2021). The event commemorates the heroism of the 44 members of the PNP's elite force who were killed on Jan. 25, 2015 in an operation aimed at hunting down Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli Abdhir, alias “Marwan”, in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. (PNA photo by Joey Razon)

Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) director Maj. Gen. Bernabe Balba on Monday said continuous coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and other law enforcers is one of the changes imposed to prevent another Mamasapano incident that claimed the lives of 44 SAF troopers six years ago.

“Well as usual, we continue our training of our personnel to improve some more. We always are coordinating with other units of the AFP and other law enforcement,” Balba told reporters during the National Day of Remembrance for the Gallant SAF 44 at Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City.

Balba said the PNP-SAF has also been trying to improve its capability by acquiring more equipment and building more facilities.

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the annual commemoration of the heroism of the 44 SAF troopers through Proclamation No. 164 signed on Feb. 21, 2017.

The 44 SAF commandos died in the line of duty in a botched police operation called "Oplan Exodus” against two high-value targets, Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and terrorist Abdul Basit Usman on Jan. 25, 2015 in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao.

The SAF commandos were able to kill Marwan but failed to get Usman, who was later killed in another operation.

Duterte’s proclamation said the memory of the SAF 44 "serves as a constant reminder of the continuing sacrifices made by our valiant uniformed men and women in the line of duty".

PNP chief, Gen. Debold Sinas, together with Balba, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) director Major General Vicente Danao Jr., and DPWH Secretary Mark Villar led the wreath-laying ceremony for the commemoration of the heroic-death of the 44 SAF troopers.

Sinas said the PNP leadership ensures that the families of the 44 SAF troopers continue to receive the assistance, including scholarships from the national government.

"'Yung nagumpisa tayo after nangyari sa kanila tinulungan po sila, inasistihan... tapos yung scholarship, 'yung mga pabahay ay naibigay na po. Ngayon po ang ginagawa ng PNP headquarters ay minomonitor po na continue nila natanggap mga benepisyo at hindi napuputol (After what happened to them, we help and assisted the families. Then scholarships and housing benefits were given. Now, the PNP headquarters is monitoring if they received the benefits and to make sure these will continue)," Sinas said.

Sinas said he believes that justice has already been served for the SAF 44 but it was not the case for their families as they are seeking for the re-opening of trial against the personalities accountable for the botched anti-terror operation.

“Actually both sides naman ay may mga concerns hindi ba but I believe yung sa SAF naman ay nandiyan na, naibigay na natin yung lahat ng tulong at benepisyo at we let history decide kung ano po ang effect noon at personally ako maybe justice is served already sa kanila (Actually, both sides have concerns but I believe we have already extended all assistance and benefits and we le history decide what will be the effect of that and personally, I think, maybe justice is served already to them),” he said.

Danao, for his part, also acknowledged the gallantry shown by the 44 SAF troopers all over the world to preserve the peace and order.

"They became part of our history of exceptional dedication to duty, supreme, selfless service, and unqualified love of country amidst insurmountable obstacles. May our new generation of police officers emulate the bravery, patriotism and selflessness that our 44 heroes have shown," Danao said.

In his speech, Villar recognized the exemplary bravery of the fallen SAF 44.

"Even though many years have gone by, the heavy pain that was brought by this tragic event, still occurs in our hearts and brain. We are once again united as one family to honor them who readily gave up their lives so that their fellowmen may live more safely and peacefully. I join the family members of our fallen troops in remembering and honoring their legacy and sacrifices for our country,” Villar said.

Speaking with reporters, Roselle Nacino, widow of SAF commando Nicky Nacino Jr., confirmed that her family continues to receive the help that the government had promised them.

"With regards to our benefits, okay naman po. 'Yun naman pong pag-aaral ng anak ko nagagamit ko para (We’ve been getting our benefits. I used the money for my kid’s scholarship)," she said.

However, she is still seeking justice for her husband and the other SAF troops, hoping that the investigation of the case will be opened again.

"Siguro managot na lang po 'yung mga dapat managot kasi malaki rin po kasi 'yung napabayaan sila. Yun po 'yung panawagan namin na sana naman po mabuksan po ulit 'yung kaso ng SAF 44. Sa ngayon po kasi parang wala pong (legal efforts) sana mabigyan ulit ng pansin mabuksan ulit kasi since tinuring po natin silang mga bagong bayani ng bayan natin (Those responsible should face justice because they (SAF 44) have been neglected. Our appeal is to reopen the case. As of now there are no legal efforts to reinvestigate since they are considered heroes of the nation),” she said.

She also sought for the assistance of the PNP for the scholarship grant of their dependents.

Nacino said some schools were either not aware of the Republic Act (RA) 9049 or the act granting monthly gratuity and privileges to a medal of valor awardee or does not honor it.
Balba said he will speak with the families in order to know their concerns and assist them accordingly.

“Hindi ko pa nareceive. (I have not received their concerns). We will try to know about it and we will give our assistance kung papaano masolve sinasabi nilang (how to solve their) concerns,” Balba said.

In January last year, the Sandiganbayan acquitted former PNP chief Alan Purisima and ex-PNP SAF chief Getulio Napeñas of graft and usurpation charges over the botched operation due to lack of evidence.

Teams deployed to track down 9 dismissed Jolo cops

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 25, 2021): Teams deployed to track down 9 dismissed Jolo cops (By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan)

PNP chief, Gen. Debold Sinas (File photo)

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Gen. Debold Sinas, on Monday said a team has been deployed to track down nine dismissed police officers implicated in the fatal shooting of four Army intelligence operatives last year.

Sinas said the team is composed of personnel from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), Intelligence Group (IG) and Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (PRO-BAR).

“According to last report, nandun sila sa Jolo lahat nakauwi na. We are negotiating for some ‘yung gusto mag-surrender nakipag-negotiate na they assured ‘yung safety nila (All of them are now in Jolo. We are negotiating with some, those who want to surrender have negotiated, they’re assured of safety),” Sinas told reporters.

He said as long as the nine dismissed cops will surrender, there will be no problem.

“But the manhunt is still ongoing,” he added.

He said if these former police operatives believe they are innocent, they should surrender immediately to clear their names.

Last Jan. 12, the PNP released the nine cops due to the absence of arrest warrants despite the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) request to keep them in custody.

Sinas also announced the suspects' dismissal from service before they were released from the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame.

Last week, the Jolo Regional Trial Court ordered the arrest of the nine police officers -- Senior M/Sgt. Abdelzhimar Padjiri; M/Sgt. Hanie Baddiri; S/Sgt. Iskandar Susulan; S/Sgt. Ernisar Sappal; Cpl. Sulki Andaki; Pat. Moh Nur Pasani; S/Sgt. Almudzrin Hadjaruddin; and Pat. Alkajal Mandangan on charges of murder and planting of evidence.

No bail was recommended for their temporary liberty.

Killed in the June 29, 2020 incident were Maj. Marvin A. Indammog, 39; Capt. Irwin B. Managuelod, 33; Sgt. Jaime M. Velasco, 38, and Cpl. Abdal Asula, 33.

The four soldiers were conducting intelligence and monitoring operations against two suspected suicide bombers when gunned down by the nine Jolo police officers.