Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Ending local armed conflict by 2022 'realistic,' says Sobejana

From GMA News (Mar 8, 2021): Ending local armed conflict by 2022 'realistic,' says Sobejana (By JOVILAND RITA)

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana has described as "realistic" President Rodrigo Duterte's goal to end local armed conflict before his term ends in 2022.

Sobejana said security forces will meet the deadline of the President if there is unity between government forces and the public in pushing for the program of the government against insurgency.

“Hindi imposibleng makamit natin ang kapayapaan at katahimikan bago matapos ang termino ng ating Pangulo,” he said on The Mangahas Interviews that aired on Monday.

“Realistic [ang goal] for as long as magtulungan tayo,” he added.

According to him, only around 3,500 armed rebels were left after decades of insurgency in the country.

Sobejana said that insurgency was rooted from economic issues, pointing out that poverty is driving many people into joining rebel groups.

He said the government is already making efforts to address poverty.

Peace negotiations between the government and communist rebels collapsed in November 2017 after Duterte lamented what he said were continued attacks by rebels on troops and civilians.

He tagged the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People's Army, as terrorist organizations, although the government has yet to secure a court declaration to officially outlaw the groups.

The National Democratic Front, the CPP's negotiating arm, expressed disappointment over Duterte's decision to end the peace talks with them, saying that social and economic reforms that may result from these could have benefited millions of Filipinos.


Philippine Police Shoot Nine Dead in Anti-Communist Raids

Posted to The Diplomat (Mar 9, 2021): Philippine Police Shoot Nine Dead in Anti-Communist Raids (By Sebastian Strangio)

Activists claim the victims were unarmed political organizers and workers’ advocates.

A woman activist displays a slogan condemning the recent government attacks on activists as they hold a rally near the Malacanang presidential palace to mark International Women’s Day on March 8, 2021 in Manila, Philippines.Credit: AP Photo/Aaron Favila

Over the weekend, Philippine police backed by military units killed nine people in a series of raids against suspected communist insurgents in the southern part of Luzon island.

Philippines authorities conducted separate raids in the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, and Rizal, while serving at least 24 search warrants, mostly for illegal firearms and explosives.

Police have since claimed that all of those killed were associated with “communist terrorist groups” and had shot at officers while being served search warrants, and that another six other suspects were arrested and nine escaped. However, activist groups including the rights organizations Karapatan and Altermidya, said those killed were mostly unarmed labor organizers and left-wing activists.

Indeed, it is hard to give the police the benefit of the doubt given that they have offered the same pretext in the cases of the thousands of people shot dead during President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody “war on drugs” since 2016.

As usual, Duterte appeared to give the game away late last week, when he gave a speech in Cagayan de Oro in which he described communist New People’s Army (NPA) as “bandits” and ordered the police to be merciless in rooting them out.

“If there’s an encounter and you see them armed, kill, kill them, don’t mind human rights, I will be the one to go to prison, I don’t have qualms,” Duterte said.

Communist insurgencies have roiled the Philippines since before its independence, feeding on the island nation’s massively skewed economic inequalities and feudal patterns of land distribution. The current insurgency, which is led by the NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), dates back to 1969, and despite constant counterinsurgency operations, has managed to survive and expand in the rugged interior of Luzon and other islands.

On coming to office, Duterte promised to end the nearly half-century-long insurgency, and seemed uniquely well placed to do so, given his close personal connections to left-wing political groups. (Indeed, he once studied under Jose Maria Sison, the founder of the CPP.)ADVERTISEMENT

However, as peace negotiations frayed into renewed conflict, Duterte has adopted the same ultra-violent, take-no-prisoners approach that he has taken in his fight against illegal drugs. Both the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the government have claimed that the NPA is on the verge of collapse and can be finally defeated by the end of Duterte’s presidential term in 2022.

The tough approach to the rebels has been accompanied by the sinister phenomenon of “red-tagging,” whereby opponents of Duterte’s administration are labeled communists or terrorists by government supporters or state officials, nearly always without proof, exposing them to potentially deadly violence.

Human Rights Watch described the weekend’s raids as part of a “coordinated plan by the authorities to raid, arrest, and even kill activists in their homes and offices.”

“This campaign no longer makes any distinction between armed rebels and noncombatant activists, labor leaders, and rights defenders,” the group added in an emailed statement. “It is not a coincidence that these deadly raids happened two days after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered police and military to ‘kill all’ communists.”

As Jack Broome noted recently in a feature article for The Diplomat, Duterte’s promise of defeating the NPA insurgency by next year is very unlikely to succeed. Alongside the difficulty of rooting out the insurgency itself is the fact that many key actors benefit from a continuation of the conflict. The communist threat provides a useful political bogeyman that the Duterte administration can use to tackle opposition and legitimize some of its more controversial policies, while offering the AFP a pretext for demanding inflated military budgets. Meanwhile, villages and local government offices benefit from central government demobilization and development handouts designed to turn local populations away from the insurgency.

In this context, the violent actions of the police and military seem almost designed to ensure that the discontent that fuels anti-communist insurgency for more than five decades continues.


CPP/NDF-Sison: On the friend-and-foe relationship of Duterte and the legal national democratic forces in 2016-2017

Posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Mar 7, 2021): On the friend-and-foe relationship of Duterte and the legal national democratic forces in 2016-2017




MARCH 07, 2021

This longish abstract of the paper, “Friends and Foes: Human Rights, the Philippine Left and Duterte, 2016-2017” by Jayson Lamchek and Emerson Sanchez describes accurately and adequately, in general and in the main, the “friend-and-foe” relationship (dual tactics) between Duterte and the legal national democratic forces (BAYAN and the Makabayan Bloc). It is far superior to the rubbish output of the so-called soc-dems and Trotskyites obsessed with misrepresenting the relationship of Duterte and the CPP in 2016-2017 and holding the CPP responsible for Duterte.

BAYAN as a “friend” to Duterte was such only insofar as it made friendly gestures to encourage him to adopt its people’s agenda and to engage in peace negotiations with the NDFP, without giving up its condemnation of Duterte’s neoliberal economic policy and violations of human rights. There was never a formal alliance between BAYAN and Duterte. The abstract correctly states that BAYAN made its first mass protest against Duterte on the issue of burying Marcos as a hero as early as November 25, 2016 and big street protests on December 10, 2016 against human rights violations.

There was an alliance between the MAKABAYAN Bloc with the pro-Duterte supermajority in the Lower House of Congress. And the abstract correctly points out that said bloc bolted out of the supermajority as early as September 15, 2017 and denounced the Duterte regime as a fascist, pro-imperialist and anti-people government.

In 2016 Duterte wanted to appoint three cabinet members as CPP representatives but the CPP and NDFP told him to appoint them on their own individual merits as legal personalities and not to prejudice the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations by appointing cabinet members as CPP representatives. The abstract falls short of explicitly noticing how the CPP and NDFP frustrated the attempt of Duterte to compromise them with the cabinet appointments.

The abstract abundantly presents the legal and political integrity and autonomy of the legal national democratic forces but sometimes lets the term ”Left” cover both the armed people’s democratic revolution led by the CPP and the legal democratic forces and at no instance does it state categorically that the CPP, NPA and NDFP never had an alliance with the Duterte regime. The civil war never stopped despite the temporary reciprocal unilateral ceasefires and the glowing remarks and gestures of the NDFP, the legal democratic forces and the peace advocates to encourage Duterte to engage in peace negotiations with the NDFP.

The best evidence that there was never an alliance between the Duterte regime and the armed revolutionary movement is that that there had to be peace negotiations between two parties contending in a civil war, that these negotiations had rough sailing from the beginning because of Duterte’s failure to fulfill his promise to amnesty and release all political prisoners and that Duterte eventually terminated the peace negotiations on November 23, 2017 and went further by designating the CPP and NPA as “terrorist” organizations on December 5, 2017.


CPP/CIO: Condemn spate of state terrorist crimes in Southern Tagalog and Bicol

Posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Mar 7, 2021): Condemn spate of state terrorist crimes in Southern Tagalog and Bicol


MARCH 07, 2021

The Communist Party of the Philippines and all revolutionary forces condemn in the strongest terms the spate of extrajudicial killings and arrests carried out by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) across the Southern Tagalog and Bicol regions. At least 11 people, mostly peasant activists, have been murdered in cold blood by police and military forces since March 1.

Early morning today, at least six activists and prominent leaders of the mass movement were killed and nine others arrested in operations carried out by police and military forces against various democratic mass organizations in Southern Tagalog.

These coordinated attacks in Southern Tagalog come at the heels of successive and coordinated murders by military and police forces in Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur provinces in the Bicol region since March 1 where at least five were killed.

The CPP holds Rodrigo Duterte himself, and his minions in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) for these fascist crimes. We single out Gen. Antonio Parlade, commander of the Southern Luzon Command (SolCom), as among the key masterminds behind these crimes. Gen. Parlade has repeatedly red-tagged and threatened various mass organizations.

The murders and mass arrest of activists mark a heightening of the Duterte tyrannical regime’s dirty war against all patriotic and democratic forces in Southern Tagalog, Bicol and across the country. It follows the pattern of coordinated attacks carried out by the military and police against legal mass organizations in Panay, Negros, NCR, NEM, and other regions over the past years.

These attacks confirm that Duterte is the number one terrorist in the country today. He employs the armed forces and police to instill fear among the people in the hope of making them bow to his power. In killing unarmed people, Duterte continues to prove himself a big fascist coward.

The brutal crackdown confirms that the country is under undeclared martial law, after the enactment of the Anti-Terror Law. The attacks are clearly a frenzied response to Duterte’s marching orders two days ago where he told the AFP and PNP to “forget about human rights” and ordered them to “kill, kill, kill” members of the New People’s Army (NPA). Duterte’s counterinsurgency drive, however, continues to expand its scope targetting the peasants masses and legal democratic forces in the cities. To justify the extrajudicial killings, the military and police have resorted to their trite claims that the victims were armed and that they “fought back.”

In his desperation to silence the people and perpetuate his oppressive political dynasty of corruption, fascism and national treachery, more and more attacks are likely to be carried out soon.

We call on the Filipino people to manifest their indignation and protest these atrocious crimes of state terrorism and gross violations of human rights. We urge the friends of the Filipino people abroad to condemn and help expose the brutal attacks and the Duterte regime’s growing list of fascist crimes.

The New People’s Army (NPA) must mobilize its units to help secure the people being persecuted and hunted down by the fascist regime. Targets of Duterte’s state terrorism can be absorbed by NPA units or provided safe haven within the NPA’s guerrilla base areas. NPA commands must take the initiative to carry out tactical offensives to punish the perpetrators and masterminds of these crimes.


Advance the militant tradition of the working, struggling Filipino woman!

Posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Mar 8, 2021): Advance the militant tradition of the working, struggling Filipino woman!


MARCH 08, 2021

On the occasion of the 110th anniversary of the International Working Women’s Day, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in Southern Mindanao salutes the indomitable strength of the Filipino woman in her everyday struggle with the toiling masses against the fetters of semi-colonial and semi-feudal Philippine society. Her unyielding determination, especially in the face of chronic deterioration of socio-economic conditions, calamities, pandemic and even in this time of tyranny and fascism, lives up to the militant tradition that is the cornerstone of this century-old revolutionary leap towards a just society.

It is with utmost pride that we especially recognize the courageous participation of women in the revolutionary armed struggle of the national democratic movement. From Tandang Sora and Gabriela Silang of the old national democratic struggle to Lorena Barros and Zyra Mae “Ka Ara” Ligad of the new, Filipino women have etched their place in the revolutionary armed resistance, not only as fighting elements but also as leading cadres. Ka Ara was a Red fighter in one of Southern Mindanao’s NPA units who was martyred on January 25, 2020 in an air-raid launched by the 60th Infantry Battalion in La Paz, Agusan del Sur.

The Filipino women of today is left with no choice but to resolutely fight their most incorrigible enemy: the US-Duterte regime. Like most tyrants before him, Duterte himself marked Filipino women as his enemy. In the past year alone, his inutile regime has caused immeasurable hardship towards Filipino women and their working and peasant class families. In the midst of Covid-19 pandemic’s rampage, the Duterte regime exacerbated the chronic crisis hardwired in the import-dependent and export-oriented Philippine economy, prioritizing discriminatory lockdown and restrictions, military spending and corrupt infrastructure projects instead of widespread living and work subsidies, free basic social services and healthcare. This criminal negligence and militarist response has made Filipinos, especially women who make up majority of our healthcare workforce, even more vulnerable not only in terms of health but also to prolonged and ruinous decline of their socio-economic conditions.

While Duterte has proven himself a bane to all Filipinos, he has consigned his foulest insults towards women like a relic tottering on the dark and wrong side of history. With every sexist vitriol that spews out of his gutter of a mouth, Duterte embodies the very worst of the inherent macho-fascist semi-colonial and semi-feudal society.

He is the brash bully that forcibly demands blind allegiance by browbeating women like Philippine senator Leila de Lima and media practitioners Maria Ressa and Lady Ann Salem. He is a crusty chauvinist that gleefully disparages the leading capacity of women like his vice president Leni Robredo and the women Red fighters of the NPA. He is a callous criminal that recklessly weaponizes red-tagging against unarmed civilians like 62-year old Gloria Lanutan, women artists, activists in order that his rabid dogs can have the justification to throw them in jail or worse, kill them with impunity. Elderly Lanutan, a peasant woman from Magpet, North Cotabato, was arrested in August last year over spurious charges of “having links” with the NPA.

He is a misogynistic monster that persecutes mothers like Reina Nasino and Amanda Echanis, all the while selling out the motherland to imperialist economic aggression. Nasino lost her child River while being illegally incarcerated while Echanis continues to languish in jail with her baby under trumped-up charges. His regime is a putrid puppet that enforces neoliberal policies, victimizing poor women peasants and workers in order to satisfy his American and Chinese imperialist masters. As an institution, his reactionary regime is the moribund old society, desperately peddling the lie that the palliative pet projects under the Barangay Development Program is the answer to the rural masses’ problem of feudal exploitation such as landlessness, absent production subsidy, market protection and the like.

As with all sectors in the country, Duterte has deeply isolated himself from Filipino women to the point that he himself is pushing them to get organized, launch varied campaigns for their democratic interests, while some join the revolutionary armed struggle in the NPA.

Under the banner of the Makabayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan (MAKIBAKA), which also celebrates its 51st anniversary this year, Filipino women are continuing the militant legacy of their forebears, daring to struggle not just for the emancipation of their sex but towards a socialist future.


CPP/NDF-Ilocos: The Filipino women’s place is in revolutionary armed struggle!

Posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Mar 8, 2021): NDF-Ilocos: The Filipino women’s place is in revolutionary armed struggle!


MARCH 08, 2021

Duterte can rot while women and the people create a better society for all!

With the rotting system becoming more and more anti-peasant and anti-people under the misogynistic tyranny of Rodrigo Duterte, he can be assured that the Filipino women is part of the revolution that will cause his downfall.

Class Oppression

The yearlong pandemic has exposed the rottenness of the current system and the truth of the Filipino woman’s plight appears sharper than ever. In the country side, farmers and fisher folk continue to live from hand to mouth, if not in even more dire situations. Reports from the government’s own experts in the Philippine Statistics Authority reflect that the highest poverty incidence can be found in these sectors, 31.6 percent and 26.2 percent respectively. From their own records, it is an annual occurrence. Half of these sectors are women who are traditionally tasked to manage household finances.

All over the nation, they have had to put up with endless waiting for so-called social amelioration programs, which may or may not arrive at all. Progressive think-tank Ibon Foundation puts the inflation rate for the bottom 30 percent at 4.9 percent last January from 4.3 percent in December. It was pegged at 2.3 percent a mere year ago in January 2020. Conversely, the skyrocketing of prices of basic commodities and services was more certain and certainly faster than any mass testing or mass vaccination plan.

The loss and lack of employment during the pandemic, where it reached almost 11 million in the Philippines according to the International Labor Organization, means that mothers, sisters and grandmothers have to practically bend over backwards to make ends meet using whatever meager resources at their disposal. They bear this with fortitude and they bear it with the clarity that only collective revolutionary action can hold Duterte accountable.

Filipino women find his recent call to promote women empowerment hollow and pretentious in the face of attempts to discredit and disqualify the only party list that truly represents grassroots women. For them, besides exposing Duterte’s fear of women and their power, such dastardly act proves that a national democratic revolution is necessary to liberate women from the shackles of imperialism and feudalism.

A Woman’s Place

The armed struggle being waged in the country side is welcoming to all marginalized sex and genders, both from the country side and the cities. In the midst of the New People’s Army (NPA), they are treated with respect and equality. All Red fighters undergo the process of unlearning discriminatory habits insidiously absorbed from a bourgeois feudal and patriarchal socialization. The NPA, together with the entire national democratic organization, is intent on making the movement a liberating space for women revolutionaries and teaching the same to wider masses of Filipino people.

The correctness of the revolution appeals to hundreds of marginalized women and convinces them to join the NPA. Martyred women Red fighters like Enniabel ‘Ka Onor’ Balunos, Maria Filena ‘Ka Ricky’ Mejia, Pamela ‘Ka Maymay’ Peralta and many more other bravehearts like them have lain their lives for the cause of creating a socialist society without discrimination, objectification and commodification. They aspire to the eradication of all forms of oppression and exploitation against all peoples regardless of sex and gender. In the streets and in the country side, women are rising up or arming themselves to contribute to the weakening of the US-Duterte regime. While Duterte rots in his own misogyny and overall failure as a president, Filipino grassroots women are creating revolutionary history. ###


CPP/CIO: Punish the fascist criminals behind mass murder in Southern Tagalog

Posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Mar 9, 2021): Punish the fascist criminals behind mass murder in Southern Tagalog


MARCH 09, 2021

The Filipino people and the revolutionary movement consider as criminals the police personnel under the PNP-Calabarzon and military forces under the Southern Luzon Command who are directly involved in the bloody March 7 mass murder of nine workers and peasant leaders and activists in Southern Tagalog.

There is widespread clamor for justice and appeal from various sectors for the New People’s Army (NPA) to take action and punish the criminal perpetrators and masterminds of the Calabarzon murders, as well the successive massacres and murders in Bicol since March and the coordinated killings in Panay and Negros.

In line with the overall plan to dispatch special partisan units to carry out select tactical offensives to punish fascist criminals, concerned NPA units can take the initiative to mount these actions at the soonest possible time.

All revolutionary forces and people must immediately gather all evidence and testimonies and submit these to the NPA. All police and military personnel involved in the AFP and PNP units that carried out the bloody murders must be identified and punished.

We are aware that a growing number of police and military personnel are grumbling over the brazen crimes that they are being made to commit. Thus, we urge all police and military personnel who were not directly involved in the killings but were made to support these criminal operations to come forward and serve as witnesses. If you do so choose, your identities will not be revealed.

However, those who commanded, directed and directly carried out the murders will not be exempt from the people’s retribution. This list includes Duterte and his fascist cabal in National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) who are, in fact, the masterminds behind this campaign of mass murder.

The Party and revolutionary movement wishes to assure the broad masses of workers and peasants that the crimes perpetrated by the US-Duterte fascist regime will not go unpunished. The New People’s Army will do its utmost to help the people in their quest for justice.


‘WE WILL KILL THEM’; Army, police to pursue Du30 ‘kill’ order; calls for rebels to surrender intensify

 From Panay News (Mar 10, 2021): ‘WE WILL KILL THEM’; Army, police to pursue Du30 ‘kill’ order; calls for rebels to surrender intensify (By Ruby Silubrico)

“We will kill them in battle should they refuse to surrender.” The Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) based in Jamindan, Capiz declared this as it welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to the military and police to kill armed rebels.

The armed enemy should be “neutralized” by either making them surrender peacefully, capturing them or killing them in battle, according to Army Major Cenon Pancito III, 3ID spokesperson.

Duterte issued the order during the joint meeting of national and regional taskforces to end local communist armed conflict in Cagayan de Oro City on Friday.

The country’s chief executive lamented that communist insurgents continue to commit “criminal offenses such as extortion, arson, rape, and murder, among others.”

The 3ID has been actively calling all members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP–NPA) to “surrender now for tomorrow may be too late.”

“They are ready to kill for their selfish motives,” Pancito lamented. “The order of the President is clear and consistent with our current efforts.”

Duterte said he would not allow the rebels to overthrow the government, “that’s why I told the military and police that if the enemy is holding a gun during encounters, kill them right away.”

The 3ID is optimistic the rebels would be neutralized before Duterte ends his term in 2022, said Pancito.

As of December 2020, 312 villages in Western Visayas were “cleared” out of 432 barangays determined by the 3ID to have “insurgency affectation” since 2016.

Forty-nine villages in Panay Island and 71 in Negros Occidental are yet to be cleared.

On the other hand, the Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) vowed to enforce the rule of law with more resolve.

“Kung makikita natin na nasa danger ang tao natin, hindi natin hayaan na mang-inflict sila ng harm. We have to fight,” said PRO-6 chief Police Brigadier General Rolando Miranda.

Meanwhile, Police Colonel Gilbert Gorero, director of the Iloilo Police Provincial Office (IPPO), said they are ready to carry out the President’s instruction.

“If the rebels don’t want to be killed, they have to lay down their arms, then they can avail themselves of the government’s reintegration program,” Gorero said.


14 Sayyafs yield in Sulu

From the Mindanao Examiner (Mar 9, 2021): 14 Sayyafs yield in Sulu

The Philippine military said 14 Abu Sayyaf terrorists surrendered in the southern province of Sulu with security officials promising them aid despite the group’s atrocious and violent campaign in the restive region.

Military photo shows the surrendered Abu Sayyaf terrorists.

Brig. Gen. Antonio Bautista, commander of the 1101st Infantry Brigade, said the terrorists also yielded assorted weapons, mostly old firearms, on March 8 during a ceremony witnessed by senior commanders at the army headquarters in Talipao town.

He said two of those who surrendered were notorious Abu Sayyaf fighters, Almudar Muhajiri and Warsib Hamja, under terrorist leader Radulan Sahiron.

Maj. William Gonzales, commander of the 11th Infantry Division, welcomed the mass surrender of Abu Sayyaf members. “These 14 people are from various age groups. One thing in common is that they have once gone astray but are now slowly going back on track,” he said, adding, Muhajiri was among those in the military’s watch list.

“He was in hiding for four years before he came clean. He told me that he realized that he doesn't have a future in the group of Radulan. He wants to live in peace and wants to start a new life to be able to help his family,” Gonzales said.

“Meanwhile, Hamja revealed in an interview that he joined the Abu Sayyaf in 2014 and that he was wounded during the encounter with the military around 2016. Since then, he never returned to the group but was always hiding from government forces,” he added.

Gonzales, who assured the surrenderees they will get assistance, also quoted Hamja as saying: “Sa hirap ng buhay, nasilaw ako sa pera kaya naisipan kong sumama sa grupo ngunit napagtanto ko na wala palang patutunguhan ang ginagawa namin puro patayan nalang. Gusto ko ng mamuhay ng mapayapa, makapaghanap ng trabaho para sa pamilya ko.”

“I'm glad that you are here with us. The 11th Infantry Division is constantly working with local government units to formulate and implement programs for all of you. As for the troops present, let's continue our mission. We will not stop until ultimately end terrorism in this province,” he said.

The Abu Sayyaf group, whose leaders pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, was behind numerous deadly bombings in Sulu, Basilan, Zamboanga City and other parts of Mindanao. It is also involved in ransom kidnappings and brutal slayings of their Filipino and foreign hostages over the past decades. (Mindanao Examiner)


58IB turns-over livelihood, cash assistance to Gingoog farmer group

From the Philippine Information Agency (Mar 9, 2021): 58IB turns-over livelihood, cash assistance to Gingoog farmer group (By 58IB)

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CLAVERIA, Misamis Oriental (March 8)--The 58th Infantry Dimalulupig Battalion facilitated the turnover of livelihood and cash assistance to Kipuntos Farmers Association at Kipuntos Barangay Hall in Gingoog City, March 5.

Among the items given to 48 members of the Kipuntos Farmers Association were financial and food assistance, ten working carabaos, ten plows, and ten harrows.

For almost seven years, before Kipuntos Association was recognized as a people's organization, it was regarded as underground mass organization who were once deceived by NPA rebels.

After being engulfed in the Community Support Program (CSP), it was turned into an organization for and by the people, opening doors of opportunities, one of which is this livelihood assistance for the farmer beneficiaries.

Mr. Alfredo Magatao, president of the said organization, was moved beyond words as he recalled the Army's help through the 58IB in immersing Kipuntos, which bridged the gap between the government and the barangay in resolving their issues and concerns, that had previously served as a major factor in supporting the NPA rebels.

The members felt genuinely blessed and thankful, as this assistance would undoubtedly help them sustain their livelihood as farmers in the coming years. (58IB)


CNT supply officers surrender to Godod MTF-ELCAC in Zambo Norte

From the Philippine Information Agency (Mar 9, 2021): CNT supply officers surrender to Godod MTF-ELCAC in Zambo Norte (By 102nd Infantry Brigade, Philippine Army)

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GODOD, Zamboanga del Norte, March 9 (PIA) - Two Communist NPA Terrorists (CNTs) surrendered to the Municipal Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (MTF-ELCAC) in Godod, Zamboangadel Norte, Monday afternoon, March 8, 2021.

The former CNT members voluntarily surrendered to Hon. Abel Matildo, Municipal Mayor/MTF-ELCAC Chairman and were later on turned-over to the 44th Infantry Battalion.

"The surrenderers were identified as alias RJ, supply officer of the defunct Guerilla Front Feliciano "A" and alias Jelo, supply officer of the defunct HQ-KALAW, both of the Western Mindanao Regional Party Committee (WMRPC)," said Lt. Col. Filven Noche, Commanding Officer, 44IB.

"RJ's brother, alias Bobby, who also surrendered to the unit last September 2020 assisted in the negotiation for the safe return of alias RJ to their family," Lt. Col. Noche added.

Based on the initial interview with the former rebels, they were motivated by the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) and with the persuasion by local populace to return to the folds of law.

"We, in the MTF-ELCAC of Godod, are committed in supporting our security forces in the campaign to finally put an end to the decades-long insurgency problem in our locality," said Hon. Matildo.

For his part, Brig. Gen. Leonel Nicolas, Commander, 102nd Infantry Brigade urged the remaining members of the WMRPC to lay down their arms.

"This is the right time for them to surrender as the government is preparing the grounds for their safe return to their communities with the creation of the National Amnesty Commission coupled with the E-CLIP benefits," said Brig. Gen. Nicolas.

It can be recalled that last February 22, 2021, two former CNTs, namely, alias Jobel of HQ-Kalaw and alias Zoren of GF-BBC, also surrendered to the 53rd Infantry Battalion and Dumingag MTF-ELCAC under the leadership of Hon. Joan Abejuela, Municipal Mayor.

Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Gene Ponio, Commander, 1st Infantry Division expressed his gratitude to Hon. Matildo and other Local Chief Executives who continue to take the lead and initiate measures to attain peace in Zamboanga Peninsula.

"As we sustain our military pressure while our government agencies and local government units address the issues at the grassroots, we will be able to accomplish our desired end goal to create a peaceful environment conducive for sustainable development in no time," said Maj. Gen. Ponio.

As of posting, the former rebels are being assisted for the enrollment and processing of their E-CLIP benefits. (RVC/EDT/PIA99-Zamboanga del Norte with reports from 102nd Infantry Brigade)

Ex-NPAs torch rebel flags, declare group as persona non grata

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 9, 2021): Ex-NPAs torch rebel flags, declare group as persona non grata (By Edwin Fernandez)

DENOUNCING THE NPA. Former rebels and mass base supporters of the New People's Army (NPA) set ablaze rebel flags as they declare the group as persona non grata in Barangay Luz, M’lang, North Cotabato on Monday (March 8, 2021). The villagers (inset) also joined a peace rally aimed at making their village free from the influence of the armed terrorists. (Photo courtesy of 6ID, Philippine Army)

Twenty-five former members of the New People’s Army (NPA) operating in North Cotabato have pledged allegiance to the government on Monday, after denouncing their membership with the communist movement.

The oath-taking of the former rebels, who surrendered to the military on Sunday, was witnessed by their relatives and some 1,000 residents of Barangay Luz in M’lang town.

On Tuesday, M’lang Mayor Russel Abonado said
the village officials and former supporters of the communist movement in the village have voluntarily declared the NPA as “persona non grata”.

He said in the past, the rebels had “some influence” in the villages of La Suerte, La Fortuna, Palma Perez, and Luz. “For that reason, the Army had conducted community support program in these villages to encourage the rebels to surrender and avail of government services,” Abonado said.

After the former rebels denounced the movement, various government agencies have provided services to the people, most of whom claimed it was their first time to receive government services such as on health, and securing of documents from the Philippine Statistics Authority, Department of Agrarian Reform and the Land Bank of the Philippines.

Former NPA member Carlos “Boy” Peña said he decided to heed the call of his family and friends to turn away from the communist movement as it has done nothing good to him and his relatives.

“The Army diplomatically convinced me to surrender, they did not harm me or threaten me. My decision to come out was based on my free will,” he told reporters in the vernacular during an interview.

Abonado lauded the Army’s 90th Infantry Battalion for applying a diplomatic approach in bringing peace to the village of Luz and nearby areas.

The NPA, together with the Communist Party of the Philippines and the 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.


Ex-rebels tapped as Samar peacebuilders

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 9, 2021): Ex-rebels tapped as Samar peacebuilders (By Sarwell Meniano)

REINTEGRATION. Some of the former rebels who attended an assembly in Hinabangan, Samar on Tuesday (March 9, 2021). Former rebels in Samar have been organized by the Philippine Army into a group of peacebuilders in the bid to open more opportunities for those who abandoned the communist terrorist group’s ideology. (Photo courtesy of Philippine Army)

Former rebels in Samar have been organized on Tuesday by the Philippine Army into a group of peacebuilders to open more opportunities for those who abandoned the communist terrorist group’s ideology.

Philippine Army 801st Infantry Brigade commander Brig. Gen. Camilo Ligayo said these rebels will be prioritized in the provision of livelihood assistance from the government as they will take an active role in localized peace negotiations.

“This association will serve as a bridge for other rebels to lay down their weapons and be back to the folds of the law. They are also committed to looking into the welfare of their group members,”
Ligayo said in a statement.

Some of them just completed landscape training from the Technical Educational and Skills Development Authority. They were trained on how to plant and make a disc garden which they sell for PHP1,500 to PHP2,000.

At least 31 former rebels took their oath as officers of the group with over 100 members. The officers attended the first assembly on Tuesday in Hinabangan, Samar.

The formation of the group is a priority project of the regional task force on ending local communist armed conflict.

The formation of the task force operationalizes Executive Order 70 issued by President Rodrigo Duterte on Dec. 4, 2018.

The directive also institutionalizes a “whole-of-nation approach” in attaining an inclusive and sustainable peace.

The NPA, which has been waging a five-decade armed struggle against the government is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.


2 Tawi-Tawi warring clans settle dispute

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 9, 2021): 2 Tawi-Tawi warring clans settle dispute (By Teofilo Garcia, Jr.)

RECONCILED. Two warring clans in Tawi-Tawi province settle their eight-year-old dispute Monday (March 8, 2021) in a ceremony at the provincial capitol. Military officials led by Brig. Gen. Arturo Rojas, Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi commander (2nd from left, standing), and other government officials witness the signing of the peace agreement. (Photo courtesy of the Western Mindanao Command Public Information Office)

Two warring clans have settled their eight-year-old dispute through the intervention of the Army's 2nd Marine Brigade and the provincial government, officials said Tuesday.

Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr., Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief, said the Erwing and Omar clans of Tawi-Tawi's South Ubian and Tandubas towns had been locked in a bloody dispute since 2013, resulting in the death of a clan member on the Omar side.

Vinluan said the two clans settled their dispute following series of negotiations spearheaded by Tawi-Tawi Gov. Yshmael Sali and with the efforts of former South Ubian Mayor Mustapha Omar and the Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi.

Vinluan said the clans' elders signed a “deed of agreement” Monday at the Tawi-Tawi Provincial Capitol to formalize their peace covenant. It was witnessed by officials from the provincial government, police, and the military.

“The settlement exemplifies that life is always better if we see what’s ahead than look at what’s left behind. It is more rewarding to forget the bad pasts – bitterness, grudges, hatred, and pain; and move forward to enjoy another beautiful morning,” said Brig. Gen. Arturo Rojas, Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi commander.

Rojas said the warring parties pledged to abide by the terms and conditions stated in the agreement.

Vinluan described the peace agreement as "a great decision not only for themselves but for their younger generations."

“Rest assured that Westmincom will always be ready to mediate and facilitate settlement of clan wars to ensure peace and security in the region,” he added.


PAF’s new Black Hawk choppers transport Covid-19 vaccines

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 9, 2021): PAF’s new Black Hawk choppers transport Covid-19 vaccines (By Priam Nepomuceno)

File photo

The S-70i "Black Hawk" helicopters acquired by the Philippine Air Force (PAF) are now being utilized in the government's ongoing vaccination drive for medical front-liners amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

"The acquisition of S-70i 'Black Hawk' as part of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) Modernization Program is timely indeed. The helicopter is faster, can carry more payload, has longer range, and has a host of other advanced capabilities than the Vietnam War era UH-1H 'Hueys' that it intends to eventually replace," PAF spokesperson Lt. Col. Maynard Mariano said in a statement late Monday night.

On Monday, two Black Hawk helicopters transported some 2,400 vials of Sinovac Biotech's CoronaVac vaccines to Quezon Province, Camarines Sur, and Albay from Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

Of the load, 1,200 vials were transported to Southern Luzon Command headquarters in Lucena City, Quezon; 600 vials to 9th Infantry Division headquarters in Pili, Camarines Sur; and, 600 vials to the Naval Station Southern Luzon in Legazpi City, Albay.

The Black Hawk, designated as a medium transport helicopter, is capable of flying at a speed of 224 miles per hour(mph/361 kilometers per hour (kph) and has a range of 290 miles/460 kilometers.

Aside from transporting medical supplies and other cargo, the Black Hawks can also perform search-and-rescue, disaster relief, and other mercy missions, Mariano said.

The PAF received six modern S-70i Black Hawks late last year, which is part of the 16 units ordered from Polish company Polskie Zaklady Lotnicze Sp.z.o.o. and manufactured under license from Sikorsky USA.

The entire order is worth USD241 million or about PHP11.5 billion. The remaining 10 S-70is are expected to be delivered by the first quarter of 2021.

The Black Hawk helicopters were procured through a government-to-government transaction with Poland.

The negotiations were completed in 2019. The acquisition of the S-70i combat utility helicopters is as part of Horizon 2 of the AFP Modernization Program.

"The PAF is actually fielding available transport aircraft based on the schedule of deliveries to other parts of the country. The transport of the vaccines is the current priority of the PAF when it comes to the utilization of its transport aircraft, be it via a utility helicopter like the Black Hawk (helicopters) and other fixed wing assets like the C-295 and the C-212 and of the C-130. I hope this information will help us keep the Filipino people informed," Mariano added.


Duterte carefully weighing VFA reconsideration

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 9, 2021): Duterte carefully weighing VFA reconsideration (By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos)

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (Presidential photo)

President Rodrigo Duterte is carefully weighing the possible reconsideration of the Philippines’ Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States (US), Malacañang said on Tuesday.

This, after Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez said the US’ aid package to the Philippines would be enough to satisfy Duterte.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, in a virtual press conference, said Duterte also has to consider the possibility that Filipinos’ lives might be jeopardized in case a war between the US and China, both allies of the Philippines, emerge.

“Kaya nga po tinitimbang niyang mabuti kung sapat ba iyang mga military hardware na iyan doon sa ibubuwis natin pagdating sa mga buhay ng ating mga mamamayang Pilipino (That’s why he is carefully weighing whether the US’ military hardware is enough in the event that Filipinos’ lives are put at stake),” Roque said.

Romualdez on March 5 announced that the Pentagon had sent to the Philippines an inventory of arms and military hardware it can provide to modernize the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The country’s envoy added that more arms and hardware from the US are also coming.

‘Right’ decision

Roque was confident that Duterte would make a “right decision” when it comes to VFA’s fate.

“Hayaan po natin siyang gumawa ng tamang desisyon. Dahil kaya naman po natin siya hinalal bilang president ay dahil nagtitiwala tayo na tama ang kaniyang magiging desisyon (Let him make the right decision. We elected him as our president because we trust him to make the right decision),” he said.

Duterte on Feb. 28 said he would order the immediate termination of VFA once he receives “hard information” about American troops bringing nuclear armaments into the country.

Four days prior to his latest pronouncement, Duterte sought public input on VFA, as he admitted that he remained “undecided” on the fate of the controversial military pact between Manila and Washington.

Deciding ‘in due course’

Roque said Duterte is aware that the country needs more military weapons.

Despite this, Duterte still wants to hear the public’s opinion regarding the VFA, Roque said.

“Pero ang desisyon kung talagang mananatili ang VFA ay desisyon na tanging ang Pangulo lang po ang pupuwedeng gumawa (But the decision on the VFA’s status will come only from the President),” he said.

Quizzed as to when Duterte would decide on VFA’s fate, Roque said: “In due course po. Huwag nating i-pressure ang Presidente (It will be in due course. Let us not pressure the President).”

On Feb. 11, 2020, Duterte revoked the VFA, a 1998 military deal signed by Manila and Washington which allows American troops to join military drills in the Philippines sans the need to secure passport and visa.

The VFA was supposed to be effectively abrogated in August last year, but Duterte on June 1 of the same year ordered the suspension of VFA termination for six months because of “political and other developments in the region.”

The Philippines extended in November last year the suspension of VFA termination for another six months.


WESTMINCOM: Loudspeaker Operation

Posted to the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) Facebook Page (Mar 7, 2021): Loudspeaker Operation

Six Cmo Battalion 





WESTMINCOM: 53IB Conducts Community Engagement in Dumingag, ZDS

Posted to the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) Facebook Page (Mar 7, 2021): 53IB Conducts Community Engagement in Dumingag, ZDS

4th Civil Relations Group

53IB Conducts Community Engagement in Dumingag, ZDS
The Philippine Army’s 53rd Infantry “MATAPAT” Battalion (53IB) conducted a Community Engagement in Barangay Dulian, Dumingag, Zamboanga Del Sur from February 18, 2021 to March 5, 2021.
The activity was spearheaded by the 53IB Alpha Company under 2Lt. Janryl Gumalad together with the intention to communicate to the community of the Army’s goal to maintain peace and order.

On the first day, the 53IB held a film showing at the Dulian Barangay Hall. The film showing included the Matapat Audio Visual Presentation (AVPs) “We Are Your Soldiers and movies for the children.

Feeding Program and Giving of Toys to the children were also conducted. A Grand Pulong -Pulong (gathering), distribution of leaflets and transistor radios.

The Alpha Company also conducted sportsfest activities and the turn-over of one (1) Basketball and one (1) Volleyball for the barangay.

The Team also conducted Flag Raising Ceremonies in Sitio Lawis and Barangay Dulian with the residents and conducted distribution of leaflets and transistor radios to the residents of Barangay Riverside at the boundary of Barangay Pawan, Midsalip and Barangay Dulian, Dumingag in Zamboanga Del Sur.

The residents performed a Subanen Dance Contest during the Alpha Company’s visit. The activity aimed to showcase the rich Subanen Culture in the barangay. The Subanen dancers used their traditional costumes and showed the local culture with rich traits, customs, and character as the cultural identity of the Subanen tribe.


WESTMINCOM: 53IB, Southern Mindanao Colleges Launch Awareness Campaign Vs. CPP-NPA Recruitment

Posted to the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) Facebook Page (Mar 7, 2021): 53IB, Southern Mindanao Colleges Launch Awareness Campaign Vs. CPP-NPA Recruitment

53rd Infantry "Matapat" Battalion

53IB, Southern Mindanao Colleges Launch Awareness Campaign Vs. CPP-NPA Recruitment

The Philippine Army’s 53rd Infantry “MATAPAT” Battalion (53IB) and Southern Mindanao Colleges (SMC) launched a Student Leadership Forum and Awareness campaign against Communist Party of the Philippine-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) recruitment in a simple program at SMC Sky Room, Pagadian City on March 05, 2021.

In the said program, 53IB and SMC held the said forum for the prevention and awareness against CPP-NPA recruitment with 10 faculty, non-teaching, administrators, and at least 109 students. SMC currently employs more than 150 personnel with more than 2,500 students in its elementary, high school, college, and masteral departments.

“The purpose of the forum is for the students to be aware that school is one of NPA recruitment centers gravity. It is important that the youth should be educated and guarded against the danger of joining the communist armed insurgency,” 53IB Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera said.

“The youths are the future leaders of our country. They are our hope in building our nation in government and private sectors, the academe, in politics, and the military. We are not only fighting against the communist groups but also empowering and inspiring the people to do the right thing for better communities,” Lt. Col. Herrera said.

Lt. Col. Herrera told the students: “There is no problem of being activists and broadening your knowledge with different philosophies as long as you do not carry firearms and destroy lives and government and private properties. The battlefield has shifted to the battle of ideas and narratives in Social Media.”

With the initiatives of the 53IB’s combat and non-combat operations in collaboration with LGUs and NGOs, the Provincial Council recently declared the Province of Zamboanga del Sur insurgency free and peaceful ready for development with the dismantling of HQ KALAW Platoon and Main Regional Guerilla Unit (MRGU) of the Western Mindanao Regional Party Committee (WMRPC) of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

Lt. Col. Herrera said the Philippine Army is continuously conducting more initiatives to sustain the gains and maintain peaceful communities from the urban center to the far-flung hinterlands in the province.

During the forum, Lt. Col. Herrera presented and provided copies of the Breaking Free (from Communist Deception) book and Crossing the Red Line Book, narrations of actual accounts of young people’s fateful journeys who were recruited and once deceived by the CPP-NPA but were able to surrender and went back to the folds of the law, for the SMC Library.

“We are very thankful for the Philippine Army in its relentless efforts to maintain peace and order to guard our youth against communist ideologies. We shall continue in strengthening our partnership with the 53IB in guiding our students to become responsible, productive, and law-abiding citizens,” SMC President Dr. Roselito Hofileña said.

The program was spearheaded by SMC officials including Dr. Hofileña, College of Education Dean Dr. Ben Hope Ruelo, SMC ROTC Band led by Sherwin Diaz, and College of Liberal and Social Work Dean Dr. Gloria Arcamo.

WESTMINCOM: Marine Brigade facilitates settlement of a clan war in Tawi-Tawi

Posted to the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) Facebook Page (Mar 8, 2021): Marine Brigade facilitates settlement of a clan war in Tawi-Tawi

Camp Navarro, Calarian, Zamboanga City- March 8, 2021
The Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi facilitated the settlement of a bloody clan war in Tawi-Tawi on March 8, 2021.

WestMinCom Commander Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan, Jr. said a clan war that had been going for years in the province of Tawi-Tawi was finally settled with the help of the AFP’s 2nd Marine Brigade and the local government officials.
Lt. Gen. Vinluan, Jr. further said that the feuding families belong to the Erwing and Omar clans who had been involved in a misunderstanding sometime in 2013 which resulted in unwanted encounters against each other and the untimely death of BolarHadji Omar.

After a series of negotiations spearheaded by Tawi-Tawi Governor Yshmael Sali and with the efforts of former Mayor Mustapha Omar and the Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi, the warring clans finally ended and settled their dispute.
During the signing of the Deed of Agreement, Almasi Inggo Erwing, of legal age and a resident of Lahad Dampong, South Ubian, Tawi-Tawi represented the first party while Mabini Hadji Omar and Sangkula Hadji Omar, of legal age and a resident of Naungan, Tandubas, Tawi-Tawi represented the second party.

They signed the agreement in the presence of Governor Sali, other local government officials, police and military officers, and local leaders and elders.

“This settlement exemplifies that life is always better if we see what’s ahead than look at what’s left behind. It is more rewarding to forget the bad pasts – bitterness, grudges, hatred, and pain; and move forward to enjoy another beautiful morning,” said Brig. Gen. Arturo Rojas, Commander of the Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi.
“Our life here on earth is a blessing so we must share this wonderful gift by loving and forgiving one another,” Brig. Gen. Rojas added.

Both parties pledged to abide by the terms and conditions stated in the Deed of Agreement.
“We are happy that they finally decided to live peacefully as Muslim brothers and sisters. They made a great decision not only for themselves but for their younger generations,” said Lt. Gen. Vinluan, Jr.
“Rest assured that the Team WestMinCom will always be ready to mediate and facilitate settlement of clan wars to ensure peace and security in the region,” Lt. Gen. Vinluan, Jr. added.



WESTMINCOM: Seajacking attempt thwarted on seawaters off Sibutu

Posted to the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) Facebook Page (Mar 9, 2021): Seajacking attempt thwarted on seawaters off Sibutu

Camp Navarro, Calarian, Zamboanga City- March 8, 2021
Naval forces thwarted a seajacking attempt in Tawi-Tawi waters on March 3, 2021.

According to WestMinCom Commander Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan, Jr., while on its course from Bongao to Sibutu, all of Tawi-Tawi, M/V AKIG PEAL was harassed by three armed men boarding a speed boat on waters off Sibutu.

Due to the vigilance of her crew and the prompt response of naval troops, the armed perpetrators aborted their attempt to seajack the vessel.

“Our Littoral Monitoring Station (LMS) in Bongao received the call and immediately coordinated with us. I then directed Boat Attack 489 (BA489) to depart from her post in Lamion to proceed to the said location to deter the possible seajacking,” said Rear Admiral Toribio Adaci, Jr., Commander of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao.

To ensure the safety of the crew and other passengers, the M/V was escorted to her destination.
“The naval and aerial assets are deployed to continuously monitor and secure transiting vessels and likewise lookout and pursue the perpetrators of the foiled seajacking,” said Lt. Gen. Vinluan, Jr.



WESTMINCOM: Government forces defuse clan war in Lanao del Sur

Posted to the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) Facebook Page (Mar 9, 2021): Government forces defuse clan war in Lanao del Sur

Camp Navarro, Calarian, Zamboanga City- March 8, 2021
Joint elements of the military and police intervened in a showdown between two heavily-armed clans in Lanao del Sur on March 6, 2021.
According to WestMinCom Commander Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan, Jr., the troops of the 82nd Infantry Battalion received information regarding the situation in Barangays Pindolonan and Malna, both of Kapai, Lanao del Sur.
“The informant sought for military intervention in the sporadic gunfights between the two feuding families in their community,” said Lt. Gen. Vinluan, Jr.
Acting on the report, the troops of the 82IB coordinated with the PNP Kapai, and together they conducted a law enforcement security operation in the specified area.

“Our troops together with our partners from the PNP were able to seize eight high-powered and one low-powered firearms from the individuals involved,” said Lt. Col. Rafman Altre, Commanding Officer of the 82IB.
The confiscated firearms include one Elisco M16A1 rifle, one M16 Colt AR15 Model 613, one Sniper rifle, one 5.56 Bushmaster rifle attached with Grenade Launcher, one 7.62 M14 rifle, one Cal. 30 Carbine, one Cal.22 Bolt Action Rifle, one M79 Grenade Launcher, and one Colt Cal. 45 pistol.
“We are currently negotiating with both parties, the Elias and Musama clans, to settle their dispute and embrace peace,” Lt. Col. Altre further said.
"We are also verifying on how and when did their conflict started, and if they are affiliated with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front," Lt. Col. Altre added.
The local government unit of Tagoloan II also sent emissaries for the eventual settlement of the conflict.
“We are hopeful that they will be able to resolve all their disagreements and give each other a chance to live in harmony and prosperity,” said Brig. Gen. Jose Maria Cuerpo III, Commander of the 103rd Infantry Brigade.
Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Generoso Ponio, Commander of Joint Task Force ZamPeLan commended the troops for the successful operation that simmered down the rising security concerns.
The confiscated firearms are now in the custody of 82IB for documentation and proper disposition.
“The military is working doubly not only to end terrorism but to clear the communities from any threat. May these warring clans reconcile and no longer engage in any violent action against each other,” Lt. Gen. Vinluan, Jr. stated.



WESTMINCOM: Agri-Business Project in Sulu Help Former ASG Members Rebuild Lives

Posted to the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) Facebook Page (Mar 9, 2021): Agri-Business Project in Sulu Help Former ASG Members Rebuild Lives

11th Infantry "Alakdan" Division


March 07, 2020, Kuta Heneral Teodulfo Bautista, Jolo, Sulu— Joint Task Force – Sulu and 11th Infantry Division Commander MGen William N Gonzales witnessed the the 4th harvesting season/process of the “Kapatid for Agri-Bounty Fresh Poultry Farm”, a livelihood project for former Abu Sayyaf Group members and residents of Barangay Tukay, Parang, Sulu.

The event was also witnessed by 11th ID Assistant Division Commander BGen Manuel Sequitin and 1101st Infantry Brigade Commander BGen Antonio I Bautista Jr., 1102nd Infantry Brigade Deputy Commander Taharudin P Ampatuan, and Bountry Fresh representative Mr Mark Pagente.

The agribusiness project, mainly aimed at providing the former rebels a new chance at life, was initiated by the 2nd Special Forces Battalion and the local government unit represented by Hon. Madzhar T Loong Vice Mayor of Parang, in collaboration with non-government organization Go Negosyo and Bounty Fresh, a private company.

According to 2nd Special Forces Battalion Commander Ltc Jooney Jay R Businos, the farm was formally launched in December 2018/became fully operational in 2019. “The purpose of the agribusiness project is to uplift the lives ASG returnees as well as CAAs (CAFGU Active Auxiliary) and other residents of Brgy Tukay by providing them livelihood and helping them lead a more productive life. So far, we have five returnees who are working full time at the farm.”

“Meanwhile, 71 other former ASG members benefit from the project during harvest season, when the poultry farm requires more people as the livestock undergoes several stages of treatment before it is transported to buyers” Businos added.

Notably, among the rebel returnees currently employed at the farm is Mario (not his real name) a former member under the group of deceased ASG sub-leader Sibih Pisih. In an interview, Mario narrated that his former group was sometimes involved in kidnapping activities. “Napilitan talaga akong sumama noong panahon dahil sa rido. Marami kaming mga kamag anak ko na lalaki ang napilitan na sumama na lang sa Abu Sayyaf,” he said in the vernacular. When asked how he sustains his family he admitted that he sometimes receives money worth around two thousand pesos whenever the group is able to conduct kidnapping. Now, he and his wife are able to work on the poultry farm.

“CAA din ako, may allowance kami doon. Tapos sa pountry naman may six thousand pesos ako kada buwan. Di hamak na mas nakakaluwag kami ng pamilya ko kaysa noong nasa grupo ako ng Abu Sayyaf. Dun, minsan ko lang makita ang pamilya ko at napipilitan pa akong maugnay sa kidnapping,” Mario further narrated.

During the event, MGen William N Gonzales expressed his gratitude to all involved individuals who are operating the ‘Kapatid Agri-Bounty Fresh Poultry Farm’.
“I personally thank all of you for working on this initiative. And I also recognize our returnees who decided to actively participate in this agri-business and choose a life of peace. I tasked my staff to conduct an in-depth study as to how we can replicate this model poultry farm that you have started here.
“The success of this project proves that we, the government, especially with the help of the NGO’s, the private sector, and residents of the community, can work together towards building a better and peaceful future for Sulu” Gonzales added.