Tuesday, March 16, 2021

RCSP immersion conducted in Surigao del Norte

From the Philippine Information Agency (Mar 16, 2021): RCSP immersion conducted in Surigao del Norte (By 29th Infantry Battalion, Phil. Army) 

SURIGAO CITY, Surigao del Norte, Mar. 16 -- The provincial government of Surigao del Norte through the local government unit (LGU) of Malimono, in partnership with the 29th Infantry (Matatag Fighters) Battalion (29IB), Philippine Army under the 901st Infantry (Fight'em) Brigade and other agencies, collaborated and led the conduct of Retooled Community Support Program (RCSP) Immersion held in Brgy. San Isidro, Malimono on Tuesday, March 9, 2021.

It was aimed at addressing governance issues and developmental gaps by providing the community with their needs and ensuring that development is sustained and peace is promoted.

More than 200 beneficiaries have availed of the various services such as free haircut by the Philippine Army and the information awareness drive about the Communist NPA Terrorists (CNTs) recruitment schemes and Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) process.

Free medical checkups, medicines, and hygiene kits were also provided by the Department of Health (DOH). Free circumcision (Tuli) was also offered and assisted by the Philippine Army.

There were free consultation and information drive by the Technical Education and Skills Development Agency (TESDA) regarding free skills training and seminars; the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for the assistance to the rebels who desires to surrender; the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for those individuals who wanted to put up a business; the Department of Agriculture (DA) which provided free seedlings and tips on agriculture; and the Philippine National Police (PNP) on the laws and regulations of peace and security.

Sangguniang Bayan (SB) member of Malimono, Danilo Abraham said, “Magapasalamat kita kay naa sila magserbisyo sa katawhan sa Malimono. Mao dili kita mag away-away kay igsoon ra kitang tanan (We should be thankful that they are here to serve the people of Malimono. That is why we should not contend because we are all brothers and sisters).”

Meanwhile, SB member Wallace Sinaca explained that the said RCSP activity has been made available in the area to make the people in Malimono feel that the government has always been prioritizing the people. "Aside from that, loving one another is the true essence of peace," he said.

According to Surigao del Norte assistant provincial administrator Ramon Gotinga, “Swerte kaayo ang Malimono kay gusto sa atong gobernador nga magpabilin nga mahapsay ug malinawon ang Malimono, Surigao del Norte. Ang 180 million nga kwarta nga proyekto sa nasyunal ihatag sa barangay ug sa luyo sa inyong barangay aron mubalik na sa sabakan sa gobyerno ang kaigsoonan ta aron sila magpuyo na ug malinawon (Malimono is so fortunate because our governor wants that Malimono, Surigao del Norte would remain orderly and peacefully. The 180 million worth of peso for the national project will be given to the barangay, and other far-flung areas of the barangay, so that our fellows might as well return to the folds of the government and live peacefully)."

Provincial director of the Department of the Interior and Local Government John Reyl Mosquito also emphasized by saying, “Ini kami para ipaabot ang mensahe sa atong Presidente. Nga tanan kita mutabang sa katunhay sa kahapsay ug kalinaw sa atong nasod. Mutabang kita sa matag usa kanato kay para ini sa karadyawan kanato tanan, kinsa pama’y magtinabangan kon kita ra (We are here to convey the message of our President. That all of us must help in maintaining peace and order in our country. Let us help each other, for this is for the good of everyone. Who else would help each other, but only us).”

“I hope you were all seeing how serious the government is in ending this insurgency and in helping the people. That despite such pandemic, it doesn’t stop the government from delivering its services to the community. And rest assured, that your Army will never get tired of doing so because this is what the whole-of-nation approach is all about," said Lt. Col. Aristotle F. Antonio, commanding officer of 29IB.

It can be recalled that on March 4, 2021, the province had conducted the same RCSP immersion in the municipality of San Francisco, this province. (1Lt. Edmar Colagong, CMO Officer, 29IB, PA/PIA-Surigao del Norte)


NPA members surrender to Army in AgNo

From the Philippine Information Agency (Mar 15, 2021): NPA members surrender to Army in AgNo (By 23rd Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army) 

BUENAVISTA, Agusan del Norte, March 16 -- Four regular members of the Communist New People’s Army (NPA) Terrorist (CNT) and three Milisya ng Bayan (MB) voluntarily surrendered to the 23rd Infantry Battalion (23IB), Philippine Army during the conduct of Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) immersion activity held in Sitio Bokbokon, Barangay Lawan-lawan, Las Nieves, Agusan del Norte on March 9, 2021.

Three of the regular members of CNTs were from Guerrilla Front (GF) 4A, one was from the GF4B. All of the regular members and the MBs who surrendered were under the North Central Mindanao Regional Command (NCMRC) of the NPA.

They were identified as Alias Datu Hulas, 57 years old, PG, Squad Uno, GF-4A, bringing along with him one M16 Rifle, one Caliber 9mm Submachine gun and one Caliber .45 Pistol; Alias Hain, 56 years old, Medic of GF-4A; Alias Jaya, 18 years old, Medic of GF-4B; Alias Chodi, 16 years old, Medic of GF-4A; Alias Justine, 21 years old, MB of Sitio Bulak, Barangay Lower Olave, Buenavista under GF4A; Alias John, 21 years old from Sitio Bokbokon, Barangay Lawan-lawan, Las Nieves, Agusan del Norte under GF4A; and Alias Jay, 19 years old also from Sitio Bokbokon.

They voluntarily surrendered to Lt. Col. Julius Cesar C. Paulo, the commanding officer of 23IB. Upon their surrender, they were also presented to Agusan del Norte Gov. Dale B Corvera, Mayor Avelina S Rosales of Las Nieves, Board Member Jun Radaza Escasiñas, P/Col. Martin Gamba, Provincial Director of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Agusan del Norte, and Datu Ronald S. Manhumosay during the PPOC Immersion activity.

The surrender of the regular NPA and MB members was facilitated by the different tribal leaders and members of the Higaonon tribe led by Datu Bawang Eddie Ampiyawan, the Indigenous People Mandatory Representative (IPMR) of Agusan del Norte.

Datu Hulas, in a testimony during the activity, thanked the government for opening its doors to those who decided to abandon the decaying armed struggle of the CNTs.

“Today, I am happy that I am now back to the government after my miserable life with the NPAs,” Datu Hulas said.

Lt. Col. Paulo warmly welcomed the group of Datu Hulas, as he emphasized the realization of the IP communities on the terroristic activities of the CNTs.

“The vulnerabilities of the IPs were exploited by the CNTs. They usually recruit IP leaders because they can easily recruit additional members from their tribe,” Paulo said.

He added that the lives of the recruited IP leaders and members are in great risk and the families they left behind suffer from hardships and difficulties.

“It is so sad to note that until now, they are still recruiting and using the IP minors to serve for their group and fight against the government,” Paulo said.

Furthermore, the 23IB commander also thanked the group for finally realizing the evil intents of the CNTs and decided to return to the government and their families.

“We are so glad that these IPs finally decided to go back to the folds of the law by laying down their arms. May every IPs guard and guide each one of them so that they will be spared from the recruitment scheme and manipulation of the CNT group,” Paulo said. (1Lt. Roel T. Maglalang, CMO Officer, 23IB PA/PIA Agusan del Norte)


Army's 102nd IB forms task unit to beat NPA-WMRPC

From the Philippine Information Agency (Mar 15, 2021): Army's 102nd IB forms task unit to beat NPA-WMRPC (By 102nd Infantry Brigade, Philippine Army)

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IPIL, Zamboanga Sibigay, March 15 (PIA) - The Army's 102nd Infantry (IGSOON) Brigade organized on Sunday morning, March 14, 2021, a task unit to defeat the Western Mindanao Regional Party Committee in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay.

The Task Unit Jaguar is composed of 115 Officers and personnel from 42nd Infantry Battalion, 44th Infantry Battalion and 53rd Infantry Battalion.

Brig. Gen. Leonel Nicolas, Commander, 102Bde, discussed his intent and the purpose of the organization of Task Unit Jaguar.

"For a very long time, our goal, our mission, and our objectives remained the same, and that is to defeat the WMRPC," said Brig. Gen. Nicolas.

"As your commander, I would like to report to you that we are close to winning with the dismantling of five (5) guerilla units, two (2) vertical forces and one (1) regional urban committee during our previous campaigns, with the strong support from our stakeholders through the different levels of Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (TF-ELCAC)," Brig. Gen. Nicolas added.

The newly organized Task Unit Jaguar will function as the Brigade's Ready Deployable Force that will hunt down the remaining Communist NPA Terrorists of the WMRPC anywhere in Zamboanga Peninsula and Misamis Occidental.

"I am confident that with your reinvigorated passion and commitment, you will be able to deliver and contribute to the dismantling of the WMRPC," Brig. Gen. Nicolas in one of his remarks.

In closing, Brig. Gen. Nicolas inspired the junior officers and personnel to give their best in their future tasks and mission.

"Give your 100% and your contributions will be written in the history of freeing the victims and people of Zamboanga Peninsula and Misamis Occidental from Communist's Propaganda and Influence," Brig. Gen. Nicolas ended.

The troops will undergo a short-course reorganization training to enhance their tactical and technical proficiency in accomplishing their mission.

WMRPC is the communist NPA terrorist group that has been operating for several years now in the Zamboanga Peninsula region including some parts of Misamis Occidental. (RVC/EDT/PIA9-Zamboanga del Norte)


79th IB holds outreach program to Calatrava IPs

From the Philippine Information Agency (Mar 15, 2021): 79th IB holds outreach program to Calatrava IPs (By Lorenzo O. Lambatin, Jr.)

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NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, March 15 (PIA)— The Philippine Army's 79th Infantry "Masaligan" Battalion conducted Pulong-Pulong and outreach activity among the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) community on Friday, March 12, at Sitio Las Piñas, Brgy Minapasuk, Calatrava Town, Civil-Military Operations Officer 1Lt Dansan Camua said.

According to Camua, the activity is in in collaboration with the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Calatrava, Brgy Council of Minapasuk, 6th Special Action Battalion, PNP-SAF and Lady Riders Club-Negros Occidental.

A total of 85 residents composed of adults and children belonging to the Negritos Ata & Bukidnon Tribe participated in the activity and received food packs, hygiene kits, face shields, face mask and slippers.

The activity included a brief pulong-pulong, where former rebel "Ka Joross" shared testimony about his experiences on the deceptive recruitment schemes of the Communist Terrorist Groups (CTGs) and how the government helped him after he surrendered, Camua noted

Executive Assistant Marianne Lumanog, who represented the LGU of Calatrava, assured the IPs of the local government's concern for them, especially on health programs.

Also, Pedro Satuquia, Chieftain of the Negritos Ata & Bukidnon Tribe, thanked the 79IB for initiating such activity and hoped for more information awareness drive to their community to continuously educate them about insurgency.

Lieutenant Colonel Gerard T. Alvaran, Commanding Officer of 79IB, lauded the efforts of the Local Government Unit of Calatrava, PNP SAF and Lady Riders Club in making the activity successful.

"Our efforts are all worth it. Seeing the smiles of every IP member gives us a sense of fulfilment, it gives us the inspiration to perform our duties well to achieve lasting peace and development in our area, Alvaran said.

"The IP community is vulnerable to exploitation and manipulation by the CPP-NPA Terrorist. They are more susceptible to recruitment by the NPA. That is why we chose to conduct this activity to bring hope to the IP community and make them feel that the government and other stakeholders both from public and private sectors are looking after their welfare and are committed to pursue peace and development efforts in their community," Alvaran added. (79th IB PA/JSC/LOL/PIA6 Negros Occidental)


Gov't troops recover firearms after clash with rebels in Apayao

From the Philippine Information Agency (Mar 15, 2021): Gov't troops recover firearms after clash with rebels in Apayao (By Redjie Melvic M. Cawis)

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BAGUIO CITY, March 15(PIA) – Government troops have recovered firearms, medical items other personal effects and supplies following clashes with suspected New Peoples Army rebels in Flora, Apayao on Sunday (March 14).

In a report by the 17th Infantry Battalion, some 17 IB personnel, Marine Battalion Landing Team 10 and members of the Apayao PPO had an encounter with members of the NPA at Barangay Mallig and in Sitio Tawini, Barangay Upper Atok, both in the municipality of Flora.

The military personnel were conducting combat operation in barangay Mallig following reports of residents that NPA rebels were conducting extortion activities in the community when they were fired upon by at least 20 members of the terrorist group.

The NPA members retreated after the fire fight that lasted for more than 15 minutes, then they were tracked down at Sitio Tawini, Barangay Upper Atok where another clash occurred forcing the rebels to retreat in the mountainous area.

In the clearing operation, troopers recovered three M16A1 and 5.56mm M653 rifles along with medical items, documents, back packs and other personal effects and supplies left by the rebels at the encampment area.

The 17th IB said those involved in the fire fight were members of the West Front Committee, Komiteng Probinsya Cagayan, Komiteng Rehiyon-Cagayan Valley.

Apayao Provincial Police Office Director PCol. Peter Tagtag said the encounter site is among the identified Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict or ELCAC areas in Apayao. The local government unit of Flora has declared the CPP-NPA-NDF as Persona Non Grata and also condemned the atrocities of the terrorist group in the municipality.

Lt. Colonel Angelo C. Saguiguit, Commanding Officer of the 17IB, thanked the members of the community in Flora for informing authorities of the presence and the activities of the terrorists groups that lead to the immediate operation to stop the atrocities in the community.

“Ang mga pangyayaring may kaugnayan sa seguridad at katahimikan ng ating komunidad ay hindi lamang trabaho ng kasundaluhan at kapulisan bagkus ito ay nakaatang rin sa bawat mamamayan dahil tayong lahat ay apektado sa anumang karahasan o kaguluhan na kanilang isasagawa sa ating mga komunidad. Nararapat lang na tayo’y magtulungan upang mapangalagaan at mabantayan natin ang katiwasayan sa ating mga lugar lalong-lalo na para sa ating mga anak. Sana ay magpatuloy ang ganitong pagtutulungan natin upang tuluyan ng mawasakan ang problema sa insurhensiya,” Saguitguit said.(JDP/RMC- PIA CAR)


Army seizes NPA arms cache in NoCot

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 16, 2021): Army seizes NPA arms cache in NoCot (By Noel Punzalan)

Google map of Makilala, North Cotabato

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao – Army troopers seized an arms cache belonging to the communist New People’s Army (NPA) in Makilala, North Cotabato, the military here said Tuesday.

Maj. Gen. Juvymax Uy, Army’s 6th Infantry Division (6ID) commander, said
the NPA weapons were found Monday by government forces in Sitio Lacube, Barangay Malabuan.

Uy said former NPA members who surrendered to the government pinpointed to where the firearms were hidden.

“Residents also provided information to the members of the Community Support Program Team of 90IB on the location of the arms cache," Uy said.

The seized armaments comprised of one M16 rifle, two gun barrels for Garand rifle, two barrels for M1 Carbine rifle, one barrel for M14 rifle, and ammunition.

Combined troopers from the 90IB and 602nd Infantry Brigade of the 6ID and the 39 Infantry Battalion and 1002nd Infantry Brigade -- operating units under the10 Infantry Division -- worked together in completing the mission of finding the war materiel.

Uy expressed appreciation to former NPA members who cooperated with government forces to locate the arms cache.


5 more NPA fighters yield to cops in Leyte

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 16, 2021): 5 more NPA fighters yield to cops in Leyte (By Sarwell Meniano)  March 16, 2021, 11:41 am

LEAVING NPA. The five fighters of the New People's Army (NPA) presented to key police officials in Eastern Visayas in this March 12 photo. The Philippine National Police regional office here reported on Monday (March 15, 2021) that five NPA fighters turned over several firearms and live ammunition to the 2nd Leyte provincial mobile force company. (Photo courtesy of PRO-8)

Five members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Leyte province yielded to the local police, adding to the increasing number of communist terrorist group fighters heeding the call to surrender.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) regional office here reported on Monday
that five NPA fighters turned over several firearms and live ammunition to the 2nd Leyte provincial mobile force company in Calubian, Leyte during their surrender on March 12.

identified the surrenderers as Jack, 40, vice squad leader of NPA-SDG (Sentro de Grabidad, which serves as a rallying point of all other NPA units engaged in military or mass works in the guerrilla front); Jen, 45, medical staff and political guide; Jason, 33, NPA-SDG team leader; Kelvin, 37, NPA member; and Flower, 60, member of NPA-Militia ng Bayan.

The rebels turned in a shotgun, two .45 caliber pistols, two .38 caliber handguns, two magazines for .45 caliber, and several rounds of ammunition.

“The soaring number of surrenderers is the fruit of the sustained efforts of the PNP to actively suppress insurgency and other serious threats to national security. We are expecting more rebels to abandon their armed struggle and live meaningful lives with their families,” Brig. Gen. Ronaldo de Jesus said in a statement sent to reporters.

De Jesus said the surrender is part of the implementation of Executive Order No. 70 creating task forces to end local communist armed conflict and to intensify the PNP’s security operations and community support program.

The police official is upbeat that the surrender of these NPA members will further weaken the communist terrorist group in Leyte province.

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.


NPA 'dirty moves' seek to discredit PNP in Caraga

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 16, 2021): NPA 'dirty moves' seek to discredit PNP in Caraga (By Alexander Lopez)

The communist New People’s Army (NPA) and its leadership are employing "desperate dirty moves" to discredit the members of the Police Regional Office-Caraga (PRO-13).

In a statement Tuesday (March 16), PRO-13 said the NPA recently disseminated leaflets containing baseless accusations alleging that the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the region are involved in extrajudicial killings, "the filing of cases without evidence, and the claim of the forced surrender of civilians as rebels".

PRO-13 belied all the allegations, noting that all the law enforcement operations conducted by its police units "are legitimate and based on arrest and search warrants issued by the courts".

It said all suspects, "regardless of status in life," were given the opportunity to seek legal assistance to defend themselves in courts.

“The NPA is already desperate with the series of arrests of their members who are wanted for heinous crimes,” PRO-13 said, adding that the communist rebel movement is reeling from the "the continuing surrender of its members and mass supporters".

“The series of surrenders NPA in Caraga Region are proofs that many of their members and mass supporters have come to realize that there is no future in the armed struggle,” the regional police office said.

Despite the NPA's black propaganda, PRO-13 vowed that it would intensify its partnership with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) against insurgency and terrorism in the region.

In fact, PRO-13 said it was the NPA that should be held criminally liable "as they continue to kill innocent civilians, sow terror in communities while committing crimes of extortion and arson".

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


Suspected NPA rebel killed, weapons seized in NegOr town clash

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 16, 2021): Suspected NPA rebel killed, weapons seized in NegOr town clash (By Mary Judaline Partlow)

Map of La Libertad, Negros Oriental. (Google image)

Government troops have recovered weapons and the body of an unidentified suspected member of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) believed killed in an encounter in Barangay Bagtic, La Libertad in northern Negros Oriental on Monday.

Maj. Cenon Pancito III, spokesperson of the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, said in a telephone interview Tuesday afternoon that the slain “NPA” member was turned over to the local police and the La Libertad local government unit for proper disposition.

Pancito quoted an initial report as saying that soldiers of the Army’s 62nd Infantry Battalion clashed with armed men believed to be NPA members and later discovered the body and war materiel, at the clash site in Sitio Mabanga.

Soldiers recovered one M16 rifle; one long magazine for M16; an improvised explosive device; a rifle grenade; three backpacks; four cellular phones; one small solar panel; and subversive documents.

The Army is asking residents in the area to help identify the slain suspected rebel.

Meanwhile, Pancito said the armed group that figured in the encounter is believed to be from the Central Negros 1, Kilusang Rehiyong Negros Cebu Bohol Siquijor (KRNCBS) of the NPA.

He said relentless pursuit operations continue in La Libertad and nearby areas “because we have to go after the remaining members of the NPA”.


Gov’t troops capture NPA rebel in Iloilo town

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 16, 2021): Gov’t troops capture NPA rebel in Iloilo town (By Perla Lena)

CAPTURED. A 66-year old, female New People's Army rebel identified as alias "Bing" was captured by the 12th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army following an encounter in Barangay Dabong, Janiuay, Iloilo on Tuesday (March 16, 2021). Recovered from the clash site were subversive documents, firearms, ammunition, and components of an anti-personnel landmine. (Photo by 12IB Philippine Army)

Soldiers of the 12th Infantry Battalion (12IB) of the Philippine Army captured a 66-year-old female member of the New People's Army (NPA) after a brief gun battle with rebels in Barangay Dabong, Janiuay, iloilo at 1:20 a.m. on Tuesday.

The 12IB, in a press statement, identified the arrested rebel as alias "Bing" of Barangay Araal, La Carlota City, Negros Occidental, a member of NPA's Sangay ng Yunit Pangpropaganda (SYP) Baloy Platoon.

“She was caught seeking refuge from a house in Dabong village, as her other comrades left her and fled the area,” the statement said.

Col. Gilbert Gorero, director of the Iloilo Police Provincial Office (IPPO), said in a report that after a two-minute firefight, the NPAs “withdrew towards northwest direction”.

Recovered from the site of the clash were a cal. 45 pistol with two magazines, seven rounds of ammunition for cal. 45, and components of an anti-personnel landmine.

Also seized were a hammock, two backpacks, a sling bag, two packs of rice, seven canned goods, 10 meters of electric wire, subversive documents, and personal belongings.

'Bing" and the confiscated items are in the custody of the Janiuay Municipal Police for "inventory, booking, and filing of case", Gorero said.

The Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-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.


Support snowballs for peace transition in Muslim Mindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 16, 2021): Support snowballs for peace transition in Muslim Mindanao

MORE SUPPORT. Thousands of residents from Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte poured out into the streets to participate in a record-breaking caravan in support of calls to extend the transition deadline of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority from 2022 to 2025. (Bangsamoro Information Office)

More voices and actions have emerged in support of efforts to extend the transition deadline of the newly-created Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) from 2022 to 2025, buoying hopes of an orderly segue into peace and prosperity in a land rent with over six decades of hostilities.

Thousands of people from Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte joined a long procession over the weekend in what reports described as “the longest peace caravan in Marawi City.”

The convoy – an unprecedented 9,404 vehicles strong – was organized by civil society groups calling themselves the Ranaw Confederation for Peace, One Bangsamoro Movement, Moro Ako, and the Coalition of Moro Youth Movement.

It began its route in Marawi City and then proceeded to Camp Overton in Iligan City; Sultan Naga Dimaporo in Lanao del Norte; Malabang, Ganassi, and Masui in Lanao del Sur; and back to Marawi City.

A smaller, but no less impassioned “peace caravan and rally” was earlier held in Jolo, Sulu.

Online reports quote BARMM parliament deputy speaker Omar Sema as saying that the extension would “grant both parties (the BARMM and the national government) to comply with their obligations under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro particularly in the process of normalization.”

Musa Sanguila, regional coordinator of the United Religions Initiative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said such a three-year reprieve will enable concerned parties enough leeway “to (prepare to) join mainstream society.”

For his part, Archie Buaya, a member of the pro-extension group Insider Mediators and an advocate for indigenous peoples, said his support reflects his concern for the various sectors within the BARMM.

Last week, noted Islamic scholar Moner Bajunaid said, “2025 is only fair considering the short time it requires them to accomplish (their tasks) including the question of normalization.”

The former Chancellor of the Mindanao State University in Gen. Santos City added that with the shift of the former Muslim combatants “from a revolutionary group to a new democratic leadership, the group needs an (ample) period for the transformation.”

Many other supporters of the extension have included society’s Who’s Who, including governors, legislators, even a Catholic prelate, Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, who had issued a statement endorsing the extension.

At least five separate bills calling for the transition period’s extension have been filed in Congress.

The proponents include Senators Aquilino Pimentel III and Richard Gordon; and Reps. Loren Legarda, Esmael Mangudadatu, Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, Mohamad Khalid Dimaporo, and Isidro Ungab.

Some 15,000 signatures were solicited during the Marawi caravan in support of the transition’s extension. A similar petition that began on February 10 is likewise circulating online and has breached the 1,000,000-mark.


House probe sought on request for lawyers' list in Reds' cases

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 15, 2021): House probe sought on request for lawyers' list in Reds' cases (By Filane Mikee Cervantes)

Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez (File photo)

A leader of the House of Representatives is calling for a congressional probe into the letter request to the local court of a Calbayog City police intelligence officer for a list of lawyers defending suspected “communists”.

In a statement on Monday, Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez said the request made by Lt. Fernando Calabria Jr. was “improper” and “alarming”, as it violates the duty of lawyers to render legal service to any person needing it.

Rodriguez said a House probe is necessary to find out who issued the order to Calabria to ask the Calbayog Regional Trial Court for a list of lawyers of suspected communists.

“Lt. Calabria claimed that he was just following an order from ‘higher-ups.’ Who in the hierarchy of the PNP [Philippine National Police] gave such directive? Why was the order issued? What was their goal?” he asked.

Rodriguez said he was inclined to believe that Calabria did not act on his own volition.

He said the House should find out if a similar request has been made by any police officer from any other court in other parts of the country.

“We have to find that out from the PNP and from the Supreme Court. Any judge who has received a similar legally questionable solicitation should now report it to the Supreme Court,” Rodriguez said.

He stressed that the targeted lawyers did nothing wrong in defending suspected communists.

“They have a constitutional duty to defend those suspects, who in the first place did not violate the law by just being communists, unless they committed other offenses,” he said.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, has removed Calabria from his post.

"The relief order is in connection with the March 8 incident in Calbayog City which resulted in the death of Mayor Ronaldo Aquino and five other people, including three PNP personnel and at the same time, the irresponsible conduct of his intelligence officer in relation to the letter request to the local court," Eleazar’s statement read.

Marshals service to counter threats against judiciary

Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon, meanwhile, called for the speedy passage of a bill creating the Philippine Marshals Service, which shall be primarily responsible for the protection and security of the members of the judiciary, judicial personnel, the courts, and other court assets.

“We are calling on our fellow legislators in both Houses of Congress to support this bill because of its relevance and necessity, not only for the safety and security of those in the judiciary but also for facilitating the swift delivery of justice,” Biazon said.

Biazon said the Philippine Marshals Service shall be tasked to protect, defend, and ensure the safety of justices, judges, court officials and personnel, and court buildings and properties.

“The Philippine Marshals Service will also have the power to conduct threat assessments and undertake investigations, in coordination with other law enforcement agencies, over crimes and other offenses committed against, including potential actionable security threats to, officials and personnel of the judiciary, and court properties,” he said.

The Service can also investigate allegations of irregularities, including graft and corrupt practices, committed by justices, judges, court officials, and court personnel, and assist in the execution and implementation of court orders.

Citing news reports and data from the Free Legal Assistance Group, Biazon said it was alarming that eight judges and 61 lawyers have already been killed since 2016 alone.

“It is even more terrifying to hear of aggressions, including reg-tagging, being made against lawyers representing political dissidents by law enforcement agencies,” he said. “There is a need to provide our magistrates and judges a secure environment where they will be able to perform this gargantuan task of rendering fair and just decisions amidst all threats to their lives and those of the members of their families.”


PNP coronavirus death toll rises to 34

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 16, 2021): PNP coronavirus death toll rises to 34 (By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan)

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The Philippine National Police (PNP) lost another police officer to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), bringing its death toll from the disease to 34.

Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, PNP officer in charge and deputy chief for administration, said the fatality is a 45-year-old police officer assigned with the Legal Service Division who died on March 14 due to cardiac arrest with Covid-19 as an antecedent cause.

On Monday, the PNP logged 103 new cases, increasing the total number of Covid-19 infections among police officers to 12,343.

Meanwhile, a total of 74 police officers have recovered from the disease, bringing the PNP’s recovery tally to 11,391.

The police force currently has 918 active Covid-19 cases. Eleazar said the PNP is conducting aggressive testing nationwide.

Meanwhile, Eleazar said 1,699 out of 1,845 police medical front-liners who have registered for Covid-19 vaccination have so far been inoculated.

Of this figure, Eleazar said only 30 have so far experienced minor adverse reactions to the vaccines but these quickly disappeared and posed no harm to the inoculated personnel.

Eleazar said 1,632 in Metro Manila and other police regional offices have been vaccinated with the Chinese-donated Sinovac Biotech's CoronaVac vaccines while 67 were injected with the COVAX Facility-donated AstraZeneca jabs, of which an initial 700 doses were given to the PNP.

The PNP earlier received some 1,200 CoronaVac doses from the 600,000 doses donated by the Chinese government to the Philippines.


French Navy vows to help PH develop submarine force

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 16, 2021): French Navy vows to help PH develop submarine force (By Priam Nepomuceno)

Philippine Navy chief, Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo. (File photo)

The French Navy (Marine Nationale) has committed to helping the Philippine Navy (PN) in developing its submarine arm.

"The French Navy committed to assisting the Philippine Navy in the creation of a submarine force especially in terms of training and project management,"
PN chief Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo said in a message to reporters Monday night.

Bacordo said this commitment was made during a bilateral high-level meeting between ranking officers of the PN and the French Navy in Paris on March 12.

The PN earlier said that it is looking to acquire two diesel-electric submarine units as part of its modernization plan.

Bacordo, who was head of the PN delegation in France, met with Admiral Pierre Vandier, chief of Naval Staff for the Marine Nationale.

"(The) PN and French Navy bilateral meeting enabled a high-level engagement between the two navies in terms of naval cooperation and other potential areas of interest. The visit of the PN delegation to France has been a successful and fruitful one. The bilateral talks provided significant input that is useful in the PN's thrust on capability development and modernization," he added.

Also, he said that the two navies agreed on the continuation of visits of senior leaders from the two sides and regular talks to shape future cooperation and participation in bilateral and multilateral naval exercises.

"By and large, the opportunity for interaction paved the way for the development of close and cordial relations between the two navies which could result in a strategic partnership in the maritime domain," Bacordo said.


PNP-Maritime Group gets P3.65-M equipment from US

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 16, 2021): PNP-Maritime Group gets P3.65-M equipment from US (By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora)

US DONATION. The Philippine National Police-Maritime Group Director, Brig. Gen. John Jamili (left), shows the donated equipment alongside US Embassy in the Philippines Director for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Kelia Cummins. The US government donated PHP3.65 million worth of equipment on March 15, 2021 to strengthen the country's maritime law enforcement capabilities. (Photo by US Embassy in Manila)

The United States government has turned over PHP3.65 million worth of equipment to strengthen the country's maritime law enforcement capability, the US Embassy in Manila said Tuesday.

The donation, which includes 12 sets of scuba gear, underwater evidence collection items, and some related training equipment, would support the ongoing Underwater Crime Scene Investigation program Washington funded since 2016.

The equipment was turned over to the Philippine National Police-Maritime Group (PNP-MG) on Mar. 15.

The Embassy's director for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Kelia Cummins said this is the latest assistance provided to Manila over the course of a "long and productive relationship" between US government partners and the PNP-MG.

PNP-MG director Police Brig. Gen. John Jamili, meanwhile, welcomed the continued cooperation between the Philippines and the US government to expand the agency's capabilities.

The PNP-MG has previously partnered with the US Joint Interagency Task Force West (JIATF West), America's counter-narcotics task force in the Indo-Pacific region, to open several patrol boat facilities throughout the southern Philippines.

In 2019, the two opened a PNP-MG patrol boat facility worth USD2 million (approximately PHP100 million) in Lantawan, Basilan. The facility includes a boat ramp, pier, armory, offices, barracks, and a laboratory.


Spanish ship 'Elcano' drops anchor in Eastern Samar

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 16, 2021): Spanish ship 'Elcano' drops anchor in Eastern Samar (By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora)

SPANISH SHIP. The Spanish Navy training ship Juan Sebastian Elcano in the waters off Guiuan, Eastern Samar, the same spot the Magellan-Elcano expedition first sighted 500 years ago. The school ship has been tracing the route of the first circumnavigation of the world in 1521 since October 2020. (Photo by Juvelyn Nierves/National Quincentennial Committee)

The Spanish Navy training ship Juan Sebastián Elcano is finally in the waters off Guian, Eastern Samar, the exact same spot Ferdinand Magellan and the ship's namesake sighted on March 16, 1521-- an important route that made the first circumnavigation of the world possible.

Elcano is on a seven-day visit to the Philippines from March 16 to 22 after departing Spain in October 2020 to retrace the original route the Magellan-Elcano expedition took five centuries ago.

Around 11 a.m., the ship took part in the unveiling of the Suluan quincentennial historical marker and a fluvial parade organized by the municipality of Guiuan in Manicani waters. The Spanish vessel is accompanied by the BRP Apolinario Mabini.

Elcano will participate in the unveiling of Homonhon's historical marker on March 17 and will leave for Cebu on March 20.

Back in 2018, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines announced that it would mark 34 sites in the country along the first circumnavigators' route.

Aside from the historic circumnavigation, the Philippines is also celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Victory at Mactan and the quincentenary of Christianity this year.

PNP joins commemoration

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police on Tuesday kicked off its own commemoration of the 500 years of Christianity in the country ahead of the national inauguration on April 4, 2021.

The 500th year celebration of Christianity in the Philippines marks two milestones in Philippine history --the birth of the Christian Faith which dates back to March 31, 1521 when the first Holy Mass was held in Limasawa Island, and the victory of Lapu Lapu and his warriors in the Battle of Mactan.

“The quincentennial celebration is not just an ecclesial celebration but deserves the recognition and appreciation of the country including the police organization. The PNP core value 'maka-Diyos' is but a manifestation of our strong desire to commune with God who is the greatest reliable source of courage and strength in the everyday fulfillment of our job as police officers to serve and protect the public” Lt. Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar, officer-in-charge of the PNP, said.

Heralding the theme: “500 Years of Christianity strengthens the Faith, Discipline and Integrity of the PNP”, the PNP presented awards to select bishops, priests, evangelical leaders, and PNP Chaplains who strengthened Christian faith in the country.

Most Reverend Nolly Buco, D.D, JUD, Auxiliary Bishop of Antipolo who was guest of honor and keynote speaker in the ceremony, espoused the constitutional guarantee “Public office is a public trust” in his speech.

“As public servants, we also have a vocation. By simply doing our jobs with honesty, discipline, and integrity, we can be holy just like the saints. Our jobs, our works are paths to holiness. It is now for us to act upon it,” Buco said.


2 high-ranking NPA leaders, 5 members yield over failed promises

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 14, 2021): 2 high-ranking NPA leaders, 5 members yield over failed promises

SURRENDERED. The high-powered firearms – four M16 rifles, three AK47 rifles, two M653 rifles, one M230 grenade launcher, and one M14 rifle – surrendered by two high-ranking New People’s Army leaders and 5 members in Malabalay, Bukidnon on March 9. Armando Daluniag alias Ambo/Satur/Pegan/Dario, commanding officer of the Headquarters Force (HQF) Neo, Northern Central Mindanao Regional Committee, said they grew tired of the communist movement because of failed promises and regret that even their families' welfare were neglected. (Photo from Army’s 403rd Brigade)

CAMP EVANGELISTA, Cagayan de Oro City – A few days after President Rodrigo Duterte’s call for remaining communist terrorists to surrender, two high-ranking leaders and five members of the New People’s Army (NPA) on March 9 laid down their weapons to the 403rd Infantry Brigade in Barangay Manalog, Malaybalay City, Bukidnon.

Brigadier General Ferdinand T Barandon, commander of the Army’s 403rd Brigade,
identified the two high-ranking NPA leaders as Armando Daluniag alias Ambo/Satur/Pegan/Dario, Roland Lagunday alias Ben, and five other group members.

Daluniag , who is former deputy secretary of NPA’s Guerilla Front 89, is the commanding officer of the Headquarters Force (HQF) Neo, Northern Central Mindanao Regional Committee (NCMRC), while Lagunday is the leader of Squad 2, Platoon 2, HQF Neo, NCMRC.

The rebels surrendered 11 high-powered firearms composed of four M16 rifles, three AK47 rifles, two M653 rifles, one M230 grenade launcher, and one M14 rifle.

Daluniag said they grew tired of the communist movement because of failed promises and regret that even their families' welfare was neglected.

"Ang hinungdan nganong nibalik ko kay ang kalihukan ang pasalig nila sa una dili na mao karon. Walay natabang nga maayo sa akong pamilya. Ang panawagan nako sa mga kauban nga gibiyaan namo, kadtong mga naa may mga panghuna-huna muhawa na pud diha. (I surrendered due to the unfulfilled promises of the movement and it did not do good to my family. I call on our fellow rebels to leave the armed group. Daluniag said.

He said it is not true that the military will torture communists who return to the fold of the law.

“Dili mana tinuod nga i-torture ta kung munaog ta, kay sa karon gi-ayo man mi og entertain sa kasundalohan, wala man mi hilabti (It is not true that we will be tortured once we surrender. In our case, we were entertained properly by the soldiers),” he added.

Barandon said the surrender of the seven NPA guerillas is the result of government agencies’ cooperation in achieving the goals of Executive Order No. 70 that created the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.

Meanwhile, Major General Andres Centino, 4th Infantry Division commander, said the NPA leaders’ surrender is a response to the call of President Duterte for the remnants of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) – NPA to surrender.

“We expect that more NPAs will follow their leaders by heeding the call of the President to return to the fold of the government. Parang magkakaroon ng domino effect yan kung makita ng mga kasamahan nila na nagsibabaan na yung mga ilang members of the group, it would definitely have an effect dun din sa moral nung naiiwan pa (The surrender will have a domino effect on the remaining members)," he added.

Duterte, in his March 5 visit to Cagayan de Oro City communists that the government will provide all the necessary assistance such as livelihood, skills training, and housing, to those who will return to the government fold.

Centino assured that the surrenderers, who are now under the custody of the 403rd Brigade, will be provided with all the benefits promised by the President under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP) for a better future with their families.

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.