Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Army’s Islamic summit brings ‘stronger’ partnership with gov’t

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 10, 2021): Army’s Islamic summit brings ‘stronger’ partnership with gov’t (By Keren Anne Bernadas)

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LEGAZPI CITY (PIA) – The 9th Civil Military Operation (CMO) Kaagapay Batallion of the Philippine Army, takes a leap higher in bringing stronger linkages between Bicolano Muslim community and government agencies.

In April, the battalion conducted first Islamic leadership summit in Bicol. This aims to educate the participants on the importance of building a relationship with other communities and government institutions.

Battalion Executive Officer Major Eric A. Estidola said Thursday, that the conference is an avenue to prevent Muslims from Communist Party of the Philippine-New People's Army- National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) deceptions, recruitments and violent extremism.

To promote empowerment and participation on social security, Estidola adds that the army also intends to prepare them in humanitarian responses and disaster relief operations in times of calamities, as well as support their peace advocacies.

Call to action

Through Ugnayan sa Bicol, Estidola also lobbied Bicol Muslim’s calls for strengthened Madaris education.

Nasroden Amin Datumanong Hassan, overall chairman of Albay Muslim Community said that they need a better cooperation with the Department of Education (DepEd) to ignite a fuller implementation of Arabic Language and Islamic Values Education program in the public schools.

He said that parents are not-well coordinated and students are discouraged to go to school.

Abdula Borres, leader of Muslim Community Daraga, on the other hand, said that they also need response trainings, tools and knowledge on disaster reduction and management.

Further, Hassan also said that the said summit greatly enlightened the community members about various government programs because "kami pong Muslim ay naidadawit sa mga terrorist groups na hindi naman kautusan ng Islam (we, Muslims are being tagged with terrorist groups which is not part of Qur’an teaching).” (PIA5)


Former Kalinga rebel receives assistance under ECLIP

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 10, 2021): Former Kalinga rebel receives assistance under ECLIP (By Peter A. Balocnit)

CITY OF TABUK, Kalinga, May 10 (PIA) - - A former rebel received assistance under the Enhanced Community Local Integration Program of the government for returning to the folds of law.

The rebel returnee received a total of Php165,000.00- Php15,000 as immediate assistance, Php50,000 livelihood assistance and Php100,000 remuneration of firearm surrendered).

The former rebel is grateful he was given the chance to be re-integrated to mainstream society, and expressed his regret for joining the CPP-NPA for nothing. He said he will invest the assistance he received on hog raising.

Governor Ferdinand Tubban, who was represented by Provincial Administrator Atty. William Puday Jr. during the turn-over, said the intervention is in response to the reasons why some people join the CPP-NPA – poverty.

“If all the remaining NPAs surrender, it means a lot to the progress of the province since the assistance they will receive will surely contribute to the solution of other problems like employment, income disparity and justice among others,” Tubban said. (JDP/PAB-PIA CAR, Kalinga)


AFP’s CSP program supports 11 barangays in Balbalan, Kalinga

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 11, 2021): AFP’s CSP program supports 11 barangays in Balbalan, Kalinga (By Peter A. Balocnit) 

BALBALAN, Kalinga, May 11 (PIA) - - Eleven barangays of this municipality will benefit from various government programs and projects with their coverage in the Community Support Program (CSP) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines through the 50th Infantry Battalion, in partnership with the local government unit and national line agencies.

Barangays covered and identified as End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC) areas are Balantoy, Gawa-an, Ab-abaan, Ba-ay, Balbalasang, Buaya, Dao-angan, Maling, Talalang, Pantikian, and Mabaca.

The program launching recently was highlighted with the signing of Certificate of Acceptance and Certificate of Commitment to guarantee mutual support to the CSP teams in the municipality.


With convergence of services as the strategy to bring interventions to these ELCAC barangays, grass-root planning will be conducted by Army teams assigned to gather data needed in the identification of programs or projects to be funded by ELCAC. They will also facilitate the preparation of project proposals for funding.

Balbalan Mayor Eric Gonayon warmly welcomed the 50IB soldiers as he lauded the Philippine Army’s efforts prioritizing Balbalan LGU for the CSP. He said the CSP team will help the LGU in identifying community concerns, which is also a big help in the delivery of various services in Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas.

50IB Commander LTC Melanio Somera explained the CSP troops would not be bringing with them the solutions immediately, rather they would serve as facilitators in addressing the issues on the exploitation of the communist terrorists in the communities in collaboration with the LGU, partner agencies and other concern stakeholders.

He said the community and village chairman have critical roles in terms of advocating and protecting the youths and students from joining the New People’s Army. “We will also conduct localized peace engagements to convince NPA remnants to surrender and avail of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program for them to start a new and normal life.

“Your Philippine Army will be working in your areas not only to address peace and security concerns but also to help facilitate the safe delivery of government basic social services in distant and conflict-affected areas. Our aim is to bring our government closer to the people,” Somera said.

Meanwhile, 503rd Brigade Executive Officer LTC Magtangol Panopio rallied the villagers to join the band-wagon and be on the side of government. “Your Philippine Army is always here as a partner of the LGUs in attaining sustainable peace and inclusive development. It is imperative that we undertake the whole-of-government and whole-of-nation approach to end the local communist armed conflict.

As confirmed by MLGOO Mediatrix Alino, upon the success of the CSP, LGUs will be mandated to sustain those projects through their inclusion in the Local Investment Plan. (JDP/PAB-PIA CAR, Kalinga)


Calayan wants to sustain its insurgency-free status

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 11, 2021): Calayan wants to sustain its insurgency-free status (By Oliver T. Baccay) 

CALAYAN, Cagayan, May 10 (PIA) - - "We want to sustain our status as an insurgency-free, terrorist-free and drug-free municipality," Mayor Joseph M. Llopis said during the information and service caravan conducted by the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) in the island.

Mayor Joseph M. Llopis expresses support to the goverment's effort to fight insurgency in the country. (PIA)

The mayor said, based from intelligence reports, there are no Calayanos who were reportedy linked with the rebel groups and there were also no record of encounters nor attempts of the New Peoples Army infiltration in the area.

"Though we are very peaceful in this island, we need to sustain the effort. We also need government collaborations to improve further our status because left-leaning groups tend to cultivate situations in remote areas like ours," Llopis said.

He also stated that the government development projects helped a lot in maintaining peace and security in the island to include the construction of inter-barangay accessibility roads, establishment of a sea-port and a community airport, provision of social services, and other poverty alleviation programs.

The island town chief also admitted that years back, the municipality had also recorded issues on crimes, drugs and poaching but were already addressed through concerted government effort.

He also said insurgency will impede development in an area that is why it is very important to safeguard the town from NPA infiltration attempts.

"If the rebel will enter your area, there will be no stability, no progress and, definitely, no investors because of extortion activities," Llopis added.

He also said the orientation activity which the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) region 2 conducted to the people of the island is necessary to inform them on the deceiving tactics of the rebels in persuading the people to be part of the left groups to fight against the government. (BME/OTB/PIA-Cagayan)


NTF-ELCAC to fund development projects in 2 Ilocos Sur barangays

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 11, 2021): NTF-ELCAC to fund development projects in 2 Ilocos Sur barangays (By Joyah Mae C. Quimoyog)

ILOCOS SUR, May 10 (PIA) - - Regional Development Council in the Ilocos Region (RDC-1) Chairperson and Vigan City Mayor Juan Carlo S. Medina said that the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) through its Barangay Development Program (BDP) will fund various development projects to be implemented in two barangays in Ilocos Sur this year.

“Sa BDP, we are happy to say that two barangays in Ilocos Sur particularly in Barangay Baluarte, Salcedo and Barangay Nagbettedan, Sto. Domingo, are allotted with Php20 million each for the implementation of various development projects,” Medina said during the recent episode of the Kapihan sa Ilocos of the Philippine Information Agency.

Regional Development Council in the Ilocos Region chairperson and Vigan City Mayor Juan Carlo S. Medina during the Kapihan sa Ilocos hosted by the Philippine Information Agency on April 29 in San Fernando City, La Union. (Screenshot from PIA Region 1's live stream)

Of the 822 barangays cleared of insurgency nationwide from 2016-2019, which were approved by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to be given Php20 million each under the BDP, the said two barangays in Ilocos Region were included as beneficiaries of the BDP 2021.

As per the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in Ilocos Sur, development projects such as the rehabilitation of barangay health center, construction of public toilets, farm-to-market roads, classroom, assistance to indigent individuals/families, and livelihood, technical-vocational training are programmed to be implemented in the two villages.

These projects are identified by the residents and the local government unit, the DILG said.

Medina recalled during the forum that for the 2020 budget, 30 projects from the Departments of Agriculture, Science and Technology, Social Welfare and Development, Environment and Natural Resources, Public Works and Highways, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples and the Philippine National Police were implemented.

“Nakikita talaga namin na dahil sa mga projects na nagawa rito, bumaba ang insurgence dito sa atin at kaya noong 2020 ay mayroong 18 na former rebel ang nag-surrender at nabigyan ng assistance worth P1.1 million kasama na rito ang reintegration activities at livelihood projects para sa kanila,” he said.

For the first quarter of 2021, 11 former rebels from Ilocos Sur were also given assistance worth P400, 000.

With the dismantling of the only existing guerilla front of the CPP-NPA-NDF in the Ilocos Region particularly in Ilocos Sur, Medina hopes that Ilocos Sur will be insurgency-free through the whole-of-nation approach to end armed conflict institutionalized through Executive Order 70.

“Kailangan talaga ang mga ito para ipaabot ang serbisyo sa ating mga kababayan na nasa far-flung barangays kasi iyon ang inaasam at hinihintay nila na umabot ang serbisyo sa kanila and through the efforts of the NTF-ELCAC through National Security Adviser at CORDS-1 Hermogenes Esperon, Governor Ryan Luis Singson at mga kapwa ko local chief executives, talagang umaabot na ang serbisyo sa kanila so kung makikita niyo itong mga projects, from education to economic, iyong farm-to-market road to trainings for our farmers, students, at children, malaking bagay talaga ang NTF-ELCAC,” Medina added.

“We are hoping that in the next quarter or two quarters, Ilocos Sur will be insurgency-free,” Medina ended. (JCR/VHS/JMCQ, PIA Ilocos Sur)


RTF-ELCAC 6 Spox :CNT can never defeat government forces

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 11, 2021): RTF-ELCAC 6 Spox :CNT can never defeat government forces (By Jemin B. Guillermo)

ILOILO CITY, May 11 (PIA) – The Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) in Western Visayas calls on the people to trust the government.

This, RTF-ELCAC 6 Spokesperson Prosecutor Flosemer Chris Gonzales stressed during the conduct of the Provincial Levelling Sessions which were participated in by the provincial, municipal and barangay task forces ELCAC from the provinces of Antique and Capiz, and Aklan and Guimaras, May 10 and May 11, respectively.

Gonzales highlighted in his synthesis of the discussions during the sessions that “the CPP-NPA Terrorists can never defeat the government forces.”

According to him, the primary issue that has been capitalized by the Communist Terrorist Group is poverty and lack of basic services.

“In response, this government has implemented E.O. 70 or the whole-of-nation approach to counter the CTG problem,” he said.

Gonzales noted that under E.O. 70, conflict-stricken barangays are given priority by the government.

The Barangay Development Program aims to bring the government to the grassroots level; it will bring much needed basic services to far-flung barangays.

He also highlighted the very vital role of the Local Government Unit in ending the communist insurgency by denying the CTG’s mass bases, instead support and encourage CTGs to surrender and provide for their reintegration.

“Ipaabot ang mensahe sang Gobyerno sa mga CPP-NPA nga magbalik na sila sa sabak sang Gobyerno (Send the message of the government to the CPP-NPA to return to the folds of law),” he said.

Gonzales, who also chairs the Western Visayas RTF-ELCAC’s Legal Cooperation Cluster, urges the barangay, city, municipal and provincial task forces to protect their people, to include the Indigenous Peoples and the youth, against the deceptive recruitment and exploitation of the CTGs.

“Declare the CPP-NPA as ‘Persona non Grata’ and withdraw support from them. Support the Barangay Development Plan. Strengthen the family and improve local government presence and basic services,” he urged.

Gonzales also reminded the local government officials present during the session to bring the government to the barangays, focusing on the poorest of the poor.

He said “bring the government projects and basic social services to the communities that have been neglected for so long.”

He added that the efficient delivery of basic services will end the communist insurgency and will render the propaganda of the CPP-NPA Terrorist irrelevant and immaterial.

Gonzales reiterated that "to end this communist insurgency, our communities must stand united against the deception propaganda of the CPP-NPA." (JBG/PIA6)


Cotabato, South Cotabato municipalities benefit from P80M PAMANA infra dev't projects

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 11, 2021): Cotabato, South Cotabato municipalities benefit from P80M PAMANA infra dev't projects (By OPAPP)

COTABATO CITY, May 11 (PIA) — A package of PAyapa at MAsaganang PamayaNAn (PAMANA) infrastructure projects worth P80.1 million was turned over this week to the municipalities of Aleosan, Cotabato Province and Tantangan, South Cotabato.

“Ang isang target namin sa PAMANA is suporta kami sa peace processes. Pagkaupo ng ating Presidente (Duterte), ang gusto n’yang mangyari, lahat ng peace agreements dapat ma-deliver ‘yan bago matapos ang kanyang termino,” said Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Director and PAMANA National Program Management (NPMD) head Cesar De Mesa.

De Mesa underscored that these projects are part of the Duterte Administration’s commitment to provide much-needed government services to conflict-vulnerable and conflict-affected areas throughout the country, which is one of the main thrusts of the office under Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito G. Galvez, Jr.

600,000 cubic meters of ‘answered prayers’ in Aleosan

“After almost three years, natapos na ang ating project. Matatawag natin itong ‘dream come true’ para sa atin at ‘answered prayers’ na ngayon ay na-turnover na sa atin [ang proyekto],” said Aleosan Mayor Vicente Suropia during the official turnover of PAMANA projects in the area.

These projects include a mega Level III potable water system worth P56 million, a grains warehouse worth P1.5 million, and a solar dryer worth P500,000.

Photo Credit: OPAPP

“We now have a sense of ownership sa [water system] at tayo na ang may-ari, ang mag-manage, mangangalaga. Ang importante may sustainability ang ating proyekto,” he added.

The PAMANA water system is equipped with a mega water reservoir that can hold up to 600,000 cubic meters of water and can serve up to 12,004 households.

The water will flow from the water source directly to the homes of residents in the isolated highland barangays of Malapang, Tomado, Luanan, and New Leon of this municipality.

The chairpersons of the beneficiary barangays shared the major benefits of the largest water system ever built in their area.

Photo Credit: OPAPP

According to them, since the project’s completion, village folk now have access to safe and adequate water for their household needs.

Moreover, Muslim residents have clean water which they can use for ablution or cleansing before doing their obligatory prayer.

“Maraming maraming salamat po dahil matagal na itong inaasam namin dahil naghihirap po talaga kami dito sa bukid. ‘Yung kinukunan namin ng tubig malayo talaga na kinakailangan pang ikarga sa kabayo para makarating sa bahay,” said Luanan Chairperson Abdulsaid Atan, whose barangay is one of the beneficiaries.

“Sa ngayon po maraming maraming salamat po sa OPAPP PAMANA na nabigyan tayo ng tubig na magamit natin hindi lang sa tatlong barangay [ang makikinabang] dahil kahit sino pa ang makakadaan d’yan ay [makakagamit] para sa ating lahat ito…Nagagamit na po namin ang tubig sa paglinis, pagsimba (ablution) dahil nakakarating na ang tubig sa aming mga bahay,” he added.

The chairpersons vowed to remind their constituents to take good care of the water system so that it can benefit the next generations.

Board members Rosali Cabaya and Loreto Cabaya donated a portion of their land where the most ideal water source is located.

This paved the way for the construction of the massive water system which now serves thousands of households in the area.

Also present during the ceremonial turnover were Provincial Administrator Efren Piñol representing Governor Nancy Catamco; Cotabato provincial board members Kelly Antao and Shirlyn Macasarte representing Vice Governor Emmylou “Lala” Taliño-Mendoza; Sangguniang Bayan (SB) member and chair of the Committee on Infrastructure Cornel Calambro; and SB members Cesar Caballero, Doris Clarito, and Efren Cabaya.

Other attendees included PAMANA project engineer and focal Efren Aujero; municipal planning and development officer Rowena Bañaga; OIC municipal engineer Warda Culod; project engineers Abdulbasir Kindatu and Abdulrauf Manalasal; and Malapang chair Arnel Cabaya, New Leon chair Felimon Caluyo, and Tomado chair Ernesto Dela Serna.

The turn-over was also graced by Brig. Gen. Roberto S. Capulong and Lt. Rommel Mundala from the Armed Forces of the Philippines; and Municipal Police Chief PMaj. Maxim Peralta from the Philippine National Police.

No Tantangan village left behind in PAMANA water system

“Yung water system po bawat barangay ay may budget na 1.7 (million pesos). Malaking tulong ‘yung water system para sa aming constituents sa aming barangay. Noon po yung hindi naaabot ng water system, kinakailangan pa po ng pressure tank pero ngayon po dahil may water system na galing sa OPAPP, nakakatipid na po sa gastos dahil sa murang singil ng bawat BAWASA (barangay water system association).”

This was according to Brgy. Captain Johnny Alada, president of the league of barangays Tantangan chapter, whose barangay is among the recipients of the water system project.

Noon malayo at level 1 o level 2 lang [na water systems], ngayon ay level 3 na kung saan diretso na talaga sa loob ng kanikanilang mga bahay ang tubig na galing sa OPAPP PAMANA kaya sa ngalan ng Liga ng mga Barangay, kami po ay nagpapasalamat sa Pangulong Duterte na s’ya ay tumutugon sa aming pangangailangan,” added Alada.

All 13 barangays of the municipality of Tantangan in South Cotabato are the beneficiaries of a Php 22 million Level II potable water system project built under the PAyapa at MAsaganang PamayaNAn (PAMANA) Program.

Photo Credit: OPAPP

OPAPP Director and PAMANA National Program Management Head Cesar De Mesa and Tantangan Mayor Benjamin Figueroa, Jr. led the official turnover of the water facilities on Thursday, May 6.

“Nagpapasalamat po kami especially kay Presidente Rodrigo Roa Duterte [para] sa fund na ibinigay nila [sa amin]. Habang may tubig po mula sa projects natin ay magagamit po ito ng tao, ng mga constituents natin sa 13 barangays,” said Figueroa.

The water systems were built in barangays of Magon, Mangilala, New Cuyapo, Poblacion, Dumadalig, New Iloilo, Cabuling, New Lambunao, Bukay Pait, Maibo, San Felipe, Libas, and Tinongcop.

Meanwhile, De Mesa explained that the PAMANA Program is in line with the six-point peace and development agenda of the Duterte administration, and supports the Philippines’ comprehensive peace process.

“Ito (PAMANA) ang programa ng gobyerno para sa mga conflict sensitive at vulnerable areas at mga lugar na geographically isolated and depressed areas (GIDAs),” De Mesa said.

“‘Pagka maganda po ang kabuhayan ng ating mga mamamayan ay hindi sila basta basta ma-recruit ng kung sino mang rebelde,” he added.

De Mesa and Figueroa also led the project’s exit conference participated in by the beneficiaries and project contractor.

Exit conferences are held to address issues and concerns related to a project implementation before it is officially turned over to beneficiaries.

The event was also attended by municipal Engr. Joseph Pudadera; Tantangan barangay chairmen Musa Magon, Noel De Castro, Armando Nono, Eliezer Reyes, Pedro Rufino, Jr., Maibo, Jose Cabayao, Benhur Peñol, Rodelio Palomo, Jimmy Juaneza, Ernesto Layos, Julio Leal, and Nelia Delos Reyes.

Also present were Lt. Col. Edwin Alburo, commander of the 40th IB and Col. Joel Mamon, commander of the Joint Task Force Talakudong and deputy commander of the 601st Brigade; and PCpt. Brandie Rasos from the Philippine National Police.

Photo Credit: OPAPP


Bukidnon gets biggest ELCAC budget with P1.4-B funding

From the Philippine News Agency (May 10, 2021): Bukidnon gets biggest ELCAC budget with P1.4-B funding (By Ercel Maandig)

Bukidnon province received the highest allocation in Region 10 for its Barangay Development Programs (BDP) with PHP1.4 billion in total funding this year.

The BDP is an initiative of the National Task Force to End Local Communists Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) to provide crucial infrastructure and other development projects in barangays ravaged by violent communist insurgency.

Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Provincial Director Enrique Carmelo B. Libot on Monday said Bukidnon has 70 villages identified as conflict-prone areas, at least 80 percent of which are now cleared of insurgency.

Of the total funding, Libot said some PHP20 million has already released to 14 of the 70 villages to fund various projects and development programs.

All over the country, at least 822 villages have been identified by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as conflict-prone areas.

Of the PHP19 billion total budget of the NTF-ELCAC, PHP16 billion is allotted for the development of 822 barangays cleared of insurgency.

"The proposal from senators defunding NTF-ELCAC can demoralize the mission of the government in ending the local communist armed conflict" Libot noted.

Support for ex-rebels

Meanwhile, the Department of Social Welfare and Development in Region 10 (DSWD-10) recently partnered with the AFP and various government line agencies to reach out to at least 17 former New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.

The former rebels turned in 11 firearms in Barangay Mampayag, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon, according to DSWD-10.

“We committed not only our presence but also our services because this is another opportunity for DSWD to help you, as mandated by President Rodrigo Duterte, to bring the services of the government closer to those who need them,” DSWD-10 Director Mari-Flor Dollaga said.

DSWD-10 said it provided the surrenderers with food packs, hygiene kits, sleeping kits, kitchen kits, sacks of rice, and PHP10,000 cash each.


Gunman kills Basilan village exec

From the Philippine News Agency (May 10, 2021): Gunman kills Basilan village exec (By Teofilo Garcia, Jr.)

The Isabela City Hall in Basilan province.

Police is investigating the identity of the lone gunman behind the killing Monday of a village official in Isabela City, the capital of Basilan province.

Lt. Colonel Junpikar Sitin, Isabela City police chief, identified the victim as Jamirun Amigos, the village chief of Marang, Sumisip, Basilan.

Amigos was walking in front of a food chain outlet around 2 p.m. Monday in Barangay Isabela Proper Isabela City when shot to death by the gunman, Sitin said.

Sitin said the suspect already fled when the responding policemen arrived at the crime scene.

Recovered at the crime scene were four empty shells of caliber .45 pistol.

Sitin said a possible motive of the incident could be “rido,” a local term for family feud.


More villagers in south Negros rise up vs. CPP-NPA atrocities

From the Philippine News Agency (May 10, 2021): More villagers in south Negros rise up vs. CPP-NPA atrocities (By Nanette Guadalquiver)

CONDEMNATION. Officials and residents of Barangay Linaon in Cauayan, Negros Occidental carry placards denouncing the atrocities and other terroristic activities perpetrated by the CPP-NPA and its political wing, the National Democratic Front (NDF), during a meeting held in the village on Sunday (May 9, 2021). Lt. Col. Arturo Dumalagan, commanding officer of the 14th CMOB, said the villagers have finally realized that after more than 20 years of being members of the CPP-NPA-NDF allied organizations, all they got were empty promises. (Photo courtesy of 14th CMO Battalion, Philippine Army)

Close to 100 residents of Barangay Linaon in Cauayan, Negros Occidental were among the latest villagers from the southern part of the province to condemn the atrocities and deceptions of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) and its political wing, the National Democratic Front (NDF).

Together with members of various sectoral groups, the villagers led by barangay chair Rosalie Delgado came together in a "pulong-pulong" (meeting) on Sunday, assisted by troops of the Army’s 14th Civil-Military Operations Battalion (CMOB).

Lt. Col. Arturo Dumalagan, commanding officer of the 14th CMOB, told the Philippine News Agency on Monday that they help the community gain courage to fight and stop the recruitment of young people from the village, and the atrocities perpetrated by communist-terrorists.

This has been made possible through Executive Order 70 issued by President Rodrigo Duterte that created the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), he added.

During the activity, the participants carried placards denouncing the terroristic activities of the NPA guerillas operating near the village, continuing recruitment of minors and indigenous people, and extortion activities victimizing farmers and fishermen.

The highlight was the burning of communist flags by barangay officials and members of Amlig or Assosasyon Sang Mangunguma kag Mangingisda sa Linaon, previously a front organization of the CPP-NPA-NDF in the village, according to the 14th CMOB.

“Our job as CMO operators is to inform and educate the people that they are being used by the enemy as front organizations without their knowledge,” Dumalagan said.

He said the villagers have finally realized that after more than 20 years of being members of the CPP-NPA-NDF allied organizations, all they got were empty promises and they were just incited to attend protest rallies against the government.

The 14th CMO Battalion’s mobile audio-visual system (MAVS) has been deployed in Barangay Linaon since last year as part of the Army’s community support program.

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.


10 NPA rebels yield to police in Sultan Kudarat town

From the Philippine News Agency (May 11, 2021): 10 NPA rebels yield to police in Sultan Kudarat town (By Edwin Fernandez)

Ten members of the communist New Peoples Army (NPA), including teachers, have voluntarily surrendered to government authorities in Lebak, Sultan Kudarat, the local police reported Tuesday.

Maj. Rodney Binoya, Lebak town police chief, said
the surrenderers were active members of Far South Mindanao Region (FSMR) Cherry Mobile Platoon who decided to avail of the government’s amnesty program.

“We are going nowhere, our leaders provided us with lip service, we were duped, we are tired of war,” Ka Goy, one of the guerrillas who yielded in Barangay Tibpuan on Monday afternoon, said in the vernacular.

Binoya said the surrenderers included teachers of schools in the mountains under the influence of NPA.

He added that the ex-rebels have received financial assistance from the government under the End Local Communist Armed Conflict program in exchange for the firearms they handed over to the police.

“The surrenderers are still undergoing debriefing at the Lebak municipal police station,” he said.


Ex-rebel lauded for info on hidden NPA bombs

From the Philippine News Agency (May 11, 2021): Ex-rebel lauded for info on hidden NPA bombs (By Sarwell Meniano)

SEIZED EXPLOSIVES. Some of the explosive devices kept by the New People's Army, that were recovered by the military in Mahaplag, Leyte. The Philippine Army lauded a former rebel for providing vital information that led to the recent seizure of explosive devices and combat equipment of the NPA on May 8, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Philippine Army)

The Philippine Army on Tuesday lauded a former rebel for providing vital information that led to the recent seizure of explosive devices and combat equipment of the New People’s Army (NPA) in the outskirts of Mahaplag, Leyte.

Brig. Gen. Zosimo Oliveros, commander of the Philippine Army’s 802nd Infantry Brigade, said disclosures from Ka Junior (not his real name), a former member of the Militia ng Bayan in Mahaplag town, was the key to the discovery of three improvised hand grenades and other explosive devices such as one detonating switch, four blasting caps, three pieces of plastic pipes (used as an explosive case), and other devices on May 8.

The Army also recovered three mobile phones, nine sim cards, one radio transceiver and other NPA terrorist communication equipment, bullets of high caliber gun, medical drugs, personal use, and subversive documents.

“Ka Junior surrendered to the Army because he felt bad hiding the information about the explosive device that could be used to attack soldiers and civilians,” Oliveros said in a statement.

The Army official vowed to continue to intensify the operation against the remaining members of NPA in the provinces of Biliran, Leyte, and Southern Leyte.

“I am confident that with the cooperation and assistance of all sectors, it is not far that we can reach true peace in our area. Our appeal continues to their members to surrender and return to the government while they have the chance,” Oliveros added.

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.


452 ex-NPA rebels get ECLIP benefits in Caraga

From the Philippine News Agency (May 11, 2021): 452 ex-NPA rebels get ECLIP benefits in Caraga (By Alexander Lopez)

A total of 452 former New People's Army (NPA) rebels who surrendered to the different units of the Police Regional Office in Caraga (PRO-13) have already received aid from the government's Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP).

Brig. Gen. Romeo M. Caramat Jr., PRO-13 director, said the 452 surrenderers yielded to authorities from September 2020 until April 30 this year.

“Among the benefits they received were financial and livelihood assistance, firearms remuneration, and reintegration program,” Caramat said in a statement Tuesday.

Aside from the livelihood and financial assistance, Caramat said the former rebels also underwent 10-day training on crop production conducted by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

The PRO-13 director also noted the support provided by the local government units (LGUs) to the FRs such as the PHP10,000 cash aid.

“In Surigao City, members of the New People’s Army (NPA) who return to the fold of the law were given PHP15,000 cash by the LGU,” Caramat said.

He added that additional forms of assistance that may be sourced out from partner agencies can be extended to the FRs, including capacity-building, skills training, provision of shelter, legal assistance, employment, and medical assistance.

“These benefits are of great help for our brothers and sisters as they return into the mainstream society,” Caramat said.

He also urged the remaining NPA members in the region to lay down their arms and become recipients of the ECLIP program.


Caravan brings gov't services to Aurora village residents

From the Philippine News Agency (May 11, 2021): Caravan brings gov't services to Aurora village residents (By Jason De Asis)

CARAVAN OF SERVICES. Free medical checkup was among the services offered to residents of Barangay Dikapanikian, Dingalan, Aurora during the conduct of "Serbisyo Caravan" on Monday (May 10, 2021). The activity was in line with President Rodrigo Duterte's Executive Order 70 institutionalizing the whole-of-nation approach to end insurgency and achieve lasting peace. (Photo courtesy of 91st IB, Philippine Army)

BALER, Aurora – Residents of Barangay Dikapanikian, Dingalan town, this province were able to avail of different kinds of public services during the conduct of a "Serbisyo Caravan" on Monday.

In an interview on Tuesday,
Lt. Col. Reandrew Rubio, commander of the Army’s 91st Infantry Battalion (91IB), said the local government unit (LGU), government agencies, and partners for peace united in delivering various services to the people.

Among the government services that benefited close to a hundred residents in the town were a feeding program, medical check-up, and free haircut.

Likewise, some 50 coconut seedlings were distributed by the Philippine Coconut Authority to members of the Maralitang Samahan ng Nagkakaisang Magsasaka as well as medicines for children below 12 years old through the assistance of the barangay health workers.

Rubio said the activity was part of the government's End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC) program and in line with President Rodrigo Duterte's Executive Order 70 institutionalizing the whole-of-nation approach to ending insurgency and achieving lasting peace.

The 91IB was among the government agencies that joined the "Serbisyo Caravan" which was led by Mayor Shierwin Taay, and participated in by different offices of the Dingalan LGU.

"The 91st Infantry Battalion and other agencies are working together out of munificence to achieve the same intention and that is to deliver aid to communities in need,” Rubio said in a text message.


Rebel village councilor, daughter surrender in Zambo Norte

From the Philippine News Agency (May 11, 2021): Rebel village councilor, daughter surrender in Zambo Norte (By Teofilo Garcia, Jr.) 

Google map of Leon Postigo town, Zamboanga del Norte.

Two communist New People’s Army (NPA) rebels, one of whom happens to be a village councilor, surrendered to government authorities in the province of Zamboanga del Norte, a top police official said Tuesday.

Brig. Gen. Ronaldo Genaro Ylagan, Police Regional Office-9 (PRO-9) director,
identified the NPA surrenderers as Marcos Pajuay and his daughter, Josephine.

The father and daughter surrendered following series of negotiations around 9:15 a.m. Monday in Barangay Mawal, Leon Postigo town, Ylagan said.

Ylagan said the elder Pajuay is an incumbent councilor in Barangay Mawal, Leon Postigo, Zamboanga del Norte.

He said the two used to work for the Regional Urban Committee (RUC) of the NPA’s Western Mindanao Regional Party Committee (WMRPC).

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


2 BIFF 'involved' in Datu Paglas encounter nabbed

From the Philippine News Agency (May 11, 2021): 2 BIFF 'involved' in Datu Paglas encounter nabbed (By Edwin Fernandez)

ARRESTED. Suspected Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters members Jerwali Salem Zabel and Nasrullah Abdullah Walingan (center) are presented to police and military authorities after their arrest in Datu Paglas, Maguindanao, on Monday (May 10, 2021). Seized from them (inset) were two homemade bombs and a .45-caliber pistol, authorities say. (Photo courtesy of 601Bde)

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao – Two alleged members of Islamic State-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) who were part of those who briefly seized a town public market in Maguindanao recently were arrested by government forces, an Army official said Tuesday.

“They were arrested at the outskirts of Datu Paglas, Maguindanao, on Monday afternoon, two days after they briefly showed force in the town market,”
Brigadier General Roy Galido, commander of the Army's 601st Infantry Brigade, said.

identified the two suspects as Jerwali Salem Zabel and Nasrullah Abdullah Walingan, both of the BIFF Karialan faction.

“They were held by residents living near the 109th base command of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), in the vicinity of Barangay Mangadeg, Datu Paglas,” Galido said in a statement.

He said the suspects admitted that they were supposed to deliver food to their comrades that are continuously being hunted by government forces when arrested.

Confiscated from the suspects were two improvised explosive devices and one .45-caliber pistol. They were turned over by the civilian residents and the MILF ceasefire committee representative to the military forces for proper filing of cases.

On Saturday, government forces intercepted and encountered dozens of BIFF members led by Sulayman Tudon of the BIFF Kagui Karialan faction in Datu Paglas town, leading to another round of skirmishes.

No casualties were reported from both sides.

Galido said the BIFF men in Datu Paglas escaped that time from “SPMS Box” (area shared by towns of Shariff Aguak, Datu Salibo, Mamasapano, and Datu Saudi Ampatuan all of Maguindanao) due to the military’s relentless campaign against them the past weeks.

Galido said government forces drove the militants out of the populated center of Datu Paglas before noon Saturday. They left four improvised bombs in the town center.


Duterte to visit Cotabato after Datu Paglas incident

From the Philippine News Agency (May 11, 2021): Duterte to visit Cotabato after Datu Paglas incident (By Azer Parrocha)

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (File photo)

President Rodrigo Duterte is scheduled to go to Cotabato City on Tuesday in the aftermath of the botched attack of Islamic State-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Datu Paglas, Maguindanao on Saturday.

In an interview over PTV-4, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte will deliver a message to the BIFF that he would not tolerate violence.

“Mamaya po ay tutungo po ng Cotabato ang ating Presidente. Makipagusap po siya dun at talagang ang mensahe niya ay ipararating niyang mensahe sa BIFF na siya ang kanyang katungkulan ay ipagpatupad ang batas at hindi pupuwede na patuloy na gumagamit ng dahas laban sa kapwa Pilipino (The President will go to Cotabato later. He will have dialogue there to send a message to the BIIF that under his administration, the law will be implemented, and using violence against fellow Filipinos will not be tolerated),” he said.

Roque, in a press conference, said Duterte will also hold a meeting with members of his Cabinet, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), Philippine National Police (PNP), and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

“Ang objective po ng Presidente para iparating ang mensahe na hindi po niya puwedeng pabayaan ang kaniyang katungkulan na ipatulad ang batas (The President's objective is to convey the message that he cannot neglect his duty to implement the law),” he said.

Reports showed that about 200 heavily-armed members of the BIFF seized the public market of Datu Paglas town at 4 a.m. on Saturday.

Lt. Col. John Paul Baldomar, speaking for the 6th Infantry Division, said the BIFF under the Kagui Karialan faction occupied the town’s public market and established a defensive position there.

He said no casualty was reported on the government side, and could not say if the BIFF extremists had casualties.

At least 5,000 individuals have been displaced by the conflict and were staying at nearby public schools as military clearing operations continued at the town center.

Government forces were able to regain control of the Datu Paglas town market center after the military launched air and ground assaults on the rebels’ position until the BIFF withdrew toward the mountainous area of Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat.

In a statement on Sunday, AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Cirilito Sobejana urged residents and local government officials in Maguindanao to be more vigilant.

He said the AFP will not stop until the threat posed by the BIFF terrorists is neutralized.


'Why withdraw the ship?' Locsin on 2012 Scarborough standoff

From the Philippine News Agency (May 11, 2021): 'Why withdraw the ship?' Locsin on 2012 Scarborough standoff (By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora)

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. (Presidential Photo)

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. continued to question the reason behind the pulling out of the Philippines' ship in Scarborough Shoal during a standoff with China in 2012.

"If you believe, your government at that time believes that that is yours, why will you withdraw?" Locsin asked during the Talk to the People of President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night.

"[W]hy did we yield possession? And that’s, I think, the first thing you must ask. Who gave the order to withdraw that ship? Because it is from there that we start having the problems that are separate -- actually a separate issue from the arbitral award," he added.

In April 2012, the Philippine government sent the BRP Gregorio del Pilar to Scarborough Shoal after a surveillance aircraft spotted eight Chinese vessels anchored inside the lagoon.

Upon inspection, it discovered a large amount of illegally collected corals, giant clams, and live sharks in the compartments of said ships.

At the time, two Chinese maritime surveillance ships managed to position themselves between the Philippine warship and the Chinese fishing vessels preventing the navy from arresting the poachers -- the start of a tense standoff over the shoal, which is well within the Philippine exclusive economic zone. Eventually, the Philippine ship withdrew.

Recalling the incident, former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario last week explained that the United States brokered a deal for both nations to simultaneously pull out the ships but Chinese President Xi Jinping "deceitfully breached" the deal.

Locsin, on the other hand, said Washington's participation was merely "to try to stop people from attacking each other" because it cannot force the Philippines nor China to withdraw in the first place.

"These are only good offices of the United States, it is a suggestion, 'I think you should both withdraw.' So what you should have done --- I don’t want to say that like I know better after the fact --- but the truth is, if I --- if I have UNCLOS on my side saying we are within the exclusive economic zone and the Chinese ship is not, from my point of view, then I would say, I’ll just look at the other side and say go. When you go, I’ll go but you go first. Instead, our side withdrew," he said.

"So what happens to our claim that this is ours? You just gave it up," he added.

Locsin added that the Chinese side had "no intention" of attacking during the 2012 impasse, based on his previous conversation with Chinese Foreign Minister and State Councilor Wang Yi.

"I have talked to the Chinese, to Foreign Minister Wang Yi, they have no intention to do that. If we had kept up that face-off, it might have ended up in just the two sides talking to each other. But why we withdrew when we had UNCLOS in place that said under this law, we have the right to be here, you don’t? But we did," he said.

When the Philippines pulled out its ship and the Chinese did not, Locsin said Washington had no obligation to go to war because the Mutual Defense Treaty can only be triggered with an attack against a Filipino public vessel.

"Nobody was attacked. We withdrew. If the Chinese wanted to attack, there was nobody to attack. The other side left," he said.

"There’s no obligation to defend if you are not attacked and that is what was avoided, one ship walked --- ah sailed away," he added.

Scarborough Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc is an integral part of the Philippine territory and is located 124 nautical miles off the municipality of Masinloc in Zambales.


No conflict of interest on Joel Egco's new NTF-ELCAC role

From the Philippine News Agency (May 11, 2021): No conflict of interest on Joel Egco's new NTF-ELCAC role (By Azer Parrocha)

Presidential Task Force on Media Security executive director Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco (File photo)

Malacañang on Tuesday said it does not see any “conflict of interest” in the designation of Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco as one of the eight spokespersons of the government’s anti-insurgency task force.

Egco, who is also Executive Director of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS), was recently designated as spokesperson for “Mass Media Engagements” and “Fact-Checker” of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict’s (NTF-ELCAC).

Some sectors expressed concern over Egco’s new NTF-ELAC role amid the task force’s reputation for alleged red-tagging of journalists and other media workers.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said he does not see a conflict of interest in Egco’s new job because his other roles require him to ensure the safety of all media workers.

“Sa tingin ko po, wala naman po ‘yan conflict of interest dahil ang trabaho nga po ni USec. Egco pagdating sa media security ay subaybayan at siguraduhin na ang lahat ng pumapatay sa ating mga mamahayag ay mapaparusahan sang-ayon po sa ating batas (I think there is no conflict of interest because when it comes to media security, it is USec Egco’s job to monitor and ensure that all those who kill our journalists are punished in accordance with our law),” he said in a press briefing.

Citing a study conducted by the media watchdog Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), Roque said most media killings can be traced to local politics and not red-tagging.

“Karamihan po ng killings ay yung mga local po na mga pulitiko na nagpapapatay ng mga local media at hindi naman po related sa red-tagging. ‘Yan po ang katotohanan (Most of the killings are by local politicians who kill local media and are not related to red-tagging. ‘That’s the truth),” he said.

He acknowledged that some journalists have been red-tagged, but noted that legal remedies are also available such as the writ of habeas corpus which can be used to secure the release of a person who is being unlawfully detained, and writ of Amparo which can be used if a person’s right to life, liberty, and security has been violated or under threat.

“Bagamat may ilang mga peryodista na na-redtag na ay meron naman pong remedyo. ‘Yan po yung writ of amparo at saka yung writ of habeas data para burahin kung ano yung naging basehan ng red-tagging (Although there are some journalists who have been red-tagged, there are remedies. That is the writ of Amparo and the writ of habeas data to erase what was the basis of red-tagging),” he said.

On Monday, NTF-ELCAC Vice-Chair and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon announced the designation of six new spokespersons, including Egco, to join Armed Forces of the Philippines Southern Luzon Command chief Lt. Gen Antonio Parlade Jr. and PCOO Undersecretary Lorraine Marie Badoy as co-spokespersons of the task force.

“Remember, the national task force is composed of all agencies of government and so we are just drawing the support and pool of talents from all the government agencies,” Esperon said in a press conference.

He said eight spokespersons are necessary because the said officials, which come from different agencies, could not speak for NTF-ELCAC on a “full-time basis.”


Duterte pleads for end of violence in Mindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (May 11, 2021): Duterte pleads for end of violence in Mindanao (By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos)

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (File photo)

President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday sought the help of Bangsamoro officials to stop the violence and terror acts perpetrated by extremist groups such as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Mindanao.

Duterte made the appeal during his meeting with Bangsamoro officials, as well as the police and military commanders, at the Camp Siongco in Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat in Maguindanao.

In his speech, Duterte admitted that he could not afford to wage a war against his fellow Filipinos.

“The violence is very much present. Nakikiusap ako (I am pleading you) because you know, government cannot wage a war against [its] own people. Hindi talaga puwede iyan (That is unacceptable),” he said.

Duterte lamented that the BIFF continues to throw a monkey wrench in the works to thwart progress in Mindanao.

Despite the BIFF’s attempt to sow terror in the region, Duterte said launching an “all-out” offensive against bandits is not an option because it would cost the lives of innocent people.

“This conflict will cost lives and it will cost innocent lives,” Duterte said. “Kung hindi ko mapipigilan (If I fail to stop it) and there will be an all-out offensive, iyan na ang problema (that would be the problem). If I give the order, I will no longer withdraw it.”

Moved to tears

Around 200 heavily-armed BIFF members seized the public market of Datu Paglas, Maguindanao on Saturday morning.

The Army’s 6th Infantry Division was able to regain control of the Datu Paglas town market center on Saturday dawn.

The BIFF gunmen withdrew and splintered into small groups after a brief military air and ground assault.

Duterte said he was “moved to tears” when he learned about the recent development in Maguindanao.

“I am moved to tears to see what is really happening. It’s pure carnage and the ultimate beneficiaries of the violence created here are the civilians. Tayong nasa position, tayong may pera, tayong may armas (We who are in the position, have money, and have arms), we do not have nary a care because we can do what we want with arms,” he said.

‘Bloody, sad’ war

Duterte, during his visit to Maguindanao, said he is ready to listen, including to those who want to “reconfigure” the region.

“Kaya nga ako nagpunta dito (I am here) just to remind you that whatever happens, Mindanao would still be a part of the Philippines. That is the reality,” he said. “We just talk. You can begin it now na nandito pa ako na makikinig sa inyo (while I am still here and ready to listen).”

Duterte gave the assurance, as he stressed that he is avoiding a situation that could make things “go out of control”.

He said it would be “bloody” and “sad,” should he decides to order an all-out war against extremist groups in Mindanao.

“If I give the order for an all-out offensive, it will be bloody and sad,” Duterte said. “Ayaw kong pumatay ng Muslim. Ayaw kong pumatay ng Kristiyanos. Gusto kong manahimik ang buhay natin sa mundong ito (I do not want to kill Muslims. I do not want to kill Christians. I want a peaceful life in this world). You know, we only live once.”