Friday, May 21, 2021

Exploited north Negros villagers withdraw support from CPP-NPA

From the Philippine News Agency (May 21, 2021): Exploited north Negros villagers withdraw support from CPP-NPA (By Nanette Guadalquiver)

PULLING OUT THEIR SUPPORT. Residents of Barangay Minapasuk in Calatrava, Negros Occidental burn the flags of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army during a condemnation rally held at the village covered court on Wednesday (May 19, 2021). The villagers said they have been victims of the exploitation of the communist-terrorist group and denounced them as purveyors of useless and meaningless ideology. (Photo courtesy of 79th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army)

Some 35 residents of Barangay Minapasuk in Calatrava, Negros Occidental, who have been exploited by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) through the years, have withdrawn their support from the communist-terrorist group.

They gathered during a condemnation rally, which was facilitated by the Philippine Army’s 79th Infantry Battalion (IB), at the village covered court on May 19.

First Lt. Dansan Camua, civil-military operations officer of the 79IB, told the Philippine News Agency on Friday that the residents shared to government troops what they went through under the influence of the CPP-NPA.

Their experiences showed the exploitation perpetrated by the communist-terrorist group, Camua said.

These included requiring the villagers to pay monthly dues of PHP10 to PHP20, and if they refused, they were threatened to be ejected from their place of residence or be killed.

He said the rebels also demand to be provided with raised chickens and crops as food supply.

The villagers were also forced by the communist-terrorists to attend meetings and tasked to do intelligence work or serve as a courier to bring food and firearms to the rebels in the mountains.

He added that the CPP-NPA deceived the villagers into believing that they will eventually become owners of the land they are tilling even if it already belongs to the rightful owner.

During the rally, the villagers raised placards denouncing the communist-terrorist group as purveyors of useless and meaningless ideology.

The villagers also burned the flag of the CPP-NPA and its political wing, the National Democratic Front (NDF), to manifest the withdrawal of their support to the communist movement as they pledged full allegiance to the Philippine government.

Lt. Col. Gerard Alvaran, commanding officer of 79IB, said the victims have finally awakened from the deceptive approach and the recruitment and extortion activities of the CPP-NPA.

“They are now empowered and well-informed, and that will surely prevent the communist-terrorist group’s recovery efforts. Their commitment to withdraw support from the armed group is a bold step towards total eradication of insurgency,” he added.

Marianne Lumanog, the executive assistant of Mayor Marilyn Era, thanked the 79IB, Calatrava Municipal Police Station, and other partner government agencies for helping bring peace to the municipality.

Lumanog urged the residents of Barangay Minapasuk to stand their ground against the evils of insurgency as she informed them about the programs and services of the local government.

“We have resolutions declaring the CPP-NPA-NDF persona non-grata. Do not allow communist-terrorist groups to manipulate and deceive you again. We, in the government, will ensure to bring services and programs for the people. Let us unite and encourage the remaining rebels to return to the fold of law and avail of the government's reintegration program,” she added.

On July 28, 2019, the Municipal Council of Calatrava passed Resolution 2019-095, stating that the northern Negros town “adheres to the principles of peace and order as an indispensable element to the development and progress of the municipality and thus, condemns any unlawful activities of the CPP-NPA as it threatens the economic, social and political stability of the municipality and its people.”

A copy of the resolution was turned over by Era to the 79IB in a ceremony held at the municipal hall grounds on Aug. 19, 2019.

The CPP-NPA, which has marked 52 years of armed struggle, is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

70 NPA rebels lured out of armed struggle

From the Philippine News Agency (May 21, 2021): 70 NPA rebels lured out of armed struggle (By Perla Lena)

CONFISCATED. Some of the firearms and explosive materials confiscated by the Philippine Army in anti-insurgency operations are shown in this March 2021 photo. On Monday (May 24, 2021), the Army will present the 70 former rebels convinced to surrender to Iloilo officials. (Photo courtesy of Philippine Army Facebook)

The three-month engagement of community support program (CSP) teams in four municipalities of southern Iloilo have convinced 70 New People's Army rebels to return to the government fold.

The 70 surrendered, who belong to the NPA's Militia ng Bayan, will be presented to Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. on May 24, as well as to the mayors of Leon, Tubungan, Miagao, and San Joaquin towns where they are from.

They will also surrender assorted long and short firearms.

“They are the eyes and ears in the barangays. They are the ones laying mines and part of those who conduct ambush. They were the ones giving information to the active or regular NPA whenever the Army or police enter their area,” Col. Joel Benedict Batara, commanding officer of the 61st Infantry Battalion (61IB) of the Philippine Army, told the Philippine News Agency in a phone interview on Friday.

Since CSP teams were deployed to their areas on the first week of February this year, the surrenderers were gradually convinced to give up arms.

“This is the effort of the community support program teams. They talked to them through dialogues during the immersion,” he added.

Batara said at first, there was propaganda information against the CSP teams, such as harassment of locals and destruction of their farms. But the CSP teams did not give up until they fulfilled their mission.

“During the presentation, they will be receiving PHP5,000 assistance from the DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) and they will also be given food packs,” Batara said.

They will undergo validation for enrolment with the enhanced comprehensive local integration program (E-Clip), for which they will be entitled to receive PHP15,000 for the firearms they will surrender

Local government units will provide other interventions such as psychological debriefing while services from other concerned government agencies are also available.

E-Clip is a complete assistance package for former members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) who are open to becoming productive members of society again.

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

Tips from locals prevent NPA harassment

From the Philippine News Agency (May 21, 2021): Tips from locals prevent NPA harassment (By Perla Lena)

PRE-EMPTED. Colonel Joel Benedict G Batara, commanding officer of the 61 Infantry Battalion (61IB) of the Philippine Army, said they were able to preempt the supposed harassment of the communist terrorist group against their Community Support Program (CSP) teams in Barangay Alimodias, Miagao on May 15, 2021. Batara said on Friday (May 21, 2021) that their troops immediately conducted a combat operation in response to information provided by residents. (PNA file photo)

Information from residents has preempted the planned harassment of the Communist Party of the Philippines –New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) against teams for the Community Support Program (CSP) in the mountainous village of Miagao, Iloilo on May 15.

Tips from the locals were also used by the military to go after the rebels as their May 15 combat operations led to a 30-minute firefight with the terrorist group, said Colonel Joel Benedict G. Batara, commanding officer of the 61 Infantry Battalion (61IB) of the Philippine Army, in a phone interview on Friday.

A government soldier was wounded when hit by shrapnel from the antipersonnel landmine (APL) laid down by the NPA in the area during the encounter. The soldier is now in stable condition.

“There was community information on the presence of the CPP-NPA on the border of Barangay Alimodias, Miagao (in Iloilo), and Sibalom, Antique. We respond to information because it seems that the group will conduct harassment against our CSP teams,” Batara said.

“There was no ambush. It was an encounter that we had initiated,” Batara said in a phone interview to deny the May 17 statement released by the Ilaya Kanaway, Mt. Napulak Command of the Southern Front, Komiteng Rehiyon-Panay of the NPA that it was an ambush and not an operation initiated by government forces.

He added that it is also part of the NPA propaganda to peddle lies when it claimed that there were 10 casualties on the part of government soldiers.

“That’s always part of their propaganda, we never hide if there are casualties,” he said, adding that the government gives a hero’s burial to soldiers killed in the line of duty.

It was also an open admission on the part of the terrorist group when it included in the statement that they used APL against the government troops, Batara said.

“This is a blatant violation of the IHL (International Humanitarian Law)- the making use of APLs. They have been doing it for many decades now, in Tubungan, Leon. We have been capturing a lot of APLs from them during encounters,” he added.

The NPAs used to have mass support in the barangay but now are denouncing the presence of the terrorist group and helping the military by providing information, especially to the CSP teams whenever they monitor rebel presence in their area.

CSP is the military's primary tool in clearing the barangays of the influence of the insurgents.

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.

GPH-MILF, WB put up Bangsamoro Normalization Trust Fund

From the Philippine News Agency (May 21, 2021): GPH-MILF, WB put up Bangsamoro Normalization Trust Fund (By Noel Punzalan)

Screengrab of the virtual meeting and launch of the Bangsamoro Normalization Trust Fund participated by officials from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and the World Bank, on Wednesday evening (May 19, 2021).

COTABATO CITY -- The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPPAP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), in partnership with the World Bank (WB), have jointly established the Bangsamoro Normalization Trust Fund (BNTF).

“The BNTF launching is a success, we are on the right track,”
Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim, concurrent MILF chairman, told reporters here Friday.

Ebrahim said in an online meeting on Wednesday evening, OPAPP, WB representatives and officials of the MILF-led BARMM witnessed the signing of the declaration of commitment on the BNTF between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and himself.

“The GPH and MILF joint implementing panels have chosen the WB as the international administrator of the trust fund,” Ebrahim said.

The creation of the BNTF was mutually agreed by the GPH and MILF in the Annex on Normalization of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), which both parties signed on January 25, 2014.

The BNTF aims to assist MILF combatants and their communities achieve their desired quality of life peacefully and inclusively.

It also seeks to aid in the development of six acknowledged MILF Camps with the end view of transforming these areas into peaceful and productive communities, Ebrahim said.

He said the BNTF will also finance, coordinate and oversee the delivery of assistance from international partners and other donors in the implementation of the normalization process, particularly for development efforts and the rehabilitation, reconstruction, and development of Bangsamoro communities and other vulnerable sectors across BARMM.

OPAPP Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. pointed out that coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pushed back the normalization programs for the BARMM.

“During these trying times, we need to have a synergy and complementation so that we can overcome these trials along the way and continue to build the gains of the Bangsamoro peace process,” Galvez said during the online meeting.

OPAPP Undersecretary David Diciano, meanwhile, said Wednesday’s event is not purely a trust fund for the sake of financing but it is the embodiment of the continuous commitment of GPH-MILF, and the international communities to the full implementation of CAB.

On the other hand, Ebrahim recognized the support of international partners and stressed the importance of fulfilling the political and normalization tracks to ensure the success of the peace process.

“We take on another significant milestone that assures the GPH and MILF will continue providing necessary efforts in normalizing our combatants and their respective communities,” he said.

Ndiamé Diop, the WB Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand also expressed his commitment to BNTF, stressing that eradicating poverty and assuring long-term progress in the entire country also depends on the development of the BARMM.

NPA returns to family after 11 years of uncertain life

From the Philippine News Agency (May 21, 2021): NPA returns to family after 11 years of uncertain life (By Liza Agoot)

BACK TO FAMILY. “Ka Arvin” (right), hands over to Police Corporal Rodriguez Ajochay (left), the homemade firearm he brought with him on May 19, 2021 when he surrendered to the Natonin, Mountain Province municipal police. The surrenderer said he decided to go back to his family and to the fold of the law after realizing he has spent years of uncertainty with the New People’s Army. (Photo courtesy of Natonin PNP)

A 56-year-old fighter of the New People’s Army (NPA) operating in Mountain Province has ended years of uncertainty by voluntarily surrendering to be with his family and children.

“Ka Arvin”, 56, of Natonin, Mountain Province, married and has three children, decided to return to the fold of the law on May 19 after finally realizing their futile cause and that he has been away from his family for years.

In the dialect, he said, “I want to live a peaceful life with my family because there is no future in the movement.”

“Ka Arvin” was recruited by the NPA some 11 years ago which he described as complicated years of his life.

"Masalimuot" (It's complicated). That is how he described his many years in the NPA movement -- running away from government forces without any certainty of the day after.

He said his decision to surrender came after learning that another member of his group surrendered to the government a week before.

“Ka Arvin” was a member of the Kilusang Lagangang Gerilya (KLG) under the Leonardo Pacsi Command that operates in Mountain Province. Upon his surrender, he also turned over a homemade firearm with 10 rounds of caliber 5.56 ammunition.

Col. Ruben Andiso, police provincial director of Mountain Province, described Ka Arvin’s surrender as a result of the continuous negotiation of the Mountain Province PNP personnel and 503rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army with residents to convince NPA rebels to return to the fold of the law.

He said the Mt. Province PNP launched “Oplan Binnaga” (advice) which aims to attain lasting peace and strengthen public awareness on the government’s effort to get back the allegiance of people who have been misled by the NPA.

Andiso said Ka Arvin will be enrolled in the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) where he will receive cash assistance, livelihood assistance, and cash remuneration for the surrendered firearm.

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.

Terror group ‘supporter’ slain in SoCot raid

From the Philippine News Agency (May 21, 2021): Terror group ‘supporter’ slain in SoCot raid (By Richelyn Gubalani) 

Google map of Polomolok, South Cotabato.

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – An alleged supporter of an Islamic State-inspired local terrorist group was killed in an operation Friday morning in a village in Polomolok town, South Cotabato province.

Lt. Col. Alex Joe Orcajada, chief of Polomolok municipal police station, said suspect
Abdula Lido, 47, was slain in an encounter with joint operatives around 7 a.m. in Purok 1, Barangay Koronadal Proper.

He said the brief firefight ensued while the combined police and military operating team was serving a search warrant against the suspect.

The warrant, issued by Polomolok Regional Trial Court Branch 63 Judge Adelbert Santillan, was for possession of dangerous drugs and paraphernalia.

“Upon the team’s arrival at the target site, (Lido) sensed their presence and immediately opened fire at them,” Orcajada said in a report.

He said the operatives managed to seek cover and retaliate, resulting in the fatal wounding of the suspect.

Lido was rushed to the Polomolok Municipal Hospital but was declared dead upon arrival by the attending doctors.

Police said the suspect yielded a black flag of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, a caliber .357 handgun, 12 sachets of suspected shabu, and various drug paraphernalia.

Capt. Randy Apostol, Polomolok deputy police chief, said in an interview that the suspect was included in their drug target list and had long been under surveillance.

Citing intelligence reports, Apostol said the suspect was a supporter of a Dawlah Islamiyah faction operating in the area.

He was referring to the group’s Maguid faction, also known as the Socsargen (South Cotabato-Sarangani-General Santos) Katiba, which had pledged support to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Authorities said the group is engaged in various terrorist and criminal activities, including peddling of illegal drugs, in the area.

NoCot town officials surrender loose firearms

From the Philippine News Agency (May 21, 2021): NoCot town officials surrender loose firearms (By Edwin Fernandez)

FOR PEACE. Commander of the Army’s 602nd Infantry Brigade, Brig. Gen. Roberto Capulong (center), Councilor Evangeline Pascua-Guzman, and an Army officer view the firearms presented by the local government of Kabacan, North Cotabato to the Army on Friday (May 21, 2021). The Kabacan officials expressed full support for the government’s disarmament program to bring peace to their communities. (Photo courtesy of Kabacan LGU)

KABACAN, North Cotabato – Local officials turned over to military authorities several firearms collected from seven barangays here Friday, in support of the government's program against loose firearms.

Brig. Gen. Roberto Capulong, commander of the Army’s 602nd Infantry Brigade, received the high-powered firearms collected by village officials led by Councilor Evangeline Guzman, president of the Association of Barangay Chairpersons.

Guzman said the firearms belonged to residents of barangays Pedtad, Buluan, Simone, Sanggadong, Nangaan, Simbuhay, and Tamped who do not have any license to possess them.

Kabacan Vice Mayor Myra Dulay-Bade assured Capulong of the council's support for the military-led effort to rid the town of unlicensed guns.

Capulong said only the military, police, and agents of government security agencies could carry and possess firearms.

The surrendered firearms included four M1 Garand rifles, two Carbine rifles, and an M16 Baby rifle.

Guzman said negotiations were ongoing for other individuals carrying unlicensed guns for the surrender of the weapons to authorities.

'Notorious' BIFF sub-leader slain in Maguindanao op

From the Philippine News Agency (May 21, 2021): 'Notorious' BIFF sub-leader slain in Maguindanao op (By Edwin Fernandez)

CLEARING OPERATION. State forces conduct post-encounter operations in Barangay Lipao, Datu Paglas, Maguindanao where a notorious BIFF insurgent was killed during Friday’s encounter in Maguindanao. Recovered from slain BIFF sub-leader Abdulatip Pendaliday alias Commander Grasscutter (inset) were firearms, hand grenade, homemade bomb components, and shabu paraphernalia. (Photo courtesy of 6ID)

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao – The long arm of the law has caught up with an alleged large-scale drug trafficker-cum-terror bomber following a predawn joint police and military operation in Maguindanao Friday.

Abdulatip Pendaliday, alias “Commander Grasscutter,” also described by the military as a notorious sub-leader of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), died in a firefight
with government forces in Barangay Lipao, Datu Paglas, Maguindanao.

Brigadier Gen. Roy Galido, Army’s 601st Army Brigade commander, said government forces conducting clearing operations
encountered about 10 armed BIFF in Barangay Lipao that led to a 10-minute firefight.

“Pendaliday died from multiple gunshot wounds while his companion managed to escape, bringing with them wounded companions,” Galido said.

The slain terrorist was implicated in the murder of more than 20 people, including government soldiers and civilians in Maguindanao. He was also linked to kidnapping, motorcycle heists, and cattle-rustling.

“Pendaliday was also known big-time drug peddler selling shabu and supplying the BIFF with firearms and marijuana stuff,” Galido said.

Galido said Pendaliday’s comrades left him after he fell from bullet wounds in the head and body.

Soldiers found a .45-caliber pistol, a .38-caliber revolver, a hand grenade, shabu, ammunition, and bomb components in Pendaliday’s possession.

The suspect's remains were turned over to Datu Paglas police.

Galido said pursuit operations against remnants of the BIFF will "continue relentlessly to bring about peace" in the troubled Datu Paglas and the nearby towns.

House nod on amnesty for ex-rebels 'significant step' for peace

From the Philippine News Agency (May 21, 2021): House nod on amnesty for ex-rebels 'significant step' for peace (By Priam Nepomuceno)

Defense Undersecretary Reynaldo Mapagu (File photo)

An official of the Department of National Defense (DND) said the House of Representatives' concurrence to President Rodrigo R. Duterte's amnesty proclamations for former members of communist terrorist groups is a significant step in the country's toward genuine reconciliation and peace.

Undersecretary Reynaldo Mapagu, who is also head of the Task Force Balik-Loob and the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) and Amnesty Program (EAP) Cluster under the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC), said the support from Congress will help them in their task of assisting the former CTG members.

"With the commitment of the national government and advocated by President Rodrigo Duterte himself, former rebels who had decided to turn their backs on the life of violence and choose peace have been, and will be, given a second chance for a better life with their families," Mapagu said in a statement on Thursday night.

He also added that the Task Force Balik-Loob and the EAP Cluster will continue to strive to provide all the support necessary for those who decided to return to the fold of the law.

"More than the financial and material benefits under the E-CLIP, it is more essential to provide our former rebels with understanding and support as they restart their lives anew,” he said.

Mapagu also thanked lawmakers for the passage of House Concurrent Resolution Number 15, concurring with Proclamation No. 1093 which grants amnesty to former rebels last May 19.

He also lauded the leadership of the House of Representatives for their favorable action on the President's amnesty proclamation last February 5.

"We thank the leadership of the House of Representatives led by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco as well as the House Committee on Justice led by Cong. Vicente Veloso III and the House Committee on National Defense and Security led by Cong. Raul Tupas, for the immediate and favorable action on the amnesty proclamations issued by the President last February 05, 2021," he added.

In his proclamations, Duterte said the government’s peace policy is to nurture a climate conducive for peace, as well as to implement programs for reconciliation and reintegration of rebels into mainstream society.

The proclamations also said the grant of amnesty in favor of the former rebels will “promote an atmosphere conducive to the attainment of a just, comprehensive, and enduring equanimity.”

The measure is also in line with the government’s call for peace, unity, and reconciliation to bring closure to past enmity, rancor, and bitterness that has stymied lasting amity among Filipinos.

"We are hoping that as the concurrent resolutions are deliberated in the Senate, the proclamation granting amnesty for the former rebels will also be supported and passed as well. This is a crucial step and we have full confidence that our Senators recognize the merit and importance of this measure in the healing and reconciliation process for our former rebels who were led astray by the CTG," Mapagu said.

Assassination try vs. NTF-ELCAC officials foiled

From the Philippine News Agency (May 21, 2021): Assassination try vs. NTF-ELCAC officials foiled

National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. (PNA File photo)

Elite government forces thwarted yet another plot by local communist terrorists to assassinate government officials in the security sector, including “talking heads” of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

This was announced Friday by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. following a shootout in Sta. Rosa City in Laguna that led to the death of three members of the New People’s Army (NPA) hit squad tasked to undertake the mission.

“One of their missions is to hit NTF-ELCAC talking heads. However, they were pre-empted. Our gratitude to our partners in NTF-ELCAC, including members of the armed forces and the police,” said Esperon, the Vice Chairman of the anti-communist insurgency Task Force.

He lauded the officers and men the 202 Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF), and the Laguna Police Provincial Office for the successful operations.

Only last week, Esperon announced the addition of six more spokespersons for NTF-ELCAC. Besides Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. and Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy, the fresh batch of agency talking heads includes Undersecretaries Jonathan Malaya, Severo Catura, and Joel Sy Egco; Asst. Secretary Celine Pialago; Atty. Marlon Bosantog and Gaye Florendo.

Parlade is the designated spokesperson on security sector concerns; Badoy on social media issues and sectoral concerns; Malaya on local government and the Barangay Development Program; Catura, human rights, peace process, and international engagements; Egco, media engagements, and fact-checker; Pialago, public affairs and youth concerns; Bosantog, legal affairs and Indigenous People concerns; and Florendo, assistant spokesperson on public affairs and IP concerns.

In a similar incident in January, five members of the communist hit squad were killed in Baras, Rizal who were also tasked to assassinate top national and local government leaders and police and military officers.

Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison recently released an order from his self-imposed exile in the Netherlands to its armed wing, the NPA, to deploy so-called armed partisan units and special operations groups to cities and major town centers. This was confirmed by the CPP Central Committee.

Esperon’s pronouncements came after combined military and police forces orchestrated a joint law enforcement operation to serve warrants of arrest against communist terrorist group (CTG) leader Rommel Riza alias Jomar/Bernie, the commanding officer of the NPA’s Regional Special Operations Group in Southern Tagalog. Riza was also a member of the executive committee of the Regional Party Committee.

Government troops swooped down on the safe house of the CTG leader shortly past midnight on May 21, 2021, in Buena Rosa Subdivision, Brgy. Macabling, Sta. Rosa City by virtue of five warrants for multiple attempted murder and murder issued by Honorable Executive and Presiding Judge Aurora V Maqueda-Roman of RTC Br 61 Gumaca, Quezon; Kidnapping with Murder w/ CC # 11-3248 and 11-3249 issued by Honorable Judge Rodolfo D Obnamia Jr of RTC Branch 64 of Mauban, Quezon.

Esperon said during the service of said WOAs, the suspect and two other members of the death squad fired upon the arresting officers, triggering a gunfight that resulted in the death of Riza; Ka Blue/Billy, the Medic/Supply Officer; and Ka Dean, the group’s intelligence officer.

Recovered from the suspects were an M16 Armalite rifle, two .45 caliber pistols, several electronic devices, and subversive documents of high intelligence value.

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.

PH Navy honors fallen front-liners in 123rd anniversary

From the Philippine News Agency (May 21, 2021): PH Navy honors fallen front-liners in 123rd anniversary (By Priam Nepomuceno)

SALUTE TO FRONT-LINERS. Philippine Navy (PN) troops give a salute to honor fallen front-liners in the battle against Covid-19 during the commemoration of the service's 123rd anniversary at the PN headquarters in Manila on Thursday (May 20, 2021). Navy troops are also among front-liners in the country's pandemic response. (Photo courtesy of Naval Public Affairs Office)

The Philippine Navy (PN) on Thursday paid tribute to all front-liners who died in the battle against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic during the commemoration of its 123rd founding anniversary.

The event kicked off with a flag raising ceremony at PN headquarters in Naval Station Jose Andrada, Roxas Boulevard, Manila with the flag flown at half-mast followed by a prayer, a minute of silence, and synchronized blowing of ships' horns/sirens.

This solemn sequence was simultaneously observed in all PN units across the country to pay tribute to all the sailors and marines, front-line personnel, and all medical workers who perished while performing their sworn duties.

PN chief, Vice Adm. Giovanni Carlo Bacordo also thanked the men and women of the PN for their "unparalleled effort and dedication in the performance of our mandate".

"I am confident that the Philippine Navy’s ability to stay committed to serving the interests of our maritime nation is unquestionable. We continue to invest our time, effort, and all available resources in order to assert our national security agenda by protecting our country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty,” he said in a statement.

This year's anniversary theme "Protecting and Securing our Maritime Nation Amid New Challenges" highlights the organization’s unfaltering commitment to transition to modern platforms, systems and mindsets as it bolsters its capability to respond to all kinds of threats and challenges while remaining at the forefront of the nation’s ongoing battle against the pandemic.

"It has been a pleasure to serve this maritime nation with all of you. Thank you for your unwavering dedication. Continue on with what we started. Refuse to yield to challenges…Mabuhay ang Hukbong Dagat ng Pilipinas! Happy 123rd Anniversary!” Bacordo said.