Wednesday, June 2, 2021

ISIS-inspired terrorist, 21 NPAs yield to authorities in Sultan Kudarat

From the Philippine Star (Jun 3, 2021): ISIS-inspired terrorist, 21 NPAs yield to authorities in Sultan Kudarat (By John Unson)

A senior member of the Dawlah Islamiya implicated in more than a dozen deadly terror attacks in central Mindanao surrendered to the military Wednesday.

Khalid Kalaing renounced his membership with the Dawlah Islamiya and pledged allegiance to the government after turning over to officials of the 7th Infantry Battalion four assault rifles during a simple rite in Isulan town in Sultan Kudarat.

Major Gen. Juvymax Uy, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said Thursday Kalaing yielded through the joint intercession of Brig. Gen. Roy Galido of the 601st Infantry Brigade, Lt. Col. Romel Valencia of 7th IB and local officials.

Kalaing belonged to the Maguid faction in the Dawlah Islamiya, also known as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, or BIFF.

The BIFF is tagged in all deadly bombings in central Mindanao since 2014.

The group operates in the fashion of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

It has a reputation for setting off improvised explosive devices in bus terminals, in markets and inside commercial establishments and restaurants to avenge losses in clashes with pursuing state security forces.

“It is not too late yet. The government can help usher Khalid Kalaing back to mainstream society,” Uy said.

No fewer than 90 Dawlah Islamiya members from central Mindanao’s adjoining Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat and North Cotabato provinces have surrendered in batches to units of 6th ID since September last year.

Kalaing’s surrender was simultaneous with the return to the fold of law by 21 members of the New People’s Army in Lebak town, also in Sultan Kudarat province.

The group surrendered to the Army’s 603rd Infantry Brigade, also a component unit of 6th ID.

The most senior guerilla in the group, who requested anonymity for security reasons, said they were enticed to turn themselves in with how former comrades got reintegrated into mainstream society via the government’s reconciliation program for communist insurgents.

“We are tired of hiding in the jungles every time soldiers tracking us down get close to our hideouts,” the group’s leader said in Hiligaynon vernacular.

The NPA is known for venting ire on relatives of comrades who have bolted out.

“Our main concern now is for us to be relocated to areas far from reach of our former companions,” said another member of the group.

Uy said the 21 NPAs operated in the hinterland borders of Sultan Kudarat and South Cotabato provinces.

2 Abu Sayyaf bandits surrender in Sulu

 From the Sun Star-Zamboanga (Jun 2, 2021): 2 Abu Sayyaf bandits surrender in Sulu

ZAMBOANGA. Two Abu Sayyaf bandits (in white shirts) involved in the kidnapping of foreigners years ago surrendered Tuesday, June 1, to the Marine Battalion Landing Team-7 in Sulu. A photo handout shows the two surrenderers receive food packs as initial assistance given to them by the government. (SunStar Zamboanga)

TWO Abu Sayyaf bandits involved in the kidnapping of foreigners years ago have surrendered to the Philippine Marines troops in the province of Sulu, officials said Wednesday, June 2.

Rear Admiral Toribio Adaci Jr., commander of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM),
identified the Abu Sayyaf surrenderers as Julanne Parong Musa and Akmad Hamid Edol.

Adaci said the two surrendered Tuesday, June 1, to the Marine Battalion Landing Team-7 (MBLT-7) at the unit's headquarters in Karungdong, Kalingalan Caluang, Sulu.

Adaci said the surrender of the two jibed with the 33rd anniversary celebration of the MBLT-7.

"The celebration was highlighted by the presentation and turnover of two Abu Sayyaf surrenderers," Adaci added.

Musa was recruited by Julli Ikkit in 1999 by the group of Abu Sayyaf senior leaders Radullan Sahiron and Jairulla Asbang.

Reports further showed that Musa was among those involved in the 2000 kidnapping of 21 people, mostly Europeans, in Sipadan Island Diving Resort, Sabah; and the 2001 kidnapping at Dos Palmas Island Resort in Davao.

Edol, on the other hand, was recruited by the group of Abu Sayyaf mid-level leader Alhabsy Misaya and was among those involved in the kidnapping of an Indonesian national sometime in 2017.

Adaci said Musa and Edol turned over one M1 Garand Rifle with ammunition and one caliber .30 revolver pistol.

NPA’s ‘expert bomber’ surrenders

From Panay News (Jun 2, 2021): NPA’s ‘expert bomber’ surrenders (By Ruby Silubrico)

Ka Alvin (right) surrenders his firearm to Lieutenant Colonel Gervacio Balmaceda Jr., chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Region 6. JAPHET FAJARDO/PN

ILOILO City – After 32 years in the mountains, an explosives specialist of the New People’s Army (NPA) surrendered to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Region 6 on Monday, May 31.

Ka Alvin, a native of Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental, said he surrendered because of the hardships and hunger in the mountains.

Ka Alvin yielded to the CIDG-6 a a baby armalite rifle he allegedly got from a dead soldier during an encounter many years ago.

The CIDG processed Ka Alvin’s surrender since last week, and he was fetched in a town in the 1st District of Iloilo.

“I surrendered for my family. I’m thinking about my wife and four children… Gusto ko magpakalinong,” he said in press conference.

Ka Alvin said he was not able to finish his studies. He joined the rebel group sometime in 1986.

He said the rebels promised to support him and his family “pero baliskad ang tanan nga nahambal nila…Gutom kag wala kalinungan ang amon naaguman sa bukid,” Ka Alvin said.

According to CIDG chief, Lieutenant Colonel Gervacio Balmaceda Jr., Ka Alvin was detained at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in Barangay Nanga, Pototan, Iloilo for the crime of murder and violation of Republic Act 9516 (illegal or unlawful possession, manufacture, dealing in, acquisition or disposition, of firearms, ammunition or explosives) sometime in 2009.

In 2016, Ka Alvin was released because the charges filed against him were dismissed. He revealed that he was involved in several rebel-initiated atrocities.

According to Ka Alvin, in 2000 he was among the rebels that clashed with Army troops, killing 17 on the government side.

In 2005, Ka Alvin said he was among those who attacked the Army where nine died and 18 were wounded on the government’s side.

Also, between 2002 and 2006, he was actively operating at the Aleosan (Alimodian-Leon-San Miguel) squad district and participated in several “hit and run style” ambush against government troops.

Ka Alvin also revealed that in 2007, they assassinated an Army intelligence officer in a cockpit arena in Leon, Iloilo. In 2008, he said he was among those who ambushed government troops in the same town.

Ka Alvin was sent to Malaysia by the NPA for a “demolition course” in 1989. A year after, he returned to the country and stayed in Iloilo City as team leader of the Regional Command Armed Liquidation Squad Special Operations Group (RCALS-SOG).

“After my training sa Malaysia, naging eksperto ako sa bomba pero wala ako nagtudlo sa mga kaupod ko,” he said.

He added that some of his companions wanted to surrender but they didn’t know who to trust.

For Balmaceda, the surrender of Ka Alvin was a big blow for the rebel groups.

“Kasi ang mga leaders nila ay nakukuha na natin. We encourage other members na mag-surrender na kayo… hindi kayo mamatay as long as mag-surrender kayo peacefully,” Balmaceda said./

2 more rebels surrender

From Panay News (Jun 3, 2021): 2 more rebels surrender (By Ruby Silubrico)

Shortly after a bomb specialist of the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) surrendered to the police, two more members followed suit.

Yesterday, June 2, another confessed rebel yielded to the Leon, Iloilo municipal police station.

According to alias Kim, 21, he was a member of Team 15 under the Nonito Aguirre Command of Central Front Committee operating in the mountainous areas of Lutod-lutod, President Roxas and Maayon in Capiz province.

Kim said he joined the underground movement last March 16, 2018 due to the influence of his cousins who were active CPP-NPA members.

But after only nine months, he realized he could not stand the hunger in the mountains.

On Dec. 31, 2018, he said he was able to escape.

He hid for more than two years until he made a decision to come out. He said he surrendered to clear his name and to have a peaceful life with his family.

On June 1, alias June, 25, former member of Igabon Platoon, Central Front Committee (CFC), surrendered to the Bingawan municipal police station.

June said he was in the CPP-NPA since Nov. 11, 2012. He left on March 10, 2018.

Before he was recruited by the rebels at age 17, he said he was already a sympathizer being utilized by his aunt (an active rebel supporter in their barangay) as a liaison. He eventually decided to be a full-time member of the CPP-NPA.

June revealed he was involved in six rebel encounters with government forces in barangays Abangay, Acuña, Aglinab, Natip, and Lahug in Tapaz, Capiz from 2013 to 2015.

In 2019, June escaped from the CPP-NPA.

He decided to leave because he was disappointed with rebel movement. He was denied medical support for his sick mother.

“There is no truth to their promise that they will fully support my family in times of need,” June told the police.

On Tuesday, Ka Alvin from Kabankalan, Negros Occidental, a bomb expert, surrendered to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group Region 6 (CIDG-6) after 32 years of being in the rebel movement.

Western Visayas police director, Police Brigadier General Rolando Miranda, said the voluntary surrender of rebels is “patunay na marami na ang naniniwala sa programa ng gobyerno na tapusin ang karahasan ng CPP-NPA.”

Displaced Subanen, Kalibugan IPs, former rebs to receive 200 housing grants in Zambo Norte

 From MindaNews (Jun 1, 2021): Displaced Subanen, Kalibugan IPs, former rebs to receive 200 housing grants in Zambo Norte (By FRENCIE CARREON)

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 1 June) – A hundred indigenous peoples, specifically of Subanen and S descents, displaced by the war on insurgency in the municipality of Godod in Zamboanga del Norte, as well as another hundred former rebels are to receive housing grants from the national government via the National Housing Authority.

Godod, Zamboanga del Norte. Map courtesy of Google

This was announced by Armed Forces Chief Cirilito Sobejana following the groundbreaking ceremony in Godod Monday morning.

“Those former rebels who have voluntarily surrendered may qualify as target beneficiaries. Once their documents are complete, they may avail under ECLIP [Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program],” shared Capt. Sotero Abrito, the 102nd Infantry Brigade’s civil-military operations officer.

Per Administrative Order No. 10, series of 2018, former rebels who are qualified under the ECLIP are “those who were regular members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), New People’s Army (NPA) and National Democratic Front (NDF) who voluntarily abandoned the armed struggle and opted to become productive members of the society.”

The provinces of Zamboanga Sibugay and Zamboanga del Sur have been declared insurgency-free in December 2020 and April 2021, respectively, following intensive campaigns by the 102nd Infantry “Igsoon” Brigade under Brig. Gen. Leonel Nicolas dismantling guerilla fronts in the past two years.

Nicolas said that the series of surrender by communist rebels, along with their firearms, “speaks for the trust and confidence of these former rebels to the commitment and sincerity of the government in its programs for inclusive peace and development.”

Godod Mayor Abel Matildo welcomed the two housing projects as he assured the support of the municipal government led by the Municipal Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.

Vice Mayor Ferdinand Caboverde, on the other hand, expressed appreciation for the support of the Philippine military, specifying Nicolas and Col. Don Templonuevo, former commander of the 44th Infantry Battalion.

It was last February 2 when Matildo signed a memorandum of agreement with the NHA regarding the construction of the 200 housing units for former rebels and the indigenous peoples who were displaced in Barangays Sunawan and Poblacion.

Caraga RTF-ELCAC, CSU gear up campaign vs CTG recruitment

 From the Philippine Information Agency (May 31, 2021): Caraga RTF-ELCAC, CSU gear up campaign vs CTG recruitment (By 402nd Brigade, Philippine Army)

BANCASI, Butuan City, May 31 – The Situational Awareness and Knowledge Management Cluster (SAKM) of the Caraga Regional Task Force Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict conducted a courtesy call and dialogue with the president and other key officials of Caraga State University (CSU) on May 27, 2021 at the CSU Conference Room, Ampayon Campus, Brgy. Ampayon, this city, and discussed ways and means to prevent Communist Terrorist Group's (CTG's) recruitment in the said school.

The National Intelligence Coordinating Council (NICA) 10 as the lead agency of the SAKM cluster in close coordination with the 402nd Infantry (Stingers) Brigade, Philippine Army facilitated the said activity in order to solicit strong partnership and commitment from the CSU leadership in the implementation of Executive Order No. 70 particularly the conduct of Intensified Information Awareness Campaign to prevent CTG recruitment among the administration officials, faculty and staff, and the students of said university.

Dr. Anthony Penaso, and Luisito Tabada, the CSU President and Vice President, respectively, together with some key officials warmly welcomed the SAKM cluster members led by NICA-10 Regional Director Manuel Orduna; Brigadier General Maurito Licudine of 402nd Brigade Commander; Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Caraga regional director Leonida Calagui; Assistant Regional Director Fryan Abkilan of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) Caraga; PMaj. Rene Sarento and PLt. Col Jose Lumacang, of the Regional Intelligence Division and Regional Community Affairs Division; City Director Charice Guerta of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Butuan City; Col. Diosdado Peji, 15RCDG Group Commander; and Engr. Kier Betito, Propelling our Inherited Nation Thru our Youth (POINTY) 4ID Chapter President.

Dir. Orduna shared the Cluster’s thrust and efforts and salient features of EO70. He also explained the rationale of the call cum dialogue and the vital role of the school officials to prevent CTG youth recruitment.

Penaso also expressed his gratitude and all-out support to the SAKM cluster’s efforts in preventing CTG recruitment. He said that they have been observing CTG allied left-leaning organizations (LLOs) in their school for some time since before the COVID-19 pandemic. He shared his experience that prevented a specific LLO to infiltrate by applying for school accreditation and recognition. “They are already out there, we will ensure to observe their movements. Officially, they will not be recognized because no teacher would want to become their advisers. Thus, we are very supportive of this initiative and we understand why the President executed the EO70. We are 101 percent supportive because we want to save our nation,” Penaso explained.

Meanwhile, BGen. Licudine provided a brief overview of the 402Bde campaign that focuses on two main efforts: the recruitment and extortion scheme of the CTG. He then underscored the EO70 where government agencies are working together as the vital key piece against the CTG infiltration to all sectors.

He added that there is a need for mass education and information as the CTGs have utilized several ways to recruit students or youths such as preying on the student’s vulnerabilities particularly poverty-related and family problem issues and the use of social media inviting students for agitation and indoctrination.

“Despite our accomplishments, the snowball of surrenders and significantly reducing their manpower, the CTG still exist because of their resources. This includes their continuous recruitment focusing now with the youth. Hence, we need to engage the key officials of schools who are unwittingly used as platform for recruitment. We need the permission and cooperation of schools to have a united sentiment against the CTG and their continuous deceptive recruitment,” Licudine bared.

After which, other member agencies discussed their mandated task and expressed full commitment and support to end local communist armed conflict. Col. Peji of 15RCDG talked about strengthening the ROTC and Reservist program to instill nationalism and patriotism among students while PLtCol Lumacang of PRO13 presented the salient points of PNP’s Kabataan Kontra Droga at Terorismo (KKDAT) program as among the avenues that would strengthen effort against CTG recruitment in the school.

Also, one of the highlights in the dialogue was the message of Director Guerta of DILG Butuan City who committed the CHED’s support with SAKM cluster in organizing advocacy activities for the students and teachers and the Capacitating Urban Community for Peace and Development (CUCPD) that will address sectoral infiltration of the CTG. Likewise, Dir. Calagui of CHED Caraga also extended her support to the SAKM cluster in engaging key officials and pursue any efforts to prevent CTG recruitment in the universities and colleges. She raised several possible mechanisms and strategies that would prevent students to join CTG allied left leaning organizations.

“I would support any of these efforts because the environment of academic community will be at stake if these things are happening inside the school. CHED is very supportive, we wanted our graduates to reach their goals as they can be the leaders of our country,” Dir. Calagui added.

The dialogue ended with the commitment and support from CSU president particularly in allowing IECs inside CSU campus and for future undertakings towards preventing CTG youth recruitment in their school. (Maj. Francisco Garello, Jr., CMO officer, 402nd Brigade/ PIA-Caraga)

EO 70 fuels dev't projects in remote barangays in Region 12

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 31, 2021): EO 70 fuels dev't projects in remote barangays in Region 12 (By Danilo E. Doguiles) 

Of the 62 LGSF-SBDP target barangays in Region 12, 58 have proposed to spend part of their P20M support fund for upgrading, rehabilitating, or conncreting of farm-to-market roads. Sixty-seven of the 206 proposed projects proposed under LGSF-SBDP in SOCCSKSARGEN Region are for FMRs.

KORONADAL CITY, South Cotabato, May 31 (PIA) -- Sixty-two barangays in SOCCSKSARGEN Region will soon carry out the P1.24 billion worth of priority development projects as a result of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte's Executive Order No. 70.

The barangays -- 36 in Cotabato Province (including 7 in Kidapawan City), 13 in Sarangani, 12 in Sultan Kudarat, and 1 in South Cotabato -- are recipients of the Local Government Support Fund - Support to Barangay Development Program (LGSF-SBDP) of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

As LGSF-SBDP target, these barangays are eligible to receive P20 million each to implement much needed projects.

Director Akmad Usman of the Department of Budget and Management in Region 12, told Philippine Information Agency that the DBM has already forwarded notice of cash allocation (NCA) for the LGSF-SBDP in Region 12 to the Bureau of Treasury.

"For the first batch, comprised of 36 barangays, the money has already been credited to the respective accounts of the local government units. Regarding the second batch, consisting of 26 barangays, it was not yet confirmed [during the meeting of the Joint Regional Task Force-ELCAC on May 21] whether the cash was already credited to the LGUs, but there was already an advice -- NCA number -- indicating that the money was already transferred to the Bureau of Treasury," Director Usman said.

This means, he added, that LGUs that have initiated procurement earlier may now award project contracts while those that have yet to start should already begin procurement based on plans and specifications of their projects.

Meanwhile, Director Josephine Leysa of the Department of the Interior and Local Government noted that SOCCKSARGEN Region is among the first regions to receive funding for the SBDP.

Leysa said DILG XII and the JRTF-ELCAC XII completed endorsement of the project proposals on March 31.

"For barangays that have only P1 million to P2 million internal revenue allotment or resources per year, implementing P20-million worth of projects is definitely a big deal," she said.

Data from the DILG XII indicate that a total of 206 projects have been proposed under LGSF-SBDP.

Of the 62 barangays, 58 have proposed a total of 67 upgrading, rehabilitation, or concreting of farm-to-market roads while 46 barangays will either construct or expand a total of 68 level I, level II or level III potable water systems.

Also in the pipeline are 9 school buildings, 19 barangay health stations, 19 rural electrification projects, 9 capability development support projects for marginalized sectors, and 3 technical vocational trainings.

In Cotabato Province, the LGSF-SBDP beneficiary barangays are Camutan in Antipas; Datu Ladayon, Kabalantian, Lanao Kuran, Malibatuan, and Tumanding in Arakan; Amabel, Bangkal, Bantac, Binay, Del Pilar, Doles, Don Panaca, Manobisa, Manobo, and Noa in Magpet; Batasan, Biangan, Luayon, Malabuan, and Old Bulatukan in Makilala; Del Carmen, La Esperanza, Lomonay, New Cebu, and Tuael in President Roxas; Banayal, Batang, and Bituan in Tulunan; and, Balabag, Linangcob, Marbel, New Bohol, Perez, Sikitan, and Singao in Kidapawan City.

In South Cotabato, it's Barangay Ned in Lake Sebu.

In Sarangani: Alegria, Datal Anggas, Domolok, and Pag-asa in Alabel; Nalus, and Tamadang in Kiamba; Bales, Lumasal, Malbang, and Seven Hills in Maasim; and Kihan, Kinam, and Upper Suyan in Malapatan; and

In Sultan Kudarat: Bantangan, Datalblao, Lasak, Libertad, Maligaya, Mayo, Natividad, Poblacion, Polomolok, Sinapulan, Sucob, and Telafas in Columbio.

These barangays were identified as "cleared" under the military-led Community Support Program (CSP) and have been selected for implementation of the Support to Barangay Development Program under the NTF-ELCAC.

According to the Local Budget Circular No. 135, the P20-million support fund will be released to the provincial or city government unit where a barangay is situated.

Leysa said that they have agreed with the local chief executives to proceed with the procurement prior to the actual release of funds so that "all projects will be in place before the year ends."

Apart from the P20 M support fund from the national government, these barangays are also beneficiaries of development interventions from national line agencies under a whole-of-nation approach to fight insurgencies. (DED-PIA XII)

Rescued IP child affirms “parents clueless on transfer to Cebu”

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jun 2, 2021): Rescued IP child affirms “parents clueless on transfer to Cebu” (By Jan Vincent Leuterio)

DAVAO DEL NORTE, May 31 (PIA) – One of the rescued IP children affirmed during a recent Press Conference that their parents were cluless about their transfer to Cebu.

A former Salungpungan named Larry Mandacawan, one of the thirteen IP children present during the special edition of the National Task Force to End Local Communists Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) virtual press conference dubbed "TAGGED: Debunking lies by telling the truth" held at Provincial Pavilion, Tagum City, Davao del Norte on May 27, 2021 echoed that their parents only gave consent for them to be brought to Haran for education, not to Cebu.

In an earlier ‘Press Conference on Case Update of Rescued IP Children’ on May 18, 2021 at the same venue, the parents of the IP children claimed that they were misled by a group of people from Haran who approached them asking them to sign, through thumbmark, an acceptance form consenting for their children to be brought to Haran for 2 months of schooling.

In this earlier press conference, it was revealed that an IP mother named Samana Mandacawan died due to depression after losing contact with her child.

Larry Mandacawan is the son of Samana Madacawan and Datu Butigon Mandacawan.

Larry said that since leaving Talaingod, they (the IP children) were not able to see their parents until they were returned home after the rescue.

Bae Pilar Libayao, the Indigenous People Mandatory Representative of Talaingod, Davao del Norte, said the parents came to her for help in finding their children.

"Bakit ganoon ang ginawa sa mga tao ko? Bakit pinapirma ang mga magulang ng hindi nila alam ang sinasabi (Why did they do this to my people? They were made to sign something that they do not understand)?” Libayao asked.

Adding to his account, Larry said that throughout this time, they were not allowed to use cellphones except when they were in the University of San Carlos during weekends. He revealed that in the university, they were taught to go against the government.

“Gi tudlo-an mi nila nga protektahan ang yutang kabilin para dili ma kuha sa gobyerno (They taught us to protect the ancestral domain from the government),” he added.

Reacting to this, NTF-ELCAC Executive Director and NCIP Chairperson, Sec. Allen Capuyan said, “talagang ni-radicalize ang kanilang isipan (they [CTG] really radicalized the minds of the IP children).”

Larry recalled being deployed to rallies, and that despite having conducted fundraising activities, were still living in poor housing condition eating "asin (salt)" for meals.

With this, having previously announced that the NTF-ELCAC will continue pursuing legal action against Bakwit School 7, NTF-ELCAC Spokesperson on Legal Affairs and IP concerns, Atty. Marlon Bosantog, maintained that crimes were committed particularly child abuse, illegal detention, and trafficking.

He added that they have also filed cases for violations of International Humanitarian Law for turning IP minors into child warriors. This is in addition to the case filed against Bakwit School 7 for violation of the IPRA law, which was announced by Sec. Capuyan in the said earlier press conference.

Earlier this month of May, the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Davao del Norte dismissed Bakwit School 7’s criminal charges for “lack of probable cause, and lack of jurisdiction”. Earlier this year, the seven were arrested during what the authorities call as a “rescue operation” of 19 IP minors from a retreat house inside the University of San Carlos (USC) Talamban campus on Feb. 15, 2021. (Jan Vincent Leuterio/PIA-XI)

Decreasing CTGs since start of government’s ELCAC

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jun 2, 2021): Decreasing CTGs since start of government’s ELCAC (By Frances Mae Macapagat)

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DAVAO CITY (PIA) – Dismantling four guerilla fronts since 2018 and clearing 53 conflict-affected barangays from 80 recorded barangays in 2018 are considered the proof of a weakened communist terror group (CTG) in the region and was attributed to the strengthened whole of nation approach thru the Executive Order 70 or Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC).

Some of the dismantled guerilla fronts are Guerilla Front 33 in Davao del Norte – Davao de Oro, Guerilla Front 56 in Bukidnon-Davao, and Guerilla Front Tala operating in Davao Occidental and Sarangani.

Besides winning the war thru combat operations, the 10th Infantry Division thru Assistant Chief of Staff of the Civil Military Operations Lt. Col. Louie Dema-ala bared in an interview over One Davao Virtual Virtual Presser that much of the efforts now of the military group is focused on community support programs.

“ Aside from the red area or where the CTGs are usually situated, we also focus on the white area. There is a symbiotic relationship between the red and the white areas. Ang white area ang nagbibigay ng financial support para sa mga CTGs na nasa red area. Dito rin sa white ginagawa ang pagrerecruit para sumali sa armadong grupo, (The white area gives financial support to the CTGs in the red area, in the white areas, recruitments are made for the armed group),” Dema-ala explained.

He cited some gains of the military in weakening the CTG’s strength in the white area along with the initiative and support of the Regional and Provincial Task Force ELCAC.

The closing of Salugpungan schools across Davao Region was considered a major win for the uniformed men.

Aside from the Salugpungan schools, the issuance of a freeze order by the Anti Money Laundering Council (AMLC) on united Church of Christ in the Philippines - Haran (UCCP- Haran) bank accounts was also a significant gain in the insurgency war.

The 10th Infantry Division reported to have organized 443 People’s Organizations (POs) composed of Underground Mass Organization (UGMOs) member.

Dema-ala explained that there is a need to sustain government’s efforts in engaging UGMO members by providing skills trainings and livelihood opportunities.

Common trainings provided to the UGMO members were vegetable production, native chicken production, goat raising, cacao processing, banans chip production, rural entrepreneurship and feed formulation.

Another program which forms part in the 12 line clusters of the ELCAC is the E-CLIP or the Enhanced Comprehensive Livelihood Integration Program.

The E-CLIP enables the different agencies and local government units to directly pour in projects in support to the E-CLIP.

“ Binibigyan natin ang amg former rebels hindi lang ng pera pati na rin ang training. Tinuturuan natin sila kung paano nila palalaguin yung binigay na pera mula sa pagsurrender nila ng baril at bala (We give former rebel not just cash but also training, we teach them how to grow the money given to them when they surrendered their guns and bullets),” Dema-ala added. (PIA XI/Frances Mae Macapagat)

OPAPP turns-over Kalipay-Sangalan-Eureka "Peace Road" in Gingoog

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jun 2, 2021): OPAPP turns-over Kalipay-Sangalan-Eureka "Peace Road" in Gingoog (By Vincent Philip S. Bautista)

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GINGOOG CITY, Misamis Oriental June 2 (PIA)--The Office of The Presidential Adviserr on the Peace Process (OPAPP) has turned-over the Kalipay-Sangalan-Eureka “peace road” funded under its PAMANA project to the city government here.

“Kining mga barangaya adunay presence sa mga NPA. In fact, naay na hitabo nga encounter diri sa barangay Kalipay, until now there are still sightings in five sitios, but since na connect na ni nga road medyo naibsan, some of them already surrendered,” OPAPP -10 Area Manager James Alih Abdul said.

(These barangays have NPA presence. In fact, there was an encounter in Barangay Kalipay. Until now there are still sightings in five sitios but since the roads are now connected, their numbers dwindled, some of them already surrendered.)

Funded by OPAPP's PAMANA program, the Kalipay-Sangalan-Eureka “peace road” spanning 5.2 kilometers is now officially turned-over to the people of Gingoog City. (VPSB/PIA10)

Under OPAPPs Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) program, the P73-million concrete road spanning 5.2 kilometers provides access to three isolated priority barangays, namely, Kalipay, Sangalan, and Eureka to make government services more accessible to the residents there.

With farming as their main industry, Abdul said, these barangays will experience economic growth and livelihood enhancement. “Before wala pa ni nga road ang price sa ilang mga saging is only P4 per kilo, now niabot na sa tag P16 per kilo since madala na nila sa merkado (Before this road was constructed, the price of their banana was only P4 per kilo, now it is P16 per kilo since it is now easier for them to bring them to the market),” he said.

For his part, Barangay Kalipay Captain Ruel Mantantan expressed his gratitude for the completion of the concrete road in his barangay.

“Sauna isa ka oras kapin ang biyahe paingon sa dakbayan sa Gingoog, karon isa ka oras tunga nalang unya ang mga emergency sauna naay mamatay na mga pasyente sa dalan, ang uban mamatay nalang sa balay kay dili madala sa hospital,” he shared.

(Before it would take us an hour and more to reach Gingoog. But now it only takes half an hour. During emegergencies before, people would die in the road and others die at home because they cannoy be brought to the hospital.)

With the completion of this road project, OPAPP and its stakeholders are now one step closer to attaining sustainable peace and economic development in the area. (VPSBautista/PIA10)

5 former rebels sign housing assistance packages agreement with NHA; benefs express gratitude to gov't

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jun 2, 2021): 5 former rebels sign housing assistance packages agreement with NHA; benefs express gratitude to gov't (By Mark Djeron C. Tumabao)

One of the beneficiaries sign his copy of financial agreement for the construction of his house worth P450,000.

LAL-LO, Cagayan, May 31 (PIA) - - - A two-bedroom house of their own will be turned-over to five former rebels here before the year ends after the latter signed a financial agreement with the National Housing Authority (NHA) in a simple ceremony held yesterday.

NHA Regional Manager Roderick Ibañez said after the signing of financial agreement that will allot P450,000 each to the five beneficiaries, the processing of their cheques will immediately follow.

“Natutuwa kami at nakapagbigay kami ng tulong. Maliit na kontribusyon sa pinakamithiin ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte na magkaroon ng isang komprehensibong programa para sa ating mga kapatid [dating rebelde]. Nawa'y makatulong ito sa inyo para sa ikapapanatag ng inyong buhay (referring to the beneficiaries) at kapayaaan ng ating lugar,” said Ibañez.

While the assistance only covers the financial need for the construction of their houses, Ibañez said that their office has a ready architectural plan should they want to adopt it.

The NHA house design is 28.4 square meter in size, has two bedrooms, one kitchen, and one toilet and bath. It also provides living and dining rooms.

He added that his colleagues at the NHA are also ready to extend assistance on the technical know-how should they need it before and during the implementation of the project.

After the handing over of the cheques to the beneficiaries in the days to come, the construction of their houses will immediately start and is expected to be completed within six months.

The NHA together with the Philippine Army, here represented by the 17th Infantry Battalion (17IB), will closely monitor the implementation of the project.

On the other hand, Alias Rico, one of the beneficiaries recalls how miserable their situation was in the mountains when he was still an active member of the terrorist group, New People’s Army (NPA).

He shared that they didn't have permanent houses as regular members before and that they they endured sleeping on leaves patched together to serve as mat.

“Sa loob ng kilusan, pinagtagpi-tagping dahon ang aming tulugan. Kaya hindi ako nagsisising nagbalik-loob ako sa pamahalaan dahil ngayon ay magkakaroon na ako ng sarili at komportableng tahanan,” Alias Rico added.

Alias Rico was with the group for seven years before he voluntarily surrendered to government troopers to live a normal life with his family.

The proposed two-bedroom design of the National Housing Authority which the beneficiaries can adopt.

“Mula nang ako ay magbalik-loob sa ating gobyerno, hindi ako iniwanan ng ating kasundaluhan. Hanggang ngayon na malapit na akong magkaroon ng aking matatawag na tahanan ay nananatili pa rin silang nakaagapay sa aking likuran.”

The commander of the 501st Infantry Brigade, Col. Steve Crespillo INF (GSC) PA, for his part, expressed jubilation as the former rebels beneficiaries will soon have their own houses - the first batch of former rebels in the region to receive housing packages according to NHA.

“Ang mga proyekto ay para sa tao. Kaya isa ito sa mga programa ng gobyerno na dapat maibigay. Gusto nating magkaroon nang maayos na pamumuhay ang mga former rebels para hindi na nila maisip na ang gobyerno ay pinapabayaan sila. Pinapapakita ng gobyerno na kung ano man ang pagkakamali sa una ay pinapatawad pa rin,” said Crespillo.

Though the commander has high hopes that the project will go well, he reiterated his reminders to the beneficiaries not to put into waste all the support poured to them by the different national government agencies under the RTF-ELCAC, as these projects are the manifestation that the government is sincere in helping them and ending armed-conflict.

“Sana gamitin sa mabuting paraan. Ang ganitong tulong ay huwag natin sayangin dahil ang hangad natin ay maayos , mapayapa at masayang komyunidad,” Crespillo added.

Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Angelo Saguiguit, commander of 17IB, said that once the construction of their houses will commence, they will be deploying security forces to ensure the smooth implementation of the project.

“Maliban sa babantayan natin ang pagpapatupad ng mga proyekto, sisiguraduhin din natin ang proteksiyon ng mga dating rebelde upang hindi na sila muling guluhin pa ng ibang miyembro ng NPA,” said Saguiguit.

The signing of agreement was also graced by Commission on Human Rights Regional Director lawyer Jimmy Baliga, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples Cagayan head Josephine Pattaguan, Cagayan Police Provincial Office Deputy for Administration Lt. Col. Jojo dela Cruz, Col. (Ret.) Roberto Damian representing the Provincial Government of Cagayan and other former rebels who will soon have their financial contract once the processing of their documents is completed. (MDCT/PIA-2)

CPP-NPA bomb expert surrenders in Iloilo

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 1, 2021): CPP-NPA bomb expert surrenders in Iloilo (By Perla Lena)

BIG LOSS TO THE NPA. Ka Alvin, a CPP-NPA bomb expert surrenders to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit 6 on May 28, 2021. In a press presentation on Tuesday (June 1, 2021), he said that he is a big loss to the communist terrorist group because of his expertise. (Photo screenshot from Police Regional Office 6 Facebook live streaming)

A bomb expert of the Communist Party of the Philippines -New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) has severed his ties with the terror group seeing the government is serious in its peace efforts.

Using "Ka Alvin" as his alias, he voluntarily surrendered to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit 6 (CIDU 6) of the Police Regional Office 6 (PRO6) on May 28, 2021.

His surrender will have a big impact on the CPP-NPA "because they lost a bomb expert", he said in broken Tagalog on Tuesday.

“Our comrades will have low morale because I am now separated from the movement,” he added during a press presentation held at the headquarters of the Police Regional Office 6 (PRO6) here.

He decided to surrender since he found it difficult to visit his family as the rebels' movement in the mountain has been restricted following the enactment of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

He realized that he would not get anything from staying with the armed movement but had contributed to the loss of many innocent lives due to his expertise in handling explosives.

Ka Alvin was only 12 years old when he joined the armed movement in 1986 after a politician grabbed his family's land in Negros.

He was 15 when he was sent to Malaysia for a “demolition course” in 1989.

When he came back to the country, he stayed in Iloilo City and served as team leader of the Regional Command Armed Liquidation Squad Special Operations Group (RCALS-SOG) of the NPA.

He said that once you are sent to train abroad, you would be considered important in the movement because you can manufacture a weapon that can cause destruction.

Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) 6 acting regional chief Lt. Col. Gervacio Balmaceda Jr., said the surrender is a “big blow” to the CPP-NPA because they lost an “endangered species”.

CIDU-6, the unit to which Ka Alvin surrendered, is under the CIDG in Western Visayas.

Ka Alvin will be subjected to operational research to determine his involvement in atrocities and if there are already cases filed against him, he said.

Balmaceda, however, said that in their conversation, Ka Alvin admitted that he was part of the encounter in Himamaylan, Negros Occidental in 2001 where 17 members of the Philippine Army were killed.

He also joined the CPP-NPA in launching an attack against the Philippine Army in Calinog, Iloilo where nine died and 18 were wounded on the side of the army.

He also participated in “hit and run” ambush-style against the government troops when he was active with the ALEOSAN (Alimodian-Leon-San Miguel) Squad District from 2002 to 2006.

The rebel said that in 2007 they assassinated an army intelligence officer in a cockpit arena in Leon, Iloilo, and ambushed government troops also in the same town in 2008.

Balmaceda said that they would use the surrenderer as a state witness in the filing of cases against the CPP-NPA. “There are so many unsolved cases in the past. We are thankful to our former rebels who submit their judicial affidavits,” he added.

Ka Alvin surrendered an M16 baby armalite with magazines and ammunition. The armalite, he said, was recovered in an encounter with the Philippine Army in Himamaylan.

Balmaceda said the surrenderer will receive remuneration for the surrendered firearm and would also be recommended to avail of benefits under the Enhanced-Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP).

Ka Alvin encouraged other CPP-NPA members to surrender and avail of the program offered by the government.

The 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.

NPA desperate to recover influence: DavOr guv

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 1, 2021): NPA desperate to recover influence: DavOr guv (By Che Palicte)

Davao Oriental Governor Nelson Dayanghirang (PNA file photo)

Davao Oriental Governor Nelson Dayanghirang said Tuesday the ambush perpetrated by the communist New People’s Army (NPA) in Mati City on Sunday was a desperate move aimed at recovering its influence over its lost mass base and supporters.

In a statement, Dayanghirang said the attack was the NPA’s desperate attempt to show strength despite the capture of comrades and the loss of members and mass supporters who have already surrendered to the government.

On Sunday, a soldier was wounded in a 10-minute firefight between government troops and rebels in Barangay Badas, Mati City, Davao Oriental.

Based on the report of the 10th Infantry Division (10ID), members of the Alpha Company of the 66th Infantry Battalion (66IB) were on board a military truck bound for Banaybanay town from Barangay Taguibo when they were ambushed by about 10 fighters of the NPA Guerrilla Front 18 near Punta Tagawisan.

“The ambush was a clear act of terrorism. They are putting the lives of innocent civilians in danger,” Dayanghirang said.

He gave assurance that the incident would not stop the provincial government from pursuing its goal of ending the local communist armed conflict.

“This will not deter our development efforts in the barangays and sitios, which they formerly call their mass bases. We will not stop our pursuit of good governance. I am confident that together, we will succeed in this mission for genuine peace and development,” Dayanghirang said.

He further assured Davao Oriental citizens that the government would do everything to protect its people.

“The Philippine Army reported that the NPA numbers are dwindling and only a few remain active. Our citizens don’t need to worry because our soldiers are spread all over the areas where they might hide or escape,” he said.

The Communist Party of the Philippines - 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.

Army troops rescue families from Sultan Kudarat floods

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 1, 2021): Army troops rescue families from Sultan Kudarat floods (By Edwin Fernandez)

TROOPS TO THE RESCUE. Soldiers from the Army’s 7th Infantry Battalion (7IB) carry a sick woman whose house was inundated by floods in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat on Tuesday (June 1, 2021). The 7IB used its military trucks (inset) to bring to safety some 300 flood-affected families in the municipality. (Photo courtesy of 7IB)

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao – Hundreds of families were rescued and brought to safer grounds by soldiers of the Army’s 7th Infantry Battalion (7IB) as flash floods inundated low-lying areas of Isulan, Sultan Kudarat due to Tropical Storm Dante on Tuesday.

Lt. Col. Rommel Valencia, 7IB commander, said in a statement on Tuesday they momentarily laid down their firearms and used their military trucks to help residents who were affected by the floods.

“We physically carried the senior citizens, physically handicapped, children and those who are sick,” Valencia said.

He said soldiers on board the trucks went from one sitio to another to find civilians trapped by floods after the Alah River and the Banga River overflowed following moderate to heavy downpour brought about by the storm starting on Monday.

The Army troopers and personnel from the provincial disaster management office have evacuated at least 300 families from the affected areas.

“I can’t find words to describe how grateful we are you came to save us,” Ysabelle Danlas, 45, told reporters here in a mobile phone interview.

She said the soldiers also assisted her family in saving their valuables as floodwater rose to as high as waist level in Barangay Sampao.

Also severely affected was the village of Kolambog also in Isulan. The soldiers also went out of their way to provide the displaced families with bottled water while emergency relief aid from the local government unit was on its way to the affected families.

Isulan Mayor Marites Pallasigue lauded the Army for responding even without being requested by the local government.

“We are grateful to our women and men in uniform,” the mayor said in a separate interview.

Lovely Joy Hallegado, provincial disaster management officer, said other flood-affected areas in the province are the low-lying villages in Tacurong City, and also those in the towns of Esperanza and Lambayong.

“Military troopers are also there to help us evacuate villagers in critical areas,” she said. "Damage assessment to infrastructure is still ongoing."

Ex-CamSur solon survives gun attack

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 1, 2021): Ex-CamSur solon survives gun attack (By Mar Serrano)

Former Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. survived an ambush staged by still unidentified riding in tandem suspects in Barangay Palestina, Pili town of the said province Tuesday morning.

A police report said the former lawmaker was driving his sport utility vehicle (SUV) along with several companions when the gunmen overtook and fired at his SUV.

Brig. Gen. Jonnel Estomo, Police Regional Office 5 (PRO5) director, in a press statement, said Andaya and his companions survived the attack unscathed.

Police investigators recovered from the crime scene two spent shells from a .45 caliber pistol.

Estomo said he has directed the police provincial director of Camarines Sur to conduct a thorough investigation.

He said a Special Provincial Investigation Team was formed to probe the incident.

Andaya, a former House majority leader and close ally of former president and Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, is reportedly eyeing an elective seat in the province.

Meanwhile, an unidentified male was gunned down on Tuesday morning by four armed suspects while riding his motorcycle in Aroroy town, a police report said.

Maj. Maria Luisa Calubaquib, the Bicol police spokesperson, said police are still determining the identity of the victim who was found dead at around 1:20 a.m. beside the Barangay Hall of Barangay Luy-a.

The police report said the victim was driving his motorcycle when shot to death by the suspects.

Recovered from the crime scene were three empty shells from a .45 caliber pistol.

Police are still looking for leads on the identities of the suspects and the motive of the killing.

21 ‘weary’ NPA fighters yield in Sultan Kudarat

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 2, 2021): 21 ‘weary’ NPA fighters yield in Sultan Kudarat (By Edwin Fernandez)

A BETTER LIFE. One of the 21 combatants of the New People’s Army surrenders to Brigadier Gen. Eduardo Gubat (left), the Army’s 603rd Infantry Brigade commander, in Lebak, Sultan Kudarat on Tuesday morning (June 1, 2021). The surrenderers initially received financial aid and food for the firearms (inset) they have surrendered. (Photo courtesy of 603Bde)

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao – Tired of hiding in the mountains, 21 former combatants of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) surrendered to authorities in Lebak, Sultan Kudarat on Tuesday morning.

Col. Eduardo Gubat, commander of the Army’s 603rd Infantry Brigade, and Lebak Mayor Frederick Bong White Celestial welcomed the 21 former NPA combatants during surrender rites at the brigade headquarters in Lebak.

The surrenderers, led by Ariel Odas Apang alias "Ka Tats" of the Dragon Fruit Platoon, East Daguma Front, also turned over 21 assorted firearms along with several explosives and other war materiel.

“Our companions who earlier surrendered to the Army helped convince us to surrender. This is the start of a new life for us,” Apang told the PNA here in the vernacular during a short interview via a mobile phone.

“No need to fight a government that is looking for our welfare,” another surrenderer who only identified himself as "Ka Herming", said in a separate phone interview.

Ka Herming said he and Apang joined the movement in 2016 after the NPA leaders convinced them that they can legally claim and own the land they till in the mountains of Sultan Kudarat.

Mayor Celestial said the 21 NPA rebels, like their comrades who came down ahead, would be enrolled in the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP). In exchange for their firearms, the rebels will get financial aid, rice and other non-food provisions to help them restart life with the mainstream society.

Maj. Gen. Juvymax Uy, commander of the 6th Infantry Division, lauded the 603rd brigade for the accomplishment and urged other NPA members still in the mountains to avail of the government’s offer.

He said since January this year, 60 NPA militants have surrendered to 6ID field units in Central Mindanao.

“A total of 60 assorted firearms and explosives were also turned over during the period,” he added.

The 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.

2 dead, 3 hurt as family feud erupts in Maguindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 2, 2021): 2 dead, 3 hurt as family feud erupts in Maguindanao (By Edwin Fernandez)

STRICT INSPECTION. Police personnel of Datu Montawal, Maguindanao conduct inspection along the national highway in Barangay Poblacion as part of precautionary measures following a clan war involving Muslim families who have members in local Moro fronts. At least two died while three others were hurt in clashes that started on Tuesday afternoon (June 1, 2021). (Photo courtesy of Datu Montawal LGU)

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao – Two persons were killed while three others were hurt as a clan war erupted between two families in Datu Montawal town on Tuesday, Army and police officials here reported.

The warring families locked in a long-standing dispute involved those of Noah Abel and Dataya Bacana, both of Barangay Nabundas in the municipality.

Maj. Gen. Juvymax Uy, 6th Infantry Division chief, said he has ordered the deployment of military peacekeeping forces in Nabundas.

“I have also requested local religious leaders and officials to help settle the problem,”
Uy said.

Military reports said both families have members linked to local Moro fronts.

Brig. Gen. Eden Ugale, police director for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said the families are fighting over control of vast tracts of land in the area.

“There are dead and wounded from both sides,” he said.

Ugale has also directed the Maguindanao provincial police to help the local police separate the warring clans to avoid the displacement of civilians.

As of Wednesday morning, pockets of gunfire could still be heard from the Nabundas area.

Ex-NPA rebels get cash incentives for turnover of guns

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 2, 2021): Ex-NPA rebels get cash incentives for turnover of guns (By Nef Luczon)

BACK TO THE GOV'T FOLD. Officials of the Army's 8th Infantry Battalion receive a firearm from one of the 18 former rebels during a turnover ceremony at the Camp Cpt. Ramon M. Onahon, Provincial Headquarters, Malaybalay City, Bukidnon on TUesday (June 1, 2021). The rebels will receive cash incentives as part of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration. (Photo courtesy of 8IB)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Aside from livelihood assistance, former rebels in Bukidnon province who surrendered to the government on June 1 will receive cash incentives for turning over their firearms.

1st Lt. Abigail Lorenzo, acting Civil Military Operations officer of the Army's 8th Infantry Battalion (8IB), said Wednesday the incentive is part of the firearms remuneration and other cash assistance under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP).

"The cash assistance will depend on the type of firearms and if it is still 'serviceable.' The firearms (remuneration) will range from PHP10,000 to PHP100,000 and PHP200,000 if it's high-powered," she said.

Some 18 former New People’s Army fighters surrendered at 8IB's Camp Cpt. Ramon M. Onahon, Provincial Headquarters, Malaybalay City, Bukidnon. They turned over 15 high-powered and eight low-powered firearms to the Bukidnon Police Provincial Office.

One of the surrenderers, Armando Daluniag, former NPA commander belonging to the HQ Force Neo, North Central Mindanao Regional Committee, expressed his hopes for a peaceful life.

"I pledge to the government that I will help in defeating our insurgency problem. I will give my all so that we will finally attain long-lasting peace," he said in the vernacular.

Lt. Col. Edgardo Talaroc Jr., commander of the 8IB, said the Army is helping the government by giving assistance to the former rebels through ECLIP.

"I am hoping that more members of the CTG (communist terrorist groups) will return to the fold of the law. There's no better time to choose peace but now," he said.

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

NPA anti-personnel mines planted in civilians’ trail

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 2, 2021): NPA anti-personnel mines planted in civilians’ trail (By Alexander Lopez)

Google map of Santiago, Agusan del Norte

The Army’s 901st Infantry Brigade (901Bde) said the recent anti-personnel mines (APM) blast in Agusan del Norte that killed one soldier and injured four others, were planted by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in an area frequented by civilians.

“We strongly condemn the use of landmines, weapons that inflict damages and destruction to human lives,”
Capt. Joash Pramis, of the 901Bde’s Civil-Military Operations, told Philippine News Agency Wednesday.

Pramis said
the site of the armed encounter between Army soldiers and NPA rebels where the APM exploded is the usual trail of ordinary civilians, those who work in small-scale mining and the ordinary farmers.

“We cannot imagine the extent of damages if civilians who frequent the area stepped into one of these landmines planted by the NPA rebels,” he said.

Pramis said on May 31, soldiers from the 29th Infantry Battalion responded to reports of civilians on the presence of NPA rebels in Sitio Ilong-ilong, Barangay Poblacion 1, Santiago, Agusan del Norte.

Upon reaching the vicinity of Sitio Ilong-ilong, 10 NPA rebels engaged the soldiers in a firefight.

In the course of the 30-minute clash, four landmines exploded killed Sgt. Van A. Tadlas and wounded four others.

“We ask that the names of those wounded be withheld for security reasons. They are now undergoing medical treatment. The immediate family of Sgt. Tadlas was already informed,” he said.

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

The international community has also adopted the 1997 Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention prohibiting the acquisition, production, stockpiling and use of the weapons.

More than 160 states are party to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention that went into effect in 1999.

TESDA trains 25 residents of insurgency-cleared Bacolod village

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 2, 2021): TESDA trains 25 residents of insurgency-cleared Bacolod village (By Erwin Nicavera)

BACOLOD CITY – Some 25 residents of Barangay Banago here have been chosen as beneficiaries of the Project Banago Alternative and Sustainable Livelihood Initiatives for Development (BASLID) under the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

Project BASLID aims to provide skills training and other livelihood interventions to the beneficiaries, who belong to the marginalized and vulnerable sector in the village.

On Wednesday, the trainees attended the third day of the Cookery National Certificate or NC II training at the TESDA Regional Training Center in Talisay City.

Romelia Nuezca, acting provincial director of TESDA-Negros Occidental, said the project is being funded under the agency’s Training for Work Scholarship Program.

Trainees avail of free training cost, free assessment, internet allowance, one-year accident insurance, health and personal protective equipment allowance, and training support fund of PHP160 per day.

Based on the list of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Banago is the lone insurgency-cleared village in this city included in the Support to Barangay Development Program (BDP) of the National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

It has been allocated an assistance of PHP20 million under the BDP, a hallmark program of the NTF-ELCAC with the end goal of bringing development to former conflict-prone communities.

The assistance includes a one-kilometer farm-to-market road worth PHP12 million; classrooms, PHP3 million; water and sanitation systems, PHP2 million; health station, PHP1.5 million; and livelihood projects, PHP1.5 million.

Village chief Ricky Mijares acknowledged the TESDA and its partner-agencies for being the “channel of blessings” for Barangay Banago.

“The status of Banago as an insurgency-cleared barangay has opened many opportunities for our residents,” he said.

As support to the program, Mijares said the barangay is providing a service vehicle to the beneficiaries for the duration of the training.

For the Project BASLID implementation, the TESDA, which heads the Poverty Reduction Livelihood and Employment Cluster of the NTF-ELCAC, has partnered with the DILG, Philippine National Police, Philippine Information Agency, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Labor and Employment, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, and the city government.

Legal fronts' denouncement to help defeat Reds: Esperon

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 1, 2021): Legal fronts' denouncement to help defeat Reds: Esperon (By Priam Nepomuceno)

National Security Adviser and NTF ELCAC vice chairperson, Hermogenes Esperon Jr. (Screengrab from NTF-ELCAC virtual presser)

The security threats being posed by the communist terrorist groups would be greatly eroded once legal fronts supporting them start denouncing them for their atrocities.

Hermogenes Esperon, Jr., National Security Adviser and National Task Force Against Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC) vice chairperson, made this remark when asked what parameters should be met before the
Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) can be considered defeated.

"Perhaps if the Makabayan Bloc or (the) legal fronts that are backing them up, would start denouncing their violence and this organization would eventually follow what is normal in Europe, like for example if you are a member of the communist parties of one of the countries of Europe, you do not go into armed revolution, you stand in Congress and debate with the other parties but never go towards armed struggle or armed revolution, yun ang pagkakaiba ng communist party sa Europa at iba pang mga lugar (that is the difference between the communist party in Europe and other places)," he said during Monday's "TAGGED: Debunking Lies by Telling the Truth" online press conference.

Founded in 2009, the Makabayang Koalisyon ng Mamamayan or Makabayan bloc is a coalition of 12 party-lists in the House of Representatives.

Current members of the group serving as lawmakers are Eufemia Cullamat, Ferdinand Gaite and Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna), Sara Elago (Kabataan Party-list), France Castro (ACT Teachers Party-list), and Arlene Brosas (Gabriela Women’s Party).

In the Philippines, Esperon said, the CPP controls the NPA, its armed wing, that is primarily responsible for the atrocities committed against innocent civilians.

He added that there is no such armed component in Europe.

"So ang hamon namin dito sa mga sabi nila progressive ideas, progressive minds, ay can you condemn the violence of the NPAs, if you cannot, are you friends with them, or are you supporting them, yun lang naman ang tanong namin. Kung magagawa nyong i-condemn yan, tapos ang usapan natin, you go to parliamentary struggle or you market your idea(s), let's us see if you are ideas are better than the democratic principles that we know of (So our challenge to those claiming to have progressive ideas, 'Can you condemn the violence of the NPA?', if you cannot, are you friends with them or are you supporting them? that is our only question, if you can condemn them, our talk is finished, you can go into parliamentary struggle or market your ideas, let's us see if you are ideas are better than the democratic principles that we know of)," he added.

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.

Esperon said there is a need to reduce further the CPP's armed component as this is the tool being used for extortion and atrocities such as killings and arson committed against innocent civilians in the countryside.

"Ako (me), personally, if we could reduce the strength by another 1,500, then (they) become a concern for the police, parang ano na sila, nagiging bandido na sila (they will just become a group of bandits)," he added.

At present, the NPA's has around 4,000 members, or lower by 1,000 when President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office in 2016.

Laguna cops told to contact missing activist’s kin

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 1, 2021): Laguna cops told to contact missing activist’s kin (By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan) 

PNP chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar (File photo)

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar on Tuesday has directed the Santa Rosa City police to get in touch with the family of former Kabataan Party-list Laguna chapter coordinator Kemuel Ian Cometa to validate claims that he has been missing for over a week.

“We need to talk to the parents of Kemuel and establish if he is really missing and, if verified, find leads to his possible whereabouts. We are ready to help in the search if he really has been missing for more than a week," Eleazar told reporters.

This came after rights group Karapatan's Southern Tagalog chapter alleged that Cometa, an alumnus of the University of the Philippines-Los Baños, was being detained by the police following a raid in a house in Barangay Macabiling, Santa Rosa City on May 21.

The Santa Rosa City police has denied the allegation.

Eleazar called on all friends and acquaintances of Cometa to cooperate with authorities to locate him soon.

He also urged those claiming that Cometa is in police custody to present evidence supporting their allegation.

Close to 18K ex-NPA rebels, backers yield since 2016

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 1, 2021): Close to 18K ex-NPA rebels, backers yield since 2016 (By Priam Nepomuceno)

Navy Captain Ferdinand Buscato, executive director of Task Force Balik-Loob (Screengrab from RTVM)

A military official said July 2016 to May 2021 saw the return of close to 18,000 communist rebels and supporters to the government fold.

Navy Captain Ferdinand Buscato, executive director of the government’s Task Force Balik-Loob, said the 17,958 returnees from July 1, 2016 to May 28, 2021 include 3,684 New People's Army (NPA) regulars, 2,039 members of the Militia ng Bayan, 1,736 from underground mass organizations, 636 from Sangay ng Partido sa Lokalidad, and 7,074 communist mass supporters.

Some 2,789 supporters are still being validated and verified by the Joint Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) Intelligence Committee (JAPIC).

Buscato, during Monday's "TAGGED: Debunking Lies by Telling the Truth" online press conference, said benefit claims of rebel returnees are checked meticulously before they are admitted into the government's integration program.

Surrenderers, he said, are placed under JAPIC upon their surrender.

"That is one of our assurance that the one na nagsu-surrender (that are surrendering) are really genuine former rebels, hindi sila iyong mga fake surrenderers lang (not fake surrenderers) So once they are validated, they will be enrolled to our halfway houses wherein they will undergo various programs," he said.

He said these programs include de-radicalization program, livelihood, and skills training.

"And then after that, we will award them of them different assistance that we have prepared wherein we got 15 assistance package aligned to each former rebel," he added.

Buscato clarified that these assistance packages are not one-size-fits-all and that these can be modified to suit the preference of a former rebel on what he or she wishes to achieve upon reintegration into mainstream society.

"And then the local social welfare development officer will come up with a business plan for each former rebel. And then after that, we will go through with the giving of the assistance or benefit package. So kung ano iyong nagustuhan niya, ibibigay iyon through the different agencies that we have (If what he or she desires, we give that through our different agencies (that we have under Task Force Balik Loob)," he added.

He added that livelihood assistance depends on the rebel returnees’ reintegration plan. If they want to be a welder, they can undergo welding through the Technical Education And Skills Development Authority.

“Kung gusto naman nilang magkaroon ng negosyo (If they want to start a business), they can go to DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) and then kung magtrabaho (if they want to have jobs), they can go to DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment). Kung lupa (if they want to have land for farming), they have the DA (Department of Agriculture) and DAR (Department of Agrarian Reform)," Buscato said.

Thereafter, he said, the government can proceed to the sustainability and community building phase, wherein after staying in halfway houses, they can join the community of their choice.

Development kicks in through the "Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan" (PAMANA) or barangay development projects in the community.

He said the government’s reintegration package consists of eight amnesty, security and safety, housing, skills and education, social and community, health, legal, livelihood, and employment.

Rebel returnees, who like prodigal children, will be welcomed back to the community by the local government units (LFUs) and involve as community development partners.

Task Force Balik-Loob was created by virtue of Administrative Order No 10 dated April 3, 2018, as a central coordinating body that supervises the government's reintegration efforts for members of the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army – National Democratic Front including their immediate family members.

It is composed of representatives from the Department of National Defense, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Office of the President, and the National Housing Authority, and other partner government agencies.

Monument honoring efforts of PH peacekeepers unveiled

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 2, 2021): Monument honoring efforts of PH peacekeepers unveiled (By Priam Nepomuceno)

PEACE MONUMENT. Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief, Gen. Cirilito Sobejana (left), and Army commander Maj. Gen. Andres Centino unveil the peace monument at the Army headquarters in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City on Tuesday (June 1, 2021). The monument honors Filipino peacekeepers who have served and helped the UN in preventing conflict since its inception in 1945. (Philippine Army photo)

The Philippine Army (PA) unveiled Tuesday the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations Monument in honor of Filipino peacekeepers who have served and helped the UN in preventing conflict since its inception in 1945.

The monument, which seeks to honor the heroism, bravery, and sacrifice of the peacekeepers, was unveiled at the Army headquarters in Fort Bonifacio, Metro Manila.

“May this Peacekeeper Monument serve as a stark reminder to the public of the bravery of our soldiers abroad, and encourage the rest of our troops here to emulate in their respective fields of competence the courage that our Filipino UN Peacekeepers have shown all these years,” Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief, Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, said.

Army commander, Maj. Gen. Andres Centino, said it makes him proud as a Filipino to heed the call of others in the name of freedom, peace, and democracy.

“For even if we have different cultures, beliefs, or social standing, peacekeeping is our common ground. It is our shared sense of humanity,” Centino said.

Army peacekeepers served alongside their counterparts from other troop-contributing countries in UN peacekeeping missions in Liberia, Haiti, Syria, Golan Heights, Aceh, Burundi, Ivory Coast, Iraq, Sudan, India and Pakistan, Abyel, South Sudan, and Central Africa.

The Army's 4,000-strong "warrior-peacekeepers" continuously serve in areas across the globe where they are needed.