Sunday, July 11, 2021

COA flags discrepancies in transfer of firearms, body armor to PNP regional offices

COA flags discrepancies in transfer of firearms, body armor to PNP regional officesCOA flags discrepancies in transfer of firearms, body armor to PNP regional offices

The Commission on Audit warns that 'evident discrepancies between the [headquarters] and the regional offices open an avenue for misapplication and possible loss' of supplies

The Commission on Audit (COA) flagged a lack of records showing that firearms and body armor vests were indeed turned over to regional offices of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

In its 2020 audit, COA found that the books of accounts of 11 PNP regional offices did not match the number of supplies – referred to as “property, plan, and equipment” – supposedly transferred to them as stated in the national headquarters’ records.

The team found these discrepancies in police regional offices in Ilocos region, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Miraropa, Bicol region, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Cordillera Administrative Region, and at the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The supplies in question included 9mm pistols, basic assault rifles, enhanced combat helmets, and tactical vests, among others.

In Ilocos region, the office told COA that the headquarters transferred the supplies “directly to the support units and not through proper channels.” Meanwhile, the Bangsamoro police regional office said that the headquarters didn’t transfer the journal entry vouchers to PNP BARMM.

COA warned that the “evident discrepancies between the [headquarters] and the regional offices open an avenue for misapplication and possible loss of subject PPEs.”

The PNP national headquarters, however, said that journal entry vouchers were already done, and that its accounting division is in the process of reconciliating the records to address the discrepancies pointed out by COA.

COA flags AFP for P1.8 billion in unauthorized bank accounts

From Rappler (Jul 12, 2021): COA flags AFP for P1.8 billion in unauthorized bank accounts (By JAIRO BOLLEDO)

The defense department says they are in the process of closing the bank accounts

The Commission on Audit (COA) has flagged the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for its unauthorized bank accounts, whose contents amount to ₱1,812,797,567.87 (approximately $36 million).

In its audit report for 2020, the COA said that the P1.8 billion was divided into 20 bank accounts and deposited into different banks, including Land Bank of the Philippines, Development Bank of the Philippines, and United Coconut Planters Bank.

The auditing commission added that the accounts are continuously retained by the military despite the absence of the Permanent Committee’s permission. The committee was created under the Administrative Code of 1987 and is headed by the finance and budget secretaries. Officials of the COA sit as members of the committee.

Under Section 10 of the General Provisions of the Financial Year 2020 of the General Appropriations Act, the balances of all Special Accounts, Fiduciary or Trust Funds, and Revolving Funds to the General Fund which have no legal basis for their creation should either be closed or reversed.

The breakdown of the accounts and their balances are as follows:
  • 1,346,059,600.33 billion ($26.9 million) in three bank accounts under the AFP Modernization Act Trust Fund-Central Office
  • P347,483,190.39 million (around $6.9 million) in eight bank accounts under the AFP Educational Benefit System Office
  • P84,362,300.55 million (around $1.6 million) in two bank accounts under the AFP Real Estate Office
  • P37,744,283.45 million (around $755,000) in seven bank accounts under the General Headquarters Central Office
The AFP Modernization Act Trust Fund has the highest remaining balance among the unauthorized bank accounts. The fund is administered by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and used for military modernization.

The fund does not include military personnel’s salaries and allowances. It does include proceeds generated from the sale, lease, or joint development of military reservations.

In a statement, the Department of National Defense (DND) said it is already processing the closing of the said accounts.

“The DND-AFP has been processing the closure of these accounts in adherence to the COA guidelines. However, some accounts cannot be closed outright as these are the depository accounts for our current projects, most of which are multi-year obligations,” the DND said.

Unutilized COVID-19 fund

The COA also flagged the military for its unutilized COVID-19 funds.

Out of the P357,871,353.46 million (around $7.1 million) in pandemic funds of the AFP General Headquarters Central Office, only P133,153,963.62 million (around $2.6 million) was utilized.

This means that a total of P224,717,389.84 million (around $4.4 million) was left unspent.

Filipinos take up fight for Hague ruling on its 5th anniversary

From Rappler (Jul 12, 2021): Filipinos take up fight for Hague ruling on its 5th anniversary (By SOFIA TOMACRUZ)

Fisherfolk, business leaders, scientists, soldiers, and the academe call on government to protect the country's rights in the West Philippine Sea after President Duterte fails to do so

As the Philippines celebrates the 2016 arbitral award five years after winning its historic case against China, Filipinos have taken up the mantle of defending the country’s rights in the West Philippine Sea – especially in the face of President Rodrigo Duterte’s refusal to do so.

Filipino fisherfolk, military personnel, business leaders, scientists, professors, lawyers, and civic groups have made this clear as they rallied around the landmark legal victory being commemorated on Monday, July 12.

The day before, hundreds of Filipino fisherfolk called on the Duterte government to stand for the country’s rights in the West Philippine Sea and protect the Philippines against foreign intrusions.

Hundreds of fishermen who depend on the waters to make a living told government that Chinese Coast Guard ships continue to restrict their movement in Philippine waters, including Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal and other areas of the Kalayaan Island Group (Spratlys). The fishermen said this violated the Hague ruling, which found that China encroached on rights of claimant states like the Philippines.

“Hindi kinikilala ng China ang kapasyahang ito ng tribunal at patuloy na nilalabag ito ng mga Tsino. Ang masaklap, hindi rin ito iginigiit ng gobyerno ng Pilipinas para protektahan ang soberanya ng ating bansa,” they said, adding that it was “unjust” for Filipinos themselves to be forbidden from fishing in the country’s waters. (China does not recognize this decision of the tribunal and the Chinese continue to violate it [Hague ruling.] What’s worse is the government of the Philippines is not asserting it to protect the country's sovereignty.)

The government, they said, must protect the rights of Filipinos.

After the country won the landmark award in 2016, Duterte has repeatedly vowed never to give up the Philippines’ claim over the West Philippine Sea. In the years since, he has all but done this – either belittling the Hague ruling on several occasions or sticking to his defeatist stand.

Earlier in May, Duterte, fed up with criticism over his China policy, had denigrated the ruling, calling it a piece of paper he would “throw in the wastebasket.”

Public surveys, however, have consistently shown that Filipinos want the government to assert the ruling and defend the country's territory.

Duterte keeps Filipinos under threat in West Philippine Sea

Duty to defend

Unlike in previous years, the recent past weeks saw a chorus of groups speaking up against China’s aggressive incursions in the West Philippine Sea and Duterte’s dangerous tendency to downplay the issue.

Filipinos made their voices heard after years of rallying the government to take a clear and strong stand on the country's dispute with China.

The statements of various groups had been prompted by the presence of hundreds of Chinese ships swarming Julian Felipe (Whitsun) Reef – a boomerang-shaped shallow coral reef located within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) filed daily diplomatic protests over the continued presence of ships in the reef just 175 nautical miles from Bataraza, Palawan.

In April, business leaders from prominent organizations issued a rare statement joining the foreign affairs and defense department’s call on China to withdraw its vessels from the area. In doing so, eight business groups raised the Hague ruling as they urged China to respect the Philippines' sovereignty and refrain from becoming an "imperial power."

Alumni and retired soldiers of the Philippine Military Academy voiced support for the DFA and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana as they asked China to follow international law. China’s actions in the past years demonstrated “nothing more but bad faith” in negotiations over conduct in the South China Sea, they said.

Also in April, over 200 university faculty all over the country said they were joining an “overwhelming majority” of Filipinos who have called for “a more decisive foreign policy and national security stance to protect our territory and our people, and to regain lost ground.”

“We must surrender neither our territory nor our national self-respect by silently acquiescing to China’s unlawful actions,” the Professors for Peace group said.

Carpio on West Philippine Sea: Every Filipino's duty to defend PH territory

Calls to uphold and defend the Philippines’ rights in the West Philippine Sea came from members of some of the country’s top education institutions, including the University of the Philippines, various Ateneo campuses, and De La Salle University.

People from Duterte’s alma matter, San Beda, also told the President to retract his harmful statements and instead "categorically, demonstrably, and publicly" uphold the 1987 Philippine Constitution. Fellow alumni reminded Duterte: “The President is solemnly bound to uphold, defend, and protect his countrymen and the integrity of our national territory.”

Fellow lawyers of the Philippine leader called on all branches of the government to uphold the 2016 ruling and make clear “that such arbitral award is not a mere piece of paper fit only to be thrown in a waste basket.” The Integrated Bar of the Philippines also said the government must make clear that the country’s EEZ was solely for Filipinos’ use and any foreign possession is unlawful.

On Sunday, July 11, the opposition Liberal Party said Filipinos should remain united around the ruling. “The Hague ruling is as much a promise as it is a reminder of what good, brave, strong governance can yield,” the group said.

In the West Philippine Sea, scientists stressed that the future of the country is at stake. “Defending the West Philippine Sea secures the future of the Filipino nation…. It would be a disservice to the Filipino people if the current administration continues to bow down to China’s demands.”

High tide or low tide? The question that won us the West Philippine Sea case

Guarding award

After years of refusing to enforce the arbitral award, the Philippines, through the DFA, committed to reject attempts to “undermine” or “erase” the landmark Hague ruling.

In a statement released ahead of July 12, Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. declared the award was a “milestone” as it “conclusively settled” the status of historic rights and maritime entitlements in the South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea.

Locsin hailed the ruling as the Philippines “gift” to all countries “without exception,” and one that benefited the world beyond the South China Sea.

For the Philippines, he added, the arbitral award will serve as its “North Star.”

“For as long as nations abide by the rule of law and not of military might, the Award is the North Star that will keep us on course in the present, and that will point us back to the right direction in the future should we, in a moment of weakness or inaction, lose our way,” Locsin said.

Nonoy Espina, champion of press freedom and media workers’ rights, writes 30

From the Davao Today (Jul 9, 2021): Nonoy Espina, champion of press freedom and media workers’ rights, writes 30

Photo from Nonoy Espina’s Facebook page

Jose Jaime “Nonoy” Llavore Espina walked his talk in defending press freedom and welfare of media workers in the country, braved vilification and threats on his life and said this line many times over: The press is free not because it is allowed to be free. It is free because it insists on being free.

Grief struck journalists, media groups, friends and persons whose lives Nonoy had touched, small or big, on his death last July 7.

Espina died in his home at past 9 in the evening in Bacolod City surrounded by his family as announced by his sister, journalist Inday Espina-Varona, who on her Facebook account late Wednesday night. Nonoy had liver cancer, and had survived a severe COVID-19 infection weeks earlier. He was 59.

Fr. Baby Gordoncillo, who married Espina and wife Leny Rojo and baptized their children, gave the last rites for Espina before his cremation on Thursday morning. His ashes were brought to his ancestral home late in the afternoon.

Media groups mourn

A stalwart of media freedom, Espina never wavered amid waves of attacks on the freedom of the press. Instead, he soldiered on from Marcos dictatorship until the Duterte administration, the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP) said in a statement.

‘’He consistently served the Filipino people by upholding the truth. He was the loudest voices at rallies in support of the renewal of ABS—CBN’s franchise, led a march in Quezon City in March 2020, and later joined similar activities in Bacolod City.”

The NUJP said Espina was among the first responders at the Ampatuan Massacre in Maguindanao in 2009 and ever since he was outspoken in the campaign for justice for the victims, which included 32 media workers, and had always been present in commemoration and in activities leading up to the verdict indicting members of the Ampatuan clan in 2019.

As one of the founding members of the NUJP, Espina was elected to the directorate multiple terms until his election as chairperson in 2018, and led the union fighting against “waves of attacks and harassment by the government.”

He was red-tagged for defending colleagues and was a target of government propagandists.

“While he was quick to curse those who trample upon press freedom and human rights, Nonoy was always compassionate with colleagues, especially in the provinces. As a peer supporter, he would always take time to listen, was never judgmental and always understanding,” the NUJP said.

The NUJP thanked Espina for his long years of service to the union and the profession as it vowed to honor him by protecting that prestige.

The Internews Philippines team saw Espina’s utmost dedication to the defense of press freedom and his ever ready helping hand available for the media community, recalling the team’s encounter with Espina during a visit at the Ampatuan Massacre site in 2019.

“We remember being moved, impressed and humbled by his obvious dedication to the family of the victims, his generosity and his kindness. We, at Internews, are honored to have shared the cause with such a caring and hardworking soul as Nonoy. Journalism and freedom of information in the Philippines and beyond have lost a great one. We will strive to honor his life and memory by continuing his tireless commitment and support to journalist safety and welfare.’’

For its part, the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) remembers Espina’s independent and courageous journalism who advocated the rights and welfare of media workers especially “the most vulnerable among us and provincial journalists.”

“While he led rallies in the streets and raised press freedom advocacies everywhere, Nonoy did not loom large over many but was a media everyman, who had a laidback and friendly demeanor that fostered a life of activism in one of the most perilous countries in the world for journalists,” FOCAP said.

Health and welfare fund for journalists

The Espina family, following Nonoy’s dream of putting up a health and welfare fund for journalists in need, is requesting those who wish to send flowers, food and cash aid to the family to send it instead to NUJP, which has agreed with the family’s wishes to accept any aid, to kick start the fund.

“We know so many colleagues live under precarious economic conditions, with no tenure and, often, with little social benefits. We in the NUJP often say, there is no genuine press freedom if journalists live and work under conditions of fear, poverty and corruption. Pagtibayin natin ang hanay to fight for better wages and work conditions. But let us also let Nonoy spark us into doing the practical. Ambag ambag tayo para sa kapatirang mamamamahayag! (Let’s contribute for our fellow journalists),” said Espina-Varona.

Should you want to donate, please send to National Union of Journalists of the Philippines Metrobank Kamuning 229-7-229-50756-3 or to Jhoanna Paola Ballaran’s GCash/Paymaya 09617626684.

Outpouring of love and memories

In one of Espina-Varona’s Facebook posts, she said that even during her brother’s critical care, she told him through a video call of the news that the International Criminal Court prosecutor was given the green light for a full probe into extrajudicial killings linked to Duterte, Espina nodded and raised that fist from his bed.

“Even when he was weakening, he’d perk up at two things: music and updates on issues and causes dear to his heart. And till the end, that fire blazed high,’’ she said on her Facebook post.

She quoted some of her brother’s statements posted and shared by friends: You who cheer on, rejoice, mock or otherwise approve of killings [activists], remember that the tide often turns swiftly and you may find yourself on the receiving end. But know that many of those whose blood you now howl for will NEVER countenance the trampling of your right although you can also be sure that they will not ease up on their demands for justice.

Most of his friends would describe him as the ‘’cool guy’’, “big brother’’, “feisty”, “compassionate”, and “icon of press freedom”.

Jhoanna Ballaran, NUJP’s treasurer, wrote on her Facebook post that despite the pain and discomfort, Nonoy would steer people and NUJP toward a clear goal: to defend press freedom and protect journalists.

“Despite feeling ill at times, he would immediately email us draft statements condemning red-tagging, the killings and harassment of our colleagues, Duterte’s vilification of journalists and countless other attacks that shook us to the core. He was literally at the forefront of our campaigns,” Ballaran said.

She added, “Nonoy, who described himself on Twitter as an “all-around stumblebum,” never took himself seriously; only his work and principles and his infectious vigor inspired many colleagues to stand for press freedom and uphold journalistic values that I was lucky to have seen and learned from. He believed all his efforts were puny, but the collective struggle for press freedom and protection of journalists was a glorious, splendid fight, as he said in his last speech as NUJP chairperson.”

Nestor Burgos, a colleague and friend, in his post said the outpouring of grief over the passing and celebration of Nonoy’s life are not surprising as he will always be an icon of press freedom, pillar of the community press and for being a true blue journo.

“You fought so fiercely and bravely because you loved so deeply. Salamat Noy for a wonderful life, embracing, singing of and fighting for a more wonderful world,” Burgos wrote on his Facebook post.

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) salute Nonoy for excelling in his craft and most importantly, it said, for his remarkable and uncompromising pro-people stance. Espina has been covering and posting updates on his Facebook on the peace talks between the government and the NDFP.

“Goodspeed Nonoy. We’ve lost many family members and friends in the last year and a half, but I didn’t think you’d be one of those who’d go. You were always steadfast and full of life. But that’s fate for you; it goes where it will. You left a new ‘wonderful world,’ Not, but you’ll be remembered with a huge ache in our hearts while inspiring us to stand without wavering that the press be free. Watch over our country wherever you are,” May Rodriguez, a former NUJP director, wrote on her FB.

“We love you, Nonoy. And we are grateful to your family, your parents and your siblings for sharing you – your life, your wisdom, your heart – with us,” said Carlos Conde, a former NUJP Secretary General and friend.

Suspected NPA leader undergoes medical treatment for cancer

 From Palawan News (Jul 9, 2021): Suspected NPA leader undergoes medical treatment for cancer

Suspected rebel leader Antonio Molina. | File photo

Suspected rebel leader Antonio Molina, who is detained at the Puerto Princesa City Jail (PPCJ), was recently sent to a hospital for medical treatment.

Molina, along with suspected high-ranking officials of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Palawan was arrested by authorities in Barangay San Jose back in 2019 for illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Aside from illegal possession of firearms and explosives, they are also currently facing murder charges.

Karapatan Timog Katagalugan claimed in a Facebook post that Molina, who is now 66-years-old, was taken to Medical Mission Group Hospitals and Health Services Cooperative of the Philippines (MMG-Coop Hospital) for his first chemotherapy session due to intestinal cancer.

He had his initial biopsy on March 24 and was identified with a malignant tumor caused by intestinal cancer. Further, he suffers from diabetes, a slipped disc, hypertension, and prostate issues. According to the organization, he is unable to eat normally, has difficulty eliminating stools, or move comfortably as a result of his illness.

The lower court allowed Molina’s five-day medical confinement. However, according to his doctors, he is “likely not recommended” to go back to jail after his treatment.

“It’s an inoperable sarcoma and the best medical treatment is for him to undergo chemotherapy. We ordered three bags of blood, which is needed prior to his chemo. We can’t proceed unless he has been transfused with blood,” Dr. Joseph Tovera, Coop Hospital oncologist, said.

Meanwhile, Karapatan is soliciting blood donations for his treatment. The organization said in a text message to Palawan News that people interested in donating may contact JO1 Hanna Cindy Gregorio at the PPCJ or communicate with local Philippine Red Cross (PRC) officials.

Gregorio said Molina requires three bags of blood type O+.

“Three bags ang kailangan niya. So far may isa na galing sa amin sa city jail,” Gregorio told Palawan News in a phone call.

Karapatan is also calling for his release in consideration of his age and medical condition.

Molina is reportedly a member of Katipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA-TK).

P5M halfway house for ex-rebels

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jul 10, 2021): P5M halfway house for ex-rebels (BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN)

Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo (left) and Department of Interior and Local Government Region 7 director Leocadio Trovela led the groundbreaking for a halfway house for former rebels at the Camp Leon Kilat headquarters of the 302nd Infantry Brigade in Tanjay City recently

A P5 million halfway house for former rebels will soon rise inside the Camp Leon Kilat headquarters of the 302nd Infantry Brigade, in Tanjay City, Negros Oriental.

Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo, Department of Interior and Local Government Region 7 director Leocadio Trovela, and Col. Leonardo Peña, 302nd IB commander, led the groundbreaking rites on July 5.

Peña said the project aims to facilitate the mainstreaming of former rebels into productive citizens.

This activity is a manifestation that the national government and the provincial government of Negros Oriental are serious in their efforts to achieve the goal for permanent and peaceful closure of all armed conflicts with non-state armed groups, he added.

Degamo thanked DILG and the Department of National Defense through the Task Force Balik-Loob, the Provincial E-CLIP or Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program Committee and the Army leadership in the province for making this activity a reality, as well as all the participating member agencies.

Peña, who read the message of AFP chief of staff Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, who was supposed to personally witness the activity, but had cancelled to attend to an emergency engagement in Mindanao due to the C-130 plane crash in Sulu, said the activity marks the beginning of a new life for rebel returnees.

There is no better way to welcome them than by offering them a home where they can feel safe and secure as they rebuild their lives in a peaceful and progressive community, Sobejana said in his message.

Trovela said the halfway house is needed to serve as a temporary shelter for former rebels, who have returned to the folds of the law.

He added that livelihood trainings and other interventions will be conducted in the facility to prepare them for their reintegration into mainstream society.

‘No to localized peace talks’

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jul 12,2021): ‘No to localized peace talks’ (BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN)

The Apolinario Gatmaitan Command in Negros belittled a statement issued by the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division of a possible localized peace talks between government troops and the New People’s Army rebels.

“There are no localized peace talks with any organ of political power of the People’s Democratic Government in the entire Philippines, because it certainly cannot address the roots of the civil war in the country,” Negros-NPA spokesman, Ka Juanito Magbanua, said.

Magbanua described it as sabotage to the peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

“It’s a trap laid down by the 3ID to lure the revolutionaries into its milking scheme dubbed Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program,” he added.

Maj. Cenon Pancito, 3ID spokesman, earlier raised the possibility of a localized peace talks with the NPA in Western and Central Visayas.

With this development, the provincial government of Negros Occidental, led by Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson, decided to create a provincial peace panel that will hold exploratory dialogs with communist rebels, in compliance with a national government directive, to be guided by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

Lacson said the peace panel will be a multi-sectoral body that will include the private sector, including the Church and the academe.

Meanwhile, the Apolinario Gatmaitan Command of the NPA also condemned the military and police for peddling fake surrenderees as supporters and members of the NPA to avail of the bounties they themselves cooked up through the e-CLIP and advance their careers amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

Joint gov’t, MILF peacekeeping team activated in Lanao Norte town

From MindaNews (Jul 11, 2021): Joint gov’t, MILF peacekeeping team activated in Lanao Norte town (By BONG S. SARMIENTO)

A 30-member Joint Peace and Security Team (JPST) was recently deployed in Munai, Lanao del Norte to help maintain peace and stability in the area.

Municipality of Munai, Lanao del Norte. Map courtesy of Google

The new JPST station in Barangay Panggao was constructed with the help of the Japanese government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which both vowed continued support to peace and development initiatives in the Bangsamoro region and the rest of Mindanao.

The JPSTs are peacekeeping forces composed of contingents from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP).

Winston Camariñas, head of the UNDP Cotabato Field Office, said the JPST station in Munai was turned over late last month to the Joint Peace and Security Committee (JPSC) as part of the multi-stakeholder efforts to maintain peace and stability in the area.

“Despite the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to challenge our peacebuilding efforts, the JPSC has remained tireless in delivering their mandate for peace and security, and has continuously pushed for the activation and deployment of joint peacekeeping teams across Mindanao. On our end, UNDP remains committed in its support to sustain the gains of the Bangsamoro peace process,” he said in a statement.

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), the Japanese government, UNDP and the MILF have been cooperating for the establishment of the JPSTs.

Under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed between the government and MILF in 2014, JPSTs have been tasked to support the maintenance of peace and order and stability in areas that will undergo the decommissioning process.

The decommissioning process is under the normalization track of the CAB, which aims to help MILF combatants make the transition to peaceful civilian life, while their communities will be transformed into peaceful, progressive and resilient communities.

To date, four barracks and six field stations have been turned over to the JPSC, with 12 teams and 366 members now deployed in the Bangsamoro region and other parts of Mindanao.

On behalf of the Joint Peace and Security Committee, Alim Isah Bato, MILF-JPSC member, accepted the newly built JPST station in Munai town, which are manned by seven AFP members, eight PNP members and 15 members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, the MILF’s armed wing.

The Japanese government, which supports the establishment of the JPST stations across the region, has been a steadfast supporter of OPAPP for the attainment of sustainable development and lasting peace in Mindanao, and a committed development partner of UNDP, Camariñas said.

Okada Fumiaki, First Secretary of the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines, signified the Japanese government’s commitment to supporting the work in the Bangsamoro region.

“As the peace process in Mindanao is developing, the Japanese government and JICA (Japanese International Cooperation Agency) will continue and further expand the cooperation for the transition to Bangsamoro autonomous government, the normalization process and improvement of socio-economic infrastructures,” Fumiaki said.

The JPSTs have trained together to maintain transitional security in areas mutually selected by the Philippine government and the MILF to aid the peace process in the Bangsamoro region.

Bangsamoro Member of Parliament Abdullah Macapaar, popularly known as MILF’s Commander Bravo, welcomed the turnover of the JPST station in Munai town.

“We are grateful because we have been waiting for peace to finally be restored through the collaboration of the AFP, PNP, and BIAF. This will contribute to the development of not only Lanao del Norte, but of the whole of Mindanao as well,” he said.

The construction of JPST stations is supported and implemented through the OPAPP-UNDP “Support to Peacebuilding and Normalization” project and the Japan-UNDP “Assistance to Normalization” project. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)

Beng reaffirms support to peace efforts

Posted to the Mindanao Examiner (Jul 11, 2021): Beng reaffirms support to peace efforts

ZAMBOANGA CITY Mayor Beng Climaco reaffirmed her strong support to the government’s peace and development efforts and committed her administration’s unyielding campaign in preserving the peace and order here.

In virtual early this month with other local chief executives in Zamboanga Peninsula and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), Climaco assured Interior Secretary Eduardo Año and Defense Assistant Secretary Angelito de Leon of the local government’s efforts in ensuring Zamboanga remains safe from all security threats.

Demonstrating her firm resolve in her administration’s three-pronged program in Security, Health and Education, Climaco said the local government will continue to support security forces in Zamboanga.

Año thanked Climaco and other mayors in Zamboanga Peninsula and BARMM for taking harder and bolder steps in the campaign against lawlessness and private armed groups in the regions.

“Patuloy ang pag-arangkada ng ating mga plataporma upang labanan ang mga banta sa ating kapayapaan at seguridad. Maraming armadong grupo pa rin ang pilit na humaharang sa ating mga hakbang.”

“Bukod sa mga terorista, rebelde at violent extremists, patuloy ang paglaganap ng private armed groups sa iba’t ibang bahagi ng bansa at kabilang dito ang Region IX at BARMM,” he said. (Claudine Uniana, Zamboanga Post)

Tausug Heroes

From the Mindanao Examiner (Jul 11, 2021): Tausug Heroes

A WEEK after the fiery crash of a military C-130 cargo plane that killed over 50 people and wounded dozens more in Sulu’s Patikul town, praises continue to pour for the Tausugs who bravely risked their lives in rescuing soldiers from the burning wreckage.

The aircraft was transporting nearly 100 soldiers from Cagayan de Oro City when it overshot the runway and crashed on July 4. The military said 49 soldiers and four civilians were wounded in the incident.

Among those who first responded to the crash scene were civilians and members of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit - Active Auxiliary (CAA).

“Nakita namin yun eroplano na bumagsak at pagkatapos ay agad kaming pumunta sa pinagbagsakan. Nakita namin yun mga sundalo at agad namin ni-rescue at pagkatapos ay tumawag kami ng jeep para maisakay sila papuntang ospital. At pagpunta ko (ulit) doon (sa crash site) sumama na ako sa mga (ibang) sundalo kahit hindi ko (sila) kilala kasi wala na sa isip (at ang) gusto ko kasi (ay) tumulong sa mga tao.”

“Hindi ko na mabilang yun (mga) tinulungan kong sundalo kahit Kristiyano o Muslim man (dahil) hindi naman ang pumili kung sino ang tutulungan ko. Hindi po ako nagsisi na pumunta ako dito (sa crash site) dahil gusto ko po makatulong sa mga sundalo o sibilyan dito. Hindi po ako kinabahan kasi gusto ko pong tumulong sa mga tao,” said Erham Awalludin, a construction worker who was among those first to respond to the crash


Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, praised the Tausugs for their heroic acts of bravery in rescuing the injured soldiers from the burning plane.

“The Western Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines is extremely grateful to the assistance extended by our brothers and sisters Tausug in Sulu who were among the first responders that rescued several survivors of the air mishap on July 4, 2021. During this hard time, the Armed Forces received overwhelming support from the villagers who unhesitatingly responded to the crash site and rescued injured victims, and brought them to safety,” Vinluan said.

“From the survivors and all of us, our brothers and sisters Tausug are our heroes. They risked their own lives to save their fellow Filipinos whom they consider as their protectors from the malefactors. Their heroic deeds are worthy of praise and recognition. This exemplifies that at times when we, protectors of the people and the state are in trouble, we have the peace-loving people to depend on. Muslims or Christians, we are Filipinos with one flag and one country,” he added.

Photos from Western Mindanao Command and 11th Infantry Division show the Tausugs who are among those who first responded to the C-130 crash site in Patikul town.

Bronze Cross

Even the 11th Infantry Division in Sulu province commended that CAA members who rescued over a dozen wounded soldiers from the crash site, and would recommend to the Armed Forces of the Philippines to award the CAA members the Bronze Cross Medal.

"The Tausugs CAA heroes under 5th Special Forces Company stationed nearest to the incident site will be recommended to be recipients of Bronze Cross Medal, a military decoration of the Armed Forces of the Philippines which is awarded for heroism involving risk of life,” said General William Gonzales, commander of the 11th Infantry Division.

Sulu Governor Sakur Tan also cited the heroic acts of the responders to the crash site and at the same time condoled with the families of the soldiers who perished in the incident.

“The air mishap involving a C-130 military aircraft ferrying troop augmentation to Sulu which claimed precious lives, both on board and on the ground, comes at a time when we are dealing with the pandemic, piling up the sacrifices our frontliners have offered in the name of peace and the safety and security of the people they are conscientiously serving. Allah's Wisdom on matters of life and death is unfathomable. Helpless as mortals are, we can but submit all to His Will.”

“To the bereaved families of the victims, our deep condolences on your losses, and to the injured we pray for your fast recovery. Since the onset of the pandemic and in the war against terror, our patience and resolve have been stretched to limits we thought insurmountable, yet we overcame. When these challenges come to pass, more than anything else, let us celebrate the triumph of the human spirit, in shaa Allah,” he said.

The governor also provided an initial assistance of P150,000 to the families of civilians killed in the crash and P30,000 each for the wounded villagers for their medical treatment; and P20,000 to those injured who did not require hospitalization. He also released P200,000 in housing aid for two families whose houses were destroyed in the plane crash.


Vice Governor Toto Tan said the crash of the cargo plane was a shock to all and also claimed the lives of 3 civilians in the village.

Photo by Jaques Tutong

“Sulu was shaken with shock when a C-130 military aircraft carrying troops overshot the runway and burst into flames. We are lost for words. We condole with the bereaved families on the demise of their loved ones while in line of duty. I call on everyone to exercise restraint and patience while authorities are conducting official investigations,” he said.

“The Provincial Government will extend all necessary assistance to the families of the affected. It is indeed tragic that such a mishap befalls Sulu while we are still preoccupied with the pandemic. Again, our deep condolences to the families of those who perished and praying for the early recovery of the injured,” he added.

According to a report of MaxDefense Philippines, the transport plane was the former MC-130 Combat Spear aircraft of the US Special Operations Command. The aircraft, it said, was purchased under Horizon 2 phase using Philippine funding and U.S. military assistance grant.

Black Hawk

The crash came four days after a Philippine Air Force S-701 Black Hawk helicopter crashed during night flight training in the town of Capas in Tarlac province in central Luzon, killing all six airmen aboard.

The downed Polish-built chopper was under the 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing based at Clark Air Base. The cause of the crash is still being investigated.

The helicopters are manufactured by PZL Mielec, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, which had also previously acquired Sikorsky, the original manufacturer of the Black Hawk.

The Philippines acquired the helicopters under a government-to-government deal with Poland, signing a contract worth $241 million in 2019. The Black Hawks are being bought under the U.S. ally’s five-year Horizon 2 modernization program, which will run from 2018-2022. (Mindanao Examiner)

Sayyaf gunman killed in Sulu clash

From the Mindanao Examiner (Jul 11, 2021): Sayyaf gunman killed in Sulu clash

Government troops attacked an Abu Sayyaf encampment and killed a member of the terrorist group in the southern Philippine province of Sulu, officials said Saturday.

Military photos show the captured Abu Sayyaf encampment in Mount Daho in Sulu's Talipao town.

Maj. Gen. William Gonzales, commander of the 11th Infantry Division, said soldiers from the 5th Scout Ranger Battalion swooped down on the encampment in Mount Daho in Talipao town on Friday and clashed with over a dozen gunmen.

He said troops were dispatched to the remote village of Lumping Pigi after villagers reported the presence of gunmen who set up tents in the area. “Immediately, troops of 5th Scout Ranger Battalion who are operating nearby proceeded to the location. Then and there, they fought with more or less 20 Abu Sayyafs under sub-leader Mundi Sawadjaan and Ellam Nasirin,” Gonzales said, adding, “upon clearing the encounter site, the troops found the cadaver of an unidentified bandit.”

This was also confirmed by Brig. Gen. Antonio Bautista, commander of the 1101st Infantry Brigade, who said troops recovered the slain gunman and 14 hammocks, 8 ponchos and three pairs of combat boots. “Our combat trackers are doing their best to locate this group. Bloodstains were found at the temporary encampment and we believe that at least two other bandits were wounded during the 20-minutes gun battle,” he said.

Bautista said troops were still tracking down those who managed to escape the fighting. (Mindanao Examiner)

Philippines gets U.S. weapons

 From the Mindanao Examiner (Jul 11, 2021): Philippines gets U.S. weapons

WASHINGTON HAS provided the Philippines some P48.5 million (about $1 million) worth of weapons and munitions intended to enhance the military’s counterterrorism capabilities and readiness.

A photo released by the U.S. Embassy to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner shows the cache of weapons and munitions the U.S. delivered to the Philippines intended to enhance the military’s counterterrorism capabilities and readiness.

Officials from the Joint United States Military Assistance Group - Philippines (JUSMAG-P) delivered the new weapons and munitions to the Armed Forces of the Philippines at Clark Air Base on July 4.

The delivery, funded by U.S. grant assistance, included fourteen (M2A1) .50 caliber heavy machine guns, seven M240B machine guns, and thousands of rounds of ammunition.

“As the United States and Philippines celebrate 75 years of diplomatic relations…we welcome this key equipment transfer, which will support the continued readiness of the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” said JUSMAG-P Chief and Senior Defense Official to the Philippines Col. Stephen Ma.

The Philippines is the largest recipient of U.S. military assistance in the Indo-Pacific. Since 2015, the U.S. has provided more than P48.6 billion ($1 billion) in security assistance to the Philippines.

Last year, Duterte terminated the 1999 Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the U.S. after Washington cancelled the visa of former national police chief and now Senator Ronald dela Rosa.

Duterte, who considers himself a friend of China, also lambasted the U.S. for interfering with the country’s political affairs and its criticism of the government’s deadly war on drugs which Dela Rosa engineered through the so-called Oplan Tokhang when he was the chief of the Philippine National Police.

The Pentagon said scrapping the VFA was wrong, but according to then President Donald Trump it will save a lot of money for Washington.

When asked whether he would try to persuade Duterte to reconsider his decision to scrap the VFA, Trump said: “Well I never minded that very much, to be honest. We helped the Philippines very much. We helped them defeat ISIS ... I don't really mind if they would like to do that, it will save a lot of money. My views are different from others.” (Mindanao Examiner)

Rebel killed in clash with soldiers in Eastern Samar

Excerpt from the Sun Star-Tacloban (Jul 11, 2021): Rebel killed in clash with soldiers in Eastern Samar (By RONALD O. REYES)

AN alleged member of the New People’s Army was killed in an encounter with soldiers in Borongan City Sunday, July 11, 2021.

Opinion: When children are forced to join the NPA

Opinion piece in the Manila Times (Jul 12, 2021): When children are forced to join the NPA (By Marit Stinus-Cabugon)

NATIONAL democratic organization Karapatan is calling for the compassionate release from jail of 66-year-old "political prisoner" Antonio Molina who has been detained at the Puerto Princesa City Jail since late 2019. Molina, identified by authorities as New People's Army (NPA) leader Domingo "Ka Tino" Ritas, has been diagnosed with cancer in addition to numerous other existing ailments. The court recently granted his request for a five-day medical confinement.

Molina and six companions were arrested at a checkpoint in Puerto Princesa on Oct. 4, 2019. At the time of the arrest, Karapatan referred to all seven as "human rights workers" or "volunteers" without disclosing their identities except for one: Glendhyl Malabanan. She was, prior to her arrest, known as the former Karapatan Southern Tagalog secretary general. But we have seen the video of a uniform-clad Malabanan participating in a firearms drill in an NPA camp in Palawan in 2016. Four of the others arrested, including Molina/Ritas, are seen in other video clips from NPA camps. Among the seven arrested "human rights workers" was the wife of Alimar Toting, the NPA Palawan commander who surrendered a month later.

Karapatan insists that Molina, a member of the Katipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid-Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK), is not Ritas who is charged with murder. Of course, there have been too many cases of mistaken identity where innocent people have suffered. Molina is unlikely to be one of them. Shin, 19 years old when she presented herself to the military in November 2019 after having appeared as No. 14 wanted NPA personality in Palawan, used to take care of Molina. She was only 14 years old when she became an NPA member on probation as a personal aide to Molina or Ka Tino as he is called by his comrades. Shin told Palawan News in a November 2019 interview that one of her tasks was to remind Tino to take his medicines as he was already then suffering from many ailments.

Shin also had something to say about Glendhyl Malabanan or Ate Glen as she referred to the Karapatan official. It was Malabanan who took Shin, her mother and two brothers from Luzon to Palawan in 2008 where they would live under assumed identities. Two older sisters, a brother and a stepbrother were left behind in Luzon (the family is from General Nakar, Quezon province). Shin's late father was chairman of Kasama-TK, the same organization that Karapatan says Molina belonged to, until his death in April 2003. The father and Karapatan Southern Tagalog Secretary General Eden Marcellana were abducted and brutally murdered in Oriental Mindoro in April 2003. While the Palawan News article doesn't mention the name, Shin's father could be no other than Eddie Gumanoy.

This is what I could piece together: In 2008, Shin's two sisters decided to leave the movement. Rose Ann, 21, had been wounded and captured in an encounter in General Nakar in April that year. She was operated on and treated at V. Luna, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) hospital. She faced rebellion charges but Karapatan put up the bail in late May. She and Fatima, 17, then stayed at a Karapatan safe house. However, by July, they made a decision to leave the movement. They contacted AFP personnel whom they had met at the V. Luna Hospital. On the day the two sisters were supposed to meet up with their mother, they defected.

Their mother, through Karapatan, tried to compel the AFP to produce Fatima who at 17 was still a minor. But the daughters made it clear that it was their choice to leave the NPA and the movement that had been a part of their lives since birth.

Their decision also meant painful separation. Karapatan, through Malabanan, took Shin, her mother and two brothers to Port Barton in Taytay, Palawan. "This was to pressure us to return to the NPA," the eldest daughter told Palawan News. It also effectively prevented their mother from following their example, should she ever have considered it.

It took 11 years before the sisters were reunited. Sadly, their mother died in 2012.

Shin was three when her father was murdered, eight when separated from her older siblings and a younger stepbrother. At 14, two years after her mother died, she was made to become an aide to an NPA commander. She was brave and ran away three years later. What happened to her father in 2003 was a crime and that it was perpetrated by state forces seems undisputed. However, that does not in any way justify what Karapatan and their associates did to Shin and her family. We have to ask how many other families have gone through similar suffering. How many children have been forced to join the NPA because the adults in whose care they were, chose it for them?

Suspected NPA rebels shoot dead soldier, village chief in Northern Samar town

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 11, 2021): Suspected NPA rebels shoot dead soldier, village chief in Northern Samar town (By: Joey Gabieta, Robert Dejon)

A soldier and a village chief were shot dead by suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in separate shooting incidents in Las Navas town in Northern Samar.

Private First Class John Vincent Bocaboc was killed after he and his team engaged at least 10 NPA rebels in a shootout in Barangay Victory, Las Navas town at past 8 p.m. last Friday, July 9.

Bocaboc, 31, was in the village as part of a community support program that aims to help clear the area of NPA control, said Lt. Sarah Jean Escubio, the civil-military officer of the 20th Infantry Battalion.

Village watchman Arnil Bantilo was hit on the foot while a bullet grazed a six-year-old girl’s head.

Both were treated at the Northern Samar Provincial Hospital in Catarman, Northern Samar.

The following day, July 10, Barangay San Andres Captain Crispin Nali Mordido was killed in a shootout with suspected NPA rebels in Barangay Lourdes, Las Navas town.

According to Lt. Ariel Baldoza, Las Navas Police chief, Mordido was reportedly invited by the communist rebels to a dialogue.

Mordido, 37, agreed to talk to the rebels, police said.

However, arriving at the area, Mordido noticed that the rebels had set him up, prompting the village chief to get his gun that was tucked in his waist.

Baldoza said a firefight then ensued which resulted in Mordido’s death.

The police chief said at least two wounded rebels were carried by their comrades while fleeing the scene.

Mordido, meabwhile, was rushed to a rural health unit but was declared dead on arrival.

Las Navas is among the towns in Northern Samar with an alleged strong NPA presence.

Bohol farmers, fisherfolk, ex-rebels get aid from gov’t

 From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 11, 2021): Bohol farmers, fisherfolk, ex-rebels get aid from gov’t (By John Rey Saavedra)

AID FOR BOHOLANOS. Senator Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go is seen interacting with Boholanos during an assistance distribution activity in the town of Dauis on Friday (July 9, 2021). At least 200 farmers and fisherfolk as well as 30 former NPA members received assistance from Go and other agencies of the national government. (Contributed photos)

At least 200 farmers and fisherfolk, as well as 30 former rebels, have benefited from a joint relief operation conducted by several government agencies for struggling communities in Bohol, a statement from the office of Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said on Sunday.

Go personally led the distribution of meals, food packs, vitamins, face masks and face shields to the beneficiaries as he visited Dauis town, southeast of Bohol province on Friday.

He assured that support from the government would continue for vulnerable sectors, particularly farmers and fisherfolk affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

“To our countrymen here in Bohol, we and President Rodrigo Duterte are ready to serve you… don't be shy to come to us if we can help because it is our job,” Go said in the statement.

He thanked the Boholanos for giving them the opportunity to serve, pledging not to waste the same opportunity by doing everything for service until the last day of their term.

The activity was held in batches at the municipal gym in compliance with the necessary health and safety protocols against Covid-19.

Some of the beneficiaries also received new pairs of shoes while others were provided bicycles for their daily commuting needs.

Others were given computer tablets to help their children study and access educational materials at home.

Meanwhile, 30 former members of the New People's Army who received the aid have been listed as beneficiaries under the Barangay Development Program of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, a whole of nation approach of fighting against the five decades of rebellion in the country.

Also, personnel from the Department of Agriculture turned over new fishing boats and nets as part of an ongoing effort to assist vulnerable sectors impacted by Covid-19.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) provided each beneficiary with financial assistance in a separate distribution.

The Department of Health (DOH), in turn, handed out assorted medicines and assistive walking devices to those in need.

On the other hand, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority conducted assessments for their respective assistance programs.

Generoso Tubio, 56, one of the recipients of the aid, thanked Go for sending help to the fishermen who are reeling from dwindling catches.

To further ensure their health and well-being, the senator also assured that his office is ready to help any beneficiary with medical concerns so they can get the treatment they need.

He advised them to seek medical assistance from the Malasakit Center at the Governor Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital in Tagbilaran City or the Don Emilio del Valle Memorial Hospital in Ubay.

The center is a one-stop shop that brings together the desk representatives of the DOH, DSWD, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

The Malasakit Center program, which Go initiated in 2019, has assisted more than two million poor and indigent patients nationwide.

How once insurgency-inflicted barangays rose from ‘hell’

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 1, 2021): How once insurgency-inflicted barangays rose from ‘hell’ (By GENE BAQUIRAN)

For how many years, they lived in fear, poverty, lack of freedom, and insurgency.

The simple dream of sleeping at night peacefully was turned into nightmare as they hear gun fights and explosions from just nearby.

For Mang Goryo, now 57 years old and a former barangay official of Balanni in Sto. Nino, Cagayan, he witnessed how his barangay lived in poverty – they inherited poverty ever since and they never experienced having a good life because of the communist insurgency.

“Hindi na kami umunlad at naka-recover. Nahirapan kaming kumilos at nahirapan kaming ilapit ang mga tao sa gobyerno,” he said as he put the blame on the New Peoples Army.

(We never knew what progress is. We were unable to mobilize and convince my constituents to draw closer to our government.)

As a former official, they often climb the mountains to retrieve corpses of NPA members or the military who died during encounters. It is one of the hardest, he revealed.


Thanks to President Duterte who dared to end once and for all the local communist armed conflict, as Mang Goryo said, now they will also have a chance to live in peace and experience a better life for their children.

Soon, priority projects in the six insurgency-cleared barangays namely Brgy. Apayao and Villa Reyno in Piat; Barangay Annurturu, Liuan, and Minanga in Rizal; and Barangay Balanni in Sto. Nino, will commence after the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has released the P20 million funding each for the barangays.

For Flordeliza Casinos, they will no longer have to carry sacks of their crops and produce on their backs and walk miles just to bring them from the foot of the mountains where their fields are. The farm-to-market roads which will be constructed soon will mean a lot for them.

73-year old Mang Dencio from Sto. Niño, Cagayan shares their situation back in 1980s where NPA terorrist members would prevent soldiers from helping them by initiating an encounter.

A resident of Balanni in Sto. Niño, Cagayan extends her gratitude to President Duterte for all the infrastructure projects that are being and will be implemented in their barangay.

For Mang Recto of Liuan, Rizal, the upcoming health center will mean better health services for the community. With this, they need not go to the neighboring town of Tuao to just to avail health services.

School head Angely Saludo of Liuan Elementary School cannot hold her tears as she recalled how hard she tried to convince parents to bring their children to school. But, with Barangay Liuan now being declared as insurgency-free and now a beneficiary of a three-classroom school, she cannot contain her happiness as she sees a more comfortable education for her pupils.

Potable water system, farm-to-market roads, health facilities, and livelihoods are just a few of the projects the people will enjoy soon.

Members of the Cagayan Valley RTF-ELCAC conduct a service and information caravan in barangay Manauan in Rizal, Cagayan on June 12.

"For sure, when we have good roads and when vehicles start to come and go in our barangay, the NPA will no longer come to disturb us," Mang Gaudencio said.

Imelda Rosales, chief of the Regional Project Development and Management Unit of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) in the region, said that the Support to Barangay Development Program (SBDP) is one of the newest programs of the National Task Force - Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) which was lodged through DILG under the localization of the Executive Order No. 70. This, she said, aims to institutionalize the whole-of-the-nation approach in attaining inclusive and sustainable peace and directing the adoption of a national peace framework.

Cagayan is lucky to have the first six barangays mentioned to receive financial support. They are now part of the 822 barangays nationwide identified by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as “insurgency-free barangays”.

Today, 52 more barangays in the region are awaiting for the AFP’s declaration to be insurgency-free so that they will also become beneficiaries of P20-million worth of community projects.

Now, 73-year old Mang Dencio will have an opportunity to see his grandchildren live a life far better than his generation. The thought of having the next generations inherit the same hell life he had lived was now a thing of the past. Fear has now tuned to cheer as he envisions his grandchildren enjoying a peaceful and better life. No more fear, no more poverty, no more nightmares. (MDCT/JCK/GVB/PIA Cagayan)