Saturday, July 31, 2021

Kalinaw News: NPAs affected barangay receives livelihood assistance thru BESO Outreach Program in Pres Roxas

Posted to the Kalinaw News Website (Jul 31, 2021): NPAs affected barangay receives livelihood assistance thru BESO Outreach Program in Pres Roxas

ARAKAN, COTABATO – Department of Agriculture – Special Area for Agricultural Development (DA-SAAD) 12 in partnership with Koronadal City Eagles Club, Municipal Local Government Unit (MLGU) of Pres Roxas, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) 12, Army’s 1002nd Infantry “Bagwis” Brigade, 72nd Infantry “Gabay” Battalion and various Government and Agricultural Agencies successfully conducted Barangay Extension Service Operations (BESO) Outreach Program held at Barangay Tuael, Pres Roxas earlier today, July 31, 2021.

Barangay Extension Service Operations (BESO) Outreach Program is a project of DA-SAAD 12 which aims to reach out to IP Communities in Region 12 specifically in Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDAs). This activity is one of the sustainment efforts of DA to address the issues, concerns and needs of the people, to uplift and enhance their living conditions and to educate them with better livelihood programs especially during this Pandemic. Also, this activity serves as a bridge to the interventions of various Government Agencies to extend their projects and programs as “A Holistic Approach to Agriculture and Fisheries Transformation” to the people in Region 12. It is an effective approach in achieving a long lasting peace and development that everyone is aspiring for and in attaining a peaceful and conflict-resilient community to end our more than five (5) decades of struggle against insurgency.

Barangay Tuael was known as one of the Communist Terrorist Groups (CTGs) affected barangays in the Municipality of Pres Roxas which was later cleared by the Community Support Program Teams (CSPTs) and now being monitored and assisted by the Community Development Team (CDT).

The activity was graced by Mr. Arlan M Mangelen, Regional Executive Director, DA-SAAD 12; Hon. Krista Piñol-Solis, Board Member; Hon. Jonathan O Mahimpit, Municipal Mayor, Pres Roxas; Ret. Col Celestino Desamito Jr, DA 12 Farm Manager; Eagle Reuel Zambra, President Koronadal City Eagles Club; Dir. Eduardo Marquez, Regional Director NICA 12; Hon. Daniel B Pontongan, Barangay Chairman, Barangay Tuael; Mr. Eduardo Castin and Mr. Angel Cervantes, RAFC/PAFC Chairman; Mr. Romel F Jaculba, Municipal Agriculturist; Col. Ted B Dumosmog, Deputy Brigade Commander, 1002nd Bde; LTC Jose C Regonay Jr, Commanding Officer, 72IB; staff from DA-SAAD 12; and troops and officers of 1002Bde and 72IB.

It started with a Tree Planting activity and was steered thru series of inspirational messages coming from the heads of various Government Agencies, intermission numbers from IP Groups of Pres Roxas and subsequently the Ceremonial Toasting of Milk and Ceromonial Distribution of DA-SAAD 12 Interventions. Among the interventions were 100 bags of Urea; 50 bags of GM Hybrid Corn Seeds; 100 packs of Sweet Corn seeds; 150 sachet of Pheromone; 2 boxes of Rodenticide; 50 bottles of Insecticide; 200 packs of vegetable seeds; 2 sets of Garden Tools; 300 pcs of Assorted Fruit Trees; 6 heads of Sheep; 10 heads of Chicken; 25 bots of Foliar Fertilizer; 50 packs of Vegetable Seeds (PAKBET); 1 carabao head; 100 pcs of Coconut Hybrid Seedlings; 3000 Tilapia Fingerlings; 200 bots of Cold Milk; 150 food packs from DA 12; 100 pairs of slippers from DA 12; 10 sets of Garden Tools w/ boots; 150 food packs from Eagles Club; 100 pairs of Slippers from Eagles Club; and mushroom production (with starter kit) and food processing (with starter kit)

“We, the Department of Agriculture will do everything to reach out and facilitate the delivery of agricultural services to the people of Region 12. I strongly urge everyone to work together and support the programs of the Department of Agriculture because these programs are intended for all of you.” Mr. Mangelen said in his message.

In behalf of Hon. Nancy A Catamco, Governor of North Cotabato, Hon. Krista Piñol-Solis expressed her gratitude and commended the dedication and commitment of DA 12 for extending their hands to the residents of Barangay Tuael. She assured that the Provincial Government of North Cotabato will give its best effort and full cooperation in the implementation of programs and projects of the Government thru the Department of Agriculture for the Cotabateños.

Further, Hon. Mahimpit said in his message, “I am very thankful for everyone who made this outreach program sucessful. I assure all of you that this program will not go to waste. We will monitor these interventions and work together achieve a more productive and prosperous Pres Roxas.” He also expressed his gratitude to all the men and women in uniform for their unwavering support and commendable performances in maintaining the peace and order in the their Municipality.

In response, Col. Ted B Dumosmog, Deputy Bde Commander, 1002nd Bde lauded the Department of Agriculture for their initiative of reaching out and extending their services to the residents of Barangay Tuael. He assured that the Army will continue to support all the programs, projects and interventions of the Government while doing its sworn duty to maintain peace and order in the Province of North Cotabato.

[Kalinaw News is the official online source of information on the pursuit for peace in the Philippines This website is a property of the Civil-Military Operations Regiment, Philippine Army located at Lawton Avenue, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City. Contact us:]

Kalinaw News: JTF Bicolandia calls on the families of NPA members to convince them to surrender as another terrorist dies in security forces’ continuous intensified operations

Posted to the Kalinaw News Website (Jul 31, 2021): JTF Bicolandia calls on the families of NPA members to convince them to surrender as another terrorist dies in security forces’ continuous intensified operations

CAMP ELIAS ANGELES, Pili, Camarines Sur-Another joint security operations of the Army and PNP yielded positive result early morning of Saturday, July 31.

One communist NPA terrorist (CNT) was killed while an M14 rifle and anti-personnel mines were seized from an armed clash between the government troops and Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) at 3:40 in the morning in Barangay San Juan Daan, Bulan, Sorsogon.

Prior to this, troops from 22nd Infantry Battalion (22IB) received a report from some concerned citizens about the presence of CNTs in the area which prompted them to conduct security operations together with the personnel from Bulan Municipal Police Station, 2nd Provincial Mobile Force Company (2PMFC) and Police Provincial Office.

Operating troops then clashed with at least 14 CNTs which resulted in the demise of one communist insurgent.

Lt. Col. Nelson Mico, Battalion Commander of 22IB credited the accomplishment to the residents who pinpointed the location of the CNTs preempting any unlawful acts the terrorist group plans to hurl.

“Sa mga Sorsoganon, maraming salamat po dahil hindi ninyo pinababayaang makapaghasik ng karahasan sa inyong komunidad ang mga teroristang ito,” Lt. Col. Mico said.

Meanwhile, Col. Aldwine Almase stressed that with the CTG now crumbling down, the security forces are even more determined to totally eradicate them.

“We will sustain this momentum until all CTG members will finally realize that they are long been defeated. Hindi na sila makakabawi pa lalo na ngayong lalong lumalakas ang suporta ng ating mga kababayan laban sa terorismo,” Col. Almase said.

Furrhermore, MGEN HENRY A ROBINSON JR PA, Commander of the Joint Task Force (JTF) Bicolandia, warned the CTG about the intensified operations of security forces and the growing support of the Bicolanos which will give them no chance of regaining influence in communities.

“We have negated the CTG from their mass bases and the people are also very supportive of the government’s goal to wipe out communist insurgency. Sa mga kaanak ng mga natitirang miyembro ng teroristang grupong ito, ‘wag kayong papayag na dumating ang araw na uuwi sa inyo ang inyong mga mahal sa buhay na gaya nitong casualty ngayon sa engkwentro, wala ng buhay at inabandona pa ng kaniyang mga kasamahan. Kayo, higit kaninuman, ang may kakayahang kumbinsihin silang talikuran ang walang saysay na armadong tunggalian na wala namang idudulot na kabutihan. Kung kailangan ninyo ng tulong, lumapit kayo sa amin dahil handa kaming maging katuwang ninyo upang iligtas sa peligrong dala ng CTG ang inyong mga kapamilya,” MGen. Robinson said.

It can be recalled that just last July 19, two CTG members were also killed in an armed clash in Sagñay, Camarines Sur while 12 high-powered firearms were seized. In Daraga, Albay, a CNT was also killed last July 16 after a fierce gunfight with government troops. Two high-powered firearms, explosives and terrotistic propaganda materials were also seized while the troops overran the enemies’ hideout as well.

[Kalinaw News is the official online source of information on the pursuit for peace in the Philippines This website is a property of the Civil-Military Operations Regiment, Philippine Army located at Lawton Avenue, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City. Contact us:]

Kalinaw News: Army, NPA clash anew in Zambo Norte

Posted to the Kalinaw News Website (Jul 31, 2021): Army, NPA clash anew in Zambo Norte

CAMP SANG-AN, ZDS – The 97th Infantry Battalion battled undetermined numbers of the communist terrorist group in So. Kumangoy, Brgy. Carupay, Katipunan, Zamboanga del Norte, Friday afternoon, July 30.

The 10-minute firefight with the elements of the Guerilla Front-BBC and Regional leadership of the Western Mindanao Regional Party Committee (WMRPC) incurred no casualties on the government side while the CTG scampered in different directions.

“This is a result of our follow-up focused military operations after the previous clash we had with the same group last July 4 in Brgy. Kauswagan, Sergio Osmeña Sr., ZDN, where one of their comrades was killed,” said Lt. Col. Manaros Boransing, Commanding Officer, 97IB.

In a statement, Brig. Gen. Leonel Nicolas, Commander, 102nd Infantry Brigade, who has operational jurisdiction in the Zamboanga Peninsula and Misamis Occidental, said that the sustained military operations would continue against the WMRPC despite the ongoing pandemic.

“We have already gained the momentum in dismantling five Guerilla Fronts and declaring two provinces as insurgency-free along with our efforts in continuously supporting the local government unit in preventing the spread of COVID-19,” said Brig. Gen. Nicolas. “Our priority remains the same, the protection of our people from terrorism and all forms of threat.

Maj. Gen. Gene M. Ponio, the 1ID commander, mentioned the futility of armed struggle that brought suffering, death, and misery to the Filipino people.

“Five decades of armed struggle have not solved any of our problems. It has caused more problems to the society,” Maj. Gen. Ponio reiterated. “We all yearn for a peaceful country. To the remaining CTG members, surrender now before it’s too late. A great life awaits you.”

[Kalinaw News is the official online source of information on the pursuit for peace in the Philippines This website is a property of the Civil-Military Operations Regiment, Philippine Army located at Lawton Avenue, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City. Contact us:]

Unfazed, church leaders push for peace talks resumption beyond 2022 polls

From the online publication Davao Today (Jul 31, 2021): Unfazed, church leaders push for peace talks resumption beyond 2022 polls (By JIGGER J. JERUSALEM)

With the classification of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) as a terrorist group by the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) recently, a group of Christian church officials is determined to support and initiate moves that will revive the peace negotiations between the government and Communist guerrillas.

According to the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP), they will work for the revival of the peace talks and will continue to do so beyond the 2022 local and national elections when the country will have already chosen its new set of political leaders.

“Whoever is the President, we will push the agenda for the resumption of peace talks,” said Bishop Rex Reyes Jr., PEPP co-chairperson, in a phone interview Thursday, July 29.

Reyes said the PEPP is strong in its belief that “there is no alternative to peace talks” as armed conflict and bloodshed will just go on if both parties will not go back to the negotiating table and resume the talks.

“It is in our culture to talk things out. This is not a political agenda. Whoever sits [as president], we are motivated to do it and call for the resumption of the peace talks,” the prelate said.

Reyes said they are unfazed by the fact that Pres. Rodrigo Duterte only have a few months left in office as PEPP is determined to lobby for the revival of the peace negotiations even after the current chief executive is no longer in power.

It can be recalled that in 2019, Duterte had ordered the official termination of the talks and directed the government panelists to withdraw from the negotiating table after reports of Communist insurgents launched a series of attacks against security forces and law enforcement personnel all over the country since he assumed office in 2016.

“Whether he [Duterte] listens or not, it is not an issue for us. If they listen to us, then good. If not, we will push for the resumption of the talks. That has been our stand ever since,” Reyes said.

For his part, Archbishop emeritus Antonio Ledesma, PEPP co-chairperson, said the group is also considering on making the peace talks as “an election issue.”

Voting criteria

In a separate phone interview Thursday, Ledesma said they will inform their church members that one of the criteria of voters in choosing candidates is to elect those who advocate for peace-building.

He added they will bring the issue to the people in the parishes and small groups and “start with local level conversation and bring the stakeholders to the discussion” so that there will be a deeper understanding and appreciation of the importance of the peace talks.

Meanwhile, in its July 22, 2021 statement, the PEPP has expressed its dismay of the ATC’s designation of the NDFP as a terrorist group.

The ATC’s declaration, the group asserted, “tragically closes the door to what is truly called for: a peaceful resolution of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the NDFP conflict.”

It said, “Sadly, with this action the ATC buried 29 years of laborious and painstaking agreements and gradual steps toward peace” as it took jabs at the government who seems to be “ignoring that peace is a sacred right of all people and guaranteed as a fundamental duty of the state.”

PEPP added the ATC’s decision confirms that the Anti-Terrorism Law is a huge hurdle to the promise of peace everyone as it is being used as a weapon in a total war against so-called terrorists.

It said the ATC designation demonstrates that the government is using its full resources to subdue not just the NDFP but also the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing the New People’s Army.

The group said the ATC “does not fully recognize that violence will not resolve the conflict, that the most judicious way to address its roots – poverty, landlessness, inequitable access to resources – is to resume the formal peace talks.”

The designation and the present course that relies on the use of violent means only increase the likelihood of more violations in human rights and international and humanitarian law, it added.

Escalation of harmed civilians

“We are therefore greatly concerned about the escalation of civilian populations being harmed as seen in the rising cases of killings, threats, harassment, and restriction of movements of farming and indigenous communities in remote rural areas,” PEPP said.

It added: “This latest designation by the ATC also begs the question: Are groups supporting or calling for the resumption of the formal peace talks with “designated terrorists” next in the ATC’s crossfires as well?”

As church leaders, PEPP said they “will not falter in our belief and call that the most viable option for a just and lasting peace is through a negotiated peace settlement coupled with meaningful social and economic reforms.”

The group has also appealed to the government to rescind its designation of the NDFP as a terrorist organization and recognize the lasting devastation this will have on the Filipino people’s trust in the state’s competence to resolve internal conflicts through peaceful negotiations.

“We continue to appeal to both parties to return to the negotiating table. We also call on our people to pray and work for peace and support prospective candidates in the coming elections who are committed to genuine peace,” it added.

Intel soldier killed, 2 others hurt following torching of P32-M equipment in Northern Samar

Posted to Intel Stock (Jul 31, 2021): Intel soldier killed, 2 others hurt following torching of P32-M equipment in Northern Samar – Manila Bulletin (By YUUMA NAKAMURA)

Following the reported burning of P32-million worth of heavy equipment in Las Navas, Northern Samar by alleged members of the New People’s Army (NPA), a member of the 83rd Military Intelligence Company (MICO) of the Philippine Army was killed while two companions were wounded after ten suspected armed guerillas waylaid them in Baragay Dolores, Las Navas while conducting a follow-up on the torching incident.

Las Navas chief of police Police Lt. Ariel Baldoza identified the casualty as Staff Sgt. Leopoldo Omanito Jr. while wounded-in-action were Corporals Argie A. Solayao and Jayson B. Bautista.

Initial investigation disclosed that the MICO personnel were on their way to Barangay San Francisco to investigate the torching of nine heavy equipment set on fire by suspected NPA terrorists Wednesday, July 28.

However, when the MICO personnel arrived in the area on board single motorcycles,
10 armed guerillas opened fire at them.

An exchange of fire occurred for at least two minutes until the armed men left the area. The soldiers sustained multiple bullet wounds.

Locals and passersby who were in the area assisted the three military personnel and brought them to the Rural Health Unit of Las Navas where they were given first aid before they were taken to the Northern Samar Provincial Hospital in Catarman, Northern Samar, some 78 kilometers away from the municipality.

Omanito died while being treated while the two wounded MICO personnel are still being attended in the hospital.

Meanwhile, 8th Infantry Division commander Major Gen. Pio Q. Diñoso III denounced the CTGs’ burning of construction equipment in Northern Samar.

He assured all Samarnons that the Army will continue to work closely with the people to ensure that government projects are completed and delivered to the people.

“There could only be one reason for this arson, their demand for money and more money have not been met as contractors have had enough of this terrorist extortion. Nonetheless, the contractors will not be cowed and have pledged to not give in to terrorists’ demands,” he said.

Suspected NPA rebel killed in Sorsogon clash

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 31, 2021): Suspected NPA rebel killed in Sorsogon clash (By: Ma. April Mier-Manjares, Mar S. Arguelles)

A suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebel was killed in an encounter with government troops early Saturday in a remote village in Bulan town in Sorsogon province, a military report said.

Army Captain John Paul Belleza, 9th Infantry Division public affairs office chief, said Army troops were on combat patrol after
receiving information from villagers that a group of armed men was sighted at the vicinity of Barangay San Juan at around 3:40 a.m.

Sorsogon police, in a separate report, said police officers and soldiers from the 22nd Infantry Batallion and 903rd Brigade of the Philippine Army encountered at least 14 NPA members led by a certain Cennon/Tikong of Larangan 2 of Komiteng Probinsya 3 during the patrol.

A firefight then erupted and lasted for 5 minutes.

The still-unidentified rebel was wounded in the encounter and died while being taken to the hospital by government troops.

Recovered in the clash site were a caliber 7.62 mm rifle and an M14 rifles.

Belleza said pursuit operations are still going on as soldiers are scouring the mountainous areas where the fleeing rebels have fled.

New AFP Chief wants stronger military defense posture to protect PH territory

 From the Manila Bulletin (Jul 31, 2021): New AFP Chief wants stronger military defense posture to protect PH territory (By Martin Sadongdong)

Fortifying the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) defense posture will help the military to better defend the country’s territory from internal and external threats, including its maritime interests in the hotly-contested West Philippine Sea (WPS).

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (middle) presides over the joint change of command and retirement ceremony between Lt. Gen. Jose Faustino Jr. (right), newly-installed Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and now retired Gen. Cirilito Sobejana (left) at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City on July 31, 2021. (Screenshot from AFP livestream via radio DWDD)

This was the message emphasized by Lt. Gen. Jose Faustino Jr. in his assumption speech after he officially took oath as the 56th AFP Chief of Staff on Saturday afternoon, July 31, replacing now retired Gen. Cirilito Sobejana.

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana presided over the joint change of command and retirement ceremony held at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

Faustino, who spent most of his career in Mindanao, said he wishes to establish a Center for Self-Reliant Defense Posture which shall “protect the country’s interests from foreign control” and “promote limited dependence and outside support for our defense requirements.”

“Self-reliance on our country’s defense manufacturing capabilities coupled with the full utilization of our own natural resources will be the foundation of our SRDP program. Without this capability and self-reliance, our country’s defense efforts will be forever dependent on foreign nations’ generosity or intentions when it comes to the defense of our territory,” he said.

“I intend to pursue a reliable and appropriate defense posture for the attainment of lasting peace. To accomplish this, we will follow a direction based on experience and best practices learned over decades of service and collective efforts to achieve [the] goal of having a safe and peaceful country for our people,” he added.

The trailblazing military commander knew that the military should be able to manufacture its own aircraft, ships, fighting equipment, and other assets if it wants to be at par with its Southeast Asian neighbors.

To change the narrative that the AFP is one of the most underequipped military organizations in Southeast Asia, a revised modernization program was implemented under the administration of the late former Pres. Benigno Aquino III in 2013 where the government boosted the capabilities of the military through an increased defense spending.

Currently, the modernization program is on its second “horizon” or phase which will run from 2018 to 2022. The first phase was conducted from 2013 to 2017 while the third and last phase will take place from 2023 to 2028. Among the military’s new acquisitions include two missile-capable frigates, six close air support aircraft, and 16 combat utility helicopters.

Addressing violent extremism

Faustino also wanted to establish a Center for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (CPCVE) to “better understand the intricacies of violent extremism and find relevant solutions.”

He said the CPCVE will provide a “holistic, inter-disciplinary, collaborative, community-based, [and] preventive approach” to “study, document, and quantify” the nature and magnitude of the threat factors that contribute to the radicalization of Filipinos.

This was a challenge he personally had to face as a commander of the Davao City-based Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) in January 2020, and head of the Joint Task Force for Peace and Security in Mindanao in May 2021 where he oversaw the joint operations of EastMinCom and Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) against Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), Dawlah Islamiyah (DA), and Maute Group among other local terrorist groups.

“The AFP’s overall military disposition, condition of readiness, and strength shall be fined-tuned to respond to the challenges we are now facing,” Faustino said, noting that insurgency is among the biggest threats being faced by the country along with the coronavirus disease pandemic (COVID-19), territorial dispute, terrorism, and natural disasters.

But Faustino acknowledged that developing a Center for Self-Reliant Defense Posture and Center for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism are Herculean tasks since he will only serve as AFP Chief for barely four months unless his tenure is extended by President Duterte. He will reach the compulsory retirement age of 56 years old on Novermber 12, 2021.

Nonetheless, he is optimistic that he will be able to achieve this through the support of the 130,000-strong AFP.

He urged every soldier, airman, sailor, and marine to “serve with honor and patriotism,” and “place our national interest over [personal] interest, patriotism over politics, sacrifice over comfort, and to do the right thing over [what] is convenient.”

“We should all move towards our goal of winning the peace and defending our country despite the odds,” said Faustino, a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) “Maringal” Class of 1988.

Valor awardee retired

Meanwhile, Sobejana, who is considered as one of the “living legends” of AFP, capped off his career as a military man which spanned 38 years and four months. He celebrated his 56th birthday on Saturday, the mandatory retirement age for military personnel.

Then a captain, Sobejana became a recipient of the Medal of Valor award or the highest military honor after he courageously led his 20-member unit against a 150-member Abu sayyaf Group in Isabela, Basilan in 1995. He sustained a severe injury on his right hand, so bad it was almost severed from his body. His unique left hand salute is forced by this injury.

He thanked their Commander-in-Chief, President Duterte, and Defense Chief Lorenzana for giving him the opportunity to serve the AFP as its 55th Chief of Staff even for a brief stint. He only served for around six months, having been appointed in January.

“My service does not end upon my retirement. Me, as a ranger, will always heed the call of duty if necessary,” he said.

Ex-army chief Faustino named AFP chief of staff, 10th under Duterte

From Rappler (Jul 30, 2021): Ex-army chief Faustino named AFP chief of staff, 10th under Duterte (By JAIRO BOLLEDO)

Lieutenant General Jose Faustino Jr., a former army chief with Davao ties, will serve as military chief only until November

Lieutenant General Jose Faustino Jr., a former army chief, was named the new chief of staff of the Armed of the Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday, July 30.

Faustino is the 10th military chief appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte in less than six years, rivaling the 11 AFP chiefs named by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in her nine years as commander-in-chief.

In a statement released on Friday, the AFP confirmed Faustino's appointment.

The AFP said Faustino’s experiences qualify him to lead the 140,000-strong military.

“His wealth of experience and passion for service as a Commander and staff officer, gives him the mettle to lead the AFP in accomplishing its mission especially as we turn up a notch in our operations in achieving lasting peace and development in the country,” the AFP said.

Faustino replaced the short-termed Cirilito Sobejana, who reaches the mandatory retirement age of 56 on Saturday, July 31. But just like his predecessors, Faustino will also serve for a short time because he is slated to retire in November.

Duterte is known for assigning police or military chiefs who will be retiring in less than a year. Sobejana served for only six months (January to July 2021) while his predecessor, Gilbert Gapay, led the military for only five months (August 2020 to January 2021).

Davao ties

Faustino served as the commander of Davao-based Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom). Under his leadership, the Eastmincom focused on the operations against the New People’s Army.

The new AFP chief of staff also led the 10th Infantry Division based in Davao de Oro and served as chief of the 11th Intelligence Service Unit in Davao City.

Eastern Mindanao commander Jose Faustino is next Army chief

He also led the army troops as the commander of 35th Infantry Battalion and the 501st Infantry Brigade in Southern Mindanao.

From Mindanao to AFP

Prior to his appointment as the highest-ranking military officer, Faustino held at least two vital positions in the AFP.

After his stint in Mindanao, Faustino served as army chief but only for 104 days. His term as the 6th commanding general of the army under Duterte was cut short on May 18, after Senator Panfilo Lacson, flagged Faustino’s appointment as unconstitutional.

Lacson said that Faustino’s appointment was illegal under the law that required major service chiefs and other senior officers – except for the military chief of staff – to have at least one year in active service as a condition for their promotion.

Shortly, the military created the Joint Task Force Mindanao and appointed Faustino as its first-ever commander.

Faustino is a member of the ruling Philippine Military Academy Maringal Class of 1988.

The three highest officers of AFP services are his mistahs. These are Army chief Major General Andres Centino, Air Force chief Lieutenant General Allen Paredes, and Navy flag officer-in-command Rear Admiral Adeluis Bordado. – with reports from Pia Ranada and Rambo Talabong/

New AFP chief eyes 'self-reliant defense' approach for PH

From Rappler (Jul 31, 2021): New AFP chief eyes 'self-reliant defense' approach for PH

Lieutenant General Jose Faustino Jr says he wants to establish a Center for Self-Reliant Defense Posture to 'protect the country's interests from foreign control and promote limited dependence and outside support for our defense requirements'

Lieutenant General Jose Faustino Jr. formally assumed office as the 56th chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines on Saturday, July 31.

Faustino took his oath in a change of command ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City. He succeeded short-termed Cirilito Sobejana, who reached the mandatory retirement age of 56 on Saturday.

In a speech, Faustino said he aims to strengthen the military's defense posture to better address the country's "internal and external security issues."

"I wish to establish a Center for Self-Reliant Defense Posture (SRDP) which shall protect the country's interests from foreign control and promote limited dependence and outside support for our defense requirements," he said.

"Self-reliance on our country's defense manufacturing capabilities coupled with the full utilization of our own natural resources will be the foundation of our SRDP program," he added.

Faustino also proposed the establishment of a unit that would zero in on violent extremism in the Philippines.

"The [Center for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism] will provide a holistic, interdisciplinary, collaborative, community-based, preventive approach to study, document, and quantify the nature and magnitude of threat factors that contribute to the radicalization of some of our countrymen," he added.

Faustino once led the Davao-based Eastern Mindano Command, which focused on its crackdown against communist rebels under his leadership.

Faustino only has a few months to work on his ambitious suggestions, as he is set to retire in November.

Ex-army chief Faustino named AFP chief of staff, 10th under Duterte

Faustino is the 10th military chief chosen by President Rodrigo Duterte, who often appoints those who are nearing retirement.

6th CRG has new commander

From Palawan News (Jul 25, 2021): 6th CRG has new commander (By Aira Genesa Magdayao)

Lt. Col. Rey Polinar (left 2nd picture on second row) assumed the position as the new commander of the 6th CRG during a virtual Change of Command Ceremony on Friday, July 23, 2021.

Lt. Col. Rey Polinar has assumed the position as the new commander of the 6th Civil Relations Group (CRG) of the Civil Relations Service Armed Forces of the Philippines (CRSAFP) in Palawan.

Major General Manuel Varias Sequitin of the Philippine Army (PA), commander of the CRSAFP, presided over the virtual Change of Command Ceremony on Friday, July 23, at the Camp General Artemio Ricarte, Western Command in Puerto Princesa City.

Major Rommel Panganiban turned over the group commander post to Polinar.

Polinar is the 21st commander of the 6th CRG.

Polinar was previously assigned as intelligence officer of the 3rd Marine Brigade under the command of retired general Andrei Costales of the Philippine Navy-Marines from 2013 to 2014.

In his message, Panganiban said that they provided support to Western Command and different Joint Task Forces and Palawan PTF ELCAC in the information-related capabilities as well as collaborate with the appropriate government agencies and private individuals.

This is where the 6th CRG guiding words emerged: collaborate, inform, and influence, he said.

He further stated that he is extending his gratitude to the Enlisted Personnel, Civilian Human Resource, Joint CMO Task Group, and stakeholders particularly to the ELCAC Stratcom Clusters, KADRE-Palawan, SAMBAYANAN-Palawan, and PIGLAS-Palawan who actively expressed support for the 6CRG to accomplish its mission and goals.

Polinar took the challenge as the new Commander and vowed to pursue the mission of the 6th CRG, CRSAFP with zeal, through the collective effort of all the personnel in his Command and the stakeholders as well.

Desperate NPA terrorists burn construction equipment in Northern Samar

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 29, 2021): Desperate NPA terrorists burn construction equipment in Northern Samar (By 8ID, PA)

CAMP GENERAL VICENTE LUKBAN, Catbalogan City -- In a desperate move to derail the efforts of the Northern Samar Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, the Communist NPA Terrorists (CNTs) burned several construction equipment around 4 a.m. on Thursday, July 29, in Brgy. San Francisco, Las Navas, Northern Samar.

Burned equipment includes a 10-wheeler dump truck, two backhoes, crane, one self-loading vehicle (prime mover), soil compactor, grader, two loaders, and generator set.

The said equipment are owned by MDU Construction with more than a hundred employed construction workers in the completion of the road project in barangays Quirino and San Francisco, both of Las Navas. The project which is targeted to be completed by end of December this year, shall connect the Northern Samar and Eastern Samar provinces in Eastern Visayas.

The information received disclosed that more or less 20 fully-armed CNTs arrived in the area and simultaneously burned the above-mentioned equipment.

Accordingly, the CNTs burned the equipment due to the refusal of the construction company’s owner to their extortion demand.

Major General Pio Q. Diñoso III, commander of the 8th Infantry Division in his statement said that the recent burning of construction equipment used for road projects in Las Navas clearly showed that the NPA is anti-development, anti-people, and anti-Samarnons.

“This terroristic action has derailed the completion of this vital road project that will connect the Eastern towns of Samar to the rest of the island and make the lives of the people in the area much easier. There could only be one reason for this arson, their demand for money or more money has not been met as contractors have had enough of these terrorists' extortion. Nonetheless, the contractors will not be cowed and have pledged to not give in to terrorists' demands,” Major General Diñoso said.

Diñoso also assured the people of Eastern Visayas that the Philippine Army will work closely wCancelith these project proponents to ensure that projects of the government will be finished and be delivered to the people at all costs.

“While this setback has been costly, projects will continue and no terrorist will be able to stop us if we will act together against them,” Diñoso added. (8ID, PA)

OPAPP intensifies info drive on dispute resolution program

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 31, 2021): OPAPP intensifies info drive on dispute resolution program (By OPAPP)

BULUAN, Maguindanao -- Representatives from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), provincial government of Maguindanao, government security forces, and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) met on Tuesday to discuss the program on dispute resolution being implemented in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

The meeting is part of the continuing consultation between OPAPP and peace partners to assess the implementation of the program in the context of the deliverables under the Normalization Program, as well as to craft a more responsive framework that is suitable and reflects the context of the conflict situation in Maguindanao.

According to Dir. Farrah Grace V. Naparan, chief of staff of the Joint Normalization Division, dispute resolution is an integral aspect of the normalization's track's security component under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

The dispute resolution program is being carried out in parallel with the Small Arms Light Weapons (SALW) and Disbandment of Private Armed Groups (DPAGs) programs, and the decommissioning of MILF combatants to help improve peace and security in the Bangsamoro.

“Lahat po kasi ito nakatahi. We cannot achieve ‘yung security sa Bangsamoro if ‘yung dispute resolution is treated separately,” Naparan explained.

In recognition of the crucial role of LGUs in dispute resolution and their deep understanding of the dynamics of local conflict, OPAPP and the Provincial Government of Maguindanao signed a Memorandum of Agreement in 2020 to officially launch the program on dispute resolution.

OPAPP also turned over P11.7 million funds to the provincial government of Maguindanao for the implementation of the said program.
The peacebuilding initiative seeks to put an end to rido cases or family conflicts in the BARMM, improve socioeconomic conditions in conflict-affected areas, and empower communities to address issues of conflict and peace through activities that promote social cohesion.

The program was integrated into the AGILA HAVEN program of the provincial government of Maguindanao, a peacebuilding mechanism which aims to prevent violent extremism.

Roger Dionisio, focal person of AGILA HAVEN, said that Maguindanao Governor Bai Mariam Sangki-Mangudadatu tasked the Maguindanao Peace, Mediation, Reconciliation, Unification and Investigation (MP MERUIT) - a vital component of AGILA HAVEN - to intensify the settlement of all rido cases in the province.

‘’The MP MERUIT was tasked by the governor to settle all family conflicts or rido in the entire province of Maguindanao,” Dionisio said.
“With the leadership of Mike Midtimbang, they were able to accomplish a substantial number of settlements given the fact that they've been only operating in less than 2 years,” Dionisio emphasized,” he added.

To date, fifteen rido cases in the province have already been settled by MP MERUIT.

The MERUIT executive secretariat, together with the Maguindanao Provincial Planning and Development Committee, is now finalizing the digitalization of data on rido to further strengthen the program on dispute resolution not only among different agencies, but also to those families involved in rido cases.

“It (dispute resolution program) will be our reference in the planning office in crafting programs not just for those involved in the rido but even the family,” Nulfarid Ampatuan, assistant PPDC stressed.

“The governor has a program on ‘yung mga asawa nila under project AGILA and sa UNGaya para sa mga anak ng mga involved sa rido. Under itong lahat sa AGILA HAVEN,” Ampatuan added.

Meanwhile, Atty. Jesus Doque IV, consultant of the GPH Peace Implementing Panel lauded the PLGU of Maguindanao for their efforts to address rido problems in the province.

"Maganda na andito kami at nakita namin ang magandang ginagawa ninyo.’Yun naman ang hangarin ng OPAPP, na the LGUs are doing their part in the normalization process," Doque said. (OPAPP)

PCG acquires vessels to boost maritime security, safety

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 28, 2021): PCG acquires vessels to boost maritime security, safety (By Marites Paneda)

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) acquired two (2) 94-meter multi-role response vessels (MRRVs) under the Maritime Safety Capability Improved Project Phase II (MSCIP Phase 2) to improve the country’s maritime security and safety.

Launched on July 26, 2021, at the Shimonoseki Shipyard of Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. in Japan, the new vessels will significantly boost the PCG’s capabilities in conducting maritime search and rescue, maritime law enforcement, humanitarian assistance, and disaster response operation.

The two MRRVs will be the largest vessels of the PCG’s fleet, modeled after the Japan Coast Guard (JCG) Kunigami-class ships measuring approximately 94 meters, with a maximum speed of not less than 24 knots endurance of not less than 4,000 nautical miles.

Department of Transportations (DOTr) Secretary Art Tugade said the acquisition of new vessels is a breakthrough towards the government’s thrust of modernizing and upgrading the country’s maritime safety and border protection.

The first 94-meter MRRV is expected to arrive in Manila by March 2022, while the second vessel will arrive by May 2022.

PH Marines' Battalion Landing Team 1 redeployed to Tawi-Tawi

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 31, 2021): PH Marines' Battalion Landing Team 1 redeployed to Tawi-Tawi (By Teofilo Garcia, Jr.)  July 31, 2021, 12:04 pm

REDEPLOYED. Troops of the Marine Battalion Landing Team-1 (MBLT-1) board a Philippine Navy vessel on Thursday (July 29, 2021) at the port of Luuk, Sulu en route to their new place of assignment in the province of Tawi-Tawi. The MBLT-1 was assigned to fight the Abu Sayyaf Group in Sulu more than five years ago. (Photo courtesy of the Joint Task Force (JTF)-Sulu Public Affairs Office)

The Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) has redeployed its Marine Battalion Landing Team-1 (MBLT-1) to the province of Tawi-Tawi, more than five years after the unit was deployed to fight the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Sulu.

The Joint Task Force (JTF)-Sulu said in a statement Saturday the MBLT-1 will replace one of the marine battalions in Tawi-Tawi, which is scheduled to undergo refresher training.

During a send-off ceremony at the port of Barangay Tanduh Bato, Luuk, Sulu, Brig. Gen. Antonio Bautista Jr., 1101st Infantry Brigade commander, thanked the MBLT-1 for its efforts rendered in the province.

Bautista represented Maj. Gen. William Gonzales, JTF-Sulu and 11th Infantry Division commander, during the ceremony.

“It has been an honor to work with you as a fellow member of the JTF-Sulu family. Indeed, you've proven your worth and I'm certain that the people of Sulu are grateful for your service. As you will be deployed in Tawi-Tawi, I know that you will have the same motivation in carrying out your missions. Godspeed and may continue making the Marine Corps proud,” Bautista told the MBLT-1 troopers.

The MBLT-1 was deployed in the Sulu on February 5, 2016, under the then Philippine Marine Ready Force, which later became the 4th Marine Brigade (4MBde).

After five years of faithful and dedicated service to the people of Sulu, MBLT-1 has to leave the area of operations of 4MBde in the second district of Sulu and be operationally controlled by the 2nd Marine Brigade stationed in Tawi-Tawi.

The send-off ceremony was witnessed by Erwin Tan, representative of Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan, several town mayors from the second district of Sulu, and other military officials to include Brig. Gen. Benjamin Batara Jr., 1102nd Infantry Brigade commander. (

BIFF strength waning, more members to yield: PH Army

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 31, 2021): BIFF strength waning, more members to yield: PH Army (By Noel Punzalan)

SECOND CHANCE. Four of 11 former BIFF extremists take their oath of allegiance to the Philippine flag, denouncing violent extremism, after their surrender to the Army in Maguindanao on Tuesday (July 27, 2021). The Army’s 6th Infantry Division said the BIFF’s strength is waning and more are expected to surrender in the coming days. (File photo courtesy of 6ID)

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao – A military commander here said the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) is weakening as more extremists realize they were misguided and fighting a lost cause.

“More have expressed to surrender but (are) just waiting for an opportune time,” Col. Pedro Balisi, commander of the Army's 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade, said in an interview here Saturday.

Balisi said 80 to 90 BIFF radicals left in the marshland of Maguindanao are expected to surrender soon.

Local government officials, including village leaders, he said, are continuously convincing those misguided by the BIFF ideology to surrender peacefully to the government and live normal lives.

“Our focused military operations geared towards them also forced the extremists to surrender,” he added.

Maj. Gen. Juvymax Uy, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division (6ID), said relentless military operations would continue for those who refuse to surrender.

“Our doors have remained open, though, to those who wish to be with their families and live peaceful lives,” he said.

On Tuesday, 11 members of the BIFF yielded to the 6ID with their high-powered firearms that included a .50-caliber anti-aircraft machine gun, a .30-caliber machine gun, an M-203 rifle, a .50-caliber Barret sniper rifle, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, and several Garand and Carbine rifles.

“The latest surrenderers belonged to the Bungos and Karialan faction(s) of the BIFF,” Uy said in a separate interview.

Haron Akil, one of the BIFF surrenderers, and the other 10 disclosed that many of their companions want to yield as they are tired of running away from pursuing military forces.

“We expect them to also yield soon,” he said in the vernacular.

Uy said the surrenderers would get financial aid and a livelihood package from the Maguindanao provincial government to help them start with their new lives as peaceful and productive citizens.

More than 150 BIFF have surrendered to the government since 2020.

5 disgruntled NPA rebels yield in Agusan Norte

 From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 31, 2021): 5 disgruntled NPA rebels yield in Agusan Norte (By Alexander Lopez)

NEW LIVES. Lt. Col. Julius Cesar C. Paulo (4th from left), commander of 23IB, welcomes the surrender of five disgruntled and fatigued fighters of the dismantled Guerrilla Front 4A of the NPA in Agusan del Norte. The NPA rebels formally surrendered at the 23IB headquarters in Barangay Alubihid, Buenavista, Agusan del Norte on Friday (July 30, 2021). (Photo courtesy of 23IB)

Five disgruntled New People’s Army (NPA) rebels voluntarily surrendered to the 23rd Infantry Battalion (23IB) in the hope of changing their and their families' lives through the support of government programs and services.

Lt. Col. Julius Cesar C. Paulo, 23IB commander, welcomed the move, saying
the five former NPA combatants could no longer endure the exploitation, deception, and treacherous propaganda of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

“They appeared exhausted and fatigued when they voluntarily surrendered at our headquarters in Barangay Alibuhid, Buenavista, Agusan del Norte. They also indicated their refusal and disinclination to continue with the hopeless armed struggle being espoused by the CPP and its armed wing, the NPA,” he told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Saturday.

The five NPA rebels formally surrendered on Friday.

Paulo identified them as Alias “Alex”, 34; Alias Brando, 25; Alias Dave, 24; Alias Sam, 19; and Alias Kaduyag, 51 who were fighters under the dismantled Guerrilla Front (GF) 4A of the North Central Mindanao Regional Committee (NCMRC) of the NPA.

“The surrenderers are regular members and remnants of the dismantled GF-4A (DGF4A) of NCMRC attached to the 3rd Platoon led by a certain Crisanto Ligayna, alias Tazar,” he said.

The GF-4A operates in the areas of Las Nieves, Buenavista, Nasipit, Carmen, parts of Butuan City in Agusan del Norte, and Magsaysay and Gingoog City in Misamis Oriental.

The GF-4A suffered a major defeat in an encounter on May 10, 2020, in the boundary of Agusan del Norte and Gingoog City in Misamis Oriental. In the skirmish, 15 of the front's fighters, including the top leaders, were killed, leading to its eventual dismantling.

“(A) series of surrenders also took place, not only among its regular fighters but also the underground mass supporters in communities after the May 10, 2020 encounter,” Paulo said.

Based on the testimonies of the five surrenderers, the remnants of the front are facing difficulties in recovering their areas and experiencing difficulties due to hunger and fatigue as support from their mass base has been cut after the series of surrenders, he added.

Alias Brando, one of the surrenderers, said he went on hiatus after the front suffered heavy losses, not only during military operations but also on the series of surrenders of its mass supporters.

“After my rest, I decided to join the group to surrender to the 23IB to clear my name and to change the direction of my life and my family. I now pledge my support to the government,” Brando was quoted as saying in a separate statement issued by the 23IB on Saturday.

Paulo said the surrender is another serious blow to the ranks of communist terrorism in the areas of operation of the 23IB.

Six NPA rebels who were also remnants of GF-4A surrendered to the unit on July 21.

“We continue to encourage the remnants of the dismantled GF-4A to abandon the armed struggle and seek freedom. The unit is ready to help them leave behind their lives as outlaws and experience a better life under the fold of the government,” he said.

Paulo added that the unit is implementing stringent measures to prevent the remaining NPA rebels from recovery works and recruitment of new members.

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.

8 NPA rebels fall in Caraga police ops

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 31, 2021): 8 NPA rebels fall in Caraga police ops (By Alexander Lopez)

File photo by PRO13

Illegal drugs and loose firearms were confiscated and fugitives nabbed in Friday’s simultaneous police operations by the Police Regional Office in Caraga (PRO-13).

A total of 71.8 grams of shabu and 38.08 grams of marijuana valued at PHP849,334 were seized, 93 loose firearms were recovered, and 302 suspects of various crimes were arrested, PRO-13 director, Brig. Gen. Romeo Caramat Jr. said.

The 302 arrested suspects included 104 most wanted persons, 133 with standing arrest warrants, 25 violators of the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act, and eight New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.

“In our ongoing drive to end local communist armed conflict, PRO-13 also captured eight NPA rebels while another 22 insurgents surrendered to different police units, bringing with them 24 firearms of different calibers,” Caramat said in a statement.

“At least 32 persons involved in illegal drug activities were also arrested during the one-day operation,” he added.

He commended all police stations and units in Caraga for the success of the one-day operations.