Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Army soldiers reminded to be vigilant

 From the Visayan Daily Star (Dec 22, 2012): Army soldiers reminded to be vigilant (By GILBERT P. BAYORAN)

Army soldiers stationed in typhoon-affected areas in Visayas have been reminded by Maj. Gene. Benedict Arevalo, 3rd Infantry Division commander, to be extra vigilant while engaged in disaster relief operations.

Malacañang has yet to announce if the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police will observe the traditional yuletide season cessation of hostilities against the New People’s Army.

Our operations against the CPP-NPA will continue even this yuletide season as it our duty to protect our communities from the threats of these extortionist-terrorists, Arevalo said.

Brig. Gen. Inocencio Pasaporte, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, also welcomed an unofficial cessation of hostilities between government forces and NPA rebels, so efforts can be concentrated on assisting residents in Typhoon Odette-hit areas of Negros Occidental.

Pasaporte said that they are assisting in clearing operations to reach isolated upland remote areas of southern Negros.

Ka Juanito Magbanua, spokesperson of Apolinario Gatmaitan Command – New People’s Army (AGC-NPA), issued a statement on Monday enjoining all its units to focus all efforts in helping the people affected by typhoon Odette within the territory of each guerrilla front.

Based on the instructions of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the AGC-NPA commanded NPA units to organize and mobilize the people collectively in repairing destroyed houses, farms and other sources of livelihood and take heed of public health, Magbanua said.

He, however, reminded all NPA units to be alert always against plans of government forces to sabotage their relief and rehabilitation efforts.

PLt. Abegael Donasco, deputy provincial police spokesperson, yesterday that they are now in full alert status, in connection with the founding anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines on December 26.


TFD | 2 threats prompt stricter measures for Yuletide season

From the Mindanao Times (Dec 22, 2021): TFD | 2 threats prompt stricter measures for Yuletide season (By RHODA GRACE SARON) ON DECEMBER 22, 2021

THE TASK Force Davao assured Davaoeños of safe Christmas and New Year’s celebration despite the Facebook post from the Davao City government page disclosing about “two bomb threats”

A post on the city government’s Facebook page on Tuesday revealed that the security cluster is presently investigating two bomb threats that it recently received.

“Violent extremism is a scourge around the globe and Dabawenyos should, at all times, remain vigilant. On the other hand, threats may be politically motivated,” the post said.

However, in a phone interview, Col. Darren Comia, the Task Force Davao commander, clarified that it was not a bomb threat.

“It’s a threat in (a form of) a letter. However, we are on top of the situation,” he said. “We have already a lead (on the suspect). We have the closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage,”
Comia said.

The Task Force Davao commander added that, hopefully, they can get more details soon.

“We are just encouraging Davaoeños to report anything or encourage the culture of security by reporting suspicious-looking individuals and similar things that can create panic,” he further said.

According to the report, Comia said a concerned citizen reported to the authorities when he saw the letter that was placed on a vehicle at San Pedro Square near City Hall on Dec 20. The letter was written in Visayan.

Also, Comia revealed that last August, the Central 911 also received a threat from an unidentified caller.

“But definitely, these two threats are different based on my analysis,” he further said.

Moreover, the Task Force Davao commander said that the public need not panic and instead trust the law enforcement authorities to do their jobs.

For now, he said they are looking for an individual or person as he dismissed the possibility of terror involvement.

“It’s just groups that want to create panic or chaos. But we are not taking it lightly. We are taking it seriously and looking into it,” he said.

He encouraged people to immediately report information to the Task Force Davao hotline numbers:

Landline: 224-0911

Smart: (0999) 227 1111

Globe: (0917) 131 4333


Wounded NPA rebel tracked and arrested

From the Mindanao Times (Dec 22, 2021): Wounded NPA rebel tracked and arrested (By RHODA GRACE SARON)

AUTHORITIES tracked and captured a wounded member of New People’s Army (NPA) on Dec. 17, following a recent encounter in the hinterlands of Sitio Mangilit, Barangay Bal-ason, Gingoog City.

Soldiers of the 58th IB, together with the 1001st Maneuver Company, Regional Mobile Force Battalion Region X (RMFB-10), arrested Robert Hilogon, squad leader of Platoon Cherry Mobile, Guerilla Front Huawei, Sub-Regional Command 1, North Central Mindanao Regional Committee (NCMRC).

He was later discovered to have a gunshot wound on his left lower foot.

2Lt. Monique Olarte, assistant civil military operations Officer of 58IB, said concerned civilians gave a tip regarding an unknown male who was transported to their area and was apparently wounded. The suspicious activity piqued the residents’ interest, and they immediately reported it to 58IB.

The suspect has a standing arrest warrant with Criminal Case No. 2292-M (2018) at the Balingasag PNP. Hilogon was then turned over to the Balingasag MPS for proper disposition and case filing.

Lt. Col. Ricky L Canatoy, commanding officer of the 58IB said, “During the apprehension of Boyka, troops immediately checked on his wound and provided proper first aid before handing over to Balingasag MPS.”

He urged the remaining active NPA members to return to the folds of the law and surrender before becoming casualties of the ongoing focused military operations.

“To the surviving members of SRC1, NCMRC, now is the time to return. Return to the legal folds and join the government’s efforts to find a solution. You can always approach a reliable local government official or the Army to express your submission to the government, and we will ensure that you are not harmed or killed, and that you can instead take advantage of the E-CLIP benefits and begin living a worry-free life with your family,” Canatoy said.


Davao City gets bomb threat

 From MindaNews (Dec 21, 2021): Davao City gets bomb threat (By ANTONIO L. COLINA IV)

The City Hall of Davao. MindaNews file photo by MANMAN DEJETO

A still unidentified person left a letter on Tuesday at the City Hall containing a bomb threat, an official of the Public Safety Security Command Center (PSSCC) said.

Retired Police Lt. Col. Angel Sumagaysay, PSSCC head, said in a text message Tuesday that personnel from Davao City Police Office and Task Force Davao are investigating to determine the identity of the person who left the “threat letter”.

He said authorities are not taking the threat lightly, stressing that each threat is a very serious matter.

“There is an ongoing investigation to find out who left the threat letter at City Hall and whether it’s real,” he said.

He added that business activities during the yuletide season will not be halted and assured Dabawenyos that the city remains “safe and secured” with security forces deployed to enforce peace and order.

In an advisory posted on its Facebook page, the city government said that authorities are currently investigating two bomb threats.

“Violent extremism is a scourge around the globe and Dabawenyos should, at all times, remain vigilant. On the other hand, threats may be politically motivated particularly from people who have evil intent,” it said.

It encouraged the public to report immediately information about planned terror attacks and report any suspicious activities to Task Force Davao hotline numbers: 224-0911, 09992271111 (Smart) and 09171314333 (Globe).

Sumagaysay told residents to nurture the “culture of security” to quell threats of terrorism.

“We need the support of the public, most especially if they see something, they report… Let’s remain vigilant and support your security cluster,” he said.

On September 2, 2016, a bomb explosion at the Roxas Night Market in the city killed 15 persons and wounded 69 others.


Lorenzana hails AFP on 86th founding anniversary

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 21, 2021): Lorenzana hails AFP on 86th founding anniversary (By Priam Nepomuceno)

File photo

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana lauded the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as he described the institution as the country's sentinel that protects its democracy against various threats, as the military marks its 86th founding anniversary on Tuesday.

"As a bastion of strength and valor, the Armed Forces of the Philippines is the country’s sentinel against threats to our democratic way of life. Over the years, the AFP has defended our communities from communist rebels, terrorists, other lawless elements, and calamities. During disasters and emergencies, our troops braved dire situations to bring assistance to victims," he said in a message to reporters.

Lorenzana said the hard-earned trust bestowed upon the AFP by the Filipino people, year after year, is due to the dedicated service and patriotism of our men and women in uniform.

"We have seen genuine reforms in the military take shape over the years. It has become a more efficient, effective, and professional organization that the Filipino can rely on. Its anniversary theme, 'AFP@86: Kaagapay ng Mamamayan, Lalaban para sa Kapayapaan, Sagisag ng Kadakilaan' encapsulates its tasks and its mission," the DND chief added.

Lorenzana also thanked the military for constantly watching over the archipelagic nation.

"Tunay ngang ang AFP ang kalasag ng sambayanang Pilipino. Nawa’y pag-ibayuhin at ipagpatuloy n’yo nang buong husay at dedikasyon ang pagtupad sa inyong tungkulin na mapangalagaan ang ating bansa. Mabuhay ang Sandatahang Lakas ng Pilipinas! (It is true that the AFP is the shield of the Filipino nation. May it continue serving and protecting the country with excellence and dedication)," he added.

Quiet celebration

Meanwhile, AFP chief Lt. Gen. Andres Centino said activities for the occasion have been scrapped to express solidarity with the victims of Typhoon Odette.

"We will forego the AFP anniversary program, parade, and fly-by in solidarity and sympathy with our kababayans and not disrupt our ongoing humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations. We shall celebrate while doing our jobs in the field. This is how we will honor our long history of service and tradition of sacrifice to the Filipino people," he said.

While the military may not be able to fully alleviate the suffering of affected families and individuals, Centino hoped that they can "at least give them a sense of comfort and security" in these uncertain times and during the holiday season.

"Despite this, we will not be remiss in recognizing every soldier, sailor, airman, and marine who have put their lives on the line in the fulfillment of our mandate to protect the people and secure the state. Our snappiest salute goes to those who are in the countryside, those manning Covid-19 isolation and treatment facilities, and those who are involved in disaster response operations," he added.


BDP budget cut may endanger NPA-cleared barangays: DILG

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 21, 2021): BDP budget cut may endanger NPA-cleared barangays: DILG

Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya (File photo)

With the severe cut made by the bicameral conference committee (Bicam) to the 2022 budget of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), the Department of the Interior Local Government (DILG) fears that many cleared barangays may become susceptible anew to the influence of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

In a virtual NTF-ELCAC presser on Monday, DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said with the reduced NTF-ELCAC budget which includes the Barangay Development Program (BDP), the Task Force comprising the various government agencies must convene immediately to discuss the realignment of the budget for each barangay.

“There is an entire possibility that there will be barangays who will not receive some projects or other barangays will have a reduction of projects. NTF-ELCAC should meet or NSA (National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., task force Vice Chairman) should call for a meeting para mapaghandaan ang (to prepare for the) reduction,”
Malaya said.

He added that these projects for the intended 1,406 barangays for 2022 have already gone through a long process and were chosen by the barangay residents themselves.

“So ang mangyayari po nito ay imbes na complete package ang makukuha nila. Kung humihingi sila ng kalsada, school building at water sanitation systems, baka ang maipagawa na lang po natin ay kalsada (So what will happen is that instead of the complete package, if they will ask for roads, school building and water sanitation systems, on road will be constructed). But, in any case, there will be a dramatic reduction in the projects that will be implemented by government,” the Task Force Spokesperson on Local Government Affairs and BDP added.

“BDP is not a pork barrel project,” Malaya said further explaining that in this year alone, BDP has a total of 2,318 ‘on-going projects’ for conflict-affected barangays to enable them to resist the lies and intimidations of the CPP-NPA-NDF and gain their support after military and police efforts drove them away from these communities.

“Ako mismo ang bumisita dito at napuntahan ko ang mga proyektong ito (I myself visited these projects). I saw for myself the benefit of these programs para sa ating mga kababayan (for the people). So these projects are very, very important to the barangays that are BDP beneficiaries. But it (P17.1 billion) is a far cry from the P28.1 billion for the 1,406 barangays (programmed to be beneficiaries) for 2022. The implementation is that we reduce the number of barangays or reduce the budget per barangay. Ipinangako na ng pamahalaan ito kailangang tuparin (The government promised this and must be fulfilled),” Malaya said.

On the other hand, Davao de Oro Governor Tyron Uy, whose barangays are supposed to benefit from the program, said that while he was happy that the Bicam heeded the calls of local officials like him, the budget slash will still severely hinder the government’s program to attain peace in far-flung barangays infested by the CPP-NPA-NDF.

“It was a bitter sweet victory. From the PHP4 billion earlier allocation, naging (it became) more or less PHP18 billion. But not fully restored budget. And through our voices, our pleas were heard by our legislators,” Uy said.

The ‘dramatic reduction’ of the BDP also suffered another blow when Typhoon Odette devastated parts of Visayas and Mindanao regions including Governor Uy’s jurisdiction where barangay projects were affected by the typhoon.

“This may be an opportunity for the enemies of the state to push their agenda,” Uy said, adding that they had a similar experience in 2013 when typhoon Pablo became an opportunity for the CPP-NPA-NDF to influence the typhoon-hit barangays in his turf.

“During that time nag-start ang Salugpungan. The insurgents masking themselves na tutulong sa mga pag-aaral ng mga kabataan na magbigay ng mga paaralan (that they will help in giving education to the youth by giving school) end up in recruiting our youth as child warriors. I am not speaking only in my province!” Uy narrated.

The local official hoped that this legacy project of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte will continue to sustain efforts to bring peace in villages formerly controlled by local communist insurgents.

Uy said that the budget cut “is another battle to hurdle” as he called on other LGUs to take other initiatives like using their ‘quick-response fund’ to help those beleaguered by typhoon Odette.

As for the BDP, Uy added that they have to contend using the small amount in building one to two kilometers of “opening” road instead of a complete farm-to-market road. However, based on the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and DILG Guidelines on BDP this kind of projects are not allowed.

“We just have to prioritize (projects) na makakapagbigay ng malaking (that will give big) impact,” Uy said.


Army deploys communications equipment to typhoon-hit areas

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 21, 2021): Army deploys communications equipment to typhoon-hit areas (By Priam Nepomuceno)

Photo courtesy of Philippine Army

The Philippine Army (PA) on Tuesday announced that it has deployed additional satellite phones, very small aperture terminal (VSAT), and electric generators to typhoon-affected areas to provide a communication system to hasten the government's disaster response.

"As of today (Tuesday), we already deployed a satellite phone and VSAT at Headquarters, Western Command in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, and three VSAT in Visayas Command (VISCOM). One VSAT installed in Mactan Cebu is now functional and provides internet connectivity to the Philippine Air Force in Mactan Air Base. The other two VSAT will be installed today at VISMIN Headquarters in Lahug, Cebu City, and Tacloban City," said PA chief, Maj. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr., in a statement.

The newly deployed equipment is over and above the issued satellite phones, VSAT, and military radios deployed in all Army units nationwide. "In this time of crisis, communication is vital for our commanders and leaders to address the needs of our people better. Hence, we put a premium on the installation of needed communication equipment in critical areas while waiting for our telecom companies to restore their services," Brawner added.

Private telecom companies' telephone and internet services are not available in areas hit by Typhoon Odette since December 16.

Aside from providing critical communication to government officials, the PA also supported the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts of the local government units (LGUs) in Northern and Eastern Mindanao, Eastern Visayas, and some areas in Southern Luzon.

"In collaboration with the LGUs and local disaster response unit, our soldiers conducted preemptive evacuation as early as December 15 before Odette hit Mindanao, Visayas, and some areas in Southern Luzon. Search and rescue operations followed on December 16. Our engineering units are also helping the clearing of roads while the majority of our units are helping the government in its continuing relief operation Odette affected areas," Brawner said.

He also assured the Filipino people that the PA is working 24/7 with other government agencies and sectors to expedite the necessary assistance to reach the affected residents.


State lawyers to contest early release of Rowe gunman

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 21, 2021): State lawyers to contest early release of Rowe gunman (By Benjamin Pulta) 

State lawyers have filed a motion asking the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) to reconsider its decision ordering the release of the accused in the April 1989 murder of American military adviser, Col. James Rowe, in Quezon City.

In its 28-page decision dated November 8, Muntinlupa RTC Judge Gener Gito ordered the release of Juanito Itaas, who is deemed to have already served his sentence under the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) rules.

Itaas has served 32 years, 1 month and 12 days of the total 39 years and six months of his sentence.

Under the GCTA, he would be credited with 10,698 days or the equivalent of 29.31 years since his arrest on Aug. 27, 1989.

“I have been informed that the OSG (Office of the Solicitor General) has filed an MR (motion for reconsideration) in the trial court, arguing that petitioner is not due for release from prison yet,” Department of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told reporters via text message on Tuesday.

Guevarra said state lawyers will also appeal the portion of Gito’s order declaring invalid a portion of the 2019 implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the GCTA law or Republic Act (RA) 10592, which allows for a reduction of sentences of persons deprived of liberty, depending on how well they abide by rules and regulations inside any penal institution, rehabilitation, or detention center or any other local jail.

Citing the amended IRR, Gito said the provision “should be declared invalid for being contrary to the law it seeks to implement.”

Gito pointed out that the provision of the IRR is based on Section 1 of RA 10592 which amended Article 29 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) that provides that credit for “preventive imprisonment will be deducted for the penalty of reclusion perpetua” but “recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees and persons charged with heinous crimes are excluded from the coverage of this Act.“

“It is, however, the view of the Court that the phrase ‘provided, finally, that recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees and persons charged with heinous crimes are excluded from the coverage of this Act’ cannot be used as justification for the expansion of the exceptions from the benefits provided by RA 10592. This phrase properly pertains only to those accused covered by Article 29 of the RPC – those who are undergoing preventive imprisonment,” he explained.

“In any event, only the SC (Supreme Court) can determine with finality any issue of constitutionality,” Guevarra said.

Itaas was convicted by the Quezon City RTC Branch 88 in February 1991 for Rowe’s death and the injuries sustained by his Filipino aide, Joaquin Binuya.

Rowe, a West Point graduate and one of only a handful of Americans to escape captivity during the Vietnam War, was a military adviser to the Philippines at the time of his killing by the New People’s Army assassin.

He was 51.

Itaas’ co-accused, Donato Continente, was released from prison in 2005 after it was determined that he was only an accomplice.


Navy patrol craft brings aid to typhoon-hit Dinagat Islands

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 22, 2021): Navy patrol craft brings aid to typhoon-hit Dinagat Islands (By Priam Nepomuceno)

RELIEF OPS. A Navy personnel gives hot meals to typhoon-hit residents at the Port of San Jose in Dinagat Islands province on Tuesday (Dec. 21, 2021). The feeding activity conducted by personnel of the Navy's patrol craft BRP Rafael Pargas benefited 200 residents. (Photo courtesy of Philippine Navy)

MANILA – A Philippine Navy (PN) patrol craft, the BRP Rafael Pargas (PC-379), is now conducting relief operations for residents of Dinagat Islands which was severely affected by the onslaught of Typhoon Odette.

One of the relief missions conducted by the naval craft and its crew is a feeding activity for 200 residents of the locality, PN spokesperson Commander Benjo Negranza said in a statement Wednesday.

"Responding personnel onboard BRP Rafael Pargas (PC-379) of the Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao, conducted feeding activity for 200 residents of Dinagat Islands on December 21," he added.

Negranza said the feeding activity took place at the port of San Jose.

Aside from that, the crew of BRP Rafael Pargas also managed to activate the nearby deep-well water pump using the ship's generator, allowing the production of clean water for the residents.

"A charging station has also been put up at the port, allowing residents to power up essential battery-operated devices such as mobile phones," Negranza said.

He added that the ship also unloaded assorted cargoes containing relief goods and other construction materials intended for the typhoon-hit province on December 20.

BRP Rafael Pargas is one of the 19-ship humanitarian aid-focused vessels of the PN.

"These efforts demonstrate the holistic nature of the PN's capability to conduct humanitarian assistance and disaster response, which significantly contribute to the relief of our affected countrymen from their ordeals," he added.

As this developed, the PN on Tuesday has received the donations given by the Rotary Club of Manila intended for typhoon victims in Cebu

These consist of 20 sacks each of "banig" (mats) and blankets, eight sacks of slippers, and eight units of solar generators. These items are among the cargoes BRP Tarlac (LD-601) is transporting to Cebu.


AFP transport assets deployed for 'Odette' ops: DND

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 22, 2021): AFP transport assets deployed for 'Odette' ops: DND (By Priam Nepomuceno)

Photo courtesy of Philippine Navy

All available air, sea, and land transportation assets of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have been deployed to conduct operations in support of the government's relief and rehabilitation efforts in areas ravaged by Typhoon Odette.

During the Talk to the People on Tuesday night, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told President Rodrigo Duterte that the AFP has flown one of its BN-2 Islander aircraft and S-70i "Black Hawk" combat utility helicopter to conduct the rapid damage assessment analysis (RDNA) in over the areas of Siargao, Dinagat Islands and Surigao City on December 17.

RDNA is needed to determine the exact extent of the damage suffered.

On December 18, Lorenzana said Air Force EADS CASA C-295 medium transport aircraft was deployed to bring relief goods to Siargao to aid the affected residents.

On December 19, a Lockheed C-130 "Hercules" heavy transport aircraft and another S-70i were deployed to transport relief goods and other items from Surigao City to Siargao.

Meanwhile, Lorenzana said the presidential yacht, the BRP Ang Pangulo (AT-25), was converted into a floating hospital and is now headed for Siargao.

The Defense chief added that three other Navy ships, on December 20, has started to transport relief goods and medicines to Surigao City, Siargao, and Cebu.

He also said that another smaller, carrying Presidential Communications Operation Office chief Martin Andanar, a very small aperture terminal (VSAT) which was used for communications purposes, assorted canned goods arrived in Siargao and also transported locally stranded individuals.

Lorenzana added that one generator set was also dispatched to the Western Command in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

Meanwhile, another C-295 was deployed to transport relief goods to Cebu and Panglao, Bohol, and another C-130 was dispatched to ferry equipment from Cebu to Tacloban.

While the Fokker F-27 transport was used to ferry Cabinet secretaries during Duterte's visit to Bacolod earlier. And on December 21, Lorenzana said a C-130 flew a mobile water treatment plant to Cebu.

The aircraft managed to conduct two missions that day. Also, the Navy's bigger ships are now on the way to Surigao, Dinagat Islands, Cebu, and Bohol carrying assorted relief goods, mobile water treatment plants, and family tents to help the affected communities there.

Lorenzana said 10 aircraft have so far managed to carry 87,000 pounds of relief items to the devastated areas while six ships have managed to transport 258 tons.

He added that 86 search-and-rescue teams have been deployed so far with another 677 on stand-by if needed.

Lorenzana also said 88 6x6 trucks are now deployed with another 821 on reserve and could be deployed if needed.

Overall, 19 air assets consisting of helicopters, C-130, C-295, and N-212 transport aircraft have been deployed for "Odette" response missions.

Lorenzana also said that four S-70is are also available to the Eastern Mindanao Command along with two Bell 412 helicopters; seven S-70is and one Bell 412 and one GAF Nomad transport in the Visayas Command; and another Nomad and Islander aircraft in the Western Command.

He added that Unified Commands were also instructed to complete the RDNA in the affected areas before Friday to assist the Office of Civil Defense in completing its damage assessment reports which were requested by the President.

Another ship is now underway and headed for Palawan to help the affected residents there.

Also, another ship, the LD-601 (BRP Tarlac), is now in the process of being loaded with relief supplies in Pier 13, Manila South Harbor, and will be used to carry these items to either Cebu, Bohol, or Siargao.

Another ship is in Sangley Point and being loaded with relief supplies and will be deployed to Mindanao and the Visayas.