Friday, December 30, 2022

Philippines protests Chinese aggression off Palawan

From the Mindanao Examiner (Dec 29, 2022): Philippines protests Chinese aggression off Palawan

THE PHILIPPINES has filed a diplomatic protest against Beijing after a Chinese Coast Guard vessel intruded in Filipino waters and forcefully grabbed a Chinese rocket debris retrieved by the Philippine navy in the West Philippine Sea.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said the incident occurred only last month off Pag-asa Island in Palawan, an archipelagic province located in the Mimaropa. Palawan is the largest province in the country in terms of total area of 14,649.73 km².

Beijing strongly denied there was force involved, claiming it was a friendly consultation between the parties. The Chinese Embassy in Manila said it has no information yet on Beijing's response to the latest diplomatic protest.

The DFA initially issued a note verbale seeking clarification from China, upon instructions of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

The Philippine Senate also passed a resolution condemning what it described as China's continued bullying in the West Philippine Sea.

Gunmen kill 3 village officials, injure 2 others

From the Mindanao Examiner (Dec 29, 2022): Gunmen kill 3 village officials, injure 2 others

PAGADIAN CITY – Two unidentified gunmen barged into a karaoke house and shot dead three village officials and wounded two other civilians in a daring broad daylight attack in Dumalinao town in the southern Filipino province of Zamboanga del Sur, police said.

Police said the victims - Richard Evidientes, 38; Arnold Evidientes Duhaylungsod, 44; and Joel Mendez Spadilla, 48; died on the spot from the assault while Eugene Borja and Cerillo Saranillo were wounded in the shooting. The attack occurred on Friday, December 16, but it was only announced recently.

“Investigation disclosed that prior to the incident the victims were having a drinking spree at the videoke house owned by certain Romeo Evedientes when suddenly two unidentified male suspects without any apparent reason shot the victims several times using caliber .45 pistol and caliber 9mm,” said Maj. Shellamie Chang, a regional police spokeswoman.

Chang said the attackers escaped on a motorcycle after the shooting. “Personnel of Dumalinao municipal police are now conducting a pursuit operation for the possible arrest of the suspects,” she said, adding, they are now investigating the motive of the attack.

No individual or group claimed responsibility for the shooting. The families of the victims have not issued any statement.

531 ex-NPAs in Caraga get P10.6-M livelihood aid in ‘22

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 29, 2022): 531 ex-NPAs in Caraga get P10.6-M livelihood aid in ‘22 (By Alexander Lopez)

BRIGHT FUTURE. The Department of Social Welfare and Development in the Caraga Region said some 531 former New People’s Army (NPA) combatants receive PHP10.6 million in livelihood grants under its Sustainable Livelihood Program in 2022. Photo shows the latest release of grants to 73 former NPA rebels on Dec. 14, 2022 in Tandag City, Surigao del Sur. (Photo courtesy of DSWD-13)


BUTUAN CITY – At least 531 former fighters of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) in the Caraga Region received some PHP10.6 million worth of livelihood grants from the regional Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD-13) office this year.

In a statement Thursday, DSWD-13 said the grants were distributed under the agency’s Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP).

Data provided by the agency indicated that 188 former rebels from Agusan del Sur got PHP3.8 million in livelihood cash aid this year, while 162 ex-combatants benefited from the PHP3.2 million assistance in Surigao del Sur.

Other program beneficiaries are the 160 former rebels from Agusan del Norte with a PHP3.2 million grant, and 21 others in Surigao del Norte got PHP42,000 in aid.

The latest distribution of SLP assistance this year was held in Tandag City, Surigao del Sur, on Dec. 14 where 73 ex-guerillas got PHP1.5 million in financial grants.

Among the beneficiaries was alias Jim, who spent more than three years of his life fighting the government under the NPA organization.

“The three years I spent with the communist movement was useless. It contributed nothing to myself and my family,” Jim said in the vernacular during an interview.

Jim said he decided to return to his family mid-last year as he worried about his family, especially his two children, amid the threats of the pandemic.

“Our leaders refused to allow me to go home. I asked them about their plans for our families, especially during the pandemic, but they have no plan for us,” he said.

Jim said he will use the PHP20,000 assistance he received to improve his farm in one of the communities in Surigao del Sur.

Another beneficiary, alias Arlo, 37, of Agusan del Norte said he received his livelihood assistance earlier this year.

“Now my family is benefiting from the livelihood venture I’ve been to for more than four months now,” he said.

Aside from his store, Arlo said he is also making money from electrical repairs because of the training he got from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

“My life is productive now. I hope my former comrades who are still roaming around the mountains disturbing the communities will open their eyes and leave the movement,” he said.

Under the SLP, the former rebels are assisted to increase their capabilities and productivity through different livelihood activities in their communities.

After surrendering, the recipients underwent various capability-building activities through training programs provided by different government agencies and local government units.

NPA courier surrenders in Zambo Sibugay

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 29, 2022): NPA courier surrenders in Zambo Sibugay (By Teofilo Garcia, Jr.)

ZAMBOANGA CITY – A courier of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) has surrendered to authorities in Zamboanga Sibugay province after three years with the rebel group, a police official said Thursday.

Col. Eduard Mallo, the provincial police director, said Albert Tinaypan yielded around 11:50 a.m. Wednesday at the municipal police station of Titay.

Tinaypan, 42, surrendered following a series of negotiations by the Titay police station together with the Regional Intelligence Unit-Zamboanga Peninsula (RIU-9) and Regional Investigation Division-9.

Investigation showed that Tinaypan was recruited into the NPA by a certain Ka Alice in 2019. He served as a courier of food and medicine supplies for the NPA Guerrilla Front-13, Western Mindanao Regional Party Committee.

The surrenderer was placed under custodial debriefing and released to village officials for reintegration back into mainstream society.

No ceasefire with rebels in Negros amid New Year revelry

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 30, 2022): No ceasefire with rebels in Negros amid New Year revelry (By Nanette Guadalquiver) December 29, 2022, 7:33 pm

BACOLOD CITY – The Philippine Army will not declare a truce with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) in Negros Occidental during the New Year holidays to prevent the enemy from taking advantage of the situation.

"We have learned our lesson from the past. They just took advantage of it," Col. Michael Samson, acting commander of the Philippine Army's 303rd Infantry Brigade, said on Thursday.

In previous years, the CPP-NPA would continue its recruitment activities and even attack government forces whenever a ceasefire was declared by the government.

Samson said if communist rebels want to spend time with their families in welcoming the New Year, they can come home but should not carry firearms.

"But it's even better that they abandon going to the mountains so they can always be with their families. They can become productive persons and help their communities instead," he added.

Meanwhile, the Negros Occidental provincial government has directed all city and municipal disaster risk reduction and management offices (DRRMOs) to raise a blue alert status from Dec. 30 to Jan. 2 as a precaution for possible weather disturbance coinciding with the New Year celebrations.

Provincial Administrator Rayfrando Diaz said all DRRMOs will be on a heightened alert level.

"We're all preparing for the festivities that will happen in the New Year. We are hoping and praying that everyone of us will put our safety to mind, as our top priority," he added.

Blue alert status requires 50 percent of concerned personnel to be in their posts at any time.

In a memorandum, Vice Governor Jeffrey Ferrer, who is the acting governor until Jan. 3, said there should be continued monitoring and preparedness of all concerned agencies, offices and disaster councils.

"Let us pray, prepare and be pro-active for a resilient and safer Negros Occidental," he added.

2 NPA 'spies,' 2 others surrender in Zamboanga

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 30, 2022): 2 NPA 'spies,' 2 others surrender in Zamboanga (By Teofilo Garcia, Jr.)

Google map of Zamboanga Peninsula.

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Four New People Army (NPA) rebels, including two "spies," have surrendered to authorities in Zamboanga Sibugay and Zamboanga del Sur provinces, a top police official said Friday.

Col. Richard Verceles, operations chief of the Area Police Command-Western Mindanao, identified the four NPA surrenderers as Ronald Langcunoy, 26; Ericjun Zacarias, 24; Ronilo Malig, 33; and Darlyn Montemayor, 22.

Verceles said Langcunoy surrendered around 2 p.m. Thursday in Barangay Lumbog in Imelda town, Zamboanga Sibugay, following a series of negotiations by police and military operatives.

Langcunoy said he served as a supply courier and cook of the NPA Main Regional Guerrilla Unit (MRGU), Western Mindanao Regional Party Committee (WMRPC).

Zacarias and Malig, on the other hand, surrendered Thursday afternoon at the municipal hall of San Miguel town, Zamboanga del Sur, where they turned over a .38-caliber revolver.

The duo’s surrender was facilitated by the police, military, and National Intelligence Coordinating Agency.

Zacarias and Malig claimed to have served as spies and couriers for the NPA Guerrilla Front Kara under the WMRPC.

Meanwhile, Montemayor surrendered around 4 p.m. Thursday at the municipal hall of Guipos, Zamboanga del Sur.

Verceles said the surrenderers pledged allegiance to the government and were released to the custody of their village officials for reintegration into mainstream society.

They were also given food packs by their respective local government units as initial assistance.

511 NPA fighters yield, 147 captured by Caraga cops in ‘22

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 30, 2022): 511 NPA fighters yield, 147 captured by Caraga cops in ‘22 (By Alexander Lopez)

NPA DECLINE. Brig. Gen. Pablo Labra II, Police Regional Office director in the Caraga Region, considers 2022 as the year of major decline for the communist New People’s Army (NPA) in the region. Intensified police operations this year have resulted in the surrender of 511 NPA members and the capture of 147 other combatants. (Photo courtesy of PRO-13)


BUTUAN CITY – At least 511 members of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) have surrendered to the various field units in the Caraga Region this year, according to the Police Regional Office in Caraga (PRO-13) on Friday.

Likewise, PRO-13 said 147 other NPA combatants – some holding high positions in the rebel organization – were also captured by the police during the period.

A total of 225 firearms of different calibers were also either surrendered or seized from the rebels.

In a statement Friday (Dec. 30), PRO-13 Director, Brig. Gen. Pablo Labra II said the arrest and surrender of NPA combatants in the region are the result of the continuous internal security operations by the local police units in the region.

“The PRO-13 was able to conduct 126 major combat operations, 241 minor combat operations, and 62 joint operations with the Armed Forces of the Philippines this year,” Labra said.

Intensified police law operations this year also dismantled the underground movements of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)–NPA in Caraga and prevented its resurgence to protect the communities.

“This year marked the decline of the CPP-NPA activities in the region, Labra said, pointing out that three NPA guerrilla fronts (GFs) were weakened – Guerrilla Fronts 16, 21, and 30.

Three GFs and two sub-regional committees (SRCs) in Caraga were also dismantled this year, particularly GFs 4A, 88, and 19, and SRCs 1 and 3.

Police operatives also managed to arrest top rebel leaders, Dr. Maria Natividad Silva Castro, also known as Dr. Maria Natividad and "Alias Yam," as well as Atheliana Hijos alias "Ka Atel."

Natividad, considered as a priority target, is an alleged member of the CPP Central Committee and heads the group’s National Health Bureau, while Hijos is Gabriela’s secretary-general in the region.

The PRO-13 vowed to continue the fight against the CPP-NPA in 2023 to fully free the region from communist cruelties.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Only 2,112 NPA fighters left – AFP

From the Philippine Star (Dec 27, 2022): Only 2,112 NPA fighters left – AFP (By Michael Punongbayan)

After 54 years of existence, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said the communist rebel group, considered as a local terrorist organization, has suffered significant strategic losses as it lost a great number of guerrilla units, leaders and members.  STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Because of sustained military operations coupled with the whole-of-nation approach of bringing development to far-flung areas and offering benefits to surrenderees, the military believes that the New People’s Army (NPA) now has only 2,112 fighters left.

After 54 years of existence, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said the communist rebel group, considered as a local terrorist organization, has suffered significant strategic losses as it lost a great number of guerrilla units, leaders and members.

The military, releasing figures yesterday, said the NPA has been reduced to 2,112 members with 1,876 firearms, from 89 to 22 guerrilla fronts with 17 already classified as weakened.

The military said NPA leaders neutralized by government forces include Helenita Pardales, secretary of the Eastern Visayas regional party committee; Ericson Acosta, top NPA leader of Komite Rehiyon-Cebu-Bohol, Negros, Siquijor; Rogelio Sapon Gerondio Jr., secretary of sub-regional committee 3 in Agusan del Norte; and Gina Belsa Granada, secretary of defunct guerrilla front in Zamboanga del Norte.

The AFP also claimed that from as high as P4.2 billion in 2017, the NPA was allegedly only able to extort P8.5 million in 2022.

During the recent celebration of the 87th AFP founding anniversary rites, Armed Forces chief Lt. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro said the military has achieved strategic victory against the NPA.

“We can confidently state that we have achieved strategic victory and are inching closer to total victory against these terrorists,” he said. “Our localized peace-building efforts, with multi-stakeholder and whole-of-nation approach, also yielded positive results, as we encouraged enemies of the state to return to the fold of the law and build goodwill with communities.”

AFP spokesman Col. Medel Aguilar said the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), following the death of its founder Jose Maria Sison last Dec. 16, has lost its relevance. “The death of its founding chair, ‘teacher and guiding light’ leaves the UGM (underground movement) with no sense of purpose and direction,” Aguilar said.

The CPP central committee yesterday dismissed the Philippine military and defense department’s claim that NPA guerrilla fronts are “now down to five,” calling the figure “ludicrous.”

Although the CPP acknowledged the underground armed movement has suffered setbacks and losses in some parts, “these are mainly caused by internal weaknesses and errors.”

It remains confident “that (it) can gain unprecedented strength, lead the revolutionary movement in the Philippines to steadily advance in the coming years and achieve victories much greater than ever before.” – Artemio Dumlao, Ralph Edwin Villanueva, Jose Rodel Clapano

250 duped communist supporters pledge allegiance to govt

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 27, 2022): 250 duped communist supporters pledge allegiance to govt (By Jerome Carlo Paunan)

Photos by PIA-NCR

MANILA, (PIA) -- At least 250 residents of Barangay 185 Malaria in Caloocan City, who were deceived into supporting the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-New People’s Army (NPA)-National Democratic Front (NDF), officially declared their withdrawal of support to the communist cause in a simple ceremony on Monday.

Apart from pledging and signing their oath of allegiance to the Philippine Republic, the group also vehemently expressed their disgust and signified their abandonment of the communist front organization that they said “used and deceived” them for rallies and mass demonstrations. The ceremony was lead by Barangay Malaria Chairperson Ronnie Masaoay.

“They (communist front organization operatives) used and deceived us. This time we will no longer believe in their lies, and we condemn their wrongdoings. We want to live in peace,” they said unanimously.

The event, which coincided with the 54th founding anniversary of the CPP, is a joint effort of all government agencies and security forces for the attainment of peace and development in Metro Manila. These agencies include the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA-NCR), Joint Task Force NCR (JTF) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG-NCR), among others.

NICA-NCR Assistant Regional Director Marcial Mendoza expressed his appreciation for the event and said that, “This is a clear manifestation that the Whole of Nation Approach or Executive Order 70 was implemented.”

The NCRPO, through its Revitalized Kasimbayanan program, in coordination with the JTF-NCR, the local government unit, and other civic clusters successfully facilitated the group’s withdrawal from the communist front organization, and their renewed support for the government, and for peace and development in their community.

For his part, Brig. Gen. Ponce Rogelio Peñones, the Northern Police District director emphasized the importance of preventive measures so that communities will not be deceived by the false advocacies of the communist group.

Gen. Peñones also urged all of the “few remaining supporters of the CPP-NPA-NDF” to lay down their arms and return to the folds of the law.

“This is your chance to return to the mainstream of society and be the government’s important partner in working for economic development,” he added.

Meanwhile, the group members were also provided with relief supplies, food packs, and other forms of assistance, including the registration of their organization with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The event was also made possible through the support of the 11th Civil-Military Operations Battalion of the Philippine Army led by Lt. Col. Gene Orense and the Caloocan City Police Office led by Police Col. Ruben Lacuesta.

It can be recalled that the CPP-NPA has been listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

While the National Democratic Front has been formally designated as a terrorist organization by the Anti-Terrorism Council on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA created in April 1973. (PIA-NCR)

2 NPA rebels yield to cops in Quezon town

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 27, 2022): 2 NPA rebels yield to cops in Quezon town (By: Delfin T. Mallari Jr.)

LUCENA CITY – Two alleged members of the New People’s Army (NPA) surrendered with their firearms to the police in General Nakar, Quezon on Monday.

The Quezon police, in a report on Tuesday, said the rebel returnees, Michael Malabanan, 37, and Vicente Brillante, 64, turned themselves in at the local police station at around 10 a.m.

The alleged former rebels turned over a loaded .45 caliber pistol, a loaded .38 caliber revolver and NPA documents.

The police said Malabanan and Brillante are former NPA Apolonio Mendoza Command members operating in the province.

Malabanan used to serve as one of its squad leaders, the report said. The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

The government authorities are preparing the necessary assistance to the former rebels in their reintegration protocols under the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-Clip).

E-Clip offers free medical treatments, education, housing, and legal aid to rebels who will surrender. In addition, each rebel can receive cash aid and other benefits to help them and their families to start new lives.

10 ranking NPA leaders surrender

From the Sun Star-Zamboanga (Dec 27, 2022): 10 ranking NPA leaders surrender

TEN ranking leaders of the New People’s Army (NPA) have surrendered to government authorities in the province of South Cotabato, the police reported Tuesday, December 27, 2022.

Police Colonel Richard Verceles, operations chief of the Area Police Command-Western Mindanao, said they surrendered around 10 a.m. Monday, December 26, at the municipal police station of Tupi, South Cotabato.

Verceles identified the NPA surrenderers as Ryan Coliao, Jimmy Freay, Rolan Ante, Juanito Paala, Genecis Pagdato, Anthony Edianel, Junrey Escultor, Jose Fabello, Ruby May, and Mario Mino.

Verceles said the 10 NPA surrenderers are all squad leaders under the Guerrilla Front Musa and the dismantled Guerrilla Front Alip, both of the NPA’s Far South Mindanao Regional Committee.

He said the 10 NPA squad leaders have surrendered through the efforts of the personnel of the South Cotabato 1st Provincial Mobile Force Company, Regional Intelligence Division-12 Tracker Team Charlie and South Cotabato Provincial Intelligence Unit.

He said the 10 NPA surrenderers were placed under the custody of the South Cotabato 1st Provincial Mobile Force Company for custodial debriefing.

21 NPA rebels surrender in Negros, South Cotabato

From the Philippine Star (Dec 28, 2022): 21 NPA rebels surrender in Negros, South Cotabato (By Roel Pareño)

MANILA, Philippines — Twenty-one New People’s Army (NPA) rebels have surrendered in South Cotabato and Negros island, authorities reported yesterday.

Eleven members of the Far South Mindanao Regional Committee, including a squad leader, surrendered to the police in Tupi and Surallah towns, Col. Richard Verceles, operations chief of Area Police Command-Western Mindanao, said.

He said the rebels were tracked down and convinced to surrender on Monday by personnel of the South Cotabato police First Provincial Mobile Force Company and intelligence unit.

The rebel-returnees were presented to concerned local government units and placed under the temporary custody of the police for debriefing.

Ten communist rebels who were with the Komiteng Rehiyonal Negros/Cebu/Bohol/ Siquijor surrendered to the 62nd Infantry Battalion, according to Lt. Col. William Pesase.

The rebel returnees turned over an M16 A1 assault rifle with magazine, a Colt M203 40mm grenade launcher, two caliber .45 pistols, a 357 Magnum revolver and bullets.

Brig. Gen. Inocencio Pasaporte, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, welcomed the surrenderees, saying they are victims of “ deceptive tactics” of the communist group.

The military had earlier said the NPA had suffered significant losses with the neutralization and surrender of its leaders and members.

It said the rebel group is down to 2,112 fighters, with 17 of its 22 remaining guerrilla fronts considered as weakened.— Gilbert Bayoran

10 rebels surrender guns

From the Visayan Daily Star (Dec 28, 2022): 10 rebels surrender guns (By GILBERT P. BAYORAN)

Ten self-confessed members of the New People’s Army operating in central Negros have abandoned the armed struggle and surrendered guns to the 62nd Infantry Battalion, its commander, Lt. Col. William Pesase, confirmed yesterday.

Pesase said that the rebel surrenderees are members of the Central Negros of the Komiteng Rehiyonal Negros/ Cebu/Bohol/ Siquijor, who also surrendered an M16 A1 assault rifle with magazine containing 29 ammunition, a Colt M203 40mm grenade launcher, two caliber .45 pistols with ammunition and a .357 Magnum revolver with six live bullets.

The 10 former rebels also took their oath of allegiance to the government, after being presented by Pesase to Brig. Gen. Inocencio Pasaporte, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander.

Pasaporte welcomed the decision of 10 rebels to abandon the armed struggle, stressing that they are only victims of “deceptive tactics” of the communist terrorist group.

Among those who surrendered were father and son Crasiolo “Claire” Landisa, 53, and Redgen “Anghel” Landisa, 22, Boging “Jona” Cantila, 52, who was with the NPA for 13 years, and her son Joel “Prince” Sta. Ana, 23, turned themselves in along with their four comrades, Crisel “Tadlong” Fat, 39; Jerome “Bradely” Bitongga, 36; Ricky “Bugtong” Saraguelles, 32; and Rodney “Gary” Pasatiempo, 25.

Two surrenderees are also siblings Jercel “Be-an” Gonzaga, 27, and Ronel “Robert” Gonzaga, 33.

In September this year, 16 rebels belonging to Central Negros 1 also surrendered to 62IB.

Makabayan bloc files reso urging gov’t, NDFP to restart peace talks

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 28, 2022): Makabayan bloc files reso urging gov’t, NDFP to restart peace talks (By: Gabriel Pabico Lalu)

ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro. file photo / Noy Morcoso

MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc have filed a resolution that would urge the resumption of peace talks between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in a bid to end the armed conflict waged by communist guerillas finally.

If the still unnumbered resolution — copies of which were released on Wednesday — is approved by the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of Congress would support the resumption of peace talks stalled under former president Rodrigo Duterte’s term.

According to Makabayan bloc member and Alliance of Concerned Teachers Rep. France Castro, there is a huge support for the resumption of peace talks as a previous resolution in the 18th Congress, which also called for the resumption of the discussions, garnered several votes.

“The breakthroughs in the peace negotiations have generated much support among our people, including members of Congress. In fact, House Resolution 636 in the 18th Congress calling for the resumption of the peace talks —after Duterte first canceled them in 2017 due to the sabotage by the militarists and opponents of basic socio-economic and political reforms — garnered the support of more than 130 members of the House of Representatives,” Castro said.

“No amount of fake news, red tagging and presentation of fake surrenderees can change the fact that there are glaring inequalities present in Philippine society. If these are not addressed then it will only worsen until the present oppressive and exploitative system is replaced by a more just and humane one,” she added.

Furthermore, Castro said that the negotiating panel from the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the NDFP would have signed key agreements if talks did not bog down.

“The peace negotiations have gained milestone agreements since 1992. Ironically, the GRP and NDFP panels were set to formally sign a number of agreements, important components of an aspired-for Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reform (CASER) that would address the causes of the armed conflict, when President Duterte unilaterally ‘terminated’ the peace talks in November 2017,” she claimed.

“These include common drafts of an agreement on land reform and rural development and on national industrialization and economic development. These are the gist of the negotiations and would start to address the roots of the conflict,” she said.

The New People’s Army (NPA) — the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) — has been waging a guerrilla war for over five decades now, starting from the time of former president Ferdinand Marcos Sr.’s martial law regime.

During the time of Duterte, it appeared that peace talks between the two sides would prosper, considering his close relationship with some key CPP officials like founder Jose Maria Sison, his former professor.

However, mistrust between the two sides — with the government claiming that rebels are still doing ambushes despite a previous ceasefire order — led to the failure of discussions.

READ: No more peace talks with communist rebels, says Duterte

However, there is a growing belief within the government that the recent death of Sison would lead to NPA fighters losing their sense of purpose. Last December 19, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar said that NPA members would lose their direction and demoralize due to Sison’s demise.

READ: Without Joma Sison, CPP-NPA is weakened, and rebels lose motivation – AFP exec

The Philippine National Police (PNP) also boasted of having 55 former rebels surrender to the government last December 26 — on the founding anniversary of the CPP itself.

But in a letter published by his wife at the Philippine Revolution Web Central, Sison said — in a message from his deathbed — that the Filipino democratic revolution would live on, noting that every administration has failed to suppress the revolutionaries’ quest for changes.

READ: 55 NPA members surrender on CPP’s 54th anniversary

Army: No soldiers injured in clash with NPA in Bohol

From the Sun Star-Cebu (Dec 28, 2022): Army: No soldiers injured in clash with NPA in Bohol

Image from Google Maps

NO SOLDIERS were reported injured during the 10-minute encounter between the military and members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in the upland municipality of San Isidro in Bohol around 10 a.m. Wednesday, December 28.

Members of 47th Infantry Battalion (IB) went to the area after receiving a call from a concerned citizen regarding the presence of around 10 rebels conducting extortion activities.

Army Lieutenant Colonel Allyson Depayso, commanding officer of 47th IB, said nobody was injured among his men, but they are still verifying if there were casualties from the NPA.

The 47th IB personnel were able to retrieve from the scene bullets from caliber .45 pistol and AK 47 rifle, magazine of caliber .45 pistol, poncho tents, medical paraphernalia, food packs, and subversive documents belonging to the NPA.

"As part of our ongoing efforts to put an end to the local communist armed conflict and stop their recovery efforts in Bohol Island, the residents' willingness to assist the soldiers by providing noteworthy information on the whereabouts and activities of these NPA terrorists is extremely helpful," Depayso said.

Depayso vowed to continue in their fight against the rebels to maintain peace and order in Bohol.

Army troopers in pursuit of NPA rebels after clash in San Isidro

From the Bohol Chronicle (Dec 28, 2022): Army troopers in pursuit of NPA rebels after clash in San Isidro

Government troopers are in pursuit of suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) following a clash between the Philippine Army (PA) and an estimated 10 rebels in a remote village in San Isidro town on Wednesday morning.

Police operatives and soldiers of the PA’s 47th Infantry Battalion have set up checkpoints in San Isidro and surrounding municipalities to flush out the NPA rebels, said Second Lt. Gin Lagunero, assistant civil operations officer of the 47th IB.

According to Lagunero, the brief encounter erupted at past 10 a.m. in the hinterlands of Barangay Baunos.

No one was injured during the exchange of gunfire which lasted for around 10 minutes.

NPA admits burning 5 sugarcane trucks in Negros Oriental

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 28, 2022): NPA admits burning 5 sugarcane trucks in Negros Oriental (By: Carla Gomez)

New People’s Army (NPA) | file photo

BACOLOD CITY — The New People’s Army (NPA) claimed responsibility for the burning of five sugarcane trucks in Toboso town, Negros Occidental on Monday, December 26.

In a statement on Tuesday, December 27, Cecil Estrella, spokesperson of the Roselyn Jean Pelle Command (RJCP) – Northern Negros Guerilla Front of the NPA, said a unit of the group burned the sugarcane trucks owned by Teotimo Ballesteros on the 54th founding anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines last Dec 26.

“The punitive action is the second incident against class enemy Ballesteros. On December 14, the NPA set fire to two cane trucks in Barangay Tabun-ac in the same town,” the statement read.

Ballesteros’ sugar lands, it said, are within the guerrilla zones.

The NPA alleged that the landowner disregarded his farm workers’ repeated calls for wage increases and benefits.

“The only peace talks the revolutionary forces in northern Negros promote is the one that addresses the wage and land issues…the peace talks should be at a national scale that tackles the root cause of armed conflict – genuine land reform to address landlessness, national industrialization to address unsecured jobs, among others,” it said.

Alleged NPA member killed in Negros Oriental clash

Bulatlat: #KaJomaLives | Progressives immortalize Sison’s legacy in people’s movement for change

From the pro-CPP/NPA/NDF propaganda outlet Bulatlat (Dec 28, 2022): #KaJomaLives | Progressives immortalize Sison’s legacy in people’s movement for change (By JONAS ALPASAN)

Photo by Carlo Manalansan / Bulatlat

MANILA — “We gather today not just to mourn but to pay tribute.”

This is how longtime labor leader Elmer Labog opened the program at the University of the Philippines Film Center as progressives paid tribute to the late founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines Jose Maria Sison, who passed away last Dec. 18, 2022.

Those who joined marched from the Commission of Human Rights, chanting “Ka Joma lives.”

Short clips of Sison’s previously recorded interviews were played during the program, giving snippets of his life in exile in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

A young Joma

In one of the short video clips, Sison revealed he once dreamed of becoming a lawyer and eventually a politician. But he said that as he studied Marxism, Leninism, and Maoism, this dream waned. It was clear to him, he said, that revolution was the answer.

He said that it took two years to be able to build the new Communist Party of the Philippines. He was only 23 years old when he became part of the Executive Committee of the old Communist party.

Being part of the old party allowed him to know and earn the trust of the people, to recognize the mistakes of the old party, rectify these and be better.

Francisco Nemenzo, former UP president, described Sison as a dear friend. Though their friendship turned sour when Nemenzo chose to stay in the old Communist party, he said that he eventually saw that he was on the “wrong side of history” when Marcos Sr. declared martial law.

Nemenzo said their friendship was reignited when Sison was released from prison in 1986. He then described Sison as an “amiable human being” whom he said will be defined in his place in history by his great organizing skills and commitment to national liberation.

Political prisoner Adelberto Silva, in a message read by women rights activist and wife Sharon Cabusao, shared that he was once a student of Sison when the latter taught at the Lyceum of the Philippines University.

“He liked to joke. He was never boastful,” Silva said of his late literature professor.

Silva also remembered how there were always coffee and biscuits in the rented apartment of then young couple Sison and Julie de Lima, who is now the interim chairperson of the peace panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

On establishing the NPA

Political prisoner Rey Claro Casambre, in a message read by his daughter Xandra, recognized the role that Sison played in establishing the New People’s Army.

This he referred to as Sison’s second most important contribution to the people’s aspirations for change, next to the establishment of the CPP.

Casambre said Sison did not only find armed struggle as apt but essential to the struggle of the people. From a handful of arms in the first guerilla front in Tarlac, the armed movement soon spread in many provinces, he said.

“We have nothing but a copy of the PSR,” the early NPA members were quoted as saying as they referred to the Philippine Society and Revolution written by Amado Guerrero, Sison’s nom de guerre.

“What we know is that we have to immerse ourselves in the masses,” Casambre said.

While Sison contributed greatly to the establishment of the NPA, Casambre said he was also among the first to call out mistakes as he did in 1985.

The NPA leadership then initially did not heed Sison’s advice, said Casambre, but this was later corrected that led to the Second Great Rectification Movement.

Erin Tañada said three generations of Tañada worked with Sison in pursuing the cause of nationalism.

“Many may love him. Many may hate him… But one cannot deny one fact, he loved the country in his own way,” Tañada said during the program.

Bibeth Orteza, chairperson of the Concerned Artists of the Philippines, said Sison deserves to be a National Artist not only because he was a poet but because he inspired many artists and cultural workers to use their art in advancing people’s interests and welfare.

As a warrior of peace, optimism

Many speakers during the nearly three-hour program shared how they appreciated Sison’s sense of optimism.

Lawyer Antonio La Viña, then a student, said he was among those who listened to Sison’s speech, following his 1986 release from prison.

People, he noted, expected him to be angry. But La Viña said he was not, and that he was funny and optimistic in his first speech as a free man.

His colleagues in the peace talks also noted how he was a problem solver and the “North Star” in the course of the negotiations.

“There will be no capitulation or surrender, especially since there is a DDR paradigm that the United Nations is propagating,” Luis Jalandoni, senior adviser of the NDFP Negotiating Panel said. DDR refers to Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration which has been applied to national liberation movements in other countries.

Jalandoni added that Sison’s sharp analyses also helped revolutionaries in other countries.

Meanwhile, Elisabeth Slattum, former special envoy of the Norwegian government in the peace talks, described Sison as a constant during her tenure.

“He has the gift of being ideologically firm but also pragmatic,” she said in a video message.

In a statement, a joint statement of political prisoners in Camp Bagong Diwa paid tribute to Sison. “As political prisoners, we were able to reflect on the depth and scope that Sison has made for the people.”

They added that state forces will never be able to understand that the movement will continue even with Sison’s passing.

They said, “they will never be able to understand that Joma spent his entire life ensuring that the revolution will continue even without him.” (RVO)

NPA rebels, military troops clash in Boh

From the Philippine Daily Star (Dec 29, 2022): NPA rebels, military troops clash in Boho (By: Leo Udtohan) FILE PHOTO

TAGBILARAN CITY — A gunfight ensued between suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) and government troopers in Bohol province in San Isidro town on Wednesday, Dec. 28.

Soldiers clashed with at least 10 “remnants” of NPA’s Bohol Party Committee, Komiteng Rehiyon-Negros, Cebu, Bohol, and Siquijor, according to a report from the 47th “Katapatan” Infantry Battalion (IB).

San Isidro, 32 km from the capital city of Tagbilaran, has at least 9,000 residents.

In a statement, the 47th IB said residents of Sitio Bajong, Barangay Baunos, San Isidro informed soldiers about the presence of communist rebels who were allegedly extorting money from them.

The troops responded, resulting in an encounter at around10 a.m. The firefight lasted for about 10 minutes.

No fatalities were reported.

Recovered in the encounter site were different ammunition, tents, food packs, personal belongings, and subversive documents.

“As part of our ongoing efforts to put an end to the local communist armed conflict and stop their recovery efforts in Bohol Island, the residents’ willingness to assist the soldiers by providing noteworthy information on the whereabouts and activities of these NPA terrorists is extremely helpful,” said Lt. Col. Allyson Depayso, the commanding officer of the 47th IB.

Depayso assured the people that the Army in Bohol will continue to battle the NPAs to uphold a just and lasting peace on the island.

Alleged NPA member killed in Negros Oriental clash

10 NPA members yield in Tupi

From the Manila Times (Dec 29, 2022): 10 NPA members yield in Tupi (By Franz R. Sumangil)

TEN members of the New People's Army (NPA) surrendered to authorities in Tupi town, South Cotabato province, an official said on Tuesday.

Mayor Romeo Tamayo said the rebels who belonged to the NPA's Guerrilla Front ALIP turned themselves in on Monday at the municipal hall.

"We welcome the 10 former rebels who wish to live a peaceful life," said Tamayo, who also handed cash assistance and food packs to the former rebels.

He said the surrenderers will be enrolled in the government's Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program.

"In the government, everybody is given the chance to improve their lives, earn a decent income and live peacefully," Tamayo said.

During the activity witnessed by Police Regional Office-Soccsksargen chief BGen. Jimili Macaraeg, the former rebels also burned the Communist Party of the Philippines flag as a symbol of their condemnation of all its terrorist activities.

Macaraeg urged other members of the communist group to surrender and avail the government programs for their reintegration into the society. FRANZ SUMANGIL

Jose Maria Sison: a flawed revolutionary

Posted to Solidarity (Dec 29, 2022): Jose Maria Sison: a flawed revolutionary (By David Glanz)

The founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines, Jose Maria “Joma” Sison, died in exile in the Netherlands on 16 December, aged 83.

Sison established the CPP at the end of 1968 with the aim of launching guerrilla warfare to achieve “national-democratic revolution, a revolution seeking the liberation of the Filipino people from foreign and feudal oppression and exploitation”.

Three months later he founded the New People’s Army (NPA), which at its peak was thought to have 25,000 fighters under arms. In 1973, the National Democratic Front (NDF) was formed, bringing together mass, legal organisations of workers, women, peasants and youth.

The NDF remembered Sison as a “great proletarian internationalist, patriot, communist, revolutionary leader, teacher and poet”.

But in reality, Sison was never a revolutionary socialist. The Stalinist politics of the CPP led successive generations of young Filipinos into a dead-end strategy which attempted vainly to mimic Mao Zedong’s victory in China in 1949.

Early days

Sison’s politics were formed by the intersection of three factors, the first of which was nationalism.

The Philippines had been ruled as a Spanish colony from 1542 to 1899 before passing into the control of the US, which imposed its rule with the utmost brutality. In 1946, the US granted the Philippines independence but maintained significant economic and political influence, as well as having access to huge military bases.

US domination was bitterly resented by many Filipinos. In 1959, Sison, his future wife Julie, and friends founded a discreet Marxist study circle, which eventually became known as the Student Cultural Association of the University of the Philippines (SCAUP). Five years later, Sison launched the Kabataang Makabayan (KM or Patriotic Youth), which laid the basis for later NDF formations (CPP front groups).

The second factor was the rising tide of radicalisation around the world. Sison founded the CPP at the end of the year which had seen the Tet offensive in Vietnam, the student revolt in France which triggered a mass strike by 10 million workers, the continuing rise of the black liberation movement in the US, and much more.

Young people in the Philippines were part of that radicalisation. War in Vietnam was the fuel which powered the movement. The Philippines was involved in two ways—by sanctioning the use of US bases in the archipelago for the war effort, and by the dispatch of the Philippine Contingent.

On 25 January 1965, KM co-ordinated an anti-American demonstration of “20,000 workers, peasants, students, and patriotic businessmen” in front of the presidential palace, the Philippine Congress and the US Embassy. The rising tide of revolt culminated in huge mass protests led by radical students in 1970 and 1971.

The third factor was the Cultural Revolution in China. In reality it was a chaotic faction fight, unleashed by Mao to consolidate his control. But to many outside observers it seemed to reflect a burning revolutionary spirit that contrasted with the grey, conservative stodginess of Stalinism in Moscow.

In 1987, Sison said: “I was already a Marxist when I first read Mao. Then and now I consider him the greatest thinker on colonialism and imperialism and feudalism … And he was unbeatable on the subject of a people’s war.

“And then by 1964, the line between the USSR and Mao was very clear. Krushchev to me meant cooperation with imperialism and China was the leader against him. China was a big force and was encouraging revolution of all colonial countries. China looked to me like the Philippines of today.”

For Sison and many in his generation, China was an inspiration—an Asian country that had stood up to imperialism and won. The CPP was established in the hope of following its example, with its founding meeting timed for 26 December, Mao’s birthday.

Stalinism, Mao-style

The CPP inherited from Stalinism the idea that workers in the Global South should not challenge for state power. Instead the revolution has to proceed through stages, the first of which was to win national independence, which would lay the basis for substantial capitalist development and a future, distant bid for working class power.

The working class needed to seek broad alliances, above all with the peasantry but also with so-called “progressive” nationalist capitalists. That meant workers had to restrain their demands.

But inspired by Mao’s success, the CPP adopted two further ideas—that the Philippines was “semi-feudal” and that the path to victory lay through “people’s war”, a guerrilla war that would lay the basis for seizing the cities on the path to the victory of the national democratic revolution.

Semi-feudalism meant that the Philippines economy was impacted by, but not yet integrated into, capitalist relations. The analysis underpinned the party’s position that the fight for socialist revolution could take place only in the distant future, when Filipino capitalism was fully developed. It gave pride of place to a rural struggle based on the numerical strength of the peasantry and reduced the working class to a subsidiary role in events.

Yet there is an industrial working class in the millions in Metro Manila and elsewhere. Industrial waged workers comprise some 15 per cent of the workforce and there is a substantial number of service workers and agricultural workers.

Sison talked about the leading role of the “working class” in the abstract but substituted the party and guerrilla warfare in place of the living, breathing reality of workers’ struggles. He wrote: “The working class is the most progressive productive and political force in the Philippines … Being a minority class in Philippine society, the working class can muster a bigger force by forming a basic alliance with the peasantry … But how is the basic alliance realized? It is by deploying and developing CPP cadres and members in the countryside to build the New People’s Army.”

The emphasis on building the NPA and on people’s war marginalised the CPP and its leadership when mass struggles emerged in the cities. It also militarised politics. When faction fights broke out in the 1990s, the authoritarian party regime that Sison had created set the scene for the mass murder of opponents and supposed spies in the party. Sison admitted that one such incident in Mindanao alone cost the lives of 950 party and NPA members.

There was an alternative. The success of the October 1917 revolution in Russia showed that the working class in an underdeveloped country, backed by the peasantry, could go beyond overthrowing a landlord dictatorship to take control of industry and create a workers’ state, triggering the potential for international revolution.

Tragically, the triumph of Stalinism, which aimed to build a strong nation state at the cost of massive repression, obliterated that alternative. Leon Trotsky and his followers, who defended the idea of permanent revolution—of international socialism from below—were marginalised. Sison could not make his contempt for Trotsky clearer. In February 2021, he issued a media release entitled “Trotskyitis is a virulent type of psychopathic anti-communism”.

Missed opportunities

The logic of Sison’s position meant that political struggle was subordinated to the need to build the guerrilla army, the NPA. Many student and worker activists in the cities who were won to the CPP position were told to abandon work in the urban areas and to move to the mountains to join or form guerrilla squads.

Yet over and again, despite Sison’s focus on the centrality of “people’s war” in the countryside, the struggle erupted in the cities.

In 1970 and into 1971, the Philippines experienced its “1968” moment. On 26 January 1970, the National Union of Students of the Philippines organised a demonstration outside the opening of Congress. Fifty thousand students and workers turned up and were attacked by the police, turning the demonstration into a battlefield. It was the initial event of what was to be dubbed the First Quarter Storm.

This was the curtain-raiser to three months of rebellion involving actions in Manila of 50,000 to 100,000 people. On 30 January, in what became known as the Battle of Mendiola Bridge, national democratic students stormed Malacanang, the presidential palace, at one point breaking into the grounds and hurling molotov cocktails.

On 12 February, the newly formed Movement for a Democratic Philippines, a coalition of national democratic groups, held a massive educational rally at the Plaza Miranda. A further mass rally on the 18th was followed by an assault on the US embassy by 5000 youths.

A year later, students, faculty members and residents of the University of the Philippines Diliman campus, together with transport workers, led an uprising against an increase to the price of fuel that became known as the Diliman Commune.

The CPP was active in these events, not least through the KM, which grew rapidly. But the party saw the urban struggle primarily as a source of recruitment to the NPA. It publicly rejected the idea of urban insurrection against the regime of President Ferdinand Marcos, writing: “The demonstrations have served as a rich source of activists for the national democratic revolution and therefore, of prospective members and fighters of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army … Ideological, political and organisational preparations are continuously being made for intensified revolutionary armed struggle in the countryside …”

Millions on the streets

If Sison’s party missed the significance of the stormy events of 1970-71, it was even more blindsided by the urban uprising that broke the Marcos regime in 1986.

The CPP was at its peak. A report to the US Senate in 1985 noted that the NPA has grown to probably more than 15,000 regulars and a somewhat larger number of part-time irregulars, fighting on 60 fronts around the country. CPP membership was about 30,000, with the party and its guerrillas controlling or contesting control over settlements inhabited by at least 10 million people.

Yet just months later, the CPP was pushed to the margins of politics as the urban masses took to the streets against President Marcos, who had rigged an election in February 1986 against Corazon “Cory” Aquino. Aquino called a rally in central Manila that attracted between one and two million. When a faction within the armed forces plotted a coup to bring down Marcos (and head off the threat from the left), the Church appealed on radio for people to help the mutineers. Up to two million heeded the call. Marcos fled to Hawaii.

This moment presented a serious chance for revolutionary transformation. There was a real need for a non-Stalinist socialist workers party that could have seized the revolutionary moment and built on the struggle against martial law by agitating for workers to take events into their own hands, to strike, demonstrate and occupy, to insist that real democracy would not come by voting for Aquino; that workers and their families would fight for higher wages, better conditions, and democracy not just in broader society but in the workplace.

Such a party could also have called on the landless farm labourers and tenant farmers to seize the plantations and begin sharing the land or running it collectively. But the CPP could not do that because it was stuck within a Stalinist framework that dictated that victory was military and rural, and merely, in any case, a stage in which workers and peasants would have to continue to subordinate their interests to those of their exploiters. The biggest urban political crisis in the post-independence history of the country, the People Power Revolution, had passed it by.

Sison fled to the Netherlands, where he gained political asylum. He watched and wrote and in later years made multiple videos to try to direct events. But the CPP never recovered from its 1986 failure. When mass demonstrations again erupted in 2001 and toppled President Joseph Estrada, the CPP was again irrelevant. Today it is a fraction of its former size and the NPA has shrunk to irrelevance. The rest of the left, however, has failed to occupy the space left by the CPP’s decline and so it still maintains some influence through its legal NDF formations.

Perhaps the most shameful footnote to this story is the CPP’s reaction to the election of Rodrigo Duterte as president in 2016. Duterte had been a KM member in the 1970s. He was prepared to be outstandingly rude to the US. He even admitted CPP sympathisers to his first cabinet. The CPP thought it had finally found a genuine representative of the “progressive, nationalist bourgeoisie”.

Sison issued a statement that praised Duterte as “the first Left President of the Philippines who is determined to uphold national independence, expand democracy for the people, carry out national industrialization and genuine land reform, and realize an independent foreign policy”.

But Duterte was not only corrupt and unpredictable but bloodthirsty. He unleashed a war on drugs that was effectively open season on the poor. By some estimates, up to 20,000 people were gunned down in their homes or on the streets. Initially, the CPP supported the government’s offensive, offering the NPA to help arrest (but not kill) drug warlords. Only as the death toll grew did the party finally keep its distance from a president who was deservedly called the “Trump of Asia”.

Sison dedicated his life to fighting colonialism and imperialism. But his devotion to a version of Stalinist politics that valued rural guerrilla warfare over class struggle at the heart of the system means that, ultimately, his was a deeply flawed revolutionary project that has left a deep scar on Filipino politics.

The time is ripe for the emergence of a non-Stalinist revolutionary left. The future of a free, socialist Philippines is still to be written by the workers, in the factories, on the land, in the service sector, in alliance with the landless poor.

Opinion: Reforms needed in the AFP

Opinion piece in the Manila Times (Dec 25, 2022): Reforms needed in the AFP (By Maj. Gen. Edgard A. Arevalo Ret.)

Philippine military personnel march in front of the national flag during the 87th anniversary celebration of the Armed Forces of the Philippines at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City on Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. AFP PHOTO

ON December 22, nearly nine decades since its birth in 1935, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has filled its many pages with colorful stories of gallantry and heroism of its soldiers. While modestly armed and poorly equipped, its forebears comprising the Philippine expeditionary forces to Korea in 1950, the Philippine civic action group in Vietnam in 1964, and many other United Nations peacekeeping missions around the globe earned for the Filipino soldiers their lofty place in the world's military history. American general Douglas MacArthur, moved by the incredible resilience and indomitable courage of this brand of soldiers said, "Give me ten thousand Filipinos and I will conquer the world."

The battles that the AFP's soldiers fought knew no distinction. From the Hukbong Bayan Laban sa Hapon to the Bagong Hukbong Bayan, the secessionist Moro National Liberation Front to the autonomy-seeking Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the extremist Abu Sayyaf Group to the Daesh-inspired Dawlah Islamia, the troops' unfaltering devotion as torchbearers of peace never reneged on fighting any war to attain the peace. Be it in some distant and lonely posts in the South Philippine Sea, in the boondocks or the concrete jungles of our country, the AFP's contribution to world peace, national security and stability is just phenomenal.

It is not surprising that the AFP is among the Top 10 performing non-business organizations in the Philippines cited by the Makati Business Club's executive outlook survey in 2019. It has also consistently garnered high satisfaction ratings in Social Weather Stations polls since that year. The Armed Forces obtained, too, the highest trust and approval ratings among government agencies in the Pahayag survey conducted by PUBLiCUS Asia in 2022. For these feats, the nation proudly salutes every soldier, airman, sailor, marine, reservist and civilian human resource of the AFP on its 87th founding anniversary.

Underneath the veneer

The fact that the AFP continues to function and accomplish its mission with distinction is a testament to its resilience and capacity to tuck its internal issues in. But the prevailing situation in the designation and promotion, mainly in and near the apex of the organization, has sorely divided the military. Those who have no political backing were disillusioned. Rather than being corrupted, they are opting to leave the military service with their dignity intact. Those who have resigned to the fate that the malpractice has engulfed the organization have reoriented their moral compasses and played by the emergent rules. And those who cannot take either may likely consider another way of reforming the AFP.

In my past articles, I wrote about how the military suffers in silence as a result of the intemperate and reckless meddling of politicians in the designation to key positions and in the promotion of senior officers. I did not expect it, but the op-ed pieces have hit home across all levels in the AFP's corps of officers both active and retired. The messages I received ranged from encouragement to expressions of gratitude, to laments of what is happening in the upper echelons of the organization, to shooting the messenger. Significantly though, they admit that the malpractice did not only corrupt the established norms, systems and processes, but also undermine the culture of excellence and professionalism in the Philippine military. Instead of meritocracy, it became kleptocracy of the soldier's morals by some shrewd politicians to serve the latter's selfish ends.

What began as benign "pakiusap" became malignant political pressure and undue influence that have metastasized to engulf the organizational being. Junior officers who were taught leadership principles in schools that leaders should "set the example" — good example — saw rotten ones instead. Middle grade officers who were made to realize that in aspiring to be "technically and tactically proficient" there will be competition, healthy, professional contests, saw bitter rivalries. Senior officers who were just about ready to succeed in top AFP posts saw cunning instead of maturity and servant leadership. It must have brought serious disappointments to these subordinate leaders to see their former tactical officers and mentors squabbling and rushing for priority in rank and position. They must be aghast to see their role models succumb to political accommodations to get to the top of the totem pole. It bewilders them why would generals and flag officers in the twilight of their military careers, when their thoughts should be how the AFP will be better after they have retired, will set aside their integrity in exchange for the wheeling and dealing of political patronage.

What can be resolved to be done

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the Commander in Chief of the AFP, is a politico sui generis — a politician like no one else. He has eminent powers and prerogatives being the Chief Executive to ensure that the AFP is insulated from political interference that tends to make the military beholden to politicians. We can only beseech him to exert his strong influence over his colleagues to leave the process of selection and promotion to the AFP and allow the organization to resolve its internal issues. He owes a nation of 113 million Filipinos a stable, mature and professional military. Only then can he be assured of a military leadership solely focused on fighting against enemies of the State and mission accomplishment, whose priority is national security, sovereignty and territorial integrity — not the squabble for position or promotion or job security.

The AFP chief of staff being the highest-ranking general has both the authority and the burden to cleanse the ranks. This means that it is incumbent upon him to keep only the most competent and best qualified officers and enlisted personnel and allow the weeding out of those who fall short of the demands of the rank and position. He himself must be resolute in enforcing policies and regulations with no regard to classmate or townmate, friendship or kinship that would cloud his objectivity. Admittedly, this is not easy to do in an organization that thrives on camaraderie. But the AFP's leader must be resolved to enforce policy regulations if he wants to professionalize the organization even if it means being lonely at the top. Leadership, after all, is not a contest for popularity.

Weeding out processes

The inconsistent and non-uniform application of many AFP policies is partly to blame for problems that beset the military today. One of the policies deal with professional military education for officers and enlisted personnel before they can be promoted to the next higher rank or designated to a higher position. These are called career courses that not only provide much-needed academic and leadership training demanded by the rank and position, but also a natural attrition process for those who fail to measure up to the stiff requirements of the courses. In the end, only the officers and enlisted personnel who are best qualified to serve the AFP in a certain rank and position should be retained.

One of these policies demands that an officer must be among the upper quartile of the graduating class in a lower career course before he can advance to the next higher career course. The completion of the latter course, in turn, becomes a prerequisite for designation and subsequent promotion in rank of the officer. Unfortunately, this applies only to career courses offered by allied countries and conducted abroad.

It is high time that the AFP consider the drafting of a policy on career courses offered locally that are taken by roughly 90 percent of the officers. This policy may require a higher level of academic standing, say upper 50 percent of the graduating class, before the officer can be recommended to take up the next higher career course.

This and a few other weeding out processes designed to retain only officers and enlisted personnel who have shown fitness to remain in the service will be concluded and detailed in the next issues. But lest I forget, it is Christmas Day.

Let us all be reminded that redemption came to Christendom when the Son of Man humbled himself to be Emmanuel and become our Savior. May the humility of the birth of Christ Jesus be our beacon. That it is not what material possessions we have or the gifts we give or receive that matter, but the joy we have in our hearts in our being together as a family, as an armed force, as a nation.

May our Christmas be merry and blessed.

Spaniard nabbed in Basilan convicted after plea bargain

From GMA News Online (Dec 22, 2022): Spaniard nabbed in Basilan convicted after plea bargain (By RICHA NORIEGA)

The Basilan Regional Trial Court has found Spanish national Abdelhakim Labidi Adib guilty beyond reasonable doubt for three counts of possession of "a loaded small arm."

According to the Department of Justice, Adib was arrested at a Basilan checkpoint in 2018 carrying explosives, and other items.

Prosecutors in their resolution found probable cause against Adib for three counts of illegal possession of explosives.

However, Adib's counsel during the trial opted for a plea bargain which had him pleading guilty to the lesser offense of three counts of possession of a loaded small arm.

The court, applying the indeterminate Sentence Law, sentenced Adib to suffer for each case imprisonment of a minimum of eight years and one day to a maximum of 14 years, eight months and one day.

Department of Justice (DOJ) Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla welcomed the conviction.

The DOJ said personnel of the Philippine Army conducted warrantless arrest against Adib on the basis of an intelligence report it received that two suspicious persons will be passing Barangay Townsite, Maluso, Basilan.

Arrested in Basilan

Adib, a Spanish national of Tunisian descent, was arrested in Basilan on January 22.

Two days later, the Armed Forces of the Philippines filed a complaint against him, saying it seized from him two grenades, various improvised explosive device components, various identification cards and cash amounting to P8,520.

“Adib is a known Abu Sayyaf sympathizer and ardent supporter for the establishment of Islamic caliphate in the Philippines,” the complaint stated.

A week later, Adib asked the DOJ to dismiss the criminal complaint against him, claiming he had nothing to do with the improvised explosive device components and hand grenades allegedly found on his person.

He had said he was only in the Philippines as a tourist, but the military found he was an overstaying foreigner as his visa had expired on December 8 last year.

Adib denial

Adib, in denying the charge against him, added that the arresting officers planted the items that were allegedly seized from him.

He also argued that the allegation of his being a sympathizer of the Abu Sayyaf group and a supporter for the establishment of an Islamic caliphate in the country were “baseless.”

Adib, a Spanish national of Tunisian descent, was arrested in Basilan on January 22, 2018.

Two days later, the Armed Forces of the Philippines filed a complaint against him, saying it seized from him two grenades, various improvised explosive device components, various identification cards and cash amounting to P8,520.

The complaint said then that Adib was an Abu Sayyaf sympathizer and a ardent supporter for the establishment of Islamic caliphate in the Philippines.

A week later, Adib asked the DOJ to dismiss the criminal complaint against him, claiming he had nothing to do with the improvised explosive device components and hand grenades allegedly found on his person.

He had said he was only in the Philippines as a tourist.

Adib, in denying the charge against him, added that the arresting officers planted the items that were allegedly seized from him.

He also argued that the allegation of his being a sympathizer of the Abu Sayyaf group and a supporter for the establishment of an Islamic caliphate in the country were “baseless.”

2 Abu bandits killed in Basilan military ops

From the Philippine Star (Dec 23, 2022): 2 Abu bandits killed in Basilan military ops (Roel Pareño)

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Two Abu Sayyaf bandits were killed in an encounter with soldiers in Tipo-Tipo, Basilan on Tuesday.

Personnel of the Joint Task Force Basilan encountered the bandits in Barangay Baguindan.

Task force commander Brig. Domingo Gobway said there was no reported casualty on the side of the government.

Meanwhile, a member of the Dawlah Islamiya-Maute group identified only by his alias of Mas’od surrendered to the military in Madalum, Lanao del Sur.

Mas’od turned over his M14 rifle to Lt. Col. Angestal Angeles II, commanding officer of the 51st Infantry Battalion.

The military said Mas’od was a former member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s 124th Base Command, who was delisted due to his involvement with the Dawlah Islamiya.
– John Unson, Ralph Edwin Villanueva

Peace efforts up after 3 killed in MILF infighting

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 28, 2022): Peace efforts up after 3 killed in MILF infighting (By Edwin Fernandez)

ADDRESSING THE PROBLEM. Mayor Allandatu Angas Sr. (in red right) of Sultan sa Barongis, Maguindanao del Sur, meets with police and military officials on Wednesday (Dec. 28, 2022) to find a solution to help end hostilities in Barangay Barurao involving MILF members. Clashes between two MILF groups in the area erupted on Tuesday and killed three Moro combatants. (Photo courtesy of Sultan sa Barongis MIO)

COTABATO CITY – More military forces have been deployed in Maguindanao del Sur’s town of Sultan sa Barongis after an infighting between Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) groups broke out and killed three combatants.

“Normalcy has been restored and the local government is trying its best to resolve the family feud diplomatically,” Maj. Michael Ameril, town police chief, said in an interview Wednesday.

Maj. Gen. Roy Galido, Army’s 6th Infantry Division commander, said the soldiers will serve as peacekeepers and ensure the safety of civilians in Barangay Barurao, Sultan sa Barongis.

The firefight between rival Moro groups started at around 3 a.m. Tuesday and the exchanges of gunfire and mortars lasted for seven hours until Muslim religious leaders and MILF ceasefire panels intervened.

“Efforts are underway to prevent another hostility,” Sultan sa Barongis Mayor Allandatu Angas Sr. said.

Involved in the hostilities are MILF armed groups led by Marhan Sali and Ustadz Daya.

Ameril said the group of Sali, a sub-commander of the MILF 118th base command, first attacked the group of Commander Jaype Emran of 105th base command in Barangay Barurao, apparently to avenge the death of Sali’s relative during the skirmishes on Dec. 14.

“They are all related (by blood); this is now a rido (family feud),” Ameril said.

Angas said the town government has provided initial food packs to families who fled their homes but have returned to their respective communities.

Fish farm harvest 'best Christmas gift' for AgNor ex-rebels

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 28, 2022): Fish farm harvest 'best Christmas gift' for AgNor ex-rebels (By Alexander Lopez)

GOOD HARVEST. Some 38 former New People’s Army (NPA) rebels who formed a livelihood organization reap the fruits of their efforts as they made the first harvest from their tilapia production project in Barangay Alubihid, Buenavista, Agusan del Norte on Dec. 23, 2022. The former NPA rebels surrendered from 2020 to this year to the Army's 23rd Infantry Battalion of the Army. (Photo courtesy of 23IB)

BUTUAN CITY – A group of former combatants of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) is now reaping the hard work they spent on their freshwater fish farming project, five months after conceptualizing the initiative.

The New Life Masigasig Farmers Association (NLMFA) is composed of 38 former NPA guerrillas from Agusan del Norte who surrendered to the 23rd Infantry Battalion (23IB) in 2020.

Aiming to be productive members of their communities, NLMFA members developed a small portion of land in Barangay Alubihid, Buenavista, Agusan del Norte for a tilapia production project in July.

“When I decided to abandon the communist movement earlier this year, my focus was shifted into developing a project that will help the other former rebels gain some income, Tatay Apang, the NLMFA chairperson, said in an interview Wednesday.

Apang said NLMFA was formed in June and was registered as a legitimate organization with the Department of Labor and Employment in the province in July.

“After the registration, we underwent training on tilapia production which was facilitated by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority in Agusan del Norte (TESDA-ADN),” Apang said.

TESDA-ADN also provided the organization with the needed tilapia fingerlings when the fish farming project was started in July, he added.

“We are thankful to Lt. Col. Jeffrey Balingao, the commander of the 23IB, Dir. Rey Cueva of TESDA-ADN, and Gov. Angel Amante of the provincial government of Agusan del Norte for this opportunity and continued support,” he said.

The group finally had their tilapia harvest two days before Christmas, collecting more than 200 kilos and sold at PHP100 per kilo in the market.

“This is a great gift to us this Christmas. The good harvest gave us the motivation to continue this project,” Apang said.

He said initial income will be used to expand the project and develop it further for increased productivity.

Alias Rey, NLMFA vice chairperson, said the former rebels felt proud of the success of the fish farming project.

“Some of our members are planning to duplicate the project in their respective communities. Tilapia farming is very promising,” he said.

The project, he added, also served as a therapy for most of them who had undergone violent lives when inside the NPA movement.

“The path of life that I chose now is very different from what we lived before. Now there is peace and a brighter future for our families and children,” he said.

New Army chief in NegOcc backs localized peace talks

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 28, 2022): New Army chief in NegOcc backs localized peace talks (By Nanette Guadalquiver)

TURNOVER OF COMMAND. Maj. Gen. Benedict Arevalo (center), commander of the 3rd Infantry Division and acting commander of the Visayas Command, with Brig. Gen. Inocencio Pasaporte (right) and Col. Michael Samson during the change of command of the 303rd Infantry Brigade at Camp Gerona, Murcia, Negros Occidental on Tuesday (Dec. 27, 2022). Samson was designated as acting brigade commander to succeed Pasaporte, who retired from military service. (Photo courtesy of 303rd Infantry Brigade, Philippine Army)

BACOLOD CITY – The new chief of the Philippine Army in Negros Occidental has expressed support for localized peace negotiations with members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA).

Col. Michael Samson, acting commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade (Ibde), said on Wednesday through local engagements, those willing to leave the armed revolution will have the opportunity to surrender without misgivings after being fed by propaganda that they will be harmed by government forces.

"If we erase their apprehensions, we can hold a dialogue, and eventually make a settlement. We can talk out the local issues that can be addressed by the local government units and government agencies, then it's better," he told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

"Let's talk about it, but I encourage it to be done locally. The previous national peace talks failed because they blindly follow the teachings or directives of the CPP's Central Committee," he added.

Samson said they will respond with military action to those who insist on fighting the government through terror and violence.

"If they will continue to do that, we will be forced to make their lives miserable. If it's the only way to force them to abandon the armed struggle," he added.

After serving as deputy commander for more than three years, Samson took over the helm of Camp Major Nelson L. Gerona in Murcia town after Brig. Gen. Inocencio Pasaporte stepped down as brigade chief as he retired from the military service on Tuesday.

The 303IBde oversees the 79th Infantry Battalion (IB) based in Sagay City and the 62IB in Isabela town, both in Negros Occidental and the 94IB with headquarters in Ayungon town, Negros Oriental.

Kalinaw News: PHP180M Worth ELCAC Projects kicks off in North Cotabato

From Kalinaw News (Dec 28, 2022): PHP180M Worth ELCAC Projects kicks off in North Cotabato

MAKILALA, COTABATO – The local government unit of President Roxas formally kicks off the implementation of road concreting projects, infrastructures, and livelihood programs worth 180 million pesos for its 25 barangays during the groundbreaking ceremony held at Barangay Labu-o, President Roxas, Cotabato Province, December 21, 2022.

The program furthers the DILG and Task Force ELCAC’s Barangay Development Program (BDP) by addressing the development concerns of communities, particularly those once considered Communist Terrorist Group-affected barangays.

Barangays of President Roxas in the Province of Cotabato were once affected by the CTG. They were declared as cleared after the military’s implementation of a community-based Community Support Program in the said barangays.

This ground-breaking ceremony highlighted the efforts and commitment of various agencies in addressing the issues that were once used by the CTGs as propaganda against the government.

Relatedly, nine Peoples Organizations whose members are former members of the underground mass organizations in the said barangays received PhP 2.7M pesos from DSWD’s Sustainable Livelihood Assistance Program on December 7, 2022, as a starter kit in their livelihood program.

LtCol Ezra L Balagtey during the activity emphasizes the effort of different government agencies to converge their various programs to address the issues and concerns of the communities. “The activity is proof that indeed we have a caring government, we are unifying our effort to address the issues and concerns of our communities,” Balagtey said. “As your partners in peace, we will continue to keep in step with other agencies and continue to do our part in preserving the stability and ensuring the continuous development of people and communities in President Roxas,” Balagtey added.

Kalinaw News is the official online source of information on the pursuit for peace by the Philippine Army. It provides information on the activities of Army Units nationwide in the performance of their duty of Serving the People and Securing the Land. e-mail:

Kalinaw News: MILF 125th Base Command receives a Livestock program from the Department of Agriculture Region X

From Kalinaw News (Dec 28, 2022): MILF 125th Base Command receives a Livestock program from the Department of Agriculture Region X

Tangcal, Lanao del Norte – Four (4) Carabaos were received by the Lanao Norte Kasalimbago Maranao Association from the Department of Agriculture Region X in a simple turnover ceremony graced by Engr. Maomit M. Tomawis, Deputy Minister for BARMM-MPW on the morning of December 24, 2022, at the Camp Berwar multi-purpose hall.

The Lanao del Norte Kasalimbago Maranao Association is a duly registered organization under the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). Through the efforts of the 5th Mechanized Infantry Battalion led by Lieutenant Colonel Juvegleen S Escandor and in partnership with the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Tangcal, the MILF communities and members of 125th Base Command were able to create an alternative livelihood program for the sustainable development of its community. The said livelihood program aims to promote agricultural development through a bottom-up and self-reliant farming system approach where equity, productivity, and sustainability through the use of agricultural resources are given utmost attention.

Mr. Samion Pingno, 125th MILF Base Commander, expressed his most profound gratitude for the unending support of the 5th Mechanized Infantry Battalion and Tangcal LGU in uplifting their way of living.

“Ang hiling namin ay dalawang kalabaw lamang para makatulong sa mga Gawain namin sa bukid pero nabigyan pa kami ng apat. Ito ang tunay naming kailangan bilang magsasaka. Makakaasa kayo na ito’y aming pangangalagaan at pararamihin pa. Makakaasa din kayo na ang buong 125th base command ay kaisa nyo sa pagpapanatili ng kapayapaan dito sa munisipyo ng Tangcal.”

Engr. Maomit, in his message, conveyed that this has a significant impact on the normalization process of MILF, even though the municipality of Tangcal is not under BARMM, the efforts of the different stakeholders only show that they are not forgotten. He also pledged support from the municipality to sustain these kind of programs.

On the other hand, LTC Escandor was elated about the success of the program. He extended his gratitude to the stakeholders involved in this endeavor and urged everyone to continue the harmonious relationship. He also highlighted that the 5th Mechanized Infantry Battalion will always go the extra mile to sustain the gains of the peace process and support the vision of the province, to have an inclusive and sustainable development.

Kalinaw News is the official online source of information on the pursuit for peace by the Philippine Army. It provides information on the activities of Army Units nationwide in the performance of their duty of Serving the People and Securing the Land. e-mail:

Kalinaw News: 100 former rebels, supporters in Aurora denounced CPP-NPA-NDF on its 54th Founding Anniversary

From Kalinaw News (Dec 28, 2022): 100 former rebels, supporters in Aurora denounced CPP-NPA-NDF on its 54th Founding Anniversary

BALER, Aurora-100 former rebels and its supporters in the province of Aurora gathered on Monday denounce the atrocities, lies and deception committed by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples Army (CPP-NPA) during the peace rally conducted in front of the municipality of San Luis on Monday, December 26, 2021.

Ka Adim who is the over-all president of the six peoples organization (POs), namely: IPs Association; Solo Parents Association; Samahan ng Magsasaka ng Camalatan Nonong Sr.; Nagkakaisang Mamamayan sa Dicaluyongan Association; Masaganang Perlas ng Silanganan ng Aurora Province Association and Sambayanan Association.

The group marched in San Luis proper and burned the CPP-NPA-NDF’s flags signifying their denouncement of CPP-NPA terroristic and violent acts to the Filipino people.

The group of personalities who were all FRs also reiterated their allegiance to the government during the event.

Ka Eric representing the Nagkakaisang Mamamayan sa Dicaluyongan Association said that his group is in full support to the government efforts for peace and Nation Building.

He added that it is timely to hold an activity criticizing the long-running communist insurgency since the CPP-NPA-NDF founder Jose Maria Sison is dead.

“Don’t support the terrorist organization. They must disappear because these organization disturb the peaceful living of the people of Aurora,” he said.

Ka Eric said that most of the recruits from the CTGs were coming from the schools and universities.

“They just disappear and their lives became meaningless. It is not too late and we have hope. We cannot solve the problem through armed conflict,” Ka Eric said.

Ka Norma recalled that the year 80’s was so dark wherein revolutionary bases accumulated armed political strength in Sitio Kamalatan in Barangay Nonong Sr., San Luis, Aurora.

“It was dark wherein the CPP-NPA sowing terror like wildfire to the community. The terrorist organization have staged hostilities to include killings of the civilians, burning of private vehicles owned by businessmen, the sabotage on public establishments and vital installations that severely affected innocent civilians. We do not want to it to happen. Itinigil na po namin ang pagsuporta sa kanila kaya kami ay narito. Itigil na ang kasinungalingan na sumisira sa buhay ng mga kabataan at bawat pamilya,” she said.

Ka Diego a resident of Barangay Diteki, San Luis, Aurora said that the civilians greatly affected by the armed activities of the terrorist organization.

“We do not want it to happen again. Armed conflict should be ended. Handa po kaming tumulong at sumuporta sa mga programa ng gobyerno. Sa CPP-NPA, huwag na ninyo kaming linlangin. Mariin po naming kinokondena ang CPP-NPA-NDF,” he said.

Kalinaw News is the official online source of information on the pursuit for peace by the Philippine Army. It provides information on the activities of Army Units nationwide in the performance of their duty of Serving the People and Securing the Land. e-mail: