Monday, January 17, 2022

Rebel killed, 4 captured in Guihulngan gun battle

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jan 17, 2022): Rebel killed, 4 captured in Guihulngan gun battle (BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN)

Renewed armed clashes on January 15 in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental, claimed the life of a suspected member of the New People’s Army and the capture of four of his comrades, Lt. Col. Melvin Flores, 62nd Infantry Battalion commander, yesterday said.

The identities of the slain rebel and his captured comrades, however, were not available as of this time.

Flores disclosed that 62IB troops responded to information relayed by a civilian
that an armed group was consolidating in Sitio Manlibod, Brgy. Sandayao, Guihulngan City, purposely to conduct extortion activities.

The information turned out to be positive, resulting in an approximately five-minute armed engagement between Army soldiers and about 12 NPA rebels, believed to be members of Central Negros (Front) 1, Komiteng Rehiyonal Negros/Cebu/Bohol/Siquijor.

This resulted to the killing a member of the NPA, and capture of four others, two of whom were injured in the gun battle and left behind by their fleeing comrades, Flores said.

Recovered from the encounter site were a KG9 automatic pistol with a magazine containing 23 live ammunition, a .45 caliber pistol, a backpack, assorted ammunition and subversive documents.

Flores disclosed that the two injured rebels were immediately transported to the Guihulngan District Hospital for treatment.

PH Navy brings aid to Bajau community in border island

From MindaNews (Jan 17, 2022): PH Navy brings aid to Bajau community in border island (By FRENCIE CARREON)

The Philippine Navy has conducted a humanitarian mission to Panguan Island, which is populated by the Sama Bajau ethnic tribe and the country’s last frontier with neighboring Malaysia, officials said.

A Sama Bajau family receives goods and potable water from sailors of BRP Andres Bonifacio when the latter sailed to Panguan Island in Simunul, TawiTawi. Photo courtesy of Naval Forces Western Mindanao

Panguan Island is part of Sitangkai town in Tawi-Tawi, one of the provinces under the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Rear Admiral Toribio Adaci, Jr., Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM) commander, described Panguan Island as a “crucial and strategic location” for the country, being the border of the Philippines with Malaysia’s State of Sabah.

THE NFWM deployed BRP Andres Bonifacio on January 14 to 15 to the island to deliver goods, potable water, medicines and other health care services to the residents there.

“We extended basic services and humanitarian assistance to the farthest areas of the country to support the socio-economic development efforts of the government,” Adaci said.

The official said the NFWM constantly deploys its naval assets in its jurisdiction to secure the country’s maritime domain, deter illegal maritime activities and respond to emergencies at sea.

The NFWM established a marine detachment in Panguan Island in 2016 to secure it from the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group and other lawless groups, which previously used the island as a “logistics hub” for their smuggling and other piracy activities.

Lieutenant Senior Grade Chester Ross Cabaltera, NFWM public affairs officer, said the humanitarian mission in Panguan Island was part of the sovereignty patrol conducted by BRP Andres Bonifacio, which is under the Naval Force 61, in the Tawi-Tawi group of islands.

Due to its remote location, Panguan Island lacks regular access to potable water, health care services and other basic commodities, Cabaltera said.

Panguan Island is also serving as a resting place and resupply area for local seafarers, he said.

The Navy’s gesture of support, no matter how small, could mean a lot to the people of Panguan Island who are miles away from the seat of government and whose daily lives revolve around a small (only 0.06 square kilometers) but highly strategic piece of Philippine territory, Cabaltera said.

Apart from preserving the integrity of the country’s territory, the Navy’s mandate also includes “protecting every Filipino even in the most isolated islands of the Philippine archipelago, he added. (Frencie Carreon / MindaNews)

Daulah Islamiya terror group ‘behind’ North Cotabato bus bombing – military

From MindaNews (Jan 17, 2022): Daulah Islamiya terror group ‘behind’ North Cotabato bus bombing – military (By FERDINANDH B. CABRERA)

This Mindanao Star passenger bus plying the Davao City-Cotabato City route is cordoned off after a bomb exploded at the rear portion inside the vehicle as it was cruising the highway at Purok Narra, San Mateo, Aleosan, North Cotabato around 8:15 a.m. Tuesday (11 January 2022). Photo from the Cotabato Provincial Police Command

The military has tagged the Daulah Islamiya as allegedly responsible for the Mindanao Star bus bombing in Aleosan, North Cotabato last week that killed a five-year-old boy and injured six others.

This developed as the Philippine Army’s 6th Infantry Division (6ID) confirmed killing the alleged brain of the bomb attack and his three cohorts during a manhunt operation in Carmen town, North Cotabato on Saturday, January 15.

Major General Juvymax Uy, 6ID commander and head of Joint Task Force Central, identified the slain mastermind as Norodin Hassan alias “Andot,” tagged as the “emir for military affairs” of the Daulah Islamiya – Hassan Group (DI-HG).

“The death of alias Andot and three of his cohorts only shows that justice (has been) given to the victims of the Mindanao Star bus bombing,” Uy said in a statement.

Earlier reports (not in MindaNews), citing the local police, said the bomb attack was allegedly perpetrated by the Al Khobar extortion gang.

On January 11, 2022, an improvised explosive device went off inside a Mindanao Star bus unit while plying along the national highway of Aleosan, North Cotabato from Davao City, killing a five-year-old boy and wounding six other passengers, mostly minors.

Philippine Army and Police Explosive and Ordnance Disposal Teams conducted a “sensitive site exploitation” and post blast Investigation immediately after the incident to identify the signature of the improvised explosive device and the suspects.

Military intelligence reports and information from the civilian populace helped security forces to track down the perpetrators and launched a massive manhunt operation a day after the explosion, according to Uy.

Col. Jovencio Gonzales, 602nd Brigade commander, identified two of the slain followers of Andot as Abdonillah Hassan alias “Don” and Abdonhack Hassan alias “Abdon.” The other one remained unidentified.

Seized from the suspects were one 7.62mm M-14 rifle, one cal. 30 M-1 Garand rifle, several rounds of ammunition and magazines of different calibers, analog cellphones, solar panels, ICOM radios and other subversive documents with high intelligence value, he added.

“After we identified the perpetrators responsible for the bomb attack, we immediately launched the manhunt operation in order to prevent them from doing similar atrocities in other areas, thus preventing further loss of lives and damage to properties,” Gonzales said.

Since the last quarter of 2021, several high-ranking Daulah Islamiya (DI) personalities have been neutralized by 6ID forces: Salahuddin Hassan, emir of Daulah Islamiya – Philippines, was neutralized by government forces in Talayan, Maguindanao on October 29, 2021; alias Adsam, Sub-Leader of DI, was neutralized on December 1, 2021 in Datu Salibo, Maguindanao; and Asim Karinda alias Abu Azim, newly appointed emir of DI, was killed in an encounter with government forces on December 2, 2021 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

“Our continuous effort to go after these terrorist groups has been unyielding. There will be no let-up and slowing down against these terrorists who continue to attack civilian populace, properties and communities,” Uy said, stressing that all these accomplishments were realized with the help of the local leaders and members of the communities. (Ferdinandh Cabrera / MindaNews)

Troops kill 4 bus bombers (Contains graphic image)

 From the Mindanao Examiner (Jan 16, 2022): Troops kill 4 bus bombers (Contains graphic image)

Government soldiers tracked down and killed four pro-ISIS militants, including their leader, tagged as behind the bombing of a provincial bus in the South that killed a minor and wounded six others, officials said Sunday.

A photo released by the 6th Infantry Division shows the bodies of the slain Dawlah Islamiya in Carmen town in North Cotabato province.

Maj. Gen. Juvymax Uy, commander of the Joint Task Force Central Mindanao and 6th Infantry Division, said troops raided the hideout of the militant group Dawlah Islamiya and killed its emir Norodin Hassan, alias Andot; and three other gunmen in North Cotabato’s Carmen town on Saturday.

He said two of the slain gunmen were identified as Abdonillah and Abdonhack Hassan and the third remains unknown. “The death of alias Andot and three of his cohort only shows that justice is given to the victims of the Mindanao Star Bus bombing,” Uy said, referring to the January 11 attack in Aleosan town in North Cotabato (not South Cotabato as previously reported.)

Uy did not say how many soldiers were involved in the operation or how the military tracked down the bombers, but he claimed the Dawlah Islamiya emir was the mastermind of the attack. Hassan’s group - which pledged allegiance to the Islamic State - planted the bomb under a seat and exploded while the bus was travelling in Aleosan town.

“Our continuous effort to go after these terrorist groups has been unyielding. There will be no let-up and slowing down against these terrorists who continue to attack civilian populace, properties, and communities. Together let us stand against these terrorist groups. In due time we will defeat them and the people of Central Mindanao will finally realize the peace and security that they longed for,” Uy said.

Col. Jovencio Gonzales, commander of 602nd Infantry Brigade, who commanded the operation, said troops recovered numerous firearms and war materials at the Dawlah Islamiya hideout. “After we identified the perpetrators who are responsible for the bombing, we immediately launched the manhunt operation in order to prevent them from doing similar atrocities in other areas thus preventing further loss of lives and damaged to properties,” Gonzales said without further elaborating.

Lt. Col. Bernard Tayong, a police spokesman, also issued a statement after reporters quoted the police as saying the bombing was perpetrated by the criminal gang called Al Khobar.

“Wala pong katotohanan ang mga kumakalat na mga balita na ang Al Khobar ang nasa likod ng pagpapasabog sa isang bus sa Aleosan, North Cotabato. It’s just very disappointing that some media outlets quoted us as the source of the said information. It is unfortunate as well that some people from the press have the temerity of putting words in the mouth of the police,” he said.

Troops kill Sayyaf supporter, recover IED in Basilan

From the Mindanao Examiner (Jan 17, 2022): Troops kill Sayyaf supporter, recover IED in Basilan

SECURITY FORCES recovered an improvised explosive after killing an Abu Sayyaf supporter on Monday in the southern Philippine province of Basilan, officials said.

Photos released by the military's Western Mindanao Command show the body of the slain Abu Sayyaf supporter Ajie Gomez and his weapons, including an improvised explosive recovered by security forces in his hideout in Basilan's Sumisip town.

Army Lt. Gen. Alfredo Rosario, Jr., chief of the Western Mindanao Command, said soldiers and policemen killed Ajie Gomez in his hideout in Limbo Candis in Sumisip town.

Rosario said security forces were searching Gomez’s hideout after receiving reports that he was spotted in the area carrying a home bomb and an automatic rifle. But instead of surrendering, Gomez tried to shoot soldiers and policemen and was gunned down.

“During the conduct of the search operation, the suspect Ajie Gomez resisted as he attempted to use his M16 rifle against the operating troops which prompted the government forces to retaliate,” Rosario said.

He said troops recovered a container of ANFO or ammonium nitrate/fuel oil connected to a battery and a tripwire, and his automatic rifle and two magazines loaded with bullets, and a revolver.

“The (military’s) Joint Task Force Basilan continues to heighten its security operations in areas infested by the terror group and other lawless elements to ensure the safety and security of the Basileños,” Rosario said.

Brig. Gen. Domingo Gobway, commander of the Joint Task Force Basilan, said Gomez was a sympathizer of Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Pasil Bayali, whose group is responsible for the series of bomb threats and extortion in Basilan, one of five provinces under the Muslim autonomous region.

It was unknown whether Gomez was also responsible for the death of a Muslim woman, Junayra Saad, in Sumisip town on January 11. Saad was killed in a bomb explosion after stepping a tripwire in Upper Benembengan village. Army soldiers are known to frequently patrol villages in the town.

The victim’s family did not release any statement, but authorities have in the past blamed the Abu Sayyaf group for the spate of bombings and attacks on innocent civilians in Basilan.

Leaders of the Abu Sayyaf have pledged allegiance to the ISIS or Islamic State and vowed to fight for the establishment of a strict caliphate in the restive, but mineral-rich region of Mindanao.

Philippine Army assigns 4 officers to ‘Tabak’ division

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 17, 2022): Philippine Army assigns 4 officers to ‘Tabak’ division (By Teofilo Garcia, Jr.)

DONNING OF RANK. Maj. Gen. Generoso Ponio, 1st Infantry Division (ID) commander (left), pins the new rank to 2Lt. Ruth Elaine Aquino, who was promoted to 1st Lieutenant during the flag-raising ceremony Monday (Jan. 17, 2022) at Camp Cesar Sang-an, home of the 1ID headquarters in Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur. The donning of rank took place as Ponio welcomed four officers the Philippine Army has assigned to the 1ID. (Photo courtesy of the 1ID)

The Philippine Army has assigned four officers to the 1st Infantry “Tabak” Division, its premier command, while a junior officer was promoted to a higher rank.

Maj. Gen. Generoso Ponio, 1st Infantry Division (ID) commander, welcomed the four officers during the Monday flag-raising ceremony held at the 1ID grandstand in Camp Cesar Sang-an, Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur.

The newly assigned officers to the 1ID were led by Lt. Col. Christopher Cunanan, who graduated on December 16, 2021 from his Command General Staff Course at the Command and General Staff College in Camp Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

The other officers included Capt. Noelio Brigole Jr.; Capt. Ian Kher Inot; and, Capt. Lhangki Nabua.

Cunanan was previously assigned with the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command in Capas, Tarlac while Brigole came from the 2nd Infantry Division, and Inot as well as Nabua from the 8th Infantry Division.

Ponio welcomed the four officers to the command and pinned their “Tabak” patches.

“We are very proud to receive you, and I’m sure that you will contribute to the accomplishment of the mission with the talents that you possess,” Ponio told the four newly-assigned officers.

“Stay safe, healthy, and happy, especially now that there’s an (alarming) increase of Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) cases in the province,” he added.

Maj. Mary Jephte Mañebog, 1ID information officer, said the four officers expressed their gratefulness for the warm greetings.

Mañebog said the four assured the officers and men of the 1ID that they will make every effort to help accomplish the unit’s mission.

Promoted to the next higher rank is 2Lt. Ruth Elaine Aquino.

Ponio congratulated Aquino and pinned to her the rank of 1st Lieutenant in the same ceremony.

1 hurt in ‘rido’-stemmed clash in Basilan

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 17, 2022): 1 hurt in ‘rido’-stemmed clash in Basilan (By Teofilo Garcia, Jr.)

Google map of Tipo-Tipo, Basilan

A member of the Moro Islamic Liberation (MILF) was wounded in a clash due to an existing family feud or “rido” in Basilan province, a top military official here reported Monday.

Brig. Gen. Domingo Gobway, Joint Task Force (JTF)-Basilan commander, said
the firefight broke out around 11:30 a.m. Monday in Barangay Bohe Baka, Tipo-Tipo, Basilan.

Gobway identified the group of protagonists as that of Arham Indanan, an MILF member, and Den Dammin alias Tubboh.

Gobway identified the injured MILF member as Ellie Asnawie, who belongs to the group of Indanan.

He said the firefight broke out and lasted for more than an hour as the two warring groups crossed paths in Barangay Bohe Baka.

He said the “rido” between the two groups started when Jerry Maani, the uncle of Dammin, was killed in an anti-drug operation of the provincial drug enforcement unit on January 21, 2021 in Barangay Lagayas, Tipo-Tipo.

The group of Dammin staged an ambush on January 29, 2021 in Sitio Taguias, Barangay Bangcuang, Tipo-Tipo that resulted in the death of Anyaman Indanan, the father of Arham, whom they pointed as the informant of the anti-drug operation.

Gobway said they have coordinated with the Joint Peace and Security Team (JPST) in Tipo-Tipo to assist in the peaceful settlement of the feud.

The JPST is a peace-keeping force deployed in areas mutually identified by the Philippine government and the MILF. Its members are composed of MILF members, military, and policemen.

It is one of the transitional mechanisms established under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

Viscom chief commends soldiers for continuous ‘Odette’ relief ops

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 17, 2022): Viscom chief commends soldiers for continuous ‘Odette’ relief ops (By Minerva Newman and John Rey Saavedra)

RELIEF OPERATIONS. Personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines help in the relief efforts for the victims of Typhoon Odette in these undated photos. Visayas Command commander, Lt. Gen. Robert Dauz, on Monday (Jan. 17, 2021) lauded the soldiers for their contribution to the relief and reconstruction efforts which are still ongoing a month after Typhoon Odette badly hit parts of the Visayas and Mindanao. (Contributed photos)

The commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines' (AFP) Visayas Command (Viscom) on Monday commended soldiers for continuously delivering relief goods, food packs, hot meals, and other services to typhoon victims, a month after the onslaught of Typhoon Odette.

In a statement, Viscom said its line units such as Joint Task Forces (JTF) “Storm” and “Spear”, Naval Forces Central (Navforcen), and Tactical Operations Wing Central (Towcen), were able to deploy personnel, transport, and communication assets to assist the local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils (DRRMCs) in the search, rescue, retrieval, and clearing operations.

Lt. Gen. Robert Dauz, Viscom commander, cited the “bayanihan” (collaboration) of the AFP personnel, the local government units, and the private sector in readily helping the typhoon victims.

“The Filipino Bayanihan spirit is indeed in full display in the aftermath of the typhoon. Viscom being your ‘Servant in the Visayas’ serves as an instrument of the generosity of our kababayans (town mates) who willfully extended support to our brothers and sisters in the region without asking or expecting something in return,” Dauz said.

The AFP Logistics Support Command in collaboration with Viscom deployed its Mobile Kitchen with personnel from the 82nd Infantry Battalion, 14th Civil-Military Operations (CMO) Battalion, and 3rd Community Relations Group to facilitate the immediate distribution of some 23,325 hot meals to typhoon victims in 10 localities in the province.

Dauz also thanked the San Miguel Corporation (SMC) for donating PHP500,000 worth of assorted food items, The Fraternal Order of Eagles- Philippine Eagle Central Visayas Region, the Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association, Inc. (PMAAAI) – Lapulapu Chapter, and Gideons International for funding the Mobile Kitchen.

The Navfrocen of the Philippine Navy, on the other hand, facilitated the delivery of 1,532,875 tons of assorted relief items from other regions to the typhoon-affected provinces in the Visayas while Towcen of the Philippine Air Force had 165 flights delivering 10,533 assorted food packs to the affected areas.

The 53rd Engineer Brigade of the Philippine Army, along with the United Architect of the Philippines – Cebu Chapter, was also cited for the clearing operations in the southern district of Cebu City and distribution of hundreds of family food packs to southern towns of Cebu province.

In a separate statement, Lt. Col. Ephraim Camaganacan, civil military operations officer of 53rd Engineer Brigade, said they are currently conducting clearing operations in the southern towns of Ronda, Dumanjug and Alcantara.

“In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and the onslaught of the Typhoon, the 53rd Engineer Brigade spearheaded the road clearing operations, hauling of water supplies, and offered the use of the Brigade generator to provide free electricity in order for the residents to recharge their gadgets, emergency lights, and headlamps. The electricity provision by the Brigade proved to be very helpful especially to the students who are going through modular learning. The students were given a chance to continue their studies and cope with their school requirements,” Camaganacan said.

In Bohol, the 47th Infantry Battalion collaborated with local government units in hauling and distributing assorted family food packs to 26,562 families all over the province.

14 BIFF surrenders to CIDG in S. Kudarat province

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 17, 2022): 14 BIFF surrenders to CIDG in S. Kudarat province (By Richelyn Gubalani)

NEW LIFE. The 14 BIFF surrenderers who were presented by the CIDG in General Santos City on Monday (Jan. 17, 2022) following their surrender on Jan. 15, 2022 in Lambayong, Sultan Kudarat. Major General Albert Ignatius Ferro (3rd left seated, face partly hidden), national CIDG chief and special guest at the simple rites, said the surrender of the BIFF batch signifies the gradual death of the political ideologies of rebels groups in this part of the country. (Photo by Richelyn Gubalani)

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – Fourteen members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) have recently surrendered to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Sultan Kudarat province, Maj. Gen. Albert Ignatius Ferro, the CIDG national director, announced here Monday.

In a press conference, Ferro
presented the surrendering BIFF batch that also turned over assorted firearms and explosives.

“These BIFF men yielded to personnel of the CIDG and officials of Barangay Tinumigues in Lambayong town of the province around 4:30 p.m. Saturday,” Ferro told reporters here in the press briefing.

The group also turned over six 7.62-caliber Barrett sniper rifles; two M1 Garand rifles; one .50-caliber Barret sniper rifle; one M16 rifle; one M79 Grenade launcher; one Ultimax rifle; three improvised rocket-propelled grenade launchers, two mug bombs, one improvised 60mm mortar pad, and ammunition.

He did not identify the surrenderers for security reasons but said they belong to the BIFF - Kagui Karialan faction operating in Sultan Kudarat and Maguindanao provinces under Kumander Gani Saligan.

Ferro said the group was dismayed by the negligence of their leaders in attending to their needs such as food amid the relentless pursuit operation by state forces.

“We are now experiencing the gradual death of the political ideologies of rebels groups thanks to the genuine efforts of the government to restore normalcy,” Ferro said.

In an interview, a certain Akmad, 25, said they will never go back to being rebels again as they were fighting for a futile cause.

“We regret the time we had with the BIFF. Even our family suffered in our wrong decision,” he said.

“We will start a new life with our families now that we will be living normal lives again,” he added.

The surrenderers will be given livelihood packages by the Lambayong town government for their start as productive citizens once more.

Army dismantles NPA group as top leaders surrender

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 17, 2022): Army dismantles NPA group as top leaders surrender (By Che Palicte)

DISMANTLED NPA SUB-REGIONAL GROUP. Leaders and members of the New People's Army's (NPA) Sub-Regional Committee (SRC) 5 have surrendered to the government on Jan. 13, 2022, which caused the total dismantling of the unit. Lt. Gen. Greg Almerol, commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) said the dismantling of SRC5 is also leading to the end of the Southern Mindanao Regional Command (SMRC). (PNA photo by Che Palicte)

The Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) confirmed on Monday that they have successfully dismantled the New People's Army's (NPA) Sub-Regional Committee (SRC) 5, Southern Mindanao Regional Command (SMRC), after 12 of its mostly top-ranking leaders surrendered on January 13.

In a press briefing at the 10th Infantry Division (10ID) headquarters here, Lt. Gen. Greg Almerol, the Eastmincom commander, said the surrenderers suffered defeat during an encounter in the hinterlands of Sitio Minalong, Barangay Kahusayan, Kitaotao, Bukidnon.

The surrenderers included Ida Marie Montero alias Mandy, Secretary and member of Komiteng Tagapagpaganap/Komiteng Kalihiman and Finance Officer; Renato Lubguban alias Jose, Deputy Secretary and Commanding Officer of Sub-Regional Operational Command; Lito Taluwa alias Lito, Acting Commanding Officer; Enrico Caramat alias Marco, Political Instructor; Rudy Saballa alias Egor, Military Adviser and former commanding officer of the dismantled Guerrilla Front 56.

Others who yielded were Lauret Tumbasay alias Wena, medic; Claudia Balite alias Claudia, Giyang Pulitika; Analisa Panduma alias Analiza, Supply Officer; Gerome Chucas alias Rob, Team Leader; and Milisyang Bayan members namely Dioneng Mansugal alias Bansilan; Catalino Mansugal alias Wolok; and Simo Mansugal alias Batugal.

He said the surrenderers brought along nine assorted firearms - three Colt M653 rifles; four M16 rifles; one M14 rifle; one M79 grenade launcher; and two .45-caliber pistols - and other war materiel.

“The dismantling of SRC5 is completely nearing the end of SMRC. What’s left to them are weakened guerilla fronts. [With the dismantling], it showed that all test pilot projects of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-NPA in SMRC area have all failed,” Almerol said.

He explained that the CPP-NPA has created a laboratory in the SRC areas for their plans but eventually failed.

“Before June 2022, we will be able to dismantle SMRC. This [dismantling] is very important for us because these are the testing ground where they recruit the Indigenous People (IP) since SRC 5 mostly are ancestral domain,” Almerol said.

He noted that before Eastmincom started their campaign in the SRC5 area, 75 percent of fighting NPA’s comes from the IPs.

“With this feat, and the surrender of their leaders, their thrust to recruit the IPs also failed,” Almerol said.

Game over

Ariane Jane “Marikit” Ramos, former secretary of the NPA Guerrilla Front 55, told the Philippine News Agency on Monday that it is “game over” for the SRC5, SMRC as its leaders are surrendering to government forces.

“We failed, that’s why we chose to become mothers and fathers to our children, and likewise to become the children to our parents,” she said.

Ramos said the effect of the dismantling resulted in a big blow to SMRC since it is where they gather their mass bases and NPA recruits.

“Since we will no longer have our mass bases, it is now hard to push the people’s democratic revolution. It means that it’s losing its ground and there is a big possibility that it will collapse in no time,” she said.

“It is game over because they got the leadership of SRC5,” Ramos added.

Alias Mandy, on the other hand, said time is up for SRC since she along with her members had submitted themselves to the government.

“As to the remaining members of SRC5, they cannot put the SRC back. They will also surrender one of these days,” she said.

Mandy also thanked the government for giving them the chance to correct their mistakes.

“No more fear. We no longer fear for our lives,” she said.

Ahead of timeline

Maj. Gen. Ernesto Torres Jr., the 10ID commander, said the dismantling of the SRC5 is way ahead of the timeline set by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

“This is the reality on the ground as opposed to the lies being peddled by the CPP information bureau that they still have strong cadres and mass bases. Our joint intelligence units, focused military operations and purposive civil-military office operations led to the destruction of SRC5 and SRGU of the SMRC” he said.

Torres also lauded the Army’s 1003rd Brigade’s accomplishment in dismantling the whole SRC that previously had three guerilla fronts (GF).

In 2016, the SRC 5, SMRC had three guerilla fronts that included the GF 54, 55, and 56; and also one SRGU, all of which are now dismantled.

“Indeed, our efforts against the CPP-NPA in Southern Mindanao is on the endgame. Again, I am calling the remaining deceived members of the rebel organization to lay down your arms, return to the folds of the law and live a peaceful life ahead.” Torres said.

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

The Anti-Terrorism Council also formally designated the NDF as a terrorist organization on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and separate part” of the CPP-NPA that was created in April 1973.

Davao’s Kalinaw Village offers hope to ex-NPA rebels

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 17, 2022): Davao’s Kalinaw Village offers hope to ex-NPA rebels

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte (left) and Minda Silvano, Center Head for Kalinaw Village, talk about Kalinaw Village – a residential care facility that houses former New People’s Army rebels who wish to undergo reformation and return to the fold of the law, during the Jan. 17 episode of the Mayor's online show “Sara All For You." (Contributed photo)

The Kalinaw Village – a residential care facility is housing former New People’s Army rebels who wish to undergo reformation and return to the fold of the law.

Mayor Sara Duterte, on Monday’s episode of her online show “Sara All For You”, said the village was created as a halfway home for former rebels prior to their return to their families and communities.

“Nagka-problema tayo kung saan natin ilalagay, kung saan natin ibibigay ‘yung tulong, ‘yung mga kailangan nila immediately after sila mag-surrender. So eto, meron tayong Kalinaw Village (We had a problem with where to house them after their surrender. That is why we have this Kalinaw Village),” she said.

Minda Silvano, Center Head for Kalinaw Village, said the village was created to welcome, accept and provide necessary interventions for the rebel returnees.

“Ang Kalinaw Village abri 24 hours, seven days a week para mudawat sa atong mga kaigsuonan nga ni-desisyon nga mobalik sa sabakan sa atong panggamhanan (to receive our brothers and sisters who decide to return to the government fold),” she said.

“Residents", as they call the returnees, are provided with professional services such as medical, stress debriefing, mental wellness seminar, spiritual rejuvenation, seminars on strengthening family and community relations, disaster training, tree planting, and entrepreneurship within their three to six months of stay in the village.

The intervention plans for the residents in the village include partnerships with the residents’ families, barangays, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the Philippine National Police (PNP) for their security in preparation for their reintegration into society.

The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority also provides the residents with training on livelihood courses for them to acquire new skills and hone their entrepreneurial talents.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development, on the other hand, gives financial assistance to support their needs after their residency in the village.

Silvano shared that it was personally fulfilling for the rehabilitation team to receive positive feedback from the residents.

“While dito sila sa (they are here)Kalinga Village, na-experience nila ‘yung komprehensibo (comprehensive) at responsive programs and services of our government, at talagang na-appreciate nila, nagbe-verbalize sila na nagustuhan nila ang serbisyo at programa ng Kalinaw Village (and they satisfied and appreciate the services and programs of the Kalinaw Village),” she said.

Duterte names Torres as new Nolcom commander

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 17, 2022): Duterte names Torres as new Nolcom commander

Maj. Gen. Ernesto Torres Jr. (File photo)

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has named Maj. Gen. Ernesto Torres Jr., former Civil Relations Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (CRSAFP) chief, as the new commander of the Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom).

Torres will replace former Nolcom commander, Lt Gen. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos.

In a January 7 letter addressed to Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Duterte said he has accepted the latter's endorsement to designate Torres as new Nolcom commander.

"I wish to inform you that, per your letter-endorsement and in accordance with the recommendation of the Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Chairman AFP Board of Generals, pursuant to Republic Act No. 8186, as amended by Republic Act No. 9188, the designation of Major General Ernesto C. Torres Junior O-10054 Philippine Army as Commander, Northern Luzon Command, Armed Forces of the Philippines vice Lt. Gen. Arnulfo Marcelo B. Burgos Jr. O-9865 PA is hereby approved effective this date," the letter read.

Prior to his appointment, Torres was head of the Joint Task Force Haribon and deputy commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command.

Torres, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1989, is an experienced public affairs officer with stints in the General Headquarters and the Philippine Army.

He was also the commander of the 1003rd Infantry Brigade and Army assistant chief of staff for personnel, or G-1.

Torres' combat and administrative experience were highly recognized with several Distinguished Service Stars, Distinguished Service Medals, Meritorious Achievement Medals, Bronze Cross Medals, and Outstanding Achievement Medals, among others.

Meanwhile, Duterte also approved the appointments of Col. Adonis Ariel G. Orio and Col. Randolph Cabangbang to the rank of Brigadier General.

The appointments of both Orio and Cabangbang were confirmed in a letter from Duterte to Lorenzana dated January 16.

Presidential yacht provides medical aid to 820 Dinagat residents

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 17, 2022): Presidential yacht provides medical aid to 820 Dinagat residents (By Priam Nepomuceno)

Photo courtesy of BRP Ang Pangulo Facebook page

The BRP Ang Pangulo (ACS-25), the presidential yacht converted into a floating hospital following the onslaught of Typhoon Odette last month, has provided medical aid to 820 residents of two barangays in the Dinagat Islands during its mission in the area from January 14 to 15.

"After serving Siargao for the past week, the floating hospital returns to Dinagat Islands to continue delivering medical services and humanitarian assistance to the people of the province. This time, the Presidential Ship anchored off the coasts of Barangays Cab-ilan and Gomez in the Municipality of Dinagat. A total of 368 and 452 patients, respectively, were served the past two days," the BRP Ang Pangulo said in its Facebook post on Sunday night.

The same post added that the 820 patients served for both barangays are the highest since BRP Ang Pangulo started its humanitarian mission last December.

"To date, a total of 1,614 residents from Siargao and Dinagat Islands have been attended to by the hospital ship," the ship said.

The BRP Ang Pangulo is part of the 27-ship flotilla deployed by the Navy to help communities battered by “Odette”.

The ship left Manila on December 19, carrying thousands of relief goods and other essential items intended for the affected population in Mindanao.

Commander Benjo Negranza, Philippine Navy spokesperson, earlier said they use their resources to assist disaster-stricken areas to ensure the timely delivery of relief goods to typhoon victims.

Meanwhile, the Navy’s landing dock BRP Tarlac LD601 departed Pier 15, South Harbor in Manila for its fourth relief transport mission for the areas affected by Typhoon Odette in Visayas and Mindanao on Sunday.

The BRP Tarlac is transporting about 450 tons of consolidated relief goods and essential items from different government agencies, PN units, and stakeholders to be distributed to those affected by ‘Odette’ in Cebu, Bohol, Surigao provinces, and Leyte.

During its third relief sortie, the ship transported its heaviest haul of relief goods and essential rolling cargoes to the calamity-stricken areas in Visayas and Mindanao.

BRP Tarlac was loaded with 542,206 kilograms of relief goods and 50 tons of rolling cargo when it arrived in Cebu last January 8.

Brahmos missiles delivery to start within 1 year: Lorenzana

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 17, 2022): Brahmos missiles delivery to start within 1 year: Lorenzana (By Priam Nepomuceno)

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (File photo)

The delivery of the Indian-made medium-range ramjet supersonic Brahmos cruise missiles for the Philippine Navy (PN)'s Shore-Based Anti-Ship Missile System Acquisition Project is expected to start within a year's time.

"First delivery is estimated in one year,"
Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a message to the Philippines News Agency over the weekend, when asked for updates on the weapons' acquisition.

Lorenzana said the DND is expected to release and sign the contract with Brahmos Aerospace Private Ltd. in January.

"The contract is being finalized. We hope to sign it this month,"
he added.

The Brahmos project is worth USD374,962,800 (around PHP19 billion).

Meanwhile, PN spokesperson, Commander Benjo Negranza, in an interview Monday, said the Brahmos missile project would enhance their capability to defend the country.

"The (Shore-Based Anti-Ship Missile System Acquisition Project) is a big capability enhancement for the end-user," he added.

On December 31, Lorenzana signed the Notice of Award for the Navy Brahmos' acquisition project and is a government-to-government deal signed with India.

"It includes the delivery of three batteries, training for operators and maintainers as well as the necessary Integrated Logistics Support (ILS) package. Conceptualized as early as 2017, the Office of the President approved its inclusion in the Horizon 2 Priority Projects in 2020," he added.

The acquisition program for the Brahmos, he said, would push through after the DND and India's Defense Ministry signed on March 2, 2021, the implementing agreement concerning the procurement of defense material and equipment.

"As of now, it is a go. The implementing agreement recently signed will facilitate the G2G (government-to-government) mode of procurement," Lorenzana said.

A missile battery typically consists of three mobile autonomous launchers with two or three missile tubes each, along with the tracking systems. Lorenzana said the Philippine Marine Corps' Coastal Defense Regiment will be the primary user of the Brahmos missile system.

The Brahmos cruise missile can be launched from a ship, aircraft, submarine, or land and has a top speed of around Mach 2.8 (around 3,400 km. per hour), and is capable of carrying warheads weighing 200 to 300 kilograms.

The acquisition of a land-based missile system is under Horizon Two of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program, which is slated for 2018 to 2022 and geared for the acquisition of equipment for external defense.

It has a budget of PHP300 billion.

Earlier, then PN chief Vice Adm. Giovanni Carlo Bacordo said the Brahmos is the ideal weapon for the Navy's Shore-Based Anti-Ship Missile System Acquisition Project.

DND gives nod to purchase of 32 more Black Hawk choppers

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 16, 2022): DND gives nod to purchase of 32 more Black Hawk choppers (By Priam Nepomuceno) 

S-70i Black Hawk helicopter (Photo courtesy of Sec. Delfin Lorenzana Facebook)

It’s a go for the government procurement of 32 additional S-70i Black Hawk combat utility helicopters after the Notice of Award (NOA) was issued to PZL Mielec of Poland late last year, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana announced Sunday.

Lorenzana shared in a Facebook post that the NOA was issued on Dec. 28, 2021 for the PHP32-billion project that comes with an initial logistics support package and training for pilots and maintenance crew.

The Contract Agreement is now being drafted after which a Notice to Proceed will officially commence the project.

"The delivery of these helicopters will start on CY (Calendar Year) 2023 (five units) while the remaining ones will be delivered in three batches as follows: CY2024 - 2nd batch (10 units); CY2025 - 3rd batch (10 units); and CY2026 - last batch (seven units),"
Lorenzana posted.

The Philippine Air Force earlier (PAF) completed the acquisition of 16 Black Hawk helicopters, also from the Polish aerospace manufacturer, worth USD241 million (about PHP11.5 billion).

The first batch of six helicopters was delivered in November 2020, followed by the second batch of five in June last year that was formally accepted, turned over, and blessed on Oct. 13, 2021.

The last batch of five was delivered on Nov. 8, 2021 and formally accepted by the PAF on December 3.

"The lack of transport planes and helicopters have never been more acute during the pandemic and in the aftermath of Typhoon Odette. This was exacerbated by our aging Hueys that have become uneconomical to maintain. The 12 brand new Black Hawk bore the brunt of the work during these critical times," Lorenzana said.

PAF S-70i units are transporting relief supplies and rescue personnel to areas battered by Typhoon Odette last month.

They have also been utilized to transport Covid-19 vaccines in geographically isolated areas.

‘Idle’ PAF helicopters now on limited ops for relief efforts

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 16, 2022): ‘Idle’ PAF helicopters now on limited ops for relief efforts (By Priam Nepomuceno)

RELIEF OPS. An undated photo shows relief goods being unloaded from a UH-1H helicopter for Typhoon Odette-affected families in an undisclosed area. The Philippine Air Force has put on limited operations its UH-1H "Huey" combat utility helicopters that were earlier grounded and placed in storage to help in the ongoing relief efforts for typhoon victims. (Photo courtesy of PAF)

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) has put on limited operations its UH-1H "Huey" combat utility helicopters that were earlier grounded and placed in storage to help in the ongoing relief efforts in the Visayas and Mindanao areas battered by Typhoon Odette last month.

The UH-1Hs were grounded and placed in storage following a fatal crash that killed at least six PAF personnel in Bukidnon on Jan. 16, 2021.

"The UH-1H helicopters of the PAF are now being utilized in the humanitarian assistance and disaster response efforts in the aftermath of Typhoon Odette. After extensive maintenance checks and test flights, the UH-1H have been put on limited operation as a necessary step to aid our fellow countrymen by transporting relief goods in the Visayas area," PAF spokesperson Lt. Col. Maynard Mariano said on Saturday night.

He said the Department of National Defense and Armed Forces of the Philippines approved the limited operations of these UH-1Hs for the following missions:

* Humanitarian assistance and disaster response;
* Rapid damage assessment and needs analysis;
* Medical evacuation and transport of Covid-19 Vaccines and medical equipment;
* Training and maintenance flights.

"The UH-1H fleet took off for the first HADR mission on 28 December 2021. PAF personnel and its air assets have been working round-the-clock in providing relief operations to areas affected by Typhoon Odette," Mariano said.

Grounded and placed in storage are between six and 10 UH-1H helicopters.

"It is through the sheer determination and ardent desire of our airmen to serve and their obligation to fulfill their duty to the country made these things possible, 'That Others May Live'," he added.