Sunday, July 3, 2022

Kalinaw News: 19 NPA Surrendered to 3ID unit in Negros Oriental

From Kalinaw News (Jul 3, 2022): 19 NPA Surrendered to 3ID unit in Negros Oriental

19 NPA combatant members of CPP-NPA terrorist in Central Negros surrendered to 94th Infantry Battalion of 303rd Infantry Brigade under the 3rd Infantry (Spearhead) Division, Philippine Army in Headquarters, 94th IB, Brgy Tambo, Ayungon, Negros Oriental on July 02, 2022 (Saturday).

The surrendered Nineteen (19) Communists NPA Terrorists (CNTs) – (True identity are temporarily hidden for their safety) were currently at the custody of the 94th IB as they will undergo assessment and debriefing to officially avail the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) of the government through DILG and Prov’l Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) of Negros Oriental.

According to them, they were already fed-up with the false promises of the NPA leader and decided to leave the armed struggle due to internal conflict, lack of medical support and leadership problems of their leader inside the armed struggle. Most importantly, they would like to avail of the government’s Enhanced Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) being implemented by the local government through the Local Task Force-ELCAC.

This is a developing story.

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

Kalinaw News: 2 NPA Leaders and one Medic yielded, urged by family members to surrender in Gingoog City

From Kalinaw News (Jul 3, 2022): 2 NPA Leaders and one Medic yielded, urged by family members to surrender in Gingoog City

BANCASI, Butuan City – Two New People’s Army (NPA) Leaders and one NPA Medic surrendered to 58th Infantry (Dimalulupig) Battalion under the Operational Control of 402nd Infantry (Stingers) Brigade on 02 July 2022 at Sitio Anahaw, Brgy Bantaawan, Gingoog City.

The former CPP-NPA Terrorist (CNT) personalities are identified as Golden Romania Compas Sr, 42 years old, a former Political Guide of Platoon Falcon, Sub-Regional Committee (SRC) 1. Said NPA member surrendered through the help of his brother who is also a former rebel.

Golden narrated how he was deceived by the false promises of the NPAs which pushed him to return to the folds of law.

In addition, another CNT personality who surrendered to 58IB is identified as Neiljan Pasague Legaspino, 29 years old who served as VCO1/SL of SRSDG Eagles, Sub-Regional Committee (SRC) 1. Neiljan surrendered together with his wife who is identified as Ariel Uba Compas, Medic of Platoon Falcon, SRC 1, 27 years old. The two voluntarily surrendered due to the hardships and deception they had experienced from the said Communist Terrorist Group (CTG).

Moreover, they surrendered with them the following: one (1) M16 improvised into a Sniper Rifle with magazines and ammunitions; one (1) Improvised Explosive Device (IED); two (2) Blasting Caps, and ten (10) Mtrs detonating cord.

Furthermore, the said personalities are currently under the custody of 58IB and would be enrolled in the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP), under which the former rebel are expected to receive more than PHP200,000.

Meanwhile, BGEN ADONIS ARIEL ORIO, the 402Bde Commander commended the troops, “I congratulate the troops of 58IB for this achievement. Indeed, this is attributed to all of your hardworking personnel as a result of your relentless efforts and diligence. Also, this is made possible with the support and efforts made by the NTF-ELCAC, local government units and the rest of the community. However, this is my call to the remaining CNT members as I urge you to choose the path of peace. The Stingers Brigade will not cease in conducting our Focused Military Operations until all of our enemies are finally neutralized ,” BGEN Orio said.

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

2 rebel leaders, medic surrender in MisOr — Army

From the Manila Bulletin (Jul 3, 2022): 2 rebel leaders, medic surrender in MisOr — Army (By Martin Sadongdong)

Two alleged New People’s Army (NPA) leaders and a medical officer have surrendered to the military in Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental, the Philippine Army (PA) said Sunday, July 3.

Photo courtesy of 4th Infantry Division

First Lt. Claudine Robledo, civil military operations officer of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division (4ID), identified the rebels as couple Neiljan Legaspino, 29, and Ariel Compas, 27; and Golden Romania Compas Sr., 42.

According to the 4ID, Legaspino was the squad leader of the NPA’s Sub-Regional Committee (SRC) 1; Compas was the medical officer of the Platoon Falcon of SRC 1; and the elder Compas was a political guide of the Platoon Falcon. All of them were allegedly operating in Gingoog City.

NPA arms cache unearthed in Tarlac

From the Manila Bulletin (Jul 3, 2022): NPA arms cache unearthed in Tarlac (By Liezle Basa Iñigo)

CAPAS, Tarlac – An arms cache owned by the New People’s Army (NPA) was unearthed Friday, July 1, in Barangay Sta. Juliana here.

The 31st Mechanized Infantry Company, 3rd Mechanized Infantry (Makatarungan) Battalion; 790th Air Base Group and 710th Special Operations Wing, Philippine Air Force; National Intelligence Coordinating Agency-3, and Capas Municipal Police Station discovered the weapons belonging to the weakened NPA-Komiteng Larangang Guerrilla-Tarlac-Zambales (NPA-KLG-TarZam) following information provided by former communist guerrillas.

Recovered were M16A1 rifle, one M14 rifle, one M2 carbine, KG9 submachine gun (SMG), Beretta 9mm, three caliber .38, magnum caliber .22, caliber .22, various ammunition, 16 assorted magazines, one commercial radio, and medical and personal effects.

Citing potential abuse, Makabayan party-lists seek repeal of Anti-Terrorism Act

From the Philippine Star (Jul 3, 2022): Citing potential abuse, Makabayan party-lists seek repeal of Anti-Terrorism Act

Activist groups troop to University of the Philippines Diliman to oppose the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020. / Efigenio Christopher Toledo

Opposition party-lists have filed a bill to repeal the Anti-Terrorism Act, which they said was draconian and prone to abuse is being used to threaten people and groups — including news organizations — on unproven allegations of terrorist links.

In filing the bill,
Rep. Raoul Manuel (Kabataan party-list), Rep. France Castro (ACT Teachers party-list) and Rep. Arlene Brosas (Gabriela Women’s Party) said "it is high time for Congress to do its part to ensure that this bill will not have the capability to harm any other person in the country."

In defending ATA, Calida references Duterte: Nothing to be afraid of if you're no terrorist

Esperon has sites of news orgs, progressive groups blocked as 'communist affiliates'

The bill is unlikely to prosper at the House of Representatives, which has historically been dominated by members aligned with or supportive of the sitting president.

The Makabayan lawmakers said the ATA contradicts the human rights treaties and agreements the country is a signatory to. They also said that the definition of what counts as "terrorism" is unclear even as the law allows the Anti-Terrorism Council to designate groups and people as terrorists.

READ: Cheat sheet: Petitioners argue for the nullification of anti-terrorism law

"Two years into the Terror Law's enactment since July 3, 2020, Kabataan views mounting cases of state agents weaponizing the law to threaten and imprison innocent civilians on top of producing dubious terror-tagging proscription lists as vindication of initial fears of petitioners and many Filipino citizens," Kabataan said in a statement on Sunday.

The ATA was used last month to justify a National Telecommunications Commission order to block access to websites that the National Security Council said were affiliated with or support the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People's Army and National Democratic Front of the Philippines. Websites of alternative media organizations, journalists and academics, and local activits groups were among dozens of pages blocked.

Hermogenes Esperon Jr., national security adviser at the time, claimed that these websites were affiliated with terrorist organizations but did not cite evidence. His letter of request to the NTC failed to cite even the specific articles of the ATA that he claims these websites violated.

Bill to repeal

Among the issues cited for the repeal of the ATA was the broad definition of terrorism, also noting that "mere suspicion can be used by state authorities to criminalize even dissent."

"Given the broad ‘definition of terrorism,’ the power of the ATC to designate a person or a group as a ‘terrorist’ can result in terrorist-tagging and arbitrary detention," the party-lists said in the explanatory note of their bill.

Kabataan, ACT Teachers, and Gabriela said implementation of the law so far has left a "chilling effect" on expressing dissent and criticism of government in fear of retaliation for merely expressing their opinions.

Opinion: On NTC's shutting down websites linked to CPP-NPA-NDFP

Opinion piece posted to the Manila Times (Jul 4, 2022): On NTC's shutting down websites linked to CPP-NPA-NDFP (By Marit Stinus-Cabugon)


THE National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) pulled the plug on 28 websites that immediate past National Security adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. had identified as associated with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). Since the CPP has been declared a terrorist organization by the government, any affiliate organization is deemed a promoter of terrorism by virtue of association and must be restricted.

The CPP itself, through Twitter, claimed that only seven of the 28 sites had a connection to the party and its political arm, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and, I may add, the New People's Army (NPA). The seven websites of this underground trinity that were affected by the NTC order to block access to the internet included, among others, Philippine Revolution Web Central, and websites of less known underground organizations Revolutionary Council of Trade Unions and Revolutionary Organization of Overseas Filipinos and their Families.

Screenshot of Philippine Revolution Web Central, one of the websites ordered blocked by the NTC.

Websites of sectoral organizations of fisherfolk, agricultural workers and peasant women that form part of the above-ground national democratic movement were shut down, too. Some will argue that this is "red-tagging" but to me, it is calling a spade a spade. Simply referring to, for instance, Pamalakaya Pilipinas as a "progressive" or "militant" sectoral organization is too vague and general to explain the goals and purpose of the concerned organization. Officials of Pamalakaya, UMA and Amihan, along with the long list of sectoral and cause-oriented organizations in the national democratic movement, may not be armed rebels or members of the CPP but their end goal is nevertheless the same: the socialist revolution. They have unity of purpose and push the same agenda. They are the reaffirmists after the great split in the early 1990s.

So are the NGOs found in Esperon's list: Rural Missionaries of the Philippines and Save Our Schools (SOS) Network. The SOS Network has been the biggest recruiter for the NPA in Mindanao in recent times. Dozens of so-called Salugpongan schools under the SOS umbrella operated across Mindanao, including Davao City. Sometime in 2015, army troops uncovered the true purpose of some — not all — of the Salugpongan schools. With the schools pressured by the military, organizations belonging to the national democratic movement evacuated the affected communities to Davao City where the LGU (local government unit) was known to be friendly toward their cause. It was only in 2019 that the Davao City government finally denied renewal of business permits to Salugpungan schools, forcing SOS and its partner organizations to transfer students to Cebu. Some of the students had already been brought to Cebu for "exposure" in 2018, and the "Bakwit School" launched. The curriculum, according to the Facebook page of one of the host organizations, included Jose Maria Sison's Youth on the March and Maikling Kurso sa Lipunan at Rebolusyong Pilipino. "Red-tagging" here is clearly an understatement.
AMLC freezes accounts of Jalandoni, 9 others

Chad Booc, a teacher at the "Lumad Bakwit School in Cebu," was killed in Davao de Oro last February in what authorities say was an encounter. Booc's friends deny that he was a member of the NPA. Considering the consistency of the national democratic movement in deliberately concealing the fact that a killed colleague was indeed a full-fledged member of the NPA, we may never know the truth. I say this as someone who has been following insurgency-related news for more than 20 years. The pattern is clear; the cover-up, predictable. The issue is not whether the late Chad Booc and countless others like him may or may not have been with the NPA. Rather, the problem lies with their colleagues, who use the media to spread and perpetuate falsehood and deceit.

"Bulatlat" may have been shut out of its regular website, but its stories are accessible through a mirror site, hosted by one of its fellow alternative media organizations. Does it promote terrorism? I think not. Rather, it is a rich source of information on how the national democratic movement perceives the world, irrespective of whether or not the reader agrees with the perspective.

The sites directly linked to the CPP-NPA-NDFP, some of which were shut down by the NTC, on the other hand, glorify armed struggle, including murder. The bragging about liquidations lays bare the lack of respect for human rights and due process. The connections between underground and above-ground organizations are exposed, while details about ambushes, liquidations and encounters are valuable for research purposes. Of course, one should always take any propaganda — one-sided information — with a grain of salt.

The marketplace of ideas is a key ingredient in a democracy where minds are sharpened by exposure to a variety of conflicting perspectives and appreciation of facts. The discerning mind would know how to distinguish propaganda from substance. As for ending insurgency, that purpose is hardly served by shutting down some websites and Facebook accounts. Armed struggle and revolution will remain appealing for as long as social, economic and political injustices persist.

NPA member killed in Negros Oriental clash

From the Manila Times (Jul 4, 2022: NPA member killed in Negros Oriental clash (By Christian Crow Maghanoy)

THE death of a suspected member of the New People's Army (NPA) in Negros Oriental will serve as an eye-opener to the remaining NPA troops to surrender to the folds of the law, a ranking official said Saturday. 

Philippine Army (PA) 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) commander Maj. Gen. Benedict Arevalo's statement comes in the wake of the demise of Cristanto Estrabela Lagradilla, alias Locsin, a member of Squad 2, South East Front (SEF) in Sitio Tamusi, Barangay Talalak, Negros Oriental on Friday. 

Arevalo said government troops were conducting combat operations in response to the information given by the locals on the presence of NPA in the area. 

A firefight ensued between the troops of the 11th Infantry Lapulapu Battalion of the 3ID, PA, and more or less five members of SEF, Komiteng Rehiyon-Negros, Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor, that lasted for eight minutes. 

Seized from the encounter site was a KG9 rifle, a KG9 magazine with 20 rounds of ammunition, an M16 magazine with eight rounds of ammunition, a cal..45 magazine with three rounds of ammunition, a bandolier, two-way radios, a backpack and NPA subversive documents. 

"With the cooperation of the communities and the collaborative efforts of other government agencies, we are positive that we can sustain the peace and development in this part of the region," Arevalo told the media Saturday. 

The Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

19 rebels surrender in Negros Oriental

From the Philippine Star (Jul 4, 2022): 19 rebels surrender in Negros Oriental (Gilbert Bayoran)

Nineteen New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas have surrendered to authorities in Ayungon, Negros Oriental, the Army reported yesterday.

The surrenderees, whose identities were withheld, are corrently undergoing debriefing and assessment for the enhanced-comprehensive local integration program (E-CLIP) of the government at the headquarters of the Army’s 94th Infantry Battalion (IB) in Barangay Tambo.

The rebels denounced their affiliation with the communist group and took their oath of allegiance to the government on July 2 before 94IB chief Lt. Col. Van Donald Almonte.

They turned over four handguns and ammunition to the military, according to Brig. Gen. Inocencio Pasaporte, commander of the Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade.

The rebels said they were fed up with the false promises of their leaders and confirmed the existence of internal conflict in the communist organization.

Pasaporte said the recent surrender would further reduce the already dwindling force of the communist group.

Meanwhile, in Misamis Oriental, three rebels also surrendered to the military in Gingoog City.

One of the surrenderees, identified as Golden Romania Compas Sr., 42, told soldiers of the 58th IB that he was deceived into joining the armed struggle.

Compas surrendered with the help of his brother, who is also a former rebel.

The two other surrenderees were identified as Neiljan Legaspino, 29, and his wife Ariel, 27, squad leader and medic, respectively of the NPA.

The couple turned over a rifle, improvised explosives devices and ammunition, according to 1/Lt. Claudine Robledo, civil military operations officer of the 402 Infantry Brigade.

In Agusan del Norte, 114 former rebels received financial assistance during a ceremony in Butuan City.

Among the beneficiaries of the E-CLIP were six former rebels who surrendered to the Army’s 29th IB headed by Col. Jason Saldua.

Each beneficiary received P65,000 in livelihood assistance and an additional amount for firearm remuneration from the Department of the Interior and Local Government as well as the provincial government of Agusan del Norte.

Marcos still mum on peace agenda; has yet to name Peace Adviser

From MindaNews (Jul 3, 2022): Marcos still mum on peace agenda; has yet to name Peace Adviser (By CAROLYN O. ARGUILLAS)

President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. mentioned Ukraine twice in his 25-minute inaugural address on Thursday, but was mum on what his peace agenda is or how he would address the urgent issues in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the Marawi rehabilitation and the communist insurgency — issues he did not also tackle during the campaign period or in post-election statements.

Marcos took his oath as President last Thursday but he has yet to name his Peace Adviser.


Ferdinand “Bongbong” Romualdez Marcos Jr. delivers his inaugural address as the 17th President of the Philippines on Thursday, June 30, 2022. Photo by REY BANIQUET | Presidential Photo

The Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process was among the first batch of proposed Cabinet members Rodrigo Duterte announced in mid-May 2016 when he was still presumptive President. He named his classmate and fellow Dabawenyo, Jesus Dureza, who had earlier served that post under the Arroyo administration.

Duterte’s inaugural address devoted three paragraphs to the peace process: that he was “committed to implement all signed peace agreements in step with constitutional and legal reforms” – referring to the agreements with the Moro liberation fronts and the National Democratic Front, that he was “elated by the expression of unity among our Moro brothers and leaders, and the response of everyone else to my call for peace” and that he was looking forward to the “participation of all other stakeholders, particularly our indigenous peoples, to ensure inclusivity in the peace process.”

Marcos did mention peace in his inaugural address but in general terms. “We all want peace in our land. You and your children want a good chance at a better life; in a safer, more prosperous country. All that is within reach of a hardworking, warm, and giving race. Your dreams are mine; pangarap niyo ay pangarap ko. How can we make them come true? How can we do it together?” he asked.

Marcos has yet to declare if his administration will reopen talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF) which represents the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New Peoples’ Army in the peace negotiations with six administrations that succeeded the dictator Ferdinand Edralin Marcos, the father and namesake of the new President. Under the Duterte administration, the peace negotiations with the NDF resumed but a year later, Duterte called it off. The Duterte administration later declared the NDF, CPP and NPA as “terrorists.”

Implementation of peace agreements

In the Bangsamoro peace processes, Marcos inherited two peace agreements that have yet to be fully implemented – the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the 1996 Final Peace Agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

The MNLF faction under Muslimin Sema and the late Yusop Jikiri had joined forces with the MILF in pushing for the CAB and the implementation of the unimplemented provisions of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement with the MNLF. The Sema-Jikiri faction of the MNLF was represented in the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) that drafted the Bangsamoro Basic Law and later the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), the body tasked to govern the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) during the transition period. The transition was supposed to end on June 30, 2022 but was extended until June 30, 2025.

The MNLF faction under founding chair Nur Misuari did not nominate representatives to the BTC and the BTA.


In this February 25, 2019 photo, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte greets Moro National Liberation Front founding chairman Nur Misuari at Malacañan Palace, three days after the President swore into office the members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority composed of representatives nominated by the Government, Moro Islamic LIberation Front and MNLF under Yusop Jikiri and Muslimin Sema. Presidential Photo

In his six years in office, Duterte met with his friend Misuari several times in Malacanang or in Davao City but whatever the two met about behind closed doors, details were not made public.

In mid-December 2019, Duterte appointed Misuari as Special Economic Envoy on Islamic Affairs to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to “foster further lasting relationships with the leaders of the Islamic countries.”

Bangsamoro in transition

June 30, 2022, Day 1 of Marcos’ administration, was also Day 1 of the extended transition period in the BARMM, an autonomous region comprising the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi; the cities of Marawi, Lamitan and Cotabato; and the Special Geographic Area comprising 63 villages in six North Cotabato towns that voted for inclusion in the BARMM.

In an open letter to Marcos on June 27, Mindanao’s civil society organizations dealing with the Bangsamoro peace processes said Marcos “will play a historic role” in the full implementation of the CAB because it is to be expected that by the end of the extended transition period in 2025, an Exit Agreement will be signed by the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front(MILF) to signify the full implementation of the peace agreement.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte sounds the gong to signal the inauguration of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) at the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex in Cotabato City on March 29, 2019, marking what he said was a “new dawn” for the Moro.’ Joining the President is BARMM interim Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Ibrahim (MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim). ROBINSON NIÑAL JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

The signing of the Exit Agreement, the open letter said, “will be your Bangsamoro legacy as the Aquino administration’s legacy was the signing of the CAB and the Duterte administration’s was the passage of the enabling law that paved the way for the creation of the BARMM.”

The open letter was signed by Guiamel Alim, chair of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society; Rev. Daniel Pantoja, Chief Executive Officer of the Peacebuilders Community; Bae Magdalena Suhat, chair of the Mindanao Peoples Caucus; Herbert Demos, regional coordinator of Sentro Soccsksargen; and 26 signatory-organizations.

“We in the civil society movement will accompany you in your six-year peace
journey,” they said, adding they hope Marcos will immediately appoint the 80 members of the BTA which, under the peace agreement, is to be led by the MILF.

Duterte appointed 80 members of the BTA, 41 nominated by the MILF and 39 nominated by government. The government nominees were recommended by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), now referred to as the Office of the Presidential adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU).

The open letter also urged the fast-tracking of the normalization track of the peace agreement, particularly on the decommissioning of combatants and weapons, the transformation of former rebel camps and the allocation of adequate funds to implement the socio-economic package for the decommissioned combatants.

Members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) who will be decommissioned arrive at the Old Capitol complex in Simuay, Sultan Kudarat on Saturday, September 7, 2019, for the launch of the second phase of the decommissioning process. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

The signatories also urged the new President to implement the amnesty program, appoint members of the Amnesty Commissions in accordance with Proclamations 1090 and1091, and fast-track the grant of amnesty to members of the MILF and MNLF, respectively, who committed crimes punishable under the Revised Penal Code and special penal laws in furtherance of their political beliefs.

The two proclamations were among four signed by President Duterte on February 5 this year. The two others with similar provisions are for members of the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa ng Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayo Brigade and “former rebels of the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) who have committed crimes punishable under the revised penal code and special penal laws in furtherance of their political beliefs.”

The open letter also called for the “immediate implementation of the recommendations in the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission’s report and the establishment and operationalization of national mechanisms for transitional justice as the main push for national unity and reconciliation.

Marawi Rehabilitation

The letter of the Mindanao CSOs also pushed for the immediate appointment of the nine-member Marawi Compensation Board, two of whom must represent non-governmental organizations as provided for by the newly-passed law, RA 11696 or the Marawi Siege Victims Compensation Act of 2022.

The law provides for compensation for the loss or destruction of properties and loss of lives as a result of the 2017 Marawi Siege.

Marcos inherited not only the implementation of the compensation measure that President Duterte signed into law on April 13, 2022 but also the unfinished rehabilitation of Marawi’s ‘Ground Zero,’ the former main battleground between government forces and the Islamic State-inspired Maute Group and its allies in the five-month war in 2017.

In his campaign rally at the provincial gym in Marawi City on March 31, Marcos spoke for 20 minutes, repeated his previous speeches on unity but said nothing about Marawi rehabilitation and compensation.

Before the rally, Marcos met with Lanao del Sur mayors and leaders at the Social Hall of the capitol. No one would have known what Marcos said inside but Balabagan Mayor Edna Ogka-Benito, who was in the meeting, posted a video of Marcos’ eight-and-a-half minute speech on her social media page.

The video clip shows Marcos talking for a minute about Marawi rehabilitation.

He said that as they were flying over Marawi that day, “mabuti naman nakita ko na meron na ring progress kasi marami tayong naririnig, maraming nagre-reklamo na wala daw nangyayari at kita naman na meron talagang recovery, may rehabilitation (it was good to see there is progress because we have heard about complaints that nothing is happening but we could see there is really recovery, there is rehabilitation) and I think that the government’s policy, both the local and national government’s policy na build back better is going to be good one and that is the way that we would do it.”

“Marawi will become better, will come back better and more vital and important to not only the local economy but to local culture and all of the political and non-political issues here in the province,” he said.

In an ‘ambush’ interview at the inauguration of the BBM-Sara UniTeam headquarters in Valencia City, Bukidnon hours after the Marawi rally, reporters asked Marcos if Marawi rehabilitation will be a priority in his administration should he win.

“Ginagawa na yun. (It’s being done). There’s no need … Tinatapos na ni Pangulong Duterte” (President Duterte is finishing that) was his quick reply.

Several public infrastructure have been constructed such as barangay halls, health centers, a lakeside stadium, a museum, school of living traditions, etc.. but where are the residents across what used to be home to 24 barangays?

According to the April 30, 2022 report of the Task Force Bangon Marawi, the inter-agency body overseeing the recovery, reconstruction and rehabilitation of Marawi, out of 17,793 displaced families, only 95 families have returned to their ‘repaired/rebuilt’ homes in the least affected areas of ‘Ground Zero’ while 938 families have resettled in permanent housing units.

Business, tourism booming as peace descends on Sulu

Posted to the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 3, 2022): Business, tourism booming as peace descends on Sulu (By: Julie S. Alipala)

Sulu Provincial Capitol. (File photo by BONG S. SARMIENTO / Inquirer Mindanao)

PATIKUL, Sulu, Philippines — An elderly man sits leisurely on a wooden bench near the entrance of Sharas, a restaurant offering fine dining in this town, his eyes, smiling as if showing contentment, glued to the wide, white sand coastline of Mauboh village.

For Ismunlatif Suhuri, now 62, this is what peace means.

But it took determined leaders like Suhuri to stand up against banditry and terrorism before he and the rest of the townsfolk can savor the opportunity of sitting in an open space, unarmed, unescorted and enjoying the cool breeze of the beach.

Suhuri is no ordinary person in Patikul. He is known to the community as a fearless warrior
who braved Patikul’s hinterlands to rescue kidnap victims, whether foreigners or locals, from the hands of Abu Sayyaf bandits.

“I thought I would never be able to enjoy this situation in my lifetime. But here I am, just sitting away the time. It is now peaceful in our place, we already have nightlife,” Suhuri said. “When once people were afraid of our place, now they are coming to visit.”

Suhuri frequents Sharas, which is run by his son, Ronnier, a 28-year-old pharmacist. “There are times you would see me assisting people to park their vehicles, or serve the customers’ orders,” he said.

Ronnier grew up away from Patikul, then a major hotbed of banditry and terrorism. At the age of 4, his siblings and his mother were forced to relocate to Zamboanga City so they can be spared from the violence.

They left his father and their uncles and aunts to manage their farm and other businesses. Besides, his father was also at the height of his political career, serving as mayor and later as Sulu provincial board member.

“I returned here a few years ago, after graduating from college,” Ronnier said. He has since been helping in running two restaurants in nearby Jolo town, Sulu’s capital, and another one here.

“Lucky for me, I never experienced what my old folks went through. I heard stories about my father’s bravery, how he stood firm for his people and to keep this town safe, although what I see is a doting father,” Ronnier said.

“We never imagined then that we can put up an open-air dining restaurant here in Patikul,” he added.

In the last six years, restaurants and cafés sprouted in the towns of Patikul, Talipao, Indanan and Jolo, indicating a victory in the long drawn out effort to build peace in the province.

Tourists began arriving, some from even as far as Luzon, for a taste of local cuisine, to experience the explosions of colors from native handicrafts as well as the splendid sunset and sunrise, savor the fruits in season, explore caves, and frolic on white sand beaches.

Restaurant in Patikul town. (Photo by JULIE S. ALIPALA / Inquirer Mindanao)
Multisectoral approach

Former presidential peace adviser Carlito Galvez Jr., who used to lead the military’s Western Mindanao Command, said the rise of the tourism industry in the provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi was a testament to the success of the government’s peace-building efforts in the Bangsamoro region.

During his time as a military officer, Galvez helped pioneer a multisectoral approach in dealing with the terrorism threat in Basilan, in cooperation with the then Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao under Gov. Mujiv Hataman, and nongovernment Balay Mindanaw Foundation Inc. The Program Against Violent Extremism for Peace would later become a general template in other areas.

Intensified drive against terrorists, especially after the Marawi siege in 2017, has led to Abu Sayyaf cells crumbling from lack of local community support. Since 2016, over 800 terrorists have surrendered to the military, said Maj. Gen. Ignatius Patrimonio, commander of the Army’s Joint Task Force Sulu.

Pia Hayudini, a personnel of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, converted her property to a zen-inspired café offering Italian dishes and pastries, comparable to the classy ones from well-known pastry shops in Zamboanga City and Metro Manila.

“We started with cakes. All our pastries were delivered to [our clients’] doorsteps. We then experimented in putting up a café as I have brothers who are better cooks than [trained] chefs. To cut the story short, we never experienced a zero-customer day here; it’s always full, and our prices are affordable,” Hayudini said.

She said doing business in Sulu is great. “We don’t run short of customers, we only run short of some ingredients because some items have to be sourced out from other cities. But we can [make] do with what we have here, we have seafood and good quality beef,” she added.

Taking advantage of an improved peace and order situation, many Sulu residents are dining out, generating demand for food shops, such as street food hubs, in the capital Jolo (Photo by JULIE S. ALIPALA / Inquirer Mindanao)

Return to normalcy

Most of the dining establishments in Sulu are open as early as 8 a.m. and close at 10 p.m., a far cry from the situation a decade ago when nightfall brought people inside their homes for security reasons.

Street food hubs mushroomed all over Jolo town, driving a booming nightlife that was just an imagination for some street food vendors a decade ago.

Reihania Alam, a street food vendor, recalled the days when she opened at 3 p.m. and closed at 6 pm., and the safest where she could sell barbecue was near military or police camps. “By 5 p.m., we start to close shop and transfer nearby the Army and police camps. Even during the day, we are anxious about the possibility of being hit by roadside bombs,” she said.

Alam said they survived the Aug. 24, 2020, twin bombing in Jolo, because her children run short of ingredients for their barbecue sauce.

“Kung napaaga kami, damay kami dun sa mga kasama naming nagtitinda ng street food (Had we been there early, we would have suffered the same fate of of our fellow vendors),” Alam recalled, trying to hide the pain from remembering the grim incident.

They never expected that normalcy will return after the incident, especially when the local government of Jolo locked down some areas in the commercial center after the death of eight uniformed personnel (seven soldiers and a policeman) and six civilians.

Months after the explosion, Alam noticed a gradual increase in street vendors and customers.

Erwin Tan, the provincial administrator of Sulu, confirmed that a number of commercial establishments have sprouted in the province even before the pandemic.

“The pandemic reinforced our people’s drive to explore further to earn a living. What used to be a dead night here started having its own life,” Tan said.
Unique spots

The influx of people into food hubs first came from locals, then tourists from nearby provinces started flowing in, drawn by the unique destinations.

“What we can offer are untouched caves, white sand beaches and unadulterated food, meaning, fresh catch from the sea to the table, and it’s cheaper,” Tan said.

Soldiers, policemen and their officers usually lock themselves inside barracks and camps to prevent from becoming easy targets by local terrorists. But since the pandemic, “uniformed personnel explore the areas freely, they even have this bike run for 68 kilometers and they bring their families to enjoy a vacation here,” he said.

Hayudini observed that troops hardly go out in full battle gear now. “I am happy to see our generals, our colonels in casual attire, sometimes in shorts, with no escorts, enjoying our pasta and seafood. It was never like this for a long time,” she added.

Tan bragged about the pure white sand beaches of Sulu, especially in Luuk, Patikul, Maimbung and Parang, while the town centers of Jolo, Talipao, Patikul, Omar and Indanan are bustling day and night.

“We finally have a nightlife here. For me, as a young entrepreneur, this is one great indicator of a place as peaceful. We can go out and return home late at night. As a businessman, we value this business environment, so we must make sure to sustain this,” Ronnier said.

Biden invites PBBM to Washington

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 3, 2022): Biden invites PBBM to Washington (By Azer Parrocha)

HIGH-LEVEL MEETING. Douglas Emhoff (3rd from left), Second Gentleman of the United States, meet with President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and First Lady Liza Marcos at Malacañang Palace on Thursday (June 30, 2022). Emhoff, who attended the inauguration earlier in the day, invited Marcos to visit Washington on behalf of President Joe Biden. (Photo courtesy of US Embassy in the Philippines)

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has been invited to Washington by United States President Joe Biden.

Jose Manuel Romualdez, the Philippine Ambassador to the United States, said US Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff handed Marcos the personal letter from Biden.

Emhoff, husband of US Vice President Kamala Harris, led the seven-member delegation from Washington that attended the inauguration of Marcos at National Museum Manila on Thursday.

They later met in Malacañang along with officials of the US Embassy in Manila.

“In that letter of course, he [Biden] congratulated the President and that he hoped to be able to speak to him again by phone sometime soon. But also, invited him to come to Washington when both their schedules would allow. So, it is really an open invitation for President Marcos to come to the White House,” Romualdez said in an interview with One News on Friday.

Romualdez said the US “is very much on the radar and the United States is very eager to have President Marcos come” but it may take “a couple of months” before it materializes as Marcos would need to prioritize domestic issues.

“And then also, it was suggested that he would travel to the Asean countries which is also part of our diplomatic efforts to introduce him formally to many of his important allies,” Romualdez said.

Full immunity

He assured that Marcos will have “full diplomatic immunity” as head of state despite a long-standing contempt order that had prevented him from entering the US.

“Not at all. Head of state has full diplomatic immunity. There will be no problem whatsoever,” he added.

US Embassy Chargé d’affaires Heather Variava “immediately” informed Marcos about his immunity after he won the May 9 elections, Romualdez said.

Last month, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman also said Marcos is welcome in the US given his diplomatic immunity.

Asked how Marcos will deal with diplomatic challenges especially involving civil societies protesting against issues surrounding his family, Romualdez said the President will focus on “talking about the future” instead of the past.

He said it is normal to expect demonstrations against issues regardless of who is president, but expressed confidence that Marcos would do well both in the domestic and international scale.

“I’m very confident that he will do well because he is highly motivated. His motivation is based on the fact that he had an overwhelming mandate of 31 million people voting for him and secondly, very clearly, is because of his name. He will definitely prove himself to be worthy of being the President of the Republic of the Philippines,” he said.

Marcos obtained 31,629,783 votes or 58.77 percent of the votes cast.

Meanwhile, Romualdez confirmed that Vice President Sara Duterte will be going to the US ahead of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in September 20.

“Before that, there is something to do with education which of course the Vice President is very much interested in because of her position also as Secretary of Education,” he said.

2 NPA leaders, 1 medic surrender in MisOr

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 3, 2022): 2 NPA leaders, 1 medic surrender in MisOr (By Nef Luczon)

NEW WAY OF LIFE. Two New People’s Army leaders and a medic surrender to the Philippine Army’s 58th Infantry Battalion at Sitio Anahaw, Barangay Bantaawan, Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental on Friday (July 1, 2022). They will be included in the national government's Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program to help them restart their lives away from the armed movement. (Photo courtesy of 402nd Infantry Brigade)

Tired of false promises of better lives, two leaders and a medic of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) surrendered to the 58th Infantry Battalion (58IB) in Misamis Oriental, the Philippine Army unit confirmed Sunday.

According to a statement by 1Lt. Claudine Robledo, the 58IB Civil-Military Operations officer,
Golden Romania Compas Sr, 42, former political guide of Platoon Falcon, Sub-Regional Committee 1; Neiljan Pasague Legaspino, 29; and Ariel Uba Compas, 27, a medic, surrendered in Sitio Anahaw, Barangay Bantaawan, Gingoog City on Friday.

The surrender was made possible by Compas' older brother, who was also a former rebel.

The trio turned over one M16 rifle improvised into a sniper rifle with magazines and ammunition, one improvised explosive device, two blasting caps, and 10-meter detonating cord.

They are currently under the custody of the 58IB and would be enrolled in the government's Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program, which will provide at least PHP200,000 financial assistance.

"This (surrender) is attributed to all of the hardworking personnel as a result of their relentless efforts and diligence and made possible with the support of the NTF-ELCAC (National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict), local government units, and the rest of the community," Brig. Gen. Adonis Ariel Orio, 402nd Infantry Brigade commander, said in a statement.

He also reiterated their mission to conduct operations until all “enemies are finally neutralized".

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 National Democratic Front as a terrorist organization on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA that was created in April 1973.