Monday, July 4, 2022

Two ex-NPA rebels get P20-K aid

From the Mindanao Times (Jul 4, 2022): Two ex-NPA rebels get P20-K aid (BY RHODA GRACE SARON)

THE LOCAL government of T’boli’s awarded immediate cash assistance amounting to P20,000 to the two communist rebels who surrendered to the soldiers in Barangay Edwards, T’Boli, South Cotabato on July 2.

Photos courtesy of 11th Special Forces Company

Capt. Krisjuper Andreo Punsalan, the commanding officer of the 11th Special Forces Battalion, said the Provincial Joint AFP-PNP Intelligence Committee (JAPIC) validated the surrenderees as alias JL, a former political guide, and alias Ratrat, an NPA in the Barrio (Milisyang Bayan/ Yunit Milisya/Local Guerilla Unit) of Platoon Brigol, Guerilla Front 73, (now Guerilla Front Musa) Far South Mindanao.

Punsalan said they also surrendered a .30 caliber M1 Carbine rifle, .45 caliber Thompson sub-machine gun and an International Humanitarian Law (IHL)-banned anti-personnel landmine.

Both surrenderees belonged to the T’boli tribe operating in the boundaries of South Cotabato, Saranggani and Sultan Kudarat provinces.

The surrenderees’ identities were withheld for the purpose of security. They surrendered through the joint efforts of the 6th Civil-Military Operations Battalion, 7th Infantry Battalion, 11th Special Forces Company, 5th Special Forces Battalion (5SFBN) and the Philippine National Police the

Mayor Keo Dayle T. Tuan said that he will continue the programs of his father, former Mayor Dibu S. Tuan, that are anchored on the National Task Force Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and Executive Order No. 70. He hopes to maintain peace, order, and development of T’Boli town through the continuous delivery of basic and social services to the far-flung and isolated village of T’Boli and the continuous implementation of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) to help surrenderees return to their families, communities and mainstream, society.

“As the newly elected mayor, one of my priorities is on peace, order and security of our town because we would like more investors to come in and further develop our town as the premiere agricultural, ecological and cultural tourism destination in South Cotabato. Violence, terrorism and criminality have no place here in our tribal municipality, “ Tuan said.

It can be recalled that from October 2021, a series of combat encounters in Lake Sebu and T’Boli transpired, which resulted in the neutralization of alias Jenrose, the deputy secretary of Guerilla Front MUSA, and three other communists.

T’boli is one of the towns of South Cotabato that showcases its best practices in the implementation of the Retooled Community Support Program (RCSP) and E-CLIP as mandated by the EO 70.

Meanwhile, the surrenderees were also presented to BGen. Pedro C Balisi Jr, commander of the 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade, and MGen. Roberto Capulong, acting commander of the 6th Infantry Division and Joint Task Force Central.

19 rebels surrender in central Negros

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jul 4, 2022): 19 rebels surrender in central Negros (BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN)

Nineteen rebel combatants pledge their allegiance to the government after they surrendered to the 94th Infantry Battalion on July 2 in Ayungon, Negros Oriental.* PA photo

The Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade reported yesterday the surrender of 19 New People’s Army combatants operating in central Negros.

Brig. Gen. Inocencio Pasaporte, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, disclosed that the 19 rebel combatants initially surrendered three caliber .45 pistols with magazines containing ammunition and a .38 caliber revolver, as they are also expecting the surrender of more guns.

The 19 former rebels, whose identities being withheld by the Philippine Army for security reasons, are now undergoing debriefing in Brgy. Tambo, Ayungon, Negros Oriental, after surrendering to the 94th Infantry Battalion led by L Col. Van Donald Almonte on July 2.

Pasaporte said the 19 rebel combatants denounced their affiliation with the NPA by burning a CPP flag, before taking their oath of allegiance to the government during an activity at the 94IB headquarters in Ayungon town.

Based on their testimonies, Pasaporte said they decided to abandon the armed struggle as they were already fed up of the false promises of their leaders who are no longer supporting them.

He added that the former rebels also confirmed ongoing conflicts among their leaders in the local rebel organization.

Pasaporte said that the surrender of 19 former rebel combatants is expected to further reduce the dwindling ranks of the CPP-NPA in Negros Island, where two of the five existing guerilla fronts have been dismantled.

He also lauded the bravery and courage of former rebel combatants to abandon the armed struggle for their own good.

Pasaporte also said that the 19 former rebels expressed their intention to avail of the government Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program.

Bangsamoro’s extended transition starts; at OPAPRU, still no peace adviser, no OIC

From MindaNews (Jul 4, 2022): Bangsamoro’s extended transition starts; at OPAPRU, still no peace adviser, no OIC (By CAROLYN O. ARGUILLAS)

The extended transition period in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) started at noon of June 30 with the remaining members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) continuing to hold office as then President Rodrigo Duterte opted not to appoint new members and President Ferdinand Marcos has not made any new appointment.

Republic Act 11593 extended the transition period that would have ended on June 30, 2022, for three more years or until June 30, 2025, by resetting the first election of the 80-member Bangsamoro Parliament from May 2022 to May 2025.


The seat of power in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in Cotabato City, 22 September 2021. MindaNews photo by GREGORIO BUENO

The law provides under Section 2 that during the extension of the transition period, the BTA, the body tasked to govern the BARMM in transition, “shall continue as the interim government,” provided that the President “may appoint the eighty (80) new interim members of the BTA who shall serve up to June 30, 2025 or until their successors shall have been elected and qualified.”

“The language of law is permissive: ‘may appoint,’ said lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, the BARMM’s Minister of the Interior and Local Government and concurrent spokesperson of the Bangsamoro Government.

“This permissive language applies both to then President Duterte and nowPresident Marcos. The current President may appoint but if he does not appoint yet, the BTA members now will continue to serve to avoid vacuum in governance,” he told MindaNews early Monday morning.

No Peace Adviser, no OIC

MindaNews checked with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (formerly Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process) but President Ferdinand Marcos has not named a Peace Adviser and OPAPRU sources could not point to MindaNews who the OIC is. “Mag-feedback ako after the meeting,” “we are still waiting for the announcement,” were the answers.

MindaNews also checked with former Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez but he has not replied.

Another issue that needs to be checked with the Peace Adviser or the OIC in the OPAPRU is Memorandum Circular 1, issued by Executive Secretary Vic Rodriguez on June 30, which has caused a bit of confusion in the autonomous region on the status of the appointees of then President Rodrigo Duterte.

MC1 declared as vacant “certain positions in the departments, offices, agencies and bureaus in the Executive Department” effective noon of June 30, including “all Presidential appointees whose appointments are classified as co-terminous.”

But Sinarimbo said the BTA is not covered by the MC1 because “we are not part of the executive department. We are an autonomous region. In fact the BTA under the Organic Law relates to the Legislature through the Bangsamoro Parliament Congress Forum.”

The President’s role in the autonomous region, according to RA 11054 or the Organic Law for the BARMM, is to “exercise general supervision over the Bangsamoro Government to ensure that laws are faithfully executed.”

As provided for by the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the peace pact signed by government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the BTA is MILF-led.

Duterte appointed 80 members, 41 of them nominated by the MILF and 39 by the government.

74 of 80

Only 74 Members of Parliament (MPs) have remained as of noon of June 30 as one died last year and five others were elected to various posts in the May 9 elections.

After Aleem Mohammad Zainoden Bato of Lanao del Sur passed away last year, his seat remained vacant. No new appointment was made.


Members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority discuss the fate of the proposed Bangsamoro Administrative Code during a special session at the Shariff Kabunsuan Complex in Cotabato City on 28 October 2020, complete with face masks and shields as the whole world deals with the spread of COVID-19. MindaNews photo by FERDINANDH CABRERA

Five MPs were elected to other posts in the autonomous region: Al-Syed Abdullah Sali is now Vice Governor of Tawi-Tawi; Khadafeh Gaguil Mangudadatu is mayor of Pandag, Maguindanao; Tocao Mastura is mayor of Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao; Zia Alonto Adiong is 1st district Representative of Lanao del Sur; and Sittie Shahara Ibrahim Mastura is 1st district Representative of Maguindanao.

Status quo: continuity and stability

In October 2021, a few days before RA 11593 was signed into law by President Duterte, the Security, Justice, and Peace Cabinet Cluster recommended to him to maintain the status quo on the current composition of the BTA, based on the BTA Parliament’s Resolution 173 which appealed to the President to allow the incumbent members of the BTA to continue in service until 2025 by giving “primary consideration in their appointment.”

The resolution noted that a “disruption of service which could have an unintended adverse effect of restarting the whole operations can be avoided by recognizing the importance of the continuity and stability of the transition.”

The appointment of new members, it said, “may possibly delay the accomplishment of the mandates of the BTA Parliament like the passage of priority codes and other important legislations as it will entail new learnings, skills and knowledge as to the rudiments of the parliamentary system of governance.”

On February 15, 2022, the BTA passed Resolution No. 209 reiterating its earlier appeal for re-appointment of incumbent BTA members to avoid a disruption of service, among others.

In a memorandum on March 3, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, citing “exigency of public service” and in accordance with Section 2 of RA 11593, said “the request to maintain the current composition of the BTA is approved” and that incumbent members of the BTA “shall continue in office in a holdover capacity, until otherwise directed by the Office of the President.”

MindaNews sources said among the reasons why Duterte opted against making new appointments is the “huge number” of applicants for the 39 slots of government nominees in the BTA.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte smiles after sounding 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 Ebrahim, more popularly known by his nom de guerre in the MILF, Al Haj Murad Ebrahim. PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Marcos, who took his oath of office on June 30, has not made any appointment of BTA members.

The office of the Peace Adviser screens the nominees for government’s 39 seats in the BTA and ensures the documents required of the 41 MILF nominees in the BTA are complied with.

Marcos has not named his Peace Adviser.

Exit Agreement

The BARMM is the third autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao but the first to adopt a parliamentary system in a highly-centralized Presidential system of government.

Its transition process involves not just the BARMM itself but the national government as there are deliverables under the Organic Law that involve the national government.

The Bangsamoro law mandates the BTA to “ensure the accomplishment of the following priorities during the transition period” – Administrative Code, Revenue Code, Electoral Code, Local Government Code, and Education Code.

It is also tasked to pass a Civil Service Code and the Indigenous Peoples Code.

The BTA has passed the Administrative Code, Education Code and Civil Service Code. The Local Government Code is pending with the Parliament while the Electoral Code is still at the Cabinet level.

According to the peace agreement, the government and MILF, along with the Malaysian facilitator of the GPH-MILF peace talks, and the Third Party Monitoring Team, shall, at the end of the transition period, “convene a meeting to review, assess or evaluate the implementation of all agreements and the progress of the transition.”

The end of the extended transition period is at noon of June 30, 2025 when the first set of elected officials of the 80-member Bangsamoro Parliament shall have taken their oath of office.

The peace agreement also states that an exit document “officially terminating the peace negotiation may be crafted and signed by both parties if and only when all agreements have been fully implemented.”

PH, US militaries eye scaling up training exercises in 2023

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 4, 2022): PH, US militaries eye scaling up training exercises in 2023 (By Priam Nepomuceno)

PLANNING. Philippine Army officials and their US Army Pacific counterparts meet in Hawaii to discuss the 2023 edition of "Salaknib" training exercises. The officials are eyeing to scale up the exercises next year. (Photo courtesy of the Philippine Army)

The Philippine Army (PA) and the US Army Pacific (USARPAC) are eyeing a bigger version of the "Salaknib" training exercises next year.

In a statement Sunday, Army spokesperson Xerxes Trinidad said both the PA and USARPAC planning delegations reviewed the updated mission statement and area of operations, strategic objectives, exercise timeline, and scaling up of "Salaknib" during a meeting in Hawaii.

"The PA and the USARPAC are gearing to scale up the 2023 edition of the combined Salaknib exercise during the planning conference attended by delegations from both armies in Hawaii from June 27 to June 30, 2022," Trinidad said.

The militaries are expected to field more participants to train in a series of exercises. The number of participating Philippine and US units as well as the exercise area will be announced later.

"Salaknib," which means shield in Ilocano, is an annual bilateral combined exercise that aims to enhance the defense readiness of Filipino and American troops by developing tactical interoperability.

Around 2,200 Filipino and US Army troops trained in Central Luzon during the first quarter of this year, focusing on capability development of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, the PA's primary combined arms and rapid deployment unit.

The 20-day exercise started on March 5 this year.

Army commander Lt. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. earlier said the combined exercise is a testament to the “long-standing bilateral relations” between the Philippines and the US that will contribute to the “pursuit of a common goal of maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”

Navy test-fires fast-attack craft missiles weapon in Israel

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 4, 2022): Navy test-fires fast-attack craft missiles weapon in Israel (By Priam Nepomuceno)

TEST-FIRING. The Typhoon 30mm cannon in live-firing test demonstration in Israel. The vessels are expected to arrive by the third quarter of this year. (Photo courtesy of Philippine Navy)

The Philippine Navy's first two fast-attack craft missiles (FAIC-Ms) test-fired their weapon systems last week in Israel.

Two FAIC-Ms -- Typhoon 30mm automatic cannon and Mini-Typhoon machine gun system -- were fired in these exercises.

"The inspection held from 27 to 30 June 2022 included the functional testing of all mission-critical machineries, navigation and communications equipment, and live firing of its combat systems,"
Navy spokesperson Commander Benjo Negranza said in a statement over the weekend.

Also tested were the FAIC-Ms redundancy controls from its open pilot house along with sea trials of the vessels' rigid-hull inflatable.

Negranza said the joint certification of compliance, required for the shipment of the two FAIC-Ms to the Philippines, was also signed.

The vessels are expected to arrive by the third quarter of this year, he added.

"The acquisition of the new craft is the latest in the PN's pursuit to become a modern and multi-capable naval force, responsible for protecting our maritime nation’s sovereignty," Negranza said.

The first two FAIC-Ms were formally launched by Israel Shipyards Limited in Haifa, Israel last June 26.

Four of the FAIC-Ms will be armed with non-line-of-sight missiles with pinpoint accuracy and a range of 25 kilometers while the other four will be armed with machine guns and light automatic cannons.

The acquisition of eight FAIC-M units is among the 2019 projects approved by former President Rodrigo Duterte under the Horizon 2 List of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines modernization program.

The notice of award for the FAIC-M project, worth around PHP10 billion, was issued on January 5 last year.

PSG mission goes beyond protecting 1st family: Marcos (Bio Data)

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 4, 2022): PSG mission goes beyond protecting 1st family: Marcos (By Azer Parrocha)

PSG MISSION. President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. meets with Presidential Security Group (PSG) upon his arrival at the Kalayaan Grounds in MalacaƱang Palace for the flag raising ceremony Monday (July 4, 2022). He said the mission of the PSG goes beyond protecting the First Family. (Photo courtesy of the Office of the President)

The Presidential Security Group (PSG) has another mandate aside from protecting the first family of the Philippines and foreign dignitaries, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said on Monday.

During the change of command ceremony for outgoing PSG Commander, Brig. Gen. Randolph Cabangbang in MalacaƱang Park, Marcos reminded the PSG of their mandate of protecting the institution of the presidency.

“The mission of the Presidential Security Group goes beyond the stated mission of protecting the First Family and foreign dignitaries who come to visit with us. What you are guarding is not only the personages of the First Family but you are guarding and keeping safe an institution, the institution of the presidency,” he said in his speech.

Marcos said failing to carry out their mission would mean the collapse of the institution which would also put the country in a “dire” situation.

“And that is why we only pick the best men and women that we have within our military to join the Presidential Security Group,” he added.

He said he looked forward to working with the PSG in the coming months and thanked troopers for “the many valiant efforts in the performance of their duties.”

“Each and every one of you has shown undaunted courage and unbridled patriotism by choosing to be of service to our beloved country. With integrity and valor, let us remain united in safeguarding our institutions as it strives to bring about a more secure, peaceful, and dignified life for Filipino people,” he said.

Meanwhile, he also congratulated Cabangbang for his extremely “successful tour of duty” as the outgoing PSG commander.

“Under his steady and unwavering leadership, the PSG was able to provide security for the First Family. I also laud Brigadier General Cabangbang for taking steps towards ensuring the completion of several key PSG facilities including the PSG Station Hospital and the Women’s Auxiliary Corps barracks. The completion of these key infrastructures will certainly help strengthen the PSG. It will also inspire the entire PSG to strive for excellence whatever their position may be,” he said.

He also enjoined new PSG Commander, Col. Ramon Zagala to step up to the challenge of being the next leader of the PSG.

“I trust that under your leadership, the PSG will be able to continue the excellent provision of security to the Office of the President and the First Family as well as visiting heads of state and diplomats,” he added.

Prior to being named new PSG commander, Zagala was spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

He also served as commander of the 28th Infantry “Kamagong” Battalion, 10th Infantry (Agila) Division and assistant chief of staff for civil military operations of the 10th Infantry “Agila” Division.

Zagala is a graduate of the AFP Training Center Officer Candidate School “Balikatan Class of 12” in 1994.

He belongs to a family rich in military tradition spanning three generations–from his grandfather, Col. Ramon Zagala to his father Maj. Gen. Rafael Zagala.

He holds a degree in AB Political Science from the De La Salle University in Manila and a Master’s degree in Military and Defense Studies in Australia.

Top 2 most wanted in W. Visayas nabbed

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 4, 2022): Top 2 most wanted in W. Visayas nabbed (By Perla Lena)

Raymund Paner alias Panen (Photo courtesy of Sibalom MPS)

Authorities nabbed a member of the New People's Army (NPA) wanted for murder early morning Sunday in Barangay Tig-amaga, Miagao, Iloilo.

Maj. Renato Monreal II, chief of police of the Sibalom Municipal Police Station, identified the suspect as Raymund Paner, 33, alias Panen, of Barangay Tula-tula, Sibalom, Antique.

“We have been trying to locate him since 2017 but from time to time he transferred locations probably because he knew that he had a warrant of arrest,” he said.

Police said Paner reportedly killed on Dec. 11, 2013, Leonardo Donganon, the father of Barangay Tula-tula councilor Michael Donganon who attempted to pacify the two who were engaged in a heated argument.

Paner was not yet a member of the NPA at the time of the crime but sought refuge with the Squad 1, SDG Suyak Platoon, Southern Front Committee-Komiteng Rehiyon Panay when the warrant of arrest was released in 2017.

“We received information that he was hiding in Barangay Tig-amaga and was verified and validated upon verification by the intelligence community,” Monreal said.

Paner has another warrant of arrest for direct assault upon a person in authority.

He is detained at the Sibalom police station and will be transferred to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology or the Antique Rehabilitation Center this week.

2 more NPA members surrender in NegOr town

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 4, 2022): 2 more NPA members surrender in NegOr town (By Mary Judaline Partlow)

SURRENDER. Two members of the CPP-NPA surrendered to the 705th Maneuver Company of the Philippine National Police in Sta. Catalina, Negros Oriental. Mayor Peve Ligan (2nd from left) facilitated the interview. (Photo courtesy of the Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office)

Two more members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) have surrendered to police authorities in Sta. Catalina, Negros Oriental on Sunday.

A report from the Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office (NOPPO) on Monday identified the surrenderers as Renato Bagacay, 39, and Vidal Cardinas, 49, both farmers and residents of Barangay Talalak, Sta. Catalina.

They surrendered to the 705th Mobile Force Company of the Regional Mobile Force Battalion 7 in Sta. Catalina.

The police said they are undergoing debriefing and profiling so they can be enrolled in the government's Enhanced Comprehensive Integrated Livelihood Program (E-CLIP).

Sta. Catalina Mayor Peve Ligan facilitated the surrender of the two NPA cadres who are members of the Batakang Organisasyon sa Partido (BOP) organized by Ricky dela Cruz alias Ka Yago.

Dela Cruz, a former rebel operating as a member of the dismantled Southeast Front (SEF) of the Komiteng Rehiyon Cebu, Negros, Bohol, and Siquijor, surrendered a few weeks ago to the 11th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and the police.

Oath of allegiance

Meanwhile, Brig. Gen. Inocencio Pasaporte, commander of the 302nd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army, said 19 former rebels took their oath of allegiance to the Philippine flag on Saturday.

He said the 19 who surrendered on separate occasions this year, were former members of the CPP-NPA’s Central Negros 2 of the Komiteng Rehiyon Negros.

Pasaporte said the FRs in a ceremony at the 94th IB headquarters in Ayungon, Negros Oriental, denounced the CPP-NPA and burned a CPP-NPA-National Democratic Front (NDF) flag.

“This is a result of our sustained operations to end the insurgency problem in Negros and we are calling on the others who are still in the underground movement to lay down their arms and return to the folds of the law,” Pasaporte told the Philippine News Agency on Monday.

Their identities are temporarily withheld for their safety while they are undergoing debriefing, he added.

They are also undergoing assessment and profiling so they can be enrolled under E-CLIP.

The former rebels said they were already fed up with the false promises of the NPA and decided to leave the armed struggle due to internal conflict, lack of medical support, and leadership problems within the organization.

Pasaporte also lauded the community’s participation in the government efforts to end the insurgency under the whole-of-nation approach.

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 NDF 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.