Sunday, July 10, 2022

Sabah extends its maritime border curfew

From The Star (Jul 10, 2022): Sabah extends its maritime border curfew

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s ongoing dusk-to-dawn curfew along its maritime border has been extended by another 14 days to July 24.

Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Idris Abdullah said residents in the areas covered by the curfew, which was scheduled to end yesterday, are required to stay at home from 6pm to 6am.

Outsiders are also not allowed to enter the curfew zones.

The curfew covers areas up to three nautical miles off Tawau, Semporna, Kunak, Lahad Datu, Kinabatangan, Sandakan, and Beluran.

Idris said the curfew extension was necessary due to continuous threats from cross-border criminals, including kidnap-for-ransom groups.

“The curfew is needed to ensure our waters are not trespassed by terrorists or criminals from southern Philippines who can threaten the safety of international researchers, or kidnap foreign tourists visiting the islands,” he said in a statement here yesterday.

Intelligence sources, he added, have revealed that the Abu Sayyaf group is still attempting to carry out kidnapping-for-ransom as well as other transborder crimes.

“The curfew will allow security forces to look after the safety of people who travel at sea and those living in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone).

Reexamining East Malaysian Security in an Age of Growing Threats

Posted to The Diplomat (Jul 7, 2022): Reexamining East Malaysian Security in an Age of Growing Threats (By Karisma Putera Abd Rahman and Fikry A. Rahman)

Non-traditional security threats, such as kidnapping, crossborder terrorist infiltration, and illegal migration, call for renewed attention to the country’s Bornean provinces.

The town of Tawau, located on the Celebes Sea in Sabah, Malaysia.Credit: Depositphotos

Over the past few years, the terrorist threats facing the eastern Malaysian regions on the island of Borneo have become subject for alarm. Since 2021, residents in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZONE) have been undergoing frequent curfews that have lasted until this year, with a recent announcement that the curfew has been extended to July 9. Authorities have revealed that curfews are in force due to unabating terrorist threats, along with kidnapping attempts and cross-border crimes linked to the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). The latest intelligence published in March 2022, suggests that the ASG’s second-in-command, a figure named Mundi, is seeking refuge in Sabah, raising concerns that ASG-linked local groups and sympathizers may become active.

Furthermore, Sabah has emerged as the preferred transit point for Indonesian militants infiltrating the southern Philippines in order to commit terrorist acts there. The combination of these factors foreshadows a monumental risk to Malaysian national security. Putrajaya must therefore be proactive and act immediately to nip the terrorist threats in the bud before any bloodshed takes place. The Lahad Datu incursion by Jamalul Kiram III of the Sulu Sultanate into Sabah in 2013, which caused the deaths of over 60 individuals, including civilians and authorities, should have been a critical signal for Putrajaya to bolster Bornean security in ensuring such threats will not recur.

Against this backdrop, Putrajaya must act vehemently to deter the reemerging threat of the ASG and other militant groups, while preparing for a possible militant incursion in East Malaysia. A threat looms over Sabah in particular, as indicated by the government’s continuous imposition of curfews in the region.

Putrajaya is currently strengthening East Malaysian security through various initiatives. The recent acquisition of three AW139 helicopters by the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) is a prime example, indicating that assets will be mobilized to enhance patrols in Bornean waters. Furthermore, the Ministry of Defense initiated a new army base in Lahad Datu earlier this year, at a cost of 646.15 million ringgit ($146 million) that aims to strengthen Sabah’s security and ability to deal with the emerging threats. Finally, one unit of Special Action Unit commandos has been dispatched to Sabah to combat the ASG threat.

Malaysia’s initiatives to empower Bornean security readiness and capability are timely given the growing non-traditional security threats to East Malaysia. Apart from terrorism, other non-terrorist challenges, such as cross-border kidnapping for ransom (KFR) and illegal immigration, remain rampant in East Malaysia and demonstrate the need for Putrajaya to up the ante on border security in the region.

Cases of cross-border KFR and armed robberies have plagued Sabah since the year 2000. In that year, bandits from the ASG kidnapped 21 people, including foreign tourists, from Sipadan Island. Following these incidents, Malaysia launched a military operation called Ops Pasir in September 2000 which sought to eliminate further cross-border crimes at a cost of 300 million ringgit ($67.8 million) annually. Although generally effective, Ops Pasir was not enough to prevent incidents such as the 2013 Lahad Datu incursion. This outcome should necessitate Putrajaya to diversify away from its heavy reliance on a military approach to the region’s security challenges.

The Lahad Datu incident dictates the current development of Sabah’s border security. Following the incident, Putrajaya recognized the need for even greater maritime security in Eastern Sabah, leading to the establishment of the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) to protect ESSZONE. However, ESSCOM was criticized after its formation for being inefficient in achieving its primary objective of preventing transnational crime, raising questions about Putrajaya’s military approach to Sabah’s borders. As a seasoned Sabahan politician stated in 2016, “ESSCOM is not the solution as there were more cross-border kidnappings during ESSCOM’s three years than the last 20 years without ESSCOM.”

Although the federal government has taken military measures to address cross-border crimes in Sabah, these challenges have been immensely difficult to solve. Geographical factors play a central role here. For example, Sabah’s 1,450-kilometer-long porous maritime border lies close to the Philippine province of Tawi-Tawi, and contains 107 islands that intruders can use as staging points before entering Sabah’s waters. More military resources are arguably required to protect the coastline, but we must question the viability of a solely military approach to protecting Sabah’s borders. Ops Pasir’s inability to prevent the 2013 incursion demonstrates the need to explore non-military measures in order to support current initiatives.

Apart from the KFR threat, illegal immigration continues to be one of the central issues in Sabah. From 1990 to 2007, 298,601 immigrants, mostly Filipinos and Indonesians, were deported from Sabah, not including those who remain undetected by authorities. As of 2020, the number of illegal immigrants in Sabah totaled 1.2 million, with the highest concentration in Tawau, the region closest to the southern Philippines. The underlying cause of such high degrees of illegal immigration can be traced to two main reasons: kinship and economic opportunities.

Before the advent of modern borders, some of the earliest immigrants to have set foot in Sabah were the Bajau and Sulu from the Mindanao region of today’s Philippines, a fact that forms the basis of the Philippines’ historic claim over Sabah. Following the Moro conflict in the late twentieth century, many crossed illegally into Sabah, capitalizing on kinship and family ties in order to integrate. Relatives or friends provide illegal immigrants with shelter and nourishment, perpetuating chain migration.

Furthermore, the potential kinship between Sabahan security personnel and illegal immigrants may result in lax enforcement of immigration laws. Poor economic opportunities back home provide additional justification for migrants to cross the border. Due to these reasons, 300 million ringgit per year in military expenditures are insufficient to deter illegal border crossings. It is clear that Sabah also requires soft policies to eliminate illegal immigration effectively.

Sarawak is equally at risk from illegal immigration, stemming from its equally porous border with Kalimantan, the Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo. Indonesia’s new capital Nusantara in Kalimantan will begin development in the second half of this year, which should prompt Putrajaya to double down on Sarawakian security concerns. It is expected that the Nusantara project will involve the eventual relocation of some 30 million Indonesians, leading many Sarawakians to believe that it could increase illegal border crossings into Malaysia. If unaddressed, transnational crime syndicates may flourish, threatening Sarawak’s security.

East Malaysia’s geographical complexities and diverse demographics require a multi-pronged approach to improving border security and addressing the region’s growing non-traditional security threats. Sheer military might will deter some, but will not succeed in preventing all instances of border violations, as seen with Ops Pasir. In any event, the Malaysian federal budget does not have the margins to support the increases in defense spending for Sabah and Sarawak that some are recommending.

For example, Budget 2022 has allocated 26.4 million ringgit ($5.9 million) to ESSCOM, a reduction from Budget 2021’s allocation of 26.8 million ringgit ($6.1 million). While ESSCOM’s commander has called for increased resources, it is understandably difficult for Putrajaya to fulfill his wishes. Only 75 billion ringgit ($16.9 billion), or 22.6 percent of Budget 2022, is committed to development costs, with the remaining 233.5 billion ($52.7 billion) spent on operational costs. Thus, margins for defense development are slim, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. As the government pushes an expansionary fiscal policy post-COVID-19, increased defense spending is unlikely to be a top priority.

Instead, a multistep compromise is needed. For Sabah, Putrajaya should consider relocating pre-existing Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) and RMN assets from Peninsular Malaysia to Sabah, as there is substantially less risk of a maritime threat to the former. This gives East Malaysian security operations the assets they require without increasing financial commitments. Additionally, Putrajaya ought to increase the MMEA’s scope within ESSCOM whilst reducing the purview of the Malaysian Armed Forces, given that the former focuses specifically on maritime issues.

Furthermore, minilateral efforts on the Trilateral Cooperative Agreement (TCA) between Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines to patrol the Sulu Sea have been successful in reducing transnational crimes. In March 2022, all three TCA signatories pledged to increase patrols in the area. However, this must be translated into swift action given the persistent threats of cross-border crimes along East Malaysia’s border.

Finally, the last piece of the puzzle for East Malaysian border security is the pursuit of softer approaches. The Malaysian government must explore how better to tackle the root causes of the emerging non-traditional security threats. Grassroots initiatives in border communities are necessary to instill the nationalism needed to overcome crossborder kinship ties. Putrajaya should also utilize its network of Village Security and Development Committees in rural areas to educate villagers on the importance of their role in protecting national security and to rebuild trust in the Federation.

The onus is on Putrajaya to re-examine its strategy toward East Malaysia’s security. The incursion of Lahad Datu in 2013 is a bitter lesson that Malaysia will have to endure. To prevent a recurrence, it must undertake multilayered efforts to address East Malaysia’s border security challenges.AUTHORS

[Karisma Putera Abd Rahman is a Research and Advocacy Analyst at Bait Al Amanah, an independent and neutral research institute based in Malaysia that conducts studies and research into governance, democracy, economics, security, and other issues of national importance.]

[Fikry A. Rahman is the Head of Foreign Affairs at Bait Al Amanah, an independent and neutral research institute based in Malaysia that conducts studies and research into governance, democracy, economics, security, and other issues of national importance.]

Two down, 18 active names left now on Esscom's wanted list

From the Daily Express (Jul 7, 2022): Two down, 18 active names left now on Esscom's wanted list (By: Zam Yusa)

Bensito Quitino (wearing cap) a.k.a. Ben Tatoh Quirino, and his brother Almujer Yadah, both wanted by Esscom, surrendered in Sulu in June this year. (Screengrabs/collage: iBrabo)KOTA KINABALU: Two down, 18 active names are now remaining on Malaysia's list of wanted Abu Sayyaf terrorists and transborder criminals.

An Abu Sayyaf sub-leader, Bensito Quitino, who surrendered to the Philippine military recently, turned out to be wanted by the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom).

The Philippine military on June 17 said
Quitino surrendered along with his brother Almujer Yadah. A few days later, Daily Express reported Yadah was wanted by Esscom.

However, Daily Express missed Quitino as also being on the wanted list, because of Filipino militants' many aliases and varying spelling versions of their nicknames.

Often, different authorities in different countries use different spellings of a terrorist's name or different names altogether, causing confusion.

For one, Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Madjid Said, wanted by Esscom and designated by the Philippines as a terrorist, is also known as Ammah Patit, Padin Padul, Pading and Amah Sah.

While the Philippine media widely reported the surrenderer as "Bensito Quitino", only a few news outlets also mentioned his alias “Ben Tatto”.

Esscom’s wanted list, meanwhile, lists Quitino as “Ben Tatoh Quirino”.

"Ben Tatoh is also wanted by us (apart from Almujer Yadah)," Esscom commander DCP Hamzah Ahmad confirmed to Daily Express when contacted.

"Yes, we have 18 active names remaining on the list. We'll take a look at the list and we may update it in the future.

"Again, I'd like to stress that we at Esscom are working closely with our Philippine counterpart regarding what intelligence we can glean from the surrendered terrorists."

The Philippine military, in the June-17 press conference, said Yadah and Quitino had given themselves up in Jolo, Sulu, southern Philippines and surrendered their assault rifles.

The two were accused of beheading two Canadians and a German who was kidnapped while sailing off Sabah.

Quitino or Ben Tatto was actually put by Esscom on its wanted list a few years ago, but he was later taken off after reports of his death in southern Philippines.

However, this writer's report for the Daily Express in early January 2019 revealed Tatto had resurfaced on Facebook with fresh photos in late 2018.

A few days later, Esscom issued an updated list with the Abu Sayyaf man back on it.

Canadian intelligence research group iBrabo had earlier supplied this reporter the militant's photos from purportedly his Facebook account, which was later deleted.

A Canadian news report said Tatto appeared to be an ambitious figure in that Facebook post, with an associate calling him the "Big Boss," while fighters posed for pictures with him.

Immediately after beheading the two Canadian tourists in 2016, Tatto went off radar, but he resurfaced in that Facebook post in 2018.

In June 2019, Islamic State-aligned militants in southern Philippines re-pledged their allegiance to the terror group and Tatto was featured prominently in the video, iBrabo told this reporter in a public Twitter exchange in 2020.

"Despite surge efforts by the Philippine military and being on the most wanted list 3 times, efforts to capture or kill Tattoh have thus far failed," iBrabo said in that tweet.

Yadah and Tatto are considered among the “most notorious” of the group’s men, Washington-based news site BenarNews reported Joint Task Force (JTF)-Sulu commander Maj. Gen. Ignatius Patrimonio as saying.

“They have many cases, with warrants of arrest, ranging from kidnapping for ransom and many others [against them].”

The surrender of the two sub-leaders, which was facilitated by military and police units, has dealt “serious leadership and organization setbacks” to the Abu Sayyaf, said Lt. Col. Alaric delos Santos, JTF-Sulu civil military operations officer, in the BenarNews report.

The reason for the surrender? “Because they were always on the run, have no place to hide, [were] exhausted and often experienced starvation,” he said.

“They also revealed that they no longer have the support of the community and were asked to stay away from the community,” said delos Santos.

Esscom's full list of 20 Filipinos is as follows: Madjid Said @ Ammah Patit, Mudzrimar @ Mundi Sawadjaan, Ahadin Hussein, Ellam Sajirin @ Nasirin, Ismurah Jirah, Salip Mura, Al Munjir Yadah, Ben Tatoh Quirino, Basaron Arok, Mujimar Sawadjaan @ Rasad, Marajan @ Manajan Asiri, Jul Aksan Abdurajan @ Halimaw, Jul @ Jun Hasan, Barak Undog @ Alvin, Hamsan Pakkan @ Black Cobra, Sabri Madrasul @ Salip Jul, Hadji Wahad @ Talip, Tampi @ Bunju, Haibin Mubin @ Apo Kuhambo and Sangbas Parisko.

Alleged Abu Sayyaf member nabbed for kidnapping

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 8, 2022): Alleged Abu Sayyaf member nabbed for kidnapping (By: Beatrice Pinlac)

MANILA, Philippines — An alleged Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) member was arrested on Thursday by police authorities over kidnapping for ransom case ten years ago.

The Southern Police District (SPD) on Friday confirmed that the suspect, Hajar Binabdul Mubin, was collared upon his arrival from Malaysia at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay around 11:30 p.m.

Mubin left the Basilan-based ASG in 2015 and fled to Malaysia after he was linked in four encounters with the military, according to the SPD.

“He was able to secure a fake ID card or a permanent residence card. He created his Facebook account under the name of ‘Mhieradz Zhiadqie IV’ to get in touch with his former fans and ASG comrades,” SPD District Director Police Brigadier General Jimili Macaraeg shared in a statement.

He further detailed that in August 2017, Mubin and seven other Filipinos were arrested in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for alleged involvement and linkages to terrorist activities.

Mubin was slated for release in August 2021, but Tapah Prison in Malaysia was then under Enhanced Movement Control Order — a national lockdown implemented to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The suspect is currently under the custody of the District Special Operation Unit, pending the issuance of a Commitment Order from the Zamboanga Regional Trial Court where Mubin’s warrant of arrest was originally granted.

Army winning vs Abu Sayyaf one village at a time

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 10, 2022): Army winning vs Abu Sayyaf one village at a time (By: Julie S. Alipala)

EXPLOSION OF COLORS | Colorful traditional Tausug dresses are on display as women of Bakong village in Patikul, Sulu, gather on June 17 to mark one year after they returned to the land of their birth. (Photo by JULIE S. ALIPALA / Inquirer Mindanao)

PATIKUL, Sulu, Philippines — Linda Saidul, 67, still remembers the day she and her family fled their village of Bakong here 21 years ago.

“It was dark, and we crawled and ran away from our home,” Saidul recalled.

In the middle of the night, their community was trapped in a fierce clash between government troops and Abu Sayyaf bandits who, at that time, were holding hostages from a high-end resort in Sipadan, Malaysia.

Amid heavy bombardment, Saidul’s family found their way in Kadday Mampallam village, leaving behind a barn full of farm animals — cows, chickens, goats.

“We thought it was just for a few days,” she said. Her family, just like other villagers, has since abandoned the thought of ever setting foot in Bakong again.

But, the military’s success in neutralizing the Abu Sayyaf bandits gave them the opportunity to return to Bakong last year. Today, Saidul runs a mini convenience store that is serving a growing neighborhood, thanks to other villagers who wanted to be back to the land of their birth.

“When I set foot here, I cried hard. I embraced whatever I saw in my place; my barn was already destroyed, wood rotten and my farm animals were all gone. It doesn’t matter now, what’s important is we are all back here again in our own real home,” an emotional Saidul told the Inquirer.

Bakong village chief Hamissa Anuddin, 31, said they discovered that their community had turned into a forest upon their return.

When her family fled in 2000, her uncle, Hamdani, was the village chief who continued to govern while seeking temporary shelter in Barangay Kaunayan, where most of the villagers also evacuated.

By 2013, it was Anuddin’s time to serve the displaced villagers.

In the 2020 national census, Bakong had a population of 739, although they are not physically in their village that they have come to regard through the years as “no man’s land.”

NEW DAWN | A Badjao man sails toward a pier in Jolo, Sulu, early morning to catch the first coin thrown by arriving passengers from Zamboanga City. Peace has begun to dawn in the province as many Abu Sayyaf fighters abandoned banditry, raising fresh hopes of development among locals. (Photo by JULIE S. ALIPALA / Inquirer Mindanao)

Displaced no more

But when the village was opened for the government’s “Balik Barangay” (return to village) program in 2020, 115 mostly young families or close to 500 people surfaced and expressed intent to return, said Anuddin.

Brig. Gen. Benjamin Batara Jr., commander of the Army’s 1103rd Brigade that covers Sulu, credits his predecessor, Brig. Gen. Antonio Nafarrete, for laying the groundwork of the program in 2020.

By returning the families to their old communities and ending their life as displaced people, the military hopes to win against the Abu Sayyaf one village at a time, and constricting the space where the bandits can establish their strongholds.

When he was at the helm of the Western Mindanao Command, then Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana emphasized the equal importance of noncombat initiatives to defeat the Abu Sayyaf.

Helped by personnel from the Army’s community support program in Basilan province, the Sulu-based troops poured their efforts in locating the displaced families and addressing their needs so they can eventually return to their home village.

Instead of combat, the Army busied itself with coordinating for aid, support services, and livelihood training.

Anuddin said each family received P5,000 from the Sulu provincial government to be used for lumber and roofing. They were also given grocery items.

The Ministry of Public Works of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao built infrastructure like roads, primary school, mosque, public square-cum-sports field, barangay hall and water system.

The first village to be opened was Bungkaong in 2020. According to Batara, a total of 2,001 families have so far returned to the villages of Bungkaong, Latih, Tugas, Maligay, Kabbon Takkas, Pansul, Bakong, Panglayahan, Sitio Darayan in Buhanginan, and Sitio Bastiong in Langhub, all in Patikul.

In Bud Bunga in Talipao town, an initial 99 families were returned in April last year.

BREAKTHROUGH | Maj. Gen. Ignatius Patrimonio (center), commander of the Army’s 11th Infantry Division, Brig. Gen. Benjamin Batara Jr. (left), commander of the Army’s 1103rd Brigade, and Ministry of Public Works district engineer Ajan Ajijul visit a poultry farm in Barangay Bakong, Patikul. Through the livelihood assistance secured by the residents, 11 villages in Sulu province that underwent the Balik Barangay program are now major suppliers of egg and poultry meat in the province. (Photo courtesy of Civil Military Office, 11th Infantry Division, Philippine Army)

Thriving communities

A year after their return, the residents see their respective communities flourishing.

Within a year, what used to be shacks and huts, people started building their concrete homes with extensions, including shops and sari-sari (variety) stores. Water supply is available to every household and they have solar-powered electricity.

According to Batara, the 11 villages have cooperatives that carry out agricultural production ventures such as egg production and poultry raising. Each barangay, he said, was provided with 1,000 egg-laying chickens.

Since 2020, these communities are major producers of eggs for the province, especially in the towns of Patikul, Jolo and Indanan, Batara added.

To ensure that the communities will be resilient from possible incursion of the Abu Sayyaf, the Army set up patrol bases near the village. In addition, adult males were trained either as civilian militias or members of the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team.

Batara said they also employed the cooperation of religious leaders to counter extremist thinking through their preaching and Islamic teaching.

Anuddin notes that a number of displaced families scattered all throughout Sulu have expressed their intention to be back in Bakong, seeing the progress they have made within a year.

“It was like a dream. We left in haste and fear. Then we came back to a thick forest. I cannot explain my emotions. This was my father’s dream [although] he failed to witness how his dream materialized. This [returning home] is very important to us as we were born here,” said an emotional Anuddin.

Report: Suspected Abu Sayyaf mastermind of foiled attack on 2017 SEA Games in KL deported to Philippines

From the Malay Mail (Jul 10, 2022): Report: Suspected Abu Sayyaf mastermind of foiled attack on 2017 SEA Games in KL deported to Philippines (By Ashley Yeong)

Hajar Binadbul Mubin was found to be in possession of a fake Malaysian identity card obtained in Sabah after he was immediately arrested at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City upon arrival at about 11.30pm on July 7. — TODAY file pic

KUALA LUMPUR, July 10 — An alleged Abu Sayyaf terrorist, arrested for plotting an attack on the 2017 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Kuala Lumpur, was released from a prison in Perak earlier this week and sent back to the Philippines.

According to The Star,
30-year-old Hajar Binadbul Mubin was found to be in possession of a fake Malaysian identity card obtained in Sabah after he was immediately arrested at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City upon arrival at about 11.30pm on July 7.

The Philippines police revealed
that Mubin had been on the run from an outstanding 2012 arrest warrant for kidnap for ransom and five gun battles with the country’s military.

Mubin, who also went by the aliases Abu Asrie, Mheiradz, Muadz and Muhadz, was believed to be the top aide of Abu Sayyaf Group’s (ASG) Basilan leader Furuji Indama.

He left the group in 2015 and fled to Sabah to evade prosecution, and eventually secured a fake Malaysian identity card and a Facebook account with the name of “Mhieradz Zhiadqie IV” to get in touch with former ASG comrades.

Mubin said tried to live “normally” during his stay in Kuala Lumpur by working as a security guard but was arrested in 2017 for his plot to disrupt the SEA Games and Merdeka Day celebrations.

He was due for release on August 30, 2021 from Tapah Prison in Perak, but this was delayed due to stringent Covid-19 movement restrictions.

After his arrest on July 7, Mubin was placed under temporary custody of the Philippine’s Southern Police District and is expected to be charged at the Zamboanga Regional Trial Court.

The ASG are an Islamist terrorist organisation in the Philippines notorious for kidnappings for ransom, assassinations, bombings and extortion, and has ties to Indonesian extremist Islamist terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah.

Kalinaw News: Karagdagang limang bangkay ng mga miyembro ng teroristang grupo nahukay

From Kalinaw News (Jul 10, 2022): Karagdagang limang bangkay ng mga miyembro ng teroristang grupo nahukay (An additional five bodies of members of the terrorist group were exhumed)

Karagdagang limang bangkay ng mga miyembro ng Communist Terrorist Group ang muling nahukay ng kasundaluhan nang ika-08 ng Hulyo taong kasalukuyan sa Barangay Canadam, Maconacon, Isabela.

Sa tulong ng mga Former Rebels na nagbigay ng impormasyon sa 502nd Infantry Brigade agad kumilos ang kasunduhan ng 95th Infantry Battalion. Kanilang nahukay ang mga bangkay nina alyas Rigid/Mawin, Commanding Officer ng Front Operation Command (FOC), alyas Brad/Airus, Vice Commanding Officer ng FOC, alyas Dondon, Vice Squad Leader ng Squad Uno, alyas Monmon, miyembro ng Squad Uno at alyas Bambo, miyembro ng Squad Dos, ng Komite Probinsya Isabela, Komiteng Rehiyon-Cagayan Valley.

Matatandaan na noong ika-tatlo ng Hulyo, nahukay naman ang mga bangkay nina alyas Eloy, 1st Deputy Secretary, alyas Bryan, at alyas Marco, kapwa mga miyembro ng Squad Dos.

Batay sa naging rebelasyon ng mga Former Rebels, ang kanilang mga dating kasamahan ay namatay dahil sa hidwaan ukol sa pamumuno sa kanilang organisasyon. Dahil sa hindi pagkakasundo, nagawang patayin ng mga ito ang isa’t-isa.

“Ang hindi nila pagkakasundo-sundo sa loob ng kanilang organisasyon ay manipestasyon na rin ng pagkakawatak-watak ng kanilang samahan. Hindi na rin magtatagal ay sila na mismo ang magpapabagsak sa kanilang organisasyon,” pahayag ni LtC Carlos Sangdaan Jr., Battalion Commander ng 95IB.

Dagdag pa ni LtC Sangdaan na ang basta na ang paglilibing ng mga naiwang miyembro ng teroristang grupo sa kanilang mga lider ay pahiwatig din ng kanilang mga hindi makataong gawain.

Sa kabilang banda, ang Lokal na Pamahalaan ng Maconacon ang nagbigay ng disenteng libing sa natagpuang walong bangkay.

Samantala, inihayag naman ni BGen Danilo D Benavides, Brigade Commander ng 502nd Brigade na mas paiigtingin pa ng kanilang hanay ang isinasagawang opensiba laban sa mga natitirang miyembro ng teroristang grupo.

Muli naman niyang hinikayat ang mga nalalabing miyembro na magbalik-loob na sa pamahalaan.

[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:]

BRP Andres Bonifacio now patrolling WPS to boost PH naval presence

Posted to Palawan News (Jul 7, 2022): BRP Andres Bonifacio now patrolling WPS to boost PH naval presence (By Priam Nepomuceno)

WESCOM commander Vice Adm. Roberto Carlos aboard the BRP Andres Bonifacio as it makes its way to the Galoc Oil Field, which is located 60 kilometers northwest of Palawan. (Photo from WESCOM Public Affairs Office)

The Philippine Navy’s BRP Andres Bonifacio (PS 17) is now performing patrol operations in Western Command’s (WESCOM) area of responsibility which includes territorial defense in the West Philippine Sea.

PS17 entered WESCOM’s joint operations area with Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos aboard, on July 6 off Pinnacle Rock, Busuanga Island in the province of Palawan from Sangley Point, Cavite City where it underwent repairs to its mission-critical pieces of machinery before deployment.

While undergoing repairs, Carlos visited the ship in what WESCOM described as an opportunity for the WESCOM chief to ensure the mission-readiness of all assets being deployed in the country’s last frontier.

The ship then passed by the Galoc Oil Field which is located 60 kilometers northwest of Palawan. It is one of the service contracts of the Department of Energy (DOE) which is being secured by the WESCOM along with the Malampaya Gas Fields, El Nido and Matinloc Oil Platforms.

“She is ready to perform her territorial defense functions at WESCOM. PS17 is indeed very mission-capable and I am confident that she will significantly strengthen our naval presence in the West Philippine Sea and secure our oil platforms,” Carlos said on Wednesday.

The BRP Andres Bonifacio is one of the three Del Pilar-class ships which are the former US Coast Guard Hamilton-class cutters that were converted into frigates. Other ships of the class are the BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PS-15) and BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16).

Each ship has a gross tonnage of 3,250 tons, a length of 378 feet, a beam of 43 feet, and a draft of 15 feet while its propulsion systems consist of two diesel engines and two gas turbine engines, giving it a top speed of 29 knots.

It has a cruising range of 14,000 miles, a sea and loiter time of 45 days, and is armed with a 76-mm. Oto Melara automatic cannon, 25-mm. and 20-mm. light cannons and .50-caliber machine guns.

“PS17 is one of the new patrol ships of the Philippine Navy which capable in the high seas. It is equipped with flight deck and hangar that makes her capable of air operations utilizing AFP’s Augusta helicopters,” WESCOM spokesperson Major Cheryl Tindog said.

WESCOM presents transformation roadmap to AFP GHQ

From Palawan News (Jul 6, 2022): WESCOM presents transformation roadmap to AFP GHQ (By Gerald Ticke)

Western Command chief Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos presents to the Armed Forces of the Philippines revalida panel the command's transformation roadmap for certificatio. (WESCOM photo)

Western Command (WESCOM), together with some members of its Multi-Sectoral Advisory Board (MSAB), presented its Armed Forces of the Philippines Transformation Roadmap Institutionalization Pathway (AFPTRIP) for recertification at the general headquarters in Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo last Monday, July 4.

Led by its commander, Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos, they presented the accomplishments, complied tasks, and plans on moving forward for WESCOM’s transformation journey for the years 2020 and 2021, and the first semester of 2022, when he took over its leadership.

WESCOM also presented to the revalida panel led by former WESCOM chief and now AFP Vice Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Erickson Gloria, its outlined sustainment of institutionalized functions, resources, expectations, and messages of its transformation roadmap that led to the accomplishment of its objectives and breakthrough goals that contributed to regional security and stability.

Members of the MSAB who were present included Atty. Teodoro Jose Matta, executive director of Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS); Yanika Eli Seratubias, operations chief of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO); and Grace Arambulo, lieutenant governor of Kiwanis International.
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“The working relationship of WESCOM and MSAB since 2017 has always been symbiotic and two-way, as we both integrate and share best practices towards achievement of target goals,” Matta.

Carlos on the other hand acknowledged the contributions and partnership of MSAB to the organizational development of WESCOM with its localized co-ownership since the initiation of the institutionalization stages of the WESCOM transformation roadmap.

“This revalida is very important to us so that we can share to you WESCOM’s story and have the opportunity to become better,” Carlos told the panel.

The revalida team also underscored the Command’s transformation roadmap which is evident in all its joint, combined and multi-agency operations that have secured the country’s sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea and have kept the Province of Palawan a zone of sustained peace, progress, and development.

The MSAB also emphasized WESCOM’s humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) and support to national development.

“We are grateful to WESCOM for helping us move mountains during crises like the COVID-19 pandemic and typhoon Odette destruction,” said Seratubias.

“Its ability to rise above the challenges only speaks that the transformation roadmap of WESCOM is not only in paper but is truly alive and felt in the whole Province of Palawan,” she added.

U.S. trains Philippine partners in underwater crime scene investigation and law enforcement

From Palawan News (Jul 5, 2022): U.S. trains Philippine partners in underwater crime scene investigation and law enforcement

Training participants simulate underwater crime scene investigation by locating, identifying, documenting, and collecting pieces of evidence.

The U.S. government, acting through the U.S. United States Agency for International Development (USAID), recently provided law enforcement and crime scene investigation training to Philippine government partners.

Under USAID’s Sustainable Interventions for Biodiversity, Oceans, and Landscapes (SIBOL) project, 27 representatives from agencies such as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) participated in the training that focused on environmental law enforcement issues like coral reef crime scene investigation, marine wildlife crime forensics, oil spills, and marine and coastal pollution.

Participants attended lectures with international experts and gained practical experience through diving sessions that simulated responses to environmental crime scenarios, such as destruction of coral reefs due to vessel grounding, blast fishing, and poaching. The training supports the Philippines’ national action plan for addressing wildlife crimes and its goals of strengthening law enforcement to conserve threatened species and reduce biodiversity threats.

“The rich bounty that the Philippines is blessed with comes with a responsibility of conserving these resources in a way that is sustainable and regenerative,” said USAID Acting Environment Office Director Dr. John Piggot. “We hope that this activity will lead to increased cooperation among enforcement agencies on coral reef-related cases, enhancement of existing local training modules on reef protection, and development of local policy and protocols on coral reef-related investigations.”
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A joint report by USAID and BFAR published last year found that illegal fishing comprised 27 to 40 percent of fish caught in the Philippines in 2019, which amounts to roughly Php62 billion ($1.3 billion) annually.

Through its SIBOL project, USAID works with government, private sector, and civil society partners to strengthen science-driven decision making, improve economic incentives for investments in the environment, and improve environmental law enforcement.

4 rebels killed in Negros clash

From Panay News (Jul 7, 2022): 4 rebels killed in Negros clash (By DOMINIQUE GABRIEL G. BAÑAGA)

These items, including subversive documents, belong to New People’s Army rebels that government troops drove out of Binalbagan, Negros Occidental yesterday. Four rebels died. PHOTO FROM 3ID FACEBOOK PAGE

Four New People’s Army (NPA) rebels died in one of two separate clashes with government troops yesterday in the towns of Binalbagan and Calatrava in Negros Occidental.

In Binalbagan, elements of the Philippine Army’s 94th Infantry Battalion (94IB) and the Provincial Mobile Force Company of the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office exchanged fire with at least 15 NPA rebels in Barangay Bi-ao at around 9:30 a.m.

The clash resulted in the death of four NPA rebels, according to Brigadier General Inocencio Pasaporte, commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade (303IB).

The rebels encountered in Binalbagan were the ones involved in the ambush of a patrol car of the Binalbagan municipal police station in February of this year.

Government forces recovered an M16 assault rifle, an M14 rifle, and a .45 pistol in the encounter site.

As of this writing, the four NPA fatalities remained unidentified.

Meanwhile in the town of Calatrava, troops of the 79th Infantry Battalion (79IB) clashed with at least seven NPA rebels in Barangay Marcelo.

As of press time, however, both the 79IB and the 303IB have yet to release the result of the encounter which was reported to have begun at around 12:30 p.m.

The 79IB believed that the rebels they encountered were remnants of the dismantled NPA Northern Negros Front.

Arrest of ‘Concha’ a priority – CIDG-6

 From Panay News (Jul 8, 2022): Arrest of ‘Concha’ a priority – CIDG-6 (By Ruby Silubrico)

The arrest of Maria Concepcion “Concha” Araneta Bocala is a priority, according to the Criminal Investigation ad Detection Group (CIDG).

Bocala, suspected secretary general of the Komiteng Rehiyon-Panay (KR-P) of the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), was recently convicted by the Regional Trial Court, Branch 266 in Taguig City for the death 47 years ago of Metudio Inesa in Barangay Panipiason, Madalag, Aklan.

CIDG Region 6 director, Colonel Joseph Ian Lofranco said Bocala is still in Panay Island.

Inesa was killed by a group of NPA rebels on Sept. 17, 1975. He was seen by NPA spies to have welcomed Philippine Constabulary personnel at his house and provided them with a temporary resting place and drinking water, according to the court.

Citing intelligence information, Lofranco said Bocala is ill.

Bocala was arrested on Aug. 15, 2015. In 2016, however, she was released on bail so she can take part in the peace talks between the government and the CPP-NPA.

When the peace talks were terminated, however, Bocala did not voluntarily return to the custody of the court.

“Dami nating information na natatanggap (about her whereabouts). We need to countercheck. We believe hindi sya lalayo dito kasi nagpapagamot daw. May nag-aalaga sa kanya and we need the public’s help,” Lofranco said.

Bocala, 71, has a bounty of P5.3 million.

“The court finds that the prosecution was able to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt for the crime of murder,” read part of the 16-page decision of Presiding Judge Marivic C. Vitor dated June 21, 2022.

The judge sentenced Bocala to suffer reclusion perpetua and was also ordered to pay the heirs of the victim a total of P300,000 as civil indemnity, moral and exemplary damages.

Negros Occ. rebels suffer major setback

From Panay News (Jul 9, 2022): Negros Occ. rebels suffer major setback (By DOMINIQUE GABRIEL G. BAÑAGA)

The New People’s Army (NPA) in Negros Occidental may have just suffered a major setback this week – the clash in Binalbagan town which killed four of their members, and the arrest of two others in the town of Calatrava.

The Philippine Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade (303IB) identified the four casualties as 30-year-old Roel “Berio” Sagon; 40-year-old Rowel “Jing-jing/Caloy” Udtuhan; 20-year-old Alden “Bigboy” Rodriguez; and 20-year-old Nika “Sara Jane/Chai” Ledesma.

Elements of the 94th Infantry Battalion (94IB) and the Negros Occidental Police Mobile Force Company clashed with the group of these slain rebels in Binalbagan on Wednesday.

Meanwhile in the town of Calatrava, the 79th Infantry Battalion (79IB) encountered remnants of the dismantled NPA Northern Negros Front in Barangay Marcelo.

The 79IB commander, Lieutenant Colonel J-jay Javines, said the encounter lasted for at least 10 minutes until the rebels retreated.

One of the NPA members, however, was captured. He was identified as Isabelle Necessario, deputy secretary of the NPA Northern Negros Front.

The clash also resulted in the seizure of various firearms, ammunition, and the retreating rebels’ personal belongings.

Authorities also recovered several flash drives, mobile phones, and subversive documents which they noted may contain “high intelligence value.”

Also in Calatrava, operatives of the Negros Occidental Provincial Mobile Force Company (NOCPMFC) and the Calatrava Municipal Police Station arrested a wanted NPA rebel identified only as “Ka Ricky” of Sitio Ecugan in the town’s Barangay Minapasok.

Police Lieutenant Colonel Jay Malong, NOCPMFC commander, said “Ka Ricky” was also a member of the NPA’s Northern Negros Front, and is wanted for frustrated murder.

Malong said they have been monitoring “Ka Ricky” for the past two months after receiving information of his whereabouts.

Both Necessario and “Ka Ricky” are currently detained at the Calatrava Municipal Police Station.

3ID gets state-of-the art military hardware

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jul 5, 2022): 3ID gets state-of-the art military hardware (BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN)

Maj. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, 3ID commander, inspects the Armored Mortar Carrier installed with 120mm Recoil Mortar System that will support combat-related missions in the Visayas region.* PA photo

The Army’s 3rd Infantry Division got a boost of its firepower after the Philippine Army Armor Division deployed its new Armored Mortar Carrier (AMC) with Soltam Cardom 120mm Recoil Mortar System in the Visayas region.

The AMC, which is being installed on a M113-A2 Armored Personnel Carrier, has been issued to 6th Cavalry Company Separate, a supporting unit of the 3rd Infantry (Spearhead) Division operating in Western and Central Visayas.

In a statement, Maj. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, 3ID commander, said the new high-tech military hardware will be used to further strengthen their capabilities to accomplish combat related missions against any threats within Regions 6 and 7.

AMC has a smooth-bore, muzzle-loaded recoiling mortar equipped with state-of-the-art auto-laying system incorporating an electric drive system for elevation and traverse.

It can be indirectly fired on rapid rate which is 12 rounds per minute or sustained rate of three to four rounds per minute, which can cause real damage to enemy targets, Arevalo added.

Binalbagan gun battle kills 4 rebels

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jul 7, 2022): Binalbagan gun battle kills 4 rebels (BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN)

Four suspected New People’s Army rebels were killed during an encounter yesterday with Army and police troopers in Sitio Amilis, Brgy. Santol, Binalbagan, Negros Occidental, that also resulted in the recovery of four high-powered firearms, disclosed Brig. Gen. Inocencio Pasaporte, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander.

This was after 19 combatants of the NPA Central Negros (Front) surrendered last week to the 94th Infantry Battalion in Ayungon, Negros Oriental, also surrendered three firearms, Pasaporte said.

He reported that 94IB and 33rd Division Reconnaissance Company troopers, augmented by the PNP 2nd Provincial Mobile Force Company responded to reports by civilians on the presence of about 15 NPA rebels, who are remnants of Central Negros (Front) 2, in their community.

The encounter lasted for about three minutes, which prompted the rebels to scamper in various directions, leaving behind four slain comrades, and the recovery of two M16 assault rifles with M203 grenade launcher, M14 assault rifle and a caliber .45 pistol, Pasaporte said.

No casualty was reported on the government side, as pursuit operations against fleeing rebels are still ongoing, as of press time.

Pasaporte said that the rebel group encountered by the Army soldiers and police troopers in the joint operation were also responsible for the ambush and injuries of three Binalbagan policemen early this year.

Another encounter between remnants of the dismantled Northern Negros Front and 79th Infantry Battalion also ensued in Brgy. Marcelo, Calatrava, Negros Occidental.

Lt Col. J-Jay Javines, 79IB commander, disclosed that seven armed rebels were encountered by his troops, also while responding to a report of an informant on presence of the armed group in their area.

War materials, including rifle grenades and a firearm, as well as subversive documents, were recovered by the 79IB from the encounter site.

Javines said that nobody among his troops was injured, while casualties are undetermined in the NPA side.

Ranking NPA amazon official nabbed, 3 other leaders killed in gunbattle

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jul 8, 2022): Ranking NPA amazon official nabbed, 3 other leaders killed in gunbattle (BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN)

Isabelle Necesario

A ranking New People’s Army amazon leader was captured by Army soldiers in Calatrava gun battle, while three of the four other rebels killed in Binalbagan, all on July 6, were also identified as occupying key positions in the Central Negros guerilla Front 2 unit of the Komiteng Rehiyonal Negros Cebu Bohol Siqujior, according to the Philippine Army.

Lt. Col. JJay Javines, 79th Infantry Battalion commander, reported yesterday said that Isabelle Necesario, with aliases of Maoline/Nads/Diane/Idel, the deputy secretary of Northern Negros Front (NNF), was captured following an encounter on Wednesday with Army soldiers in Sitio Banwa Minatay, Brgy. Marcelo, Calatrava.

The capture of Necesario also resulted in the confiscation of two rifle grenades, two caliber .38 revolvers with ammunition, a caliber .45 pistol with ammunition, eight cellular phones, four knapsacks containing five flash drives, three pocket wifi units, P3,740 in cash, assorted medicines, personal belongings, a hammock and subversive documents.

Necesario is the third ranking leader of the Northern Negros Front declared as dismantled by the 3rd Infantry Division, and neutralized by the 79th Infantry Battalion since August last year, with two others killed in separate encounters, including Kerima Tariman and Marilyn Badayos.

Javines said that the group of Necesario, believed to be remnants of NNF, were also encountered by 79IB troops on June 22 in the same barangay.

Necesario has a pending arrest warrant for homicide, according to the 303rd Infantry Brigade.

On the other hand, the four suspected rebels killed in an encounter also on July 6 in Brgy. Santol, Binalbagan, were identified yesterday by the 303rd Infantry Brigade as Roel Sagon, 30, of Brgy. Buenavista, Himamaylan City; Rowell Udtuhan, 40, of Brgy. San Antonio, also of Himamaylan City; Alden Rodriguez, 20, of Brgy. Bantolinao, Manjuyod, Negros Oriental, and Nika Ledesma, 25, of Cebu City.

Brig. Gen. Inocencio Pasaporte, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, yesterday said that Ledesma, with aliases of Sarah, Jane and Chai served as the political officer of Squad 3, Sentro De Grabidad Platoon of Central Negros (Front2); Sagon, alias Berio, is squad leader of CN 2, with Udtuhan as his assistant, and Rodriguez as a squad member.

Pasaporte said they were deceptively recruited to an ideology they do not even understand.

He also said that the four slain rebels were among those who staged an ambush against PNP members in Binalbagan February this year, leading to injuries of three police personnel.

Recovered from the encounter site were two M-16 assault rifles, one equipped with M203 grenade launcher, an AK-47 assault rifle, M-14 assault rifle, a caliber .45 pistol, 17 magazines containing ammunition, five hammocks, five sling bags, three pairs of rain boots, and assorted personal belongings.

PLt. Col. Jay Malong, commander of the 1st Negros Occidental Provincial Mobile Force Company, also reported the apprehension of a certain Ka Ricky, 47, also on July 6 in Brgy. Calampisawan, Calatrava, by virtue of an arrest warrant for the crime of frustrated murder.

Ka Ricky, according to Malong, used to be a member of the Northern Negros Front.

Rebel spokesman covering up setbacks – Army

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jul 9, 2022): Rebel spokesman covering up setbacks – Army (BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN)

The Army’s 3rd Infantry Division yesterday slammed Negros rebel group spokesman Ka Juanito Magbanua for spreading lies aimed at cushioning the setbacks they suffered during an encounter in Binalbagan, Negros Occidental, that claimed the lives of four of their members.

In a statement, Magbanua claimed that it was a fake encounter, and the NPA members who were seeking refuge in a makeshift hut, were sick and resting.

The 3ID, in a statement it issued, said the claims of Magbanua was contradicted by 19 former colleagues of the slain rebels, who surrendered to the 94th Infantry Battalion days before the encounter.

Three of the four of the slain rebels, including a 26-year-old amazon, were reported by Brig.Gen. Inocencio Pasaporte, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, to have been occupying various positions in the Central Negros Front 2 of the Komiteng Rehiyonal Negros Cebu Bohol Siquijor.

The 19 former rebel combatants who gave up the armed struggle and surrendered several firearms are also affiliated with Central Negros Front 2,
Pasaporte added.

Magbanua’s statement is nothing but a fabricated story designed to twist the actual scenario, the 3ID said, noting that he resorted to old tactics by spreading fake news and twisted stories every time government forces successfully thwarted their planned atrocities.

Army soldiers also recovered four high powered firearms, among other items, from the encounter site.

The families of Ruel Udtuhan and Rowell Ladera have already claimed their cadavers at the Sabino Funeral Homes in Binalbagan, while those of the two others are yet to be claimed by relatives.

On July 6, a ranking rebel leader of the dismantled Northern Negros Front was also captured by 79th Infantry Battalion soldiers, following an encounter in Brgy. Marcelo, Calatrava, that yielded assorted firearms with ammunition and explosives.

Galvez is still Peace Adviser; vows Marcos committed to peace process, especially in Bangsamoro

 From MindaNews (Jul 9, 2022): Galvez is still Peace Adviser; vows Marcos committed to peace process, especially in Bangsamoro (By CAROLYN O. ARGUILLAS)

Retired General Carlito Galvez is still Presidential Peace Adviser “on holdover capacity” to avoid interruption or disruption in the activities of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) “and the implementation of the comprehensive peace process,” Executive Secretary Victor Rodriguez said in a memorandum order.

MindaNews received on Friday, July 8, a copy of Rodriguez’ Memorandum Order No. 1, dated 30 June 2022 but stamped and signed July 7 by the Malacanang Records Office, stating that Galvez will stay in office on a holdover capacity “until 31 December 2022 or until his replacement has been appointed or designated, whichever comes first, unless he is reappointed in the meantime” and that the memo order “shall take effect immediately.”

As of 8 p.m. on Friday, however, the Palace had yet to officially announce Galvez’ holdover. There was no announcement also from the OPAPRU.


Secretary Carlito Galvez, Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity. File photo courtesy of OPAPP

But Galvez at 10:28 p.m. on Friday sent MindaNews by phone a “message of Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr., Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity on the celebration of Eid al-Adha 2022 / 1443 AH,” extending, on behalf of the men and women of OPAPRU, his “warmest greetings” to “our Muslim brothers and sisters” as they celebrate the Feast of Sacrifice. July 9, Eid’l Adha, was the date indicated in the message. He did not respond why there has been no official announcement on Memo Order 1.

The OPAPRU sent a copy of the Eid’l Adha message to reporters via email at 6:01 a.m. on Saturday.

Eid’l Adha is one of Islam’s two major festivals celebrated by 1.6 billion Muslims around the world. It is celebrated yearly to mark the end of Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca and to commemorate Prophet Ibrahim’s (Abraham among Christians) act of sacrificing his eldest son, Ishmael. God spared the boy’s life and instead gave Abraham a lamb to sacrifice.

“As nations across the globe confront the challenges caused by armed conflict, poverty, inequality and the current health crisis, may all of us be inspired by the remarkable journey made by members of the Islamic faith,” Galvez said.

He said the solidarity shown by the Ummah will serve as a shining example to the Filipino people and “encourage them to remain united and work together, as we pursue our collective vision of achieving a just and lasting peace in our country.”

“The Marcos administration is inspired by the lessons imparted by the Eid al-Adha, and is determined to continue the implementation of the comprehensive Philippine peace process, especially in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao,” Galvez said.


The anniversary celebration of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process on 30 September 2019, paved the way for a brief reunion among brothers in the Bangsamoro struggle — Nur Misuari, founding chair of the Moro National Liberation Front (2nd from Left, between Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez and Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri), Ahod “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim, chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Chief Minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim MIndanao, and Muslimin Sema, former chair of an MNLF faction and former Cotabato City mayor. The three Moro leaders were reunited onstage for a souvenir photo with personalities from other peace processes. Sema reached out to shake Misuari’s hand, hugged and kissed him on both cheeks, followed by Murad. Photo courtesy of OPAPP

MindaNews had been checking since Monday on who the OIC of OPAPRU is since President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. had not named a Peace Adviser but no one from the office could give an answer. Several names had been mentioned to be on the short list for Peace Adviser.

The OPAPRU’s email on Saturday morning did not include a copy of Memo Order 1. MindaNews checked with Robert James de Roque, the OPAPRU’s Media Relations Order, why there was no release of the copy of Memo Order 1 from Malacanang or the OPAPRU and if the Eid’l Adha message is to be taken as the announcement of holdover. “That statement is also the announcement of the holdover,” he replied.

In December 2018, then President Rodrigo Duterte named Galvez as his Peace Adviser, the fourth retired general and third retired Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to head the then 25-year old Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, although his appointment paper referred to him as Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity.

But it was only six months ago, through Executive Order 158 on December 27, 2021 when Duterte renamed OPAPP into the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU).

Galvez succeeded lawyer Jesus Dureza who resigned on November 27, 2018 after Duterte fired two of his subordinates due to corruption.

No decision yet on PBBM's first PNP chief: Abalos

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 10, 2022): No decision yet on PBBM's first PNP chief: Abalos (By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan)

Philippine National Police headquarters, Camp Crame, Quezon City (File photo)

The selection process is ongoing for the first Philippine National Police (PNP) chief that will serve under the administration of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Benhur Abalos on Sunday belied reports that Lt. Gen. Rhodel Sermonia, the deputy chief for administration, has been named the next PNP chief.

“This is not true and the matter is being discussed,”
Abalos told the Philippine News Agency in a phone interview.

If the rule of succession is followed, the other contender aside from Sermonia, who is PNP’s No. 2 in command, is Lt. Gen. Vicente Danao Jr., deputy chief for operations.

Danao has been the officer-in-charge of the 225,000-strong police force since Gen. Dionardo Carlos retired May 6.

Sermonia, a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1989, is set to step down in January 2024 upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56 while Danao, of Class of 1991, has one more year in service before he retires in August 2023.

Other long shots for the PNP top post are Lt. Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr., Area Police Command-Northern Luzon chief; Maj. Gen. Valeriano De Leon, director for operations; Maj. Gen Felipe Natividad, National Capital Regional Police Office chief; and Brig. Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr., director of the Police Regional Office-Northern Mindanao.

Azurin and De Leon belong to PMA Class of 1989 and have one year in service; Natividad is a member of Class of 1990; and Acorda graduated from the PMA in 1991.

Manalo, Blinken tackle economic cooperation, US-PH ties

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 10, 2022): Manalo, Blinken tackle economic cooperation, US-PH ties (By Lade Jean Kabagani)

There will be a continuous bilateral security alliance and shared strategic and economic interests between the Philippines and the United States under the Marcos administration.

Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo confirmed in a Twitter post on Sunday that his recent conversation with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken involved the continuing promotion of the US-Philippines shared alliances and sovereign partnership.

“Spoke w/ @SecBlinken. Appreciate US commitment to alliance and to PH as equal and sovereign partner in promoting peace, prosperity and international law-based order in the region,”
Manalo said.

He added that they agreed “to continue working together” on building resilient supply chains, addressing the climate crisis, and transitioning to clean energy.

Blinken said their July 9 talk involved shared commitment to strategic ties and economic interests.

“We discussed economic cooperation, our partnership to reinforce respect for human rights, and our shared commitment to the US-Philippines alliance,” Blinken said in his Twitter post as he congratulated Manalo on his appointment.

Blinken also emphasized the importance of respect for human rights and the rule of law, according to a statement of the US State Department.

The US and the Philippines boast of a decades-old alliance, government-to-government relations, and people-to-people ties for 75 years now.

Restoration of the old Office of the Press Secretary hailed

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 10, 2022): Restoration of the old Office of the Press Secretary hailed (By Severino Samonte)

TURNOVER. Outgoing Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar turns over pertinent documents of the agency to incoming Secretary Atty. Trixie Cruz-Angeles at the Diplomatic Lounge of the Times Plaza Building in Manila in this file photo. On June 30, 2022, Cruz-Angeles said President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. signed Executive Order No. 2 restoring the Office of the Press Secretary to replace the PCOO. (Photo courtesy of PCOO)

A cross-section of former staff members of the state-run Philippines News Agency have hailed the abolition by the new Marcos administration of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) and the restoration of the original department it superseded 12 years ago, the better-known Office of the Press Secretary (OPS).

This was gleaned from the replies to a question by this writer to the members of the Ex-PNAers, a group composed of former PNA editors, deskmen, reporters, photographers and other personnel who have either retired or transferred to other offices. A number of them is now based overseas, while some are still working in local newspapers.

As former executive editor and division chief of PNA for 14 years under the News and Information Bureau (NIB) of the OPS, I asked some of them about their views on the revival of the OPS, which was dismantled in 2010 by the administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III (RIP).

For one, Ben Cal, a former PNA acting executive editor who is now engaged in book writing, said in a text message to this writer: “It is great to hear about the revival of the Office of the Press Secretary. It’s about time!”

Cal joined the PNA as a reporter a year after the agency’s birth in March 1973. Before retiring about 10 years ago, he covered Malacañang for PNA during the entire term of President Fidel V. Ramos (1992-1998).

Previously, he also covered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Department of National Defense (DND) since Ramos’ stint as chief of the former Philippine Constabulary, predecessor of the present Philippine National Police (PNP).

Meanwhile, Jojo T. Terencio, one of the former lead writers of the Presidential News Desk (PND), said: "It has always been the OPS, PND, Presidential Press Staff (PPS). Thank you, President Marcos Jr., for restoring the department's name back to its original name since 1986. I will always love OPS. This is where I spent my 20s plus a decade of my professional life."

Terencio is the author of the newly-published book "Behind the Red Pen, My Adventures with FVR" which, he said, shares with the readers "what I know, what I saw, what I heard, and what I experienced while working as a presidential reporter."

On the other hand, Al G. Pedroche, retired editor-in-chief of the Pilipino Star Ngayon, had this to say: "As a former staff of the Voice of the Philippines, I agree with the idea because that has always been the setup. PCOO was only started by P'Noy (President Benigno S. Aquino III)."

Upon his assumption of office in June 2010, Aquino issued Executive Order (EO) No. 4 abolishing the OPS and replacing it with the PCOO, which was described by an observant netizen "as sounding like a cooperative."

In addition, Aquino created the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office or PCDSPO in Malacañang.

The restoration of the OPS under EO No. 2 signed by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. last June 30 was announced by new Press Secretary Biatrix Rose "Trixie" Cruz-Angeles on July 7.

She said EO 2, which took effect immediately, repealed EO 4 and EO 111 issued in 2010 and 2020, respectively. EO 4 created the PCOO while EO 111 reconstituted the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson and abolished the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office.

"There is a need to rationalize and consolidate the communications arm of the Administration for a more efficient delivery of public policy to the general public," the new Press Secretary said.

CPP/Ang Bayan: Peace talks are unlikely

Propaganda article from the English language edition of Ang Bayan posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Jul 7, 2022): Peace talks are unlikely

This article is available in PilipinoHiligaynon

The Marcos II regime is predisposed towards continuing Rodrigo Duterte’s policy of hindering the peace talks, weaponizing the Anti-Terror Law to intensify state terrorism, red-tagging, mass arrests, torture and mass murder in a vain attempt to end the people’s democratic revolution. This was the statement of National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria Sison on the day of Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s inauguration.

There are no indications that Marcos would negotiate peace, he said. It is also unlikely to resume under the GRP’s current all-out war policy. “There is nothing that the NDFP can do to resume the peace negotiations if the GRP insists on carrying out an all-out war policy,” Sison said.

Not once did the fascist Marcos I dictatorship engage in peace negotiations nor was it able to crush the revolutionary movement, he added. Instead, this movement of the people succeeded in expanding nationwide…ultimately causing the downfall of the fascist dictatorship.”

Previous heads of the reactionary state—from Cory Aquino to Rodrigo Duterte—all had the same objective of using peace negotiations to pay lip service to the cause of peace, carry out widespread surveillance against revolutionaries and preserve the exploitative and oppressive ruling system. At the same time, they try to put the NDFP into a position of capitulation, Professor Sison said.

He also said Marcos Jr “lacks any moral authority” having been “elected” to the presidency through a rigged elections with the help of the tyrant Duterte and his cabal in the Comelec.

“He can dream of having a second chance for his dynasty to destroy the revolutionary movement,” Sison said. “But he ought to remember that this movement is now much bigger and stronger than when Marcos Sr failed to destroy it.”

However, the NDFP is always open to peace negotiations with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines whoever its president is.

“If the administration is willing to talk, why not?” he said. “Resuming peace negotiations is quite easy,” Sison said. The GRP or Marcos Jr simply needs to reaffirm agreements that were previously agreed upon and signed by the two parties.

[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and views on current issues. Ang Bayan comes out fortnightly and is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Hiligaynon and English.]

CPP/Ang Bayan: Four flu-stricken Red fighters massacred

Propaganda article from the English language edition of Ang Bayan posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Jul 7, 2022): Four flu-stricken Red fighters massacred

This article is available in PilipinoHiligaynon

Soldiers of the 94th IB and local police mercilessly killed four sick Red fighters of the New People’s Army while in custody in Sitio Calunakon, Barangay Santol, Binalbagan, Negros Occidental last July 6. The Red fighters were recuperating in a hut when they were captured. Instead of according them prisoner-of-war status in line with international humanitarian law, soldiers fatally shot Roel Ladera (Ka Jack), Nica Dela Cruz (Ka Chai), Alden Rodriguez (Ka Rocky) and Roel Deguit (Ka Caloy). The soldiers claimed the four were killed in an encounter from the adjacent barangay.

Last June 29, an unknown assailant shot radio announcer Federico “Deng” Gempesaw while on his way home in Sitio Macangan, Barangay Carmen, Cagayan de Oro City. Gempesaw is the third journalist killed in Mindanao this year alone.

Dispersal. Paid thugs violently dispersed workers’ strike at Tanduay Distillers in Talisay, Negros Occidental last June 28. In a video posted on social media, workers and their picketline organized by the Tanduay Bottle Sorters Organization (TanSO-SUPER) were attacked by goons of Talisay Logistics Packaging Corporation. The workers’ strike aims to oppose the company’s plan to reduce their work days, which would consequently lower their already measly salaries. They also demand the reinstatement of dismissed workers, regularization of contractual employees and their right for workers’ benefits.

Arrests. In Aklan, 30 elements of the 301st IBde went on house-to-house along C. Laserna St., Poblacion, Kalibo last June 22 to search for Bayan-Aklan officials Kim-Sin Tugna and George T. Calaor.

Meanwhile, members of the local police arrested Pamalakaya leader Susan Agner in Maragondon, Cavite, along with three other residents of Barangay Patungan last June 23.

Militarization. Since May 28, elements of the 303rd IBde laid siege on 32 communities and five villages in Himamaylan City and Moises Padilla in Negros Occidental. Their operations also covered areas of La Libertad, Guihulngan City and Vallehermoso in Negros Oriental.

In Himamaylan City, more than 600 soldiers encamped in 24 sitios in 4 barangays in the area. They caused widespread disruption in the lives of Tribu Magahat and Bukidnon tribe members residing in the area. Seven civilians, including two minors, were illegally arrested and interrogated at Sitio Lunoy and Conalum.

An office of a local peasant association in Barangay Carabalan was raided and its chairperson subjected to intense interrogation. The association’s records and other legal papers were confiscated. In Moises Padilla, more than 100 soldiers encamped in sitios of Barangay Quintin Remo.

Forced surrender. In separate statements, local residents and the New People’s Army (NPA)-Mt. Apo Subregional Command belied reports of the 72nd IB saying two Red fighters, a father and son, surrendered in Barangay Magsay-say, Kibawe, Bukidnon last June 23. According to the NPA, the two are farmers in the area.

Meanwhile, Nimfa Lanzanas was released last June 29, after the Regional Trial Court in Calamba City dismissed charges against her. Lanzanas was illegally arrested during a coordinated operation of arrests and killings known as Bloody Sunday in Southern Tagalog.

Likewise, the court dismissed first two cases filed by the police against #Tinang83 last June 27. The group still faces five more charges. Last June 20, the Department of Agrarian Reform formally recognized the farmers as legitimate beneficiaries of the hacienda.

[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and views on current issues. Ang Bayan comes out fortnightly and is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Hiligaynon and English.]

CPP/Ang Bayan: Intervention and plunder by American companies in FSMR

Propaganda article from the English language edition of Ang Bayan posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Jul 7, 2022): Intervention and plunder by American companies in FSMR

This article is available in PilipinoHiligaynon

Attacks against the people of Far South Mindanao Region (FSMR) are being heightened by US imperialism. Along with nonstop landgrabbing and plunder by huge American agribusiness companies, large American mining companies are set to sweep and plunder the rich resources of the region’s mountains.

FSMR’s mineral riches

According to studies, the region possesses rich mineral deposits which are important to industry and world trade. Overall, it holds the biggest copper deposit of up to 2.9 billion metric tons. It also has iron deposits which are estimated to be at 2.5 million metric tons, and gold at 2.275 million metric tons. In addition, there are significant deposits of silver, zinc, lead, manganese and others. Along the borders of South Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat and Davao del Sur lies the biggest gold deposit in southeast Asia, also considered to be one of the world’s biggest copper deposits.

This abundance of mineral resources has attracted big local and foreign capitalists to invest in mining projects in the region. Foremost is the Tampakan Gold-Copper Project which is the largest in the country and is valued at $5.9 billion. However, the people have successfully fought and stopped its operations.

Based on May 2022 records, 41 local and foreign companies have been granted 56 concessions in different provinces. These cover a combined area of up to 345,548 hectares or 15.35% of the region. Operations by 15 concessions controlling up to 96,052 hectares have also been approved. There are also 41 other pending concessions covering 249,496 hectares.

Imperialist interests in mining

At least 17 mining companies operating in the region are 100% foreign-owned. Of these, eight are owned by Americans and control concessions covering a total of 53,081 hectares. Among the biggest are Providence Mining, Shamrock Metals, Kalamazoo Mining and Galactica Mining.

Kalamazoo Mining is owned by The Kalamazoo Company in the US. Its operations are based in Australia and has interests in several Southeast Asian countries. Meanwhile, Providence Mining is an American multinational which operates large mines in Africa and North America. Shamrock Metals and Galactica Mining are subsidiaries of big US industries Shamrock System and Galactica Group USA and have different businesses in and outside the US.

The operations of seven of these eight companies are concentrated in Sultan Kudarat and South Cotabato. These cover most of the southern Daguma Range, Mt. Parker and the large part of T’boli and Mt. Musa towards the borders of South Cotabato and Sarangani. These mountain ranges are among the ancestral lands of the Moros and the Dulangan-Manobo in Sultan Kudarat and the T’boli and B’laan in South Cotabato. These are covered with forests and watershed areas which support the vast agricultural lands of the region.

Secured by the military

Although mining areas have long pockmarked FSMR, widespread scouring of the region’s mountains for mining started only in the 1990s. In tandem with the entry of foreign and local companies, the state intensified military presence to secure these operations.

In the past three decades, the state mounted a bloodly campaign against those opposing the mines. Lumad and Moro communities were attacked, and massacres and killings were carried out. People fought back with widespread and bigger democratic actions and armed resistance. For almost four decades, they successfully resisted the entry of open-pit mining operations in the region.

To subdue the people and pave the way for the mines, the state intesified its violence and attacks in the name of counterinsurgency and “counterterrorism.” The AFP used US-supplied technology, arms and bombs to conduct surveillance and attacks on areas targeted for mining projects.

Currently, focused military operations by the 6th ID and the Joint Task Force Central continue in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat. The area is targeted for operations by four giant multinationals which include Mt. Peak Mining, Kalamazoo and Galactica, and Lazarus Corporation from England. Lazarus is a company owned by Dominic Wightman, a known promoter of “counterterrorism and counter-Islamic extremism” in Europe and the US.

Despite the state’s repression and violence, the people in the region continue to fight. The land defense movement of Lumads, Moros and farmers in the countrysides are strengthening anew, together with the anti-mining campaigns in cities. Meanwhile, the masses’ struggle and the armed revolution are reaping victories as they resist the state’s attacks in Sultan Kudarat.

[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and views on current issues. Ang Bayan comes out fortnightly and is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Hiligaynon and English.]