Friday, July 15, 2022

EASTMINCOM: Philippines and Indonesia conduct Joint Naval Patrol as Border Reopens

Posted to the Eastern Mindanao Command (EASTMINCOM) Facebook Page (Jul 15, 2022): Philippines and Indonesia conduct Joint Naval Patrol as Border Reopens

5th Civil Relations Group

Philippines and Indonesia conduct Joint Naval Patrol as Border Reopens

NSFA, Panacan, Davao City - A Coordinated Patrol (CORPAT) between the Philippines and Indonesia (PHILINDO) reopened on July 5 at the Swiss-belhotel Maleosan, Manado, Indonesia, as borders between the two countries reopened this year.

Rear Admiral Dr. TSNB Hutabarat, M.M.S, the Commander of the Fleet Command II, Indonesian National Armed Forces, and Chairman of the Indonesia Border Committee (IDBC), hosted the opening ceremony of CORPAT PHILINDO XXXVI-2022.

The Commander of Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) and Philippine Border Committee (PHBC) Chairman, LtGen. Greg T. Almerol graced the opening. He was also accompanied by Commodore Carlos V. Sabarre, the Commander of Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao (NFEM) and (PHBC) Vice-Chairman; Philippine Consul General in Manado Angelica C. Escalona; and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Mindanao Assistant Secretary Renato Pedro O. Villa.

CORPAT PHILINDO is a joint patrol between the Indonesian Navy and the Philippine Navy, which aims to maintain and secure the maritime borders of both countries against piracy, illegal crossing, and other criminal activities, carried out four times a year, including the Harbor and Sea Phases.

LtGen. Almerol said the harbor phase of the previous CORPAT was put on hold during the surge of the COVID-19 pandemic when both countries closed their borders.

The EastMinCom Commander also bared that CORPAT PHILINDO XXXVI-2022 was designed to provide both naval forces an opportunity to improve interoperability and capability, to ensure a safe and secure common border through naval exercises simulating various scenarios.

"Our long-established defense relations made a remarkable impact in bolstering the military-to-military relationship between our nation’s armed forces through the conduct of joint maritime exercises, information sharing, and professional exchanges," he said.

"I am confident that we will be able to sustain our efforts in responding to the common challenges that beset our nations and be able to build a Southeast Asian Region that is peaceful and prosperous," LtGen. Almerol added.

Meanwhile, the naval ships involved during the exercises and coordinated patrols were the KRI Ajak-653 from the Indonesian Navy and BRP Ramon Alcaraz PS-16 from the Philippine Navy.###

EASTMINCOM: LOOK | 5 CTG top leaders in Caraga surrender to 4ID

Posted to the Eastern Mindanao Command (EASTMINCOM) Facebook Page (Jul 15, 2022): LOOK | 5 CTG top leaders in Caraga surrender to 4ID

4th Infantry "Diamond" Division, Philippine Army

LOOK | 5 CTG top leaders in Caraga surrender to 4ID

Five (5) top leaders of the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) operating in Caraga region have surrendered to 402nd Infantry “Stinger” Brigade, 4th Infantry Division on July 4, 2022.
See here for more details:

EASTMINCOM: Commander EastMinCom lauds troops for continuous CTG firearms recovery and surrender, entices remnants to avail E-CLIP

Posted to the Eastern Mindanao Command (EASTMINCOM) Facebook Page (Jul 15, 2022): Commander EastMinCom lauds troops for continuous CTG firearms recovery and surrender, entices remnants to avail E-CLIP

NSFA, Panacan, Davao City - Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom), under the leadership of LtGen. Greg T. Almerol has recovered more firearms and logged more surrenders of the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) members on the 2nd week of July this year.

The first recovery transpired as troops under the 1001st Infantry Brigade, accompanied by former leaders of the dismantled Guerilla Front (GF) 2, uncovered an arms cache with four M16 Rifles and an M14 Rifle in the vicinity of North Davao, Purok 6, Barangay New Leyte, Maco, Davao de Oro on July 9.

It was followed by the seizure of two M16 Rifles and an M14 Rifle at two different barangays in Quezon, Bukidnon, as a former member of GF57 revealed the firearms' location to the troops of the 72nd Infantry Battalion (IB) under the 10th Infantry Division (ID) and 88IB under 4ID on July 13.

Before this, four remnants of the dismantled Sub-Regional Guerilla Unit of the Sub-Regional Committee 5 (SRGU, SRC5), yielded to the troops of 56IB under the 1003rd Brigade in Talaingod, Davao Del Norte on July 12.

They were identified as Jimboy Mambay-an, former squad leader, Tata Mambay-an, former medic, Onti Landahay and Inggo Ebudan. The surrenderees also yielded an AK47 Rifle and an M1 Springfield Garand Rifle.

Meanwhile, LtGen. Almerol lauded the troops of 10ID and 4ID for facilitating the latest accomplishments.

"Your efforts have further allowed us to reduce the armed and manpower capabilities of the CTG. Let us continue our intensified operations with the cooperation of former rebels and the support of the local government to finally clear the whole of Eastern Mindanao from the presence of the communist terrorists, " he said.
The EastMinCom Commander also enticed the CTG remnants to surrender and avail the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) of government to live a peaceful life with their families.
From January 1 to date, a total of 544 CTG members and supporters were neutralized by EastMinCom, while it also seized 425 firearms and 96 anti-personnel mines. Likewise, the Command is confronting six remaining weakened CTG Guerilla Fronts in its Joint Operational Area from 33 in 2017.

Military: 9 Reds yield in Quezon province

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 14, 2022): Military: 9 Reds yield in Quezon province (By: Delfin T. Mallari Jr.)

New People’s Army (NPA) | file photo

The military announced Thursday, July 14, that at least nine New People’s Army (NPA) rebels surrendered Wednesday with their firearms in Infanta town in Quezon province.

The Army’s 2nd Infantry Division reported on its Facebook page that the rebels turned themselves to the 1st Infantry Battalion in Infanta. The identities of the rebels, who reportedly operated in northern Quezon, were withheld.

The alleged rebels turned over an M16 assault rifle with two magazines and 58 bullets, an M1 Garand Rifle and 10 bullets, a caliber .45 pistol loaded with eight bullets, and a shotgun with three bullets.

Lieutenant Colonel Danilo Escandor, 1st IB commander, said the recent surrenders were proof that the rebels were experiencing hardship.

The military and other government agencies will assist the surrenderers in their reintegration with free medical treatment, education, housing, and legal aid.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines reported last week that the NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, was down to 2,000, with active guerrilla fronts down to just 23 during the Duterte administration.

4 NPA youth supporters surrender in Eastern Samar

From the Philippine Star (Jul 15, 2022): 4 NPA youth supporters surrender in Eastern Samar (By Miriam Desacada)

Four members of the Kabataang Makabayan (KM), an underground youth group supporting the New People’s Army (NPA), surrendered in Barangay Jiwaran in Jipapad, Eastern Samar on Sunday.

The four students, aged 15 to 17, admitted their affiliation with the communist rebel group to police personnel who were conducting the government’s retooled community support program (RCSP) in the barangay.

The RCSP team has taken the four minors under its custody.

The Police Regional Office in Eastern Visayas said it coordinated with the Department of Social Welfare and Development to provide appropriate guidance and services to the surrenderees.

“Our policemen have sacrificed a lot in relaying the government’s message and thrust to educate the people about the NPA’s fraudulent acts and manipulation of the youth,” regional police director Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said. “With the surrender of the students from KM, we are gaining ground in our campaign against terrorism.”

Military: 3 alleged NPA bombers killed in Samar operation

From GMA News Online (Jul 15, 2022): Military: 3 alleged NPA bombers killed in Samar operation (By JOVILAND RITA)

The military said three alleged communist New People’s Army (NPA) bombers were killed during a Wednesday pursuit operation in San Jorge, Samar.

The military said three alleged communist New People’s Army (NPA) bombers were killed during a Wednesday pursuit operation in San Jorge, Samar.

In a Friday statement, Joint Task Force (JTF) Storm said the three unidentified fatalities—two males and one female—were killed as the military hunted down the culprits of a July 5 explosion in Northern Samar, where seven soldiers were hurt.

JTF Storm spokesperson Captain Ryan Layug said the alleged NPA rebels belonged to Platoon Yakal of SRC Browser, which the military had been tracking from Northern Samar southwards to Samar province.

On July 8, soldiers and rebels had an encounter in an uninhabited area in San Jorge. Another encounter occurred in a forested area near Barangay Libertad in the same town on July 13 around noon.

Troops from 801st Infantry Brigade recovered three M16 rifles, one AK47, and a shotgun from the encounter sites, the military said.

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Anti-personnel mines, election campaign materials, and notes were also recovered near the bodies of the deceased rebels.

“Due to the difficulties in the terrain and the poor weather conditions, the cadavers were already in the stage of decomposition when airlifted and brought to the police for examination by the Scene of the Crime Operatives,” the military said.

“The cadavers were then buried as advised by the San Jorge Municipal Health Office,” it added.

2 high ranking CTG-NPA MisOr personalities surrender to 58IB

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 15, 2022): 2 high ranking CTG-NPA MisOr personalities surrender to 58IB (By 58IB)

CLAVERIA, Misamis Oriental (PIA)– Two High-ranking Communist Terrorist Group-New People’s Army (CTG-NPA) personalities and a Medic surrendered through the negotiation efforts of the intelligence unit of the 58th Infantry “Dimalulupig” Battalion (58IB) under the 402nd Infantry “Stingers,” July 1.

The two high-ranking CPP-NPA Terrorists (CNTs) were identified as Neiljan Pasague Legaspino, 29 years old, Golden Romania Compas Sr, 42 years old, and a regular member, Ariel Uba Compas, 27 years old, all under SRC1, North Central Mindanao Regional Committee.

They brought along with them one M16 improvised into a Sniper Rifle with magazines and ammunition; one Improvised Explosive Device (IED); two Blasting Caps, and a 10-meter detonating cord.

According to the surrenderers, the dismantling of Guerilla Front Huawei and Platoon Ryan of SRC1, NCMRC affected so much their leadership and ranks with no replacement which required shuffling of personnel that resulted in low morale and reduction of their resource generation. This added hardship to their living condition with not enough food for everyone and medicines for the sick prompted them to surrender and also the urge to start their own family.

“I have mentioned months ago that two of the NPA units are on the verge of collapse, and I am happy to inform you that these NPA units were officially declared dismantled with only less than squad size remaining members. These victories are highly attributed to the Whole of the Nation Approach as our collaborations with the stakeholders and other government forces in putting an end to insurgency in Misamis Oriental continues,” 58IB Commanding Officer Ricky L Canatoy said.

Canatoy added that given the current circumstances of the CTG-NPA forces in the province, they are anticipating that the remaining members will eventually return to the folds of the law in the coming days and weeks.

The surrenderers are currently at the battalion's headquarters, where they will be debriefed and processed to receive different government assistance such as the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integrated Program (ECLIP), which will help them start a new life together with their families and return to mainstream society. (58IB/PIA-10/Misamis Oriental)

Folds of the Law. Two High-ranking Communist Terrorist Group-New People’s Army (CTG-NPA) personalities and a Medic surrendered through the negotiation efforts of the intelligence unit of the 58th Infantry “Dimalulupig” Battalion (58IB). (58IB photo)

Galvez: Moro rebels' entry into national police peace booster

From the Manila Times (Jul 15, 2022): Galvez: Moro rebels' entry into national police peace booster (By Catherine S. Valente)

BY joining the Philippine National Police (PNP), members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) have shown they can be a dependable partner of the government in promoting peace and development in Mindanao and the whole country, Malacanang peace adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. said.

Galvez made the statement after a total of 7,145 examinees or 64.77 percent of 11,033 members of the MILF and the MNLF passed the National Police Commission's (Napolcom) Special Qualifying Eligibility Examination (NSQEE) held on May 29, 2022.

In a statement, he said the entry of the MILF and the MNLF into the PNP will contribute to the strengthening of their role in the peace process.

The NSQEE was held pursuant to Republic Act (RA) 11054 or the "Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL)," which provides the former MILF and MNLF members appropriate eligibility for temporary appointment to the rank of patrolman/patrolwoman in the PNP.

"The entry of MILF and MNLF members into the PNP is integral in the implementation of signed peace agreements, specifically as provided under Article 11, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of RA 11054 or the Bangsamoro Organic Law," Galvez said.

READ: Napolcom sets special qualifying eligibility exam for MILF and MNLF members

"The entry of qualified MILF and MNLF members into the PNP will help realize the meaningful transformation process for these former combatants, and is a testament of our collective aspiration of bringing a just and lasting peace to the region and to the whole country," he added.

Galvez urged the Moro rebels to "continue to support each other and work together to uplift the lives of the Bangsamoro people."

"To our dear MILF and MILF aspirants, may Allah grant you the wisdom, strength and fortitude to successfully complete and pass the selection process so that you will have the opportunity to serve and protect your people, and become instruments of peace, reconciliation and unity across the country," he said.

The Bangsamoro Information Office said the examination result was released on Monday, July 11, or two months after the Professional Regulation Commission conducted the test in the cities of Cotabato and Lamitan.

READ: Galvez hopes peace process to continue

The Napolcom, however, earlier clarified that passing the NSQEE does not automatically guarantee recruitment to the PNP.

Bangsamoro leaders remember martyrdom of Salamat Hashim

From the Manila Standard (Jul 14, 2022): Bangsamoro leaders remember martyrdom of Salamat Hashim (By Nash B. Maulana)

Camp Rajah Muda, Pikit, Cotabato—Bangsamoro leaders pay tribute to the 19th year of the martyrdom of the late Sheikh Salamat Hashim, who died in Butig, Lanao del Sur on July 12, 2003.

Hashim fell ill after a series of air attacks on his base in Buliok in Cotabato, and in Camp Bushra in Butig, Lanao del Sur.

The leaders sang the Lupang Hinirang for the first time after many years as dissidents.

It was the opening hymn after the traditional du’a rendering (supplication) in every Muslim occasion. But this time, the Philippine National Anthem was followed by the Bangsamoro Hymn in its marching tempo, and lyrics that depict fulfillment in a broad atmosphere of peace.

Some 300 women widowed by wars in almost 50 years of armed Moro struggle in recent history were also gathered here on a Wednesday appointment to be recognized by officials and receive aid from the government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (B

BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Al-Hadj Murad Ebrahim recalled that Hashim in 1962 started for the Bangsamoro the Islamic movement during his early student years in Cairo, Egypt. In 1968, the Moro armed struggle was triggered by the Jabidah Massacre in Corregidor on March 28 of that year.

Hashim was far from being an extremist and was in fact a moderate Muslim in his religious practices and undertakings, recalled BARMM Chief Minister Abdulraof Macacua, who replaced Ebrahim as chief of the staff of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) military wing, after Hashim passed away on July 12, 2003.

The legacy and leadership characteristics of the man “we must emulate,” said Minister Naguib G. Sinarimbo of the BARMM Ministry of the Interior and Local Government (MILG).

“BARMM is institutionalizing the leadership that the founding chairman of the MILF was known for.” The Salamat Excellence Award for Leadership (SEAL) is awarded annually by the MILG-BARMM to deserving local officials merited as having had the impact of leadership from established criteria in Hashim’s character as a leader.

On several occasions in other parts of the world, Hashim was the architect of unification of Islamic groups that had otherwise opted to split ways, as it was in the case of building peace in Aceh in Indonesia, recalled Prof. Abhoud Syed Lingga..

Hashim was among the international revolutionary figures consulted by former President Abdurrahman Wahid of Indonesia on the Aceh peace process in 1999. Abdurrahman and Hashim were college buddies being schoolmates at Al-Azhar University in Cairo.

Bangsamoro Member of Parliament Abdullah Hashim, the son of the late MILF leader, recalled that his father’s revolutionary thoughts were shaped and partly inspired by Pakistani journalist and critic Abdullah Maududi and Sayyid Qut’b, an Egyptian Arab poet and revolutionary writer.

“The government has barely changed; and the struggle in the arena of the governance has just started and we still have a long way through a jihad that is hardly finished. Indeed, the BARMM governance is the continuity of the jihad (struggle),” Ebrahim said, explaining that jihad is the struggle for perfection of human affairs.

Ebrahim remembered that Hashim introduced to the Moro movement the ways of collective and consultative decision-making in leadership, which is still applied up to now in the MILF leadership and even in BARMM governance.

Chief Minister Ebrahim said the leadership decisions that these organizations make, do not really come from him alone and not from any one person but were formed by consensus of leaders.

The BARMM officials, he said, are bound by oath of (upholding) a moral governance. “The late Salamat Hashim (Allahu Yarham) was best remembered for personally leading the jihad in the principle of ‘Lail Kalimatillah’.” –which means the Law of Allah should be above every human endeavor.

Macacua urges MILF critics to refrain from using Hashim’s name in vain, and even warns that the Moro people would have to deal with any group that uses the late chairman’s good name in dividing them. Hashim’s coming home in 1992 truly mobilized the jihad (struggle), Ebrahim recalled of his predecessor.

Philippines ends stay of foreign peacekeepers in south despite Muslim rebels' objection

Posted to The New Arab (Jul 15, 2022): Philippines ends stay of foreign peacekeepers in south despite Muslim rebels' objection

The International Monitoring Team was deployed in 2004 to help monitor enforcement of a ceasefire agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which signed a peace deal with the government in 2014.

A Philippine government panel said Manila's forces have been in 'practically zero skirmishes' with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in recent years [FERDINANDH CABRERA/AFP/Getty-file photo]

Foreign peacekeepers credited with helping ease years of bloody fighting between government forces and Muslim rebels have left the southern Philippines after officials decided to end their presence, but talks are underway to allow their possible return, officials and the rebels said on Friday.

Members of the Malaysia-led International Monitoring Team (IMT) flew out of the southern region of Mindanao on 30 June after their authority to stay as ceasefire monitors, which must be renewed each year, was not extended by the then-outgoing administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

It remains to be seen whether new President Ferdinand Marcos Jr will authorise the return of the peacekeepers.

Decades-long Muslim and communist insurgencies are among major problems he inherited after taking office on 30 June following a landslide victory.

Deployed in 2004, the IMT initially consisted of armed peacekeeping forces from Malaysia, Brunei and Libya to help monitor the enforcement of a ceasefire agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the largest Muslim rebel group in the south, which signed a Malaysian-brokered peace deal with the government in 2014.

The European Union, Japan, Norway and Indonesia later sent either armed troops or civilian experts to join the IMT, which also helped monitor humanitarian issues and efforts to rehabilitate war-battered communities.

Philippines postpones self-rule vote in Muslim region

As fighting subsided considerably through the years, the 60-member IMT was gradually reduced.

The last contingent of more than 20 peacekeepers left the south two weeks ago.

In March, a Philippine government peace panel told the head of the foreign peacekeeping force, Major General Datuk Hamdan Ismail of Malaysia, that it no longer intends to extend the mandate of the IMT, two officials told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss the issue publicly.

With "practically zero skirmishes" between government forces and Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels in recent years, "the exercise of the roles and responsibilities of the IMT has been substantially diminished", the government panel told Hamdan in a letter, a copy of which was seen by the AP.

In the past, deadly fighting wrought extensive damage to entire towns in the south and displaced tens of thousands of people.

The Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila notified the countries involved in the peacekeeping force in May of the government's decision "to no longer renew the mandate of the IMT" after 30 June "in view of significant accomplishments in the peace process".

It cited the enforcement of peace agreements, including the establishment of a new Muslim autonomous region, which is now being administered by former Muslim rebel commanders under a transition period.

"All the privileges and immunities granted to members of the IMT, including authority to stay based on currently valid visas and authority to bear firearms shall likewise cease," the Department of Foreign Affairs told the countries in separate diplomatic notes, a copy of which was seen by the AP.

Philippine officials thanked Malaysia, Brunei, the EU and former member countries in the IMT for their help in restoring peace and fostering economic development in the south, home to the country's Muslim minority in the largely Roman Catholic nation.

The rebels, however, objected to the government panel's decision and said that based on signed agreements, IMT forces should stay to safeguard the ceasefire agreement in the southern Philippines until "the full decommissioning" – a euphemism for the disarming and return to normal life – of all the 40,000 combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the two officials said.

More than 12,000 Muslim rebels have been "decommissioned" and laid down about 2,000 firearms and other weapons so far.

A new group of 14,000 rebels was undergoing the process when Duterte's term ended on 30 June and Marcos Jr took office.

The rest have not been disarmed.

"The agreement is for the IMT contingent to stay here until the last MILF combatant is decommissioned or until the exit agreement is signed," rebel peace panel chairman Mohagher Iqbal said, adding that the government and the rebels should jointly decide on the peacekeepers' presence and their terms of stay.

Philippine officials have expressed openness to inviting the peacekeepers back but the government and the rebels have yet to finalise the details of any such agreement, Iqbal said.

He expressed optimism that the issue would be resolved given the success the peace talks have reaped so far.

"The parties must subscribe to the agreements to be able to succeed," Iqbal said.

CPP/Ang Bayan Daily News & Analysis: Walang engkwentrong naganap sa Palimbang noong Linggo—BHB-Sultan Kudarat

Ang Bayan Daily News & Analysis propaganda articles posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Jul 14, 2022): Walang engkwentrong naganap sa Palimbang noong Linggo—BHB-Sultan Kudarat (No encounter took place in Palimbang on Sunday — NPA-Sultan Kudarat)

Pinasinungalinan ng Bagong Hukbong Bayan (BHB)-Sultan Kudarat ngayong araw ang iniulat ng Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) na engkwentro ng 57th IB sa Barangay Tibuhol, Palimbang noong Linggo, Hulyo 10. Sa ulat ng 57th IB, nakasagupa umano nito ang “limang komunistang rebelde” sa naturang barangay bandang hapon noong Linggo.

Inilinaw ng pamprubinsyang kumand ng BHB na wala itong nakasagupang yunit ng militar noong Linggo.

Pinalalabas ng 57th IB na mayroong isang Pulang mandirigmang napaslang sa naturang engkwentro at nakasamsam diumano ng mga kagamitang militar kabilang ang isang .30-caliber Garand, mga bala at personal na gamit.

Ayon sa BHB-Sultan Kudarat, inaalam pa nito ang tunay ng pangyayari kung mayroon bang sibilyang pinaslang ang mga sundalo o gawa-gawang kwento lamang ang ipinakakalat ng mga ito. Ayon sa yunit ng BHB, maaaring “planted” o pag-aari ng mga sibilyang residente ang armas na ipinresenta ng 57th IB sa mga larawang ipinakalat nito sa social media.

Iniulat din ng yunit ang pagpapalipad ng mga helikopter ng Armed Forces of the Philippines sa hangganan ng Palimbang, bayan ng Sen. Ninoy Aquino at Maitum, Sarangani sa nagdaang linggo. Dalawang araw na magkasunod umanong nagpapaikot-ikot ang limang helikopter sa lugar.

Mga Moro at Lumad ang nakatira sa erya na inooperasyon ng mga sundalo. Lumalaban ang mga komunidad sa mapanira at mapandambong na pagmimina at malakihang operasyong pagtotrosong sumisira sa kalikasan.

Samantala, inianunsyo noong Hulyo 12 ng 5th ID ang pagbubuo nito ng isang panibagong task group para umano tuluyan nang wakasan ang “huling larangan” ng BHB sa Central Mindanao. Sasaklawin umano ng 500-kataong Task Force Bangis ang mga prubinsya ng Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, at South Cotabato. Kasalukuyang nakapakat rito ang 1st Mechanized IBde.

Sa nagdaang tatlong taon, hindi bababa sa 60 kaso ng mga paglabag sa karapatang-tao ang kinasangkutan ng mga sundalo ng AFP sa tatlong prubinsya.

CPP/Ang Bayan Daily News & Analysis: 4 activists and organizers, abducted by the military

Ang Bayan Daily News & Analysis propaganda articles posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Jul 13, 2022): 4 na aktibista at organisador, dinukot ng militar (4 activists and organizers, abducted by the military)

Nanawagan ngayong araw ang grupong Gabriela, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), Desaparecidos, mga kaanak ng apat na aktibista na dinukot noong Mayo at Hunyo na kagyat silang ilitaw ng armadong pwersa ng estado. Iginigiit nila sa rehimeng Marcos II na iharap sa korte ang apat kung mayroong mga kasong nakasampa laban sa kanila. Nanawagan din sila sa Commission on Human Rights (CHR) na magsagawa ng kagyat na imbestigasyon at gabay sa paghahanap sa mga biktima.

Pinangalanan ang mga biktima bilang sina Elizabeth ‘Loi’ Magbanua at Alipio ‘Ador’ Juat, parehong organisador ng mga manggagawa na nawawala mula pa Mayo 3 at sina Elgene Mungcal ng Gabriela Women’s Partylist at Ma. Elena ‘Cha’ Cortez Pampoza ng Anakpawis na dinukot noong Hulyo 3.

Sina Magbanua at Juat ay huling nakita sa Barangay Punturin, Valenzuela City matapos dumalo sa isang pulong sa lugar. Matagal na silang aktibong umaagapay sa mga manggagawa hinggil sa kanilang mga karapatan at kapakanan. Ayon sa anak ni Juat, nakontak niya ang kanyang ama noong pangatlong linggo ng Mayo at nakapagsabi pang dinakip siya at si Magbanua ng mga pwersa ng Philippine Navy.

Sa panayam ni Jerome Adonis, pangkalahatang kalihim ng KMU, sa midya kaninang umaga, sinabi niyang si Juat ay “pinauuwi” sa kanilang bahay at muling inaaresto ng kanyang mga “handler” na sundalo sa nagdaang mga buwan. Dito na naikwento ni Juat na inihiwalay sa kanya si Magbanua noong siya’y nakakulong sa Camp Aguinaldo.

Samantala, sina Mungcal at Pampoza, pawang tagapagtaguyod ng karapatan ng mga magsasaka, ay huling natunton sa Winfare Supermarket, Moncada, Tarlac. Ayon sa ulat ng mga anak ni Pampoza, nakikita nilang “nababasa” pa sa selpon ng kanilang ina ang mga mensaheng nila sa Viber hanggang Hulyo 5 pero hindi sila nakatatanggap ng anumang sagot.

Ayon sa mga kaanak ng biktima, ang estado lamang ang may motibong dukutin ang apat sa layuning patahimikin ang mga progresibo at nag-oorganisa sa hanay ng anakpawis.

Kabilang sa humarap sa midya kaninang umaga ang anak ni Cha Pampoza na nagsabing hindi ito ang unang pagkakataon na inatake ang kanilang pamilya. Ayon sa kanya, ang kanyang ama ay isa rin desaparecido. Emosyonal niyang sinabi na sana ay buksan ang mga kampo ng militar at pahintulutan silang halughugin ang mga ito at hanapin ang kanilang nawawalang kaanak.

“Lubos na nakaaalarma ang panunumbalik ng mga kaso ng mga desaparecido at ekstrahudisyal na pag-aresto at pagkulong,” ayon sa KMU. “Bakit sila dinadakip? Dahil ba katuwang sila ng sambayanan sa pakikipaglaban para sa demokratikong karapatan sa trabaho, seguridad sa pagkain, hustisya, at iba pa,” dagdag ng grupo.

Nagsalita rin sa panayam kaninang umaga ang kinatawan ng grupong Desaparecidos kung saan iginiit niyang ilitaw ang lahat ng biktima ng sapilitang pagkawala. Ayon sa kanya, sampu ng lahat ng mga pamilya ng mga biktima ng sapilitang pagwawala, dapat ilitaw ang kanilang mga kaanak at bigyan sila ng hustisya. Dagdag niya, dapat mayroong mapanagot sa karumal-dumal na krimen na ito.

Kalinaw News: 3ID Commander Lauds 15IB, 47IB for defeating insurgency in Negros

From Kalinaw News (Jul 15, 2022): 3ID Commander Lauds 15IB, 47IB for defeating insurgency in Negros

The Joint elements of the 15th and 47th Infantry Battalions encountered more or less 10 CPP-NPA terrorists in Sitio Hanot, Barangay Inayawan, Cauayan, Negros Occidental on Thursday, July 14, 2022.

This, after the local populace of the said barangay tipped off the soldiers on the presence of the CPP-NPA terrorists in their area and their planned extortion activities, which resulted in an encounter at around 2:30 in the afternoon which lasted for about 10-minutes.

No casualty was reported from the government side, while there were possible fatalities on the enemy side, as seen on the blood stains on their withdrawal route.

Recovered in the encounter site were Home-made Grenada, one (1) Cal. 45 pistol with magazine inserted with seven live ammunition; anti-personnel mine paraphernalia; 50m electric wire; three (3) cellphones; one (1) charger of Baofeng Radio; one (1) charger of cellphone; 4 backpacks; medical paraphernalia; food packs; personal belongings; and subversive documents.

From January to date, there were already 25 military encounters against CPP-NPA terrorists recorded within the 3ID Area of Responsibility. The Command also neutralized 76 NPA members and seized 44 firearms for the period covered.

In his statement, Major General Benedict Arevalo, the 3rd Infantry (Spearhead) Division Commander, lauded the local populace for giving correct and timely information to the operating troops.

“The willingness of the local populace in helping the soldiers by giving noteworthy information on the whereabouts of these NPA terrorists is a great help to our continuous campaign to end local communist armed conflict in Negros Island,” said MGen Arevalo.

Likewise, MGen Arevalo commended the bravery and boldness of the operating troops for pressing the fight to sustain just and lasting peace on the Island of Negros.


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Kalinaw News: Gov’t forces arrest CTG fugitive leader

From Kalinaw News (Jul 15, 2022): Gov’t forces arrest CTG fugitive leader

CAMP MELCHOR F DELA CRUZ, Upi, Gamu, Isabela- A fugitive leader of a Communist Terrorist Group was arrested through the joint law enforcement operation of the PNP and 77th Infantry Battalion on June 11, 2022, in the municipality of Camalaniugan, Cagayan.

The accused with a standing warrant of arrest was identified as alias Jinky, 34 years old, Executive Committee member, Giyang Pulitikal, a medic, and armorer of a CTG operating in Cagayan province.

Simeon was charged with Illegal Possession, Manufacture, and Acquisition of Firearms, Ammunition, or Explosives that have no recommended bail bond. During the arrest, the arresting team recovered from the accused three cellphones, four sim cards, four memory cards, a power bank, a charger, a notebook, a flash drive, a one-thousand-peso bill, and a box of medical kit.

The warrant of arrest was issued on December 14, 2021, by Judge Edmar Pascual Castillo Sr., of Regional Trial Court, Branch 11, Tuao, Cagayan.

“We will continue to support all law enforcement operations of the PNP to track down all CTGs with outstanding arrest warrants. We will not stop until justice is served to their victims” said MGen Laurence E Mina, Commander of the 5th Infantry Division.

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Kalinaw News: 15IB Empowering the Youth through Youth Leadership Summit in Cauayan.

From Kalinaw News (Jul 15, 2022): 15IB Empowering the Youth through Youth Leadership Summit in Cauayan.

𝐂𝐀𝐔𝐀𝐘𝐀𝐍, Negros Occidental – The 15th Infantry (Molave Warrior) Battalion in collaborations with Local Government Unit of Cauayan organized One (1) Day Youth Leadership Summit in Brgy Yao-yao, Cauayan, Negros Occidental on July 12, 2022 (Tuesday).

42 young people from Brgy Yao-yao took part in the Barangay Youth Leadership Summit (YLS), with the theme “A transformed and empowered youth towards an upright society”. This was conducted to encourage and empower the next generation to be active, motivated, and protected against communist terrorists’ deceptive recruitment.

The activity was supported by the LGU of Cauyan, Barangay Yao-yao and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Officials, together with Task Force Kalayaan Incorporated (TFKI), Philippine National Police and Barangay & SK Council.Tree-planting, leveling of expectations, workshops, team-building exercises, unity dances, lectures on the role of children in the family by TFKI, Bawal Bastos Law of the PNP, and PEACE Advocacy of 15IB, boodle fights, gift-giving are some of the highlights of the activity.

The initiative aims to promote inclusive youth participation in fostering a culture of peace, especially in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas that are susceptible to CTG propaganda and recruiting. As they embarked on their journeys to become community leaders for peacebuilding, the participants gained knowledge about their important role in the country’s transformation, the various youth government initiatives, the present issues and challenges they would face, and how to deal with these challenges.

The barangay captain of Yao-yao, Josue L. Sumanion, also expresses gratitude and appreciation for the efforts made by the 15IB and other collaborators to initiate the activity. He hopes for the young people in his barangay to thoroughly comprehend what they have learned and become role models for their families and the community.

Lieutenant Colonel Michael Cuarteros, 15IB Commanding Officer said that “𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐥𝐲 𝐡𝐞𝐥𝐩𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐠 𝐩𝐞𝐨𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐠𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐢𝐫 𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐩 𝐚𝐛𝐢𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐞𝐬, 𝐟𝐨𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐜𝐚𝐦𝐚𝐫𝐚𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐞, 𝐢𝐧𝐜𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐢𝐫 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐛𝐮𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐭𝐨 𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧-𝐛𝐮𝐢𝐥𝐝𝐢𝐧𝐠, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐫𝐚𝐢𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐰𝐚𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐬𝐞𝐫𝐯𝐞 𝐚𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐢𝐫 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐭𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐚𝐠𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐬𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐝𝐞𝐜𝐞𝐩𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐂𝐓𝐆 𝐫𝐞𝐜𝐫𝐮𝐢𝐭𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐭𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐬.”

“𝐖𝐞 𝐚𝐥𝐬𝐨 𝐮𝐫𝐠𝐞𝐝 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐬𝐮𝐩𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐭 𝐰𝐡𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐠𝐫𝐚𝐦𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐞𝐬 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐠𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐧𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐝𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐭𝐡, 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐢𝐬 𝐠𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐟𝐢𝐭𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐧𝐞𝐱𝐭 𝐠𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬,” Cuarteros added.

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Kalinaw News: Combined troops of 10ID and 4ID recover three (3) firearms in Bukidnon

From Kalinaw News (Jul 14, 2022): Combined troops of 10ID and 4ID recover three (3) firearms in Bukidnon

MAWAB, Davao De Oro – The 10th Infantry “Agila” Division through the 72nd Infantry Battalion recovered three (3) high-powered firearms in Quezon, Bukidnon on Wednesday, July 13, 2022.

Former member of the Weakened Guerilla Front 57 alias “Chinchin” revealed to the troops of 72IB and 88IB under 4ID the location of two (2) M16 rifles at Brgy Kiburiao and one (1) M14 rifle at Brgy San Roque of the same municipality.

MGen Nolasco A Mempin, 10ID Commander lauded the 72IB under 1002nd Infantry Brigade for their relentless efforts in clearing their area of operations. “10ID will continue to clear its area of responsibility from the Communist Terrorist Groups. Likewise, I call on the remaining members of the Weakened Guerilla Front 57 to surrender and reunite with their families. Let us give peace a chance.” MGen Mempin added.

From January 1, 2022, to date, 10ID recorded a total of 235 firearms gained, of which 158 were gained through combat operations and 77 through surrender. Likewise, Weakened Guerilla Front 57 is one of the two remaining guerilla fronts in the whole 10ID area of responsibility.

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Cagayan de Oro ammo dump fire sparks debate on Army camp transfer proposal

From Rappler (Jul 15, 2022): Cagayan de Oro ammo dump fire sparks debate on Army camp transfer proposal (By FROILAN GALLARDO)

Cagayan de Oro Councilor George Goking says the July 12 fire and the subsequent powerful explosions are compelling arguments for the government to seriously consider moving the Army camp elsewhere

The July 12 fire at the ammunition dump of Camp Evangelista has sparked a debate on a proposal to move the seat of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division elsewhere due to safety concerns.

Local officials and a former commander of the Army division said the 129-hectare military camp in Barangay Patag should be turned into an economic zone instead.

But Army chief Lieutenant General Romeo Brawner Jr. and Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Representative Rufus Rodriguez said the proposal may not be the best path to take given how that would impact the military in terms of strategic position, and the hundreds of families who have been living in and around Mindanao’s largest military camp.

Brawner, who was the 4th ID commander before he headed the Army, frowned on the proposal to transfer the camp elsewhere, saying the Army property’s location is very strategic.

“The 4th Infantry Division is gifted with excellent airport and seaport capabilities,”
Brawner said.

He said the seat of the Army division serves as a vital link in the defense of Mindanao and complements the 6th Division in Camp Awang in Cotabato City and the 1st Division in Pagadian City.

Brawner said this was underscored during the 2017 Marawi Siege when Camp Evangelista became the government’s hub for military arsenal and equipment sent to Mindanao from Manila.

He said the 4th ID has also established the Camp Evangelista Station Hospital, the best medical facility for soldiers wounded in battle in Northern Mindanao.

But Councilor George Goking, the chairman of the Cagayan de Oro City Council’s trade and commerce committee, said Tuesday’s fire and the subsequent powerful explosions were compelling arguments for the government to seriously consider moving the Army camp elsewhere.

Tuesday’s fire at Camp Evangelista’s ammunition depot resulted in the evacuation of more than 100 families who sought shelter elsewhere as powerful explosions shook Patag and neighboring villages, and caused widespread panic in urban areas of the city and an adjacent town in Misamis Oriental.

Three civilians were hurt as the fire shot huge fireballs to the sky, and spewed shells on streets, rooftops, and backyards.

Authorities have yet to start a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding the fire that has been slowed down due to safety concerns. The military, however, assured the publis that it would be transparent with the investigation results, and that the local government would be allowed to participate.

Goking said the Camp Evangelista military complex posed a major risk to the village with 17,941 families, and its surrounding areas.

Its 5,573-yard golf course alone, according to Goking, could be converted into a commercial area to further spur Cagayan de Oro’s economy.

“The camp has outlived its usefulness because the entire area is now heavily populated. Considering what happened last Tuesday, it would do more harm now than good, “ Goking said.

Retired Army Lieutenant General Ronald Villanueva, a former 4th ID commander, said there were plans to transfer the camp either to Bukidnon or Butuan City, the regional capital of the neighboring Caraga.

Villanueva said the proposal was appealing to former defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana, chairman of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority, who ordered Army officials to draw up plans.

He said there were two choices – a military reservation in Mount Mayapay in Butuan, and another military reservation in Kibaritan, Kalilangan town in Bukidnon.

“The problem with the Kibaritan military reservation is that it will be a logistical nightmare because it is not accessible to an airport and seaport,” Villanueva said.

He said he favored Mount Mayapay because it is close to the Bancasi Airport in Butuan City and the seaport in Nasipit town, Agusan del Sur.

Villanueva said Camp Evangelista could be sold, and the proceeds could finance the transfer of the 4th ID and be used to give retirement benefits to soldiers.

Representative Rodriguez, however, rejected the proposal.

“Its presence here gives the needed security to Cagayan de Oro against terrorists, and it helps our city in terms of business,” he said.

Rodriguez also said hundreds of families who live in and around Camp Evangelista would be displaced if the camp is transferred.

US lawmaker wants to block security aid to PNP over human rights concerns

From Rappler (Jul 15, 2022): US lawmaker wants to block security aid to PNP over human rights concerns (By JAIRO BOLLEDO)

Pennsylvania Representative Susan Wild seeks to limit the US' security assistance to the PNP until four conditions are met

Pennsylvania Representative Susan Wild introduced a measure, which seeks to limit the United States’ security assistance to the Philippine National Police (PNP) over human rights concerns.

On Thursday, July 14, human rights group International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines-US (ICHRP US) said that the Pennsylvania lawmaker submitted a proposed amendment to the US’ National Defense Authorization Act.

In her proposal, Wild said no funds should be given to the PNP unless the Philippine government acts on the alleged human rights abuses committed by the national police.

“No funds authorized to be appropriated or otherwise made available to the Department of State are authorized to be made available to provide assistance for the Philippine National Police, including assistance in the form of equipment or training,” the proposal said.

Wild listed down four conditions for the PNP in order for aid to continue:
  • Investigated and prosecuted members of the PNP “who violated human rights, ensured that police personnel cooperated with judicial authorities in such cases and affirmed that such violations have ceased.”
  • Established that the PNP would protect the rights of journalists, trade unionists, human rights defenders, critics of the government, religious and activists “to operate without interference.”
  • Taken steps to guarantee a judicial system capable of investigating and prosecuting members of the police and military who have committed human rights abuses.
  • Fully compliant with national and US audits and probe on proper use of prior security assistance.
During her remarks on the US House floor, Wild emphasized that tax dollars should not be used to aid the Philippines amid issues of human rights abuses.

ICHRP US said the friendship between the Philippines and the US was best exemplified through Wild’s “bold steps.”

“Friendship between the people of the United States and the Philippines is demonstrated by genuine acts of solidarity, like those being exemplified by Rep. Wild in her taking bold steps towards a more sensible U.S.-Philippines relationship,” Drew Miller, national coordinator of ICHRP-US, said.

In 2020, Wild also introduced House Resolution No. 8313 or the proposed Philippine Human Rights Act, which also sought to suspend security assistance to the country until it had made “certain reforms to the military and police forces, and for other purposes.”

A year later, in 2021, Wild vowed to reintroduce the measure following more bloody killings occurring in the Philippines.

Faustino assures WESCOM of commitment to support programs

From Palawan News (Jul 14, 2022): Faustino assures WESCOM of commitment to support programs (By Gerald Ticke)

Defense OIC Jose Faustino Jr. talks to officers and personnel of Western Command where he assured support and commitment during his visit on Friday. (WESCOM photo)

Department of National Defense (DND) officer-in-charge, Undersecretary Jose Faustino Jr. assured Western Command (WESCOM) of his all-out support to the command’s programs and projects, particularly its missions in the Kalayaan Island Group in West Philippine Sea.

Faustino who was designated by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. as the country’s defense OIC made his commitment during his visit at WESCOM this Friday, July 14.

“As your new DND OIC, I assure WESCOM of the continuity of all infrastructure projects under the DND-DPWH TIKAS Convergence Program. We will prioritize mission essential infrastructures in all Philippine-held islands in the Kalayaan Island Group and the West Philippine Sea,”
said Faustino.

“To reiterate the guidance of our President and Commander in Chief, the Armed Forces of the Philippines shall fiercely but peacefully protect our country’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and sovereign rights,” he added.

“We have seen all the efforts of WESCOM and rest assured that we will give you all the support that you need so you can fully undertake your mandated tasks,” Faustino said as he lauded WESCOM.

WESCOM chief Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos on the other hand, assured Faustino of performing their best to contribute in the attainment of the strategic objectives of the defense department.

Army wary of NPA recruitment as in-person classes set to resume

From Panay News (Jul 15, 2022):  Army wary of NPA recruitment as in-person classes set to resume (By Ruby P. Silubrico)


ILOILO City – The Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) based in Jamindan, Capiz is wary of New People’s Army (NPA) recruitment activities in schools.

The new school year 2022-2023 begins this Aug. 22, with full face-to-face classes resuming by November.

“Pinaghahandaan na natin ang opening ng classes to stop NPA recruitment of students via front organizations. They are targeting minors who are easily deceived,” said Army Captain Kim Apitong, spokesperson of the 3ID.

The Army is particularly coordinating with schools in Iloilo, Capiz and Negros Island.

“We have Civil Military Operation (CMO) officers across Western Visayas,” revealed Apitong.

In 2019 the 3ID deployed soldiers to select schools to prevent NPA recruitment. One of those was West Visayas State University – Calinog, Iloilo Campus.

The 3ID urged parents and guardians to guide their children well and dissuade them from joining militant youth groups that serve as “legal fronts” of the NPA.

“Pakibantay po ng inyong mga anak. Alamin kung anong organizations ang sinasalihan nila,” said Apitong.

The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

Both the CPP and NPA are listed as terrorist organizations by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

Army to deploy 181 soldiers

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jul 15, 2022): Army to deploy 181 soldiers (By GILBERT P. BAYORAN)

Brand new R4 Carbine assault rifles being readied for distribution to 181 neophyte soldiers of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, following completion of their 7-month basic military training on July 14.* PA photo

Army infantry units of the 3rd Infantry Division stationed in Negros island are expected to receive more soldiers soon, following the graduation of 181 neophyte soldiers from a seven-month training at Camp Macario Peralta in Jamindan, Capiz.

The 181 Army soldiers were taught with fundamentals of soldiery and instilled with the Army’s core values of honor, duty, and patriotism during their 7-month rigorous training, a statement for the 3rd Infantry Division said.

The 3ID supervises eight Army infantry battalions, comprising almost 4,000 soldiers, deployed in Negros, Panay and Bohol.

Maj. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, 3ID commander, said that the neophyte soldiers have undergone tough physical conditioning, psychological and emotional pressure, and trial of camaraderie that prepared them for their future endeavors as members of the Philippine Army.

Arevalo also reminded the new Army soldiers to remember always the 3ID’s mantra “Love by the people and feared by the enemy.”

The neophyte soldiers also their issued R4 Carbine assault rifles during the entrustment rites, which was led by Tapaz Mayor Roberto Palomar, symbolizing the supremacy of civilian authority over the military.

Councilor urges transfer of 4th Infantry Division

From MindaNews (Jul 15, 2022): Councilor urges transfer of 4th Infantry Division (By FROILAN GALLARDO)

The recent explosions at the 4th Infantry Division in Barangay Patag here last Tuesday have reignited calls for its transfer elsewhere and to turn its land into a bustling economic zone.

Councilor George Goking, chair of the City Council Committee on Trade and Commerce said Camp Evangelista poses “a major risk” since the military complex sits inside Barangay Patag, a heavily populated village of 17,941 residents.

Goking said the huge military complex with its 5,573-yard golf course, is best suited for economic zone conversion that could spur the development of Cagayan de Oro.

“The camp has outlived its usefulness because the entire area is now heavily populated. Considering what happened last Tuesday, it would do more harm than good, “
he said.

The explosions at the “ammo dump” inside Camp Evangelista, headquarters of the 4th Infantry “Diamond” Division,” roused Kagay-anons from their sleep. Contributed photo

An ammunition dump, or where the military stores live ammunition and explosives caught fire in the early hours of Tuesday, sending huge fireballs into the sky as thousands of ammunition exploded

A ‘chemical reaction’ may have triggered the incident. “If gunpowder is exposed to a certain environment, it may trigger a chemical reaction that may lead it to be unstable,” said Lt. Col. Vladimir Sta. Maria, commanding officer of the 10th Forward Service Support Unit responsible for the storage and safety of the explosives and ammunition of the 4thID.

In a press conference attended by Army Chief Lt. Gen. Romeo Brawner, Jr. on Tuesday afternoon, Sta. Mariasaid this was the initial finding from the testimonies of soldiers who witnessed how the explosions at Magazine No. 5 started. But Sta. Maria did not expound on the topic, noting that it was too technical a discussion. He estimated damages at Magazine No. 5 at P27 million.

Three residents were injured and at least 150 families fearing for their safety, evacuated to the covered court in Barangay Patag and Army gym inside Camp Evangelista.

Brawner said he is against the transfer of the 4th Infantry Division to another location.

Brawner said the 4th Infantry Division is a vital link in the defense of Mindanao.

Mindanao hosts five of 11 infantry divisions in the country: aside from the 4th ID, it is also home to the 1st ID in Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur, the 6th ID in Awanga, Datu Odin Sinsuat in Maguindanao; the10th based in Mawab, Davao de Oro and the 11th based in Jolo, Sulu.

“The location of the 4th Infantry Division is gifted with excellent airport and seaport capabilities,” Brawner said.

He said this was underscored during the Marawi siege in 2017 when Camp Evangelista became the hub of munitions and equipment shipped from Manila.

Army Chief Lt. Gen. Romeo Brawner, Jr. MindaNews photo by BOBBY TIMONERA

Brawner said the camp also has the Camp Evangelista Station Hospital, the best medical facility for soldiers injured in battle in Northern Mindanao.

Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez also does not like the idea of transferring the 4th Infantry Division to another location.

“Its presence here gives needed security to Cagayan de Oro against terrorists. It helps our community by giving much business to our markets and stores,” he said.

Rodriguez explained that hundreds of families of soldiers who live around Camp Evangelista will be dislocated if the 4th Infantry Division is transferred.

Retired Army Lt. General Ronald Villanueva supports the idea of transferring the 4th Infantry Division to Mt. Mayapay in Butuan City.

Villanueva, who formerly commands the 4th Infantry Division said the idea of transfer found support from then Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana who ordered Army planners to draw up plans.

He said Mt. Mayapay is one of the military reservations of 4th Infantry Division. The other one Villanueva said is the Kibaritan military reservation in Kalilangan, Bukidnon.

“The problem with the Kibaritan military reservation is that it will be a logistical nightmare because it is not accessible to a nearby seaport and seaport,” Villanueva said.

Villanueva said Mt Mayapay on the other hand , is close to the Bancasi airport in Butuan City and the seaport in Nasipit town, Agusan del Norte.

He said proceeds from the sale of Camp Evangelista can finance the transfer of the 4th Infantry Division and retirement benefits of its soldiers.

U.S. destroyer sails past Chinese-held South China Sea islands

Posted to the Mindanao Examiner (Jul 15, 2022): U.S. destroyer sails past Chinese-held South China Sea islands (By Associated Press) 

THE U.S. Navy sailed a destroyer close to China-controlled islands in the South China Sea in what Washington said was a patrol aimed at asserting freedom of navigation through the strategic seaway.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold sailed past the Paracel Islands on July 13 and continued thereafter with operations in the South China Sea. The operation “upheld the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea,” the 7th Fleet said in a news release.

Such operations are considered key to the U.S. Navy maintaining its presence in the Indo-Pacific, where China has grown its presence through a massive ship building campaign.

Beijing has also alarmed the U.S., Australia and New Zealand with the signing of a mutual defense agreement with the Solomon Islands, under which it could receive Chinese troops in emergencies and possibly establish a permanent Chinese military presence.

In response to the Benfold's passage, China's Southern Theater Command tracked the vessel's movements and ordered it to leave the area, Air Force Col. Tian Junli was quoted as saying on the Defense Ministry's website.

“Our troops in the military area are on high alert at all times to safeguard national sovereignty, security and peace and stability in the South China Sea," the ministry said.

China claims ownership over virtually the entire strategic waterway, through which passes around $5 trillion in global trade each year and which holds highly valuable fish stocks and undersea mineral resources. The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan also lay competing claims to the region.

The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan has also been deployed to the South China Sea, along with its strike group including guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam and guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins.

“Our presence in the South China Sea demonstrates America’s commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Capt. Fred Goldhammer, commanding officer of the Ronald Reagan, was quoted as saying in a news release.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin on July 13 reiterated China's rejection of a 2016 Hague arbitration ruling brought by the Philippines under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea that invalidated Beijing’s vast territorial claims in the South China Sea.

“China neither accepts nor recognizes (the ruling). China will never accept any claim or action based on this award," Wang said at a daily briefing.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on July 12 issued a call for China to abide by the ruling and warned that Washington is obligated to defend treaty ally Philippines if its forces, vessels or aircraft come under attack in the disputed waters.

While publicly pursuing closer ties with the Philippines government, China has moved aggressively to assert its control in disputed waters with its vastly superior coast guard and naval assets.

Dozens of left-wing activists and workers protested in front of the Chinese Consulate in the Philippines’ Makati financial district on July 12, asking Beijing to respect the arbitration ruling and for newly elected President Bongbong Marcos to defend the country’s territory and sovereign rights in the South China Sea.

Washington lays no claim to the disputed waters but has deployed Navy ships and Air Force jets to patrol the waterway for decades and says freedom of navigation and overflight is in the U.S. national interest. China has responded angrily, accusing the U.S. of meddling in a purely Asian dispute and demanding it leave the region where it has had a naval presence for more than a century.

PH, US armies beef up logistics interoperability

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 14, 2022): PH, US armies beef up logistics interoperability (By Priam Nepomuceno)

Photo courtesy of Philippine Army

In line with ongoing efforts to improve its interoperability, the Philippine Army (PA) and the US Army Pacific (USARPAC) formally kicked off on Tuesday a three-day "Logistics Subject Matter Expert Exchange" (LOGSMEE) to share the best practices among the two services.

The event was held at the Philippine Army headquarters in Fort Bonifacio and was attended by key logistics officers, according to PA spokesperson, Col. Xerxes Trinidad, in a statement late Wednesday night.

LOGSMEE is alternately hosted by the Philippines and the US.

This year’s edition is spearheaded by Col. Jesus Jeffrey Grapa, commander of the 1st Logistics Support Group of the Army Support Command, and Col. Tracy Lanier, deputy commander of the 8th Theater Sustainment Command, USARPAC.

"The bilateral activity is aimed at enhancing interoperability between PA and USARPAC in logistics operations; sharing best practices on logistics operations in support of combined arms operations, and sustaining strong relations among logisticians of both armies,"
Trinidad said.