Sunday, August 21, 2022

NegOr halfway house for former rebels more than 60% complete

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 12, 2022): NegOr halfway house for former rebels more than 60% complete (By Mary Judaline Partlow)

HALFWAY HOUSE. The ongoing construction of a halfway house for former rebels of the CPP-NPA is more than 60 percent complete. The PHP5-million facility funded by the Department of the Interior and Local Government, is situated at the 302nd Infantry Brigade headquarters in Tanjay City, Negros Oriental. (Photo courtesy of the 302 Brigade Facebook)

A halfway house for former members of the Communist Party of the Philippines- New Philippines (CPP-NPA) in Negros Oriental is more than 60 percent complete and is targeted for completion in November this year.

Farah Gentuya, provincial director of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), told the Philippine News Agency on Friday that the construction of the halfway house is funded by their agency amounting to PHP5 million.

“The funding is just for the one-level house itself, excluding furnishings and its fixtures, while the lot is from the Philippine Army’s 302nd Infantry Brigade at its headquarters in Camp Leon Kilat in Tanjay City,” she said.

Governor Pryde Henry Teves has asked them to submit a proposal as to how he can help provide the other requirements of the halfway house, she added.

Previously, another PHP5 million from the Peace and Order Council’s Peace and Order Safety Plan was allocated for the facility’s operations, although Gentuya said she has to verify whether the funding was not realigned.

The halfway house is intended to provide temporary shelter for former rebels (FRs) who are undergoing evaluation and other processes for enrollment to the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) or immersion in a locality where they will be staying, Gentuya said.

“The Philippine Army will provide security and other pre-identification requirements for E-CLIP while the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office will be in charge of the aftercare as stated in the memorandum of agreement,” she noted.

Teves recently said in a meeting with members of the Negros Oriental Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (TF-ELCAC) to prioritize housing for FRs.

He asked the Provincial Agriculture Office and the Department of Agrarian Reform in the province to check on available lands that can be developed for housing projects and farm lots for the former NPA members.

“I told them to submit a report in September as there will be another round of realignment of funds and supplementals in October so that this will be given funding,” he said in an interview with the Philippine News Agency.

While the halfway house is just a holding area, the governor wants a more permanent housing arrangement for the FRs, Gentuya said.

Brig. Gen. Leonard Peña, the 302 brigade commander, in a separate interview, said they fully support the move of the governor to prioritize housing for former rebels “to show that what is being done by the national government is replicated at the lower level”.

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

The National Democratic Front has been formally designated as a terrorist organization by the Anti-Terrorism Council on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA created in April 1973.

WESCOM receives equipment from China

 From Palawan News (Aug 13, 2022): WESCOM receives equipment from China (By Gerald Ticke)

Western Command chief Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos welcomes the equipments donated by China (WESCOM photo)

Western Command (WESCOM) received equipment from the People’s Republic of China today in order to strengthen its capabilities.

The equipment, which was given by China as part of its Military Assistance Gratis Program to the Philippines, included a fire truck and a minibus. The equipment arrived in Puerto Princesa City aboard BRP BACOLOD CITY (LS550).

The Chinese military’s gratis assistance to the Philippines has a total amount of 130 million yuan (P1.04 billion).

“These are parts of China’s support to capacitate the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines in their humanitarian and disaster response efforts. The bulk of these is earmarked to help in the rehabilitation of Marawi,”WESCOM chief Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos said.

WESCOM said the first batch of equipment and other materials arrived in February this year and was turned over by China’s Ambassador Huang Xilian to former defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

“We at WESCOM are fortunate and grateful to the leadership of the Department of National Defense, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the People’s Republic of China for having been allocated these capacity-building equipment and other materials. These will significantly complement our Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response as well as Socio-Economic efforts,” Carlos stated.

PH-US armies kicks-off ‘Balance Piston’ bilateral exercise

From Palawan News (Aug 16, 2022): PH-US armies kicks-off ‘Balance Piston’ bilateral exercise (By Aira Genesa Magdayao)

The Special Forces Regiment SFR(A) of the Philippine Army and the US Army Special Forces started their month-long bilateral exercise in Palawan to strengthen the capability of the troops deployed in Palawan.

The Assistant Chief of Staff for Education and Training of the Special Forces Regiment SFR(A), Lt. Col. Paulo Baylon, stated that the bilateral exercise in Rizal town will focus on Long Range, Combat Marksmanship, Close Quarter Combat, Small Unit Tactics, Unconventional Warfare, Maritime Operations, and Full Mission Profile or Culmination Exercise.

“For a whole month, our men will train with the US Special Forces. We’ve moved heaven and earth for this exercise to take place in Palawan. We are certain that this will enable us to exchange tactics, techniques, and procedures to enhance interoperability between US and Filipino Special Forces,” Baylon said.

Baylon said that the training will also make the 18th Special Forces (Riverine) Company, which is an independent elite unit of the Philippine Army, stronger.

He also believed that there would be other upcoming training and exercises with both parties in the future.

“They don’t have a battalion headquarters that will directly support their combat and service support needs. With this training, 18SFC can perform its functions the way it’s designed to be,” Baylon said.

“The 18th Special Forces (Riverine) Company is the participant for this iteration of Balance Piston. With this training that we are about to conduct with our long-standing allies, 18SFway, it’s designed to be a company-sized independent unit that has the ability to gain a decisive advantage over a larger or well-equipped adversary. We may be at peace time, but it’s paramount that we are prepared for pressing security challenges,” SFR(A) commander Col. Ferdinand Napuli also said in a statement.

Balance Piston is a recurring bilateral training between the special operation forces of the two countries which started in early 2000s.

Ex-NPA leader nabbed during police manhunt

From the Mindanao Times (Aug 18, 2022): Ex-NPA leader nabbed during police manhunt (By RHODA GRACE SARON)

Photo courtesy of PRO XI.

A FORMER squad leader of a New People’s Army (NPA) was arrested following a manhunt operation at 3:40 p.m. in Monkayo, Davao de Oro, on Tuesday, August 16.

The Police Regional Office (PRO) XI identified him as Rodel Emba Ogong alias Vladi, 38, a resident of Purok 18, Sitio Lilo, Awao, Monkayo.

Joint operatives of Laak Municipal Police Station, Monkayo police, and the 1101st Regional Mobile Force Battalion arrested Ogong by virtue of a warrant of arrest with Criminal Case Number 253-2017 for Homicide issued by Judge Celestial Aranda – Gonzales of 11th Judicial Region, Regional Trial Court Branch 57 Mabini, Davao de Oro dated April 25, 2018, with no bail bond recommended.

According to the report, the suspect was a former squad leader under Guerilla Front 33 of the Southern Mindanao Regional Committee. 

For now, the suspect is under the custody of Laak Municipal Police Station for proper disposition.

Rebels terrorize hinterland folk of Toboso, Calatrava

From the Visayan Daily Star (Aug 15, 2022): Rebels terrorize hinterland folk of Toboso, Calatrava (By GILBERT P. BAYORAN)

Another victim of NPA terror campaign, as reported by the Philippine Army, was identified as Renato Estrebello in Sitio Huebesan, Brgy. Marcelo, Calatrava.* PNP photo

The New People’s Army remnants in northern Negros are now engaged in a “killing rampage,” terrorizing the populace in the hinterlands of Toboso and Calatrava, to discourage them from supporting the military, Lt Col. J-Jay Javines, 79th Infantry Battalion commander, said yesterday.

In a span of two weeks, two civilians were killed by suspected NPA rebels in Sitios Kamao and Huebesan, all in Brgy. Marcelo, Calatrava, aside from their involvement in separate killings in the Toboso hinterlands in previous months.

Among those recently killed by rebels were Rodel Nobleza and Renato Estrebello, according to authorities.

Javines said that the group of NPA remnants led by Arnel Tapang, alias Jong, have shifted recovery of their lost territories in the Toboso and Calatrava areas, after failing to do so in the second and third districts of Negros Occidental, following neutralization of their local cadres.

Tapang, a resident of Toboso, still has local cadres in the boundary of Toboso and Calatrava, where they are now mobilizing to regain the support of their former supporters, he added.

Javines said the civilians killed by communist rebels are not military informants.

The primary purpose of rebel atrocities is aimed at “creating an atmosphere of fear” among the populace, noting that when he called for a meeting with residents in those areas, nobody dared to attend out of fear.

Javines said that several ranking leaders of dismantled NPA Northern Negros Front have already been neutralized after being killed in encounters or captured in gun battles.

NPA camp seized, soldiers recover more guns

From the Visayan Daily Star (Aug 12, 2022): NPA camp seized, soldiers recover more guns (By GILBERT P. BAYORAN)

Army soldiers seized a New People’s Army camp after another encounter ensued yesterday in Sitio Bulasot, Brgy. Buenavista, Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental.

Lt. Col. Van Donald Almonte, 94th Infantry Battalion commander, disclosed that pursuit operations focused on the fleeing rebels that were encountered on Wednesday by his troops in the same area led to another gun battle.

Almonte said that the encounter yesterday led to the recovery of another M16 assault rifle and two .45 caliber pistols.

The Wednesday gun battle in the same area resulted in the death of an unidentified rebel and the seizure of a rebel camp, recovery of an M16 rifle with four magazines containing ammunition, M14 magazine also with ammunition, three backpacks with personal belongings and assorted subversive documents.

Brig. Gen. Inocencio Pasaporte, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, lauded the civilians for their timely information and the relentless and sustained efforts displayed by the 94IB that thwarted rebel terroristic acts in the area.

The rebel encountered by 94IB troopers are believed to be remnants of the Central Negros Front 2, according to the military.

Slain rebel identified

 From the Visayan Daily Star (Aug 13, 2022): Slain rebel identified (By GILBERT P. BAYORAN)

The cadaver of the New People’s Army combatant who was killed in the August 10 encounter with 94th Infantry Battalion soldiers in Sitio Bulasot, Brgy. Buenavista, Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental, was claimed yesterday by his family.

Brig. Gen. Inocencio Pasaporte, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, identified the slain rebel as Anthony Ariola, alias Val, a member of the NPA guerilla Central Negros 2 unit.

The encounter on Wednesday that led to the seizure of a rebel camp, and was followed by another gunbattle in the same area, Pasaporte said.

In the two encounters, 94IB soldiers recovered two M16 assault rifles, two .45 caliber pistols with ammunition, assorted medicines and personal belongings, as well as subversive documents.

The 20 armed rebels encountered by 94IB soldiers were also tagged by authorities as behind in the ambush of policemen in February at Brgy. Biao, Binalbagan.

Pasaporte lauded the civilians for their timely information that led to the successful military operations against remnants of the NPA operating in the area, which he blamed for atrocities committed against civilians and state troopers in central Negros.

Rebels kill another civilian

From the Visayan Daily Star (Aug 13, 2022): Rebels kill another civilian (BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN)

Another civilian was shot and killed yesterday by a group of armed men suspected to be New People’s Army rebels in Sitio Huebesan, Brgy. Marcelo, Calatrava, Negros Occidental.

Lt. Col. Jay J Javines, 79th Infantry Battalion commander, identified the victim, based on the investigations of the Calatrava police, as Renato Estrebello, 43, of the place.

The armed men, who introduced themselves as military men, dressed in black pants and sweatshirts, reportedly brought the victim outside his house, where he was executed by the suspects.

Javines said the victim succumbed to multiple gunshot wounds and died on the spot.

The motive behind his killing by suspected NPA members has yet to established by the Calatrava police.

Javines said the rebels want to discredit the Philippine Army by claiming to be military members.

But the local communist terrorist group wants to send a message to the people, that they should not cooperate with military or else they will be killed.

On August 7, five suspected NPA members also waylaid and shot Rodel Nobleza, a livestock buyer, in Sitio Kamao, Brgy. Marcelo, Calatrava.

Nobleza, alias Peter, succumbed to multiple gunshot wounds and also died on the spot, police said.

Rebels in Negros, Iloilo suffer more casualties

From the Visayan Daily Star (Aug 18, 2022): Rebels in Negros, Iloilo suffer more casualties (BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN)

Army soldiers yesterday figured in another encounter with suspected New People’s Army rebels who were fleeing from an earlier gun battle, in Sitio Cantayson, Brgy. Mani-ak, Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.

The five fleeing rebels left behind a .357 Magnum revolver and a back pack containing personal belongings, according to a report of the 62nd Infantry Battalion.

No casualties were reported on the government side, while one of the five fleeing rebels was reported to have died.

The five were among the group of rebels who figured in an encounter with 62IB soldiers in Sitio Cambairan, Brgy. Trinidad, Guihulngan City, on August 16, that resulted in injuries to two of their comrades, a military report further said.

Brig. Gen. Inocencio Pasaporte, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, disclosed that the running gun battle on Aug. 16 in Sitio Cambairan lasted 10 minutes, after which the rebels fled in various directions, while soldiers recovered assorted personal belongings at the encounter site.

Heavy traces of blood stains were discovered along escape route of rebels, believed to be members of the Central Negros 1 guerilla unit, bolstering reports of civilians that two were rebels injured in the gun battle.

On Aug. 15, four suspected NPA rebels were also reported to have been injured following an encounter between 12th Infantry Battalion soldiers and members of the Central Front of Komiteng Rehiyonal Panay at the boundary of Calinog and Lambunao towns in Iloilo.

Soldiers recovered an AK-47 assault rifle with a magazine filled with ammunition, an M203 grenade launcher, 250 live ammunition for M-16 rifle and five back packs containing personal belongings, assorted medicines and subversive documents.

Traces of bloodstains were also seen along the rebels’ withdrawal routes. No casualties were reported on the government side in both encounters.

On the other hand, members of the 94th Infantry Battalion who figured in two successive encounters on Aug. 10 and 11 in Sitio Bulasot, Brgy. Buenavista, Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental, have been conferred with medals by Maj. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, 3rd ID commander, in Ayungon, Negros Oriental.

The encounter claimed the life of a suspected rebel identified as Anthony Tebio Ariola, 21, of Sitio Bugo in Brgy. Buenavista, Himamaylan City, and the recovery of an M-16 assault rifle and two pistols, among other war materials.

Galvez says MILF and MNLF “united” under the new BTA

From MindaNews (Aug 20, 2022): Galvez says MILF and MNLF “united” under the new BTA (By FERDINANDH B. CABRERA)

Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez sees a “brighter outlook” for the Bangsamoro now that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the two factions of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) are together in building what he describes as a “united” Bangsamoro Transition Authority.

Galvez told a press briefing here on Friday that he is “very happy that we were able to unite both the MILF and MNLF factions” in the new BTA, the interim government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) during the extended transition period until June 30, 2025.


Secretary Carlito Galvez, Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity answers questions at the press conference in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao, on Friday, 19 August 2022. MindaNews photo by FERDINANDH B. CABRERA

“Our MNLF brothers wanted to relay their message to Kagi Murad (interim Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Ebrahim and concurrent MILF chair) saying he is not just the Chief Minister of the 41 BTA, but he is also the Chief Minister of the 80 BTA members and the Chief Minister of the entire Bangsamoro. He is the father of all Moros living in the Philippines,” said Galvez, who met with the MNLF under Nur Misuari and MNLF under the Sema-Jikiri factions on Thursday.

The MNLF under Misuari did not participate in the previous BTA (2019 to 2022) or the BTC (2017 to 2018) even as Misuari was asked to nominate members. It is the first time that the Misuari-led MNLF is represented in the MILF-led BTA.

“Masaya ang MNLF at MILF at ang ating at ating mga partners, we are so happy na now they all agreed now they are uniting as One Bangsamoro,” Galvez stressed.

He said President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has assured that his administration will implement all agreements signed by the government with the Moro liberation fronts.

“He shows his commitment to pursue the completion of the implementation of all the signed agreements in the Bangsamoro, from the 1976 Tripoli Agreement (and) the 1996 final peace agreement with the MNLF and the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement of the Bangsamoro” with the MILF, Galvez said.

He said a reorganization, reorientation and repackaging of priorities are now being prepared as instructions from the President Marcos is to finish the four remaining basic laws and codes as soon as possible.

“I need performance. I’m asking you na ipakita and performance na pinapangako ninyo noon” (I’m asking you to show us the performance you promised before), Galvez quoted the President as saying.

He said Marcos wants an equitable distribution of projects in the BARMM’s five provinces, three cities and 63 barangays in North Cotabato.

Galvez said the President wants the education aspect in the Bangsamoro to improve, he wants better Mardaris (schools), and to improve as well agriculture and tourism destinations, as part of the economic recovery following the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Palawan receives tents, medical supplies from U.S. Embassy

From the Mindanao Examiner (Aug 20, 2022): Palawan receives tents, medical supplies from U.S. Embassy

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY - Filipino government officials thanked the U.S. Embassy Civil Affairs Team (CAT) for donating disaster relief tents and medical supplies worth about P1.6 million ($30,000).

The recent donation was to support local humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness in Palawan province.

The American Embassy said members of the Philippine Coast Guard and U.S. sailors from the hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) aided with the delivery of the tents and supplies, which were turned over to the provincial government during a ceremony here attended by Palawan Governor Dennis Socrates and U.S. Embassy Acting Public Affairs Officer Nina Lewis.

The USNS Mercy has been docked in the Philippines since July 27 to participate in Pacific Partnership 2022, the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster preparedness exercise conducted in the Indo-Pacific.

“The supplies we received will surely be of great help to our continued disaster readiness efforts. We are beyond grateful for this donation,” Socrates said.

“The local government of Palawan, the Philippine Coast Guard, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines have been reliable partners in ensuring that our activities and projects are well-coordinated and executed to their full potential, and that members of the U.S. Embassy CAT are properly welcomed and taken care of throughout our stay in the province,” said U.S. Army Capt. Arthur Kim.

“We continue to be impressed by the professionalism, dedication, and hospitality of our Filipino partners and value any opportunity to work with them here in Palawan,” he added.

The U.S. Embassy CAT has a longstanding collaboration with the Palawan local government, military, and coast guard on several initiatives including educational outreach activities, first responder training, medical and dental programs, and support in the local Covid-19 response.

“We must continue to be adaptive and diligent in ensuring that the Philippines and U.S. partnership remains steadfast and unwavering in the face of global political, economic, and health-related challenges,” Kim said.

The Pacific Partnership 2022 team, composed of representatives from Australia, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States, will work together with host and partner nations on a range of activities and projects, specifically related to humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and medical exchanges.

“Pacific Partnership is an amazing program that not only brings assistance and services, but more importantly, strengthens the bond between partner nations,” said Puerto Princesa Vice Mayor Nancy Socrates.

The Pacific Partnership 2022 activities are coordinated with the host nation and are conducted based on the Philippines’ requirements and requests. Engagements in Puerto Princesa are scheduled to include seven major health fairs, two barangay city hall renovation efforts, various band concerts, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercises and presentations, and other medical efforts including over 200 surgeries planned.

“The impact of disaster emergencies transcends borders and requires comprehensive coordination among nations for an effective response. I am confident that the planning and hard work we’ve invested thus far with our partners will show a long-lasting impact here in the Philippines,” Kim said.

The Pacific Partnership 2022 will conduct missions throughout Oceania and the Western Pacific. (Cebu Examiner)

PMA grad is new Zambo Peninsula police chief

From the Mindanao Examiner (Aug 20, 2022): PMA grad is new Zambo Peninsula police chief

ZAMBOANGA CITY – The Philippine National Police has appointed Brigadier General Neil Alinsañgan as the new regional police director for Zamboanga Peninsula and has replaced Brigadier General Franco Simborio.

Brig. Gen. Neil Alinsañgan and wife Audrey are warmly welcome at the Police Regional Office 9 in Zamboanga City. (Mindanao Examiner)

Alinsañgan, who assumed his post on August 17, is an alumnus of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1991. He previously served as the chief of the Regional Intelligence Division of the Zamboanga Peninsula Regional Police Office in 2016, and also the police chief of Dapitan City in Zamboanga del Norte province in 2010.

Prior to his assignment here, Alinsañgan was the Intelligence Group Director of the Philippine National Police.

“Sobra-sobra po ang aking kagalakan at pasasalamat. I am very humbled to stand before all of you to serve this region. A place where it all began, my first assignment after my graduation from the Philippine Military Academy. My assignments here were my formative years in loving my duty and discovering my calling for this nation,” he said during the turn-over ceremony here.

Alinsañgan’s family is a native of Iloilo. He finished his elementary education at Leganes Elementary School and went to Central Philippine University and finished his secondary education at age 15. He then took up Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering for two years before entering the military academy at age 17.

Commies continue to yield

From the Mindanao Examiner (Aug 20, 2022): Commies continue to yield

Communist rebels continue to surrender to the 6th Infantry Division as the military and government intensify its peace and development programs aimed at luring New People’s Army members and other lawless groups in the restive southern region of Mindanao.

A photo released by the 6th Infantry Division shows the two New People's Army rebels, whose faces are blurred, during their surrender to the 5th Special Forces Battalion in South Cotabato province recently.

Just recently, two rebels had surrendered to the 5th Special Forces Battalion under Lt. Col. Zandro Alvez in the village of Lambingi in South Cotabato’s Banga town.

Alvez said the rebels who were both 45 years old also yielded a rifle and a pistol, including a fragmentation grenade. “The surrender of the duo was the result of our soldiers’ efforts in convincing the remaining members of the communist group to return to the fold of the law,” he said.

Maj. Gen. Roy Galido, commander of Joint Task Force Central and the 6th Infantry Division, lauded the troops for their hard work and dedication. “We urged the remaining communist rebels to return to the fold of the law and live a normal life together with their families,” Galido said.

He said nearly 100 rebels had so far surrendered peacefully to the 6th Infantry Division.

Kalinaw News: 9 NPA members with 16 Firearms yielded to 30IB in Surigao del Norte

From Kalinaw News (Aug 21, 2022): 9 NPA members with 16 Firearms yielded to 30IB in Surigao del Norte

CAMP EVANGELISTA, Cagayan de Oro City – Nine (9) CPP-NPA Terrorists (CNTs) with sixteen firearms surrendered to 30th Infantry Battalion, 901st Bde, 4ID, Philippine Army in Brgy. Mahanub, Gigaquit, Surigao del Norte.

The surrenderees are Edelberto Maisog, Grace Jubasan Bacalan, Jessie Siton Roxas, Chris Gire Libres, Nikki Bago Pinao, Alvin Palen, Janiza Galupo and another couple whose names are still being validated. Most of the firearms seized were retrieved from an arms cache as revealed by some of the surrenderees.

Meanwhile, MGen Wilbur C Mamawag, the 4ID Commander, has assessed that the neutralization of this 9 CNTs will lead to the eventual collapse of the remnants of the CTG operating in Surigao del Norte. He attributed this feat to the relentless efforts of 30IB and 901st Brigade in collaborating with the stakeholders and the communities to extend the hand of peace to our misguided brothers.

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

Kalinaw News: 2 Miyembro ng CTG Patay, Ilang mga Armas Narekober sa Engkwentro sa Masbate

From Kalinaw News (Aug 20, 2022): 2 Miyembro ng CTG Patay, Ilang mga Armas Narekober sa Engkwentro sa Masbate (2 CTG Members Dead, Several Weapons Recovered in Masbate Encounter)

Camp Elias Angeles, Pili, Camarines Sur – Patay ang dalawang miyembro ng Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) matapos na maka-engkwentro ang tropa ng 2nd Infantry Battalion sa Barangay Piña, San Jacinto, Masbate, nitong Biyernes, Agosto 19.

Kinilala ang isa sa mga nasawi na si alyas Adan ng San Fernando, Masbate habang patuloy pang inaalam ang pagkakakilanlan ng kasamahan nito.

Ayon kay Lt. Col. Orlando Ramos Jr, Commanding Officer ng 2IB, nakatanggap ng sumbong ang kanilang tropa tungkol sa presensiya ng mga Communist NPA Terrorist (CNT) sa lugar at agad itong pinuntahan.

Habang papalapit ang tropa sa lugar, bigla na lamang silang pinaputukan ng dalawang CNT na nauwi sa palitan ng putok at tumagal ng halos sampung minuto na nagresulta sa pagkamatay ng mga ito.

Samantala, ilang armas naman ang nakuha sa mga NPA na kinabibilangan ng isang M16 rifle at isang kalibre 45.

Nalulungkot man sa pagkamatay ng mga miyembro ng CTG, ngunit binigyang-diin pa rin ni BGen. Aldwine Almase, Commander ng 903rd Infantry Brigade ang mandato ng tropa ng gobyerno na protektahan ang mga mamayan lalong lalo na ang mga nasasakupan nito dito sa Bicol.

Kaugnay nito, ikinagagalak ni Major Alex Luna, Commander ng 9th Infantry (SPEAR) Division at Joint Task Force Bicolandia, ang tuloy-tuloy na pakikipagtulungan ng mga Bicolano sa pamahalaan lalong lalo na sa mga otoridad na siyang patotoo ng pagnanais ng mga ito na matuldukan na ang ilang dekadang problema sa insurhensiya. Gayundin ang positibong resulta ng koordinasyon ng PNP at Philippine Army matapos ang magkakasunod na engkwentro sa Camarines Sur at Sorsogon nito lamang buwan.

“Kami po ay nagagalak sa pagiging aktibo ng mga Bicolano sa pagpa-paabot ng mga impormasyon. Ramdam po namin ang inyong kagustuhan na matuldukan na ang tunggalian na ito, at ganoon din po kami. Kaya nga po hindi kami napapagod na makiusap at manawagan sa mga CTG members na sumuko na lamang at makiisa sa pamahalaan upang makamit na natin ang tunay na kapayapaan, ayaw na rin po namin ng ganitong mga pangyayari,” ani MGen Luna.

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

Kalinaw News: Government forces seize war materials in Basilan

From Kalinaw News (Aug 20, 2022): Government forces seize war materials in Basilan

Camp Navarro, Calarian, Zamboanga City – August 20, 2022

Combined elements of the military and police conducted a joint operation targeting a member of the Abu Sayyaf Group at Sitio Oval, Barangay Tipo-Tipo Proper, Tipo-Tipo, Basilan on Friday, August 19.

Sensing the approach of the authorities, the target identified as Tawakil Bayali, a.k.a. Jaber immediately fled and managed to escape the operating troops.

While clearing the area, the troops recovered one M79 Grenade Launcher, one 40mm WP ammunition, two rifle grenades, three fragmentary grenades, and 72 rounds of cal .30 ammunition.

Personnel from the 39th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team proceeded to the area, recovered the explosives, and brought them to the 18th Infantry Battalion headquarters for proper disposition.

“We are intensifying our intelligence operations to track down the remaining ASG members. We are also strengthening our collaboration with our partners from the PNP and other security agencies to ensure the successful conduct of law enforcement operations,” Lt. Gen. Alfredo Rosario, Jr., Commander of Western Mindanao Command said.

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

Kalinaw News: Daulah Islamiyah members yield in WestMinCom AOR

From Kalinaw News (Aug 20, 2022): Daulah Islamiyah members yield in WestMinCom AOR

Camp Navarro, Calarian, Zamboanga City – August 20, 2022

A total of three Daulah Islamiyah members yielded to the military within the joint area of operation of the Western Mindanao Command on August 18 and 19, 2022.

One remnant of the Daulah Islamiyah-Maguid Aliboy Group identified as a.k.a. Lapong, a resident of Barangay Lapu, Polomolok, South Cotabato surrendered
himself to the military troops at the 10th Special Forces Company headquarters located in Barangay Kablon, Tupi, same province on August 19. He handed over one cal. 45 Colt.

Maj. Gen. Roy Galido, Commander of Joint Task Force Central said that a custodial debriefing is still being conducted by the 5th Special Forces Battalion on the former violent extremist.

Meanwhile, two members of the Daulah Islamiyah-Maute Group (DI-MG) surrendered to the 49th Infantry Batallion in Lanao del Norte on August 18.

Brig. Gen. Antonio Nafarrete, Commander of Joint Task Force ZamPeLan identified the surrendered personalities as a.k.a. Habdani and a.k.a. Mao, both of legal age and residents of Barangay Lindungan, Munai, Lanao del Norte. The duo handed over one cal. 30 Garand rifle and one 7.62 Sniper rifle.

The former DI-MG members were subsequently presented to Col. Charlemagne Batayola, Jr., Commander of the 2nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade at the 4th Mechanized Infantry Battalion headquarters based in Barangay Nangka, Baloi, of the same province. The presentation was witnessed by Mayor Racma Andamama of Munai town; Director Bruce Colao, CESO V, Provincial Director of the Department of Interior and Local Government; Police Col. Isias Bacurnay, Jr. of Lanao del Norte Provincial Police Office; and Lt. Col. Joseph Marlon Famoso, Commanding Officer of the 4th Mechanized Battalion.

The two are currently in the custody of 49IB for proper disposition.

Lt. Gen. Alfredo Rosario, Jr., Commander of Western Mindanao Command commended the laudable accomplishments of the units. He also urged the remaining terrorists to make up their minds. “This is the best time for them to abandon their group and return to the folds of the law and enjoy life with their families.”

[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:]

'Pacific Partnership' boosts PH, US disaster ops interoperability

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 17, 2022): 'Pacific Partnership' boosts PH, US disaster ops interoperability (By Priam Nepomuceno)

PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP. Officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines' Western Command, (Wescom), US Navy and the Puerto Princesa City government pose for a photo opportunity during the closing rites of the "Pacific Partnership" 2022 (PP22) on Tuesday (Aug. 16, 2022). The Pacific Partnership is an annual program sponsored by US Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) and executed by Pacific Fleet (PACFLT) in coordination with partner nations. (Photo courtesy of Wescom)

The Puerto-Princesa City, Palawan-based Western Command (Wescom) on Wednesday said the recently-concluded "Pacific Partnership" 2022 (PP22) has greatly boosted the interoperability of the two nations' militaries in terms of disaster response.

"It has not only strengthened partnerships through the exchange of expertise, as well as such as civil-military exchanges, but it also has prepared our nations for interoperability in extending humanitarian assistance and disaster response," Wescom chief Vice Adm. Alberto Carlos said in a statement.

He also emphasized the significance of the PP22 programs in Wescom's joint operations area.

"At such a time as this, the Pacific Partnership 2022 contingent from both countries have displayed the beauty of collaboration and interoperability in extending the required humanitarian assistance and response when and where it is needed,"
Carlos added.

This year's PP22 started in Puerto Princesa City last July 27 and formally concluded on Tuesday aboard the hospital ship, the USNS Mercy (T-AH-19).

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Lt. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro, who was present during the closing rites along with Carlos and Puerto Princesa Vice Mayor Nancy Socrates, thanked the US for extending humanitarian assistance to the Filipinos, particularly the Palaweños who had also been adversely affected by natural disasters in the past months.

"Through the Pacific Partnership, we have seen how the PH-US bilateral capability on HADR has grown and developed," Bacarro said.

The AFP chief also commended the PP22 bilateral teams who provided immediate response to a vehicular accident in Barangay San Rafael in Puerto Princesa City last week.

Meanwhile, US Navy Task Force 73 commander Rear Admiral Mark Melson said the cooperation and friendship with the Philippines continue to grow through each mission and activity of the Pacific Partnership program.

"This strengthens our ability to work together, especially in a situation of need, such as a natural disaster or any other situation requiring humanitarian assistance,” Rear Admiral Melson said.

The Pacific Partnership is an annual program sponsored by US Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) and executed by Pacific Fleet (PACFLT) in coordination with partner nations.

It has evolved over time from one focused on direct assistance to disadvantaged populations to one that looks to further regional resiliency, interoperability, and security through subject matter expert exchanges, multilateral engineering and health engagements, and cooperation over a broad spectrum of tailorable objectives specific to the desires of each partner, including environmental security, and maritime security.

The PP22 in Puerto Princesa City served about 7,000 patients and beneficiaries through the conduct of health fairs, health education, dental, optometry, radiology services, surgical care, and veterinary assistance.

Partner nations also conducted activities to strengthen community relations such as tree planting, puppet shows, book reading, sports, Brigada Eskwela, mall tours, and band performances.

Participants benefited from various training such as mountain search-and-rescue, collapsed structure search-and-rescue, health worker education, humanitarian supply chain management, incident command system, and camp coordination and management.

Selected barangays have become recipients of renovated facilities and other engineering projects.

Ex-PSG chief Niembra is new PH Army Inspector General

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 17, 2022): Ex-PSG chief Niembra is new PH Army Inspector General (By Priam Nepomuceno)

Philippine Army Inspector General, Maj. Gen. Jose Eriel Niembra (Photo courtesy of Philippine Army)

Maj. Gen. Jose Eriel Niembra formally assumed on Tuesday as the Inspector General of the Philippine Army, the unit tasked to provide complete oversight for the 110,000-strong force.

In a statement Wednesday, PA spokesperson Col. Xerxes Trinidad said the change-of-chief office ceremony took place at Army headquarters in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City, and was presided by Army vice commander, Maj. Gen. Camilo Z. Ligayo, who represented Army chief, Lt. Gen. Romeo S. Brawner Jr.

"Maj. Gen. Niembra, who led the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines for more than two years, assumed the post from outgoing acting Inspector General Col. Nazarito A. Floresa II," Trinidad said.

Trinidad said the Office of the Inspector General (OTIG) plays a key role in facilitating the accomplishment of the organization's mission, operational readiness, security preparedness, morale and welfare of personnel, proper utilization of mission-essential resources, and ensuring institutional integrity.

Niembra served as Presidential Security Group (PSG) deputy commander and eventually as PSG commander from April 2018 to January 2020.

He likewise held key posts such as deputy commander of the Task Force Davao of the 10th Infantry Division; executive officer of the 401st Infantry Brigade, 4th Infantry Division (4ID); battalion commander of the 58th Infantry Battalion, 4ID; and brigade commander of the 701st Infantry Brigade, 7th Infantry Division.

Niembra is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1991 and holds a Master’s degree in Public Management from the Development Academy of the Philippines.

"As you set out to fulfill your new role, I enjoin you to sustain the winning momentum of Team OTIG. Be assured that the Headquarters Philippine Army will continue to provide your office with the necessary support and mission-essential resources to further propel our organization in attaining operational and organizational feats,” Ligayo said in a speech on Brawner's behalf.

New BTA embodies PBBM desire for unity, peace in Mindanao: PNP

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 17, 2022): New BTA embodies PBBM desire for unity, peace in Mindanao: PNP (By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan)

File photo

The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Wednesday welcomed President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.'s prompt appointment of members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), saying it is a step closer to achieving genuine peace and development in Mindanao.

“Napakaganda at very motivating na umpisa ito. Ever since, walang ibang inaasam ang ating mga Muslim brothers kundi magkaroon ng long and lasting peace sa Mindanao. Sama-sama silang nanumpa sa harap ni Pangulong Marcos (It's a beautiful and very motivating start. Ever since, our Muslim brothers have no other desire than to have long and lasting peace in Mindanao. They (BTA members) all took their oath before President Marcos). It is a manifestation of heeding the call of the President for unity,” said PNP chief, Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr., in an interview with Radyo Pilipinas.

Azurin said this aspiration of the people of Mindanao dates back to the time when he was still serving as a police lieutenant assigned to the region, formerly known as the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

“Sana po ay magtuloy-tuloy na ang adhikain na yan nang sa gayon ay 'yung development ay makarating diyan dahil pag nakita ng mga tao na peaceful at may rule of law, sa isang lugar, magkakaroon po tayo ng mga investor. Definitely, maraming jobs na make-create at magbo-boom ang tourism na makakatulong sa adhikain ng ating Pangulo for a robust economy (I hope that this aspiration will continue to be realized so that development will finally come. If the people see that there is rule of law prevailing in an area, we will have investors. It will generate many jobs and spur tourism which will help achieve the President's vision of a robust economy),” he said.

On Aug. 12, Marcos administered the oath of office to 80 newly and re-appointed members of the BTA, 41 of which are from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) while 39 were endorsed by the government.

The peace process with the Bangsamoro started with the signing of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairperson Nur Misuari during the term of Marcos' father and namesake, the late former president Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

The BTA is the interim government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

It is an 80-member governing body tasked to pass crucial legislations to operationalize the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) and exercise legislative and executive powers during the region’s transition period.

The BOL specifies that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) shall lead the BTA, without prejudice to the participation of the MNLF.

The ratification of the Republic Act No. (RA) 11054 or the BOL through a plebiscite held in 2019 paved the way for the creation of the BARMM, as well as the establishment of the BTA.

In 2021, former President Rodrigo Duterte signed RA 11593 which postponed elections in BARMM that was scheduled to be held this year, and consequently, extending the transition period of the BTA to 2025.

VP Sara hails reservists' role in nation-building

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 17, 2022): VP Sara hails reservists' role in nation-building (By Priam Nepomuceno)

Photo courtesy of Reserve Command, Philippine Army

Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Z. Duterte has cited the role of reservists in nation-building through their "dedication to public service".

Duterte made this remark in her speech read by Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) board member and retired Armed Forces of the Philippines vice chief-of-staff Alan Luga in a forum that gathered Mindanao-based ready reserve unit commanders and reservist elected government officials at the Reserve Command, Philippine Army headquarters at Camp Riego De Dios in Tanza, Cavite province last Aug. 16.

“Reservists provide powerful support to national security efforts. With over 791,000 members -- reservists are a formidable force,”
Duterte, who has a rank of colonel in the Army’s reserve force, said in her remarks read by Luga.

The country's second highest official also expressed confidence that the Army’s reserve force will continue to support the government's goal of instilling the values of discipline, leadership, teamwork, and patriotism among the Filipino youth.

"I salute all the men and women of the Reserve Command, Philippine Army for your dedication to public service, and your undying love of country and fellowmen,” Duterte said.

Meanwhile, RCPA commander Maj. Gen. Fernando V. Felipe laid out key recommendations for the development of the Army’s reserve force in line with the guidance of PA chief Lt. Gen. Romeo S. Brawner Jr.

In the forum, Felipe also tackled the Reserve Force Capability Development Plan which requires cooperation and synergy of internal and external stakeholders.

The RCPA commander said the plan entails the revival of the Special Basic Citizen Military Training that will be funded by local government units; allocation of one-month salary for one Ready Reserve Infantry Battalion per region; increased allocation of funds for ready reserve units and Reserve Officer Training Corps units for equipment and capability-building; and allocation of separate funding for the Citizen Armed Force Development.

US gives P3-M equipment to boost PH maritime law enforcement

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 17, 2022): US gives P3-M equipment to boost PH maritime law enforcement (By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora)

The United States government donated PHP3 million worth of maritime tactical and first aid equipment to boost the Philippines’ maritime law enforcement capability, the US Embassy in Manila said Wednesday.

The donation was turned over by the Department of State - Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs to the Philippine National Police - Maritime Group (PNP-MG) in Camp Crame, Quezon City on August 16.

The donation includes binoculars, waterproof digital cameras, handheld VHF radios, and first aid kits – items identified by the PNP-MG as common requirements for Regional Maritime Units and Special Operations Units to carry out more effective maritime domain monitoring and response through improved communications and trauma care.

“We are confident that these items will enhance the PNP-MG’s ability to operate more effectively and safely across the spectrum of maritime law enforcement activities,” NL Manila Director Kelia Cummins said.

PNP-MG Director, Police Brig. Gen. Harold Tuzon, meanwhile, described the donation as a "tribute to the long-standing partnership between the PNP-MG and the United States," adding it would help maintain law and order and maintain internal security.

The partnership between the US and the PNP over the years has helped establish the PNP-MG’s Special Operations Units in the provinces of Palawan and Tawi-Tawi, while specialized programs have enhanced capabilities in areas, such as underwater crime scene investigations (UCSI) and illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing.

Additional donations to PNP-MG to support UCSI are expected later this year, the US Embassy in Manila said.

BTA vows to pass election code by end of 2022: Galvez

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 18, 2022): BTA vows to pass election code by end of 2022: Galvez (By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos)

Presidential Peace Adviser Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. (File photo)

The Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) has vowed to pass the election code before 2022 ends, Presidential Peace Adviser Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said Wednesday.

This, as BTA Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim assured completion of the remaining priority codes stated in Republic Act (RA) 11054 or the landmark Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), Galvez said in a virtual presser.

"Sinasabi po ni Chief Minister, sana po iyong election code ay mapasa po before the end of 2022 kasi mayroon na po itong draft at naipasa na rin po sa electoral comments and vetting (The Chief Minister is hoping for the passage of election code before the end of 2022 because there was already a draft submitted for electoral comments and vetting),"
Galvez said.

Ebrahim, Galvez has expressed confidence about the passage of the remaining priority codes "in due time."

The BTA has yet to pass the priority measures in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), which include the Bangsamoro Local Government Code, Electoral Code, Revenue Code, and Indigenous People's Code.

Galvez said Ebrahim's commitment was in line with President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos' recent instruction for the BTA members to finish their mission before 2025.

"The Chief Minister, he said that they are very confident that they will pass the election code before the end of 2022 in order for us to prepare for 2023 and 2024. Meaning, mas uunahin nila iyong election code to give way para sa (they will prioritize the election code to give way for the) preparation with the Comelec (Commission on Elections)," he said.

In 2021, former president Rodrigo Duterte signed a law moving the date of the first regular BARMM parliamentary and regional elections to May 2025.

Marcos, in a speech delivered during the mass oath-taking of BTA members on Aug. 12, stressed the importance of establishing "clear" rules to ensure the "orderly and proper" conduct of elections in the BARMM in 2025.

Talk with communists

Meantime, Galvez said the Marcos administration also wants to pursue peace with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

"Panawagan nga po namin is talagang kung pupuwede nga po talaga na talagang magkaroon na po ng katahimikan dito sa Pilipinas (We want peace and order in the Philippines) and we are also encouraging that all CPP-NPA members also will talk with us," Galvez said.

For now, the peace dialogue with the communist rebels would stay at the local level, while the government's peace negotiators are awaiting the President's guidance, Galvez said.

"For the process of the negotiation with the CPP-NPA-NDF (CPP-New People's Army-National Democratic Front) sa (in) Norway, we will await the guidance of the President," he said.

Galvez added that there was a possibility that roughly 10,000 communist rebels might be granted amnesty.

The peace negotiations between the national government and the NDF have been intermittent since 1986.

Duterte on Nov. 23, 2017 signed Proclamation 360, terminating the national government's peace talks with the CPP-NDF following a series of attacks waged by the NPA rebels against state forces and civilians.

However, Duterte on Dec. 4, 2018 signed Executive Order (EO) 70, institutionalizing the whole-of-nation approach that will be implemented by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) to achieve "inclusive and sustainable peace."

Under EO 70, local peace bodies are directed to negotiate with communist rebels in their respective areas.

Nat'l security adviser visits Wescom, Pag-asa Island

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 18, 2022): Nat'l security adviser visits Wescom, Pag-asa Island (By Priam Nepomuceno)

Photo courtesy of Wescom

National Security Adviser (NSA) Clarita Carlos' first visit to the Western Command (Wescom) and Pag-asa Island highlights the government's commitment to protecting the people and state.

"Her visit bespeaks of our common aspiration, strong stand, and unwavering dedication to protecting the people and the state under our responsibility,"
said Wescom chief, Vice Adm. Alberto Carlos, in a statement Wednesday night.

During her first official visit to these areas on Wednesday, Carlos met first with Wescom officials before proceeding to Pag-asa Island via military aircraft.

Upon arrival, Carlos met with the officials of the local government unit of Kalayaan town, military and other uniformed personnel, and residents.

"In collaboration with our peace partners, we have done our best in ensuring that the NSA's official visit in Wescom's area-of-responsibility is worthwhile and that there will be no stones unturned as to all security matters of utmost significance. Hence, Wescom's commitment to national security and interests is and shall always be the order of the day," Carlos said.

Italy vows support for AFP’s capability-upgrade programs

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 18, 2022): Italy vows support for AFP’s capability-upgrade programs (By Priam Nepomuceno)

DND officer-in-charge Undersecretary Jose Faustino Jr. (left) and Italian Ambassador to Manila Marco Clemente (right) (Photo courtesy of DND)

The Italian government has expressed its intention to support the ongoing Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) modernization program.

Italian Ambassador to Manila Marco Clemente made this remark in a courtesy call with Department of National Defense (DND) officer-in-charge (OIC) Undersecretary Jose Faustino Jr. on Aug. 16.

"The officials also recalled the successful acquisition of AgustaWestland helicopters for the Philippine Navy and attack helicopters for the Philippine Air Force to which the Ambassador expressed the Italian government’s readiness to continuously support the capability-upgrade program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines,"
DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said in a statement Thursday.

Andolong was referring to the AW-109 helicopters which are now in service with the PN and PAF as attack and combat utility helicopters.

The PN has two attack versions of the AW-109 along with three combat utility versions of the aircraft while the PAF has eight.

These helicopters were delivered from 2013 to 2016.

"The two sides committed to work on a framework of cooperation to further enhance logistics cooperation between the Philippines and Italy," Andolong said.

Clemente also congratulated Faustino on his appointment to the DND and shared that he will continue to work on promoting Manila-Rome bilateral relations.

Faustino also extended his greetings to the ambassador in connection with the 75th anniversary of Philippines-Italy diplomatic relations.

He also renewed the DND's commitment to developing the two countries' defense relations.

"Recognizing that both countries are prone to seismic and volcanic activities, Senior Undersecretary Faustino and Ambassador Clemente also discussed the possibility of cooperation in the area of civil defense," Andolong said.

Senate panel to tackle revival of ROTC

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 18, 2022): Senate panel to tackle revival of ROTC (By Leonel Abasola)

A proposal to revive the mandatory Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program will be one of the top agenda items when the Senate committee on basic education, arts and culture convenes for an organizational meeting on Friday.

Senator Win Gatchalian, chairman of the committee, on Thursday said the proposal to reimpose mandatory ROTC is one of the hot topics to be discussed during the meeting.

On Wednesday, Gatchalian said there is a big chance that the mandatory ROTC bill for senior high school students will be passed in the 19th Congress.

He said the ROTC program was among the priority bills mentioned by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in his 1st State of the Nation Address (SONA) last month.

He added that Vice President Sara Z. Duterte also pushes for the revival of the program.

Gatchalian said the ROTC subject under his Senate Bill No. 387 is very much different from the previous one as this will adapt to modern times.

Under his bill, Gatchalian seeks the institutionalization and administration of the basic ROTC program for students enrolled in Grades 11 and 12.

The program, he said, will include basic military training to motivate, train, organize and utilize students for national defense preparedness or civil-military operations. The bill provides, however, that no student below the age of 18 shall take direct part in hostilities.

Senators Robinhood “Robin” Padilla and Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa also filed similar bills.

Under his Senate Bill 199, de la Rosa said an advanced ROTC is available in the first two years of higher education for those who want to become officers in the course.

Padilla’s Senate Bill 236, on the other hand, promotes more of the readiness of the youth to act on emergency cases, such as natural calamities.

He emphasized the need to reimpose mandatory ROTC programs, noting that since its removal, the youth's sense of pride, nationalism, and patriotism have changed.

PAF air battle managers, planners to join 'Exercise Pitch Black'

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 19, 2022): PAF air battle managers, planners to join 'Exercise Pitch Black' (By Priam Nepomuceno)

Screengrab from Royal Australian Air Force video

A total of 21 Philippine Air Force (PAF) officers with backgrounds in air battle management and planning will participate in the premier Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) "Exercise Pitch Black" in the city of Darwin from August 19 to September 8.

"The PAF participants will be (embedded) with the players and they will serve as active observers. There will be a total of 21 PAF officers who will be part of this year's 'Pitch Black',"
Air Force spokesperson Col. Maynard Mariano said in a message to the Philippine News Agency (PNA) Friday.

However, no PAF aircraft will take part in the exercise, Mariano said.

"Active participation will be coming from the air battle managers of the PAF, as they will observe and participate in air campaign planning and air space and air battle management," he said.

He added that PAF senior planners would observe the exercise to gain "knowledge on how to plan and stage a large force engagement in exercise scenarios and real-world operations."

Mariano said PAF commander Lt. Gen. Connor Anthony D. Canlas Sr. and Air Defense Command chief Maj. Gen. Augustine Malinit would join the air chiefs of participating countries "as distinguished visitors and will actively participate as executive observers."

"Exercise Pitch Black" is a biennial three-week exercise on multi-national large force deployment conducted by the RAAF.

It is the RAAF's most significant international engagement activity and consists of realistic, simulated threats in a modern battle-space environment.

About 2,500 personnel and 100 aircraft from Australia, France, Germany, Indonesia, India, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, Philippines, Thailand, UAE, Canada, the Netherlands, Malaysia, New Zealand, and the United States will join the exercise.

PH, US navies commit to uphold regional security, stronger ties

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 19, 2022): PH, US navies commit to uphold regional security, stronger ties (By Priam Nepomuceno)

ALLIES. Philippine Navy flag officer in command Vice Adm. Adeluis Bordado (right) discusses bilateral cooperation and partnership between the Philippine Navy and the United States Navy with US Pacific Fleet commander, Adm. Samuel Paparo, during his visit to the PN headquarters on Thursday (Aug. 18, 2022). The two Navy leaders reaffirmed their commitment to regional stability through solidarity and legitimate alliance. (Photo courtesy of Philippine Navy)

The Philippine Navy (PN) and the United States Navy will further boost their strategic partnership in the coming days.

This came as US Pacific Fleet commander Adm. Samuel Paparo paid a courtesy call on PN Chief, Vice Adm. Adeluis Bordado, at the PN headquarters in Naval Station Jose Andrada, Manila on Thursday.

"Adm. Paparo described such partnership to be at 'exciting times right now and moving ahead,' citing the upcoming exercises between each other's fleet and marine forces like exercises 'Pagsasama' and 'Balikatan', and the conduct of bilateral activities with the recent signing of the Maritime Security Framework 'Bantay Dagat'," PN spokesperson Commander Benjo Negranza said
in a statement Thursday night.

Bordado also apprised Paparo of the status of the implementing guidelines on the maritime framework, wherein the latter vowed readiness "to support in each and every way."

"The visiting admiral also took the opportunity to personally congratulate the PN for the remarkable performance of BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151) and its contingent during the conduct of RIMPAC (Rim of the Pacific) 2022," Negranza said.

Paparo was referring to the BRP Antonio Luna's third-place finish in RIMPAC's gunnery exercise challenge.

Both Navy leaders reaffirmed their commitment to regional stability through solidarity and legitimate alliance.

As this developed, the PN's missile frigate BRP Antonio Luna on Wednesday arrived in Guam for a brief layover before heading home to the Philippines.

"Said stop is intended for the replenishment of fuel and necessary provisions following their strenuous yet rewarding participation in the recently concluded RIMPAC Exercise 2022 in Hawaii," Negranza said.

The replenishment is being facilitated by a support team from the PN's Naval Logistic Center led by Lt. Commander Brian Suico.

"Guam’s accommodation and support extended to (Naval Task Group) NTG 80.5 bespeaks the long-standing friendship between the Philippines and the United States island territory," Negranza said.

This year's RIMPAC took place from June 29 to August 4 while the BRP Antonio Luna departed from Hawaii on August 8.

US delegation affirms PH role in defense, security policies

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 19, 2022): US delegation affirms PH role in defense, security policies (By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora)

Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo (3rd from left) and other members of the United States congressional delegation at the DFA office in Pasay City (Photo courtesy of Secretary Manalo)

The visiting United States congressional delegation (CODEL) has reaffirmed Manila's "extraordinary role" in the US defense and security policy, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Friday.

In a tweet, DFA Secretary Enrique Manalo confirmed that he met with the delegation, led by Senator Edward Markey, at the agency’s office in Pasay City on Friday.

"Earlier today, I exchanged views with a US Congressional delegation, led by (Senator Markey), on the overall direction and future of bilateral relations under the new Philippine administration,"
he said.

"The CODEL reaffirmed the extraordinary role of the Philippines and the alliance in US defense & security policy,"
he added.

During the delegation's courtesy call, Manalo underscored the importance of Manila's bilateral partnership with Washington, D.C. "and the continuing diplomatic engagement with other regional actors, including Asean, in promoting the peace and prosperity of both countries and the region as a whole."

Markey was joined by Representatives John Garamendi, Alan Lowenthal, Don Beyer, and Aumua Amata, and Deputy Chief of Mission Heather Variava of the US Embassy in Manila.

In a separate statement, the US Embassy said the continuous engagement between the two nations, as reflected by the CODEL visit, showed the "strong commitment of the US to deepen our relationship with the Philippines as friends, partners, and allies."

Revisiting the Aquino assassination: 39 years later

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 19, 2022): Revisiting the Aquino assassination: 39 years later (By Benjamin Pulta)

Original photograph by Times Journal photographer Recto Mercene
Forensic study shows Galman shot Aquino

The public defender who worked for the release of soldiers convicted more than 30 years ago over the deaths of former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. and Rolando Galman said the government should consider pushing for the extradition of the so-called "missing link" in this highly politicized case.

Lawyer Persida Rueda-Acosta of the Public Attorney’s office had earlier interviewed former Air Force Master Sgt. Pablo Martinez whose new testimony was not heard both in the Agrava Fact-Finding Board in 1983 and the post-1986 Sandiganbayan trial.

In 1995, Martinez, who was then serving time at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP), gave an exclusive interview to Philippine Daily Inquirer, where he claimed to know Galman and was part of the assassination plot against Aquino.

In the same interview, the former soldier alleged that Constabulary Gen. Romeo Gatan and businessman Hermilo Gosuico, who both have close ties with business tycoon Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco, knew of the plot.

Martinez also implicated Philippine Air Force (PAF) Col. Romeo Ochoco, the AVSECOM vice commander at the time, and a known protege of Armed Forces chief of staff Fabian Ver, as one of the co-conspirators, and said that another PAF officer, Capt. Felipe Valerio, was in direct contact with Ochoco.

Ochoco, at the time of the assassination, was also a deputy at the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA), which was then headed concurrently by Gen. Ver, who was also chief of the Presidential Security Command.

He also claimed that Ochoco ordered him to sneak in Galman, a hired gun from Nueva Ecija known to Gosuico, at the MIA tarmac.

Today marks the 39 anniversary of the death of Aquino on August 21,1983 at the Manila International Airport which would later be named after him.

New forensic analysis sustains Martinez’s narrative: Galman shot Aquino

Lawyer and forensic and medical evidence analyst Dr. Erwin Efre, one of the original members of the forensic team given unprecedented access to evidence at the scene of the crime and other pieces of evidence, remains active in government service up to the present.

The team, consisting of Prof. Jerome B. Bailen, Benito Molino and Anastacio Rosete Jr. published their work "Death on the Tarmac: Forensic Analysis of Assassination of Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr." has since gone out of print.

The work dealt mostly with the physical evidence following the incident and cleared Constable Rogelio Moreno, whom the 1990 Sandiganbayan decision pointed to as the “gunman.”

For one, Moreno supposedly shot Aquino as they were going down the stairs, a fairly difficult move considering that Moreno's teammates were also in the line of fire and dangerously close and moving shoulder to shoulder with Aquino as they were moving down the stairs.

In a more controversial experiment, Erfe's team also tested the maximum distance from a gunshot from a caliber .357 revolver which would leave "soot" or visible powder burn marks on entry wound similar to those found at the back of the head of Aquino.

The experiment ascertained that Moreno, from the rear of the entourage, with the handgun at least two feet away from the gunshot entry point would not leave such prominent and small tight powder burns.

A gun such as the caliber .357, according to the experiment would need to be no more than six to 10 inches away to leave entry wounds.

The experiment, like everything in the Aquino saga, turned political after supporters of the late senator denounced the use of a dead pig's carcass to substitute for human flesh.

"They were saying we should not have used a pig in the experiment," Erfe said.

Erfe noted that there had been no blood stains on the stairs, where Moreno supposedly shot Aquino, but there were blood feet away near the AVSECOM van where Aquino collapsed after being shot, and his escorts scampered for a few crucial seconds reacting to the shot before quickly returning fire at Galman.

More telling was the popular video of Moreno and his fellow soldiers approaching Aquino as the latter was seated in the plane and then escorting him out. The video taken by one of the journalists on board the flight briefly captured the uniformed men, including Moreno, with an empty pistol holster.

In 2007, Inquirer reporter Norman Bordadora wrote about Sgt. Ruben Catimbuhan who drove the van used by the AVSECOM.

Catimbuhan said he saw Galman shoot Aquino. Catimbuhan also said as the dying Aquino was loaded into the van he was instructed by Valerio to go to the Military Security Unit of the Philippine Army instead of the closer Villamor Air Base Hospital.

Sandiganbayan finds 16 soldiers guilty

Sixteen defendants were found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment by the Sandiganbayan in 1990 and ordered to pay damages to the families of Aquino and Galman.

The sixteen were Custodio, Capt. Romeo Bautista, 2nd Lt. Jesus Castro, Sergeants Claro L. Lat, Arnulfo de Mesa, Filomeno Miranda, Rolando de Guzman, Ernesto Mateo, Rodolfo Desolong, Ruben Aquino, and Arnulfo Artates, Constable Rogelio Moreno (the gunman), M/Sgt. Pablo Martinez (also the alleged gunman), Airman First Class (A1C) Mario Lazaga, A1C Cordova Estelo, and A1C Felizardo Taran.

The Supreme Court affirmed the decision in 1991.

It is interesting to note that the two military officials disappeared from the scene shortly after the 1986 EDSA revolt.

Ochoco was believed to have fled to Australia where he owns a farm while Valerio was later traced to the United States.

There were attempts to have Valerio extradited in 2009 but attempts to locate the official did not produce any results.

Through the years, some of the convicts have been pardoned, others have died in detention, while others had their terms commuted and immediately released to once again enjoy life outside prison.

In November 2007, Martinez was released from the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) after then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ordered his release on humanitarian grounds. He was 70 years old at the time.

In that same year, Martinez gave another exclusive interview this time to a television network, where he claimed that it was indeed Galman who shot Aquino with a revolver at close range at the MIA during that fateful day.

He added that he is very sure of this as he was the one who sneaked in Galman and that he was very near the gunman at the time. He added that his fellow soldiers, who were tasked to secure Aquino, were not aware of the plot.

Martinez also reiterated the names of Gatan and Ochoco as among the plotters and by their close association, Cojuangco and Ver as the possible masterminds behind Aquino's assassination.

Since the Aquino murder plot was compartmentalized, Martinez could not say the real motive behind the assassination. What he knew was that should Galman fails to shoot the former senator, Martinez will be the one to do the job.

In March 2009, the last remaining convicts were released from prison.

Following this development, the case of Aquino’s assassination was revisited in an episode of GMA Network’s docudrama series “Case Unclosed” aired on March 26, 2009, where Martinez also shared his side of the story.

This was the last time Martinez will communicate with the media as he died on May 9, 2014, after being hit by a Mitsubishi Montero while biking along Roxas Boulevard, Manila.

Martinez succumbed to fractures in the ribs at the San Juan de Dios Hospital in Pasay City the following day. He was 77 years at the time.

Capt. Valerio as missing link

A standing warrant of arrest in connection with the death of Aquino still remains in effect against a former senior officer of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) who has since made a new life for himself in the United States.

"If only to get a chance to get to the bottom of the story, we should pursue to have him extradited back to the Philippines," Chief Public Attorney Persida Rueda-Acosta told the PNA.

Then Capt. Felipe R. Valerio Jr., a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1973, was among those named in an arrest warrant issued by the Sandiganbayan Third Division signed by then Sandiganbayan chairperson Godofredo L. Legaspi on Nov. 11, 2005.

His last known address was Seattle, Washington. In 2006, Acosta formally asked United States Ambassador to Manila Kirstie Kenney for assistance in going after Valerio after reliable information said the latter works as a commercial pilot in Texas and California and used aliases "Philip Valed" and "Edwin Salvador".

"We never received a favorable reply," Acosta said.

Valerio, who turned 71 last February could be the last chance for the truth to be known about the Ninoy Aquino assassination. (with reports from Priam Nepomuceno/Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/PNA)

Unmasking the sinister mind behind the 1971 Plaza Miranda bombing

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 19, 2022): Unmasking the sinister mind behind the 1971 Plaza Miranda bombing (By Priam Nepomuceno)

PLAZA MIRANDA BOMBING. Former Senator Jovito Salonga and other Liberal Party senatorial bets who were injured during the 1971 Plaza Miranda bombing. Former ranking security officials through the years have consistently belied the denials made by Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chair Jose Maria "Joma" Sison that he masterminded the Aug. 21, 1971 Plaza Miranda bombing in that left nine people dead and 95 others wounded. (Photo courtesy of Official Gazette)

Former ranking security officials through the years have consistently belied the denials made by Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chair Jose Maria "Joma" Sison that he masterminded the Aug. 21, 1971 Plaza Miranda bombing in Quiapo, Manila that left nine people dead and 95 others wounded.

The incident, which will be remembered anew this Sunday or 51 years later, happened during a Liberal Party's proclamation rally for its eight senatorial and Manila mayoralty candidates.

As the event was about to begin, two hand grenades were hurled at the stage, ripping the speaker's platform.

Among those killed instantly by the blast were a five-year-old child and The Manila Times photographer Ben Roxas.

Wounded were then congressman for Palawan Ramon V. Mitra Jr., then incumbent Senators Jovito Salonga, Eddie Ilarde, Eva Estrada-Kalaw, Liberal Party president Gerardo Roxas, Sergio Osmeña Jr., lawyer Martin B. Isidro who served as councilor, vice mayor and congressman of the City of Manila, Ambrosio "King" Lorenzo Jr. who served as the second district councilor of Manila, and Ramon Bagatsing, the party's mayoral candidate for Manila.

Salonga was among those seriously injured. The blast left him blind in one eye and deaf in one ear. Small pieces of shrapnel remained embedded in his body until his death in 2016.

Lorenzo was in a comatose for two weeks and lost sight in his left eye and hearing on the same side.

Bagatsing lost his left leg and suffered a crushed right cheekbone and a shattered right arm as a result of the blast.

Then president Ferdinand E. Marcos was initially blamed for the attack by the Liberal Party as he then suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. He used the incident and other bombings along with the insurgents' botched arms landing of the M/V Karagatan on July 4, 1972 as his justifications for declaring martial law on September 21 of that year.

As a background, Sison, in the 1970s, asked for support from then-chair Mao Zedong of the Chinese Communist Party.

Military reports indicated Sison’s emissaries negotiated for weapons including M-16 rifles, ammunition, and heavy weapons. These reports said China also supplied about 1,200 M-14 rifles, bazookas, mortars, communication equipment and medical kits.

China was said to have denied the CPP-New People's Army (NPA) request for a submarine prompting Fidel Agcaoili, Sison’s personal emissary, to go to Japan to acquire the Kishi Maru -- a 91-ton, 90-foot steel-hulled old fishing trawler.

China agreed to pay for the boat, which was renamed M/V Karagatan. On the later part of June 1972, the ship loaded with weapons departed from Fukien and sailed for Digoyo Point in Palanan, Isabela.

Meanwhile, NPA fighters trekked through the Sierra Madre to Digoyo Point for the grand arms landing.

But seemingly out of nowhere, the Philippine military showed up and intercepted the NPA. Military reconnaissance aircraft baited and wore down the trawler.

For several days, the military and NPA battled each other from the shores of Digoyo. As the military has more firepower with a coordinated air and naval gunfire, the NPAs escaped to Quirino province through the thick and rugged jungle terrain of Sierra Madre.

Since then the Plaza Miranda bombing would be outrightly blamed on Marcos by the opposition until the former military officer-turned-NPA commander and rebel returnee Victor Corpus revealed that the attack was ordered by Sison.

Corpus was the one who led the NPA fighters in receiving the arms from the M/V Karagatan. The account was revisited in an episode of GMA Network’s documentary program I-Witness titled “Ang Pagbabalik sa Karagatan” aired in 2012, where Corpus accompanied broadcast journalist Howie Severino and his team to the remote northern Sierra Madre to search for the wreck of the boat.

Corpus alleged that Sison deployed the cadre responsible for the attack in an interview in November 1986 and in the autobiographical prologue of his 1989 book "Silent War," he claimed to have overheard some CPP leaders discussing the attack shortly after it took place.

Corpus, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1967, defected to the NPA due to alleged corruption in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in 1970 and shortly after led the raid on the Philippine Military Academy armory on December 29 of that year.

Disgruntled with the NPA and its execution of its own followers, Corpus surrendered in 1976 and spent the rest of his life under the Marcos regime in jail until granted clemency by then President Corazon "Cory" Aquino shortly after the EDSA People Power Revolution of 1986.

He was reinstated in the AFP in 1987 with the rank of lieutenant colonel and retired as a brigadier general in 2004.

Corpus also served as head of the Intelligence Service of the AFP prior to his retirement.

In a Washington Post article in August 1989, it claimed that the CPP leadership decided to carry out the attack as part of their efforts to push the country to the brink of a revolution as they thought the Plaza Miranda bombing will force Marcos to conduct a crackdown against his opponents.

With this scenario, they thought it will drive thousands of political activists to go underground making it easier for insurgents to recruit and arm more fighters.

In his column By the Way published by the Philippine Star in 2004, the late veteran journalist Max Soliven said Corpus went to his house prior to his 1976 surrender and told him that it was Sison who ordered the Plaza Miranda bombing and not Marcos.

Corpus also said Sison believed that an attack on the opposition will be blamed on Marcos and his government.

In 2018, then Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana also tagged Sison as the mastermind of the Plaza Miranda bombing after the CPP founder tagged the military for the murder of nine workers in a sugar farm in Sagay City, Negros Occidental.

"Yeah right! Coming from the mastermind of the Plaza Miranda bombing, the killing of hundreds of New People’s Army (NPA) cadres suspected of being agents of the government, as well as assassination/killings of innocent civilians in the past 50 years?" he said.

Lorenzana also warned Sison to refrain from pointing fingers, noting that the CPP founder's "other fingers are pointing back at you".

"You have been unmasked as the man behind these atrocities by no less than your former comrades. Your psywar no longer works. Nobody, even your so-called fighters, believe you anymore," he added.

Lorenzana also said Sison is doomed to be consigned to the dustbin of history as a pathetic revolutionary failure, who has achieved nothing significant and instead brought bloodshed and suffering to the Filipino people.

Also in 2018, one of the CPP founding members, Ruben Guevarra, in a documentary produced by Sambayanan, tagged Sison as the one who gave orders to throw grenades at the said gathering.

"Ang Plaza Miranda bombing ay bahagi lamang ng isang serye ng kampanya na ginawa ng CPP. Ito'y bahagi nung sinasabi naming Oplan Big Leap Forward (The Plaza Miranda bombing is only a part of a series of campaign carried out by the CPP. This is part of what we call Oplan Big Leap Forward)," recalled Guevarra, who was also then part of CPP's Central Committee.

Guevarra said anyone who will reveal the CPP's involvement in the bombing will suffer the highest form of punishment in their organization but added that Danny Cordero -- leader of the group that carried out the bombing -- himself stood firm on the fact that it was Sison who gave them the order for the bombing.

Guevarra said the CPP also conspired with the government of then-Chinese leader Mao Zedong to wage an armed battle.

"Nung naipakita na namin yung umiral na yung revolutionary situation, may kakayahan na talaga na armado ang NPA na sumagupa, ipagkakaloob na samin ni Cho In Li yung tulong na pinansyal at armaments (When we were able to show a revolutionary situation, and that the NPA was ready to go into an armed battle, then-Chinese Premier Cho In Li would grant us financial help and armaments)," he said.

In the same documentary, Corpus corroborated Guevarra's story saying he was the one who gathered the firearms in Isabela.

Guevarra said the fact that the communist struggle lasted for 50 years showed that Filipinos do not want the ideology.

"Huwag na tayong patangay diyan sa sinasabi ng mga komunista, limampung taon na ito (Let us not be swayed by the words of the communists, it has been 50 years), my God," Guevarra added.

Guevarra said the communist ideology is not the solution, as it destroyed the God-centered and family-oriented values of Filipinos.