Saturday, February 18, 2023

Kalinaw News: 1 NPA killed, war materiel seize in Eastern Samar clash

 Posted to Kalinaw News (Feb 19, 2023): 1 NPA killed, war materiel seize in Eastern Samar clash

CAMP VICENTE LUKBAN, Catbalogan City – A New People’s Army (NPA) rebel was killed while assorted war material were seized during an encounter in Borongan City, Eastern Samar on February 18, 2023.

The troops of 78th Infantry “Warrior” Battalion (78IB) clashed with more or less 9 Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) members after a concerned citizen reported the presence of an armed group in the hinterlands of Barangay San Andres, Borongan City, Eastern Samar, on the afternoon of February 17, 2023. Recovered during the encounter were one M16 rifle and a backpack.

A pursuit operation was then conducted that resulted in another encounter at 11 a.m. on February 18. The clash resulted in the death of one unidentified CTG member and the recovery of one prohibited Anti-Personnel Mine (APM) and assorted ammunition.

In his statement, Lieutenant Colonel Allan Tria, the Commanding Officer of the 78IB appealed to the remaining members of the CTGs to consider laying down their arms and return to the folds of the law as the army will continue its offensive against the CTGs.

“Hindi maipagkakaila na sa bakas ng mga dugo na mayroong mga sugatang NPA sa engkwentro, hinihiling namin sa ating residente na makipag tulungan sa paghahanap sa mga sugatan upang agarang mabigyan ng paunang lunas at mailigtas sila sa tiyak na kapahamakan,” Lt. Col. Tria said.

Meanwhile, Major General Camilo Z. Ligayo, the Commander of 8ID commended the troops of 78IB for their efforts of bringing peace in Eastern Samar.

“Once again, the CTG leadership failed to take care of their fallen comrade. They have been deceiving the people of Samar Island to join their futile and ill-motivated armed struggle ever since. I call on the Samar Island people to join us in our efforts and once and for all End the Local Communist Armed Conflict here in Eastern Visayas,” added Maj. Gen. Ligayo

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.

BIFF leader, aide killed in Tacurong

From MindaNews (Feb 19, 2023): BIFF leader, aide killed in Tacurong (By FERDINANDH B. CABRERA)

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 19 February) — A top leader of the IS-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) operating in Maguindanao was killed along with his aide at the bus terminal in Tacurong City on Saturday noon.

Brigadier General Pedro Balisi Jr., commander of the 1st Mechanized Brigade, identified the slain suspects as Abdulkarem Lumbatan Hasim, also known as “Boy Jacket,” and his aide Mahmod Lumbatan alias Mahmod Capunlo.

Lt. Col. Bryan Bernardino, newly-installed Tacurong City police, said the success of the operation was “a product of good coordination and intelligence efforts of all security forces.”

Scene at the bus terminal in Tacurong City on Saturday noon, 18 February 2023 where Abdulkarem Lumbatan Hasim, leader of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, was killed along with his aide. Photo courtesy of JAY SARMIENTO BANTILAN

Authorities recovered a motorcycle, a Taurus Cal. 45 pistol with live ammunition, a smartphone, and a keypad cellphone from the suspects.

Balisi said Hasim was the Field Commander of the BIFF-KF and a notorious criminal in the area.

Balisi said Hasim was behind the August 29, 2022 ambush of police personnel who were just serving a warrant of arrest at Brgy. Kapinpilan in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao.

Killed in the ambush were Lieutenant Reynaldo Orcine Samson, Chief of Police of Ampatuan and Police Corporal Salipuden Talipasan Endab while three other police personnel were wounded.

He said the suspect was also implicated in multiple harassment incidents resulting in casualties in Maguindanao del Sur.

Balisi added that Hasim was responsible for the harassment of the Butalo Patrol Base, resulting in the death of Corporal Allan R. Balena and the injury of Corporal Catalan on October 12, 2022.

The suspect was also linked to incidents in Brgy. Labu Labu 2, Datu Hoffer Ampatuan, Maguindanao del Sur, on November 25, 2022, and at the Goco Patrol Base on December 25, 2022, which resulted in injuries to military personnel, he said.

Major General Alex S. Rillera, Commander of the 6th Infantry (Kampilan) Division and Joint Task Force Central, noted that the neutralization of alias Boy Jacket and his companion was a significant blow to the BIFF-KF, and a victory for the authorities in maintaining peace and order in the area, and for the victims, a victory for justice.

Rillera urged other BIFF members surrender to pave the way for sustainable peace and progress in South and South Central Mindanao.

“Your Army, in collaboration with other government forces, will continue to pursue those accountable for the heinous acts in the area. Rest assured that we shall sustain military operations to finally finish the remaining terrorists in South and South Central Mindanao” he said.

Incidents of harassment in South China Sea frequent: DFA chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 19, 2023): Incidents of harassment in South China Sea frequent: DFA chief (By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora)

SECURITY CONFERENCE. Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo (2nd from left) during a panel discussion at the 2023 Munich Security Conference on Saturday (Feb. 18, 2023). Also in photo are (from left) Brazil Foreign Minister Mauro Luiz Lecker Vieira, Colombia Vice President Francia Marquez, Namibia Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila and Munich Security Conference chief Christoph Heusgen. (Courtesy of DFA Sec. Enrique Manalo)

MANILA – There have been regular cases of “harassment” in the disputed South China Sea, Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo confirmed before a security conference in Munich, Germany over the weekend.

Speaking during a panel discussion on “Defending the United Nations (UN) Charter and the Rules-Based International Order,” Manalo said these actions had hindered Manila from maximizing the resources in its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zones.

“[O]n a day-to-day basis, there are still many events occurring in the South China Sea, and there are daily incidents, at least as far as we see it, of cases of harassment or land reclamation, which in many cases have been depriving the Philippines of the use of our exclusive economic zone,” he said during the Munich Security Conference panel session on Saturday, a recorded video of which was released by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

“It is these challenges which the Philippines and other countries in our region face, especially those who have claims also in the South China Sea,” he noted.

Since the beginning of 2023, the DFA had lodged nine notes verbales and diplomatic protests before China, whose “increasing intensity of actions” against Filipino vessels in the West Philippine Sea have been openly criticized by President Ferdinand R. Marcos.

Manalo said the Philippines continues to abide by the 2016 arbitral ruling, which stated that China’s nine-dash line over the vital sealane is illegal.

As Manila asserts this decision, Manalo said the UN could further help by creating greater awareness on the importance of a rules-based maritime order.

Manalo said the Security Council could initiate an open debate not necessarily on the arbitral award but on “rule and order to prevail in the maritime domain and the South China Sea”.

“I think discussions like that would help create greater awareness on the importance of UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) and also maintaining a rules-based order so that any disputes or conflicts are settled through the rule of law and through peaceful means and not through coercive measures or aggressive moves,” he said.

The call came amid heightened tensions between the Philippines and China after the latter’s coast guard flashed a military-grade laser against a Filipino vessel on Feb. 6, temporarily blinding its crew.

In the same panel discussion, Manalo clarified that the maritime row over the West Philippine Sea would not be the sum total of Beijing and Manila relations.

“It's a very complex situation, the Philippines and other countries in the region have very strong links with China on the economic and cultural front. So that creates greater, more complexity to the situation,” he said.

Meanwhile, Manalo said he had a “candid exchange” with Ambassador Fu Ying, vice chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National People’s Congress of China.

“We talked about the latest incidents around Ayungin Shoal and how to further strengthen (Philippine-China) relations while managing our maritime differences and regional security challenges in Indo-Pacific,” Manalo said.

Suspect in slay of Maguindanao police chief killed in operation

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 19, 2023): Suspect in slay of Maguindanao police chief killed in operation (By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan)

JUSTICE SERVED. The remains of slain Ampatuan, Maguindanao del Sur police chief Lt. Reynaldo Samson arrive at the Philippine Airlines cargo terminal 2 in Pasay City on Sept. 1, 2022. Samson, who hailed from Muntinlupa City, and another police officer were both killed in an ambush in August 2022 and given justice when their suspected killer was gunned down while resisting arrest on Saturday (Feb. 18, 2023). (Photo by Avito C. Dalan)

MANILA – The suspect in the ambush-slay of the police chief of Ampatuan town in Maguindanao del Sur province and his driver was killed in an operation on Saturday morning.

Abdulkarim Hasim (alias Boy Jacket) was killed at 6:30 a.m. in Purok Yellow Bell, Barangay New Isabela, Tacurong City, according to a statement by Philippine National Police chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. on Sunday.

Hasim was identified as the main perpetrator in the slay of Ampatuan police chief Lt. Reynaldo Samson and his driver, Cpl. Salipuden Endad, in Barangay Kapinpilan in August 2022.

Azurin said the Hasim was gunned down by security forces as he resisted arrest during the serving of a warrant of arrest for murder and double frustrated murder.

The suspect was also linked to a series of harassments of the patrol base of the 40th Infantry Battalion, 601st Brigade in Datu Hoffer Ampatuan.

Azurin expressed gratitude to the community for their support and cooperation that led to the neutralization of the suspect.

He also encouraged the public to remain vigilant and to report any suspicious activities to authorities.

Injustice persists amid security shake-up in the Philippines

Posted to the East Asia Forum (Feb 18, 2023): Injustice persists amid security shake-up in the Philippines (By Kevin Nielsen M Agojo, City University of Hong Kong)

Barely a year into his administration, Philippine President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr has undertaken a major reorganisation of state security institutions.

Marcos Jr appointed General Andres Centino as Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), a position that Centino held under former president Rodrigo Duterte. Some analysts believe that his return to the AFP is due to his track record in combating armed insurgencies, which remains a top security issue. But his reappointment was not without controversy. Jose Faustino Jr, resigned as officer-in-charge of the Department of National Defense (DND) after being kept in the dark about Centino’s appointment.

Carlito Galvez Jr was appointed as Secretary of National Defense following Faustino’s resignation, having served in various capacities under Duterte. Clarita Carlos, who admitted that she was confused and uninformed of these changes, was also subsequently replaced as National Security Adviser (NSA) by Eduardo Ano. Like Galvez, Ano handled different offices during the Duterte administration such as Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and AFP Chief of Staff. Progressives slammed Ano’s appointment, arguing that it was during his time at the DILG that false accusations against activists intensified.

While these appointments may suggest Marcos Jr’s confidence in Duterte’s ex-cabinet members in steering the security sector, this reshuffle transpired amid an alleged destabilisation plot in the military and the mass resignation of DND officials. Galvez dispelled reports of military unrest, although he acknowledged discontent over delays in promotions and official designations. Critics also claim that this shake-up is part of a ‘widespread ongoing purge’ of appointees linked with Marcos Jr’s former executive secretary Vic Rodriguez, who resigned in September 2022 following a string of controversies.

After being instrumental in shaping local politics and operationalising the brutal but popular war on illegal drugs during the Duterte administration, the Philippine National Police (PNP) is also now under heavy scrutiny. Current DILG Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr called for police generals and colonels to submit their ‘courtesy resignation’ in an attempt to purge the ‘deeply entrenched’ illegal drug problem within the PNP. This development came at the heels of disreputable episodes of police involvement in the narcotics trade. By mid-January 2023, 928 out of the 953 generals and full colonels had tendered their courtesy resignations.

Despite these troubles, the bloody drug war continues. A total of 175 casualties were recorded in the first six months of the Marcos Jr presidency, a slight increase from the 149 casualties during Duterte’s final six months in office. A stark difference between the two leaders regarding the anti-drug campaign is that Marcos Jr is not outwardly vocal in encouraging the police to kill unlike Duterte, who even bestowed the police with a ‘licence to kill’ by assuring them of protection from prosecution.

The continuation of drug-related killings and the absence of a concrete strategy towards his promised ‘new approach’ in the drug war indicates that the Marcos Jr administration has effectively allowed Duterte’s bloody approach to continue. Given how the PNP has veered away from their professional duties, it seems that greater reforms than an internal cleansing and a new strategy in its anti-drug campaign are necessary.

The saga in the Philippine security sector unfolds amid persistent social injustice. In December 2022, hundreds of activists gathered in Manila to protest the alleged rising numbers of extrajudicial killings and political prisoners. The rights group Karapatan documented at least 17 cases of extrajudicial killings and the arrest of 25 political prisoners under the current administration.

Activism also remains under siege. The Supreme Court of the Philippines recently ordered the military and police to prove that they did not violate the rights of two peasant organisers, Elena Pampoza and Elgene Mungcal, who have been missing since July 2022. Both were allegedly subjected to harassment by uniformed personnel before their disappearance. In a more recent case, development workers Dyan Gumanao and Armand Dayoha were found after a week’s disappearance. A video of their abduction later surfaced, in which the abductors reportedly introduced themselves as police officers. The PNP said that an investigation is underway.

But seeking justice under the Marcos Jr administration may be challenging. Marcos Jr is unapologetic and makes false claims about the brutalities of his father’s dictatorial regime. He also made no explicit mention of his human rights agenda during his first State of the Nation Address. Earlier in his term, he ruled out the possibility of the Philippines rejoining the International Criminal Court, which plans to resume its probe of the drug war.

While the onset of 2023 saw the acquittal of human rights activists on a perjury case filed in 2019 by a former NSA, the verdict that made bigger headlines was the acquittal of Justice Secretary Jesus Remulla’s son over illegal drug possession charges. The latter drew criticisms for its speedy trial when thousands of other cases involving underprivileged Filipinos are left languishing.

Much is expected from Marcos Jr given the majority victory he earned in the 2022 election. But with a great mandate comes great responsibility. Rather than the unifying leader that he claimed he was back in the campaign period, Marcos Jr is allegedly acting more like a figurehead, which may explain the unaddressed ills within the security forces and the justice system. With eight foreign trips in under seven months, he also may have been too occupied to attend to domestic problems. Should Marcos Jr fail to act on public concerns, the plight of the masses will worsen — and the vicious cycle of injustice will remain unabated.

[Kevin Nielsen M Agojo is a PhD student in the Department of Public and International Affairs, City University of Hong Kong.]

[East Asia Forum is a platform for analysis and research on politics, economics, business, law, security, international relations and society relevant to public policy, centred on the Asia Pacific region. It consists of an online publication and a quarterly magazine, East Asia Forum Quarterly, which aim to provide clear and original analysis from the leading minds in the region and beyond.

Based out of the Crawford School of Public Policy within the College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University, the Forum is a joint initiative of two academic research networks: the East Asian Bureau of Economic Research (EABER) and the South Asian Bureau of Economic Research (SABER).]

Meet China’s ‘Futuristic & Covert’ Unit Believed To Be Behind Balloon Campaigns Over US, India & Japan

Posted to the Asia Times (Feb 19, 2023): Meet China’s ‘Futuristic & Covert’ Unit Believed To Be Behind Balloon Campaigns Over US, India & Japan (By Ashish Dangwal)

Spy balloons continue to hog global media attention after a USAF F-22 Raptor shot down a suspected Chinese balloon over the US airspace, causing a diplomatic schism between Beijing and Washington.

Not only the US, reports suggest that Washington’s key ally in the Indo-Pacific, India, was one of the nations targeted by the Chinese fleet of surveillance balloons.

In January 2022, a mysterious white sphere was spotted flying over India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands. According to reports, the object’s appearance was similar to the balloon that the US shot down on February 4, 2023.

The Andaman Sheekha, a local media outlet, broke the story, stating that the white sphere-shaped object, which had a weather balloon-like appearance, caught many people’s attention due to its size and bright white surface.

However, it also excluded the possibility that it was a weather balloon due to the object’s size, shape, and photographs that seemed to show “eight dark panels” hanging from it.

Image from Andamans – Facebook

The Washington Post recently cited several US officials who alleged that the surveillance balloon, which has operated for several years off China’s south coast, in part out of the Hainan province, had gathered data on military assets in nations and regions that are now of emerging strategic interest to China, including Japan, India, Vietnam, Taiwan, and the Philippines.

It appears from all of these accounts that the balloon that appeared over Andaman and Nicobar was Chinese and likely flew over Indian airspace, breaching Indian sovereignty. It is unknown whether New Delhi was successful in locating the balloon.

Why Is The Indian Government Silent?

While the Indian government has remained mum on the subject, other nations have voiced their anxieties over the balloon saga.

For instance, Japan said it strongly believed three “balloon-shaped flying objects” spotted in its airspace between November 2019 and September 2021 were Chinese “unmanned reconnaissance” aircraft.

In fact, according to new criteria accepted by Japan’s ruling party, the Self-Defense Forces will be permitted to use weapons to destroy balloons and drones violating Japanese airspace if such objects represent a safety threat.

Similarly, on February 16, Taiwan’s military said that it had discovered the wreckage of a likely crashed weather balloon, most likely from China, on a remote and important island close to the Chinese coast.

Even though the situation has drawn attention globally, India has kept a strikingly muted position. Manoj Kewalramani, a fellow of China studies at the Takshashila Institution in India, told CNN, “silence was simply more New Delhi’s style.”

He emphasized that traditionally, India has never discussed these issues, and if the US has briefed India on the Chinese surveillance operation, India will be extremely cautious about what they reveal to maintain that relationship with Beijing.

Nevertheless, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are strategically important for India because the most crucial shipping lanes pass through the region.

The islands are also a vital military asset for India because of their locations, and it is the only place where the Indian armed services have an integrated tri-service (army, navy, and air force) base.

Thus, several experts also question India’s capacity to fire down such balloons. Given that the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are critical to Indian sovereignty, the appearance of such suspicious balloons raises serious concerns about India’s tardy response. File Image: Indian Air Force/Twitter

PLA’s Secret Unit Behind Balloon Campaign?

Meanwhile, China has vehemently denied operating a balloon spying program. It further disputes Tokyo’s claims, maintaining that the US-downed craft was a weather balloon blown off track.

The bitter dispute between the United States and China over balloons is not restricted to regions near the continental United States. Many experts believe it is part of a larger spy program run by the Chinese military worldwide.

According to Katsuji Nakazawa’s analysis for Nikkei Asia, the operations might have been carried out by a futuristic unit of the People’s Liberation Army formed on the orders of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The analysis noted that the Strategic Support Force (SSF), a covert PLA unit to integrate artificial intelligence capabilities throughout the military, is thought to be responsible for running China’s spy balloon program.

A Pentagon report to the US Congress previously stated that the Strategic Support Force (SSF), a theatre command-level organization established in 2015 as part of a significant PLA restructuring.

The unit was formed to centralize the PLA’s strategic space, cyberspace, electronic, information, communications, and psychological warfare missions and capabilities.

The South China Sea appears to be its most crucial theatre, where the unit carries out surveillance, warning operations, and information-gathering tasks. Such activities seem to involve the use of balloons.

The huge balloon shot out of the sky off the coast of South Carolina had antennas that were likely used for communications snooping, which suggested a connection to the SSF.

Early in 2021, the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier group and its escorting ships performed freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea. A spy balloon was sighted flying high above the US carrier strike group, possibly gathering intelligence on each action taken by the Americans.

The South China Sea extends south of Hainan Island, where the PLA is steadily building a significant military presence. The EurAsian Times recently published an in-depth analysis explaining the role of Hainan Island, often known as China’s Hawaii, in deploying surveillance balloons.

The SSF is cloaked in secrecy. However, Nakazawa cited an article published in the state-run Global Times that provided a glimpse of the scale of SSF’s role.

The SSF is made up of three units with separate responsibilities: the cyberwarfare unit, which guards against hacking attacks; the space warfare unit, which is in charge of spy satellites and China’s own BeiDou Navigation Satellite System; and the electronic warfare unit, which interferes with enemy radar and communications.

Additionally, it appears that the SSF was created partly to increase the PLA’s overall “jointness,” or capacity for conducting joint operations.

Historically, the PLA has struggled to innovate and introduce new command and control as well as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities, making it challenging to participate in integrated joint operations.

Several scholars have hypothesized that the SSF plays a crucial role in enhancing the PLA’s overall jointness because the information support offered by the SSF presumably includes intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance to facilitate strategic and operational objectives.

Current signs of the SSF’s growth include the emergence of online job postings for hiring new personnel. Surprisingly straightforward, the hiring procedure seeks fresh talent in the same way that private businesses do.

According to a Pentagon study submitted to Congress, the SSF conducts its operations within the framework of “three warfares”: public opinion, psychological warfare, and legal warfare.

In case of a possible Taiwan crisis, the US anticipates China’s cyberwarfare unit will try to conduct psychological operations to sway Taiwanese public opinion.

Laws and regulations in China clearly state that weather-related military affairs are under the control of the Central Military Commission. This is led by Chinese President Xi as chairman. The SSF is said to have taken on this duty since the military reform in 2015.

Observers argue that controlling large, sophisticated balloons is a crucial military duty. Balloons have been spotted in the skies following the building of huge artificial islands in the South China Sea through land reclamation.

The SSF also performs several tasks that are well suited using AI, including processing diverse, high-volume, and rapidly evolving streams of information at rates faster than human capabilities.

Brookings institute previously noted that “of the 12 major military applications of AI that China is developing, at least five are integral to the SSF’s mission: intelligent satellites; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) software; automated cyberattack software; cognitive electronic software; and possibly autonomous vehicles.”

Overall, this unit’s efforts indicate that China is keen to collect crucial surveillance information on its adversaries using various technologies to challenge American dominance in the Indo-Pacific.

In message to China, US and Philippines schedule naval exercises

Posted to Big News Network (Feb 19, 2023): In message to China, US and Philippines schedule naval exercises (By Robert Besser)

MANILLA, Philippines: Amidst growing tensions with China in the South China Sea, Manila's army chief, Romeo Brawner, said that this year the Philippines and the US will hold their largest joint military exercises since 2015.

Coming after the Philippines condemned China's "aggressive" actions in the disputed waterway, including its use of a "military-grade laser" against one of Manila's vessels earlier this month, the 'Balikatan' exercises highlight the Asian country's improved relations with the US under President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Brawner added that the annual exercises will involve more than the previous year's 8,900 troops, and will be held in the second quarter of this year.

"All of these exercises that we are doing are in response to all types of threats that we may be facing in the future, both man-made and natural," Brawner said.

Meanwhile, President Marcos summoned the Chinese ambassador and expressed his "serious concern" over China's activities in the South China Sea, most of which is claimed by Beijing as its territory.

After the use of a laser against a Philippine vessel on 6th February, which China's foreign ministry insists was legal, Australia, Japan, and the US have expressed their support for the Philippines.

Pentagon spokesperson Brigadier General Patrick Ryder tweeted that Washington will "redouble its efforts with our Philippine ally to bolster the Philippine military and coast guard's defense capabilities, as we work shoulder-to-shoulder to uphold the rules-based international order."

As part of Washington's efforts to curb China's increasing assertiveness in the South China Sea and tension over Taiwan, the Philippines has granted the US greater access to its military bases.

Arrest warrant served vs NPA member

 From the Manila Times (Feb 19, 2023): Arrest warrant served vs NPA member

CAMP MELCHOR F DELA CRUZ, Upi, Gamu, Isabela: A warrant of arrest was served against a member of the New People's Army (NPA) at the 5th Infantry Division (5ID) Camp Melchor F. Dela Cruz Station Hospital here. 

According to Capt. Rigor Pamittan, 5ID Public Affairs Office chief, Yusida Orion alias Brown was charged with three counts of attempted murder based on the warrant of arrest issued by Judge Isaac de Alban of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 16, in Ilagan City. 

Pamittan said Orion is allowed to post bail amounting to P120,000 for each of the criminal cases. 

It was the San Mariano town police who served the warrant to Orion on February 15. 

According to police, Orion was also a member of the Kabataan Makabayan, tagged by authorities as an underground youth organization, while studying at the De La Salle University. 

He became a regular armed member of the NPA-Benito Tesorio Command in 2015 in Isabela. 

In 2018, he was then assigned as squad leader of Komiteng Larangan Guerilla Quirino-Nueva Vizcaya and became the secretary of the Regional Sentro de Gravidad, Komiteng Rehiyon-Cagayan Valley until it was dismantled in 2022. 

Pamittan said Orion was abandoned by his comrades after a firefight in Baggao town in Cagayan province which led to his surrender to the military. He said further investigation into Orion's person revealed that he has a standing warrant of arrest issued on June 5, 2022. Pamittan said Orion is still confined at the Camp Melchor F. Dela Cruz Station Hospital for medical treatment.

Case studies: Non-state armed groups in the Philippines – Assessing the effectiveness of the Arms Trade Treaty, Part 9

 Posted to AOAV (Feb 15, 2023): Case studies: Non-state armed groups in the Philippines – Assessing the effectiveness of the Arms Trade Treaty, Part 9 (By AOAV)

[Go to the following URL for a full copy of the report:]

The Philippines signed the ATT in 2013, the first Southeast Asian state to do so. However, the process of integrating the systems and legislation to comply with the ATT took a number of years, meaning the Philippines did not ratify the ATT until March 2022, with it entering into force in June 2022.[i] They are the first ASEAN state to join the ATT and it is hoped this may motivate further ASEAN countries to join and ratify, particularly the six others who have already signed the ATT.

One of the key problems with arms in the Philippines is the availability of small arms and light weapons, which has meant that non-state groups, and even individuals, can easily access such weapons, for use in attacks, as a threat, or as protection. Non-state groups are the main cause of civilian casualties from manufactured explosive weapons in the Philippines. Though, it should be noted, that the Philippines’ ‘War on Drugs’ and other acts of state violence have also resulted in the deaths of thousands and had further impacts, which we are unable to explore here.[ii]

This case study will examine the impact of manufactured explosive weapon use in the Philippines, particularly grenade incidents. The section will then explore the impact of the ATT and the process of implementation and ratification on this type of violence in the Philippines.

Civilian deaths and injuries from Philippines explosive weapon use

The above table indicates the harm seen each year from the use of manufactured explosive weapons across the Philippines. The vast majority of these casualties are due to grenade use; with 772 civilian casualties caused by grenades in this period.

Mortars were responsible for 44 civilian casualties, RPGs for 11, and airstrikes and air-dropped bombs for 10. Of all civilian casualties from manufactured explosive weapons, state actors were responsible for 14, non-state actors for 360 and for 468 it was unclear – many with an unknown perpetrator are likely to be due to explosive weapon use by non-state actors. Many are also likely to be caused by individuals, with weapons so easily available.

The vast majority of incidents were recorded without the perpetrating group identified. Some of the key non-state groups which are named in the data though, are: the New People’s Army (NPA), the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and Abu Sayyaf. Many of the incidents were also due to the use of grenades in gang-related violence or personal violence. 73 civilian casualties also occurred as a result of accidental grenade explosions, indicating the further harm as a result of the wide-scale availability.

As there is not the same level of violence as has been seen in some of the other case studies and the weapons used are lighter and with a smaller blast radius, it can be harder to identify the reverberating impacts. Nevertheless, the below will indicate some of the further consequences of light explosive weapons use by non-state actors in the Philippines, as it remains the case that these weapons are linked to harm that goes beyond deaths and injuries.
Impact on infrastructure and communities

AOAV recorded five incidents of grenade use and one of mortar use which resulted in reported damage to infrastructure as well as casualties, between 2012 and 2021. These mostly resulted in damage to homes in residential areas; one damaged a military outpost. As it is grenades and other light weapons, as well as small arms, that are most commonly used, the level of damage to infrastructure is likely to be significantly less than with the heavy explosive weapons more commonly used in the previous case studies. The casualties, as well as fear and other psychological harm caused, when these weapons are used in populated areas nonetheless remains significant.

AOAV has frequently recorded the use of these weapons in incidents which could demonstrate the use of these weapons to cause fear and intimidation, particularly during election periods, as well as during family disputes.

Impact on health and well-being

AOAV recorded at least three incidents of manufactured explosive weapon use at hospitals. Two were grenade incidents, causing four casualties in total, and one saw four mortars hit Zamboanga Medical Center in 2013, causing 11 injuries.

There is little further information on the long-term impact for healthcare. Nevertheless, we know that many of the casualties will require lifelong care or face more frequent hospital visits due to their injuries. Of the 842 civilian casualties recorded from manufactured explosive weapon use in the Philippines, the vast majority, 753 (or 89%), were injured. At least 81 of the casualties (dead and injured) were children; the injured among them may require health interventions throughout their life. Injuries are one of the leading causes of lost disability-adjusted life years in the Philippines.[iii]

Further, the regions worst impacted see the lowest levels of healthcare personnel compared to the population; with the country’s healthcare system already understaffed.[iv]
Impact on education

AOAV recorded at least four grenade attacks at schools between 2012 and 2021. The attacks resulted in 31 civilian casualties and 2 armed personnel casualties. Many children were casualties in these attacks; one child was killed. At least two of these attacks occurred during an election period when the schools were also being used as polling stations. Elections often see an increase in violence in the Philippines.

The GCPEA also recorded some additional incidents, without casualties, including: an RPG attack at a college in Maguindanao province on November 18th 2017; a grenade attack on a field next to an elementary school in Pagalungan, in Maguindanao, during local elections on May 14th 2018; an incident where an armed group set off a landmine in front of a school in Barangay San Vincente, Dimasalang town, Masbate province, on June 4th 2018; and, a mortar attack on a school in Patikul town in Sulu province, while medical services were being provided there by military and NGO personnel, on February 16th 2019.[v] In 2021, the GCPEA also identified a grenade attack at Bicol University in Albay province, which caused slight damage.[vi]

Additionally, indigenous schools, or Lumad schools, have often been targeted by state aggression and paramilitary groups which has forced many to close.[vii
Impact of the ATT

While the impact of these arms may not seem as serious as seen in the previous two case studies, the Philippines highlights other aspects where the ATT could have an impact in preventing harm from explosive weapons: providing international assistance and preventing diversion. Therefore, this case study will not examine which states export arms to the Philippines,[viii] but instead, what impact the Philippines’ ATT implementation process had on this harm.

A M60CMA 60mm commando mortar of the Philippine Army, 23 March 2022, Philippine Army Facebook official page, Public Affairs Office, Philippine Army.

The problem

As has already been acknowledged, there is a wide availability of small arms and light weapons across the Philippines, and it is these light weapons, particularly grenades, which have been responsible for causing the harm described above.

According to Small Arms Survey research carried out in 2013,[ix] the year the Philippines signed the ATT, three key groups, the NPA, Abu Sayyaf and MILF, had weapon reserves which include light explosive weapons – other groups and individuals across the Philippines also have access to these weapons.

Among the types of manufactured explosive weapons that the NPA had in their reserves were mortars, grenade launchers, grenades, RPGs and landmines. The MILF and Abu Sayyaf had mortars, RPGs and grenade launchers.

Of 1,000 small arms, light weapons and rounds of light weapons ammunition seized by the Philippines government between 2007 and 2012, 13% were grenades and grenade launchers and 12% were landmines.[x] The majority were firearms while a small amount were rockets, RPGs, or mortars. It should be noted a number of these explosive weapons were craft-produced.

Grenades accounted for the most common manufactured explosive weapon seized, which could account for the scale of grenade incidents in the Philippines in the years following 2012, as recorded by AOAV. Nearly all of the grenade launchers seized were US-designed under-barrel M203 or hand-held, single-shot M79 launchers. Some of the IEDs had also been constructed using 60mm and 81mm mortar rounds.

Also worth noting, is that nearly half of the mortars captured were seized from ‘the Ampatuans’, members and supporters of a powerful political family in Maguindanao.[xi]

The weapons appear to have mostly been sourced from military and police depots, such as through attack and looting[xii] Reports indicate that soldiers and police have been a key source of grenades on the illicit market.[xiii]


There have been many instances of support and assistance to the Philippines as part of their ATT implementation.[xiv] Most have focused on technical and legal assistance to help implement the ATT, as well as building capacity.

The United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific (UNRCPD), for example, in 2017 completed a two-month project working with the Philippines to strengthen national capacity to control weapons transfers and prevent their illicit trade and diversion.[xv] Some of the specific areas of focus were physical security and stockpile management; this would directly address the ways in which arms have made their way into non-state group hands in the Philippines and, if addressed properly, could lead to a reduction in the violence outlined above.

The Philippines has also been supported by assistance in improving export systems, such as the European Union Outreach Programme. This programme saw expert visits, organised dialogues, regional seminars, and other initiatives organised with the Philippines in order to assist in their ATT implementation, and utilise expertise and experience on a range of areas related to arms transfers and challenges.[xvi]

It seems that this process of implementation and the international assistance provided, not only saw the Philippines ratify the ATT in 2022, but also appears to have helped contribute to a reduction of violence from explosive weapons.

AOAV’s data shows that the number of grenade attacks, and the number of casualties caused as a result, have consistently declined in recent years. In 2021, AOAV recorded 12 casualties (10 civilian and 2 armed actors) caused by 4 grenade incidents; a fall of 95% from 238 casualties (214 civilians and 28 armed actors) in 2012.

Further indicators, like total homicide deaths, also seem to suggest steps taken by the Philippines to implement the ATT and prevent the diversion of weapons have led to a reduction in violence. While homicide rates remain high, with 4,764 in 2019, this is the lowest rate seen in over two decades.[xvii] Though it should also be borne in mind that the violent crackdown by the Philippines government as part of their ‘War on Drugs’ may have contributed to this, though these actions themselves resulted in thousands of deaths, which are not captured by these figures.

Control Arms coalition members with Libran N. Cabactulan, Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations after signing the Arms Trade Treaty. CREDIT: Champion Hamilton, 27 September 2013. Source: controlarms/9969008953/ (Control Arms)

Navigate the report:

Assessing the effectiveness of the Arms Trade Treaty – Executive Summary

Part 1: Nation-by-nation review analysis

Part 2: Who is causing the most harm?

Part 3: Who is providing arms?

Part 4: Thematic examination

Part 5: Conclusion

Part 6: Recommendations

Part 7: Case studies – Myanmar’s military

Part 8: Case studies – Saudi Arabia in Yemen

Part 9: Case studies – Non-state armed groups in the Philippines

Part 10: Case studies – the Taliban

Part 11: Case studies – China before and after ATT accession

Part 12: Case studies – the United Kingdom, from key ATT architect to key violator?

[i] Control Arms, ‘The Philippines joins the Arms Trade Treaty’, 29 March 2022, (accessed 07 Jan 2023)

[ii] You can read more on the harm from the Philippines’ ‘War on Drugs’ here: Human Rights Watch, ‘“License to Kill”: Philippine Police Killings in Duterte’s “War on Drugs”’, 02 March 2017, (accessed 07 Jan 2023), Ratcliffe, R. and L. Bayani, ‘Victims of Duterte’s drug war in Philippines exhumed as leases run out on their graves ‘, 23 May 2022, Guardian, (accessed 07 Jan 2023)

[iii] Data collected from the WHO ‘The Global Health Observatory: Global health estimates: Leading causes of DALYs’, (accessed 07 Jan 2023), and WHO, 2018. ‘The Philippines Health System Review’, Health Systems in Transition, Vol. 8, No.2.

[iv] WHO, 2018. ‘The Philippines Health System Review’, Health Systems in Transition, Vol. 8, No.2.

[v] Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack, 2020, ‘EDUCATION UNDER ATTACK 2020’, (accessed 07 Jan 2023)

[vi] Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack, 2022, ‘EDUCATION UNDER ATTACK 2022’ (accessed 07 Jan 2023)

[vii] Kennedy, C. ‘Fighting For An Education: Lumad Schools In The Philippines Under Attack’, 02 March 2021, Organization for World Peace, (accessed 07 Jan 2023)

[viii] Though providing arms to the Philippines is not without its concerns under the ATT.

[ix] Schroeder, M. and Small Arms Survey, 2013. Captured and counted: illicit weapons in Mexico and the Philippines. Small Arms Survey 2013: Everyday Dangers, pp.283-317. (accessed 07 Jan 2023)

[x] Schroeder, M. and Small Arms Survey, 2013. Captured and counted: illicit weapons in Mexico and the Philippines. Small Arms Survey 2013: Everyday Dangers, pp.283-317. (accessed 07 Jan 2023)

[xi] Schroeder, M. and Small Arms Survey, 2013. Captured and counted: illicit weapons in Mexico and the Philippines. Small Arms Survey 2013: Everyday Dangers, pp.283-317. (accessed 07 Jan 2023)

[xii] Schroeder, M. and Small Arms Survey, 2013. Captured and counted: illicit weapons in Mexico and the Philippines. Small Arms Survey 2013: Everyday Dangers, pp.283-317. (accessed 07 Jan 2023)

[xiii] ABS-CBN News, ‘’Cops, soldiers sell MK-2 grenades’’, 05 October 2010, (accessed 07 Jan 2023); Falcatan, R., ‘Military captain, police major arrested for gun smuggling, extortion’, 23 March 2021, Rappler, (accessed 07 Jan 2023); Garcia, T., ‘Westmincom to probe soldiers nabbed for gun smuggling’, 24 March 2021, PNA, 07 Jan 2023); Philstar, ‘PNP: Masbate cop linked to illegal arms trade killed in buy-bust’, 24 October 2021, (accessed 07 Jan 2023); Parry, R.L. ‘Duterte police ‘smuggled guns to Philippines jihadists’’, 09 June 2017, Times, (accessed 07 Jan 2023)

[xiv], ‘Reporting Challenges and Assistance Needs IN THE ASIA-PACIFIC REGION’, 2014, (accessed 07 Jan 2023)

[xv] UN, ‘Technical and Legal Assistance Project to Support the Philippines in the Implementation of the UN PoA and the ATT’, 28 March 2017, (accessed 07 Jan 2023)

[xvi] Control Arms, ‘The Philippines joins the Arms Trade Treaty’, 29 March 2022, (accessed 07 Jan 2023) [xvii] Data collected from ‘Philippines – Gun Facts, Figures and the law’: (accessed 07 Jan 2023)

Dusk-to-dawn Sabah east coast sea curfew extended to Mar 6

From The Star (Feb 18, 2023): Dusk-to-dawn Sabah east coast sea curfew extended to Mar 6 (By DURIE RAINER FONG)

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s ongoing dusk-to-dawn sea curfew which ends on Sunday (Feb 19) has been extended for another 14 days to Mar 6.

The curfew, which was extended for the 205th time under Section 31(4) of the Police Act 1967, was first implemented on July 16, 2014.

Under the curfew, residents in areas covered by the rule were required to stay at home from 6pm to 6am while outsiders were not allowed to enter the curfew zones.

Sabah Police Commissioner Comm Datuk Idris Abdullah said the curfew covers areas up to three nautical miles off Sandakan, Beluran, Kinabatangan, Lahad Datu, Kunak, Semporna and Tawau.

The existing threats from cross-border criminals including from kidnap-for-ransom (KFR) groups necessitated the extension of the curfew, he said.

The curfew, he added, was required to ensure terrorists or criminals from southern Philippines did not intrude into Malaysian waters and subsequently ensure the safety of international researchers or foreign tourists visiting islands in Sabah.

"Our intelligence sources detected that KFR groups as well as the Abu Sayyaf group were still attempting to enter the country’s waters and carry out kidnapping activities as well as other cross-border crimes," he said, in a statement on Saturday (Feb 18).

"The curfew will also allow security forces to look after the safety of Sabahans and others who travel at sea and those living on land in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone).

"Besides that, it will enable us to enforce the law and monitor the movement of vessels as well as create a sense of security and confidence among chalet operators and fishermen through the omnipresence of security vessels implementing this curfew," Comm Idris added.

He said he had also given the authority to the respective district police chiefs to issue permits to any applicant who fulfils the necessary requirements to conduct fishing activities or to ply water routes in the curfew areas.

The curfew was enforced following a spate of kidnappings that saw the beheading of Sarawakian Bernard Then Ted Fen and the killing of several others, including a policeman and tourists.

Zamboanga farm raid yields IEDs

From the Manila Times (Feb 19, 2023): Zamboanga farm raid yields IEDs

ZAMBOANGA CITY: Police arrested a man and seized materials used in the manufacture of improvised explosives (IEDs) in the southern Philippine city of Zamboanga, a regional police spokesman said on Saturday, February 18.

Maj. Shellamie Chang said several police units, backed by soldiers, raided a farmhouse in the village of Calabasa owned by Omar Mabanza on Friday, February 17, and arrested him. However, the target of the operation, Jomar Mohammad, managed to escape capture and is being hunted by security forces.

"The target of the operation was Jomar Mohammad, but the latter eluded arrest," she said.

Chang said security forces recovered the following — time fuses, detonating cord, a blasting cap, a tin can filled with explosive material, concrete nails, metal scrap, a 9-volt battery, an ice chest, and an ammo link, among others.

"All the above-mentioned IED components were placed near a coconut kiln just a few meters away from a house occupied by a certain Omar Mabanza y Ajijul, 27 years old," she said.

Police did not say whether Mohammad or Mabanza are members of the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf, whose leaders pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.

Just recently, police commandos also captured a subleader of the Abu Sayyaf, Isnirul Kirih, in the coastal village of Sinunuc here.

Kirih, 51, is facing over two dozen charges of murder and frustrated murder and had escaped military operations in the island province of Basilan, about 44 nautical miles from here.

Police did not say how they tracked down the elusive terrorist, but the operation also involved the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and several other police units.

It was unknown how long Kirih had been hiding in Zamboanga, home of the regional military and police headquarters in the Peninsula, or whether his group was planning an attack.

The Abu Sayyaf, which means "the bearer of the sword," is a small, but notorious group involved in terrorism and ransom kidnappings in the troubled region.

Continuous security operations against the Abu Sayyaf in the South had either killed or led to the surrender of its fighters in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, while some of its fighters joined the Dawlah Islamiya and other jihadist groups in Mindanao.

Abu Sayyaf plot to bomb Zamboanga City foiled

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Feb 18, 2023): Abu Sayyaf plot to bomb Zamboanga City foiled (By: Julie S. Alipala)

Police say thwarted attack meant to divert attention from a plan to spring from prison members of the terror group

ARRESTED Omar Mabanza, a suspected Abu Sayyaf bomber, is escorted by the police after his arrest in Zamboanga City on Friday. —JERRY AMAGA/contributor

ZAMBOANGA CITY—A plan to set off a powerful bomb in this city has been foiled with the arrest of a suspected bomber in an operation at dawn on Friday in Sitio Sapah Dulian of Barangay Calabasa here, about 55 kilometers east of the city center, authorities said.

Police Col. Alexander Lorenzo, the city police director, identified the suspected bomber as Omar Mabanza from whom authorities recovered a complete set of improvised explosive devices with powerful components made of ammonium nitrates, fuel oil, triggering devices and blasting caps.

“It’s a foiled bombing. We are looking at this situation as an attempt to divert our personnel from their mission to rescue their cohorts in the Abu Sayyaf group who are imprisoned at the San Ramon Penal Colony,” Lorenzo told the Inquirer on Friday.

A police report said that Mabanza was with Jomar Mohammad, who managed to escape during the police operation by the Zamboanga City Police Office (ZCPO) at around 4 a.m.

Lorenzo said Mohammad has a brother in the penal colony and was among those planned to be rescued. The penal facility is 22 kilometers west of the city proper.

The imprisoned bandits were scheduled for transfer to other prisons, Lorenzo added.

Big group

He declined to say how many Abu Sayyaf members were in the penal colony for security reasons but Lorenzo said six had already been transferred as of Friday, four in Manila and two in Palawan province.

“We are not just dealing with one or two people here, it’s a big group. We are also studying the relationship of an incident yesterday in one of the drugstores at the city proper,” Lorenzo said, referring to the public panic in a drugstore on Thursday afternoon due to unclaimed baggage.

The plastic biscuit container was unclaimed for almost five hours at Oro Wonder Drug along Magay and Mercado streets, just a few blocks away from the City Hall and the ZCPO headquarters.

It was left at around 1 p.m. by a man who never returned to take it back. After five hours, the drugstore’s security guards called for police assistance.

The immediate vicinity of the drugstore was then cordoned off. The public market was also closed, locking in market-goers, vendors and even passersby as ordnance experts secured the area and inspected the baggage, which was found to contain a handheld radio, shampoo, bath soap, malong (tube skirt) and other personal items.

Lorenzo described the situation on Thursday as “testing the waters, because the malong and handheld radio tested positive of ammonium nitrate, one of the main components for improvised explosive devices.”

He said bomb experts and the city police were now constructing an artist sketch to identify the person who left the baggage inside the drugstore.

“We are tightening the loops now [as] we are not dealing with a single person but a big group. Right now we are having an ongoing pursuit operation and hunting down other colleagues of Mabanza,” Lorenzo added.

Kalinaw News: Community in Laak, DDO Receives 2nd Tranche of Livelihood Projects Thru EO 70

Posted to Kalinaw News (Feb 18, 2023): Community in Laak, DDO Receives 2nd Tranche of Livelihood Projects Thru EO 70

Asuncion, DDN- The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in partnership with the 60th Infantry (MEDIATOR) Battalion together with the Provincial Government of Davao de Oro, successfully launched and turned over the General Merchandise project for the Inakayan Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) Association of Brgy. Inakayan, Laak, DDO yesterday, February 16, 2023.

The general merchandise was a product of the DSWD’s Sustainable Livelihood Program mandated by the former president’s Executive Order No. 70. 

The turnover ceremony was highlighted by a “ribbon cutting” and blessing to ceremonially launched the second tranche of their livelihood program from the DSWD-SLP. 

The said general merchandise serves as a sustainable source of income for the members of the association. 

Barangay Inakayan was one of the many communities in Laak which have already benefited from the said program. To sum up, there are already 21 barangays that have received the second tranche of their livelihood project from the DSWD-SLP in the municipality of Laak alone.

In his statement, Ltc. Merrill C. Sumalinog, Commanding Officer of 60IB, commended the members of the association for the good management of their livelihood projects received from the DSWD-SLP which led them to launch the second tranche of their livelihood project from the said program. Ltc.

 Sumalinog also expressed his gratitude towards the provincial government of Davao de Oro, the municipal local government unit of Laak, and the people of the community for their continuous support to the different programs of the government which will further contribute to the sustainment of the insurgency-free status of Davao Region as a whole.

The activity was attended by the Provincial Government of Davao de Oro, the Municipal Local Government Unit of Laak, and the Barangay Officials of Brgy. Inakayan, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Municipal Social Welfare and Development of Laak, and the 60th Infantry (MEDIATOR) Battalion of the Philippine Army.

Said project aims to provide a permanent and sustainable livelihood to the people of Barangay Inakayan where most of the residents therein lack formal education and can only rely on skills for their living. This also aims to maintain the consistent delivery of basic services and the establishment of lasting peace and order in the community.

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.

Kalinaw News: 12IB Foils NPA Terrorist’s Extortion Activity in Dumalag, Capiz

Posted to Kalinaw News (Feb 18, 2023): 12IB Foils NPA Terrorist’s Extortion Activity in Dumalag, Capiz

CAMP PERALTA, Jamindan, Capiz – The Army’s 12th Infantry (Lick ‘Em) Battalion prevented the extortion activities of the CPP-NPA Terrorists in the hinterlands of Barangay Duran, Dumalag, Capiz, on Friday morning, February 17, 2023. 

Acting to the concerned residents’ tip-off about the armed group’s presence, joint elements of the 12IB and the PNP immediately conducted a security patrol. 

Upon reaching the area, the troops encountered more or less five (5) fully-armed members of the CPP-NPA Terrorist believed to be members of Central Front. 

The firefight lasted for about five (5) minutes. After which, the enemies scampered towards the southeast direction. 

The troops seized one (1) homemade 12 gauge shotgun, one (1) cal .45 pistol, two (2) anti-personnel mines with detonator switches, one (1) hand grenade, five (5) magazines for M16 rifle, two (2) magazines for .45 cal pistol, assorted live ammunition, personal belongings, assorted medicine and subversive documents. 

Heavy bloodstains were also visible in the withdrawal route, which indicates that there are still members of CNTs who suffered severe wounds while there was no casualty on the government side.

In his message, LTGEN BENEDICT M AREVALO, Visayas Command and 3ID Commander commended the troops for preventing the CPP-NPA’s extortion activity and the recovery of war materials. 

He also acknowledged civilians’ coordination with the authorities as one factor that foiled the CPP-NPA’s efforts. 

“The residents’ vigilance in providing the soldiers reliable information on the whereabouts and activities of the CPP-NPA terrorists is exceedingly helpful to our anti-insurgency effort in the area. Their fervent desire for a CPP-NPA free community drives us to employ legitimate military force against these communist terrorists to stop them from threatening our people’s safety and well-being,” he added.

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.

Kalinaw News: 802nd Infantry Brigade Troopers Recovers 2 Firearms in Leyte

Posted to Kalinaw News (Feb 18, 2023): 802nd Infantry Brigade Troopers Recovers 2 Firearms in Leyte

Camp Jorge Downes, Ormoc City, Leyte – On February 17, 2023, troops of 14th Infantry (Avenger) Battalion while on combat operations in the hinterlands of Brgy Bunga, Baybay City, Leyte discovered an arms cache and recovered One (1) US rifle Cal 5.56 mm Colt M16 rifle and One (1) US rifle Cal .30 M1 Carbine magazines ammunition.

“The discovery of this arms cache is the result of the continuing support of the Former Rebels (FRs) who are now members of the Integrated Peace and Development Workers Association (IPDWA), former Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) mass supporters and civilian populace as they revealed and report the possible CTG hideout in our area of operations.” Lieutenant Colonel Ernesto R Dela Rosa Jr., Battalion Commander, 14th Infantry Battalion elaborated.

Brigadier General Noel A. Vestuir, Commander, 802nd Infantry (Peerless) Brigade, 8th Infantry (Stormtroopers) Division, Philippine Army lauded the troops of 14th Infantry Battalion for their hard work, perseverance and continued efforts in tracking down the remnants of the terrorist NPA in the area. He also expressed his sincere appreciation to the members of IPDWA and the local residents in the area for giving the information on the location of the hidden arms cache. BGen Vestuir said, “the discovery of the hidden fire arms is an indication that NPA terrorists are on the run and continue to evade from the operating government troops. With the help of their former comrades and the people who are their former mass base, time will come that we would corner these NPA terrorists.”

Vestuir reiterates his call to the remaining NPAs who still continue to hide in the mountains to surface, lay down their arms and join their families in the comfort of their homes and as part of peace-loving Filipino society. “Your violent communist ideology is no longer welcomed by the people in the communities since they are already with us in our efforts to end this 54-year local communist armed conflict. They are now giving us the information on your whereabouts, the locations of your arms cache and even the foods that you hide and prepositioned in the area. You could not hide us forever. You could not survive by evading us without food, without the support of the people who you consider as your mass base, and you could not fight us without your firearms. Better avail the benefits of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) and the Local Social Integration Program (LSIP) being offered by the government, than continue to suffer from hunger, fatigue and all the dangers while hiding in the mountains.” Vestuir concluded.

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.

Close friends don’t point lasers at each other, Marcos tells China envoy

From Rappler (Feb 18, 2023): Close friends don’t point lasers at each other, Marcos tells China envoy (By BEA CUPIN)

Marcos says the incident is not sufficient to trigger the Philippines' Mutual Defense Treaty with the US

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. apparently had sharp words for Chinese Ambassador Huang Xillian when he summoned the envoy after China used a military-grade laser against the Philippine Coast Guard in the West Philippine Sea.

“I said that the laser-pointing incident was only a part of what we are seeing as a – intensifying or escalating of the actions of the marine militia of China, the coast guard of China, and the navy of China,” said Marcos in a chance interview on Saturday, February 18, four days after he summoned Beijing’s envoy to Manila.

“Actually, I said we have to find a way around this. Because if we are such close friends, such as China and the Philippines, these are not the kinds of incidents that we should be talking about – between the president and the ambassador to the Philippines from China,” said Marcos on the sidelines of the Philippine Military Academy’s alumni homecoming in Fort Gregorio del Pilar.


‘Acts of aggression:’ Philippines protests China’s use of military laser in West PH Sea

Marcos – hoping to start a “new golden age” of relations between and Manila and Beijing under his watch – went on a state visit to China in early January. Marcos told Huang escalations in the West Philippine Sea, including the pointing of a military-grade laser, “was not what we agreed upon with President Xi when I visited him in Beijing.”

Other Stories

China aims laser at Philippine Coast Guard ship in West PH Sea

The incident takes place in waters near Ayungin Shoal as the Philippine Coast Guard vessel was out supporting a Philippine resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre

On February 6, days before Marcos flew to Japan for an official visit, a Chinese Coast Guard vessel used a military-grade laser against BRP Malapascua near Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea. According to the Philippine Coast Guard, the action caused “temporary blindness” for the Philippine vessel’s crew at the bridge.

China has sought to downplay the summoning of its envoy, and insisted that what was used by its Coast Guard during that incident was a distance finder.

The escalation of tensions in the West Philippine Sea, or the area of the South China Sea within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, comes after the rhetorics of Marcos’ visit to Beijing and after the two countries signed a deal to create direct communication lines to avoid tensions in the volatile and resource-rich waterway.

The Philippines’ allies, including the United States, have publicly spoken out against China’s aggressions. US Vice President Kamala Harris, during a recent visit to Manila, said Americans were prepared to come to Manila’s defense in case of an attack in the South China Sea.

The US and the Philippines are long-time treaty allies and parties to a Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) – meaning that each country has promised to back each other in the event of an external attack.

Responding to questions, Marcos said it’s not time to invoke the MDT.

“Because if we activate that, what we’re doing is escalating the, intensifying the tensions in the area. I think that would be counter-productive. Despite the fact that it was a military-grade laser that was pointed at our coast guard, I do not think that it is sufficient for it to trigger the Mutual Defense Treaty,” Marcos said on Saturday.

BIFF commander, colleague fall in Tacurong City

From Rappler (Feb 18, 2023): BIFF commander, colleague fall in Tacurong City (By ROMMEL REBOLLIDO)

Philippine National Police bares list of atrocities of Abdulkarem Lumbatan Hasim, including the killing of Ampatuan town police chief Lt. Colonel Reynaldo Samson on August 29, 2022

GENERAL SANTOS, Philippines — Government forces on Saturday morning, February 18 killed a “commander” of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and his male companion at the public transport terminal in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat.

Tacurong City police chief Lt. Colonel Bryan G. Bernardino identified the slain as Abdulkarem Lumbatan Hasim, alias Kumander Boy Jacket and his companion, Makmud Lumbatan of the BIFF-Karialan Faction.

Bernardino said Hasim was being sought for a string of alleged atrocities, including the killing of policemen and soldiers.

Hasim had standing arrest warrants for double murder and multiple frustrated murder and other crimes allegedly committed in the provinces of Sultan Kudarat and Maguindanao del Sur, Bernardino said.

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At least 1 dead, 11 hurt after bomb explodes on bus in Sultan Kudarat
(1st UPDATE) Sultan Kudarat police director Colonel Christopher Bermudez says the explosion occurred while the bus was on its way to a terminal in Tacurong City in Sultan Kudarat at around 11:30 am

Bomb attack foiled in Tacurong City
Authorities dismantle an improvised bomb left just outside an elementary school in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat

'We are policemen, and we have to protect civilians from harm, and not kill them. In this case, they wasted young souls who had dreams,' says Patrolman Horton Ansa Sr., father of one of the fatalities

The police official said Hasim led the ambush that killed Ampatuan police chief Lt. Colonel Reynaldo Samson and his aide Corporal Salipudin Endab in Maguindanao del Sur on August 29, 2022.

Hasim and Lumbatan fought it out out with policemen and soldiers who flagged them down in a checkpoint, Bernardino said.

Two of their companions managed to flee from the firefight and pursuing authorities.

RECOVERED. A member of the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion disarms an improvised explosive device recovered after a firefigh in January with Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

Army Lt. Col Benjamin Cadiente Jr, commander of the 33rd Infantry Battalion said the killing of Hasim was the a result of an intensified mission to get him and other BIFF personalities.

Three of men from Hasim’s BIFF group were killed by soldiers in a firefight in January 2023 that also injured another BIFF member.

The police said Hasim was allegedly responsible for the attack on a detachment of the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion. He was linked to recent assaults in several Maguindanao del Sur towns where BIFF forces randomly shot at houses and residents as they fled pursuing lawmen.

Hasim was also wanted for leading a raid in Barangay Sambulawan, Datu Salibo town, Maguindanao del Sur that killed Corporal Allan R Balena and wounded another soldier on October 12, 2022.

The slain BIFF commander figured in armed attacks in Barangay Labu Labu 2, Datu Hoffer town, Maguindanao del Sur, where two soldiers were injured on November 25, 2022.

This was followed by another raid in Goco PB, Barangay Labu Labu 2, Datu Hoffer town, Maguindanao del Sur on December 25, 2022.

Bernardino said intelligence reports also identify Hasim as a known protector of shabu peddlers.

Police recovered guns and bullets from the slain rebels.

Suspects in ambush of Lanao Sur governor identified

From MindaNews (Feb18, 2023): Suspects in ambush of Lanao Sur governor identified (By FROILAN GALLARDO)

CAGAYAN DE ORO (MindaNews / 18 February) — At least ten suspects in Friday’s ambush of Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Adiong Jr. have been identified, Bangsamoro Minister for Interior and Local Government Naguib Sinarimbo announced in a press conference here on Saturday afternoon.

Sinarimbo did not divulge the names of the suspects pending results of the investigation being conducted by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

But he asked the mayors belonging to the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) Lanao del Sur chapter to negotiate for the surrender of the suspects to the authorities.

“We know who these suspects are. It would be better for them to surrender peacefully,” Sinarimbo said.

Lanao del Sur Rep. Zia Alonto (left), Vice Governor Mohammad Khalid Adiong (center) and Bangsamoro Minister for Interior and Local Government Naguib Sinarimbo (right) prepare for the press conference in Cagayan de Oro City on Saturday, 18 February 2023. Sinarimbo announced that at least 10 suspects in the ambush Friday on the convoy of Governor Mamintal Adiong Jr. have been identified. MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

Unidentified gunmen ambushed the convoy of Adiong in barangay Delimbayan, Maguing town while the governor was on his way to Wao town in Lanao del Sur.

Adiong was wounded but four of his security escorts died in the ambush.

Police said a staff member of Adiong identified as Ali Macapado was also wounded. A fifth member of Adiong’s security, an Army soldier, turned up Saturday with slight injuries.

Adiong was brought to Cagayan de Oro where doctors at the Polymedic General Hospital removed a slug from his right hip last Friday.

The 57-year-old governor was declared out of danger after the successful operation.

Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal Adiong Jr.. MindaNews file photo by MARIVIC OMANDAM DAVIS

Sinarimbo had a closed-door meeting with the family of Adiong in a hotel here to apprise them of the investigations conducted by the PNP and MILF.

He said reports reaching him indicate a motorcycle used by one of the suspects was seized near the ambush site located 1.5 kilometers from an MILF camp.

Former Lanao del Sur governor Soraya Alonto Adiong, mother of Governor Mamintal Adiong Jr., is wheeled to a closed door family meeting inside a hotel in Cagayan de Oro on Saturday, 18 February 2023. MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

Rep. Zia Adiong (1st District, Lanao del Sur), brother of the governor said their family would wait for the outcome of the police investigation.

Twenty-five mayors in Lanao del Sur came to the press conference to show their support for Adiong. Lanao del Sur has 39 towns and one city.

Butig town Mayor Dimnatang Pansar, President of the LMP in Lanao del Sur, belied speculations that the ambush was “politically motivated.

Pansar said Adiong enjoys the support of all town mayors in Lanao del Sur.

PH won't lose even an 'inch' of territory: PBBM

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 18, 2023): PH won't lose even an 'inch' of territory: PBBM (By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos)

PROTECTING PH TERRITORY. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. attends the 2023 Philippine Military Alumni Homecoming in Fort del Pilar, Baguio City on Saturday (Feb. 18, 2023). In his speech, he vowed that the Philippines would not give up even an inch of its territory to any foreign power. (Screenshot from Radio Television MalacaƱang)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Saturday reassured Filipinos that the Philippines will not relinquish even an inch of its territory to any foreign power.

Marcos made the remark when he attended this year's Philippine Military Academy (PMA) alumni homecoming for the first time as the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

In a keynote speech delivered at the PMA Grandstand in Fort del Pilar, Baguio City, Marcos said his administration would continue protecting the country's territorial integrity and sovereignty amid the "heightened" geopolitical tensions.

"The country has seen heightened geopolitical tensions that do not conform to our ideals of peace and threaten the security and stability of the country, of the region, and of the world," he said. "This country will not lose one inch of its territory. We will continue to uphold our territorial integrity and sovereignty in accordance with our Constitution and with international law."

Preserving security, safety

Marcos, an adopted member of PMA Class of 1979, enjoined the alumni of the academy to continue protecting the security and safety of the country.

He urged them to lead a "life of service beyond self," whether they are working in government or the private sector.

"I am aware that some of you have continued your service in the private sector, while others have remained in government. And I hope in whatever capacity you serve, you continue to lead a life of service beyond self – an ethos we can attribute to a premier institution such as the Philippine Military Academy," he said.

The President also acknowledged that the PMA, since its inception in 1936, has produced "selfless individuals who have offered their lives to defend this country and preserve the democratic ideals and freedoms that we all enjoy today."

To honor those who sacrificed their lives for the country, Marcos called on the alumni to exemplify "integrity, service before self, and professionalism," the ideals and values they have gained from the academy.

"I am filled with gratitude, as is the nation, for your contributions to the collective effort to build our beloved Philippines. In honor of those who have sacrificed their lives to build this path for us, we will continue to develop this country and aspire for better lives for our people," he said. "Rest assured that this government, together with the Filipino people, are with you as we march forward towards achieving a safer, more peaceful, more progressive Philippines."

Marcos also expressed hope that his year's awardees would be emulated for their "exemplary work" and would "ignite a desire for service" in young PMA cadets to inspire them to become "leaders of character."

Working with int'l community

Marcos noted that while the current operating environment is "uncertain and grows increasingly complex," his administration has been exhausting all efforts to steer the country to a "high-growth trajectory."

He said the government would maintain good relations with the international community for the country to attain "prosperity."

"As we continue to develop our internal resources, we must pursue a path of prosperity that contributes to goals shared with the international community," he said.
"We have cemented our bilateral relations with our allies, with partners, with our friends. And as we work on translating these investments into material benefits for our people, we must ensure that we continue to preserve the security and the safety of our nation."

Invoking MDT would only escalate tension between PH, China: PBBM

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 18, 2023): Invoking MDT would only escalate tension between PH, China: PBBM (By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos)

AVOIDING TENSION. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Saturday (Feb. 18, 2023) said he is not keen on invoking the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between the Philippines and the United States after the laser-pointing incident in the West Philippine Sea (WPS). In a media interview on the sidelines of an event in Fort del Pilar, Baguio City, Marcos said activating the MDT would only escalate tensions between China and the Philippines. (File photo)

MANILA – Invoking the Philippines' 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the United States (US) after the laser-pointing incident in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) would only escalate tensions with China, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said on Saturday.

In a chance interview in Baguio City, Marcos said it is "counterproductive" to resort to the MDT in the wake of the Chinese Coast Guard's (CCG) use of a military-grade laser against the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

"If we activate that (MDT), what we are doing is escalating, intensifying the tensions in the area (WPS). And I think that would be counterproductive," Marcos told reporters after the Philippine Military Academy's (PMA) alumni homecoming in Fort del Pilar in Baguio City.

"Besides, despite the fact that it was a military-grade laser that was pointed at our Coast Guard, I do not think that it is sufficient for it to trigger the Mutual Defense Treaty," he added.

A CCG vessel on Feb. 6 "shadowed" and pointed a military-grade laser toward the Philippine Coast Guard's patrol vessel BRP Malapascua, temporarily blinding its crew, according to official government reports.

China defended its coast guard's act as "professional and restrained" as it was merely a response to what it called "intrusion" into Chinese waters.

While he refused to invoke the MDT, Marcos said the Philippine government is in "constant" communication with its treaty partners, including the US.

"So, we are in constant contact, of course, with our treaty partners, not only with the United States but also our ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) partners and our partners here in Asia. That I think is the better recourse rather than go directly to the Mutual Defense Treaty, which again I am very concerned would provoke the tensions rather than cool the tensions now," he said.

Marcos on Tuesday summoned Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian to MalacaƱan Palace in Manila to discuss the reported harassment by the CCG.

Asked what he told Huang, Marcos said he reminded the Chinese ambassador that the latest incident was incongruous with what he and Chinese President Xi Jinping had talked about in January to prevent possible misunderstanding in the WPS.

The President, nevertheless, remained optimistic that the Philippines and China would be able to resolve the issues being reported in the "past few weeks and months," given that the two nations are "close friends."

"We have to find a way around this. If we are such close friends, China and the Philippines, these are not the kind of incidents that we should be talking about between the President and the ambassador to the Philippines from China," he said.

"So, we are hoping that we can find a better way rather than these incursions into our maritime territory and the rather aggressive acts that we have been seeing in the past few weeks and months."

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday filed its eighth diplomatic protest this year before the Chinese Embassy in Manila, calling on Beijing to "cease and desist" its aggressive activities against Philippine vessels.

Also on Tuesday, the Chinese Embassy in Manila said Marcos and Huang "exchanged views on how to implement the consensus reached by the two heads of state, strengthen dialogue and communication, and properly manage maritime differences between China and the Philippines."

On Friday, the DFA asked China to engage the Philippines based on "truth and goodwill," citing a disconnect in their statements and what is actually happening in the WPS after the laser-pointing incident.

It could be recalled that Marcos and Xi, in a joint statement released in January after their meeting in Beijing, agreed to establish a "direct communication mechanism" to safeguard peace and stability in the WPS.