Thursday, May 25, 2023

Militant group declares total war versus MILF

From the Manila Times (May 25, 2023): Militant group declares total war versus MILF (By Al Jacinto)

ZAMBOANGA CITY: Local Islamic State (IS) fighters have declared a total war on the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which signed a peace deal with the Philippine government in 2014.

The recent attack by the militants on the former secessionist group in the southern Philippine province of Maguindanao del Sur is not the first.

Members of the Islamic State East Asia Province (Iseap) branded the MILF as "apostate Moro militia" and considered the once-powerful rebel group as a rival, according to a report by the Middle East Media Research Institute (Memri), which monitors, tracks, translates, researches and analyzes cyber jihad originating from the Middle East, Iran, South Asia, and North and West Africa.

Iseap has also attacked various MILF positions since 2021, according to Memri, which cited the IS weekly Al-Naba'.

Memri, upon the request of the regional newspaper The Mindanao Examiner, released on Tuesday, May 23, its report of the Iseap attack on MILF positions in Maguindanao del Sur, a major stronghold of the MILF headed by Ahod Ebrahim, now the chief minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

This is the Memri report: "On May 17, 2023, the Islamic State East Asia Province (Iseap) claimed responsibility for a May 13 attack against Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) positions with machine guns, in the village of Tuayan, in the area of Maguindanao, southern Philippines, causing MILF operatives to flee. Later, Iseap fighters burned the positions and seized an RPG launcher.

"In the last few years, Iseap has claimed several attacks against the 'apostate Moro militia' — an Islamist insurgent-dependent Muslim state in the southern Philippines — and considers MILF a rival.

"On October 7, 2021, Iseap fighters attacked an emplacement of the MILF in Datu Salibo, Maguindanao province. Issue 332 of ISIS weekly Al-Naba' reported that on March 9, 2022, Iseap fighters killed a member of MILF in Inaladan, Maguindanao province, and seized his rifle.

"Iseap activity declined noticeably between 2019 and 2021, but experienced a slight resurgence the following year, after losing many senior leaders in quick succession and causing the ISIS branch in the Philippines to split into small groups. The attack on May 13 is the third attack claimed by Iseap in 2023.

"On February 6, Iseap fighters ambushed Philippine army forces, in Lanao del Sur province, Mindanao Island in the south of the country, killing one soldier and wounding three, and on April 20, 2023, Al-Naba' claimed that Iseap fighters detonated an IED against Filipino army in Lanao del Sur province, injuring many."

The report was exclusive to Memri members.

The Iseap attack was first reported by SITE Intelligence Group, an American for-profit consultancy group that tracks online activity of white supremacist and jihadist organizations. "In Rare Communique, Iseap Reports Clash with MILF Fighters in Maguindanao," it said, but the report is also exclusive to its paying members.

A tweet by War Noir, a part-time weapons and conflicts researcher, reported that Iseap claimed responsibility for a May 13 attack against MILF positions with machine guns causing MILF operatives to flee.

"Later, Iseap fighters burned the positions and seized an RPG launcher," War Noir tweeted with an accompanying photo of Iseap war booties.

It was unknown whether Philippine authorities were unaware of the Iseap attacks or have not reported the clashes for a still unknown reason. Ebrahim has also not released any statement.

Authorities find, detonate 3 crude bombs ahead of BARMM-wide sports meet

From Rappler (May 25, 2023): Authorities find, detonate 3 crude bombs ahead of BARMM-wide sports meet (By ROMMEL REBOLLIDO)

Police downplay the discovery of the crude bombs as they theorize that these are meant to scare people ahead of the five-day regional games

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – Bomb experts detonated at least three crude bombs near a bus terminal in Cotabato City ahead of the start of the Palarong Bangsamoro Region in Muslim Mindanao Athletic Association’s (BARMMAA) fourth regional competitions in the city on Thursday, May 25.

Officials said authorities had sealed off a portion of the highway near the Husky Bus garage at the highway in Malagapas following the discovery of three improvised explosive devices in the vicinity at around early dawn.

The section of the highway was reopened hours after the bombs were detonated, said Cotabato City police chief Colonel Querubin Manalang.

Manalang said investigators theorized that the crude bombs had been left in the area to merely scare people ahead of the five-day regional games.

But authorities were also looking into the possibility that the incident was the handiwork of a group that has been engaged in extortion activities.

Husky Bus is the same company that saw one of its buses bombed in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat in April, injuring several passengers, including children.

The military had attributed the April 17 Sultan Kudarat bombing to the radical group Dawlah Islamiyah, a terrorist organization that was subsequently accused of turning into an extortion syndicate, targeting bus companies, apparently to fund its extremist causes.

Crime scene investigators said pieces of evidence, including an unexploded second bomb, found in the bombed bus in Sultan Kudarat were consistent with the explosives used by the Dawlah Islamiyah in previous bomb attacks.

Manalang downplayed public fears, saying there was no need to panic because authorities intercepted and disposed of the bombs in Cotabato City on time.

“The mild blast that was heard was due to a ‘counter check,’ a procedure to see if there was a triggering device that needed to be disrupted to disable a bomb,” he said.

Manalang said police officers and soldiers were constantly patrolling around the city to thwart attempts to disturb Cotabato’s peace and order situation during the 4th BARMMAA Meet.

Cotabato City Mayor Mohammad “Bruce” Matabalao said security forces have been on their toes since Monday to ensure that no untoward incident will happen during the BARMMAA events, and to ensure the safety of athletic delegations housed in at least 16 schools that were turned into temporary billeting facilities.

Cotabato City schools division superintendent Concepcion Balawag said the competing delegations come from Maguindanao del Norte, Maguindanao del Sur, two divisions from Lanao del Sur, one each from Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Lamitan City, Isabela City, Marawi City, the BARMM’s special geographic area in Cotabato province, and host Cotabato City, the regional center.

With several schools being used to house the athletes, authorities saw the need to suspend face-to-face classes during the duration of the regional event. Online classes will proceed, though, so as not to hamper the studies of students, Balawag said.

She said the BARMMAA Meet will begin on Thursday afternoon with a colorful parade around Cotabato City up to the campus of the Cotabato State University (CSU), where most of the sports events will be held.

Balawag said other games will be held at the new sports hub near the People’s Palace and several private schools like Notre Dame University (NDU).

The Cotabato City Council passed a resolution on Tuesday, May 23, asking business establishments and transport operators to give discounts to BARMMAA athletes and their coaches as a gesture of hospitality.

Cotabato Councilor Henjie Ali said it will be up to the business owners and transport operators how much discount to give the BARMMAA athletes.

He said the week-long games will be a good opportunity for the local business community to promote the city’s tourism and business potential.

War Versus NPA Ending – Sara

Posted to One News Philippines (May 25, 2023): War Versus NPA Ending – Sara (Janvic Mateo)

“The guerrilla warfare tactic is no longer working for them to be able to breathe life into a dying movement,” Vice President Sara Duterte declared.

Vice President Sara Duterte

Vice President Sara Duterte branded the decades-long communist insurgency in the country as a dying movement, saying it is only a matter of time before the war against the New People’s Army (NPA) is put to an end.

“The NPA’s so-called protracted war is ending,” Duterte said during the event commemorating the first anniversary of Davao City’s declaration as insurgency-free on Wednesday, May 24.

“The guerrilla warfare tactic is no longer working for them to be able to breathe life into a dying movement,” she said.

Describing the NPA as the “devil,” Duterte, who was recently appointed co-vice chair of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), recalled their efforts while she was Davao City mayor to remove the rebel group’s presence in the city’s Paquibato district.

“The civilian-led program Peace 911 won the hearts of the people of Paquibato through projects and programs that offered them the opportunity to become productive, provided them with livelihood, made them discover new skills, capacitated women and built their confidence as individuals and as a community,” Duterte said.

“It is a shining example of a successful anti-terrorism campaign made possible by the collaboration of various sectors through the program Peace 911 by the local government of Davao,” she added.

But she stressed that the peace they achieved is fragile, saying it can only be sustained “if we do not abandon our strength as a community or our shared dreams as a nation.”

“Terrorism is a dangerous enemy. The NPA, for one, does not care if you are a member of the military, police or civilian body,” the Vice President said.

Duterte, who is also education secretary, underscored the importance of education to protect children from being recruited by terrorist groups.

She highlighted their efforts to integrate a national peace curriculum in the country’s basic education system.

“Education, as we know, harbors power that could change the course of our lives and that of our fellowmen,” Duterte said. “It is a tool that can emancipate us from poverty or injustice. It is also a powerful tool for peace-building and combating terrorism.”

More aggressive

Meanwhile, NTF-ELCAC executive director Ernesto Torres Jr. said more aggressive and active participation of local government units could be expected against the anti-insurgency campaign with the designation of Duterte as the task force co-vice chair.

In an interview aired over One News’ “The Chiefs” on Cignal’s One News / TV5, Torres said they have realized the impact of the influence of Duterte shortly after she became the agency’s vice chair.

“We were able to meet with the regional directors of the Department of Education from all over the country. We got the chance to interact with them and present to them the different pro-grams of NTF-ELCAC,” he said.

“We also see her authority as another plus. We have seen it, where the local chief executives have an active participation in the counter-insurgency campaign that could really solve the in-surgency,” he added.

Duterte’s assignment was earlier slammed by groups due to her being a supposed “red-tagger.”

Torres said Duterte’s popularity would also help in their anti-insurgency plan. – With Edith Regalado, Diana Lhyd Suelto, Ralph Edwin Villanueva

CTG medic surrenders to gov’t troops in South Cotabato

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 24, 2023): CTG medic surrenders to gov’t troops in South Cotabato (By Danilo Doguiles)

KORONADAL CITY, South Cotabato (PIA) -- A medic of the communist terrorist group (CTG) operating in the hinterland boundaries of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and Sarangani provinces surrendered to government forces based in Lake Sebu.

Alias Jean, 23, medic of Platoon Dabudabu, Regional Sentro de Gravedad, Far South Mindanao Region yielded to troops of the 5th Special Forces Battalion under the operational control of 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade in collaboration with the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) in Sitio Datal Kadi, Tasiman Lake Sebu, this province on May 21.
She also surrendered an M16A1 rifle.

On Tuesday, Jean was presented to South Cotabato Governor Reynaldo S. Tamayo Jr., by Col. Andre Santos, commander of the 1st Mechanized Brigade and Lt. Col. Carlyleo Nagac, commander of the 5th Special Forces Battalion.

The former rebel told local press that she was recruited to the New People's Army when she was still a minor. She dropped out of school, and was trained to care for CTG members.

Jean said she was lured to join the terrorist group because of the latter’s promises of financial support and brighter future.

“None of these promises were fulfilled,” she said in the vernacular. “Support from the leadership has also stopped.”

There were times that they had nothing to eat for days and had to regularly mobilize in the midst of the night regardless of the terrain, even under torrential rain, she added.

In a press statement, the 1st Mechanized Brigade said, “[Jean] was utilized as a medic, and her primary role was to provide preventive as well as medical care to wounded CTG members. [She] was lured into the CTG when she was 16 years old, a 3rd year high school student. She was methodically deceived, manipulated, and exploited so that she would choose to fight with the organization's armed militia.”

Apart from the hardship of living in the mountains and constant fear of getting into encounters with government troops, Jean was also motivated to return to the mainstream society because of her desire to reunite with her family, including her two children, and the experience of her brother, also a former rebel, who has benefited from the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Integration Program (ECLIP).

“The surrender of [Jean] is a significant victory in the government's fight against the communist terrorist group. It is a testament of the government's sincerity in its peace efforts and its commitment to ending the decades-long conflict in the country,” the 1st Mechanized Brigade stated.

“[Her] story is a reminder of the human cost of conflict. She is one of many people, who have been caught up in the violence of the CTG insurgency. She is also a reminder of the power of peace. By surrendering, [Jean] has taken a step towards a better future for herself, her family and her country.”

Jean is currently being enrolled in the E-CLIP, Lt. Col. Nagac said.

E-CLIP is a government program intended to help former members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) and Militia ng Bayan to restore their allegiance to the Philippine Government. Through E-CLIP, they can be integrated back to the community, be with their families, and start over with their new, normal lives.

Financial assistance that former rebels receive under the program includes P21,000 reintegration assistance, P15,000 immediate assistance, P50,000 livelihood assistance and remunerations for firearms, explosives, and ammunitions surrendered.

They can also avail of other government aids such as livelihood, skills training, scholarship, health insurance, housing, and many others.

Meanwhile, Governor Tamayo assured Jean, despite being a resident of another province, that the Provincial Government of South Cotabato will provide her with all the services she needs as she continues her journey of returning to the mainstream society.

“Every benefit that the government can offer – livelihood, free education, hospitalization – we will provide you,” Gov. Tamayo told the former rebel. (PIA SOUTH COTABATO)

Freed from the devil

From the Mindanao Times (May 25, 2023): Freed from the devil (By RHODA GRACE SARON)

City marks its first anniversary since insurgency-free declaration

VICE PRESIDENT Sara Duterte on Wednesday likened the New People’s Army to the “devil” as she credited Davaoeños for freeing themselves from the communist scourge.

“One year ago today, we Davaoeños claimed our freedom. Freedom from the shackles of a group that has, for decades, through a bloody armed struggle, perpetuated a cycle of violence that trapped many poor Filipino families, especially those living in the countryside such as our Lumad brothers and sisters,” Duterte said during the city’s Insurgency-Free Davao City First Anniversary Celebration at the Rizal Park here on Wednesday.

In her 13-minute message, the vice president said the New People’s Army are three words she “once avoided mentioning” as she did not want to dignify its presence or acknowledge the monstrosity of its terrorist acts over the past 53 years.

“But I realized that we needed to speak of the devil. But speak of the devil not with fear but with the resolve, the bravery, the tenacity of real patriots determined to defend our fellow Filipinos, particularly our children, and our homeland,” Duterte said.

“We needed to speak of the devil if only to defeat the devil. And we did,” she added.

Duterte cited the local leaders and the law enforcement units’ accomplishments against the communist insurgency.

She also thanked peace advocate and adviser Inday Irene Santiago for being the woman behind the Peace 911 Project that helped the city government of Davao in changing the landscape of chaos in Paquibato into a landscape of peace.

“The civilian-led program Peace 911 won the hearts of the people of Paquibato through projects and programs that offered them the opportunity to become productive, provided them with livelihood, made them discover new skills, capacitated women, and built their confidence as individuals and as a community,” Duterte said.

“Peace 911 is an empowering tool. An education tool. This allowed the people of Paquibato to unmask their enemies,” she added.

Since the launch of Peace 911 in Paquibato District when Duterte was still mayor, Davao City has been declared “insurgency-free.”

She cited how Peace 911 transformed the far-flung community in the city’s Paquibato District, which used to be a “stronghold” of the NPA.

Duterte also mentioned the death of a four-month-old girl in Talakag, Bukidnon, during an NPA ambush in November 2016 and the death of a fish vendor who died five days after falling into a coma after being hit by a landmine that the terrorist NPA detonated in Barangay Mandug in May 2017.

“Terrorism is a dangerous enemy. The NPA, for one, does not care if you are a member of the military, police, or civilian body,” Duterte said. “The threat of a terror group like the NPA to the lives of Filipinos, the future of our children, and our most cherished democratic ideals is real.”

Duterte, who is also Education Secretary, called on the people and former rebels to guard their children against communist indoctrination in schools so they could reach their dreams.

She shared the Department of Education’s current institutionalization of the national peace curriculum to teach children the value of peace and to learn more about conflict resolution and non-violence.

“Let us guide our children to become catalysts of solidarity, progress, and lasting peace in our respective communities,” Duterte said.

“Education, as we know, harbors power that could change the course of our lives and that of our fellowmen. It is a tool that can emancipate us from poverty or injustice. It is also a powerful tool for peacebuilding and combating terrorism,” she added.

Duterte ended her message with a call to sustain the active peacebuilding efforts and to not abandon the country’s strength as a community and shared dreams as a nation.

“As we move forward, I hope that one day soon, we wake up to the news that the entire Philippines is already NPA terrorist-free,” Duterte said.

“Let us make this happen,” she added.

Pursue NPA in Negros without letup: AFP chief

From the Philippine News Agency (May 25, 2023): Pursue NPA in Negros without letup: AFP chief (By Mary Judaline Partlow)

AWARDEES. AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Andres Centino (3rd from left) awards medals on Thursday (May 25, 2023) to the Army’s 61st Infantry Battalion troopers who were instrumental in the successful operations against communist rebels in Negros Island recently. Centino called on the Army commanders in Negros to conduct relentless operations to end the insurgency problem on the island soonest. (Photo by Marty Judaline Partlow)

DUMAGUETE CITY – Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff, Gen. Andres Centino, instructed Army commanders in Negros Island on Thursday to intensify operations against the communist New People’s Army (NPA) "without letup."

This came as Centino lauded the Philippine Army in Negros Island for the series of encounters this past weekend that dealt a big blow to the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

Centino, during his visit to the headquarters of the Army’s 62nd Infantry Battalion (IB) in Isabela town, Negros Occidental, awarded medals to 62IB troopers who figured in the twin encounters in central Negros.

On May 20, five NPA rebels were killed in a clash in Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental, and four others died in pursuit operations the following day in Barangay Trinidad, Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.

On May 21, another NPA combatant was also killed in a clash against the Army’s 15IB in Cauayan, Negros Occidental.

In his message, Centino told battalion commanders on the island to conduct "relentless combat operations" against the remaining NPA rebels in Negros.

“I am reminding our soldiers that we should have that sense of urgency now that the enemy has weakened. They are now lacking in resources, losing their mass base, and they no longer have their leaders,” he said.

Following a closed-door meeting with the Army commanders, Centino told reporters that he directed the troops to "end the insurgency in Negros at the soonest possible time."

“We don’t have to count the numbers, but what is important is that we have addressed the problem here in Negros, as we still have remaining insurgents that continue to fight the government,” Centino said.

The AFP chief was presented with a cache of various firearms, ammunition, improvised explosive devices, and subversive documents that were recovered during the encounters.

He said President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has “given instructions to slowly transition to a more pressing security concern, which is addressing the security problem of external defense”.

Centino said this can only be achieved if the internal security problem in the country has been addressed.

According to him, the insurgency problem in the country is already weakening, with only two active NPA fronts still intact and maintaining mass base support.

These active fronts are in Samar province, he said.

539 ex-rebels in Caraga get P10.7-M grant from DSWD in ‘22

From the Philippine News Agency (May 25, 2023): 539 ex-rebels in Caraga get P10.7-M grant from DSWD in ‘22 (By Alexander Lopez)

BUTUAN CITY – At least 539 former combatants of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) in the Caraga Region were provided with livelihood settlement grants through the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) in 2022.

In a statement Thursday, the Department of Social Welfare and Development in Caraga (DSWD-13) said the SLP is in line with Executive Order No. 70 (EO 70), which institutionalized the whole-of-nation approach to attain inclusive and sustainable peace.

EO 70 also created the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict and directed the adoption of a national peace framework of the government.

Last year, each of the recipients got PHP20,000 grant for a total of PHP10.78 million.

The grant intends to help the ex-rebels and their families establish livelihood and economic activities in their communities to improve their living conditions.

For this year, nine former NPA rebels have so far availed of the livelihood grant amounting to PHP180,000.

Since 2020, some 1,343 former NPA combatants were provided with livelihood assistance. In the same year, some 203 former rebels were given PHP4.06 million livelihood grants, and another PHP11.84 million to 592 former rebels in the following year.

To date, the DSWD-13 said some PHP26.86 million worth of livelihood grants were already released to the beneficiaries.

Abu Sayyaf’s ‘reign of terror’ ends in Sulu after major blows – AFP

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 24, 2023): Abu Sayyaf’s ‘reign of terror’ ends in Sulu after major blows – AFP (By: John Eric Mendoza - Reporter)


MANILA, Philippines — The “reign of terror” of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in the province of Sulu has now ended following the several setbacks the group has experienced, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said on Wednesday.

The AFP spokesperson, Col. Medel Aguilar, made this pronouncement in a statement as he recounted the surrender last Jan. 8 of ASG leaders Amah Patit and 20 others who composed the core group of the group’s leader Radullan Sahiron.

Aguilar said Patit and other members “surrendered to the government on the instruction of Sahiron himself.”

“At that time, Sahiron was already old and reportedly sick,” Aguilar said.

Sahiron, however, has allegedly died, but Aguilar said the AFP would have to verify it.

“Since then, no word was heard from the wanted ASG leader except for unverified information from several sources that he is already dead,” Aguilar said.

“We need to get first-hand information first from those who are close to him. We don’t want to disturb the ‘dead’,” he added.

A breakaway of the Moro National Liberation Front, the ASG was founded by Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani in 1991.

But only in 2016 did the first batch of ASG fighters surrender, according to a paper published by the National Defense College of the Philippines.

This refers to the surrender of an Abu Sayyaf sub-leader, who was a nephew of then-ASG leader Furuji Indama, along with 10 other members who laid down their arms in October 2016.

PH Navy thanks S. Korea for role in modernization

From the Philippine News Agency (May 24, 2023): PH Navy thanks S. Korea for role in modernization program (By Priam Nepomuceno)

STRONG PARTNERSHIP. Philippine Navy (PN) Chief, Vice Adm. Toribio Adaci Jr. (right), meets with Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) chief of naval operations, Adm. Lee Jong-Ho, at the PN headquarters in Manila on Tuesday (May 23, 2023). Adaci thanked the ROKN for its role in the PN's modernization program, particularly in the manufacture of frigates, corvettes, and offshore patrol vessels. (Photo courtesy of the Philippine Navy)

MANILA – The Philippine Navy (PN) thanked its South Korean counterpart for its continuous assistance in the naval service's ongoing modernization program.

“We thank your Navy for helping in our modernization program, particularly the manufacture of our frigates, corvettes, and offshore patrol vessels in South Korea,” PN Chief, Vice Adm. Toribio Adaci Jr., said.

Adaci made the remark during the visit of the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) chief of naval operations, Adm. Lee Jong-Ho, and his party to the PN headquarters at Naval Station Jose Andrada along Roxas Boulevard, Manila on Tuesday.

He was referring to the missile frigates BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) and BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151), which were constructed by Hyundai Heavy Industries and are now in service, along with the two corvettes and six offshore patrol vessels being constructed by the South Korean shipyard.

Aside from this, the PN also benefited from the ROKN's donation of the "Pohang" class corvettes, one of which, the BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39), is in service, with two more on the way.

"The two leaders discussed the continuing partnerships between the two nations during the visit that served as a good follow-through to the engagements that the PN and ROKN have had over the last several months," PN spokesperson Capt. Benjo Negranza said in a statement Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Lee congratulated the PN for its successful activities and eyed more future engagements to further strengthen the strategic relationship between the Philippines and South Korea.

Adaci also emphasized the sustainment of Navy-to-Navy talks between the two countries as he finds them highly beneficial to both navies.

“We learn a lot from you and it is one way for us to discover avenues of cooperation in terms of education and training, and modernization,” he said.

BARMM gets P5B for rehab of conflict-hit areas: DBM

From the Philippine News Agency (May 24, 2023): BARMM gets P5B for rehab of conflict-hit areas: DBM (By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos)

(File photo)

MANILA – The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) will receive PHP5 billion for the rehabilitation of its conflict-ridden communities, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) announced on Wednesday.

In the May 24 column published in the local newspaper Manila Bulletin, DBM Secretary Amenah Pangandaman confirmed that she had approved the Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) amounting to PHP5 billion for BARMM’s Special Development Fund (SDF).

“Recently, I also approved the Special Allotment Release Order amounting to PHP5 billion for the Special Development Fund of BARMM for the rebuilding, rehabilitation, and development of its conflict-affected communities,” Pangandaman said.

“These are on top of the PHP64.8 billion block grant to the Bangsamoro government in the 2023 Budget.”

The DBM, in a separate statement, said the release of the PHP5 billion fund is under Section 2, Article 15 of Republic Act (RA) 11054.

RA 11054 mandates the national government to grant the BARMM government a PHP5 billion SDF annually for 10 years to rebuild, rehabilitate, and develop the region’s conflict-affected communities.

The DBM said the allocations should be released by the Bureau of Treasury to the BARMM government through an authorized government servicing bank, subject to cash programming by the national government.

Pangandaman expressed optimism over the BARMM government’s proper use of funds to ensure the region’s development.

“We hope that BARMM takes advantage of this funding by fully utilizing it to help those in need, and to improve areas that needs further development,” she said.

The most recent conflict that erupted in BARMM was the five-month siege of Marawi City, which ended in October 2017.

The clash resulted in PHP17 billion in property damage and lost opportunities, based on the data from Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM), the government inter-agency body in charge of rehabilitation efforts in the conflict zone.

In 2018, TFBM said in an initial estimate that at least PHP49.8 billion is needed to restore affected parts of Marawi.

Pangandaman renewed the commitment of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and his administration to helping the Bangsamoro government strengthen the communities in BARMM.

"Tulad po ng ipinangako ko, at alinsunod po sa tagubilin ni Pangulong Bongbong Marcos, patuloy po ang DBM na aalalay sa BARMM sa abot ng aming makakaya (In line with President Bongbong Marcos’ directive, the DBM will continue to assist the BARMM). We will ensure that we will help in its smooth transition process and strengthening its communities," she said.

The Marcos administration has allotted PHP64.76 billion for BARMM’s Annual Block Grant; PHP5 billion SDF for the rebuilding, rehabilitation, and development of conflict-affected communities; and PHP4.59 billion for its share in taxes, fees, and charges collected in the region.

CCC partners with AFP for reforestation, carbon sequestration

From the Philippine News Agency (May 25, 2023): CCC partners with AFP for reforestation, carbon sequestration (By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos)

File photo courtesy of Philippine Army

MANILA – The Climate Change Commission (CCC) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have affirmed partnership for the implementation of programs aimed at addressing the impacts of climate change and global warming.

The collaboration was the result of CCC Commissioner Albert Dela Cruz Sr.’s meeting with AFP chief of staff Gen. Andres Centino at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, the commission said on Wednesday.

The CCC said Dela Cruz and Centino discussed a plan for closer cooperation to further enhance the advocacy of a “whole-of-nation and -community approach” in the implementation of immediate climate action.

It said the two officials agreed to conduct activities such as tree-planting, carbon sequestration, urban gardening and other initiatives for agricultural productivity.

Centino cited the broad expanse of military camps and preserves across the country that can be utilized to promote tree-growing and urban gardening, the CCC said.

“Centino noted that in actively joining the CCC in its program of climate action, military personnel can significantly contribute to the Marcos administration’s national climate change action plan to help in the efforts for carbon sequestration and likewise in enhancing food productivity while ensuring the country’s resiliency through adaptation and mitigation,” it added.

Dela Cruz said tree-planting and reforestation initiatives would strengthen bonds among communities and serve as a “catalyst for socio-economic development.”

“We need to act if we want to save the only home we have,” he said.

“Trees have lots of benefits and planting trees is an essential way for everyone to avert the harsh impact of severe atmospheric occurrences triggered by climate change. We have seen how climate change and global warming has wrought upon us in the form of super typhoons, monsoon rains, landslides and erratic weather conditions,” Dela Cruz added.

Academe’s participation

Meanwhile, Dela Cruz also urged the academe to take part in the government’s efforts to address climate change.

He made the call when he attended the Climate Change Summit at the Bataan Peninsula State University (BPSU) in Balanga town, the CCC said.

Dela Cruz said it is incumbent to promote sustainable and ecological development based on research, empirical data and collective action.

He also underscored the urgent need for paradigm shift on environmental protection and climate action because the challenges in food and water security and population control are “all anthropogenic or caused by human activities.”

“We have a climate problem but we also have the solution amidst the problem,” Dela Cruz said. “What we do now will determine the future of our children. So I call on the academe and the education sector to join hands with us and unite in climate action for the common good and for the whole world.”

PH, Sweden to further expand defense ties

From the Philippine News Agency (May 25, 2023): PH, Sweden to further expand defense ties (By Priam Nepomuceno)

Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade Johan Forssell (left) and DND acting undersecretary Angelito M. de Leon (right) (Photo courtesy of DND)

MANILA – Ranking officials from the Philippines and Sweden are looking forward to further developing defense relations between the two nations.

This came after Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade Johan Forssell paid a visit to the Department of National Defense (DND) last May 19.

The Swedish official was welcomed by DND acting undersecretary Angelito M. de Leon, Defense spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said in a statement Wednesday night.

"The two officials acknowledged the increasing engagement between the Philippines and Sweden, covering various areas from economic to defense. Minister Forssell highlighted Sweden's intent to develop a sustainable and long-term partnership with the Philippines," he added.

Andolong added that de Leon and Forssell are looking at the expansion of further defense relations with the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for defense materiel acquisition.

"Both officials looked forward to further developing bilateral defense relations between the two countries, through the signing of the MOU concerning cooperation on defense materiel acquisition," he added.

Forssell and de Leon also exchanged the two nations' respective positions on current international security issues.

"Both officials underscored the two countries' shared interest in preserving regional peace and stability and promoting the rule of law," Andolong noted.

On March 24, DND chief Carlito Galvez Jr. met with Swedish Ambassador to the Philippines Annika Thunborg to discuss updates on the Philippines' defense modernization efforts, particularly on the priorities of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) to boost its surveillance and interdiction capabilities.

Andolong earlier said relationships between the Philippines and Sweden are good as both countries have partnered for peace works. With growing defense ties between the two countries,

Galvez and Thunborg are looking forward to the negotiation and conclusion of a framework for defense materiel acquisition.

"Both sides also explored the possibility of visits of delegations in the future," Andolong added.

Earlier, Sweden's offer to supply Saab-made JAS-39 "Gripen" multi-role fighters (MRF) to the Philippines was among the key topics discussed by then DND officer in charge Jose Faustino Jr. during a meeting with Thunborg last December 21.

The two officials discussed "mutual interests in the field of defense". The JAS-39 "Gripen" is one of the two jet fighters eyed by PAF to fulfill its MRF requirement.

Add’l P6-B funding released for PH Navy's corvette project

From the Philippine News Agency (May 25, 2023): Add’l P6-B funding released for PH Navy's corvette project (By Priam Nepomuceno)

MANILA – The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on Wednesday released funds worth PHP6 billion for the construction and acquisition of two brand-new missile-armed corvettes.

The Special Allotment Release Order (SARO)-BMB-D-23-0017382 was released to the Department of National Defense (DND) which covers the funding requirements of the "Corvette Acquisition Project of the Philippine Navy under the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program".

The DND and South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) signed the contract for two brand-new corvettes which are capable of conducting anti-ship, anti-submarine and anti-air warfare missions on Dec. 28, 2021.

The project is worth PHP28 billion.

Then Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said acquiring the two corvettes from HHI, where the two Jose Rizal-class guided-missile frigates were also acquired, will ensure commonality and interoperability.

The two ships will also serve as backstops for the two frigates now in commission with the PN.

"With a common shipbuilder for all our naval platforms, we expect ease of maintenance and repairs," Lorenzana noted.

The first SARO, which is for the 15 percent advance payment for the corvettes amounted to PHP3.75 billion and was released by the DBM on Dec. 10, 2021 while the second milestone payment worth PHP3 billion was released on May 20, 2022.

PH Army beefs up cybersecurity capability with help of USARPAC

From the Philippine News Agency (May 25, 2023): PH Army beefs up cybersecurity capability with help of USARPAC (By Priam Nepomuceno)

(Photo courtesy of Philippine Army)

MANILA – The Philippine Army (PA) is now beefing up its cybersecurity capabilities with the help of the US Army Pacific (USARPAC).

Army spokesperson Col. Xerxes Trinidad, in a statement Wednesday night, said the PA and USARPAC kicked off their five-day cybersecurity subject matter expert exchange (SMEE) at the PA headquarters in Fort Bonifacio, Metro Manila on Tuesday.

"The five-day activity, scheduled from May 22 to May 26, 2023, is a continuing effort of PA in enhancing the capabilities and competencies of the PA Cyber Workforce on incident response, mitigation, and active defense operations," he added.

Five US SMEE and around 56 PA workforce as well as cyber security incident response teams (CSIRTs) of PA major units in Luzon are participating in the activities.

"Both armies will conduct the activity through a series of lectures, discussions, demonstration of various cyber tools, and cyber exercises focusing on cyber intelligence, TTPs (tactics, techniques and procedures), Best Practices of Regional Cyberspace Center Pacific (RCCP), DOTMPLF for Cyber Security Operations Center development, Recovery Planning and Incident Response, Network Resilience, Expeditionary Cyber Forces, and Electronic Warfare," Trinidad said.

14 projects eyed in 4 new EDCA sites: AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (May 25, 2023): 14 projects eyed in 4 new EDCA sites: AFP (By Priam Nepomuceno)

AFP spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar (File photo)

MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said Thursday 14 projects are being eyed to be constructed in the four new Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) locations earlier announced by American and Filipino defense authorities.

"On the new sites, identified na rin yung mga (already are the) projects to be constructed in those areas. So we're looking (at) mess hall, rehabilitation of runway, construction of additional billeting facilities, acquisition of generators, installation of electrical system, (and) construction of pier with water supply," AFP spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar earlier told reporters.

He said also included are the construction of humanitarian and assistance disaster relief (HADR) warehouses, HADR hangars with electrical and water facilities, construction of billeting or barracks complete with amenities for personnel and a command and control fusion system.

He, however, did not give any details on the projects to be implemented in the four new locations.

These projects are awaiting the funding release for implementation.

Named as additional EDCA locations were the Naval Base Camilo Osias in Sta. Ana, Cagayan; Lal-lo Airport in Lal-lo Cagayan; Camp Melchor Dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela; and Balabac Island in Palawan, which are aside from the existing five locations earlier picked by Manila and Washington DC.

These are the Cesar Basa Air Base in Floridablanca, Pampanga; Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation in Nueva Ecija; Lumbia Airport in Cagayan De Oro; Antonio Bautista Air Base in Puerto Princesa, Palawan; and Benito Ebuen Air Base in Cebu.

Medel said projects in the five original EDCA sites already have "accomplishments."

Gov’t launches free ‘The Philippine Gazette’ newspaper

From the Philippine News Agency (May 25, 2023): Gov’t launches free ‘The Philippine Gazette’ newspaper (By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos)

THE PHILIPPINE GAZETTE. “The Philippine Gazette” was launched by the Presidential Communications Office’s (PCO) attached agency, the Bureau of Communications Services (BCS), on Wednesday (May 24, 2023) to increase public awareness about the Marcos administration’s policies and programs. The PCO-BCS led the free distribution of the Philippine Gazette in select areas in Metro Manila. (Photo courtesy of the PCO)

MANILA – The Marcos administration has launched “The Philippine Gazette,” a printed newspaper that will be distributed to the public for free to raise awareness about its policies and programs.

In a Facebook post on Thursday, the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) said its attached agency, the Bureau of Communications Services (BCS), led the free distribution of the Philippine Gazette on Wednesday.

“Inilunsad ng Presidential Communications Office - Bureau of Communications Services kahapon, May 24, 2023 ang The Philippine Gazette, isang libreng pahayagan na magsisilbing tulay upang maiparating sa mga Pilipino ang mga impormasyon ukol sa mga programa at proyekto ng administrasyon ng Pangulong Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (The Presidential Communications Office - Bureau of Communications Services on May 24 launched the Philippine Gazette, a free newspaper that will serve as a bridge to deliver to Filipinos information about the programs and projects of the administration of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.),” the PCO said.

It said the public may get a free copy of the newspaper at the Recto, Cubao, and Santolan stations of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) - Line 2; Philippine National Railway’s Tutuban station; and Manila North Harbor Terminal and Victory Liner Terminal in Pasay City.

Under Executive Order 16 signed by Marcos on Feb.13, the PCO led by Secretary Cheloy Garafil serves as the primary office of the Executive branch in engaging and involving the citizenry and the mass media in enriching the quality of public discourse on all matters of governance.

The PCO is responsible for crafting, formulating, developing, enhancing, and coordinating the messaging system of the Executive branch and the Office of the President.

The PCO-BCS, on the other hand, develops and provides communications services relating to policy formulation, communications planning, project development, research and evaluation, and coordination of information planning within the framework of the overall thrust and priorities of the national development plan.

Multimedia project on climate change

Meanwhile, the Climate Change Commission (CCC), in collaboration with the Kapisanan ng Social Media Broadcasters ng Pilipinas, Inc. (KSMBPI), will launch in June a multimedia content project titled “Tara... Green Na!”

CCC Commissioner Albert dela Cruz and KSMBPI founding chairperson Michael Raymond Aragon signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) to establish the partnership aimed at helping the commission in formulating policies attuned to the Marcos administration’s climate action program.

Under the MOA, the “Tara… Green Na!” climate change advocacy project will be aired on PTV4, with the support of print, broadcast, and social media, to disseminate information and educate the public about the government’s national climate change action plan.

The program will be aired every Saturday starting in mid-June, the CCC said in a statement.

The commission noted that the KSMBPI would also assist it in implementing several initiatives to ensure the Philippines would be able to respond to the global call for climate action, as espoused in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

Dela Cruz said the partnership with KSMBPI is a significant step in public and private collaboration to ensure the successful implementation of climate action plans in the country.

“We are thankful that we are gaining traction in our call for partnerships to aptly respond to climate change because we cannot singularly do this but must act collectively in order for us to save our environment, our planet, and humankind from the threat of extinction,” he said.

All AFP rescue units alerted for Mawar

From the Philippine News Agency (May 25, 2023): All AFP rescue units alerted for Mawar (By Priam Nepomuceno)

(Photo courtesy of Philippine Air Force)

MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday announced it alerted all of its search, rescue and retrieval units for possible humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) operations in areas that might be affected by the looming Super Typhoon Mawar.

"All unified commands and major services were already directed to muster and check the readiness of HADR equipment and assets; preposition HADR units; assist LGUs (local government units) in evacuations; and participate in coordination meetings and planning activities," AFP spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar said in a statement.

Medel said vehicles and personnel are being prepared to assist in the mandatory evacuation of residents in vulnerable areas.

Aguilar added that air and naval assets are also on standby for deployment for future aerial assessment, transport, and evacuation operations.

A total of 7,970 personnel, 4,242 Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) active auxiliary members and 180 reservists are on alert as first responders.

Some 2,518 land transportation, 20 air and 265 water assets will be deployed for the HADR operations.

Aguilar also stressed that additional troops and assets will be committed when necessary.

"We, therefore, call on the public to be vigilant and to take precautionary measures as advised by competent authorities. Let us all do our part in ensuring the safety not just of the affected communities but of our responders as well," he added.

AFP prepositions food packs in Batanes

As this developed, the AFP transported some 850 boxes or 7,395 kilos of family food packs to Batanes via Lockheed C-130 "Hercules" transport aircraft Thursday.

AFP public affairs office chief Col. Jorry Baclor said this is in preparation for the possible impact of the super typhoon to the province.

The relief goods were provided by the Department of Social Welfare and Development and were loaded at the Tuguegarao Airport with help from the DSWD Regional Office 2, Office of Civil Defense Region 2, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, Philippine Coastguard, Philippine National Police, and personnel of the Air Force's Tactical Operations Group 2.

DPWH on alert

Meanwhile, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Manuel Bonoan has ordered the activation of Disaster Risk Reduction Management (DRRM) teams of the agency's Regional and District Engineering Offices (DEOs) in preparation for the weather disturbance.

“Our quick response assets composed of maintenance crew with equipment are now strategically prepositioned along national roads to respond to possible road closures and obstructions,” he said in a statement.

“Earlier, Regional and DEOs were also instructed to prune trees, de-clog drainage and clear waterways to prevent/mitigate road accidents and flooding on the onset of the typhoon,” the DPWH chief added.

Bonoan said as a standard procedure, the quick response teams shall monitor and report the status of national roads and bridges,

He said the teams are also tasked to clear national roads from road obstruction, identify alternative routes to ensure unhampered deliver of goods and services, and provide temporary structures to restore mobility when necessary.

Mawar is expected to enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility by late Friday or early Saturday and will be given the local name Betty.

The super typhoon is expected to further strengthen while traversing the country's waters and might enhance the southwest monsoon, bringing rains over the western parts of Luzon and Visayas beginning Sunday or Monday. (with Ferdinand Patinio/PNA)

Army holds youth summit to curb NPA recruitment in N. Samar

From the Philippine News Agency (May 24, 2023): Army holds youth summit to curb NPA recruitment in N. Samar (By Sarwell Meniano)

NO TO NPA RECRUITMENT. Soldiers facilitating the youth summit in Catubig, Northern Samar in this May 21, 2023 photo. The Philippine Army held the first youth summit in Catubig, Northern Samar in a bid to stop the recruitment of the New People’s Army among teens in the province. (Photo courtesy of Philippine Army)

TACLOBAN CITY – The Philippine Army gathered at least 90 youth leaders in a two-day summit in Catubig, Northern Samar, that aims to stop the recruitment of the New People’s Army (NPA) among young people in the province.

Lt. Col. Joemar Buban, commander of the Army’s 20th Infantry Battalion (20 IB), said in a phone interview Wednesday, the May 20 to 21 summit, seeks to empower and give the youth a voice in advocating peace and nation-building.

“I hope that after the summit, young people will join the good aspirations of the Philippine Army towards a prosperous and peaceful town of Catubig. (That they will realize) that they belong to the generation who wants to solve the problem through peaceful means, without violence,” Buban said.

He encouraged them to be part of the opportunity to finally end the local communist armed conflict and insurgency.

Speakers during the summit were from the Philippine Army, municipal social welfare and development office, rural health unit, municipal environment and natural resources office, local election office, municipal police station, local disaster risk reduction and management office and Bureau of Fire Protection.

There was also a spiritual session and reflection night, bonfire activity and fellowship night.

Rey Christian Sabado, a former NPA fighter who is now a soldier, gave testimony on the deceptive recruitment of rebels. He encouraged the youth to be vigilant and critical of the people and organizations they interact with to avoid deceptive tactics.

The military arrested Sabado on Oct. 3, 2019, carrying firearms, explosives and subversive documents in the upland village in Las Navas, Northern Samar. He joined the Philippine Army in 2021.

The summit also elected the officers of Youth for Peace Movement – Catubig Chapter.

Several upland communities in the province are considered the hotbed of the communist terrorist group due to thick forests and poor road networks.

There are still two active NPA guerrilla fronts in Northern Samar hiding in the upland villages of Catubig, Las Navas, Silvino Lobos, Palapag, Mapanas and Gamay towns in Northern Samar.

Pregnant NPA member, 2 others yield to Army in Agusan Norte

From the Philippine News Agency (May 24, 2023): Pregnant NPA member, 2 others yield to Army in Agusan Norte (By Alexander Lopez)

BUTUAN CITY – A ranking communist New People’s Army (NPA) rebel and two others have surrendered to military authorities in Agusan del Norte, the Army’s 402nd Infantry Brigade (402nd IBde) said Wednesday.

The 402nd IBde identified the surrenderers as Nelson Odayao, the team leader of Sagay Sub-Regional Committee 3 (SRC-3) of the NPA's North Central Mindanao Regional Committee; Ruel Montillano and Lea Carilla, both members of Platoon 1 of SRC-3.

The three turned themselves in to the Army’s 23rd Infantry Battalion (23IB) in Buenavista town, Agusan del Norte, on Tuesday.
They handed over two M16 rifles, a shotgun and ammunition.

Odayao was quoted by the 402nd IBde as saying that they could no longer survive inside the NPA due to food scarcity and fatigue.

“Our leaders told us nothing will happen if we surrender and that we will only be killed by government troops. On the contrary, we were treated well by the soldiers of the 23IB,” Odayao said.

He added that their companion, Carilla, was given by the soldiers a comfortable place to rest after finding out that she is pregnant.

Brig. Gen. Adonis Ariel Orio, the 402nd IBde commander, said the three surrenderers are now under the custody and care of the 23IB and that they will undergo processing to avail of the benefits under the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program.

“We welcome their surrender and we also call on the remaining terrorists in the area to accept the offer of the government and return to your families to live in peace,” he said.

Peace projects benefit over 12K families in Iloilo town

From the Philippine News Agency ( May 24, 2023): Peace projects benefit over 12K families in Iloilo town (By Perla Lena)

RECIPIENT. Tubungan Mayor Roquito G. Tacsagon hopes that the over PHP100-million fund for infrastructure subprojects funded under the 2021 barangay development program will still be implemented in their town. The town’s 15 villages that have been cleared from the influence of communist rebels have received a total of PHP300 million but not all of the infrastructure subprojects have been implemented, the mayor said in an interview on Wednesday (May 24, 2023). (PNA photo by PGLena)

ILOILO CITY – Over 12,000 residents living in the 15 mountainous barangays of the municipality of Tubungan in Iloilo province have benefited from projects funded under the 2021 barangay development program (BDP).

Tubungan Mayor Roquito Tacsagon, in an interview on Wednesday, said a PHP20-million fund was allotted to each of the barangays that have been declared free from the influence of the communist rebels.

Of that amount, PHP300 million was spent on road networks, water systems, electrification, school buildings, health stations, and livelihood projects, particularly on swine raising.

“Every family has a livelihood project,” he said in a follow-up interview on Wednesday.

The recipient barangays included Igtuble, Igpaho, Badiang, Jona, Buenavista, Ambarihon, Batga, Ago, Pinamacalan, Deposorio, Bato, Igdampog Sur, Igdampog Norte, Ayubo and Nagba.

Tacsagon added that they remain hopeful the other target projects, particularly on infrastructure, worth over PHP100 million, will still be implemented.

“Of the 59 infrastructure subprojects, only 15 were finished, which is only around 30 percent,” he said, adding that contractors either refused to join or backed out from the bidding after learning about the location of the projects and fearing their equipment would get burned by communist rebels, leading to a failure in bidding.

The mayor met with Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Marlo Iringan on May 18 and raised the concern about unimplemented projects.

He said that while the implementation of the project is supposed to be within one year, he suggested that there has to be a contingency plan, especially since it entails a huge budget.

This year, four additional cleared barangays including Morcillas, Navillan, Lang Norte and San Vicente have qualified for the BDP with a corresponding allocation of PHP6.5 million each.

The fund, he said, will go to road and water system projects.

“Due to limited manpower, we are planning to hire a job-hire or contract of service civil engineers so we can plan out properly and implement projects immediately,” he added.

Three more barangays namely, Bikil, Boloc and Molina are expected to receive projects in the 2024 budget.

“Through this program, we will try to lessen the insurgency problem. We are hoping that this project could augment our budget so we can find a way to improve the lives of our people,” he said, adding that since Tubungan is a fourth-class town, it is mostly dependent on the fund coming from the national government.

The BDP is a flagship program of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict to bring development to areas that are no longer under the influence of communist rebels.

Army, PNP foil bomb try in Cotabato City

From the Philippine News Agency ( May 25, 2023): Army, PNP foil bomb try in Cotabato City (By Edwin Fernandez)

FOILED BOMBING. Army and police bomb experts deactivate two improvised bombs found at the main gate of Husky Bus Co. in Cotabato City early Thursday (May 25, 2023). The firm’s buses ply the Cotabato City-Gen. Santos City route. (Photo courtesy of DXMS Radyo Bida)

COTABATO CITY – Military and police bomb experts safely deactivated at dawn Thursday two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) left near the main gate of the Husky Bus passenger terminal here.

Col. Querubin Manalang Jr., city police director, said the plastic bag containing the powerful IED and a secondary bomb inserted in another plastic container were found at about 3:40 a.m. by one of the utility personnel at the terminal.

Manalang said one IED was made of flash powder and cut concrete nails as shrapnel with a mobile phone as the blasting mechanism.

The bomb disposal units also deactivated the secondary bomb, fashioned from a rocket-propelled grenade, with a mobile phone as the triggering device, found near the terminal’s concrete fence along the national highway in Barangay Rosary Heights 10.

In an interview, Manalang said the planting of the IEDs could be part of the terrorist group’s extortion activities against Husky Bus.

The bombing attempt came while Cotabato City was hosting the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Athletic Association (BARMMAA) Meet 2023.

Manalang, however, assured the BARMMAA delegates from Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao del Sur, Maguindanao del Norte, and the Geographic Area in North Cotabato that the security sector is doing its best to prevent a similar incident.

On April 17, a brand-new double-decker Husky Bus unit of the Gen. Santos City-based Biocrest Multi-Purpose Cooperative was bombed at the Isulan bus terminal in Sultan Kudarat province, leaving six persons injured.

A secondary bomb was found on the second deck of the bus.

No one has claimed responsibility for the Isulan bus bombing incident, but police have blamed the Dawlah Islamiya terrorist group and its ally, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), as those behind the attack, with extortion as the primary motive.

At least 15 suspects have been charged with the Isulan bus bombing incident.

CHR calls for holistic program for children in armed conflict

From the Philippine News Agency ( May 25, 2023): CHR calls for holistic program for children in armed conflict (By Annabel Consuelo Petinglay)

ORIENTATION. Commission on Human Rights Promotion and Education Division chief Christopher Montaño talks about the Special Protection of Children in Situations of Armed Conflict Act in San Jose de Buenavista on Thursday. Montaño said there is a need for local government units to have a holistic program for CSAC. (PNA photo by Annabel Consuelo J. Petinglay)

SAN JOSE DE BUENAVISTA, Antique – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is urging local government units (LGUs) for a holistic program, including a facility for Children in Situations of Armed Conflict (CSAC) for rehabilitation, before they will be returned to their community.

Christopher Montaño, CHR Regional Office 6 chief of the Promotion and Education Division, said much is yet to be done before the full implementation of the Republic Act 11188 also known as the Special Protection of Children in Armed Conflict Act which was signed into law on Jan. 2019.

"The law is really relevant at this time, but it has to be fully implemented," he said during an orientation held in San Jose de Buenavista on Thursday.

Since the CSAC are rather victims and not children in conflict with the law (CICL), they are supposed to have their facility once they are rescued during the military operations, Montaño added.

Most of the LGUs have their own CICL centers, but no CSAC facility yet where the rehabilitation program could be carried out.

"There are actually two forms of CSAC, those children displaced due to armed conflict and those children involved in armed conflict," he said.

Montaño said that the children involved in armed conflict are those who had been recruited by the rebel group that is the New People's Army (NPA) operating in Western Visayas.

The rehabilitation program will depend on the type of CSAC.

In Antique, six children were rescued by the military in an encounter with the NPA in Miag-ao, Iloilo on April 2020.

"As to what happened to the children after their rescue that is something to find out because there is no facility for them," Montaño said.

Meanwhile, Seth Villaruel, deputy executive director of the nongovernment organization Sulong Peace, said in his message that under the law CSAC will be turned over to the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO) after their capture.

"The CSAC needs a transformative approach so they would be ready when they are returned to the community," Villaruel said.

He said that the MSWDOs will need special training on how to handle the CSAC.

Sulong Peace Panay coordinator Richard Lestino, in a separate interview, said that through the activity they would be able to come up with plans on how they could further assist the province.

"The NGO will be providing capability training to the LGUs on the management of CSAC," he said.

The one-day orientation was attended by the personnel of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) and their municipal counterparts, the Department of Education, the Philippine National Police, and other concerned government agencies.

Suspected ASG bomber nabbed, 8 others surrender

From the Philippine News Agency ( May 25, 2023): Suspected ASG bomber nabbed, 8 others surrender (By Teofilo Garcia, Jr.)

ASG SURRENDERERS. Authorities arrest an alleged Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bomber in the coastal village of Muti town, Zamboanga City, while eight others surrendered to military authorities in Luuk town, Sulu province on Wednesday (May 24, 2023). In photo is one of the eight surrenderers handing over his firearm to Brig. Gen. Giovanni Franza, the Army’s 1102nd Infantry Brigade commander. (Photo courtesy of 1102nd Infantry Brigade)

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Authorities have arrested an alleged Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bomber here while eight other ASG members surrendered in Sulu province, police and military officials said Thursday.

Col. Alexander Lorenzo, city police director, said Nursin Isnilon Pawaji alias Nanir Bandahala was arrested by joint police and military operatives around 4:17 p.m. Wednesday in Sitio Niyog-Niyog, Barangay Muti, a coastal village east of this city.

Pawaji, 26, has a standing warrant of arrest for illegal possession, manufacture, and acquisition of firearms or explosives with no recommended bail bond issued by a court here in December 2022.

Lorenzo said Pawaji, a follower of ASG sub-leader Marzan Ajijul, was previously arrested for multiple attempted murder.

He did not elaborate why Pawaji managed to remain scot-free.

Meanwhile, eight ASG members have surrendered to Brig. Gen. Giovanni Franza, commander of the Army’s 1102nd Infantry Brigade in Barangay Tandu Bato in Luuk town, Sulu on Wednesday.

Franza said the ASG surrenderers turned over five Garand rifles, an improvised Thompson pistol, and a .38-caliber pistol.

The surrenderers, who were only identified through their aliases, are followers of the late ASG leaders Isnilon Hapilon, and late sub-leaders Majan Sahidjuan, Alhabsy Misaya, Latip Sape, and Hairulla Asbang.

“They took their oath of allegiance to the government and vow to support its peace and development efforts,” Franza said.

The surrenderers received grocery items and rice as initial assistance from the military and the local government unit.

CPP/Ang Bayan Daily News & Analysis: Sibilyan, brutal na pinatay ng 9th IB sa Camarines Norte

Ang Bayan Daily News & Analysis online propaganda posted to the PRWC Newsroom, the blog site of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Information Bureau (May 22, 2022): Sibilyan, brutal na pinatay ng 9th IB sa Camarines Norte (Civilian, brutally killed by the 9th IB in Camarines Norte)

May 22, 2023

Ginapos, tinortyur, tinutukan ng baril sa bibig bago pinatay ng 9th IB si Romeo Agua, 42 taong gulang na residente ng Barangay San Jose, Panganiban, Camarines Norte noong Mayo 15. Si Agua ang ika-16 na biktima ng pamamaslang sa rehiyong Bicol mula nang maupo sa pwesto si Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Ayon sa kapamilya ng biktima, paahon sa bahay sa bundok si Agua noong hapon ng Mayo 15 para pakainin ang kanilang alagang baboy nang harangin at idetine ng tropa ng 9th IB. Ginapos ang biktima at pinahirapan bago barilin nang pitong beses sa katawan at isang beses sa bibig. Ayon pa sa mga kapamilya at mga nakasaksing residente, isinubo ang baril sa biktima saka pinaputok. Nakita pa ng mga residente ang pagtalilis ng mga nakamotor na salarin.

Kinundena ni Carlito Cada, tagapagsalita ng Bagong Hukbong Bayan (BHB)-Camarines Norte, ang brutal na krimen. Ayon sa kanya, “ang ganito kabrutal na mga krimen ay tanda ng [pagiging desperado] ng mga elemento ng AFP-PNP at iba pang mga ahente ng reaksyonaryong gubyerno ni Marcos na takutin ang masang lumalaban at pahinain ang kanilang pakikibaka partikular sa probinsya ng Camarines Norte.”

Ang pagpatay sa isang sibilyan, na pinabigat ng brutal na pamamaraan at pagtortyur, ay isang paglabag sa karapatang-tao at maging sa internasyunal na makataong batas.

CPP/NDF-Bicol: Military abuses are rampant in areas with neoliberal projects

Propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Philippine Revolution Web Central (PRWC) Website (May 22, 2023): Military abuses are rampant in areas with neoliberal projects

This article is available in Pilipino

Ma. Roja Banua
National Democratic Front of the Philippines

May 22, 2023

NDF-Bikol strongly condemns yet another case of kiling in Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte last May 15. The civilian victim, Romeo Agua, was a resident of Brgy. San Jose of said town. He was shot by elements of the military eight times – seven in the body and once in the mouth. According to witnesses, the military forced him to put the gun in his mouth before pulling the trigger.

This case is the most recent addition to incidents of military abuses reported in that town as well as neighboring areas in Camarines Norte this year. Since January, there have already been 14 reported cases of illegal search and seizure, illegal detention, harassments and killings against residents of Sta. Elena, Capalonga, Jose Panganiban and Labo.

Unbridled military abuse and fascism, conduct of military operations and deployment of their troops in areas coveted by big businesses and neoliberal projects are part the military and police’s modus operandi. Particularly with Camarines Norte’s case wherein number of human rights violations, especially in the first district, increased this year, there are three foreign-owned projects set to commence: the Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners’ wind mill project in Jose Panganiban and Capalonga, large-scale mining operations by Mt. Labo Exploration and Development Corp. in Labo and a planned geothermal project by Premier GeoExcel Inc.

This is similar to Masbate’s experience where frequent rights violations and extrajudicial killings were done by the military and the police as preparation for the arrival of foreign and big businesses and projects. For example, with the commencement of the 1,854-hectare ecotourism project of Masbate Park and Land Development, Inc., not less than 200 cases of human rights violations including more than 30 incidents of killings were reported. Meanwhile in 2019, on the coasts of Burias, Claveria and San Pascual which are targeted for wide-scale reclamation and the arrival of commercial fisheries, police operations escalated under Provincial Operation for Socio-Economic Development Against Crime (POSDAC). Fisherfolks were arrested while their boats and other tools were burned and destroyed.

NDF-Bikol calls for utmost vigilance and caution against military and police operations especially in areas within the region targeted by various neoliberal projects. Mass organizations and residents themselves must mobilize to defend their lives and livelihood from both destructive projects and consequent military operations. Families of victims are also encouraged to coordinate with human rights advocates, the media, church and other institutions that can help in publicizing these crimes and in chasing after the perpetrators.

CPP/NPA-Southeast Negros: 11th IB illegally detain residents in Santa Catalina after misencounter

Propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Philippine Revolution Web Central (PRWC) Website (May 21, 2023): 11th IB illegally detain residents in Santa Catalina after misencounter

Estrella Banagbanag
NPA-Southeast Negros (Rachelle Mae Palang Command)
Negros Island Regional Operational Command (Apolinario Gatmaitan Command)
New People's Army

May 21, 2023

On May 16, 2023, at least 120 combined troops of the AFP and PNP scoured several Sitios around the Carima River in Barangay Talalak, Santa Catalina, Negros Oriental. While conducting the military operation, their own troops fired at each other claiming at least 2 soldiers’ lives, according to witnesses.

The day after, the AFP indiscriminately fired in Sitio Undol, Barangay Talalak and illegally detained at least 10 residents including children and senior citizens, forbidding them to tend to their animals and farm lots in the area. The operation spanned for over a week and is ongoing as of this writing, covering mountain barangays in Santa Catalina and Sibulan.

The operation comes after the illegal arrest of couple Rani ‘Ka Jeje’ Casilao and Miralyn ‘Ka RV’ Fortunado in Sitio Tamlang of the same barangay on May 14. Fortunado had just given birth and was arrested with her husband while on medical leave and brought to the 11th IB headquarters in Salag, Siaton. Casilao was immediately forced to cooperate as a guide for the operation, threatened to be imprisoned if he does not agree.

State forces are working overtime to secure Barangay Talalak and nearby barangays to protect imperialist interest of mining and quarrying in Santa Catalina, Siaton, Sibulan, Pamplona, Basay, Valencia, and Bayawan City in Negros Oriental. The NTF-Elcac is mobilizing troops of the 11th IB and the PNP to neutralize and threaten the people in these areas to clear the way for foreign plunder of our own natural resources.

The RMPC-NPA condemns such atrocious crimes of the AFP/PNP/NTF-Elcac and commit to protect the people’s rights and welfare especially the farmers, farm workers, and indigenous peoples affected by the invasive mining, ecotourism, and land-use conversion operations in the area. We also call on the people to overwhelm the culture of fear and impunity imposed by the enemy and for them to stand up collectively against the worsening exploitation committed by the ruling class in Negros Oriental. #

CPP/NPA-Camarines Norte: Kundenahin ang pagpatay ng 9th IB kay Romeo Agua

Propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Philippine Revolution Web Central (PRWC) Website (May 21, 2023): Kundenahin ang pagpatay ng 9th IB kay Romeo Agua (Condemn the killing of Romeo Agua by the 9th IB)

Carlito Cada
NPA-Camarines Norte (Armando Catapia Command)
Bicol Regional Operational Command (Romulo Jallores Command)
New People's Army

May 21, 2023

Mariing kinukondena ng mamamayan ng Camarines Norte at ng Armando Catapia Command (ACC) BHB-Camarines Norte ang karumal-dumal na pagpatay ng mga ahente ng AFP sa isa na namang sibilyan na si Romeo Agua, 42 taong gulang na residente ng Barangay San Jose, Panganiban, Camarines Norte. Siya ang ika-16 na biktima ng pamamaslang sa Bikol mula nang maupo sa pwesto si Bongbong Marcos.

Ayon sa kapamilya ng biktima, paahon sa bahay sa bundok si Romeo noong hapon ng Mayo 15 para pakainin ang kanilang alagang baboy nang harangin at hulihin ng mga elemento ng 9th IBPA. Iginapos ang biktima at pinahirapan bago pinagbabaril nang pitong beses sa katawan at isang beses naman sa bibig. Ayon pa sa mga kapamilya at mga nakasaksing residente, isinubo ang baril sa biktima saka pinaputok. Nakita pa ng mga residente ang pag-alis ng mga nakamotor na salarin.

Ang ganito kabrutal na mga krimen ay tanda ng kadesperaduhan ng mga elemento ng AFP-PNP at iba pang mga ahente ng reaksyonaryong gubyerno ni Marcos na takutin ang masang lumalaban at pahinain ang kanilang pakikibaka partikular sa probinsya ng Camarines Norte. Nito lamang Pebrero 13, isa ring sibilyang katutubo na si Argie Salvador ang pinagbabaril ng mga elemento ng 9th IBPA habang naghahanap ng pulot. Matapos ang pagpatay, pinamalita ng militar ang isang pekeng engkwentro at pinalabas na kasapi ng BHB ang pinaslang na katutubo.

Ang pagpatay kina Romeo Agua at Salvador ay ilan lamang sa hindi mabilang na kaso ng mga pagpatay ng mersenaryo at berdugong AFP at PNP sa karaniwang mamamayan. Ang pagtarget sa mga sibilyan ay malinaw na tanda ng kaduwagan ng kanilang hanay. Manipestasyon din ito ng kanilang kabiguang pigilan ang paglaban at paglakas ng armadong pakikibaka sa probinsya at maging ang malakas na suporta at paglahok ng mamamayan sa rebolusyon.
Sa katunayan, sila mismo ang patuloy na lumilikha ng kondisyon para mas lalo pang paalabin ang nag-aalimpuyong galit at paglaban ng mamamayan at rebolusyonaryong kilusan sa probinsya. Paanong hindi lalaban ang karaniwang mamamayan kung ang mismong nagsasabing ‘tagapagtanggol at tagapagtaguyod ng katarungan at demokrasya’ ang siyang duguan ang mga kamay at walang habas na kumikitil sa buhay ng masa.

Ang mga paglabag ng militar at pulis ng reaksyunaryong estado sa karapatang tao katulad ng pagpatay sa walang laban na mga sibilyan ay tahasang paglabag sa Comprehensive Agreement for the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) at iba pang internasyunal na batas at kasunduan kaugnay ng digma.

Tinitiyak ng ACC-BHB-CN na pagbabayaran ng AFP-PNP ang lahat ng kanilang inutang na dugo mula sa mamamayang api at pinagsasamantalahang pinagsisilbihan ng Pulang hukbo. Ang ganitong kalagayan ang nagpapatibay sa panata ng Pulang hukbo na tiyakin ang tagumpay ng digmang bayan para sa kalayaan, demokrasya at katarungan!

CPP/NPA-Surigao del Sur: Sulat parangal alang sa upat ka rebolusyunaryong martir sa Surigao del Sur

Propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Philippine Revolution Web Central (PRWC) Website (May 20, 2023): Sulat parangal alang sa upat ka rebolusyunaryong martir sa Surigao del Sur (Tribute letter for four revolutionary martyrs in Surigao del Sur)

Sandara Sidlakan
NPA-Surigao del Sur
Northeast Mindanao Regional Operational Command
New People's Army

May 20, 2023

Ang NPA-Surigao del sur naghatag sa iyang hugot ug militanteng pagsaludo ngadto kanila ni kaubang Bernie/JD o Alberto Castañeda, 38 anyos, natawo niadtong Agusto 29, 1985, minyo, misampa niadtong 2006 usa ka platon lider ug ang iyang asawa nga si ka Preka o Chen P. Ortiga, 33 anyos, natawo niadtong Nobyembre 12, 1990, igo lang siya nakaabot sa unang ang-ang sa kolehiyo, misampa siya niadtong 2009 ug nahimong political instructor ug ang ikatulo sa namatay sa drone attack si Ka Jeo o Goyong usa ka squad lider.

Apan sa wala pa ang bombing, sa maong petsa ug oras, una nang namartir si kaubang Neo o Erick Colon, human siya naambus kuyog ang lain pang 3 ka kauban sa ilang pagpauli sa ilang gikampohan dala ang supply aron magamit nila sa ilang lakawan, dihang ilang nasundan ang isa sa kolum sa kaaway nga moataki na unta sa ilang temporaryong gikampohan, kapin kun kulang 100 metros na lang gikan sa gipunduhan sa mga kauban. Siya natawo niadtong Nobyembre 26, 1993, 30 anyos ang pangidaron, usa ka mag-uuma ug opisyal gihapon sa maong unit.

Pareho silang namartir human ang nahitabong desperadong pag-ataki sa 30th IBPA gamit ang duha ka drone ug pagtagak og 6 ka rocket bomb didto sa bukirong bahin sa katarugan, barangay Lubo, Cantilan, Surigao del Sur. Nahitabo kini niadtong Mayo 11, alas 5:15 sa kahapunon, tuig 2023.

Nagpadangat kami sa among lalom nga pahasubo ngadto sa tanan nilang pamilya ug mga higala. Sa pagkatinuod, ang ilang kamatayon naghatag og kasubo sa atong kasingkasing isip mga kaubang rebolusyunaryo ug matinud-anong komunista. Bisan pa niana, ang ilang paghalad sa ilang dili makikaugalingong kinabuhi ug didikasyon ngadto sa proletaryado, sa tanang gidaugdaug, gipahimuslan nga hut-ong ug katawhan naghatag kanato og kasibot nga ipadayon ang atong rebolusyunaryong martsa paingon sa hingpit nga kadaugan sa Demokratikong Rebolusyon sa Katawhan.

Nahibalo kami sa ilang rebolusyonaryong kinabuhi ug kung giunsa nila pagtransporma ang ilang kaugalingon gikan sa pagka ordinaryong sibilyan ngadto sa usa ka maisugon nga mga rebolusyunaryong manggugubat alang sa kawsa sa kabus nga katawhan. Maayo silang nag-alagad sa gidaugdaug ug gipahimuslang katawhan. Ang ilang dili makikaugalingong didikasyon ngadto sa kalihukang pagpalingkawas tukma ug angayan natong himuong sumbanan alang sa atong paglahutay sa malisod nga armadong rebolusyon.

Ang pakigbisog alang sa tinuod nga kalingkawasan, demokrasya ug sosyalismo batok sa mga pasista, mga madaug-daugon ug mga mapahimuslanon usa ka kinabuhi ug kamatayon nga pakigbisog. Ang mga nagharing hut-ong sama sa dagkung agalong yutaan, dagkung burgesya komprador ug tanang imperyalistang gahum sa tibuok kalibutan, bisan kanus-a dili kini moyukbo sa gahum sa katawhan ug labaw na nga dili nila boluntaryong isurender ang tanang bahandi nga ilang natulis gikan sa katawhan.

Naghudyaka ang berdugong tropa sa AFP, PNP ug NICA-Caraga kung adunay ilang mapatay nga mga rebolusyunaryo sa pagtuo nga kini lamang ang bugtong pamaagi aron mabuntog ang kawsa sa mga nakigbisog. Imbis nga tubagon ang mga batakang pangayo sa mga mamumuo alang sa makatarunganong sweldo, pagpataas sa presyo sa produkto sa mga mag-uuma, pagtubag sa pangayo sa mga kabus sa kalungsuran ug kasyudaran, nagkadaku nga utang sa nasud nga mokapin na ₱13.75 trilyon apan kabangis ang ilang gitubag. Nagkapuliki ang pasistang estado sa pagpamatay ug paggukod sa mga lider o indibiwal ug mga organisasyon matag panahon nga nahulga ang iyang paggunit sa gahum. Pinaagi sa NTF-ELCAC, Anti Terrorism Council ug Anti Terror Law gihimong lihetimo ang ilang paggukod ug pagpriso sa tanang kritiko sa inutil nga gobyerno.

Busa, sa atong pagmartsa paingon sa hingpit nga kadaugan, dili lang pipila ka kinabuhi ang mahanaw. Apan, mas daghan pa ang mobarug aron ipadayon ang pagdilaab sa kalayo sa pakigbisog ug ang matag dugo nga miagas gikan sa mga rebolusyunaryong martir ug bayani mobisbis kini sa determinasyon sa katawhang nakigbisog nga bag-ohon ang ilang kaugalingong kapalaran.

Malaumon kita nga ang tibuok rebolusyunaryong pwersa mosalo ug moabaga sa ilang nabiyaang mga tahas alang sa mapadayunong pagkab-ot sa mas daghan pang kadaugan. Lig-on ug determinado natong huptan ang mabayanihong diwa sa mga martir sa rebolusyon samtang nagpadayon kitang nagpaasdang sa gubat sa katawhan batok sa terorismo sa estado ni rehimeng US-Marcos Jr ug pagkab-ot sa katilingbanong kalingkawasan.

Rebolusyonaryong martir bantayog nga dili matarog!

Mangahas moasdang taliwala sa malisod nga makigbisog!