Wednesday, June 14, 2023

US-Philippines Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement Revived

Posted to the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) Website (Jun 14, 2023): US-Philippines Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement Revived (By Felix K. Chang)

BOTTOM LINE
  • In February 2023, the Philippines and the United States revived their Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (ECDA). Though signed in 2014, legal and political challenges in the Philippines put the full implementation of the agreement in doubt.
  • Under the ECDA, the United States has secured access to a total of nine Philippine military bases, including four additional ones that were identified in April 2023. The proximity of most of the bases to Taiwan and the South China Sea makes them valuable for military contingencies in the region, and the boost in the number of bases that America’s military can access supports its broader plans to disperse its forces more widely across the Indo-Pacific region.
  • The revival of the agreement represents a renewed commitment by the Philippines and the United States to each other’s interests and to strengthening deterrence in Southeast Asia.
An American fighter jet or warship operating near Taiwan or in the South China Sea might soon be able to resupply at a nearby base in the Philippines. No longer would it need to fly or sail to far-off Guam or Japan, which means it could return to action faster and stay on station longer. What makes that possible is a little-known pact between Manila and Washington called the U.S.-Philippines Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). Signed in 2014 during the administration of then-Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, the agreement expanded the security relationship between the Philippines and the United States under their long-standing mutual defense treaty. The EDCA was controversial in the Philippines, marking a major departure from the policies of Aquino’s two predecessors.

The signatories of the EDCA hoped that it would herald a more collaborative era in Philippine-American defense relations. As it turned out, that era would have to wait almost a decade. The EDCA immediately ran into a constitutional challenge and ultimately Rodrigo Duterte, who followed Aquino as president and seemed intent on shelving the pact. By 2021, the EDCA appeared nearly dead. But two years later, Duterte’s successor, Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., has breathed new life into the agreement.

Leveraging the EDCA, Marcos brought Manila and Washington closer together than they have been in a generation. Possibly the most notable aspect of the two countries’ rekindled closeness was the access that the Philippines gave the United States to nine of its military bases, including four that were added in 2023. The locations and types of additional bases reflect the sorts of contingencies that concern Manila and Washington today. Together with their issuance of updated bilateral defense guidelines in May 2023, the EDCA’s revival represents a renewed commitment by the Philippines and the United States to each other’s interests and to strengthening deterrence in Southeast Asia.

Getting to the First Base

The origin of the EDCA began soon after a months-long standoff between hundreds of Chinese and Philippine vessels near the disputed Scarborough Shoal in 2012. Though the standoff ended with China in control of the shoal, it also forced Manila and Washington to rethink how to deal with China’s behavior. The EDCA was created to help boost America’s military presence in the area. Under the pact, the two countries began joint maritime patrols in the South China Sea. They also planned for the United States to rotate its troops through five Philippine military bases, improve their facilities, and preposition military hardware at them. These were: Benito Ebuen Air Base in Cebu, Lumbia Airfield in Cagayan De Oro, Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation in Nueva Ecija, Cesar Basa Air Base in Pampanga, and Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawan.

However, full implementation of the EDCA was quickly blocked. Even before the ink was dry on the pact, its opponents, including two former Philippine senators who had voted to remove American bases from the Philippines in 1991, questioned its constitutionality. They argued that the EDCA was not merely an extension of the 1951 US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty, but rather a new treaty that required a separate Philippine Senate ratification. Unfortunately for Aquino, by the time the Philippines Supreme Court ruled that that was not the case, his term had ended.

When Duterte entered office in 2016, he took a decidedly different tack. He sought to “separate” the Philippines from the United States. He suspended the joint maritime patrols and repeatedly threatened to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between Manila and Washington that enables American troops to rotate through the bases under the EDCA. Duterte created a further furor in 2017 when he claimed that Washington would use the EDCA to store nuclear weapons at Philippine bases. And while the two sides eventually settled the VFA in 2021, Duterte’s administration continued to make Washington uneasy, raising the possibility that the Philippines’ mutual defense treaty with the United States needed a comprehensive review.

Only after Marcos was sworn in did relations between the Philippines and the United States begin to heal. In 2023, the two countries held their largest-ever annual Balikatan military exercise in terms of personnel involved. He also resumed joint maritime patrols in the South China Sea. But perhaps the best indication of closer ties between the two countries was Manila’s willingness to include a second group of four Philippine military bases to the initial group of five under the EDCA in February 2023. Two months later, the additional bases were identified as: Lal-lo Airport in Cagayan, Naval Base Camilo Osias in Cagayan, Camp Melchor Dela Cruz in Isabela, and Balabac Island in Palawan.

Continued Importance of Bases

While technological advances may have diminished the significance of many military bases, they remain important for the United States on Asia’s periphery, given the vast distance across the Pacific Ocean. Nearby bases allow forces to return to action faster and remain on station longer. But after the Cold War, the number of American bases in the Western Pacific declined, and with it the forward presence of American forces. So much so that America’s allies began to question Washington’s commitment to them, especially considering China’s growing military strength. Though President Barack Obama made much of his “pivot to Asia” in the early 2010s, it did little to alter the strategic posture of the United States (or its bases) in the region.

Combined with Manila’s failure to invest in its external defense forces (namely its navy and air force) until the mid-2010s, the seemingly reduced American commitment to Philippine security appeared to have eroded whatever restraint that Beijing may have felt about pressing its South China Sea claims at Manila’s expense. In 1995, China seized Philippine-claimed Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands and, since then, has intimidated Philippine vessels with increasing frequency. Against that backdrop, it seems likely that Marcos revived the EDCA to signal to Beijing not only Manila’s displeasure, but also its shift towards a posture of greater deterrence.

Base Contingencies

For most of the Cold War, the United States was well prepared for any contingency in the airspace and waters of the South China Sea. That was largely due to its two huge military bases in the Philippines, Clark Air Base and Naval Base Subic Bay. Until they closed in 1991, the bases could support over a hundred combat aircraft and a score of warships at any given time. The nine Philippine bases that the United States has secured access to under the EDCA are not in the same league. Though far less capable than facilities used in the Cold War, the proximity of the bases—particularly the latest additions—to Taiwan and the South China Sea is what makes them valuable.

Certainly, the difference in locations between the first and second groups of bases under the EDCA shows the shift in strategic thinking of Manila and Washington towards a focus on deterrence. The locations of the first group of bases had suggested multiple aims. Of the five bases envisioned in 2014, only two—Antonio Bautista Air Base and Cesar Basa Air Base—can be considered reasonably close to potential international conflict areas. The rest are scattered across the central and southern Philippines, better situated for counterinsurgency and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions.

That stands in contrast to the locations of the second group of bases. All four are located near potential international conflict areas. Three are in the northern Philippines near Taiwan. Lal-lo Airport and Naval Base Camilo Osias are less than 400 km from the Bashi Channel—a strategic waterway that China would likely have to control to seize Taiwan and, conversely, the United States would have to control to aid the island. Lal-lo Airport could be used by short-range fighter jets to rearm and refuel or simply as an alternate airfield, and Naval Base Camilo Osias could be used by warships to make basic repairs or as a port for transshipment of relief supplies bound for Taiwan. And although Camp Melchor F. Dela Cruz might seem like an outlier, it is home to the Philippine Army’s 5th Infantry Division, which is responsible for land-based air defense in northern Luzon, as well as a hospital that could prove handy should a contingency turn hot.

The fourth base, Balabac Island, is strategically positioned near the South China Sea, just 330 km from the center of the disputed Spratly Islands. The island also dominates the passage into the Sulu Sea. Interestingly, the United States reportedly requested access to a fifth military base in Zambales, the Philippine province closest to Scarborough Shoal. While it is unknown why the request was denied, it again hinted at Washington’s focus. Whatever the case, the boost in the number of bases that America’s military can access supports its broader plans to disperse its forces more widely across the Indo-Pacific region.

All of this reflects a greater unity of purpose between Manila and Washington—one singularly focused on deterrence, rather than counterinsurgency or disaster relief. Though the new bases will not be as capable as America’s once-formidable bases in the Philippines, a greater number of smaller bases may be preferable to a fewer number of bigger ones, which China can more easily target. Ultimately, the new bases are likely to enable the United States to respond (and maintain its response) to contingencies near Taiwan or the South China Sea more effectively than it can today.

Beyond Bases

None of that should imply that Marcos or other Philippine politicians have given up on stronger ties with China. Indeed, during his January 2023 visit to Beijing, Marcos focused on ensuring continued Chinese investment in the Philippines. Later, he assured Beijing that the bases under the EDCA would not be used for “offensive action” in the region, a point that his secretary of foreign affairs, Enrique Manalo, emphasized to the Philippine Senate. Manalo noted that the EDCA’s parameters had not changed. Manila would not permit activities under the agreement that were inconsistent with the intent of what was negotiated in 2014.

Even so, Marcos’ administration does appear to have lost faith in diplomacy alone to change China’s aggressive behavior in the region. In fact, only a month after his visit to Beijing, the Chinese coast guard used a “military-grade laser” to target a Philippine coast guard ship. With tensions already running high between China and the United States over Taiwan, Marcos seemed to acknowledge that his country was unlikely to be able to forever remain above the fray, saying that “It’s very hard to imagine a scenario where the Philippines will not somehow get involved” if a conflict was to erupt.

Yet for the Philippine military bases under the EDCA to serve as an effective deterrent, more needs to be done. Proximity to potential conflict areas swings both ways. Shorter distances offer American forces the ability to return to action faster and remain on station longer. But they also make the bases vulnerable to attack. Thus, it would be wise for Manila and Washington to think about how to protect them from ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, strike aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles. Dispersed fuel and munitions storage, hardened shelters, and repair kits for airfields and other infrastructure would be a start. Missile defenses would help even more. Perhaps it was no coincidence that the United States conducted a live-fire demonstration of its MIM-104 Patriot air defense systems in the Philippines for the first time during the 2023 Balikatan exercise.

If properly built up and protected, the bases under the EDCA would bring Manila closer to its decade-long goal of achieving “minimum credible deterrence.” Along with the updated defense guidelines between the Philippines and the United States, the EDCA’s revival shows that the security relationship between the two allies is on the mend. And, while the EDCA might not entirely stop Beijing from pressing its South China Sea claims, the pact could deflect some of China’s energies elsewhere. That would be a relief for the Philippines, though Vietnam and Malaysia might want to take care.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a non-partisan organization that seeks to publish well-argued, policy-oriented articles on American foreign policy and national security priorities.

[Felix K. Chang is a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. He is also the Chief Operating Officer of DecisionQ, a predictive analytics company, and an assistant professor at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. ]

https://www.fpri.org/article/2023/06/us-philippines-enhanced-defense-cooperation-agreement-revived/

EASTMINCOM: 10ID Sends Off 28th Infantry Battalion for United Nations Deployment

Posted to the Eastern Mindanao Command (EASTMINCOM) Facebook Page (Jun 13, 2023): 10ID Sends Off 28th Infantry Battalion for United Nations Deployment

10th Infantry "Agila" Division, Philippine Army
·
MAWAB, Davao De Oro - The 10th Infantry (Agila) Division conducted Send-Off Ceremony for the 28th Infantry (Kamagong) Battalion (28IB) as they prepared for United Nations (UN) Peace Support Operations (PSO) Mission held at the Sgt. Demerin Grandstand, Camp General Manuel T Yan Sr., Mawab, Davao De Oro, on June 13, 2023.

The 28IB will comprise the Core Unit of the Philippine Army United Nations Light Infantry Battalion (Team) for the UN PSO Mission. Likewise, the 28IB will undergo training in Luzon for almost a year before their deployment in 2024.

In his message, MGen Niembra advised the Kamagong troopers to embrace the mission with utmost dedication and professionalism.

"Your actions will speak volumes about the character and results of the Filipino soldiers. Remember, you are not only representing the 10th Infantry Division but also the Philippine Army and the Philippines as a whole. Your conduct will shape the perception of future Filipino peacekeepers, and you have the power to inspire generations to come," added MGen Niembra.

During the ceremony, the 28IB received Command Plaques from the 1001st Infantry Brigade and the 10ID for dismantling Guerilla Front 2 and Sub-Regional Guerilla Unit (SRGU) of Sub-Regional Committee 2 (SRC 2), all under the Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC), that help led to an Insurgency-Free Davao De Oro.

#StrongerArmyStrongerCountry 

#AgilaNewsNetwork 

#AgilaTroopers











https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=646628577488957&set=pcb.646628670822281

https://www.facebook.com/eastmincomafp/

WESTMINCOM: WestMinCom Chief strengthens relationship with BARMM officials

Posted to the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) Facebook Page (Jun 12, 2023): WestMinCom Chief strengthens relationship with BARMM officials

Camp Navarro, Calarian, Zamboanga City – June 12, 2023

Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan paid a courtesy call to Western Mindanao Command Chief, Lt. Gen. Roy Galido at Camp Navarro, Calarian, this city, on Sunday, June 11, 2023.

During their meeting at the Laong Laan Jall of the command, the distinguished visitors and Lt. Gen. Galido, together with the Unified Command Staff led by Col. Emmanuel Cabasan, shared ideas on how to sustain the growing peace in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.
 
Chief Minister Ebrahim and Governor Tan lauded the commendable achievements of WestMinCom under the sterling leadership of Lt. Gen. Galido in the campaign against terrorism and lawlessness. They also vowed to strengthen collaboration with the military in eliminating the remaining threats in Sulu and the entire BARMM area.
 
Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. Galido expressed his gratitude to the distinguished visitors for their unwavering support of the military’s efforts to keep the communities safe and secure. “Let us maintain our good relationship and significantly contribute to the peace, security, and development campaigns.”

Chief Minister Ebrahim and Governor Tan visited WestMinCom a day after the historic first-ever Regional Peace and Order Council Meeting held in Maimbung, Sulu.
 
“Rest assured that through our strengthened collaboration and cooperation, we will be able to reach our common aspiration,” Lt. Gen. Galido added.









https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=276399751726073&set=pcb.276399901726058

https://www.facebook.com/westmincomafp2021/

WESTMINCOM: Amir of Daulah Islamiyah-Philippines, cohort neutralized in Lanao del Sur

Posted to the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) Facebook Page (Jun 14, 2023): Amir of Daulah Islamiyah-Philippines, cohort neutralized in Lanao del Sur

Camp Navarro, Calarian, Zamboanga City – June 14, 2023

Western Mindanao Command Chief Lt. Gen. Roy Galido divulged the information that the Amir of the Daulah Islamiyah-Philippines and Overall Amir of Islamic State-East Asia was neutralized in a joint law enforcement operation conducted in the wee hours of June 14, 2023.

“Based on the report from the ground, Faharudin Hadji Benito Satar/Faharudin Pumbaya Pangalian/Fahar Pumbaya Pangalian, a.k.a. Abu Zacharia, Amir of the Daulah Islamiyah-Philippines and Overall Amir of the Islamic State-East Asia was successfully neutralized after resisting arrest during a joint law enforcement operation conducted at his safe house in Barangay Bangon, Marawi City, Lanao del Sur at about 1:30 in the morning, Wednesday,” Lt. Gen. Galido said.
 
Combined elements of the AFP under the 103rd Infantry Brigade and the PNP conducted a joint operation to serve a warrant of arrest against Abu Zacharia. Sensing the government forces’ presence, the target opened fire, forcing the operating troops to retaliate. Abu Zacharia also threw a 60mm mortar and two hand grenades toward the troops’ position.
 
Firefight ensued, which lasted for about ten minutes. While clearing the area, troops recovered the dead body of Abu Zacharia and two M16A1 rifles with ammunition. The exchange of fires also resulted in the wounding of one soldier who is currently recuperating in a hospital in Marawi City.

Meanwhile, in a follow-up operation conducted in Bangon, Marawi City, at about 6:07 a.m., same day, government forces successfully neutralized another key leader of the Daulah Islamiyah.
 
According to Brig. Gen. Yegor Rey Barroquillo, Commander of the 103rd Infantry Brigade, combined elements of the AFP and PNP were serving a warrant of arrest against Joharie Sandab, a.k.a. Morsid, DI-Philippines Sub-Leader and Amir for Finance and Logistics when they were fired upon by the subject using his M16 rifle.
 
The subject also threw a hand grenade toward the operating troops. Fortunately, the hand grenade did not explode.

The government forces were left with no choice but to return fire. The exchange of fires resulted in the death of Morsid.
 
While scouring the area, operating troops recovered the dead body of Morsid. Also recovered were assorted war materials including one M16A1 with ammunition, one 9mm pistol with ammunition, and one unexploded hand grenade.
 
Maj. Gen. Antonio Nafarrete, Commander of Joint Task Force ZamPeLan, commended the operating troops for this laudable accomplishment.
 
For his part, Lt. Gen. Galido said, “This is a significant breakthrough in our campaign against the Daulah Islamiyah. We are certain that the death of Abu Zacharia will be the downfall of the IS-inspired group in our area of operation.”
 
“This achievement is attributable to the solidarity among various sectors. May we continue to walk the path leading to internal security with utmost sincerity and dedication. Let us unite ourselves and journey toward the realization of lasting peace and development, which are inclusive of the inspirations of all the peace-loving people of Mindanao,” the WestMinCom Commander added.







https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=277518818280833&set=pcb.277518931614155

https://www.facebook.com/westmincomafp2021/

U.S. Defense Asst. Sec. Maier visits Puerto Princesa for counter narcotics training

From Palawan News (Jun 14, 2023): U.S. Defense Asst. Sec. Maier visits Puerto Princesa for counter narcotics training (By Celeste Anna Formoso)

The personnel from the 2nd Special Operations Unit-Maritime Group (2nd SOU-MG) and the Philippine Coast Guard-Special Operations Force (CGSOF) engage in joint training exercise focused on counter narcotics operations.

[Updated] Christopher Maier, U.S Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict, visited Puerto Princesa City to check and personally see the ongoing joint training exercise focused on counter narcotics operations sponsored by the U.S. government.

He was welcomed on June 13 by Police Lieutenant Colonel Rae Charles Enrile, commander of the 2nd Special Operations Unit-Maritime Group (2nd SOU-MG), and Capt. Dennis Rem Labay, commander of the Coast Guard District Palawan (CGDPAL).

Enrile said the training program actively involves around 50 personnel of the 2nd SOU-MG and the Philippine Coast Guard-Special Operations Force (CGSOF).


Spanning two months, he said it encompasses various physical and skills-based exercises, including Tactical Combat Casualty Care Procedures, Swimming Proficiency, Dive Equipment Familiarization, Basic Scuba Diving Course, Boat Maintenance, Basic Emergency Procedures, and other Maritime Tactical Operations.

“It’s a six-week course, at pumunta dito si Dr. Meyer, assistant secretary of U.S. Defense, dahil gusto niyang i-check yong mga kino-conduct na activities. It is not concentrated on narcotics alone, it is meant to improve the effectiveness of personnel who operate in maritime domains,” Enrile told Palawan News on Wednesday.

“Continuous partnership natin ito with the U.S., and this time around, ang kasali muna is PNP Maritime Group and PCG. May series na rin before na ang involve ay PCG, Maritime, and Navy,” he added.

Maier emphasized the forthcoming training initiatives sponsored by the United States, and assured the Philippine government of continued support, particularly in conducting various training programs aimed at enhancing the skills of the country’s uniformed personnel.

He reaffirmed the strong partnership between the two nations in promoting security and advancing capabilities within the Philippine government.

The Counter Narcotics Training program represents a significant step in addressing the challenges posed by narcotics in the region. With the support and collaboration of the U.S., the Philippines aims to strengthen its anti-narcotics efforts and improve the capabilities of its personnel involved in countering illegal drug activities.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was revised at 10:54 p.m. to correct the name of U.S Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict, Christopher Meyer, as Christopher Maier.

https://palawan-news.com/u-s-defense-asst-sec-meyer-visits-puerto-princesa-for-counter-narcotics-training/

New ISIS emir killed in Marawi

From Rappler (Jun 14, 2023): New ISIS emir killed in Marawi (By FERDINANDH CABRERA, FROILAN GALLARDO)



Faharudin Hadji Benito Satar – also known as Faharudin Pumbaya Pangalian or Abu Zacariah – was the new ISIS Emir in Southeast Asia, following the death of Owayda Benito Marahombsar or Abu Dar, the military says

COTABATO CITY, Philippines – Joint operatives of the military and the police killed the leader of the Dawlah Islamiyah-ISIS terror group during a raid on his hideout in Marawi City on Wednesday, June 14.

Faharudin Hadji Benito Satar – also known as Faharudin Pumbaya Pangalian or Abu Zacariah – was the new ISIS Emir in Southeast Asia, following the death of Owayda Benito Marahombsar or Abu Dar, according to the military.

Marahombsar was killed by army soldiers in Lanao del Sur in March 2019.

The Wednesday raid was conducted in Barangay Bangon at around 1:30 am, with authorities reporting that suspects threw grenades and used mortars to preempt the assault team from getting closer to their hideout.

On Wednesday, Colonel Billy de la Rosa, 103rd Infantry Brigade assistant commander, said Zacaria was killed along with a companion identified as Abu Morshid, also a well-known militant of the ISIS-Dawlah Islamiyah group in Lanao del Sur.


Troops recovered a small cache of improvised explosive devices (IED) from one of the rooms of the apartment building the group rented in Barangay Bangon. They also recovered an ISIS black flag and two M-16 rifles from the slain suspects.

An Army soldier identified as Private First Class Chrismar Tungpalal was wounded as Zacaria and his companion engaged the soldiers for ten minutes.

Drieza Liningding, a leader of the Marawi Consensus group, said they woke up Wednesday morning to the sight of soldiers backed by armored personnel tanks searching Barangay Bangon for Zacaria’s companions who were able to escape the raid.

“The entire village of barangay Bangon is on lockdown. There are soldiers everywhere,” Liningding said in a phone interview Wednesday morning.

Marawi Mayor Majul Gandamra said the lockdown was raised by noon after the army soldiers finished their search of the village.

He appealed to residents to be calm, adding the army and police were on top of the situation.

De La Rosa said they monitored the movements of Zacaria leaving the main group of militants two weeks ago after the clash in Marogong that resulted in the death of four militants.

He said that, from Marogong, Zacaria moved to Marawi City to rent a two-room apartment in Barangay Bangon, where the military decided to arrest him Wednesday dawn.

“Our efforts were aided by former ISIS militants who helped us identity Zacaria,” De La Rosa said.


Thousands of residents fled Marogong town two weeks ago after Zacaria aired a threat over radio that the militants would seize the town.

Authorities monitored Zacaria’s group having recruited and trained new young fighters for the group in the thickly forested jungle of Marogong.


https://www.rappler.com/nation/mindanao/new-isis-emir-abu-zacariah-killed-marawi/

NPA claims responsibility for death of alleged gov’t asset in Calatrava

Posted to Panay News (Jun 14, 2023): NPA claims responsibility for death of alleged gov’t asset in Calatrava (By DOMINIQUE GABRIEL G. BA√ĎAGA)

BACOLOD City – The Roselyn Jean Pelle Command of the New People’s Army (NPA) claimed responsibility for the killing of Jomarie Nabeses, a 41-year-old resident of Barangay Cambayobo, Calatrava, Negros Occidental, on Saturday, June 10.

In a statement, the rebel group claimed Nabeses was a military intelligence asset. He was allegedly responsible for the raid of an NPA unit in the same area back in 2010, which resulted in the death of a member.

The rebels further claimed that Nabeses provided information to government troops regarding the whereabouts of Felix Susas Jr. and his companions, which led to their arrest last year.

Susas was a commander of the SYP Platoon and secretary of the NPA’s Northern Negros Front, according to the Philippine Army.

Susas was also a suspect in the killings of Renator Estrebillo on Aug. 12, 2022 in Barangay Marcelo and Barangay Captain Benjamin Javoc on Aug. 26, 2022.


The Philippine Army, meanwhile, denied Nabeses was their asset.

The Calatrava police said Nabeses was working in his rice fields when the rebels shot him multiple times.

Recovered were a dud bullet of .45, a fired cartridge of .45, and three fired cartridges of 5.56 mm.

https://www.panaynews.net/npa-claims-responsibility-for-death-of-alleged-govt-asset-in-calatrava/

Army official optimistic on dismantling 2 guerilla fronts

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jun 15, 2023): Army official optimistic on dismantling 2 guerilla fronts (By GILBERT P. BAYORAN)

A ranking military official yesterday aired his optimism in the dismantling of two “weakened” New People’s Army guerilla fronts in central Negros by the end of this year, following a series of debacles suffered by the NPA due to focused military operations of the Philippine Army.

Brig. Gen. Orlando Edralin, Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, yesterday said they are relentlessly continuing the conduct of focused military operations to account for the remnants of the Central Negros 1 and 2 guerilla fronts of the Komiting Rehiyonal Negros/Cebu/Bohol/Siqujor, which is now suffering from a leadership vacuum following the death of its top leader, Rogelio Posadas, alias Ka Poten.

Two more NPA rebels died on Tuesday during an encounter in Brgy. Macagahay, Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental, two weeks after the killing of nine rebels in Brgy. Quintin Remo, Moises Padilla, and Brgy. Buenavista, Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental, that led to recovery of 18 firearms, as well as explosives, among other materials.

Edralin claimed that Central Negros 1, also known as the Leonardo Panaligan Command, has nine remaining armed members, although the rebel unit and Central Negros 2, whose combatants are always on the run, are beefed up by KR NCBS Regional Striking Force (RSF).

Two other NPA guerilla fronts, South East and Northern Negros Fronts of KR NCBS, have been categorized as “dismantled” by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.


“Their days are numbered,” Edralin said, referring to NPA remnants in Negros.

Regarding orders issued by the NPA Apolinario Gatmaitan Command for its guerilla fronts to conduct tactical offensives against government forces in Negros Island, Edralin welcomed it, saying that they may no longer have difficulties in finding them.

That is why we are asking now for them to surrender, otherwise they will suffer the same fate of their 11 comrades, who recently died in a series of armed skirmishes, the 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, added.

On the other hand, the identities of two slain rebels in Moises Padilla have yet to be established, as of this time.

But Edralin said the 32 families temporarily displaced by series of encounters have already returned to their respective homes, after receiving food packs and hygiene kits from the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

https://visayandailystar.com/army-official-optimistic-on-dismantling-2-guerilla-fronts/

14 former rebels get P1M gov’t assistance

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jun 15, 2023): 14 former rebels get P1M gov’t assistance (By GILBERT P. BAYORAN)


Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson, assisted by DILG regional director Juan Jovian Ingeniero, PRO6 regional director Brig. Gen. Sidney Villaflor, Brig. Gen. Orlando Edralin, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, distribute more than P1 million government assistance to 13 of 14 former rebels, during the 2nd quarter Regional Peace and Order Council meeting held at the Negros Residences in Bacolod City.* Capitol PIO photo

Another batch of former Negros rebels have availed of P1,054,000 cash assistance from the government, through its the Enhanced Local Integration Program (E CLIP).

Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson, assisted by Brig. Gen. Orlando Edralin, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, acting Region 6 police director Brig. Gen. Sidney Villaflor, and DILG regional director Juan Jovian Ingeniero, led the distribution of financial aid to 13 of the 14 former rebels during the 2nd quarter Regional Peace and Order Council meeting held at the Negros Residences in Bacolod City.


Assistance granted to each former rebel included P15,000 immediate assistance, P50,000 livelihood aid, and P21,000 reintegration assistance.

The provincial government of Negros Occidental also provided them with three food packs, one sack of rice, and three boxes of canned goods.

The 14 former rebels, residents Isabela, Cauayan, Toboso, and Escalante City in Negros Occidental, as well as Ayungon in Negros Oriental, surrendered to the different infantry units of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division in Negros Island.

The E CLIP, according to Provincial Planning and Development Office officer-in-charge Benja Lucasan, is among the strategies of the government to obtain just and lasting peace, social transformation and inclusive development.

Lacson reiterated his call for NPA remnants to surrender and live a peaceful life, as their 14 former comrades did, stressing “nobody wins in a war.”

https://visayandailystar.com/14-former-rebels-get-p1m-govt-assistance/

Army to pols – Don’t pay CPP-NPA fees

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jun 15, 2023): Army to pols – Don’t pay CPP-NPA fees (By GILBERT P. BAYORAN)

The Philippine Army in Negros Island discouraged candidates in the synchronized barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections from paying “permit to campaign” or “permit to win” fees to the CPP-NPA, in exchange for freely campaigning in the hinterlands.

Brig. Gen. Orlando Edralin, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, yesterday said that they are expecting the CPP-NPA to distribute permit to campaign, or permit to win, to candidates during the incoming barangay and SK elections.


Edralin said they need the cooperation of BSKE candidates not to pay, in order to reduce the financial support rebels are gathering for them to thrive, and sustain their operations against government and its armed forces.

The barangay and SK election period starts August 28 this year.

The Department of Interior and Local Government warned candidates that they will be held criminally and administratively liable, for extending financial assistance to the NPA.

With coordination with the Philippine National Police and Comelec, Edralin said they are now evaluating the recent updated security situation in Negros.

While they have not monitored any reports that the CPP NPA may field candidates in the synchronized elections, the ranking Army official said he is calling on voters not to support NPA bets.

As long as they have the support, they will continue to thrive, and continue destroying the image of Negros Occidental as a whole, Edralin said.

We cannot end totally the local armed communist conflict if we will continue to help the NPA, he stressed.

https://visayandailystar.com/army-to-pols-dont-pay-cpp-npa-fees/

Ex-President Duterte warns implication of US access to PHL military bases

From MindaNews (Jun 13, 2023): Ex-President Duterte warns implication of US access to PHL military bases (By ANTONIO L. COLINA IV)


Former President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 13 June) – Former President Rodrigo Duterte has warned that the Philippines could become a “battleground” if the brewing tension between the United States and China progresses to war.

This after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. allowed the US access to military bases in the country under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), Duterte noted.

During his program “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa” streamed live over SMNI News on Monday, Duterte claimed that the US wants to establish a military presence in the Philippines with “an intention to make the country a buffer zone” to thwart Chinese forces or prevent them from advancing into the Pacific.

The former President, a known critic of Washington who pivoted to China during his term from 2016 to 2022, warned that the Philippines “would be caught in a crossfire if China would attack US military installations in the country,” once war breaks out between the two military superpowers.


The Marcos Jr. administration had granted the US access to the country’s Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, Basa Air Base in Pampanga, Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawan, Mactan-Benito Abuen Air Base in Cebu, and Lumbia Air Base in Cagayan de Oro.

“EDCA means soldiers and arms. That’s about it. It has nothing to do with economic grants or any other relationship between nations. It simply means the presence of foreign troops in our country,” he said.

Duterte noted that the relationship between US and China has been strained because of the issue on Taiwan.

The US and China have also been at odds over the issue on navigation in the South China Sea, where the Philippines has a claim.

In 2013, the Philippine government sued China before an international arbitral tribunal in The Hague regarding territories in the West Philippine Sea. The tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines in July 2016 when it junked China’s nine-dash claim over the South China Sea. Beijing rejected the ruling.

Duterte said the Philippines is an important “buffer zone” for the US, as the Chinese forces would need to move past US military installations in the Philippines before reaching US territories in the Pacific and on to the mainland.

Duterte said he believes the initial armed confrontation between the US and China could happen in the Philippines before the latter could even “entertain the idea of conquering the Marianas Island and Guam of the United States.”


He said that “war seems to be just around the corner,” particularly with the growing tension over Taiwan, which sought help from the US to thwart mainland China.

“Mainland China wants to take Taiwan back, but Taiwan is resisting and asked America to help them or help the island-country to resist the advances of mainland China,” Duterte said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)

https://www.mindanews.com/top-stories/2023/06/ex-president-duterte-warns-implication-of-us-access-to-phl-military-bases/

New ISIS emir in Southeast Asia killed in Marawi raid

From MindaNews (Jun 14, 2023): New ISIS emir in Southeast Asia killed in Marawi raid (By FROILAN GALLARDO)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 14 June)—Army soldiers raided a suspected hideout of the ISIS-linked Dawlah Islamiyah group dawn Wednesday in Marawi City and killed its leader, whom the military said was the terror group’s new emir in Southeast Asia.


The military blocks a road in Marawi City as troopers raided the house of suspected Dawlah Islamiyah leader Abu Zacaria, who was killed in the operation dawn on Wednesday (14 June 2023). Photo courtesy of Marawi Bayan Patrol

Col. Billy de la Rosa, 103rd Infantry Brigade deputy commander, said Faharudin Benito Hadji Satar, more popularly known as Abu Zacaria (sometimes spelled Zacharia), was killed in his hideout in Barangay Bangon, Marawi City at 1:30 a.m. The suspect apparently carries other names: Faharudin Pumbaya Pangalian and Jer Mimbantas among them.

The military said Zacaria was named the ISIS emir of Southeast Asia following the death of Owayda Benito Marahombsar or Abu Dar, then the region’s ISIS emir, who was killed by Army soldiers in Lanao del Sur in March 2019.


Dela Rosa said troops recovered a small cache of improvised explosive devices (IED) from one of the rooms of the apartment building the group rented in Barangay Bangon. He said Zacaria fought back by throwing a 60mm mortar improvised explosive device and two grenades at the raiding party led by Army Task Force Marawi.

An Army soldier identified as Private First Class Chrismar Tungpalal was reportedly wounded in the exchange of gunfire.

Dela Rosa said two M16 rifles were found in Zacaria’s hideout.

Lt. Gen. Roy Galido, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, said that during a followup operation at 6:07 a.m., another key leader of the Dawlah Islamiyah—Joharie Sandab a.k.a. Morsid—was killed when he resisted arrest.

Galido said Morsid was in charge of the group’s finance and logistics.

Morsid fired upon the combined AFP and PNP troopers serving a warrant of arrest using his M16 rifle and threw a hand grenade but did not explode, said the WestMinCom chief. Government troopers fired back, killing Morsid.

Drieza Liningding, a leader of the Marawi Consensus group, said they woke up Wednesday morning to the sight of Army soldiers backed by armored personnel tanks searching for militants in Barangay Bangon.

“The entire village of Bangon is on lockdown. There are soldiers everywhere,” Liningding said in a phone interview Wednesday morning.

Marawi Mayor Majul Gandamra said the lockdown was lifted by Wednesday noon after the army soldiers were satisfied that no companions of Zacaria was able to escape.

He asked Marawi residents to remain calm, adding that the Army and the police are on top of the situation.

Dela Rosa said they monitored the movements of Zacaria leaving the main group of militants two weeks ago after the clash in Marogong that resulted to the death of four militants.

He said from Marogong, they monitored Zacaria moving to Marawi City to rent a two-room apartment in Barangay Bangon where the military decided to arrest him.

“Our efforts were aided by former ISIS militants who helped us identity Zacaria,” Dela Rosa said.


Thousands of residents fled from Marogong town two weeks ago after Zacaria aired a threat over radio that the militants would seize the town. (Froilan Gallardo, with reports from Ferdinandh Cabrera and Richel Umel / MindaNews)

https://www.mindanews.com/top-stories/2023/06/new-isis-emir-in-southeast-asia-killed-in-marawi-raid/

Chinese Navy ship open for public tour until June 16

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 14, 2023): Chinese Navy ship open for public tour until June 16 (By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora and Priam Nepomuceno)



VISITING SHIP. The Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy training ship Qi Jiguang docks in Manila at past 9 a.m. on Wednesday (June 14, 2023). Interested visitors only need to present a valid identification document to board the vessel. (Photo courtesy of the Chinese Embassy in Manila)

MANILA – The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy training ship currently on a goodwill visit in Manila will be open to the public starting Wednesday, the Chinese Embassy in Manila announced.

Chinese PLA Navy Training Ship Qi Jiguang docked at Pier 15 in Manila South Harbor on the morning of June 14 and will be in the Philippines until June 17.

The embassy said interested visitors only need to present a valid identification document to board the vessel on the following dates:

June 14 - 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

June 15 - 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

June 16 - 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The ship's arrival in Manila is part of the vessel's regional tour that also includes stops in Vietnam, Thailand, and Brunei.

The Philippine Navy (PN) will host the visiting contingent with the customary and usual accommodation it renders to all visiting navies, fulfilling its diplomatic role and promoting naval cooperation.

In a statement, the PN said the port call also marks the first time that a Chinese Navy vessel arrived in the country since 2019 when PLA Navy's Escort Task Group 539, comprising three vessels, conducted a five-day goodwill visit to the Philippines.

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1203530

June 28 declared holiday nationwide for Eid’l Adha

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 14, 2023): June 28 declared holiday nationwide for Eid’l Adha (By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos)



MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has declared June 28 as a regular holiday nationwide in observance of Eid’l Adha or the Feast of Sacrifice.

Marcos signed Proclamation 258 on Tuesday for the declaration of holiday all throughout the country.


A copy of the proclamation was made public on Wednesday.

Eid’l Adha has been usually declared regular holiday upon the recommendation of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos.

Eid’l Adha is the second of two Muslim holidays celebrated by Muslims around the world and is considered holier than Eid'l Fitr.

In the Philippines, Muslim Filipinos comprise about 6 percent of the population.

Republic Act (RA) 9849 states that Eid’l Adha shall be celebrated as a regular holiday.

According to RA 9849, the declaration of Eid’l Adha as regular holiday will allow Muslims to “pay homage to Abraham’s supreme act of sacrifice and signifies mankind’s obedience to God.”

The Islamic festival commemorates the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God's command.

Eid’l Adha is celebrated on the 10th day of the last month of the Islamic calendar.

It also marks the end of the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, the fifth Pillar of Islam.

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1203542

Completion of proposed MUP reform bill eyed by July

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 14, 2023): Completion of proposed MUP reform bill eyed by July (By Anna Leah Gonzales)



File photo

MANILA – The Department of Finance (DOF) on Wednesday said the economic team is aiming to finish the consultations and prepare the proposed bill for the military and uniformed personnel (MUP) pension reform before Congress resumes session next month.

"The idea is that we would have to create a fund that can take care of the pension so that the government can make fiscal space for the active service. This will benefit both retired MUPs and active personnel," Finance Undersecretary Maria Luwalhati Dorotan Tiuseco said in an interview.

Tiuseco said these include programs for health and housing.

To date, the economic team has held a total of nine consultative discussions with members from the Philippine Army (PA), Philippine Air Force (PAF), Presidential Security Group (PSG), Philippine Navy (PN), Philippine National Police (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philippines Health Service Command (AFP-HSC), Philippine Coast Guard and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).

"When we started the roadshow, our proposals were very different. But because we are listening, the proposals have changed," Tiuseco said.

The revisions were applied to address concerns and recommendations gathered by the economic team in the past consultations with various MUP services.

The Department of Finance earlier disclosed that one of the key pieces in the MUP pension reform is the proposal for the joint contribution between the MUPs and the government to sustain the pension fund.

Various schemes were also put in place to take into account the different financial situations of the pensioners.

In a separate statement, the DOF said that during the recent consultation with members of the PCG and PA which was held last June 9, government representatives assured the officers that their concerns and suggestions would continue to be taken into consideration in an effort to improve the current proposal and arrive at a mutually acceptable version of the bill.

DOF Undersecretary Maria Cielo Magno also allayed fears of several members of the MUP by clarifying that the military pension is only one of many areas of reform the government is currently reviewing.

"I want to assure all of you that the military pension reform is not the only one we are looking at to ease the tight financial conditions of the government. Just this morning, we identified eight new reforms to ensure that we will be able to finance all the needs of our budget for next year," she said.

Magno said these reforms include the rationalization of government bureaucracy to make it more efficient and other mechanisms to raise revenues.

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1203547

Dawlah Islamiya 'emir' in PH killed in Marawi military, police op

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 14, 2023): Dawlah Islamiya 'emir' in PH killed in Marawi military, police op (By Edwin Fernandez)



Google map of Marawi City.

CAMP SK PENDATUN, Maguindanao Norte – The head of Dawlah Islamiya (DI) in the Philippines is dead, police said Wednesday.

Police and military forces were about to serve warrants of arrest against Fahar Pumbaya Pangalian alias Abu Zacharia, head of the DI in the country, when he and his men opened fire and lobbed improvised bombs toward government forces at 1:30 a.m., according to Col. Robert Daculan, Lanao del Sur Police director.

Also killed in the clash was Joharie Sandab alias Morsid, the DI-Philippines sub-leader for finance and logistics, he said.

In his report to Brig. Gen. Allan Nobleza, police director for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Daculan said government forces backed by armored personnel carriers were approaching Abu Zacharia’s location in Barangay Bangon, Marawi City, when his group resisted, triggering a firefight.

He said the followers of DI also tossed an improvised explosive device made of 60mm mortar and two hand grenades toward the operating troops that injured Private 1st Class Chrismar D. Tungpalal of the Army Scout Ranger Company.

“The firefight lasted for more than 10 minutes and Abu Zacharia is dead,” Daculan said.


Government forces recovered two M16A1 rifles and ammunition at the clash site.

Clearing operations were ongoing as of this posting.

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1203511

Army steps up efforts to thwart NPA platoons from regrouping

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 14, 2023): Army steps up efforts to thwart NPA platoons from regrouping (By Sarwell Meniano)



‘WIPE THEM OUT’. Soldiers undergoing training in a camp in Hinabangan, Samar in this March 20, 2023 photo. The Philippine Army 801st Infantry Brigade is stepping up its effort to stop the remaining New People’s Army combatants from regrouping as it aims to wipe out insurgents before the year ends. (Photo courtesy of Philippine Army)

TACLOBAN CITY – The Philippine Army 801st Infantry Brigade (801st IBde) based in Hinabangan, Samar, is stepping up its effort to stop any attempt of the New People's Army to regroup its members.

Brig. Gen. Lenart Lelina, 801st IBde commander, said while they planned to completely wipe out insurgency in the province soldiers have been focusing on their operations to thwart platoons from regrouping.

NPA platoons are divided into three to four squads, he said.

A platoon is composed of 17 to 40 combatants. In the case of Samar, Lelina said these platoons are scattered and there have been attempts to regroup.

“In recent years, there is no more company size of rebels in Samar. In the 2022 elections, the mayors in Samar reported to us that the NPA has not attempted to collect permits for campaign fees. This is an indication that they are weak,” he added.


There are still three platoons of armed rebels under the area of 801st IBde with about 50 to 70 fighters. The number varies since they have been moving within the boundaries of three Samar provinces, according to the official.

These existing platoons are the Yakal platoon with about 35 fighters reportedly sighted in the hinterlands of Samar province; the Elkon platoon with 17 combatants operating near the boundary of Eastern Samar; and Platoon 1 with 35 fighters hiding in some parts of Northern Samar.


Those engaged in armed struggle are remnants of the communist group after the dismantling of the last rebel guerrilla front due to the deaths, capture and surrender of their top leaders last year, according to Lelina.

“These NPA remnants are still fighting without organized supporters from local communities. Information from villagers about the sightings of armed men indicates that they are not welcome anymore,” he said.

The Philippine Army is eyeing to significantly neutralize the NPA remnants in Samar within the year.

Several communities in Samar province have been cleared of NPA influence after the surrender of thousands of members of an organized group of supporters from 2020 to 2022.

The NPA launched its first tactical operation in the country in Calbiga, Samar in 1974, when its members ambushed an Army scout patrol and seized several weapons.

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1203517

Notorious ASG leader in Basilan killed in clash

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 14, 2023): Notorious ASG leader in Basilan killed in clash (By Teofilo Garcia, Jr.)



Google map of Ungkaya Pukan, Basilan.

ZAMBOANGA CITY – A leader of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) was killed in a clash with police forces in the hinterlands of Basilan province, police said Wednesday.

Col. Carlos Madronio, Basilan police director, said Nurudin Muddalan was slain in a gunfight around 10 p.m. Tuesday in Sitio Kalang, Barangay Amaloy, Ungkaya Pukan, Basilan.

The clash broke out after Muddalan opened fire on approaching policemen who were about to serve an arrest warrant against him.

“The policemen returned fire, fatally hitting Muddalan,” Madronio said in a report.

Recovered from Muddalan were an M16 rifle, three long magazines loaded with live ammunition and a bandolier.


Muddalan was a follower of Basilan-based ASG leader Furuji Indama, who was killed in a clash with government troops in September 2020.

Since then, Muddalan served as the leader of the remaining ASG members in Basilan.

The slain ASG leader was involved in the ambush of soldiers on June 25, 2022 in Sitio Tampat, Barangay Kaili, Al-Barka, Basilan.

In 2007, Muddalan also participated in the ambush incident that resulted in the death of 15 soldiers, and wounding of 13 others at the boundary of Barangays Kaili and Baguindan, in Tipo-Tipo town.

A year later, he also got involved in the attack on a Philippine Marine camp in Barangay Tipo-Tipo Proper in the same town.


https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1203516

21 ex-NPA rebels in Tarlac get financial aid under E-CLIP

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 14, 2023): 21 ex-NPA rebels in Tarlac get financial aid under E-CLIP (By Zorayda Tecson)



AID FOR EX-REBELS. Former rebels receive financial assistance in Tarlac City, Tarlac province on June 9, 2023. Lt. Col. Jeszer Bautista, commanding officer of the Army's 3rd Mechanized Infantry Battalion, said a total of PHP415,000 cash aid was received by the former members of the NPA-Komiteng Larangang Guerrilla-Tarlac-Zambales (KLG-TarZam). (Photo courtesy of the 3rd Mechanized Infantry Battalion)

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga – At least 21 former New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Tarlac province have received financial assistance as part of the government’s continuing effort to help them start new lives.

This is under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) which aims to help former rebels reintegrate into the community.

Lt. Col. Jeszer Bautista, commanding officer of the Army 3rd Mechanized Infantry Battalion, said on Wednesday that a total of PHP415,000 cash aid were received by the former members of the NPA-Komiteng Larangang Guerrilla-Tarlac-Zambales (KLG-TarZam) last June 9.


Bautista thanked the provincial government of Tarlac and other local government agencies for their active participation in the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) that implements the E-CLIP.

He also asked the remaining members of the KLG-TarZam to lay down their arms and return to mainstream society.

“Aming hinihikayat ang natitirang terorista at miyembro ng KLG- TarZam na sumuko na dahil maraming tulong ang inihanda ng pamahalaan para sa kanila. Hindi sila pababayaan ng kanilang pamahaalan at ng kanilang kasundaluhan (We are encouraging the remaining terrorists and members of KG-TarZam to surrender because there are more assistance the government prepared for them. They will not be abandoned by the government and the military,” Bautista said in a news program.

Tarlac Governor Susan Yap welcomed the voluntary surrender of the 21 former rebels, whom she said is vital for the peace and progress of the province.

“Kung walang kapayapaan at katahimikan ay hindi tayo magiging progresibo, kaya ako ay natutuwa dahil sa kanilang pakikiisang loob at sa kanilang pagbabalik sa normal at mapayapang sociedad (Without peace, we will not progress. Thus, I am glad for their cooperation and for their return to the normal and peaceful society),” the governor said.

This is the fourth time that the government has distributed financial aid to former rebels in Tarlac this year.

Last Jan. 10, a total of 18 former rebels in the province received cash aid in a payout held at the DSWD Regional Office in this city.

Another 47 former rebels likewise received a PHP20,000 livelihood assistance each in Tarlac City last Feb. 2.

Last April 11, a total of 28 former rebels likewise received cash aid in Tarlac City.


Bautista expressed hope that the former rebels would properly use the financial assistance as they return to normal lives.

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1203556

Army sees end of NPA central Negros fronts by yearend

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 14, 2023): Army sees end of NPA central Negros fronts by yearend (By Nanette Guadalquiver)



ANTI-INSURGENCY CAMPAIGN. Brig. Gen. Orlando Edralin, commander of the Philippine Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade based in Murcia town, Negros Occidental province, foresees the dismantling of the NPA's Central Negros fronts by the end of 2023. Edralin on Wednesday (June 14, 2023) said the leaders of the two Central Negros fronts are still on the run, but the death of Rogelio Posadas, secretary of the NPA’s Komiteng Rehiyon-Negros, Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor, had left a vacuum. (PNA photo by Nanette L. Guadalquiver)

BACOLOD CITY – The military sees the dismantling of the Central Negros (CN) fronts of the New People’s Army (NPA) by the end of the year, a top Philippine Army official here said on Wednesday.

Brig. Gen. Orlando Edralin, commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade (303IB) based in Murcia town, Negros Occidental province, said the CN1, whose fighters were encountered by troops of the 62nd Infantry Battalion (IB) in Moises Padilla town on Tuesday, now only has nine members.

“We are very optimistic that with the cooperation and assistance of the people and national and local governments, not exceeding the end of the year, we will be declaring CN1 and CN2 as cleared,” he said on the sidelines of the Regional Peace and Order Council-Western Visayas meeting here.

Edralin said the leaders of both Central Negros fronts are “still on the run”, but the death of Rogelio Posadas, secretary of the NPA’s Komiteng Rehiyon-Negros, Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor, had left a vacuum.


“That’s why nagkakagulo sila (they are at a loss) because they don’t have a leader to direct them. Their days are numbered that’s why we are asking them to surrender,” he added.

Posadas was killed during a clash with troops of the 94th IB at the boundary of Binalbagan and Isabela towns on April 20.

On Tuesday morning, two NPA fighters died in a series of encounters with 62IB troops in Barangay Macagahay, Moises Padilla.

Also in Moises Padilla last month, five communist rebels died during skirmishes in Barangay Quintin Remo.


https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1203561

PNP identifies 3 potential armed groups in Negros Occidental

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 14, 2023): PNP identifies 3 potential armed groups in Negros Occidental (By Nanette Guadalquiver)



PEACE AND ORDER. Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson (center), sitting as the chairperson, presides the Regional Peace and Order Council-Western Visayas meeting at the Negros Residences in Bacolod City on Wednesday (June 14, 2023). He is joined by Brig. Gen. Sidney Villaflor (left), acting regional director of Police Regional Office-6 and Department of Interior and Local Government-6 Regional Director Juan Jovian Ingeniero. (PNA photo by Nanette L. Guadalquiver)

BACOLOD CITY – The Philippine National Police (PNP) in Western Visayas (Region 6) has identified three potential private armed groups (PAGs) in Negros Occidental as part of the security monitoring for the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE) this coming October.

Acting Police Regional Office - 6 regional director Brig. Gen. Sidney Villaflor presented the report during the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) meeting presided by Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson at the Negros Residences here on Wednesday.


“What’s important is they have identified and will monitor these groups. They are just extra careful especially with what happened to our neighbor in Negros Oriental. They are very careful now here in (Negros) Occidental,” Lacson told reporters.

Villaflor clarified that “technically” there are no PAGs in the province. He did not disclose the three potential armed groups, but they have been placed under the police's radar.

Last March, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. ordered the police and the military to identify, track down and dismantle all private armed groups in the country, following the series of high-profile attacks on local chief executives, one of which was the assassination of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo three months ago.

Villaflor said the PRO-6 is waiting for the updated policy of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in determining the election watchlist areas (EWAs).

“So that we can have a detailed plan and adopt the policy of the Comelec,” he added.

During the 2022 national and local elections, there were 17 EWAs identified in Negros Occidental.

Results of the threat evaluation presented during the RPOC-6 meeting also showed that 18 of the 12 high-risk elected government officials in Western Visayas are in Negros Occidental.

Villaflor, however, said the data are still based on the old records.

“We will still evaluate it and we will know if the 18 are still the same officials,” he added.

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1203531

14 ex-rebels in Negros receive over P1-M cash aid, food packs

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 14, 2023): 14 ex-rebels in Negros receive over P1-M cash aid, food packs (By Nanette Guadalquiver)



AID TO EX-REBELS. Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson (standing, center) with Brig. Gen. Orlando Edralin, commander of the Philippine Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade, Department of Interior and Local Government-Western Visayas Regional Director Juan Jovian Ingeniero and officials of concerned agencies during the turnover of checks and food packs to former rebels during the Regional Peace and Order Council-Western Visayas meeting in Bacolod City on Wednesday (June 14, 2023). A total of 14 former combatants and members of New People’s Army in Negros Island received a total of PHP1.05 million in financial assistance. (PNA photo by Nanette L. Guadalquiver)

BACOLOD CITY – Some 14 former combatants and members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Negros Island received a total of PHP1.05 million in financial assistance and food packs on Wednesday under the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).

The recipients included ex-rebels from the municipalities of Isabela, Cauayan, Toboso and Escalante City in Negros Occidental and Ayungon town in Negros Oriental.


Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson, who led the distribution of checks during the Regional Peace and Order Council-Western Visayas meeting here, called on the Negrenses who are still in the armed struggle to return to the fold of the law.

“Just as we extended assistance financial assistance to former rebels, we’re also calling on those that are still active rebels to come down and live a peaceful life. Nobody wins in a war. We’re extending our open arms to them, asking them to join their former comrades,” he added.

The former rebels were given a total of PHP970,000 in immediate and livelihood assistance while the line battalions of the Philippine Army’s 302nd and 303rd Infantry Brigades assisting them in processing their requirements received PHP84,000 as reintegration assistance.

The provincial government, through the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office, also provided them with a sack of rice each along with canned goods and other grocery items.

Under the E-CLIP, former rebels or their qualified beneficiaries receive benefits, such as guaranteed safety and security, financial assistance, subsistence allowance, food expenses while in the custody of the receiving unit, travel and mobilization expenses, and corresponding compensation for surrendered firearms.

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1203551

Kalanaw News: Iloilo City Joint Peace Security Coordinating Committee holds meeting on peace and security updates

Posted to Kalanaw News Facebook Page (Jun 13, 2023): Iloilo City Joint Peace Security Coordinating Committee holds meeting on peace and security updates

Iloilo City Joint Peace Security Coordinating Committee holds meeting on peace and security updates








https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=267452015975368&set=pcb.267452059308697

https://www.facebook.com/kalinawnews/

Kalanaw News: 23rd Infantry (Masigasig) Battalion launches intense military operations in Buenavista, Agusan del Norte

Posted to Kalanaw News Facebook Page (Jun 13, 2023): 23rd Infantry (Masigasig) Battalion launches intense military operations in Buenavista, Agusan del Norte

23rd Infantry (Masigasig) Battalion launches intense military operations recovering firearms and subversive documents from NPA rebels in Buenavista, Agusan del Norte








https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=267497052637531&set=pcb.267497095970860

https://www.facebook.com/kalinawnews/

Kalanaw News: Former NPA cadre, NICA Region 2 director meet former rebels in Gamu, Isabela

Posted to Kalanaw News Facebook Page (Jun 13, 2023): Former NPA cadre, NICA Region 2 director meet former rebels in Gamu, Isabela

Former NPA cadre, NICA Region 2 director meet former rebels in Gamu, Isabela, with compliments for decision to return to the folds of the law

Read: https://bit.ly/3N5Z5vo



https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=267546972632539&set=a.264457216274848

https://www.facebook.com/kalinawnews/